Fury over the closure of Teesside's last steel factory

Trade unions launch strike ballots as plant shuts and 1,600 workers lose their jobs

More than 150 years of steel making on Teesside ended in rancourous dispute yesterday, amid threats of strike action from steelworkers' trade unions and claims that proposals from potential white knights are being ignored.

The mothballing of the Teesside Cast Products factory in Redcar began yesterday, leaving 1,600 people out of work immediately and threatening another 8,000 local jobs.

Corus only announced on Tuesday that the facility was out of iron ore and would shut this week, but the Indian-owned company had confirmed in early December that the plant would close.

The crisis began in April, when the four-strong international consortium contracted to buy the majority of TCP's output walked out on a 10-year deal barely halfway through. Corus – which has spent £150m keeping the factory open since – says that the failure of its exhaustive attempts to find a buyer for either the plant itself or the unfinished "slab" steel it produces left no option except closure.

But trade unions representing Corus workers claim that there are at least two "credible" offers still on the table, which are being ignored.

And the high-profile involvement of the Government, following the announcement of the closure this week, has fuelled speculation that there are other options for the Redcar plant. "We are still trying to find new owners for the site," the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, said. "A lot of work is being done behind the scenes."

Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary, has also been similarly vocal on the issue, visiting the plant this week and announcing a £3.8m aid package for Corus apprentices and local Tees Valley businesses. "I know there are others out there with an interest in engaging with Corus to see how the plant may be put on to a more viable footing and its order books refilled," he said yesterday.

But some insiders accuse the Government of manipulating a regrettable situation for political ends. "This is just politicking," one industry source said. "The news of the consortium reneging on the TCP contract came out last May, so how come these so-called credible offers are suddenly coming out of the woodwork this week, within days of mothballing?"

Corus faces significant industrial unrest over TCP. Community, the trade union which represents around half of the company's British workforce, is to hold a series of votes across different Corus sites, with a view to "surgical strikes" to protest against the closure. "We believe there are at least two good-faith parties out there that are looking seriously at the plant and we are calling on Corus to examine these options further," a spokesman for the union said. "But we are confident that our members recognise that Corus has not exploited all the options and we will get a favourable response."

Community is also appealing to Ratan Tata, the president of Tata Group, the vast conglomerate which owns Tata Steel, Corus's parent company. "Ratan Tata is a good and decent person who wouldn't allow this to happen and we are asking him to intercede to prevent this devastation to the Teesside community," the Community spokesman said.

GMB, the other main trade union for Corus workers, is similarly incensed and the executive has given the authority for a national strike ballot. Keith Hazlewood, the national officer, said Corus has gone back on a promise to keep the factory open at least until the end of the month. "The decision to mothball the plant suggests that Corus did not really want to keep it open or sell it to another steel company," he said. "The decision is bad for Britain and for our manufacturing industry and our members will now be asked to respond."

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Sport
The giant banner displayed by Legia Warsaw supporters last night
football Polish side was ejected from Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
news
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SAS Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Retail Banking

£450 - £500 per day: Orgtel: SAS Business Analyst, London, Banking, Credit Ris...

Project Manager - Pensions

£32000 - £38000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

KYC Analyst, Birmingham - £200-£250 p/d

£200 - £250 per day + competitive: Orgtel: KYC Analyst, Key Banking Client, Bi...

Test Manager - Banking - Yorkshire - £450 per day

£400 - £500 per day: Orgtel: Test Manager - Banking - West Yorkshire - £400-£5...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone