By Tomáš Tengely-Evans
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Inflation soars to 40-year high as unions move towards strikes

This article is over 1 years, 7 months old
The new figures underline that union leaders shouldn’t accept any below-inflation pay increases
Issue 2814
Six RMT union members on a picket line with placards reading cut profits not jobs and services

RMT union members on the picket line in Manchester. We need more strikes as inflation soars (Picture: Mike Killian)

Inflation has risen to a 40-year high the day after the Tory government imposed pay cuts on NHS and school workers. The CPI rate of inflation hit 9.1 percent last month, the Office for National Statistics said on Wednesday, as food, energy and petrol prices rose.

But it’s actually higher—with the more accurate RPI rate of inflation soaring at 11.9 percent.

The news comes after the Tory government announced real terms pay cuts for public sector workers.

Over one million NHS workers, including nurses, paramedics and midwives, would receive a pay  increase of £1,400 under the Tory plans.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) national executive council held an emergency meeting on Tuesday night and voted to move straight to a strike ballot. Unison, GMB, Unite and the other health unions should follow its lead and announce statutory strike ballots.

Dentists and doctors, who would receive a 4.5 percent pay increase, have called a protest in London on Monday.

Meanwhile, teachers would get a 5 percent increase, the Tory government said after recommendations from the School Teachers’ Review Body.

The NEU and NASUWT school workers’ unions have slammed the pay offer. Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, said it amounted to “yet another huge cut” for teachers.

He said the government had been “forced” to drop a previous proposal of a 3 percent increase, but had not “moved far enough”. “With RPI inflation,” he said, “experienced teachers would see a bigger pay cut than the one inflicted by last year’s pay freeze. “And even the increase to starting pay is below inflation so is a real-terms pay cut.”

Courtney added that the 8.9 percent rise for beginner teachers did not “really shift the dial” on the recruitment crisis.” He said the NEU would consult members on strikes in the autumn with “the largest ballot of teachers for a generation”.

NASUWT has previously said it would hold a national strike ballot if the Tories failed to “deliver pay restoration for teachers”.

The inflation figures underline that union leaders shouldn’t accept any below-inflation pay rises.

A shift is taking place within the class struggle with more unions moving towards industrial action.

Every socialist, trade unionist and campaigner needs to throw themselves into building solidarity for the rail and BT workers’ strikes this summer.

Over 40,000 RMT union members at Network Rail and 14 train operating companies plan strikes on Wednesday of next week and 18 and 20 August. Around 6,000 Aslef train drivers’ union members at eight companies will walk out on Saturday of next week.

CWU union members at BT and Openreach plan to strike on Friday of next week and the following Monday, 1 August.

Do a workplace collection for the strikes and go down to the picket lines with workmates and your union banner. And activists have to fight to spread the action to their own workplace and sector.

The union leaders shouldn’t move at the usual snail’s pace of consultative ballots, weeks of talks, statutory ballots and then more talks followed by a one-day strike.

And, while they’re still balloting for strikes, unions could call for protests, marches and rallies to mount pressure on the Tories and build the yes votes.

There is a huge opportunity to hurl back the Tories’ and bosses’ assaults on working class people.

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