22% of the workforce in Washington and Sunderland West constituency work in the automotive industry. Accounting for 10,000 jobs, that makes Sharon Hodgson MP’s constituency the Parliamentary seat with the highest proportion of automotive jobs in the country.
These figures come as Labour call for Government action to protect the UK’s world leading automotive sector, as the impact of coronavirus threatens jobs and businesses in the sector.
The automotive sector has been one of the worst affected by coronavirus, with production down an astonishing 99.7% in April.
Without urgent action, the Conservative Government risks turning its back on communities and workers in seats they promised to protect across the North, Midlands, Yorkshire and Wales where three in four automotive jobs are found.
Labour is calling for targeted support for the industry and its supply chain. It is urging the Government to explore the possibility of fast tracking measures from the Automotive Sector Deal or Road to Zero strategy, with a focus on creating green jobs and ensuring the UK leads the way in the decarbonisation challenge at the pace and scale the climate emergency demands.
Sharon Hodgson, Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West, said:
“I’m proud to represent the constituency with, proportionally, the most automotive jobs in the country.
“The automotive industry is a valuable employer across the country and the Government must do more to support the sector and protect workers.
“I’ll continue to work with those in the automotive sector, Trade Unions and workers to campaign to protect our constituency’s biggest employers.”
Lucy Powell, Shadow Minister for Business and Consumers, said:
“The UK’s world-leading automotive industry has been rocked by coronavirus and livelihoods are on the line. But Ministers won’t listen to reason and are refusing to recognise some sectors have been hit harder than others.
“They must urgently target support at the sectors that need it with a focus on creating skilled, green jobs - and do right by the communities across the UK they promised to protect.
“Anything less would be a betrayal of many communities which helped get Boris Johnson elected.”
You can read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below
There is almost no part of the economy that has not been badly affected by the impact of Coronavirus and the necessary measures taken to limit its spread.
It seems like every day brings further announcements of job losses. Behind every new tranche of numbers are individuals and families who now face a worrying and uncertain future.
Alongside manufacturing more widely, one area which is being particularly damaged is the aerospace industry. The near total suspension in air travel and continued low passenger numbers are having a significant knock on effect on companies such as Rolls-Royce.
As the MP for a constituency home to a Rolls-Royce site, I am acutely aware of the scale of the problems facing the company and its workers.
That’s why I convened an urgent meeting last week for MPs with sites in their constituencies and Unite representatives to discuss what is needed from the Government to prevent further job losses and safeguard the high level of skills in the workforce.
Whilst some aspects of Government financial assistance measures have been a lifeline, there have also been significant shortfalls.
As Unite have pointed out, steps taken by our Government pale in comparison to those taken by France and Germany. The seemingly indifferent attitude taken by this Conservative Government was summed up in the absence of any mention of the aviation or aerospace sectors in the Chancellor’s recent summer statement.
It is becoming increasingly clear that further, sector specific, support will be needed in the coming weeks and months.
As the Labour Party has made clear, we need a targeted strategy that acknowledges that workers in struggling sectors cannot and should not be treated the same way as workers in sectors that are already back to full capacity.
Growing up in the North East during the Thatcher Governments, I know how much long-term damage can be done to our communities when industries are abandoned.
If Boris Johnson wants to make good on his ‘levelling up’ rhetoric, he needs to step in and provide a comprehensive strategy to stop continued and widespread job losses in aerospace and manufacturing.