YESTERDAY the Brown government was emphasising that it had no interest in running the three banks that it was ‘part-nationalising’ (rescuing) with £37bn of the taxpayers’ money.
The bankers will continue to run the banks with minor restrictions on their freedom to plunder.
It goes without saying that it is the working class that will be paying the full price for the generosity of the Brown government to its patrons in the City of London, now approaching £700bn.
For the working class the issue is much graver. With the banks unwilling to part with cash, unemployment is rapidly rising, and there are predictions that by the New Year unemployment will rise to two million!
Among the first to be hit are the bank workers themselves.
Several thousand are being sacked at the Northern Rock bank, which has already been nationalised.
At the same time the Northern Rock bank is repossessing thousands of workers’ homes, with the full support of the Brown government.
Initially the bankworkers trade union Accord responded to the news that HBOS and Lloyds-TSB were going to be merged by the government by predicting that up to 40,000 workers would be sacked.
Now that Lloyds-TSB, HBOS, and the RBS are to be part nationalised and subsidised by the tax payer, we can expect many more thousands of redundancies, and that the pressure will be on to build up cash reserves by repossessing many more homes.
This must be stopped. It cannot be one law for the bankers and another for the bank workers and for mortgage payers.
Unite, which organises thousands of bank workers, said yesterday through its co-leader Derek Simpson: ‘The measures announced today must be bound to undertakings by the banks of no job losses, no repossessions and an end to the bonus culture. . .
‘Workers in the financial services industry are not the culprits of the credit crunch and we are not prepared to allow them to become the victims. The taxpayer must now get a firm assurance that the financial lifeline extended to these large organisations will be used to protect jobs and the public. It is not acceptable for the government to socialise the risk without allowing the wider society to capitalise on the rewards in the finance industry.’
Brown is prepared to do everything necessary to defend the capitalist system, he has told us this on a regular basis.
He is not prepared to do everything necessary to defend workers’ jobs and homes.
Simpson and the Unite co-leader Woodley know this. They must tell the government that they will organise strike action unless the bank sackings and home repossessions stop, or resign and make way for leaders who will take action.
Union leaders must be prepared to do everything necessary to defend the jobs and homes of their members.
The same goes for the local government and NHS trade unions.
Local government workers, and some NHS trusts, are on the front line. On the advice of the Treasury, they invested their funds in the Icelandic banks that have just gone bust and collectively have lost £1 billion.
Unison is so worried about the issue that it has written to all councils about what their real status is, amidst the rumours that some will not be able to pay wages or honour pensions agreements and may even have to make workers redundant.
UNISON nationally has said that if some councils and NHS trusts cannot pay wages or safeguard pensions and jobs, then the government must step in to fund the payrolls, jobs and pensions.
What if Brown, the bankers’ man, refuses? Then UNISON must tell its leaders to take industrial action against the government and to bring it down, and bring in a workers government. If they won’t do this, they must be replaced by leaders who will.
The same goes for industry, where plants like GM Luton are threatened with closure. These plants must be nationalised.
This is what must be done. In fact, everything that is necessary to defend the wages, jobs and pensions of the working class must be done, including getting rid of capitalism and bringing in a socialist society.