FROM TODAY the Tory furlough scheme starts to unwind with businesses forced to contribute 10% of furloughed workers’ wages, rising to 20% in August as taxpayer support is cut from the current level of 80%. The entire scheme will be scrapped by the Tories on 30 September.
From the start of the pandemic lockdowns, over 11.5 million workers from 1.3 million employers have received furlough support while laid off and as the scheme winds down over 3.4 million still rely on it to scrape an existence.
The furlough scheme was introduced by the Tories to act as a ‘cushion’ against the prospect of over 11 million workers being thrown out of their jobs last year and the revolutionary implications of mass unemployment on a powerful working class refusing to be driven back to the era of the ‘Hungry 1930s’.
When the furlough scheme ends millions of workers will face ruthless bosses imposing mass sackings, as well as firing and rehiring with wages cut by thousands of pounds a year! Business groups yesterday were demanding that furloughing must be extended – warning that if not, there will inevitably be an avalanche of fire and rehire lockouts and strikes.
The TUC as usual has joined with the bosses in begging the Tories not to end the furlough and warning it will unleash a tsunami of anger in workers and young people.
Yesterday, the TUC issued a cringing statement pleading with the government not to ‘pull the plug’ on the UK’s economic recovery by cutting off support too soon and for furlough to be extended ‘for as long as possible’.
Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner joined in appealing to the Tories, saying: ‘If the government tells us we now must “live with Covid”, then we need the systems in place to help protect jobs as employers look ahead to continued uncertainty.’
These trade union leaders are clinging on to the fiction that British capitalism is on the verge of some great recovery once we have all learnt to ‘live with Covid’.
They deliberately ignore the reality of the massive debt crisis and economic collapse that is engulfing bankrupt British capitalism.
This reality was spelt out this week in the latest report by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) which warned that a rapid increase in inflation would push the interest repayments on the UK’s government debt over £100 billion.
UK government debt run up bailing out capitalism has reached a staggering £2.2 trillion. So far near zero-level interest rates have kept the costs of interest payments on this debt down.
But as inflation rips through the world economies, the central banks are being forced to make the choice between keeping interest rates down, and flooding the world with worthless paper money – fuelling a massive surge in inflation – or increasing interest rates, to drive up the cost of debt, precipitating a massive financial crash. Neither of these choices offers a way out for the Tories or British capitalism.
Tory chancellor Rishi Sunak is determined to end furloughing regardless of all the useless appeals from the TUC. He intends to let unemployment and wage cutting rip through the working class in an effort to pay off this debt.
The fear of the consequences from a working class rising up against mass unemployment, and fire and hire wage cuts, is far outweighed by the Tories’ understanding that the capitalist crisis must be dumped firmly onto the backs of workers if capitalism is to survive.
The role assigned to the TUC by a capitalist system that they are completely subordinate to, is to attempt to hold back the anger of the working class and divert it along the road of defeat. After all, they are as Lenin said ‘The Labour Lieutenants of Capitalism.’
These TUC Labour mis-leaders must be sacked immediately and replaced by a new leadership prepared to organise the strength of the working class in a general strike to bring down the Tories and bring in a workers’ government and socialism.
Only a workers government can resolve the crisis of capitalism by nationalising the banks and major industries, placing them under workers’ management as part of building a socialist planned economy. Only the WRP is fighting to build the revolutionary leadership demanded to lead this struggle to victory – join today.