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From The Socialist newspaper, 6 January 2022

Tories' cost of living squeeze

Build the workers' fightback

Barts NHS Trust workers striking for decent pay, photo Paul Mattsson

Barts NHS Trust workers striking for decent pay, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Tom Baldwin, South West Socialist Party regional secretary

This year is set to inflict more pain on working-class people as rising costs outstrip incomes, meaning real-terms pay cuts.

RPI inflation hit 7.1% in November, the last month for which figures are available. That continues a steady rise throughout 2021 and takes it to the highest level in 30 years.

Statistics showing high wage growth reflect a bounce-back from lockdown, and not the real position for workers.

The average pay deal last year was worth just 2%, and a survey of employers found they were only planning 2.5% raises this year.

Some employers have been even worse, using fire-and-rehire threats to try and slash workers' pay. Last year also saw the removal of both the £20-a-week Universal Credit uplift, and the triple lock for pensions, meaning they will also rise slower than prices.

At the same time, thousands of workers isolating because of Covid are left to struggle on just £96-a-week sick pay.

Cleaners on London Overground took strike action against low pay, photo London Socialist Party

Cleaners on London Overground took strike action against low pay, photo London Socialist Party   (Click to enlarge)

A series of changes due in April will pile even more pressure on ordinary people. The energy bill cap will be lifted.

While the exact figure will be announced next month, the Energy Saving Trust predicts £240 rises for a three-bedroom house, an increase of over 20%.

National Insurance will also rise, meaning workers will pay an extra 1.25p in every pound earnt over the threshold.

For the average worker that means an extra £255 a year. The tax threshold will be frozen, a tax increase by stealth that means more of people's incomes will be taxable. Increased council tax bills will also be dropping on people's doormats.

Not only are prescription charges set to rise as well, the government is also considering introducing charges for those aged between 60 and the state pension age, meaning millions more people having to pay for medicines.

The Resolution Foundation think-tank estimates that all this means an additional cost from April of a whopping £1,200 a year for a typical family.

It says this risks a "cost of living catastrophe" and describes 2022 as the "year of the squeeze".

All this, while the government minister Liz Truss wined and dined trade officials at a rich Tory donor's private club, with the taxpayer picking up the £3,000 bill!

Workers are not passive onlookers to this onslaught though. Strikes have successfully defeated fire and rehire, like the Clarks workers in Somerset; or won pay increases, like bus drivers in Wales.

We need a concerted trade union fightback on wages. The working class also needs a genuine political alternative to fight on issues like pensions, energy costs and more.

We demand:

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In The Socialist 6 January 2022:


Tories' cost of living squeeze - build the workers' fightback

NHS Covid staff crisis

Blair knighted for services to the rich and powerful

Tory test shortage failure

More fares misery for passengers - renationalise the railways

Schools: union action needed for Covid safety

Capitalism in crisis

Britain in 2022: Build a coordinated working-class fightback

Workplace news

Strike threat forces Tesco to improve pay offer

West Mids metalworkers strike over pay

Sheffield JustEat couriers escalate dispute

Scunny scaffs enter twelfth week of strike action

S. Yorks Stagecoach workers start indefinite strike

Invergordon posties mutiny

International news

Chile's working class delivers a landslide vote against ultra-right Kast

Socialist history

New unionism - when mass workers' action changed Britain

Local elections

TUSC appeals for widest possible anti-austerity socialist unity for May elections

Campaigns news

Coventry: Private profits from hospital parking

Fighting Fund - 162% of target, 162,000 raised

Trinity Centre: Shameful eviction by Newham council


Obituary: Kate Jones - 1953-2021


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