Efforts made to keep Redcar coke ovens burning after SSI liquidation

Redcar works Image copyright Ian Forsyth
Image caption The crisis in steel prices is being blamed on a surplus of cheap Chinese products on the world market

Measures are being taken to keep the coke ovens at Redcar operating over the weekend, the liquidators of SSI UK said.

On Friday, the Thai parent company was granted an application to wind up its UK arm.

It came after the announcement earlier in the week that the plant on Teesside was to be mothballed with the loss of 1,700 jobs.

The coke ovens are essential for any future steel making on the site.

In a statement, the Insolvency Service said: "The liquidator is working to ensure measures are taken to ensure the Redcar coke ovens continue to operate over the weekend whilst the position and interest in the business is assessed.

"A consequence of the liquidation is that all employees have been made redundant although measures will be taken to ensure sufficient staff are retained to operate the coke ovens and manage the site in a safe manner."

'Thrown in towel'

Unions described Friday's announcement as "devastating", with Community union general secretary Roy Rickhuss claiming SSI had shown the workforce "a lack of respect".

He called on the government to ensure the industrial assets were protected and skills retained to ensure steel making had the chance of a future.

The government announced an aid package of "up to £80m" for those affected but ruled out state intervention at the plant.

It said the package would include retraining and help for those setting up small businesses.

David Cameron said the government had done "everything we can to help" and they "would be there every step of the way to help following this very difficult news".

But Redcar Labour MP Anna Turley claimed the government had "thrown in the towel and turned its back on steelmaking in Teesside" although she welcomed the support package.

She said: "Our attentions now turn to working with the official receiver to establish how debts, salaries and pensions will be paid and, crucially, how the site will be secured for the future."

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