Wednesday, 18 May 2011

New unemployment crisis? Same old story.

On Monday 16 April, commenting on a new report by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) into unemployment, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber stated: ‘There is a stark jobs divide across the country with parts of Scotland and the Tees Valley experiencing a far sharper downturn than parts of the South East’. At first glance this looks like geographical inequality but a closer examination shows that this is pure and simple economic inequality.

TUC analysis has shown that in March this year there were 40 candidates for every job vacancy in the West Dunbartonshire region. 3786 people were registered unemployed and there were 94 vacancies. This is a pattern also repeated in North and East Ayrshire with an overwhelmingly disproportionate unemployed to vacancies ratio. West Dunbartonshire covers Clydebank, Dumbarton and the Vale of Leven. These three areas have a large working class population in an area that used to be the centre of Britain’s industry. This is a recurring theme which is being projected on wider scale. Across Britain as a whole the number of unemployed persons per vacancy has risen from 1.5 in 2005 to 6 in 2011.

Once again it is the majority of the people who suffer at the hands of an elite minority. While David Cameron tells us that ‘We are all in this together’, working class people are forced to compete with one another in order to find employment. This comes at a time when the ConDem coalition is launching an attack on those who are in receipt of Job-Seekers Allowance (JSA). The working class now finds itself in a situation where their unemployment benefit is under threat of reduction whilst simultaneously they fight in a job market against up to 40 of their peers. This is a stark and prominent example of the inhumane nature of capitalism. The late Jimmy Reid, leader of the Upper Clyde Shipworkers, in his 1972 inaugural speech as rector of Glasgow University said:

         ‘A rat race is for rats. We're not rats. We're human beings. Reject the insidious pressures in society that would blunt your critical faculties to all that is happening around you’.

The current simultaneous attack on employment and unemployment benefit has resulted in soaring competition for jobs. This constitutes a ‘rat-race’ since the capitalist system treats the workers as rodents who can be thrown out of employment and then forced to fight for survival against their fellow workers.

However the TUC analysis does not conclude that the working class are being forced into a ‘rat-race’. Instead Brendan Barber claims that ‘new unemployment blackspots have emerged. There is a stark jobs divide’. Yes there is a stark divide, between the ruling class and the working class, and it is getting wider. The TUC, whilst highlighting this inequality, is currently engaged in negotiating ‘voluntary redundancies’ to give the illusion of control. The ‘blackspots’ and ‘stark jobs divide’ will continue until the trade unions decide to actually take a principled stand and say ‘We are not rats, we are human beings!’. A principled stand would involve challenging the anti-trade union laws and refusing to implement savage government cuts. This assault on working class communities will continue North and South of the border. The trade unions can only take independent and effective action if they separate themselves from the control of the reactionary Labour party. Labour does not offer change but a continuation of swingeing cuts as was demonstrated by the last Labour administration. The answer lies not in a change of party but in a change of system.

No cuts! Full Stop!

Garry O’Ci├ínain. (FRFI)

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