Gransnet forums

News & politics

UK Steel Industry & Media Reporting

(153 Posts)
railman Wed 22-May-19 12:40:43

Watched with sadness the reports on BBC News about the eminent collapse of the UK steel industry.

The reporter stated that China has produced more steel in the past 2 years than the UK has in 149 years!!

Aside from the scant attention to detail, this hyperbolae does little justice to the innovators in the UK and Europe, who invented and developed the modern steelmaking processes.

I don't think the BBC had a true grasp of how important the UK's works at Scunthorpe, Sheffield and many others, have been to this global industry. In particular, the work done in Germany and at Barrow-in-Furness - where the works was the model used by Andrew Carnegie in the USA - production today is largely based on the technology we developed.

The BBC News reporter was clearly unaware of the history, and as a shout out to Barrow-in-Furness - most of the world's railways from Sweden to Australia and the USA, have had rails rolled in that town.

Still - I guess you can't show shiny graphics that demonstrate the 'puny' output of the UK compared to China, with that sort of data.

AIBU to assume that the bulletin was just the UK Government once again using apples and oranges comparisons to justify the loss of industry, and total lack of support for innovation.

gillybob Wed 22-May-19 18:26:32

Jamie Oliver’s restaurants were overpriced for the mediocre food they served . I note he won’t be affected in any way, shape or form . Those Poor employees will struggle to find other jobs . Can’t blame bloomin’ Brexit for that either !

pinkquartz Wed 22-May-19 18:33:06

I also feel for the workers losing their jobs....the impact on local communities will be huge.
The effect on society will also be immense.

Something has to be done to keep people in work. If it isn't steel then what? Isn't our British steel of better quality ?

quizqueen Wed 22-May-19 18:41:48

Letting this industry collapse is very short sighted. I believe the steel they made there is high end compared with most of the rubbish that comes out of China. We are going to need to produce as much as possible ourselves after Brexit. Having to pay the EU for carbon offsetting is one of the most ridiculous thing I have heard. As if that is going to save the planet! The only thing which will save our planet is if there 90% fewer people on it.

Of course, while still in the EU, members states are NOT supposed to support their industries in case it gives them an 'advantage' over the others. I wonder whom most of the unemployed steel workers will be voting for tomorrow?

crystaltipps Wed 22-May-19 19:00:45

Didn’t the UK veto protecting EU steel production ( including the U.K.) and raising tariffs on Chinese imports?

crystaltipps Wed 22-May-19 19:02:49

If the unemployment steel workers vote for Brexit they’ll really be the turkeys.

Grandad1943 Wed 22-May-19 19:06:14

For those that are still in denial in regard to the significant role Brexit has played in the collapse of British Steel, please follow this link:-

M0nica Wed 22-May-19 21:17:23

I have just read the article Grandad1943 and while I have no quarrel with its description of the problems caused to the company by Brexit, the writing has been on the wall for the steel industry for sometime. For the last decade at least the industry has been struggling, a pattern of buy-outs, redundancies and government money sunk into a sinking ship.

It may be Brexit that has given the coup de grace, but it has only hastened the inevitable. The industry should have been put out of its misery years ago and all that money wasted by constant cash injections into a dead horse could have been better spent of the area these steel works are in. The infrastructure, housing and education and training to make them attractive places to new employers.

MaizieD Wed 22-May-19 21:18:40

Crystaltipps, the UK did indeed veto the EU putting protective tariffs on the cheap Chinese steel that was flooding the market.

M0nica Wed 22-May-19 21:24:48

It is an illusion that British produced high quality steel while the rest of the world produced dross. Countries like India and China certainly produce a lot of basic steel but they also have big new plants capable of producing high quality steel for specialist uses a lot cheaper and better than we do in our old and generally out of date plant.

Grandad1943 Wed 22-May-19 21:51:19

M0nica, there were indeed problems facing British Steel prior to this Brexit debacle. However, the management and workers at the Scunthorpe plant had at least a fighting chance before the uncertainties of tariffs being placed on products manufactured at the plant came into play and has continued for three years.

The instability of the pound currency due to Brexit has also made it virtually impossible for British Steel management to quote prices to overseas customers and therefore, those customers have placed their orders elsewhere in the world.

No management however good they may be could have kept British Steel in financial being in an industry as competitive as the steel industry with the above additional factors in play.

As stated, British Steel had its problems prior to Brexit coming about. However, the total competence of this Tory government in its handling of Britains withdrawal from the European Union made the problems of British Steel impossible to solve. Therefore this government and the Brexitiers are responsible for the probability that twenty-five thousand quality well-paid jobs will be lost.

M0nica Wed 22-May-19 22:06:09

Regardless of governing party, the British steel industry is/was on its way out. hundreds of millions of pounds have been poured into the steel industry over the last 15 years, every penny of it wasted. Think what a difference that money could have made to the lives and prospects of those living in those steel towns.

I am surprised such a good socialist as you should be happy to see so much of the tax payers money beings sunk into a dying industry and into the pockets of so many ddodgy venture capitalist when it could be spent directly on helping those in insecure jobs and with few prospects get the training to enter better more secure work and in making the towns they live in, so often run down and derelict, attractive to new and expanding industries.

GabriellaG54 Wed 22-May-19 22:13:12

If Grandad1943 read the news without distortion, he'd know that BS were ailing long before Brexit.
Their output in half a century was less than China's output over 20 months.
Our once great manufacturing industry has very very sadly, died a terrible death.
It's life. Things change.
I recall thinking my oldest brother was a really lazy so and so for having a tv with remote control when they first came out.
Robots in industry, cleaner air I we really want chimneys belching noxious fumes into our atmosphere?
We change and adapt as does every living thing.

GabriellaG54 Wed 22-May-19 22:14:06


Grandad1943 Wed 22-May-19 22:45:24

So, we abandon these twenty-five thousand workers and hope they will all find alternative employment in coffee shops or other menial employment. In that, the zero hours contracts or Gig Economy terms and conditions they will receive will have to be subsidised by the taxpayer through Universal Credit etc.

Many will undoubtedly find themselves unable to pay their rents, mortgages, Council tax and much else so social service costs for those former Steelworkers will again have to be met by the Councils by way of their council tax payers.

Therefore many who are at present earning good salaries and wages and are paying into the tax system will instead become recipients of benefits and will be described on this forum by some given time as the feckless who do not wish to work.

When anyone talks of throwing money away in a lost cause, there is more than one way of doing that.

Callistemon Wed 22-May-19 23:12:23

BS has been ailing for years before the referendum. There are new housing estates being built on former BS sites not far from where we live - we do wonder what jobs the new home-owners do?

Yes, I agree, quizqueen, that the steel from China is not of the same quality as British steel and it is shortsighted not to save this industry and for purchasers to invest in a better quality product.
A poster mentioned wind turbines - surely each turbine uses a large amount of steel in its construction?

Joelsnan Wed 22-May-19 23:24:36

Not bailing out the steel industry would be a short sighted disastrous move. Yes, China and India are cheap mass producers who are currently flooding the markets however this is only enabled by the low wages and conditions of their workers. Globalisation is a failing experiment and it is beginning to show that workers do eventually cotton on to their exploitation and start to demand better wages and conditions. Poland is one country which is demonstrating this phenomena and this has resulted in a slowdown in emigration and a return of many ex-pats as salaries and work conditions are rising so are production costs. It’s like chasing the dragon, industry now always seems to need to chase cheap production wherever in the world this may be however it is now evident that cheap production always has a measurable life span. Steel prices from China and/or India will rise, either because of employee unrest or by allowing these countries to become steel producing monopolies.
For security, UK should retain its steel industry, Every part of our lives have some dependence on steel. It should be nationalised. Too many of our industries have been bought by overseas asset strippers all profits being offshored and the business run into the ground, British Steel is one of them.

M0nica Wed 22-May-19 23:28:30

Grandad1943, that is not what I said and you know it. Just go back and reread all my posts on this thread. I am saying that all the money being thrown away on supporting the unsupportable should be used to help those affected by shutting down these drags on the economy. How does paying those now running British Steel hundreds of millions of pounds help the workers.

Think what all the money lost without trace could have done to rebuild Scunthorpe, get rid of derelict housing, improve housing, provide really good well funded education and retraining.

Scunthorpe unlike many other derelict towns has excellent communications. The M18 links it to the MI and M62 and to Leeds, the boom town of Yorkshire. I drove over the M180 heading for Scunthorpe last Friday around 6.00pm and the road was a non-stop stream of traffic travelling back to Scunthorpe from jobs elsewhere. It is far better sited than Hull, which also has no motorway connection. It also has the busy and active port of Immingham nearby.

With good travel connections, on the edge of a busy and wealthy region, there is no reason at all why new industries shouldn't be attracted to set up business there if the immediate environment was improved. There is absolutely no reason why their future should be (to) find alternative employment in coffee shops or other menial employment. In that, the zero hours contracts or Gig Economy terms and conditions they will receive will have to be subsidised by the taxpayer through Universal Credit etc. It is this romantic view of heavy industry and its noble workers old before their time as they earn their living by the strength of their bodies that means so much money that could be better employed has been thrown away on a moribund industry.

I bet most of the workers would walk out of the steel works tomorrow if they could move to a less arduous job in a clean environment with a better wage and good job security. Think of all that money thrown away that could have provided the seed money for just such a future.
Thanks to the old romantics like you who were happy to kill investment by throwing the investment money away they are now likely to be condemned to just the future you foretell.

Labaik Wed 22-May-19 23:29:19

'For security, UK should retain its steel industry, Every part of our lives have some dependence on steel. It should be nationalised. Too many of our industries have been bought by overseas asset strippers all profits being offshored and the business run into the ground, British Steel is one of them'. Absolutely !

GabriellaG54 Wed 22-May-19 23:45:29

Why would any foreign company buy a viable going concern for the express purpose of running it into the ground? Tell me...

Joelsnan Wed 22-May-19 23:56:18

Why would any foreign company buy a viable going concern for the express purpose of running it into the ground? Tell me...

As the above comment originated from my post I will respond:
In general It is to close down the competition or to gain intellectual assets and customers to further their own businesses in their home countries.

chattykathy Wed 22-May-19 23:59:14

The venture capitalists who bought BS for £1 have been charging the company 9% interest per year for a loan from one of their other companies! Equating to £20m a year straight into their pockets. The sooner it's nationalised the better. And by the way Germany somehow make their steel industry compete against China.

rosecarmel Thu 23-May-19 02:06:59

It isn't a matter of romance but gratitude- There isn't any- Its the old boys club business model: Greed-

Fortunately, there is a growing list of companies breaking away from that practice-

crystaltipps Thu 23-May-19 06:35:34

I’m not sure what new less arduous and clean industries people envisage setting up in places like Scunthorpe. Ones that employ thousands and don’t rely on anything imported naturally.

Iam64 Thu 23-May-19 07:25:22

The devastation caused to former mining communities will be repeated in Scunthorpe. The idea that 'new less arduous and clean industries' will be queuing up to set themselves up there seems unlikely.
I heard a steel worker interviewed yesterday, he was fighting tears as he talked about the Tory governments never caring about what happens in the north.
I agree with him.

Mental health is better in those of us working. Men who worked in the mines quickly succumbed to drug/alcohol/mental health problems once the work they ha pride in disappeared. If the steel industry isn't to be bailed out by using our tax money then let's see a proper plan for investment in the north east and west.

gillybob Thu 23-May-19 07:35:06

Just look at the NE of England where I live. The mines and the shipyards are all gone. We have a high percentage of ex heavy industry elderly relying on benefits. Very little in the way of jobs to support young families. Without Nissan propping us up we would have nothing . Still it keeps us right where they want us, bottom of the table in terms of income and house prices and way up top when it comes to poverty.