May Day is unique. It’s the day in the year when we celebrate the bonds that bring us together as workers and trade unionists. And the fundamental message of May Day – friendship between workers of all backgrounds and nationalities – resonates more strongly than ever before.
This year, I’m proud to be speaking at the Chesterfield May Day rally, organised by the brilliant local trades council. And I’ll be arguing that even amidst these tough times, by sticking together and organising together, working people can win together.
There’s never been more need for that unity and solidarity. The brutal war in Ukraine casts a terrible shadow. Tech change is transforming our economy and the jobs we do. And the climate emergency demands we get our act together on a just transition to net zero, with good, green, unionised jobs.
In Britain and right around the world, workers also face an intensifying cost-of-living crisis. Energy bills are now rising 14 times faster than wages. One in three parents with pre-schoolers spend over a third of their pay on childcare. And last week, the ONS found that a quarter of people are already struggling to make ends meet – and worse is on the horizon.
That’s why the TUC is demanding an Emergency Budget to boost workers’ incomes. From a real living wage and fair pay agreements to a decent rise for public sector workers, there’s plenty we can do. And action on the cost-of-living must include a windfall tax on the excess profits of the energy giants, alongside the equalisation of capital gains and income tax. It’s time to raise tax on wealth, not workers.
As workers struggle, the government is all over the place. Despite promising to upgrade our rights, ministers look set to delay the Employment Bill yet again. For some reason, the Chancellor seems more concerned about defending legalised tax avoidance, such as non dom status, than real wages, benefits and living standards. And, as Partygate rumbles on, the PM is focused on saving on his own skin: the next “work-related” event he attends could be his own leaving do.
The recent scandal at P&O underlines why we need change. The no-notice sacking of 800 skilled seafarers, and their replacement with cheap agency labour, is gangster capitalism at its worst. I’ve been proud to speak at P&O rallies and take to the airwaves to demand the reinstatement of those workers – alongside tough action against P&O and parent firm DP World.
The TUC will always support workers taking action against injustice. Across the economy, from our railways to our universities, we’re seeing an upsurge in strikes as workers say: enough is enough. With our membership growing for each of the past four years, we are a movement on the front foot.
And on Saturday 18 June, trade unionists will be gathering in London for our national demonstration: We Demand Better. We’ll be demanding action on the cost of living, a decent pay rise for all, and a New Deal for working people. So spread the word among your friends, colleagues and members – book those coaches and trains – and let’s make this a real show of strength and unity.
Have a wonderful May Day – and solidarity to all.
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