Page last updated at 13:25 GMT, Sunday, 6 December 2009

Mayor in call to save steel jobs

Ray Mallon
Mr Mallon said steel workers deserved the same help as the banks

Middlesbrough's mayor Ray Mallon has joined calls for the government to step in and save 1,700 jobs at Redcar's Corus steel plant.

The company plans to mothball the majority of the complex in January after a consortium pulled out of a long-term deal to buy its steel.

Mr Mallon said ministers had "a duty" to subsidise steelmaking on Teesside in the same way they helped the banks.

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson has pledged help to those workers affected.

Corus said 1,700 jobs would go, which is about 600 fewer than had been previously thought. It says 2,300 people work at the facility.

The deal which fell through was signed by an international consortium, led by Italian steel specialists Marcegaglia, in 2004, and committed the consortium to buy about 78% of the Redcar plant's production.

But when the price of steel fell sharply in the recession, the consortium pulled out of the contract. Corus is taking legal action.

Lord Mandelson on Corus job losses

Independent elected mayor Mr Mallon said many of his constituents in Middlesbrough, which neighbours Redcar, would be affected by the job losses.

He said: "If this government fail to take action then the public will hold them to a large extent responsible, bearing in mind that they have already intervened to the sum of billions to save the banks as well as a large subsidy to the car manufacturing industry."

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said: "I can assure you that I will do everything I can with colleagues in government not only to help directly the workforce affected by this, but also to find an alternative for the plant itself."

Union leaders called the Corus decision "a dark day for British manufacturing."

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