When they talk about "inflation", it's our wages they are aiming at

Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials
11 January 2011

On this weekend's BBC Andrew Marr Show, Cameron made a song and a dance about the risk of inflation, claiming he was "concerned".

Really? Then why has his government just raised VAT to 20%? Isn't this boosting inflation? And what about the long list of bus, rail and tube fare increases introduced at the beginning of this month? Weren't they authorised - and, in London, decided - by the Con-Dem administration, including by slapping the steepest increases on the means of transportation most heavily used by the poorest?

Isn't the petrol duty hike introduced by the government inflationary as well, since together with the fat profits of the oil majors and the new VAT rate, it means that we are now paying 19% more for our petrol than a year ago?

Of course, Cameron is quick to point out that Labour decided this petrol duty hike. So what? With all the schemes launched under Labour that have now been scrapped, including some useful ones like EMA, why hasn't this tax increase been scrapped as well? Or is it that for Cameron, only the policies which benefit working people are to be scrapped, whereas all others must be dutifully kept?

If there was a Nobel prize for hypocrisy, baby-faced Cameron would certainly have a chance... just like his predecessors, Blair and Brown!

But then, of course, neither Cameron nor his 12 millionaire colleagues in government are really "concerned" with the kind of inflation that matters to the rest of us. Nor are their capitalist masters, in fact. What do these people care if bills and fares, which eat up only a tiny part of their income, increase by 2.5%, 10%, or even 100% for that

matter. Millionaires don't have to bother with such trivial matters!

Wage rises don't cause inflation...

But watch them. How long will it take before they start singing the tired old tune which says that it is workers' wages and pensions which are responsible for inflation and that, therefore, they "must be contained"? After all isn't a wage freeze already on the agenda in the public sector. Haven't bosses' organisations already been demanding a loosening of the minimum wage legislation and, by the same token, tighter anti-strike laws, even fewer obstacles to sacking workers, even more lenient health and safety, etc..? Aren't they continually trying to reduce what they pay into our pension funds, regardless of the fact that this will result in millions of future pensioners being reduced to poverty?

This, is the only kind of "inflation" that the bosses and their politicians are concerned about - what they pay in the form of wages, pensions, NI contributions, and the like. It is not the cost of living they are concerned about, it is the cost of profiteering!

Ironically, just as Cameron was making his sanctimonious remarks about inflation on TV, the media was full of his own government's failure to stick to its pledge to contain bankers' bonuses.

While the rest of us have to wonder whether we can afford to pay our next mortgage or fuel bill, Barclays Bank is pondering on whether awarding its new CEO, Bob "Goldfinger" Diamond, an £8m bonus, would be showing enough "restraint" in the government's view. Questioned on this issue by Andrew Marr, Cameron carefully avoided saying anything that might upset his masters in the City.

The fact that this government is all in favour of such ludicrous payouts is illustrated by the £2.5m bonus which state-owned RBS plans to award his CEO, Stephen Hester.

...But inflation makes wage rises essential!

In fact, it is as if there had been no crisis at all in banking, no taxpayer-funded bailout and no catastrophic consequences of the bankers' greed across the entire economy. The City is back to "business as usual", bankers to their "normal" speculative activities and fat cats are back to showing off their arrogant affluence. Never mind if the country around them is littered with repossessed homes, closed factories and redundant workers. Never mind either if the world economy remains up to its neck in crisis - barely staggering from one tremor to another.

For Cameron, bankers should not be "demonised", period - let alone prevented from drawing fat salaries and bonuses out of the drip-feed of public funds on which they have been living over the past three years!

As for us, workers, we have to prepare ourselves for what is coming for us. Since the beginning of the crisis we've had our jobs cut, our real wages have shrunk, services are now being cut and price inflation is bound to reduce our standard of living.

Well, let them play with prices if they wish. Our safest bet is to impose a sliding scale of wages according to a verifiable price index, as our only protection against their parasitic games! As prices go up, our wages will have to go up accordingly.