While the bosses sharpen their knives, we need to strengthen our ranks

19 September 2018

Over the course of the past week alone, a salvo of announcements has been giving us a taste of what the bosses have in store for the working class in the coming period.
    The first shot was fired on Friday last week, when British Steel said it was to cut almost 10% of its 5000-strong workforce.  This wasn't much of a surprise.  British Steel's owner is none other than Greybull Investments, a dodgy asset-stripping outfit which bought most of Tata Steel's operations 2 years ago, for a symbolic £1.  It then imposed a 3% wage cut on the workforce in the name of "saving jobs".  And now, having returned the company to profitability this year, Greybull is revealing its real plan to "save jobs" - in true asset-stripping fashion!
    And then the big car manufacturers joined the fray.  First came Jaguar-Land-Rover.  After having sacked a thousand agency workers at Solihull, in April, JLR said it would impose a 3-day week on half of the Castle Bromwich plant's workforce, from the beginning of October.
    Then, on the same day, luxury car giant BMW announced that it would stop producing the "Mini" range for the whole of next April, closing down its Cowley plant, in Oxford, for the whole period.
    Meanwhile, Ford Motor Company was giving notice to workers at the Dagenham plant, in East London, that they should expect lay-offs on one of the plant's three engine lines.  And there are maybe more lay-offs to come.

Behind their cynical excuses

Of course, all these companies have duly produced "good excuses" for their new dirty tricks.
    All of them have long been blaming the rising cost of imported components and raw materials as a result of the Brexit-linked collapse of the pound.  In addition, some of the car giants are also blaming the threat to diesel engines - even though they’re likely to get government subsidies for the electric car projects they’ve all been working on for some time.
    Above all, they're whining about the "uncertainty" created by the Brexit saga - and, in particular, about the threat of tariffs being slapped, one way or another, on both imports and exports.
    But, of course, what they're worried about is only how their profits are affected by Brexit.  As to the "uncertainty" they impose on workers by slashing jobs or cutting take-home pay through reduced working hours or lay-offs, what do they care?
    Whether the Brexit chaos will affect the bosses as much as they claim, is another question.  These large companies are not in the habit of putting all their eggs in one basket.  As a matter of course, they constantly hedge their bets and potential risks, by using financial tricks.  In fact, helping big companies to shield their profits from the ups and downs of an increasingly unstable capitalist system, has long been one of the main functions of the over-inflated finance industry.

The fight back we need to prepare for

In fact, we can already recognise through their complaints and announcements what the bosses are really up to.  Indeed we've heard it all before.  Ten years ago, big companies were quick to use the banking crash as an excuse for a wholesale attack on our jobs and conditions.
    Today, six months ahead of the official Brexit day, the bosses are preparing the ground to make the best of the Brexit chaos.  They're already using it as a pretext to impose a further turn of the screw on the rest of us.  By the same token they are trying to to get us used to the idea that there is even worse to come and that there's nothing we can do about it.
    However, whether or not they get away with these cynical manoeuvres, is entirely up to us workers.  In particular, the impact of Brexit on capitalist profits is not - and should not be - of any concern for the working class.
    These companies and their shareholders are sitting on billions in assets and cash, thanks to what they've been piling up over the years, by exploiting our labour.  If Brexit means that their huge profits and dividends are temporarily cut down to size, this has nothing to do with us.  It is just, yet again, the price to pay for their irrational profit system and the irresponsibility of their politicians.  But it is their system and their politicians - not ours.  Let the capitalist class foot the bill for its chaos - the full bill!
    So, while the bosses are sharpening their knives and lining up in combat order for yet another attack against the working class, we need to prepare ourselves to respond in kind.  Against the divisive anti-European, anti-migrant, nationalistic nonsense they keep pouring on us, our interests - and the only way forward for us - is to stand up united, as a class, against the capitalist class which is exploiting our labour here, in Britain!  And if we do, if we prepare ourselves for this confrontation, then the capitalists who are trying to con us into subservience today, will soon discover that they cannot do anything against the solid ranks of a united working class!