My Workmates at Corus were my second family

Derek Loughborough

Former Corus Multi Union Vice Chairman Derek Loughborough, says he would like to see the SSI investment give young people the same chance in life he enjoyed during his time at the steelworks. Over his 32 year career at British Steel and Corus, the 51 year old father of two from Middlesbrough told Coastal View about the bond he developed with his fellow workmates, he affectionately calls, “his second family’. But sadly in 2010, after being made redundant, not only did he and many others lose their jobs, they also lost their close knit community they had built over many years of working together ‘day in and day out’. Even at home, everyone had to suddenly change their daily routines he says, which put a strain on his relatives as well as himself. And even though the new deal will put people back into work, Derek is not sure where his future lies with the plant. Instead he would rather see young people going into SSI to start a new workforce generation and working family as he did.

 

Derek began labouring at British Steel in 1979 when the blast furnace was the biggest in Europe. But soon after was involved in the 1980s strikes over pay disputes. Steel workers staged their fi rst national strike for more than fi fty years lasting nearly 14 weeks. Many lost their jobs, but ironically as people left, Derek recalls, production increased. During his time at Corus, Derek worked voluntarily with the Steel Union Community representing those who needed help alongside Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop who was a union offi cial with Community, the Steel Union at TCP, Hartlepool, Skinningrove, Scunthorpe and Forgemasters in Sheffi eld. Thirty years later in 2009, since first starting at the steel works, Derek was one of the thousands who were given the devastating news that they would lose their jobs. He reminisces how the Corus workers displayed their pride and passion in Teesside’s steelworks by taking the ‘Save Our Steel’ campaign to Birmingham, Blackpool, Durham and North Yorkshire. Thousands turned out to show their support, and again at the Boro’s Riverside Stadium which led them to be invited to Birmingham and the Durham miners Gala where “we got a great reception” he says and a lot of publicity.”

 

Almost two years on and Derek was able to witness the announcement of the SSI signing, which has injected a massive boost to the area and lift morale once again. “We went to the gate and were invited in to witness the announcement of the signing, so I was there at the beginning and I was there at the end” he says. And even though Derek is unsure about his future with the steelworks, he intends to continue helping others and his local community by standing for election as a Labour councillor for Park End, Middlesbrough this year. Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop said: “Derek like many others on site, were part of the negotiation team since the Autumn of 2008. We saw many lows and highs during that period – with the fantastic success with the recent SSI purchase. “There’s still a lot of work to do with the men and women who worked there, work there and hope to go back. And working with unions, and the companies, issues like pensions, employment etc, still need to be worked through. “It was an honour to work with people like Derek, during a very diffi cult period in our area’s history.” community by standing for election as a Labour councillor for Park End, Middlesbrough this year. Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop said: “Derek like many others on site, were part of the negotiation team since the Autumn of 2008. w e saw many lows and highs during that period – with the fantastic success with the recent SSI purchase. “There’s still a lot of work to do with the men and women who worked there, work there and hope to go back. And working with unions, and the companies, issues like pensions, employment etc, still need to be worked through. “It was an honour to work with people like Derek, during a very diffi cult period in our area’s history.”

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