Sunak is trying hard to avoid the issue at hand, i.e., that over a million workers are either already striking or getting ready to strike, for a real pay rise and for better conditions for all!
So on the same day as 40,000 railway workers began 4 days of action, what does he do? He turns a blind eye, announcing a “deal” with... “safe and prosperous”(!) Albania (GDP per head lower than all countries in the EU!) so as to send back its migrant workers (for whom there’s a crying need!) who risked all to come here on rubber boats......
Yes, this government continues the grand Johnson tradition of lies and damn lies. Not least about striking workers - when it bothers to even acknowledge them. Which is why it would make sense to switch its lights off - as the coal miners and the railway workers did, in 1973-4, leading to power cuts, a 3-day week and the fall of Edward Heath’s Tory government!
The Northern Irish NHS workers who kicked off this week’s strike action haven’t seen a rise in their real pay in 10 years. Along with English, Scots, and Welsh workers, they’re among the lowest paid in Europe!
So no, it’s not a case of “can you afford to go on strike?”, but “can you afford not to?”! Yet bosses - backed up by ministers like that pathetic Harpie Harper and Brutish Barclay flatly refuse to award pay rises even equal to inflation.
Harper said that he “will not throw taxpayers’ money at the workforce” - yes, the same workforce on whom their whole system rests! Never mind that this government has been “throwing” taxpayers’ money at capitalists and shareholders ever since it came to power under Johnson, to rescue them from the effects of Brexit and “help” them through the pandemic, to the tune of £410 billion!!
Sunak’s policy has got a well-worn name: it’s called “making the working class pay for the recession”! Unlike when bankers, financiers and speculators went bust in 2008, and the Bank of England printed them money, while the government intervened, at the cost of £500 billion all-told!
No, it’s a price-price inflation spiral
Yet today, they cannot find a mere £28bn - the amount they claim would be needed to pay all public sector workers an inflation-proof pay rise? Or the £9bn which Health Secretary “Barclay the Brute” cites as the cost of giving nurses the perfectly justifiable 14.2% RPI+5% they demand?
On Monday morning, Barclay, while still refusing to meet nurses’ leader Pat Cullen, lied again: “We’ve had to take money away from patients waiting for operations to then fund additional pay”! As if the NHS budget cannot be increased if needed! In fact there’s been no additional pay for nurses, merely an “offer” of 4-5% in June, not even paid yet! Anyway, it’s an outrageous argument - playing the needs of patients off against the needs of those same health workers who keep them alive and well! Utterly offensive!
Under pressure, Barclay eventually met Pat Cullen, but refused to talk about pay! She described this ignorant thug as “belligerent”. Of course he won’t offer what NHS staff need! That’s not the way of this government. It claims there is no money for nurses, no money for railway workers, and in fact no money for anyone, except capitalists and friends in high places...
And by the way, it’s not the way of the “Loyal Opposition” either. Labour’s latest right-wing wonder, Wes Streeting, declared war on NHS unions including doctors who’re preparing to strike. And has scarcely been able to hold his nasty tongue when it comes to discussing the strikes, which he totally opposes.
The working class emergency
Again, we hear Sunak et al claiming that “wage rises will fuel a wage-price inflation spiral” when economic brains far better than theirs, but no less reactionary, have made it quite clear that inflation is driven by price increases and wages have played no role in this. Indeed, they’ve fallen, especially in the public sector - by 7.7%, before the current shooting up of the RPI to 14.2% - so they are lagging by 21%! And given their low level, economists say that increasing wages would counter stagflation, by boosting spending power...
In the meantime, the press is going all-out to create anti-strike panic - and it suits the government to talk this up. So the public is told in the gravest of terms that “Cobra” has placed the army on standby for NHS strikes and soldiers will be driving ambulances...
In fact the media nodding heads who gasp when nurses say they need a 20% rise, or worse, when BMA doctors say they need 25%, would probably have passed right out in 2002, when last the army intervened in a strike. At that time, firefighters were demanding a 40% pay rise, after an offer of 4%! And had they not been fighting on their own, they might well have won it!
This is the most important point of all. Today, with the strike calendar filled with different strikes each day - the working class still does not have its “general strike”...! That is, all sections out together, using maximum collective force, to win! Not only do we still have to synchronise our strikes, but we also need to synchronise demands: RPI+ pay for all; no cuts; services back in public hands under workers’ control... all for one, one for all!