Following last September’s announcement that German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp and India’s Tata Steel were planning to merge their steelmaking operations, the former’s 20,500 workers, having previously protested against the merger, have now accepted an agreement, struck before Christmas, that will mean no forced layoffs or major site closures.

The news comes as Dr. Wolfgang Eder, CEO of another leading European steelmaker, voestalpine of Austria, has spoken out about the need for plant closures in Europe in the light of capacity closures in the region. Dr. Eder told the Financial Times that around 20% of Europe’s steelmaking capacity was surplus to requirements.

Conversely, TK and Tata Steel argue that the deal with help them tackle overcapacity in the European steel market, although 4,000 job cuts are in the pipeline following the announcement of the merger and an estimated 2,000 steelworkers will be made redundant in Germany.

It is thought that the merger will save in the region of EUR400 million (USD497 million) to EUR600 million per annum.

The deal between the two steel giants has so far taken 18 months and still requires approval by TK’s chairman, Ulrich Lehner, and the company’s supervisory board.