Up to 35,000 South West manufacturing jobs at risk if UK does not speed up net zero transition – TUC

Posted on 28 Nov 2023 by The Manufacturer

The TUC has today warned that up to 35,000 manufacturing jobs in the South West could be lost if the UK does not speed up its transition to net zero.

New analysis published by the union body highlights how tens of thousands of livelihoods could be at risk unless urgent steps are taken to help traditional industries transition to new forms of production.

The warning comes as TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak visits the nuclear plant construction site at Hinkley Point C in Bridgwater.

Sectors most at risk 

The analysis shows a wide range of industries across the South West could be impacted if the UK fails to act.

The sectors most at risk in the region include aerospace, automotive, chemicals and shipbuilding.

The union body says that in addition to factory and plant jobs being under threat from offshoring, additional jobs will also be at risk in local supply chains.

Government can help revive industry  

The union body says the UK should be following the example of President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) which has provided much-needed investment to decarbonise traditional industries and safeguard and create good-quality, union jobs.

The US Act has resulted in US companies pledging to build new clean manufacturing facilities and an estimated $900 billion in extra investment from the private sector. 

Biden’s plan is also boosting pay and conditions with the US government setting terms that include fair pay and good union jobs.

The EU is also developing similar plans, boosting homegrown clean industries including batteries, critical minerals, and renewable power.

Yet the UK does not currently have a climate focussed industrial strategy, despite the Conservatives being in power for 13 years. Recent government funded schemes for industry and infrastructure come without conditions for creating good jobs. 

New political consensus needed  

The TUC calls on all parties to urgently lay out detailed plans for a Biden-style clean industrial strategy for the UK, including how this will shore up manufacturing and accelerate climate action for industries in the South West.

According to the union body, this strategy should pull every available lever including subsidies, direct government investment and conditions on procurement and licences. 

An active industrial strategy could:  

  • Follow the example of good industrial relations at Hinkley Point C and require companies that receive net zero funding to engage with unions and pay and treat workers fairly. 
  • Deliver reforms to improve workers’ rights and corporate governance.   
  • Encourage worker input at board level in every workplace.  
  • Resource public institutions robustly so they can play their part.   
  • Ensure companies consult with their workforce and unions about plans to transition to net zero. 

TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak said:

“The race to net zero is a race for industrial revival.  

“If we move quickly, we can protect and create thousands of good jobs across the South West. But if we don’t, we risk industrial decline and haemorrhaging jobs abroad. 

“Other countries are already scaling up investment and subsidies in clean technology. We need the same approach here. 

“We must act now to safeguard our manufacturing sector. Then today’s workers will know that their jobs are safe and the future is bright with decent jobs for their children too. 

“Hinkley Point C is an example of the good union jobs that can be created when unions, industry and government act together.” 

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