Tees steel plant to be mothballed, confirms SSI

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Teesside steel works

The troubled steel plant at Redcar is to be mothballed, with the loss of hundreds of jobs, it was confirmed today.

The firm’s Thai owners this morning delivered the shattering news to workers, who will now enter a 45-day consultation period over redundancies.

SSI announced earlier this month it was halting production of iron and steelmaking at its Redcar blast furnace, as well as the mothballing of one of its coke ovens.

Concerns had been building for a number of weeks and on Friday the Government stepped in to make sure SSI’s £5m wage bill was paid.

But despite a weekend of high-profile appeals across Teesside, the dreaded news was confirmed this morning.

Cornelius Louwrens, UK business director and chief operating officer, said: “This is an extremely sad day for all of us at SSI UK, and in particular our employees and their families.

“Together with our parent company and the various other stakeholders, they have worked so hard in their endeavours to try and make this business successful.

“Despite the significant progress we made in the financial performance of the business during 2014, market conditions this year have been extremely challenging and unfortunately this has led to the decision we are announcing today.

“I would like to pay tribute to and thank everyone connected with SSI UK for their great support.

“My wish is that this facility can once again restart operations and fulfil the potential of the plant and its loyal workforce.”

A rally attended by more than 2,000 people was held in Redcar last Thursday.

‘Save our Steel’ banners were unveiled at Boro’s home match against Leeds on Sunday and players warmed up in t-shirts before the game.

An ‘SOS’ card display was also held up in the North Stand, while there were pre-match appeals from both manager Aitor Karanka and chairman Steve Gibson.

Mr Gibson said in a statement on Friday: “Our communities face terrible uncertainty and our industrial future as a country is at great risk.

“The government must surely recognise how important the steel industry is to families and manufacturing not only on Teesside but the entire UK.

“My hope and plea is that they will not step back from this crisis. The whole point of being in Government is to step up and take action when it is needed and action is certainly needed now if the industry is to be saved.

“There are thousands of individuals and many, many businesses dependent on the blast furnace surviving.

“The business community on Teesside knows only too well how important steel production is to us regionally and nationally. The Government must act.”

Meanwhile, the future of steel-making here is due to be discussed at the Labour Party conference today, which started in Brighton yesterday, after Teesside MPs tabled an emergency motion calling on the government to develop an ‘active industrial strategy’ to support the steel industry.

About 2,000 people work for SSI at the Redcar plant – the country’s second-biggest steelmaker – although 150 are already in a redundancy process after a decision to mothball the South Bank coke ovens. A further 1,000 contract workers also rely on the plant.

SSI said it will continue to work with various stakeholders, including the Government, with the objective of restarting operations at Teesside “at some point in the future”.

 

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