The Tories promised that new jobs in the private sector would make up for what they slashed from the public sector.
But a series of devastating blows over the past two weeks have exposed this as a hollow lie.
Music chain HMV has called in the administrators, putting 4,500 jobs under threat. Camera chain Jessops has closed its stores to the public, throwing 1,370 people onto the dole.
One of them is Ashleigh, who worked at a store in Glasgow.
“We first heard that the shops were closing on the news,” she told Socialist Worker. “We weren’t told by the company until half an hour later. It’s such a shock.
“We were told to leave and lock the doors. The bosses just want to cut their losses. We’ve just been given an extra two days work to pack up the stock and that’s it.”
At car giant Honda, 800 workers are threatened with redundancy.
“It was a bolt out of the blue,” Unite union rep Paddy Brennan told Socialist Worker. He said the mood in the factory was of “absolute anger.”
“No matter how you dress it up, the company is shoving workers out the door after we’ve built up their bank balance.”
These cuts and closures leave a particularly bitter taste after so much Tory rhetoric attacking unemployed workers as “skivers”. Many of those sacked this week already know how hard it is to find a job.
“I was previously made redundant by Jacobs camera shop only last year,” said Ashleigh. “This is the way it’s going on high streets. All you see are empty units and Poundlands.
“People say they can by the cameras cheaper on Amazon. But no wonder—Amazon doesn’t pay taxes.”
HMV workers in London were told not to talk to the press on Tuesday of this week. But one spoke to Socialist Worker anonymously.
“I was unemployed for a year before finding this job,” he said. “I know what it’s like to have no job. It’s shit, and I don’t want to go back there.
“My brother left college in September and still hasn’t found anything. I’ve got no savings to fall back on. It’s frightening really.”
At Honda too, many workers know they will struggle to find other jobs.“There are a lot of young workers in the age group with the highest rate of unemployment,” said Paddy.
“They’ll be thrown out into that unemployment.
“The government’s austerity measures mean people can’t afford cars and other products. Most workers now don’t have disposable incomes, and that’s a result of the cuts.”
There’s an urgent need for unions to lead a fight that can save jobs. If workers occupy Jessops or HMV stores, they deserve all our solidarity.
And the Honda workers are well organised and determined not to go down without a struggle. “We’ll be fighting tooth and nail for our members to remain in work,” said Paddy.
“Our fight’s already started. We’ve told the firm not to give any overtime. Why should we do overtime for them when they’re doing this to us?”
Workers are discussing the possibility of more action over the 90 days before the redundancies kick in.
“I can’t guarantee we can stop every redundancy,” said Paddy. “But I can guarantee that we’ll be fighting.”