THE saving of 4,000 jobs at British Steel – also safeguarding a further 20,000 in the supply chain – will be a matter of rejoicing for staff at the plants at Scunthorpe and on Teesside.
Losing their jobs little more than a month before Christmas would have plunged the workers and their families into despair, and would have delivered a devastating blow to the communities affected in both economic and social terms.
The deal with the Chinese Jingye Group preserves a great Yorkshire industry, a powerhouse of manufacturing innovation that is also a byword for excellence.
And there are compelling reasons for keeping it in business.
Steel remains a key British strategic asset if the country is not to rely on imports.
Indeed, Scunthorpe accounts for a third of all the steel that is produced in this country, and the loss of the plant would have reduced a once-mighty industry to merely a shadow of its former self.
It will not be lost on the workers whose jobs have been saved that there is an irony in their rescuer being a Chinese company.
For the key difficulty for British manufacturers has been China’s dumping of heavily-subsidised steel into European markets.
In this instance, though, China has acted in the interests of British manufacturing and the jobs which rely upon it, and that is most welcome.
The lobby group UK Steel believes the new investment will help the industry turn a corner after several difficult years.
It is very much to be hoped that proves to be the case.