No Time to Lose: A Search for Work / Life Balance


“Half of workers suffer cutbacks” by notimetolose

Reposted from The Financial Times

By Brian Groom, Business and Employment Editor
Published: May 31 2009 23:35 | Last updated: May 31 2009 23:35

More than half of UK workers have experienced a cut in pay or hours or a loss of employment benefits since the recession began, according to a survey of more than 1,600 staff published on Sunday.

Unemployment, currently more than 2.2m, would be higher still without such measures, said the Keep Britain Working campaign.

The campaign argued that the figures demonstrated how flexible the workforce had been in the downturn, and that changes in employment terms had helped employers to avoid even greater job cuts.

The campaign, which promotes innovative ways to preserve and create jobs, was founded by James Reed, the chief executive of Reed recruitment group. It is backed by the main political parties, the Trades Union Congress and the British Chambers of Commerce.

Last week, workers at Honda’s factory in Swindon, Wiltshire, voted overwhelmingly in favour of a 3 per cent pay reduction for the next 10 months to protect 490 jobs.

Over the past nine months, 27 per cent of UK workers have had their pay cut, 24 per cent have had their hours reduced and 24 per cent have lost benefits, according to the survey.

It found that 37 per cent had experienced only one of these changes, while another 12 per cent had experienced two of them and a further 5 per cent all three.

Two in five workers had been given extra responsibilities, while a fifth had seen the nature of their role within their organisation change. Two per cent had been offered a semi-paid sabbatical and 6 per cent an unpaid sabbatical since the recession began.

In spite of wage freezes and cuts in pay and hours, the Office for National Statistics recently published data showing that unemployment had so far risen as steeply as in the 1980s recession and more sharply than in that of the 1990s.

The ONS said the jobless rate had risen by 1.3 percentage points to 7.1 per cent since last year’s third quarter – the same at this stage as in the recession of 1980. By comparison, the rate rose by 0.9 percentage points in the first three quarters of the 1990-91 recession, to 8 per cent.

Labour market analysts expect unemployment to rise above 3m, or more than 10 per cent of the workforce, by this time next year. But they argue that the jobs market may be able to bounce back better than in the past.

More than half of workers in the Keep Britain Working survey were more pessimistic about job prospects this month than a month ago. Fifty-four per cent were more pessimistic, while 17 per cent were more optimistic.

“British workers are increasingly pessimistic about job prospects in the immediate future,” said Mr Reed. “But – and in contrast to parts of continental Europe – workers appear overall to be making common cause with their managers to help keep people working.”

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009

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