Question Time

It’s three weeks since the announcement that SSI was to be mothballed. Three weeks ago we had hope. Faith that the steelmaking industry on Teesside would recommence in the future and that just maybe Paul and his colleagues would be able to return to a job they loved. We believed the government would help. It could not allow another world renowned British industry to die. It would not let that happen again…surely?
We had hope that if the worst did happen the steelworker’s would be treated respectfully, thanked for their commitment to a hazardous, arduous job and ensured they would not suffer a crippling financial impact. Maybe we were naive – we’d never been in this position before. We’d never depended on the government before. Maybe we were stupid, crazy, mad to imagine the government would step in. We did not expect them to keep SSI in full production when the price of steel was so low and China producing so much. All we wanted was for the government to recognise this 170 year old industry could not just be snuffed out in a matter of days. There has been no attempt to keep the coke ovens burning. No time given for plans to be made. The government did not want to help us or the thousands more at Redcar. We were disposable, a blight on the landscape that needed shifting. We don’t know why. Fracking? Housing? Who knows what will become of the SSI site but one thing is for certain steelmaking on Teeside is over.
The situation with China and the building of the nuclear power station in Hinckley confuses me. I would like the Prime Minister to explain, in simple terms, why he is hoping to strike a deal with the Chinese to build the power station. Surely steel will be needed? I can only assume that steel will come from China. Maybe I am wrong but anyway I would like to know. Something has gone sadly wrong when we cannot use our own workforce and our own materials to build our own future.
Three weeks on and Paul is still unemployed. He has had further success in his assessments for Network Rail and we hope the next stage will be an interview. He is still waiting to hear back from several other applications but so far the outcome is pretty positive and I can’t imagine his unemployment status will last for much longer.
Paul received his redundancy on Saturday. A whole £1783! Less than a months wage. This amount included two days holiday and two days wages. It did not include the extra shifts he worked for which he was owed four days leave! We are still unaware of what has happened to his pension payments and whether they will ever be recovered. Another thing we are extremely keen to know is where the money for training is and how it can be accessed! Nobody knows. It’s a complete mystery. Please Mr Cameron can you or one of your advisors please let us know where the £80m is?
Family life continues as normal, just with Paul around the house much more. I used to look forward to his nightshifts when I would get the bed to myself! The girls keep us busy and have little idea of what is going on. They do not need to know the stress we are both under, they are too young, and we are grateful for that. One day we will tell them about the time they were on the news and why. For now, though, our priority is to maintain as normal a life as possible and wait for some good news to come our way.

Question Time

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