Brexit uncertainty and wages squeeze forming a toxic mix warns Unite

Brexit uncertainty and the continued squeeze in wages is combining to form a toxic mix which is hitting manufacturing investment, the UK’s largest manufacturing union, Unite warned today (Monday 3 September).

Responding to the latest UK manufacturing PMI showing Britain’s factory growth has hit a two-year low amid Brexit uncertainty, Unite accused ministers of ‘drift’ and lacking an active industrial strategy.

The UK Manufacturing PMI has fallen to just 52.8 in August, down from 53.8 in July. That’s the weakest reading in 25 months, and shows the sector moved closer to stagnation last month (any reading over 50 shows growth).

Markit, which compiles the survey, says that new exports fell last month for the first time in over two years.

This dragged job creation down to near-stagnation, while business optimism hit a 22-month low.

Commenting Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said: “Brexit uncertainty along with the continued squeeze in wages is combining to form a toxic mix that is hitting manufacturing investment.

“Employers tell us that they are holding back on investment amid Brexit uncertainty, while the continued squeeze in wages is leaving families’ wallets running on empty.

“These figures should be a wake-up call to government ministers. Manufacturing is the driving force of the economy supporting decent jobs in communities throughout the UK.

“Rather than the drift and the missed opportunities of projects like the Swansea tidal lagoon project, we need an active industrial strategy that backs UK manufacturing and Brexit certainty to unlock investment and safeguard jobs.”