Dr Sentamu told workers he backed their fight to keep jobs on Teesside
The Archbishop of York has visited workers at the Corus steelworks on Teesside, where 1,700 workers are to lose their jobs.
Dr John Sentamu spoke to employees at the Redcar plant, which is to be partially mothballed next month.
The plant's future was placed in jeopardy last year when a consortium pulled out of a deal to buy its steel.
Dr Sentamu said he fully supported staff and unions in their fight to retain steel jobs on Teesside.
He paid tribute to the workforce during the visit, in which he was accompanied by Redcar's Labour MP Vera Baird.
Wearing a "Save Our Steel" T-shirt, the archbishop said it was important Britain hung on to its manufacturing base.
He added: "I'm glad (the workers) are not simply going to just roll over and simply say 'that's it'.
"In this country the manufacturing base needs to be supported just like any other industry.
"If you don't support this manufacturing base, what will happen is that we are always going to buy other people's goods."
The plant had been at risk since a 10-year deal signed in 2004 by an international consortium, led by Italian steel specialists Marcegaglia, suddenly fell through last year.
The deal 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, which is now taking legal action, announced the plans to mothball the majority of the complex last week.
The company said 1,700 jobs would go, which is about 600 fewer than had been previously thought.
It said 2,300 people work at the facility.