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Sunday, 7 January, 2001, 16:20 GMT
Llanwern steelworks 'set to close'
Corus's Llanwern steelworks in south Wales
The departure of chief executive John Bryant probably marked the end of the road for Llanwern
The UK-Dutch steel maker Corus has told unions that they should prepare for the closure of the Llanwern steelworks in south Wales, the Observer newspaper reported.

The closure of Llanwern, which employs 3,000 people, has been widely expected since Corus announced plans last month for a major restructuring of its UK operations.

But it will still come as a bitter blow to workers, unions and local MPs who have lobbied hard against the plant's closure.

Corus officials are due for another meeting with union leaders on Monday.

"This will be an extremely important meeting because unless they respond positively, we will be in a very serious situation," general secretary of the Iron & Steel Trades Confederation Michael Leahy said.

"We have made our position quite clear to Corus and have asked them to withdraw compulsory redundancies."

Other job losses

Corus's internal review is also expected to result in job losses at plants in Rotherham, Scunthorpe and Teeside in England and several other sites in south Wales, the newspaper said.

Formal announcement of the review's results is due in early February.

Some 4,500 UK steelworkers had already been told in mid-2000 that their jobs were going.

But the news in September that Corus would spend 35m relining Llanwern's blast furnace appeared to indicate that most of the plant's jobs were safe.

However, the workers' joy was short-lived. In December, Corus said further radical action was necessary because of weak UK demand, oversupply throughout Europe and the strong pound, which was hindering exports.

At the same time, Corus's joint chief executives resigned.

Investment never proceeded

One of them, Welshman John Bryant, had been seen as a strong supporter of the Welsh steel industry. His departure probably spelled the end for Llanwern, analysts said.

It now appeared that the planned blast furnace investment had never proceeded, they said.

Corus was formed in 1999 through the merger of British Steel with Dutch firm Hoogovens.

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See also:

05 Dec 00 | Business
Steel chiefs quit
06 Dec 00 | Wales
Steel industry job fears
30 Aug 00 | Business
Corus investment saves Welsh jobs
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