3rd February 2023 – https://wrp.org.uk/
WHILE workers face skyrocketing energy bills forcing millions to go without heat this winter the giant oil and gas company Shell has announced annual profits of nearly $40 billion (£32.2 billion), a record for the Anglo-Dutch group and the highest profit ever posted by a British company.
Shell posted profits of $9.81 billion in the final quarter of 2022 an increase of $3.41 billion from the same period a year earlier.
This took their annual adjusted profits to $39.87 billion (£32.2 billion) a massive increase over the profit of $19.3 billion Shell made in 2021.
In 2022 Shell handed out $26 billion in dividends to its shareholders.
It’s not just Shell that is recording massive profits on the back of oil and gas prices, driven into the stratosphere by the imperialist war on Russia and the massive sanction regimes against Russian oil and gas supplies.
The US energy giant ExxonMobil announced this week a quarterly profit of $55.7 billion while Chevron reported another record profit of $35.5 billion for 2022.
Profits made from an imperialist war that workers are expected to pay for.
Bernard Looney, chief executive of Shell’s rival in the giant oil and gas industry BP, famously gloated that the energy crisis had transformed BP into a ‘cash machine’ – profits gouged out of the working class in Britain and across the world.
When the Tories increase the cap on energy prices in April – increasing them from £2,500 a year for the average household to £3,000 – the energy companies will be wallowing in even greater profits while workers are being driven into destitution.
If the giant energy companies are cash machines then they treat the working class as cash cows to be milked dry for the profit of the shareholders and owners.
The response of TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak was to say that these vast profits were ‘obscene’ and ‘an insult to working families’ and he called for a larger ‘windfall tax’ on the energy giants.
Nowak said: ‘Instead of holding down the pay of paramedics, teachers, firefighters and millions of other hard-pressed public servants, ministers should be making Big Oil and Gas pay their fair share.’
The Tories have no intention of doing anything other that holding down pay and appeals to them are worse than useless.
As far as the Tories are concerned, workers’ wages are the main cause of inflation and must be kept at poverty levels in order to rescue a bankrupt British capitalist system. As for the call from Nowak and the Labour Party for the Tories to increase the windfall tax on Shell, BP and the rest, this is just a diversion.
The windfall tax introduced by the Tories last year only applies to profits generated in the North Sea extraction. In fact, Shell paid no tax in Britain since 2017 as it offset decommissioning costs and investments in UK projects against any profits made in the UK – all perfectly legitimate under the Tories tax allowance scheme.
Shell, clearly mindful of the anger its record profits has produced, has now announced that it had paid £1.5 billion in windfall charges to the UK and EU in 2022 – not much of a dent in the shareholders’ pockets.
While the TUC leaders are content with denouncing the profits of Shell and other energy companies as ‘obscene’ while doing nothing but make an appeal to the Tories to stop refusing to even discuss pay increases, the working class is far from content.
As Wednesday’s mass strike action across the country proved, millions of workers have had enough of this Tory government and a capitalist system that generates billions in profit for the energy giants while working class families face freezing in their homes.
The time is long overdue for the working class to demand that the TUC mobilise the strength of the working class that was demonstrated on Wednesday to be turned into a general strike to kick out the Tories and bring in a workers government.
A workers government that will nationalise the energy and oil companies placing them under the management of the working class, as part of building a socialist planned economy.
This is the only way forward.