The government’s failure to pursue an active industrial strategy is harming manufacturing and dashing hopes of rebalancing the economy, said Britain’s largest union Unite, today (Friday 8 March) as official figures showed a 1.8 per cent annual fall in manufacturing output, the biggest since July 2013.
At a time when Britain’s steel industry is in crisis, the Office for National Statistics also said that UK crude steel production was at its lowest since December 2008.
Unite, which represents over 500,000 people working in manufacturing, warned the government that its ‘hands free’ approach to manufacturing and reliance on service sector growth was unsustainable and would lead to a low wage, low skilled economy.
Commenting Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said: “With steel in the grip of an industrial crisis these figures show that the chancellor George Osborne’s ‘hands free’ approach to manufacturing is dashing hopes of rebalancing the economy.
“The absence of a coherent industrial strategy is exposing the UK’s manufacturing sector to the whims of global headwinds and risks hollowing out skills and jobs in a key sector of our nation’s economy.
“With steel communities across the UK facing uncertainty and tens of thousands of jobs in the supply chain hanging by a thread, we urge the government to adopt an active industrial strategy with steel at its heart.
“Now is the time for ministers to follow the example of their counterparts in countries like Germany by cherishing and supporting our manufacturing base. A failure to do so will lead to an ever increasing reliance on the service sector for growth and an economy built on low paid, low skilled insecure work.”
For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.
Notes to editors:
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.