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From The Socialist newspaper, 25 June 2008

Prices up, Wages down...Summer of action needed!

Shell oil tanker drivers

Shell oil tanker drivers' strike was successful, photo by Bob Severn

The cost of bread and meat up 9% in twelve months! Milk, cheese and eggs up by almost 20% and heating oil leaping by a staggering 84%! Jump in your car and head for the pumps and it's the same story, as petrol hits 112p a litre.

Robin Clapp

Never slow to miss a trick, the greedy privatised energy companies are straining at the leash to hike up the price of gas and electricity again. Just last week they hinted that household energy bills could rocket by another 40% this winter.

And if all that wasn't enough, the cost of mortgages is rising at the same time as property prices are plunging, forcing thousands of families into negative equity.

We don't need lectures by Bank of England governor, Mervyn King, warning us that the "nice decade" is over and we're going to be in for a "bumpy ride". It's here already.

It's okay for some though. Those top bankers, hedge fund managers and stock market spivs who have helped to bring the economy down with their financial scams and scandals have pocketed £13 billion in bonuses this year.

New Labour business minister John Hutton applauds these parasites and celebrates the fact that "people can be enormously successful". But it's a different rule for the rest of us, with chancellor Alistair Darling lecturing against high wage claims because they will cause inflation. But inflation is what we've got now. And we're the victims, not the cause!

With millions of workers facing lower-than-inflation pay settlements and in some cases no increase at all, it's blindingly obvious that the government wants to drive down our living standards further and prioritise rescuing its rich city friends from the subprime and banking debacles.

Shell oil tanker drivers

Inflation hasn't been caused by workers fighting for a decent standard of living. Photo by Bob Severn

Inflation hasn't been caused by workers fighting for a decent standard of living. The real reason the bosses squeal when workers, like the Shell tanker drivers, go on strike and win better pay, is that it hits them in the profits!

Among the culprits behind price rises are those such as investment bankers, hedge fund holders and pension fund chiefs. After burning their fingers when the subprime housing market bubble burst, they turned their insatiable appetites to betting on commodity markets, pushing up the price of oil and foodstuffs.

Forced to reflect the growing anger of their members who are being told they must tighten their belts, even the TUC leaders have been woken from their slumber, with Unison general secretary Dave Prentis warning Brown that another large rise in energy bills would have a "massive effect" on workers and could lead to some pay negotiations being reopened.

Many public and private sector workers are at breaking point. While the rich have got richer, years of privatisation and cutbacks in public services have left Britain an even more unequal country than when Blair and Brown took over a decade ago. Brown's ambition to halve child poverty levels by 2009 are in tatters and 2.5 million pensioners now officially live in poverty.

New Labour is part of the problem, not the solution. The recent 10p tax fiasco summed up its priority - take from the poor, leave the rich laughing.

It is time for decisive action against this system that wrecks so many ambitions and livelihoods. Workers must organise to protect their living standards.

As the economic downturn unfolds and unemployment rises, the demand will grow that something must be done. We urgently need a new workers' party and trade union leaders who represent our interests. Join us in fighting for them, and in the fight for socialism.

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In The Socialist 25 June 2008:

Prices up, Wages down...Summer of action needed!

Workers' battles win results: Tankers drivers' success upsets bosses

Council workers striking back

Socialist Party editorial

Editorial: Summer of discontent?

PCS union sends letter of solidarity to Unison

Campaign for a new workers' party: Conference - Sunday 29 June, 11am - 5pm

Unison Conference 2008

Unison conference 2008: Fighting to reclaim the union for its members

Unison Service Group Executives - socialists elected

National Shop Stewards Network Conference

Fighting, democratic unions not witch hunts

Socialist Party campaigns

Thousands show their hatred for racism

Student unions can be pushed into action

Socialist Party Marxist analysis

Review: False 'gods' of a failing system

International socialist news and analysis

Zimbabwe: Mugabe's militias crush his political opponents

Afghanistan - paying the price of western occupation

Summit fails to halt runaway oil prices

Britain: No.1 arms dealer

Socialist Party NHS campaign

Cut throat competition threatens NHS

"With polyclinics you're just a number"

Stop this sell-off!

Origins of the Labour Party

'Old' Labour - born out of workers' struggles

Socialist Party workplace news

Brighton bus drivers match inflation

Teachers fight academy plans in Bolton

Union news in brief

Usdaw election


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