The cost of living crisis is in the news every single day! And as everyone says, the government’s measures amount to less than nothing. There are reports of families without enough to eat; 2.5m using food banks. Yet there is no plan even to restore the £20/w which was cut from Universal Credit.
Instead, what does Johnson announce? That 91,000 civil servants’ jobs will be cut, to “save” on their pay - a total of £3.5bn, for tax cuts in the future, “to ease the cost of living crisis”!! By giving a cost of living crisis to 91,000 unemployed ex-civil servants? You could not make this up!
In fact his cock-eyed idea is that the civil service will then return to the much trimmer state it was in, in 2016... before Brexit. Brexit, however, wasn’t mentioned in the PM’s announcement: it’s a sensitive subject right now! But later someone did say “oh, all those people employed to do the extra work around Brexit aren’t needed anymore...”
Really? As far as the rest of us knew, Brexit (and Covid) created a huge amount of extra work, but permanently, for customs and excise, the Home Office, agriculture, social care, the NHS, etc., etc... So if these cuts are made, it would be a case of Johnson shooting himself in the other foot (the one not already shot with the Brexit bullet)! And where will he shoot next? Yes, all of this is insane.
As for the working class cost of living, now we hear out of the mouth of the Bank of England governor, that food prices are “apocalyptic”! But he says there’s nothing to be done, since it’s due to the war in Ukraine.
Well there is plenty to be done! First of all, price rises don’t come out of the blue. Somebody actually decides them. So prices can be fixed. But the other way to tackle rising living costs is - obviously - to increase wages! And by a lot more than inflation. Because first of all, the measures of inflation are underestimates and second of all, one needs a cushion for the future.
RPI inflation for March was already 9%. And the bosses’ preferred measure, CPI inflation, was 6.2% - rising to 10% by October, they say. Which means RPI will be 12-13% by then! Yet wage rises (when workers actually got them) have been around 4-5%. No wonder families cannot feed themselves.
So, the fight for a level of pay that doesn’t only allow the working class to survive, but allows it to thrive, has to be on all of our agendas. And since the union leaderships are too narrow-minded to organise the kind of generalised fight which is needed - involving our whole class together - this will be the task of the fighters themselves!