Never has our current economic system’s inability to meet our everyday needs been more evident. Workers will not be able to afford to heat their homes. Rents, mortgage payments and of course the cost of food are all rising.
This is an economic system which presides over a crumbling infrastructure. It cannot ensure sufficient water to keep food crops irrigated but – to take just one example – in July Anglian Water gave its chief executive a £337,651 bonus as part of a £1.3 million pay package and the dividend to shareholders this year was £92 million.
A day of reckoning must come. For some it will be 1 October as the new, unaffordable, energy bills land. For others, the date is less fixed, but they know that this situation cannot endure. One group is demanding a reduction in energy bills and collecting pledges from people who intend to cancel their direct debits from 1 October if the pledges reach one million by then.
We have had a summer of being told that workers asking for a pay rise are to blame. Indeed, on the very day that Andrew Bailey, governor of the Bank of England, announced the biggest squeeze on income, he suggested that workers with “muscle” such as the rail staff should cease their fight to protect workers with less muscle. Oh yes? How does that work?
‘Workers are fighting to survive.’
Workers are fighting to survive. They know rising pay has not caused inflation: real wage levels have fallen while inflation has risen. The employing class is rushing to promote division. Here the RMT’s refusal to apologise for being slightly better paid than others should be a beacon.
The government, the Bank and the wider establishment will also be the first to say that they have some solution to the crisis rather than being its cause. In fact, the only people who can address our energy, food security and other needs are the workers in the sectors concerned. So the onus is on us to remain united and to suggest and execute the solutions.
How many times have you heard workers say they don’t trust politicians to solve anything? This healthy distrust is often portrayed as a negative, with workers lamentably “disengaged”. It isn’t. It’s a logical response to seeing politicians making a dire situation worse. Workers understand that “the system” is not working.
Capitalism cannot meet even our basic survival needs. Nor can it protect the environment here in Britain or elsewhere. Workers – not the politicians – have the answers. They are the ones who know how to maintain energy supply, water quality, heath care, food production and more.
We need to say loud and clear: capitalism isn’t working. We have known that for a long time, but we keep putting off the inevitable. Procrastination never solved anything – it’s time to act.