Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is to urge the government to replace the furlough scheme and outlaw “firing and re-hiring” methods.

HIs alternative proposals include expanding part-time working and rewarding employers who give people hours rather than cut jobs.

He will also call for training and support for those who are unable to return full-time, and for sectors most in need such as retail, aviation and those hit by local lockdowns to be targeted.

He will put his case for replacing the job retention scheme – also known as the furlough scheme – to the Trades Union Congress’ annual conference.

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The scheme was introduced by chancellor Rishi Sunak to support employers and staff during the coronavirus lockdown but it ends next month.

Sir Keir is expected to argue that “with a bit of imagination and acting in the national interest, a better approach is possible”.

He is due to say: “Imagine how powerful it would be if we could form a genuine national plan to protect jobs, create new ones and investing in skills and training.

“I’m making an open offer to the prime minister: Work with us to keep millions of people in work, work with the trade unions and work with businesses, do everything possible to protect jobs and to deliver for working people.”

Almost 10 million workers have been furloughed since March but the scheme is set to end on October 31.

Firms have had to start making a contribution to wages from this month as part of the scheme winding down.

Addressing the conference on Monday, TUC leader Frances O’Grady warned: “If the government doesn’t act, we face a tsunami of job losses.”

Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association general secretary Manuel Cortes backed Starmer and called for urgent assistance for the travel trade.

Cortes said: “Keir is absolutely right to say that the government must not allow a furlough cliff edge to occur and his call for more intervention will be really well received by millions worried about losing their jobs at the end of next month.

“The spectre of mass unemployment must be avoided, and our union welcomes the idea of targeting sectors most in need. Our members in the travel trade need and deserve more support from Ministers to see them through the Coronavirus crisis.

“Let’s face it, once we have conquered this deadly virus we are all going to need a holiday and will welcome the ability to travel freely again. Our members are the ones who will help make this a reality.

“Without urgent government action, booking holidays in dedicated travel shops could become a thing of the past.

“So steps must be taken now to safeguard jobs and ensure our travel trade is in the best position for the future.”

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