Around 500 steel workers marched through Sheffield last Saturday demanding government action to save jobs.
Rob Middlemas has worked at Teesside’s Skinningrove works since he was 16 some 38 years ago. He told Socialist Worker the closure of the nearby Redcar plant “has had a terrible effect”.
“The cost of cleaning up the site will be enormous—that money would have been better spent keeping it running,” he said.
Community, Unite and GMB union leaders, reps and Labour MPs spoke at an indoor rally. Workers loudly cheered those who called for nationalisation.
USW union officials brought solidarity greetings from the US. And steel unions from all over Europe sent messages of support—some saying they feared their members could be next.
Every speaker rightly slammed the Tories. But they insisted import controls on Chinese steel would protect the industry’s profits.
This won’t work, but it takes the onus off unions. As Community general secretary Roy Rickhuss put it, “The issues we face are out of our hands.”
Scunthorpe steel worker Ian Davies told Socialist Worker, “Union leaders need to be clear that the solution won’t come from talking to top Tories but from getting members to play an active role.”