Corus slammed for not consulting over layoffs

Steelworkers’ union ISTC has called for forthcoming laws on staff
consultation to include severe financial penalties, after Corus revealed it
could be forced to make 3,000 job cuts.

Michael Leahy, general secretary of ISTC, said employees heard on the radio
about the likely job cuts at the crisis-hit company, whose chief executive Tony
Pedder resigned on Friday. Leahy accused the Anglo-Dutch steel giant of failing
to consult.

He said the surprise announcement showed that legislation currently being
drafted by the DTI on information and consultation must impose hard-hitting
penalties for firms that flout it.

The information and consultation directive, which becomes law from 2005,
places a duty on employers to consult more fully and at an earlier stage with
staff on all issues that affect their employment, such as redundancies and
restructuring.

Leahy said: "This is a clear example of why we need information and
consultation legislation and why we need sanctions against directors and
companies to enforce this.

"I am astounded that Corus has made such a dramatic announcement in a
callous fashion, with no consultation with the ISTC and the other unions
representing the workforce."

A Corus spokesman said job cuts were needed as the uncertain economic
outlook was forcing it to reduce capacity.

The announcement followed an internal disagreement when the firm’s Dutch
board blocked the planned £540m sale of its aluminium business.

On Friday, the company announced a net loss of £458m for 2002. It is the not
first time Corus, formed four years ago by a merger of British Steel and Dutch
company Hoogovens, has come under fire for failing to consult.

Two years ago the company, which employs 26,000 people in the UK, was
criticised for failing to consult with staff before announcing 6,500
redundancies.

By Quentin Reade

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