Socialist Worker

So who's the greedy one?

by Roger Protz
Issue No. 1828

ONE PERSON you won't see running into burning buildings to rescue people is Jean-Pierre Garnier. He's the boss of the British drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline who has achieved notoriety by announcing that he can't survive on his £7 million annual salary. It's not enough, he says, to 'keep him motivated'. He wants more to continue running the company from his penthouse in Philadelphia. That's global capitalism for you - a British drugs firm run by a French man from the US.

Those sections of the British media that have bothered to report the Garnier story have treated him as a bit of a rogue, a cheeky chappie who's a tad greedy. The real venom of the media has been directed at the firefighters. Workers who daily risk their lives for insultingly low pay are described as potential murderers, and even agents of Saddam Hussein. The distortions of the media are fuelled by Labour politicians led by Tony Blair.

I've not noticed any critical comments from Blair about Jean-Pierre Garnier. Blair is too busy attacking the firefighters and then rushing off to hob-nob with his chum George Bush at a NATO (ie warmongers') gathering in Prague. Jean-Pierre Garnier deserves special attention not only because he's greedy but because, unlike the firefighters, he does endanger lives. He's also lousy at his job.

The shares of GlaxoSmithKline have dropped by 30 percent, while its profits slumped last year from £6 billion to £4.5 billion. As a result the group has sacked 15,000 workers.

But not Jean-Pierre Garnier. He's too busy making sure his products are not made available to those who need them most. Impoverished hospitals

GlaxoSmithKline produces anti-viral drugs that are essential to fighting HIV/AIDS. Millions are dying in Africa because the group won't make the drugs available at prices impoverished hospitals can afford. It costs just £2 a day to treat children in Africa suffering from HIV. The tiny handful who are given the drugs (some 100 of the worst-affected children) make astonishing recoveries.

The rest are left to die a dreadful, lingering death. While African children lie stricken, Garnier is demanding an 'American-style' pay package that will give him a million share options and £2.5 million of free shares.

Yet Blair and his colleagues spend their time attacking the firefighters who have the temerity to ask for £30,000 a year for doing one of the most dangerous jobs in the country.

An infamous, racist Tory politician from the 1960s and 70s called Enoch Powell once said, 'When I see a rich man I give praise to God.' Tony Blair agrees with the sentiment. He's in love with the rich and the powerful.

One of his best friends is the corrupt thug Silvio Berlusconi, who runs Italy and is busily attempting to rig the courts to stop him going on trial for tax evasion.

There's Vladimir Putin, the Russian president and butcher of Chechnya - another 'best friend'. And there's his bestest friend of all, George Bush, who is preparing the world for war.

Having so many rich friends does have its compensations. Most years Blair gets a free holiday in a villa owned by one of his millionaire chums. Perhaps that's why he's keeping quiet about Garnier - he fancies a few weeks in a penthouse in Philadelphia.


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Sat 30 Nov 2002, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1828
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