Socialist Worker

Never mind the coronavirus, what about the bottom line?

Issue No. 2697

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Bosses are scrabbling to sack workers without redundancy pay (Pic: Tim Sanders)


The Tories would like us to believe we are “all in it together” in the battle to beat coronavirus.

But the bosses have other priorities.

Topshop workers were laid off with no redundancy money after Arcadia Group closed its 300 UK stores an hour before the government announced that it would guarantee some workers’ wages.

Eleanor Cerys tweeted, “No sick pay, redundancy, nothing. 

“The amount of tears I’ve seen this week is disgusting. Seeing my managers having to let all temporary contracts end and now this.”

Topshop owner Philip Green, has a personal fortune of £950 million. Yet he’s threatening to refuse to pay the full rents on his shops. Elsewhere, Troublemaker regular hedge fund tycoon Crispin Odey has made around £115 million from this month’s stock market crash. 

Odey revealed that his bets on plunging share prices had netted him a fortune. 

The investor friend of Boris Johnson said his hedge fund was 12 percent down for the year at the end of February.But huge falls in share prices since then have meant he made that back and left him 20 percent up, adding an extra £115 million to the funds he manages. 

Odey—thought to be worth about £775 million—hit the headlines in 2012 after spending £150,000 on a Palladian-style coop for his chickens at his mansion in Gloucestershire. Odey said, “The big difference between now and 2008 is the machines”. These are used by traders to sell automatically when the market dips. 

“The machines just never stop selling when the market falls. That’s why you are seeing such big moves down.”

His latest ego-boosting money making, sorry public service, is a new show on Channel Four called Keep Cooking and Carry On. 

Since he closed a bunch of his restaurants and sacked all his staff while keeping his fortune safe, he will be the perfect host.

And Bono is recording a song inspired by the people singing from balconies in Italy. Perhaps it should be called pay your taxes.


Lloyd Webber is no friend of ours

One Twitter user had the right response to Tory Andrew Lloyd Webber’s attempt to self-publicise during the coronavirus crisis.

The former Tory peer had tweeted that he would play some songs from his musicals to entertain people stuck at home, and asked for suggestions.

One user replied, “Sing the one about when you flew in from New York in 2015, solely to vote in favour of deep cuts to Tax Credits for the working poor—in the House of Lords—despite having voted only twice in the previous 13 years and being worth £650 million.”


Sacking was just an ‘admin error’ 

Crap excuse of the week award goes to Britannia Hotels.

The business has blamed an “administrative error” after it sacked staff at one of its Scotland properties and left some without accommodation.

A letter to workers at the Coylumbridge Hotel in Aviemore—owned by Britannia Hotels—terminated employment and told affected staff to leave their accommodation immediately.

In response, Britannia’s spokeswoman said, “Unfortunately, the communication sent to these employees was an administrative error.” 

The spokeswoman could not say if the workers would be returned to their former positions, or if sackings would take place at other Britannia properties.

Britannia Hotels has been chosen as the worst hotel chain in Britain repeatedly by Which?  


‘We’re preparing for the worst,’ say food banks

A food bank founder in west London said the coronavirus crisis might overwhelm her service.

Hammersmith and Fulham Foodbank gave out 120,000 meals to feed 12,000 people from its three branches last year. 

But founder Daphine Aikens said the crisis meant “we won’t be able to bulk buy from supermarkets”.

“We purchase about 5 percent of our stock each year,” she said. 

“We have heard other food banks are struggling to order more than a few items.

“If more people become unemployed, we could see an increase in people needing food banks. We’re preparing for the worst.”

There are just over 2,000 food banks across Britain. The Trussell Trust charity distributed 23 percent more food parcels in April to September 2019, compared to the same period in 2018.


Republicans use the crisis to attack abortion rights

The authorities in Ohio are trying to use the coronavirus crisis to clamp down on a woman’s right to choose. 

Ohio Attorney General and Republican Dave Yost wrote to three abortion providers on Friday of last week.

He said they were “ordered to immediately stop performing non-essential and elective surgical abortions”. 

“Non-essential surgical abortions are those that

can be delayed without undue risk to the current or future health of a patient.”

Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio disputed this, saying the order to suspend non-essential surgery did not mention abortion.

And NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio’s Kellie Copeland said trying to limit abortion was “reckless” as it could push women to travel elsewhere for services at a time when travel is being discouraged.


Argentina’s government postponed the payment of credit card and other consumer debt in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

Good news? Well sort of. 

“The deadline for all debt with financial entities that fall due between March 20 and March 31 have been postponed until April 1,” said the Central Bank.

So no long term help, then.

The coronavirus crisis has hit the gambling industry.

Mass cancellation of events mean fewer things to bet on.

So the oddsmonkey firm is finding other ways for you to splash the cash. It declared Rishi Sunak “odds on” to become prime minister.


Things they say

‘Even hardcore socialism usually stopped short of calling for the government to take on the payroll of private sector employers. Now it’s Tory policy’ 

Guardian newspaper columnist Jonathan Freedland on Tory pledges on wages

‘There are no free-marketeers in a pandemic’

Freedland continues

‘I guess, I haven’t even asked, that Mar-a-lago is closed down’ 

Donald Trump claimed not to know if his Florida resort was shut. It was—with staff sacked

‘Massive disincentives for people to work’

Tory Iain Duncan Smith on the idea of a universal basic income—while millions suffer

‘It’s inevitable that looting might occur. We have to be prepared’

Buenos Aires province security minister Sergio Berni gets his priorities straight


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