Jobs and wages

LABOUR leader Ed Miliband and his Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls have been making some progressive noises at the Labour conference in Manchester this week about creating jobs by building affordable houses to stimulate the economy.

But they’re not likely to be in a position to implement them for at least two years, if then, because of their continued insistence on keeping to the Tories’ brutal austerity programme that will countenance no increased spending on the public sector.

They say they must choose between creating jobs and raising wages. But as Len McCluskey, general secretary of the giant union Unite has said, that is a false choice. If workers don’t have wages in their handbags and pockets they cannot spend. They are already deep in debt and struggling with rising prices for day-today essentials: housing, food, travel, heating and so on.

Public sector wages have been held back now for a very long time and pension contributions have been raised while the value of the pensions on retirement has been cut.

Millions of workers now in both public and private sectors depend on tax-credit top-ups to survive. This system allows bosses, private and public, to pay belowsubsistence wages but still get the full value of the labour-power of the workers in return.

And even then the number of workers who are having to ask for help from food banks to feed their families is rising. No wonder the retail sector is in deep trouble; even Tesco, which supplies relatively low-priced basic essentials, is seeing a drop in turnover. The only people buying non-essentials are the very, very rich one-per cent.

Yet the taxes that are being used to top up wages that the bosses ought to be paying come mostly from the workers themselves — even more now that income tax (especially for the very rich) is being held down while VAT rises.

The longer wages are frozen the more the retail sector will suffer. Cheap credit has already been taken to the limit. It’s a miserable life for workers deep in debt and getting poorer every day and scrabbling around to find extra employment to raise enough to keep to the credit card and mortgage repayments. Thousands are already falling through the net into joblessness and homelessness and despair.

These people are not going to bother to vote for a Labour Party that promises only more of the same austerity.

The Tories cannot win the next election and votes for the Liberal Democrats will plummet. If only Labour would embrace worker-friendly policies it would have a landslide win guaranteed.

But there are some around the Labour leadership who are not so keen on this. They would have no excuse not to implement those worker-friendly policies. They have another agenda, as shown in the two-piece feature article, The London Cables: Labour leaders and US imperialism by Neil Harris.

They would much prefer a narrow election victory, or better still a coalition with the discredited Lib-Dems. It would be the perfect excuse to ignore all their election pledges and just do what the bankers want, differing only in minor points from the current Coalition.

These are the Labour and union leaders, who, behind closed doors, hold the working class in contempt, who mock and disparage genuine Labour leaders like John McDonnell MP, Jeremy Corbyn MP and Tony Benn.

They have been persuaded that genuine socialist values are ridiculous, old fashioned and totally unrealistic and they work tirelessly behind the scenes to marginalise and undermine the genuine Left in the party. They have been persuaded that this is their personal route to joining the one per cent.

We cannot let them get away with this. The rankand- file working class has no option — its living standards are now too squeezed and too many hover on the brink of the abyss of complete destitution.

We must get ourselves organised to sweep aside the Labour and trade union leaders who are traitors to the class and replace them with leaders who will lead, who will challenge the power of the one per cent.

And we must start this process with a turn-out on 20th October for the TUC march against austerity so massive it cannot be ignored. Then we must follow this up with more marches, strikes and other protests — as our comrades in Europe and all around the world are doing.