its latest economic review, the business advisers
PriceWaterHouseCoopers says the serious weakness of
the Northern Irish economy is being hidden by a "veneer
of economic prosperity". At the same time, the
First Trust Bank economic outlook and business review
says that the North is facing a situation where "there
are no more free lunches".
of the main reasons why the local economy (North and
South for that matter) is in a fragile condition is
that it is highly dependent on the investments of
multinational corporations. Those companies are not
here for the "craic", but for their profits,
and if they can make more money, they will have no
qualms to move from Belfast to Bengalore. The same
could be said of local companies who closed down some
of their operations in the North. These closures have
resulted in some huge job losses, the consequences
of delocalisation for the local economy have been
disastrous. Various economic experts, government agencies
and business leaders tell us that this is "inevitable"
and that there are no alternatives.
can be done? In Belgium, France, Germany and Italy,
there are new laws (or projects for such laws) to
curtail cuts, closures, delocalisations and redundancies
by companies, both national and multinational, both
at a European and national level. MPs and MEPs have
pointed that it was unacceptable that redundancies
could coincide with massive profits for those companies,
showing the sharp opposition between social well being
and profitability of companies. For example, in Belgium,
Ford has recently made 3000 people redundant while
at the same time making 1.36 billion dollars in profits
for the first six months of 2003.
is the actual content of this proposed legislation?
First, there can be no cuts, redundancies, delocalisations
or closures unless approved by the joint management/employees
corporate committee of that particular company, and
a plan to save jobs and wages has been collectively
agreed. In the abscence of such a collective agreement,
and until this agreement has been implimented, everybody
in the company is entitled to keep their employment
the employer will have to provide completely, correctly,
and in time the totality of the facts and data on
the basis of which the decision is taken to proceed
with cuts, redundancies or closures, including information
relating to other units and subdivisions of the group
to which the company may belong. Plans for redundancies
and closures will have to be announced in advance.
any employer transgressing this legislation or information
and consultation procedures will have to repay any
public funding or grants received over the five years
preceding the infraction.This money will be paid to
a Fund for Economic Democracy, and will serve to finance
alternative solutions to cuts and closures. This Fund
could also receive additional funding from a special
tax on profits, rents and dividends (a tax of a nature
similar to the proposed Tobin Tax on financial speculation).
sanctions against employers who wouldn't respect this
legislation would range from fines to prison sentences.
This could also be extended to the major shareholders
of that company.
suggestions could be part of an all-Ireland Republican
Socialist Alternative Economic Strategy. It is a matter
of time before some major company will go announce
some "restructuration" plan that will result
in closures and job losses. To guarantee continuity
of employment and income, it is necessary that we
fight for a legislation that will curtail the ability
of companies to make our lives insecure. It is imperative
to make the corporate world accountable to the people.
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