Socialist Worker

We’re made to pay the price of an ugly system

Issue No. 2733

Philip Green (centre) is sacking 13,000 people, despite having an estimated net worth of around £1.2 billion

Philip Green (centre) is sacking 13,000 people, despite having an estimated net worth of around £1.2 billion (Pic: Financial Times/creative commons)

Who will pay for the coronavirus crisis? The bosses and the Tories want it to be ordinary people.

The collapse of Arcadia is a massive blow. It puts 13,000 jobs at risk and means uncertainty for around 10,000 people who should receive a pension from the group.

And within hours there were knock-on effects elsewhere.

More and more people face an uncertain future—not because of lack of money but because of choices made at the top.

Arcadia is a major partner of Debenhams. After Arcadia’s collapse, Debenhams announced it would close all stores—meaning 12,000 people would likely lose their jobs.

Arcadia owner Philip Green has an estimated net worth of around £1.2 billion, according to Forbes. As thousands lose their jobs, Green will still be swanning around on one of his yachts and drinking champagne.

Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley offered to put £50 million into Arcadia, which Green described as “laughable”. As one “source” said, “Raising cash is not the problem.” And another said, “If this was about £50 million we could find that in five minutes.”

The problem is that Green and his fat cat associates want to hold onto their wealth.

Can workers stop job cuts when the system’s in crisis?
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Ordinary people are also paying for the Covid-19 crisis with their health.

The Tories want shops to stay open 24-hours in the run-up to Christmas. They have spent weeks telling us to stay indoors and avoid social contact, attacking those who “break the rules”.

Now they hope to herd us into stores to get as much money out of us as possible to fill the bosses’ pockets.

The Tories kept schools open, despite repeated warnings that unsafe schools drive up virus cases. They did it because they don’t want to disrupt profits by parents being unable to work.

They try to blame rising cases on individuals and the “choices” they make.

But someone who won’t be paid if they don’t show up to work can’t just choose to stay home. Someone living in overcrowded housing can’t easily choose to isolate from others.

The problem isn’t one or two particularly nasty bosses, or even a Tory government. It’s a system that fails the vast majority of people.

Across the world, working class people are under attack. We face years of rising poverty while the rich get richer.

And unsafe jobs, cramped housing and underfunded health services mean working class people are more likely to die from the virus than the rich.

We urgently need a fightback to defend jobs, pay and safety. But the virus has also shown up the ugly face of capitalism.

We need to fight for a system that puts people before profit.

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