Page last updated at 07:52 GMT, Saturday, 5 December 2009

Workers react to Corus job cuts announcement

Steelmaker Corus will curtail production at its Teesside factory, putting 1,700 people out of work. The plant had been at risk since a deal with an international consortium fell through.

Here workers affected by the plant's closure share their reaction to the news.

STEVE RAMSAY, 51, SHIFT MANAGER

Steve Ramsay
I didn't want to see my working life end at 51

"I am utterly devastated. This job has been the centre of my life for so long.

I have worked at the plant for 31 years, working my way up from the bottom to shift co-ordinator.

The news is particularly harsh because it was a surprise. We have tried so hard to make this work. And even last week it looked like there may have been some way to save the plant.

To be fair, Corus have done all they could to keep things going. Line managers like myself have tried to keep morale high. But we just can't compete with Asia on the price of steel.

Workers blame the international consortium for using us when it suited them and then walking away when times got bad and the price of steel dropped. There is also anger at the government for not giving us more direct help.

People will have to look for jobs in other parts of the country. But this is really going to devastate the area. It will be on its knees for years.

If I can't find work somewhere else, I will see if redundancy can tide me over to retirement. That's a depressing thought. I didn't want to see my working life end at 51 and I never wanted to leave the steel plant.

My heart goes out to the younger lads. There are many who have known nothing else since school. What will they do? The government says they could be re-trained - but in what?

Now we'll somehow have to keep people motivated for another two months through Christmas until this place closes. I don't know how workers will be able to keep their minds on the job."

MICHAEL SHEPHERD, 47, MECHANICAL MAINTENANCE

"It's hard to put into words how bad I feel right now.

I'm in my 40s now and I've been at Corus since I left school.

I've got a mortgage to pay and I'm worried that I'll end up losing my home

I'm a single parent with a daughter at university and one at home. Of course they are worried - and so are thousands of other families.

I fear the future. I've got a mortgage to pay and I'm worried that I'll end up losing my home.

People at the plant are just in shock. We don't know what we are going to do. The worse thing is that we thought we had ridden out the worst of the recession. We thought we were going to survive.

But now we're all going to lose our jobs because of decisions made by international companies.

This area is going to be devastated. Steel is Teesside and Teesside is steel. And there will be many more jobs lost for companies supplying Corus.

The politicians have given billions to the banking industry but what have they done for us? Nothing."

GARY CAMPBELL, 47, PRODUCTION TEAM MEMBER

Gary Campbell
I have no idea what I will do now

This is the blackest time for me, my family and many of my colleagues.

The proud tradition of steelmaking which is one of finest in the world has been destroyed by a recession created by the greed of our banking sector.

I have worked here since I left school at the age of 16. Many of my colleagues have also worked here for 20 or 30 years - they are like family.

Our work force was second to none. We always did what we were asked. We changed when we had to.

I have no idea what I will do now. Workers like me are highly skilled in what we do but many of us do not have experience outside steel manufacture.

We have got used to working for a good employee with good wages. What are our options now?

I had a good pension building up and I was hoping to stay here until I retired and handed my work over to the next generation.

What will young people do now? What will happen to this area? The whole of the north has been built on manufacturing. I don't want to see this area become like the towns in Wales after the mines were shut.

I'm proud that I've always been in work and always paid my taxes. I hope after all these years of service that I get the respect I deserve when I sign on."



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