Support is growing for the People Before Profit Charter, which aims to defend workers’ living standards in the face of looming economic disaster.
Its ten demands set out a number of measures that could be implemented that would improve the lives of millions of people. These demands are going down well – particularly with workers in struggle.
Dozens of London bus workers who protested over pay on Thursday of last week (see page 6) signed the charter because of its call for “wage increases no lower than the rate of inflation as given by the Retail Price Index”, as well as its other demands.
Five union branch secretaries signed up to the charter on the bus workers’ protest. This follows the hundreds of striking local government workers and Argos workers who signed the charter the previous week.
Trade union activists believe that the People Before Profit Charter can help to pull together their different campaigns.
Pat Boyle, chair of the Unite union’s 1647 branch, has been at the centre of the campaign against employers using restaurant workers’ tips to top up their wages rather than having to pay the minimum wage.
Pat told Socialist Worker, “There is a real feeling of the need for decent wages and better union organisation. The charter can help us to fight for these.”
The increasing pressure on pensioners due to the rising cost of living means that the charter can pick up wide support among older people.
“The charters’ demands for an increase in tax on the big companies, a windfall tax on superprofits and a restoration of the link between pensions and earnings are very important for pensioners,” said Mary Phillips, vice-chair of Southwark Pensioners Action Group.
“We are struggling to survive on the state pension while energy prices are going up rapidly. My gas payments have gone up from £26 a month last year to £36 a month this year.
“In February and March I used £145 worth of gas, which was very shocking and I had to cut back on its use.
“Electricity prices have also gone up and my council service charges have increased from £3.90 a week to £7.10 a week.
“The media is realising what is happening to pensioners. I have been interviewed by both the Independent newspaper and ITV News about these issues.
“I am very angry that the government has abolished the lowest 10p rate of tax while reducing the taxes on corporations.
“The charter’s points should be put into policy and the money gained should be put to improving the lives of workers, pensioners and students, and funding our public services.
“The charter can be very popular with pensioners. I asked two leading activists in south London to sign it and, after reading every point, they did.”
Recent signatories in a personal capacity also include left wing Labour MP John McDonnell, victimised PCS union rep Eddie Fleming and Hind Hassan of the national executive of the NUS student union.
Hind told Socialist Worker, “Labour has gone so far to the right and lost its meaning and direction. This has left a huge political void. The charter is setting out general ideas that people can stand behind.
“It is about getting people together. The charter is demanding the reintroduction of grants and the abolition of tuition fees.
“This is very important as we are seeing people within the students’ movement who are affiliated to the Labour Party trying to roll out the general view that students are fine with paying for their education.
“But it is a principle that people shouldn’t have to pay fees, as their education is a benefit for society. But this debate is being pushed to one side.
“With the possibility of a general election and a Tory government, students have to stick firmly to their principles.”