Workers have ‘waited years’ for nationalisation of steelmaker Sheffield Forgemasters, says union

Delighted unions say the nationalisation of Sheffield Forgemasters is news they have waited years to hear.

By David Kessen
Wednesday, 28th July 2021, 10:25 am

It was confirmed today that the 215 year old steel manufacturer, which makes vital components for British nuclear submarines, would be taken into public ownership.

Trade union Unite's assistant general secretary for manufacturing, Steve Turner, said: “This is the news we've waited two years to hear. Unite has been engaged in a long battle with the Ministry of Defence and the UK government to protect UK steel supply to our defence and nuclear programmes so today’s news will be welcomed with a huge sigh of relief right across our steel communities.

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Unions say they have waited years for today's news on Sheffield Forgemasters.Picture by Simon Hulme

“It brings to an end years of instability for this historic 215 year-old company, but is also a sign that government is maybe finally waking up to a crisis of its own making. Critical infrastructure industries like steel function better in public hands and advanced economies like our own need to have stable, secure domestic steel production capabilities to protect our national security interests as well as to compete in global markets.

“But we only got to today's good news because our members at Sheffield Forgemasters had the confidence and faith to invest in their plant’s future. We will now work with the government and company to ensure that those workers who put their hands in their own pockets to support the company do not lose out.

“We now look forward to a secure future for the plant which brings with it the guarantee for both today’s workforce and the thousands of young workers to follow the hope of a highly skilled job in a well-paid, unionised plant."

Workers at the company were given the chance to buy into the company as investors in 2007, following a management buy-out of the company.

The buy-out saved 600 jobs at the Brightside Lane company, which makes some of the largest and most complex forgings and castings in the world.

It also ended two years of uncertainty which began when the Forgemasters’ American owners collapsed, ensured Forgemasters’ suppliers would be paid in full and workers would get maximum protection for their pensions.

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Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor.