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Back UK manufacturing jobs call

Govt must do more to defend manufacturing’s future
Ryan Fletcher, Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018


A number of calls to ensure the future of UK manufacturing were made yesterday (July 2) by Unite policy conference delegates at the Manufacturing Matters fringe.

 

Mick Joyce from Cone Lifts in Gateshead said the UK’s Industrial Strategy needs to be bolstered by a minister for manufacturing.

 

Joyce said, “I believe a minister for manufacturing is key to building the sector in the UK. We’ve never had a minister for manufacturing and it’s a huge industry and key to the UK economy. Without a minister it is treating the sector, its members and its members’ families with contempt. The sooner we get one the better.”

 

Skills gap

Peter Russell, who works in the motor components sector, spoke about the need to close the skills gap.

 

“We should be attracting the younger generation with proper gold standard apprenticeships. We need to build up our skills, because right at the moment there’s a severe shortage,” said Russell.

 

“We can see with the rise of digital and automated technologies how quickly things are changing. There’s going to be massive, massive changes, not just in manufacturing but across all sectors and we need to be prepared for that.”

 

Delegates at the fringe heard from speakers who updated them on a range of issues, including the fight to ensure that three fleet solid support (FSS) ships commissioned by the government are built in the UK.

 

Fringe chair Phil Entwistle , from BAE Systems, said tax-payer funded contracts for the construction of the FSS ships and other government projects involving manufacturing should support British workers.

He said, “The government needs to back British jobs and keep procurement in the UK. The same goes for manufacturing vehicles for local authorities. Those contracts are worth £8.5bn a year, but 52 per cent all of vehicles procured by local authorities come from Germany.

 

“There would be enough work for manufacturing within the UK if the government would stop offshoring, stop procuring from abroad and stop buying off the shelf.”

 

Industrial strategy

Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said the future of UK manufacturing would be secured if Britain had a government that paid heed to Unite’s Industrial Strategy.

Burke said, “Part of Unite’s industrial strategy was included in the Labour manifesto. In comparison, what have seen with the Tory government’s so called industrial strategy over the last few years?

 

“They waved the white flag at Bombardier, let Melrose take over one of our biggest engineering companies and time and time again failed to get behind infrastructure projects – particularly the Swansea tidal lagoon.”

 

Burke added, “We want a Labour government that’s going to protect employment, enhance skills and make sure there’s a future not just for us, but for our children.”

 

 

Pic of Caroline Baikie by Mark Thomas

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