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New Communist Party of Britain

This is just one section of the Main Political Resolution adopted at the 2009 16th Congress of the New Communist Party of Britain.
An index to the other sections can be found here -> [2009 Policy Documents]

WORKERS UNDER ATTACK

Eurostat estimates that in March 2009 there were over 20 million unemployed in the European Union (EU), including 14 million in the euro zone. The highest rates were in Spain (17.4 per cent), Latvia (16.1 per cent) and Lithuania (15.5 per cent). Those figures didn’t include those on short time, where as many as two million workers were working shorter hours as the crisis of overproduction hit manufacturing firms such as Renault, Honda, Fiat, Nissan, Bosch and BASF.

For all their bragging that the EU, by its unified set of rules and regulations, minimum regulatory interference unfettered by specific state control, has allowed capital to be used more efficiently within its member states, this has proved to be a lie. Much capital within Europe is idle, as witnessed by the 20 million unemployed and those factories that are either on short time, temporarily or permanently closed.

The European ruling class needed the EU to strengthen European monopoly capitalism vis−a−vis the US whereas certain elements of the British ruling class wanted the EU’s rules and regulations to be designed to make European capitalism as “competitive” as that of Britain and the US. Both arguments have won out but at what cost — massive and increasing unemployment in the US, Britain and Europe with the working class bearing the brunt of the economic crisis. If the “good” times ever return workers will only get the crumbs left over from the capitalist feeding frenzy.

EU states are powerless to find solutions to this high unemployment; national governments have reduced benefits and passed legislation to force workers into low−paid jobs. The issue that these governments can’t address is that even the low paid jobs are not there. All the governments in the euro−zone are struggling with the one−size−fits−all monetary policy that inflicts an excessive real interest rate on their stagnant economies and forces them to cut budgets at a time when government expenditure should have increased to alleviate the suffering caused by the slowdown in their economies.

Sarkozy, the French President, announced in 2007 that he was determined to end negotiated agreements on pensions and retirement for 500,000 workers in state enterprises on the basis that privileges that were granted to compensate for the rigours of manual labour can no longer be justified.

Clearly there is a lesson here for British trade unionists who have in the past argued that one of the benefits of euro membership is increased trade union rights and job security. The reaction of the EU to the current crisis shows that trade union rights and jobs are not their first priority. Wages and jobs can only be protected where trade unions are strong and defend and advance the interests of the working class.

The NCP opposes entry to the euro and calls for unconditional withdrawal from the EU. British entry to the euro−zone would strengthen European monopoly capitalism as the experience of the British ruling class will be used to invoke more sophisticated attacks on the European working class, as capitalism tries to alleviate the current capitalist wide crisis at the expense of workers. It is only by cutting pay, social welfare, trade union rights and increasing hours and job insecurity, that monopoly capitalism can build a zone to serve capitalism, imperialism and globalisation. This must not be allowed to happen.

In the US workers are paying a huge price for their ruling classes’ attempt to save capitalism.

Our last Congress in 2006 reported the productivity gains being made in the US, which allowed capitalists to force workers to work harder for lower pay, resulted in corporate profits rising by 78 per cent in the five years to 2006. This was even when 30 per cent of the US industrial base remained idle with it’s motor industry in deep crisis. It was also noted that foreign capital was being used to fuel speculation in the money markets, rather than to cover the replacement of its worn−out capital stock. That speculation resulted in profits in the financial sector rising from less than five per cent of total corporate profits in 1982 to 41 per cent by 2007 but their share of gross value added only rose from eight to 16 per cent.

That Congress in 2006 posed the question: “How long will this ‘miracle’ last?” And gave the answer “Not long”. It predicted that the productivity miracle would become a poisoned chalice, as it is those US workers, displaced by productivity, who were supposed to buy the goods and services that were being produced so efficiently!

Workers are the most important element of the US economy as they account for about 70 per cent of total spending, With workers struggling with falling wages, tightening credit conditions, higher energy and food costs, and job insecurity, the US is heading in a downward spiral.

This downward spiral is most illustrated by the car industry with bankrupt Delphi, the GM parts supplier, leading the way by closing or selling 23 of its 37 US factories and sacking 28,000 workers and slashing wages of skilled workers from $27 an hour to a maximum of $18.50. The three leading US car−makers have followed.

Having profiteered in the past without any view to the future, GM declared itself bankrupt, in June 2009. Government money was given but only on the basis that jobs were cut and wage costs reduced to those of non−union foreign car−makers.

Although GM and Toyota workers earn similar wages of about $29 an hour, GM provided better healthcare insurance and pensions and had a workforce both in work and retired that reflected the demographics of US society as a whole, whilst Toyota has a younger workforce and a fraction of the number of retirees.

Under intense pressure from GM and government to save jobs, the US union the United Automobile Workers (UAW), agreed to a two−tier wage structure under which new assembly−line workers would be paid about $14.20 an hour, compared with the $29 for existing workers and the UAW would take responsibility for workers’ healthcare in a union−managed trust.

This follows similar schemes at Delphi, Goodyear and Dana, a bankrupt Ohio parts manufacturer. At Ford a similar deal was approved by a mere 51−49 per cent margin.

It is little wonder that increasing numbers of American workers are seeing the inequalities of capitalism. In 1988, 25 per cent of them said that the US was split between haves and have−nots with 40 per cent regarding themselves as have−nots; by 2007 nearly 50 per cent thought that the US was split with 55 per cent regarding themselves as have−nots.

Of the have−nots, according to US government data, in January 2008, 28 million Americans received food stamps, the highest number since the programme began in the 1960s, with a further 18 million entitled but not claiming. For the 13 million not entitled to food stamps there is a network of 30,000 churches and soup kitchens that distribute food from 200 regional food banks. These food banks received a significant quantity of food from the government who used to buy surplus farm commodities to support market prices; this support is dwindling away as food commodity prices have risen.