The Government and the country's biggest steel union have called on Tata Steel and Thyssenkrupp to commit to safeguarding British jobs in the wake of an announcement that the two companies intend to merge their European steel operations.
The proposed 50:50 joint venture would have a turnover of about 15 billion (Rs115,000 crore) and now employs about 48,000 people spread across various locations.
IG Metall union, which represents metalworkers in Germany, is concerned the joint venture could pave the way for ThyssenKrupp to exit the steel business entirely.
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The joint venture will be named ThyssenKrupp Tata Steel and is expected to be up and running in late 2018, following further negotiations, due diligence, and subject to approval from relevant authorities and shareholders.
Earlier, labor representatives, who have half of the seats on Thyssenkrupp's supervisory board, had also expressed concern over job losses.
"Over all, this is a good deal", said Dalton Dwyer, managing director of Industry Corporate Finance, a London-based firm that advises on steel mergers.
Tata Steel and ThyssenKrupp have signed a preliminary agreement to combine their steel production operations across Europe to form the second largest steel manufacturer venture, behind ArcelorMittal.
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Shares in Tata Steel rose 2% on news of the deal in Mumbai, while those in ThyssenKrupp opened 5% higher in Frankfurt.
N Chandrasekaran, Chairman, Tata Steel said, "As our partnership with thyssenkrupp progresses in Europe, Tata Steel is well positioned to leverage India's growing economy by adding significant capacity in value added products to meet emerging customer needs".
The deal could have sweeping implications for the industry and for 8,000 workers employed in the United Kingdom in particular. "Not only do we share a clear performance orientation, but also the same understanding of entrepreneurial responsibility toward workforce and society", he added. Under the agreement, both the companies will have 50% stake in the newly formed entity.
In particular we will be pressing Tata to demonstrate their long term commitment to steelmaking in the United Kingdom by confirming they will invest in the reline of Port Talbot's Blast Furnace No.5.
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