Another fine steel mess?

With all that’s going on in the world (and I suspect that a certain David Cameron’s financial affairs have driven steel from the top of the news agenda) this story from The Scunthorpe Telegraph might just have gone unnoticed outside of North Lincolnshire.

It’s reported that Greybull Capital (whose website seems to consist of a single page – wouldn’t you find that a little odd? I do.) are asking for a 3% pay cut from the Scunthorpe steel workers to aid them in their attempt to buy Scunthorpe’s last remaining steelworks.

I find this a bit weird. A steelworks is an industrial behemoth in terms of size and required funding. There’s nothing small about these places and that includes the running costs. Yet Greybull are asking for a one year three percent pay cut from the workforce? They (Greybull) seem to think that they can turn the plant’s fortunes around in a single year. Is this wishful thinking of almost delusional proportions? Or is the three percent pay cut likely to be a more permanent feature of working life for the steelworkers?

I don’t see the current low prices for steel, and Chinese overcapacity in terms of steel making, changing any time soon. In fact, whilst steel is still widely used in manufacturing today I suspect that won’t continue to be the case. I predict that new materials and technologies will soon render steel as obsolete as VHS tapes.

Now I know what it’s like to work in an industry for which there appears to be little or no future. I, along with many others, have faced the abyss of unemployment caused by that unavoidable force that is called change and we took action to avoid it. So I have to ask: “Why haven’t the steelworkers chosen to find other employment before the crisis was upon them?”

Ever since I came to North Lincolnshire there have been stories about the Scunthorpe steelworks closing. Hell, the last 30 odd years has seen hundreds of news stories based around the death of British steel making and the jobs that go with it. Haven’t the steelworkers noticed this? If I’d been a steelworker I would have been looking for another career rather than wanting to be left holding the putz prize when everything finally collapsed into the maw of doom.

Leave a Reply