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I READ in a Sunday newspaper that 8 out of 10 CEOs were going to cut jobs this year.
Cutting jobs, reducing wages or freezing pay, and the threatened or actual transfer of jobs to cheap-labour countries has been so frequently reported in the media that they can begin to appear normal. But anyone who has read Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine may be more sceptical. For they are aware that there is a history of capitalists and supporters using the “shock” to the public caused by a crisis, whether economic or any other kind, to take advantage of a demoralised and confused public to introduce policies and ideas, whether by coercion or “agreement”, that the public would never accept under normal circumstances.
The things these opportunists seek to impose are, guess what? Yes, reductions in wages; drastic cuts in the public services and a general clawing back of social and work-place advances made by workers over decades. I’m not suggesting for a moment that all of the layoffs, short-time working, threats of moving abroad, wage cuts, pay freezes and demands for cuts in public spending that have arisen from this economic crisis were not really necessary. What I am suggesting is that free-market capitalism is driven to defend itself and to attack those who seek to limit its opportunities to continually maximise profits, and will seize on whatever opportunity arises to do so.
Most employers and politicians are not ruthless and greedy and will resist the inhuman imperatives of free-market capitalism. However, the fact that employers, bankers, politicians and free-market worshippers have shown themselves to be more than capable of seizing on a crisis to serve their own, or free-market capitalism’s ends, is surely sufficient to warn the public that there may be such people in our midst and that we need to be aware of this and be ready to respond to any attempt to take advantage of our economic crisis.
I believe that a credible independent committee should be set up to scrutinise any move to reduce wages, worsen working condition, layoff staff, relocate abroad or to make any cuts in public services, to establish if these things are really necessary, or if they are being carried out for opportunistic reasons.
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