Dozens of steel workers from across Britain came to parliament today, Wednesday, to lobby MPs for government intervention to stop job losses.
Tata Steel bosses have announced almost 1,200 job losses at their works in Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire, and Motherwell, North Lanarkshire.
Scunthorpe worker Rick Kiddle told Socialist Worker, “We’re here to tell the government to step in and give us a chance. They say they want to increase manufacturing—they’re not going to do that without us.”
Amit Joshi, a crane driver at Corby steel works in Northamptonshire said, “If the government don’t step in, we’re going to lose yet another industry. MPs were elected by the people—they should be acting for the people.”
The lobby was organised by the Community and Unite unions.
Tata’s latest attack comes on top of 700 job cuts this year in Rotherham and South Wales—and the devastating closure of SSI’s steel works in Redcar, Teesside.
Redcar production worker Graeme Heselwood told Socialist Worker many workers laid off there were struggling to find other jobs.
“The steel workers are all highly skilled, but it’s quite niche skills,” he said. “Some people are looking to retrain—but we haven’t seen anything of the money we were promised by the government.”
Many workers in other regions fear their jobs could be next.
Kev Faulkner, who works at Tata’s site in Wednesfield near Wolverhampton said, “For us it will be like having our arm cut off. We work with steel from Scunthorpe, and if we can’t find another supplier there will be another wave of job cuts.”
Up to 1,700 jobs in the West Midlands are already threatened after metals firm Caparo went into administration.
Unions are lobbying the government for measures to help reduce bosses’ costs and keep out cheap imports, particularly from China.
New revelations in the Daily Mirror newspaper that the government has awarded two defence contracts to a Swedish steel company added to the anger.
But these measures would only help the bosses and deflect anger in the wrong directions.
Business secretary Sajid Javid is meeting European Commissioners to discuss the steel today, and David Cameron agreed to cut green taxes on energy for the bosses.
That will only temporarily reduce costs to bosses, who refuse to invest in the sector long term.
Some workers want the privatised steel industry to be renationalised.
Steel unions are also building for a protest in Scunthorpe on Tuesday 10 November, when workers are set to hold a mass meeting then march on the council (see details below).
Kev is travelling there with a delegation of his colleagues. “The intention is to get as many people there to show support,” he said.
Graeme added, “This isn’t just about saving Redcar or saving Scunthorpe—we now need to stand together and save steel”.
Assemble 12pm, Church Square, Scunthorpe, DN15 6SR. Tues 10 November