Some 100,000 employees of the state owned British Steel Corporation (BSC) caused the shut down of the company’s furnaces in protest at what they called a “derisory offer” of 6% pay increase from their management. The strike quickly spread to privately owned steelworks.

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher condemned the strike – called by the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation – and said that BSC was “a bad combination of state ownership and trade unionism”. She also said that the unions were “demanding excessive wages for insufficient output” and that they were in danger of pricing British steel out of the market.

The strike eventually ended when the unions accepted a 16% pay rise. However Mrs Thatcher was proven correct, as by the time British Steel was privatised in 1988 the industry had lost hundreds of thousands of jobs.

In many of the traditional steel making areas there are people who blame Mrs Thatcher for the disappearance of the industry but there are also many who have come to realise that it was the greed of the unions, which led to steel making being transferred to other countries where wages are lower.

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Category: Historic Events

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