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BBC Wales's industry correspondent, Miles Fletcher
"The industry could be in for an even tougher year ahead"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 6 December, 2000, 08:46 GMT
Steel industry job fears

There are more fears for the future of Welsh steel jobs following the resignation of Welshman John Bryant as the chief executive of steelmaker Corus.

The steelmaker has axed around 1,600 jobs in plant across Wales this year.

The firm. which employs about 60,000 people worldwide, has lost a total 4,500 jobs in a drive to swallow a 20% cut in UK demand for steel in five years.

There are now further fears for the the future of the Welsh plants with the loss of Bryant - who was ssen as a major ally for the industry in Wales.

'Change of leadership'

The ailing firm, formed last year from a merger of British Steel with Holland's Koninklijke Hoogovens, said it had sought the leadership change to enable a "major restructuring" at loss-making operations.

Company chairman Sir Brian Moffat said continuing weak domestic demand for a type of steel used by carmakers, coupled with an oversupply from European foundries and the strength of sterling, had created the need for a further shake-up.

"In the light of this developing situation, and the continuing strength of sterling against the euro, it is inevitable that a further major restructuring will have to take place in the UK," he said.

"In these circumstances the board considered that a change of leadership of the group was desirable."

'Cold comfort'

Sir Brian, who will take on the chief executive role until a replacement is found, said he would reveal more about the restructuring next year.

Steel unions have reacted angrily to Tuesday's announcement.

Bob Shannon of the AEEU said: "This is cold-comfort for the thousands of steelworkers who have lost their job this year.

"Our members will be demanding that the new Chief Executive gets a firm grip on the company and starts to turn it round."

John Bryant, former joint chief executive, Corus
John Bryant: helped implement the October 1999 merger

The resigning chief executives, John Bryant and Fokko van Duyne, had played a major part in the formation of Corus in the October 1999 merger.

Mr Bryant, appointed chief executive of British Steel at the beginning of last year, had been in the steel industry for 35 years.

And Mr van Duyne, appointed chairman at Koninklijke Hoogovens in 1998, joined the firm 30 years ago straight from university.

Corus, which produces about 21 million tonnes of steel a year, posted half-year losses of 113m in June.

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See also:

21 Jul 00 | Wales
Axe falls on 1,300 steel jobs
16 Jun 00 | Business
Corus axes steel jobs
16 Jun 00 | Wales
Steel jobs go at Port Talbot
30 Aug 00 | Wales
Steel giant saves Welsh plant
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