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Editorial: From bills, to jobs and the environment: monopoly profiteering is the enemy of working people

WORKERS are being ruthlessly squeezed by every section of Britain’s capitalist class and the transnational companies that control the economy. In truth, we don’t face a cost-of-living crisis, we face a cost of profits crisis.  

The rapacious drive to maximise monopoly profits at all costs to working people and to cynically exploit all crises can been seen most acutely in the energy sector.

Even capitalist and state-owned media have been forced to acknowledge this — but barely ever stray into even timid criticism of the energy profiteers.

The vast majority of people are already unable to shoulder the increases in energy prices we’ve already seen on top of other rising costs and attacks on living standards. It’s only the summer — and the October price cap increase is yet to come.

This winter we stand to see the situation where it won’t just be the elderly, the unemployed and the impoverished who face the choice between heating and eating, but working-class people generally.

At the same time, Centrica, the owner of British gas, posted a six-month operating profit of £1.34 billion today — a 500 per cent increase on last year.

This rank profiteering — reflected across the few companies that dominate Britain’s energy sector, who hoovered up customers from smaller firms that went bust earlier in the year — comes directly at the expense of workers.

The excuse that the price rises are a result of the war in Ukraine or difficulties in the energy market are little more than a smoke screen.  

Much-loved “money saving expert” Martin Lewis has called for urgent action from the Tory government, but this government, in the pockets of the energy companies, is presently more interested in playing to its base through racist immigration policies and sabre-rattling over China.

The reality is the profiteering of the monopolies will go one of two ways. As is happening right now, working people will be forced to pay: through increased bills, through wage cuts for the directly employed staff and through taxpayer-funded subsidies and handouts.

Or we can fight back — and force the monopolies to pay the cost. Centrica is just one example — profiteering is happening in every sector. Food prices too, are spiralling. Nestle has announced substantial price rises, as has drinks giant Coca-Cola.

Oil and gas giant Shell has also announced four-month profits of £9 billion at a time when petrol and diesel prices are already at record highs.

Shell might have claimed to have withdrawn from Russia in protest at the Ukraine war, but it’s not above shamelessly profiteering from the same event it blames for rising costs.

This is the same company which this week also announced it would press ahead with plans to exploit the Jackdaw gas field off Aberdeen, despite the unfolding climate crisis.

But resistance to the monopolies is also strengthening.

Hundreds have joined a protest camp in Aberdeen, determined that our planet shouldn’t pay for Shell’s increased dividends.

Rail workers launched a second round of strike action this week on the vow that they won’t be ground down to pay for bigger profits for the rail bosses.  

The cost-of-profits crisis will mean misery, attacks on jobs and living standards and the continued destruction of our planet — but only if working people don’t fight back.

The generalised crisis confronting Britain and the ruling class’s response of more ruthless exploitation of working people offers the opportunity broaden the battle lines, and draw more and more workers into an anti-monopoly alliance — in fact it demands that we do just that.

Britain’s unions, the best-organised and most advanced section of our class, can and must lead this fight against the monopolies — and continue to rebuild and strengthen our movement in the process.

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