Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/579/7260
The Socialist 12 May 2009 |
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Fight all job cuts
Industrial action to stop bosses' attacks
Four million jobless by 2012. That's the stark prediction for the current 'free-market' recession by a group of former Bank of England economists. Rather than Gordon Brown's boast that 'Britain is well placed to weather the economic storm', research by the European Union said that almost a third of all jobs lost in Europe in the first three months of this year were lost in Britain.
Dave Nellist, who is standing as a candidate for the No2EU - Yes to Democracy list in the Euro elections, took only the average workers, photo Coventry Socialist Party
Dave Nellist, Socialist Party councillor, Coventry
Tens of thousands of jobs continue to go in car manufacturing, retail, finance and machinery manufacturing. But statistics only tell half the story. Each one of those figures is a family, fearing for paying the mortgage or the rent, weighing up whether a holiday can be afforded this year or not.
While MPs are caught lining their pockets with 'creative' expense claims, hundreds of thousands of families face the threat of redundancy with all the financial pain that will involve. MPs insulated by salaries two and a half times the average wage and with over-generous expenses on top, seem to care little for the anguish of working-class families. They appear to spend more time maximising their expenses claims than saving their constituents from penury.
Some economists claim the worst of the recession may be over, even believing they are seeing the first 'green shoots'. But the European Commission has just changed its view of only three months ago and doubled - to 4% - the amount by which it expects the EU's economy to shrink this year. That will make this recession the worst of our lifetimes. And such an economic tsunami will have political and social costs, such as increasing support for the far right, unless working people find a new political vehicle and voice.
Demonstrations such as that of Unite, on 16 May in Birmingham, are essential to bring together all those who want to fight the spectre of unemployment. But if they are to be more than the grand old Duke of York marching his men to the top of the hill and down again, we need a more serious resistance to rising unemployment.
Unfortunately that is unlikely to come from the Birmingham rally's platform of 'senior business, academic and political figures', nor from appeals to companies' better nature.
600 sacked Visteon workers in Basildon, Enfield and Belfast showed the degree of determination which trade union leaders should encourage and support in all their members.
Given six minutes notice of redundancy, Visteon workers occupied their factories and picketed outside them until their managements conceded a substantial financial package. But too many trade union leaders, mesmerised by anti-trade union laws still in place after 12 years of Labour government, limit their action to 'urging' companies to protect jobs, or calling for government subsidies for short time working and 'measures to restore confidence'.
New Labour has found hundreds of billions of pounds for the banks, to shore up the free market economy to which they are wedded.
Demonstrations like Birmingham's need building upon to force the government to take urgent action to stop the haemorrhage of jobs. Rather than wider programmes of taxpayers' money being used to subsidise private companies, threats to sack workers or close factories should be met by the government taking the relevant companies into public ownership and then investing public money into them, but under public control, to guarantee jobs and living conditions.
Perhaps if the Visteon convenors, or the Lindsey refinery strike leaders, were on the demonstration platform instead of ex-CBI leaders - that's the message we would get!