Responding to the announcement today (Thursday) by the chancellor that the Job Retention Scheme is being replaced with a new Job Support Scheme to provide targeted support and wage assistance to struggling businesses, the leader of Unite the union, Len McCluskey, said:

Breathing space

“The package of measures announced today by the chancellor will allow many workers and employers to breathe more easily.

 “For some industries this will steady the very rocky floor beneath them, something that we have been pressing for all summer in an effort to stop the redundancy floodgates from pouring open.  

 “The chancellor has heard the incessant calls from unions, economists and business leaders and listened, and that is to be undoubtedly welcomed.  

"Our fear though is that today’s assistance may come too late for far too many and leaves gaps that could see millions more facing poverty and joblessness in the coming weeks.

"Today, therefore, cannot be the last word from the government on the defence of people's livelihoods.  We have seen a summer of jobs destruction but an absence of jobs creation.  We urge the government to work with us as we put our collective shoulders to the wheel in the task of recovering the economy, because the spectre of mass unemployment still stalks our communities. ”

Employers halt redundancies 

Len McCluskey called on employers considering making workers redundant to now step back from the brink:

“While we await the detail of criteria for large employers’ access to the scheme, there can be no doubt that in the UK's strategically vital industries – such as aerospace, steel and automotive – today’s move to support wages means we stand a better chance of saving the jobs and skills needed to power the recovery.  

 “We call upon employers to now work with us on the urgent task of saving those jobs. Reverse plans for redundancies and reflect on the opportunities now available to us: do not push the redundancy button.  Unite’s officials stand ready to work night and day with you to keep people in work and earning."

More support needed

Further, Len McCluskey warned that more will still needs to be done to address the skills crisis and to create desperately needed new and decent jobs, particularly for young people who have been hit hard by this crisis:

“Industries teetering on the cliff edge like aviation, retail and hospitality, where jobs are being lost hand over fist and where the impact of this crisis continues to be devastating, will need further support.  

"Dismissing jobs in these sectors as not viable is to leave communities to rot and descend into a jobs wastelands, so we are determined to continue to fight for better and wider support for these workers.

 “We urge the chancellor to keep the unemployment situation under constant review and pledge to act swiftly should the measures announced today not have the desired effect of holding back a tide of job losses and poverty."

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.

For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.

Email: barckley.sumner@unitetheunion.org

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