Manufacturing meltdown! Productive economy faces catastrophy

It’s a funny old world. At the moment, I mean.

The Chinese saying goes: may you live in interesting times. I’m not sure if this is a friendly or unfriendly wish. Certainly the times are interesting, but also worrying.

Job “losses” are coming thick and fast. The old economic orthodoxies are being abandoned as the free market goes into free fall.

We’ve had a bailout of the financial sector – the government acting for the banksters, rather than for workers and customers.

But will there be a similar bailout of the productive economy?

After years of deindustrialisation we need to rebuild the manufacturing base of our economy with the aim of full employment, environmental sustainability, and workplace democracy.

A weak pound alone won’t save manufacturing…

The FT reports that:

Manufacturers are expecting the sharpest contraction in output in 30 years, according to a CBI survey published on Wednesday, which noted that the only time that a deeper decline had been expected was for two months in 1980 as the UK entered a recession.

The CBI Industrial Trends Survey, which covers October, came as the EEF, whose members are largely manufacturers, reported that one in four companies which had negotiated a pay deal in three months to the end of September had either deferred a decision or elected to freeze pay.

Separately, the Bank of England’s Agents’ Survey showed that companies last month pared back their investment plans to cover only essential expenditure as reports of small-scale redundancies and plant closures became more widespread.

Together, the three surveys point to a rapid deterioration in Britain’s manufacturing sector in recent months as the UK heads into a recession.

Commenting on the EEF and CBI surveys, David Yeandle, EEF head of employment policy, said: “The severity of these changes over such a short period of time indicates the extent to which companies are having to take immediate action to control their costs. It seems hard to believe it is only a few months since fears about wage inflation were so prevalent.”

Yeah, and it’s hard to believe that anyone took seriously the government claim that if public sector workers didn’t get a pay cut, there’d be rampant inflation…

It’s like a fascist state, fascists complain

Okay, so it’s illegal. It’s leading to people having their privacy invaded.

I’m talking, of course, about the leaking of the personal details (including home addresses as well as hobbies) of members of the white supremacist British National Party.

But putting people’s personal details online – this is the kind of thing fascists do, isn’t it?

Well, a former employee of the BNP (and so, one assumes, a racist sympathiser) is said to have uploaded the information.

As Jeremy Dear, the general secretary of the journalists’ union, blogs:

I’ve had neo-nazis threaten me at home, publish my details on Redwatch, the right-wing website designed to target and intimidate journalists and trade unionists, and was once physically assaulted by them and had to go to hospital. The BNP have staged demonstrations outside the NUJ’s head office and have issued threats to dozens of our members – particularly in Yorkshire. How sickening to hear Nick Griffin on Five Live this morning say he would use the Human Rights Act against to protect privacy when he stands for abolishing the act.

The fascists have also taken the opportunity to do some Muslim-bashing while they are busy insisting that they are being victimised.

If nothing else good comes of this exposure, perhaps it will help a few racists understand what it’s like being bullied – some might even empathise with ethnic minorities facing abuse and discrimination.

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