The bosses are “squeezing” our incomes: time to squeeze back! & A gridlock which only the working class can break

 The bosses are “squeezing” our incomes: time to squeeze back!

The cost of gas and electricity and the “squeeze” on the working class and poor has been hitting newspaper headlines this week.  For good reason.  Energy bills have just gone up from £693 to £1,971 a year for a “typical” household - and another rise is anticipated this October!

    How are families expected to afford this?  It’s a 54% rise when wages are on average going up by just 4% - and then only in some cases!

    What makes this so scandalous is that the increase in the energy price cap was a deliberate measure imposed by the government’s regulator, which allowed the companies to pass on their costs to consumers.  It was a conscious choice which was made, and it has allowed the racketeering by the big oil and gas companies to carry on unhindered.

    And of course, now, in the context of the sanctions imposed on Russia, there is even more scope for this speculation and profiteering, while the cost increase, passed on to the population, is conveniently blamed on “the war”.  As if there was nothing which could be done to avoid it.  Not to mention avoiding the war itself... But that is another question.

    So what to do about hit to the poor from energy costs?  Chancellor Rishi Sunak, has offered a £150 council tax discount and a £200 loan which is supposed to make up for it! Yes, that’s all!  Of course nobody would expect someone like him with his non-dom multimillionaire wife and green card in his back pocket to do what’s needed.  Like, for instance taking the ownership of the energy industry into public hands, so that its costs could be controlled.  By the way, it’s notable that Starmer’s “opposition” doesn’t dare to mention this “anti-capitalist” option!

    So the squeeze continues, and gets more painful by the day, with inflation due to double and with economists explaining that incomes are the lowest - and the cost of living increase the highest - in 15 years, 30 years, or even 60 years!

    There is a remedy.  And most workers already know it.  It’s not inside a ballot box, but outside on the streets and in the workplaces: the fight back that is so long overdue.

     It’s more urgent than ever that workers push back against the continued assault on wages and working conditions - the zero-hours contracts, temporary agency jobs, and multi-tiering of the workforce, which has sent “equal pay for equal work” out of the window...

     Yes, it’s high time to fight on the only basis which is justified today: workers together as a class - by simply withdrawing our labour simultaneously and for however long it takes, against the over-fed bosses and their lying, corrupt politicians.

 A gridlock which only the working class can break

Dover was grid-locked this weekend - and not just because of the Easter holidays.  By Monday, there were 4,500 lorries waiting to get to the port, blocking 23 miles of the M20.  Some drivers had been stuck for 3 days, with no access to toilets, food or water!

    Since P&O sacked 800 British-based seafarers last month, just one ferry has restarted sailings.  The Maritime Coastguard Agency said it would inspect all 8 ships which P&O proposes to sail with its new, cheaper crews on board (paid £5.50/hour, £4 below the minimum wage of £9.50) - but 2 ships already failed safety inspections.

    The workers brought in on agency contracts don't know the ships well enough yet, to be able to operate them safely.  On top of it all, P&O has cut crew numbers on each ship and changed the length of time they spend on-board.  Instead of one-week on, one-week off, they'll have 15-day "tours of duty".

    All the huffing and puffing by Tory ministers over forcing P&O to take back the sacked workers was just that - hot air. The workers have already lost their jobs: they were told that if they didn't accept the sacking terms P&O imposed (“compensation” in lieu of notice, plus redundancy) and sign a gagging order(!) within 21 days, they'd get nothing!

    RMT and Nautilus International union protests demanding their reinstatement carry on nevertheless.  And of course the workers would prefer to have their jobs back.  It’s come out that after claiming it had losses of £200m and “had to” sack the workers, P&O just took delivery of 2 new super-ferries - apparently worth more than £380m!

    Of course it's not only the P&O crisis which is causing chaotic disruption at Dover.  The new Brexit customs system, the Goods Vehicle Movement Service, implemented in January 2021, broke down on 31 March, and has been out of action since!  But even when it's working, each lorry still takes 15-20 minutes to pass through customs - and that's without the full system of customs checks having been implemented yet!

    In the meantime, it's workers and ordinary travellers who end up paying the cost of this mess.  To demand, as union leaders do, that the government intervene to do something about it, is a dead end.  The working class has to fight its own battles, whether it’s to get P&O workers their jobs back, or end the Brexit chaos. - and the sooner it does so, the better.