Corus faces uncertain future amid huge losses

Corus, the steelmaker formally known as British Steel, yesterday announced that its chief executive will leave the company with a £550,000 pay-off, even though thousands of its workers face redundancy.

The departure of Tony Pedder was revealed as Corus declared losses of £440 million for 2002. The company said it could not give any reassurances about the fate of its Redcar, Scunthorpe and South Wales plants, as speculation mounted that the Teeside plant might be closed. The move could threaten 3,000 jobs.

The fate of Corus's British operations is unsure after a ruling yesterday by an Amsterdam court forced the company to abandon the sale of its aluminium businesses. The deal would have raised £543m.

Sir Brian Moffat, chairman of Corus, said the impact on jobs from any restructuring would not be "as severe as last time [in 2001]", when the group cut about 10,000 staff.Sir Brian, under pressure from steel unions to step down, said he would delay his retirement until his replacement had been appointed.

The National Trade Union Steel Co-ordinating Committee said: "Tony Pedder ... mustn't be a scapegoat. Sir Brian Moffat does not have the trust of the workforce ... We demand that he must go now."