CAMPAIGNERS have hailed a deal they say has the potential to save the UK’s steel-making industry and “safeguard jobs for a generation”. The future of the country’s largest steelworks at Port Talbot, south Wales, has been secured after an agreement to create a new industrial giant, following two years of anxiety for thousands of UK workers.
The merger between India’s Tata and German firm Thyssenkrupp will create Europe’s second biggest steel maker.
The sector, under intense pressure from China, also faces a potential new crisis after US President Donald Trump slapped a 25 per cent tariff on European steel exports to America.
Labour MP Stephen Kinnock, whose constituency includes Port Talbot, praised UK steelworkers who had fought “tooth and nail” to save the industry.
But he said: “For this to really succeed and to guarantee the longer-term future of the plant and the UK steel industry, sustained investment is needed over and above the currently committed work.
“The Government also needs to step up and play its part.”
Business Secretary Greg Clark described the merger as “a significant and positive moment” for the UK steel industry.
Staff were thrown into turmoil in 2016 when Tata said it planned to sell its UK operations.
More than 4,000 are employed in Port Talbot alone, with thousands more in other parts of Wales and England.
Union leaders said part of the deal was a commitment to repair Port Talbot’s Blast Furnace 5, meaning it will make steel until at least 2026 A future agreement could see an even longer lifespan.
Unions said the merger had the potential to safeguard jobs and steelmaking for decades ahead.
Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of the Community union, said: “With a commitment to avoid compulsory redundancies until October 2026 and the first £200million of any operating profit being invested back in the business, this has the potential to safeguard jobs and steel-making for a generation.”
Tata said it wanted to avoid any compulsory UK redundancies adding: “We remain committed to developing our existing employees, and bringing in new talent to improve the capability of our UK workforce whose dedication, resourcefulness and energy is so valued.”
Thyssenkrupp chief executive Dr Heinrich Hiesinger said that the deal would secure jobs and “create a highly competitive European steel player based on a strong industrial logic and strategic rationale”.
A spokesman for Economists for Free Trade said: “We welcome the commitment by Tata Steel to the UK.
“This demonstrates yet another company showing their confi dence in Britain’s future outside the EU.”
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