WORKERS whose jobs are on the line at a chromium plant are threatening strike action unless their redundancy packages are improved, unions warned yesterday.

Elementis Chromium is shedding more than half of its 230-strong workforce at its plant in Eaglescliffe, near Yarm, Teesside.

But Joe Keith, of the Transport and General Workers Union (T&G), said yesterday the redundancy deal put forward by bosses at Elementis at a meeting this week did not reflect the hard work put in by its members over the past 30 to 40 years.

"We are pushing for an improved redundancy package because many of those who have been there for years don't feel it's enough. Some people have given a lifetime to Elementis," he said.

Mr Keith said he told the multi-national to come back with a revised offer at the next meeting on Monday.

"If they come back and we still feel the offer is not what it should be then my duty will be to organise another ballot in view of taking industrial action," he said.

"If we lived in an ideal world then we wouldn't be looking at redundancy. I would hope that our members are given their due in regards to the years they have put into Elementis, but we may have to be a bit hard in order to get the message across."

Eighty-six per cent of workers who took part in a consultative ballot last month have already voted in favour of strike action over Elementis' decision to shed 120 jobs in Eaglescliffe.

The firm announced the job cuts in October, blaming high energy costs for continued losses at the plant.

Technical director David Raw said: "The severance package on offer has worked well in the past and has been acceptable to members and employees. It is considerably in excess of a statutory severance agreement, but we do note the union's rejection of the current offer."

Elementis is undergoing a 90-day consultation process, during which time it has also held talks with regional development agency One NorthEast in view of securing financial help.

Mr Keith said the union had put forward suggestions to the company about possible ways to save the jobs and keep one of the kilns from closing.

However, Elementis said the suggestions were not feasible.