Time to Reclaim Our Resources – Crossan

As the dependency on foodbanks, even for people with jobs, continues to rise, as child poverty rates exceed 25% and three people die on the streets of Belfast, homeless without hope, heat or shelter, the Shell oil and gas company recorded annual profits of £32 billion – the highest in its 115-year history”, Patrick Crossan of the Workers Party has said.

“Shell will not be paying any tax in the UK this year courtesy of a loop hole that allows them to offset the costs incurred by investment and development. But they will be paying out more to their shareholders than they will be investing in renewable energies: oil and gas becomes smoke and mirrors”, Patrick said

A merry dance

“In media circles, this obscene, unjustified and unjustifiable profiteering at the expense of working people was a one-day-wonder: in some cases, not even that.

“It’s been said that the job of the media is to distract working people from reality. It fulfils that role well but it also protects multi-national corporations and their operations from public inquiry. The results of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ get more media scrutiny than corporate robbery and grand larceny”, Patrick commented.

“Energy and other utility providers don’t operate as a public service. They exist to make and maximise profits”, he said.

“The solution to the cost of utilities crisis is not in vote catching gestures like ‘windfall taxes’ but in bringing utilities like gas, electricity, broadband services and fuel into public ownership and control.


“The increased poverty, deprivation and mounting mental health pressures caused by the current cost of living crisis is being fuelled by the astronomical price hikes in gas, electricity, oil and petrol. At the root of the problems lie the private ownership of the natural resources and their distribution and delivery chains” stated Patrick

“We work for our public services. We use them. We pay for them. We must own them” he concluded

Support and Solidarity

The current situation is almost without precedent. Industrial action is being forced on workers in local councils. the health service,  schools, universities and colleges and many companies in the private sector as inflation, the cost of living,  profit taking  and dividend payouts to shareholders leave thousands of families in poverty and debt.

For only the second time in their history, nursing staff in Northern Ireland are considering strike action in support of an above inflation pay rise and safer working conditions for them and their patients.

Next week will see industrial action being taken by three teachers unions across Northern Ireland. One of them, the National Education Union (NUE) has only taken to the picket line once before in its 130 year history.

Council staff have have been on strike, many of them for several weeks, in support of better pay and conditions. Other workers in other sectors look set to join them in the coming weeks.

Workers wages are not causing inflation, profiteering, bankers bonuses, shareholders dividends and capitalism are.

Home grown and Westminster Tories are quite prepared to face down workers, their just demands and their rights. We must be even more resolute in our support and solidarity for those taking or considering industrial action. 

We must ensure that it is working people, public services and jobs that win the day.

Picture: Workers Party members supporting striking council workers in Lisburn/Castlereagh

Urgent Meeting with Utilities Regulator

The Workers Party has requested an urgent meeting with the Utility Regulator to discuss recent hikes in energy costs, the profit returns of the main energy suppliers and any proposed initiatives to protect consumers.

Yesterday’s announcements will see the cost of gas and electric increase again by around 30%.

Anyone struggling with paying bills should contact Advice NI at https://www.adviceni.net/money-debt/debt or other advice services.

It’s about Public Ownership – not about protecting profits

The cost-of-living crisis and soaring energy bills will not be solved by handouts, tinkering around the edges or populist sound bites.

They have real and life changing consequences from an increasing reliance on food banks, fuel poverty, financial pressures, physical and mental health crises and malnutrition to hypothermia.

How often does it have to be said? How loud do the demands have to be made? Taking our utilities into public ownership could, at a stroke, alleviate the human misery and suffering currently being experienced by young and old alike.

In the past year energy bills in the UK – where oil, gas and energy are all owned by multi-national companies- have increased by 215%. In the same period bills in France – where the government owns the gas companies and is the major shareholder in the main electricity provider – have risen by just 4%.*

What this current crisis of capitalism has shown, once again, is that short term measures result in short term and limited solutions. Another crisis will evolve and working people will be forced to bear the brunt, pay the price and shoulder the blame.

Thousands of working people across all sectors are being forced into taking industrial action in defence of their standard of living, terms and conditions of employment and the future and safety of the services they provide. They are being met with the full and organised force of hostile politicians, willingly supported by the mainstream media, and a growing list of apologists for profiteering multi-national companies.

It will require a disciplined, co-ordinated and class-conscious response if we are to counter and overcome these attacks on our living standards, services and quality of life.

Only fundamental change to the current economic system can address the cost-of-living crisis, runaway inflation and the erosion of workers rights. Taking public utilities out of the clutches of private profiteers and into public ownership and control would be a first important step in that direction.

* Sources: Ofgem, Enerdata, Ecoscope, Politico, Guardian

Re-writing the script

We are living in a bubble. It cuts us off from the real world, it substitutes politics with tribalism, it offers nothing but a Groundhog Day view of the world and yet the majority of people here seem perfectly happy with it.

The cost-of-living crisis that is having a devastating effect on working people, families, pensioners and the young is being driven by profit taking, dividends to shareholders and plain old-fashioned greed.

Wage demands haven’t caused inflation. Capitalism has.

Inside the bubble

Yet here, inside our bubble, we are, once again without a Stormont Executive

We still have a segregated education system. We’re not building enough affordable public housing but instead happily force people into the clutches of the private rented sector. We have the longest health waiting lists on these islands, while our public services continue to be subjected to cuts, privatisation and profiteering.

Our economy is designed specifically to accommodate multi-national companies and is based on low wages, part time employment and deregulation.

Workers’ rights are trampled on as companies pursue a policy of ‘fire and re-hire’

Just and necessary pay demands are met with derisory offers that fall way short of inflation.  Working people are told they must tighten their belts and do without while  the top 350 companies on the London Stock Exchange  have had a 73% increase in their profits in the last three years.

All the while, inside our bubble, were told that our priorities are border polls and protocols.

Working people have made it possible

Working class people built this society. The infrastructure, the services, the rights, the housing and the health – we made all that, and more, possible.

We’ve had to defend those gains every step of the way. We’ve had to do it in the face of sustained, coordinated and vicious attacks from capital and conservative forces.

It’s time we burst the bubble – it’s time to rewrite the script in favour of those who deliver with their hands and brains for the common good – not for those who leech off our efforts, hive off the profits and divert out attention away from the realities they want to cover up.

The coming months will be a serious test for working people, their living standards, their quality of life and for the nature of the society we live in. It’s not a battle we can afford to lose.

Cost of living crisis – it’s a rip off!

‘Heat or Eat’ isn’t a slogan, it’s the grim and stark reality facing thousands of local families, says Workers Party representative in South Belfast, Patrick Lynn

“We are facing one of the worst cost of living crisis in recent memory, one that will have long term and very serious implications for health and wellbeing. Yet, against that background comes the news that the six big energy companies made a combined profit of more than £600 million and that was before the recent increases in bills”, he said.

“Any economic system that imposes crippling and unbearable financial burdens on ordinary working-class people and uncaringly sees them go to the wall while pricing basic necessities beyond their reach must be challenged and overturned”, said Patrick.

“We have to ask ourselves why we tolerate this. Why do we meekly accept our lot as if it was inevitable and unavoidable?”, he asked.

“All the main political parties support and perpetuate this ‘free market’ free for all. They have no intention of facing up to the multi-national energy companies because they play an important role on their behalf.

We are constantly drip fed the myth that these are ‘international matters’ that no one has any control over – they just happen and, while its regrettable, we can’t do anything about it. Wrong. We can”. Patrick argued.

“Immediately, the Westminster government should impose an emergency tax demand on the energy companies and regulate energy prices. The Stormont Assembly, if it was currently functioning, should fund an energy crisis payment programme”.

“If we are to break free of this economic stranglehold, and all the misery, hardship and poverty it imposes, then the answers lie in bringing energy resources from private ownership into public control and the establishment of a socialist economy. There can be no compromises, there are no alternatives”, Patrick concluded.