Steelworkers deny agreeing pay cut to save jobs

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Union leaders representing thousands of steel workers will meet today to discuss the effect of the economic downturn on their industry - but denied they had agreed to a 10 per cent pay cut to save jobs.

The country's main steelmaker Corus, which is owned by Indian industrial giant Tata Group, cut 400 posts from its distribution business last month in response to the downturn.

A spokesman for Community, the main steelworkers' union, said: "We have recently met with Corus management to discuss a response to the current economic situation. These negotiations are ongoing and it would be premature to speculate on the outcome.

"Community's priority is to help our members through this crisis and union representatives will be gathering in London today to discuss these ongoing issues."

Jimmy Skivington, a GMB union official, said: "GMB members working at Corus have not agreed to any pay cut. But we continue with the talks with the company in the hope that together we can find a solution to the current difficulties, which are reflected throughout industry.

"A meeting in London today with over 100 delegates, representing the Corus workforce, will move the discussion forward."

Officials insisted unions had not reached a position on the likelihood of a pay cut, although the suggestion has been raised.

The deepening economic downturn has led to particularly difficult conditions for the steel market, thanks to reduced construction projects and car sales.

In October, thousands of workers at manufacturing firm JCB agreed to accept a £50-a-week pay cut to save 350 jobs from being cut.