Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials, 19 March 2013

Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials
19 March 2013

Last Saturday, protesters took to the streets in more than 50 towns across the country, including Manchester and Liverpool. They wanted to register their opposition to the "bedroom tax" planned by Cameron for working age households which, allegedly, "under-occupy" the homes they rent from councils, housing associations and other "approved social" landlords.

More protests are due to take place over the same issue in other towns, including London, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Cardiff, in the run-up to the implementation of this new turn of the screw on the poorest -which is due to come into effect on April 1st .

For them, being on low income is a crime!

Fearing a backlash from its own constituency, the government made a minor U-turn on its original plans, virtually at the last minute. This was done through the back door, in an apparently innocuous written answer in the Commons, by exempting registered foster carers and parents of young soldiers.

But, according to the Coalition's own figures, this still leaves 660,000 affected households - one third of all households of working age on housing benefit. In fact, other, less dubious estimates put this figure at a much higher level - 900,000!

From April 1st , these households' housing benefitwill be cut by 14% for the first "under-occupied" room and 25% for a second one. And this, regardless of room size, or of the state of disrepair of the building - which may mean that some rooms may well be uninhabitable, because they are too damp or too cold, for instance.

Ministers claim that the average cut in housing benefit will be "only" around £700/yr per household. "Only"? But that's one fifth of the JSA received by a jobless over-25! Or, to look at it another way, this amounts to forcing a full-timer on the minimum wage to work for 3 weeks every year without any wage. This sum would probably buy not much more than the door mat of the multimillion mansions owned by Cameron, Osborne and their masters in the City - but for the working class households they target, it's far from negligible.

In fact, Osborne says himself that this is not about money, since he only expects £500m worth of savings -a pittance compared to his budget. Rather, it's all about victimising poverty, under the cynical pretext of getting the poor to "behave responsibly". By this, the coalition and their City masters mean forcing them to "get on their bikes" and move to a smaller flat, no matter how far, because there aren't enough small social flats, anyway. So that the same low-income working poor who are being fingered for being poor, face being fingered for losing their jobs and being on the dole. Yes, this is cynical, vindictive madness!

And there's more to protest against

And it's not just smaller, decent, social flats which are in short supply, of course, it's also decent jobs with a wage allowing working class households to do without housing benefits.

In fact, despite the ConDem ministers' boasting about the ever-rising numbers "in employment" (meaning really, often working a few odd hours at best, there isn't one week without a report showing endless jobless queues.

Last month 8 low-paid jobs at a Nottingham Costa coffee-shop, attracted over 1,700 applicants. Earlier this month, 900 applied for 10 jobs in a DFS sofa store in Eastbourne, and 2,500 applied for 50 apprenticeships with EDF (minimum wage: £2.50!).

In fact, according to public sector union Unison, there are nearly 4 jobless chasing each vacancy on average, and over 20 in areas like Hackney or the Isle of Wight. Meanwhile, the number of workers aged 65 or older is close to the million mark, representing half of the increase in employment so much hailed by Coalition ministers - when they should really be resting on a decent pension, instead of having to face dying on the job.

This profit system is a system which is standing on its head. It is a world in which a tiny minority lives a parasitic, luxurious life on the impoverishment of the majority. They call low-income workers "scroungers" and the jobless "skivers"? But who's living on "benefits", on the back of our labour and at the expense of the state -if not these capitalists and their companies?

The only way out of this mess for the working class is to get rid of the stranglehold of these capitalist parasites over society. And it means beginning with protesting against all the attacks against our class -altogether, employed and unemployed -against benefit cuts as well as job and wage cuts, in the streets and on the shopfloor. This is how the confidence that the working class has lost in its own strength can be rebuilt. This strength is still intact, and it's crying to be used!