Whatever NEXT?

Despite the fact that NEXT chairman John Barton has “overseen four consecutive years of record profits,” NEXT’s hard-working employees are still paid poverty wages.

GMB, the union representing many of the workers at NEXT, recently went on the attack, publishing a report which highlighted the poor pay and conditions offered by NEXT to their staff.

In response, NEXT have gone on their own public relations offensive, with business leaders waxing lyrical about Lord Wolfson’s decision to share his million pound bonus with some of his staff.

The Leicester Mercury gave front-page treatment to the NEXT bosses “charitable” instincts; and so it is interesting that today they announced that NEXT chairman John Barton is going to become the new chairman of the cost-cutting airline easyJet.

This is the same airline whose pilots have just denounced the latest contracts drawn up by their abusive employer. As Jim McAuslan, the General Secretary of the British Airline Pilots Association  (BALPA) noted in February:

BALPA has been inundated with concerned young pilots, desperate for a job and experience, who will still have to put up with two years on a zero hours contract and uncertain lifestyle. And, because of their £100k loan repayments, these pilots will take home less than a McDonalds employee.

In such times of austerity, easyJet, like NEXT, are keen to advertise their efforts to create new jobs. However, such propaganda is misleading to say the least, because as McAuslan points out:

easyJet claimed to be recruiting 330 new permanent pilots, but in fact, they are simply moving casual pilot workers onto ‘B-scale’ contracts, on lower terms and conditions than their colleagues and only after working on a ‘zero-hours’ basis for two years with no job security.

Like most corporate bullies, easyJet’s founder and largest shareholder, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, is desperate to promote his caring side to the public (but not to his employees).

In addition to serving as an ambassador for the free-market environmental outfit WWF-UK, Sir Stelios is counted alongside the likes of David Cameron and George Osborne as a celebrity supporter of Norwood — a charity that “supports people with learning disabilities and children and families in need.”

The current president of Norwood is Daily Express owner, Richard Desmond, a man who made his vast fortune in the pornography industry.

Sir Stelios is equally keen to exploit new workers and global business markets, and just last year he founded an African version of easyJet, known as fastJet; with former easyJet chief operating officer, Ed Winter, serving as their chief executive.

Here one should observe that just under 55% of fastJet’s shares are owned by Lonrho plc — a worldwide conglomerate whose chief goal lies in profiteering across Africa.

Former Lonrho chairman, David Lenigas, is the current chairman of fastJet; and prior to joining Lonrho he had acted as the Joint Managing Director of the violent mining business known as Global Coal Management (GCM) Resources plc (from 2004 until 2006); only resigning from GCM’s board of directors in 2009 — meaning that he was at their helm during their murderous antics in Bangladesh (see “Outsourcing environmental destruction”).

It should come as no surprise that Lonrho plc itself was formed in 1998 as a result the splitting of it’s parent company; with the other major progeny of the demerger being the highly exploitative mining giant, Lonmin plc (see “Fighting platinum murderers”).

As illustrated by this article: all struggles for social justice are connected, in the same way that the ruling-class elites who (mis)manage the world’s corporations are themselves highly connected.

This makes it imperative that British workers are strongly united across all the unions in their call for a General Strike… whose eventual uptake can then be broadened out to a global General Strike — which once and for all, will demonstrate to the ruling-class who truly runs society.

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