Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/588/7546
Corus... Vestas... Defend every job!
Corus workers protest, photo by Paul Mattsson
Around 5,000 people marched in Redcar, Teesside on 18 July, in support of the Save our Steel campaign. This has been set up to defend the 2,000 Corus steel jobs at risk. Plants in Teesside, Scunthorpe and Rotherham are under threat, on top of thousands of job cuts in January. Corus is owned by the Tata Steel conglomerate which made a £2.8 billion profit in 2007-08.
John Malcolm, Teesside Socialist Party
The march was organised by Unite and the steel industry union Community. Steel workers were joined by their families and supporters from the community and workers from other steel plants across the UK.
Unite leader Derek Simpson was one of the main speakers at the rally. He was applauded for calling on the steel industry to receive the same level of government support as the banks and finance industry. But Vera Baird, one of the local Labour MPs, was booed from the outset and came under fire when all she mentioned was setting aside £5 million for retraining of redundant steel workers.
Speakers spoke passionately about the impact the loss of steel production would have on the local economy and about the knock-on effect of unemployment in firms servicing the steel plant.
Teesside has lost most of its steel production since the 1980s and the chemical industry has also been scaled down. 150 dock workers also face redundancy due to falling imports of coke and iron ore.
One Corus worker, Frank Harrison, brought his own banner which condemned greedy MPs and the banks. He said: "The steel industry needs to be renationalised... today's Labour Party is no different to the Tories". Many of those on the march shared his views.
This was a great show of support for Corus workers. But what was missing was a strategy or plan to take the campaign forward or demands to occupy the plant to fight against it being closed down. Demands were made for subsidy but no clear call for renationalisation under workers' control with a plan for steel production for socially useful projects.
- Bail out the workers not the bankers.
- No redundancies - share out the work.
- No attacks on pay and conditions.
- No to concession bargaining.
- The steel industry - alongside the construction and car industries - should be renationalised under democratic workers' control.
In The Socialist 21 July 2009:
No Job Cuts
Youth fight for jobs
Socialist Party campaigns
Marxist analysis: history