We'll have to stand up and defend ourselves!

Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials
27 October 2008

Brown said that now is not the time to reduce public spending, no matter that it means increasing the debt of the state...

Well and good, maybe, if his public expenditure is to be redirected to those who actually need it! But in fact, all it is intended for is yet more bail-outs for the rich and their system!

Meanwhile, not only will the poorest and the working class get no help, but they are the target of yet more cuts - and from the government itself!

A Cowardly attack on the unemployed

Yes, Brown actually found nothing wrong in launching cuts in incapacity benefits for the unemployed yesterday! At the same time as he himself admits that unemployment is on the up!

It is just incredible that this government should even think about introducing unemployment benefit cuts at all - but to do so at this moment in time is nothing short of a scandal!

It is patently absurd to announce that 1m disabled workers - the ones Brown is targeting for this cut - must now find work, or else! Workers who are perfectly able-bodied cannot find work at the moment, and thousands more are being chucked out of their jobs every day! Where are the new jobs paying a living wage?

But no, the government insists that the unemployed and the sick, who were already suffering from the crisis, and who are going to find things even harder over the next period, must pass a stringent new test for the new benefit, called "Employment and Support Allowance" - which will be just £60.50 per week for the first 13 weeks. They will be expected to look for work at the same time! If they prove that they cannot do a job due to disability, then the benefit may go up to £102.10 per week. As if anyone, especially someone who is disabled in some way, can live on such a pittance! On top of this there is talk of making people work for their benefits!

the bosses should be made to pay!

When such a "good example" is set by the government in attacking the unemployed, small wonder that the bosses feel they have a free hand to go ahead and sack temps, slash permanent jobs, implement short-time working, or cut wages!

It began with the construction companies even before the recession was "official". But now other companies in other sectors of the economy are cutting jobs and putting workers on short time. Not that they have registered losses! They are doing this to "anticipate " the recession!

Many of these companies have huge assets. Their owners and shareholders have accumulated large profits out of which they could actually take the money to keep the workforces in their present jobs - without loss of pay - for the foreseeable future. But would they? The giant equipment maker, JCB, just got workers to vote for a 4-day week (a pay cut of £50/wk) to "save" 350 jobs. But JCB already cut 400 jobs and will cut another 150. This family-owned firm, the 3rd biggest heavy equipment maker in the world, made record sales last year with a turnover of £2.25bn!

GKN, which makes parts for aerospace, the MoD and car industry, already introduced short-time working and now wants to cut up to 2,000 jobs - yet its profits were up 10% in the past 3 months! Likewise for car companies like Ford, which just registered increased European sales (and therefore profits), but already sacked temporary workers and cut wages, de facto, by introducing lay-offs and short-time!


Of course, JCB got away with its cuts thanks the union officials' helping hand! A GMB officer said "I am delighted we were able to save 350 jobs... The vote shows social solidarity of trade union members in action". Apparently "social solidarity" means that workers should pay for the bosses' crisis! Sounds more like social betrayal! As to "action", that used to mean fighting together to force the bosses to pay!

Any union leader who helps the bosses rip off workers rather than helping to organise them to fight for their due, is nothing but the bosses' lackey! The choice is not between a pay cut and more job cuts. The only way we can be responsible to ourselves, our class and our children who will be tomorrow's workers, is to refuse such blackmail. If a company is hard up it can turn to its shareholders for cash!

This recession might well turn out to be worse than anything we have seen before. All the more reason for us to raise our heads, not just to defend our class interests, but to start the fight to get rid of this crisis-ridden system for good.