Reaction to appointment of PWC as ‘special managers’ to assist as receiver
PWC have been confirmed as the ‘special managers’ to assist the Official Receiver for SSI now it has been put into liquidation. A spokesperson for steelworkers’ union Community said:
“The way this loyal workforce has been treated particularly today but also over recent weeks has been absolutely shocking.
“The Thai owners of SSI UK should hang their heads in shame. They have chosen to take the cowards way out by refusing to come forward and face up to their responsibilities to their workforce and to Teesside.
“Since it was first suggested that SSI UK was in serious financial difficulty the company has continually failed to properly consult with the workforce and their trade union representatives. They have also failed to provide the information necessary to enable meaningful consultation to take place.
“Furthermore, we anticipate that SSI UK has failed to comply with it’s obligations under the UK information and consultation regulations and we will be taking legal advice on this matter.
“We will be seeking an urgent meeting with PWC and making the case to them to work with all parties including the government to protect the assets in the best interests of creditors and the future of steel making on Teesside.”
Government says there is nothing it can do
The government has said that there is nothing it can do now ownership of SSI has been transferred to three Thai banks and has been put into receivership. Steelworkers’ union Community says there is still a role for government.
A spokesperson said:
“The government still has an interest in ensuring the site and the assets are safe and that the environmental impact of liquidation is kept to a minimum. It is in the government’s interests to avoid a situation where taxpayers foot the bill for cleaning the site and it should make the necessary support available to the receiver to ensure this does not happen.
“We recognise that as a result of SSI’s actions last night the assets at Redcar are now owned by the Thai banks, however a receiver has now been appointed and it is their job to get the best possible deal for the creditors of SSI UK.
“Those creditors include local businesses and contractors which provided essential services on the Redcar site and know the business intimately. We understand one of the interested parties has a fully costed business plan to keep the coke ovens running – keeping alive the possibility that steelmaking can return to Redcar at a later date.
“It is imperative that the receiver and the government ensure that creditors committed to running or maintaining the assets are given priority, or at the very least a fair hearing. It has to make financial and moral sense that live assets are worth more than scrap metal – providing a better deal for the creditors thereby ensuring that more parties receive monies owed, there is a chance for a future for steel making and taxpayers are not landed with a bill for cleaning up the site.”
SSI to go into Liquidation
“We also repeat our call for government intervention that we have been making for the past few weeks and which I impressed upon the minister again at our meeting yesterday. Government must ensure that the industrial assets are protected and skills are retained to give steel making a chance of a future. We believe there are parties who could ensure that the industrial assets are mothballed safely, with reduced environmental impact, and we would encourage the liquidators to look favourably on this option as offering the best opportunity to secure a return to creditors. A community on Teesside is looking to the government to take further action.
“Although it has been faced by significant market challenges, SSI must bear a great deal of responsiblity for this situation and for the way its owners have treated the workforce in recent weeks. They have ignored letters, failed to respond to direct questions, held back payments and kept the workforce in the dark. There has been a lack of respect for the workforce that has done so much to beat production records and continue the proud steel making tradition.
“SSI should do the right thing and get out of the way so others can give steel a chance of a future on Teesside.”
Government announces £80m support package
Responding to the government’s announcement of an £80m support package for Redcar, Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of Community, said:
“We have been concerned for weeks that SSI is not fit for purpose. It is clear that SSI has yet again put forward a plan to government that lacks credibility. We believe there are alternative plans and parties who could intervene to protect the industrial assets. Government’s responsibility has not ended with the announcement of this support package. It should intervene to remove SSI and support an alternative approach that gives steel making an improved chance of a future.
“Government intervention is necessary to ensure that the mothballing is done safely, reduces environmental impact, retains the vital skills of the workforce and gives steel making the chance of returning in future. This is what I impressed upon the Minister Anna Soubry MP in our discussions yesterday.”