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Hundreds of workers in the West Midlands will be fearing for theirlivelihoods this morning, after the boss of Tata - the new owners of the steel company Corus - warned there are no guaranteed jobs. Corus, formerly British Steel, employs more than 2,000 workers in the Black Country, and as Barbara Panvel reports, they have every reason to worry.

Well might the GMB and Community unions seek guarantees for Corus' UK employees, following Tata's acquisition ofthe company.

The Tata family once had a reputation for charitable giving but that has nowbeen tarnished by ruthless activity in West Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.

Despite protests, illegal dispossessionhas continued and has sometimes been violentlyenforced, leading to at least a dozen death. Many whohave lost their homes, land and livelihood have been condemned to a life on the streets.

60% of the people in West Bengal who were to be displaced by the new Tata steel mill were given no compensation because, despite a Supreme Court order, they were not given their land title documents. The rest received $823 an acre, while Tata paid the government $6,670 an acre.

In Orissa, as bulldozers moved in to demolish homes to make way for Tata's new factory, police were brought in to support the operation and opened fire.

Six protestors, including women and children, died on the spot - most were shot in the back as they retreated. Six more were injured and removed by the police; relatives later collected their terribly mutilated bodies from the hospital morgue.

Ratan Tata was asked, in vain, to reconsider his company's government-backed commandeering of fertile land and reminded of the example of his relative, the firm's humane founder, Jamsetji Tata, who more than once drew back from a profitable venture for humane reasons.

Sanjay Choudhry, Tata's spokesman, actually insists that his company is a good corporate citizen. “We seriously believe that industrialisation - responsible industrialisation - is the best way to bring better quality of life for these people”.

We hear fair words: Corus' chief executive has said that there is no plan to close plants in the UK - on day one - but in view of its treatment of people in India one wonders how much consideration will be shown for the future of Corus workers in Britain or the Netherlands - though they at least can reasonably hope to keep their homes and lives whatever happens.

A principled government who valued people above profits would set standards for joint ventures operating in this country, encouraging foreign firms to treat their own countrymen justly and with respect.

Is Barbara right? Should Corus workers in the West Midlands be fearful for their futures? And is it realistic to expect the Government to set the high standards she demands? Leave a comment on our messageboard.

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