While all eyes have been watching British Steel for announcements of closure or job cuts, the steel industry is hit with more bad news. The Liberty Steel group took over Tata’s former British Steel plants in South Yorkshire and Newport back in 2017, but announced on 9 January 2020 that more than 350 jobs would be lost due to “challenging market conditions“.
Liberty Steel operates the former specialist steel arm of Tata and has said that more than 280 jobs will be lost in South Yorkshire and 72 in the Newport area of South Wales.
Unions are in consultation with Liberty Steel in the hope of avoiding any compulsory redundancies.
Liberty Steel employs around 2,000 workers in South Yorkshire, and the losses will mainly be at its Stocksbridge plant where 250 redundancies are anticipated.
In addition, there will be 17 jobs lost in Rotherham, 15 in Brinsworth, alongside the 72 losses at Newport.
Liberty Steel is just one aspect of the Liberty House Group, which was launched in 1992 by Sanjeev Gupta while studying at Cambridge University.
The acquisition of Liberty Speciality Steels took place on 1 May 2017, and Liberty has acquired a number of companies since that date.
These include Cape International a classic car parts specialist based in the West Midlands, a number of US businesses, and seven major steel and fire service centres previously owned by Arcelor Mittel.
The decision to cut UK jobs was a result of low production forecasts, and Cornelius Louwrens, the Chief Executive at Liberty Steel, commented:
“Liberty has taken enormous strides in improving the performance of the steel mills it has acquired over the last six years. We’ve re-started mothballed plants and demonstrated a commitment to invest in the UK. Unfortunately, the steel industry in the UK is facing challenging conditions and we have made the difficult decision that there is a need to reduce the workforce at a handful of locations, in order to make them sustainable for the long-term.”
It is understood the UK government is monitoring this situation; however, union leaders are gloomy about any acceptable resolution to the problem.