Workers in almost every service and manufacturing sector have been, are planning to, or are currently taking industrial action in defence of standards conditions, safety, jobs and wages. It is a situation almost without parallel.
Nurses and midwives are considering strike action for the second time in three years, local council workers have been forced on to the picket lines and university staff have been forced to defend their pensions, terms and conditions and levels of pay.
Shop workers and transport staff, delivery service drivers, postal workers and hospitality staff are all either taking or considering industrial action to counter a cost-of-living crisis they didn’t create.
Supermarket staff can’t afford the products they are selling, restaurant workers can’t afford the food they are serving and factory workers can’t afford the products they are making.
Compounding the Crisis
People in employment, including many in the NHS, are dependant on additional benefits and food banks to get by from week to week.
The crippling cost of everyday essentials, heat, fuel and energy compound the crisis.
All the while, banks, energy giants and major corporations pile up their profits.
Royal Mail, whose staff are currently on strike for better pay and conditions, quadrupled its profits last year to £726 million, the top six energy companies recorded profits of £1,268 million and between them Bank of Ireland and Allied Irish Bank profits were over £729 million. A further, conservative figure of, £35 billion is estimated to stolen from public funds through tax evasion every year.
A Socialist Society
Only a socialist society and a socialist economy can bring an end to the exploitation, indignity and misery inflicted on working people by a capitalist system.
However, there are real, immediate and pressing problems confronting working people. The awareness, confidence and belief that has been generated in recent times must not be wasted or watered down.
The current struggles are about much more than above inflation pay rises.
The actions of the trade union movement and the reactions of government, capital and the media have brought the entire set of working relationships into focus.
Now is the time to shift that relationship in favour of working people. We all have a collective responsibility to support and defend the movement towards a new dynamic based on the rights of workers, a high wage economy, an end to zero hours contracts, affordable, accessible and flexible childcare and a four-day working week.