Another shock fall in output prove just how much the government's austerity programme is "sucking demand out of the economy," the Unite union warned the government today.
The latest Markit/CIPS purchasing managers' index revealed that overall activity contracted as output fell, with a headline reading of 47.9 in February - below the 50 level which separates growth from contraction.
The index slipped into the red for the first time since last November as Britain continued to be battered by poor weather and manufacturers suffered tough conditions both at home and abroad.
Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said: "Government claims that it wants to boost manufacturing, ring hollow for the skilled men and women who have lost their jobs and face a future of uncertainty.
"When will the penny drop with the government, that what we need is a proper state-backed British investment bank as part of strategy that promotes jobs and growth?"