In the business world the only thing that matters is profit. No surprises there, but given the anarchy of the free market, a mere dip in profits has catastrophic consequences for workers faced with losing their jobs.
A perfect example of prioritising profits over human need is provided by locally based SPS Technologies, which having just rid itself of 60 insecurely employed workers, is now set to force 170 full-time employees into unemployment.
SPS “made £21.8 million in pre-tax profits in the year to March 30, 2014 – up almost £6 million on the previous year.” Yet apparently the sackings must come because SPS have lost one of their contracts (October 15, Leicester Mercury).
But the corporate surprises don’t end there, as SPS is owned by jet-engine component manufacturer Precision Castparts Corporation, which is now being purchased by the world’s third richest man, Warren Buffett.
Precision Castparts can also boast of being a major war profiteer to boot, and includes the former head of the US Air Force, Lester Lyles, upon their board of directors. Lyles is also a board member of General Dynamics Corporation, the sixth largest weapons manufacturer in the world; and board member of Kellogg Brown and Root, which infamously starred in the 2006 film “Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers.”
Strapped for cash they are not. Last month Precision Castparts reported that their preceding year profits were $343 million. A slump on the previous year’s monster profits, but surely high enough to allow them to look after their employees (if they wanted to).
Nevertheless Precision Castparts continues to profit handsomely from the construction of war planes including not least drones, that, controlled remotely from staff at bases like RAF Waddington (Lincolnshire) continued to bomb people in Iraq and Syria.
Outraged by the undemocratic use of such drone attacks, earlier this year four peace protestors (including one grandmother from Leicester) were arrested at RAF Waddington and found guilty of trying to prevent the operation of the Reaper drones housed there (Mercury, October 22). This despite the fact that the protestors argued strongly that British drone operations in Syria in particular were unlawful as there has been no UN authorisation nor parliamentary approval of their use.
Of course wars have little concern for democracy or law, be they waged against foreign victims or workers at home. Warren Buffett made this point himself, when he explained to the New York Times (November 2006): “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”
Workers at SPS may well contribute in part to the construction of drones and war planes, but there is certainly no need for any SPS workers to be sacked. Instead all members of the working class should work in solidarity and unite to fight for the rights of all workers to secure employment, while simultaneously calling for an end to all capitalist wars. Buffet’s “class war” demands nothing less from our class.
This letter was emailed to the Leicester Mercury on 24th October.
* Reaper drones are made by General Atomics — a company that was spun-off from the aforementioned General Dynamics. General Atomics is owned and run by two extremely right-wing brothers not known for their love of democracy, who famously backed the long and brutal war waged by US-backed paramilitary terrorists against the people of Nicaragua throughout the 1980s.