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From: The Socialist issue 1112, 2 December 2020: Better for billionaires, Worse for workers

Search site for keywords: Retail - Jobs - Closures - Nationalise - Pensions - Pension

Arcadia and Debenhams closures: Nationalise to save jobs and pensions

Topshop and Topman are under threat, photo Mtaylor848/CC

Topshop and Topman are under threat, photo Mtaylor848/CC   (Click to enlarge)

News of the collapse into administration of retail consortium Arcadia - owners of Topshop, Burton and Dorothy Perkins - with the threat to 13,000 jobs, was followed by the announcement that Debenhams department stores will probably close, axing 12,000 jobs.

Faced with such devastating job losses, the trade unions must take concrete action to force the government to halt mass redundancies and guarantee these workers a livelihood.

Arcadia's insolvency is not simply another Covid-affected high street business collapse. Its problems predate the pandemic.

Likewise Debenhams, which had already cut 6,500 jobs, had long been teetering on the brink of collapse, after years of underinvestment.

Arcadia is officially 'owned' by Sir Philip Green's wife who resides in the tax haven of Monaco. This is where, in 2016, Philip Green was notoriously photographed lounging on his 100 million super-yacht when his previously-owned BHS company collapsed, leaving 11,000 workers unemployed and a huge 571 million hole in the workers' pension fund.

Asset-stripper

Green is an asset-stripper. Like a financial vampire, he has never invested his money to build businesses but acquired them to suck out money to enrich himself.

In the case of BHS, during 15 years of ownership, Green siphoned 580 million in dividends, rental payments, and interest on loans, and then sold the company for 1.

Only after government pressure, and the possibility of losing his knighthood, did the billionaire subsequently write a 363 million cheque to stop BHS's pension fund collapsing.

However, it still meant that workers, on average, only received up to 88% of their original pension entitlement. In a rerun of the BHS nightmare, Arcadia's pension fund is 350 million in deficit.

Vulture companies are now circling to see what scraps they can scavenge from the carcass of Arcadia. The Socialist Party demands that the retail group is nationalised to save thousands of workers' jobs and pensions.

Moreover, Philip Green's non-dom tax status should be ended, and he must be made to pay back the money extracted from the labour of Arcadia workers into their pensions pot.

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Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.

We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to click here to donate to our Fighting Fund.

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Article dated 2 December 2020

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Leicester picket on the 21st strike day (22nd Feb) of around 7,000 British Gas engineers.  They are fighting against

Leicester picket on the 21st strike day (22nd Feb) of around 7,000 British Gas engineers. They are fighting against 'fire and rehire' - designed to worsen terms and conditions. Photo by Steve Score, Leicester Socialist Party

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