Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Bosses Come under Attack

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Bosses Come under Attack

Article excerpt

Byline: Bill Doult

Corus bosses were besieged by angry shareholders at the company's annual general meeting.

One outraged shareholder claimed the board should be "hanging their heads in shame".

Question after question was fired at the board over its management skills. Shareholders at the meeting, held at the London headquarters of the TUC, were particularly enraged by today's decision to lay off yet more workers -just a day and a half before a new chief executive takes over.

Teesside steel workers and union leader Tony Poynter was applauded when he lambasted outgoing chairman Sir Brian Moffat for "tying the hands" of incoming CEO Philippe Varin.

There was applause too for Skinningrove steelworker and shareholder Rob Middlemass who said there had been attempts to encourage the staff on Teesside "and keep the troops motivated". But he demanded: "How do you expect us to keep motivating the troops when time and again you keep chopping heads off?"

Mr Middlemass reminded Sir Brian that the previous mass redundancies had come with a promise that this was an end to job cuts. But Sir Brian told the AGM that the company could not guarantee no further cuts.

Throughout the meeting ordinary shareholders rose to tell the outgoing board of their deep unhappiness about the way the company had been run and the loss of jobs.

Some called for "a change in culture" once the new Chief Executive, Mr Varin, and new chairman, Jim Leng, take over.

Mr Poynter appealed to the new chairman to come to Teesside to see the works for himself. The Teesside union leader said: "This is our industry as well as yours."

Mr Leng, pointing out that he too was a North-easterner, said he would be pleased to come to Teesside "once I've got my feet under the table".

He told the shareholders he did not underestimate the challenge facing him and he admitted that achieving the improvements he wanted would be "immensely difficult". …

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