Sun May 19, 2024
May 19, 2024

Build strike action to fight inflation

TUC call a national convention to plan national co-ordinated strikes

For a sliding scale for wages, benefits and pensions linked to inflation

For price control over the multi-nationals

By Martin Ralph – ISL-Britain

Inflation is rising every month and for the poorest families it is now 14%; for the richest, it’s 8%. the sharpest price rises are energy bills, petrol prices, electricity and food. Housing and travel costs also remain a huge problem. Today inflation is hitting workers, but it is hitting poor workers and vulnerable people the most as they pay a higher percentage of their earnings for energy.

This crisis, which is out of control, comes after eleven years of austerity and Covid, which has led to a widening gap between the rich and poor. The wealthiest 10% of households owned 43% of all the wealth between April 2018 to March 2020 (Office for National Statistics). In contrast, the bottom half of the population only gets 9%.

The Bank of England warned in April that the UK economy was heading towards a recession and inflation would hit 10 per cent this year. UK prices are likely to rise at their fastest rate in more than 40 years as sustained double-digit inflation may soon happen for the first time since the 1970s.

The government’s answer to this crisis is to inject £15bn into the economy, raised by a ‘Windfall tax’ on oil companies. Much of which will find its way back into the coffers of the energy companies.

That means a one-off £650 payment for eight million families on means-tested benefits, alongside the extra £200 for all energy bill payers that will not have to be repaid. There is a £300 payment for pensioners, £150 for recipients of disability benefits, a £150 council tax rebate and an extra £200 for all energy bill payers.

But that plan does not address the real issue of profiteering by energy and other companies, nor the way workers suffer more than the rich. Workers increasing action show they feel the same way.

Real income will stay the same for most working families. The Resolution Foundation said the current fall in real wages was not projected to end until late 2023, and at that point, average wages would be no higher than in 2007.

A wide strike movement

For months now many strikes have been taking place, as we reported in the last issue of Socialist Voice, the number of strikes in 2022 was higher than in five years.

Many strikes are taking place against the cost of living and worsening work conditions, they include:

  • In Scotland, North Sea oil rig workers organised a wildcat strike on more than a dozen platforms at the end of May. On 19 rigs staff downed tools in demanding a £7 an hour pay rise to keep up with inflation.
  • The RMT, in a ballot of 40,000 rail workers, voted for national strike action with a turnout of 71% and 89% voting for strike action. That includes Network Rail and 13 train operators. It is the biggest endorsement of industrial action since privatisation.
  • The May PCS (civil service union) national conference unanimously backed plans to fight the government’s 91,000 civil service job cuts including possible strike action.
  • Unite union Workers at Fawley Oil Refinery said 100 workers will continue with the strike action on June 9, 10,16, 17 and 20. Exxon made £6.25 billion in 2021, so they must pay these workers a wage increase and start a decent company’s sick pay.
  • Refuse, recycling and street cleansing workers at Rugby BC came out on strike and on 26 April, they won a 12% pay increase.
  • Unite workers at Crumlin-based Langford Lodge began the first week of strike action for pay on 26 May. Workers want the scandal of unequal pay addressed at the company. A significant grouping of women machinists for example are being paid £1.93 per hour less than male colleagues while they do work of similar or equal value. The strike is an escalation of an overtime ban previously in force at the RLC Engineering-owned, precision engineering aerospace manufacturer.
  • Workers at pallet suppliers Chep UK at Trafford Park, Manchester, who had been on strike for 21 weeks claimed victory after they accepted an increased pay offer of 9%.

TUC call a national strike convention

Mick Lynch, the RMT leader said that he hopes workers in many industries follow rail staff in backing nationwide strikes. We hope Mick Lynch will call for an emergency meeting of the TUC to plan a campaign of industrial and political action for wages, pensions and benefits to rise with inflation.

The trade union movement should call for an emergency convention of the TUC to build a national struggle and strike movement against the cost of living increases and attacks on wages, benefits, pensions, conditions and jobs. The RMT strike can have great strength and even greater strength alongside other sectors. That is why we say the TUC must call an emergency national convention to coordinate the strikes and that call should be a central fight in all unions.

Act against victimisation
It is outrageous that a union rep was suspended by Altrad Services after 50 of his workmates – who are not part of the dispute – refused to cross a picket line during their Fawley April strikes.
In building a national strike action workers who are not on strike but work in the same location may refuse to cross pickets – just like the Liverpool dock workers always said, never cross a picket line. All unions and the TUC must support workers’ actions and defend them. Reinstatement for all workers who have taken such actions and are victimised by employers.
Wages must rise with inflation

In Belgium, there is a policy of wages rising with inflation each month. Together with Luxembourg, Belgium is the only EU country that mandates an automatic adjustment for all wages. It is the product of past workers’ battles and British unions should demand a rising scale of wages linked to inflation as in Belgium.

Workers’ Party

The Labour Party is incapable of leading the fight against inflation and all the horrors of British capitalism. The mass of the population in the past decades have suffered attacks on health, education, youth, and the democratic legal rights of workers and their trade unions. Millions of people have had bitter experiences of what the “free market” and free licence for capitalist values means, at a time when those who rule capitalist society grow more and more wealthy at the top.

The rise of a desire for drastic change is shown by the number of strikes and protests taking place in Britain with the accelerating hostility against the Tory government. It is hated by the youth, wide sections of the working class and of the middle class. There is bitterness at health and education cuts, and at the treatment of the sick, and disabled people. There is increasing cynicism, particularly among the youth, about prospects in capitalist society and about its institutions.

Days without food, poverty amongst many employed workers such as in the NHS and the rise in prices destroying lives.

Keir Starmer and company embrace completely the capitalist ideology on which Johnson is based. Their government and the state would steadfastly continue to carry out capitalist measures to assist capitalism at the expense of the mass of the population.

A workers’ party would stand for a workers’ government laying down a socialist foundation with a policy of nationalisation and workers’ control. It must be for the defence of Black, Asian and multi-ethnic communities, immigrants and asylum seekers. It would be for the immediate renationalisation of railways, water, gas and electricity. It should have a policy of taxing the rich and helping the disabled people and the poor, with priority for a health service run by committees based on representatives of GPs, hospital staff, unions and communities; restoration of student grants, real training for the youth at work with a living wage, paid for by employers and a policy against unemployment, with public works on full wages and an education policy drawn up by parents, teachers and communities.

It must fight to control prices with workers committees of unions and communities, as not only energy but supermarkets are using inflation to profiteer. It means establishing the right to inspect the books of companies by workers’ committees and control over prices.

That is why we call for a new Workers’ Party where a programme can be built for mass struggle on the streets to defeat all the problems created by the cost of living and all the capitalist attacks.

Build the International Socialist League

We call for the building of a new Workers Party to help build unity in struggle. Such a party also needs the building of a revolutionary party that is completely class independent, internationalist and Marxist. Through the work of our International, the IWL, and our help to build it there are many connections with the world class struggle. We fight, for example, to support the Ukrainian trade unions and the international rank and file workers struggle such as the International Labour Network of Solidarity and Struggle.

All the most important hardships facing the working class in Britain are national and international.

We support all the class struggles and of oppressed people today in the UK, but the only answer for the future of our class, the youth and humanity is socialism and by that, we mean revolutionary socialism, the necessity for a workers’ government, workers control and the socialist revolution.

This fight becomes ever more urgent as the acceleration of decay of the order of world imperialism means ever more losses of rights for workers and the people, and pushes the fascist type Russian invasion of Ukraine, but also inflation, poverty, covid, mass migration and the destruction of the environment.

So, we need a workers’ party to unite workers across all boundaries and we need to build the ISL to fight for a Workers’ Party and for the British and world socialist revolution.

  • Rank and file, build strike action to fight inflation!
  • TUC call a national convention of all unions to plan national coordinated strikes!
  • For a sliding scale of wages with inflation, monthly including benefits and pensions!
  • Nationalise all energy and big monopolies including oil take all public services, like rail under workers’ control!

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