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 Socialism in the 21st Century

 

A living wage for all

The Socialist Party is fighting for:

  • The unions to take immediate action to implement their current minimum wage demands, as a step towards a legal minimum of £8 an hour.
  • No exemptions.
  • For an annual increase in the minimum wage, linked to average earnings.
  • No more cuts in public services.
  • Dramatically increased funding from central government to meet the needs of each authority.
  • Return the billions stolen from local government.

Minimum wage

New Labour’s minimum wage is set at a level that big business can accept – a level that has failed to lift people out of poverty.

Even the government’s Working Tax Credit department has concluded that, in order to be effective, the minimum wage should be set at £6.50 an hour.

We campaign for a living wage for all.

We also demand that the minimum wage should be just that – the minimum that is paid to any worker.

New Labour’s policy of a lower minimum wage for young people allows them to be exploited as slave labour.

Hundreds of thousands of workers are not even getting the legal minimum.

For example, a survey carried out by Leicester City Council found that 60% of fashion workers in the city did not get the minimum wage.

Yet since the minimum wage was introduced in 1999 not one employer has been prosecuted for underpaying its staff.


Public Sector

In the public sector millions of workers are also forced to live on poverty pay.

This year New Labour employers have offered local government workers a mere 7% pay increase, spread over the next three years (meaning that it is only just enough to cover inflation), and with a thousand strings attached.

As a result over 1.5 million trade unionists may have no choice but to take strike action.

The Socialist Party gives full support to local government workers and other workers taking strike action to try to defend and improve their living standards.

The only way working class people will increase our wages is by fighting for them.


Immigration and low pay

The tabloid press has attacked New Labour because there has been an increase in immigration to Britain.

But the crime the government is guilty of is very different to that suggested by the tabloids.

On the one hand, Blunkett is making it increasingly difficult for asylum seekers, many of whom are escaping terrible persecution, to enter the country.

And when asylum seekers are allowed in they are often placed in the poorest communities with no extra resources – which in effect means cuts in public services for the entire community.

It is therefore crucial that socialists fight for enough resources to provide decent services for all – both longer standing sections and new arrivals.


Dictats of big business

On the other hand, New Labour has obeyed the dictats of big business – and attempted to use increased immigration to lower wages for all of us.

Blunkett cried crocodile tears in response to the terrible tragedy of the deaths of the Morecambe cockle-pickers.

But the reality is that, prior to the glare of publicity created by the Morecambe tragedy, New Labour was opposing attempts to take action against the illegal gangmasters.

This is because, in the sectors that big business and the government cannot move abroad in order to lower wages – such as healthcare, education, cleaning, food manufacture, catering and hotels – they are attempting to use workers from abroad to similar effect.


Rich and Poor

As big business magazine the Economist argued in 2002:

"The gap between labour’s rewards in the poor and the rich countries, even for something as menial as clearing tables, dwarfs the gap between the prices of traded goods from different parts of the world.

The potential gains [profits] from liberalising migration therefore dwarf those from removing barriers to world trade."

This is not the first time that big business has used these tactics.


United campaign for equal pay

In the 1950s and 1960s, when a similar attempt was made, the best sections of the trade union movement responded by recruiting the workers (who came at that time primarily from South Asia and the Caribbean) and organising a united fight for equal pay for all.

The Socialist Party is fighting for the same response today.

All workers, regardless of their country of origin, should receive a decent living wage - only by launching a united struggle of this kind will we succeed in beating back the bosses’ offensive.


The Socialist Party is fighting for:

  • The unions to take immediate action to implement their current minimum wage demands, as a step towards a legal minimum of £8 an hour.
  • No exemptions.
  • For an annual increase in the minimum wage, linked to average earnings.
  • No more cuts in public services.
  • Dramatically increased funding from central government to meet the needs of each authority.
  • Return the billions stolen from local government.

Stop the jobs slaughter – defend the public sector

In this year’s budget, Gordon Brown has made it cear that New Labour plans to cut tens of thousands of civil service and other public sector jobs.

This is not, as New Labour tries to suggest, about cutting bureaucracy.

It is part of an onslaught against the public sector – what is at stake is the very existence of viable public services.

The government is preparing for what the Financial Times has called "the second stage of privatisation".

The Socialist Party is campaigning for industrial action by the public sector trade unions to stop the onslaught on jobs and services.


We are fighting for:

  • No compulsory job cuts
  • No job cuts under the disguise of job ‘relocation’
  • No job relocation without union agreement
  • For united action by unions and users to defend public services

 

For a socialist alternative

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