Trade unions work on plans to mitigate job losses at Tata Steel sites across the country, including Corby’s tube works

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Unions were told on Thursday that Port Talbot's two blast furnaces will close by the end of September

With Tata Steel’s decision to close two blast furnaces by the end of September, trade unionists have been working on plans to make sure jobs are not lost across the country including at Corby’s tube works.

Tata told unions on Thursday that the closure of Port Talbot's two blast furnaces will result in a loss of about 2,800 jobs, the majority of which will be in Port Talbot, while it’s unknown how many will be lost in Corby.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A 30,000 signature petition was handed to politicians in Corby on Friday (April 26) urging them to support UK steel.

Unite petition is handed to Tom Pursglove (left image) and Alun Davies speaks at Workers Memorial Day Event in Corby (right image)Unite petition is handed to Tom Pursglove (left image) and Alun Davies speaks at Workers Memorial Day Event in Corby (right image)
Unite petition is handed to Tom Pursglove (left image) and Alun Davies speaks at Workers Memorial Day Event in Corby (right image)

Organisers say the strength of feeling sends a ‘clear message to Westminster that the UK needs a strong steel industry’.

The petition has been drawn up by Unite as part of the campaign to secure the sector’s future and they chose Corby Town FC as the location to hand it over.

Although Corby’s steelworks closed down 45 years ago, the town still has a tube works which is run by Tata Steel and is intrinsically linked to other sites around the country including Port Talbot, from where the Corby works gets a daily rail delivery of coiled steel.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

As part of the event, Unite asked all political parties that are seeking to be elected in the Corby and East Northamptonshire constituency to come along and listen to the Unite Workers’ Plan for Steel.

Unite Corby branch secretary for Tata Steel, Gary BuchanUnite Corby branch secretary for Tata Steel, Gary Buchan
Unite Corby branch secretary for Tata Steel, Gary Buchan

The plan’s pledges include to expand steel-making capacity by at least double, tackle energy prices, change procurement rules to ensure UK public contracts use 100 per cent UK steel, and taking a public stake in our steel industry.

Corby MP Tom Pursglove attended the event, as did Reform candidate Eddie McDonald, and Ian Cameron on behalf of Labour’s Lee Barron who could not be there due to a work conflict.

The politicians were asked what they are going to do for steel ‘to make steel the vibrant industry it can be’ after which the petition was handed to Tom Pursglove to be delivered to Westminster.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

All of the politicians recognised the importance of the steel industry to Corby.

National officer for Steel at Community Union, Alun Davies speaks at Workers Memorial Day event in CorbyNational officer for Steel at Community Union, Alun Davies speaks at Workers Memorial Day event in Corby
National officer for Steel at Community Union, Alun Davies speaks at Workers Memorial Day event in Corby

Gary Buchan, the Unite Corby branch secretary for Tata Steel, said: “Steel is a foundation industry in the UK, it’s at the heart of manufacturing, it’s literally the blood of manufacturing. From the cutlery we use when we eat our dinner, to the planes we fly on to go on holiday, to the ships that bring in goods.

“We’re an island nation, we’re a rich in resource nation and what’s going on is industrial vandalism. We’re off-shoring our carbon emissions to foreign countries in the pursuit of profit and that cannot be allowed.

“In doing that, steel communities are going to be decimated. I lived through that in the 80s, I’ve seen what happened to Corby and I wouldn’t wish that on any other community.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A motion was put forward regarding Unite’s five point plan at last week’s (April 25) full council by Cllr John Maghee (Lab).

The motion was voted down by the ruling Conservative group, with one councillor saying that steel produced in other countries is better.

Read More
Tensions flare as north Northants Tories vote against motion to support UK steel...

Many of the same trade unionists from Friday’s event were present at the International Workers Memorial Day event held at the Steelman statue in James Ashworth Square on Saturday (April 27).

Also in attendance was Alun Davies, national officer for steel at Community Union.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Community Union and GMB have a plan which they are currently working on to try and be able to mitigate job losses following Tata’s decision to close Port Talbot’s two blast furnaces.

Alun said: “We’ve approached the company and the company are going to meet with us Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and we are going to start the wheels in motion to try and mitigate these job losses, ask for the just transition, and look to see what we can do for the employees that are affected.

“We don’t believe the packages on the table at the moment are good enough to bring forward the people that might want to go. If they can tweak that package then that will allow more people to put their hand up and say ‘we’ll go’ which will protect the ones that want to stay.”

Community and GMB are in the middle of a ballot at the moment which could see company wide industrial action, including in Corby.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Alun said: “It doesn’t mean that they’ll be going out on strike, it means that it gives us more power when we’re in the room to say ‘this is the mandate that we’ve got from the people that have worked for you tirelessly for years and that have given everything for you guys, you now need to pay them back’.”

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.