3.1 million children living below poverty line – the TUC advocates doing absolutely nothing!

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This is a treacherous abdication of all responsibility by the trade union leaders for this crisis of poverty. They have not lifted a single finger to fight Tory austerity cuts to benefits, just as they have led no struggle on behalf of their members for decent wage increases.

NEW research carried out for the TUC and published yesterday reveals the ever growing crisis of child poverty in Britain, even for those in families with parents in work. The report by Landman Economics shows that 3.1 million children with working parents will be living below the official breadline this year, an increase of 1 million since 2010.

Two-thirds of children living in poverty have at least one parent in work, as Tory austerity cuts to in-work benefits and the below inflation ‘wage increases’ to public sector workers drive working families into extreme poverty. The biggest impact of Tory wage freezes, caps and benefit cuts has fallen on families where both parents are employed in the public sector with their average wage falling by £83 a week in real terms. Families where one parent works in the public sector and the other in the private sector have lost £53 a week.

The growth in child poverty is not restricted to public sector workers. The report reveals that households where parents work in the private sector have lost £32 a week. The number of children forced to live in poverty has grown by at least 30% in every region of the country with some like the East Midlands experiencing the biggest increase of 76%.

In the public sector, health and education workers have seen their pay cut by 13.3% while those employed in public administration have had their pay slashed by 14.3%. What is the response of the TUC leaders to these appalling figures showing that in 2018 3.1 million children face going hungry because of Tory austerity?

TUC General Secretary Francis O’Grady said: ‘The government is in denial about how many working families just can’t make ends meet.’ She added: ‘We need ministers to boost the minimum wage now and use the social security system to make sure no child grows up in a family struggling to get by.’

This is a treacherous abdication of all responsibility by the trade union leaders for this crisis of poverty. They have not lifted a single finger to fight Tory austerity cuts to benefits, just as they have led no struggle on behalf of their members for decent wage increases. Indeed, they have accepted every single wage freeze or pay cap with just verbal appeals to the Tories to be ‘kinder’ to workers and their children. Now O’Grady is reduced to blaming the Tories for being in ‘denial’.

The Tories are not in denial, they know exactly what their war on benefits and wages means and they are quite prepared to see millions of kids starving in order to save money needed to bail-out the bankers and bosses and keep bankrupt British capitalism staggering on. Indeed the leadership of the trade unions have actively participated in wage cutting.

This can be seen in the latest pay offer negotiated by the main health unions for nurses and other NHS staff and which, with the exception of the GMB, all are urging their members to accept.

This offer is for a 6.5% pay increase over 3 years during which inflation will be 9.6%, in other words yet another pay cut in real terms on top of the thousands of pounds lost to NHS workers over the past 8 years.

This wage-cutting deal, agreed by the likes of Unison and Unite, will mean more poverty, even more NHS workers relying on food banks just to feed their kids. O’Grady used the release of this report to urge support for the TUC demonstration this Saturday under the slogan ‘A New Deal for Working People’.

The Workers Revolutionary Party and Young Socialists will be present but we will be demanding not a ‘new deal’ from the Tories but for a general strike to kick out the Tories and go forward to a workers government that will expropriate the bosses and bankers and bring in a socialist planned economy under which no child will ever go hungry again. We urge all workers and youth to join us on this march and help build a new revolutionary leadership in the unions that will take this fight to victory.