Cost of living crisis – the fightback is under way
The truly unquenchable greed of our imperialist rulers has reawakened the anger and will to resist among the working class in Britain. The refreshed, and refreshing, willingness of many groups of workers to take strike action, from bus drivers and railway staff to Amazon workers, postal staff and even criminal barristers seems to have shocked some people.
Those feelings of anger and resistance are not confined solely to those in work however. The vast majority of the working class, whether in work or on benefits, are feeling them to a greater or lesser degree, even the higher strata who would have thought themselves above such a thing not very long ago are now showing signs of stirring.
The food shortages and price increases, the fuel price hikes that take even trying to pay gas and electricity bills so far out of reach for so many do expose the unlimited drive for maximum profits of our rulers as they try to increase their ill-gotten gains week on week, year on year at a murderous cost to so many across the world. However, the fact that it is hitting us right across our class and even some people beyond our class, proves that, as the current economic meltdown moves into a far more serious stage within imperialist countries and their satellites, the imperialist rulers are finding it harder and harder to buy off the privileged upper strata of our class that they have depended on to keep the whole lot of us pacified since the dawn of capitalism.
The scene is being set for a hot class war throughout Europe, including Britain, stretching to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and, of course, the prime imperialist power, the USA.
It must be stressed, however, that we are not yet even near the doorway to revolution and the rise of the proletarians as the new ruling class, but things are moving – at an incredibly slow speed, but they are moving.
The militancy of workers who are/have been taking action is not, on the whole, coming from trade-union leaderships but even they are being pulled into the struggles. The militancy is coming from rank and file workers some of whom, to circumvent the solidly social-democratic trade union leaderships and their Labour Party hierarchy, are building new organisations to fight some battles.
Two of these new organisations are causing some unease among our class enemies and for good reasons.
Enough is Enough (EIE) is a campaign set up by the Communication Workers Union, individual trade unionists and some community organisations that declares itself to have just 5 aims.
1. A Real Pay Rise.
2. Slash Energy Bills.
3. End Food Poverty.
4. Decent Homes for All.
5. Tax the Rich.
EIE explain these aims in more detail declaring; “We need public sector pay to increase in line with inflation and a pathway to a £15 p/h minimum wage.”
“There needs to be the same increase in pensions and benefits to ensure those who need support aren’t left behind.”
“We need to rebuild workers rights by restoring the right to effectively strike and banning zero-hours contracts and exploitative practices.”
Re energy bills increases, EIE state that we need to “Cancel the October price hike and return to the significantly lower pre-April energy price cap.” Complaining that; “fossil fuel giants are making record profits,” they also unequivocally demand that; “energy companies must be brought into public ownership, with public investment in renewable energy to break the power of the oil giants.”
On food poverty, EIE insist on the “Enshrining of the Right to Food in law and that this [be] put this into practice by introducing universal free school meals, community kitchens, and reinstating the £20-a-week Universal Credit uplift.” These measures should be protected they say “With a new independent regulatory body created that will hold the government to account with oversight and endorsement powers.”
EIE believe that there should be a “Cap on rents, the building of 100,000+ council homes a year, homes to be insulated and the introduction of a charter for renters’ rights.”
“To scrap right-to-buy. And as interest rates rise, no return to foreclosures: cap mortgage repayments for at-risk homeowners.”
EIE are also demanding that “the rich pay their fair share by raising taxes on the wealthiest and the profits of big businesses. Crack down on tax avoidance and evasion.”
“This can be done by introducing a wealth tax, raising taxes on corporate profits and on the top 5% of earners, closing tax dodging loopholes and abolishing non-dom status, increasing capital gains tax, and introducing new taxes on speculation.”
“And alongside that, we should be cutting the tax burden on working people, starting by reversing the recent hike to National Insurance.”
These 5 aims are close to the hearts of many working-class people and, on the night that EIE was launched on 17 August 2022, over 1,500 people turned out to the rally in Clapham, south London, with hundreds turned away after the venue reached capacity. Trade union leaders Jo Grady from the UCU, Dave Ward from the CWU and Mick Lynch from the RMT addressed the crowd, as well as one Labour MP, Zarah Sultana.
EIE plans to organise more branches, collective actions and rallies across Britain. It promises to organise visits to picket lines, and action against energy companies, with supporters grouped into four regional branches, north, south, east and west.
Some 300,000 people joined Enough is Enough within days of its launch and the campaign’s website crashed on its first day owing to the high number of people signing up. This means that EIE cannot, must not be overlooked by anyone wishing to promote increased militancy of workers in Britain.
Another organisation that is appealing massively to the working-class and others at the moment is Don’t Pay UK (DPUK). This campaign is in resistance to the planned price cap lifting which will push the average annual bills above £3,300 sending millions into fuel poverty.
DPUK do not have an organisational structure and there are no persons named as leading the campaign. This is obviously for the protection of those running the campaign when the proposed bill payment strike starts, and the legal system is looking for individuals in leading positions to punish.
The website of DPUK has some very interesting information on how the smart meters will be used to try and slip people unable to pay onto prepayment schemes akin to the pre-payment meters they often force poorer people into having installed and whose sole purpose is to make people cut themselves off when they can’t afford to top up the meter.
Their plan is quite simple, if they can get 1 million supporters prepared to take action on 1 October, they will instruct all to cancel their direct debits and go on strike. This simple plan has the big energy suppliers terrified. In spite of massive profits for the big boys of energy supply, 20 or so small suppliers went to the wall last year because of the price cap that did not let them thrive (rob customers), but that is capitalism: if too many companies move into a market that cannot sustain them all, then the weakest go to the wall and those left make lots more profit. Now those same big boys are telling us that the cap has to rise significantly because it’s an uncertain business where companies can go under, because of the pandemic, because of Russia etc, etc.
Unfortunately, many poorer families are already on those prepayment meters and their fuel will just stop if they don’t pay. However, if enough of those who can still get their gas/electric while holding back payment are prepared to take part in this strike we may see some of the big suppliers wobbling and screaming for the government to take the supplying of energy back into public hands.
Public ownership of energy is one of the stated aims along with combatting price increases that DPUK have put their name to, stating that “The solution cannot be found in more corporate monitoring, control and profiteering but instead the answer is to take back control of our resources from the private corporations, invest in them properly and run these public resources for the common good.”
Both EIE and DPUK are good campaigns, even very good, and hopefully these along with other campaigns may help to point workers towards learning what it takes to turn around an imperialist society into a socialist one (even if they don’t realise yet that socialism is what they require), but it will require communists to give those lessons and to show the correct leadership to our class.