Steelmaker Corus to Cut 1,700 Jobs in Britain

The company said an international consortium's breaking of a binding contract has led to the layoffs.

Steelmaker Corus said on Dec. 4 it was cutting 1,700 jobs at a plant in Britain after running into a dispute with a consortium over a major contract.

Corus, which has already shed about 6,000 jobs in Britain and the Netherlands since the start of the year owning to the global economic downturn, said that the latest cuts would occur at its Teesside plant in northeast England.

"An international consortium's breaking of a binding contract has led Corus to partially implement the proposal announced in May 2009 of mothballing some of the facilities belonging to the Teesside Cast Products (TCP) business in northeast England," Corus said. "The partial mothballing will result in the loss of about 1,700 jobs," it added.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown's spokesman called it "a disappointing announcement," adding: "We have worked hard with all parties since the cancellation of a main supply contract in May and we are very aware that Corus management have worked very hard to try to keep the plant open."

Corus said the decision partially to mothball TCP followed "strenuous efforts" by the group over the past eight months to secure a long-term future for the plant. The company blamed the job cuts on "the failure of four international (steel) slab buyers to fulfill their obligations under a 10-year contract that they signed with Corus in 2004. "This contract committed the consortium to buying about 80% of the plant's production for ten years," it added.

Corus said the consortium comprised Marcegaglia SpA, Dongkuk Steel Mills Co Ltd, Duferco Participations Holding Ltd and Alvory SA.

Meanwhile a further 366 Corus jobs remain at risk in northeast England after the company in July said weak steel demand could affect staff at a plant in the town of Scunthorpe.

The parent company of Corus, Tata Steel, the world's eighth-biggest steelmaker, recently swung into a quarterly net loss, the group announced last month. Tata Steel, part of the sprawling Tata Group conglomerate, was catapulted to eighth-biggest steelmaker from 56th after purchasing Anglo-Dutch company Corus for $13.7 billion two years ago. Corus, which produces about 20 million tons of steel a year, accounts for more than two-thirds of Tata Steel's production.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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