Socialist Worker

George Osborne’s insult to every striker

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2280

George Osborne spat into the faces of millions of workers today.

As they prepare to strike, the smug Tory chancellor decided to cut their pay, and increase their retirement age—again.

Public sector workers already suffering a two-year pay freeze will see increases “capped” at 1 percent. With inflation running at 5.4 percent, this is effectively a 20 percent pay cut over four years.

And Osborne also brought forward his planned increase in the pensions age. Workers set to retire after 2026 will now have to work until 67.

George Osborne said he would do “whatever it takes” to cut the deficit.

Apparently, what it takes is to throw money at the bosses and the bankers—and take it from the rest of us.

Every spiteful announcement means huge cuts in living standards for millions of workers.

Tax credits have been frozen, except for working tax credit, which goes up by the lower CPI rate of inflation. An increase in child tax credits has been cancelled.

Osborne also announced plans to attack regional pay adjustments, Tupe employment transfer rights and working hours.

But while there is no money for public services, there is plenty for the bosses.

An extra £1 billion was found for a “business-finance partnership”—a recipe for more PFI and privatisation.

And from April next year, anyone investing up to £100,000 in a new business will be eligible for income tax relief of 50 percent. If capital, such as profits, is used to invest then it will be tax free.

Osborne showered business with gifts. Anyone investing in the Tories’ “enterprise zones”, where firms are encouraged to employ low-paid workers, will now get even more tax breaks.

He handed £40 billion to the banks to back loans for the bosses. The interest they will pay is just 1 percent.

And he announced 500 “infrastructure projects”—but all will be based on tax breaks for the bosses and further privatisation.

Osborne’s solution to the housing crisis was to “reinvigorate the right to buy”. This means those with money will now be able to buy social and council housing at discounts of up to 50 percent.

All this is put forward as a way of fixing the economy. But the reality is that the Tories’ austerity measures are wrecking it.

Even the government’s preferred economic forecaster, its own Office of Budget Responsibility, predicts that unemployment will be higher and the economy will grow slower than its last set of fantasy figures suggested.

And this is all premised on the bizarre assumption that the eurozone crisis simply, as if by magic, disappears.

This vicious little “autumn statement” gives us even more reasons to strike against this brutal government tomorrow.

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Tue 29 Nov 2011, 14:27 GMT
Issue No. 2280
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