LONDON, January 15 /PRNewswire/ -- On a visit to the North West (15th January 2008), Derek Simpson the joint leader of Unite, will call for a GBP1bn strategic fund, to support jobs in the UK's second biggest regional economy.

Mr Simpson will meet workplace representatives working in occupations across manufacturing, health and finance this Thursday 15th January. The union is calling for a GBP13 billion strategic support package from Government, similar to the support provided last year by the German, French and Swedish governments to their manufacturing sectors. The union believes GBP1bn should be used to support vital industries in the North West like car manufacturing and aerospace.

Unite Joint General secretary Derek Simpson said:

The North West is a hub of excellence for manufacturing and it can't afford to lose its critical mass. Aid is urgently needed for the car industry. Productive companies like Jaguar Land Rover need short term support to help them through the credit crunch. But help also needs to be made available for the aerospace sector as well as other strategic manufacturing companies in the North West. That's why Unite is pressing the government for a strategic support package to support skilled jobs in the North West.

The union has welcomed yesterday's announcement from the Government to guarantee up to GBP20bn of loans to small and medium-sized firms to help them survive the downturn. However, help is still needed to support the UK's strategic manufacturing industries. Companies like Airbus in Broughton face problems because airlines are having difficulty in raising cash to buy new planes. Airbus' suppliers like GKN and Goodrich, all based in the North West, are feeling the knock-on effect of the credit crunch. Unite believes that funding should be made available to protect jobs if and when these companies need support.

Mr Simpson continued:

There are many productive and efficient manufacturing companies across the North West in need of short term support to help them through the credit crunch. Governments including those in the US, Germany, France and Sweden, have granted support and we are calling on the Government to give viable British manufacturing companies similar help so that we do not lose the skills essential to ensuring this country emerges from the recession as a leading economy.

At the end of 2008, Unite the union presented Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling with ten key priorities as part of government action to spend its way out of the credit crunch and kick-start the faltering economy. The Government has already announced protection for homeowners, investments in public infrastructure and increased spending, a cut in VAT and a new 45% higher rate of income tax rate.

Contact: Ciaran Naidoo on +44(0)7768-931-315