U.S. Steel announces permanent shutdown of steelmaking at Hamilton Works

Time for a new direction for the economy

Manufacturing Yes! Nation-Wrecking No!

TML Daily (Nov. 1)  – U.S. Steel CEO Mario Longhi during a conference call from Pittsburgh to discuss the company’s 3rd quarter results announced, “We have decided to permanently shut down the iron and steel making operations at Hamilton Works on December 31, 2013. This action will result in a sustainable improvement in our cost structure of approximately $50 million per year and reduce our cash needs of these facilities by approximately $25 million per year. This reduction in our total steelmaking capability also improves both our iron ore and coke balance and allows us to take additional actions.”

In response to U.S. Steel’s destruction of steelmaking in Canada, the Harper Minister of Industry James Moore is reported to have said that the wrecking of Canadian steelmaking assets is a private business decision in which the government will not intervene.

The U.S. monopoly’s direct negative interference in Canada’s socialized economy and the Harper government’s detached indifferent response are issues the workers’ movement must respond to in a serious way. The issues underscore the lack of power and control that Canadian workers have over their own affairs, over matters that affect them directly. This lack of power and control over workers’ own affairs must be addressed and changed through organized actions with analysis. The working class movement must gain political power to deprive the global monopolies and their political representatives of the power to attack the working class and the security and well-being of Canadians and their economy.

It soon became clear after U.S. Steel’s seizure of Stelco in 2007 that the steel empire long viewed Stelco’s productive capability as a competitive threat, which it wanted to contain and ruin if necessary. In addition, U.S. Steel wanted Stelco’s iron ore and coke-making to feed its empire. U.S. Steel continues to consume Hamilton Works’ coke in its other steelmaking facilities, and expressing utmost hatred for Hamiltonians crows that the shutdown of Hamilton steelmaking allows the empire to ship that coke out of Hamilton to improve the empire’s “balance.”

The capital-centred rationale for wrecking Hamilton Works

The Workers’ Opposition challenges the capital-centred rationale of Longhi for the shutdown of steelmaking at Hamilton Works and denounces the Harper government’s spineless acquiescence to this wrecking of Canadian means of production.

Longhi sees Hamilton Works not as a valuable asset for Canadians but as a cost within the cost structure of his U.S.-controlled empire. According to Longhi, this wrecking of Canada’s productive asset results in an annual cost saving of $50 million and a reduction of $25 million in annual cash needs. The destruction of the Hamilton Works’ blast furnace, Longhi insists, also results in a positive reduction of total steelmaking capability within its empire allowing it to divert both iron ore and coke to other U.S. Steel mills generating what he calls an improvement in balance.

The Workers’ Opposition denounces with utter contempt the outmoded and backward outlook of Longhi, a prominent leader of U.S. finance capital. Longhi uses his spurious thinking to excuse this attack on Canadians and their socialized economy. Contrary to Longhi’s assertion, Hamilton Works is not part of any cost structure; it is a valuable asset for Canadians. The destruction of any part of it is a direct attack on the well-being of Canada and its economy. Viewed correctly, Hamilton Works and its experienced steelworkers are precious assets. The mill itself should be constantly renewed and modernized.

The notion that productive assets, workers and the production process itself are costs is harmful to the modern socialized economy. Within the backward capital-centred outlook, destruction of productive assets and production itself, including the central role of the human factor, becomes a virtue, as they are viewed as costs, which must be reduced. With this mindset, the focus becomes the lowering of costs not solving the problems of a socialized economy that requires a new direction including the harmonizing of the outmoded privatized relations of production with the already fully socialized productive forces. The result of not moving forward is recurring problems and crises, which even Longhi admits are battering his empire but for which his only response is to lower costs. With this retrogressive approach, the working class in both Canada and the U.S. suffer, and the well-being and security of both peoples is put in jeopardy.

The working class has its own modern outlook

The working class has the social responsibility to bring its own outlook and thinking to political economy. It must strengthen its organization and voice in the community and take up politics as a central preoccupation. No other force is going to defend workers and fight for their well-being, security and rights. No other social force has the capacity to defend Canada’s socialized economy from the global imperialist gangsters.

The working class movement should not allow representatives of finance capital such as Longhi, and the vast stable of economic experts and academics who spout similar nonsense, to go unchallenged. Through their own organizations and media, the working class movement needs to mobilize itself and public opinion to look at the world with a modern viewpoint and definitions and fight for a new direction. The working class needs control over those things that affect their lives of which the economy and politics are central. The working class needs the organizational ability and power to deprive finance capitalists and their empires, such as Longhi and U.S. Steel, of the power to control and ruin the lives, economy, security and well-being of workers and all Canadians.

As far as the detached cold indifference of the Harper government to U.S. Steel’s attack is concerned, the Workers’ Opposition is determined to hold it to account. For Harper to allow U.S. Steel to march into Canada and destroy an important economic asset and ruin and threaten the lives, pensions and security of so many shows that it is not fit to govern and must be removed.

Steel and other important basic products must be manufactured in Canada. No excuses to the contrary hold any water. A modern socialized economy must be self-reliant in its basic products, industrial machinery and other means of production. The sovereign people must have final say and control over the basic sectors of their socialized economy. That is a modern definition, principle and right that must be upheld if the people are to have any control over their lives and economy, and any power to defend their well-being and security.

Defend Hamilton Works! Let Hamilton Steelworkers Produce Steel!
Down with U.S. Steel’s Attack on Canada!
Denounce Harper’s Cold Indifference to the Plight of Canadian Workers!
Manufacturing Yes! Nation-Wrecking No!
Time for a New Direction for the Economy!

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