British Steel has announced the closure of its coking ovens in Scunthorpe, with the loss of up to 260 jobs.
The company’s owner, China’s Jingye Group, said in a statement, says the move is partly 'to overcome global economic challenges,' and also due to rising costs (such as energy bills).
The timescale for the closure remains unclear.
Government sources described the decision as ‘disappointing’ given that negotiations are still ongoing between British Steel's Chinese owners Jingye, Tata, and the Treasury about a support package worth £300m to each company.
Prior to confirming the closure, a British Steel spokesman said: "Unfortunately, like many other businesses we are reluctantly having to consider cost cutting in light of the global recession and increased costs."
The steelworkers union, Community, has warned that it will not accept redundencies, with national officer Alun Davies stating that the move threatens the UK’s ability to produce steel, as it would rely on imported coke instead.
“British Steel’s plan to close the coke ovens could have a catastrophic impact on jobs and steel production at Scunthorpe and the UK as a whole.''Alun Davies, national officer, Community
Davies commented: “British Steel’s plan to close the coke ovens could have a catastrophic impact on jobs and steel production at Scunthorpe and the UK as a whole.
“We will not accept redundancies and nothing is off the table when it comes to protecting our members’ jobs.
“The Government must do whatever it takes to reach a deal with British Steel that protects the loyal workforce and the future of steelmaking in this country.”
Source: BBC News