Crunch time for us? Let's make it crunch time for them! & No wage rise? Strike together!

 Crunch time for us? Let's make it crunch time for them!

The rising cost of living is hitting the working class hard. It's not just the energy bill hike and the threat of the lights going out. With inflation at 3% and growing, food costs are up, petrol and diesel are becoming unaffordable, and NIC rises loom. And then there are those who’ve been relying on the uplift of £20/w Universal Credit who are to lose even that, at the end of this month.

    Why is this happening? Surely the “re-opening” of the economy should be a positive development? But no, not under this absurd capitalist system!

    Their good old economic law of “supply and demand” means only one thing: that if demand goes up, suppliers raise the price! So as the pandemic has eased and more energy is required, even if there is enough supply - and we’re told there is - the gas producers seize the opportunity to make a packet. There’s been a 4-fold hike since August!

    Indeed, it would even be in their interests to claim a shortage, to push the price up further. And by the way, despite all the Cold War revivalist messaging, this is probably not being caused by Russia’s Gazprom!

    Here in Britain the problem is magnified many times over by the overblown, chaotic and unregulated energy market created by privatisation 35 years ago. Over 70 sub-suppliers, large and small, compete for customers, but only the “Big 6" have the wherewithal to hedge their bets. As one boss commented, his fellows treat the energy market like a casino! Already 10 of the smaller punters have gone to the wall.

    But whether the government steps in to keep the crooked market going, whether Ofgem shifts customers to British Gas, or takes over as supplier of last resort, the cap on energy prices is to be lifted and bills are rising - by £139 this month and 14% next year!

    And then there’s the CO2 shortage! Who would have thought that 2 fertilizer factories supply 60% of the NHS/industry requirement - and how come they were allowed to go bust, just like that?

    There was talk of a “Northern Rock solution” to help the cowboy gas companies. Well, when Northern Rock crashed in 2007, heralding the banking crisis of the following year, it was nationalised.

    Vital utilities like gas and electricity should certainly be in public ownership. But even if they were, there’d be no guarantee of improvement (think of the NHS!) - because it all depends on “who rules”. For now, the government says it has to make some “hard decisions”. Well, so do workers: it’s high time we decided to fight the bosses for inflation-proof pay rises!

 No wage rise? Strike together!

Wages are up, say Johnson and Raab? One has to wonder which planet they live on! Johnson even had the cheek to tell the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg that thanks to the national “living” wage (£8.91 per hour, IF you are over 25!), working people should have no problem putting food on the table...

    The Financial Times reported this week that the real average pay rise (including boardrooms) is under 2.4% - very far from the 7-8% which some (ignorant) commentators claim. That’s below inflation.

    Atop a skyscraper in New York, after mouthing off about his great achievements ahead of his COP26 Glasgow beano, Johnson suggested that anyone “struggling” could get a better job and work longer hours... Yup, since there are now so many (well-paid!) jobs on offer!

    Just how would a low-paid single parent increase his/her hours of work, pay for child care and manage - and without that extra (measly) £20/w Universal Credit into the bargain!? 

    The re-opened economy and (supposed) shortage of workers hasn’t resulted in better jobs and wages. Quite the opposite: the railways are cutting jobs left, right and centre, in preparation for the “big launch” of their reinvented rail privatisation - so-called “Great British Railways”.

    Transport Secretary Shapps wants to grab back the over £12bn he put straight into the pockets of private rail bosses, when he took over the full cost of the service during Covid.

    And now railway workers are to pay for it with their jobs and a pay freeze? Abellio Scotrail engineers (among many other “essential” workers) who not only worked through the pandemic, but worked rest days to make up for the shortage of hands are now denied any rise. So they’ve banned overtime and are taking industrial action - for now, short of strike...

    Stagecoach bus drivers and cleaners are voting to strike. This company made £58.4m profit this year, took the Emergency Measures “bonus” from the DfT and yet it hasn’t given workers a pay rise for 2 years!

    Wage freezes or below inflation pay offers are the order of the day - whether in the NHS, transport, distribution, manufacture, food processing or retail.

    But workers have common cause. The little strikes demanding decent pay popping up here and there could become a great wave, which the bosses wouldn’t be able to stop, if workers decided to turn this common cause into a common strike - all out, together, everywhere...