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Jobs slaughter shows up the chaos of capitalism

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Issue 2739
All remaining Debenhams stores are set to close - with the loss of 12,000 jobs
All remaining Debenhams stores are set to close – with the loss of 12,000 jobs (Pic: Martin Pettitt/Flickr)

Unemployment figures on Tuesday showed the continuing jobs slaughter.

Those aged 25 to 34 face the biggest risk of losing their jobs.

In the three months to November, people in that age group had a redundancy rate of 16.2 per 1,000—a fivefold increase on the same period a year earlier.

Overall some 1.72 million were officially jobless, the highest level in five years. And this is while the furlough scheme is still in place.

This is how capitalism works—profits first, workers on the scapheap.

Look at retail. Firms gobble up their failing competitors to seize cheap assets. Topshop—previously owned by tax-avoider Philip Green—is expected to be bought by online fashion retailer Asos.


And online retailer Boohoo has bought department store chain Debenhams.

Boohoo is the company whose supplier paid its workers—forced to work in dangerous conditions at a Leicester factory—as little as £3.50 an hour.

The doors of Debenhams’ 124 remaining high street stores will be permanently shut at the cost of 12,000 jobs. And 13,000 jobs at Topshop are set to be cut. Shares in Asos rose by almost 6 percent after it began talks to take over the firm.

In Edinburgh, department store Jenners is set to close at the cost of 200 jobs.

Fraser Group, owned by Sports Direct billionaire Mike Ashley, operated the department store under its House of Fraser chain.

Sports Direct bought House of Fraser out of administration in 2018, and has closed 14 of its 59 stores.

Jenners’ closure comes after a tenancy dispute with the site’s landlord, billionaire and major Scottish landowner Anders Holch Povlsen. Povlsen, worth £4.5 billion, is also a major shareholder in Asos.

As the revolutionary Karl Marx observed, firms buying into or taking over other companies leads to a concentration of enormous wealth and power in the hands of a few.


So, Oxfam announced this week that the combined wealth of the world’s ten richest men rose by £400 billion during the pandemic.

The charity claims this amount would be enough to stop the world from falling into poverty because of the virus, and pay for vaccines for all.

Oxfam added, “At the same time, the pandemic has ushered in the worst job crisis in over 90 years with hundreds of millions of people now underemployed or out of work.”

But the system does not respond to moral calls.

Workers need to fight for every job. Every struggle is important and encourages others to fight.

But there needs also to be a reckoning with the whole system that will always put profits first.

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