Industry: water, steel & energy

Mate, Derek (8 of 9) National Life Story Collection: Lives in Steel

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  • Recording date

    1991-11-1; 1991-11-11

  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home, Cleveland

  • Interviewees

    Mate, Derek, 1926- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Dein, Alan (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 8: Picket lines. One morning one bloke jumped on bonnet. Shoved him off. Used to talk to pickets. Challenged them, 'talked some bloody sense into them'. Strike served the industry well. Working on plans for the future. A good one to stand the test of time. Maintain constant 'necessary' change. Never been ambitious. 'Do the job you've got', do it well and you'll get another one. Management philosophy on promotion. Challenge in steel industry 'gets in your blood'. Continuous process, spending capital on technology. Improving quality, coke, sinter and blast furnace. Running works to make 50,000 tons of steel a week. Easier to make 75,000. Improved percentage of material cost. Liked to be 'works man', became Works Director of Teesside 1982/3. Had Redcar and Steelhouse under responsibilities as well as Lackenby, Skinningrove, etc. Opportunity to work on iron making side. Wanted better discipline and better managed. Improve quality of performance of blast furnace "If it sneezed, the whole of the works got pneumonia". Never original intention to have one blast furnace but reduction of capacity from 26 million tons to under 17 million. Conscious of what you're doing. 'Bloody strong reason', gradually moves your emotions (re: rationalisation). You became efficient or you die. Prosperous workforce, good company, re-invest profits. Couldn't put blokes out of work without knowing you're saving the work of others for the future. Responsibility to the nation. If you sat down and thought about what you were doing to households, you would never do it. "If you let your heart dictate, you're dead as a dodo". Look as far ahead as you can. Personal responsibility - brought to tears - get broken down. Softer you are in the middle - the harder you put on the surface. It needs more protection. Can't ignore poverty, if you've known what it's like. Lot of poverty self-inflicted through ignorance. Awarded OBE. "Given on behalf of a lot of people who did a lot of work for me". Went to Buckingham Palace, Queen pinned it on. Proud to have got it. Humble that people earned it for me. Queen said "what do you do Mr. Mate?". I said "Steel Ma'am", not Steel Industry! Awe inspiring, quite an occasion, very nervous

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