Socialist Worker

Myth of national unity

Issue No. 1767

Business profits from the tragedy

IF YOU believed the media at the beginning of this week you would have thought all that mattered was the reopening of the New York stock exchange. 'Back In Business' was the front page headline of the Sun on Tuesday. 'Right now I want to go in and make some money,' one stockbroker was quoted as saying in the Guardian.

New York stockbrokers are not the only ones. Big multinational firms, financiers and stockbrokers are not letting last week's tragedy stand in the way of making profits. Property developers are already working out how they can make money in the wake of the attack in Manhattan.

'Loss Of Office Space May Lift New York Property Market' was one cynical headline in the bosses' Financial Times newspaper last week. Richard Branson, head of Virgin, used the tragedy to announce the sacking of 1,200 workers at the Virgin Atlantic airline business.

These workers are not just being laid off for a few days or weeks temporarily because of the crisis. They are being sacked permanently-their futures and livelihoods ruined. Similarly British Airways said it will have to sack thousands of workers due to the tragedy. But British Airways was going to sack workers anyway. The airline had already announced 5,000 job losses.

These firms are cynically exploiting last week's tragedy, and are prepared to sacrifice the wellbeing of workers in order to keep their profits up. Other bosses who also had no qualms about sacking workers last week include:

  • Construction firm Carrillion, which announced 400 jobs will be slashed. Carrillion is one of the major companies involved in PFI hospital, school and prison schemes.

  • Internet service provider Lycos Europe, which is axing 300 workers, one quarter of its workforce.

  • Lorry makers ERF, which said 370 jobs were threatened in Cheshire.

    Giant multinationals Ford and General Electric also blamed profit falls on last week's events, as they prepare for attacks on workers which they had already planned before last week's events.

    SOME OF the world's biggest arms manufacturers are rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of a war.

    The shares of BAe Systems, the arms manufacturer formerly called British Aerospace, soared sharply last week in the expectation of a massive increase in military spending. Its shares rose by 12.5 percent on Thursday of last week.


    Private attack on the post

    WHILE everyone's eyes were on the build-up to war, the Post Office regulator unveiled plans this week for a scab mail service and widescale privatisation of the post. This is a huge offensive against a publicly owned postal service and against the postal workers' CWU union.

    On Monday the first licence was issued to a private company to grab Royal Mail's profitable work. PostComm announced the private firm Hays is now allowed to deliver mail in the business districts of London, Edinburgh and Manchester. It has immediate effect. Even worse, PostComm has openly declared that it is ready to licence a scab service.

    Deya Ltd wants to provide a British-wide postal service for electricity, phone, gas and other companies as well as for local authorities. It would deliver bills 'in periods of disruption-such as industrial action by Post Office employees'.

    The government has always been worried about how to beat postal strikes because they squeeze the cashflow of big companies. Deya aims to provide the solution. The regulator comments that 'such a service would reduce the backlog that builds up in periods of disruption.'

    Another firm, UK Mail Ltd (a subsidiary of Business Post Group plc), wants to provide mail services to business customers.

    It plans to use 12 collection points covering postcode areas in and around Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Manchester and the Thames Valley. Disgracefully, New Labour is clearly moving to dismantle the Post Office, and smash the union's rank and file strength. We need a huge campaign and strikes now to stop this plan.


    Warmongers fuel the racist attacks

    GEORGE BUSH has condemned racist attacks that have taken place across the US after the tragedy in New York. Tony Blair has also condemned similar racist attacks in Britain.

    Three Muslims have been reported seriously injured in racist attacks in Britain, which the police have described as 'revenge' for last week's events. But it is the language used by Bush, Blair, politicians and the mainstream media that demonises Muslim people which directly encourages these kinds of attacks. Bush, Blair and the press use language against people from Afghanistan and the Middle East to dehumanise them-so they can justify bombing innocent people.

    That only encourages racists to attack anyone who looks as if they come from the Middle East or who are Asian. Tony Blair has also stoked up this racism by scapegoating asylum seekers, including those from Afghanistan. Blair and the press have created a disgusting outcry against those refugees who are in the Sangatte camp near Calais in France. The majority of refugees at Sangatte are from Afghanistan.

    They fled because they oppose the Taliban and face arrest, or because they don't want to join the Taliban army. Blair demonises the Taliban as 'evil'. Yet he doesn't want anyone fleeing from the regime to come into Britain.


    There's money for war

    THE US government has rushed to hand out billions of dollars to prop up the economy, increase military spending and rebuild the areas attacked last week. The US Congress has given $20 billion to the military and $40 billion to rebuild Manhattan and the Pentagon.

    The US Federal Reserve gave $81 billion to the financial markets on Friday of last week alone. Yet this is in a country which has no national health service, and where 44 million people have no access to healthcare because they lack insurance. In the 1990s then president Bill Clinton slashed money on welfare payments, claiming the government couldn't afford it.


    Not so 'civilised'

    WHAT RIGHT has the US government to talk of human values? Bush ordered the US delegates to walk out of the United Nations conference on racism earlier this month because it was discussing reparations for the US's role in slavery.

    The US government also objected to the fact that many delegates at the conference were critical of Israel's repression of the Palestinians.


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    Article information

    Features
    Sat 22 Sep 2001, 00:00 BST
    Issue No. 1767
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