Coronavirus: UK firms slash more than 12,000 jobs in two days


2nd July, 2020 11:05:44 printer

Coronavirus: UK firms slash more than 12,000 jobs in two days

More than 12,000 people in the UK are set to lose their jobs after a raft of firms announced cuts in the past 48 hours.

The cuts are mainly being made by High Street retailers and in aviation - two of the sectors hardest hit by the coronavirus lockdown.

John Lewis has said it will close stores but has not confirmed how many jobs will go.

Topshop owner Arcadia and Harrods said they planned a total of 1,180 job cuts.


Where are the cuts falling?


Other lay-offs that have been announced include:


-Up to 5,000 job cuts at Upper Crust owner SSP Group

-Up to 700 jobs at Harrods

-About 600 workers at shirtmaker TM Lewin

-Up to 900 cuts at management consulting firm Accenture

-300 staff cuts across Virgin Money, Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank

-1,700 UK jobs at plane-maker Airbus

-And 1,300 crew and 727 pilots at EasyJet

WH Smith, Bensons for Beds, Wrights Pies, tableware-maker Steelite International, the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool and Norwich Theatre Royal have also announced plans to reduce staff.

Businesses have been hit hard since the UK went into lockdown on 23 March, and even though restrictions are gradually being eased, consumer demand remains depressed.

The government's furlough scheme will also start to be pared back from August, and firms are cutting jobs to control their costs.


What do employees say?

James Phillips, a mechanical engineer, told the BBC he fears he could be made redundant.

He has been on furlough since March but has now been asked to attend a redundancy consultation meeting with his employer.

He said: "I'm three months away from having a baby, and I was about to sign for a mortgage this week on a new property, so it's impacted me massively, really. Everything's been put on hold."

Sue Hudson lost her job as a legal secretary at a solicitors in Bournemouth in April and has not found a job since.

"There are too many people chasing too few jobs," she told BBC Radio 5 Live. "It's very disheartening."


Why so many job losses now?


For most businesses, staffing is the highest cost, and many have been using the government's furlough schemes to keep workers on.

But the programme - which is paying 80% of the wages of more than 9 million workers - will start to be pared back from next month and will end in October.

As firms have to consult for 30-45 days when making redundancies, some will feel that now is the time to act.

"There is already a cost to the employer from just a month's time," said BBC business correspondent Simon Gompertz.

"Larger employers, planning bigger layoffs, will be eyeing that escalating wage bill and maybe thinking the sooner they move the better."


What have firms said?


In an email to staff, Harrods' managing director Michael Ward said the department store was making its cuts with a heavy heart.

"Due to the ongoing impacts of this pandemic, we as a business will need to make reductions to our workforce."

He said it would take a "drastic improvement in external conditions" for Harrods to recover and return to growth.

John Lewis, which was already looking to "right size" its business before the crisis, said it had not decided which shops would close.

"The reality is that we have too much store space for the way people want to shop now," the company said in a statement.

Topshop owner Arcadia, which is slashing a fifth of its head office staff, also blamed the pandemic for its cuts.

"Due to the impact of Covid-19 on our business including the closure for over three months of all our stores and head offices, we have today informed staff of the need to restructure our head offices," it said.