The TUC has urged the government not to repeat past mistakes of the recession and create a universal job guarantee for the long-term unemployed.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber made the call following concerns about the mental health and future job prospects of people out of work for more than 12 months.
“A job paying decent wages for at least six months provides the kind of experience employers want and gives an unemployed person the best possible chance of getting back to work,” Mr Barber said.
In a letter to Work and Pensions Secretary Yvette Cooper, the TUC, along with think tank Demos, the Work Foundation and James Purnell, have called for a job guarantee for anyone who has been on jobseeker’s allowance for more than 12 months.
New figures out tomorrow are expected to show an increase in unemployment.
Despite official figures showing that Britain could come out of recession soon, trade unionists are concerned that the unemployed will be neglected.
Long-term unemployment can lead to the likelihood of mental health problems, relationship breakdown and issues relating to alcohol, debt and homelessness, the TUC argued.
In previous recessions during the 1990s, unemployment continued to rise for 18 months after the crisis had officially ended.
Mr Barber said: “While recent economic indicators offer reasons for cautious cheer, unemployment remains a huge concern.
“There must not be a repeat of the last two recessions, when millions of people were stuck in semi-permanent unemployment long after the economy had recovered.
“Long periods out of work can have a devastating impact on people’s health, while mass unemployment can crush communities. A universal job guarantee would help prevent this.”
But RMT general secretary Bob Crow said that, despite assurances from commentators about heading out of recession, “for hundreds of thousands of people the misery of long-term unemployment is a daily reality.
“What we need is a government programme of job creation, funded by the nationalised banks, targeted at house building, infrastructure projects and investing in public services,” said Mr Crow.
“That radical approach would make a real and lasting difference and is at the heart of the campaign around the People’s Charter.”
Taken from Morning Star