Unite has made it clear ministers have still not ‘got to grips’ over formulating a coherent manufacturing strategy as figures showed a sharp dip in industrial output in July.
The union said that the success of the UK car industry was masking the underlying weakness in the economy, compounded by a widening trade deficit.
“The message is stark – chancellor George Osborne’s so-called ‘march of the makers’ has gone into reverse gear,” said Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke.
“Unite has repeatedly castigated the government for its lack of a manufacturing strategy – a blueprint for the next decade. There has not been the promised re-balancing of the economy and there is still a continuing, too-strong reliance on the service sector and the City for jobs and growth.
“The biggest reason for the fall in manufacturing was car production, with the traditional summer shutdowns starting earlier than usual,” Burke went on to say. “The automotive sector has been masking the overall weakness in the economy.”
This has been mirrored by the widening trade deficit with a nine per cent fall in the export of goods in July, especially in the chemical and manufacturing sectors,” he added. “Weak demand in the eurozone and the strength of sterling has not helped.
“Overhanging these latest figures is the Bank of England debating whether to raise interest rates which could make borrowing for future manufacturing investment more expensive.
“All is not rosy in the economic garden, despite the upbeat claims of George Osborne.”
The Office for National Statistics said manufacturing suffered its first fall in yearly terms in July since August 2013.