On Saturday 18 July around 3,000 people marched through Redcar under the banner “Save our Steel”.
Earlier this year the steel maker Corus announced plans to shut its Teesside plant with the loss of 2,000 jobs and hundreds more in companies who supply or rely on Corus.
The unions Community and Unite called the protest and the formal call “Save our Steel” was somewhat limited, with no clear proposals from unions or campaign of how to achieve this or strategies for the fight, other than a broad coalition of unions, local politicians, media and businesses.
Although hand made banners on the march, including “Gordon Brown — you’ve bailed out the banks. Why not save our jobs” — showed that many workers would support calls for nationalisation and workers’ control, neither the left nor the unions turned these into chants on the march or raised them from the platform.
The recent occupations, including the present Vestas dispute, show the way, but it seemed these links weren’t made and this has to be the next step.
Vera Baird, local MP, was booed and heckled by the crowd and she made no commitments for government support.
The following weekend the North East Shop Stewards network organised a meeting in Teesside to bring together the struggles of Visteon, Lindsey and Corus. Hopefully a solidarity committee will be set up by the activist left that can mobilise to link the lessons of the Vestas occupation and the future of Corus and a campaign independent from labour movement bureaucracy and local businesses.