Unite, Britain's biggest union, is calling on the government to appoint a minister for manufacturing to drive through an interventionist manufacturing strategy in order to help rebalance the economy.
The union is warning that manufacturing figures are still 9 per cent below where the UK was in 2008 and if transport manufacturing (which includes the automotive industry) are removed from the figures, manufacturing output is around 13 per cent lower than it was in 2008.
Unite is proposing ten key pillars for manufacturing to rebalance the UK economy in a strategy paper launched today entitled Made in Britain. The union is calling for the government to;
1. Build a framework of policies to defend strategically significant manufacturing industries
2. Appoint a minister for manufacturing, with a seat in the Cabinet, who is prepared to present a cohesive manufacturing strategy and use interventionist policies to facilitate further manufacturing growth in the UK
3. Establish a strategic Investment Bank or a 'Bank for Industry' where manufacturing companies of all sizes have access to investment funding at affordable rates
4. Make better use of government procurement opportunities to ensure goods and services procured are manufactured in the UK by UK based companies employing UK based workers
5. Maximise opportunities that the low carbon revolution has to offer
6. Deliver an education and skills framework which is fit for purpose and provides industry with the skilled workers it needs
7. Create a university structure which builds on the science base so necessary to secure high skilled jobs
8. Create a level playing field to deliver security and fair pricing for energy
9. Target support for SMEs, including financial support to enable them to grow and innovate
10. Establish a framework of legislation which promotes transparency and engagement for all stakeholders in the future of manufacturing.
Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said: "Despite claims from the coalition government that Britain is booming, a recovery feels a long way off for many of our members. The reality is decent jobs are still hard to come by. One million young people are out of work and many of the jobs available are short term and precarious.
"The government has no real long term strategic plan to make the fundamental shift to balance the service sector, finance sector and manufacturing in order to provide a solid foundation for a sustained recovery that won’t get shaken to its foundations as happened in 2008.
"We need an interventionist manufacturing strategy to defend and grow UK manufacturing. Britain needs to provide its citizens with quality employment opportunities which in turn drive growth. Decent, skilled manufacturing jobs do just that. Unite believes that one way to help is by having a dedicated minister for manufacturing to give real direction and substance.
"The automotive industry is a success story, as is our aerospace sector, however re-balancing of the economy away is a long way off. Britain needs to learn from its successes and the success of other countries like Germany that defend and support their manufacturing base which helped it to ride the worst of recession. Unite's strategy document adds to that debate and will help shape policy. "
Contact Ciaran Naidoo on 07768 931 315
Notes to editors:
Read Unite's strategy document Made in Britain.
Unite is Britain and Ireland's largest trade union with 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.