By Stephen Boyd
THE COUNTRY is hurtling at full speed into an economic and social catastrophe. Some claim there could be 500,000 unemployed by the end of the year. Workers and their families at companies such as Celestica, IBM, Boston Scientific, and many many others are reeling from the shock of thousands of job losses.
The government has no answers to this crisis, except to appeal for working class people to be patriotic and in the “national interests” to accept a major cut in their living standards and/or life on the dole.
What has the government asked of the rich, the billionaires and the multinationals? Nothing. During the height of the boom, multinational corporations were making up to ?30 billion a year in profits. These are the same companies who are laying off thousands of workers claiming they can’t afford to keep them on!
While the government does nothing to stop the loss of 1,900 jobs at Dell or the 700 jobs at Waterford Crystal, it has handed their super-rich mates in the banks ?7 billion of taxpayers money.
What is happening in this society is not just because of the actions of reckless bankers and property speculators. This economic crisis is the result of a political and economic system, which is rotten to the core and must be replaced.
The trade union leaders have so far done virtually nothing to protect and defend workers and those bearing the brunt of the cutbacks and the recession. Their pathetic pleas to the government and the bosses for a “social solidarity” pact will only invite greater attacks on working class people.
The union leaders should instead follow the example of the Waterford Crystal workers and the low paid civil servants in the CPSU. Faced with the imminent loss of their jobs, the Waterford Crystal workers took matters into their own hands and seized control of their factory. CPSU members are voting to take industrial action to defeat the pay cuts.
It is this type of militant and determined action that is needed to defeat the pay cuts and to defend jobs. A one day strike by all public sector workers would be a major blow to this government and could force them to abandon their ?1.4 billion cut in public sector workers’ pay. It would also be a signal to big business that workers are prepared to struggle to defend living standards and jobs.
We need to build a new mass working class party, a major political alternative to the failed capitalist parties. A party committed to a socialist programme that calls for the nationalisation of the banks and major industry to be run by working people in the interests of the majority. That stands for opposition to all job cuts, to share out the work without loss of pay, to nationalise all companies declaring redundancies and factory closures.
Society doesn’t have to be this way – there is an alternative. The huge wealth that exists in this country, the wealth that is created by the labour of the working class should be used to provide a decent life for all. More and more workers and young people are coming to the conclusion that capitalism must be replaced. If you are one of them, you should join us in the Socialist Party and help build a socialist alternative.