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Enough is Enough

As strikes spread through the country, union rep ROBERT POOLE says it is time for workers to take a stand, form new coalitions and say ‘enough is enough’

IT IS the summer of 2022, inflation is through the roof, London is burning and we are seeing a strike wave across the nation. Call it what you want, the summer of discontent, the summer of solidarity or even “hot strike summer” — we are in unprecedented times.  

A perfect storm of war, climate change, pandemic and economic crisis is leading to workers throughout the country saying “enough is enough.”

Strike Map (www.strikemap.co.uk) has mapped hundreds of picket lines in the past few weeks alone, with even more yet to come; over 100,000 postal workers have voted for strike action this week, wildcat strikes and sit-ins are spreading at Amazon and even some of the more (small c) conservative professions such as barristers are withholding their labour.

What has prompted this wave of industrial action? There is not one single thing — this has been a long time coming. A fall in living standards linked to stagnant wages or, in fact, real-terms pay cuts across the public and private sector haven’t helped — especially as at the same time we are seeing obscene amounts of profits being extracted from the very companies that are urging wage restraint.

The pandemic saw the country take to the streets, paying so-called key workers in claps whilst bosses tried to recoup their losses with fire and rehire or even worse — fire and bring in agency staff.

These attacks on working people and a failure of the government to address falling living standards have led to the rise of volunteer organisations to fill the gaps.

Public housing has been sold off, leaving the most vulnerable in society at the whim of unscrupulous landlords, so organisations such as Acorn have stepped in to defend renters.  

Falling wages and the rise of precarious work has plunged millions, including millions of children, into poverty — hence the rise in foodbanks and amazing organisations such as Fans Supporting Food Banks.

The answer to this crisis by the ruling class? To criminalise dissent and to crash the economy.

In a time where inflation is rampant the Bank of England is to raise interest rates. What will this result in? Most likely it will plunge us into a deep recession and lead to a massive rise in unemployment.  

A massive rise in unemployment is of course to the advantage of the capitalist class as it leads to a reserve army of the unemployed, further driving down wages. Yes, the same wages which have been rising at the lowest rate since the days of Napoleon. This, in the minds of the Bank of England, is a good thing as it will stop the “wage rise, inflation spiral” which of course does not really exist.   

What do we do when the now-unemployed take to the streets, joined by the rest of us who can no longer fill the sad and empty voids in our lives with rampant consumerism?  

Well, the government already has a whole raft of draconian anti-union laws which they would seek to further enhance, taking us one step further towards a dystopian, authoritarian capitalist state.

Those who “vilify” Britain can now be expected to be referred to Prevent for, one presumes, re-education. Workers on picket lines are already being arrested so we can only expect to see more of this as protests that are “disruptive” are made illegal. These should be seen as what they are: morbid symptoms of a decaying system. To misquote Gramsci, now is the time of monsters.

What we need is a coalition that says “enough is enough.” We need to make clear what we expect from society as a bare minimum: a real pay rise; a slashing of energy bills — and if this means we need to nationalise energy companies then so be it; an end food poverty; decent homes for all; and for the rich to be forced to pay their way through a system of progressive taxation.

This is a time when the working class needs to unite. We need the working class to realise that all of these tragedies are linked and that only radical solutions rather than economic tinkering can solve them.  

Our strength, as it always has been, is in our numbers — we are many, they are few — and over 200,000 signed up for the Enough is Enough campaign on its first day.

Now we need to unite around this project — hold rallies up and down the country, organise into local groups, show picket line solidarity and propose an alternative to the current lacklustre government by working with organisations such as fans supporting food banks to expand their network and help tenants' rights organisations such as Acorn with resistance to evictions and rent hikes.

We need to support people who can’t pay their energy bills and at the same time organise protests targeting the profiteering greedy energy companies. We need to let the government know that we will not accept a rise in the energy price cap. We need to say “enough is enough.”

Find your local picket line at www.strikemap.co.uk.

Join the Enough is Enough campaign at www.wesayenough.co.uk.

 

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