Work­ing for you

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Name in here

There was a very wel­come piece of good news last week when it was an­nounced that a buyer had been found for La­nark­shire’s last two steel plants, Cly­de­bridge and Dalzell.

Lib­erty House, an in­ter­na­tional met­als firm, has said it plans to get both plants up and run­ning again as soon as pos­si­ble, and ex­ec­u­tive chair San­jeev Gupta pledged to “re­store them to their for­mer glory, steadily re­build­ing their skilled work­forces and cus­tomer base.”

Of course this is a fan­tas­tic re­sult for those staff still work­ing at the plants, who had com­pleted the re­main­ing or­ders held by the for­mer own­ers, Tata Steel, and who then en­sured the plants were moth­balled in a way that they could quickly be re­turned to pro­duc­tion if a buyer was found.

But it is also good news for many other work­ers who had been let go and who now will hope­fully find that their skills and ex­pe­ri­ence are needed once again.

It goes with­out say­ing that there are sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fits for the whole lo­cal com­mu­nity too, if scores of peo­ple are back in work and this key in­dus­trial base has been se­cured.

It is of much less im­por­tance, but I have to say that the emer­gence of a new owner is also one in the eye for those who shrugged their shoul­ders and said the plants would never re­open.

I can un­der­stand why some peo­ple feared the steel plants would suf­fer the same fate as pre­vi­ous eco­nomic ca­su­al­ties like Philips in Hamil­ton, Hae­mo­n­et­ics in Both­well, Freescale and the Rolls Royce in East Kil­bride, or parts of the coal in­dus­try, such as at Bro­ken Cross in Coal­burn.

As I wrote in my col­umn here last Oc­to­ber, no-one wanted to see Cly­de­bridge and Dalzell go the same way, and that is why South La­nark­shire Coun­cil never re­signed it­self or gave up hope.

That ’ s why we quickly joined forces with the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment in the Scot­tish steel task­force, on which we were joined by the UK Gov­ern­ment, trade unions, Scot­tish En­ter­prise, North La­nark­shire Coun­cil and other in­ter­ested par­ties.

I was proud that we played a sig­nif­i­cant role in the work of the task­force, which met seven times at the coun­cil’s Hamil­ton head­quar­ters for dis­cus­sion and up­dates. At no time in those meet­ings did we ever give up hope that Cly­de­bridge and Dalzell had a vi­able fu­ture.

That’s a les­son for all of us in what re­main dif­fi­cult eco­nomic times. We should never give up hope – not in­di­vid­u­als, if they find them­selves out of work, nor the agen­cies who are re­spon­si­ble for help­ing those in­di­vid­u­als back into em­ploy­ment or are asked to step in when large scale re­dun­dan­cies oc­cur.

I’m proud that South La­nark­shire Coun­cil is in­volved ev­ery day in help­ing such in­di­vid­u­als. In 2014/ 15 our em­ploy­a­bil­ity pro­gramme, South La­nark­shire Works 4U, of­fered help to 4,000 un­em­ployed peo­ple, and 1,600 of them moved into work.

In the cur­rent year, by De­cem­ber an­other 1,767 peo­ple had been given sup­port with 739 mov­ing back into work.

We have now played a key role in sav­ing Cly­de­bridge and Dalzell too. As a union leader at the Hoover fac­tory in Cam­bus­lang, I worked for decades try­ing to pro­tect jobs in a tra­di­tional lo­cal in­dus­try, so I knew ex­actly what the steel work­ers, their fam­i­lies and their com­mu­ni­ties were go­ing through. That’s why I wanted the coun­cil to of­fer ev­ery pos­si­ble sup­port it could to the work of the task­force.

It was im­por­tant that ev­ery ef­fort went into keep­ing Cly­de­bridge and Dalzell open. Not just be­cause of the jobs in­volved and the im­pact on work­ers and their fam­i­lies, but also be­cause of the strate­gic long- term im­por­tance of re­tain­ing a lo­cal steel in­dus­try and the skills that go with it.

I am de­lighted that ev­ery­one’s work has paid div­i­dends and that the plants will con­tinue to be a source of lo­cal em­ploy­ment and com­mu­nity pride.

Work­ing to­gether Fer­gus Ewing MSP chairs a task­force meet­ing in Hamil­ton flanked by Coun­cil­lor Ed­die McAvoy

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