Thousands of redundancies every day, warn unions

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Thousands of redundancies every day, warn unions

The UK faces a “tsunami of job losses” unless more measures are taken to help industries cope with the aftermath of the economic lockdown, the Government has been warned.

MPs were told that jobs were already being lost and many firms were starting to prepare for the end of schemes to furlough staff and help the self-employed.

Steve Turner, assistant general secretary of Unite, said good quality jobs in sectors such as aerospace and automotive were under threat following the collapse in demand for new cars and restrictions on air travel.

Firms were starting to announce the statutory 45-day notice of redundancies, he told the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee.

“Without direct Government intervention, things will be devastating. There were 21,000 notified redundancies in the very early stages of the lockdown, but we are seeing thousands more now, every day.

“I am fearful of a tsunami of job losses. Firms are now starting to cut their cloth to meet their needs, which will be devastating for jobs, skills and long-term resistance.”

Gary Smith, secretary of the GMB union’s Scotland region, raised concerns that decent jobs were being exported because work to build wind turbines and other structures for the UK’s renewable energy industry was being done in the Middle East and Denmark.

“We were promised a green jobs revolution, a just transition from oil and gas, but our renewable industry has invariably been exported abroad,” he told MPs.

“The green jobs revolution is happening anywhere but the UK. The only expertise the UK has in the renewables sector is how to export jobs.”

Christine Payne, general secretary of the actors’ union Equity, said workers in the industry lost work as soon as the lockdown started – sometimes as they were about to go on stage.

Many workers were freelancers or self-employed and have fallen through the net of the Government schemes, she said.

“Creative industries are facing a huge and real crisis now,” she said, urging the Government to extend its job retention scheme for the sector into next spring.

Mike Clancy, general secretary of the Prospect union, said up to three million freelance or self-employed workers had been left without any Government support.

The union had been having constructive discussions with the Government on the issue, but it had “closed down” a few weeks ago, which he said was “baffling”.

All the union leaders called for extended Government help, especially for the hardest hit sectors.

Mr Turner said unions had proposed a National Council for Recovery aimed at rebuilding then economy after the crisis, and ahead of leaving the EU, adding that the Government had not responded.

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