1.72 million jobless! End of furloughing on April 21 will see millions more unemployed!

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1.72 MILLION are now jobless! The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said yesterday it is the highest level in five years.

Workers aged between 25 to 34 are being sacked by the thousands. In the three months to November, they had a redundancy rate of 16.2 per 1,000, a fivefold increase on the same period a year earlier.

Unemployment at 5% is 418,000 more than in the same period the previous year, and is the biggest increase since late 2009 – the year of the financial crash.

The ONS deputy chief executive Sam Beckett said yesterday: ‘Payroll numbers show the number of workers on payroll have fallen by over 828,000 since the pandemic began’ and that workers aged from 16 to 24 are suffering some of the biggest falls in employment.

She however fears that this is just the start of a massive jobs disaster. ‘We’ve currently got over 4.5 million people on the furlough scheme, so that does complicate the picture when you’re trying to interpret what’s going on in the labour market.’

The Tory government’s furlough scheme is due to end on April 21, when millions more workers will face ruthless bosses imposing mass sackings, as well as firing and rehiring with wages cut by thousands of pounds a year! These tactics will see unemployment wracked up to the levels of the ‘hungry 1930s’ to 10% plus.

Business groups are already telling the government that furloughing must be extended or there will inevitably be an avalanche of fire and rehire lockouts and strikes.

Chancellor Sunak shed crocodile tears on Monday saying: ‘This crisis has gone on far longer than any of us hoped – and every job lost as a result is a tragedy. Whilst the NHS is working hard to protect people with the vaccine, we’re throwing everything we’ve got at supporting businesses, individuals and families.’

However Tej Parikh, chief economist at the Institute of Directors, commented: ‘The pandemic continues to rip through the labour market.’

He said: ‘A return to tighter restrictions late last year will have stretched businesses’ ability to retain staff. Meanwhile, the furlough scheme will have provided an invaluable cushion for many firms, preventing unemployment from edging up even further.’

He added: ‘The forthcoming Budget is a vital moment to help firms retain, retrain and rehire workers as the vaccine rolls out. In particular, the government should provide a relief for employers’ National Insurance contributions and support reskilling opportunities to shore up the recovery.’

However, Chancellor Sunak is already planning two budgets this year. They will be like a double-barrelled shotgun, as he seeks to claw back some of the £384 billion that he has spent trying to keep British capitalism afloat in order to stave off state bankruptcy and a massive collapse.

The TUC is meanwhile pleading for the Tories to carry on building up the national debt, postponing a massive clash between the government and the working class.

TUC leader Frances O’Grady stated: ‘Fire and rehire tactics have no place in modern Britain and must be outlawed.’ She actually called on Johnson to do this saying: ‘Boris Johnson promised to make the UK the best place in the world to work in. It’s high time he delivered on this promise.’

She is pleading for ‘rescue’ by the Tories at the same time as the Tories and the bosses are planning a major fire and rehire offensive that will condemn working class youth to mass unemployment and poverty, and see Universal Credit slashed.

The TUC is grovelling to the Tories, just after PM Johnson was defeated by 278 votes to 0, when MPs voted for extending the Universal Credit top-up beyond March 31 and to end plans for a £20 a week Universal Credit cut.

Instead of calling a general strike to defend workers who will be hard hit by the £20 a week Universal Credit cut by bringing down the Tories, she has made an appeal to PM Johnson.

O’Grady has declared: ‘Fire and rehire tactics have no place in modern Britain and must be outlawed.’ So far so good. She then declared that ‘Boris Johnson promised to make the UK the best place in the world to work in. It’s high time he delivered on this promise.’

This is reactionary nonsense. O’Grady and the TUC leaders must be sacked and replaced by a new leadership.

This new leadership must be ready to call a general strike to bring down the Tories and bring in a workers’ government and socialism.

Among its first actions will be to stop all benefit cuts and make ‘fire and rehire’ illegal. It will then resolve the crisis of capitalism by nationalising the banks and the major industries placing them under workers’ management to bring in socialism.