Working for you
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