The oil companies get away with murder

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5 February 2008

There are those who do have a direct interest in these wars in Middle East - the wars for oil, markets and strategic control. Exxon, Shell, and all the other oil companies, who today are again announcing record profits. Exxon Mobil said it made an all-time record for a US company of $40.6bn. Royal Dutch Shell made clear profits of £13.9 billion, a record for a British listed company.

The exception seemed to be BP, whose profits fell slightly. But this was no setback: BP, which is Europe's second biggest oil company, announced instead that it was raising its quarterly dividend pay-out to shareholders by 31%!

Indeed, BP predicts a very "robust" future for the oil business. So its shareholders are to get a hefty reward, while 5,000 BP workers have been told they are sacked, because profits were not as high as predicted!

Yet, not only do these companies' workers make all these profits for them, but the whole of the working class is adding to their profits by buying fuel for their cars in order to get to work so as to allow this cycle of capitalist exploitation to continue! Or, alternatively, paying through the neck on public transport where fares keep going up (5-15%) way above annual inflation!

Off course, the oil companies are always quick to reply with the excuse that most of the money we pay at the pump goes to the government in tax.

In fact, the government intends to increase the tax on petrol and diesel by 2 pence per litre on 1 April, so we are due to pay even more!

Yes, while oil companies and their shareholders are raking it in as if there is no tomorrow, ordinary people are asked to pay for it. And how long before the cost of a litre of petrol reaches £2?

Union leaders are calling for a windfall tax to be imposed on the oil companies. Windfall taxes have been imposed before, like in 1997, on the privatised utility companies, by none other than Tony Blair, the best friend of big business.

This could be done. But why just a windfall tax? Surely if the Treasury needs to raise a lot more money - and it does - it could recoup all of this from these super-wealthy companies by making them pay all of the time?

This will not, of course, change the fact that the oil companies, taxed or not, are making a killing - in every sense of this word - on the backs of workers and the poor of this world, with the full support of governments such as this one.