Corus: Strike back at steel bosses’ threat

STEEL PRODUCER Corus has confirmed redundancy fears in Wales. This will have a massive impact on several communities who rely heavily on the well-paid jobs of the steel industry.

Alec Thraves, Socialist Party Wales

Corus, formed last October from the merger of Holland’s Hoogovens and British Steel, is downgrading its UK plants and boosting production at its large steel plant in the Netherlands.

Corus argue that these job cuts are necessary due to the strength of the pound but a steelworker from Swansea said the workforce felt that jobs were being lost in the UK because continental redundancy payments were three to four times more expensive.

He complained that over the years, union leaders had allowed contractors to undermine pay and conditions and had done nothing to prevent thousands of jobs being slowly whittled away.

1,300 jobs will be cut from the Welsh labour force of 10,000 this year and next, including around 450 in Llanwern, 400 at Port Talbot and almost 300 at Ebbw Vale. The cuts were announced despite all the affected plants possessing full order books and working to full capacity.

Llanwern plant in Newport, which employs 2,500, has an uncertain future as Corus attempts to maximise its profits. Corus will decide in August whether to spend £35 million relining Llanwern’s No 3 furnace, which produces 40,000 tonnes of iron each week, two-thirds of the plant’s capacity.

If the company decides not to go ahead with that work then it would effectively mean the end of the steel industry in Wales.

The future of steel in Wales and throughout the UK can only be secured by the re-nationalisation of the industry under democratic workers’ control and management. This can allow the skilled workforce the opportunity of retaining their jobs and producing the steel needed for a modern manufacturing society.

The steel unions should organise a one-day strike as the first step in the campaign for renationalisation of this vital industry.