Strike ballot as Corus talks fail

Union leaders are to press ahead with strike ballots tomorrow following an inconclusive meeting with the troubled Anglo-Dutch steel manufacturer Corus.

The meeting was called on Monday by the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation to discuss redundancies imposed by Corus at its Teesside and Scunthorpe sites. However workers’ representatives left frustrated after bosses refused to go into detail about their plans, saying only that further announcements would be made at the end of the month.

Michael Leahy, general secretary of the ISTC, said: ‘It is our intention to continue with the ballot for industrial action at Scunthorpe.’

Corus has sought to make cuts in a bid to reduce losses in its UK carbon steels business. Although local negotiations at Scunthorpe reduced compulsory redundancies to zero, Corus then imposed redeployment on some of the workforce. The union says this is redundancy by another name.

Teesside is facing 70 compulsory redundancies and a mass meeting of the workforce to decide on a ballot for industrial action is expected this weekend.

Hundreds more compulsory redundancy notices have been posted to individuals at other sites. It is also believed Corus plans to shut the Llanwern site near Newport. The closure would cost 2,600 jobs and put 5,500 more jobs at risk in the local economy.

Corus executive director Allan Johnston said afterwards: ‘The meeting addressed in a frank manner the urgent requirements for Corus to offset the damaging impact of sales revenues from a still too weak euro.’

Steel consumption and output in the UK is in decline. In the past ten years the amount of domestically produced steel used in the UK has fallen from 52% to 35%.

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