Unions in talks over steel cuts

Unions representing British Steel’s 43,000 UK workers will meet with the group’s personnel director next Tuesday to submit their national response to the company’s accelerated cost and job cutting plan. British Steel has warned that because of currency losses and overseas competition it must speed up its cost and efficiency drive. Top of the unions’ […]

Unions representing British Steel’s 43,000 UK workers will meet with the group’s personnel director next Tuesday to submit their national response to the company’s accelerated cost and job cutting plan.

British Steel has warned that because of currency losses and overseas competition it must speed up its cost and efficiency drive.

Top of the unions’ agenda is to seek clarity on the number and locations of job losses and greater partnership with British Steel in its efficiency plan. Unions fear job losses as high as 10,000 over a five-year period.

None of the unions ruled out the possibility of agreeing with British Steel one of the new longer-term employment deals, as negotiated between trade unions the GMB, T&G and cement producer Blue Circle. While such an agreement would do away with the traditional annual pay round, it could offer the unions the guarantee of no compulsory redundancies.

This year’s wage claim by the group’s long products division, which serves British Steel’s biggest market – construction – has already been adjourned because of the accelerated efficiency drive.

`Longer-term agreements are a possibility,’ said Neil Moore, the GMB’s national officer.

Bob Shannon, AEEU’s national officer, agreed.