Their cuts and attacks call for the biggest fight back we can muster!

20 July 2010

Of course, the bosses welcomed the cuts in the "emergency budget". But their organisation, the CBI, demanded even more: "a package of measures to ensure Britain's labour market is best placed to sustain businesses and jobs during the recovery." Never mind the fact that there is no recovery in sight! Indeed, economists warn of a "double-dip recession"! The cuts will only increase (by 1.2m only for starters!) unemployment, thereby cutting consumption, and thereby causing more job losses. It's a vicious cycle. As for the CBI, its proposals have nothing to do with sustaining jobs and everything to do with sustaining profits by increasing workers' exploitation. They add that they want "...more flexible working, blocking of regulations that will cost jobs (!) and changing industrial relations legislation."

What the bosses have in store

For instance, they want the "consultation period" for collective redundancies to be cut from 90 days to 30. Not that consultation ever stopped them from slashing jobs. But the fact they want it reduced certainly shows what sort of "recovery" they have in mind - a jobless one!

They also want "simpler rules around the employment of agency workers to ensure existing jobs can be maintained and new posts created." As if using agency workers is not precisely their way to cut the overall number of permanent jobs out of which one an actually make a living!

Likewise, they want TUPE rules applying to workers transferred collectively from one company to another, to be "reviewed" - that is, they want the very limited protection enjoyed by these workers against employers' attempts to slash their conditions to be scrapped completely.

The CBI demands that the individual right to opt-out of the 48-hr week, remains in place. Of course, they would! This so-called "right", which would have gone long ago were it not for Labour's clinging to it on behalf of British companies, is really the right for the bosses to blackmail workers into working crazy (and therefore dangerous) hours.

For workers, this "right" to work more than an 8-hour day, is a slave charter, which should never have been tolerated in the first place. Today, at a time of rising unemployment which should mean that all the existing work gets shared out between all workers, without anyone losing wages, this slave charter should be thrown out once and for all!

The backlash will come!

Of course, the bosses are not so stupid as to believe that the working class will not respond to the drastic offensive they are planning. So, the CBI's "package" also includes a further tightening up of the anti-strike laws! Apparently, these laws that Labour inherited from past Tory governments and then kept in place, are no longer enough for the bosses! In addition to the present majority of "yes" votes needed for a strike to be legal, they want this majority to include at least 40% of all those entitled to vote - something which is at best difficult to achieve and, in some industries, virtually impossible, due to the practical constraints imposed by postal ballots.

So far, the Con-Dems deny they have plans concerning any of these issues, particularly the anti-strike legislation. They are most definitely lying. (And they just proved what liars they are over their latest NHS and Education cuts, after supposedly "ring-fencing" these budgets!)

The point, however, is that Cameron may still think that it could be politically dangerous to introduce too many attacks against workers at the same time. Not that he has much to fear from union leaders, who, so many times, have used the anti-strike legislation as a fig-leaf for their own reluctance to organise any fight back. But the big unknown for this government is how far it can go in its attacks against the working population without sparking off a reaction of anger.

And for good reason. Because, if and when this happens, no anti-strike legislation, no court, no riot police even, will have the capacity to contain the frustration which has built up in working class ranks since the beginning of the bosses' crisis.

In the meantime, any new attack against jobs, living standards and rights should be opposed. But ultimately, it is the whole rotten system that caused the crisis, which will have to be challenged. By standing up collectively, behind organisations and leaders whose fighting determination can be trusted, the working class will need to impose on the capitalist class its own solutions to the crisis - in particular, the collective control by the population over all of society's economic activity.