150,000 people have signed up to a nationwide campaign to fight back against rising prices and wage stagnation and to pressure the government to take action on the cost-of-living crisis as households across the country struggle to cope.
Commenting as the number of sign-ups surpassed the 150,000 mark on the first day of the ‘Enough is Enough‘ campaign, CWU general secretary Dave Ward said the initiative would “turn today’s war on workers into a conflict against every piss-taking boss, parasite landlord and corrupt politician in this country”.
CWU members working for BT and Openreach went on strike earlier this month. Further industrial action is set to take place over the summer as government pay offers to teachers, nurses, police officers and other key public sector industries have been rejected or criticised by union leaders.
The launch of the campaign, headed up by Ward, Zarah Sultana MP, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch and others, followed unprecedented strike action in disputes across a range of sectors, including the first national telecoms group ballot in 35 years and the first ever national call centre strike. The campaign has five demands:
- “A real pay rise;
- “Slash energy bills;
- “End food poverty;
- “Decent homes for all; and
- “Tax the rich.”
The months ahead have been dubbed the ‘summer of discontent’ as transport workers, firefighters, barristers, doctors, Post Office workers, teachers, council workers, civil servants, BT engineers and nurses are engaged in pay or other disputes. Many have been offered below-inflation pay rises – or real-term pay cuts.
“The depth of desperation that exists in working-class communities across this country has been unrepresented in British politics for far too long. This campaign’s popularity was inevitable,” Ward said this afternoon.
The Bank of England recently warned that inflation, which is currently at 9.4%, could peak at more than 13% and stay at “very elevated levels” throughout much of the next year before eventually returning to its 2% target in 2024.
Former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown called on Boris Johnson to agree an emergency Budget with the Tory leadership candidates on Sunday as he warned that households face a “financial timebomb” this autumn. No 10 confirmed on Monday that the outgoing Prime Minister will not make a cost-of-living intervention.
A report commissioned by Brown and carried out by Professor Donald Hirsch at Loughborough University found that 35 million people in 13 million households across the country are under threat of experiencing fuel poverty in October.
The research also reported that the one-off £1,200 support from the government for low-income households will not compensate for three major blows to incomes in the year up to October 2022: the loss of the £20-a-week benefit uplift, the rise in the energy price cap and an annual uprating out of line with inflation forecasts.
“It should worry the political class and the CEOs of this country that this campaign represents millions more. Ordinary people in this country are grafting harder and harder for less and less,” Eddie Dempsey said today.
The assistant general secretary of RMT added: “They’re trying their best to make ends meet and are getting rewarded with unreasonable bills, real-terms pay cuts and soaring rent. We’re giving the cowards advance warning that we are going to take our country back from the brink.”
Below are the full demands of the Enough is Enough campaign.
1. A real pay rise
A significant rise in the national minimum wage and a path to £15 an hour, a real public sector pay rise, and an inflation busting-rise in pensions and benefits.
After decades of stagnation and real terms pay cuts, it’s time for a real pay rise.
That means rewarding the people who actually run this country, not the fat cats. We need public sector pay to increase in line with inflation and a pathway to a £15 p/h minimum wage.
It’s not just about those in work, either. There needs to be the same increase in pensions and benefits to ensure those who need support aren’t left behind.
Dodgy bosses shouldn’t be allowed to run rampant whilst employees feel the squeeze. We need to rebuild workers rights by restoring the right to effectively strike and banning zero-hours contracts and exploitative practices.
2. Slash energy bills
Cancel the October price hike and return to the significantly lower pre-April energy price cap
Energy bills are rocketing while fossil fuel giants make record profits. It’s set to get worse, with the energy price cap expected to soar to nearly £4,000 this winter. This increase will drag people under the poverty line, causing many to choose between heating and eating.
The government must face up to the reality that millions of people cannot take this price hike.
As an immediate measure, the October price hike should be cancelled and the significantly lower pre-April price cap restored, at £1,277 per year.
But that’s just the start: to address this long-term, energy companies must be brought into public ownership, with public investment in renewable energy to break the power of the oil giants.
3. End fuel poverty
Enshrine the Right to Food in law and put this into practice by introducing universal free school meals, community kitchens, and reinstating the £20-a-week Universal Credit uplift.
Queues outside food banks and kids going hungry is a national disgrace. It’s time to put an end to that, once and for all.
Food is a basic right and that needs to be put into practice, introducing universal free school meals, community kitchens, and reinstating the £20-a-week Universal Credit uplift.
No government can be allowed to dodge this duty, with a new independent regulatory body created that will hold the government to account with oversight and endorsement powers.
4. Decent homes for all
Cap rents, build 100,000+ council homes a year, insulate homes and introduce a charter for renters’ rights.
The housing market is rigged, making fortunes for property developers and greedy landlords while ripping-off millions, whether it’s through sky-high rents, abysmal quality or lack of availability.
Everyone should be guaranteed decent housing: capping rents and building 100,000+ public and council houses a year, improving quality by insulating homes and introducing a charter for renters’ rights and ensuring standards, especially in Housing Association facilities.
To ensure a decent supply of public housing and scrap right-to-buy. And as interest rates rise, no return to foreclosures: cap mortgage repayments for at-risk homeowners.
Limit the number of holiday homes in any area, limit AirBnBs and ensure they are taxed properly.
5. Tax the rich
Make the rich pay their fair share by raising taxes on the wealthiest and the profits of big businesses. Crack down on tax avoidance and evasion.
Big business and the super-rich have never had it so good. Britain has a record number of billionaires and multinational corporations are making record profits. It’s time we finally made them pay their fair share.
This can be done by introducing a wealth tax, raising taxes on corporate profits and on the top 5% of earners, closing tax dodging loopholes and abolishing non-dom status, increasing capital gains tax, and introducing new taxes on speculation.
And alongside that, we should be cutting the tax burden on working people, starting by reversing the recent hike to National Insurance.