It’s a cost of survival crisis: Take on the profiteers

Text of the Socialist Party leaflet on the cost of living crisis.

Ordinary people are beginning to fight back against the devastating cost of living crisis. From early next year, households could face average gas and electricity bills of €6,000, on top of extortionate rents, steep increases in food prices and some of the highest childcare costs in Europe.

This crisis will only get worse unless we resist.

Profiteering to blame

Big business and establishment politicians try to put the whole blame for the crisis on the war in Ukraine and say there is not much that can be done. But the truth is that huge profits are being made by the companies who are imposing these price increases on struggling people. 

  • ESB made €679 million in profit last year.
  • Tesco’s profits have doubled to £2.6 billion
  • Airtricity’s parent company SSE made more than £1 billion in profit last year.

Inflation represents a class war against working-class people; an attempt by big business interests to increase their profits by passing the burden to us. 

The Government won’t act against this profiteering – it is tied to the interests of big business and the rich, and supports the capitalist market system which always puts profit first. Its policy of energy credits won’t do anything to stop further hikes.

Organise to fight back

This crisis is going to get even worse in the months ahead. We need to build a new movement now to fight back and turn the tide against the government and profiteers.

The water charges movement showed the power of bringing huge numbers onto the streets but also the power of working-class people getting organised in their own communities. We need to build networks of resistance which really involve people in the fight on these issues and coordinate action across communities and workplaces.

We also need a fightback from workers. The government and union leaders have cooked up a deal which offers public sector workers 6.5% over two years – a pay cut in real terms. This should be rejected. Workers in the public and private sector need pay rises which at least match inflation. 

This is not a strong government and united strike action could win. The wave of strikes in Britain and the North show that workers will respond. But if the current union leadership won’t do this workers need to take the initiative for strike action from below.

We should not be misled by claims that pay rises will create a ‘wage-price spiral’ and that price rises will just wipe out the gains workers make. This crisis is driven by excess profits, not because workers’ incomes are too high!

What we need 

We need to fight for measures which really respond to the scale of this emergency. These include:

  • Nationalise the energy companies under the democratic control of workers and communities and run them for public need.
  • Cut and freeze rents, ban evictions and build public housing on a massive scale.
  • Free public childcare and public transport for all
  • Increase the minimum wage to €16 an hour. Fight for inflation-busting pay rises for all workers.
  • Fund these measures by taxing big business and the super-rich – Ireland’s billionaires’ wealth went up by €16 billion since the pandemic
  • End the rule of profit: In the choice between people’s needs and profit, people’s needs must always come first.

We need socialist change

This is a capitalist cost of living crisis – profit and the chaos of the market is driving it. More than enough resources exist in our society to meet the basic needs of all but profit stands in the way and needs to be cut out. 

That means taking the key sectors of the economy out of the hands of big business and the super-rich and bringing them into public ownership with working-class people, not capitalist profiteers, at the heart of decision-making in the economy. Capitalism has brought us chaos and an endless series of social and ecological crises. Working-class people are capable of democratically running society for ourselves to ensure the needs of all are met. This is the socialist change we need to fight for. Join us today! 

Socialist Party online meeting:

Inflation means pay deal is a pay cut: Unions should mobilise their power to fight for more

Tuesday, 20 September, 7pm. Zoom link: Speakers: Mick Barry TD, Ruth Coppinger—ASTI member,  Paddy Meehan-striking BT worker CWU personal capacity, activists from FORSA

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