London | Britain’s largest steelmaker Tata Steel is likely to cut 720 jobs at one of its UK plants after talks to save redundancies failed. In July, the firm said the jobs at its Rotherham plant in South Yorkshire may have to be cut but it would work with staff to minimise job losses.
Local MP John Healey said he has received confirmation from Tata that all the jobs will be lost at the Aldwarke plant in the suburbs of Rotherham. Rotherham has become the forgotten town of the steel crisis.
We are being hit just as badly as other parts of the country, hundreds of job losses have now been confirmed but the government is not giving us any of the support pledged to other steel towns, he told The Times.
With hundreds of forced redundancies ahead, steel workers are facing a bleak Christmas and new year. They need all the help we can get, Healey said. However, there was no official confirmation on the redundancies from the company.
The UK government has introduced emergency support to the struggling steel industry which is grappling with a worldwide oversupply because of the slowdown in the Chinese construction sector. It has exempted steelmakers from emissions regulations and introduced new procurement guidelines to encourage the use of British steel in public building contracts.
The Rotherham unit made steel bar products for the car manufacturing industries. The bar business has been underperforming in the face of commodity-grade steel being unfairly traded in the UK, the strong pound and high energy costs.
This led to a decision, after examining all the options, of refocusing on higher-value markets which can help the company reduce its losses and turn the corner to profitability in the future, a Tata Steel spokesperson said.
While Tata Steel is thankful of the work done by the trade unions via their consultants, Syndex, none of the recommendations would have given us the solid base required to ensure we can continue to employ around 1,500 people in South Yorkshire, he said.
Tata has already shed 900 jobs at its Scunthorpe plant, while SSI closed its Redcar steelworks in October, with the loss of 2,200 jobs.