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The BBC's Stephen Evans in Llanwern
"This town lives and literally breathes steel"
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The BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones
"It is currency movements that have caused the real damage"
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UK Prime Minister Tony Blair
"A devastating blow"
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Thursday, 1 February, 2001, 19:54 GMT
Outcry over Corus job cuts
Corus and Llanwern
Politicians and trade unions have condemned the Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus, after the company announced massive job cuts and plant closures at its UK operations.

Under intense cost pressure on a highly competitive marketplace, Corus will make 6,050 workers - more than one-fifth of its workforce - redundant. Hardest hit is South Wales, with the closure of plants at Llanwern and Ebbw Vale.

Corus job cuts
Llanwern - 1,340
Shotton, Deeside - 319
Ebbw Vale - 780
Teesside - 234
Bryngwyn - 127
Strip products - 200

Head offices - 400
Construction and Industrial - 1,086
Engineering steels - 390
Tubes - 298
European Market Unit - 292
Electrical steel - 276
Special profiles - 46
Special strip - 35
Rail 27
Corporate centre - 200
UK Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers urged the company to "think again and work with us to identify a better way forward". Labour MP Paul Flynn, whose constituency covers Llanwern, spoke of the "butchery of the steel industry".

Trade union leaders accused Corus of cutting "the life blood" of communities in areas with the worst unemployment in Wales.

The stockmarkets, however, welcomed the decision. Corus shares were the best performers in their sector, gaining more than 10% both on the London and Amsterdam stockmarkets.

The cuts will be introduced over the next two years, and will leave Corus UK with just 22,000 workers.

Swift condemnation

They have taken the heart out of our industry, shattering the workforce and their communities

Bob Shannon, AEEU
The announcement brought swift reaction from politicians and union officials.

"Corus has kept us in the dark, then hit us for six," said Bob Shannon, spokesman for the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union.

"They have taken the heart out of our industry, shattering the workforce and their communities," he added.

Bill Morris, the general secretary of the T&G union spoke of "appalling news for South Wales". He added the "loss of Ebbw Vale will cut the life blood of a community with the worst unemployment in Wales".

Corus briefed government ministers about the scale of the job losses before the announcement was given to the stock market.

"The announcement by Corus stands in stark contrast to other manufacturing companies who are prepared to take the long-term view," said Stephen Byers, the trade and industry secretary in a statement.

'Radical measures' necessary

Despite the support and commendable track record of our UK workforce, further significant job reductions have to take place

Sir Brian Moffat, Corus chairman
"The radical measures announced today will significantly improve the group's competitiveness and are crucial to the future of Corus's employees, customers and shareholders," Sir Brian Moffat, chairman of the company said.

"However it is with deep regret that despite the support and commendable track record of our UK workforce, further significant job reductions have to take place," he added.

He also said that the restructuring would create a "sound platform" for the group to secure sustainable growth.

Plant closures

The biggest job cuts will be made at the iron and steelmaking operations at the Llanwern plant near Newport, which will be closed, together with the tempering facilities at the factory.

The tin plating factory at Ebbw Vale will be closed, as will be plants in Deeside, Teesside and Bryngwyn.

But other parts of Corus UK will face cuts as well, with job reductions striking everybody - from head office down to small specialist divisions.

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See also:

01 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Blair: Corus cuts a devastating blow
01 Feb 01 | Wales
Choir born out of steel
01 Feb 01 | UK Politics
MPs urge Corus to reconsider
01 Feb 01 | Wales
Lives built on steel
05 Dec 00 | Business
Steel chiefs quit
01 Feb 01 | Wales
'Betrayal' of a nation
01 Feb 01 | Business
Corus cuts 6,000 steel jobs
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