Tata Steel is set to push ahead with hundreds of job losses in Rotherham after rejecting alternative plans by independent experts, it has confirmed.
Bosses were meeting with unions this morning to confirm the bombshell plan to shed 720 jobs in the bar business, including 550 in South Yorkshire, with 490 of those in Rotherham.
There are unconfirmed reports that 350 will be compulsory, possibly in spring, with the rest lost to voluntary redundancy and retirement, moving staff to other sections in the company and cancelling temporary contracts.
In a letter to Rotherham MP John Healey, Tata’s European chief Karl Kohler confirmed the company had rejected proposals by consultancy Syndex which would have seen fewer redundancies.
It was hired by steel unions after the initial redundancy announcement in July.
A Tata Steel spokesman said: “The bar business has been underperforming in the face of commodity-grade steel being unfairly traded in the UK, the strong pound and high energy costs.
“This led to a decision, after examining all the options, of refocussing on higher-value markets which can help the company reduce its losses and turn the corner to profitability in the future.
“While Tata Steel is thankful of the work done by the trade unions via their consultants, Syndex, none of the recommendations would have given us the solid base required to ensure we can continue to employ around 1,500 people in South Yorkshire.
“We continue to work closely with potentially affected employees and their trade union representatives.”
Since July, thousands of jobs have been lost in the steel industry nationally - including at Tata in Scunthorpe where a £9m package of support from the government and Tata was put in place to support steelworkers and the local economy.
Mr Healey wrote to the Secretary of State for Business, Sajid Javid, calling for similar support in Rotherham. He has not received a reply, he said.
He added: “There is no doubt the situation in Rotherham is severe and justifies the same approach as that in place in Scunthorpe. Based on the number of expected redundancies, we need the government to immediately announce a support package worth at least £7m.”