22/02/2010 - Could workers action save Corus?

BODY,.aolmailheader {font-size:10pt; color:black; font-family:Arial;} a.aolmailheader:link {color:blue; text-decoration:underline; font-weight:normal;} a.aolmailheader:visited {color:magenta; text-decoration:underline; font-weight:normal;} a.aolmailheader:active {color:blue; text-decoration:underline; font-weight:normal;} a.aolmailheader:hover {color:blue; text-decoration:underline; font-weight:normal;} NEARLY Two Thousand steelworkers will balloted for strike action in a desperate attempt to force open the Corus steelworks on Teesside.

Steel has been produced on the banks of the River Tees for around 170 years.  Once over 100 furnaces worked around the clock.  They produced the "best steel in the world."  It was exported all over the world.

However, the last remaining steelworks closed – on a ‘temporary’ basis – last Friday.  1,6000 workers are now kicking their heels.  And if the Government doesn’t get its act together soon, around 8,000 associated jobs will be lost in the area. 

Corus – who own the Teesside Cast Products site in Redcar – have been blamed for the closure.  One union official has said:

“The decision to mothball the plant suggests that Corus did not really want to keep it open or sell it to another steel company.  The decision is bad for Britain and for our manufacturing industry and our members will now be asked to respond.”

Responding to the crisis, Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said that he stood “full square behind” the plant.  And Prime Minister Gordon Brown admitted that there was a “problem.”

However, many workers are not interested in these platitudes.  The call for strike action shows that will not just lie down and die. They know that if the steel works closes permanently, it will rip the heart out of Teesside.

Hopefully any strike action will put pressure on the Government to act.  The steelworkers should demand that Corus is immediately nationalized.  This will at least keep it open and the whole Teesside area will be kept on an even keel.

However, the Government shouldn’t sit around waiting for workers to strike to save the steelworks.  Gordon Brown & Co should act immediately.  After all, when the banks got into trouble they were effectively nationalized. 

Pat Harrington the General Secretary of Solidarity asked:- "If the Government can find the money to prop up the banks - and bail out the fat cats - why can’t they help ordinary British workers?"