Price rises surged again in September. New official statistics released on Wednesday showed the RPI inflation rate had bit 12.6 percent, a rise of 0.3 percent.
The main driver was higher food prices, which went up by almost 15 percent. The figure means that if wages “rise” by, say, 4 percent, that is in reality a cut of 8.6 percent.
Health secretary Therese Coffey said recently that NHS workers will not get a higher pay offer than the present one of 3 percent. So for all the praise during the most deadly phase of the pandemic, health workers are now being told to take a pay cut of almost 10 percent. It’s another reason to vote for strikes in the ballots taking place now.
Sharon Graham, leader of the Unite union, said, “With RPI now up to 12.6 percent, workers and communities must not pay for a crisis they did not create. We will not stand by and watch the country take a pay cut while corporations profit and the government pours petrol on the fire.”
These are good words. Unite and other unions should commit to not accepting pay deals of less than 12.6 percent.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the government’s preferred CPI measure of inflation rose 0.5 percent in the month compared with August to 10.1 percent.
Darren Morgan, ONS director of economic statistics, said, “After last month’s small fall, headline inflation returned to its high seen earlier in the summer. The rise was driven by further increases across food, which saw its largest annual rise in over 40 years.”
Price rises have not yet peaked, despite the energy price guarantee limiting gas and electricity bills this winter. The ONS said electricity prices rose by 54 percent and gas prices almost doubled in the year to September.
The September figure is also the number normally used for the uprating of benefits, including the state pension. On Tuesday, new chancellor Jeremy Hunt could not guarantee the government would stick to its “triple lock” commitment on pensions. That would increase them by earnings, prices or 2.5 per cent—whichever is highest.
Cutting pensions and benefits as inflation keeps rising means an assault on millions of ordinary people. It will mean deep poverty, malnutrition, illness and death.
We need more strikes and demonstrations. And not just to win particular pay battles, but to drive out a Tory government that is toxic for the whole working class.
The TUC union federation conference this week needs to be a council or war for the resistance, with further detailed preparation for coordinated strikes.
Keep up pressure on the streets
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