Liberty steelworker says world beating products will help the company survive

A Liberty steelworker has spoken of his pride in their world beating products and belief the company has a bright future.

Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 12:43 pm

The shop floor employee said they were working as hard as they could to see the firm ‘come out of this better than when we went in’.

They were all aware that ‘steel made Sheffield great’ and were keen to continue that legacy.

He spoke out three days into a month-long furlough for most of the 1,600 staff at steelworks in Stocksbridge and Rotherham, while bosses seek to refinance the company.

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Liberty Speciality Steels, Stocksbridge. Picture: Chris Etchells

Liberty Steel has been hit by a ‘perfect storm’ of pandemic, Brexit, high energy prices and the collapse of lender Greensill Capital.

Boss of parent company GFG Alliance, Sanjeev Gupta has told employees he is ‘committed to making the UK businesses sustainable’.

The worker, a member of the technical staff at Stocksbridge, said he believed Mr Gupta was in it for the long run and wanted the best for employees.

In return, they would continue to make the very best products.

Liberty Steel Rotherham.

He added: “I’m convinced of the quality of the products, our attention to detail and expertise is incredibly high standard. It’s the best steel you can get.

“Sanjeev Gupta will find a way, or the market will pick up and we’ll be back to business as usual.

“There’s a sense of fortitude, we’ve been through tough times in the past and we’ll get through again."

Liberty Steel workers in South Yorkshire have been on ‘rolling furlough’ - coming in to do specific jobs before going off again - for months as the company seeks to cut costs.

Sanjeev Gupta arrives in Rotherham after Tata's steel business in 2017.

Stocksbridge has been hit by a 60 per cent drop in aeroplane orders due to the pandemic, as well as a decline in oil and gas.

But sections of the Rotherham operation serving construction are said to be booming.

Sanjeev Gupta won workers’ loyalty after buying the lossmaking UK steel business from Tata for £100m in 2017.

He went on to hire people and invest locally, most recently £60m into Rotherham to re-start a mothballed furnace and ramp up rebar production used in construction and infrastructure projects such as HS2.

Liberty Speciality Steels, Stocksbridge. Picture: Chris Etchells

Today, 762 people work in Stocksbridge and 865 across three businesses in Rotherham.

The worker added: “When Sanjeev Gupta bought the business he knew it wasn’t going to be easy but he had a plan and went through with it.

“I’m confident they are in it for the long run.”

But the government should do more to help and guarantee loans to keep the company going.

Ministers have repeatedly said steel is a vital strategic asset set to play an important part in building a new, green economy.

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has said he is ‘closely monitoring’ the situation.

Liberty Speciality Steels, Stocksbridge. Picture: Chris Etchells

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Please take out a digital subscription or buy a paper.

Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor.