British Steel confirms plans to axe up to 260 jobs at Scunthorpe plant

British Steel Scunthorpe
Up to 260 roles could go at the Scunthorpe plant. Credit: PA

Hundreds of jobs will be axed by British Steel after the company confirmed plans to close its coking ovens.

The company said it needed to take "decisive action" because of an "unprecedented rise" in operating costs, surging inflation and the need to improve environmental performance.

The proposals could lead to the loss of up to 260 roles at British Steel's Scunthorpe site, parent company Jingye said.

British Steel chief executive Xifeng Han said: "Jingye is committed to our long-term future but decarbonisation is a major challenge for our business and, like most companies, we’re facing significant challenges because of the economic slowdown, rising inflation and exceptionally high energy prices."

He added: "We have taken action to reduce costs within our control. However, steelmaking in the UK remains uncompetitive when compared to other international steelmakers. Our energy costs, carbon costs and labour costs are some of the highest across the world, which are factors that we cannot influence directly.

"We’re disappointed at having to make such proposals but are confident they will support a successful transformation."

Coking ovens are used to heat coal to produce coke, which is used to manufacture iron and steel. Their closure means British Steel will have to import coke.

The company announced in February it was considering 800 job cuts at Scunthorpe. Talks with the government about a possible rescue package have been ongoing, but Jingye said discussions had been "unsatisfactory".

Charlotte Brumpton-Childs, GMB national officer, said the loss of jobs would be "devastating news" for the people of Scunthorpe and all British Steel workers across the UK.

She said: "With grim predictability, the Government's investment is a sticking plaster that does nothing to help the long-term structural issues affecting our steel industry.

"Now steel workers, their families and communities will once again be asked to pay the price."

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham added: "British Steel workers are faced with the toxic combination of a greedy employer that is reneging on investment promises and a shambolic UK Government that has no serious plan for the industry.

"Unite's members in British Steel are clear that they will fight this and they will have the full support of their union."

Labour's shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds said the announcement was "yet more worrying news for our steelworkers".

He added: "Steel is the bedrock of many communities across the UK. It is the foundation our manufacturing sector is built on, crucial to any net zero ambition and the beating heart of our sovereign capability."

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