The new Business Secretary has met workers at a steel plant which still has doubts over its long-term future.
Steel giant Tata has halted plans to sell the huge site in South Wales and is working on keeping its UK business as part of a joint venture with German conglomerate ThyssenKrupp.
Greg Clark, the new Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, visited the Port Talbot works on Wednesday and met workers and union officials, including Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of Community.
Tata sold its Scunthorpe plant but still has sites in Rotherham and Stocksbridge.
"Although today's meeting was in South Wales, the Secretary of State appreciates that steel is a UK-wide industry and that the current challenges affect all steel plants and all companies. We welcome the renewed desire to put industrial strategy at the heart of Government and I was pleased that Greg Clark today signalled his intention to involve trade unions in that important process."
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The steelworkers' union Community has welcomed the completion of the sale of Tata Steel's Long Products Europe business to Greybull Capital LLP. The new company will trade as British Steel.
"Community warmly welcomes the opening of this new chapter in the course of the UK steel industry. It also demonstrates that there is the chance of a brighter future for steel making in the UK, with the right vision and investment.
"British Steel is built on firm foundations with a skilled, experienced and dedicated workforce determined to make a success of the business. They have a proud track record of delivering high-quality long products to flagship construction and infrastructure products around the world. The turnaround plan agreed between management and unions is already yielding positive results.
"I want to pay tribute to Community's local union reps not just in Scunthorpe, but at Lackenby, Skinningrove and throughout the downstream operations. Their hard work and commitment to a sustainable future for steel has been key in getting us here today. Our members have also shown their commitment by the sacrifices they have made to back the plan and give the new business the best chance of success.
"Today marks the start of a new journey for UK steel making and there may be more challenges ahead. That's why it's vital that the government continues to take action to deliver on the promises it's made to the industry and to develop and implement an integrated industrial strategy and a long-term vision for UK steel.
"Today also brings to an end a long period of uncertainty for steelworkers within the Long Products business. From the first moment Tata put the business up for sale, we insisted that they be a responsible seller and allow time for the right buyer to come forward and for the deal to be completed. Tata has honoured that commitment with this deal but now they must do the same for the remainder of their UK operations and work with Community through the sales process."
Tata Steel has issued a statement confirming it will work under the name British Steel following the sale to Greybull Capital.
From today Tata Steel's Long Products Europe business, which in the UK includes the Scunthorpe steelworks, two mills in Teesside, an engineering workshop in Workington, a design consultancy in York, and associated distribution facilities, as well as a rail mill in northern France, will trade under the name of British Steel.
All together the business employs 4,800 people – 4,400 in the UK and 400 in France. The sale follows an accelerated process of negotiations between Tata Steel UK and Greybull Capital to achieve this outcome.
“As a responsible seller, Tata Steel is delighted to have secured a buyer for this business and we hope that under Greybull ownership, the business will continue the momentum of the improvement program that has been initiated in the last 12 months.
“Employees and trade unions have worked closely with the Long Products Europe management team to improve the business’s prospects, putting it in a more competitive position than it has been for many years. It is through their dedication and hard work that we are in this position today in spite of continued challenges in the market".
Thousands of jobs have been saved at Tata Steel in Scunthorpe after its sale went through overnight. The plant was under threat of closure if owners Tata steel could not find a buyer. Investment firm Greybull Capital agreed in principal to buy the steel giant's long products division last month. The deal has now been confirmed.