British Steel to close seamless tube plant: Axe for 330 workers as excess supply takes its toll

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BRITISH STEEL is shedding 330 jobs with the closure of a loss-making plant near Birmingham in April.

The factory is a highly specialised plant making large-diameter seamless tubes for the process plant and power generation industries in the UK and Continental Europe. It has been hit by massive overcapacity in the industry and better production methods among rival producers.

British Steel said the closure would not have a material effect on its results for the current year.

Workers at the plant, in Bromford, were told that efforts would be made to find them jobs. But one union official dismissed this as a joke, saying: 'British Steel has no alternative work to offer. Closure had been on the cards for some time.' British Steel employs about 38,000 people at present.

The plant can produce 50,000 tonnes of steel a year, but a company spokesman said it had been working well below capacity for some time.

He added: 'There is enormous world capacity, about 50 per cent, and the tubes are produced more cheaply elsewhere. The Bromford plant is old and does not warrant additional investment.'

He said the plant did not have the facilities to handle the type of long and heavy tubing now demanded. 'The plant has been losing money for some time, but those losses have accelerated rapidly recently. With no prospect of new orders, we could see no alternative to closure.' He would not say how much money the plant was losing.

The future of two other British Steel seamless tube works is also in the balance. The company is believed to be in discussion with Vallourec, a French industrial group, over the sale of its Clydesdale and Imperial works in Lanarkshire. The sites employ 470 staff making tubes for the North Sea oil industry.

British Steel buys the basic tubing from Vallourec, then tempers and finishes the product before selling it.

The spokesman refused to comment on the talks but said the two Scottish plants were more efficient than Bromford.