Unite delegate Mick Joyce addressed Congress on the 4,000 workers at British Steel and 400 workers at the Tata Orb works in Newport who are fighting for their futures – saying the industry should be nationalised.
Joyce said, “We are all well versed in the symptoms of this crisis – government disinterest, major contracts going overseas, and the dumping of cheap imported steel.
“But conference, behind all of this we find a very simple question. What is the steel industry for? Is it a ‘get rich quick’ scheme for the fly-by-night investors like Greybull capital?
“A firm who had let Monarch Airlines go to the wall after stripping out £10 million – and when on to repeat the same old money trick with British Steel.”
Joyce told Congress is a national asset that is the “foundation upon which an entire advanced manufacturing industry can be built”.
Seize the chance
“Congress, we hear that a buyer may have been found for British Steel. If that means that the highly skilled jobs, upon which whole communities rely, will be saved and given a bright future then of course we must seize the chance,” he added.
“I know that for Unite’s part our shop stewards will be reading the small print and demanding long term investment plans of at least a decade. But let me add this. If the buyer is to be OYAK – the pension fund of the Turkish Military – then Unite will be scrutinising their human rights records with a very careful eye.”
In addition, Joyce said that Unite and the wider trade union movement will continue to build real solidarity with progressive trade unions in Turkey and the Kurdish people.
He went to say to that it is time for the crisis of ownership in the steel industry to end.
“That means end the ownership of spivs and asset strippers. That mean’s elect union stewards into the board rooms to oversee production in the public interest,” Joyce told Congress.
“And yes, that means seeing steel plants back under public ownership, run for the public good. Let us stand behind our steel worker comrades now, follow their lead and let’s secure, for good and all, the future of this vital industry.”