From The Liberty Wall – National Liberal Trade Unionists – Give Us Some Government Action!
WE KICKED off 2015 with a social and economic article which looked at “the devastating news that nearly 1000 jobs will be lost when the JTI Gallagher tobacco factory in Ballymena closes. This will come as a real hammer blow to the Co. Antrim town. The factory is a major employer and it’s believed that it contributes £60m in wages to the local economy.”
Our article was naturally very sympatheic to the position the workers at Gallaghers now find themselves in. (Northern Ireland is one of the UKs main economic blackspots. And with nearly one-in-four youngsters out of work, it faces the prospect of having a lost economic generation.) However, we also sought to explain that the job losses are a symptom of the madness of globalism and capitalism. We also looked at the useless nature of government. (1)
Like many of our articles it sought to inform and to provoke thought and debate. In doing so, it posed some vital questions for National Liberal Trade Unionists.
For instance, is it ok for one nation to go it alone – to ‘secede’ – from the rest of the United Kingdom purely on economic grounds? To date, Scottish and Welsh calls for self-determination have predominantly been made on ‘national’ and not ‘economic’ grounds.
There have also been calls for Ulster independence, but these also have been on ‘national’ grounds, calling for a loyalty to Ulster only. “Our divided people have been prisoners of their traditional loyalties for far too long. We want to give Ulsterfolk something to struggle for – rather than the endless die-in-the-last-ditch rearguard action to defend an already lost cause. We want to encourage the reawakening of Ulster’s national identity.” (2)
Our article also effectively posed another question to all National Liberal Trade Unionists: When should the government act to save companies?
As Trade Unionists we hate Cameron and Clegg’s Austerity Agenda which has seen workers thrown on the scrapheap. We think that it is the height of madness for a government to give out dole money for people who’re not working – whilst they they refuse to pay those who do work!
We fully support the stance taken by Ulster National Liberals who argued that – to save 1000 jobs – Gallagher’s should have been immediately nationalised:
“This would keep the factory open and secure jobs. After all, what’s the point of having skilled tradesmen and workers rotting on the dole?
Nationalisation will also stabilise the immediate Ballymena area. It would stop this part of Co. Antrim from becoming yet another economic blackspot.
Once the situation had settled, Gallagher’s could have been handed back to the workforce and run as a cooperative. Ultimately, this would mean that Ulster workers would own – and Ulster owners would work!”
However, is it feasible for government to step in and nationalise any business that may be going under? Should there be a ‘ceiling’ on the number of jobs that can be saved this way? Saving 1000 jobs – and keeping £60m in the local economy – is understandable. But would it be even possible for a government to step in and nationalise a shop that employs, say, a dozen people?
With nationalisation in mind, another question is what industries should come under state control?
Our Liberalism dictates that we want as little state ‘interference’ in our lives as possible. However, we have to balance this against national security, national sovereignty and national preference. Surely, what could be termed ‘vital’ industries should come under national control?
Date: January 26, 2015
Categories: Liberty Wall