Socialist Worker

Whose job will be axed next?

Issue No. 1770

'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:

  • Cookson, the industrial ceramics and materials firm, is cutting 1,740 more jobs on top of the 2,100 it has already axed this year.

  • GE Engine Services is axing 350 jobs at its Nantgarw plant in South Wales.

  • Corning is cutting 430 jobs and shutting its optical fibre plant at Queensferry in North Wales.

  • The small Northumberland town of Haltwhistle is to be devastated by Akzo Nobel's decision to shut its industrial coatings plant with the loss of 126 jobs.

  • Hundreds of workers at Sun Microsystems computer plant in Linlithgow in Scotland fear their jobs could go as part of the company's 3,900 worldwide job cuts.

  • Over 400 workers face the dole after clothing manufacturer Daks-Simpson announced the closure of its plant in Larkhall, Lanarkshire.

  • GoAhead, the bus, rail and aviation firm, is cutting 700 jobs.

  • Hotel firm Wyndham is slashing 1,600 jobs, many of them in Britain.

  • Workers at telecom equipment maker Alcatel's British plants have been told their jobs could go as part of the French multinational's 3,000 worldwide job cuts.

  • Telecom firm Worldcom is cutting 1,000 jobs, the majority of them in Britain.

  • The car industry could be set for more job cuts too. Jaguar, owned by Ford, announced it was extending the shutdown at its two plants in the Midlands. Volkswagen is reviewing output at its plant in Crewe.


    Debt bites

    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.


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    Article information

    Features
    Sat 13 Oct 2001, 00:00 BST
    Issue No. 1770
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