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'Help workers on short time pay'.


BUSINESS leaders in North Wales are joining unions in urging the Government to introduce a temporary short-time working scheme to help people losing pay during the current recession.

The Engineering Employers' Federation, Federation of Small Businesses, British Chambers of Commerce and TUC argue that workers losing earnings through cuts in pay and hours should receive compensation.

They say the Chancellor should use next week's Budget to bring forward measures aimed at keeping workers in employment as well as helping firms stay in business.

The groups said similar arrangements were in place across the European Union, including Germany.

EEF North Wales spokesman Andrew

Semple said that in the current economic climate it was vital that temporary support should be given to help companies hold on skilled workers who could otherwise be lost to manufacturing and engineering.

He said: "Temporary short-time working is a trend we have seen right the way through the beginning of 2009 and it is a trend we expect to see for some time to come yet.

"We will be watching very closely to see what next week's Budget has to offer in that context. It is an ideal opportunity for the Treasury to take a really innovative look at what can be done." Gwyn Evans, FSB North Wales chairman, said many local firms had put their workers on a three or four day week and he believed a short-time working scheme would be welcomed by both employees and employers.

However, he said any measure should be costed out in advance to determine the charge on taxpayers.

Mr Evans said the Government should also investigate whether it could pay the interest on the mortgage repayments of people struggling on lower incomes as a result of short-time working.

North Wales companies who have introduced short-time working in response to the economic downturn include Toyota's Deeside engine plant and automotive component firm TRB, of St Asaph.

Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC, said: "UK unemployment is already over two million and is spiralling fast.

Introducing a temporary short-time working scheme would help businesses stem the flow of job losses.

"Such agreements provide a quick and effective way to cut costs for struggling businesses and give hard-pressed employees vital financial help."
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 16, 2009
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