Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 52 Number 11, May 21, 2022 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Workers' Forum

Price Inflation and the Crucial Fight for Higher Wages

Alstom workers in struggle to raise the price they receive from their employers in exchange for their capacity to work, May 16 2022 - Photo: Unite London East

In the light of the cartel party consensus at Westminster on the question of inflation and wages, as exemplified by Chancellor Rishi Sunak's declaration that nothing can be done to stop inflation, at present at a 40-year high, and that the cost-of-living crisis in the next months "will be tough", we thought it would be informative and educational for our readers to reprint the following article from the Canadian publication Ontario Political Forum, posted on May 13, 2022. It fits the bill for the situation in Britain also.

Prices are shooting up - except the price workers receive for their capacity to work. Life has become more difficult, particularly for lower paid workers. Workers organised into union collectives have launched struggles to raise the price they receive from their employers in exchange for their capacity to work. They deserve everyone's support. Their success will stand the entire workforce in good stead, especially the large majority of workers who are not organised into defence organisations or other collectives. They face their employers as individuals and are suffering.

Why is this disruption taking place in the lives of the working people? What has gone so wrong that prices of food, housing and fuel can rapidly rise? Generally with automation the work-time involved in the production of those goods has been going down so logically their prices should be going down as well, or should at least be stable.

Many theories are bandied about as to the cause of price inflation but most importantly those in positions of authority in the economy and politics say nothing can be done and that there is no alternative. They refuse to take action to defend the people. In the most detached manner, they say the people have to ride it out and gradually the large increases will peter out. Meanwhile working people suffer.

Such a detached response from the ruling elite is unacceptable. It cannot even be called human. Throughout history when humans are confronted with a problem they use their brains and take action to solve it and move on. Of course, such things only matter to those affected by the problem. The ruling elites either directly benefit from rising prices or ride the coat-tails of those who do. Thus, they have no interest in solving the problem.

Could it be that those who hold decision-making positions in the economy and politics are not greatly affected by price inflation and may even benefit from it? Those who own big enterprises are selling the goods and services their workers produce at higher prices and grossing more money. But the prices they pay for the capacity to work of their employees are falling behind. This means profits are going up, especially until workers are able to win some key battles for higher wages.

In politics, those who represent the interests of the working people and have a keen desire to deal with the problem of price inflation must be elected and replace those who represent the rich in the established parties of a governing cartel. The absence of those representing the interests of working people in positions of authority means that problems affecting workers, such as price inflation, are dismissed as impossible to solve. Even worse, broad problems in the social and natural conditions are allowed to fester and deteriorate. Violence, police powers and war have become the "go to" methods to deal with the consequences of inaction in solving the root causes of problems in the economy and society.

To address the problem of price inflation and other pressing issues, requires worker politicians who raise the need for a new direction for economic and political affairs. Those representing the interests of working people, not the rich, must assume decision-making positions. The working people must themselves come forward with their own empowerment. It is also crucial at this time to support all those fighting for higher wages and to fend off all arguments which blame the workers for economic problems.


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