Work­ing for you

Rutherglen Reformer - - News -

I’m sure ev­ery Re­former reader has been struck by the lat­est blow to Scot­tish manufacturing – the sick­en­ing news last week that the own­ers plan to close down our last steel plants at Cly­de­bridge and Dalzell.

Many of you will know peo­ple who work there. Some of you will be Tata Steel work­ers your­selves.

And, even if you are not, all our lives will be af­fected by the knock-on ef­fects on the lo­cal econ­omy, with more peo­ple out of work and the in­evitable im­pact on the sup­ply chain.

I worked most of my life in an­other great La­nark­shire manufacturing in­sti­tu­tion, the Hoover fac­tory in Cam­bus­lang, and I know what it is like to fight for an industry’s sur­vival, and for jobs, in the face of ad­verse global eco­nomic forces.

Like too many peo­ple, I’ve seen the ef­fect on fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties if that fight is lost.

South La­nark­shire is by no means unique in this – in fact in many cases we have been more suc­cess­ful than other parts of Scot­land in hold­ing on to tra­di­tional in­dus­tries and de­vel­op­ing new ones.

But there have been too many ca­su­al­ties – Philips in Hamil­ton, Hae­mo­n­et­ics in Both­well, Freescale and the Rolls Royce in East Kil­bride, and the loss of jobs in the coal industry, such as at Bro­ken Cross in Coal­burn. No-one wants to see Cly­de­bridge and Dalzell go the same way, and your coun­cil will be at the heart of at­tempts to sup­port the plants and their work­ers.

To­mor­row, South La­nark­shire Coun­cil will host the first meet­ing of the Scot­tish Steel Task­force, which will pull to­gether the resources of the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment and its agen­cies, both South and

North La­nark­shire Coun­cil and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Tata Steel, its work­ers and the trade unions.

The pri­or­ity will be to de­velop an eco­nomic re­cov­ery plan which tries to se­cure a fu­ture for the two plants, while also sup­port­ing those who work there and the com­mu­ni­ties they live in. A long-term re­gen­er­a­tion strat­egy must also be worked out, re­gard­less of the fi­nal de­ci­sion of the plants.

We need to be hon­est about this: I don’t know if we can keep the plants open; but I do know that we need to try – not just to save the jobs of those af­fected but also be­cause I think gen­er­a­tions to come will pay the price if Scot­land loses its steel industry. Steel has been a big part of our his­tory and should be in our fu­ture too.

The coun­cil is not new to this sort of

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