BRITISH Steel is to “pause production” at a Teesside site for the second time during the coronavirus crisis.

Amid continuing “tough market conditions” the steelmaker is to furlough 300 workers at its Skinningrove plant from Saturday June 13, as, “a temporary measure”.

A small number of employees will remain on site during the three weeks' pause in production.

It introduced a similar measure earlier during the pandemic crisis but was able to resume work in April.

The company sought to reassure the Teesside workforce, however, and said their “skill and endeavour” has enabled it to maintain production in recent weeks.

It said its “parent” group, Chinese steelmaker Jingye, which completed acquisition of the company’s UK and Dutch assets from the Official Receiver, in March, has an “unwavering commitment” to the future of the business.

In a statement issued on Tuesday evening, British Steel said: “Covid-19 continues to have a major impact on people and businesses across the world and British Steel is working hard to overcome the challenges we and our customers face.

“We’re committed to safeguarding our employees and I’m pleased to say their skill and endeavour has enabled us to maintain safe operations and produce the products our customers require.

“To maintain iron and steel production (our two blast furnaces remain in operation) is a great achievement and something for which we’re extremely grateful.

“Trading conditions in our markets remain challenging, including for products manufactured by our Special Profiles business in Skinningrove.

“Earlier this year we paused production at our Special Profiles mill in Skinningrove for three weeks and employees returned to work in April.

“Since then they’ve continued to produce the high-quality products the mill is renowned for, ensuring we can service market demand. However, as the market remains tough, we’ve now taken the decision to again temporarily pause production at Skinningrove for three weeks, starting on Saturday June 13.

“While a small number of employees will remain on site, around 300 of our people will be furloughed.

“We appreciate this will be a worrying time for our people, particularly those in our Special Profiles business, but this is a temporary measure, and, like last time, we’ll look to resume production at the earliest opportunity.

“We thank all our employees for their continued commitment and flexibility.

“This has been a challenging time for all of us, and we couldn’t have continued to safely fulfil customer orders and support the UK’s economic recovery without their dedication.

“We also thank Jingye for their unwavering commitment to the business, as well as our customers, suppliers and contractors, trade union colleagues and the Government for their valuable support.”

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “I have spoken to bosses at British Steel today and I have been reassured that once again this is a temporary measure for three weeks and all of the jobs at Skinningrove have been protected.

“Due to the efficient nature of the plant, British Steel’s stock and client book remains strong, but a slowdown in business as a result of the coronavirus outbreak is the reason behind the pause. As more of the economy continues to reopen, the firm will be able to resume trading as normal.

“We remain in difficult circumstances because of the coronavirus, but I have always been confident of the firm’s commitment to our region, and the recruitment process opening last month for 40 new, good quality, Teesside jobs is proof of this.

“When we get through this, British Steel will play an important role in supporting our economic recovery by protecting thousands of jobs and supplying products to those that need them, allowing us to succeed as a region and come back bigger, better and stronger than ever before.

“My absolute priority remains workers in Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool and I will do everything I can to make sure they and their families get the support they need during the unprecedented challenge we face.”