Steel shutdown in Britain threatens wide disruption

Britain's state-owned steelworks shut down early Wednesday in the first nationwide steel strike since 1926, threatening widespread disruption of the nation's already shaky economy.

The Industry Secretary, Sir Keith Joseph, who is a top policy adviser to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, warned that the strike would be "extremely harmful," but refused to intervene on the government's behalf. He said it was up to unions and management of the state-owned British Steel Corporation to settle their differences, which concern wages.

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