Is more needed to protect the UK against mass unemployment?

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Written by TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady

Mass unemployment is now the biggest threat facing the UK, as shown by the thousands of job losses at British Airways, Airbus and elsewhere. The government must do far more to stem the rising tide of redundancies. We can’t afford to lose any more good skilled jobs.

The chancellor should have announced targeted support for the hardest-hit sectors like manufacturing and aviation. Struggling businesses will need more than a one-off job retention bonus to survive and save jobs in the long-term.

Unions campaigned for a job guarantee scheme. Kickstart is a good first step. But if the government allows vital industries to go the wall, unemployment will surge and the recession will last far longer.

The more people we have in decent work, the faster we can work our way out of recession. We must create jobs through more new public investment in new homes, childcare, faster broadband, better transport and green tech.

The government should have announced extra investment in jobs across all public services – starting with filling the 200,000 vacancies in the NHS and social care. And if the chancellor wants people to have the confidence to eat out, he should have announced a pay rise for hard-pressed key workers rather than dining out discounts for the well-off.

Sick pay

The government missed an opportunity to strengthen their faltering Test and Trace programme.

Statutory sick pay is too low for anyone to live on. It’s not viable to ask people to self-isolate if they will be pushed into financial hardship.

We had hoped ministers would listen, raise the rate and change the rules so low-paid people could afford to do the right thing and comply with self-isolation. Once again, this government fails to understand the real lives of low-paid workers. It is clear that poverty wages and insecure contracts are a public health hazard.

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