350 steel jobs axed in Kent

 

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The Independent Online

Hundreds of workers at a steel firm which has gone into administration are to be made redundant in a "disastrous" blow to the industry.

Around 350 workers at the Thamesteel site in Sheerness, Kent have been given the grim news, just days after administrators were called in.

Rod Weston, restructuring services partner at accountancy firm Mazars, who was appointed as joint administrator, said: "Production at Thamesteel's Sheerness plant ended several weeks ago and the company voluntarily entered administration. The administrators, unfortunately, had to inform the workforce that a large number of redundancies need to be made.

"However 50 jobs are being kept so as to maintain the plant in full working order while the administrators work hard to try and find a buyer for the business."

Keith Hazlewood, national officer of the GMB union, said: "This is disastrous news for the UK economy, the steel industry and for Kent."

The steel manufacturer, owned by a Saudi industrial group, operated from a 50-acre site in Sheerness, on the Isle of Sheppey, and used to employ more than 400 full-time employees.

The workers did not receive their pay this month.

Mr Weston said earlier this week: "Thamesteel has run into financial difficulties owing to the negative conditions in the market and the global economy.

"The company had been in detailed talks with a potential new investor but those talks broke down.

"We are actively seeking a buyer for the business and encourage interested parties to get in touch."

Michael Leahy, general secretary of the Community union, said: "The staff have only had 48 hours' notice that they were likely to be sacked, they haven't been paid for January and there's no prospect of any money in the near future.

"Furthermore, their right of legal redress is very limited. That's the reality of employment protection in the UK at the moment.

"Community will be working with the administrator to try to find an alternative investor.

"The union is also organising an on-site support day for redundant workers next Tuesday with assistance from local education colleges, the CAB, the union's training arm Communitas, and other support agencies."

PA

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