Thursday, 7 Dec 2023

2,000 jobs facing axe at steel plant: Fewer staff needed at zero-carbon furnaces

British Steel is planning to close down the blast furnaces at its Scunthorpe plant, with the loss of up to 2,000 jobs, it was reported yesterday.

The company, which is owned by Chinese firm Jingye, wants to replace them with two electric arc versions which can run on zero-carbon electricity, according to the BBC.

It would build one new electric arc furnace in Scunthorpe, with another at its Teesside plant.

However, the greener alternative furnaces require fewer workers and the move is therefore expected to result in a significant restructuring.

The reports said unions predict the move could ultimately lead to the loss of 1,500 to 2,000 jobs, predominantly at Scunthorpe.

British Steel employs around 4,500 people across the UK.

The company has been approached for comment.

It comes after reports that British Steel is also closing on a Government-funded support package worth around £500 million to help fund the changes.

Earlier this year, the company said it planned to close the coke ovens at its Scunthorpe plant, with the loss of up to 260 jobs.

The latest move is similar to proposals by rival Tata Steel earlier this year to switch the two coal-fired blast furnaces at its Port Talbot site to electric arc versions. The changes are set to affect as many as 3,000 jobs.

Downing Street said it remains “committed” to supporting the steel industry.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We are continuing to work closely with industry including British Steel to secure a sustainable, competitive future for the sector and its workers and we’ve offered a generous support package including £300 million of investment for British Steel to cut emissions, safeguard jobs and unlock over £1 billion in stakeholder investment.

“Now, ultimately, it is for British Steel themselves to manage commercial decisions for their company’s future.

“Obviously, I can’t specifically comment on their discussions but we will remain committed to supporting the sector.”

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