Rubber manufacturing in the UK operates largely under the radar. It is not a matter of producing balloons, elastic bands, rubber ducks and sundry other consumer goods: that has largely fled eastwards. Rather it is in the business of producing vital materials and components that feed into the supply chain, in many cases global, for a number of sectors, many vital in keeping key industries such as energy, automotive and healthcare going. The scale and nature of its contribution has never been more evident than in the last few weeks with a number of companies stepping up production in response to the demands that have sprung out of the Coronavirus crisis. One of the companies represented in the British Rubber and Polyurethane Products Association for example is currently involved in an urgent project for the supply of diaphragms for use in respirators.
We rightly focus our praise and gratitude on those on the front line who are fighting this terrible disease: the heroic staff in the NHS, social care and transportation services. But we should not forget the hundreds of thousands of the unsung workers in the essential support industries who keep the country going behind the scene in trying conditions.