A union has unveiled its vision to rebuild the economy – and protect the West Midlands from mass unemployment as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has launched its ‘better recovery for the West Midlands’ report which outlines the measures the organisation believes the Government should take to safeguard jobs in the region as furlough support is phased out over the next three months.
The latest figures show that 882,100 people (32 per cent of workers in employment) across the West Midlands are currently reliant on Government support – including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-Employemnt Income Support Scheme – with many facing an uncertain future.
This includes 115,300 (32 per cent) in Birmingham, 46,900 (25 per cent) in Coventry, 38,700 people (33 per cent) in Stoke-on-Trent. and 36,100 (32 per cent) in Wolverhampton.
On top of these figures, there will be many other people who have been laid off or have been unable to find work.
TUC says the measures needed nationally to rebuild the UK economy include ‘decent work and a new way of doing business’ such as £10 an hour minimum wage and a ban on zero-hours contracts.
The union also believes that leveraging public sector spending to support local jobs and enterprise, securing investment for local infrastructure needs, rebuilding public services and building a sustainable industrial base and a green economy is the way forward.
This includes establishing a recovery programme to deliver over one million new jobs and a nationwide job guarantee scheme to mitigate against the worst effects of the pandemic on unemployment.
The report states: “The most effective way government can protect workers and the economy from the worst impacts of a recession this significant is through a major economic intervention to stimulate the economy, with a job creation scheme at its heart.”
TUC believes that the government should encourage the creation of sustainable jobs in every part of the country.
It says these jobs should be offered for a minimum of six months with accredited training and paid at the real living wage, be offered to as many people as possible who face long-term employment of six months or more and provide a community and public benefit while meeting local labour market needs and promoting and protecting equality.
The report added: “Recovery from the crisis cannot just consist in creating new jobs to replace those that have been lost. It must also be about improving the quality of jobs that already exist in the West Midlands so that all jobs are good jobs, with decent pay, more security and a strong voice for workers, and tackling discrimination and disadvantage at work.
Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary, launched the report yesterday.
She said: “People are very worried about their jobs. Many have been laid off already.
“Losing your job is a dreadful experience – devastating for families. And if we allow mass unemployment to take hold, our economy will be smaller, and the recovery from the pandemic will be slower.
“That’s why good jobs are at the heart of our recovery plan for the West Midlands. Jobs in a reborn manufacturing sector. Jobs in the green tech we need to safeguard our future. Jobs in a revitalised transport system.
“And we must value our public services in the West Midlands too. Key workers kept us going through the crisis. But after 10 years of cuts, it was much harder for them than it should have been. It’s time to rebuild local public services for the future.
“This week, we’re asking the Chancellor to put his faith in people in the West Midlands and across the UK with big and bold investment. If he backs us in this way, we can avoid mass unemployment, work our way to recovery and build back better.”