Corby steel workers carrying on ‘doing what they do best’ during crisis

Community Union General Secretary Roy Rickhuss and Corby Tata multi-union chairman Dougie Fairburn NNL-160519-154227001
Community Union General Secretary Roy Rickhuss and Corby Tata multi-union chairman Dougie Fairburn NNL-160519-154227001
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Steelworkers in Corby feel they are ‘in limbo’, according to their union representative.

Tata Corby multi-union chairman Dougie Fairburn said workers at the Corby plant are nervous about their future.

Tata Steel, Corby. NNL-160519-154001001

Tata Steel, Corby. NNL-160519-154001001

He spoke as Steel union boss Roy Rickhuss visited Tata in Weldon Road this afternoon to reassure workers that he believes there is a strong future for the business.

There has been a question mark over the future of Tata for the past two months since the Indian owners said they wanted to close their UK business.

Seven buyers have come forward to express interest in the whole, or parts of, the company which employs 15,000 workers across the country - 600 of them in Corby.

It is also feared that hundreds more jobs in supporting industries in Corby could be lost if the steelworks shuts.

Corby Tata multi-union chairman Dougie Fairburn and Community Union General Secretary Roy Rickhuss. NNL-160519-154310001

Corby Tata multi-union chairman Dougie Fairburn and Community Union General Secretary Roy Rickhuss. NNL-160519-154310001

Mr Fairburn said: “Since the 80s there have been thousands of jobs go. It’s been death by a thousand cuts.

“People feel they are in limbo. They are nervous about the effect that the current situation may have on their jobs.

“There are people like me who have worked here for 35 years who are skilled and have good working conditions who would have no chance of getting another job. These are skilled jobs but those skills are not always transferable.

“There’s not a lot of call for crane drivers, for example, in Corby.

“We’re just carrying on doing what we do best.”

Community Union general secretary Roy Rickhuss said: “It’s an unbelievably difficult time for our members and their families.

“Their questions to me have quite simply been ‘have I got a job?’ and ‘have I got a pension?’.

“Tata have been quite open with the fact they have had seven bids - and two of those are in the public domain.

“There are some very strong, good, bids that have come forward and that’s testament to the workers. It shows that this is not a basket case.

“We are more confident now that we will find a successful conclusion.”

“With the right support and investment this industry can and will be successful.

“The number of companies that have come forward as potential buyers has demonstrated this.”

Mr Rickhuss said that UK plants were exceeding turnaround plans that had been drawn-up to try to save the steel industry and that he was confident they were viable businesses.

In response to concerns that the survival of Corby steelworks would not be a pririty over bigger plants including Port Talbot, he said: “When I’ve visited other smaller works around the country they’ve told me they’re fed up of hearing about Port Talbot and I’ve gone out of my way to reassure them. When I met David Cameron I told him this is not kust about Port Talbot, it’s about all the plants and the whole steel industry.

“Corby relies on Port Talbot for its coil and slab but Port Talbot relies on Corby to add value to those products.

“This is not an issue just for Scotland, or Wales, or England, it’s an issue for the whole of the UK.”