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Corus – Thrown on the scrapheap

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Issue 1741

Corus – Thrown on the scrapheap

STEEL workers could soon be voting on strikes against job losses. Around 6,000 steel workers, the bulk of them in South Wales and on Teesside, were due to hear their fate this week. Their employer, Corus, has threatened them with redundancy. The job losses would have devastating consequences in towns that are already hit hard by unemployment.

But they were not expecting to get any sympathy from Corus boss Sir Brian Moffat, the man who gets paid 10,000 a week and who says, “I am interested in making money, not steel.” On Tuesday the ISTC steel union put forward a plan to save jobs. It included short-time working and the company getting half the wage bill paid to the threatened workers in return for a 12-month stay of execution.

But all the indications were that Corus would brush the offer aside. Corus has made huge profits in the last few years-578 million in 1994-5, 1,102 million in 1995-6, 451 million in 1996-7 and 315 million in 1997-8. That money was thrown at shareholders and directors. When British Steel merged with Corus in 1999 shareholders received a “sweetener” of nearly 700 million.

The ISTC has pledged to start a strike ballot at Llanwern, near Newport, and on Teesside if Corus rejects the rescue plan. The campaign for strikes should start immediately and ought to include all steel workers throughout Britain. Dutch unions have already said they will not accept transferred work from closed plants.

The government must also be pressured to act. New Labour says it sympathises with the workers. That is not enough. The government should renationalise steel.

THE multinational Procter and Gamble is slashing 9,600 jobs in its plants across the world. Some 5,600 jobs will go in plants outside the US. Procter and Gamble bosses refuse to say how many workers in their six sites across Britain face the sack.

ABOUT 350 workers will lose their jobs after JCB bosses announced redundancies last week.

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