- More than 5 million workers in the UK earn less than the Living Wage. In Wales, it was reported earlier this year that there are just 18 Living Wage accredited employers and more than 1 in 5 workers earn less than the Living Wage. Scandalously that includes council workers in Labour authorities, including Swansea.
- For whole groups of workers, the minimum wage, less than what is needed to get by on, has become the norm. Nearly one quarter of minimum wage workers have been paid at that level for 5 years.
- Bosses are getting more inventive in getting us to work for less and less. Casualisation, zero-hours contracts, bogus self-employment. These are all methods used to get more profit out of us. If you were expecting better from a Labour Council then think again. Our Council uses zero-hours contracts and outsources services to companies who use tricks like paying care workers only for 15 minute visits and not the travel time in between, meaning care workers effectively earn less than the legal minimum wage.
- No wonder the numbers of children in families living in poverty has topped 4 million. A report by the Children's Society in August revealed that 23% of Welsh families are struggling with household debt.
- The number of people having to rely on food banks is growing and the range of people having to use them has also increased, including working families who's wages don't cover the cost of living. A food bank was set up in one of Swansea's universities last year for students who can't afford to feed themselves. Hardly surprising with successive Labour and Con-Dem governments first introducing then raising fees on top of the rising cost of living.
- With families struggling to afford even the basics of life, luxuries are becoming a distant memory for many. Living in Swansea, we're fortunate to have some of the most beautiful coastline on our doorstep but did you know that Barnardos has reported that as many as 1 in 5 families can't afford a day out at the seaside and fish and chips?
It hasn't been bad news for everybody though; the richest have done very well out of austerity. The number of billionaires globally has doubled since the start of the economic crisis; austerity has been used as a cover to transfer wealth from the poorest to the richest. Just 85 people (about the capacity of the infamous Swansea bendy bus) together are worth as much as the poorest half of the world's population. Remember that when politicians tell you that "we're all in together" or that we have to accept cuts.
Unfortunately you will find no challenge to what one German economist has called 'zombie capitalism' from the zombie Labour party. So desperate is Ed Miliband to show he can manage capitalism that he's promised to keep within Con-Dem spending limits and won't commit to reversing Con-Dem cuts. Labour promises to be tougher on the unemployed and all those that rely on state benefits to supplement their incomes. And Labour plays the Tory/UKIP game of blaming immigrants and migrant workers instead of targeting the greedy bosses.
No wonder workers are turning away from Labour in disgust, leading to an emptying out of the party, which now contains the disillusioned who can't break lifelong loyalties and careerists aiming to make a living on the backs of the working class. When I was in the Labour Party, each ward in Swansea had a party branch, now branches cover multiple wards and are not capable of holding councillors to account.
The paper's are reporting Labour faces being wiped out in Scotland for their collusion with the Tories but that's just a taste of their future elsewhere. My wife, Claire, asked me what I wanted to wear to Swansea Socialist Party's Halloween Party. I said I'd go as the walking dead and asked her to get me a Labour rosette.
It was to provide a vibrant, 'no cuts', socialist alternative to the horrors of capitalism that the Trades Unionist and Socialist Coalition was founded. TUSC is what it says on our banner. We are workers and campaigners, united by a commitment to basic trade union principles of solidarity and socialism. We've come together because we want to challenge the acceptance by all the other parties that ordinary people must be made to pay for the crisis of capitalism. We say we won't pay for a crisis not of our making and so we commit to fighting and voting, against every cut to jobs, pay or services.
Next year we aim to stand 1,000 council candidates in England (there's no council elections in Wales) and 100 candidates for MPs positions in the General Election. I'm the prospective TUSC Against Cuts candidate for Swansea West, one of four candidates who've already come forward in Wales. Can you help us reach our target of contesting 7 seats in Wales?
Vote TUSC Against Cuts in Uplands Ward council by-election on November 20.