Yorkshire Post articles about job losses in the steel industry

This article and the editorial beneath appeared in the Yorkshire Post

MP blasts ministers over steel industry 'sacrifice'
8 July 2009
By Jonathan Reed Political Editor
A FORMER Labour minister yesterday accused the Government of "sacrificing" steel workers' jobs in South Yorkshire while protecting rich and "greed-soaked" city bankers.
Rotherham MP Denis MacShane condemned the decision to offer the struggling Corus steel firm – which is shedding thousands of jobs – a "paltry" £5m to help and said Labour could be kicked out of power if it failed to help the industry.He also questioned whether Prime Minister Gordon Brown was adhering to his promise not to repeat "mistakes" from previous recessions. He said the Government was "on tramlines that have not altered for the last 25 years" in believing "any job reduction is good and anything that a company wants to do has to be accepted, and the Government are powerless".As communities in Rotherham, Sheffield and Scunthorpe are reeling from last month's announcement of another 2,000 job cuts – on top of 2,500 earlier in the year – a host of MPs made the case for extra Government support in a debate in Parliament yesterday.Mr MacShane said ministers should not underestimate the "injustice" felt by workers and communities across South Yorkshire who saw billions spent on propping up the banks and then learnt of the huge pay packet agreed for Stephen Hester, chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland which is now majority- owned by the Government."The paltry sum of £5m = for thousands of steelworkers contrasts sadly with the new wages of £9m announced for the new boss of the Royal Bank of Scotland, even though this bank is under Government supervision," Mr MacShane told MPs.Addressing Regional Economic Development Minister Rosie Winterton, he said: "Can you understand the outrage of families who now have to face the dole while the Government sign off on a £9m pay package for this greed-soaked banker?"This is not a moral maze; it is immoral, and the sense of injustice at the double standard, whereby the rich in the City are protected while the steelworkers of South Yorkshire are sacrificed, should not be underestimated."Ministers have offered £5m – including £1.5m from regional development agency Yorkshire Forward, which is also operating a manufacturing taskforce to help affected workers – to fund training so other workers can be kept on until trading improves but Labour MPs are dismayed more has not been done.Mr MacShane added: "It's not too late. If Labour loses steel, Labour loses power – it's as simple as that."Sheffield MPs Angela Smith and Richard Caborn, Scunthorpe's Elliot Morley and Brigg and Goole's Ian Cawsey were also in attendance for the debate yesterday.Mr Caborn, another former minister, said: "If we allow this workforce to be broken apart it will be very difficult to come back, and we will pay not just a human price but an economic price."Ms Winterton, MP for Doncaster North, said the Government was "focused" on the issue and said job losses were "absolutely tragic of course for individuals, families and communities".She said the Government had already met some of Corus' requests and said it was now discussing with the company how the £5m could best be used.

Editorial in Yorkshire Post

Ministers lack steel over jobs
8 July 2009

THE sheer scale of the Government's bailout of the banks will, inevitably, draw unfair comparisons with those troubled industries – such as steel – where the Ministerial response has been porous.
However, the Government had to nationalise the banks. A failure to act would have left the country facing ruination from the ensuing chaos. Even Gordon Brown's critics recognise this. Where they differ is over the amounts that have been pocketed, and
continue to be accrued, by the disgraced bank bosses in question, even though this sum is relatively modest when compared to the overall taxpayer liability.Yet, as Denis MacShane told the House of Commons so eloquently yesterday, Ministers do themselves no favours when they appear almost ambivalent towards the plight of the hundreds of steel workers in South Yorkshire, and also Scunthorpe, who are losing their jobs. Compared to the bankers, these are not wealthy individuals. They are working class men desperately trying to eke out a living. Unlike the financial fraternity, and others, they have few, if any savings to fall back on when they face a time of personal crisis.It is little wonder, therefore, that they feel betrayed when a Labour government, which is supposed to be on the side of equality and fairness, seems so reluctant to exert any influence on steel giant Corus and its owners.There is little co-ordination between government departments, according to Dr MacShane, whose previous Ministerial experience means that he is well-versed in such matters. Ministers do have scope to limit Corus's overheads. They also need to insist that the steel furnaces remain operational, and primed for action when there is an economic upturn.Yet it was Dr MacShane's final point that was, perhaps, the most profound. Criticising Ministers for offering "words" rather than "concrete action", he added tellingly: "If Labour loses steel, Labour loses power."He was right. For, if the Labour Party cannot support British manufacturing, what is its purpose?