Chemical firm job losses on Teesside after Cracker shutdown

A TEESSIDE chemical firm is set to lose jobs.

SABIC, which employs hundreds at Wilton and North Tees, has said “opportunities are being explored to strengthen” its Olefins 6 facility.

But the Saudi firm has decided to close several “older operating assets” on Teesside, which will result in job losses.

A planned maintenance shutdown of the ”Cracker’ started on September 30.

One worker said large numbers had been told to leave the site on Wednesday, after hearing the Cracker was to be ‘mothballed’ until next year.

But SABIC, which has a Teesside workforce of more than 500 and also employs around 400 contractors, said none of its own employees had been sent home.

SABIC has not confirmed how many jobs will go, or how long the Cracker will stay offline.

In a statement which appears to reaffirm its commitment to Teesside, a spokeswoman said: “On September 30, SABIC commenced shutting down the Olefins 6 ‘Cracker’, whilst opportunities are explored to strengthen the Teesside site.

“In conjunction with the Cracker shutdown, SABIC has taken the decision to permanently retire a number of its older operating assets on the Wilton site.

“Regrettably, this decision will, subject to formal consultation, result in some job reductions.

“SABIC is committed to supporting all of its employees during this period of change, and will work closely with its customers, suppliers and other stakeholders to manage any concerns following this announcement.

“SABIC’s priority at all times is to ensure the health and safety of its workforce, its neighbours and the environment.

“Such priority will continue during this period and beyond.”

The company was also “actively engaging” with its contractors throughout, she added.

Jacob Young, Conservative MP for Redcar, said: “This is incredibly difficult news for my friends and former colleagues who may be directly affected by these potential job losses.

“I will do all I can to make sure Government does all it can to help SABIC and to secure more investment for the site. I will be working as hard as I can to help SABIC bring forward additional investment to reduce any disruption to local workers. My focus is on protecting and creating as many jobs as I can. These are incredibly turbulent times, unprecedented in our lifetimes.

“The uncertainty from Covid-19 stretches across the global economic outlook, not just ours in the UK.

“Having worked alongside many of those people who are now facing uncertainty, I understand only too well their sense of anxiety about what the future might hold. I have spoken with Union representation on the site and my door is open to speak to any of those who need me.

“At times such as this, a brighter future for our industry can seem a distant promise. But our plan to transform Teesside is still on track. Things will get better. We will succeed. There is a bright future for Teesside.”

The Northern Echo | Teesside