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IN AN economic recession, making workers pay for the crisis is the capitalists' guiding principle. The latest example of this 'philosophy' is the expected decision by 25 of 100 major UK private sector companies to close workers' final salary pension schemes to existing members.
In recent years the majority of schemes have been closed to new recruits but now the trend is to end them for existing members, saving the employers a shed load of cash.
The schemes are linked to the performance of bonds and stocks and shares. During the boom years on world stock markets many of the bosses took a pensions holiday instead of continuing to invest in the schemes. Consequently, when bull markets turned to bear markets the schemes had accumulated an enormous deficit - £195 billion in December 2008.
Naturally, CEOs and top managers will continue to receive fat pension pots on retirement as will MPs.
THE NUMBER of people losing their homes after failing to meet mortgage payments has doubled in the last year.
Repossession orders granted by the courts in the third quarter of 2008 were 13,161 - up 92% compared to a year earlier. Those three months or more in mortgage arrears swelled to 340,000, 24% higher than the previous year - a figure expected to reach 500,000 this year.
All the government's talk of giving help to those struggling home owners appears to be so much headline hype.
ICELAND'S BELEAGUERED right-wing coalition government collapsed last week - a consequence of the turmoil sparked by the country's financial collapse.
Continual street protests since last October finally dislodged PM Geir Haarde, who announced he was standing down on health grounds and called for an early general election, possibly to be held on 9 May.
With living standards in freefall, over 8,000 people demonstrated against the government last week - the biggest public demonstration in the island's history.
AN OVERWHELMING majority of Bolivians voted in favour of a new constitution that ostensibly gives more rights to the country's indigenous and poor communities.
Around 60% of electors approved left-leaning president Evo Morales's reform, despite violent opposition in the run up to the vote orchestrated by the capitalists/landowners in the economically richest provinces. This elite has been threatening to break away to preserve their privileges.
The Bolivian section of the CWI - Revolutionary Socialist Alternative (ASR) - gave critical support to the new constitution.
ASR in its leaflet declared: "The real struggle begins after we approve the new constitution. Workers, peasants, and indigenous people need to fight to carry out the guarantees in the new constitution and ensure that it is only the first step towards a socialist revolution."
More in a future issue
In The Socialist 28 January 2009:
Slaughter in Gaza
Socialist Party campaigns
Socialist Party workplace news
Marxist analysis: history
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party news
Socialist Party reviews