A UNION leader has called for urgent action to head-off recession – as latest figures show that manufacturing accounts for just one in five jobs in Kirklees.
Figures from general union the GMB showed that Kirklees has 31,900 people working in manufacturing, representing 20.4% of the district’s total workforce.
The figures showed manufacturing employment in Kirklees was holding up better than in most other local authority areas in Yorkshire and the Humber.
Only North Lincolnshire has a higher percentage figure, 23.3% at 16,500, while north-east Lincolnshire is third on the list with 20.1% at 13,600. York has the lowest proportion of workers in manufacturing – just 8.1% or 8,200 people.
In West Yorkshire, Calderdale has 19.7% of its total workforce in manufacturing (17,300); with Bradford at 17.9% (34,800); Leeds at 13.4% (52,500); and Wakefield at 13.4% (21,300).
Across the UK, manufacturing now accounts for 13.1% of all jobs at 3.52m. In Yorkshire, there are 341,000 working in the sector, representing 15.3% of the total workforce.
The GMB said the number of people employed in manufacturing had fallen by 26% from 4.8m when Labour came to power in 1997 to 3.55m in 2006-2007 – a loss of 1.25m jobs. Manufacturing jobs had been falling by 2-3% a year since 2003.
And it warned that the rate of decline was set to accelerate amid fears that the UK economy was heading for recession.
Paul Kenny, GMB general-secretary, said trade unions were reporting redundancies in a wide range of manufacturing industries, including engineering, building materials and products, paints and furniture.
He said: “We are seeing evidence of the early signs of demand faltering, particularly in sectors dealing directly with consumers.
“It will be some time before these early warnings are picked up in the official statistics – so it is not a lot of good for politicians to repeat parrot fashion that official statistics show that the garden is rosy.
“If action is not taken now to avoid a recession, the economic damage will be felt in households across the country and this damage will add up to political damage for the Government.”
Mr Kenny said interest rates needed to be cut to help avoid a recession, adding: “If the UK has another recession, we run the risk that the little manufacturing industry that we have left will be further decimated.”