Page last updated at 10:39 GMT, Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Steel workers fear for the future


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

Some workers at the hot strip mill at Llanwern, Newport, fear it will not reopen after the decision to mothball the plant.

Corus said 528 jobs, among 1,100 across Wales, will be affected.

Contractor Chris Stevens, 64, said: "Everything is closed down and we've been expecting it for months.

"It's the last big employer and I believe over 500 are going so that is the end of the factory. It won't return."

Neil Howells, 52, a team leader for Corus in the slab yard, said he had worked at the Llanwern plant for 31 years and began when more than 10,000 people were employed there.

"We are gutted really," said Mr Howells, from Risca, near Newport.

I speak for everybody when I say that we will do everything we can to safeguard our jobs in Corus
Nigel Roberts, Corus worker

"I've been working here for 31 years and I don't know anything else. I have actually had my redundancy notice once before and I survived that, but who knows now.

"I think when everybody started going over to Port Talbot we were preparing for it. The mood is down, it really is."

Mr Howells said his family had worked in the steel industry since 1901.

He added: "I think we will survive it. I have got a young family so we have to."

Nigel Roberts said staff were determined to do their utmost to ensure the survival of the plant.

Mr Roberts, a cold mill worker with 19 years of service, said: "I've got a mortgage and children at home. Like anybody in the country with the threat of redundancy hanging over them, it is a worry.

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

"I will take on board any restructuring the company will make to safeguard my job."

He added: "We need to do everything we can and I know I speak for everybody when I say that we will do everything we can to safeguard our jobs in Corus."

Rob Edwards, the regional director for the Community union, said: "It has been said before that Port Talbot and Llanwern are the twin columns of Welsh manufacturing.

"I have got 500 members that have been crushed by a toppling column."

He added: "I have been talking to several members during the morning and afternoon and they are absolutely devastated by the news. It is a real body blow.

"The economic climate at this moment in time is not conducive to people finding new employment so people are walking a real path of uncertainty."

Falling demand ranging from cars to washing machines and within the building industry have hit the plant.

Newport council leader, councillor Matthew Evans, said many workers had agreed to new working arrangements at Christmas to safeguard jobs - and called for politicians in Cardiff and London to support the industry, as they had the financial and banking sectors.

He said: "I would urge the Corus management to now show the same loyalty towards their workforce and show some support for them at this difficult economic time."

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

Corus chief executive Philippe Varin said the move was "essential for the future of the business.

"The company will keep its focus on priority areas such as training, research and product development which, together with today's initiative, will ensure Corus is in the best possible shape to compete strongly in the future."

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