Struggling communities in northern England have been hit with another hammer blow with the loss of up to 500 jobs at three steelworks.
Indian-owned multinational Tata Steel said 340 jobs would go in Scunthorpe, 90 in Workington and 40 in Teesside.
The three areas have all suffered from the decimation of traditional industries.
Unions vowed to oppose compulsory redundancies.
GMB national officer David Hulse said: “This terrible news has come straight out of the blue.
“GMB is bitterly disappointed as earlier this year we saw 1,000 people leave the company and everyone involved has worked hard to make all-round improvements.
“GMB will insist on no compulsory redundancies and to bring the number of job losses down.”
A lack of housebuilding has been partially blamed for the job losses.
Tata reported “a prolonged downturn in demand” for construction steel, which it said has halved since 2007.
Tata Scunthorpe Long Products director Jon Bolton: “Demand for construction steel has fallen further since we launched an improvement programme in 2011.”
The firm’s chief economist for Europe Karl Koehler insisted: “On top of the challenging economic conditions, rules covering energy and the environment in Europe and the UK threaten to impose huge additional costs on the steel industry.”
Despite these claims Tata’s global profits doubled in the three months to July, raking in almost £120 million.
Steel union Community general secretary Michael Leahy said: “We are obviously very concerned to hear this news and are doing all we can to support those affected by the announcement.
“Today’s news once again reflects the fragile state of our economy and the lack of any real impetus by government to support our manufacturing base.”
He said Community wants to meet Tata “to explore alternatives and also to reiterate Community’s opposition to any compulsory redundancies.”
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