Labour employees on ‘furlough’ because of the coronavirus crisis have received shock news from their employer this week: the party is putting them out of work before it incurs even the first phase of costs when Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s changes to the scheme kick in from the beginning of August.
From 1 August, employers have to pay National Insurance and tax contributions for furloughed workers, rising to 10% of their salary from 1 September and 20% in October.
A letter to furloughed employees, signed by the party’s HR director Joseph Perry, tells them that they are off furlough and out of a job after 1 August, because the party wants to avoid even the NI/tax cost. The letter does not say – and the party has so far not confirmed to the SKWAWKBOX – how many people are affected, but the wording of the letter suggests it is many or even all of those on furlough:
The Labour Party has decided to end the scheme for employees at this point given the costs associated to the Party. This will mean that your furlough period and your employment with the Labour Party will come to an end on 31st July 2020.
Sunak had to be dragged kicking and screaming into providing the furlough scheme in the first place by a Labour movement team spearheaded by Unite’s Howard Beckett and supported by then-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, as Sunak originally wanted merely to funnel money straight into company bail-outs.
When Sunak announced his changes to the scheme last month, the SKWAWKBOX warned that they would result in people losing their jobs – but did not envisage that the Labour Party would be among the first to cast workers aside.
The Labour Party has been contacted for comment, but did not appear to have primed its own press operation for the planned job losses and so far there has been no response.
The furlough scheme was a huge triumph for the Labour movement over Tories whose first and last instinct is always to protect bosses and screw the workers. But for the Labour party to act like this now is an utter disgrace.
Labour party leader Keir Starmer and his new general secretary David Evans need to remember why the party was created in the first place.
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