Speaking ahead of Rushi Sunak’s first budget statement to the House of Commons, Len McCluskey said: “Boris Johnson and his chancellor have it in their power to avoid a tsunami of job losses on our high streets, in our struggling manufacturing industries, regional airports and throughout the supply chains. This is now the moment for them to step up.
“The economy has had a very bleak few months and we fear more instability lies ahead. That is why today Boris Johnson and his chancellor have to show that they’re deadly serious about putting in place the measures needed to avert serious hurt to families and industries across the country.
“It is also the opportunity to demonstrate a real commitment to supporting vulnerable sectors and jobs during the Covid-19 outbreak, to eliminate the fear for millions of households with low paid and insecure workers that illness will not just hit their health but has the capacity to destroy them financially.
“This virus has exposed the vulnerability of our economy, built on a hire and fire, low rights culture. It is not just investment that needs levelling up across the country – we also need a root and branch overhaul of labour laws so that never again do workers feel compelled to put their health at risk because they have no legal protections.
“Matters are so serious that we urgently need to see a committed programme of government action to protect working people and our businesses.
“With our aviation and manufacturing sectors in crisis and thousands of jobs at stake, inaction simply isn’t an option. Mr Sunak, when you open your red box today don’t disappoint. The voters are watching.”
Unite is calling for a series of measures in this budget to steady the economy including:
- Action to protect regional airports and aviation jobs including a delay in the payment of airline taxes and duties and the extension of loans to airlines and airports so they can retain staff and routes until bookings recover.
- Subsidies for the key routes tied to long-term environmental commitments as part of an integrated, sustainable transport network, improving building connectivity between far-flung parts of our nations and our metropolitan cities.
- Urgent action to ensure an adequate income stream to the millions of workers who may be forced to stay at home but have no sick pay entitlement. Day one sick pay for all workers, including those on zero hours contracts or earn too little to qualify for statutory sick pay. The derisory, low level of UK sick pay, among the worst in Europe, needs to be addressed too.
- For manufacturing, intervention and investment is desperately needed in our infrastructure to revive the fortunes of our left-behind industrial heartlands. A house building programme and green infrastructure measures, such as a battery plant for electric vehicles, both boost the regions and help the UK meet its climate change obligations.
- Action to help the vulnerable in the community who need access to cash but, because of bank closures and ATMs, struggle to get that access. Protecting bank branches ensures access to cash.