by John Millington
Not much knocking about in the tug-of-war world of industrial relations today.
But the cuts continue to bite with workers, their families and the elderly bearing the brunt.
It is often said that you can judge how civilised a society is by how it treats it’s most vulnerable members.
According to a Sunday Mirror exclusive, Britain would not fair well in the civilised stakes with the costs of elderly care set to rise by a shocking 10 percent.
The price rise can be directly attributed to councils losing £1bn in government’s slash and burn of welfare funds.
Councils who set the fees, say the savage cut from central Government has left them with no choice but to pass on price hikes to the most service users.
The cuts are a new attack on pensioners’ quality of living and come after the “granny tax” in the Budget – a freeze on age-related tax allowances which means 4.5million pensioners are losing up to £323 a year.
The UK Homecare Association says it is dealing with a rising number of cases of pensioners whose visits have been cut.
And most terrible of all, is the example of 90-year-old woman from the South West who is in regular distress after her care was slashed by 40 percent this year.
Although in the same ballpark of austerity, most papers remain obsessed with the Eurozone crisis and sounding the apocalypse alarm if Greece pulls out of the zone.
For respected Independent economics editor Ben Chu the Eurozone crisis is down to the fact that Europe is not a nation state.
This is a worrying argument, with Chu suggesting that if we had European government and got rid of national governments we could solve the crisis.
He says: “Americans, Britons and Japanese elect national governments and those administrations take decisions with the welfare of the entire nation in mind. This is because they know they will be answerable to the entire nation at the next election. But Europeans don’t elect a European government; rather they elect a German government, a Spanish government, a Greek government, etc. These politicians then, inevitably, go into negotiations with each other with their national interests, rather than the wider European interest, uppermost in their minds. This tends to result in lowest-common-denominator decisions which only serve to advertise the bloc’s lack of political unity and alarm investors further.”
“The central design flaw in the eurozone, then, is that it is a currency without a country behind it.”
He knows full well this is not something remotely possible within the current climate.
So instead concludes by arguing for greater fiscal integration.
What Chu forgets in all this is that German monopoly capital interests are at the centre of EU policy making.
Decisions about monetary policy, which is by, design Thatcherite are decided by unelected bureaucrats at the European Central Bank.
Ministers from nation states don’t even have a say let alone the toothless European parliament.
Some might argue that this is all evidence of a need to reform “democratic accountability” within the EU.
But all of this ignores the reason why the EU was formed in the first place and why greater fiscal integration (or “cooperation”) is being called for now.
The EU was set up as a counter balance to the Soviet Union, which was presenting an economic alternative in post war years. And in order to facilitate and tie in countries to a free market system the four freedoms: The free movement of capital, goods, services, and labour, were all invented.
EU directives are in place to ensure that Britain could not publicly own its own transport network.
And indeed privatisation and further break up of national monopolies on transport systems across Europe will be ripped up if the EU has its way.
The alarm bells should have been ringing as soon as Greece and Italy had “technocrats” (dictators if they were in other parts of the world) installed in order to implement the EU austerity drive without asking the peoples of those two countries.
Nevertheless the tug of war between capital and labour continues. And something the Sunday’s missed was the walkout by 1,000 Sellafield workers in Cumbria.
Rest assured the Dreadnought will be following that story closely during the coming week.