Tata Steel has announced 720 potential job losses at its speciality steel and bar division at sites in Yorkshire and the West Midlands.
The job losses have been attributed to the strong pound, high electricity costs and failure by government to implement measures to alleviate these costs.
The proposal is for 550 core job cuts for two plants in Rotherham in South Yorkshire and Stocksbridge in West Yorkshire and 170 job cuts at Wednesbury in the West Midlands. These job losses are proposed for the end of March 2016.
“Energy is one of our largest costs at our speciality and bar business and we are disadvantaged by the UK’s cripplingly high electricity costs,” said Karl Koehler, chief executive of Tata Steel’s European operations in a statement. “And while the UK government announced helpful measures to reduce the impact of its high-energy taxes a few years ago, these measures still haven’t been introduced.
“We want to play our role in reinvigorating the UK’s manufacturing industry, but increasing imports and high energy costs have further undermined the competitiveness of foundations industries.
“Now is the time for government to act. Foundation industries like ours urgently need a competitive business environment and a government willing to strengthen UK manufacturing supply chains. This would ensure the UK remains an attractive place to invest.”
Gareth Stace, director of UK Steel commented: “Whilst factors such as currency are out of our control we simply cannot afford to keep overloading our companies with energy costs which in some cases are almost double those faced elsewhere, otherwise this is the result we will see.”
Trade union GMB said it would now work with Tata and others to mitigate the job losses and to avoid compulsory redundancies.