That's capitalism WS58


The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees is spending about 11 cents a day per refugee in Africa. Some refugee camps hold as many as 500,000 people and have just one doctor for every 100,000. Up to 6,000 people there die each day from cholera and other public health diseases.1


In the ten years from 1987 to 1997 (the first decade of 'social partnership') the share of 26 county earnings going to wages, pensions and social welfare declined by 10%; from 69% to 59%. The share going to profits, rents and dividends rose by 10%; from 31% to 41%.2


Among those hoping to make a tidy little profit from the privatisation of Telecom were some Labour politicians who were staunchly opposed to privatisation until very recently. The share register included TDs Roisin Shorthall, Seamus Pattison and Michael Ferris; and former TDs Toddy O'Sullivan & Mervyn Taylor. Also on the register were high ranking churchmen (no vows of poverty for them!) like Wexford bishop Brendan Comiskey, Raphoe bishop Philip Boyce, Achonry bishop Thomas Flynn and auxiliary bishop of Dublin James Moriarty.3

In 1997 South Africa passed a law allowing the country to produce AIDS treatment drugs generically, and to obtain the medicines in any country where they are sold. These measures can reduce the price of the medicines by avoiding the monopoly distribution of pharmaceutical companies. US Vice-President Al Gore has now joined 40 pharmaceutical giants in pushing for US legislation to overcome the South African policy and force impoverished countries to buy high-priced US-made drugs, or face retaliation.4


Looking after the rich and looking down on the workers

Poor struggling millionaire employers can claim tax relief on their membership contributions to IBEC. Wealthy architects and consultants can claim relief on their fees to professional associations. Workers, some of whom are so badly paid that the government agreed to a minimum hourly wage of £4.40 (but not until next year), can claim nothing on their trade union subscriptions. Seemingly expenses incurred in the generation of profits are legitimate but money spent on protection from the greed of bosses is not.


Make your boss rich and lose your job

BECTU (Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union) has accused the owners of Ulster Television of casualisation after they announced 35 redundancies at the start of the summer. The workers were shocked by the announcement as Ulster Television had not reported any financial difficulties to their staff or to the union. In fact last year's pre-tax profits came to £12 million.The union has said it will fight any compulsory redundancies. BECTU Assistant General Secretary Gerry Morrissey said: "The company admit that the work remains, however they would prefer to bring in freelancers rather than continue to employ staff who have shown their commitment to the company over many years". The bosses get the big bucks and the workers get no job security or promotion opportunities.


1 BRC News, 22/05/99.2 Central Statistics Office, National Income and Expenditure Survey.

3 Sunday Times, 25/07/99.

4, 02/08/99.

This article is from Workers Solidarity No 58 published in Oct 1999