Following on from news yesterday of a planned joint venture between steelmakers Thyssenkrupp and Tata Steel, Stephen Kinnock, MP for Aberavon, home of the Port Talbot steelworks, commented: "In principle I welcome this news as it brings together two giants of the European steel industry, creating the sort of scale and synergies that could potentially deliver significant competitive advantage.
"It's very good to see the clear long-term commitment to Port Talbot as one of the three upstream hubs, alongside Duisberg and Ijmuiden, and it's also worth noting that the Port Talbot works has been through an incredibly tough and painful restructuring over recent years, so it is already lean and fighting fit for moving into this new partnership.
"However, these are early days and it is also important to strike a note of caution. In February Tata Steel committed to investing £1 billion, to maintaining the blast furnaces, and to averting compulsory early redundancies. Those commitments must be honoured, and I will be seeking assurances from the company that they are in no way affected by today's news.
"The long-term future of the British steel industry depends on the blast furnaces in Port Talbot. It is, therefore, vital that the new joint venture leads to the investment that is required. This means that we need to see a rapid and clear commitment to the re-lining of Blast Furnace Number 5.
"British steelworkers produce the best steel that money can buy, but they have been working at a competitive disadvantage to their German and Dutch competitors and colleagues due to the abject failure of the British government to provide a supportive policy framework on energy, procurement and anti-dumping. But the workforce has rallied, dug deep and shown huge courage, strength and resilience, and we are now in a far better place than we were when I flew out to Mumbai with the Community Union just over a year ago.
"True to form, government ministers are still all talk and warm words, but we shall continue to press them for action."It is essential that the outstanding qualities of the workforce are now recognised by the management of this new joint venture, and that this recognition is translated into real long-term investment in the future of Port Talbot as an upstream hub for the manufacture of the world's best steel."