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Oxfam slams ‘economic violence’ of rich—struggle to beat their system

Issue 2788

Wincanton B&Q workers in Worksop on the picket lines

Wages in Britain are falling amid rapidly surging inflation. Official figures released on Tuesday showed basic pay rose 3.8 percent in the September-November quarter. 
 
On Wednesday the government’s preferred measure of inflation soared to 5.4 percent, its highest rate since March 1992. And the more accurate RPI figure is 7.5 percent. That means workers’ wages fall unless they win a rise of 7.5 percent or more. 
 
In another set of statistics, there was news of Covid’s terrible toll.  There has been a big increase in the number of people who are not available for work, particularly people over the age of 50. 
 
A rise in long-term sickness is the driving factor. For many of the lowest paid and people on benefits, poverty is already hitting hard. And from April, when the energy price cap soars upwards, it will be much worse.
 
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation said this week that low income families could spend 18 percent of their wages on energy bills.  
 
Single-adult households on low incomes could be forced to spend 54 percent of their income on gas and electricity. This is not some minor shift. It has to be an urgent call to arms. 
 
The TUC union federation has called for bigger wage rises. But it will take much more than its requests that “ministers must give unions more power to go into workplaces and negotiate better pay and conditions”.
 
Change will come through union action and struggle, not hoping for the Tories to have a change of heart. 
 
Capitalism is failing in Britain—and internationally. A new report by charity Oxfam, coinciding with the start of the Davos conference of the rich, branded the choices made for the wealthy as “economic violence”.
 
The ten richest men have doubled their hoard of money during the pandemic, while the incomes of the poorest people have taken a hit.
Since the pandemic began a billionaire was created every 26 hours. 
 
Yet at least 160 million people have been pushed into poverty during the same period. The 20 richest people are estimated to emit 8,000 times more carbon than the billion poorest people.
 
The report says that we are headed towards a society “in which billionaire wealth booms, in which millions of people are killed, and billions of people are impoverished due to inequality, in which we burn the planet and our future human existence on the altar of the excesses of the rich.”
 
Working class people everywhere face one deadly system. The task is not to patch it up but to destroy it.
As we battle to drive out Boris Johnson and the Tories, that revolutionary change has to be part of our answer.

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