Metal fatigue

, I I'I}. ,. a at

Ravenscraig: stealing itselt tor a bleak luture n 5 April Clydesdale Tubeworks in Bellshill will close its gates for the last time. making 1200 workers redundant in an area where unemployment is already well above the national average. By July another 1 1()() jobs will have gone at nearby Ravenscraig. a loss that will halfthe plant‘s output at a stroke. An industry that employed 27.500 people in Scotland during the 1970s will have all but vanished by the mid- 1990s.

It is almost impossible to comprehend the effect these closures will have on the area around Motherwell and on the steelworkers themselves. Harry Carlin. secretary of the shop stewards’ committee at the Clydesdale works. takes a very pessimistic view: ‘Within two years. male unemployment in Lanarkshire will go up to 40 per cent. Then you‘ll get the marriage break-ups. the increase in alcoholism. the suicides the devastation of a working-class area.‘

Amongst the worst affected will be the younger workers. including Carlin‘s 20-year-old son who currently works at Ravenscraig. He believes that young skilled workers may have to leave their home area just to find a job.

‘The immorality ofthe situation is that British Steel don‘t take into consideration that there are

As Lanarkshire prepares for thousands ofjob losses at the Ravenscraig and Clydesdale steelworks, Alan Morrison looks at what the future holds for the Scottish steel industry and its workers.

thousands of young people going onto the dole. young workers who will never get a job again. The workforce here are bitterly disappointed. especially against Sir Robert Scholey. who was hellbent on destroying the steel industry in Scotland and has done exactly that. All British Steel has done is to take the blood and sweat of the workers.”

Criticism of British Steel‘s policy has come from across the political spectrum. A Commons trade and industry select committee report. held back from publication until 14 March, is expected to question the company’s decision not to provide figures on the profitability of Ravenscraig. thereby denying essential information to potential buyers, should the plant be put on the market.

Sir Robert Scholey, chairman of British Steel, has always claimed that disclosure of the plant’s figures would put competitors at an advantage. He cites global overcapacity of steel as a reason for the company narrowing its strip production. although others. including SNP steel spokesman Iain Lawson, claim that lack of investment in the Scottish plants over the years has seriously undermined their production capability.

, Nevertheless. the efforts of the men themselves

have made Ravenscraig one ofthe most

productive plants in Europe.

Lawson stresses that the crisis facing the Scottish steel industry should not be taken in isolation. “All the way down the line.’ he says. ‘there are examples of where the knock-on effect is going to be very substantial. It has been calculated that for every job lost at Ravenscraig. four others will disappear outside the industry.‘

The effects will be felt not only by local shop-owners. but by transport companies. British Rail. port authorities and engineering works. This situation has arisen despite government ‘guarantees‘ made at the time of privatisation that the Scottish steel industry would continue

until at least 1994. Lawson voiced his doubts

then. and now says. ‘we all know who was right and who was wrong. but it‘s not much compensation for the thousands of folk that are out on the street.‘

It will certainly be of little help to the men at the Clydesdale works while they wait for their redundancy payments in April. Perhaps they will also receive a parting gift from British Steel. The 300 workers who were laid off at Ravenscraig in February were given a steel paperweight and a tie inscribed with the words ‘Ravenscraig Hot Strip Mill 1962—1991‘. It reads like an epitaph.


I HOMELESS: Shelter (Scotland) has published a survey on the growing number of homeless young Scots in

3 London, a topic that was dismissed

llippantly by John Major in a recent

; Prime Minister’s Question Time. The

report, entitled Living On The Borderline, is available lrom Shelter

(Scotland), 65 Cockburn Street,


Edinburgh, EH1 18U, priced £5.95 plus 50p postage and packing.

l RECTOR: Donnie Munro, lead singer and guitarist ol Runrig, is the new rector ol Edinburgh University, taking

E over from media personality Muriel } 1 Gray. Munro polled 1705 votes to 1 Edinburgh gallery owner Richard Demarco's1461, while novelist Iain Banks came third with 388. Glasgow MP Maria Fyle polled 313 votes.

I GLASGOW: Bob Palmer, lormer director at the Glasgow lestival's unit lor 1990 City of Culture has been appointed to the permanent post at director at perlorming arts. The 242,000 a year job has responsibility tor the district council’s halls and theatres department, as well as an additional £1 million budget lor ‘arts developmenl’.



‘Some people are content to live on

one BBC wage. But I‘ve aspirations and ambitions. I‘d like a house with an inside toilet.‘

Eddie Mair gives the reasons behind his BBC news omnipresence.

‘Actors look stupid ifthey're not smoking. With a cigarette they look like maybe they have an idea in their head.‘

Finnish film director Aki Kaurismaki describes his techn ique for the bene it of method actors.

‘I could hear him kissing my ear. That is very tormenting fora fighter.‘ W80 middleweight champion Chris E ubank justifies headbutting opponent Dan Sherry.

‘I told them they were making a serious mistake and it would have political implications.‘

George Galloway, Labour M P for Hill/read, on his brush with an Israeli armed patrol who threatened to shoot him.

‘You have faced the whole world. brave lraqis. You have won. You are victorious. How sweet victory is.‘ Saddam Hussein has trouble finding the correct words to describe defeat.

‘Going over the top. crushed by the armies of Vietnam medals on Norman‘s 52-inch chest. must be a lifetime's ennobling experiencc.‘ Jean Rook, columnist in the Daily Express. reveals just how lucky M rs Sch warz k op f is.

4'rhc l.ist 8—2] March 1991'