Redcar steel plant to close with 1,700 job losses

SSI Steel has announced it will close its iron and steel making plant at Redcar on Teesside indefinitely with the loss of 1,700 jobs.

The Thai-owned company, which put production on hold on 18 September, said that after reviewing the business it had no choice but to close the operations. Coke ovens and a power station at the site will continue to function, it said.

SSI blamed falling steel prices this year for its decision to “mothball” the plant. The company said it would talk to the government about reopening the plant in the future but that this was unlikely to happen in the short term.

SSI has been struggling to pay outstanding debts to its parent company dating back to a buyout from previous owner Corus, leading to speculation about how long it could keep going while employing 2,000 staff and 1,000 contractors at Redcar.

Cornelius Louwrens, SSI’s UK 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. Market conditions this year have been extremely challenging and unfortunately this has led to the decision we are announcing today.”

Steelmakers last week urged the government to rescue the industry by cutting green taxes and banning cheap imports that had pushed prices to levels that made UK plants unviable.

Anna Turley, the Labour and Cooperative MP for Redcar, said the announcement was devastating and called on the government to intervene. © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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