Union threatens Corus with action over 4,500 job losses

Ballots for industrial action are being threatened across all of Corus’s UK carbon steel manufacturing sites if the company does not reverse its decision to impose compulsory redundancies.

Ballots for industrial action are being threatened across all of Corus’s UK carbon steel manufacturing sites if the company does not reverse its decision to impose compulsory redundancies, the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation said this week.

The ISTC — the main union for the Corus workforce — is set to ballot members on industrial action at every Corus plant where job cuts are planned. Corus has already triggered union ballots at two UK plants, amid rumours of plant closures, after sending out compulsory redundancy notices to employees shortly before Christmas.

If the company does not withdraw its plans, the union will send out ballot papers to Scunthorpe members on 13 January.

Corus management will meet ISTC bosses next Monday in what the union is calling ‘a steel crisis summit’. Mike Leahy, general secretary of the ISTC said: ‘Corus knows what it must do to ensure the future and that is to work with us.’

Corus announced a rolling programme of voluntary redundancies last summer, which would remove 4,500 jobs by 2002. But of the 1,200 voluntary redundancies planned for the company’s Scunthorpe and Teeside plants, around 100 will now have to be imposed on the workforce.

The company will also decide how many of the remaining 3,300 voluntary redundancies at other sites will become compulsory.

Further job losses could be imminent at the group, whose carbon steel manufacturing division saw a £226m loss in the last six months of 2000 — its Dutch counterpart made a £76m profit in the same period. The company blamed the loss on the exchange rate. Corus co-chief executives — Fokko van Duyne and John Bryant — resigned in December.

The chairman and current acting chief executive Sir Brian Moffatt has indicated that an announcement, expected in February, about further restructuring will include plant closures, with the Llanwern and Teeside sites thought to be at risk.