TRADE unions yesterday called on the government to bail out the manufacturing bosses in the wake of steelmaker Corus’ confirmation that it is cutting 3,500 jobs, 2,500 in the UK.
Corus, a subsidiary of India’s Tata Steel, currently employs 24,000 people in the UK and 42,000 worldwide.
It said it would be ‘mothballing’ its plant at Llanwern near Newport, south Wales, and was trying to sell a majority stake in its Teesside site.
The steelmaker added that 600 jobs would go at Llanwern, as part of a total of 1,100 job cuts across its Welsh operations.
It said that a further 1,400 jobs will be axed at other UK sites, including 713 in Rotherham and 93 in Scunthorpe.
Workers at Corus plants were given the news yesterday morning.
Corus is also closing the British Steel final salary pension scheme to new recruits.
Unite joint general secretary, Derek Simpson, said: ‘Unite will not accept any compulsory redundancies.
‘We understand that Corus are currently facing difficulties but before this recession Corus had been making extremely healthy profits.’
He added: ‘The steel makers’ main markets, car production and construction have been hit by the recession.
‘The UK’s manufacturing sector desperately needs support from our government. We need a strategic support package from government,’ he warned.
John Wilson GMB senior officer commented: ‘This is a body blow for UK manufacturing. It is essential that the UK government offer this industry the same support as offered to the banking sector.
‘Like the banks, steel is the bedrock of our economy. GMB and the other steel unions will be engaged in details talks with Corus in each of the plants across the UK and we will be seeking talks with UK government ministers to see what support is on offer.’
Michael J Leahy, general secretary of the Community trade union, said: ‘This announcement is a devastating blow to workers and contractors at Corus and will have a knock-on effect for thousands in steel communities across the UK.
‘Our aim through the consultation process will be to minimise job losses, avoid compulsory redundancies and ensure that there is a long-term future for the UK steel industry.
‘We believe the government could take action to ensure this by assisting with investment in skills and retraining; support has already been delivered for other sectors and in other European countries.
‘We’re angered at the decision to bury bad news about changes to the pension scheme, which is a crucial part of our members’ terms and conditions.’
He concluded: ‘We will be supporting our members at Corus plants which are under threat.
‘Support will be available from Community’s education and training arm, Communitas, to help redundant workers retrain and find new employment.’
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