Workers at a steelworks being mothballed with the loss of 1,700 jobs were being given redundancy details at meetings today.
Iron and steelmaking at the giant Redcar plant on Teesside is being halted after Thai owner SSI said it had no other option because of plunging steel prices.
Unions continued to press the Government to intervene to try to save as many jobs as possible, and to make sure the mothballing was carried out to the best level so that steelmaking could resume in the future.
Individual consultations started with workers who now have a battle to find other jobs in an area where unemployment is above the national average.
Roy Ruckhuss, leader of the Community union, pointed out that steel from Redcar has helped build the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Wembley Stadium and Canary Wharf in London, adding that steel was in the DNA of Teesside.
"Warm words and platitudes from the Government are not enough - we need action now," he said.
The Government has set up a task force to help those facing redundancy.