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  1. ITV Report

Liberty Steel Group planning to cut hundreds of jobs in South Yorkshire

Liberty Steel Group is planning to cut hundreds of jobs in South Yorkshire and South Wales after a review of its UK business in response to "challenging market conditions and a lingering reduction in demand for UK steel products", the company announced.

Credit: PA

There will now be a consultation process with unions over a proposal to cut around 280 jobs at its plant in Stocksbridge, South Yorkshire and around 70 in Newport, South Wales.

Liberty Steel UK chief executive Cornelius Louwrens said:

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 has always been our intention, and always will be, to avoid compulsory redundancies.

“Our commitment to these steelworks, and our ambition for the future of this business, is as strong as ever.”

– Cornelius Louwrens

The firm will offer voluntary redundancy to workers at the affected sites, and has set up a new company, GFG Workforce Solutions, to enable employees hit by the cutback, to remain within the GFG Alliance, a group of companies which includes Liberty.

GMB, the union for steelworkers, has responded to the news.

Ross Murdoch, GMB National Officer, said:

Once again we have more bad news for the UK steel industry. A country that doesn't produce it's own steel for key infrastructure projects and shipbuilding is a county that's destined to fail.

"Our steelworkers deserve better than this.

"The Government urgently needs to intervene and ensure steel companies in the UK receive the backing they have long called for on energy costs and business rates."GMB will of course engage with the company to mitigate any losses for our members and will continue to campaign with our sister steel trade unions to bring about the support and investment required."

– Ross Murdoch

MP for Penistone & Stocksbridge Miriam Cates says:

This is devastating news for steelworkers, their families and our whole community and I will do everything I can to support all those who have been affected by this decision. I have spoken to Liberty Steel this morning and I hope to visit the Stocksbridge site as soon as possible.

"This is a difficult time for the UK steel industry and Liberty have made clear that global market conditions have been the major factor in this decision. I have today written to the Business Minister, Nadhim Zahawi to secure a meeting with him next week to discuss what support the government can offer to the steel industry and its workers going forward. I have also spoken to Mayor Dan Jarvis and I know that the Sheffield City Region team are standing by to help in any way they can.

"It is vital that we do everything we can to support those who are losing their jobs, including looking at what new industries and training opportunities we can bring to the area and I will be working closely with the government on this in the coming months. But today my thoughts are with the 250 members of our community who have received such terrible news.

– Miriam Cates

A UK Government spokesperson said:

We remain dedicated to maintaining a stable and thriving future for the UK Steel Industry. “We are monitoring the situation closely and are in contact with Liberty and the Unions, who are undertaking this consultation.”

– Government spokesperson