THE Johnson government stepped up its attack on the UK working class yesterday by reducing its furloughing payments to workers to 60% with the employers to pay 20%.
Already one-in-five firms plan to sack workers in response to Sunday’s furlough policy change, which will see employers contribute more, a British Chambers of Commerce survey has found.
From Sunday, government payments reduced to 60% towards furlough salaries, with employers paying 20%. According to the most recent figures up to 30th June, about 1.9m workers are on furlough, down from a peak of 5.1m in January. The scheme is due to shut down entirely in September, when workers will be thrown to the wolves.
Of 250 businesses surveyed by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), up to 50 said they would be making staff redundant in response to Sunday’s change. A quarter said they would aim to reduce hours or move staff to part-time working patterns.
Jane Gratton, head of people policy at the BCC, said the change ‘will likely result in many thousands of people being released back into the labour market, as employers who are still struggling to recover from the recession make redundancies and cuts to working hours’.
Hannah Slaughter, an economist from the Resolution Foundation, told the BBC that over the majority of the pandemic, the highest rates of furlough was among the under 25s, but in the most recent data it was the over 60s who were more likely to be furloughed.
On the eve of the government’s onslaught on furloughing, the Unite trade union, has made a pathetic call on the government to continue the scheme beyond September. Unite is now calling for furloughing to be adapted into a short-time working scheme, such as the one which is in operation in Germany.
Steve Turner, Unite’s General Secretary for manufacturing, acting as an unofficial Unite adviser to the Johnson government, did not in his statement condemn Sunday’s savage attack on furloughed workers.
He said: ‘It is far better to retain workers through temporary crises, dips in demand and technological transformation such as we are seeing now with the greening of our economy, than to lose them altogether, along with the skills and knowledge they possess, and allowing unemployment to rise.
‘That’s why I am calling on the government not to scrap the scheme altogether but to adapt it.’ Speaking up for the bosses he added: ‘To pull the rug from under the feet of business and workers now will dent the confidence needed for businesses to invest and adapt operations at this critical time as we try to recover and rebuild the economy.
‘It is hard to comprehend the motivation for or sense in ending both the furlough scheme and snatching back £20 a week from hard working people on universal credit on the same day. It’s a double whammy and could make 30th September a very bleak day for workers, their families and communities.’
In fact, the Tories are lashing out at the working class in order to save their crisis-ridden capitalist system. According to the insolvency specialists, Begbies Traynor, the number of British businesses in immense financial distress and on the brink of collapse has soared by 25% to 650,000 during the past year.
Begbies Traynor states that the the UK’s economy may face a triple threat of ‘potentially catastrophic’ risks in the coming years. It adds: ‘Hidden risks abound for UK businesses and all represent a real threat to corporate survival in the short term.’
British capitalism is in a desperate crisis. No number of trade union officials will be able to bail it out with their dodgy deals.
This means that directly ahead, as soon as September, the class struggle will explode as workers are faced with fighting mass sackings, massive wage cuts and closures of hundreds of plants.
What is required by the working class is a general strike to bring down the Tories and to bring in a workers’ government and a planned socialist economy. Capitalism needs to be buried in order for society to go forward to socialism.
The Unite and TUC leaders are permanently on their knees. A new leadership for the working class is desperately required. Workers and youth must join the WRP and its youth section today, to resolve the crisis of leadership in the working class and lead the British socialist revolution.