TORY ministers were locked in crisis talks with energy suppliers yesterday as the threat of gas shortages in Britain are so huge that they ‘could easily see a three-day working week’ across entire industries and companies by the winter.
The boss of Iceland supermarket told the BBC he is ‘shocked’ at how exposed Britain is to gas supplies collapsing. He said: ‘This is no longer about whether Christmas will be OK. This is more about keeping the wheels turning and the lights on so we can actually get to Christmas.’
An article by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph, headed ‘Mounting fears of a 1970s-style three day week as Britain’s energy crunch deepens’, spelt out the extent of the crisis tearing the UK economy apart.
He wrote: ‘British manufacturing leaders fear an industrial collapse over the winter as spiralling gas and electricity prices overwhelm the country’s energy defences.’
Andrew Large from the Energy Intensive Users Group said: ‘It is potentially catastrophic. We’re already seeing plant closures at a time of year when the weather is still warm and domestic heating is low. Fast forward two months and this could be an acute crisis.’
Large warned of the disastrous effect of the energy crisis on the supply chain citing the steel, cement, ceramics, glass, industrial chemicals and the paper sector as all being at risk, and that ‘Individual companies are facing the very serious question of whether they can continue to operate.’
Clive Moffatt, a senior gas consultant, added his voice to the warnings about industrial collapse saying: ‘We could easily see a three-day working week. The government has been playing dangerous games with the grid and has allowed a situation to develop that is outside their control.’
While industries and firms close down or put workers on a three-day week, working class families face a massive rise in household energy bills which are predicted to increase by £400 this winter.
At yesterday’s meeting, the private companies demanded that the Tories pump billions of pounds into energy firms to keep them from collapse.
Five suppliers have already gone bust and a further four are expected to close this week with their customers facing uncertainty about whether the bigger suppliers will take them over. While workers face having energy bills skyrocketing and heating and lighting cut off or restricted, the bosses are demanding the working class bail out the privateers.
The privateers, ever since the Tory government of Margaret Thatcher privatised Gas and Electricity in the 1980s, have made vast profits for shareholders while failing completely to deliver basic energy security to the people.
In her effort to destroy the trade unions Thatcher destroyed the coal industry, leaving the UK at the mercy of imported gas for the UK’s energy needs. Now the gas supply has virtually shut down and with it the UK economy is closing up and the lights are switching off.
This is not a temporary problem of supply but the outcome of flogging off a nationalised energy industry to private vultures only concerned with extracting maximum profit from a public necessity.
The last three-day week was imposed by the then Tory government of Edward Heath in January 1974 in response to an oil crisis and industrial action by the National Union of Mineworkers. It wasn’t ended until Heath was kicked out in the following March.
In its editorial yesterday, the Telegraph referred to the crisis of the 1970s saying: ‘The geopolitics of energy supply have always required careful management. The great recession of the late 1970s, leading to three million out of work, was precipitated by the oil price shock of 1973 and changed the world’s power balance.’
There will be no return to the 1970s – the great recession today is gripping the entire world capitalist system and no ‘careful management’ by any government can control it. It can only dump its crisis on the backs of the working class.
Capitalism is dying and the only way forward is to put it out of its misery by the working class taking power and bringing in a planned socialist economy.
Socialist revolution is the only answer to capitalist crisis.