Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hundreds of Steel Workers' Jobs Saved; but Battle to Find Buyer for Plant Goes On

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hundreds of Steel Workers' Jobs Saved; but Battle to Find Buyer for Plant Goes On

Article excerpt

Byline: Karen Dent

AN 11th-hour pounds 1.5m scheme is set to save hundreds of steelworkers facing redundancy at Corus's Teesside Cast Products (TCP) plant.

The steel giant is putting up the money for a Tees Skills programme to be run with the Government, providing fully-paid training for more than 200 of the 1,600 workers facing the axe while a buyer is sought for the mothballed site in Redcar. But Corus, which is owned by Indian giant Tata, could not confirm exactly how many workers would be saved from redundancy - or precisely how the scheme would work.

A spokesman said: "The number of affected employees is constantly fluctuating because of Corus's success in identifying cross-matching opportunities and new vacancies within the group, and is now considerably less than the 290 that had been envisaged.

"The details of the scheme cannot be finalised because of the General Election, but Corus is trying to move matters forward as quickly as possible in conjunction with local agencies. In the meantime the affected employees will remain on the company's books."

The breakthrough came in a meeting between Community union leader Michael Leahy and Corus chief executive Kirby Adams. The union was concerned that if the 290 redundancies went ahead, the headcount at TCP would be lower than the number Corus had said was necessary to maintain the mothballed plant.

Mr Leahy said: "After a constructive meeting with Corus CEO Kirby Adams, Corus have decided to do the right thing for the workforce remaining on Teesside. "We welcome this positive development.

However, the real challenge is to find a buyer or off-taker as soon as possible and secure the long-term future of Teesside."

A war of words broke out during the week between Vera Baird and Corus, which hit back at the Redcar Labour candidate over her questioning of Mr Adams' commitment to finding a buyer for TCP. It was mothballed in February because Corus said it could not sustain losses at the plant, which was plunged into uncertainty last year when its major customer reneged midway through its 10-year off-take agreement. …

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