Union predicts death of manufacturing industry

The Government must appoint a minister for manufacturing and force employers
to invest more in staff or the manufacturing industry won’t survive, a major
trade union has warned.

A report by Amicus has called for a range of cultural and political reforms
to tackle chronic skills shortages, low productivity and falling investment in
the manufacturing sector.

The union predicts that manufacturing may not even survive in the UK unless
the Government introduces stronger employment protection and encourages more
investment in staff and production processes.

Amicus general secretary Derek Simpson, said productivity was the key issue,
and that improvements could be gleaned through more employee consultation, and
by developing the modern apprenticeship scheme.

"If Britain is to retain its manufacturing base, there have to be
fundamental changes in the way business operates," he said.

"It’s time the Government got tough with employers and called for an
end to the investment strike."

The report claimed that both Germany and France enjoy better productivity
than the UK because of stronger employment legislation in Europe.

It said the situation in UK manufacturing was compounded by the fact that it
also lags behind its main international rivals in terms of output, employment
and investment.

David Yeandle, deputy director of employment policy at the Engineering
Employers’ Federation (EEF) said the lack of investment was caused by crippling
increases to national insurance, the climate-change levy and liability
insurance.

"We share many of the concerns, but it’s unfair to lay the blame at the
door of employers when they are facing a whole raft of extra costs," he
said.

"UK manufacturing does face some immense challenges, and it is down to
Government, employers and the trade unions to address these key issues in a
spirit of partnership."

By Ross Wigham

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