Sheffield MP calls for extension to coronavirus job retention scheme

Olivia Blake, Labour MP for Sheffield Hallam, has called on the Government to extend the coronavirus job retention scheme.

Thursday, 17th September 2020, 6:08 pm

Speaking in the Commons today, Blake said that considering the economic challenges the country is facing as a result of the pandemic she couldn’t ‘understand the reason for the blanket-withdrawal of the job retention scheme’, especially as the Government’s ‘inability to implement a proper track-and-trace system which is causing a second peak and local lockdowns up and down the country.’

The Hallam MP also spoke out about the need protect both jobs, but also rights and protections in work, drawing attention to certain employers that have been using the coronavirus crisis to try and drive down pay and conditions:

“The workers at British Gas who are rightly standing up to the absolutely outrageous “fire and rehire” tactics of Centric, their employer.

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Olivia Blake, MP for Sheffield Hallam

"Crises like the one we’re going through should not be seen as opportunities to restructure business for shareholders. Instead, we need to come together to ensure that – in the Chancellor’s own words – ‘no one is left behind’.”

Poor employment practices are currently being fought by the trade unions GMB at British Gas, and Unite at British Airways, who have recently backed down on their “fire and rehire” plans.

Jake O’Malley, Regional Officer for the GMB, said: “We’re pleased to have Olivia Blake MP’s support for our members in Centrica. The company has got to get real about how it behaves, you just can’t treat employees as obstacles to be overcome. We’re calling on Centrica to do the right thing, withdraw its threat to fire and rehire its workforce and work with us on a shared recovery for the business.”

Blake called on the Government to defend the rights of people in work, and called for a complete ban on “fire and rehire” tactics, which she calls a tool to drive down wages and working conditions:

“Three million people have been left behind, and that means we need to plug the gaps in the job retention scheme – for people who began working after the cut-off point before the lockdown,” she said.