STEELWORKERS were this week offered a glimmer of hope in their battle to save 1,100 threatened jobs.

Corus management and senior union officials met on Monday to discuss rescue plans outlined by the workforce to save steelmaking in the region.

Both sides called for more time to consider the proposals, news which union leaders have taken as a sign that the company is taking the rescue package seriously.

Last month, Corus announced the job losses as part of a massive restructuring programme including the closure of the coil plate mill at Lackenby.

The union proposals would keep the Lackenby mill open for another 12 months, operating at non-peak times when electricity is cheapest, until market conditions improve.

Tony Poynter, chairman of the multi-union steel committee on Teesside, said the managers provided more information on costs, which the unions will now consider. Mr Poynter said this breathing space would allow the unions to make further submissions regarding the plant's shift system.

Management and unions will meet again on Thursday - five days before the union's national executive meets the Corus board.

Mr Poynter said: "It has given us a couple more weeks to keep pushing our case. We will keep battling on.

"While we are talking, there is still some hope. I still believe we have a case to keep it going and we still have that determination. There is light at the end of the tunnel."

But Teesside MP Ashok Kumar, although pleased the two sides were still talking, sounded a note of caution.

"I remain pessimistic - although I hope I am wrong," he said