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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

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Talks to save 90 jobs at Workington's Tata Steel factory

Talks were today taking place following the shock announcement that 90 jobs are to go at the Tata Steel plant in Workington.

Tata Steel photo
Tata Steel at Workington

Workington MP Sir Tony Cunningham and Allerdale council leader Alan Smith were due to meet company bosses just days after the firm said it was to restructure its workforce with the loss of almost one third of its total workforce.

The company has begun a 90-day redundancy consultation on the posts believed to involve management and administrative roles.

A company spokesman said there were no plans to close any of its UK plants. Nearly 500 jobs are to be cut at its sites in Workington, Teesside and Scunthorpe.

Sir Tony said: “I wrote to the firm about six months ago to make sure everything was okay. I’m not sure if they lost the letter or it didn’t get to the right person, but I had no reply.

“I think they are embarrassed by that now and I am hopeful we will be able to offer Tata Steel solutions other than losing staff.

“Steel is the lifeblood of Workington and there must be nuclear contracts in the pipeline that can be brought forward. We must do everything we can to help as the loss of 90 jobs would be a horrendous blow.”

The company said its proposal comes amid a prolonged downturn in demand, with the UK market for construction steel at half its 2007 level.

Mr Smith, a former steel worker, said: “It’s really bad news. They are at the beginning of a 90-day consultation that is going to take us right through Christmas.

“There are 90 families in West Cumbria who are going to feel hardship.”

Representatives from Britain’s Energy Coast are also having meetings with Tata Steel. Steven Szostak, chief executive of Britain’s Energy Coast, said that along with Allerdale council and others it was working with Tata Steel to mitigate the situation. He said: “We are keen to ensure that any opportunities to improve the prospects of Tata in Workington are capitalised, helping Tata to build the solid business foundation they require.”

Michael Leahy, chairman of the UK Steel Unions’ Committee, said: “The news reflects the fragile state of our economy and the lack of any real impetus by Government to support our manufacturing base.”

Karl Koehler, chief executive officer of Tata’s European operations, said: “European steel demand this year is expected to be only two-thirds of pre-crisis levels after falls in the past two years.

“On top of the challenging economic conditions, rules covering energy and the environment in Europe and the UK threaten to impose huge additional costs on the steel industry.”

He said that they would engage fully with employees and unions and would support employees throughout.

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