MORE than 1,700 people are being being made redundant at SSI Redcar steelworks which is being mothballed, plant bosses have confirmed. 

The Redcar ovens and power generation sites will be kept running and about 200 workers will retain their jobs in the short term. 

A company statement at 10.30am on Monday morning said: "Further to the announcement made on 18th September with regard to a pause in production, SSI UK regret to announce that after a further evaluation and assessment of the situation facing the business, it has concluded that they are faced with no other option but to mothball its iron and steel making facilities on Teesside.

Video: BBC News

"The Redcar Coke Ovens and the Power Station will continue to operate.

"This decision has had to be taken against a continuing background of poor steel trading conditions across the globe and the consequential severe deterioration in steel prices experienced during the course of 2015, together with the view that this is unlikely to change in the short term.

Video: BBC News

"We will continue to work with various stakeholders, including Government with the objective of restarting operations at Teesside at some point in the future.

"As a further consequence of the mothballing, it is proposed to reduce by c1700 employees, including those affected by the mothballing of the South Bank Coke Ovens which was announced previously. Consultation with the Trade Unions and Employee Representatives will commence as soon as possible."

Cornelius Louwrens, UK Business Director and Chief Operating Officer said: “This is an extremely sad day for all of us at SSI UK, and in particular our employees and their families. Together with our parent company and the various other stakeholders, they have worked so hard in their endeavours to try and make this business successful.

"Despite the significant progress we made in the financial performance of the Business during 2014, market conditions this year have been extremely challenging and unfortunately this has led to the decision we are announcing today. 

"I would like to pay tribute to and thank everyone connected with SSI UK for their great support. My wish is that this facility can once again restart operations and fulfil the potential of the plant and its loyal workforce”

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The Labour Party announced it would debate the announcement around 2.20pm at its Annual Party Conference in Brighton on Monday afternoon.

Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of steel union Community, said: “We had begun to fear the worst over the past few days and this will be devastating news for our members and their families.

"We will be seeking an urgent meeting with the company to understand the detail of this announcement. We will also be putting in place support for our members in the days and weeks ahead.

“Steel making on Teesside must have a future and our fight to save our steel will continue. The industrial assets must be preserved at all costs and the skills base also needs to be protected.

"These vital industrial skills have been passed down through the generations and must not be lost. That blast furnace must not become a monument to 170 years of history and it must be mothballed properly to preserve its integrity and give it the chance of a future. We have serious concerns about the ability of SSI to do this and so the government must step in to ensure that the mothballing is done properly.

“The cost of inaction and the demise of the assets could extend to hundreds of millions of pounds. Not just the cost of cleaning up the site but the economic and social costs from devastating an entire steel community and the lives of the thousands of families who depend upon it.

“The Prime Minister said his Government would do ‘everything we can’ to support the UK steel industry. He needs to deliver on that. Now is the time to demonstrate the political will to see a vital foundation industry continue."

Yesterday, workers and their families used Middlesbrough FC's televised Championship home game against Leeds United to promote the Save Our Steel campaign by holding up cards and huge banners inside the Riverside Stadium. A parade took place around the pitch before kick-off and Boro's players wore SOS t-shirts before the 3-0 victory. 

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'Heart goes out' - Anna Turley MP

Labour MP for Redcar Anna Turley said: “My heart goes out to the 1,700 workers and their families who have lost their jobs today. It is devastating news after the fight over the past few years and recent weeks and days to keep steelmaking on Teesside.

“It is now the Government’s duty to step in and secure our steelworks, preserving the integrity of blast furnace so that steelmaking is not gone for good.

"The plant is national asset and must be rescued and protected. Wages and pensions must be paid and suppliers must be underwritten. The industrial marvel that is Redcar blast furnace cannot simply be allowed to fall over.

“Over 150 years of toil and endeavour in forging steel in the heat and the light, has come down to few days of desperate fighting. The people of Teesside have shown their commitment to our steelworks and the Government must now do the same.”

The Northern Echo: James Wharton
'Disappointing news' - James Wharton

James Wharton, Conservative MP for nearby Stockton South and minister for the Northern Powerhouse, wrote via Facebook: 

"Disappointing news that SSI is to mothball its Redcar plant.

"We have been working with the company for months now and the most recent support from government allowed wages to be paid on Friday. Sadly though the company has significant debts and has not been able to get through this challenging period unscathed.

"World steel prices and a large debt burden have meant today they took the decision to mothball the plant. This happened in 2009 and we were able to see it reopened in 2012, so the hope must be that this could be the case again and it is not necessarily the end of the line.

"At this time we need to look to do what we can to support those directly affected and a taskforce has been established to that end."

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Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron MP said: “After Labour turned its back on Redcar and left the site on the scrap heap, the Liberal Democrats and Ian Swales stepped in and helped restart work at the plant, protecting jobs and keeping the furnace burning.  

"In government, we strained every sinew and did everything possible to successfully keep the site open and thousands of people in work.

“The news that the site is to be mothballed is a hammer-blow to the local economy, and undermines years of hard work to keep it open. It is yet more evidence that the Chancellor’s Northern Powerhouse is suffering a power failure.  

 “We are calling on the Government to convene a cross ministerial committee to see what can be done to rescue the plant and support the staff at the plant and the wider local economy."

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'Very sad news' - Anna Soubry

Business Minister Anna Soubry said: “Despite everyone’s recent efforts to help SSI this is very sad news and a big blow for the workforce and their families.

"They are the priority and with SSI’s difficulties being no secret, why I had already asked Amanda Skelton, Chief Executive of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, to chair a local taskforce to help support workers and the local economy.

"I also have concerns about reports that local contractors have gone unpaid.

“I hope that SSI’s announcement that they are mothballing the furnace gives some hope that steelmaking could be restarted on Teesside in the future.  

“The steel industry across the UK is facing very challenging economic conditions. The price of steel has almost halved over the past year, with overproduction in the world market. While Government cannot alter these conditions, I have called a steel summit to see what more can be done to help our steel industry.”

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'Devastating blow' - Frances O’Grady

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said of the news: “Today’s announcement is a massive blow to the Government’s Northern Powerhouse agenda and British industry. There now needs to be a comprehensive, rapid response plan to help workers affected by the closure.

“The future of British steelmaking is at a crossroads. At a time when competitor nations are spending heavily on helping their energy-intensive industries to become greener, companies in the UK are being forced to pay huge costs.

“The Chancellor must provide more financial support for manufacturers in November’s spending review. If the government does nothing plants like SSI will continue to close.

“British steelmaking contributes over £45bn to the UK economy and provides the kind of high-skilled labour we need to boost productivity. It can’t be allowed to wither on the vine.”

David Hulse, National Officer of the GMB Union, added: "This is absolutely devastating news for the workers, their families and the economy for the community at Redcar.

"All that will be left operating will be the coke ovens unless the UK Government steps in even at this stage.  It is not too late for them to do so while the furnaces are still burning.

"GMB will do all in our power to press the case for Government to act and to protect our members and their families."


Anna Turley MP ‏@annaturley 

Devastating news. #SSI announce they will mothball the site. 1700 jobs - heartbreaking. #SaveOurSteel. Gov has to step in and secure asset.

James Wharton MP ‏@jameswhartonuk  

Terrible news that SSI is to be mothballed. We must hope that when market picks up it can restart as it did in 2012 and support workers now.

Dr Ben Roberts ‏@benkoroberts

Devastating news. Government inaction over this issue is staggering. #SaveOurSteel

Tom Purvis ‏@TomPurvis2

Awful news that SSI has decided to mothball the Redcar plant. #SaveOurSteel. Now is the time to provide assistance to the employees.

Chris ‏@KosmicKris  

I cannot overstate the damage this will do to Teesside. It is unutterably heartbreaking #SaveOurSteel

Steven Mclauchlan ‏@smoggy854 

Another nail in the coffin for the north east. Feel for all that are effected by today's announcement. #SaveOurSteel

Neil Grainger ‏@GraingerNeil  

Sending love and best wishes to all those workers and families affected by today's news. #SaveOurSteel

Andy McDonald ‏@AndyMcDonaldMP  

The worst news breaking. Steel plant to be mothballed. Not the end by any means. Government must now step in as administrator #SaveOurSteel

Bryn Littleton ‏@CreoBryn  

Worked on unsuccessful effort to save Redcar plant 5 years ago. SSI brought hope. Today's news so sad #SaveOurSteel

Christopher Massey ‏@cmmassey  

The Italian, French and German Governments have stepped in to help their steel industries, why can't our Government? #SaveOurSteel.

Katherine Chibah ‏@ChibahKatherine  

How come there were billions to bail out the banks but now the govt are allowing the steel industry to die? #SaveOurSteel #Lab15

Ian Swales ‏@iswales , former Liberal Democrat MP for Redcar 

Totally depressing news about Redcar steel works. Let's hope a new operator can be found. We've done it before #SaveOurSteel