Page last updated at 12:22 GMT, Monday, 26 January 2009

Fears over 1,100 Welsh steel jobs


The plants in south Wales have borne the brunt of the job losses

Up to 1,100 steelworkers are set to lose their jobs at Corus in Wales, with around half at Llanwern in Newport.

The hot strip mill at Llanwern is to be mothballed, affecting 528 jobs as part of 2,500 UK jobs being lost.

Core technical and engineering staff will be kept on so they can restart it when the economy picks up.

Shotton, Flintshire, Ammanford in Carmarthenshire and Pontardulais near Swansea are among other plants affected, say Corus.

The Welsh Assembly Government said it was "extremely disappointed" at the announcement, saying the head count of jobs being lost in Wales could be as high as 1,100.

An initial breakdown from the company spokesman in south Wales gave 760 job losses, although it is understood there are another 330 unallocated redundancies in Wales.

Location map
Four plants in south Wales affected by the announcement
528 jobs out of 1,400 jobs will go in Llanwern with the hot rolling mill being mothballed. Core technical and engineering staff will be kept on so they can restart it when the economy picks up.
90 people will lose their jobs in Shotton, Flintshire, out of 1,000 workers, but 100 different jobs may be created with work moving from Ammanford and Tewkesbury
73 jobs will be lost in Ammanford, Carmarthenshire with the plant closing
52 people will lose their jobs in Pontarddulais, Swansea with the operation closing.
17 jobs lost in Caerphilly out of about 100 at the Profiles plant
330 unallocated jobs, set to be lost within Corus in Wales
Source: Corus

Derek Simpson, joint leader of Unite, said the union will not accept any compulsory redundancies, adding: "We understand that Corus do face difficulties but before this recession Corus had been making extremely healthy profits.

"Our members have supported Corus through good times and bad and now expect Corus to support them."

Corus said the initiative was "strategic and structural" in nature.

"Elements of the initiative comprise long-term plans that were already under consideration but which have been brought forward as a result of the slowdown," said a spokesman.

Like most other companies operating in the heavy industries sector, Corus has been hit hard by the economic downturn.

The firm, which was taken over by the Indian company Tata in 2007, also employs about 3,500 in Port Talbot, south Wales, with a review starting at the plant.

Paul Flynn, MP for Newport West, said news of the mothballing at Llanwern was a "bitter blow".

At its peak, the plant employed 10,000, directly and indirectly.

Mr Flynn said: "The last thing we want to see is a short-term decision because of a temporary crisis and mothballing is a very severe blow to the hundreds of workers involved."

Although jobs are going at Shotton in Flintshire, the company said there should be a "net gain" with jobs created, with posts offered to staff in Ammanford and Tewkesbury first.

Corus workers in south Wales give their reaction to news of planned job cuts

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesman said: "The company's decision to reduce headcount by around 1,000 jobs in Wales is bound to have a significant negative impact, not only on the employees at Corus sites in Wales, but on the communities and the wider Welsh economy.

"The First Minister spoke to the company's senior management yesterday and today and has pledged that the Welsh assembly government will work with the UK government and trades union representatives to do everything possible to support the workforce and the communities affected by today's announcement."

Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones AM will make a statement on the assembly government's response on Tuesday.

Conservative economy spokesman David Melding AM said: "These are quality, highly skilled jobs - just the sort of jobs Wales needs if it is to recover quickly from the recession.

"Every effort must be made to retain as many jobs as possible and retrain those who are made redundant as a result of today's announcement."

First Minister Rhodri Morgan says help will be provided for those workers losing their jobs

Liberal Democrat economy spokeswoman Jenny Randerson AM added: "This is another dark day for Welsh workers who have already been left reeling from thousands of other job cuts over recent months.

"I hope this serves as a lesson to the Labour-Plaid government, who in the past have been busy congratulating themselves over their handling of the economy."

Corus is facing an unprecedented downturn in market demand that has caused its order book to drop by more than a third.

In December, unions representing the 25,000 UK workforce of the steelmaker rejected a proposal for workers to take a 10% pay cut.

The last major jobs cutback by Corus was in 2003 when up to 3,000 jobs were cut across the UK, with many going in Wales.

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