The Socialist 5 June 2009
Action to defend union rights
All pain, no gain
WORKERS AT Honda's car factory in Swindon returned to work after a four-month layoff having accepted a 3% pay cut over the next 10 months to protect 490 jobs.
According to the pro-capitalist Keep Britain Working campaign more than half of all UK workers (54%) have experienced a cut in pay, a reduction in hours or a loss of benefits since the recession began.
Over the last nine months 27% of UK workers have had their pay cut, 24% have had their hours reduced and 24% have lost benefits. While 37% of UK workers have experienced just one of these changes, 12% have experienced two of them and 5% have experienced all three. Two in five workers (40%) have been given extra responsibilities
However, according to the Office for National Statistics, in spite of these workers' sacrifices, unemployment has risen as steeply as in the 1980s recession and more sharply than in that of the 1990s.
There cannot be common cause between workers and bosses to combat recession. As the above illustrates, for workers it's 'all pain, no gain'. The slogan should be: "It's the bosses' crisis, make them pay for it".
Value for money
A CASE study of the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) by Chris Edwards, Senior Fellow at the University of East Anglia, shows an additional annual cost to the public purse of at least £19 million due to the PFI contract.
£823 million (at 2007 prices) is still to be paid in rent up to the end of the contract in 2037; this is for a hospital that had a basic construction cost of £159 million.
Meanwhile the annual rate of profit for the shareholders of Octagon Healthcare, the company behind the PFI, has exceeded 100%. This includes a £95 million windfall profit in 2003 on refinancing, which was generally described by the chair of the Public Accounts Committee as "the unacceptable face of capitalism".
HAVING BEEN caught with their hands in the expenses till, a number of MPs have announced they are standing down at the next general election. This includes Tory MP Sir Douglas Hogg who claimed money for having his moat cleared, and Labour MP Labour MP Margaret Moran who charged £22,500 to the public for dry rot treatment.
Most people however, want to see the back of these superannuated thieves now. But the reason these MPs are hanging on until the next general election is because they will then receive even more money in golden handshakes. If they quit now they lose out.
Tory MPs Andrew Mackay and partner Julie Kirkbride, having resigned after 'flipping' second homes in their expenses claims, will get £97,000 between them. And £30,000 of that sum will be tax free!
Douglas Hogg is in line for a £59,585 goodbye and Margaret Moran a £54,403 ta-ta. 'Duck house' MP Peter Viggers will get £32,383 and the payoffs don't stop there. These toe-rags will also walk away with a hefty final salary pension.
In this issue
Workplace news and analysis
Socialist Party election campaign
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party review
Marxist analysis: history