Corus bullish despite job losses

The HR director at troubled Anglo-Dutch steel company Corus insists morale
at the firm can be maintained despite the last week’s announcement of 1,100 job
losses at the firm’s AGM.

Executive director in charge of HR Allan Johnston told Personnel Today he
believes the company consulted staff appropriately and the announcements were
handled well.

"Morale is still quite high, and will hold up. We have a highly
committed workforce. Twenty-four thousand workers have a future with us, and
morale will bounce back."

"We have had no complaints about lack of consultation," he said.
"Meetings at the affected sites have gone well."

Corus is cutting 1,150 jobs in Stocksbridge, South Yorkshire, and a further
2,200 jobs are in doubt as the firm plans to restructure its UK operations.

Johnston said workers were informed of the changes through the use of a
slide pack, presented in on-site briefings to every shift at every plant by
managers. He said staff reductions depend on capital expenditure and the
closest job losses are two years away.

Johnston believes this will give the company time to talk with staff about
job matching and redeployment.

Union leaders have complained about the announcement of the jobs cuts and
the high pay-offs given to senior executives. Corus chairman Sir Brian Moffat
leaves the company with a pension estimated at £300,000 a year and former chief
executive Tony Pedder, who received a £550,000 golden handshake, gets a pension
pot of £2.3m.

Philippe Varin has been appointed as Corus chief executive, and will receive
more than £1.5m in his first year.

Johnston defended the salaries paid to Corus bosses, however. "We pay
the going rate for the jobs in each location, and that includes the new chief
executive," he said.

Corus has shed more than 10,000 jobs and lost £2bn since its formation in
1999 through the merger of British Steel and Dutch steelmaker Hoogovens.

By Quentin Reade

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