Editorial – The cost of living crisis

Now that capitalist society appears to be slowly emerging from the pandemic with its devastating lockdowns and excessive job losses, we are about to be hit by a soaring cost of living crisis. The price of gas on the wholesale market has been rising sharply, which is believed to be caused by a steep rise in demand from countries emerging from the pandemic. As fuel is essential to the manufacture of other commodities, prices of basic items like food will also go up. In the UK the energy price cap, the maximum price suppliers are allowed to charge their customers, is expected to rise substantially in April. At the same time, workers will be facing an increase in National Insurance contributions. Workers on benefits and low incomes may face a choice between eating or keeping warm.

However some groups of workers are not taking this lying down. Academic staff have been on strike for better pay, on top of other issues such as cutbacks to their pension scheme and the casualisation of the workforce. Workers at the logistics firm Wincanton have gone on strike after rejecting a pay offer of 2 percent . For many workers the latest attack on their living standards is the last straw. Faced with over a decade of declining real wages, worsening working conditions and reduced job security, workers have had enough.

Labour shortages, particularly in the retail, hospitality and construction sectors and also among HGV lorry drivers, have placed many workers in a strong position to press for higher pay rises, although they may still struggle to keep up with the rising cost of everyday items. Employers have even been offering pay increases to retain staff.

There have been a wide range of proposals to combat this crisis. The Labour Party, supported by some Tory MPs, called for the scrapping of the 5 percent VAT rate on fuel bills. Energy companies and Tory politicians wanted the green levies removed. There were also calls to abandon the National Insurance rises in April. The government chose to postpone payment of £200 on electricity bills and to cut the Council Tax bills for those in lower band houses.

Of course, none of this addresses the real problem, which is the capitalist system itself. It’s an economic system in which the sole reason to produce anything is profit, so that everyday necessaries like food and housing are pay-walled and subject to the vagaries of the market place. Profit-driven production is anarchic, making economic crises inevitable. In a class-divided society the majority working class, who depend on a wage or salary, will always bear the brunt of them.

We support workers in making a fight-back against the assault on their living conditions, but we also urge them to go further and organise collectively and democratically to get rid of capitalism and establish a socialist society without markets, money or wages, where production is for human need.

One Reply to “Editorial – The cost of living crisis”

  1. “… we also urge them to go further and organise collectively and democratically to get rid of capitalism and establish a socialist society without markets” – Sounds like Socialist Industrial Unionism! Marvelous. Maybe De Leon wasn’t just shouting into the wind after all!

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