Last Friday, Tata Steel UK confirmed its devastating plans to axe 2,800 jobs with the closure of two blast furnaces at its Port Talbot plant in South Wales.
Tata claims it was losing £1.5 million a day in the UK.
Tata Steel UK, owned by the Indian-based Tata brothers, has been handed £500 million of taxpayers’ money towards building a new arc furnace on the site – a project that will not be completed until 2027.
Not that Tata needs being bailed out by the taxpayer.
An in-depth financial analysis by the Unite union, published yesterday, exposed ‘Tata’s claim that it has to cut jobs and close its blast furnaces for financial reasons, as a sham.’
Unite’s research revealed that Tata Steel Limited, the parent company for Tata UK, made £3 billion in net profits in 2022/23 and the company holds reserves of £1.6 billion.
Between 2019 and 2023 it paid out dividends of £1.4 billion to shareholders with company returns describing 2023 as its ‘best ever’.
While Tata Steel UK was claiming huge daily losses, Unite revealed that it reported post tax profits of £208 million in 2021/22 – due largely to tax subsidies from the Tories – and still has £270 million in cash reserves.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: ‘Tata’s pleas of poverty have been exposed as a sham. They are making money hand over fist.’
She went on: ‘It is unbelievable that the UK government is going along with this. Rather than demanding that the needed investment comes with job guarantees and growth for UK steel – they are giving Tata half a billion of taxpayers’ money to slash its workforce and flood the UK with foreign steel.’
While Graham was finding it ‘unbelievable’ that the Tories could pour billions into guaranteeing the profits of Tata owners and shareholders while thousands of workers face permanent unemployment, TUC general secretary Paul Nowak was equally distraught.
Nowak said: ‘Steel unions have been pressing the government to develop a serious plan for UK steel for years.
‘The Prime Minister can’t stand by and let thousands of jobs go to the wall. It is essential that the company and ministers step back from these devastating plans.’
He concluded by pleading for the Tories to rescue workers’ jobs saying: ‘We urgently need a proper industrial strategy to prevent crises like these from happening again.’
Nowak’s comments clearly reveal that the TUC has conceded any fight for jobs at Tata and is reduced to begging for a non-existent ‘industrial strategy’ from a collapsing Tory government.
This is a Tory government whose only strategy is to cut taxes for the rich and dump millions of workers on the scrapheap of unemployment, forcing them to rely on a benefit system that has been so savagely cut by the Tories that a paper produced by the Financial Fairness Trust concluded it no longer provides even the basic amount needed ‘to function day to day and have healthy lives’.
The powerful working class has proved that it is prepared to fight being driven back to the poverty of the 19th century to protect the profits of the bosses.
The only way forward for steelworkers is to occupy the Tata Steel plants to prevent closure and set up Councils of Action to support and defend the occupation.
This will have the support of the entire working class to follow suit and demand that the TUC ends its refusal to fight for jobs and all the gains made by workers in the past by immediately organising an all-out indefinite general strike to bring down the Tories and bring in a workers’ government and socialism.
A workers government will expropriate and nationalise all the major industries and banks placing them under the management of the working class and bring in a planned socialist economy.
Those leaders who refuse to lead the fight to bring down the Tories must be removed and replaced with a new leadership prepared to lead the struggle to put an end to bankrupt capitalism.
Now is the time to join the WRP and the Young Socialists to build up the revolutionary party required to lead the British socialist revolution to victory.