TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady with Chancellor Rishi Sunak and CBI Director-General Carolyn Fairbairn.
About three million workers are still on furlough, on government-supported temporary pay while their work is suspended by the pandemic
Furlough is due to end on 31 October. If it does, and is replaced by the Tories’ new “Job Support Scheme” (JSS), many of those three million will be thrown out of work.
With the JSS, the boss who thinks trade will be poor for the next six months but revive later will be better off sacking half their workers than keeping them all with half-pay plus JSS plus the boss’s compulsory contributions to JSS.
The boss who thought they could last out a short lockdown, but not another six months of quarter-lockdown, will shut up shop.
The JSS also offers little to workers who are (really, or only formally) self-employed, but whose work is stalled by the pandemic: for some (but far from all), a 20 percent of average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £1,875 in total, plus a yet-to-be-determined second grant.
Unlike many right-wing governments, even, the Tories have made no extra provision for retraining, let alone retraining at good wages.
Activists will press the unions and Labour to demand also:
• Extension of the furlough until adequate schemes are in place
• A 15% pay rise for the NHS (which is short 100,000 workers) and conversion of the social-care sector to union-agreed public-sector pay and conditions
• An expansion of other public-service jobs too (with funding for local government), so that workers from pubs, cafés etc. which will not survive the pandemic can find good replacement jobs
• Public ownership and conversion to green socially-useful production of the big aviation and manufacturing firms cutting jobs
• Continuation and expansion of the pandemic increase on Universal Credit, and a halt to the restart of “conditionality” for benefits.