- 12 December 2022
LIBERTY Steel UK to forge a viable way forward for its businesses and workforce
In the face of the UK steel industry’s severe competitiveness issues LIBERTY Steel UK (LSUK) is to implement the next phase of its restructuring programme to ensure a sustainable future for its businesses and workforce.
The four point restructuring plan will create an entity positioned to better withstand challenging market conditions, serve strategic supply chains and provide the foundation for a decarbonised UK steel industry.
The four elements are:
- With the support of major customers, LSUK will focus on high value alloy steel production at Speciality Steel UK (SSUK) sites in Rotherham, Stocksbridge and Brinsworth serving strategic aerospace, energy and engineering supply chains. SSUK will ramp up high value production at specialist plants through the year with a view to breaking even in September, laying the ground for further upside potential. LSUK has halted the sale process for the Stocksbridge and Brinsworth plants.
- A reduction in primary production at Rotherham, replaced by imported billet and slabs to feed rolling and finishing lines at Rotherham, Scunthorpe, and Dalzell as an interim measure to mitigate the impact of uncompetitive energy costs.
- The idling of LIBERTY Steel Newport and downstream processing facilities, and LIBERTY Performance Steel West Bromwich, with the former transformed into a sales and distribution hub for LIBERTY products.
- A commitment to restart commodity production and idled plants when the market and operating conditions allow, and a longer-term aim of growing Rotherham into a 2 million tonnes per year green steel facility.
Despite the injection of £200m of shareholder capital over the last two years, the production of some commodity grade products at Rotherham and downstream mills has become unviable in the short term due to high energy costs and imports from countries without the same environmental standards. Primary production through Rotherham’s lower carbon electric arc furnaces (EAFs) will be temporarily reduced while uncompetitive operating conditions prevail.
These actions together with the idling of LIBERTY Performance Steels in West Bromwich and the reconfiguration of LIBERTY Steel Newport into a storage, distribution and trading hub, may potentially impact up to 440 roles across the business. The company will consult with employee representatives, Trade Unions and UK Government throughout the process.
LIBERTY will offer an alternative to redundancy through its unique Workforce Solutions* programme, which aims to retain, redeploy and reskill affected colleagues. Under the programme employees will be offered a level of guaranteed salary and outplacement opportunities, with the intention of being redeployed within LIBERTY Steel UK on previous employment terms when market conditions allow.
The steps laid out by LIBERTY will forge a viable way forward for the business, provide a safety net to affected employees and help safeguard jobs in LIBERTY’s wider workforce of 1,900 permanent employees, and up to 5,000 including contractors.
Jeffrey Kabel, Chief Transformation Officer for LIBERTY Steel Group said:
“Refocusing our operations will set the right platform for LIBERTY Steel UK’s high-quality manufacturing businesses to adapt quickly to challenging market realities. The support of our marquee customers will enable us to produce high value, differentiated products through 2023 and beyond for strategic sectors such as aerospace, defence and energy. We remain committed to our longer-term growth plans in the UK including our plan to grow Rotherham into a 2 million tonne green steel hub.
While our action is expected to regrettably impact the roles of some of our workforce we will provide a level of guaranteed salary and out placement opportunities through our unique Workforce Solutions programme as an alternative to redundancy. LIBERTY’s shareholder Sanjeev Gupta has supported the business through a very difficult period and remains committed to the workforce here in the UK and ensuring our lower carbon operations help deliver a sustainable, decarbonised UK steel industry.”
- Workforce Solutions is a GFG initiative set up in 2020 by Sanjeev Gupta to provide a safety net to employees affected by redundancy, and to retain skills within the business and wider steel sector.
- Workforce Solutions works by providing any employee affected by redundancy an offer of a guaranteed a minimum salary (equivalent of 20 hours per week) and the opportunity to earn a full salary if redeployed.
- Workforce Solutions explores both redeployment with LIBERTY / GFG and works with local job placement agencies in affected areas on outplacement opportunities.
- An employee’s full redundancy rights are maintained under Workforce Solutions.
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