Northern Rock - the wealthy's welfare state

Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials
29 October 2007

2,000 jobs are to be cut at Northern Rock, the bank and mortgage lender which was bailed out by the government in mid-September.

So far the Northern Rock bosses have managed to get the Bank of England to lend them £21 billion of public money in order to keep their bank afloat. In addition, Darling has given his guarantee to the bank's account holders that they will not lose a penny whatever happens. In other words, should Northern Rock go bust, more public money will be spent on compensating its customers' losses, regardless of whether they are rich or poor and whether they can afford such losses or not (and many of them are pretty well-off!).

When it comes to the banks' employees, however, the government does not come up with such niceties. Northern Rock bosses may claim that they will do their best to avoid compulsory redundancies, but the fact of the matter is that the 2,000 employees concerned will lose their jobs and they are likely to have difficulties finding a similar job with comparable pay and conditions, not to mention seniority! Whether they choose to be made redundant or not, they will lose out. Just as the working class as a whole will lose, collectively, another 2,000 jobs which could have gone to the younger generation at some point.

However, while Darling's help for Northern Rock included guaranteeing the savers' assets, it never included guaranteeing the bank's employees' jobs.

For this government and the capitalist class whose interests it represents, the idea that a wealthy investor should lose some of its money in a bank crash, or simply that a bank should be allowed to go bust, is just unacceptable. But they could not care less about a few thousand workers ending up on the dole.

After all, in this society, isn't it the case that we, workers, are there to run after jobs in order to scrape a living and produce the wealth that the rich accumulate to become always richer? And this is why, for us, this society is just unacceptable!