Tata Steel announces 720 job cuts

Tata steel signs Image copyright Getty Images

Tata Steel has announced it will shed 720 jobs in its UK business, because of rising costs and a strong pound.

Most of the jobs will go from its steel bar-making plant in Rotherham, South Yorkshire.

In a statement, it said its steel bars business had been "underperforming" and unable to be as competitive as its European counterparts.

It also said it planned to "refocus" on "high-value" markets, such as the aerospace industry.

Tata added that of the jobs being lost, 35 would go from its steel operations in the West Midlands.

The firm said it would be working closely with those at risk of losing their jobs, as well as trade unions, to redeploy people and minimise compulsory redundancies.

"Energy is one of our largest costs at our speciality and bar business and we are disadvantaged by the UK's cripplingly high electricity costs," said Karl Koehler, chief executive of Tata Steel's European operations.

"And while the UK government announced helpful measures to reduce the impact of its high energy taxes a few years ago, these measures still haven't been introduced.

"We want to play our role in reinvigorating the UK's manufacturing industry, but increasing imports and high energy costs have further undermined the competitiveness of foundations industries."

The group's managing director, Mark Broxholme, added that "economic circumstances continue to undermine the work Tata Steel has done", but that refocusing on the high-value aerospace market had been planned since 2009.

Tata Steel employs about 80,000 people globally.

The GMB union said the news was "a very big blow for UK manufacturing", adding that it would consult with the government to address the issues of high energy costs in the UK compared with the rest of Europe.

The union Community has also responded, calling the announcements "a smack in the face", and adding: "We have been saying for years that uncompetitive UK energy costs are damaging the UK steel industry."

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