Page last updated at 16:40 GMT, Monday, 26 January 2009

Depressing times for steel workers

Danny Savage
BBC News, Rotherham

Workers outside the Corus Steelworks in Rotherham
Corus bosses say there has been a huge slump in demand
The huge mill and finishing banks at Corus's steelworks in Rotherham stretch for nearly half a mile.

This vast site employs 1,600 people, but on Monday nearly half of them were told they would soon be out of work.

As one shift clocked off this afternoon, workers voiced their dismay at the announcement which they had been fearing for some time.

David Jobe has worked at the site all his career.

"I have worked, man and boy, for 42 years," he said.

"I feel quite sad I have been through all the other recessions, but I cannot get my mind round how quickly the work has dropped away.

"Everybody is extremely depressed by the scale of it all."

Bowler hats

The workers were called into a series of meetings this morning to be told the bad news.

Another man leaving the site, who did not want to be named, said: "You're just looking around trying to guess is it me or is it going to be someone else?"

We're not getting the same help we would be getting if we were wearing bowler hats instead of hard hats
Union rep Bob Hudson

The Rotherham plant makes steel for the car-making industry. A sharp drop in car manufacturing has had a disastrous knock-on effect for this site.

One of the union representatives, Bob Hudson, could barely disguise his anger at the job losses.

"We're not getting the same help we would be getting if we were wearing bowler hats instead of hard hats," he said.

"It is one thing for the banks, another for us."

Union officials believe the only good news is that the plant is not being closed down completely.

But Rotherham, like its neighbour Sheffield, was built on the steel industry.

It is certainly not what it used to be but people here are proud of the skilled work that has been done, sometimes by generations of the same family.

And today this town's biggest private employer told its workers this recession is having a terrible, direct impact on them.

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