IT’S ‘make or break’ time for UK manufacturing, according to the authoritative Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), an organisation not noted for issuing dire warnings about the state of the British economy.
The reason for their lack of post Olympic optimism lies in a survey they carried out of 1,000 employers into their prospects for survival in the next few months.
In their report on this survey, issued yesterday, they reveal that out of these 1,000 businesses over two- thirds reported that unless there is economic growth in Britain and Europe over the next twelve months then they will be forced to sack staff.
One third of those surveyed admitted that they had kept on workers that they had no jobs for in the forlorn hope that all the predictions of a miraculous upturn in the capitalist economy would come true.
It is now painfully obvious that there will be no such reversal of the economic crash that is dominating the entire world capitalist system, a crash which first emerged in the banking system and which is now destroying manufacturing industry on a world scale.
Figures released only two weeks ago showed that manufacturing industry across Europe is contracting at the fastest rate in three years – a picture that is mirrored across the world, with the US economy slowing down to almost a complete halt.
In Europe, Germany and France experienced the worst fall with the once mighty car industries being particularly hit.
General Motors, for decades the world’s biggest car producer but now a bailed-out company that the US government was forced to nationalise to save from complete collapse, announced at the start of the month that losses by its European operation had dragged the profits of the company down by a staggering 41%, prompting GM to remove the entire echelon of top managers and replace them with hatchet men from the US with a brief to close down the entire Opel division based in Germany.
British capitalism, as the CIPD report makes clear, is right in the forefront of this collapse in manufacturing despite the much trumpeted ‘fall’ in the unemployment rate recorded in June – a fall that was heralded by Cameron, Miliband and the TUC general secretary, Brendan Barber, as signs of a ‘green shoots recovery’.
Closer inspection reveals that these figures showing a drop in unemployment owe much to the growth of part-time work at such low pay rates that they make these workers eligible for benefit payments – the benefit system is being used to subsidise employers paying starvation level wages.
These figures also reveal the effect of the concerted campaign by the coalition to drive workers and especially young people out of benefit.
Out of the 2.9 million officially counted as unemployed only 1.5 million claim Jobseekers benefit – nearly a half are without any support or money at all, just left to starve or survive as best they can.
Now this figure is set to increase dramatically as employer after employer goes bust under the impact of the capitalist crisis.
This threat must be met by the trade unions through a campaign to fight every single job loss.
Instead of collaborating with the employers on peacefully closing down factory after factory, the leadership of the unions must be forced to fight every closure with a campaign of occupation and the demand that industries sacking workers be nationalised without compensation and under workers control.
This must be as part of the fight to bring down this coalition through a general strike and replace it with a workers government that will guarantee full employment and a living wage by expropriating the banks and the capitalist class and advancing to socialism.