As the Job Retention Scheme closes the leader of the country’s leading trade union has called on the government to give an exhausted country some hope by bringing forward a plan for the protection of health, jobs and incomes.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “With no certainty that this hideous virus can be brought under control in the near future, and millions of UK people living under further restrictions, we once more appeal to the prime minister to do more for the country’s workers. The absence of any concerted government plan to protect jobs and incomes is compounding the suffering caused by this disease.
“Our communities face a winter of shrunken incomes and punishing uncertainty, so we call upon the government to flex the vast muscles of the state to invest against rampaging unemployment and the human misery that entails.
“Give us the plan which shows that this government grasps the urgency of this moment and that it is prepared to be proactive in preventing industrial destruction and mass poverty.
“The low waged cannot survive on two-thirds of the minimum wage. The jobs support scheme is simply not adequate and will leave working people with seriously depleted incomes. The self-employed cannot survive with no income. The newly unemployed cannot wait five weeks for Universal Credit. The sick cannot isolate on the pennies of sick pay. And our businesses cannot recover with chaotic on off-on lockdowns and when the demand for goods and services in strategically significant industries is in freefall. All these things must be addressed with urgency.
“The country is exhausted and fearful. It desperately needs to know that there is a way through this that will not see millions of people suffer further. Employers and workers need to know that this government has the appetite and aptitude to do what must be done to protect public health, jobs and incomes.
“Across the Channel, the French and German governments are safeguarding against horrific economic shock to their people by rolling out long-term investment plans. UK workers deserve the same, not the sticking plaster until spring approach favoured by our government.
“This country has suffered the greatest health and economic hurt of any major European country. It is absolutely imperative, therefore, that the government does everything, pulling every lever at its disposal to stop this pandemic pulling us down into a dreadful, generational depression.
“Now is not the time to let party ideology triumph over the government’s duty to protect our people. Give our citizens some security and hope – bring forward a plan to protect and recover health, jobs and incomes.”