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From: The Socialist issue 886, 27 January 2016: Housing: smash the Tory wrecking bill

Search site for keywords: Sanctions - Jobs - Workers - Steel - Public ownership - Economy - Nationalise - North Yorkshire - Energy

Steelworkers may face benefit cut-off for not seeking bar jobs

The blast furnace at Redcar steelworks, photo by Jeff Pardoen (Creative Commons)

The blast furnace at Redcar steelworks, photo by Jeff Pardoen (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

Rudi Abdallah

Skilled steelworkers, recently made redundant, could apparently face punishing benefit sanctions - for refusing to seek low-paid work which doesn't use their skills.

2,200 workers lost their jobs when the SSI steelworks in Redcar, North Yorkshire closed last October. Redcar's Labour MP Anna Turley told parliament that job centres have reprimanded steelworkers for not applying to shops and bars.

Claimants are meant to have a 13-week window to apply for similarly high-skilled work. Yet Turley says they've been ordered to apply for lower-skilled jobs only two weeks in.

Reportedly, one apprentice with nearly three years' experience was told "he should get a job in a bar". Of course, serving beer is what logically follows years of training in steelmaking.

The Department for Work and Pensions denies this has occurred. But the workers shouldn't be in this situation in the first place.

Slashed

Since last summer, profit-hungry firms have slashed nearly 5,000 jobs. Tata, SSI and others claim they are unable to contend with a cocktail of issues, ranging from high energy costs to cheap Chinese steel.

Across the country, beleaguered steelworkers have been betrayed by callous Tories, uninterested in helping working class people - who make all the riches they and their mates own.

In a shocking example of double standards, the Tories supported Gordon Brown bailing out the greedy banks that wrecked the economy in 2007. But they have refused to intervene here, claiming the situation is beyond their control.

Nationalise steel under the democratic control of workers and the community. Steelworkers are blameless. Public ownership would return their dignity, and retain valuable skills.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

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