OCTOBER 2014 saw 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.
Neither does it help the overall unemployment level in Northern Ireland which (according to the most recent figures available http://www.bbc.co.uk
Thus, Northern Ireland still remains one of the UKs main economic blackspots. Also – and in some respects more worrying – the unemployment rate for 18 to 24-year-olds is at a staggering 23.5%. This is well above the UK’s average rate of 19.3%.
With nearly one-in-four youngsters out of work and with little prospect of well-paid jobs, young people across the nation are in a dire situation. Many believe that if things don’t improve rapidly, the country faces the prospect of having a lost generation.
(Added to the mix is the probable loss of around 6,000 public sector jobs – Tory cuts approved and administered by both the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin!)
As well as being absolutely devastating news for the ordinary workers of Gallaghers, the closure of the plant also illustrates both the madness of globalism and the toothless nature of Ulster’s 108 local politicians (known as Members of the Legislative Assembly – MLAs) and its parliament at Stormont.
One of the main features of globalism is that governments bend over backwards to attract multi-national corporations to a particular area.
In a classic example of the tail wagging the dog, governments surrender their sovereign powers to attract big business. These governments also seem happy to tear down borders the sole benefit of big business. Yet they have no loyalty to people or nations.
Globalism also allows for the free movement of capital and labour’ between various states.
This means that any industry can ‘up sticks’ and chase – and exploit – the lowest wages anywhere in the world. At the same time some nations see massive influxs of foreign (at the moment mainly Eastern European) workers, who understandably want to improve their lives but the result of their movement places enormous strains upon local services.
The madness of Globalism also sees various countries offering vast multi-national corporations all sorts of tax breaks and help with infrastructure projects. Some ‘lucky’ areas are then bulldozed and transformed beyond recognition without any real say from locals. All this to help the richest 1% to maintain their status!
In comparison, a few breadcrumbs are thrown at small shop owners, local businesses and the self-employed. Meanwhile governments institute a draconian policy of austerity that favours globalised elites at the expense of the people. Talk about a double whammy!
The job losses in Ballymena also illustrates that Ulster’s local parliament (at Stormont) is nothing more than a neo-colonial talking shop. As our above artwork notes, any government that really cares for its people would nationalise any large concern that got into economic difficulties. This would both preserve jobs and keep money flowing in the local area.
“To ensure real prosperity we need a system that benefits people – as opposed to one that robs them blind. Thus we need a system of Monetary Reform whereby publicly-created, debt-free money is the norm as distinct from privately-created, debt-based money.”
The trouble with being wholly under Westminster’s thumb is that all of the Old Gang parties seem unable to stop multinationals close down factories in England, Scotland Ulster and Wales, throwing ordinary workers on the scrapheap. However, should we be surprised? Westminster seems to worship the Banksters. And where money is king, individuals, families, communities and the environment come a very distant second.
Let’s leave the last word to our artwork:
“As soon as the news broke, Stormont should have immediately nationalised Gallagher’s. 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!”
• Look out for issue 1 of Ulster Voice – the voice of the National Liberal Party in Ulster. It will promote a position that is neither left nor right, neither capitalist nor socialist and neither unionist nor republican.