Comments on the crisis

Submitted by AWL on 16 October, 2008 - 6:18

John McDonnell MP: we have no say in this deal

The government have come out with their statement, possibly the worst deal you could have, you shove in up to £50 billion... you get non-executive directors... we have no say whatsoever... this idea that they’ll control bonuses on executive pay for a limited period of time; they’re going to set up an arms-length body to monitor their investments... it’s laughable.

It’s called nationalisation, democratic representation on all the banks. But reform of the structures is irrelevant unless we can really transform our financial strategy... based on the needs of the people, for jobs, for homes, for alternative energy climate change and public services.

People are saying we’ve had enough, I’m being laid off, I’ve had enough, and I want to do something about it. The way we’re treated as customers, as workers, as members of the community...

Individual struggles will break out and when those spontaneous activities break out we must try to use what consistent organisation we’ve got within our movement, which are the trade unions, to add force to those individual struggles and see how best to co-ordinate them.

Mark Serwotka: time to rock the boat

I don’t profess to be an economist but I do have some understanding of the effect of this crisis on working people.

The current crisis could be used to try and con working people into not resisting pay cuts and privatisation. I think we’re going see a real consensus of people in the political parties and I think some of the trade unions are going tell people now’s not the time to rock the boat and I take the view that now’s the time to rock as hard as we can…

These are bizarre times… when I was leaving school, I remember reading all the left publications about nationalising the banks and the top 200 hundred companies, and now we have Bush and Brown seemingly nationalising the banks and some of the companies. If we look at America it’s also bizarre. You could argue there has been more open debate in America under their political system about dealing with the crisis than in Britain, with the Bush bailout plan being rejected in Congress. 

And when Brown says we will do whatever it takes to stabilise the banks, and do absolutely nothing to stop the poverty he is plunging public sector workers into, the hypocrisy is breathtaking, yet is seems to go unnoticed or uncommented upon; in that sense I see a huge opportunity but I also don’t underestimate how big the problem is.

It raises the question about the whole political system, and the fact that no body speaks for working men and women in this place anymore as an organised party…

I’ve noticed we’re not calling things nationalisation. We’re calling this capitalisation… nationalising the risks not the profits. What are we going to get back in return for it? We need short term demands: controls on executive pay, not allowing people to have their houses repossessed.

We should take immediate steps to prevent off-shoring to avoid taxation — £25-40 billion leaving this country. If all this was collected tomorrow it would allow public sector workers in this country to have inflation proof pay rises and there still be £18 billion in change.

There is no better time than now to make alternative arguments, about the relevance of socialism. Challenge the ideology that says that only the private sector has the solution. That is a joke — the £79 billion market in public services. All that should stop now – argue for nationalaisation of rail, of our utilities and public services that  have been sold off.

Mark Serwotka is general secretary of the PCS civil service union.

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