Tragically our slogan on “No trust in Tata” has been borne out by the January 19 announcement that the two blast furnaces in Port Talbot will be shut down with potential job losses up to 3000 steel workers in the next period. This is 75% of the Port Talbot steel plant’s workforce.
Steel unions must demand that the Wales Labour government intervene now and that Starmer publicly commits that an incoming Labour government acts upon the widely supported demand of ‘nationalisation not devastation!’.
As a first step in defending jobs the steel unions in Port Talbot, supported by the Wales TUC should call an emergency mass demonstration in Port Talbot on these demands. This can give confidence to steel workers that the fight is not over and that militant industrial action is possible and necessary to put pressure on both Tata and the politicians. Such action should be supported by the whole of the trade union movement.
Tata’s brutal proposal will also affect many more thousands of supplementary jobs that rely on steelworks, from small engineering companies, contractors, shops and hospitality.
It really will devastate Port Talbot and the surrounding areas. Labour politicians including Stephen Kinnock local MP has reportedly said “Steel is critical for our national security, good local jobs and for the transition for a greener economy – and we need our steel to be made in the UK”!
If steel is so critical for the UK economy then the future likely Labour government should, upon coming to power this year, immediately nationalise the steel industry under democratic workers’ control and management with no compensation for Tata billionaire executives.
Enough time has already been wasted sowing illusions that Tata or any other private corporations could be convinced to put the investment needed into green steel production which will also retain primary steel making through carbon capture or hydrogen processes.
The Socialist Party has consistently supported the struggle in Port Talbot to save jobs and transition to green steel production. TATA and big business corporations’ only concerns are maximising profits with no regards to the consequences and the livelihoods of the local populations.