A socialist plan for steel

17 April 2016

By Jeremy Dewar

Labour should demand the permanent nationalisation of Tata’s UK operation. Steelworkers have paid for these works many times over with their labour, so no compensation is necessary.

John McDonnell is right: Labour’s previous nationalisation model is flawed. Instead of a capitalist management dictating to and exploiting the workforce, we propose workers’ control of production. Those who know the industry best can organise their work collectively.

Steel is a vital input for manufacturing and infrastructure. Does anyone believe the world has such a plentiful supply of houses, hospitals, schools and bridges that we do not need all the steel that we can produce?

Its production should not be left to the anarchic and profit-driven “free market” but planned to meet social need. Like McDonnell says, HS2 and Crossrail should be built with nationalised steel, as should a million new council houses, schools, hospitals and roads. While economists claim that there is a 50 per cent “overproduction” of steel, is there not also a crying need to rebuild and modernise those parts of the world destroyed by wars, in Syria, in Iraq and Afghanistan?

And what about those countries underdeveloped by imperialism and ruined by austerity? A socialist plan has to be international.

To this end, the British labour movement should declare its solidarity with all steelworkers fighting back: from China to the USA. This could lay the basis for a global movement to wrest control of industry from the exploiters and plan production to eliminate poverty and squalor, without polluting the planet with the unnecessary shipping of steel across the oceans.

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