British Steel expected to cut 300 jobs

British Steel is expected to confirm today the closure of its coking ovens in Scunthorpe – with the loss of 300 jobs.

It is still unclear how many compulsory redundancies this will involve.

Coking ovens are used to turn coal into coke which burns at the higher temperature required for the two blast furnaces that remain in operation. The closure means British Steel will need to import coke instead.

Government sources have described the decision as “disappointing” as negotiations are currently taking place between British Steel’s Chinese owners Jingye, Tata, and the Treasury about a support package worth £300m to each company.

A British Steel spokesman told the BBC: “Unfortunately, like many other businesses we are reluctantly having to consider cost cutting in light of the global recession and increased costs.”

Jingye has invested £330m in three years, and is committed for the long-term, but British Steel is “facing significant challenges because of the economic slowdown, rising inflation and exceptionally high energy prices”, the spokesman said.

UK steelmaking is “uncompetitive” internationally, the spokesman added.

Talks on how many voluntary and compulsory redundancies there will be are due to begin next week. There are also fears for further job losses across the plant.