Redcar, UK steelworkers march to save their jobs

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Corus steelworkers in Redcar, Cleveland, England marched yesterday for a campaign to save their jobs, after the closure of Redcar's steelworks was announced in May 2009.

Men, from Unite, marching
Image: David Aisbett.

Approximately 5,000 people, including employees of Redcar's steelworks, other Corus steelworks, Teesport and the local chemical industry, partook in the march, and the Australian Workers' Union also expressed their support.

Trade unions called on the government to help the plant. Roy Rickhuss, Community's National Officer for Steel, said that "we need help, we need support from the government if the manufacturing base in this country is going to survive". He also said that "the government has helped the bowler hats, now it's time to help the hard hats". Derek Simpson, of Unite the Union, was concerned that "the loss of the Corus plant will rip the heart out of this community". Community also warned that the job losses would increase child poverty rates in Teesside.

Vera Baird speaking at the march
Image: David Aisbett.

Vera Baird QC MP, Labour Member of Parliament for Redcar and Solicitor General, expressed hope that Corus at Redcar would regain its main contract. She claimed that "the government is 100% behind, and has played a key role in encouraging these negotiations to resume".

A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said that "the difficulties that the company is facing are caused by an extreme downturn in demand for steel around the world". The government has offered £5 million (€5.8 million, $8.2 million) to retrain the workers.

10,000 jobs could be lost in Teesside from the closure of Redcar steelworks. 1,920 people are directly employed by Corus in Redcar, with a further 2,000 contractors being employed, and other local businesses relying on Corus' business.

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