Corby Tata Steel workers warned to prepare for 'difficult months ahead'

Tata Steel, Corby. File picture.
Tata Steel, Corby. File picture.

Steelworkers at Corby's historic works have been told that the business is facing its most serious downturn for many years.

An internal memo, seen by the Northants Telegraph, alerted workers to the fact that improvements to the business are not happening quickly enough and that profits are 'shrinking fast' and the company is 'spending cash it doesn't have'.

In the memo, sent to workers in the UK and the Netherlands, Tata Steel European CEO Henrik Adam told workers that the firm's executive committee had agreed to short-term 'bold, urgent and essential' measures to try to boost earnings this quarter by more than £100m.

One worker told the NT that hot mills and finishing department workers had been asked to take leave earlier this month because of a low order book at the steelworks in Weldon Road, adding that workers had been called into several meetings to impress on them the gravity of the situation.

Mr Adam's memo said: "We need to prepare for difficult months ahead of us. Our business is experiencing its most serious downturn in many years.

"The economic indicators are flashing red and our biggest markets, such as Germany and the UK, are close to recession.

"The automotive market continues to see sales and production shrink, with a profound negative impact on the steel industry.

"The trade war between China and the US, and impending Brexit are further clouding the economic picture."

Mr Adam's memo went on to say that July results are negative across all parts of the business, and that the firm has to take urgent action to avoid negative earnings in this quarter 'by any means possible'

In order to do this, the company is proposing a raft of measures which include reducing raw material stocks and selling surplus coke, getting rid of temporary staff and talking to suppliers about cutting costs. The firm has also said that it will have to delay until next year its campaign to introduce 'game-changing' technology that will reduce carbon emissions by 20 per cent.

Mr Adam urged workers to get on board to ensure that they can 'regain the trust of the shareholder' and be the 'masters of their own destiny'.

It is thought there are around 550 remaining workers at the tube-making plant, although before the main works closed in 1980, there were 11,000 employees and several thousand more working in supporting industries.

A Tata Steel spokesman said that there were 'currently no plans to change the steelmaking configuration.'

He added: "As with other European steelmakers we are currently feeling the effects of a slowdown among certain steel-buying markets. The global overcapacity in steel and the use of Europe as a dumping ground for the world’s excess capacity have also been contributing to a downward pressure on steel prices.

“Consequently, we are taking bold, urgent and essential action designed to reduce our costs, while also working through a transformation programme to strengthen our business over the longer term.”