SOS for Jobs heads to Parliament as UK workers urge PM ‘don't abandon us' 

Time: 11:00 on Wednesday 9 September, 2020

Venue: College Green, Westminster SW1

With under eight weeks until the furlough scheme ends, workers from across the UK will launch their SOS for Jobs campaign to persuade the prime minister to think again on a focused sector level extension of the job retention scheme (JRS).

The JRS is set to end on 1 November with ministers refusing to consider any extension or modification.  

Workers and their union, Unite fear that without a change of heart from ministers a tide of job losses will engulf UK manufacturing as employers lose confidence in the future with demand yet to return to pre-Covid levels. 

The workers are further concerned that with competitor nations offering long-term support for their manufacturing base, UK jobs will disappear while our competitors in France, Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Ireland and even the US are protected.

This Wednesday (11:00 hours, 9 September) workers - including those from Rolls Royce, Airbus and Ford - will send an ad van off to tour SW1 carrying a message for the prime minster.  They are also inviting MPs from all parties to join them to sign a pledge in support of UK workers.

The event takes place ahead of the Opposition debate in the Commons where MPs will focus on the UK's jobs protection plans.

Speaking ahead of the event, Steve Turner, Unite assistant general secretary for manufacturing, said: "This SOS is a heartfelt plea from people who've given their working lives to build Britain and position the UK globally as a great manufacturing nation.  They are now urging the prime minister ‘do not abandon us'.

"They are not asking for bailouts, just a helping hand to share work on reduced hours to retain both jobs and skills in today’s unprecedented circumstances.  All they want is the support of their government while we work night and day to get viable businesses through this crisis and bring new orders to the books. 

"We are appealing to MPs, help us to get the penny to drop with ministers.  Please do not let the good work of recent months go to waste. 

“Keep people in work producing the goods to recover and rebuild our economy, not sitting on the dole, idle and impoverished when there is a country to rebuild.  

"UK manufacturing is vital to our economic recovery.  It will power the jobs of tomorrow and keep communities strong in those parts of the country that the PM has pledged to ‘level up'.  But without urgent action by the PM, these communities will suffer terribly as the gates close on the businesses that sit at their heart.

"The PM and his government cannot abandon these workers to this fate.  All we are asking is that our government takes the best of what other nations are doing to protect working people.  If Merkel, Macron and even Donald Trump's US are taking action to protect jobs then surely Boris Johnson can do the same for the workers of the UK."

Workers and Unite reps will be available to talk to the media.

A recent poll for Unite confirmed that one in two voters back the extension of the JRS, rising to 60 per cent among the 18-54 age group:


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065.

Please note the numbers above are for journalists’ enquiries only.

Email: [email protected]

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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.