The Mirror newspaper heralded a “stunning victory for our campaign” to save steel jobs last week. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady enthusiastically joined in.
This was far too celebratory.
Tory business secretary Sajid Javid last week told parliament the government was prepared to take a 25 percent stake in the threatened Port Talbot steel works in South Wales.
This was a humiliating U-turn for a government that had insisted nationalisation was not an option. It reflects the Tories’ fear of reaping the growing anger over job losses.
But it doesn’t go far enough and doesn’t safeguard a single job.
The government’s pledge is only to “co-invest” with potential private buyers in order to sweeten the deal for bosses. So far no buyer has emerged. And moving from one set of greedy bosses to another guarantees nothing.
Scunthorpe’s steel works were bought by Greybull Capital, the same investment fund that “saved” airline Monarch two years earlier.
The Unite union revealed last week that the Greybull-owned carrier is now laying off engineering workers.
A genuine solution would be real nationalisation. That would take a vital industry off the bosses and run it as a public service—saving every job. The failure to do that isn’t just the government’s.
The union leaders and the Labour Party have not built a fightback. The struggle must go on.