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The Conservative peer Lord Heseltine said yesterday that now is 'probably as good a time as any' for steelworkers to lose their jobs given growing employment opportunities in the UK.
He made the comments during an appearance on the 'Murnaghan' programme on Sky News.
The SSI steelworks in Redcar closed down earlier this month with 2,000 job losses after failing to turn a profit for its Thai owners. Further jobs losses in the steel industry came when Tata steel announced cuts to its staff at sites in Scunthorpe and Scotland. The total number of jobs cut in the steel industry in recent weeks is nearly 3,500.
The crisis in the steel industry has been caused by the dumping of cheap Chinese steel into the world market, and high energy costs in the UK. Lord Heseltine also added that it would have been 'very questionable and expensive' for the government to have kept steel plants open because 'the market is unstoppable and invariably it wins.'
He said the job losses were 'very painful for the people who suffer but on the other hand, if you are going to lose your job this is probably as good a time as any because of the number of new jobs in the economy today is one of the most exciting features of this economy compared with many others.'
The Shadow Chancellor will visit the SSI steel plant, which is set to close with the loss of up to 1,700 jobs.
John McDonnell told ITV News Tyne Tees' Political Correspondent Paul Brand, he would be making a trip up to Redcar "on Monday if not before".
He has said he plans to put "maximum pressure" on the Government to do more to help the stricken plant:
The factory is being shut down after Thai owner SSI said it had no other choice because of plummeting steel prices.
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Around 2,000 people have gathered in Redcar to try and persuade the government to keep the SSI steelworks open. The rally has been organised by unions at the plant and is being attended by steelworkers and their families.
Anny Turley, MP for Redcar, urged politicians to 'keep our light burning', referring to the coke ovens at the steelworks which are expected to run out of fuel tomorrow.
ITV Tyne Tees has learned that HMRC has agreed a deal to bring forward a payment of £4m to SSI's parent company in Thailand.
It is understood the money is being given on condition that these funds will be used to pay workers at the end of this month.
The news follows days of uncertainty over the future of thousands of jobs at the plant, after the company failed to repay debts of £80 million last week.
Anna Turley, the MP for Redcar, has tweeted that SSI workers will be paid tomorrow thanks to money handed to the company by the Government.
This has yet to be confirmed by official government sources.
The Community union issued this response to the news.
Unfortunately, the company are yet to confirm that workers will indeed be paid tomorrow. If it is true then we’ll be pleased to see the pressure we’ve been putting on SSI and the government is finally paying off. It would be a small but very important step. We must now keep up that pressure and ensure that a deal to secure the future of the Redcar steelworks is reached. Steel making here is at a minute to midnight but the fire is still alight. We won’t give up fighting until David Cameron gives in and agrees to save our steel.
Greggs is one of the friendliest places to work in the UK, a new study has shown. The chain ranked sixth out of 25,000 companies.
Jobs website Glassdoor, who conducted the survey, said comments it received about the winners included praise for managers, a friendly atmosphere, staff discount, subsidised canteens and different time-off options.
Joe Wiggins, of Glassdoor, said: "When it comes to finding a new job we all have our own priorities, whether it's better pay, career progression or seeking out a certain company culture."
"Retail is the UK's biggest employer, so the atmosphere at work potentially impacts millions of people on a daily basis."
"It's no coincidence that this list is packed with some of the UK's most popular high-street retailers, because clearly camaraderie is easily forged amongst people working on the front line in customer-facing roles"
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150 workers who operate the coke ovens at the SSI steelworks in Redcar have been handed consultation documents for redundancy.
They are the only SSI staff to have received redundancy notices so far, although the fate of 1,800 other workers has still not been clarified since the company suspended production at the end of last week.