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From: The Socialist issue 1157, 24 November 2021: Workers’ action can defeat weak and divided Tories

Search site for keywords: Cuts - Working class - Pay - Inflation - Working-class - Government

Working class strangled by price rises and pay cuts

Glasgow cleansing workers strike, photo Philip Stott

Glasgow cleansing workers strike, photo Philip Stott   (Click to enlarge)

Ryan Aldred, Socialist Party national committee

Few can ignore the eye-watering cost of living crisis. When even the likes of the Daily Mail are highlighting the effects of the 10-year-high inflation figures, it underlines how bad it is!

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released a whole series of damning figures which underline just how hard working-class people are being hit. Transport prices up 9.9% from last year, an 18.8% rocketing up of electricity prices, and a giant leap in gas prices, up 28.1%. With food also rising by 2.1% in October, and fuel jumping by more than 22%, it's no wonder that people are feeling the pinch.

It is estimated that, with the Consumer Price Index measuring inflation rising to 4.2% in October, households would need to spend on average an extra £21 a week, or over £1,000 a year, just to buy the same basket of goods. This in itself is bad enough, but with the government's recent slashing of Universal Credit by £20 a week, many of the poorest households could find themselves effectively £2,000 worse off each year.

Moreover, the Tories, self-proclaimed defenders of hard-working families, have offered some of those who have worked the hardest throughout the pandemic nothing short of insulting pay increases that don't even meet inflation. This includes NHS staff, teaching support staff and teachers who were graciously 'awarded' a real-terms pay cut!

The Bank of England has provided little hope of respite, with models projecting that inflation could continue to rise, hitting around 5% by next April as bosses aim to claw back lost profits through the pandemic by raising prices.

While working-class families struggle to make ends meet, the government has been mired in an ever-deepening scandal as Tory MPs try to account for six-figure second jobs in addition to an already-inflated £81,932 a year plus expenses. As his deputies attempt to justify lucrative second jobs, and begin to lose their grip on the economy, it's a wonder that Boris Johnson has been able to keep his first job!

It's clear that the Tories and their paymasters, the bosses, seek to make working-class people pay for the pandemic. The government and the bosses have made it clear, they won't willingly give workers a decent pay rise without a fight.

We say that the Universal Credit uplift should be restored and the minimum wage should be raised to £15 an hour without exemptions. With some victories already chalked up - like the South Wales bus drivers' strike victory, and many more unions preparing ballots for industrial action, workers will be making it clear that we want decent pay, not more Peppa Pigs at the trough!

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • We must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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