Thousands of new job cuts

by Daphne Liddle

THS ECONOMY in Britain is once again sliding deeper into the doldrums as more and more retail chains are calling in the administrators because workers’ wages are too low to buy their products.

Comet, the high street electrical goods retailers, went under just before Christmas. This week it was the camera chain Jessops and the music and film chain HMV. And, according to latest reports French Connection and the chocolatier Thornton’s are also in trouble.

When the Japanese motor company Honda announced 800 job cuts in its Swindon factory the giant union Unite described it as a “hammer blow” to British manufacturing industry and the local economy.

The real number of job cuts will be 1,100 because Honda had already announced 325 job cuts of temporary workers at the end of last month.

Unite national officer Tony Murphy said: “This is a hammer blow to UK manufacturing and to Swindon where Honda is a major employer. The reality is that over 1,000 jobs are going at Honda - it’s a disaster for manufacturing in the UK and for the local economy.

“It’s a tragedy for our members and their families. There’s no doubt these cuts will have a significant knock-on impact on the supply chain, and on local shops and services .That is why we intend to save as many jobs as possible.”

The problems at Honda reflect the situation in the motor industry throughout Europe, where sales are dropping steeply because workers have no money to spend on cars.


According to the European Automobile Manufacturing Association (ACEA), mass market carmakers are cutting jobs in underused plants across Europe, with Renault (RENA.PA) the latest to announce job losses, following Honda (7267.T), Ford (F.N), PSA Peugeot Citroen (PEUP.PA) and Opel (GM.N).

New car registrations fell 8.2 per cent to 12.05 million vehicles in 2012, the lowest level since 1995.

Every time a company collapses the Government is lumbered with heavy costs. Comet went into administration owing more than £30 million.

The Treasury will take a hit of £50 million from unpaid taxes and redundancy payments for the 6,600 staff who lost their jobs. Staff will also get £2.1 million of holiday and back pay they are owed in full.

Administrators Deloitte are keeping HMV’s 239 stores open for now but 4,350 jobs are threatened. PricewaterhouseCoopers, the administrators for Jessops, have closed all the 187 stores and 1,370 people face losing their jobs.


But it is clearly the whole system that needs sacking and replacing with a system where the workers, who create the wealth, control financial services.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey acknowledged this in his Ralph Miliband lecture last week at the London School of Economics. He said: “The labour movement’s message must be one of ‘hope’. It must talk more about its victories and the positive future that it aspires to.

“Britain is broken. But it is the system that is broken, not the people. Trade unions and the labour movement must continue to give hope for a better way of doing things.

“They must work to ‘educate — agitate — organise’.

“I am proud to associate Unite with these initiatives, and to hope to form a longer-lasting alliance between organised labour and radical protest, even if it comes from outside our traditional movement.

“And, as I have made clear before in relation to the trade union laws, while I do not ever advocate violence, nor do I preach worship of the law at all costs....

“People need a political voice now. As the working-class reasserts itself, Labour is the natural, historic, vehicle for their voice. Not to the exclusion of others in society wanting a better future.

“Every Labour victory has been based on an alliance. And that is the alliance I see delivering