Hands off our jobs! The profiteers must be made to pay for their crisis!

Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials
17 November 2008

Brown and his ministers may be promising relief for working people, but the tax cuts that seem to make up the core of their plans are hardly likely to be of any use to the growing queues of unemployed, workers, nor to the rising number of working class households threatened with repossession and homelessness.

By now, the poison produced by the bankers' greed is spreading across the economy. Almost every day, thousands of jobs cuts are announced by big companies in which jobs had been considered "safe" so far. And these announcements do not even tell the whole story, as agency workers are being disposed of quietly, as a matter of course.

The profit sharks on the offensive

A long series of very rich companies has already made such announcements.

"Million-pound-a-minute" giant BT announced 10,000 job cuts last week. In fact, BT has already cut 4,000 jobs and plans to cut another 6,000 before next March. As if this was not bad enough, BT plans to increase normal retirement age to 65, to change its final salary pension scheme to one based on the average salary earned by workers during their whole career and to increase workers' pension contributions.

Is this due to BT's being caught in the credit turmoil? Not at all! BT made over half-a-billion pounds in the second quarter of this year alone. In fact, shareholders were so pleased with BT's job cuts and so confident about its future profits, that BT shares went up by 11% in the City!

The same is true of another giant, BP, which, just after boasting of a 145% profit increase to over £6bn for just the 3rd quarter of this year, announced 5,000 job cuts across its operations. Not only is BP boasting about ripping off all workers who need to drive, but it now plans to increase its looting by depriving 5,000 of their wages as well!

Likewise, Branson's company Virgin Media announced 2,200 job cuts. But just at the same time, another Branson company - Virgin Atlantic - announced that it was aiming to buy Gatwick airport. So Branson has enough cash to buy London's second largest airport, but not enough to maintain the jobs of 2,200 workers who have been earning him large profits for years?

Meanwhile, Cable & Wireless, the second largest telecom provider after BT, has announced an undisclosed number of compulsory redundancies. Nothing to do with any financial difficulties, though. C&W is simply in the process of acquiring Thus, a big telecom provider in Scotland, in order to swallow its market and make so-called "savings" on workers' backs through "economies of scale".

Not one redundancy should be tolerated!

Possibly the most shocking of all, was the 3,000 job cuts announced by RBS - not high-flying bankers, but clerical workers. No sooner have this bank's directors been offered £20bn of taxpayers' money on a golden plate by Brown, than they start throwing workers onto the dole - without the government objecting in the least!

If anyone had any doubts on this account, it shows on which side of the social divide Brown and Darling stand - firmly on the capitalists' side, against the working population. And this means, that we, workers, can only rely on our own collective strength to stop the profiteers from making us pay for their crisis.

Nor is there any mileage in giving in to the bosses' blackmail over wages. The union officials who convinced the workforce of construction equipment giant JCB to agree to a wage cut in return for "saving jobs", will have to explain to these workers why it is that, only 2 weeks later, JCB announced another 400 redundancies!

No, conceding to the bosses cannot and will not protect us against their attacks. The bosses are on the offensive to force the working population to foot the bill of their crisis, whether they are actually hit or whether they merely anticipate that they will be hit and strive to protect their profits.

But we have been paying for these profits for far too long already - through the extension of casual work, worsening conditions and an on-going erosion of our standard of living. Why should we pay yet again, to allow the capitalists to maintain the level of their profits?

The economy is awash with money accumulated by the capitalist class out of our labour. It is high time this money was used to protect our jobs and standard of living. If it means sharing out the work between all of us, so be it, as long as everyone keeps a decent wage. Because if the working class is not to foot the bill for this crisis, it has to be pay-back time for the capitalists!