The shutdown of the Corus plant in Redcar, Teesside, may have started, but there is still a mood to resist among steel workers.Corus workers fear the consequences if the plant’s 1,600 jobs go without a fight.They believe the company would leave Britain completely within a few years.Martin Copson, a senior Unite shop steward at Corus in Scunthorpe, told Socialist Worker, “Steel workers are prepared to fight to save our industry.
“The union officials are always frightened of fighting but their efforts to get a deal have fallen on deaf ears.“The only card they’ve got left is industrial action. We need a programme of strike action and mass demonstrations.”
The Unite, GMB and Community unions have jointly promised to ballot all their workers at Corus over the closure.But meanwhile the company has already started handing out redundancy notices.Officials said they would organise “orchestrated and strategic” action, balloting sites across the country to take action in support of Redcar.Unfortunately the first thing they orchestrated was a 14-day delay in the ballot.The unions’ National Trade Union Steel Co-ordinating Committee has agreed to give Corus another two weeks to find a buyer for the plant before it meets again.Terry Pye, national officer for Unite, said, “This is a pause for peace to allow Corus to take the initiative.”But Corus has already been given more than enough time.The government and MPs have been claiming for months that there are “serious buyers” interested in the plant—but where are they?
The company has no interest in selling the plant. It would prefer to see it lie empty.With the “mothballing” of the Redcar plant well under way, every day the unions wait hurts the chances of saving it.“Corus management have made it clear that they are not interested in negotiating,”says Martin Copson.“It is time for national union officers to start listening to the shopfloor.“We need activists on the ground leading the fight, not bureaucrats doing deals behind closed doors.”Corus is set to make a massive £250 million “profit” out of closing down Redcar—thanks to carbon credits.The Emissions Trading Scheme sees the government hand out free “licenses to pollute” to dirty industries.The idea is they can trade any they don’t use as an “incentive” to pollute less.Mothballing the plant will leave Corus with millions of spare credits it can sell. So while 1,600 workers face the dole, the company can pocket an extra quarter of a billion.Throwing workers on the scrapheap does nothing to save the planet. We could be using the steel they produce to build wind turbines or buses.If the government can afford to hand Corus all that cash, it could easily afford to nationalise the plant and save the jobs.