Len McCluskey, the general secretary of Unite the union, will pledge to fight to protect North East manufacturing and jobs and end the scourge of insecure work when he visits Newcastle, Darlington and Durham today (20 March).
Mr McCluskey, who is standing to be re-elected to the top post in Britain and Ireland’s largest union, will also warn of the crisis spreading in public services due to the government’s brutal austerity policies when he visits members of Unite’s Newcastle community branch.
And he will call on the government to end the uncertainty for the automotive industry when he speaks to Unite reps and members at Cummins Engines in Darlington, ahead of a members’ rally in Durham.
Speaking ahead of the visit he said:
“Our Newcastle community branch members work hard helping people to apply for welfare benefit and medical appeals. Anyone who has seen the film I, Daniel Blake, which was filmed in this area, will understand how vital their support is when the government’s cruel benefit cuts and sanctions, administered by over-stretched staff, are forcing families into poverty.
“Unite’s mission is to organise people to strive for a society that places equality, dignity and respect above all else. Our community membership scheme brings together people from across our society and there is no better example of that working in practice than here in Newcastle.
“And with the North East confirmed as the UK capital of insecure work, I call again on the government to act to tackle bogus self-employment by outlawing zero-hours contracts and pursuing policies to enable the region to build an economy based on decent, secure jobs.”
Len McCluskey will later meet Unite reps from the major automotive companies in the North East at Cummins in Darlington, where they will discuss the government’s Brexit strategy and its impact on the autos sector.
“The uncertainty the UK’s automotive sector is enduring is doing huge damage already, even before the Brexit negotiations have begun. We have had Ford keeping workers in the dark about future UK production plans and the sale of Vauxhall to Peugeot. Now Nissan is warning that it will review its Sunderland investment plans on the basis of any Brexit deal the prime minister secures.
“The automotive industry has been a vital source of skilled and secure jobs in the North East. Our members need assurances that their highly-respective jobs, which are so essential to the prosperity of their communities and the region, will be secure post-Brexit.
“The government must stop making the EU exit strategy a competition between strong borders and the economy. With Theresa May pursuing a hard-Brexit it is more important than ever that Unite, under my continued leadership, continues to press for a deal that supports jobs, preserve workers’ rights and conditions and provides continued access to markets, investment and a positive forward industrial strategy for decent jobs.”