Alec Thraves, Swansea and West Wales Socialist Party and Swansea Trades Council
The fightback to save jobs and to ensure the survival of the local community in Port Talbot and the surrounding area has begun!
By proposing to sack 2,800 steel workers, alongside the impact to thousands of other subsidiary workers, Tata has declared a class war in South Wales to blatantly defend its shareholders’ multi-million pound profits.
This industrial butchery has brought the steel unions, small businesses, and the wider community together and united them in their battle to save steel.
A protest by Unite the Union outside the steelworks on 26 January highlighted the anger and determination of steelworkers and supporters to fight back.
Jason Wyatt, a Unite rep at the plant, said it was absolutely clear that: “Tata’s plan is a devastation of the steelworks and to effectively remove primary steelmaking.”
Mike Rivers, a retired ex-Unite deputy convener at the steelworks, expressed his concern at the loss of future jobs for the younger generation: “I used to be an ex-miner before I joined the steelworks, the main difference then was that there were jobs to go to, there isn’t now!”
The steel unions have highlighted the critical importance of primary steelmaking being retained in the UK. Stephen Kinnock, the local Labour MP, has said: “Steel is critical for our national security, good local jobs and for the transition for a greener economy – and we need our steel to be made in the UK.”
So, If steel is so critical for the UK economy, then Labour should pledge now that a future UK Labour government, which could be just months away, will immediately renationalise the steel industry under democratic workers’ control and management, with no compensation for Tata’s billionaire executives!
To keep the furnaces firing, on an environmentally friendly basis, it is futile to appeal to Tata’s billionaire executives or any other private corporation to finance the billions of pounds required for a green transition. Profit is their only motivation!
In preparation for an industrial action ballot to save steel jobs, the unions, supported by the Wales Trades Union Congress, should call a mass demonstration in Port Talbot under the slogan of ‘nationalisation not devastation’ and demand a commitment off Labour leader Keir Starmer to prepare for that action now!