Last week, official CPI inflation for September showed a rise back to more than 10%, where it had been in July - the highest level in 40 years. But behind this, real inflation was even higher. Food prices are up by 17% and basics even more: bread by almost 40%; tea by 45% and pasta, by 60%!
Compare this to average pay, which, between July and August (the most recent data), rose by just 5.4%. And this “average” even included the highest paid executives’ pay! In the public sector, pay rose just 2.2%. But given how low wages were even before the pandemic, these "rises" barely conceal the huge fall in standards of living for the whole of the working class.
What's more, there’s been talk of benefits and/or pensions not increasing with inflation but by the average pay level. This could mean a working couple with three children on universal credit could lose nearly £1,000, while pensioners could lose about £500 - but that’s only, of course, if all the current pay strikes fail to beat inflation!
It was already the case that 1 in 4 children in Britain were living in poverty at the beginning of the year. Now, 1 in 7 people skip meals. Teachers bring food to school for their pupils. Students shower at college, as their parents can’t afford to turn on the boiler to heat water.
All this to say that the economic crisis is dire and urgent action is needed! And in fact action is precisely what’s taking place; although if you follow official media you’d never know it. There has been a blackout of working class news. But the fight is still on!
Railway workers are due to strike again on the 5 and 7 November and are renewing their strike mandates for another 6 months. Postal workers are escalating action - with 16 strike days in November/December announced so far. Next week university staff will be on strike; teachers, nurses and civil servants are due to come out within weeks.
So, what if all of these strikes converged into one big simultaneous - and indefinite - strike? This would not only win the pay rises above inflation which everyone needs - but could begin to lay the basis for building the new revolutionary working class political party... which everyone certainly needs!