WORKERS still await their fate as a merger between two steel giants moves closer.

Last month it was announced that Tata Steel and German giant Thyssenkrupp had entered ino a memorandum of understanding to merge.

It is hoped the 50/50 joint venture would help secure the future of the Tata Group, which employs more than 700 people at the Colorcoat and Building Systems UK site in Shotton.

But despite the merger 4,000 jobs, 2,000 in administration, and 2,000 in production, are expected to be at risk across the board.

In an update on talks Tata Steel chief executive Hans Fischer says discussions are still under way as both companies enter into a period of due diligence.

He said: “Since signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Thyssenkrupp to create a leading European steel enterprise we have held a number of meetings and have had constructive discussions and briefings with groups representing our employees.

”These groups include the European Works Council, the Central Works Council in the Netherlands and the UK Steel Committee, as well as the supervisory board and board of management of Tata Steel Netherlands.

”They have asked lots of questions about the jointventure and expressed their concerns. I recognise these concerns and will do everything to takeaway these concerns and to answer the questions raised.

”Although I am fully aware that with change comes uncertainty, I also see real opportunities and firmly believe this joint venture offers us the chance to create a stronger new business together with Thyssenkrupp.

”Combining our strengths, we can create a business which is able to grow and produce more advanced and premium quality products for the world’s most demanding customers.”

He added: “We have all worked hard to make our European business more sustainable over recent years and we have achieved a lot through improvement programmes.

”This has helped us lay a solid foundation for the future. Both Tata Steel and thyssenkrupp have committed to continue with the current asset configuration at all upstream sites, including IJmuiden and Port Talbot.

”While we will continue to strengthen our UK business through an investment-backed transformation programme, the strong position of the IJmuiden business with the current strategic investments has also been recognised by both Tata Steel and Thyssenkrupp.

”The due diligence process is now in progress and focuses on increasing the amount and quality of information available to decision makers before the signing of an agreement.

”Meanwhile, we will continue the discussions with all stakeholders and make every effort to take concerns away.The company is, and remains, committed to engage with works councils, unions and otheremployee representatives throughout the due diligence process.

”These discussions are a priority and valuable to us as we seek the support of all stakeholders for the joint venture.

”Keeping all our employees engaged in this process is fundamental to the success of a possible joint venture.

”We will keep communicating with employees frequently on all aspects of the joint venture in a clear, transparent and consistent way.”

Indian-based Tata Steel announced its intention to sell off its UK assets in 2016, putting staff at the Shotton base at risk.

The move was put on hold months later that year when the prospect of a merger was mooted.