More than 60,000 workers were sacked or put at risk of redundancy last week. Some industry experts predict that as many as 250,000 people could be made redundant.
Boots the chemist and the John Lewis department store are among the latest to announce cuts. Department store Debenhams last month said it will not reopen 20 of its stores. It has already cut hundreds of jobs.
A Debenhams worker and union rep told Socialist Worker, “We wouldn’t be surprised if Debenhams makes even more staff redundant.
“At the start of lockdown store managers read out a script about how jobs were going and departments were closing. Now people are petrified by the thought of losing their job.”
John Lewis last week said it would close eight of its 50 department stores in Britain, slashing 1,300 jobs.
Boots plans to cut over 4,000 jobs. Boots workers at risk of redundancy include those who worked at dangerous Covid-19 testing centres.
Daniel Adams is from the Usdaw union, which represents Boots staff. “After being on the frontline as key workers in the fight against coronavirus, it is a slap in the face to be put at risk of redundancy,” he said.
Fast food chain Burger King has also announced devastating cuts to jobs. Bosses announced that they will be closing 10 percent of stores permanently. The closures will cost up to 1,600 jobs.
And high street sandwich seller Pret a Manger plans to shut 30 stores, probably throwing over 1,000 out of work.
Pret complained that it is losing £20 million a month. But the company has been refusing to pay all of its rent since the lockdown began, and recently announced it might pay only one third of it.
Both John Lewis and Primark have refused to claim from chancellor Rishi Sunak’s furlough bonus scheme. The scheme gives firms £1,000 for every furloughed worker brought back to work in retail stores.
The Tories are gifting big business with huge incentives and bailouts—but bosses just use the opportunity to ruthlessly cut jobs. We urgently need resistance to the jobs massacre.
In Ireland, all 11 Debenhams stores have closed. But workers have staged protests and pickets outside the shops, preventing lorries from removing goods.
The Debenhams worker said the fightback in Ireland is “inspirational” and that there could be resistance here too.
“Workers from my region have written to administrators and store managers, saying the dismissal of so many workers with no notice or consultation was illegal,” they said.
“When more job losses are inevitably announced we will be ready. We are more organised now and we are determined to fight back.”
Malnutrition in children doubles
Recorded cases of child malnutrition have doubled in England in the last six months.
The damning figure reflects how millions of people have lost work, pay or hours and have been pushed into poverty during the virus lockdown.
Data from NHS trusts show that 2,483 children in England were referred to hospital because of malnutrition between January and June.
And the data only comes from a small number of hospitals—so the true scale of the problem is likely to be much higher.
Many parents have struggled with extra food costs as most children stayed home from school during the lockdown.
A number of schools said they would send food packages to children who usually received free school meals.
But underfunding means many haven’t been able to provide enough.
Earlier this year, parents in Preston complained that the food that schools provided for their children lasted just half a week.
It was supposed to be enough for a full week.
Food bank use has soared during the virus crisis.
The Trussell Trust charity gave out nearly double the number of parcels to families with children in April compared to the same time last year.
The Tories plan to give out measly vouchers that can be used at chain restaurants to boost the economy and bail out bosses.
Meanwhile some parents have been forced to wait weeks to receive any vouchers for free meals for their children.