A Basic Guide to the Major Events in the British Steel Industry

The United Kingdom has been responsible for the creation of a wide plethora of different industries and, as a result, the country has a rich, diverse, and often fascinating history.

With this in mind, continue reading to discover a basic guide to the major events in the British steel industry.

The “Iron and Steel Act”

On the 22nd March 1967, the government of the United Kingdom brought about the Iron and Steel Act, an Act of Parliament which regulated every aspect of corporate control over both the iron and steel industries. Essentially, this meant that employees working in both industries were also subsequently given voting rights and meant that just over 90% of the steelmaking in Britain was brought into the ownership of the public.

Just over two months later, on the 28th July 1967, the fourteen topmost steelmaking companies in the country formed the British Steel Corporation (BSC) which pioneered the reformation of the steel and iron industries to better handle funding and progress.

The National Steel Strike

At the beginning of the new year, on the 2nd January 1980, the first notable workers’ conflict with Margaret Thatcher’s government began, with British steelworkers striking for a long thirteen-week period.

The National Steel Strike is a vital part of the history of the UK’s steel industry and was centred around the steelworkers’ problems with pay grades. Initially, the strike started solely within the nationalised sector, and then later, it gravitated to the privatised steel sector too.

Even though the National Steel Strike was over forty years ago, its knock-on effects are still very much experienced to this day.


In the mid-1980s, the Thatcher government began a huge, multi-faceted campaign to privatise many areas of British industry, including those of the steel and ironwork factions.

Even though many people did, and still do to this day, support the government’s plans, especially when they were put into reality by the end of 1985, privatising Britain’s iron and steel industries had serious and long-lasting negative effects.

The main disadvantages of privatising the iron and steel industries include, among a host of others, the following:

  • A potentially higher focus on profit over individual needs
  • A natural monopoly
  • Huge profits tend to go to shareholders rather than into government funds
  • Fragmentation within separate industries

Modern-Day Trends in UK Steel

Fast-forwarding to the modern day, Britain’s steel and iron industries are experiencing a huge backload of demand and, as a direct result, one of the major issues currently is that of iron and steel bottlenecks.

As with oil and other key elements, which are necessary to run the country, and for such companies to make a profit, due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, steel and metal sales drastically increased.

This fact does not apply to all businesses involved with iron and steel, with those companies who manufacture and supply parts and whole structures to the aerospace and automotive industries experiencing a sharp decline in demand.


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