MINERS could soon find themselves stacking supermarket shelves after a firm revealed plans to cut hundreds of jobs, it was last night claimed.

At least 200 staff are expected to be affected in restructuring proposals at ICL UK’s Boulby mine, in east Cleveland.

Last night, one worker, who left the company during a previous wave of redundancies, told The Northern Echo “there will be a lot of people panicking”, with many “ticked up” on mortgages and finance for cars.

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Meanwhile, Middlesbrough South and east Cleveland MP Simon Clarke called for lessons to be learned from Redcar steel firm SSI UK’s collapse to help staff find new opportunities, with Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council leader, Councillor Sue Jeffrey, vowing to help those whose “lives have been turned upside down".

However, the father-of-three, who has since found fresh work in the construction sector, raised fears over miners’ ability to find jobs across similar pay bands in east Cleveland, adding they would need to either find work at nearby Skinningrove’s British Steel plant or be willing to travel further afield.

He said: “It is a different place to work now and a lot of the lads will be panicking because they are ticked up on houses and cars; some of the younger lads have £200,000 homes and mortgages to pay.

“I worry because, as miners, they don’t have a trade as such, so don’t have something they can quickly move on to.

“Part of me fears they could soon be working at Asda in Skelton, you just don’t know.”

Although first mooted in 2015 when ICL announced it would pare back staffing numbers in a major restructure after shock tests showed traditional reserves were dwindling, the news remains a big blow to east Cleveland, which is still recovering from the collapse of Redcar SSI UK steelworks.

Last night, Simon Clarke, Redcar MP Anna Turley, Councillor Sue Jeffrey and Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen all vowed to offer their support to workers.

Mr Clarke was particularly critical of bosses’ handling of the announcement, revealing it had caught him by surprise.

He said: “We have to get on with helping the men affected and need to apply all the lessons from SSI to help these very skilled operatives find new opportunities.

“However, I’m deeply disappointed about the way the announcement has been handled.

“I visited Cleveland Potash twice in my first six months as MP and received no warning of either the scale or the imminence of the job losses.

“Indeed, I was told job numbers were broadly stable.”

Mr Clarke added he hoped Sirius Minerals, which is building a polyhalite mine on the outskirts of Whitby, could provide some job opportunities during the construction period.

Labour MP Ms Turley, who fought to save the Redcar steelworks, said she was upset at the “dreadful” news, adding hopes of workers switching to Sirius Minerals were somewhat distant.

She also called on ICL UK bosses to ensure safety will not be comprised by the business’ leaner workforce, pointing to the death of John Anderson in 2016 following an underground ‘gas blow-out’.

“I hope job losses can be minimised and that there will be alternative employment opportunities through the development of Sirius’ mine,” she said.

“However, that is some way off and this is a painful blow to both the workforce and the local economy, which has seen so many industrial jobs disappear.

“Safety also has to be a priority; lives must not be endangered if fewer employees puts more pressure on remaining staff.”

Cllr Jeffrey added: “We are just beginning to recover from the closure of SSI UK and again we are in a position where we will be seeing hundreds of people forced out of work and facing huge uncertainty.

"As a council, we will work with ICL UK and the trade unions to do everything we can to support the local communities and workers who have had their lives turned upside down.”

Ben Houchen, Tees Valley mayor, said he was committed to helping workers regroup.

He said: “This is horrible news and my immediate thoughts are with the workforce and their families.

“This is ordinary people’s lives we are talking about.

“The Tees Valley Combined Authority will work closely with our colleagues at Redcar and Cleveland Council and the Department for Work and Pensions rapid response team to support those affected.”