Mass unemployment still looms
The Job Support Scheme measures announced today will provide some relief for some workers but more will need to be done to prevent a mass unemployment crisis.
The details will need closer scrutiny, but there were some noticeable gaps. These ‘dogs that didn’t bark’ included the creation of jobs, training and reskilling, and improvements and increases to Universal Credit and statutory sick pay. There is also a need for comprehensive packages of sector support.
There seems to be quite a reliance on the goodwill of employers. However, as Unite’s research earlier on in the pandemic revealed, whilst some employers who will do the right thing and act responsibly (including working with unions to keep people in work and earning), others will behave recklessly and seek to take advantage of the crisis. Low paid and precarious workers will be particularly vulnerable.
The prospect of mass unemployment still looms and more needs to be done. And urgently. We need a ‘National Recovery Council’, bringing together government, business and unions to plan for a better recovery and build a sustainable economy with decent jobs and fair rewards.
The Chancellor cancelled the Budget planned for later this year. I fear today’s measures alone are not ambitious or bold enough.
- John Earls is Director of Research at Unite the Union