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."

News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
News
people

Kirstie Allsopp has waded into the female fertility debate again

Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
people
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
News
Gillian Anderson was paid less than her male co-star David Duchovny for three years while she was in the The X-Files until she protested and was given the same salary
people

Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood

Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Arts and Entertainment
Swiss guards stand in the Sistine Chapel, which is to be lit, and protected, by 7,000 LEDs
art

The Sistine Chapel is set to be illuminated with thousands of LEDs

Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Sport
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
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

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

Trust Accountant - Kent

NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...

Graduate Recruitment Consultant - 2013/14 Grads - No Exp Needed

£18000 - £20000 per annum + OTE £30000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

Law Costs

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - Law Costs Draftsperson - NICHE...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?