SCOTTISH steelworkers were appalled by British Steel Corporation proposals in May 1975 to cut between 16,500 and 20,000 jobs across Britain, 4,000 of them in Scotland, and to close Clyde Ironworks, the Clyde Bridge and Lanarkshire open hearth plants, and the Clydebridge slabbing mill. On May 19 1,000 workers travelled to London by train to lobby a TUC steel committee meeting with BSC. They were supported by a 24-hour strike in Scotland by up to 14,000 steelworkers and office staff. After the 10-hour meeting, BSC said it would shelve the proposals. In their place was an agreed six-point plan that would eliminate unnecessary overtime, rigorously control recruitment, and launch voluntary redundancies. Tony Benn, Harold Wilson’s industry secretary, who had asked for the talks, was cheered by steelworkers at a London rally but cautioned that some Scottish plants would have to be phased out; the government’s key concern was how and when this would happen, and how alternative jobs would be provided. The new BSC proposals reached the returning Scots steelworkers when they arrived at Motherwell and Central Station. Some were delighted that the closures would not happen but others were more circumspect. Five years later, Margaret Thatcher began to seek to cut BSC’s losses, and a rationalisation programme was put in place that would have a catastrophic impact on steel jobs and plants across the country.

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