Britain: Bonuses rise, cuts and protests continue

Issue 

Britain: Goldman Sachs gives huge bonuses

“Bankers were accused of ‘sticking two fingers up to austerity Britain’,” the British Guardian reported on January 19, “after it was revealed that [Wall Street bank] Goldman Sachs had handed its staff a £10bn payday as new figures showed unemployment among Britain's young people had hit its highest level since modern records began”.

The article said data from the Office for National Statistics showed that one in five people under 25 were out of work by the end of November last year — a total of 951,000 people.

At the same time, Goldman Sachs has announced its workers earned an average of £268,000 in pay and bonuses in 2010.

The Guardian said the bank’s “500 partners and other star performers will no longer be bound by last year’s £1m cap on bonuses … and are now expecting multimillion-pound rewards in the coming days”.

Trade Union Congress leader Brendan Barber said Goldman Sachs had “stuck two fingers up to austerity Britain by shelling out mega bonuses again”, the article reported.

Bob Crow, the general secretary of the RMT transport union, said: “With the full impact of the ConDem cuts still to bite we are heading towards mass unemployment on a scale unseen since the Thatcherite 80s and the depression of the 30s.”

However, the Guardian reported Goldman Sachs finance director David Viniar claimed: “We pay our people fairly, based on their performance.”

Scotland: Bank office occupied in bonus protest
Royal Bank of Scotland offices in central Glasgow were occupied for two hours on January 20, SSY.org.uk reported that day. The action was in protest at “fatcat bankers taking billions in bonuses while the rest of us suffer the cuts and austerity of the economic crisis they caused”.
About 20 people — including climate change activists, students, 80 year old pensioners, anarchists and Scottish Socialist Youth members — occupied the building and unfurled banners.
The protest was organised by Citizens United, which has organized a number of similar actions over the past few months.

The RBS received multibillion pound bailouts in 2008-09, SSY.org.uk said. However, the RBS “has been allowed to continue with the kind of reckless behaviour that caused the crisis in the first place”. At the same time as bank bonuses are rising again, SSY.org.uk said, the RBS has laid off more than 20,000 staff across Britain.

Britain: Students descend on parliament

Students across Britain took part in a day of action on January 19 in protest at controversial government plans to scrap the Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA), the Morning Star reported that day

Students entitled to the payout from two London colleges took part in specially arranged lessons at Parliament during the morning and handed out “save EMA” biscuits outside. Protesters marched from Piccadilly to a rally at Parliament Square.

Walkouts and demonstrations also took place at schools and colleges in Leeds, London, Manchester, Norwich and Cornwall.

Dudley College in the West Midlands has 2500 students aged 16-18, of which 80% receive EMA, the Morning Star said.

Student Lorenzo Brown said: “It’s money that I can’t do without. It’s for transport and for books and it’s vital for me, absolutely vital.”

British gov. carves up NHS

The Conservative-Liberal Democratic government thrust a knife into the heart of Britain’s public National Health Service on January 19, the Morning Star said that day. It set out plans for the biggest carve-up of the health service in its history, the article reported.

Under the Health and Social Care Bill, more than 150 NHS organisations would be scrapped, with GPs put in charge of commissioning £80 billion of the health budget.

The NHS commissioning board will formally establish GP consortiums from April 2012, but experts have warned that a mass exodus of primary care trust staff has been taking place, prompting concerns that patient care is being jeopardised in the meantime.

MPs, unions, campaigners, staff, patients, think tanks, charities and health bosses across the board have condemned the plans, the Morning Star said. The cash-strapped NHS is being forced to make savings of £20 billion by 2015, which will result in thousands of job losses.

Moves to create greater commercial competition between the NHS and private firms have also sparked outrage among unions and campaign groups, which have argued that trusts' savings will end up lining the pockets of management consultants.

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