THE BALLYMENA-based Wrightbus company went bust yesterday, throwing 1,200 workers out of a job with immediate effect.
On top of this, 1,700 jobs in the company’s supply chain are also under threat following the collapse of one of the north of Ireland’s largest employers.
Wrightbus, famous for building the iconic London double decker routemaster buses, was a leader in producing zero-emission buses powered by hydrogen and in the past recorded large profits but was forced into administration this week after recording massive losses and unable to find a new buyer.
The collapse of Wrightbus follows hard on the heels of Thomas Cook crashing on Monday with 9,000 workers in the UK losing their jobs and a further 20,000 across Europe under threat.
Thomas Cook went bust under the weight of £1.7 billion of debt, which did not prevent the bosses of the holiday company paying themselves a combined £20 million in salaries and bonuses since 2014.
Two major collapses in one week with the loss of thousands of jobs follows the overall collapse of industries in the UK as a feeble British capitalist system collapses under the weight of the world crisis.
In the north of Ireland alone, major employers have pulled out, including the tyre-maker Michelin and the tobacco firm Gallaher, while workers at Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast occupied the yard to prevent closure.
The car industry in the UK has been decimated this year with Honda threatening to close its Swindon plant with the loss of 3,500 jobs, while Nissan is similarly pulling out of car production in Sunderland, putting the jobs of 6,700 workers in jeopardy.
In June, Ford announced the closure of its engine plant at Bridgend in South Wales at the cost of 1,700 jobs as part of its worldwide ‘restructuring’ programme, which will see massive closures and job losses across the US and Europe.
The French owners of Vauxhall have also announced their intention to close down their Ellesmere Port plant.
In May this year, British Steel was forced into liquidation after its hedge fund owners Greybull walked away, after pocketing massive amounts of cash through forcing loans on the company, putting up to 20,000 jobs in the supply chain at risk.
The list of bankruptcies and of massive corporations simply closing production down in order to cut back and keep the shareholders in profit is turning into a tidal wave of industrial and manufacturing devastation.
With thousands of jobs being destroyed, the response of the unions is inevitably to call on the government to step in with financial support or for them to nationalise or re-nationalise these industries.
Every one of these pleadings by the trade union leadership has been met with a blank refusal, with the Tories quoting EU laws that make it illegal to give state aid to bail out bankrupt companies and to nationalise or re-nationalise them – laws which the pro-Remain Labour Party leaders ignore in their enthusiasm for staying under the rule of the EU courts.
The fact is that capitalism internationally is gripped by a massive crisis, with bitter trade wars for survival. What is left of UK industry will be wiped out along with hundreds of thousands of workers’ jobs.
Under capitalism, only banks will be bailed out – by the working class forced to keep them from collapse through vicious austerity cuts and now facing a lifetime of unemployment.
The UK ruling class of big bankers and bosses cannot be allowed to complete Thatcher’s plan to de-industrialise the UK, leaving only the big banks standing.
Workers must demand that the trade union leaders stop begging for help but instead follow the lead of the Harland and Wolff workers and organise an immediate campaign of occupations and strikes to defend every industry threatened with closure and take action to make sure they are nationalised without compensation and under the control of the working class.
Now is the time for the working class to take power and go forward to a workers government that will expropriate the bosses and bankers, leave the bankers’ EU on October 31st and establish a planned socialist economy to replace this bankrupt capitalist system with socialism.