Jersey: workers should not pay for the bosses' crisis

Submitted by Matthew on 19 November, 2009 - 12:25

In Jersey, like in the UK, the rich are getting richer and workers and the poor are getting poorer as the bosses try to make us pay for their economic crisis. Workers in Jersey are suffering.

Rising taxes GST [3 percent Goods and Services Tax introduced recently], rising duties and the freeze on tax allowances are making the situation unbearable for most people. We are being forced to pay for the hole left by their refusal to seriously tax corporations.

Real-term wage cuts The States has over-ruled even its own States Employment Board to insist that workers should get no cost of living increase – despite rising taxes and despite inflation.

Job cuts and privatisation For instance, twenty jobs at Jersey Water are under threat as public property is semi-privatised through “incorporation” — preparing for it to be sold off. Jersey Telecom has also been incorporated. We can expect more to come.

We’re in an economic crisis. Isn’t this inevitable?

No. When the States [Jersey’s parliament] argues that because workers in the UK are taking cuts, so should we — or that because workers in the private sector are taking cuts, so should the public sector — that’s an excuse to attack all workers. If one group of workers succeed in stopping cuts and getting a decent pay rise, it will make the situation better for all workers to struggle. We need to take on the bosses, not fall out amongst ourselves.

Since the recession began, workers in the UK have shown that it’s possible to fight back. If you get organised and fight back, you can win. That is how we won the rights we have now; that is how we can stop them being taken away and win more in the future.

For the first time in the history of Jersey, workers across the island have got organised together. The formation of a Trades Council to prepare for the strike is a very positive development.

Demands

• Decent pay rises. We should demand a system where, in addition to pay rises, wages rise automatically to match inflation. The very minimum we should accept is a pay rise that keeps up with inflation (real inflation, not a cooked-up government figure!) now.

• No job losses, no cuts in services.

• Tax the rich not the poor. Scrap GST. Introduce a proper system of corporation tax, capital gains tax etc — make the bosses pay for the services we need. “20 means 20” is ridiculous — income tax should be progressive so that the rich pay heavily, workers pay less and the poor pay no tax at all.

• No victimisation of workers involved in strike action. Defend our unions!

Workers’ political voice

Why is politics in Jersey the private preserve of the rich? Why do workers and the poor, who make up the big majority of people in Jersey, have to troop to the polls to choose between one or other multi-millionaire Ski Club member every time there’s an election? Is it any surprise so many people don’t bother to vote?

We agree with the Jersey Democratic Alliance (JDA) that we need party politics in Jersey. Without clear political parties and programs, politics will continue to be dominated by personalities and by individuals and cliques who can use their wealth to hold influence and power.

But what workers need is not a liberal hodgepodge like the JDA, but a workers’ party — a party based on the workers’ movement, explicitly committed to representing working-class people, electing workers’ representatives to the States and seeking to create a workers’ government that can serve the interests of the majority as the current government loyally serves the rich.

• For the full text and a downloadable PDF see www.workersliberty.org/story

/2009/11/10/awl-jersey-bulletin-no-1

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