Freeports risk employment `sinkholes' when country needs jobs creation to avoid autumn cliff edge for workers
- Wednesday 3 March 2021
Reacting to the Budget statement delivered by chancellor Rishi Sunak today (Wednesday, 03 March, 2021) the leader of the country's leading union, Unite, warned that the government's flagship freeports policy could cause wage `sinkholes' and demanded more action on jobs creation.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: "In this time of crisis, workers and communities are desperate for action on a scale that meets this enormous moment and takes us to a fairer future.
"Instead, the chancellor plundered his back catalogue to pull out a sketchy policy, a return of freeports, a failed experiment of the last decades where the only winners are tax avoiders and bad bosses.
"Freeports are sinkholes, draining decent jobs and wages away from our communities.
"Further, we want the chancellor to answer why English freeports will sidestep employment rights, minimum wages and basic standards while Scottish workers will keep all these protections.
"These ports stand in utter contradiction to the pledge to level up, and we will oppose them.
"We need a coherent industrial strategy and real action to underpin jobs creation, not spin, gimmicks and dangerous wheezes.
"There is now also the very real worry now that we face an autumn incomes and jobs emergency, created by this Budget when it ought to be charting the course out of this economic crisis.
"Furlough support will fall away and Universal Credit will be cut by £20 a week at precisely the time when unemployment could well be rising.
"The comfortably off will be pleased by the extension of the stamp duty relaxation for those with expensive properties, but where is the proper assistance for those at the sharpest end of the economy in desperate need of help on sick pay, wages and rent debt?
"Frontline workers kept this country safe and supported during this crisis, putting their own health on the line. Where this Budget should have recognised their heroic contribution with an end to a decade of wage cuts and the justified pay rise that the public wants to see, it failed them.
"The Budget was about choices. The danger is that this government has chosen to be timid in its actions for our people and our economic renewal but ambitious in advancing the Conservative party."