Unite, Britain's biggest union, has called on the government to appoint a minister for manufacturing to drive through a strategy in order to help rebalance the economy.
With manufacturing still at 9 per cent below pre-recession level if transport manufacturing is removed from the figures, manufacturing output is around 13 per cent lower than it was in 2008.
Unite is proposing ten key pillars for manufacturing to rebalance the UK economy in a strategy paper launched today entitled Made in Britain:
1. build a framework of policies to defend strategically significant manufacturing industries
2. appoint a minister for manufacturing, with a seat in the Cabinet, who is prepared to present a cohesive manufacturing strategy and use interventionist policies to facilitate further manufacturing growth in the UK
3. establish a strategic Investment Bank or a ‘Bank for Industry’ where manufacturing companies of all sizes have access to investment funding at affordable rates
4. make better use of government procurement opportunities to ensure goods and services procured are manufactured in the UK by UK based companies employing UK based workers
5. maximise opportunities that the low carbon revolution has to offer
6. deliver an education and skills framework which is fit for purpose and provides industry with the skilled workers it needs
7. create a university structure which builds on the science base so necessary to secure high skilled jobs
8. create a level playing field to deliver security and fair pricing for energy
9. target support for SMEs, including financial support to enable them to grow and innovate
10. establish a framework of legislation which promotes transparency and engagement for all stakeholders in the future of manufacturing.
Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said the government has no real long term strategic plan to balance the service sector, finance sector and manufacturing in order to provide a solid foundation for a sustained recovery.
“We need an interventionist manufacturing strategy to defend and grow UK manufacturing,” he said.
“Britain needs to provide its citizens with quality employment opportunities which in turn drive growth. Decent, skilled manufacturing jobs do just that. Unite believes that one way to help is by having a dedicated minister for manufacturing to give real direction and substance.”
Mr Burke added: “The automotive industry is a success story, as is our aerospace sector, however re-balancing of the economy away is a long way off. Britain needs to learn from its successes and the success of other countries like Germany that defend and support their manufacturing base which helped it to ride the worst of recession. Unite’s strategy document adds to that debate and will help shape policy.”