Barts NHS Trust workers striking for decent pay Photo: Paul Mattsson
Barts NHS Trust workers striking for decent pay Photo: Paul Mattsson

Demonstrate on 18 June

Join the socialist fightback

Heather Rawling, Leicester Socialist Party

Work longer hours. Get a better-paid job.

That is government minister Rachel Maclean’s suggestion for how to cope with prices rising at a 40-year high of 11.1% in April. She’s an ex-banker whose business makes £1 million profit per year!

It’s her government that stood by while P&O bosses broke the law and brutally sacked their workforce to drive down wages to starvation levels.

I’m sick of being told how to cope: ‘wear warmer clothes’, ‘turn the heating down’, ‘buy cheaper brands’. We’ve been doing all that for years!

Many already work long hours, holding down two or three jobs to put food on the table and pay bills. But working longer hours is not an option for everyone. Cuts to public services have forced people, mainly women, to give up work to care for sick and elderly relatives. Affordable childcare is non-existent so returning to work after maternity leave is almost impossible without the help of friends and relatives.

Anyway, why should we work longer hours for poverty pay? Big business bosses are cashing in bumper profits, including energy companies and supermarkets – the same ones responsible for our rocketing energy and food bills!

1.5 million households will struggle to pay for energy and food in 2022. That’s a polite way of saying 1.5 million households will be cold and go hungry. Millions more will see their living standards get worse.

The Tories want to blame the poor for being poor. But we are poor because the bosses steal the wealth that we create.

There are over six million trade union members in Britain. Many are already taking on their bosses and voting on whether to strike to demand a pay rise – on the trains, in Royal Mail, in universities, and more.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC), which brings together the trade unions in England and Wales, is organising a national demonstration in London on 18 June to say: ‘Enough is enough’.

If it is properly built for, if the TUC makes sure that every workplace receives leaflets and subsidised transport is organised, the June demo could be a huge show of strength in numbers.

But to really start to show the strength of workers, the TUC should use the demonstration as a step towards coordinating strikes for a pay rise.

United trade union action, and a mass working-class political force that fights for a socialist alternative, is what is needed to take on and end the cost-of-living crisis.