The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, must be ready to extend furlough and work with trade unions to to introduce short-time working protections, or risk tens of thousands of skilled jobs and our economic recovery, Unite, Britain and Ireland's leading union, has said.

Responding to the revelation that there is one rule for the prime minister and his cabinet, and a different, more punishing set of rules for everyone else, Steve Turner, Unite's assistant general secretary for manufacturing, said:

“How are we meant to get this virus under control when those who set the guidelines don’t even follow them? My members at Nissan and thousands more across manufacturing, health, hospitality, retail and public transport live in fear of being pinged by the app as it means that they can’t work because they have to isolate. Businesses, already reeling from Covid disruption, face more insecurity, downtime, closures and lost services. 

“Working people worried for their futures certainly won’t be impressed to discover that there’s one rule for the PM and the cabinet but a different set of more punishing rules for them.

“The government has to get this sorted. It’s chaos for employers, the NHS and public transport.

“They should have picked up the phone to talk with unions and employers about how to sensibly re-open the economy.  Instead they’ve taken a deliberate decision not to consult, but to approach this as a political headache for the Tory party and not a public health matter for the whole country. As a result the virus will rip through our communities and there’s every danger the economy will take another hit this autumn.

“The chancellor has to be ready to extend furlough and work with us to introduce short-time working protections, as our competitors have, to protect our industrial heartlands. If not, tens of thousands of skilled jobs and our recovery will be at risk.”