They cut our jobs and sponge off our taxes: expropriate these profit sharks!

Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials
15 December 2008

Remember Brown's benevolent hot air about the need for "solidarity" against the crisis, when he wanted us to swallow the burden of the hundreds of billions of public funds lavished on the banking system?

Well, the profit sharks have their own idea of "solidarity" as shown by last week's new round of job cuts. Behind Labour's hot air the bosses' offensive against the working class is gathering momentum.

Cynical profiteering

The most cynical announcements were probably those made in banking and mining, by two of the world's richest companies.

Banco Santander, Europe's 2nd largest bank is not under threat. It was rich enough to swallow Alliance and Leicester, Abbey National and the profitable rump of Bradford & Bingley. Meanwhile, it was in receipt of state aid, in Britain and in Spain. In fact, state aid was just a boost for Santander to enlarge its empire! And, today, the banking giant wants to reap the benefits of this predatory drive by throwing 1,900 workers on the dole.

This should be more than enough to justify reading the riot act to Santander's bosses and making them repay every single penny they got from the banking bailout over the past year!

However, this government is only interested in getting the banks to resume cheap lending to its capitalist masters - not by reading the riot act to the bank sharks, but by offering to use our taxes to guarantee the bosses' borrowing! Whether this public funding is used by companies to shed yet more jobs, is none of Brown's concern!

Even more cynical are the 14,000 job cuts by London-based mining giant Rio Tinto. Unlike so many others, Rio Tinto did not canvass for state aid, so far. But then, this is a company which has been making a killing out of the commodity price explosion. Vital metals like copper and aluminium reached record price levels, turning basic items like kitchenware into luxury products. And who raked in the profits? The Rio Tintos of this world.

Rio Tinto made a record £4.6bn profit in the first half of this year alone, an increase of 113% over the previous year - and this despite buying Alcan, the world's largest aluminium producer! To put this profit increase into perspective, it would be enough to pay a £400/w wage to the 14,000 threatened Rio Tinto workers to do nothing until 2024! But what do Rio Tinto's handful of very big shareholders care about 14,000 workers and their families? They and their system only care about rising profits and share prices for the wealthy few!

We cannot afford not to fight back

By now, hundreds of companies have already introduced job cuts, short-time working and down days. According to a recent survey of recruitment agencies, even worse cuts should start in January, with most companies expected to cut between 5% and 20% of their workforce.

Yet there is no sign of any will among union leaders to organise any serious resistance against this job slaughter. In the few areas where some resistance is organised, like this coming week in some Mail Centres threatened with closure, only token action is offered and always in isolation.

And even then, the only perspective offered by union leaders is for workers to hold the bosses' begging bowl on their behalf and ask the state for more public funding for the profit sharks!

This is why wealthy companies like steel giant Corus are now feeling confident enough to dare suggest that workers should take a 10% wage cut in return for... a hypothetical reduction in job cuts!

Contrary to what union leaders claim, the working class cannot expect any help from a government which is busy looting public funds on behalf of the same bankers who are responsible for the crisis, while slashing jobs in the banks it controls and in public services.

Nor can the working class get anywhere if it does not use its collective strength, in full, to stop the bosses' offensive in its tracks. The capitalists must be given the scare of their lives, if they are to be forced into footing the bill of their own crisis.

Against the backdrop of rising unemployment, no company making profits should be allowed to cut a single job. And those which are in trouble should be taken into state ownership, without compensation for shareholders who piled up dividends for so long on workers' backs. And rather than cutting jobs, the work should be shared out between workers, without loss of wages.

These are the objectives that could be adopted by a general counter-offensive of the working class. They may be ambitious objectives, but they are not utopian. After all, the economy does not exist without our labour. It is high time that we, workers, decided to dictate the way it is run, rather than allowing the profit sharks to shape our lives!