New Communist Party of Britain
The wages struggle is central to the improvement of living standards and ensuring that workers have the money to buy back the goods and services that they produce and provide. But once a wage increase has been won it is quickly eroded in a variety of ways, either directly or by stealth, such as increases in the cost of living through inflation, increasing cost of energy, transport, private and social rents, increases in pension contributions, paying to use the health service or education, VAT increases and tax rises or by the state increasing the retirement age. Winning a wage increase under capitalism only gives temporary respite and can be taken back at any time.
The measures and ploys that the ruling class use to erode wages are purely to defend their own self-interest. But those same measures ensure that crises occur more frequently and tend to be more severe each time. It is this contradiction that must be exposed during the fight to defend and increase wages, pensions, jobs, work-life balance other social activities.
Complete social justice can never be possible under capitalism; we are not all in it together or have a stake in ensuring that capitalism survives or that workers benefit from some trickle-down effect. All that workers get from the capitalist table is the crumbs, so while capitalism survives there will always be a fight to increase and defend the share that workers get from capitalism. But in the long term the only way to ensure that this share is maintained and improved, and not to have to defend it time and time again, is by fighting for working class state power, the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Contrary to what is portrayed by the ruling class and their political representatives, we are not all in it together; it is either us or them; the workers or the bosses. The alternative to working class state power is a festering morass of exploitation (of workers and the environment), racial and communal strife, rapid growth in crime, drug trafficking, violence and conflict from local to international levels. The capitalists must not be allowed to destroy society; it is they who must be supplanted.
Until such time as socialism replaces capitalism, there needs to be a continuous political struggle to defend and improve social services and benefits. In tandem with this struggle there must be a collective industrial struggle for better wages and working conditions that takes on the capitalist class head on.
The New Communist Party says that wage claims should be:
On an industrial basis negotiated by the trade unions nationally. In this way the maximum number of workers can be mobilised in support of the claim. Local bargaining has a secondary role to improve on what has been achieved nationally and in catering for specific local conditions.
For a flat-rate monetary increase. This upholds the principle of stable wage differentials to reward workers for their skills. Percentage increases widen differentials at the expense of the lower-paid and divide workers in the work-place.
Based on the national rate for the job assessed by the unions and paid to all workers doing said job at the agreed rate, regardless of age, gender or place of origin. Where new job patterns are established, rates should be agreed by comparing existing jobs with similar skills.
The New Communist Party is opposed to -
The introduction and operation of piece-working schemes. Where they do exist, workers, using their trade union organisations, must be involved in negotiating the way they operate. But at all times we must campaign to get the bonus element scrapped and the payment incorporated into the basic hourly rate.
All forms of bonuses and Performance Related Pay (PRP), which seeks to perpetuate low pay. PRP schemes are discriminatory towards the most vulnerable sections of society whether they be disabled, part-time or ethnic-minority workers. Trade unions must seek to minimise the extreme differentials within PRP but continue to campaign for its complete abolition.
The minimum wage, October 2012, which is either the main rate of £6.19 for workers aged 21 and over or £4.98 for workers aged 18 to 20. The minimum wage tends to force wage levels down and for many has become the maximum wage. There’s no substitute for trade union organisation and working class struggle when it comes to the fight for better pay.
The fight for higher wages should be linked to:
The minimum demand to restore workers’ rights by rescinding all legislation enacted since 1979 that works against the interests of the working class and the trade union movement. This is essential to ensure that organised labour can compete with monopoly capitalism without legal constraint. We must expose the limitations of working-time legislation and campaign for the closing of all opt-out clauses.
Increasing the social wage. The extra money made available to the health service and education has in part been used to “feather the nest” of the private sector and this, with the decline in social services and public transport, has brought about an erosion of overall living standards. Rents for social housing (local authority and housing association) are also rising sharply, especially in wealthier areas with higher private rents, where a stealth policy of increasing social rents to 80 per cent of the market level is implemented. This must be reversed, not by putting ever increasing pressure on workers in these industries, or by phoney performance target setting, but by ensuring adequate levels of resourcing and pay.
The shift from out-of-work to in-work benefits should be reversed.
Means testing for all benefits should be abolished. All benefits should be increased in line with wages.
The fight for a reduction in weekly hours. We should aim to unite the labour movement around a demand for a maximum working week of 35 hours with no loss of pay.
The state pension should be raised to two thirds of the median weekly wage. This could easily be funded by making the tax system more progressive and abolishing the tax relief and National Insurance rebates for pension scheme contributions - over half of which goes to top-rate taxpayers.
The Educational Maintenance Allowance, which was worth £30 a week for low income students aged 16-18 should be reinstated as should maintenance grants. All fees for higher and further education should be withdrawn.