Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/572/7074
Capitalist crisis: Make the bosses pay!
Build for a one-day general strike
Cleaners employed by contractors Mitie protested outside the Willis building in the City of London, photo by Chris Newby Full story
As the global economic crisis intensifies, the world's leaders - the G20 - are meeting this week next to the symbolic heart of the economic maelstrom - the City of London. For over twenty years, the City has been an unregulated financiers' paradise, where Fred 'the Shred' Goodwin and his ilk made vast sums of money on an unprecedented scale.
New Labour, and the Tories before them, are responsible for deregulating the City and creating a nirvana for hedge fund and other speculative traders. As government minister Peter Mandelson famously said, New Labour is "intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich."
Now it is us - working class people and the poor in Britain and worldwide - who are being expected to pay the price for economic crisis. In Britain unemployment has passed two million and is expected to reach three million by the end of 2009. Youth unemployment is now over 15% and rising rapidly.
Globally, the managing director of the World Bank has warned that, unless the G20 take action, the economic crisis is likely to cost 90 million lives, and lead to an increase in the number of people going hungry of nearly one billion.
On Thursday 2 April, Youth Fight for Jobs will be marching to the G20 demanding the right to a decent job and a free education for all young people. The Trades Union Congress is also demonstrating in coalition with numerous other organisations on Saturday 28 March - asking the G20 to "put people first".
However, it is ruled out that the G20 will 'put people first' and take effective action to prevent the tragedy that is unfolding for billions worldwide. The actions of the world's governments to date speak for themselves. The banks have been rescued while the rest of us have been left to drown. In Britain £1.22 trillion has been used to underwrite the banking system compared to less than 0.1% of that - £800 million - put into job creation.
Bus workers demonstrate over pay, photo Paul Mattsson
The G20 demonstrations are a start but we need much more. The trade union movement needs to go on to launch a mass campaign in defence of jobs, pay and public services. As the Lindsey oil refinery strike showed, if workers fight we can win victories. The government is consciously trying to divide public and private sector workers. The trade unions need to bring them together in a united struggle.
In France last week three million workers and young people took to the streets in over 200 cities. We need a similar day of action here in Britain as a step towards a 24 hour general strike. The demands of such a movement should include:
- No job losses! Share out the work without loss of pay.
- Open the books of companies threatening job losses. Let popular committees of workers, trade unionists and consumer groups see where the profits have gone and what their financial situation really is.
- No attacks on our pay and pensions.
- Not a penny to the bankers in 'bonuses'! For a socialist, democratic, nationalised banking and financial sector that could offer cheap loans and mortgages for housing and small businesses and for the planned development of industry and services.
- No bailouts for the fat cats! Nationalise companies facing closure under democratic workers' control, with compensation based only on proven need.
- No cuts in public services! For a massive expansion of public services - including council house building, and increasing the number of nurses, doctors and teachers.
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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal
The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.
The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.
The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.
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- When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 25 March 2009:
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party election campaign
Socialist Party campaigns
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party marxist analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news