Joe Shakesby, Hull Socialist Party
The news that Jingye Group, the owner of British Steel, proposes to cut up to 2,000 jobs at the British Steel works in Scunthorpe is yet another brutal kick in the teeth for the town and British steelmaking. The group, which posted profits of £329 million last year, has said the proposal will make British Steel “a clean, green and sustainable business.” However, these plans are cost-cutting measures to slash the group’s wage bill by throwing workers by the wayside to protect their profits.
The replacement of the current furnace with electric alternatives and the resulting job losses will place immense pressure on an already struggling town. This latest attack on the steel industry is driven by greed; it is possible to transition to zero-carbon steelmaking and still protect jobs. Backed by the Tory government, this is driven by the desire to cut costs at the plant and hand higher profits to Jingye Group’s shareholders.
Moving to electric arc furnaces would essentially turn the Scunny steel works into a steel recycling plant. There are similar plans for Tata Steel’s Port Talbot plant (see ‘Tata steel: Nationalisation not devastation’ on socialistparty.org.uk). This has caused rage and fear amongst residents and will do immense damage to an already deprived community. Unsurprisingly this is immaterial to the bosses and the Tories. What is even more appalling is that Jingye Group is set to receive £300 million state aid to carry out these plans. So much for private enterprise!
Labour’s opposition to nationalisation and Starmer’s pro-business outlook mean a joined-up political struggle from the unions, as well as industrial action, is needed to prevent the decimation of the steel industry and working-class communities.
- Nationalise the steel industry under democratic workers’ control and management. No job losses or compensation for the fat cats
- A socialist plan of production to protect the environment and people’s livelihoods. Workers shouldn’t pay the price for capitalist climate chaos
- We need a new mass workers’ party, armed with a socialist programme, to fight back against cuts, job losses and closures. Take into democratic public ownership the big banks and businesses that dominate the economy and put them to use for need not greed