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From The Socialist newspaper, 11 March 2020

Flybe collapse: nationalise to save jobs threatened by Covid-19 and downturn

Flybe, photo Aero Pixels/CC, photo Aero Pixels/CC

Flybe, photo Aero Pixels/CC, photo Aero Pixels/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Steve Score, Socialist Party national committee

The collapse of Flybe, the British-based largest regional airline in Europe, highlights that an economy teetering on the brink could be pushed over by the new coronavirus, Covid-19.

2,000 jobs will be lost immediately as a result, with 1,400 more threatened in the supply chain, despite the government announcing a "rescue plan" two months earlier. It came a week before the budget where it was expected that air passenger duty would be cut in an attempt to help airlines.

Flybe had been struggling for some time but the impact of Covid-19 accelerated this. The International Air Transport Association estimates airlines could lose anything up to 87 billion this year as a result of falling demand, as tourists and businesses cancel travel plans. The economic effects of the virus of course go well beyond the airline industry.

Open the books

When big companies threaten job losses, lay-offs or pay cuts - whether a result of economic crisis or Covid-19 - the Socialist Party argues that they should open their books to show where past revenues have gone. If it is shown they are insolvent, then they should be nationalised under democratic working-class control and management to save jobs and protect the economy.

But nationalisation should not be a temporary measure simply to sell it off once taxpayers' money has helped it become profitable again - as with the Tory government's rescue of Rolls-Royce in 1971. Neither should rich bosses walk away with wads of cash - there should only be compensation on the basis of proven need, not for the super-rich.

For example, Flybe was owned by a consortium of super-rich billionaire Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Air and a hedge fund called Cyrus Capital. They shouldn't benefit from their speculative buyouts while workers suffer. Nationalisation should be permanent in order that these companies can become part of a wider democratic socialist plan for the economy.

The Socialist has proposed a workers' charter for the Covid-19 crisis which demands that working-class people do not pay the price of controlling it. It includes full pay during isolation, no pay losses, no redundancies, and so on.

If firms say they cannot afford these measures, again they should open the books. In the case of small firms who can't afford it there should be government subsidies, but in the case of big ones they should be nationalised.

The threat posed to the economy by Covid-19 has already forced some governments to consider exceptional economic measures. We need to deal with the crisis in a way that defends workers' interests - not rich bosses - including by fighting for the measure of socialist nationalisation.

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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.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
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In The Socialist 11 March 2020:


Coronavirus: Full NHS funding now

Coronavirus infects the world economy

Flybe collapse: nationalise to save jobs threatened by Covid-19 and downturn

Coronavirus: international cooperation needed, not capitalist competition

Supermarkets are ruled by profit - unions should control supply limits

For full pay during isolation: for public health as well as workers' wallets

Self-isolation patients speak: NHS facilities and advice not up to it

Italy on lockdown: lack of resources and democracy causes panic

South Korea shows capitalism has money to respond to coronavirus

Coronavirus news in brief


Domestic Violence bill: We still need to fight to save our services

News in brief

Workplace news

Postal workers mobilise to win strike reballot

Homerton Hospital workers fight for sick pay

Fighting to transform the union in my warehouse

Argos workers in Sainsbury's stores threatened with losing collective bargaining

Homeless charity workers to strike against intransigent management

Southampton trade unionists say "defend the right to strike!"

Strong support for PCS Broad Left Network

East London uni and bin worker strikes

US election

How can Trump be ousted from the White House?

Campaigns and party news

Salford 'no-cuts' budget includes cuts and tax rises

Stoke council unions beat pay cuts - now let's stop all cuts

Is there an anti-cuts rebellion in Scotland?

Socialist Party joins International Women's Day protests

Housing workers explain reality to idiot Boris Johnson

Swansea: Ask anyone about state of services, you will hear the real story

Camarthenshire: Councillors' 'walk of shame'

Student occupation in support of striking workers

Selling the Socialist

Socialist Party executive committee positions

International news

Greece-Turkey border refugee crisis

Women's and trans rights

Women's rights, trans rights and the labour movement

Readers' opinion

Film: Greed directed by Michael Winterbottom

Childcare - costly, inadequate and hard work

Book: Why you should be a trade unionist by Unite general secretary Len McCluskey

The Socialist Inbox


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