DEFIANT workers are continuing to stoke the fires at Redcar steelworks in the knowledge they might never be paid a penny for their labours.

The bombshell news this morning that SSI UK was being placed in the hands of a liquidator means 1,700 staff are losing their jobs and another 500 are expected to lose their positions in the coming days.

Only the most fervent campaigners are clinging to hopes that there is a future for steelmaking on Teesside.

But that has not stopped workers turning up for their shifts as normal to shovel fuel into the coke ovens and operate the materials handing division.

Standing at the entrance to the plant this afternoon, sacked SSI worker Brian Dennis, a steel man of 26 years who made a moving speech at this week’s Labour Party Conference, turned his anger on the firm’s Thai owner Win Viriyaprapaikit.

"He was a knight in shining armour when we opened the place but he turned out to be a dud firework - useless,” said Mr Dennis, adding: "That workforce in there have bent over backwards to get production records for him. Those lads are under threat of not getting paid at the end of the month, they keep coming in for night shifts, making sure the plant is still intact - that is the workforce he has totally snubbed. It is just awful."

The Government had planned a press conference this morning in Redcar where Business Secretary Sajid Javid was due to announce an £80m crisis fund. It will be used for workers to learn new skills, get tailored support from Jobcentre Plus, start up their own firms, and to create jobs in local firms.

But once the liquidation announcement became the main story Mr Javid failed to face the regional press and later made an embarrassing gaffe when he confused Teesside with the North West.

Speaking about the £80m fund on BBC Radio 4’s The World at One programme, the minister said: “I think it will provide a huge amount of help, not least because this is happening in an environment where the overall UK economy is strong. But that strength has led to a huge amount of inward investment into the area and the wider North West area.”

Redcar MP Anna Turley was among those who accused the Government of abandoning Teesside and leaving the plant to shut in an uncontrolled manner that will damage vital assets such as the blast furnace and coke ovens.

"It was all about flying in, saying ‘here is some money, we have done our bit but we can’t do anything about the plant’. They were never interested in securing the site," said Ms Turley.

"We gave them proposals but they have thrown the towel in. We are not. We think there is a future still for this plant.

"We are going to work with local businesses and the official receiver to try and secure that and we are not going to give in.

"Sajid Javid has spoken about giving a package of support for the North-West, so he doesn’t even know what region he is in.

"I made a conscious effort to build a good relationship with the government to do what was right for my constituents but I feel dreadfully let down.

"Teesside is now on its own. The Government has turned its back and it is down to us in the region, with our Local Enterprise Partnership, local businesses and people who get what steel means to this community, to fight ourselves.

"I won’t waste any more of my time trying to secure Government support because they don’t have the political will to support steelmaking on Teesside," added the Redcar MP.