Monday 23 June 2008

Pay, Shell and the Government

As a movement, we aren't very good at celebrating our successes. So let's say it clearly - the outcome of the Shell dispute is a victory.

At a time when most workers are feeling the pinch, what we need is hope. A clear and public demonstration that union action is an effective way of increasing our wages is long overdue. Congratulations to those involved.

As an issue, it's clear that pay is becoming more and more important, with RPI rising by 4.3% and lower paid workers (who spend a higher proportion of earnings on food and fuel) often experiencing inflation much higher than that.

The government has put itself at the centre of the pay debate for some time, by trying to hold down public sector pay on the ludicrous notion that this would hold down inflation, rather than increasing the risk of recession. Alistair Darling now appears to be widening his attack to the private sector as well, calling on us all to accept pay rises far below inflation (around the government's 2% target).

It's a crazy strategy for avoiding recession, and a crazy strategy for a government whose support from working people is melting away. It's good to see Derek Simpson speaking out against it.

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