MORE THAN 1,000 former steelworkers in Redcar are still looking for work, four months after the SSI plant closed.
Unions say the figures, released by the Government, show the “devastating” impact of the crisis gripping the steel industry - which this week was dealt further blows with job losses in Sheffield and Wales announced.
The report shows that between the date of the closure of the Redcar plant last October, and earlier this month, 1,940 former employees had made a claim for jobseeker’s allowance, although 690 stopped claiming during the period.
The plant’s closure highlighted the devastating impact on the industry of high energy costs and cheap Chinese imports, which worsened this week when Tata announced 1,050 job cuts, mainly at Port Talbot in South Wales.
It was compounded when on Wednesday, one of Yorkshire’s most high profile companies, Sheffield Forgemasters announced it had started consultations on 100 redundancies.
A spokesman for the steelworkers’ union Community said: “These figures only reveal a fraction of the devastating impact that the closure of SSI has had on the area and just how important the steel industry was to Redcar.
“Hundreds of our members are still looking for work and many of those who have found new employment are not benefitting from the same terms and conditions that had been available in the steel industry.
“Community is continuing to support the legal claims of former SSI workers and contractors to help them get what they are owed and to signpost people to job opportunities where we can.
“What happened in Redcar must not be repeated and that’s why there needs to be more swift and decisive action from the Government to support the UK steel industry. This means delivering support on energy costs, business rates and standing up to China to stop unfairly traded steel damaging the UK industry.”
Michael Blench, regional officer of the GMB union, said the job losses at Teeside were a “direct result” of some politician failing to act.
“These politicians failed to listen to repeated warnings of the adverse consequences of their policies,” he said. “EU politicians are still failing to act to stop to stop the dumping of Chinese steel from a country that is not a market economy. This failure to act is intolerable.”
Owen Smith, shadow work and pensions secretary, said: “These are men and women who have worked hard all their lives and will be desperate to get new jobs, but the opportunities and support is simply not there. So much for the Tories’ talk of rebalancing the economy.”