January 2000 Wolverhampton, Bilston & District TRADES UNION COUNCIL Secretary’s Report
In his new year message, the TUC’s general secretary, John Monks emphasized the related priorities of jobs and manufacturing. He pointed out that full employment is a realistic demand, not wishful thinking, though no Labour leader since the late John Smith has highlighted this crucial issue.
Official unemployment or claimant count which it is euphem-istically and more accurately known as, stood at over 960,000 in Britain in November, down almost 140,000 on last year This 12% fall was not match-ed in the West Mid-lands where there was a 5% drop. In Wolverhampton, official unemploy-ment is 6,758 down less than 2% last year.
Reality is that there are 3 million people who are either not drawing benefits or have been shunted off the jobless roll by governmental tinkering over the years but who would welcome the offer of work. Job losses at Goodyear and the knock on effect that they will cause, can only further demonstrate the absolute need for the government to dramatically intervene in the economy and evolve a real strategy to bring about full employment. Manufacturing industry, the heart of our local economy, and so fundamental to the national economy, must be supported and redeveloped.
When Thatcher expressed her hatred of our class and our unions, by laying waste to much of Britain’s industrial heritage, the Tories claimed that manufacturing jobs would be replaced by service and finance jobs. Trade unionists defending manuf-acturing were accused of living in the past and of failing to apprec-iate the opportun-ities of a new post-industrial era. Yet hundreds of thou-sands of banking, insurance and other finance jobs have gone to the wall as mergers and takeovers have proliferated. Manufacturing has continued to decline, partly as a result of a euro weak against the pound, dollar, yen and amongst a multitude of others, the Ugandan schilling and Russian rouble, and partly because of corporate decisions to relocate to other countries. Relocations have occurred due to the ease that employers can lay off workers in Britain compared with other countries, and low wage, low cost economies especially in eastern europe.