The Town That Saved Itself
The Australian steel town that saved itself from bankruptcy
In 2016, the Australian steel town of Whyalla was on the verge of collapse, as the centre of the town's economy went bust. Yet steelworkers made a great sacrifice to save their jobs and their community.
The Whyalla steelworks ran into trouble when its managing company Arrium found that the steel business was moving from commodity to specialised steel. "We had another round of redundancies and it was savage", remembers steelworker Larisa White. Residents feared that, should the steelworks be forced to close, the town's economy would shut down with it. "There was the possibility of a mass exodus", says steelworker Stuart Monroe. When Arrium suggested a 10% pay cut in the steelworkers' wages to save the company, the idea was first rejected with hostility, but workers soon found it was the only solution. Whyalla's survival was officially sealed, however, when British billionaire Sanjeev Gupta suddenly decided to invest in the steelworks. "It was a diamond in the rough."