UK unemployment has risen above two million for the first time since Labour came to office, official figures revealed yesterday.
During the three months to January, the number of people unemployed totalled 2.03 million, up by 165,000, said the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
For February, the number of people getting jobseeker’s allowance added a record 138,400 to reach 1.39 million.
The ONS added that the unemployment rate jumped to 6.5 per cent between November and January.
Many economists are predicting it will go above three million next year.
‘Brown should be sacked,’ said All Trades Union Alliance National Secretary Dave Wiltshire.
He added: ‘2.03 million is not the real figure, the real figure is much more, the number of “economically inactive people of working age” is 7.8m.
‘The government has created this unemployment by letting industries go to the wall.
‘It is cutting back on benefits and pauperising the entire working class.
‘Brown and his government should be sacked.
‘All industries faced with closure should be nationalised under workers control and with no compensation to the bosses.’
The TUC leaders by contrast pleaded with Brown and Obama.
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: ‘This is another grim milestone in the return of mass unemployment to the UK.
‘And it will get worse before it gets better as unemployment always persists even after a recovery starts.
‘But this unemployment has not just been made in Britain, and requires an international response.
‘It is beginning to look like the G20 summit may not agree the co-ordinated boost to the world economy called for by Barack Obama and Gordon Brown.’
Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON, the UK’s largest public service union, added: ‘World leaders gathering for the G20 summit must take action to protect and create jobs and end this misery.’
Paul Kenny, GMB General Secretary warned: ‘As well as the misery for the two million on the dole add the fear of millions of others who know that they too are at risk of redundancy.
‘The harsh reality is that capitalism is revealed as anarchy writ large.’
The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) warned that over the last five years, five hundred jobcentres and benefit offices have closed, with 54 jobcentres closing last year before the government announced a moratorium on the closures.
PCS also criticised the government’s Welfare Reform Bill, arguing that jobs not punitive sanctions were needed, warning that the bill would drive people into poverty and stigmatise those who needed the most help.
Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: ‘It is clear that the government needs to start opening jobcentres to give the rising numbers of unemployed the world class help and support they deserve.
‘Jobcentre Plus provides a world class service, yet the government is seeking to privatise part of its work, despite their own evidence showing that jobcentres have massively out-performed the failing private sector.’