Tata Steel confirms nearly 1200 job cuts

Tata Steel has announced that 1170 jobs are being cut at its plants in Scunthorpe and Lanarkshire. They are the latest in a series of job losses across the UK steel sector and follow news that administrators have been appointed to parts of Caparo Industries' steel operations.

It said 900 jobs will go at Scunthorpe, 270 in Scotland and the Long Products division will stop production of steel plate. Plate mills in Scunthorpe, Dalzell and Clydebridge will be mothballed while one of the two coke ovens at the Scunthorpe steelworks will be closed.

The industry blames cheap Chinese imports, the strong pound and high electricity costs for a collapse in steel prices. David Cameron has promised to raise the issue of the ‘dumping’ of cheap steel onto the market with Chinese President Xi Jinping during his four-day state visit to the UK – however, unions say this gesture is not enough to safeguard the industry.

Mr Cameron said: "The British government is doing everything that we can, and every issue that we can take up, we will."

But Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of trade union Community, said: "We have had a succession of ministers, and now the prime minister, saying that they will 'raise' the issue of Chinese steel dumping, which we know is impacting on the UK steel industry and the global steel price.

"The prime minister needs to do more than 'raise' the issue. He needs to tell the Chinese premier what action he's going to take to stop Chinese steel damaging the future of a vital foundation industry in the UK."

Due to overcapacity in the Chinese market, the price of steel has fallen by 40% in the past year - from about £318 a tonne to £191 a tonne. The drop has meant many UK firms are no longer able to compete.

John Park, assistant general secretary of Community, said: "The significance of this is that it could be the end of steel production in Scotland.”

In the 1970s, more than 200,000 people were employed in the UK steel sector, but the number now stands at just 30,000. Unions say that one in six of those jobs is now under threat.

The collapse into administration of parts of steel processing firm Caparo on Monday followed the closure last month of the SSI steel plant at Redcar, with the loss of about 2200 jobs.

Caparo administrators PwC said workers would be paid and briefed on developments, adding: "It is business as usual while the administrators' review gets under way."

Tom Austin-Morgan

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