THE steel industry in the UK faces shut-down, as the capitalist crisis deepens.
The demand that the trade unions must organise occupations to halt the sackings and defend jobs is growing, as is the demand that the survival of the steel industry depends on it being nationalised.
The destruction of more than 1,000 jobs at Tata’s steelworks in South Wales is a ‘devastating blow’ for the communities where they are based but the impact is expected to be far wider.
Mass sackings will have a knock on effect for the contractors, apprenticeships and other industries that service the plants. For every job lost at Tata, four others will be affected in the local communities.
The sackings must be stopped and the closures halted. Only an occupation and nationalisation will achieve that. Neath Port Talbot Council said in a statement: ‘While not without warning, this news is no less devastating for the town of Port Talbot and the county borough.’
Last October 28 steel workers from Port Talbot and from all over the UK lobbied parliament to demand emergency action to save steel jobs and the steel industry. The lobby followed the closure of the Redcar steel mill with the loss of 2,200 jobs and Tata Steel’s confirmation of plans to axe 1,000 jobs in Scunthorpe and Scotland.
The workers, from steel communities in Port Talbot, Teesside, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, the West Midlands and south Wales gathered outside parliament in Old Palace Yard. Community union rep Richard Coombs of South Wales Save the Steel, said at that lobby of parliament: ‘‘I’d support an occupation to stop plant closures. Renationalisation wouldn’t do any harm.’
Unite Port Talbot branch chair Malcolm Gullam said: ‘I’d support an occupation it worked in the shipyards in the 1970s. ‘Do we need nationalisation? – yes.’ Community branch rep for SSI Lackenby in Middlesbrough, Robbie Wheatley said: ‘We should nationalise the steel industry.
‘They’ve shut our plant. We should have occupied the coke ovens and blast furnaces. I’d support a national strike to bring this government down.’ It is a disgrace that neither the Tory government nor Labour opposition are lifting a finger to save jobs and the industry.
The trade unions must act. They must lead occupations and a campaign of industrial action leading to a general strike to bring the government down and nationalise the steel industry under workers management.