It is ironic that today’s uncertainty about the British steel industry, especially in Hartlepool, involving Tata goes back over 100 years.
In 1914, Tata’s steelworks, at Jamshedpur, in India, employed German melters on their open hearth steelmaking furnaces.
When the First World War started, the Germans were interned.
Tata, which had an office in London, sought British melters as replacements.
Most of those recruited came from the North East coast.
There was at least one from West Hartlepool steelworks, and probably more, who went to Jamshedpur.
Their brief was to replace the Germans and to train Indians to undertake the work.
They formed a branch of their union in India, and increased production by more than 10%.
They then negotiated better remuneration because of it.
Some stayed on after the war to continue the training.
As today’s Hartlepool steelworkers await a decision on their future from Jamshedpur, what would those steel melters of 100 years ago think of the situation?
It is indeed ironic.