Socialist Worker

Steel workers to march as more jobs are slashed

by Dave Sewell
Issue No. 2478

Unite and Community union members travelled to London to lobby MPs last week

Unite and Community union members travelled to London to lobby MPs last week (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Metals company Caparo Industries announced 452 job cuts on Friday of last week, after going into administration last month. 

A number of its businesses have shut. There are redundancies across the West Midlands as well as in Hartlepool in north east England and Wrexham and Tredegar in Wales.

Workers at Caparo Atlas Fastenings in Darlaston, West Midlands, were called into a meeting with administrators PwC and laid off. 

“We were all numb,” said one worker. “There was a lot of anger and a few tears. It’s people’s livelihoods all gone up in smoke. 

“We came to work as normal this morning and now we’re all out of work.”

It comes as steel workers employed by Tata are preparing to march against 900 job cuts in Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, and 270 in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire.

Workers in Scunthorpe were out gathering signatures for their petition against the job cuts for the third week running last Saturday.

And members of the Community and Unite unions travelled to London to lobby MPs ahead of a debate in parliament on Wednesday of last week. Many fear their jobs could be next.

Kev Faulkner, who works for Tata 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.”

A group of workers travelled down from Redcar, Teesside, where the steel works closed last month. 

Phones

The strength of feeling in the region was made clear on Thursday of last week. More than 10,000 Middlesborough FC fans at their match against Manchester United held up their mobile phones in a show of solidarity.

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.”

The Cabinet Office has issued non-binding guidelines to encourage the use of British produced steel in infrastructure projects. 

It followed front pages last week attacking the decision to use Swedish steel in a new defence contract.

David Cameron pledged a subsidy worth up to £50 million a year to steel bosses, refunding green levies on their energy bills. 

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he is willing to travel to Beijing to lobby the Chinese government against “dumping”—allegedly selling steel at below production costs.

Unions demand more measures to reduce costs and keep out cheap imports. But these would only help rich bosses who refuse to invest in the sector—and deflect anger in the wrong directions.

Renationalising the privatised steel industry can save jobs.

Stand up for steel marches:
Scunthorpe—Tuesday 10 November. Assemble 12 noon, Church Square, for rally and march to North Lincolnshire council’s meeting
Motherwell—Saturday 7 November. Assemble 10.30am at Dalzell steelworks to march to Ravenscraig

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