Do Black Votes Matter?

By Dr. Ian Laws, Socialist Historian

Hashtags. I really hate hashtags. In fact, if I had to throw just one thing into Room 101, it would most definitely be…well, just about anything and everything that has contributed to the implementation of a pernicious, global, neo-liberal agenda over the last forty years or so…but you get the point. One hashtag that should be of paramount concern to those of us on the Left, and to members of the Labour Party in particular, is the #OfficialOpposition hashtag that has been trending on social media recently, applied to such diverse personalities, institutions, and organisations as Piers Morgan, Mark Rashford, the UK Premier League, and Black Lives Matter. Whenever Piers Morgan, of all people, is praised for holding the Government to account through uncompromising journalism and hard-hitting interview techniques, social media is full of comparisons between that unlikely champion of righteousness  and the leader of the Official Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer MP.

The humiliation was particularly acute for Labour following Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid’s April 15th interview with Sir Keir on Good Morning Britain. Commenting on a performance which could have had the Labour MP mistaken for a Tory Minister striving to defend Government policy, Facebook and Twitter were ripe with praise for Piers Morgan and condemnation of the new Labour leader’s lacklustre response to  Government ineptitude, with one Twitterer observing: “Piers Morgan is interviewing Keir Starmer on GMB this morning, and he’s holding the Government to account better than the opposition leader”. Another highly critical tweet by Huffington Post contributor Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu claimed Starmer’s words were no different from those of the Prime Minister. This insanity appeared to culminate in a topsy-turvy world in which Momentum plastered videos of Comrade Morgan condemning Government plans to reintroduce parking charges for NHS staff all over the Internet.

Such views were similarly reflected in polls questioning the Public’s views on Labour’s performance during the Coronavirus crisis. An Ipsos mori  poll of April 2020, for example, found that less than one in five respondents believed that Labour was doing a satisfactory job holding the Government to account during the pandemic, while even among Labour voters (as of December 2019), less than a third thought the Party was serving effectively as the Official Opposition. Conversely, considerably more participants felt that the country’s journalists were effective in challenging Government policy and highlighting it’s mistakes, with an impressive  43% of respondents  praising the media involved in covid-19 daily briefings.

Laura Kuenssberg – BBC Political Correspondent (Photo by Jeff Overs/BBC News & Current Affairs via Getty Images)

Surprisingly, it was only when pressing the Government on the need to release a clear and definitive strategy to end, or at least significantly relax, lockdown restrictions that Sir Keir’s  passion and steadfastness became apparent. Indeed, if anything, the new Labour Leadership gave the distinct Impression that it was attacking the Government from the Right of the political spectrum.  Author and journalist Patrick Maguire has labelled Starmer’s position on the Government’s jobs retention scheme an attempt to  outflank the Tories on the right, while BBC News Editor Laura Kuennsberg accused the Labour Leader of appearing to be a spending hawk. Meanwhile, amidst the deafening clamour of disappointment arising from Labour’s lukewarm response to so many emotive issues of the day, Starmer has at least earned praise from the likes of Jeremy Clarkson, Anna Soubry, and Nigel Farage.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 08: Footballer Marcus Rashford is photographed on February 8, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Paul Cooper/Contour by Getty Images)

 Likewise, it was not the Labour Leadership, but Premier League footballer Marcus Rashford, who is credited with forcing the Government to reverse it’s decision not to extend free school meals vouchers for children into the summer holidays, again, with all the attendant social media cacophony hailing Rashford as the true opposition to Tory misrule;  whereas such a corporate institution as the Premier League itself has more explicitly supported the recently enlivened Black Lives Matter Movement, in both word and deed, than the current Labour front bench. This support has varied from public endorsement of the Movement’s basic principles, through replacing the Players’ names on footballers’ shirts with “Black Lives Matter” for several matches, to the creation of a  new BLM badge to be included in all Premier League kits for the remainder of the season.

Protesters transporting the statue of Colston towards the river Avon. Edward Colston was a slave trader of the late 17th century who played a major role in the development of the city of Bristol, England, on June 7, 2020. (Photo by Giulia Spadafora/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Keir Starmer, in contrast, has faced considerable criticism for describing BLM as a moment, rather than a movement. When the statue of slave trader Edward Colston was torn down and thrown into the river Avon in Bristol last month, Starmer, in an interview with LBC Radio, claimed that the action was “completely wrong”. While not condoning the presence of statues commemorating the accomplishments of slave traders in a modern British city, the Labour Leader insisted that removing such symbols  must be achieved through ‘proper’ channels, and with ‘consent’. Starmer likewise labelled BLM calls to defund Police authorities that failed to address institutional racism as pure “nonsense”. In an interview with BBC Breakfast, he criticised BLM attacks on policing, and insisted that his support for the police was very strong. The BLM’s somewhat predictable response came from its official UK Twitter account which branded Starmer, who had previously headed the UK Crown Prosecution Service, a “cop in an expensive suit”. Various Union officials and Labour MPS also lambasted Starmer’s statements, with recently elected MP Bellavia Ribeiro-Addy remarking, in a tweet of June 29th, that in the absence of clear support from Parliament, real change was “going to take sustained pressure from below.” At its peak, this “pressure” manifested in 260 UK towns and cities, with considerably more than 200 thousand protestors defying lockdown restrictions throughout June and early July, according to a recent Guardian Exclusive, which described this so-called ‘moment’ as the “largest anti-racist protest seen in the UK since the slave abolition movement” of more than two centuries ago.

Of course, it is never easy for any senior political figure to publicly endorse activity of, at best, questionable legality, and those who combine a role in ‘respectable’ representative politics with street-level activism are certainly few and far between, but it is not difficult to imagine a very different response from the Official Opposition had this occurred on Jeremy Corbyn‘s watch. Indeed, the former Opposition leader himself spoke at a local BLM demonstration in Islington on July 1st, amongst other occasions.

The Corbyn era gave us a glimpse of how Labour as a Party, can be a home for Labour as movements; a chance to analyse the interaction between a reformist parliamentary institution and an amalgamation of various protest movements and causes. Now, nobody would expect Starmer to leap on the stage at Glastonbury, to rapturous applause, or to be greeted with a spontaneous chorus of “ohhhh Sir Keir Starmer”; nor, more importantly, would he feel remotely comfortable with any such acclamation.

My recent article, amongst other things,  traced the connection between the eruption of student protests against tuition fees in 2010  with the emergence of Corbynism as a political force 5 years later. It outlined the argument that the seeds of organisations like Momentum were to be found in such anti-austerity street demos, and in the founding of activist groups like the People’s Assembly Against Austerity. Comparisons were made between the response of the contemporary Official Opposition and then-fringe figures such as Corbyn or Diane Abbott. While the likes of Corbyn and McDonnell endorsed the protests, attacked police brutality, and even participated directly, then-Labour leader Ed Miliband  refused to attend demonstrations, and publicly opposed a teachers strike in 2011, while Shadow Home Secretary Ed Balls frequently criticised the protestors, their aims, and most especially, their methods.

Photo by Retha Ferguson on Pexels.com

If Keir Starmer’s attitudes and actions are not a million miles away from those of Ed Balls in 2010, or Ed Miliband in 2011, it hardly takes a great stretch of the imagination to envisage that a void similar to the one which facilitated the radicalisation of Labour Party politics from 2015 could open the door to history repeating itself in the not so distant future. But to who, then, can we look to harness the potential energy of these emerging protest movements? Just as the attitude of senior Labour officials has apparently resulted in an exodus of BAME members from the Party, Including such notable figures as Journalist Evie Muir,  leading the Labour Leader to publicly call for BAME people to remain, and telling the Huffington Post: “I don’t want anybody to leave the Labour Party…It is a place that I hope and am determined that Black people feel that they are welcome…”, a younger generation of Labour MPs  are simultaneously being praised for their commitment to the struggle. The so called ‘Baby of the House’, Nadia Whittome MP, has received particular acclamation for calling the tearing down of the Colston statue “an act of resistance to be celebrated”. She could almost certainly have been speaking for like-minded comrades such as Zarah Sultana MP, who, during the early days of BLM protests in the UK, posted advice for demonstrators on Twitter regarding their rights and how to deal with the Police, whilst personally attending and speaking at a BLM gathering in Coventry city centre a fortnight later. Meanwhile, the People’s Assembly Against Austerity is still committed to “rebuilding resistance to the  Tories”, in the words of former Labour MP Laura Pidcock, who, during the opening months of 2020, took an increasingly active role in directing the movement in its efforts to renew local campaigns against government cuts.

 Yet this disillusionment of grassroots protestors at the changing direction of the Labour Party is only half the story. While the energy and activism of the Corbyn era is still very much alive on the street and in social media chat rooms, this radicalism is no longer the ‘new normal’ of Left Wing political discourse in the UK, and, following early Shadow Cabinet reshuffles and the appointment of David Evans as the Party’s General Secretary in May, and despite the lingering traces of radicalism in Sir Keir’s ’10 Policy Pledges’, Labour looks certain to return definitively to the centre ground. It was no doubt in reference to these pledges that the former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair, in heaping praise on the new regime for making Labour ‘politically competitive’ again, added that: “there are a whole set of questions around  policy and so on that in time I’m sure and know he will come to”.

This attitude is far from being an isolated one in Labour circles, with many Party members and Labour voters alike jubilant that the Party is slowly making its way back to ‘electability’. Words like ‘competent’ and ‘confident’ are most often bandied around whilst discussing the Labour leader, often accompanied by praise of how forensic he is in his questioning of government policy. This so called ‘professionalism’ is often contrasted starkly with the anti-establishment tendencies of Jeremy Corbyn, and, perhaps not quite incidentally, the BLM movement.

When listening to the announcements coming from the current Labour Front Bench, one will almost certainly come across more talk of “fostering aspiration” and “helping people who want to get on” than was the case only a few months previous. And this kind of talk will attract support both from within the Party, and the wider population. Those who scorn the new Labour Leadership for coming across more like apologists for the Government rather than its opposition during the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, or for criticising or letting down the thousands of BLM protestors flooding Britain’s streets are, at least on occasion, countered by those expressing relief that they no longer need to feel ashamed of supporting Labour. As one previous, and allegedly future, Labour voter, Louise Hantman from Northumberland, put it, during one of Sir Keir Starmer’s weekly online consultations with the Public: “We feel quite excited that you’re there now. There’s a light on the horizon.”

But one should remember that sometimes, just sometimes, the light, whether on the horizon or at the end of a tunnel, happens to be an oncoming train, a train quite possibly filled with protestors heading to a BLM demo…

Poll of passengers and public finds British Airways damaging brand

New poll:  British Airways damaging brand and should face review of privileged landing rights, say public and passengers in response to ‘fire and rehire’ move 

  • 70% of the public say BA’s ‘fire and rehire’ scheme wrong.
  • By a 3-1 ratio (61% vs 20%) public say BA is taking advantage of a national crisis to boost shareholder profits.
  • 69% believe the current landing slot arrangements should be reviewed.

A new poll reveals that the British public backs tough action against British Airways over its ‘fire and rehire’ plans, with both Conservative and Labour voters giving strong support for the introduction of legislation to strip the nation’s flag carrying airline of its privileged access to UK landing slots.

The poll of over 2000 people, including over 1219 BA passengers across the UK, conducted by Survation, reveals that 69% of all those surveyed believed the government should review the UK’s current arrangements on landing slots (vs just 16% saying the government should not) with 76% of Conservative voters backing a review.

British Airways stands accused of using a global health pandemic as cover to impose a long-term plan to ‘fire and rehire‘ the majority of its staff in order to re-engage them on inferior terms and conditions while making up to 12,00 redundant.

The majority of those polled believe BA is wrong to terminate staff and re-employ them on reduced terms and conditions in the middle of a health crisis (70%) and just 14% of those polled trusted BA to give out fair and accurate information.

Unite executive officer, Sharon Graham said:“It’s clear that Britain wants the government to get tough on the nation’s flag carrying airline for its disgraceful plans to fire and rehire its staff while cutting thousands of jobs. 

“The airline is stripping its loyal workforce of their terms and conditions while sacking thousands in the middle of a health crisis. If BA press ahead to create a new and unrecognisable airline, it should not continue to benefit from its domination of lucrative legacy take-off and landing slots.

“British Airways has lost the trust of its workforce, politicians and the country. The only way British Airways can retrieve its reputation as the world’s best loved airline and protect its lucrative landing slots, is to withdraw its unprecedented attack on staff and enter into sensible negotiations.”

In a statistic that should alarm BA, the poll revealed that almost half (49%) of those polled who have travelled with BA in the past say they are less likely to use the airline in the future given the dispute, with the number rising to 53% for respondents who fly with BA three times a year.

Talks tomorrow over lack of Covid-19 measures at Bexley refuse depot

Crunch talks are due to take place tomorrow (Tuesday 7 July) to resolve health and safety concerns over the lack of Covid-19 prevention measures at the Crayford refuse depot which serves the borough of Bexley.

Pressure from Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, has prompted the talks with controversial outsourcing giant Serco which runs the council contract.

This follows criticism from the Health and Safety Executive over the failure to have adequate social distancing measures in place at the Thames Road depot, Crayford, Kent from where about 200 employees work.

The HSE’s criticisms from an inspection visit in May included that cleaning was ‘not robust enough’; inadequate monitoring of those visiting the site; and people passing on the stairs with no social distancing.

Unite also said that there had been two separate serious injuries recently when one member had his foot run over by a lorry and another nearly lost the use of his fingers.

Unite regional officer Ruth Hydon said: “What we are seeking from tomorrow’s talks is a dramatic step-change for the better in the health & safety regime which we think should mean a change of management at the Crayford depot. Our members’ lives have been put at risk due to managerial incompetence.

“Our members, many of whom are on ‘poverty wages’, have been working right through the pandemic ensuring that the refuse of Bexley residents is collected regularly – so, at the very least, they deserve the best Covid-19 preventive measures in the depot and their working environment when they are on their collection routes.

“The HSE’s damning inspection report was a marker that Serco urgently needs to get its health & safety act together – there needs to be a radical change of culture in this area. Cost should not be a factor when combating coronavirus.

“I do not say this lightly, but the workforce at Serco Bexley has completely lost confidence in the local management’s ability to be responsible for their safety.”

Earlier this year, Unite’s 125 members working on the Bexley contract took a day-and-a-half of strike action over the ‘dire’ pay they receive from Serco – but called off further industrial action as the lockdown came into force in March. The refuse workforce was earning about £4 an hour less than their counterparts in Greenwich.

Union warns that there will be no`build, build, build’ unless government acts to avert construction apprenticeship crisis

he prime minister’s recent promise to `build, build, build’ the UK back to economic health will not be `get very far’ unless urgent action is taken to avert a crisis in skills and apprenticeship development, the country’s leading construction union has claimed today Monday 6 July .

Lethal combination

Unite the union says that a lethal combination of employers’ long-standing reluctance to invest in apprentices, allied to widespread redundancies because of the pandemic and a reluctance to recruit new entrants due to the ongoing economic uncertainty, is likely to result in there being 20,000 fewer apprentices across the sector this autumn, vastly down from the 47,284 in England last year (2019).

Industry forecasts have also indicated that there will be a sharp decline in the construction apprenticeship intake this autumn. Without the skills needed to support the sector, Unite fears that some construction contracts will have to be cancelled placing more construction workers on the dole.

Redundancy fears

The union also understands that at least 50 per cent of electrical construction apprentices are currently furloughed, with growing concerns that as the job retention scheme winds down they will be made redundant.

Such is the union’s concern, it has written to the chancellor Rishi Sunak requesting that the Chancellor uses his upcoming economic statement to “implement without delay economic policies that can help save existing construction apprenticeship jobs and ensure the summer 2020 intake of construction apprentices is of a level to meet the industry’s future needs.”

Failure to recruit

For decades the construction industry has failed to recruit and train sufficient apprentices but the skills crisis has been masked by the heavy reliance on migrant labour.  However, with changes to government policy on immigration that option will no longer be so easily available.

Additionally, construction has an ageing workforce and many workers are forced to leave the industry before state retirement age due to illness or injury.

Workforce needed

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “The prime minister’s pledge to build, build, build the country’s way out of this pandemic-caused crisis won’t get very far without a workforce.

“Construction apprenticeship training is in danger of collapsing as an after-effect of the pandemic, which is why we’re calling on the chancellor to make it clear when he announces his plans for recovering the economy this coming week that our young workers will be given a chance of a career in construction.

“At the moment, for every one good quality apprenticeship, there are one thousand applicants. Young workers have to scale this huge mountain so it is only right that they have the chance to complete their apprenticeship and have a job at the end of their training. 

“Furthermore, without these young skilled workers the industry will struggle to recover from the recession as contracts will be cancelled because there is a serious lack of expert workers.

“There has been a long-term skills and training crisis in the construction sector but the Covid-19 pandemic along with the changes to immigration law have brought this to a head.

 “Unite is working closely with responsible employers and trade associations in order to tackle the challenges on apprentice recruitment but to really conquer the challenges we face, the government must step in to support existing apprentices and ensure that new recruits will have a pathway into construction employment.”

Action required

Unite is calling for the chancellor and the government to adopt the following measures:

  • Extension of apprentice wage support to safeguard jobs
  • Repurposing of the apprenticeship levy funds to fund all first year apprentices’ pay
  • Public sector procurement policies that ensure the recruitment of high quality apprentice
  • The extension of the job guarantee scheme so that apprentice opportunities are delivered in public-funded infrastructure projects.

Covid-19 reinforces the case for a ‘substantial’ pay rise for NHS staff, says Unite

The coronavirus pandemic reinforces – not diminishes – the strong case for the NHS workforce to receive a ‘beyond substantial’ pay rise for 2021-22, Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, said today (Friday 3 July).

Unite has joined with 13 other health unions and professional organisations to launch a campaign today to demand that pay talks start as soon as possible out of respect for the dedicated NHS staff who have battled Covid-19.

Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health sector, said that the last three year pay deal had started to rectify the pay deficit, but this now needs to be substantially built on.

Unite national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said: “Warm words of praise by ministers and the weeks of Thursday evening clapping by a grateful nation are only part the story – and that’s why a generous pay rise is required to repair the damage of the last decade when pay in real terms was eroded by an estimated 20 per cent.

“A ‘softly, softly’ approach will fall on fallow ground, as the Tory ‘mask’ on the NHS begins to slip away – last week some 331 Conservative MPs opposed a motion that would have led to weekly testing of NHS workers and care staff.

“This hard-faced attitude was also highlighted by care minister Helen Whately who confirmed the government had ‘no plans’ to backdate a new financial support package that is set to be introduced for students starting this autumn.

“Now the lockdown is being eased, it was clear the Tories are reverting to type when it comes to their distaste for public services, of which the NHS is ‘the jewel in the crown’.

“Doctors, nurses and health workers of all hues, including student nurses and those who came out of retirement, stepped up to the plate big-time when the lockdown was imposed in March and the NHS was under severe pressure – and, sadly, more than 300 NHS and social care workers have now died after being infected with coronavirus.

“NHS staff don’t want ministerial platitudes on pay on the eve of the NHS’ 72nd birthday on Sunday (5 July), but a beyond substantial pay rise for their commitment, especially over the last few months when they have put their lives on the line, literally.

“As society returns slowly to the ‘new normal’, the government cannot be allowed to forget the dedication of NHS staff.”

Before lockdown, NHS Digital reported that between January and March this year, there were 84,393 advertised full-time equivalents in England – these ‘recruitment and retention’ issues are still relevant and important, and need to be addressed by health and social care secretary Matt Hancock.

An uplift in pay will start to tackle these recruitment problems.

Unite has signed-up to the plan of the joint health unions to bring about better pay for NHS staff, which Unite believes has widespread public support.

Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe added: “People are fully engaged with the concept that without the NHS and its staff, the appalling death toll of nearly 44,000 would be even worse – and that the years of underfunding must cease. Increased funding must include budgets to tackle the backlog in non-Covid operations and procedures.

“Many, including prime minister Boris Johnson, owe their lives to the NHS – and now is the time to recognise that 24/7 commitment with a decent pay rise that reflects the sentiments of a grateful and relieved country.”

Sharp rise in construction deaths coincides with plunge in inspections

Unite, the UK’s construction union, is warning that the large increase in construction deaths could be related to a steep fall in proactive inspections and prosecutions being undertaken by the Health and Safety Executive.

It was revealed this week that construction fatalities increased by 33 per cent in a year from 30 in 2018/19 to 40 in 2019/20, a third of all work related deaths.

Decrease in inspections

A freedom of information request by Unite has uncovered that the increase in deaths corresponds with at least a 25 per cent decline in proactive (unannounced) construction inspections.

In 2018/19 there were a total of 9286 proactive inspections compared to just 6381 in 2019/20, a decline of 31 per cent.

Inspections suspended

In March 2020, the HSE ceased making proactive inspections due to Covid-19.  Notwithstanding this development, the fall in construction inspection still amounts to a massive 25 percent reduction in the number of inspections when compared to the corresponding 11 month period in the previous year.

Construction workers in danger

Unite national officer for construction Jerry Swain said: “These figures are alarming and raise serious questions about the safety of construction workers.

 “Each of the fatalities was a terrible tragedy, a loved one went to work one day and never came home again.

 “It is simply no coincidence that the drop in inspections has occurred at the same time that there has been a steep rise in deaths.

 “We need to be honest, the constant cuts to the HSE since 2010 have had an awful impact on workers’ lives.  The simple way to protect construction workers and to help stop the loss of life in our workplaces is to restore funding to the inspection and safety agency.

 “It has always been the case that there are employers in construction that are prepared to cut corners on safety to boost profits – only the threat of action by the HSE keeps them in check.

 “With the added problems of the Covid-19 pandemic, regular inspections by the HSE have never been more important.

 “For employers who are trying to ensure that they follow the complex rules on social distancing, there is a real danger they could take their eye off the ball when it comes to other safety measures.

 “With the unscrupulous employers, the rogues will consider the current crisis a good excuse to play fast and loose with all safety requirements in the unfortunately correct assumption that they are unlikely to be caught.

 “Over the past decade, the HSE has been cut to the bone. The recent meagre increase in funding it has received is a drop in the ocean compared to the funding it has lost.

 “If the HSE is going to keep workers safe and healthy, able to deal with the twin challenges of Covid-19 and workplace safety, then it must be given the resources by the government to do so.”

London and South West biggest reduction

The sharpest decrease in inspections was in the South West where inspections declined by 54 per cent but the most alarming decrease was in London which accounts for 30 per cent of the UK’s construction work and where inspections halved. There were also sharp declines in the West Midlands (-49 per cent), South East (-48 per cent) and Eastern England (-33 per cent).

Unite’s FOI also revealed that the total number of enforcement notices issued by the HSE concerning breaches of safety laws has declined by 30 per cent in 2019, while the number of prosecutions heard in courts for serious safety failures was down by 24 per cent.

Unite bitterly disappointed that proposals to save Northwood Hygiene Penygroes are rejected

Directors at Northwood Hygiene have today rejected proposals from Unite representatives aimed at saving the Penygroes site which will now result in its closure and the loss of 94 jobs. Despite extensive efforts of the Unite representatives during the 30 day consultation and potential financial support from Welsh Government, the Company have confirmed their decision to close the site by October 2020.

Daryl Williams, Unite Regional Officer:

“The decision from the Company today will come as a bitter blow to the workers and the loss of these jobs will also be crippling to the local economy of Nantlle Valley and the surrounding area. Unite Reps pulled out all the stops to save the site with counter proposals that had potential financial support from Welsh Government but ultimately it wasn’t enough to persuade the company to maintain production at the site.

Unite will now focus on supporting our members at this difficult time. We will be seeking the best possible redundancy packages and maximum help with finding new employment.”

North East and Yorkshire’s aerospace industry at ‘five to midnight’ as government stays silent on support

The union is appealing to the people of the region to get behind its campaign to keep jobs and incomes in the community.

With a huge decline in new orders and maintenance work – a knock-on effect from the pandemic hit to the aviation sector – many jobs are at risk in the industry right across the region. More than 13,000 aerospace redundancies have already been announced in the UK.

Unite issued its jobs warning following the publication of a new report by economic experts Acuity Analysis, which details the challenges facing the NEYH and the entire UK aerospace sector. The analysis profiles the importance of the sector to the region’s economy and reveals:

  • The aerospace sector provides secure well paid jobs across the NEYH region, with 3,700 workers being employed in the sector.
  • There are 150 employers in the region split between 50 manufacturing companies and 100 companies specialising in the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of aircraft.
  • Major aerospace employers in the region include BAE and Rolls Royce.
  • The sector is incredibly valuable for the region generating £224 million in gross value added per annum.

According to Unite, which has been battling for sector support since March, large-scale job losses would have a crippling effect on both the NEYH’s and the nation’s economies: 5,000 aerospace jobs lost would see more than £2 billion wiped off the UK’s economic output.

Unite has been pressing the UK government to follow the lead of competitor nations such as France and Germany to establish an investment programme for the sector to survive, rebuild and recover. A central call from the union is for the government to extend the jobs retention scheme to prevent the premature loss of more jobs and skills while the sector works to build back.

Unite regional officer Suzanne Reid said: “Aerospace is a major contributor to the NEYH economy but the lack of action at Westminster means we now stand at five to midnight and could be looking at a very bleak future.

“Jobs are going by the day and our world-leading status is slipping away as other nations sense the competitive advantage in our government’s inaction.

“Without the support this sector is crying out for we will lose thousands of the highly skilled, secure jobs that we are told the UK needs and that the government wishes to encourage.

“It is a travesty that the government has not followed the lead of other countries including France and Germany to provide specific support for what is a world class industry. Worse still, the UK government’s silence on support gives our competitors a business advantage.

“We are pleading with the government. Waste no more time. Be clear that the JRS will be extended to ensure the sector preserves skills and jobs. Commit to a package of support for the aerospace sector which would not only preserve jobs across the North East and Yorkshire but be the shot in the arm the national economy desperately needs.”

Unite is urging everyone who is employed directly in the aerospace industry or indirectly associated with it to contact their MP and ask them to lobby the government for support for the sector.

Suzanne Reid added: “If you work in the NEYH aerospace sector, know someone who does, or simply value quality jobs in our region please help us save this flagship industry that is so vital to our communities. Pick up the phone to your MP or drop them an email. Only by speaking up together can we win the future our workers absolutely deserve.”

East Midlands aerospace industry at ‘five to midnight’ as government stays silent on support

Unite, the East Midlands’ leading union, is warning that the region’s world-beating aerospace industry is at ‘five to midnight’, staring at the loss of thousands of highly skilled jobs and billions in economic contribution unless the sector receives urgent support from the government.

The union is appealing to the people of the region to get behind its campaign to keep jobs and incomes in the community.

Unite’s warning comes after aerospace parts firm SPS Technologies announced more than 350 job losses across the region, while Turbine Surface Technologies Ltd has announced more than 100 job losses. Meanwhile East Midlands employer Rolls Royce is planning to shed 3,000 jobs across the UK.

With a huge decline in new orders and maintenance work – a knock-on effect from the pandemic hit to the aviation sector – many more jobs are at risk in the industry right across the region. More than 13,000 aerospace redundancies have already been announced in the UK.

Unite issued its jobs warning following the publication of a new report by economic experts Acuity Analysis, which details the challenges facing the East Midlands and the entire UK aerospace sector. The analysis profiles the importance of the sector to the region’s economy and reveals:

  • The East Midlands region is heavily reliant on the aerospace sector, with 25,900 workers being employed in the sector.
  • There are 130 employers in the region split between 45 manufacturing companies and 85 companies specialising in the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of aircraft.
  • Major aerospace employers in the region include BAE, Rolls Royce, Bombardier and Leonardo.
  • The sector is incredibly valuable for the region generating more than £1 billion in gross value added per annum.
  • The greatest number of aerospace employers is in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

According to Unite, which has been battling for sector support since March, large-scale job losses would have a crippling effect on both the East Midlands’ and the nation’s economies: 5,000 aerospace jobs lost would see more than £2 billion wiped off the UK’s economic output.

Unite has been pressing the UK government to follow the lead of competitor nations such as France and Germany to establish an investment programme for the sector to survive, rebuild and recover. A central call from the union is for the government to extend the jobs retention scheme to prevent the premature loss of more jobs and skills while the sector works to build back.

Unite regional secretary for the East Midlands, Paresh Patel, said: “Aerospace is absolutely crucial to the East Midlands’ economy but the lack of action at Westminster means we now stand at five to midnight and could be looking at a very bleak future.

“Jobs are going by the day and our world-leading status is slipping away as other nations sense the competitive advantage in our government’s inaction.

“Without the support this sector is crying out for we will lose thousands of the highly skilled, secure jobs that we are told the UK needs and that the government wishes to encourage.

“It is a travesty that the government has not followed the lead of other countries including France and Germany to provide specific support for what is a world class industry. Worse still, the UK government’s silence on support gives our competitors a business advantage.

“We are pleading with the government. Waste no more time.  Be clear that the JRS will be extended for the sector to preserve skills and jobs, and bring forward a package of support for the aerospace sector which would not only preserve jobs in the East Midlands but be the shot in the arm the national economy desperately needs.”

Unite is urging everyone who is employed directly in the aerospace industry or indirectly associated with it to contact their MP and ask them to lobby the government for support for the sector.

Paresh Patel added: “If you work in the East Midlands aerospace sector or know someone who does, then please help us save this flagship industry and keep our communities in work. Pick up the phone to your MP or drop them an email. Only by speaking up together can we win the future our workers absolutely deserve.”

Welsh aerospace industry at ‘five to midnight’ as government stays silent on support

The union is appealing to the people of Wales to get behind its campaign to keep jobs and incomes in their communities.

Unite’s warning comes as more than 1,700 jobs have been lost this week at Airbus, which could have a huge impact at the company’s flagship site at Broughton, North East Wales.

With a huge decline in new orders and maintenance work – a knock-on effect from the pandemic hit to the aviation sector – many more jobs are at risk in the industry right across the country. More than 13,000 aerospace redundancies have already been announced in the UK.

Unite issued its jobs warning following the publication of a new report by economic experts Acuity Analysis, which details the challenges facing the both the Welsh and the UK aerospace sector. The analysis profiles the importance of the sector to Wale’s economy and reveals:

  • Wales is heavily reliant on the aerospace sector, with 11,700 workers being employed in the sector.
  • There are 235 employers across Wales split between 50 manufacturing companies and 185 companies specialising in the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of aircraft.
  • Major aerospace employers in Wales include Airbus, GE, BAE and Safran.
  • The sector is incredibly valuable for the region generating more than £1.4 billion in gross value added per annum.
  • The greatest number of aerospace employers is in West Wales and The Valleys.

According to Unite, which has been battling for sector support since March, large-scale job losses would have a crippling effect on both Wales’ and the UK’s economies: 10,000 aerospace jobs lost would see more than £4 billion wiped off the UK’s economic output.

Unite has been pressing the UK government to follow the lead of competitor nations such as France and Germany to establish an investment programme for the sector to survive, rebuild and recover. A central call from the union is for the government to extend the jobs retention scheme to prevent the premature loss of more jobs and skills while the sector works to build back.

Unite regional secretary for Wales, Peter Hughes, said: “Aerospace is absolutely crucial to the Welsh economy but the lack of action at Westminster means we now stand at five to midnight and could be looking at a very bleak future.

“Jobs are going by the day and our world-leading status is slipping away as other nations sense the competitive advantage in the UK government’s inaction.

“Without the support this sector is crying out for we will lose thousands of the highly skilled, secure jobs that we are told the UK needs and that the government wishes to encourage.

“It is a travesty that the government has not followed the lead of other countries including France and Germany to provide specific support for what is a world class industry. Worse still, the UK government’s silence on support gives our competitors a business advantage.

“We are pleading with the government. Waste no more time.  Be clear that the JRS will be extended for the sector to preserve skills and jobs, and bring forward a package of support for the aerospace sector which would not only preserve jobs in Wales but be the shot in the arm the entire UK economy desperately needs.”

Unite is urging everyone who is employed directly in the aerospace industry or indirectly associated with it to contact their MP and ask them to lobby the government for support for the sector.

Peter Hughes added: “If you work in the Welsh aerospace sector or know someone who does, then please help us save this flagship industry and keep our communities in work. Pick up the phone to your MP or drop them an email. Only by speaking up together can we win the future our workers absolutely deserve.”