Responding to the chancellor's changes to the Job Retention Scheme (JRS) announced today (Friday), the leader of the country's most influential union, Unite, said that he was pleased that unions had been listened to and that short-term working will be supported from July.

However, Unite warned that with fragility across the economy the need for sector support packages, similar to those implemented in competitor nations, is more urgent than ever.

Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, said: "The chancellor has listened to trade unions like Unite who have been calling for flexible and incremental changes to the jobs retention scheme to allow businesses to get back on their feet, protecting jobs in the process.

 "However, there is no doubt that the requirement for employers to meet pension and national insurance contributions from August, as employees have been doing all along, with further incremental changes to employer funding of the JRS from September, will reveal exactly how fragile much of the economy is.  

 "There is also the fact that many businesses are simply not ready to bring people back to work because demand for their goods and services has evaporated.  

"Stimulating confidence and demand in the economy alongside JRS flexibility is essential. Therefore, bringing forward to 1 July, as Unite has argued, the ability to bring workers back on short-time working,  is to be welcomed.  

"Wage assistance is a great help but much of the economy, especially aviation, manufacturing and hospitality, urgently need sector level support to adjust to the enormous challenges posed by COVID-19.  We have to enable businesses to develop new products and build back demand while holding onto the skilled workforce that they have invested in over the years.

 "Without such assistance, and soon, many businesses will simply shut up shop resulting in the mass unemployment the chancellor has sought to avoid these past two months. This massive, collective economic investment should not be for nothing. We therefore urge the government to bring forward the sort of support packages for UK business that we have seen implemented in our competitor economies like France, Germany and the US."

ENDS

Notes to editors:

During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.

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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.