Sir Keir Starmer has urged the government to replace the job retention scheme, as well as to ban “firing and re-hiring” methods to avoid the “scarring effect” of “mass unemployment”.
In the Trades Union Congress’ annual conference, Sir Keir spoke about “firing and re-hiring” practices whereby companies fire employees but then hire them back on worse pay and conditions, and how this needs to stop.
He said: “These tactics punish good employers, hit working people hard, and harm our economy.”
Since March there have been almost 10 million workers dismissed but the job retention scheme is only set to end on 31st October 2020.
The government had stated that it was already putting into effect a plan to protect jobs.
During his speech, Sir Keir made the case to replace the job retention scheme, also known as the furlough scheme, which was introduced to support staff and employers during the lockdown caused by the global Covid-19 pandemic.
In accordance with the scheme, employees that have been placed on leave due to Covid-19 restrictions have received 80% of their pay and up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.
The government has been unwilling to draw out the furlough scheme beyond October with Mr. Boris Johnson arguing that it would only keep people “in suspended animation”.
Sir Keir Starmer argued that: “With a bit of imagination and acting in the national interest, a better approach is possible”.
Sir Keir gave alternative proposals which include ‘expanding part-time working and rewarding employers who give people hours rather than cut jobs’.
As well as ‘providing training and support for those who can’t come back full-time, and targeting sectors most in need such as retail, aviation, and those hit by local lockdowns’.
“Imagine how powerful it would be if we could form a genuine national plan to protect jobs, create new ones, and investing in skills and training.” – Sir Keir Starmer said.
The Labour leader commended trade unions as “unsung heroes” and said: “Without you, there would have been no furlough scheme, no life raft for seven million people.”
Also addressing the conference on Monday, TUC leader Frances O’Grady said: “If the government doesn’t act, we face a tsunami of job losses.”
Article Accredited To: Amanda Gumede