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The BBC's Stephen Evans
"The government said there will be special help for South Yorkshire"
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The BBC's Kevin Bocquet
"People are feeling very bitter"
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Friday, 16 June, 2000, 10:15 GMT 11:15 UK
Corus axes steel jobs
steel plant
Corus made no secret of its plans for job cuts
Steel giant Corus has confirmed that it is to cut 1,430 jobs at its plants across the UK.

It had been expected that the company, formerly British Steel, would cut as many as 3,000 jobs.

Corus is to cut 1,200 jobs from its engineering steels section, mainly affecting plants at Rotherham and Stocksbridge in South Yorkshire.

Another 230 jobs will be cut under plans to restructure its technology research business which will affect Port Talbot in South Wales and Teesside. All the jobs will go by the end of next year.

Corus blamed the strong pound in part for the job lossues but said the main problem had been the changing market.
Llanwern steel works
Corus employs 35,000 people in the UK

"We are aiming to compete more effectively because over the last five years we have seen UK demand come down 20% as, increasingly, manufacturing moves off shore into mainland Europe," a company spokesman said.

Job losses no secret

The company had made no secret of its plan to cut jobs. It announced in February that 2000 to 3000 jobs were likely to go over the next two years.

The company, which merged with Dutch company Hoogoovens last year, employs 35,000 people in the UK.

Corus has gone for a quick fix

Michael Leahy, union leader

The redundancies will likely cost the company between 30 and 40m, analysts estimate.

The announcement of the job losses on Friday was expected to soften investor reception of its poor financial results.

The company is soon expected to report losses of up to 150m for the six months to March.

Speculation still exists that the company could move some of its manufacturing facilities to Poland.

Blow to Yorkshire town

Rotherham MP Denis McShane said:"Corus will neither be forgotten nor forgiven for taking all of these jobs away at a time when the order books are full and the demand for steel is increasing."

Local council leader Mark Edgell warned that these job losses could be the "South Yorkshire version of Longbridge".

Unions have accused Corus of looking for a quick fix. They argue that the worst is over for the company.

"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," Michael Leahy, general secretary of the ISTC steelworkers union.

Sir Ken Jackson, general secretary of the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union,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."

Already, trade and industry secretary Stephen Byers has promised help for redundant steel workers.

"The key aim will be to provide new job opportunities for the future to replace those lost today," he said.

Job shops are expected to be set up at the plants, offering help on job hunting and training.

Steel summit

Last week Sir Ken Jackson asked Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers for a steel summit to draw up a strategy for the industry.

The union is concerned that the industry is losing 60m each month in lost export revenue.

In May, Welsh steel workers lobbied both Parliament and the Welsh Assembly about their concerns over the future of the industry.

Union representatives from the Llanwern and Port Talbot plants said that the strong pound had put thousands of jobs at risk.

They were told that the strong pound had cut UK steel demand by 10% in the past year, with millions of pounds being lost every month in export revenue.

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See also:

15 Jun 00 | Business
Job cuts at defence firm
16 Jun 00 | Business
Corus counts sterling cost
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