Tata Steel is expected to announce later today that 1,200 jobs are to be cut across its Scunthorpe and Lanarkshire plants.
These are the just the latest in what has been a difficult fortnight for the UK steel industry, with the closure of SSI’s Redcar plant last week – at a cost of 1,700 jobs, and the estimated 1,500 jobs which are now on the line following Caparo Industries administration announcement yesterday.
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There is a widespread belief that China’s dumping of cheap imports onto the global market is largely responsible for a collapse in steel prices, compounded by the devaluation of both the yuan and rouble.
Britain’s steelmakers are urging the Prime Minister to raise the issue of flooding the market with cheap steel with the Chinese Premier during his visit to Britain this week.
According to UK Steel, the price of Chinese steel has been consistently below market rates with an excess capacity in 2014 of 340m tonnes – more than double the EU’s annual steel demand of 155m tonnes.
It’s been reported that Scunthorpe will face the majority of Tata’s job losses, with the facility currently employing around 4,000 workers, making it one of the UK’s largest steel plants.
However, two further mills – both in Lanarkshire – are also expected to be affected.
Assistant general secretary of steel trade union, Community, John Park, described the significance of these job losses as potentially signalling “the end of steel production in Scotland,” as quoted by the BBC.
Writing in Sunday Mirror, general secretary of Community, Roy Rickhuss declared: “The dumping of Chinese steel coupled with crippling energy prices means that times are tough for steel producers.
“The Government has the tools they need to help, now they just need to find the political will. It’s vital that that these specialist skills are retained if British manufacturing is to have a future.”
Rickhuss also highlighted how critical a successful steel industry was to the Government’s vision of a Northern Powerhouse.
Following an emergency Steel Summit on Friday October 16, director of UK Steel, Gareth Stace, prophetically declared: “I cannot emphasise enough that there is an urgency here and very little time before we start to see more job losses and companies facing intolerable pressures.
“This really is about saving Britain’s steel industry and time is of the essence.”