Today’s (Monday 11th January) annual survey by the manufacturers’ organisation EEF is yet another a wake-up call for the government said Britain’s largest union, Unite as it warned manufacturers against breaking up skilled workforces and trying to impose lower pay and conditions.
A key driver to the UK economy, manufacturing directly employs 2.6 million workers and accounts for 54 per cent of UK exports. Unite warned that a lack of a coherent industrial strategy from the government was holding back the sector and jeopardising thousands of highly skilled well paid jobs.
Commenting Tony Burke Unite assistant general secretary with responsibility for manufacturing said: “The EEF’s survey is yet another wake up call to the government. We saw in the steel sector the consequences of not having an integrated strategy for manufacturing – the plant at Redcar closed and with it a national asset and over 2,000 skilled jobs were lost along with thousands more in the supply chain.
“Manufacturing is the greatest creator of wealth this country has. The government needs to stop sloganeering and do some serious work to support manufacturers like governments in our competitor nations such as Germany do.
“Unite would also caution employers against breaking up skilled workforces and trying to impose lower pay and conditions as the answer to the dilemmas facing manufacturing. We know from past experience that those employers who engage the workers and their unions to face them are the ones still standing once the storm passes.
“Crying wolf over being forced to make marginal improvements to low wages such as the introduction of the national living wage will not be appreciated by a workforce that has put its shoulder to the wheel through some very tough times since 2008. Rightly, they will be asking why so many big companies are sitting on cash reserves instead of investing for growth.
“We have been here before with the minimum wage and no jobs were lost over what was arguably a far more demanding pay improvement than Osborne’s effort which will only apply to the over-25s.”
Also click here for previous blog and EEF report on predicted manufacturing job losses.
For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 07967 665869.