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1,430 steel jobs to go – government promises support


Corus, formed after the merger of British Steel and Dutch firm Koninklijke Hoogovens, has announced plans to make 1,430 workers redundant. 1,200 of the redundancies will come from engineering activities with 620 jobs going at the Rotherham site and a further 320 jobs going at the Stocksbridge site. 230 jobs will go in the company’s technology research activities in South Wales and Teeside.

Corus, is expected to announce substantial operating losses of around £150 million later this month for the six months to the end of March this year. The job cuts are being seen as part of a restructuring program designed to cut costs by some £30 to £40 million annually.

A company spokesman is reported to have said that the company faced difficulties with fierce competition from mainland Europe exacerbated by the strong pound.

Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers said the announcement was "obviously very regrettable" but pledged: "The Government will play its part in helping the people, businesses and communities affected. The key aim will be to provide new job opportunities."

Employment Minister Tessa Jowell said that the Employment Service would ensure that everything was done to help steelworkers. "Those made redundant will benefit from all the support and advice offered by the rapid response unit set up to deal with major job losses."

Union leaders are reported to have expected the number of jobs lost to be higher, but still exclaimed disappointment at the losses.

Michael Leahy of the ISTC steel workers union said "Without consultation, and at a time when the company's prospects of achieving a profit this year are improving as rapidly as the pound is falling against the euro, Corus has gone for a quick fix. The company is throwing away opportunities which have been hard won by a workforce whose productivity gains over two decades are unsurpassed in Europe."

Sir Ken Jackson, general secretary of the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union, (AEEU) said, "The strong pound has destroyed large chunks of the UK steel industry. Productivity has risen but the pound has wiped out all the gains."


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