Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

UNION'S ANGER EXPLODES; Fury over Chief's Bid to Cast Blame for Job Losses

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

UNION'S ANGER EXPLODES; Fury over Chief's Bid to Cast Blame for Job Losses

Article excerpt

Byline: SUE SCOTT

UNIONS have reacted furiously to Corus chief Kirby Adams' attempt to lay the blame for 1,700 job losses at Redcar's steelworks firmly at the door of the buying consortium which abandoned the plant eight months ago.

Officers of the Multi Works Union Committee representing staff at Corus Long Products division boycotted yesterday's press conference, called to confirm the biggest single layoff in Teesside's history.

Instead, they held their own impromptu briefing after Mr Adams had left.

Flanked incongruously by a Christmas tree twinkling in the visitors' reception, committee chairman Geoff Waterfield said he did not believe there was any part of Corus' UK steelmaking operation more capable of delivering flexibility and profit for the Anglo-Dutch steelmaker, which has seen earnings collapse over the past 12 months and has yet to move back into positive financial territory.

"Every site is struggling and we appreciate that you do not throw good money after bad," said Mr Waterfield. "But there has got to be a solution to the problem that can be worked out between (parent company) Tata, Government and ourselves. After all, we are not going into a recession we are coming out of one."

Mr Adams brushed away suggestions that, given the generally upbeat outlook for Tata Steel Europe in its half-year report released just days before, mothballing the plant now was preemptive, and said the question of Government stepping in with wage support to buy extra time for TCP to secure a rescue deal was "academic".

He said a strengthening steel market did not improve TCP's chances of survival because the three million tonne slab plant was competing with a global oversupply of 300 million tonne, mainly produced, far cheaper in Asia.

Insisting that the consortium's "appalling and unethical" behaviour, combined with a global downturn in demand for steel, was to blame, he said: "Clearly Corus are not in a position to continue to bankroll loss-making businesses such as Teesside. To justify continuing operations what we needed was for the consortium to come back, or to make a long term arrangement with strategic buyers who were prepared to take equity risk and invest. …

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