It started at sunrise.Hundreds of Port Kembla steelworkers, sweaty and weary from the night shift, were herded into rooms and given the news most had been expecting - they were out of a job.They were passed a letter, penned by their corporate bosses, explaining that BlueScope Steel was on the edge of disaster.The reaction was subdued. The anger controlled. There were few displays of emotion. Workers, many who have spent their lives making steel, simply stood up, walked out and made the dreaded phone call to their families.For the rest of the day, a sombre pall shrouded Australia as word spread that 1400 employees and contractors would be out of work within weeks.For the Illawarra, the result was nothing short of disastrous, with 1100 jobs slashed.Steel giant to sever its export arm$30m package to assist regionSee the drama in pictures here800 jobs go at Port Kembla steelworksIt is the second time Frank Varglien has been made redundant, having lost his job at Port Kembla Copper nine years earlier."After that happened, I came to BlueScope and thought this was the best job going, one that would last me until I'm 65," said Mr Varglien, who works in the No 6 blast furnace."I thought I could retire comfortably from here but now I've been hit by this bombshell," he said."But there's no point stressing about it, so I'll just plod along until we close down and just look after each other. There's nothing more we can do."Angel Lara, a 31-year steelworks veteran, is also employed in the blast furnace, which will close in October.The Shellharbour father-of-two predicted the outcome months ago."Having worked here for so long, you get a sense of how things are going and we knew things were not good," he said."This place isn't as important to our economy as it once used to be but over 1100 jobs is still a big hit."Mr Lara has mixed feelings about redundancies."If I take a redundancy I'm out of debt but I still have to work because I'm only 47," he said.The shockwaves of yesterday's announcements were also felt outside the steelworks.More than 330 contractors are out of work, with countless others in the retail and hospitality sectors also set to feel the pain.Many spent the day outside the Australian Workers Union's Wollongong headquarters, searching for information from officials or the waiting press-pack.Inside, union heavyweights thrashed out their response to what they consider the biggest crisis to grip manufacturing since the Great Depression.Richard Walsh, a plant operator with Australian Steel Mill Services, would not be the only person today questioning their financial security.Mr Walsh and his contractor workmates rely on BlueScope for a living."A lot have recently committed to new cars and updating houses and their redundancies will be swallowed up by that and it won't help them get over this initial financial hit," he said."There will probably be a longer dole queue from now on."Despite assurances the Port Kembla steelworks has a future, Mr Walsh is not convinced."I like to think positive; I'd like to say this isn't the beginning of the end but I think everyone thinks if things continue to get worse it will be the end of the steelworks in the Illawarra and that would be devastating."