Thursday, December 14, 2006

Two Britains

This is a story about the two groups of employees working for Goldman Sachs, the international investment bank. One group are cleaners, employed by ISS, the biggest building services company in the world. ISS operate out of 42 countries. The overwhelming majority of their workers are migrants and have to survive on the minimum wage. Their working conditions are extremely poor and cleaners will struggle to find the money to spend on presents and food this Christmas. ISS Cleaning Services is owned by Goldman Sachs. The other group of employees are dealers - speculators to you and me - operating in the global money markets. They gambled so well in 2006 that Goldman Sachs is handing them a total of £8.3 billion in end-of-year salary bonuses and other benefits . One trader in London is reported to have been rewarded with no less than £50 million as a bonus. Others will have to be satisfied with between £5m and £10m, poor souls. Apparently, the staff at Goldman Sachs are dubbed the "haves and the have yachts", which only adds to the obscene nature of the whole business. City bonuses as a whole are up 30% on last year as the investment banks cash in on record levels of mergers and acquisitions, which inevitably lead to "restructuring", or redundancies in plain English. The telephone number bonuses at Goldman Sachs emphasise the extreme inequality of wealth in Britain, where office cleaners earn £5.35 an hour while speculators receive bonuses of about 2,000 times the average wage. It really is a story about two Britains. The Transport and General Workers Union is campaigning for decent wages for ISS and other cleaning staff, and picketed Goldman Sachs' offices in Fleet Street recently. Whatever the union achieves, it will still leave cleaners at the bottom of the pile. Yet they do productive work and make a positive contribution to society, which is more than you can say about City speculators. As the TGWU campaigners' placards said, "Goldman Sucks".

Paul Feldman, communications editor


Anonymous said...

It's real time for regime change in Britain! It's real time for democracy, real democracy, not Rupert Murdoch & its peer's democracy!

GT said...

Why are you so angry?