Tata’s decision to close its Port Talbot steelworks will devastate the town. With no lead coming from the trade union tops, the Communists have launched a campaign for workers to get organised, occupy the plant, and demand its full nationalisation.
Tata bosses recently confirmed they are closing both the blast furnaces at Port Talbot, with the loss of almost 3,000 jobs.
Since then, communists from across South Wales have come out to campaign for what we see as the only real way to end Tata’s misrule and save the town: occupying the plant, and demanding it be nationalised wholesale.
Starting this initiative was a no brainer. The lack of action from the union leaders has left a lot of people demoralised. Where there’s inaction from the top, then the ranks must step into the breach.
Anger on the street
The communists came out in droves to organise stalls, to try and reach local people and get their opinions. We discussed with them the idea of occupying the plant in order to fight this closure, and demanding its full nationalisation.
To get this campaign off the ground we are organising an open meeting on Sunday 11 February, where we can discuss the way forward.
On the whole we had a positive reception, showing that under the despair there’s a lot of anger. Even some who were unsure how they felt about the word ‘communist’ still wholeheartedly agreed with the plans and ideas we proposed.
Hearing about people’s anger towards the government and the lack of action of MPs, and how Tata will destroy the whole town’s future, has hammered home what is at stake here.
Meeting and talking with local workers and explaining our ideas was very fruitful, since so many are at their wits end with Tata. To them, nationalisation is the only thing left to do. It just makes sense!
On the doorstep
Door knocking, while something that comrades were either completely new to or rusty at, went smoothly on both days too. It became very easy to have conversations with people, and get their thoughts and opinions.
One person we talked to when door knocking told us “what we need is a revolution” – we couldn’t agree more! Another person we met on the street told us that “they [Tata and the politicians] are all corrupt, and are just in this for the money”.
A lot talked about how it’s good to see people get out there and try and do something. A little encouragement goes a long way – and again, it demonstrates that the workers have largely not been asked their views!
We even got some local shops to take flyers to show to customers and to help spread the word. By the end of the first day we had easily gone to around 100 houses and either had a response and a conversation, or spread the word with our flyers.
Time to fight
This Sunday saw us back out on the campaign trail. We also hoisted our banner across a local bridge, which was made by an amazing comrade in one night. In fact, as soon as it was up we immediately got cars beeping in support, which just shows the mood in the town!
Port Talbot isn’t dead yet – there is still a fight to be had. There are plenty of examples of what can be done, from the Harland and Wolff shipyard occupation in the North of Ireland to the GKN workers in Italy. Both of these fights have prevented robber-baron bosses from having it all their own way.
If we want to save steel in Port Talbot, then we need to think big like they did.
If you want to help, or hear what we have to say for yourself, then come to our meeting on Sunday 11 February. It’s now or never for our town, but if we fight back now we can still save it.