Cost of living protest, Photo: People's Assembly Cost of living protest, Photo: People's Assembly

The People’s Assembly and the RMT are coming together to fight attacks on working people, outlines Chris Neville

This Saturday, I’ll be joining thousands of others in taking to the streets to take part in the next wave of the People’s Assembly’s national campaign to fight back against the cost of living crisis.

 We are facing attacks on our living standards from every direction. As the free market spirals out of control due to the shockwaves sent through it from covid, workers are battling for pay rises to keep up with inflation whilst the rich keep on getting richer. Energy companies report billions in profits but our gas and electricity bills are skyrocketing. Decades of rigging the system in favour of the rich are becoming more apparent every day.

Here in Britain, the Tory government remains, as always, reluctant to intervene except to further compound our misery. Where they do intervene, it is to push us down as they did when they broke the pensions triple lock or removed the £20 uplift to universal credit.

There has rightly been mass outrage around the P&O ferry scandal. P&O can break the law knowing that there will be little retribution or that any fines they may receive will be offset by paying poverty wages to the replacement workers earning less than the UK minimum wage.

It is an excellent decision to be running these demonstrations in conjunction with the P&O workers’ union, the RMT. The various acts of solidarity here and abroad in support of these workers provide a glimpse of what can be achieved by workers when they fight back and support each other.

Workers are sick and tired of being forced to pay for the multiple crises of capitalism. Here in Manchester, Unite members at Chep are now in week 17 of a 24/7 strike over pay which has broken records to become the union’s longest-running strike since it was formed. This strike has been years in the making and the result of some amazing organising work from the reps at the Trafford Park depot. They were simply not prepared to see their wages decline against inflation yet again.

I’m immensely proud that the Chep strikers are supporting Saturday’s event. We will have one of the pickets, Martin speaking on the platform about their cause. What’s also been great has been the Chep strikers attending our planning meetings in Manchester and helping us build the demo. Not as passive observers, but bringing in organising experience and ideas that have helped us massively. We need them to win for all of us. A victory at Chep can help inspire other workers to take similar action and make bosses think twice about crappy pay offers.

If we are going to mount a serious fightback, this type of collaborative working through the People’s Assembly will be key. We need to keep working to bring all struggles together, supporting each other wherever and however we can. These demos should be seen as the start of that because the future is going to be brutal for so many people unless we can force big changes.

We still have work to do to promote Saturday’s demos and make them as big as possible but we should also use them to forge bonds needed for the next steps we have to take. It’s been a tough few years – the Tory victory in 2019 squashed a lot of the hope Corbynism generated and the ensuing passivity that was certainly not helped by the covid pandemic has left us disorganised. Now is the time to pick up the pieces and the People’s Assembly is the perfect vehicle through which to do it.

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Chris Neville is chair of Manchester People’s Assembly

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