McCluskey: We need measures equal to the economic and public health emergencies upon us

Responding to chancellor Rishi Sunak’s package of support for businesses announced this evening (Tuesday, 17 March) and the prime minister’s pledge to do `whatever it takes’ to support people and jobs through the corona virus crisis, the head of the UK’s leading union, Unite, has said that his union stands ready to play their part throughout this time of crisis.

Len McCluskey, Unite’s general secretary said: “It is abundantly clear that we need a package of measures equal to the public health and economic emergencies now upon us.

“Urgent and considerable action is needed by government to avert personal and industrial catastrophe.

“Unite is pleased to have heard the prime minister and chancellor say very clearly that they `will do whatever it takes’ to protect public health and the economy’s health.  We will hold them to that.

“However, we remain extremely concerned that workers’ and individuals’ own capacity to act on the public health advice will remain seriously compromised because the direct economic support has not yet been provided by government. This must change and urgently.  Providing wage support and covering rents must be a priority.

“It is welcome that those hit by the virus will have a three month mortgage holiday should they need it, but what about the vast majority of people who rent? They need to know that they can put food on the table and keep a roof over their families’ heads. Only then will they feel able to play their part in tackling this public health emergency.

“We urgently need for the government to introduce now the sort of measures that we have seen implemented in our competitor nations, including paying workers 75 per cent plus of their salary while they are forced to be at home as has been introduced in Denmark and Holland.  UK workers deserve the same efforts and assistance.”

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