The demise of the steel industry and the NHS, a comparison

By Ian Evans
Health NISC, South East RISC, Healthcare Science Organising Professional CommitteeIan Evans HNISC

I went to the Save our Steel rally in Sheffield with the intention of showing solidarity on behalf of the 100,000 Unite Health Sector members, but I feel justified in saying that all health workers would have given their support.

As I reflect on the well-attended rally in Sheffield, a place affectionately known as the Steel City, it occurs to me how similar the way the workers and public at large are duped into believing there can be no way to save these two (steel and health) bastions of Britishness. Both have been nationalised (British Steel twice) not to save them but to ensure that the service they deliver is beneficial to all. We are now in a situation where the steel industry, now back in private hands (SSI, TATA etc,) is on the brink of collapse. The reason being there is a significant dumping of cheap Chinese steel in the UK.

The timing of the job losses in Redcar, Lanarkshire, Scunthorpe and other areas came just as the Chinese president was visiting these fine shores, but we weren’t allowed to tackle him on this. Oh no. This could upset the trade deal where China builds and controls our nuclear power stations and provide us with the steel (see the irony?) for the super-fast HS2. And what do we get in return? We provide China an industrial sized piece of brown nosing. Seems perfectly fair to me!

You’re probably thinking that I’m sliding into rant mode now and not explaining the comparison. Ok, here it is. Since 2010 there has been a steady and progressive attack on both the NHS and the steel industry. It’s happened in different ways, but by the same people and probably for the same reason. Is it only a small group of people who are set to gain from the demise of these two institutions? It has to be the people who don’t care for what happens outside of their world. The bankers, the moguls, the super-rich and those who are funded by the earlier listed. You can’t make money on something you can’t control or don’t own. They want to change that demographic and they are starting to succeed! The spin that made the promise of a “Northern Powerhouse” is comparable to the election statement made by Cameron saying that “you can trust him on the NHS”. This is a stunt (yes I did mean stunt!) that even PT Barnham would have been proud of. We have a government intent on fooling all of the people all of the time.

Going by the sense of feeling at today’s gathering in Sheffield, it is akin to the meetings and demonstrations held by colleagues in the public sector and the realisation that something has to be done and pretty bloody soon! Though the desire for a general strike is wanted by all, how achievable is that? While we all ponder that perhaps we can do something else in the meantime? How about coordinated demonstrations and collaborative marches fighting to save our jobs. Fighting for the jobs that built a nation and the jobs that look after those build it for us! 

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