TORY Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced yesterday that the furlough scheme will be extended until the end of March next year, with the government continuing to subsidise firms by paying up to 80% of the wages of workers laid off due to the new coronavirus lockdown measures passed on Wednesday.
The original furlough scheme was due to end at the start of November, but with the Tories bringing in a further partial lockdown for one month until December 2nd it was expected that the scheme would be extended until that date.
Sunak’s about-turn followed pleas from the bosses’ organisation the CBI, pleas that were supported by the general secretary of the TUC Frances O’Grady.
Both O’Grady and the head of the CBI Carolyn Fairburn yesterday issued near identical tweets calling for the furlough scheme to be extended until spring to help companies and firms and, in O’Grady’s words, get working families through ‘the tough times ahead’.
Tough times ahead is a massive understatement for the crisis that is hitting working class families, with 4 million workers facing being thrown out of their jobs when furlough ends – not counting the thousands already sacked by companies during the economic crisis that has been massively accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic.
Already these millions of workers furloughed so far have had their wages cut by 20% while bills and rents have not decreased. Despite all the ‘holidays’ from rent, mortgages, bank and credit card repayments these bills are massively increasing day by day.
Extending furlough is just putting off the day of reckoning for the working class when these debts have to be paid until the spring.
This will be presented as some kind of victory by the TUC, a demonstration of the willingness of the Tories to listen to their concerns – no doubt leading to further calls for a united front with Johnson to rescue a capitalist system that is crashing into depression.
The speed of this depression was seen yesterday in another surprise announcement by the Bank of England.
On Monday, the Bank was briefing journalists that at the meeting of its Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) on Thursday it would be announcing a further round of Quantitative Easing (QE), pumping another £100 billion of worthless paper money to keep the economy from going bust.
By the time the MPC met yesterday morning they were forced to admit that the amount needed to try and shore up British capitalism had in the space of a few days shot up to £150 billion!
Announcing the massive increase the Bank’s governor Andrew Bailey said: ‘Since the Committee’s previous meeting, there had been a rapid rise in rates of Covid-19 infection. The outlook for the economy remains unusually uncertain. It depends on the evolution of the pandemic and measures taken to protect public health, as well as the nature of, and transition to, the new trading arrangements between the EU and the UK.’
Bailey added that as a result: ‘A further easing of monetary policy is warranted.’
In short, Bailey is projecting a future where the Bank of England will become a perpetual ‘money tree’ conjuring up billions out of thin air to pay for government spending and to pay off the interest on the massive national debt standing at over £2.2 trillion and increasing every day.
Clearly the Bank was forced to act in the knowledge that Sunak was extending furlough.
Just as individual workers will be forced to pay the debts they have run up just to survive during furlough, so the entire working class will be expected to pay for trillions of debt run up by the Tories to bail out capitalism from bankruptcy.
Workers will refuse to have their lives destroyed through mass unemployment and poverty just to keep this decaying capitalist system from drowning.
The only way forward is to kick out the union leaders who seek only to unite with the bosses and Tories and bring in a new leadership prepared to mobilise the strength of the working class to bring down this Tory government and go forward to a workers’ government and socialism.
Only the WRP is building the leadership required – join today.