As many more trade unions consider strike action it is worth stepping back and thinking about our economy. Inflation is already at 9% and the Bank of England are expecting it to rise to 13%. This is probably an underestimate. For the poorest, who spend a much greater proportion of their income on fuel and food and who are already struggling to pay their bills, these price increases will be unaffordable and will result in incredible hardship.
Meanwhile, fuel companies are making massive profits. For instance, in the second quarter of this year Exxon made $17.9 billion, compared to $4.7 billion in the first quarter, so their profits have multiplied by 3!
An internet meme proclaims “We are not witnessing a recession, we are witnessing a robbery!”
Consider this: the richest 1% of the world’s population captures some $19 trillion in income every year, which represents nearly a quarter of global Gross Domestic Product. This is astonishing when you think about it. It means that a quarter of all our work, all the resources we extract, and all the CO2 we emit is done to make extremely rich people even richer.
For many years most workers have had to accept below-inflation pay rises while the richest tour the world in private jets and avoid paying taxes. It is time for change. We need higher windfall taxes on fuel companies’ profits and increases in pay and benefits that at least keep up with inflation. If you are a worker but not in a Union, now is the time to join!
This letter was published in the Sheffield Star on 9th August 2022