Britain is in the middle of a horrific jobs slaughter—some 730,000 jobs have already gone since March.
It’s not just people losing their jobs—new figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show people are also earning less and working hours are at a record low.
Some 2.7 million people are now claiming out of work benefits—double the level before the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite the huge changes, the 3.9 percent unemployment rate remains the same because the ONS doesn’t count people who are out of work but not actively looking for a new job.
This way of collecting data obscures the true figures.
Many of these people were sacked during the pandemic but can’t go back to work.
It could include shielders who don’t have a safe workplace to go back to or parents who can’t find childcare to enable them to work (see pages 10&11).
Despite the Tories’ boasting about its furlough scheme, it doesn’t go far enough in protecting people’s livelihoods. Some 7.5 million people are temporarily away from work, including 300,000 people not working and not being paid.
This is just the beginning of a howling recession. Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s “job retention scheme” is due to be axed in October, and is already in the process of being wound down now.
But the money is there. The Tories are only too happy to throw huge bailouts at companies who claim they are about to go under.
The Tories’ plans are all about bosses restoring profits, while they sweep away support for workers. So Sunak has promised £1,000 for bosses if they re-employ furloughed workers.
But the Tories are still insisting on using their hated Universal Credit system, that pushes people into poverty.
Behind the horrifying unemployment data is the stories of real people who are relying on credit cards, paltry benefits and payday loans to get by.
The jobs catastrophe is so deep it will leave no industry untouched.
The long-term effect of the pandemic has the potential to pile millions more on the jobs scrapheap and decimate entire communities.
Now is not the time for compromise with bosses.
Accepting pay cuts in an effort to keep jobs, like Ryanair and BA workers have been pushed to do, lets bosses off the hook while they keep their money.
This is a crisis—and trade unions should act like it’s a crisis. That means organising action, not just words, in defence of jobs.
Unions have to organise strikes, occupations and get their members ready for the battles that come next.
And we need a bigger vision of an economy that is driven by social need, not the interests of a few. It’s time to fight.