Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials, 22 October 2007

22 October 2007

 A "classless" society? nonsense!

Many of us remember how Blair boasted about how he would create a classless society and even claimed that the class war was over.

What this meant, of course, was that the working class was supposed to surrender the weapon of the class struggle, in order to give the bosses a free ride to boost their profits. Under the new Labour administration, the interests of business would be considered as the interests of all, regardless of the damage caused to society in general and working people in particular. Blair was merely advertising his determination to see to it that this would be his government's policy.

Ten years on, Gordon Brown went one step further at Labour's last conference. This time he hailed the fact that Labour had become the "party of business". Not that this is a big surprise to any of us, of course. But to see these politicians, who owe their jobs to our votes, begging for the favours of big business is another illustration of what they mean by a "classless" society. Especially given that under their rule, social inequalities have increased drastically!

But really how "classless" is society? An opinion poll published last week shows that 53% of the population feels part of the working class. This is to be compared with the 55% figure in an equivalent poll 10 years ago. In other words, for all of Labour's efforts to convince the working class that it no longer exists, we are still here and kicking, despite all the job cuts and company "restructuring"! And no wonder! Otherwise, who would produce the wealth in this society? Certainly not the City's parasites and their politicians who live off our labour!

But the reality is not just that the working class remains the majority in society, while the capitalists who own or control everything are only a tiny gang. The truth is that the working class remains also the only force capable of ridding society of the main cause of its on-going economic chaos and scandalous injustices - private profit. While the Browns and the Blairs of this world keep writing us off as a spent force, we can and should rest assured that we hold the future of society in our hands. Sooner or later, our day will come and the profiteers will join capitalism in the dustbin of history, once and for all.

 Murder comes cheap to the bosses

Last week, at the stroke of a pen, 5 Law Lords deprived tens of thousands of workers suffering from pleural plaques (a lung condition due to exposure to asbestos) of the compensation they were owed.

For over two decades, insurance companies have tried to get the courts to prevent these workers from getting compensation worth only £12,000 each, on the cynical grounds that pleural plaques are not, in and of themselves, one of the deadly diseases caused by asbestos, but "merely" a warning that cancer may occur. As if claiming compensation for an injury at work was only legitimate when on the verge of death! The truth is that pleural plaques is an occupational disease and as such it calls for compensation.

But last week, those 5 Lords who have certainly never risked their lives at work, decided that it was far more legitimate to help insurance companies to save an estimated £1bn worth of compensation owed to these workers.

In reality, of course, the issue should go much further than just compensation. The employers of these workers got away scot free. All it took was for them to have paid their insurance premiums, in fact. Because these bosses knew exactly what they were doing when they exposed workers to asbestos. It was not as if the dangers of asbestos fibres were not known. They had been discovered in Britain in the 1920s!

Once the evidence that asbestos caused lethal lung cancers was there, any employer still choosing to expose workers to asbestos without offering protection, was potentially committing murder and should have been treated as such. Had such obvious measures been taken as a matter of course, there would not be over 3,500 people dying from asbestos-related cancers every year and 14,000 suffering from asbestos related diseases.

But then, of course, the justice machine was never designed to jail employers, not even when they put workers' lives at risk. An impoverished single mother can be put in prison for writing bouncing cheques to buy food for her child, but an employer just gets his insurance company to pay for the damage he causes - that is, when the courts do not decide that the workers are not even entitled to a penny of compensation, as it is the case today!