UK

Union leaders demand PERMANENT ‘daughter of furlough’ is set up to protect workers

Union leaders want a PERMANENT furlough scheme to protect workers from ‘future economic shocks’ like climate change –  despite UK already facing years of tax hikes to cover £66BILLION cost of saving jobs for 18 months


A permanent furlough system should be baked into the UK economy to help workers see off the impact of future crisis, union leaders demanded today.

The TUC called for a ‘daughter of furlough’ scheme based on Rishi Sunak‘s eye-wateringly expensive Job Retention Scheme.

It argues that climate change, technological change and the threat of future pandemics mean that such a scheme may be required in future.

It argues that such a scheme would lessen the impact on the economy in terms of lowering unemployment, boost recovery through support of retail spending and ‘prevent widening inequalities’, which see women, disabled workers and minorities become the first to lose jobs.

However the eye-watering outlay is likely to raise eyebrows at the Treasury. The furlough scheme has cost the taxpayer around £66billion over the past 18 months and is due to be wound down at the end of September – six weeks’ time.

But TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘The pandemic shows how an unexpected economic shock can wreak havoc on jobs and livelihoods with little warning.

‘In a changing and unpredictable world – as we battle climate change and new technologies emerge – a permanent short-time working scheme would help make our labour market more resilient and protect jobs and livelihoods.

The TUC called for a ‘daughter of furlough’ scheme based on Rishi Sunak’s eye-wateringly expensive Job Retention Scheme.

Mr Sunak's furlough scheme has cost the taxpayer around £66billion over the past 18 months and is due to be wound down at the end of September - six weeks' time.

Mr Sunak’s furlough scheme has cost the taxpayer around £66billion over the past 18 months and is due to be wound down at the end of September – six weeks’ time.

‘Too often in the past, periods of economic and industrial change have been badly mismanaged – increasing inequalities and leaving working people and whole communities abandoned.

‘Setting up a ”daughter of furlough” to provide certainty to workers and firms through future industrial change would be a fitting pandemic legacy.

‘Furlough has been a lifeline for millions of working people during the pandemic. Now is the time for the government to build on the success of furlough with a short-time working scheme – not throw away its good work.’

The TUC’s plan includes: 

  • Workers getting 80 per cent of their wages, plus a guarantee that their pay for normal hours will not fall below the minimum wage
  • Any worker working less than 90 per cent of their normal working hours must be offered funded training.
  • Agreements between firms and workers negotiated by unions of recognised internal consultation mechanisms.
  • A commitment by business that to get on the scheme they pay UK corporation tax and pay out no dividends to shareholders

Discussing the upcoming end to furlough, Ms O’Grady added: ‘The jobs market is still fragile, with more than a million people still on furlough.

‘An abrupt and premature end to the furlough scheme will needlessly cost jobs and harm our economic recovery.

‘Instead of pulling the rug out from under the feet of businesses and workers, the chancellor must extend the furlough scheme for as long as is needed to protect jobs and livelihoods.’

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