Workers paid less now than 2 years ago

Posted: April 9, 2011 in Labour Fight

Workers paid less now than 2 years ago – Fight for the sliding scale ! Fight for jobs !

So much for economic recovery and growth. There are 2.5 millon unemployed and rising. And those who are working have less money to spend. A study revealed by BBC’s Panorama shows that workers are £1088 a year poorer now than in the middle of the Great Recession. Inflation is running at 5% with prices on some products such as fuel exceeding that. Unemployment has held back wage claims, as workers tend to cling onto their jobs and even put up with a decline in their working conditions. Pay in the public sector has been frozen for two years as a matter of government policy. This adds insult to injury for thousands of low paid workers, many of whom are women, whose pay has already been eroded by below inflation pay rises over recent years.

Without money to spend there is less demand for goods, particularly consumer items. Retail profits are down with Morgan Stanley forecasting a 7 % drop for the first 3 months of this year (FT, 2 April). Ultimately this will mean more job losses and more money to be paid out in welfare benefits. Capitalism has no way of solving this contradiction and capitalists have no intention of solving it, beyond attempting of course to get rid of welfare!

State handouts are clearly the preserve of the rich! George Osborne has again cut corporation tax- by some 4 points over next four years- which is already one of the lowest rates in Europe. (The lowest is Ireland and look at their economy). The recent budget did not even touch tax avoidance and evasion, looking to recovering £1 billion when there is some £120 billion a year going missing from the Exchequer.

However, working people are expected to pay at least 20% of their earnings in tax and that is before VAT is taken into account, which has risen again. A rise in National Insurance will also be eating into take home pay from this month.

The ConDem budget reduction imposed on local authorities will fall disproportionately on low paid workers. On childcare, for example, Lewisham Council are currently proposing to increase costs for Early Childhood Centres – from £175 per week to between £205 and £250 per week, an increase of between 17 per cent and 43 per cent (East London Lines, 5 April). The deficit caused by the banking bailout is to be paid for working people.

The Trade Union movement needs to go further than providing leaflets calling for tax to be collected and for the rich to ‘pay their share’. Big business does not listen to reason and their representatives in parliament will carry out their bidding unless forced to do otherwise, whichever party is in power.

Big business is now using the multi-billion pound bailout of big business by the bourgeois state to cut what the state does for the workers! That’s what they’re really intending to do. Cut until this country is like a time that even workers’ grandparents don’t remember!

Trade Unions should launch a united campaign to tackle pay erosion and unemployment with widespread industrial action. This must be coupled with a serious attempt to organise non-unionised sectors, where workers suffer the worst pay, terms and conditions and working environment.

The movement must be united around concrete demands to fight for. For a start the sliding scale of wages. That is, for pay to rise in line with prices. At the very least pay should keep pace with inflation. Secondly, by reducing the length and intensity of the working day jobs can be shared to tackle unemployment. While profits are being made and tax is uncollected or avoided then we cannot accept that this is unaffordable !

John Williams



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