London: British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has promised to talk to Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata as a last ditch effort to stop the Corus steel plants in Teeside from being shut down at the month end and thus save 1,700 jobs.
Brown gave the assurance to three MPs, Ashok Kumar, Solicitor General Vera Baird and Dar Taylor when they called on him at his home on the New Year`s eve.
Due to mounting losses last May Tata Steel Europe announced suspension of some of the facilities belonging to Corus` Teesside Cast Products business in northeast England.
Ashok Kumar, who had worked with the British Steel for 14 Years, said that many of his "constituents work at the Redcar plants in Teeside" and he was deeply attached to the threatened steel plants and employees whose jobs are at stake.
Baird, who is MP for Redcar where the plant is situated, said Brown had agreed to work behind the scenes to try to revive a deal with an international consortium to take over the plant by offering government help.
The collapse of the planned 10-year contract sparked the sudden announcement that the plant was to be mothballed, with Corus accusing the four firms of "walking away" from the deal.
Baird said Brown was "going to see if there is anyway to revive these purchasers by indicating through diplomatic channels that the government will help make that deal.
"Once he had something positive to suggest", she said, the Prime Minister had indicated that he would speak directly with Tata, the chairman of Corus`s parent company.
Baird, along with Kumar and Dari Taylor, warmly welcomed Brown`s promise of help but warned that time was running out to prevent the jobs being lost.
With existing contracts at an end, mothballing may happen this month unless a buyer is found, she said.
"I feel that we are leaving literally no stone unturned if we have the Prime Minister involved personally.
"Corus, which produces about 20 million tonnes of steel a year, accounts for more than two-thirds of Tata Steel`s production.
However, the global steel industry has been hit by a collapse in orders from the auto and construction sectors which have suffered during the economic downturn.
Corus has already cut about 6,000 jobs in Britain and the Netherlands since the start of 2009.