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Thousands of redundancies expected to hit manufacturing industry in the next six months

THOUSANDS of redundancies are expected to hit Britain’s manufacturing industry in the next six months, a worrying report reveals today.

Manufacturers’ organisation Make UK says that one in four  companies in the sector plans to make redundancies before the end of the year, shedding from one third to a half of their workforces.

Companies reported that order books were down by as much as 50 per cent due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Make UK is calling for the establishment of a “national skills task force” to retain skills by redeploying workers who have lost their jobs to other companies, as well as enabling them to be retrained.

The organisation’s chief executive, Stephen Phipson, said: “There is no disguising the fact these figures make for awful reading with the impact on jobs and livelihoods across the UK.

“Industry and government must now leave no stone unturned to retain as many key skills as possible within the sector to ensure it is in a position to effectively recover when growth eventually returns, which at some point it will.”

He said that the government’s taxpayer-funded job retention scheme, in which workers are laid off on 80 per cent of their wages, “cannot continue indefinitely” and that at some point companies would be expected to cough up more towards its costs.

In a further blow to workers, Luton-based airline EasyJet announced yesterday that it is to shed up to 4,500 staff, following similar moves by British Airways and Ryanair.

Pilots’ union Balpa condemned the decision and questioned the company’s need for such “drastic cuts.”

Balpa general secretary Brian Strutton said that EasyJet staff would be “shocked at the scale of this announcement.”

“Given EasyJet is a British company, the UK is its strongest market and it has had hundreds of millions in support from the UK taxpayer, I can safely say that we will need a lot of convincing that EasyJet needs to make such dramatic cuts,” he said.

Mr Strutton said that the redundancy decision was an “ill-considered knee-jerk reaction.”

Unite national officer Oliver Richardson said that the aviation industry needed urgent financial support to overcome the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and it “cannot simply be left to the market to sort out.”

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