STEEL giants Tata - which employ hundreds of people in Hartlepool - are fighting back after posting sharp losses.
The results for the fourth quarter of 2012 show the firm plunged into the red with losses of £840m after wiping £1 billion off the value of its European arm.
The overall post-tax figure for the group represents a sharp fall from the previous year’s £642m profit, and is largely accounted for by the write-down.
Tata said “severely depressed conditions” in Europe and the UK had left steel demand almost 30 per cent lower than 2008 pre-recession levels - leading to last week’s move.
But they said performance in the region had improved with increased volumes in the last quarter.
Tata, which bought Anglo-Dutch steel giant Corus in 2007 for £6.2 billion, has endured a tough time during the downturn. Demand from construction and car-making has dived, forcing thousands of lay-offs and plant closures.
Its UK employees, including those at the Brenda Road site in Hartlepool, represent more than half of the company’s European workforce.
The company said that it was continuing a programme of restructuring, cost-cutting and efficiency while also taking on 500 apprentices in the UK over the past couple of years.
Roy Rickhuss, from the Community trade union which represents many UK steel workers, said: “Whilst the last quarter shows there are some indications of improvement and the company have again today repeated there are no plans to cut back on investment or dispose of assets in the UK, the situation overall remains of concern the employees and their families.”
Last November, Tata Steel axed 90 workers at the 42-inch mill in Brenda Road as part of 900 the firm made redundant across the country.
Around 600 people were working at the site at the time.