Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/545/6338
CALIFORNIA'S REPUBLICAN Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger lived up to his film role as 'the Terminator' by unilaterally sacking 22,000 state workers and cutting a further 200,000 workers' wages to minimum wage levels. Employees affected immediately staged protests at their workplaces.
Schwarzenegger says cutbacks are needed to balance California's budget deficit of over $15 billion. 30 US states, including California, face budget deficits, fundamentally resulting from the slowdown in America's economy.
After political deadlock in the state assembly between Republicans and Democrats over the scale of the cuts, California's financial controller - Democrat John Chiang - refused to implement the salary cuts, saying that it could risk legal action by workers.
Oil record profits
FAT CAT US shareholders hope for bumper dividends after Exxon Mobil, the world's biggest privately-owned oil company, announced a record second quarter (2008) income of $11.68 billion.
Meanwhile Europe's largest oil company, Shell, saw its profits reach $11.56 billion, up from $8.67 billion last year. BP also reported a 28% increase in profits to $8 billion. These profits reflect the record prices consumers have to pay for their fuel and energy bills.
WHILE 16 million UK domestic consumers fork out on average an extra £240 a year in increased energy charges from British Gas, its parent company, Centrica, announced profits of nearly £1 billion. Centrica's chief executive, Jake Ulrich, is set to receive £116,000 in dividends on his shareholdings.
Such greed prompted Unite's Tony Woodley, rightly, to call for a windfall tax on the energy giants. The government dithers over implementing such a measure in its autumn budget statement. The trade unions should above all demand the renationalisation of the utility companies and mobilise their members to use their industrial muscle to achieve it.
RBS' gambling debts
HOT ON the heels of failed former private bank Northern Rock posting a £585 million 'first half' loss in 2008, the Royal Bank of Scotland - RBS, Britain's second largest bank - announced a £691 million loss. RBS's losses stem from being left holding unrecoverable debts after gambling in the US sub-prime loans market.
RBS had to write off some £5.9 billion in assets. No doubt, RBS chiefs, in order to protect fat cat shareholders, will try to recover these losses by screwing customers with higher charges.
In The Socialist 13 August 2008:
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