Defend every job, occupy to stop closures, and nationalise the major industries

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YESTERDAY the Office for National Statistics produced figures showing the record breaking numbers of unemployed and the record breaking growth of unemployment.

UK unemployment rose to 2.261 million in the three months to April, the highest since November 1996.

The jobless rate thus rose to 7.2%, the highest since July 1997. The number of unemployed people increased by 232,000 over the quarter and by 605,000 over the year.

Young people have been hard-hit by the slump with the unemployment rate for 18-24 year olds now at a record 16.6%.

The claimant count for unemployed on the Jobseekers Allowance increased to 1.54 million for May, 39,300 up on the previous month, and up 726,100 for the year, rising to a rate of 4.8%, the highest since November 1997.

The difference between the number of claimants and the numbers of unemployed equals the number of workers that the government has been able to prevent receiving the Jobseekers Allowance. They have been condemned to living off their wits, with no visible means of support.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber commented on another record. ‘Youth unemployment is now at its highest rate for 15 years. And it will get far worse when millions of fresh school leavers and graduates start looking for work in the coming weeks.’

The number of economically inactive people of working age rose by 92,000 over the quarter and by 32,000 over the year to reach 7.89 million. This figure is an expression of the complete bankruptcy of British capitalism.

One of the most astonishing figures showed that one of the largest quarterly increases was in inactive students. This increased by 83,000 to reach 2.14 million, again another record.

With the motor car industry and steel industries collapsing, as well as the different airlines and airport authorities, hundreds of thousands more workers face the prospect of joining the ever growing army of the unemployed.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) on Tuesday said that over the next five years 350,000 public sector workers will be losing their jobs as the government slashes its expenditure, to avoid state bankruptcy. The CIPD predicted a ‘bloodbath in the public finances’ and a ‘guerrilla war in the workplace’.

The working class faces a catastrophe at the hands of bankrupt capitalism, with bosses of huge companies like BA demanding that workers work for a month or several months for nothing.

It also has treacherous union leaders who argue that workers should give the bosses what they want and recover what is stolen from them when there is a new boom. This is classic fools gold! British capitalism has had its back broken and has nothing to offer the working class except mass unemployment.

Workers must tell the union leaders that if they are not prepared to defend jobs, and wages they must resign and make way for those who will.

Union policy must be to fight all job losses with occupations and the demand that the major industries be nationalised.

There must be trade union unity and mass strike action to bring down the Brown government and bring in a workers government that will carry out socialist policies.

Central to these is the nationalisation of the major industries and banks under workers control and the development of a massive programme to build the four million council houses that are needed.

This will provide jobs at trade union rates for very large numbers of workers and skilled training for millions of youth. This is the only way out of the slump, by getting rid of capitalism and bringing in socialism.