SSI steel plant to be mothballed with loss of 1,700 jobs

Published: Monday 28th September 2015 by The News Editor

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Iron and steelmaking at a huge steelworks is to be mothballed, with the loss of 1,700 jobs, dealing a “devastating” blow to the industry.

Thai firm SSI said it was with “regret” that it had to announce the decision to mothball facilities at its Redcar plant on Teesside.

The company said that after a further evaluation of the business, it had “no other option”, blaming a severe deterioration in steel prices.

Unions said the announcement was devastating for the area and the economy and claimed the Government should shoulder some of the blame.

The company said: “SSI UK regret to announce that after a further evaluation and assessment of the situation facing the business, it has concluded that they are faced with no other option but to mothball its iron and steel making facilities on Teesside. The Redcar Coke Ovens and the Power Station will continue to operate.

“This decision has had to be taken against a continuing background of poor steel trading conditions across the globe and the consequential severe deterioration in steel prices experienced during the course of 2015, together with the view that this is unlikely to change in the short term.

“We will continue to work with various stakeholders, including government, with the objective of restarting operations at Teesside at some point in the future.

“As a further consequence of the mothballing, it is proposed to reduce by 1,700 employees, including those affected by the mothballing of the South Bank Coke Ovens which was announced previously.

“Consultation with the trade unions and employee representatives will commence as soon as possible.”

Cornelius Louwrens, UK business director and chief operating officer said: “This is an extremely sad day for all of us at SSI UK, and in particular our employees and their families. Together with our parent company and the various other stakeholders, they have worked so hard in their endeavours to try and make this business successful.

“Despite the significant progress we made in the financial performance of the business during 2014, market conditions this year have been extremely challenging and unfortunately this has led to the decision we are announcing today.

“I would like to pay tribute to and thank everyone connected with SSI UK for their great support. My wish is that this facility can once again restart operations and fulfil the potential of the plant and its loyal workforce.”

David Hulse, GMB national officer , said “This is absolutely devastating news for the workers, their families and the community. All that will be left operating will be the coke ovens unless the UK Government steps in even at this stage. It is not too late for them to do so while the furnaces are still burning.

“GMB will do all in our power to press the case for Government to act and to protect out members and their families.”

A Unite spokesman said : “The Government has got to take some responsibility for this. They can still intervene to save Redcar and the thousands of jobs that rely on the plant.”

Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of the Community union, said: “We had begun to fear the worst over the past few days and this will be devastating news for our members and their families. We will be seeking an urgent meeting with the company to understand the detail of this announcement. We will also be putting in place support for our members in the days and weeks ahead.

“Steel making on Teesside must have a future and our fight to save our steel will continue. The industrial assets must be preserved at all costs and the skills base also needs to be protected.

“These vital industrial skills have been passed down through the generations and must not be lost. That blast furnace must not become a monument to 170 years of history and it must be mothballed properly to preserve its integrity and give it the chance of a future.

“We have serious concerns about the ability of SSI to do this and so the Government must step in to ensure that the mothballing is done properly.

“The cost of inaction and the demise of the assets could extend to hundreds of millions of pounds. Not just the cost of cleaning up the site but the economic and social costs from devastating an entire steel community and the lives of the thousands of families who depend upon it.

“The Prime Minister said his Government would do ‘everything we can’ to support the UK steel industry. He needs to deliver on that. Now is the time to demonstrate the political will to see a vital foundation industry continue.

“Steelworkers will not give up on their industry and their heritage. The Government must not give up on Teesside’s steelworkers.”

Published: Monday 28th September 2015 by The News Editor

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