British Steel has recruited eight employees who lost their jobs as a result of the SSI closure.
With the support of the SSI Task Force fund, British Steel has taken on the new employees at its Teesside Beam Mill (TBM) and Skinningrove operations.
Steve Wilson, who has been in the steel industry for 30 years, was working as a Semi-Finished Products Engineer at SSI when it closed last year with the loss of 2,200 jobs.
And the news was even more devastating for Steve’s family as his son and brother also lost their jobs.
Re-living that fateful day, Steve said: “I was completely shocked to be truthful, we were told on a Friday afternoon to go home.
“We knew the steelmaking industry was in turmoil but it just happened so suddenly, it came as a complete shock.”
But Steve said he is delighted to be back in the steel industry, working at British Steel’s Teesside Beam Mill at Lackenby as an Operations Manager. He’s been joined by six other former SSI workers at TBM who are in operational roles performing slab handling and steel dressing.
He said: “I’ve been able to carry on from my old job. I’ve been taking care of the slab supply coming in and inspecting it and rectifying any issues we have.
“It’s nice to have a fresh challenge and I’m certainly getting there. My new colleagues have been really good too, they make you welcome and are always there to support you if you need anything.”
Andrew Smith lost his job in the supply chain when SSI closed but he is another of the new recruits, now working as an Area Technical Manager at British Steel’s Skinningrove site.
He said, “I’m really enjoying working here and engaging with the team. I’m monitoring the quality performance of the mill and influencing the shift team about what can be done to improve performance and efficiency.”
After last year’s SSI closure, the Task Force was set up to help local firms create new jobs and regenerate the area. £108,000 has been awarded from the Task Force funds to British Steel so it could offer the eight permanent roles.
“It was a very sad day when SSI closed and it affected everyone in the local community,” said Claire Long, Operations Manager at British Steel’s Teesside Beam Mill. “It impacted us all. Everyone knew someone who knew someone who lost their job.
“I’m delighted the funding has been signed off and we’re able to offer additional opportunities. It’s great that we’ve been able to offer employment to people who lost their jobs.”
And British Steel HR Director Paul Martin added: “The steel industry on Teesside has been through a great deal in recent times so we are pleased our operations in Lackenby and Skinningrove are performing well, demonstrated by the fact we have taken on these new employees. I have no doubts they will be great assets to our business.”
Peter Hobson, who represents Community union members at British Steel on Teesside, said: “The closure of SSI was a major blow to this region so it’s great we have taken these eight employees on.”
Chair of the SSI Task Force and Chief Executive of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, Amanda Skelton, said: “Many former SSI workers have wanted to find new jobs in the steelmaking industry, not only because of the work, but because of the friendships and feeling of family that exist in the industry. I’m incredibly pleased for Steve, Andrew and their six colleagues who have found jobs locally with British Steel. This particular fund has been used to help employers offer over 330 jobs to those affected by the closure, and money is still available to help get people back into work.”
Photo caption: former SSI workers at their new place of work, British Steel’s Teesside Beam Mill. Steve Wilson is pictured second from the right.