New blow for steel industry as Sheffield Forgemasters plans to axe 95 jobs amid pandemic

An international steel firm that employs hundreds of people across Sheffield is set to cut 95 jobs as the coronavirus pandemic immobilises global markets.

Thursday, 1st October 2020, 8:25 pm

Management at the 200-year-old company state that cuts to the 708 strong workforce are an 'unavoidable necessity' due to reduced demand in the current economic climate, but they remain ‘optimistic’ about the long-term future of the business.

The redundancies will affect staff across all levels of the firm in response to a rapid reduction in throughput of products for steel processing, offshore oil and gas and power generation sectors, as customers across the world battle with the effects of Covid-19.

David Bond, chief executive officer at Sheffield Forgemasters, said: “The decision to make redundancies has been extremely difficult for us, but staff cuts have become an unavoidable necessity in order to protect the majority of jobs at Sheffield Forgemasters.

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The redundancies will affect staff across all levels of the 200-year-old business.

“Although our defence work remains unaffected, we have seen a significant downturn for commercial work driven by the pandemic, leaving many areas of our plant well below capacity. Over the short-term, this poses significant operational challenges, which have to be met.”

Responding to the announcement Roy Rickhuss, general Secretary of community, said: “Clearly this is extremely worrying news for the workforce and their families, and we are engaging with the company to understand their plans and examine any alternatives that could save jobs.

"This announcement of 95 job cuts at Sheffield Forgemasters follows the announcement earlier this week of 70 job cuts at Outokumpu’s Sheffield operations and highlights the precarious position of the British steel industry.

“Government must take these distressing developments as a wake-up call that more must be done to support our steel industry though this crisis so it can survive and then thrive playing a central role in rebuilding our economy.

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"As a top priority government must press on with major infrastructure investments and take decisive game-changing action to ensure that taxpayer-funded projects like HS2 and offshore wind support British jobs and British industry.

“Sourcing steel locally will be vital to delivering our climate change objectives whilst sustaining strategic supply chains and industrial communities across the UK. The industry can have a bright future but delivering that will require political will and the right framework of government support.”

David added: “We are hopeful that the 95 projected redundancies can be reduced through voluntary redundancy or via internal re-deployment.

"Many highly skilled positions within the business will be protected and our apprentices training programme will continue, ensuring succession.

“The company is already in the process of up-skilling 350 employees through an agile working initiative as part of our transformation programme to allow for maximum operational flexibility.

“This will deliver a better trained, multi-skilled workforce operating across the site, with less reliance on fixed departmental teams which will improve productivity and allow us to make more competitive offerings to our customers.”

Sheffield Forgemasters recently posted its financial results for 2019, indicating a year of consolidation, with a pre-tax profit of £0.8m, down from £2.0m in 2018 but showing a reduction in debt from £20.3m to £8.8m over the year.

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