Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorial, 1 December 2008

1 December 2008

 The working class needs neither charity nor bail-out - we only want our due!

Tens of thousands of the so-called "new jobs" which Blair and Brown boasted so much about, are now disappearing into thin air. Why? Because a large number of these jobs were casual - short-term or agency jobs - and it costs the bosses nothing to deprive these workers of their livelihoods.

In production industries, in particular, temps are told that their contracts will not be renewed, when they are not marched out of the gates by security, without advance warning, as it happened at the Ford Dagenham plant, in East London, recently.

How can this be allowed, at a time when job vacancies are becoming so scarce?

Much responsibility for this lies with union leaders who said nothing and did nothing to force the bosses to make these casual workers permanent. To retain their cosy relationship with companies, they underwrote the use of casual workers, thereby dividing our ranks. And now, far from organising resistance against bosses' attacks on jobs, casual or permanent, they justify them!

So, last week for instance, after Jaguar-Land Rover announced that it was planning to sack 850 temps, all that Unite's national office could find to say was that "it's more important than ever for the government to take direct action to make low cost loans available to the car industry."

But since when is it the role of workers' organisations to hold the bosses' begging bowl for them, in front of their trustees in government? Since when is it their role to ask the state to use the taxes that we pay to boost the bosses' profits?

Ford may well be crying poverty in the US and threatening to go into administration, but it is only for the purpose of gaining access to the same state largesse already granted to the banks. And British manufacturers are playing exactly the same game.

It is not as if all these job-slashing companies were on the verge of bankruptcy, especially giants like Ford, British Telecom, Tata (the owner of Jaguar-Land Rover), Glaxosmithkline, BP, etc.., which are all cutting jobs. They all have huge financial and real estate assets, which could be used to see them through the crisis without having to cut a single job. Not to mention the massive profits accumulated by their shareholders over the years, thanks to the sweat of their workforces.

Would government subsidies stop these sharks from slashing jobs? Of course not! Not any more than the massive tax rebates they received from Labour over the past decade stopped them!

So, yes, "direct action" should be on the agenda. But not "direct action" by the bosses' government. What is needed is direct action by us, workers, using our collective strength to stop the job slashers. And this is no utopia. Crisis or not, the bosses need our labour to keep going. Reviving the principle that "an injury to one is an injury to all" is our best defence against the profit sharks and their crisis.

 Retail bankruptcies - when this irrational system feeds its own crisis

Last week, two other big names in retail went bust. Woolworths went into administration and furniture retail chain MFI collapsed. Almost a thousand stores and 22,000 jobs are now under threat.

But is this only due to the credit crunch as the media tell us? Not really, in fact. What caused these bankruptcies is not so much a shortage of credit, although this certainly played a role, than falling consumer expenditure.

And predictably so. Hasn't the explosion of food prices and fuel bills reduced significantly the purchasing power of the working population? But isn't this explosion primarily due to the capitalists' frantic speculation on commodity markets, which drove prices through the roof?

And now, this mad profit system is fuelling its own demise by depriving tens of thousands of workers of their wages completely, through massive redundancy plans. As a result, consumer expenditure will be cut even further. And job cuts in retail, which account for a large share of employment, will only add to this vicious cycle.

As if the prime engine of the economy, including from the capitalists' own point of view, was not the labour of the working class, on the one hand, and the money it spends in the economy, on the other - that is, as long as it has money to spend!

But this system is so irrational that, when faced with a crisis like the present one, it can only manage to undermine itself - by destroying the very resources which sustain its existence! The capitalist system's urge to protect private profits at any cost only feeds its own crisis, and makes it deeper and more costly for the whole of society.

This is why the profit system is unaffordable and unviable and why it cannot be tolerated any longer!