employment - manufacturing jobs fall
WORKERS, MAY 2004 ISSUE
Recent figures have shown a further fall in manufacturing employment — down 100,000 over the past year. A key reason for this lies in the poor investment record of British companies. It is far easier to invest in short-term low-pay service sector jobs than to take a long view to rebuild Britain's manufacturing base.
In May 2002, the government launched its Manufacturing Strategy with the aim of showing it did take manufacturing seriously and that the sector was crucial to the continuing prosperity of Britain. But since the strategy was set up, spending by manufacturing industry on capital equipment (a key indicator of long-term intentions) has fallen.
In 2003 this investment was 8% lower than in 2002, which in turn was 12% lower than in 2001 — a decline of nearly one-fifth over two years.
The Manufacturing Strategy Review is an analysis by the Manufacturing Technologies Association and is written as a response to the Government's Manufacturing Strategy. In his contribution to this review, Brendan Barber, General Secretary of the TUC, argues that "...UK economic growth depends on a genuine manufacturing recovery".
To show that its support is genuine, the TUC has called on the government to:
- match the business support government gives to that offered in the rest of Europe;
- use public procurement to support British-based manufacturing jobs;
- boost regional support and development.
It is clear that the government is failing to support British industry with crucial buying decisions. Ministers rarely give speeches talking up manufacture, and senior government figures are thin on the ground at important trade fairs. But most importantly, where other European countries fight to support their manufacture, our government does little. Yet, ironically, it is European law which is being used as a scapegoat for the attacks on British industry.
If we are to believe that it is already 'illegal' to offer government support to save manufacturing jobs then what control could we expect to have if we signed up to the euro and the European constitution?