Greedflation? Organise.

Cost of Living Crisis Protest wtih posters from People Before Profit

US capitalist Warren Buffet, when asked how to become rich, advised to ‘be greedy when others are fearful’. In other words, be selfish, look after yourself and exploit the situation regardless of the cost to others. It works too.

It works for the few at the expense of the many. Against a background of economic crises, Covid-19, wars and the long ongoing cost of living crisis there is now a record number of billionaires in the UK. 177 people who have seen their combined wealth increase by 9.4% in the last year to £653bn. On the 4th May, when the US passed 1 million Covid-19 deaths, the combined wealth of its billionaires had risen by $1.7 trillion or 58% since the beginning of the pandemic.

There has never been so much money in the world. Total GDP of $94 trillion is almost triple that of 20 years ago. However, ordinary people are being told not to ask for reasonable pay increases because it will cause inflation. Inflation is already at a 40-year high and most workers have failed to see any real term pay increases in years! ‘Greedflation’ is a word that has started being used to describe rise in prices -and workers’ wages have nothing to do with it. Greedflation describes the situation where dominant multinational companies exploit consumers by price gouging and resulting in supercharged inflation. It’s clear workers’ wages are not the source- they are stagnant. The impact of workers’ eventual correct demand for pay rises on inflation could be balanced with price caps. The price caps reduce profit margins.

The upcoming change in leadership in the UK government brings promises of tax reductions and investment in public spending. Don’t be fooled. The Tories, just like FF/FG parties in the south, are beneficiaries of the devastating capitalist system.

Don’t be fooled either by employers who tell you that they do not allow trade unions or who insinuate that they will not tolerate members of trade unions – it is unlawful for an employer to treat anyone unfairly because of their trade union activity. The truth is that countries with high trade union membership also have the lowest levels of income inequality. Everyone has a human right to join a trade union – and Ireland north and south you have legal rights to back that and protect you. However, joining a trade union is like joining a gym. You will not see results unless you put work into it yourself. One thing to do immediately is put in a pay claim. Contact your union and ask for help.

And it’s not just workers: everyone can play a role in tackling the cost of living crisis by joining or supporting one of the many local Cost of Living campaign groups that have begun. Every town, village and estate should look to organise a campaign group and make demands for increased incomes for those on benefits, students, pensioners and workers, affordable price caps, the re-nationalisation of public utilities etc. If you need help, guidance or training in organising trade union activism, or a Cost of Living Campaign, please do not hesitate to contact People Before Profit.

Don’t be fearful when the few get greedy: get organised.

Adapted from ‘Organise when others are greedy‘ in the Ulster Herald by PBP Tyrone Rep Carol Gallagher