Chancellor accused of plastering over ‘gaping wound’

The Public and Commercial Services union said the furlough scheme should have been extended.

Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak

Unions have accused Chancellor Rishi Sunak of using a plaster to cover a “gaping wound” while jobs have already been lost.

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union said the furlough scheme should have been extended beyond next month.

He claimed the Conservatives have put “ideological opposition” to state intervention over saving jobs.

“Any support for jobs and key industries during this unprecedented global pandemic is to be welcomed,” he said.

“However, the Chancellor’s measures are akin to using a plaster to cover a gaping wound.

“Our members in the commercial sector, aviation and culture are already being threatened with hundreds of redundancies, as employers seek to capitalise on the economic fallout from Covid-19.

“The Tories’ ideological opposition to increased state intervention is hurting the economy and costing people their livelihoods right now.”

Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) leader Manuel Cortes said: “Better late than never but the Government’s indecision has already seen jobs lost in droves and caused huge needless anxiety among millions of workers.

“The Chancellor said they will target support at ‘firms who need it the most’.

“That must be fine-tuned so that the jobs of our members in the travel trade are saved and high-street travel shops don’t become a thing of the past. We will all need a holiday once the pandemic has passed.”

He added: “We have called for bold action from government and remain concerned that six months is too short to really stabilise businesses and jobs, which so badly need support and would like clarity over who decides which businesses are viable.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Unions have been pushing hard for continued jobs support for working people.

“We are pleased the Chancellor has listened and done the right thing.

“This scheme will provide a lifeline for many firms with a viable future beyond the pandemic.

“But there’s still unfinished business.

“Unworked hours under the scheme must not be wasted.

“Ministers must work with business and unions to offer high-quality retraining, so workers are prepared for the future economy.”

Paddy Lillis, general secretary of the shopworkers union Usdaw, said: “We are pleased that the Chancellor has eventually stepped back from the cliff-edge ending of the jobs retention scheme and we will study the details of the new jobs support scheme.

“However we are very disappointed that he made no mention of the deep difficulties the retail industry faces.”

John Phillips, acting general secretary of the GMB, said: “Whether this is enough to stave off widespread redundancies depends very much on the detail, and it will be judged not just on jobs but on people’s living standards and ability to pay the bills.”

Prospect general secretary Mike Clancy said: “The Chancellor promised creative thinking from the Treasury in advance of his statement, but it was not in evidence in this plan.

“The new scheme is better than nothing, but it will do little for sectors that will still be effectively closed by Government restrictions who will not be able to bring workers back for the minimum number of hours.”

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “These measures show the Chancellor has been listening to unions and businesses.

“Supporting the wages of workers is an important first step in the battle to protect jobs across the UK.”

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