The threat of redundancy is hanging over the head of millions of workers as the economic slump deepens. Every day seems to bring new announcements of huge job losses at factories, shops and offices around the country.
Gordon Brown and New Labour throw their hands up in dismay at the news – but say there is nothing they can do to stop people being thrown out of work.
They are resigned to an ever increasing number of people being made unemployed, further depressing an economy that is already sinking into recession.
But there are immediate steps that we could take to halt the bonfire of jobs.
- Companies planning to axe jobs or cut working hours should be taken into public hands and run in the interest of the workers and wider society. This could save hundreds of thousands of jobs.
It is testament to the madness of capitalism that whenever the system plunges into crisis, millions are thrown out of their work and their vital skills are wasted.
Just because bosses and banks can’t make enough profits from Woolworths doesn’t mean that people don’t need children’s clothes and household essentials.
Car workers being laid off at Jaguar, Ford and Aston Martin have skills that could be used to create the next generation of public transport vehicles.
Manufacturing workers could be retrained and factories retooled to produce the wind turbines and other green energy sources we need to tackle climate change.
- British workers in full-time employment work an average of 39.5 hours a week. If this was reduced to a 35-hour week with no loss of pay, it would cut the working week by 4.5 hours and create 2.3 million new jobs.
There are also five million workers working an average of seven hours unpaid overtime every week, according to TUC figures. If those hours became paid work done by other people, it would create a further one million jobs.
- The economic crisis has led to thousands of construction workers being sacked. We could employ them to build a new generation of council housing.
This wouldn’t just create jobs – it would provide decent, affordable homes for hundreds of thousands of ordinary people currently living in expensive, overcrowded and substandard accommodation.
These three simple steps are just the first that could be taken to save millions of people’s livelihoods.
They would also help shore up workers’ living standards and prevent the slump from spreading even further.
But workers cannot simply beg the government to implement these measures. These policies all break radically with the free market dogma that New Labour has followed throughout its existence.
It will take a massive struggle by ordinary people to ensure that it is the bosses and their system that are swept away by the economic hurricane – rather than our own livelihoods.