Take Ferry Service Into Public Ownership

The collapse of the firm running the Rathlin Ferry Service proves, once again, that this, and other local ferry routes, should be  classed as public utilities and taken into public ownership.

To leave an essential service like this to the vagaries of the private sector is an outrage and today we have seen the consequences – islanders left isolated, supplies disrupted and travel to and from the island suspended.

The Rathlin Ferry service can and should be provided directly by the Department of Infrastructure in association with the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council. Then and only then will a service be guaranteed for islanders, tourists and traders.

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

The Time for Public Ownership of Energy Resources is Now!

When it comes to discussions about the cost of energy and other utilities, there is always a missing and unspoken link.

Radio phone in shows, television news, social media platforms and any amount of newspaper articles will talk endlessly about ‘increases in wholesale supplies’. The ‘war in Ukraine’, ‘unexpectedly cold winters’ and ‘technical problems with pipe lines’.

What they won’t mention is that the natural resources which supply the energy and other utilities are all in the hands of private companies and individuals. What they won’t mention is that increases in prices are driven by profiteering and delivering dividends to shareholders.

Gas and electricity were privatised more than thirty years ago. Separate, privately owned, systems were established for supply, transmission and distribution and the ‘Big Six’ energy companies cornered the market, saw off any competition and established a very profitable monopoly. Consumers have been, and still are, paying the costs ever since.

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

The Government’s response to the latest hikes in home heating and other bills has been to offer short term and, in practice, woefully inadequate financial relief to consumers. At best this is a sticking plaster on a gaping wound.

The solution to the cost of utilities crisis is not in vote catching gestures but in bringing gas, electricity, broadband services and fuel into public ownership and public 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 and petrol. At the root of the problems lie the private ownership of the natural resources and their distribution and delivery chains.

We work for our public services. We use them. We pay for them. We must own them.

Ferry routes are a vital public utility

The Workers Party has described the actions of P&O Ferries as “ contemptible, arrogant and dangerous” as they sacked 800 employees  replacing them with lower paid agency staff.

To treat staff in this manner is completely unacceptable. To sack the very staff who provided P&O services throughout the pandemic is disgraceful and the manner in which this was conducted demonstrates the company’s contempt for workers.

The Larne to Cairnryan route carries over half the freight coming into Northern Ireland. There will inevitably be knock on effects and further risks for workers throughout the supply chain.

This is the inevitable outworking of a system which serves the interests of capital and demands the subordination of working people’s interests and workers’ rights to the overriding priority of “competitiveness”.

This, and other ferry routes, should be classed as public utilities providing vital connectivity between these islands. They should never have been left to the devices of the private profit making sector.

Now we have seen the consequences that has

The Westminster government must now intervene directly and bring this route into public ownership, re-instating the links with Scotland and the jobs of all those working the route.

We offer our support and solidarity to the staff and their unions in the struggle to re-secure and copper fasten the service and their jobs.

Fuel Rip Off

The energy sector must be taken into public ownership

On a pro rata basis, motorists in Northern Ireland are estimated to have been overcharged by more than £4.5 million pounds last month.

Despite the wholesale price of petrol dropping significantly, petrol retailers failed to pass that on at the pumps – ensuring a staggering level of profiteering.

Petrol is not the only energy source affected. The costs of gas, electricity, and home heating oil are also inflated by the privately owned companies which control the vast majority of the earth’s natural resources. 

It is time to tackle the myth that the market and “consumer choice” can provide a solution.

It is time to tackle the myth that the market and “consumer choice” can provide a solution. This model has patently failed. Lining the pockets of the capitalist class will only deepen the problems.

The energy sector must be taken into public ownership. This will help address exploitive energy prices, alleviate fuel poverty and assist in the battle against climate change.

Recent research shows growing support for the public ownership and control of energy supplies, as well as a range of other aspects of public life including transport, roads, education, banks, prisons, air traffic control and, of course, health and social care.

The public ownership and control of our key utilities and public services is not just a question of saving money on filling up the car. It goes to the very core of the type of society we have, its priorities and its principles.

Tinkering with the system is no solution.

These resources must be brought under public control and developed by a socialist economy. There can be no compromises, there are no alternatives.

Nationalise energy production now

Fuel poverty is a harsh reality. The ‘official’ figure in Northern Ireland is 22% of households. Fuel poverty charities are now warning that recent energy price increases will push thousands of additional households into further fuel poverty.

The current energy crisisis a symptom of the crisis underlying global capitalism. The working class, the unemployed, the poor, those unable to work due to illness or disability, the elderly and retired are the ones who bear the brunt.

Recurring price rises, combined with the end of the furlough scheme and the withdrawal of the £20 uplift in universal credit, leaves thousands facing a bitter winter.

As the weather gets colder people, faced with extortionate and rising bills, are struggling to heat their homes and are living in cold and dangerous conditions which, in stark terms, means many will become ill and will die as a result.

These tragedies are preventable.  Energy is an essential service. The Workers Party has already made a number of immediate demands to mitigate the effects of fuel poverty and is also demanding the nationalisation of the energy network, calling for a publicly owned energy system.

The energy sector must be taken into public ownership. This will help address avaricious energy prices, alleviate fuel poverty and assist in the battle against climate change.

Public ownership would also ensure protection for the jobs of thousands of workers in the energy sector.

It is time to tackle the myth that the market and “consumer choice” can provide a solution. This model has patently failed. Lining the pockets of the capitalist class will only deepen the problems.

While an energy policy that is truly sustainable, meets the needs of the people and minimises damage to the environment is only realisable under a planned economy in a socialist system, now is the time to demand the immediate public ownership of the energy system.