Re­turn for Brit Steel

The Myanmar Times - - International Business -

IN the fierce heat of a roar­ing blast fur­nace, liq­uid hot iron gushes forth from the taps, send­ing sparks danc­ing into the air at a sprawl­ing steel­works in north­ern Eng­land.

The Scun­thorpe com­plex is the lat­est rein­car­na­tion of Bri­tish Steel, the for­mer state-run be­he­moth that once tow­ered over the na­tion’s econ­omy – and now ap­pears to be in re­cov­ery mode af­ter a deep cri­sis.

“There’s been some dark times – pe­ri­ods of mass re­dun­dancy, a lot of neg­a­tive press – but now we are start­ing to see pos­i­tive re­sults fi­nan­cially,” blast fur­nace man­ager Sam Thomas, 29, told AFP as melted iron ore spewed in the back­ground.

“We’re also start­ing to feel a bit more like the morale is pick­ing up,” said Thomas, who has worked at the fa­cil­ity for 11 years.

On its 100th day of trad­ing on Septem­ber 29, the new Bri­tish Steel an­nounced that it was back in profit fol­low­ing a painful cost­slash­ing turn­around plan.

The group, sold by In­dia’s Tata Steel to in­vest­ment firm Grey­bull Cap­i­tal in May, said it had turned from “sig­nif­i­cant” losses over the last few years to a stage where it was now back in profit.

The re­gion was thrown into dis­ar­ray last year when Tata Steel put its Euro­pean long prod­ucts divi­sion up for sale as it re­fo­cussed on strip steel, in the face of a col­laps­ing global mar­ket.

The move sparked wor­ries that Scun­thorpe – whose com­mu­nity of 65,000 in­hab­i­tants has been built around steel for gen­er­a­tions – could be­come a ghost town.

In May 2016, Grey­bull bought the long prod­ucts divi­sion – in­clud­ing a steel mill in Hayange in France – and re­named it Bri­tish Steel in a deal un­der which Tata re­tained re­spon­si­bil­ity for the old Bri­tish Steel’s costly pen­sion scheme.

The new firm fo­cussed its ef­forts on niche out­put of long prod­ucts with keen do­mes­tic de­mand, and its fa­cil­i­ties in Bri­tain and France now pro­duce 2.8 mil­lion tonnes per year.

News of the group’s prof­itabil­ity was wel­comed by Scun­thorpe’s 3000-strong work force, who had also agreed to a pay cut and dif­fer­ent terms and con­di­tions of em­ploy­ment.

The pay cut is now due to be re­versed in June 2017. –

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Myanmar

© PressReader. All rights reserved.