- The Guardian
- Issue #2014
Photo: pxhere.com (CC0 1.0)
After decades of wage stagnation and increasing living costs, the Reserve Bank of Australia has told workers to tighten their belts and accept further real wage cuts as inflation soars. Despite projecting inflation of seven per cent by year’s end, the RBA wants workers to accept wage increases of only 3.5 per cent. Workers are being told that this 3.5 per cent wage cut is necessary to bring down inflation and protect the economy, and that when inflation comes back down next year wages will have returned to normal. What’s worse, the Labor government has indicated it supports keeping wages down.
This is a sham. Decades of economic mismanagement, austerity, and corruption was catapulting Australia towards an economic crisis. The global COVID-19 pandemic is being used as an excuse to shift blame and further attack the pay and conditions of workers. Workers need to tell the RBA and politicians to get stuffed! We need to press on and fight for real pay rises well above inflation to get cost of living back under control. Unions need to stand up to the government and fight for the interests of their workers. Together, we can win and make the rich pay for the crisis.
The Communist Party of Australia Logistics and Manufacturing Branch calls for:
- The rejection of all attempts to make workers pay for the economic crisis;
- Workers to get organised, join your union, and push for pay and condition increases well above inflation, striking when necessary;
- The Labor government to repeal laws that shackle militant and effective unionism, including bargaining by industry and the universal right to strike;
- Union representation on the Reserve Bank of Australia Board;
- Legislation to prevent price-gouging and strict enforcement of the laws;
- Fund public services by increasing profit, minerals, and business taxes, closing tax loopholes, and making multinationals pay up.
INFLATION THROUGH THE ROOF
With Australia’s official inflation rate of 5.1 per cent expected to hit 7.1 per cent by the end of the year, workers are feeling the crunch. This will be the highest annual inflation increase since the recession in the early 90s, and the figures aren’t even showing the full picture!
Leading economists are predicting that further increases to the Reserve Bank’s cash rate will make mortgage rates soar to 5.5 per cent in only a year. This would hike mortgage repayments on a variable $800,000 loan by around $1000 a month. Rising food, fuel, and energy prices have also made getting by much harder.
And yet, the new Labor Deputy PM, Treasurer, and Industrial Relations Minister have all come out in support of suppressing wages to tackle inflation. The ACTU has pushed back, insisting that pay rises match inflation.
Despite ever-increasing productivity, GDP, and profits, workers’ share of the economy is the lowest it’s ever been. But it’s not wages that drive up prices, but profit. The elite are trying to blame workers for the economic crisis and condition us to accept lower quality of life in order to protect their own profits.
WORKERS NEED TO FIGHT FOR HIGHER PAY
Inflation is still expected to be 4.8 per cent in June next year. This means any workers locking in a pay increase of only 3.5 per cent this year will still be worse off next year even if inflation comes back down, and we know that’s a big if. In fact, real wages would still only be where they were in 2011, despite the cost of essentials like groceries, fuel, energy, and housing exploding well above official inflation figures.
This is exactly what they want. The pandemic, while real, is being used to deflect blame for decades of poor economic management and anti-worker policies. They’re using it to attack workers’ wages and conditions. They want us to believe that if we dare ask for our wages to keep up during a cost-of-living crises we’ll harm the economy and our future so that we just cop it and don’t fight back.
We can’t afford to let the RBA and ALP tell us what’s best for us. Workers need to get organised and take industrial action to win higher wages. Only through struggle will we create a society where all of life’s necessities are affordable for workers. We need a system where workers don’t just get by but have enough free time and money to actually enjoy their lives.