The Real Face of the Economic “Recovery”: Mass Layoffs Hit North America, Europe and Japan

Friday, February 7, 2014
By Paul Martin

By Kate Randall
Global Research
February 07, 2014

A wave of layoff announcements over the past week has exposed the reality of the economic “recovery” touted by the Obama administration and governments worldwide. Deep-going job cuts are hitting the manufacturing, pharmaceutical, technology and retail sectors across North America, Europe and Japan.

Despite stagnant revenues, reflecting sluggish economic growth, companies are reporting booming profits. These profit gains are almost entirely due to a relentless assault on jobs, wages and working conditions being carried out by the ruling class.

The layoff of tens of thousands of workers comes amid news ofunprecedented compensation packages for the heads of major US corporations. It is combined with ruthless austerity measures in the US and across Europe. As the chasm between rich and poor continues to grow, social programs and benefits upon which millions rely are being gutted.

Weatherford International plans to cut its global workforce by 7,000 by mid-2014. The oilfield services company, which currently employs more than 65,000 people, hopes to generate annual cost savings of $500 million with the job cuts.

Vehicle maker Volvo announced Thursday that it will lay off 4,400 employees in 2014, including a previously announced reduction of 2,000 jobs. CEO Olof Persson said the layoffs would affect workers worldwide.

Chemical maker Ashland Inc. will cut up to 1,000 jobs as part of a restructuring program being carried out under pressure from investors to boost “shareholder value,” i.e., share prices. With revenue remaining flat at $1.9 billion for the quarter ended December 31, Ashland aims to save $150 million to $200 million annually from the restructuring.

Swiss drug maker Novartis plans to eliminate or transfer up to 4,000 jobs. The plan will affect up to 6 percent of the company’s workforce and is part of a larger plan to cut costs, including the closure of production sites. Pharmaceuticals are under increasing pressure from investors to restructure in response to expiring drug patents and government efforts to cut health care costs.

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