Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has called on the government to replace the furlough scheme and outlaw ‘firing and re-hiring’ practices as part of a “genuine national plan” for jobs.
Almost 10 million workers have been furloughed since March but the scheme is set to end on 31 October.
The Labour leader is addressing the TUC, recommending targeted support for badly hit sectors.
Speaking at the TUC Congress 2020, Starmer will accuse the Prime Minister of failing to get the basics of testing or a plan for care homes right over the summer and of attempting to “re-open old wounds over Brexit.” He will address the PM directly, saying: “Get your priorities right. Get on with defeating this virus.”
The leader of the Labour Party will use the address to call on the government to work with business, trade unions and the Labour Party to avoid the “scarring effect mass unemployment will have on communities and families across the country.”
The principles Starmer will set out for replacing the job retention scheme are inspired by schemes that have been mooted or are in force in other parts of the world. They include:
Expanding part-time working and rewarding employers who give people hours rather than cut jobs
- Providing training and support for those who can’t come back full-time
- Targeting sectors most in need – including retail, aviation and those hit by local lockdowns
- Providing certainty for workers and businesses
On replacing the furlough scheme, Starmer will argue that:
“At this moment of national crisis we should take inspiration from our past. Be willing to put party differences aside and work together in the interest of the country. Imagine how powerful it would be if we could form a genuine national plan to protect jobs, create new ones and investing in skills and training? I’m making an open offer to the Prime Minister: work with us to keep millions of people in work. Work with the trade unions and work with businesses. Do everything possible to protect jobs and to deliver for working people.”
He is also expected to condemn ‘fire and re-hire’ – where people are given notice of redundancy and then hired back on worse pay and conditions – as “not just wrong but against British values.” He will call for government to outlaw them.
“These tactics punish good employers, hit working people hard and harm our economy. After a decade of pay restraint – that’s the last thing working people need, and in the middle of a deep recession – it’s the last thing our economy needs.”
“I’m making an open offer to the prime minister: Work with us to keep millions of people in work, work with the trade unions and work with businesses, do everything possible to protect jobs and to deliver for working people.”
The government said it already had plans in place to protect jobs, including the £2bn kickstart scheme and the job retention bonus.