British Unions protest over manufacturing 'crisis'

Oct. 20, 2007

The following was written by Charlotte Bradshaw for the Lancaster, U.K city’s website “This is Lancaster”, and echoes what many American manufactures are saying about manufacturing in the United States.

UNION leaders fear that East Lancashire's manufacturing industry could be "lost forever" unless the Government takes urgent action.

It comes after thousands of workers, including many from East Lancashire, staged a huge demonstration outside Parliament in London yesterday to call for Ministers' help.

The workers, including employees from Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems, were representing the jobs being lost from manufacturing jobs every week.

Union leaders warned of a "serious" and "real" threat to the country's industry - which dominates the local economy - unless urgent action was taken.

Terry Burns, regional officer for the North West for Amicus and a county councillor for Burnley North East, said: "Manufacturing workers have travelled hundreds of miles today to deliver their message to the government in person - you must act now if manufacturing is to survive.

"Governments in France and Germany fight tooth and nail to save their manufacturing jobs. "Unless action is taken to ease pressure on manufacturers then the political, economic and social consequences for this government will be dire.

"There has been a general down turn in business, mainly because of competition from overseas from places like China who pay lower wages and are not particularly good with health and safety." Leader of the Labour group for Blackburn with Darwen Council Kate Hollern said: "I think regeneration is critical, so it is sad to hear people are losing their jobs.

"I would be concerned if Blackburn slipped down the pecking order in terms of investment in the town."

Pendle MP Gordon Prentice said manufacturing was still incredibly important to the UK economy and that it was up to the Government to train young people to keep "skilled workers" in East Lancashire. County Coun Sean Serridge, who is the county's Young People's Champion, said: "I spoke to Skills Minister David Lammy about the massive shortages in apprenterships.

"He told me quite a lot of money would be put into it to ensure there would be 500,000 apprentices by 2013."

Burnley Council leader Gordon Birtwistle said: 'There has been a big rundown of the manufacturing industry in Burnley, but we are taking big steps to restore that."

Nearly one in four manufacturing jobs have been lost in the past five years.

Commenting on the lobbying by manufacturing unions, Stephen Timms, Business Minister, said: "We are committed to maintaining a strong and sustainable manufacturing sector, and we are providing support through the Government Manufacturing Strategy."