280 jobs to go in Yorkshire as major cutbacks announced

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Liberty Steel has announced it intends to cut 355 UK jobs due to “challenging market conditions”.

The company said it would be consulting with unions over a proposal to axe around 280 jobs at its plant in Stocksbridge, South Yorkshire and 70 in Newport, South Wales.

The business, which is led by tycoon Sanjeev Gupta, acquired its plant in Stocksbridge in a £100m deal with Tata Steel in 2017, after the Indian conglomerate put its UK business up for sale.

Confirming the planned job cuts today, chief executive Cornelius Louwrens said: “Liberty has taken enormous strides in improving the performance of the steel mills it has acquired over the last six years.

“We’ve re-started mothballed plants and demonstrated a commitment to invest in the UK.

“Unfortunately, the steel industry in the UK is facing challenging conditions and we have made the difficult decision that there is a need to reduce the workforce at a handful of locations, in order to make them sustainable for the long-term.

“It has always been our intention, and always will be, to avoid compulsory redundancies.”

Ross Murdoch, national officer of the GMB union, said: “Once again we have more bad news for the UK steel industry. A country that doesn’t produce its own steel for key infrastructure projects and shipbuilding is a country that’s destined to fail.

“Our steelworkers deserve better than this.

“The Government urgently needs to intervene and ensure steel companies in the UK receive the backing they have long called for on energy costs and business rates.

“GMB will of course engage with the company to mitigate any losses for our members and will continue to campaign with our sister steel trade unions to bring about the support and investment required.”

Councillor Mazher Iqbal, Cabinet Member for Business and Investment at Sheffield City Council, said: “It is devastating news to hear of the job losses at Liberty Steel, which could affect many people in Sheffield.

“We know that falling levels of demand and the impact of Brexit have made for very challenging trading conditions but we remain optimistic that, given the skills of the retained workforce and previous investment facilities, there remains a viable and vitally important speciality steels business in Stocksbridge.

“The council is working alongside Liberty Steel to develop re-training and redeployment opportunities with the aim of minimising the number of compulsory redundancies needed.

“It’s vital the Government act now to provide all necessary support to the business and of course, the individuals concerned.”

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