Trade unions must act to defend workers’ standard of living


THE Governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King has proclaimed that the crisis of capitalism means huge ongoing cuts in the standard of living of the working class and the middle class.

He added that ‘we’ will have to grin and bear it since ‘We have to understand that it is not something we can offset by just demanding higher wages.’

Indeed, more has to be done than just demand higher wages – although higher wages are necessary to feed hungry families. In fact, the only way to resolve the capitalist crisis is to get rid of capitalism.

Who is this ‘we’ that Mervyn King talks about referring to those whose living standards are falling? Does it include him? Does it include government ministers and MPs or City of London executives and share dealers or the big bosses? Of course it does not.

King is trying to disguise the fact that it is the working class and the majority of the middle class that will be made to suffer for the crisis of the capitalist system. In fact the bankers will be propped up with billions of pounds of taxpayers money, while the Labour government viciously cuts the wages of these same taxpayers with three-year below inflation pay deals.

Officially, inflation is now running at 2.2 per cent (according to the government’s ‘preferred’ Consumer Price Index figure) and 4.1 per cent if mortgage interest rates are included.

Actually fuel prices have risen by 19.3 per cent in the year, energy bills are up by 15 per cent and food prices are up by over eight per cent. The cost of living has risen by at least £1,300 in the last year.

The working class is being made to pay for the capitalist crisis, so that the state can plough billions into propping up the bankrupt capitalist system.

Directly ahead are not just wage freezes, but wage cuts, pension cuts, and attempts to throw millions off incapacity benefit, and abolish the Welfare State.

Youth are already being forced into unpaid work experience as a compulsory element of their ‘education’ from 14 to 18. This will see the launch of the new ‘diplomas’ this September, and then see slave labour ‘apprenticeships’ with firms such as McDonalds.

According to King and Brown there is no alternative to sacrificing our living standards for the good of this bankrupt capitalist system.

Our message to the working class and the youth is that you must take action to defend your living standards and to get rid of bankrupt capitalism and replace it with socialism.

In this period of rampant inflation one annual wage rise is no good. The trade unions must be made to draw up their own cost of living index and use their strength to force the bosses and their government to increase wages and benefits every three months by the increase in the trade union cost of living index, as well as by an annual rise.

This is the only way to defend living standards at a time of rampant inflation.

If the bosses say they cannot or will not agree to this, the message is clear, capitalism has failed and it must be overthrown.

Likewise with business failures, of which there will be many. Factories that face closure must be occupied and a national campaign mounted for their nationalisation.

Not one worker must have his home repossessed. Trade unions must call strike action to defend workers’ homes and demand that the banks be nationalised and mortgage debt abolished.

There must be a massive programme of public works to build millions of council houses to solve the housing crisis, and to employ hundreds of thousands of youth, who will be able to learn skilled trades at trade union rates of pay.

The revolutionary leadership of the WRP must be built up in the struggle for this programme of action in the trade unions.

This struggle to provide leadership will raise the consciousness of the working class and mobilise it for the socialist revolution to overthrow bankrupt capitalism and replace it with socialism and a planned economy geared to satisfying peoples’ needs.