Tata Steel workers are in “complete shock” about the company’s plan to sell the UK steel business.
Much of Tata’s 15,000-strong workforce across the country faces an uncertain future as a result of the decision.
The company said it could not give an “open-ended” commitment to keep the UK plants open while a buyer was sought.
Worker Scott Garden said: “The fact all that could be taken away from us is a massive shock to everyone that supplies steel.”
Mr Garden is employed at the Corby plant, where work has included making steel tubes for the Wembley Arch, London Eye and the Olympic Stadium.
He said: “We’re all in complete shock, we’ve all got families. We want to come here to work, we want to produce steel, we want to make money.”
Prime Minister David Cameron said the government was “doing everything it can” to save thousands of steel jobs – but warned there were “no guarantees of success”.
Koushik Chatterjee, a group executive director of Tata Steel, told the BBC the company wanted to move quickly to secure a sale.
Conservative Corby MP Tom Pursglove said the steel industry was “fundamental to ensuring our national security”.
“You never know what the future holds and it is unacceptable to rely upon the prospect of importing steel during any period of national crisis or emergency,” he said.
“I believe that all options must be on the table and nothing should be ruled out – for example, if a short period of public ownership of these Tata plants is required, in order to facilitate a buyer stepping in, then this should be strongly considered.
“We simply cannot afford to lose our steel industry.”
Rotherham council leader Chris Read said help was now needed either from a private firm or the government.
“Our best hope is that another private company comes in and buys the plants in Rotherham. If that doesn’t happen and the government does refuse to step in, I think the future does look potentially bleak.”
He said about 400 companies in the wider Sheffield city region were in the Tata supply chain.
“You are looking at thousands of jobs potentially being affected. It has a huge impact on the staff who work at Tata and their families but it is also one of those key iconic Rotherham industries,” he said.
Rotherham convenience store owner Vinny Singh said his business would lose about 2,000 a week if the plant next door shuts.
“We open especially for them at five in the morning because of the night shift and the day shift turnover. We wouldn’t open at that time otherwise. They’re in and out of the shop for fags and newspapers constantly. It will have an impact on us that’s for sure.”
John Healey, Labour MP for Wentworth and Dearne, whose constituency covers the Rotherham plant, said: “This is a plant, together with Stocksbridge, that makes some of the best engineering steel anywhere in the world.
“For the last few years it has broken even or made a profit so it is a real goer.
“What we need is a long-term commitment from a long-term investor and if Tata won’t do that here in South Yorkshire we have to find another buyer.”
Angela Smith, Labour MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge, said: “Without a steel industry there I think the town would quite rapidly decline and potentially die. I can’t imagine the future for Stocksbridge without that steel plant.”
The plants in Wednesbury and Wednesfield in the West Midlands say there is no risk to jobs.
P&O Ferrymasters, which offers freight management solutions to Tata Steel, said: “From employees’ perspective, it’s very much business as usual. What’s new is that we are looking for a new investor in the UK business.”
The chairman of Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster Ivan Baldwin told BBC Cumbria jobs there may have some protection, because the Workington site is a design and manufacturing base, rather than a steel production site.