'BLACK WEDNESDAY'. That was the Mirror's banner headline last week as the scale of the job cuts sweeping Britain became clear. Behind the figures lie workers whose lives will be devastated as they are thrown on the dole. Thousands more workers will be terrified that they too could be caught in the jobs cull.
The Engineering Employers Federation warned of a 'manufacturing meltdown' that could see 310,000 jobs go in industry in the coming 18 months. The Post Office, renamed Consignia, announced plans to axe 20,000 jobs in the coming year.
Photocopier maker Xerox plans to virtually shut its plant in Mitcheldean in Gloucestershire. Up to 1,350 jobs are to go, leaving only a skeleton staff. The factory is the biggest local employer, and many other local industries depend on orders from the firm. Tour operator First Choice announced 1,100 job cuts. Airtours, the biggest tour operator in Britain, warned that it was planning major job cuts among its 29,000 workforce. Other jobs have been axed or threatened in the last week:
A STRING of Britain's biggest companies could go bust, thanks to the enormous debts they have built up. That stark warning came from City financiers last week.
Many of these firms have amassed debts bigger than any potential profits they are likely to make as recession bites. City financiers issued a list last week of firms in financial trouble due to their debt burden.
They included British Airways, BT, Powergen, BSkyB, Scottish Power and the cable TV operators Telewest and NTL. Marconi, one of Britain's biggest manufacturing companies, has already seen its share price collapse and has cut jobs.
Last week the company said it was in an even worse state than it has so far admitted. The firm has held meetings with industry secretary Patricia Hewitt to discuss a bailout.
'Alarm bells' sound over global slump
THE JOBS crisis is not confined to Britain. As the bosses' system lurches from boom to bust workers everywhere are in the firing line. Last week Europe's top airlines queued up to either file for bankruptcy or announce huge job cuts.
Dutch airline KLM slashed 2,500 jobs and cut wages for 28,000 workers. Belgian national airline Sabena and its parent company, Switzerland's Swissair, effectively went bust last week, and looked as though they could only survive by getting a bailout from governments. The European Union showed its attitude to jobs and workers' lives by denouncing any government action.
The crisis in Europe goes much wider than aviation. Manufacturing output across Europe fell for the sixth successive month in September. Services also shrank across Europe for the first time last month. The Financial Times commented that the news should 'set off alarm bells' about Europe and the world heading into a general slump.
Those fears were underlined when Standard and Poor's, which gives credit ratings to countries, warned of a new slide into economic crisis across Latin America. The region has already been ravaged by recession, but things could be set to get worse. The money markets are worried Argentina may be unable to service its debts, and that the country could be facing 'economic collapse'.
Across the world workers face having their lives wrecked by the madness of capitalism, unless we fight.