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Fight Corus Job Massacre
A LOCAL woman told me: "My daughter came back from a school trip telling me they make the best steel in the world at Stocksbridge - a few days later Corus announce they're ending steelmaking there forever!"
The closure within two years of the 150-tonne furnace will end a 160-year history of steelmaking at Stocksbridge, north Sheffield. Over 700 more jobs will go from there and neighbouring Rotherham.
"Just imagine a one and a half mile area of steel plant standing idle. And the men there say there is plenty of work to be done. How have management allowed this to happen?" asked one Corus worker.
With reference to management, another woman said: "That bloke wants shooting!" 'That bloke' being Sir Brian Moffat, the Corus chairman due to retire next month. Since Corus was founded in 1999 as a result of the merger of privatised British Steel with a Dutch steel giant, Moffat has presided over 12,000 job cuts.
During the last round of closures, he famously said: "We make money, not steel." Well Corus have not even done that. They lost £458 million last year but that has not stopped Moffat doing very nicely thank you. His successor Philippe Varin will get £1.5 million in his first year.
The workers have not had a pay rise for two years, lost pension rights and been forced to introduce team working. "We did everything management wanted us to do" said one worker.
But that is never enough under this capitalist system which in a world economic downturn says we don't need as much steel. Bosses are already demanding more government aid to finance a further round of planned closures which could affect Teesside and another 2,200 jobs.
Local Labour MPs are just saying how bad this all is. They want our 'allies' the US to lift their steel import tariffs and want more government aid for South Yorkshire. But what they won't say is that the fat cat bosses should be sacked and the steel industry renationalised under democratic workers' control.
Likewise, trade union leaders have bemoaned this latest 'catastrophe' but have not put forward any strategy to fight the job losses. Years of redundancies have taken their toll on workers' morale but unless a stand is taken, starting with a one-day national steel strike, then soon there'll be no steelmaking left in Britain at all.
In The Socialist 10 May 2003: