Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials, 14 November 2006

14 November 2006

 Who wore red poppies for them?

On Monday, just after the weekend's Remembrance Day ceremonies, Blair announced that preparations would now begin for next year's 25-year commemoration of the Falklands War.

But despite this all too obvious attempt to shift public attention away from the catastrophe that his government and the Bush administration are still perpetrating in Iraq, who can forget it? 4 more British soldiers have just died in Basra.

However, as usual, the focus of the ceremonies this year was the "Great War (1914-18) to end all wars", as well as the even greater war which followed it in 1939.

And all these ceremonies as usual, were designed to cover up the fact that none of the millions of soldiers killed in these wars died to defend their "motherland", let alone their own interests.

In WW1 and WW2, what was at stake was not democracy, as was claimed at the time. Especially not in Britain, which was not threatened. No, what was at stake was which one of the rich powers was going to dominate the resources of the Third World.

From Normandy to Burma and the Philippines, millions of workers paid with their lives to ensure that the big shareholders in the City and Wall Street would get the lion's share of the post-war world order. Nor did the 225 soldiers who died in the Falklands give their lives in order to defend the interests of British workers.

No, they died to reassert a principle - that no Third World country will ever be allowed to restore its control over its own territory. In this case, islands off the coast of Argentina, on the other side of the world, which cannot, by any stretch of the imagination be considered as a part of Britain.

But of course, the most hypocritical tribute made at the weekend ceremonies was for the soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan - a tribute made by the same politicians who decided to send them there in order to tighten the grip of the Western powers over the Middle East.

Yes, these soldiers died for nothing and certainly they were not defending their own interests, let alone ours.

As for the victims of these wars, like the over 600,000 ordinary Iraqis killed so far and the growing number of Afghan people - there was not even one word of remembrance for them.

 A fair pack of greedy liars

More than 150,000 mostly poor families have lost savings of between £400 and £2,000 as a result of the "collapse" of Farepack, the Christmas hamper company. And though nobody mentions it, 20 Farepack workers have lost their jobs.

"Sir" Clive Thompson, ex-Rentokil CEO, who is a millionaire in his own right, and director of Farepack's parent company, EHR, blames Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS), for not extending the company's overdraft. Instead, thanks to him, the savers' money was all eaten up.

And while Farepack was going under, Thompson still pocketed his £100,000 consultancy fee; the chief executive took his £275,000 salary, and majority shareholder Nicholas Gilodi-Johnson took his share dividend of £445,000 on top of his £62,000 salary.

In fact EHR, Farepack's parent company has been a front for dodgy acquisitions, and some of those involved gave themselves massive payouts before resigning. The board members of EHR will even have protected pensions! But where is all the money they made on the back of the low paid?

One cannot help be reminded of the Longbridge scandal, because even if the scale is not comparable, the EHR directors are behaving just like the "Phoenix 4". As usual the savings and pensions of the directors of the "parent company" are quite safe and they declare that they are "not responsible" for the collapse of the company they have presided over. Tracing where the money has gone and retrieving it ends up as "impossible".

The government has stepped in... and announced an "official inquiry". MPs have been asked to hand over one month's salary and supermarkets who supplied vouchers have said they will "give something". Never mind the billions that Tesco Sainsbury or even HBOS make in annual profits!

If this latest company collapse shows anything it is that the working class needs to control what the bosses are doing with their money. We need to be able to trace where it goes and what it is used for. Because that would be the only way to get a full "refund" from the shareholders and those greedy, defrauding, parasites who inhabit company boardrooms.