Socialist Worker

Job losses and obscene riches mark start of 2021

by Isabel Ringrose
Issue No. 2736

Workers at Debenhams were among those who lost their jobs last year

Workers at Debenhams were among those who lost their jobs last year (Pic: Laila Hassan)

Almost 30,000 restaurant workers lost their jobs last year, while the richest 1 percent of households have stashed away almost £800 billion in hidden wealth.

That’s the damning picture of Britain painted by two new reports released this week. Restaurants in Britain cut around 29,684 jobs in 2020 alone, according to the Centre for Retail Research (CRR). In 2019 the number was 11,280.

And the Tories’ refusal to protect workers’ jobs meant a 163 percent rise in redundancies as lockdown restrictions were brought in.

The CRR also said that closures in the hard-hit hospitality sector had increased to 1,621 in 2020, compared with 922 in 2019—a 76 percent increase.

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Companies such as Pizza Express, SSP Group, Mitchells & Butlers, The Restaurant Group, and Casual Dining Group have all rolled out closures and redundancy plans.

Around a fifth of hospitality jobs were cut in 2020 as restrictions were brought in.

In August, Pizza Express announced that 1,100 jobs would be slashed and 73 restaurants would close. But bosses managed to hire new chief executive David Campbell in the autumn.

The Restaurant Group claimed it lost £15 million because of the November lockdown and in June cut 3,000 jobs. Yet bosses Andy Hornby and Kirk Davis have a combined annual salary of around £780,000.

According to the CRR around 177,000 jobs on the high street have been slashed, with a predicted 200,000 further jobs expected to be hit in 2021.

Major brands including Topshop-owner Arcadia, Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group and Debenhams slashed hundreds of jobs after collapsing into administration.

Every week in 2020, an estimated 3,400 retail jobs were lost. The Tories stood by and watched this happen while bosses from top companies earned on average over 100 times more than their average worker.

Ocado’s chief executive Tim Steiner received 2,650 times the average salary last year, as he pocketed £58.7 million.

Yet chancellor Rishi Sunak delayed extending the furlough scheme that would’ve saved thousands from unemployment and poverty.

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He is also ignoring calls to sanction a one-off wealth tax on some households that could bring in £260 billion.

It comes as a report by the Resolution Foundation think tank revealed at least £800 billion in hidden wealth by the top 1 percent.

The report merged info from the Sunday Times Rich List with data from the Office for National Statistics.

It found official stats miss almost £800 billion of assets held by the wealthiest 1 percent of households.

The Tories’ refusal to support people who can’t work during the pandemic means that there were 820,000 fewer employees on ­payrolls in November than in February. More than a third of those were jobs in the hospitality sector. And unemployment is set to soar further after the furlough scheme ends.

The slaughter shows it’s crucial to fight over jobs and pay.

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