Union bosses claim plans to cut 550 Tata Steel jobs will ‘kill the town of Rotherham’.
Stuart Sansome, chairman of the multi-union committee at its Thrybergh site, said stopping bar production would leave it a ‘skeleton’ – and called for management to be held to account.
He also accused Tata bosses of using ‘death by a thousand cuts’ to stop steelmaking in Rotherham.
Mr Sansome said: “It’s killing morale and it’s killing the town. It’s about time someone at the top was held to account.
“It’s not just about the market, electricity prices or competition. When you look at the fact the business isn’t sustainable you have to ask: who is accountable?
“If a football team loses six matches on the trot who do you sack – the players or the manager?”
Bosses say 550 jobs Tata Steel jobs in South Yorkshire, including 490 in Rotherham, are at risk due to “crippling” electricity costs and cheap imports.
Some 485 are in the bar business on the Thrybergh site, with a further five at Brinsworth and another 60 at Stocksbridge in Sheffield.
The firm says the business is underperforming in the face of imports due to the strong pound and ‘electricity costs which are more than double that of key European competitors’.
The main Rotherham site, on Doncaster Road, Thrybergh, employs 1,200 people. It includes the Aldwarke melt shop, which produces bars of steel from scrap, and the Thrybergh rolling mill.
A spokesman said both sections of the business were affected by the decision.
In total, 720 UK jobs are at risk at the Indian-owned company.
Mark Broxholme, managing director of Tata Steel’s speciality and bar business, insisted the site had a future.
He said: “There’s no issues with the quality of the workforce, they have done everything we have asked them to do, but the volume does not command the price.
“Clearly these are emotional times, but I believe it absolutely has a future.
“We started the journey of refocusing our speciality business in 2009 on making and supplying high quality safety-critical steel to the world’s most demanding applications.
“Today, we are the world’s third largest supplier of aerospace steels and we want to build on this.
“Reshaping the bar business is the next stage in that journey and would give it the best chance to succeed in these fiercely-competitive markets.
“The consultation process begins today with our employees and their trade union representatives. Of course, we will seek to minimise the impact of this restructuring on our employees.”