austerity measures bring strikes
Tuesday 6 December 2011, by
Europe faces a wave of strikes as the privileged class voices its anger over the Government’s austerity measures. Traffic came to a standstill as City of London streets were blocked for most of the day.
At the head of the cortege city bank and corporate boardroom bosses expressed their outrage at the Government’s intention to cap their earnings to less than one million pounds per annum and restrict bonus payments and stock options. They were supported by major shareholder groups who joined the march to protest about the cap on dividend payments. A banker explained his grievance.” Our earnings and the dividends we distribute depend on the fees we charge and the number of employees we can sack.”
Company bosses were also concerned that they would no longer be able to transfer corporate profits to subsidiaries in tax havens in order to avoid tax. They were followed by the non executive directors, pushed along in their leather chairs, angry at seeing their fees reduced substantially for sitting in other companies’ boardrooms for a couple of days a month where they award each other vast remuneration packages.
Politicians and senior public officials marched from Westminster opposing the cut back in their numbers and the loss of their huge, lifetime pensions. “We want to retain our rights to retire at 50 even if we don’t pay the full contributions like everyone else.” said a spokesman.
The wealthy landowning class was present in a convoy of range rovers somewhat peeved that Europe should dare to consider cutting off their huge agricultural subsidies, joined by Lords and nobles in their robes worried about the proposed reduction in their numbers and loss of their titles.
A large number of anti re-nationalisation bosses representing the energy, utility, telecommunications and transport groups had come from all over the country. They oppose Government proposals to take away their monopolies that allow them to make enormous profits from price increases of gas, water, electricity, transport, road tolls, airports, mobiles and premium telephone numbers.
A contingent of tax exiles with loudspeakers and banners called for more tax avoidance schemes and a right to hide their wealth offshore. “Why should I pay tax when I pay a great deal of fees to banks and financial wealth management services to transfer money offshore and enable me to escape the tax net.” complained a well dressed gentleman who had made a special journey from Monaco to support the protesters.
Stock market, currency and commodity traders, hedge fund and investment fund managers made up a substantial group opposing the Governments new regulations that curtailed the use of derivatives, CDSs, shorting and other pure speculative activities. They were accompanied by celebrities from the sporting, music, film and theatrical world and their accountants all angry at having to declare income tax on their total income rather than be allowed to benefit from clever accounting measures that allow them to substantially reduce their tax liability.
And finally the financial services industry represented by advisors who had come from as far away as the Isle of Man, Jersey, Gibraltar, even Bermuda and the Cayman Isles, blockaded the Bank of England showing their discontent at the Government’s intention to abolish tax avoidances schemes. “If the Government simplified the tax laws it would reduce our fees from advising and providing people with the means to avoid tax.” said one advisor “It is undemocratic.” said a colleague, “If everyone pays their taxes our standard of living will fall. Our families’ livelihood is at stake.”
Whether these demonstrations will lead to a change of heart of the Government remains to be seen. But it is clear that the present crisis requires severe austerity measures even if they are going to create hardship.