Saturday, April 25, 2015

Fact Or Fiction, Capitalism Is A Loser For Workers

To paraphrase thoughts of a venture capitalist in a BBC series last night, if you're riding in a chariot and a few peasants get crushed under the wheels, it's for the overall good. The UK master of the universe - a Brit version of Mitt Romney – argued (like proponents of neoliberalism in the US) that all ships will rise as he creates a more "robust" economy. Of course, the dead peasants won't enjoy that fantasy economy. In addition, all the economic data in the US and UK indicate that the consolidation of wealth doesn't lift all ships: it raises only a few up to the stratosphere, while the tiny boats of the majority of people sink to the lowest tide.
The television film was Turks & Caicos, the second in a brilliant three-part spy thriller about the political takedown of a morally bankrupt and financially incentivized British prime minister clearly based on Tony Blair and his deference to the indefensible Bush administration post 9/11 policies.

The resonance of Turks & Caicos on the moral and political corruption of neoliberal economic policy carried over to this morning and an article in The Guardian. Written by a cook in the US Senate, Bertrand Olotara, the personal commentary describes the plight of a single father who had to go on food stamps to ensure that his children receive adequate nutrition:

I'm a single father and I only make $12 an hour; I had to take a second job at a grocery store to make ends meet. But even though I work seven days a week – putting in 70 hours between my two jobs – I can't manage to pay the rent, buy school supplies for my kids or even put food on the table. I hate to admit it, but I have to use food stamps so that my kids don't go to bed hungry.
I've done everything that politicians say you need to do to get ahead and stay ahead: I work hard and play by the rules; I even graduated from college and worked as a substitute teacher for 5 years. But I got laid-off and I now I'm stuck trying to make ends meet with dead-end service jobs.

No, Olotara's life raft isn't rising higher as the financial titans and Walmart heirs horde an extraordinary percentage of the nation's cash. (As noted in a BuzzFlash commentary earlier this week, the Walmart offspring of founder Sam Walton alone have as much wealth as 40% of the US population.)
Olotara describes himself as a "Bible-believing Christian," and wonders how politicians who claim the mantle of Christianity show so little compassion to individuals such as him and his children. After all, he's a cook for the very US senators who pass the federal laws regarding minimum wage and requirements for federal contractors that could include a livable wage provision.
One of the ironies is that in the global economy heralded by neoliberal financial advocates, Olotara's employer - remember that he works in the US Senate - is a UK international food service and contracted services company:

My employer, Compass Group, is renewing its contract with the US government today – but none of the senators or government officials to whom we serve food asked me or my co-workers whether this multinational corporation, headquartered in the United Kingdom, is treating American workers right. No-one bothered to check if the company that makes billions in profits is paying workers a living wage and offering decent benefits so we don't have to use public aid programs to meet our basic needs. We the workers sure have an opinion when it comes to federal contract renewals – but no one cared enough to ask us.

Last year Compass Group reported more than 17 billion UK pounds (over 25 billion US dollars) in revenue, according to its website.
Olotara was joining other contracted Senate works and federal employees in a one-day strike on April 23. Roll Call describes the job protest:

Contract workers in the U.S. Senate will walk off their jobs Wednesday to join contractors from across the District of Columbia in a strike calling for preference to be given to contractors who offer better wages, benefits and collective bargaining rights.
The Senate janitors and food service workers will join workers from the Capitol Visitor Center, the Pentagon, Union Station, the National Zoo and Smithsonian Institution at the rally on the West Front of the Capitol Wednesday morning.  
In November, workers from the Capitol Visitor Center joined the protest, marking the first time contract workers in the Capitol walked off their jobs as part of the movement. Wednesday is the first time Senate workers will join the strike.

The workers who are employed by private contractors to perform services in public buildings, including the US Senate, are seeking livable wages, benefits, and the right to collectively bargain.


from here with links

Solidarity to workers, whoever and wherever they are, struggling to improve their conditions of work. Within the capitalist system it is a necessary and ongoing struggle, however I will repeat once again what we in the World Socialist Movement seem to be repeating endlessly which is that this is what the capitalist system is all about, what it is founded upon - profit above everything else. Therefore wages must be kept at low as possible, any benefits and pensions are liable to be cut and contracts will always favour the employer. Workers are just pawns in the game, the first to be sacrificed.
We urge all workers to look at their future prospects, taking into account all that they can see is wrong with their past and current situation and recognise that the only way out of this stalemate is to work together to abolish the system of wage slavery once and for all in favour of socialism, a system of common ownership and proper democratic control of our common wealth. Together we can achieve it.

 


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