Tata Steel workers are in “complete shock” about the company’s plan to sell the UK steel business.
Much of Tata’s 15,000-strong workforce across the country faces an uncertain future as a result of the decision.
The company said it could not give an “open-ended” commitment to keep the UK plants open while a buyer was sought.
Worker Scott Garden said: “The fact all that could be taken away from us is a massive shock to everyone that supplies steel.”
Mr Garden is employed at the Corby plant, where work has included making steel tubes for the Wembley Arch, London Eye and the Olympic Stadium.
He said: “We’re all in complete shock, we’ve all got families. We want to come here to work, we want to produce steel, we want to make money.”
Prime Minister David Cameron said the government was “doing everything it can” to save thousands of steel jobs – but warned there were “no guarantees of success”.
Koushik Chatterjee, a group executive director of Tata Steel, told the BBC the company wanted to move quickly to secure a sale.
Conservative Corby MP Tom Pursglove said the steel industry was “fundamental to ensuring our national security”.
“You never know what the future holds and it is unacceptable to rely upon the prospect of importing steel during any period of national crisis or emergency,” he said.
“I believe that all options must be on the table and nothing should be ruled out – for example, if a short period of public ownership of these Tata plants is required, in order to facilitate a buyer stepping in, then this should be strongly considered.
“We simply cannot afford to lose our steel industry.”
Rotherham council leader Chris Read said help was now needed either from a private firm or the government.
“Our best hope is that another private company comes in and buys the plants in Rotherham. If that doesn’t happen and the government does refuse to step in, I think the future does look potentially bleak.”
He said about 400 companies in the wider Sheffield city region were in the Tata supply chain.
“You are looking at thousands of jobs potentially being affected. It has a huge impact on the staff who work at Tata and their families but it is also one of those key iconic Rotherham industries,” he said.
Rotherham convenience store owner Vinny Singh said his business would lose about £2,000 a week if the plant next door shuts.
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Source:: BBC world news feed