Petrol price rises leading to new fuel blockade

Amicus members from the DARA defence plant in south Wales lobbying to defend 1,000 jobs
Amicus members from the DARA defence plant in south Wales lobbying to defend 1,000 jobs

UK petrol and diesel prices are still rising in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, with the average cost of petrol now at 95.1 pence a litre, but peaking at above £1 a litre in Wales and other areas of the UK.

However, super unleaded fuel topped the £1 barrier for the first time at 100.36p. Average diesel prices also tracked a nervous oil market, inching ahead to 97.6p, from 97.3p on Monday.

The price of crude oil has however fallen more than $5,00 since its high point of $70.85 a barrel, reached under the impact of the Katrina hurricane hitting the US Louisiana coast. Light crude fell $1.59 to $64.37 a barrel on Wednesday, after a $1.61 drop on Tuesday, while London Brent crude shed $1.78 to $62.89 a barrel.

The war in Iraq however continues, threatening to set the whole of the Arabian peninsula alight, in a situation where the US administration has already used up part of its strategic oil reserve.

This week’s clashes in the Saudi oil city of Damman, between the feudal monarchy’s security forces and Al-Qaeda insurgents, sent shivers down the spines of western governments.

The fighting became so intense that the US consulate in Dhahran, the home of the oil giant Saudi Aramco, issued a statement that it was closing for an indeterminate period of time.

The war in Iraq was driven on by the deepening of the world capitalist crisis, and now the failure of the US-UK imperialist bloc to achieve its strategic objective, to seize and then privatise Iraq’s oilfields, has greatly deepened the economic crisis.

This has immeasurably sharpened the class struggle. First we had Gate Gourmet – originally part of BA and still linked to it – carrying out a planned lock-out of over 700 workers in order to sack them and bring in scabs at much reduced wages and conditions.

This battle is now raging.

Then yesterday, BA announced that it was having to increase its fuel surcharges on long haul tickets bought in the UK for the fifth time in 18 months.

Passengers will now have to pay a £30 charge for a one way ticket, up from £24, and £60 on a return fare. This can only sharpen the BA drive to ‘reorder’ the wages and conditions of ‘its’ workers.

Clearly, the Gate Gourmet battle is one that is going to spread to many sections of industry, crippled by the slump and ever rising oil prices.

Yesterday, we were put on notice by the People’s Fuel Lobby’ that the year 2000 fuel blockade, that brought Britain to a standstill, will be repeated from 6am on September14th, unless the government makes big cuts in its massive fuel taxes.

The crisis caused by rising oil prices is set to explode – a new fuel blockade will bring Britain to a halt.

In the year 2000 the TUC joined with the government, the army and police chiefs in taking measures to break the fuel blockade.

This time round workers must make sure that the trade unions support the blockade and take action with the fuel protesters to bring down the Blair government to go forward to a workers’ government.

Its first action will be to nationalise the oil companies, currently making the biggest profits of their entire history, and cut fuel taxes, measures that will immediately lead to a big reduction in petrol and diesel prices.

Next it will withdraw troops from Iraq to establish fraternal relations with the Middle Eastern oil producing states.

Then it will abolish all of the anti-union laws to allow the working class to use its industrial strength to defend its rights, jobs, wages and conditions.