Tag Archives: Economic

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.

Birmingham Airport job losses are premature

Unite, the UK’s principal aviation union, has described Birmingham Airport’s decision to consider 250 jobs losses as “premature”.

Major employer

The airport currently directly employs around 900 staff and like the rest of the aviation sector it has been very heavily affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Birmingham Airport generates £1.1 billion per annum for the region’s economy and helps support more than 25,000 jobs, with around 8,000 people either employed at the airport or nearby in airport related activities. As Unite research has shown, the wellbeing of the airport is vital to the region’s economic success.

Premature decision

Unite regional officer Peter Coulson said: “Unite will begin formal consultations with Birmingham Airport early next week.

 “The challenges being faced at Birmingham Airport demonstrate why it is imperative the government hesitates no longer in providing specific support for aviation. It is the sector which has been most severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

 “While Unite understands the unprecedented challenges facing the aviation sector as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, this decision is premature.

 “The government’s job retention scheme continues until October and with air bridges potentially opening the situation in the autumn may look very different.

 “Our call to the airport is put the redundancy programme on hold.”

Unite has produced a blueprint of how the government should intervene across the entire aviation sector including airlines and airports to protect the jobs and conditions of workers. Such loans would come with strict strings attached regarding executive pay, corporate governance and requiring stringent environmental standards to be adopted to radically reduce the industry’s carbon footprint.

Leicester virus spike needs everyone to play their part to protect public health and prevent job losses

The union is also urging central government to assist with additional resources for the health and public services across the region, and for the furlough programme to continue at the full rate to prevent employers in the area laying workers off as they face an inevitable further delay in re-opening the economy.

Commenting, Unite’s regional secretary for the East Midlands, Paresh Patel, said: “This spike in coronavirus cases across the city is extremely worrying.  Everyone needs to now play their part in getting this under control as rapidly as possible with localised lockdowns as necessary.

“There will be some factors causing this spike, such as over-crowded housing and the inequalities we know make Leicester’s BAEM community especially vulnerable to this deadly virus.

“But combatting coronavirus is a national duty as well as a local one so I urge the government to step up and help with whatever additional funding is needed to ensure that the NHS has the resources that it needs, and to assist employers through what will inevitably be an extended period of economic inactivity.  

“Everything that can be done must be done to protect the public’s health and to avoid layoffs and even more damage to an already badly damaged regional economy.

“Working people need to be able to stay home and isolate in order to get this virus under control but they can only do that if they know that they will have an income.  It is vital that then that the furlough scheme is extended as a matter of urgency but also where workers not on furlough are forced home sick that they get statutory sick pay from day one and on a rate that supports decent living.

“I urge the government at Westminster to learn the lessons from Leicester.  We are not out of this crisis and our communities and economies are extremely fragile.  You have promised to do `whatever it takes’ to support people during these frightening times, so now is your chance to show the people of Leicester that you keep your promises.”

TUC demands job guarantee scheme to stop long-term unemployment

Commenting on the latest figures on employment and pay, published today (Tuesday) by the Office for National Statistics, which show a fall in pay, a rise in the claimant count and a sharp fall in vacancies and hours, and PAYE data which shows continued falls in jobs and pay in April and May, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

Commenting on the latest figures on employment and pay, published today (Tuesday) by the Office for National Statistics, which show a fall in pay, a rise in the claimant count and a sharp fall in vacancies and hours, and PAYE data which shows continued falls in jobs and pay in April and May, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“The labour market is on red alert.

“We need strong action now to stop lasting economic damage. The government must work closely with unions and business at national and industry level to get the next steps right.

“The plan for recovery has to prioritise protecting and creating jobs. Getting people back into work is the only way out of recession.

“That’s why we need a job guarantee scheme to help those who lose work, especially young workers.”

Youth unemployment

TUC analysis published on Friday suggests that, without urgent action, the UK may be on the brink of a surge in youth unemployment.

The analysis found that the ‘accommodation and food’ and ‘arts, entertainment and recreation’ sectors are at the greatest risk of job losses. Both have much higher rates of furloughed workers, lost turnover, and paused trading than other industrial sectors.

They both also have the highest proportions of young workers, making a job guarantee scheme to prevent long-term youth unemployment a crucial part of the national recovery plan.

  • Of 4,352,000 UK workers aged 25 and under, 890,000 work in either accommodation and food, or arts, entertainment and recreation.
  • It means that 20% of workers aged 25 and under work in these two sectors, compared to 6% for workers older than 25.
  • Workers aged 25 and under are therefore three times more likely to work in one of the two sectors where jobs are at greatest risk.

Women workers aged 25 and under face the greatest risk of all. They are six times more likely than male workers over 25 to work in the highest risk sector, accommodation and food.

In addition to lay-offs, recessions make it harder for young people seeking to enter the labour market for the first time, as employers hire less. This part explains why youth unemployment tends to be much higher than for other workers following a recession.

Labour calls for a Back to Work Budget to protect jobs

Anneliese Dodds MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, is today [Tuesday] calling for an urgent “Back to Work Budget” to protect UK jobs at a crucial phase of the coronavirus recovery. The Shadow Chancellor warns that the country cannot afford for the government to make the same mistakes on the economy as during the coronavirus health crisis.

Dodds is calling on the Chancellor to publish an urgent package of economic measures with a clear focus: “jobs, jobs, jobs.” The intervention comes after the Treasury was reported to have shelved plans for an emergency summer Budget.

Official figures on unemployment will be published today by the Office for National Statistics. They follow statistics earlier this month showing job vacancies at a three-year low, raising fears of mass unemployment.

Arguing that the Government’s slow health response to coronavirus has worsened its economic damage, Dodds is warning that without swift action from the Treasury the UK risks falling even further behind other nations. Other countries, including Germany, have already announced stimulus packages to support the post-Covid economic recovery.

Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, Anneliese Dodds MP, said:

“The Government was too slow to recognise the scale of the health crisis from coronavirus and we are already paying the economic price.

“We are increasingly worried that the slow and confused health response is now being followed by a slow and confused response to saving jobs. The window is closing to protect existing jobs and encourage firms to invest in creating new ones.

“That’s why we need a Back to Work Budget that has one focus – jobs, jobs, jobs. As a constructive opposition, we want to work with government to get the right solutions to the problems the country faces.”

Unite reaction to Heathrow jobs announcement

Commenting on the announcement that Heathrow airport has announced that as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing decline in air travel existing employment levels are not sustainable, Unite’s regional co-ordinating officer Wayne King said:

“Regrettably Unite, as the principal union at Heathrow, accepts that due to the drop in airport usage there will be a reduction in frontline roles.

“Unite has rejected strongly the prospect of any enforced redundancy programme and has instead negotiated a generous voluntary severance scheme.

“The union recognises that there are workers currently employed at the airport who are prepared to leave in order to pursue fresh opportunities elsewhere.

“Unite will assist our members throughout this process and will ensure that no worker is pressurised or coerced to apply for severance.

“We have been clear with the company that Unite will not allow any needless job losses or accept any attacks on our members’ pay, terms and conditions.

“Although Unite realises that current passenger levels are at unprecedented low number, we also know the drop in passenger volume is temporary, they will return to previous levels at some point in the future.

“Under no circumstances will Unite let Heathrow Airport use the current Covid-19 pandemic as a smokescreen to cut pay for profit.”

Latest jobs blow

Unite national officer for aviation Oliver Richardson said: “The jobs announcement at Heathrow is simply the latest blow to the aviation sector and tens of thousands more jobs are at risk unless the government gets a grip of the challenges the industry faces.

“The introduction of the quarantine measures has further delayed the sector’s ability to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The government must urgently look at introducing measures such as air bridges and effective track and trace procedures which will help to restore confidence in flying.

“However, such confidence-boosting measures are not sufficient on their own.  The government must swiftly bring forward the bespoke financial support package for aviation which was first promised by the chancellor three months ago.

“The ongoing failure to provide this desperately needed financial support and ensure the UK has a healthy and sustainable aviation in the future sector, is not only causing job losses but could means routes, airlines and some smaller airports disappear altogether.

“This would be a disaster for the long-term health of the UK economy as aviation is essential to our ability to trade.”

Blueprint for success

Unite has produced a blueprint of how the government should intervene across the entire aviation sector including airlines and airports to protect the jobs and conditions of workers. Such loans would come with strict strings attached regarding executive pay, corporate governance and requiring stringent environmental standards to be adopted to radically reduce the industry’s carbon footprint.

Anneliese Dodds on OECD report on UK’s economic contraction

Anneliese Dodds MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, commenting on evidence from the OECD that the UK’s economic contraction has been the worst among developed countries, said:

“Today’s evidence from the OECD is deeply worrying, showing the UK was particularly exposed when the Coronavirus crisis hit.

“The Government’s failure to get on top of the health crisis, delay going into lockdown and chaotic mismanagement of the exit from lockdown are making the economic impact of this crisis worse.

“As a constructive opposition, Labour urges the Government to look at much-needed solutions to minimise the economic impact. The Government must speedily get on top of test, track and isolate, and swap its ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to economic support for an approach focused on minimising unemployment and fostering economic recovery.”

Marsha de Cordova comments on the news that the EHRC will lead an inquiry into the impact of coronavirus on ethnic minoritie

Marsha de Cordova MP, Labour’s Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary, commenting on the news that the EHRC will lead an inquiry into the impact of coronavirus on ethnic minorities, said:

“Labour welcomes the EHRC’s inquiry to identify actions to address racial injustices in our society.

“The coronavirus crisis has shone a light on these inequalities, but the Government has consistently failed to take action to save BAME people’s lives during this pandemic.

“Now is the time to take steps to tackle systemic racism, discrimination and injustice in Britain.

“The Government must take action based on the findings and recommendations of the EHRC’s inquiry”.

‘Heroes are being left stranded’ by Michael Larcey

June 2020 – Feature Story

Michael Larcey – labour activist from Downham Market in Norfolk.

To be frank, Rt. Honourable Elizabeth Truss, Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade, Member of Parliament for South West Norfolk, illustrates the whole hypocrisy of the Johnson government. She patronises her constituents by saying how proud she is of them but then she is supporting the Immigration Bill which, in effect, classifies those ‘heroes’ as ‘unskilled’ and that those hard-working immigrants who provide 20% of care staff have no right to reside in this country.
Then there is the Conservative Party’s and its propaganda machine’s (The Daily Mail, Daily Express et cetera) demonising of our children’s teachers and their Unions because they question the decision to open schools gradually. Even Michael Gove cannot guarantee that it will be safe for teachers and children to return to school.

Photo by VisionPic .net on Pexels.com

The Conservative Party and your media also has completely misrepresented what teachers are really doing to maintain education during lockdown. What is of major concern is that the government has no idea of what goes on in schools or probably ignores this and is failing to protect children, parents, and teachers by not providing any extra resources in the way of protection. Elizabeth would probably reply that this is the responsibility of the local councils or educational trusts, but they have had their budgets cut over the past 10 years. The government’s concern for the less well off families is hypocritical because in the first place most poverty has been caused by the policy of austerity for the most vulnerable, and secondly, if such concern were genuine they would fund computers and internet access for poor children. What I understand by these attacks on teachers is the beginning of an attempt to undermine the role of Unions in the workplace.
As for your staged plan to reduce lockdown, it is clear that the Johnson government has learned very little from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other countries. The best one can call it is ‘dithering’ and the worst ‘herd immunity’. Instead of ‘test, track, trace’ there was an amazing Trump-like indifference as shown by Johnson failing to attend four Cabinet Office Briefing Room (COBRA) meetings. The testing is failing to meet its targets daily. The failure to respond to the crisis in residential and nursing homes beggars belief.
The consequences of all this, are that:

  1. the UK has the highest death rate in Europe
  2. thousands are losing jobs and many more thousands are living on subsistence levels
  3. many industries big and small are collapsing
  4. councils are losing commercial funds hand over fist
  5. consequently services are likely to be cut.
Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

The constant broadcasts about Covid-19 are annoying because most of the time it is pure and simply brain-washing, trying to persuade people that Johnson has a grasp on the situation (that fake news would be funny were it not proving to be fatal). It is a ‘drip drip’ of questionable information with little challenging by truthful experts. Certainly, the Tories are using the tactics of Hitler’s Nazis: constant propaganda, after their campaign against Democratic Socialism in the anti-Semitic slurs, and now attacks on Unions. What next? The burning of Das Capital and other books they don’t like the cover of? I use my, up to now, right to turn them off. Am I being caustic? But they let the cat out of the bag with their ‘herd immunity’. It illustrates what Hitler thought: the need to purge the population to purify it. To confound matters, there are reports that to pay for the Johnson government’s incompetence or wilful inaction (Herd immunity theory), taxes for the many are to be raised while taxes for the rich are to be lowered.

While the lives of our elders, our vulnerable, and essential workers are at stake during the COVID-19 pandemic, tens of millions of us across the globe have been restraining ourselves at home, choosing not to do many things for many weeks in order to protect those we love. Surely the earth is breathing a sigh of relief for our reduction in pollution and fossil fuel use. This “Great Pause,” as some are calling it, gives me hope that we will soon find it within ourselves to protect our shared home, not only for our own sake, but for our neighbours across the globe, and future generations.
We have the tools (nonviolence chief among them) to allow us to stand up to the powerful and the reckless, and we have the fundamental idea of human solidarity that we could take as our guide.

The Covid19 pandemic cannot be treated as a trivial matter, despite Prime Minister Johnson’s indifference to it at the beginning: some of his early brush-offs have proven fatal for tens of thousands of people and a danger to the health of hundreds of thousands who became ill with the virus and put millions into isolation. Hopefully an independent inquiry will investigate the government’s handling of the response to the pandemic.

Rt. Honourable Elizabeth Truss, President of the Board of Trade, is setting up trade deals with the Trump administration. These will include bartering the NHS, of which you say you are so proud and undermining our farming industry, for deals that include products from the USA that would be banned in the UK and the EU. The Trade Bill sets out to introduce trading unfettered by our government’s intervention whatever the colour of the government. We already know that our farmers will be ruined through international dumping of food that currently does not meet our standards of production produced by practices that are banned in the UK and the EU. This will apply to all UK industries. As for the NHS and our welfare system, both will become market places with the emphasis on profits not caring. Sir Captain Moore has raised £33million and in the future most of that will end up in the pockets of directors who ‘help’ to administer these types of funds. I admire Sir Tom for what he has done but in a sense he is an indication of how the funding of our health and welfare is heading: to charities, lotteries and directors pocket, and eventually to global insurance. Should a private company lose out in a tendering process, they will get their smart suited lawyers to demand compensation. Virgincare did this and got £300k+ from the taxpayer because they did not succeed in getting a contract.
Forget about the sovereignty of the UK. By promoting ‘free trade’ it is ‘no holds barred’. Parliament will lose its ability to protect us citizens from unsafe practices, poor production values, dangerous goods with no right to reply. You get a dodgy T.V., too bad. The economist John Kenneth Galbraith wrote in The History of Economics 1991, ch. 21: ‘The great dialectic of our time is not…between capital and labour; it is between economic enterprise and the State. It looks as though Ms. Truss is in the vanguard for economic enterprise. Underneath it all, our ‘Heroes’ are being left stranded. ’ We have given up the protection of the EU, to a situation in which anything goes. UK sovereignty is now a thing of the past.

One of the blessings of living in this country is that we have one of the best farming communities. I have watched on various programmes on TV how our farmers valiantly try to produce food, acknowledging the need to be ecologically progressive as well as maintaining high standards of meat and vegetable production.
But not just maintaining but also pushing up the standards through well-grounded research.
It is our fortune to be recipients of this ever-improving industry.
This is against a background of global retailers like Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury, and so on forcing down their costs so that farmers have to subsidise promotions by these supermarkets.
However, this is not the end of their trials. Unfortunately, for centuries the UK has had to import a lot of its food, but now, because of the need to offset the damage that will be done by Brexit, this government will have to make trade agreements as a junior, begging partner, with countries that will swamp our markets with food of an inferior standard: beef full of antibiotics and other chemicals, chicken washed with chlorine, vegetables grown in fertilisers banned by the EU and the UK.
Now, there is the leaked government report that forecasts that the UK economy will be badly damaged Post-Brexit which the Brexiteers are trying to dismiss but tried to keep it secret and want to pursue it until they have fixed it to their liking.
Yet, we have people like Edward Wheatley, the resident Kipper, who, living in a Ukip fantasy land Walt Disney would have be proud to draw, says that the UK economy is growing and that unemployment is at a low level and that everything is Brexit hunky-dory.
What he doesn’t say is that the growth in the UK economy is the slowest possible and this against a background of global economic buoyancy.
Countries that once were deemed economically backward have better growth than the UK and it is not Brexit time just yet! Just one industry, car manufacturing, in the UK is 3pc down.
As for unemployment figures, they are of people who are registered unemployed.
However, employment figures do not account for the increase in homelessness, up triplicate in East Anglia, increasing poverty and de-valuing of wages and pensions, private companies exploiting public services, and leaving large debts for the public purse to pick up while shareholders and executives avoid paying taxes.
If the economy is doing so well, how come the NHS and social welfare services, the police, fire and ambulance services, the prison, probationary, and border services are in crisis?
Meanwhile Tory politicians can increase their expenses well beyond the rate of inflation? Come on. Ted, prick your Ukip bubble, stop blaming everything on immigrants, and face the neo-liberal reality forced on UK citizens.

As for the future, I believe that the (Labour) Party and the Local Party should take a radical approach that needs to be worked out according to local conditions. It is not a matter of obtaining power but of fighting to improve the lives of Norfolk people. What we need to do is try to understand how those being canvassed perceive it.
We tell the issues and we tell them the solutions!
What if before canvassing we asked them what concerns them. Some of the answers will not be palatable, but along with acceptable answers, local parties can respond in a way relevant to local issues. This was used in Chipping Barnet and the Party won Thatcher’s local authority, her seat, and two other seats in London Borough of Barnet.

(All opinions belong to  Michael Larcey)

Cat Smith on young people NEET – ONS statistics

Cat Smith MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Voter Engagement and Young People, responding to ONS statistics on young people in the UK not in education, employment or training, said:

“Past experience tells us that recessions and economic downturn disproportionately impact young people. Prior to the crisis three-quarters of a million young people were not in education, employment or training and – with youth services slashed, escalating student debt and chronic levels of mental ill-health – young people were already being denied the opportunities enjoyed by their parents’ generation.

“The Government must urgently provide assurances to young people finding it harder than ever before to enter the job market and to stop the next generation being hugely disadvantaged by the economic downturn of this pandemic for decades to come.”