Socialist Worker

Steel workers are ready to fight against bosses' raid on pensions

by Richard Morse
Issue No. 2458

steeling themselves for action—workers from the Llanwern plant march through Newport

steeling themselves for action—workers from the Llanwern plant march through Newport (Pic: Alun Davies)


More than 13,000 steel workers were set to strike on Monday of next week against attacks on their pension scheme. 

It will be the first national steel strike in more than 30 years.

Tata Steel bosses want to close the workers’ pension scheme for new workers and worsen it for current ones.

Workers would have to work until they drop with proposals to raise the pension age from 60 to 65.

Some 500 steel workers and supporters took part in a protest against the plans in Newport, South Wales, last Saturday.

Newport is near Tata’s Llanwern plant, one of its biggest along with Scunthorpe in Lincolnshire. 

Others include Shotton in North Wales, Rotherham in South Yorkshire, Corby in Northamptonshire, Hartlepool and Redcar in Teesside, and York.

The workers are members of the Community, Unite, GMB and Ucatt unions.

At the rally Jessica Morden, the MP for Newport East, criticised Tata Steel boss Karl-Ulrich Köhler for refusing to be questioned by MPs.

Andrew Gutteridge, chair of the multi-union committee at Llanwern works, said, “We want to have a discussion and get back round the table. 

Collective

“Ninety eight percent of our members have voted to take action as a collective that sends a strong message to the company.”

With such a mandate unions should not call off the action for less than victory.

Gutteridge added, “I’m a third generation steelworker. I put my military pension into my steelworker pension and now I can’t get to that.

“A lot of members are ex-miners who have put their pensions into the scheme—it’s a nightmare to be honest.”

Ieuan Jenkins is a second generation steelworker. 

He said, “I can’t see us being able to do what we do day to day in five years time let alone 15 years time. 

“It’s the physicality of the job.”

There was a strong argument to have as large a picket as possible, despite legal restrictions.

Port Talbot branch officer John Williams called on all union members to join a mass picket at the site.

The strike will follow an overtime ban set to begin on Tuesday of this week.

Bosses all over Britain want to drive down workers’ conditions to boost their profits.  And the Tories want to attack trade union rights to help them.  

That makes the steel dispute a fight for us all.


Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.