The government has nationalised most of the banking sector – for the sake of the bankers – and word is that the Lord of Darkness is drawing up a list of companies too big to fail.
Far from being a lame duck, Woolies has been badly-managed and is laden with debt. This is not the fault of its workers, however. Some thirty thousand – and many more who work for suppliers – face being made redundant in the new year, something which will only make the recession worse as the government will be paying benefits to more people unable to find work as the economy contracts.
George Galloway, Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow writes:
Woolworths would have celebrated a century of trading in this country next year. It has survived two world wars, the Great Depression and the oil shocks of the 1970s. But it has finally succumbed to this terrible credit crunch.
Woolworths is one of the first shops I ever remember going to. Although it has changed somehwat since I was a child, it still provides cheap goods, from sweets and toys, to kids’ clothing, DVDs and CDs, kitchen hardware and other useful items, predominantly to those on lower incomes.
Just as importantly it employs 30,000 people nationwide, including a significant number in Tower Hamlets in the Bethnal Green Road store in my constituency, where we are already feeling the adverse effects of the meltdown in the banking sector.
In my view, Woolworths ought to be on Business Secretary Lord Mandelson’s list of companies which the government should intervene to save, as a matter of urgency. It’s on sale for just a £1 and, although there would be additional costs to keep it as a going concern, the government could turn it into a people’s Woolies, employing local people, buying from local producers and ensuring it provided the services and goods local people on low incomes need. The alternative is to allow the vultures to pick it apart for their own profit.
The government has been moving in the right direction in response to the credit crunch but not nearly fast or far enough. Now it needs to bite the bullet and take Woolies into public ownership to show it really does mean to try and stop the worst effects ot this mother of all recessions.