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Year 2001 No. 20, February 2, 2001 Archive Search Home Page

Corus Refuses to Rule Out Further Job Cuts

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

Corus Refuses to Rule Out Further Job Cuts

Corus Brutally Axes Jobs: What Direction for the Economy? Who Is to Decide?

Two Contrasting Forums

Kim Jong Il Stresses Economic Renovation with New Thinking in DPRK:
"21st Century Is Century of Great Change and Creation"

The World in Brief

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Corus Refuses to Rule Out Further Job Cuts

Even as it was brutally axing 6,000 steel workers’ jobs, the giant steel-maker Corus refused to rule out further job losses.

Three thousand workers are to have their jobs axed from the monopoly’s British carbon and steel activities. Another 3,050 workers are to lose their jobs in the steel group’s business operations [see table]. The Bryngwyn and Ebbw Vale sites in South Wales are to close completely.

Table of Job Cuts

The job cuts will leave Corus with 22,000 workers, and will result in a reduction in steel production capacity of three million tonnes per year. Corus estimates that the reduction in capacity will result in pre-tax savings of £180 million per year by the end of 2003.

Corus’s shares have jumped more than 11% in reaction to the announcement. John Monks, TUC general secretary, said: "Corus has put its shareholders first, second, third and last. It has treated its tremendous workforce, which has made British Steel world class, very shabbily indeed."

In conjunction with the announcement of the devastation of the workforce, Corus announced that it had successfully concluded a new 2.4 billion euro syndicated loan with a group of leading banks.

In also rejecting the plan of the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation union to buy the Llanwern plant in South Wales, Corus said in a letter that inviting additional competition in the present market would "totally undermine the objectives of our proposed restructuring and the people who would remain our employees".

In reply to the Welsh Secretary, Paul Murphy, who said it was "disgraceful" that the government had not been involved in the decision-making process, the company said that past government leaks to the media meant that the company was unwilling to go into detail with its restructuring plans before first telling the workers. "Our employees come first, we brief them first," he said.

To suggest that the workers should be involved in the decision-making process is the least that comes to mind in the face of these arguments.

Article Index


Corus Brutally Axes Jobs:

What Direction for the Economy?

Who Is to Decide?

How are the steel workers to fight against the decision by Corus to axe their jobs, a decision taken against their interests and without their consent, and with the government powerless or unwilling to do anything about it? And if the government has no sanctions against such decisions which devastate the economy, how is the direction for the economy to be decided, and who is to decide?

These are immediate questions raised as 6,000 workers in Wales and the north of England look set to have their livelihoods devastated.

The recent history of manufacturing industry, as well as the offensive carried out against the interests of society as a whole, has demonstrated the need for workers to fight in defence of their individual and collective rights and interests, over which the present social system gives them no say and no guarantee that they will be recognised. It has also demonstrated that workers have to develop their own independent fighting programme to lead society out of the crisis that is quickly taking Britain and other industrialised countries to the brink of recession. No other social force can lead this struggle through to the end. The workers must take and are taking centre stage in this programme to Stop Paying the Rich – Increase Investments in Social Programmes, a programme for the renewal of society and to empower the English, Scottish and Welsh peoples to decide on the direction of the economy.

With what quality should the workers fight and develop their independent pro-social programme? Their struggles must give rise to the quality that it is they who participate in politics, as the first step to becoming the decision makers. This step must be taken and fought for as a vital and integral part of the movement to oppose the state of affairs where the economy is geared only to making the most powerful monopolies competitive in the global marketplace. It is this direction for the economy which is causing such devastation and calamity for the workers and for society. If this direction is not challenged, how will the workers be able to achieve job security, a secure livelihood and a society which has the interests of the workers and the people as a whole as its central concern.

The brutal facts are exposing more and more each passing day that the neo-liberal agenda, and a government which is subservient to it, is what is causing disaster. Workers cannot afford to leave their fate in the hands of the professional politicians of the parties whose aim is to take political power themselves and leave the workers on the margins of society. If these parties had any other interest, how is it that the direction of the economy is so antagonistic to the workers and the general wellbeing? Workers must wage the class struggle with a clear conscience and themselves become worker politicians. This is the starting point.

Article Index

Two Contrasting Forums

BY JOAQUIN ORAMAS, Granma International

THE Brazilian city of Porto Alegre and the tourist centre of Davos, in the Swiss Alps, are not merely separated by thousands of miles, but by an abyss in terms of perspectives on the domination of the world by finance capital, and the conditions of the parallel forums in the two cities.

In the first, some thousands of participants paraded though the streets of the Brazilian city, while the meeting of businesspeople, presidents and other international figures replicated the syndrome seen in Seattle, Prague and Davos itself.

The transnational representatives and heads of state and government, protected from demonstrators by barbed wire fencing and thousands of police and virtually isolated from the world outside, offered a very different vision of the world at the beginning of the third millennium. While their defence of neo-liberal globalisation reiterated the familiar discourse of finance capital and the multinationals, eminent defenders of human rights and the environment, technical personnel, economists and campesino leaders in Brazil called for a global network to halt the unbridled ambition for money and political and economic power, as well as the defence of the environment within the re-division of the world that is currently taking place.

The conclusions proposed at the Porto Alegre World Social Forum include the recognition of water as a wealth to be shared by the world and a reversal of the ongoing privatisation of natural resources. The initiative was formulated by Ricardo de Trella, a professor at the Belgian Catholic University, who alerted participants to the new system of privatisation, "as capital cannot be allowed to appropriate the planet’s soul," he affirmed.

Another interesting point was made by Javier Cifuentes, representing the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces, who observed that water will replace oil as an element of power in the world, which is what lies behind US plans to invade the Amazonian jungle, which has the greatest hydraulic potential on the planet. That is why it has established footholds via the Colombia Plan and the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). The water shortage predicted for this century, the privatisation of natural resources and genetic experiments on human beings and agricultural produce were precisely the greatest concerns voiced at the Porto Alegre Forum, a counterpoint to the Davos forum.

Another idea emerging from the World Social Forum is that financial globalisation, which has left the world in the hands of speculators, requires measures in order to avert crises like those which struck the Asian countries and that it should contribute to the development of the poor nations. The Tobin rate, a tax on the flow of speculative capital described as insufficient, and cancelling the South’s foreign debt were also discussed at the meeting. Brazilian Luciano Coutinho voiced the need to increase the tax proposed by US economist James Tobin, which would be set at 0.1% to 0.5% on capital in movement.

On the other hand, he thought it would be difficult for the developing countries to stand together against the external debt, given that many governments are aligned with liberal policies and the international financial market.

World-wide stocks have tripled their value in each of the last two decades, while exchange transactions amount to $2 billion USD per day, thus exceeding the intervention capacity of the central banks in the rich nations, which have joint reserves of $750 billion USD, Coutinho emphasised.

Other economists warned that it is not enough to cancel the Third World external debt, as unjust trade relations and the economic model adopted by the big capital must also be changed.


South African expert Dot Keet focused on the problem of free trade which, she noted, is not free but imposed on nations, and which negatively affects the terms of trade to the detriment of the developing nations. Two thirds of world trade is controlled by the transnationals, given that they trade among themselves and with their subsidiaries. Experts analysed the situation in the African, Asian and Latin American countries, whose exports have fallen in recent years while those of the rich nations have increased.

The prices of basic products fell from the ’60s and the ’90s, which hindered the development of the poor countries, a trend that was accentuated by the Uruguay Round multilateral negotiations that led to the creation of the World Trade Organisation, with the industrialised nations benefiting from this process.


The announcement at the Davos forum that the deceleration of the US economy has led the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to make a downward revision of its forecasts for world economic growth in 2001 was like a jug of cold water thrown over the meeting. Stanley Fischer, assistant general director of the IMF, stated that it would expand by 3.5%, whereas the forecast rate was 4.2%. However, some of those present at the meeting were confident of US capacity to avert the economic crisis and offered up Japan as the scapegoat, describing that nation as the largest element of concern for the future of the world economy.

In that vein, Lawrence Summers, former US secretary of the treasury, qualified as ingenuous the belief expressed by Japanese Deputy Minister of Finance Haruhiko Kuroda, who defended his country’s technological leap thanks to the Internet and third-generation mobile phones.

In terms of Europe, the French and German ministers described as positive the strengthening of the euro, tax cuts to encourage consumers and "moderation" in wages, as well as the structural reforms undertaken by various European countries. Those factors, they stated, would keep inflation down. At the same time, they posed the need to keep oil prices stable.

The Davos forum agenda included the theme of poverty in Latin America, in the face of the failure of policies applied to reduce the gap between rich and poor in the region; in the view of the experts, that situation requires concrete measures not generally proposed at the Davos Forum. There was an emphasis on the creation of small and medium-sized businesses to increase jobs, and educational improvements. But nothing was said about placing Latin America’s valuable natural resources at the disposal of its population, as opposed to what is actually occurring in virtually all the countries of the region, where privatisation are commonplace.


Concerns over HIV/AIDS touched the Davos conference. The issue could hardly be avoided because since the disease became known it has infected close to 50 million persons, of whom 16.3 million have died. Above all, the phenomenon is affecting the countries of the South, where 95% of the cases are found.

In parallel with migratory flows, AIDS has expanded throughout the planet, adopting various forms of transmission from one continent to another. Bill Gates, who owns Microsoft and has an estimated fortune of $90 billion USD, pledged to contribute $100 million USD to help develop a vaccine against the disease. In this way, he threw down a challenge to the 2,000 businesspeople and transnational owners meeting in Davos. But, by the forum’s final day, nobody had responded.

Article Index

Kim Jong Il Stresses Economic Renovation with New Thinking in DPRK:

"21st Century Is Century of Great Change and Creation"

On January 4, Rodong Sinmun, newspaper of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, carried Kim Jong Il’s remarks on bringing about radical transformations in the fields of economy, science and technology with new thinking and a refreshed mindset. The following are the part of the remarks referring to economic innovation.

"Things are not what they used to be in the 1960s. So no one should follow the way people used to do things in the past. A new age ushering in the 21st century requires us to seek perfection in doing everything.

"With the start of the new age of the 2000s, an all-round reexamination should be given to the outworn patterns and practices followed by other countries, and the whole work should be unfolded in our own way.

"We should make constant efforts to renew the landscape to replace the one which was formed in the past, to meet the requirements of a new era.

"At this historic time when we greet the 21st century, we should make a new innovation and revolution in the farming method, too.

"As the 1950s gave birth to the pioneers who cleared virgin forests of the Paekdu Plateau into rich wheat and barley fields on a large scale, so the 2000s should produce the front-runners who, upholding the far-reaching initiative of our party, will bring about a revolution in potato farming so as to make a breakthrough in solving our food problem.

"In order to boost and develop the economy in keeping with rapid changes in our time, we should be bold to provide industrial sectors with up-to-date equipment and techniques.

"We should bring about technical modernization by boldly doing away with what needs to be abolished, instead of being shackled by ready-made ideas or hanging on to the old and outdated conceptions.

"Ours is an era of science and technology which show startlingly rapid progress. Resting on our laurels or marking time in this regard will disable ourselves from getting over a barrier to boost the economy. Because we are in the 2000s now, we must solve all problems through a new way of thinking and by scaling a new height."

Article Index

The World in Brief

31 Jan – 3 Feb LITHUANIA: NATO officials and experts arrive in Vilnius to assess Lithuania’s readiness to join the alliance. Scheduled to meet officials from Lithuanian defence, foreign, finance and economy ministers, and the State Security Department.

31 Jan – 7 Feb LATVIA: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission visits to discuss the signing of a new co-operation memorandum.

31 Jan – 9 Feb IRAN: "Ten Days of Dawn" celebrations, marking anniversary of the Iranian revolution.

31 Jan – 16 Feb RUSSIA: IMF specialists arrive in Moscow to assess the economic situation in Russia and discuss Russia’s debts to the Paris Club of creditors.

1-10 February RUSSIA/USA: Russian-US command-staff exercises to practise non-strategic missile-defence techniques take place in Colorado Springs, USA.

2 February GERMANY: 37th Munich conference on security policy. New US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfield expected to attend.

3 February ITALY/BRITAIN: Italian Prime Minister Giuliano Amato meets Tony Blair in Britain.

4-7 February UKRAINE: The director of the IMF’s European II Department visits Kiev, joining an IMF mission already there to look at banking and economic sectors.

6 February ISRAEL: Elections to choose a new prime minister.

6-8 February SOUTH KOREA: Second session of North-South economic cooperation committee meeting takes place in Seoul.

7-9 February ESTONIA: A group of high-ranking NATO experts visit to assess Estonia’s preparations for membership of the alliance.

7-10 February NORTH KOREA: North and South Korea meet in Pyongyang to discuss the South’s supply of electrical power to the North.

8 February ITALY/BRITAIN: Silvio Berlusconi, leader of the Italian centre-right opposition coalition and candidate in the Italian general election, expected to meet Tony Blair in Britain.

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