‘THE time for talking is over, we need action’ Paul McBean, the Community union leader exclaimed as Tata Steel announced 1,200 job losses at its plants in Scunthorpe and Lanarkshire.
Nine hundred jobs will go at the firm’s plant in Scunthorpe. The remaining 270 will go in Scotland. Industry bosses blame cheap Chinese imports for a collapse in steel prices. Buffeted by collapsing prices and the strong pound, Indian-owned Tata has decided to end its UK operations.
However, the union has not organised any action or made a call for any trade union action. ‘We went down to parliament as a union at the beginning of February,’ Paul McBean continued, ‘and we got a debate in the House of Commons. We told them this was coming, nobody listened. We have told them since.’
Referring to Allor-Plesh steel manufacturing he added: ‘Plesh walked away saying that the British government were not interested in a manufacturing industry, they have not taken heed of that. Now what they have promised us is another talking shop.’
He added: ‘All these new emerging economies like China and India are building their economies on coal mining, on shipbuilding and on steel . . . and all we are doing is destroying ours.’ John Park, assistant general secretary of Community, said yesterday: ‘The significance of this is that it could be the end of steel production in Scotland.’
The devastating news that Tata steel are to sack 1,200 workers, comes on top of the news yesterday that Caparo steel is to make 1,800 redundancies and is going into administration, and 2,220 jobs have also been cut at SSI steel at Redcar in Tyneside, which has now been shut for good.
Joe Morgan, GMB regional secretary for West Midlands, said: ‘This is even more bad news for our members and their families. This is just another nail in the coffin for the British steel industry. After the news of the job cuts at Redcar on Tyneside and Tata steel, we now hear that Caparo in the West Midlands has gone into receivership.
‘We at the GMB are hoping that the Prime Minister will use the opportunity when he meets the Chinese President to request that he stop flooding the market with cheap steel and undercutting our own people here. It is within the government’s hands to protect and ensure the survival of the steel industry, but they need to act now rather than posturing.
‘I can’t see this government nationalising the steel industry no matter how much we put forward good arguments for nationalisation. If workers take direct action in the form of civil disobedience, including occupying the plant, I am of the opinion that we should support them.’
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘One in six UK steelworkers face losing their jobs. At this rate there won’t be a British steel industry in a year’s time. Ministers cannot afford to stand on the sidelines and watch this crisis unfold. They must step in now with a rescue package.’
Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said: ‘This is a dark day for the UK steel industry, for the workers and the communities whose livelihoods depend on steel. We will be working closely with Tata to find alternatives and to save as many jobs as possible.
‘Sajid Javid is becoming increasingly isolated by his failure to act swiftly to support the steel industry. He and the UK government know what needs to be done and they need to do it quickly. A failure to act and tackle the dumping of cheap Chinese steel will spell the end of steel in the UK.’