How do we fight the ongoing pay squeeze, except by relaunching the strikes? & 20 years since they turned the Middle East into...

 How do we fight the ongoing pay squeeze, except by relaunching the strikes?

Monday's BBC Panorama programme ”Surviving the Pay Squeeze”, exposed the level of crisis which the working class is facing.  Inflation is at a 40-year high - and this week, instead of an expected fall, it's up again - at 13.8% RPI and 10.4% CPI.

    However, as Panorama also showed, the fall in working class incomes isn't only due to skyrocketing inflation over the past 20 months, even if this has cut real wages so radically!  Wage stagnation goes back decades!

    And contrary to what Sunak says, today's crisis isn't due to Covid either, nor the war in Ukraine - although it's definitely made worse by Brexit, which he doesn't say!  British capitalism isn't growing relative to other rich countries, it's declining faster.  And the main cause is lack of investment in the real economy, over many, many years.

    According to the Resolution Foundation, real wages haven't grown at all since 2008, leaving the average worker £11,000 per year worse off!  What's more, British households are much poorer than households in most of the rest of Europe, including Austria, France and Germany - and even Ireland!

    The Economist has just published research which shows that falling incomes are correlated brutally with falling life expectancy.  Since 2010, there have been 250,000 "unexpected" deaths in Britain, after excluding the effects of Covid.  These deaths are concentrated in poor areas, where life expectancy can be up to 18 years lower than rich areas.  Austerity has decimated the NHS: poorer people are 20% more likely to be diagnosed with cancer at a late stage.

    Panorama didn't expose the other side of the coin however — how Britain's rich got richer in the same period - and richer than anywhere else!  Today, the 4 richest British billionaires have more wealth than the poorest 20 million!

    It is in this context that the strike wave which began last summer, should really be growing! But instead, most strikes have been suspended while union leaders discuss deals with the bosses. And almost all of these deals on offer amount to real wage cuts.

    For instance the NHS (nurses, paramedics, 999 call handlers, midwives, security guards and cleaners etc.) are offered 4% plus a one-off lump-sum amounting to 2% for 2022-23, and 5% for 2023-24. What's more, although the Network Rail deal (now accepted) is called "inflation busting” only the lowest grades get 14.4% while the rest get around 9% - another pay cut.  Firefighters also accepted a below-inflation pay deal last month — 7% for 22/23 and 5% for 23/24.

    So the cost of living crisis continues unabated. But at least the bosses’ assertion that inflation is falling, to justify their low pay offers, has been proven to be false this week!

    Of course, the capitalist economy is unpredictable and in bad shape and the bosses will try to make workers pay for their losses.  So attacks against jobs and conditions are not going to stop. And since the only effective weapon against this, is the strike, the wave is going to have to rise again...

 20 years since they turned the Middle East into a permanent killing field

This Monday, 20 March, was the 20th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq and the "shock-and-awe” bombing of Baghdad by US and British forces.

    As little was said about this as possible.  There were no big ceremonies to commemorate the injured and dead - just one wreath-laying on Sunday for the 179 British military personnel killed during 8 years of direct military occupation.

    Instead, the media spent hours covering the report of an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court for Vladimir Putin, over charges that he transported Ukrainian children into Russia "illegally".

    This same ICC had said it was “out of its remit” to arrest Tony Blair in 2016, much after the event, for war crimes...  Blair was accused of having lied about the existence of “weapons of mass destruction" – when Iraq had none — and having the blood of over 100,000 Iraqi civilians and thousands of soldiers on his hands.

    To this day Blair and Bush deny responsibility.  Yet there was and still is a devastating fallout: wars in Kurdistan and Syria, the creation of AI Qaeda and ISIL and the ongoing crisis right across the whole Middle Eastern region.

    In Iraq itself, no stable government has been possible since the 2003 invasion.  The population has lived for 20 years in a political mess, amid poverty and environmental disaster.  The Islamic dictatorship in Iran has been strengthened and right-wing Israeli regimes have been bolstered in their murderous denial of the rights of Palestinians.

    So yes there's good reason to "forget" the ongoing havoc British politicians are responsible for in the Middle East, far greater in its scale and repercussions than the Ukraine war. And good reason for the working class never to trust a word they say.