Tuesday, June 11, 2024

These Foolish Things: The system dictates (1996)

The Scavenger column from the June 1996 issue of the Socialist Standard

The system dictates

[PilkingtonJ is one of the few UK companies to have accepted that works councils, the elected consultative bodies beloved of the European Union, aree a good way to build consensus on key strategic issues. When it comes to sacking people, however, Pilkington found that the rules governing the release of price-sensitive information to the stock exchange, meant that the first that Pilkington’s workforce knew of this particular strategic decision [to axe 1,900 jobs] was on the radio rather than through any consultative mechanism. Guardian, 28 March.

Are jobs bad for prosperity?

Another healthy rise in American jobs yesterday sent the Treasury bond market into a bout of heavy selling again and appeared to rule out any further cuts in the US interest rates in the short term. The economy created 140,000 jobs in the non-farm sector in March, many more than Wall Street economists had been expecting, this followed a rise of 624,000 jobs in February', revised from last month’s initial estimate of 705,000, which had sent the Dow Jones industrial average into a 171-point plunge and wiped three full points off bond prices. Times, 6 April.

Smoking, poverty and profits

BAT unveiled record pre-tax profits of $2.4 billion for 1994, fuelled by the sales of 670 billion cigarettes worldwide . . . Among the countries where BAT cigarette sales have started to increase are: Poland, Romania, Russia, Uzbekistan, Hungary and Vietnam. Guardian, 7 March.

Capitalism’s iron fist

The International Monetary Fund, the Treasurers of world capitalism, has prescribed even more grinding poverty for the world’s working class. Its recently published World Economic Outlook stated that there would need to be further cuts in spending on health and pension benefits by the governments of industrialised nations in order to reduce the high interest rates which damage the profitability of capital. Tax increases, the report said, would not solve the problem because that would hit capitalists.

Telling figures

Car-makers spent a record £515 million on advertising last year. With 1,945,366 sold in Britain, that made the average spend per new car £265 . . . More than half [the cars] went to fleets, say industry sources, so the cost for every private sale was an incredible £1,800-plus. Financial Mail on Sunday. 14 April.

Both couples remain friends

Carlo Giambrone was “gobsmacked” [at being on the same divorce list as the Yorks). The unemployed mechanic arrived at court No. 1 in Somerset House yesterday in a bomber jacket and jeans to tell the judge he could not afford to pay the costs awarded him after his divorce . . . “I have my kids every' weekend. I shall carry on giving my wife what support I can, though at the moment I’m only getting £74 benefit every two weeks . . ." Few observers believe that the £2 million settlement, £500,000 of which has been set aside for the Duchess, will be sufficient to keep her in the lavish lifestyle she has become accustomed to. Guardian, 18 April.
The Scavenger

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