Rich get richer in Britain

This video from England in 2007 is called May Day Demo – Justice for Cleaners Speeches. It says about itself:

Speeches from Justice for Cleaners demonstration in central London – immigrant workers fight for a London Living Wage, block traffic in central London as they march from University to University – SOAS, UCL Birckbeck and LSHTM, all of which pay below the London Living wage of £7.05 per hour.

From British daily The Morning Star (where there was a fire yesterday; however, they manage to continue to publish):

Equality of sacrifice

(Tuesday 29 July 2008)

TIMING is crucial in politics and the Labour Party national policy forum‘s rejection at the weekend of a windfall profits tax on energy companies looks inept already.

The announcement of BP half-yearly profits of £6.75 billion, up 23 per cent, will only increase the frustration and anger of hard-pressed working people.

You can bet your boots that neither Gordon Brown nor Alistair Darling [see also on Darling and the International Marxist Group; here] will condemn this display of greed as contributing to the rate of inflation.

Such criticism is reserved for low-paid public-sector workers who are condemned for complaining about having a pay “increase” of below 2 per cent imposed on them when even the retail prices index indicates a rate of double that.

Whatever the RPI indicates – and even less so the government-favoured consumer prices index – the rise in living costs for those on lowest incomes is way in excess of official figures.

But, in a phony evocation of social cohesion, the Prime Minister and Chancellor claim that we are all in this economic crisis together and must tighten our belts to see it through.

Equality of sacrifice? That sounds good. Just like the Dunkirk spirit in a modern setting.

So let’s hear it for supermarket giant Tesco and the sacrifices that its shareholders have been making.

Don’t hold your breath. It scraped by on an 11 per cent jump in profits to a fairly tidy £2.75 billion.

Let’s hear it too for Jake Ulrich, the managing director of Centrica Energy, the parent company of British Gas, who suggested most helpfully that, if we have difficulties paying his company‘s bills, we could turn down the thermostat and wear two jumpers instead of one.

This is the same Centrica that announced earlier this year that its latest annual operating profits were up 40 per cent to £1.95 billion.

And just to put things in context, British Gas profits jumped to £571 million from £95 million in 2006.

For his part in delivering these profits, Mr Ulrich was paid a salary of £1.1 million and a bonus of £536,000. Not much necessity for him to double up on jumpers.

Just over 200 years ago, the French queen’s refusal to understand the hardships of the people led her to lecture them that, if they had no bread, they should eat cake.

Or eat mud; like in Haiti today?

It cost the queen her head.

Whereas it may be considered unreasonable by some to suggest that the bodies of Mr Ulrich and his colleagues should be detached from their heads, they should certainly be detached from much of their ill-gotten wealth.

Big business and the rich should be paying more in tax.

They can certainly afford it.

Since 2006, the share of national income, excluding oil, going in profits has risen to 26 per cent from 22 per cent, while the share for wages has slipped from 26 per cent to 24 per cent, which was the norm under the Tories.

We need price freezes on selected essential products, windfall taxes on the energy, food and banking transnational companies and higher tax rates on the wealthy.

Working people are fed up with being exploited by big business and abused by new Labour.

Virgin’s Richard Branson is laying on a three and half hour trip 70 miles up into the stratosphere to the edge of space for the world’s super-rich, where travellers can experience just four to six minutes of weightlessness: here.

Conflicts in “new” Labour: here.

6 thoughts on “Rich get richer in Britain

  1. Bosses evolved from prehistoric bullies
    Monday, 06 October 2008
    University of New South Wales

    Tribal leaders ostracised
    those that did not agree
    with the group, as many
    managers do today.

    The way male managers carry themselves, dress and exercise power is due to humans’ evolutionary biology, according to research from UNSW.

    Prehistoric behaviours, such as male domination, protecting what is perceived as their “turf” and ostracising those who do not agree with the group is more commonplace in everyday work situations than many of us want to accept, according to the research which was carried out in hospitals.

    “This tribal culture is similar to what we would have seen in hunter gather bands on the savannah in southern Africa,” says the author of the paper, Professor Jeffrey Braithwaite, from the Institute for Health Innovation in the Faculty of Medicine.

    “While this research focuses specifically on health care settings, the results can be extrapolated to other workplaces,” says Professor Braithwaite.

    “Groups were territorial in the past because it helped them survive. If you weren’t in a tight band, you didn’t get to pass on your genes,” he says. “Such tribalism is not necessary in the same way now, yet we still have those characteristics because they have evolved over two million years.

    “It’s a surprise just how hard-wired this behaviour is,” says Professor Braithwaite. “It’s predictable that a group will ostracise a whistleblower, for instance. It’s not good, but it’s understandable in the tribal framework. It explains all sorts of undesirable behaviours, including bullying.”

    Professor Braithwaite’s research is based on hundreds of interviews and observations of health workers over a 15-year period. He used an evolutionary psychology approach – incorporating archaeology and anthropology of the earliest known humans – to compare with modern behaviours.

    It is hoped the research can be used to develop strategies to encourage clinical professionals to work together more effectively.

    “We need to stop being simplistic and realise that changing behaviours and encouraging teamwork is much harder than we think,” says Professor Braithwaite. “Getting different groups together and talking through some of the differences, and appreciating some of the unwritten rules which drive people, are crucial steps in improving trust.

    “We also need to re-think education. We train doctors in a completely different arena from nurses and allied health staff, then we bring them together in the workplace after they graduate and expect everyone to be team players,” he says. “We need to bring them together much earlier in the educational process.”

    The paper has been published in the Journal of Health Organisation and Management.


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