Workers in one of the UK's biggest steel-making areas were dealt a savage pre-Christmas blow yesterday with news that a giant plant is to be mothballed with the loss of 1,700 jobs.
Corus said it had been unable to secure the long-term future of the Teeside factory blaming an international consortium for “walking away” from a 10-year contract in April.
Corus chief executive Kirby Adams broke the grim news to managers and union officials at the plant before launching an angry attack at the consortium, saying the four firms involved should “hang their heads in shame”.
Union leaders said the announcement was “devastating” for the workers and the region and called on the Government to take urgent action to try to save the jobs.
Workers leaving the plant were bitter and angry at being told they were being made redundant just weeks before Christmas.
“If we were as poor at making steel as they are at managing we would have closed long ago,” one said.
Another raged: “The bankers get bailed out but we get nothing on Teeside.”
Kate Owen, owner of a snack van outside the gates, said the closure would devastate Redcar, warning: “If all these people are out of work it is going to be like a ghost town.” Michael Leahy, general secretary of the Community union, said Corus, which is owned by Indian giant Tata, had made a “premature” decision because it had orders on its book to the end of the year.
However, Mr Adams said the factory, which has been producing steel for more than 30 years, had become “unsustainable” without a partner, incurring losses of £130 million between April and September.
Corus had worked “night and day” and officials had travelled the world trying to find new partners, he said.
“I am personally very sad we have reached this point. I did not join Corus to close plants. Teeside is renowned for the quality of its products and has a very fine workforce.
“But for TCP to continue operating, what Corus requires is sufficient and profitable slab demand and the realistic prospect of a strategic partner to secure its future.”