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    Will the recession lead to violence?

    by Sunny on 17th February, 2009 at 10:24 am    

    Could this video, taken from the scene when the unions gave an hour’s notice to 850 agency workers at the BMW Mini plant, be a sign of things to come? (via Shiraz Socialist)

    We’re likely to see many more redundancies at short notice, and we’re likely to see rising tensions and anger as people scramble for jobs. I almost get the feeling its in danger of spiralling out of control and almost anything could spark it off.

      |     |   Add to   |   Share on Facebook   |   Filed in: Economics

    15 Comments below   |  

    1. Leon — on 17th February, 2009 at 12:00 pm  

      I can see it too, more worryingly is the possibility people may turn to fascism as things gets worse.

      I remember reading a couple years back that MI5 had started re-calibrating themselves to deal with political extremism born out of economic hardship so the state is expecting the same.

      If we end up in a depression there’s no telling how bad things could get; consider the level of anger possible, violent protest and add in the already draconian laws and you have a heady mix perfect for a full blown fascist government.

    2. Kismet Hardy — on 17th February, 2009 at 12:10 pm  

      Overheard in scary northern pub: ‘Thing about the Indians and Chinese is when they came over they did their own jobs cooking their own shit. And it’s not like the blacks took our jobs, unless any of us were crack dealers, but these eastern europeans are taking our jobs.’

      Motto: Never go to scary northern pub again

    3. Anas — on 17th February, 2009 at 6:29 pm  

      I don’t know about violence, but burglaries are definitely up in my neighbourhood.

    4. MaidMarian — on 17th February, 2009 at 6:43 pm  

      Sunny - The scenes at the plant were not caused by recession, they were caused by poor industrial relations and labour practises on the part of BMW. There were in a recession but not per se caused by a recession.

      By your rationale, the miners strikes were caused by a recession, not by the government’s plans for pit closures.

      What I do find odd about the car plant is the sense that somehow the agency staff were commonly held to be ‘identical’ to the full-time staff. Now let me be clear, I am NOT saying that BMW’s treatment of these people was OK, nor am I saying that current labour laws are OK.

      What I am saying is that agency staff are not permanent staff and should be aware of their lack of rights. What I find surprising is that there is surprise that agency workers have faced the brunt of this situation.

      Sunny, when I was growing up in the 1980s, what you call ‘tensions’ about jobs was essentially a way of life for families. And believe me, 1980s vintage unions cared little for temps.

      With all respect, this seems to be looking back with rose tints about some sort of ‘benign’ recession.

    5. curious? — on 17th February, 2009 at 7:35 pm  

      of course it will.

      recession will lead to depression which will lead to societal breakdown which will lead to chaos, death destruction thus taking us all back to the dark ages :)

    6. comrade — on 17th February, 2009 at 8:07 pm  

      The last big recession in the 30s led to war which left millions dead and whole lot of destruction. The first scapegoats are, in our case in the UK are people of darker skin and then the other weaker sections of society. All these draconian laws will be used against those of us who will protesting on the streets for Jobs.

    7. Sunny — on 17th February, 2009 at 8:36 pm  

      By your rationale, the miners strikes were caused by a recession, not by the government’s plans for pit closures.

      No, not saying that. But the recession does lead to poor industrial relations, tensions and job cuts. The union could have handled it better - definitely.

      But, apparently, the whole thing about ‘british jobs for british workers’ controversy a few weeks ago was based on rumours. People got pissed and the BNP moved in. I bet you more rumours will surface in coming months/years…

    8. Don — on 17th February, 2009 at 9:38 pm  


      Agency workers are, I agree, the first to go. But if an agency worker is four years in the same job - and paying union dues - then they have a right to expect more from their union than a shrug and farewell.

      From the clip, that seems to have been the case for some.

    9. dismal_scientist — on 17th February, 2009 at 10:26 pm  

      Unemployment now is 2 million.

      At the worst point of this crisis, another 1.5 million people will have lost their jobs.

      So that’s 3.5 million in total unemployed somewhere in the next 18-24 months.

      The unemp rate which hovered around 4-5% in the good years has shot up to 6.1% and will top out in the DOUBLE DIGITS. Most people have no memory of 10% unemployment in this country.

      The potential for further social problems is undoubtedly there. For as long as New Labour has been in power, they’ve pursued a policy of mass immigration by stealth (outside public discussions or election platforms). The resentment that has built up within sections of the white population as a result of this is going to find some ugly ways of expression.

    10. Don — on 17th February, 2009 at 11:57 pm  

      The resentment that has built up within sections of the white population as a result of this is going to find some ugly ways of expression.

      You clearly have a low opinion of the white population.

    11. MaidMarian — on 18th February, 2009 at 12:27 am  

      Don (8) - I agree sort of. The problem here is that BMW look to have been playing the system, not with agency workers being the first out per se.

      Perhaps this is a generational thing. My grandad was active in the unions and back then temps were viewed with real suspicion. And as denying full-timers overtime.He hated the idea of me working part-time at university!

      There is a real question to be asked here about whether ‘flexible’ working has been a euphemism for ‘two tier labour market’ and whether agency staff should indeed have the same rights. But to couch this in terms of recession=race hate seems to miss totally the real issues this story raises.

      Maybe I’m wrong?

      Sunny (7) - ‘…based on rumours. People got pissed and the BNP moved in.’ That might very well be true, but Sunny, that is the BNP’s modus operandi in good economic times as well as bad. The BNP tend not to care about either truth or nuance etc - they are opportunists and that does not change with the economic climate.

      As ever, the BNP do not care about election wins, they care about cheap populism and creating an environment in which they can readily whip up hate. Recession may make that easier, but to suggest that the recession is the only thing driving the BNP is stretching a point. If not recession they would find something else.

      I am pretty sure that when BMW decided to play the system one of their reasons for doing so was not to aid the BNP.

      Part of this is that we have forgotten what large scale industrial strife looks like and the internet commentariat have never had an opportunity to apply their uniquely self-indulgent and paranoid mindset to it. When we are at levels of violence like the miners strike, come back and talk - until then there needs to be an untwisting of underwear.

    12. MaidMarian — on 18th February, 2009 at 12:35 am  

      dismal scientist (9) - ‘For as long as New Labour has been in power, they’ve pursued a policy of mass immigration by stealth (outside public discussions or election platforms).’

      I’m sorry, are you suggesting that immigration was not a hot issue at the 2005 GE and local/Euro elections before it? You clearly were not thinking what the Conservatives were thinking.

      Or are you just narked that you didn’t get the result you wanted and feel like throwing about thinly veiled allegations of bad faith and lies? But hey, why let the facts get in the way of a good rant.

    13. dismal_scientist — on 18th February, 2009 at 7:09 am  

      Don, you clearly live in your own universe.

      Maid Marian, even in the height of the boom in 2005, Labour just squeaked in. Turn that into a 5-7% shrinkage of the economy, and then try it on for size. Also, I don’t see where you find me narked or ranting, evidently your powers of parsing escape me.

    14. MaidMarian — on 18th February, 2009 at 9:46 am  

      dismal scientist (13) -

      Well, that is a very nice answer to someone’s question. Just not the one I asked. My question was whether or not you are suggesting that immigration was not a hot issue at the 2005 GE.

      I find you narked and ranting in your narky rant of a comment above.

    15. billericaydickey — on 18th February, 2009 at 9:47 am  

      There are a lot of misconceptions about BNP strategy and tactics and I really wish people would check out from time to time to get the latest information on what is happening.

      The BNP most certainly do care about elections and their strategy is now entirely election based. Even where they have no local organisation they will put up a candidate as there is no deposit needed in local elections. Even in areas where they have never stood before they are regularly getting double figures in percentage terms.

      They have failed to make headway in the unions over the latest wave of strikes because the local leadership is left wing and simply will not allow them to organise. I personally saw their first ever councillor Derek Beacon and one other BNP official at a picket line down the Thames estuary trying to hand out leaflets blaming everything on foreign workers and they were told to fuck off.

      This of course doesn’t mean that resentment about job losses won’t be transformed into votes at local and European elections, we will have to wait and see, but certainly extremists of left and right always prosper during times of uncertainty and crisis and very often in terms of objectives and tactics there is little to distinguish them. Check out the site forthe latest on the state of the BNP and remember you are all welcome on activities. I get tired of seeing the same old faces handing out leaflets every time there is an election and the BNP stand.

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