Stand with the People on Teesside Fighting for
their Jobs, their Industry and their Community
The north-east of England has been shocked by the collapse of Sahaviriya Steel Industries UK (SSI UK) and Redcar steel plant, on Teesside, with a loss of 1,700 jobs. Redcar is the second biggest steel blast furnace in Europe.
The Malaysian company bought the plant from Tata Steel in 2011 after a long fight by the steel workers and the community to save the steel works at that time. But work at the Redcar plant was paused on September 18, as SSI UK told workers that it was struggling to make it profitable. The closure comes in the face of government propaganda that “austerity is working” and that there is an “economic recovery” and had also trumpeted its claim for a “northern powerhouse.” In fact, the government has not made the slightest attempt to save such a vital industry for the social economy and the social wealth and well-being of the people. On the contrary. It claims, as with all these closures, that it can only “support” redundant workers with schemes, to relocate, to help “set up” small businesses and so on, as if thousands of workers engaged in specialised social production can turn to fending for themselves when their communities and related companies based on this social production are no longer able to provide any employment.
Even going into the details of the collapse of the company, a declared £800 million deficit of SSI UK is hardly an obstacle to government when it loans to and pays the rich many times these sums to save banking and finance capital from collapse. Also, the government claimed as an excuse that nothing can be done because British steel industries are competing against “cheap imports” of Chinese steel. This is completely suspect when it has just announced a £2 billion guarantee to Chinese and French foreign state firms for investment in the proposed £25 billion Hinkley Point C nuclear power station. The idea that there is some kind of “free market” to which all must submit to bring about prosperity is one of the biggest illusions that the government creates about a neo-liberalism that is dominated by monopoly interests and where the government places the whole assets of the state at the disposal of these monopolies. Shutting down industries where it suits the interests of one global monopoly, or another, or investing vast sums where it doesn’t suit them as with the nuclear industry is the way this “free market” works.
A new direction for the economy was pointed to by Jeremy Corbyn last week when he spoke about the closure of the Redcar Steel works at the Labour Party Conference. He opposed the illusion of “recovery” that the government promotes and spoke about the reality of the government’s economic failure. In particular he criticised the government’s failure to intervene to support the steel industry and “stand with the people on Teesside fighting for their jobs, their industry and their community”.
Monopoly right must not be permitted to triumph over public right. Redcar steel works is an asset that serves the social economy, and the government in refusing to preserve it and instead collaborate in wrecking such an asset is a monstrous crime against society and the workers who create and produce the social wealth. WWIE calls on the working class to fight for an alternative direction for the economy and for a society that will begin to remedy the vagaries of the present global economy dominated by the monopolies. As part of this movement to turn things around and to rally round the demand to end austerity, we call on workers to consciously participate in building the Workers’ Opposition, charting a way out of the crisis and building a modern socialised economy.