1. ITV Report

Chinese firm Jingye's takeover of British Steel moves a step closer as Unions confirm a deal

A deal over pay and conditions has been struck between British Steel workers and the Chinese industrial firm which wants to buy the business out of administration, unions have confirmed.

But workers' representatives said they expect to see up to 500 job losses following 10 days of "extremely challenging" negotiations with Jingye management to discuss their business plan and in particular their proposals relating to employment.

British Steel Scunthorpe Credit: Press Association

Jingye is looking to buy the business from Government liquidators, after ministers promised to fund the company following its collapse last year. It is thought to be losing up to £1 million a day.

As British Steel is in liquidation, any new owner could just offer new contracts with statutory minimum terms and conditions. There is no legal obligation to do more, nor to consult on any changes.

These talks also took place in the context of the Special Managers having made it clear that there will not be another sales process for the whole business if the Jingye deal does not complete. British Steel would be broken up and sold in parts.

Importantly, the employment package is also in the context of Jingye's £1.2 billion investment plan. We have seen the detail, and this investment would transform the business and secure the future of British Steel."

– The National Trade Union Steel Co-ordinating Committee

Senior union representatives endorsed the deal on Thursday in principle, with full details being drawn up.

But disappointment remained over the potential job losses, with unions arguing that the positions are necessary at the plant.

As was widely expected, Jingye also intend to reduce overall headcount. This could be by up to 500 jobs, though significant numbers have recently left the business, and will be subject to ongoing detailed discussion at departmental level.

This is not something that the unions could endorse and we have made the argument that the business needs to ensure the plant can be run efficiently and safely."

– The Steel Committee
British Steel Scunthorpe Credit: Press Association

Bosses from the Chinese firm remain positive over the future of British Steel.

We believe that this agreement lays the groundwork to provide well-paid, skilled jobs at British Steel for many years to come. It will pave the way for significant investment in the company that will transform the business and allow it to succeed."

– Jingye chief executive Li Huiming