Union demands support for region’s workers as ‘8,000 jobs lost in a week’

Union Unite is demanding political support for businesses and workers striving to stem the “jobs loss tsunami” that it says has seen at least 8,000 jobs disappear from the region in the past week.

Unite says it fears that the real jobs loss total could be much greater as the knock-on effects of rising unemployment and falling spending across the region takes hold.

The West Midlands TUC said it has called a meeting of local political leaders to agree an action plan to stop the jobs losses gathering pace as the government’s jobs retention scheme (JRS) comes to an end.

Unite argues that the West Midlands should be powering the national recovery, building on its manufacturing base.

Recent analysis by Dr Amir Qamar and Professor Simon Collinson from the University of Birmingham shows that the largest 50 automotive manufacturing firms in the region employ a total of 83,529, of which 45,814 are employed in high-risk firms.

But Unite says that with the JRS receding and Westminster government “reluctant to introduce survival packages” for strategically vital sectors such as automotive, aerospace and aviation, “the window of opportunity is shutting fast”.

In addition to targeted sector specific support which will protect manufacturing companies as well as supply chains, Unite is also calling for the government to:
Invest in the rapid expansion of charging infrastructure, in particular the provision of fast charging points to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles.
The introduction of a vehicle replacement scheme which prioritises cars built in the UK or containing a high degree of UK components.
A government-supported aircraft replacement scheme to help the aviation sector dramatically reduce its carbon footprint.
Support for the UK production of electric powered commercial vehicles, (transit sized), along with an extended supply chain for manufactured components.

Unite’s West Midlands regional secretary Annmarie Kilcline said: “This past week has been devastating for our region.  At least 8000 families – probably a great many more – were plunged into economic uncertainty and probable hardship as they were told that their jobs were going.

“But Unite is determined that we pull together as a region to defend jobs and to stop this tide becoming a tsunami that will sweep through our communities this summer.

“The summit should see a plan for urgent action take shape as we bring together the region’s political and business leaders to develop a common plan to build back better.

“This region is blessed with the skills and expertise that we need to  come out of this crisis in a fit shape, with an economy that will support decent jobs and step up to the climate change challenge, but we need action now to defend them.

“By working as an alliance of workers, politicians and employers, we are intending to make Westminster look again at how it must support the country’s second city.

“It was bitterly disappointing that last week the chancellor in his statement did not make any mention of support for the industries that are the pillars of our regional economy, such as the automotive sector.

“These industries support hundreds of thousands of direct jobs and thousands more in their supply chains across the West Midlands and they urgently need assistance now to continue to do so.

“One of our core demands as regional leaders, has to be to appeal to the chancellor to think again on industrial support packages – and to do so before it is too late for the people of the West Midlands.”