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Friday, 31 October 2014

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Fresh hope for future of Cumbria's Tata Steel foundry

There are new hopes for the future of a Workington steel foundry which is proposing to shed dozens of jobs as talks have taken place to find new owners for the under-threat site.

Tony Cunningham photo
Tony Cunningham

Seventy-five positions are set to be axed at Tata Steel with the majority of these linked to the copper foundry plant.

Talks have been ongoing for weeks between unions and management of the company and this week major decisions have been agreed.

On Tuesday it was decided that both parties are open to “alternative proposals” to closing the foundry plant, which would result in the loss of nearly 30 jobs.

The unions – CWU and GMB – and management also agreed that the future of the foundry was secure until at least April until all current orders were complete.

Workers have been informed of the key decisions by posters which have been put up around the factory.

The poster from Tuesday’s meeting says: “(It was) jointly agreed that both parties are open to alternative proposals to closure, such as a joint venture of alternative owner.”

Management will also meet with Workington MP Sir Tony Cunningham tomorrow. He told the News & Star that “all avenues were being explored” regarding the future of the site.

“Tata are to also brief me as to where we are with the situation as far as redundancies,” added Sir Tony.

The copper foundry – formally known as Ogden and Lawson – would be the hardest hit section of the plant as 28 workers face the axe. And it is this proposal that unions are fighting.

Unions and management are both in agreement that the restructuring process would continue in the FMA department which is due to cut 17 jobs and the Refurb area.

A spokesman for Tata said that posters were being displayed around the site as a way to keep workers informed of progress. He said it would not be right to comment directly on any of the points raised, as discussions were continuing, but added: “We continue to hold regular meetings with union representatives regarding the proposed restructure.”

It was initially feared that 90 workers were to be axed at the troubled factory, but the firm confirmed last year that this had been reduced to 75, with hundreds more being lost at Tata’s sister plants in Scunthorpe and Teeside.

The firm said it was “vital” for the future of the business that the restructure takes place. The spokesman added there was no definite date and redundancies will only happen once consultations have been completed with both employees and their union representatives.

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