Wednesday, 19 May 2010

The Election and The Steel Industry

So we now have the ConDem coalition with Labour moving to the opposition benches.
The three main Steel producing areas saw a drop in the Labour vote with Scunthorpe and Aberavon returning Labour MPs. The story was very different in Redcar however.
Scunthorpe saw the Labour majority reduced from 8,963 in 2005 down to 2,549. The main reason given for this drop and a swing to Conservatives of 9.2% was the expenses scandal which saw the previous Labour MP at the forefront.
What cannot have been missed by the electorate was the lack of support given to the Steel Industry during the economic crisis as will be seen later when we look at the result at Redcar.
Steelworkers had witnessed their industry collapsing around them and were forced to take cuts in hours and become engaged in a cost saving initiative to secure the survival of the largest employer in the area.
In Aberavon where the Steel Industry had benefited from the car scrappage scheme Labour's result was a decent one and they managed to poll almost 52% of the vote.
The result at Redcar was a disaster for Labour.
The local Steelworks and the Chemical works had seen threat of closure with little apparent support from the government at trying to save the main industries.
Labour's vote was reduced from slightly under 20,000 in 2005 to 13,741 with a swing to the Lib Dems of 21.8%.
This should serve as a warning to Labour. Abandon the core vote and allow a whole community and you get what you deserve.
The result is probably a harsh one for Vera Baird the Labour MP returned in 2005.
I was at the Save Our Steel March at Redcar last July and I witnessed the heckling of Vera as she attempted to speak to the marchers.
Afterwards I was informed that she had been doing sterling work on behalf of the Steelworkers but unfortunately it hadn't been portrayed to the public.

So what now for the Steel Industry. 
It certainly cannot afford any further plant closures and needs to be placed at the centre of any survival plan for UK manufacturing.
Labour needs to learn the lesson of leaving the working class at the mercy of the market and re-engage with its core support.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Teesside: Fresh Hopes Emerge

According to an article in today's Morning Star Thai Steel company SSI visited the Teesside Cast Products Steel Plant last Thursday.
This comes after the three unions involved in the UK Steel Industry, Unite, Community and GMB had been pressing Corus to take an undisclosed buyer for TCP seriously.
The unions are claiming that they have been left in the dark abut wehether a formal bid has been made or not with Community Union leader Mick Leahy quoted as saying

'We want Corus to come clean about what is going on. Thousands of jobs depend upon finding an alternative future for TCP.'

Threats of ballots for industrial action have been flying around like confetti during the last 12 months but now at least a buyer has had the chance to look at the site.
TCP has been mothballed effecting around 1,600 employees, but of course actions like this have a devastating effect upon local communities.
Whilst it is welcome news that interest is still being shown, the real solution should have been given by the Government last Summer when the intention to Mothball TCP was announced by Corus.
Instead of promising money for training the New Labour Government should have renationalised TCP and demonstrated that they intended to support directly the UK manufacturing Industry.

Left Leanings and Love

Today sees the marriage of Martin Copson, SWP member and fellow Corus Scunthorpe Unite Shop Steward and Rachel herself the daughter of a former Militant Tendency member.
They have eloped to Gretna Green but have not made much of an attempt at secrecy after announcing their intentions a couple of weeks ago.

Please join with me in wishing them and their daughter Clara a happy day and a bright future.

Monday, 3 May 2010

McCluskey Launches Campaign

May Day saw Len McCluskey launch his campaign to be Unite General Secretary.

His main stance is to develop:

  • a union where members are in charge
  • a fighting, tolerant and inclusive union
  • a progressive union
  • a united and organising union
This is a statement from his manifesto which can be found at

'Under my leadership , money,effort and officer/staff time will be focussed consistently on supporting our members at the sharp end. Developing a united, collective organisation and confidence that supports members at the workplace and organising new members will be the foundation for the Unite I want.

Our members want a decentralised, vibrant union at local level, not a bureaucratic centralised union. Officers supporting the membership, not members supporting a top-heavy union structure regardless of whether it delivers. Anyone who believes that a union like Unite can be run from an office in London needs to get out more.

Of course what we do in other areas of work can be vital for our long-term future. So I will work to develop Workers Uniting, the global union we have formed with our colleagues in the USW in North America.

Increasingly, what affects workers somewhere has an impact on workers everywhere.'

Len McCluskey gained the support of activists from United Left at their hustings held in Manchester last year.

Opening Message

This blog will focus on events within the UK Steel Industry, Unitetheunion and politics within North Lincolnshire.
Messages will be posted as and when anything occurs but it must be stated that North Lincolnshire is hardly the hot bed of political activity so please be patient.