Whilst the heads of state and government of the world’s 20 major industrial nations are meeting in London to deliberate ways out of and possible lessons from the financial and economic crisis, some representatives of the industry have already drawn their lessons from the crisis: to carry on as usual!
Well trained reflexes from the good old times. Some industrial magnates and the representatives of their respective sectors have still not arrived at the reality of 2009. Whilst politicians from all world regions have been agonizing for months how the consequences of the financial and economic crisis could be cushioned in such a way that the threat of mass unemployment would not result in even greater social unrest, industrial representatives are now waving ancient recipes: workers should waive their wages and the regulation of companies should for heaven’s sake not be exaggerated.

The fact that all economic experts dismiss the “wisdoms” publicised by some industrial representatives as dangerous nonsense does unfortunately not help. To demand wage renunciations at a time, when prices are falling throughout Europe as a result of deteriorating consumer demand and when Spain is the first Euro Member State to officially announced deflation, i.e. a fall of prices, is no more than narrow-minded political machinery and does not testify of corporate social responsibility. To even more upset the workers, who do not only in their capacity as employees represent the decisive source for the successes of the industry, but also by their consumption as buyers the industrial enterprises’ products, by now demanding wage renunciation equals the strategy of industrial hardliners, which has been practiced for years.

Threats concerning relocations and the alleged constraints of globalisation are as much part of their repertoire as ideas from their ancient box of tricks: wage restraint in order to remain internationally competitive. And of course «less red tape«, which means as few regulations as possible for the industry.

For years, these industrial hardliners have significantly dictated EU policy at European level. From the Lisbon Strategy and the precedence of competitiveness over social issues via the prevention of all attempts to regulate the finance industry up to « Better Regulation », the reduction and if at all possible dismantling of all alleged « hurdles » that companies are supposedly confronted with: they were always successful in finding willing listeners within the European Commission. As a result, the message of the top lobbyist in Brussels, Businesseurope Boss Ernest-Antoine Seillière to the G20 Summit is not really a surprise: keeping labour costs under control, no over-regulation of companies. The time has come to meet such demands from the era of unhibited finance capitalism head on.