THERE were oceans of tears yesterday for the 1,700 workers who are to be sacked when Corus mothballs the greater part of its plant on Teesside, in January, but no plans by the trade union leaders or the government to keep Corus Teesside open.
The employer Corus blamed the closure on an international company that had broken a solemn contract, and emphasised: ‘We are acutely aware that this will be devastating news for our employees, our contractors and their families.’
Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary, was convinced that everything that could have been done was done.
He said: ‘The Government worked hard with all parties following the cancellation of the main supply contract in May to continue the agreement but a commercial solution could not be found.’
He added that it would be a ‘very difficult time for the workforce’, and that he was especially concerned that the sackings were taking place at Christmas time.
However, that ‘concern’ is not going to be translated into action. The government that has spent £850bn in the last year saving the bankrupt banks and keeping them going is refusing to nationalise Corus to save workers’ jobs.
As far as the Labour government is concerned, only the bankers matter. They express their regrets at the plight of the workers and then turn their backs on them.
Yesterday, the trade union leaders were following Mandelson’s lead.
The Community Union general secretary, Michael J Leahy OBE, said: ‘Community Union are calling on Tata Corus to reverse this decision and continue to support the workforce on Teesside.’
He added: ‘To that end, we are seeking urgent talks with the Government to discuss what assistance they can provide to preserve the steelmaking infrastructure of Teesside and prevent a community being devastated.’
Leahy did not call for the Brown government to renationalise Corus, the only policy that can save workers’ jobs.
Faced with a massive capitalist collapse, reformist and careerist trade union leaders just fold up and leave the workers to their fate.
The GMB union is of the same mould.
It just said: ‘This is devastating news from Teesside and shows how fragile the recovery from the recession is proving to be. What a terrible contrast with 1,700 workers losing their jobs on Teesside while the multi-millionaire bankers gorge themselves at the expense of the tax payers.’
The GMB refused to demand the nationalisation of Corus. It was determined not to fall out with Mandelson and Brown.
Unite’s joint general secretary, Derek Simpson, said: ‘This is absolutely devastating news for the men and women who work at Teesside. This is a dark day for British manufacturing. Unite will do everything possible to prevent this closure from going ahead.’
Simpson also refused to demand nationalisation! He is more interested in keeping in with Brown and Mandelson than putting forward a policy to save his members’ jobs.
Thousands took part in a march in July calling on the government to help the Corus steel plant, after workers were put on 90-day redundancy notice. The government refused.
Now workers must take action to defend their jobs and their families.
They must tell their leaders to stuff their sympathy and, if they are not going to fight for their members’ jobs, to resign and make way for leaders who will.
Workers must take action. They must occupy Corus and organise national strike action to make sure that Corus is nationalised.