The official rate of inflation soared to record levels this week at the same time as millions of workers across Britain are told they have to “tighten their belts” and swallow below-inflation pay deals.
The Consumer Prices Index (CPI), which is the government’s preferred measure of inflation, rose to 4.4 percent on Tuesday.
But CPI doesn’t take into account housing costs. The Retail Prices Index (RPI) does – and this has now hit 5 percent for the first time in almost 20 years.
The rises are shocking and will mean further misery for people already struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living.
They also make a mockery of Gordon Brown’s argument that wage rises cause inflation. With the low level of pay in Britain it is clear that soaring costs of food and fuel are the real drivers of inflation.
Millions of workers across Britain have been offered pay deals of between 2 and 3 percent.
But the fightback is growing. Over a million workers in the public sector in Britain have already taken part in coordinated strike action against Gordon Brown’s pay freeze.
Next week, around 150,000 council workers in Scotland will strike after voting overwhelmingly to reject a below-inflation pay offer.
The workers have been offered 2.5 percent for the next three years, which would have a devastating impact on their standard of living.
The action will involve council workers in the Unison, Unite and GMB unions. They will be joined by 5,000 civil service workers in the PCS union.
The action will bring much of Scotland to a standstill.
The strike will be the latest front in the fight to make sure that workers don’t pay the price for the economic crisis.
Workers in the public and private sector are facing the same attacks. Coordinated action is the best way to beat them, and we will need more of it to win.