UK steel industry collapse – occupy to defend jobs, nationalise the steel industry


THE slaughter of the British steel industry continued yesterday with the official announcement by Tata Steel that it is to axe a further 1,050 jobs.

The axe will fall mainly on the Port Talbot plant where 750 jobs are to go, a further 350 will be cut from the Indian-owned company’s sites in Trostre, Corby and Hartlepool.

This latest round of cuts comes on top of the 1,200 jobs that Tata slashed in October last year at its Scunthorpe and Lanarkshire sites. This in turn followed the collapse of Britain’s second largest steel company, SSI UK, which closed down its Redcar Steel plant, also in October, with the loss of 2,200 jobs following the company’s failure to pay massive debt repayments to the banks, forcing the company into liquidation.

Tata Steel, which is now the sole owner of what remains of the once-mighty British steel industry, is collapsing and with it the entire steel industry. The response of the trade union leadership to this catastrophic collapse, which is a symptom of the collapse of every last remnant of British manufacturing industry, has been entirely predictable. No call for action to defend jobs and the industry just appeals to the Tory government to ‘do something’, coupled with blaming the Chinese for the crisis.

Harish Patel, national officer at Unite, said: ‘The knock-on effects of these latest job losses will be felt throughout the supply chain and the wider manufacturing community across the UK, torpedoing George Osborne’s promise to rebalance the economy. When will the penny drop with government ministers that a strategically important part of the UK economy faces wipe-out because of their continued failure to take decisive and swift action?’

The leader of the union Community, Roy Rickhuss, directed his ire at the government for not doing enough to protect the industry from the Chinese, saying: ‘The dumping of cheap Chinese steel is one of the biggest causes of this crisis, yet the UK government remains a cheerleader for China.’

The reactionary nature of the unions’ position is exposed by the fact that they are parroting exactly the same script as the bosses, namely that it’s all the fault of the Chinese and that all that can be done is to beg the Tories to put up trade barriers or give financial help to stop Tata from going bankrupt.

The unions completely ignore the real cause which is not the Chinese but the world crisis of the capitalist system. This crisis has seen oil prices crash to an all-time low, dipping below $30 a barrel and predicted to fall even further, which has smashed up what is left of the British oil industry.

It is a crisis which has seen vast inflated stock markets coming crashing down in the past few days and the collapse of manufacturing industry not just in the UK but across the world.

This collapse is most acutely felt in Britain, that once was the workshop of the world but today is totally reliant on the banking and financial sector to keep it limping along. Placing the blame for the destruction of jobs on China relieves the union leaders from any responsibility for fighting.

It is the world crisis of the capitalist system that is destroying steel jobs and the entire manufacturing industry and the only way to defend jobs is by putting an end to capitalism itself. There is no other way.

The TUC must be compelled to stop grovelling and blaming the Chinese and take action to defend every steel worker’s job and the jobs of every single worker. This can only be done by a campaign of occupying every plant and factory threatened with closure and organising a general strike to kick out the Tories and go forward to a workers government and socialism.

A workers government will re-nationalise steel and every other major industry along with the banks as part of a socialist planned economy where production is for human need and not for profit. Only socialist revolution can defend a single job today.