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Last Updated: Monday, 14 April, 2003, 12:40 GMT 13:40 UK
Corus workers stage protests
Corus chairman Sir Brian Moffat
The unions blame the Corus chairman for the troubles
Thousands of steelworkers at the Anglo-Dutch steel giant Corus have held protests all over Europe.

During a one-hour protest which started at noon, angry workers waved red cards, imitating football referees, calling for the immediate resignation of Corus chairman Sir Brian Moffat.

Michael Leahy, general secretary of the Iron and Steel Trade Confederation, told the BBC: "He (Sir Brian Moffat) sacked half the workforce... He has brought a Premier League company to Conference League within a matter of four years."

He added: "One of the reasons why the company is in its present state is because he did not consult with the Dutch workforce, or the supervisory board, about the sale of aluminium and as a consequence that deal did not go through."

In search of new blood

When approached by BBC News Online for comment, Corus said it announced a few weeks ago that Sir Brian was to retire once a new chairman and chief executive were found.

But the ISTC said it did not want Sir Brian to be involved with the picking of new management, nor with future plans for the company because he no longer had any credibility with the workforce.

A Corus spokesman said more details on the UK restructuring plans would be announced "in a matter of weeks", once the board had completed a strategy review.

"Corus has every intention to consult the unions about this," he said, reacting to claims by the union it had not been given any details on plant closures.

In March, Corus chief executive Tony Pedder stepped down after announcing mounting losses.

Trouble in the Netherlands

The future of the embattled steelmaker was thrown into further disarray last month after Corus lost a crucial court battle with its Dutch management.

The Corus steelworks in Port Talbot, South Wales
Corus has been hit by the global slump in steel demand

A court ruled Corus' Dutch supervisory board had the right to block the planned 750m euros (513m) sale of two aluminium plants to France's Pechiney.

Recently, Corus warned of further plant closures in the UK, raising fears among the unions about further rounds of job cuts.

Relations between the steelmaker and its workers and unions have been shaky lately.

Corus infuriated its unions earlier this month after announcing a new bonus scheme for its directors regardless of whether the firm is making a profit.

Corus, which was created out of a merger between British Steel and Dutch Hoogovens, has cut 6,000 jobs over the past three years while more than 3,000 are also set to go in the near future.

The troubled Anglo-Dutch steelmaker has been hit by weakened global demand for steel while the strong British pound has hit its steel exports.




SEE ALSO:
Corus bonuses under fire
01 Apr 03  |  England
Corus to close steel plants
11 Mar 03  |  Business


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