Workers in Port Talbot are facing crunch time. Thousands will lose their jobs next month if the Tata bosses get away with the plans to close down the steelworks’ two main blast furnaces, effectively ending steel production.
This action is nothing less than a jobs massacre. Thousands will be left on the scrapheap with no future.
It is clear that the time for talking is over. If the workers of Port Talbot do not take matters into their own hands, it will be too late. The town, based on steel, will be reduced to a ghost town.
For every steel job lost, there will be a knock-on effect, affecting four or five other workers, contractors and the like. Small shops will be driven out of business.
It will become, in the words of Ellen Wilkinson in regards to Jarrow in the 1930s, “the town that was murdered”.
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Surely, as a first step, there must be an immediate strike, a mass meeting of the town, with the election of an action committee, and an occupation to prevent the blast furnaces being dismantled.
Petitions and ‘cap-in-hand’ pleading will get us nowhere.
We have seen what happened to the South Wales Valleys when they shut the pits. They closed Ebbw Vale, Consett, and many others, and turned them into deserts. They wrecked untold lives and communities in the process.
We cannot afford to sit back and see this repeated. It is time to get off our knees and fight!
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The capitalists – whether in Britain or India – are only interested in their profits. The workers who produce the wealth are seen as dispensable. These billionaire owners can sweep away the livelihood of a whole town overnight with no consideration of the social consequences.
They have wrecked the coal industry, steel, shipbuilding – you name it; all in the name of ‘progress’, but in reality in the name of profits. They leave behind a trail of misery. They are now proposing to turn Port Talbot into a graveyard.
The next largest employer after Tata Steel is the Tesco supermarket – hardly an avenue for those facing the dole queue.
Following the example of Tata gangsters, the Chinese owners of the British Steel Corporation are now planning to axe their blast furnaces in Scunthorpe.
If they get away with this, it will be the first time since the Industrial Revolution that Britain will not be able to produce steel from scratch. This is how low the capitalists and their hangers-on have brought us. These economic vandals have wrecked us!
End of the road
The workers of Port Talbot are at the end of the road. Drastic action is needed.
But many of the union leaders are again ‘going through the motions’, with little intention of fighting. They are part of the ‘tea and biscuit’ brigade.
Their suggestions for delays, ‘voluntary’ redundancies, and new state subsidies of £683m have been dismissed by the owners.
We say: No job cuts! Every job needs to be protected, including for the next generation.
The Tories are offering Tata £500m of our money to sack 3,000 workers, close the blast furnaces, and destroy Port Talbot – all under the guise of greenwashing.
They are living on another planet.
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Asleep at the wheel
We are not fools. Tata’s decision has nothing to do with cutting carbon emissions and creating ‘green jobs’, and everything to do with their fat profits. In fact, Tata is building a new blast furnace in Kalinganagar in India that will belt out pollution.
Tata Steel bosses claim they are losing £1m a day, which is a fiction. In 2022 they made £206m. They paid £1.4bn to shareholders between 2019 and 2023.
The trade union leaders need to get off their backsides and stop pleading with the bosses. Why is the Wales Trades Union Congress not calling for a one-day general strike in Wales?
Paul Nowak, the general secretary of the British TUC, accused the government of being “asleep at the wheel”. But it is the trade union leaders who have been sleeping.
They need to draw a line in the sand. We need to draw a line. If the union leaders keep dragging their feet, the workers must take charge.
No more subsidies to line the pockets of the bosses! Occupy the plant! Spread the action!
We demand that Labour promises to immediately nationalise the steel industry, without compensation. The bosses have squeezed enough out of us! And this time it should be nationalisation under workers’ control and management.
We communists say that the steel industry is vital to a thriving economy. But the capitalists have presided over a massive decline. It is time they were shown the door.
We need to revive the economy, not through handouts to these parasites, but by taking over its key levers – the banks and major industries – and planning it in the interests of the working class. We need an economy based on our needs, not the interests of private profit.
It is time the working people, who built this country, took control of it. It is about time they planned it, organised it, and developed it to their needs, so that all may enjoy the wealth that we produce.
Today, urgent action is needed to save Port Talbot, and all other areas of the country under threat, or they will be laid to ruin. The French farmers brought the EU bosses to their knees. Why can’t we do the same here?
The struggle of the workers of Port Talbot is our struggle. Let’s help them win!
The South Wales Communists are building for a public meeting in Port Talbot on Sunday 11 February, 2-4pm. Join us at the Canolfan Cymunedol Taibach Community Centre (SA13 1NA) to get organised, discuss tactics for the struggle, and how to take it to the next level. The time for action is now!
And if you’re from Port Talbot or will be affected by the proposed closure, we want to hear your thoughts!
Please get in touch at communist.red/submit to let us know what you think of the Tata bosses, and what you think is the way forward. We’ll do our best to publish it in our next issue of The Communist.