Coal and steel were the building blocks on which the ‘Great’ was put into Britain – but in a matter of months both could be no longer.
The news that Tata Steel wants to sell off all its assets in the UK came as no real surprise. The steel industry is in crisis, not just in the UK, but globally. Over the past few years China, which has gone from being almost a bit-player in the industry to the producer of 50 per cent of world steel, has flooded the market, making industries such as ours uncompetitive.
As a result the future is bleak for thousands of people working in the industry, as well as those who rely on the wages of steel workers for their own livelihoods.
How familiar a scenario is that for mineworkers and communities such as ours that grew up around pitheads? We know the devastation the loss of a major industry can bring. We know the despair of trying to find a job to put food on the family table when there are none around.
We watched almost helplessly as our communities were ripped apart, and that’s what’s happening now to Britain’s steelworkers. Steel communities are holding their breath as Prime Minister David Cameron says he will do all he can to save thousands of jobs, perhaps more in hope than expectation.
Mr Cameron and his ministers have to come up with a plan and execute it swiftly and successfully if another British industry is not to go to the wall like our own proud mining heritage was allowed to do.