SHOTTON will once again win its battle to retain jobs in the steel industry according to the former MP who fought for them in the 1970s.
Speaking exclusively to the Leader, Lord Jones of Deeside said he would “give his blood” to Shotton again in the battle to retain the steelworks.
The future of more than 800 jobs has been plunged into doubt following Tata Steel’s announcement it is moving to sell its UK assets – which would include its Shotton location.
Pledging his support to the Leader’s Save Our Steelworks petition, Lord Jones said: “We owe a debt of gratitude to the magnificent Shotton workforce.
“I gave my blood to Shotton in the 1970s and in my 79th year, I’ll give it again.
“The site has a future. It’s the only site that is profitable.
“The product is of the future and backed by laboratories that the Duke of York visited five years ago.
“Any investor would get a return. It’s a brilliant, loyal, expert staff.
“It’s a loyalist union, reliable, shrewd and experienced and I think this workforce is a match for any eventuality.
“Put it like this: it’s a workforce for all seasons. They’ve had my blood; they can have it again.”
Lord Jones, who served as Labour MP for Alyn and Deeside between 1970 and 2001, said Shotton was “one of the jewels in the Flintshire crown and there it must remain”.
He said he was sure Flintshire Council would give “all possible backing” and it was inspiring to read the pages of the Leader.
Lord Jones added: “Mighty China has awakened from its century-old slumber and the world is consequently in chaos.
“Our communities will need nerves of steel to face this one out but I’ve no doubt that the workforce has got what it takes. It deserves a future, we will win.”
The House of Lords member recalled the highs and lows of his entry to Parliament in 1970 then the difficulty of having to fight for his community within two years.
He said: “I was the most privileged of persons to take men of such quality into 10 Downing Street and sit opposite a British Prime Minister who himself was sat with half of his cabinet.
“The works was virtually 14,000-strong and it was a small industrial township.
“Its workforce was very local and also very loyal. The leadership was very canny.
“Shotton had a particular problem in that its furnaces, open hearth, were ageing and it was only the skill of the workforce that got the best out of these furnaces to deliver profit and quality, month in, month out.”
Lord Jones added that the battle had been “terrifyingly hard”.
“The challenge emotionally was huge. There were highs; there were lows,” he said. “When I entered Parliament as a very young man, I was asked to participate in a campaign to obtain on the Dee marshes, a 10million-tonnes-per-annum new steel works, such was the optimism.
“By the autumn of 1972, came the low. Secretary of State Peter Walker published a White Paper in which Shotton steelworks would cease to be an integrated steelworks and all that entailed, meaning mass unemployment.
“We then engaged on a terrifyingly hard, relentless grinding battle to retain the steel make.
“I can’t pay tribute enough to the core of trade union action committee leaders who gave every ounce of their commitment to their membership and I gained greatly from their example and their friendship.
“They were great men and they were backed by an equally inspiring committee.”
See full story in the Leader