Organised workers are on the move. After years of stagnancy, UK trade unions are starting to ramp up activity again. Needless to say, there’s been little help from the Labour Party. But the waves of strikes are unmistakeable signs of rising working class militancy.
The increased popularity of trade union leaders, such as the RMT’s general secretary Mick Lynch and Unite’s Sharon Graham, suggests the post-Corbyn hangover is easing.
At the launch of the Enough is Enough campaign on Wednesday 17 August, Lynch told the audience: “The working class is back”:
'The working-class is back and we refuse to be poor anymore.'
— Taj Ali (@Taj_Ali1) August 17, 2022
Enough is Enough
Enough is Enough (EIE) is a new force in the class war. Its supporters include a number of socialist MPs, such as Zarah Sultana and Liverpool’s Iain Byrne. The Tribune, Acorn and the Communication Worker’s Union (CWU) are also backers. EIE has five demands:
1. A real pay rise
2. Slash energy bills
3. End food poverty
4. Decent homes for all
5. Tax the rich
Its orientation appears to be social democratic, evidenced by many familiar faces from the Corbyn era being on board. Interestingly however, as The Canary recently pointed out, EIE does not appear to be calling specifically for the nationalisation of privatised utilities.
EIE has also been notably endorsed by former US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who tweeted his support on Wednesday 17 August:
Enough is enough. In the U.S. and across the world, working people are fighting back. They are sick and tired of seeing the rich get richer, while workers fall further and further behind. We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the UK. https://t.co/M9OqHXU6dX
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) August 17, 2022
So there are positive signs. But as The Canary‘s Steve Topple has pointed out, there needs to be an increased emphasis on particular marginalised groups – not just workers:
This is my concern. Once again chronically ill and disabled people, homeless people and non-working social security claimants appear to be an afterthought. Much like the TUC rally the other week #EnoughIsEnough https://t.co/PIxMftzKhw
— Steve Topple (@MrTopple) August 17, 2022
The Don’t Pay campaign came onto the scene earlier than EIE. It has a narrower aim and different politics. Since an energy crisis for working class people is looming large, Don’t Pay is encouraging people to refuse to pay their energy bills as a form of direct resistance. As The Canary reported recently:
Analysts now say that the price cap could hit over £3,600 by January 2023. This is a 158% increase since October 2021, when the cap was £1,400. This could leave around 30% of all households in the UK in fuel poverty.
Don’t Pay’s website lays out a plan to address this. They will demand a reduction in energy bills, and get people who have joined the campaign to cancel their direct debits from 1 October if the first demand isn’t met – but only if a million people pledge to join them.
It’s worth pointing out that, with 1 October rapidly approaching, at the time of publication Don’t Pay has only collected 108,752 pledges according to their website. This might be a matter of a lack of working class confidence to resist directly by non-payment. Or maybe it’s a case of the message not cutting through on the intended scale.
The level of interaction between EIE and Don’t Pay is hard to gauge. However, it’s difficult to imagine serving MPs publicly backing an action which could be deemed ‘illegal’.
Don’t Pay’s politics are quite different from those of the more reformist EIE. Direct action of this kind seems to suggest a more libertarian or anarchist, bottom-up ethos. Understandably for a group of its kind, the founders do not have a public list of organisers or backers.
The class war
While these two groups share a lot of ground, they appear to come from very different traditions. This is not to say that they are now, or inevitably will be, in conflict. Just as other parallel social struggles have complemented each other, Don’t Pay and EIE could drive each other on. This would be similar to the way striking miners and gay rights activists, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, or the Hillsborough and Bloody Sunday families have complemented each other.
The movements to seriously improve working class confidence and power need to be big, diverse, and fierce in the pursuit of their aims – and led by the working class. With the Labour Party effectively deceased, it must be hoped that Don’t Pay and EIE are the first signs of a new and energetic movement of workers.
Feature image via YouTube/ Novara Media
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?