Enough is Enough and Unite launch campaigns to fight cost of living crisis and build a ‘workers’ economy’

Unite boss Sharon Graham has said ‘it is time for the trade union movement to lead’

Trade unions and the wider labour movement have launched a number of campaigns to combat rising inflation, falling real-wages and the cost of living crisis.

Leading figures in some of the UK’s largest trade unions including RMT general secretary Mick Lynch and CWU leader Dave Ward, plus Unite boss Sharon Graham, have criticised both main parties’ response to the crisis.

Hundreds of thousands of people have signed up to be involved with Enough is Enough, while both Unite and the Labour group Momentum are in the process of launching new campaigns with aligned goals.

Enough is Enough

Around 2,000 people gathered at the launch of the Enough is Enough campaign in London on Wednesday night (17 August), where Lynch and social housing campaigner Kwajo Tweneboa were among those who addressed crowds.

Lynch, whose appearance at the event  was met with rapturous applause, told the crowd that the movement is “ready and willing to defend our people and our communities; our jobs, our conditions, our pay and our pensions in all cases”.

Also speaking at the event, Ward revealed that more than 400,000 people have already signed up to the campaign, which he said had “taken us all by surprise”.

The Enough is Enough campaign brings together trade unions and community organisations as well as politicians from within the Labour Party.

Initially set up by the CWU alongside the RMT and community renters’ union Acorn, with support from Tribune magazine, a number of organisations have already joined the campaign.

These include train drivers union Aslef, which along with CWU is an official affiliate union of the Labour Party, as well as the university lecturers union UCU, and energy-bills campaign group Power to the People Glasgow.

Ward has said the campaign is”fast becoming the major vehicle for ordinary people to stand up for themselves against corporate greed and a disinterested political class”.

He has urged other trade unions to affiliate to the campaign, and “play their role in bringing our country back from the brink".

In an apparent reference to the Labour leadership’s refusal to publicly back some striking workers, and clashes within the party over attendance at picket lines, Ward said the campaign will go on “with or without Labour.”

Fans Supporting Foodbanks, which was set up by Dave Kelly and Liverpool West Derby MP Ian Byrne to bring together football supporters to combat food poverty by collecting donations on match-days, has also joined the campaign.

Mr Byrne is one of a number of Labour MPs affiliated with Enough is Enough, alongside Coventry South MP Zarah Sultana.

Speaking at the launch event in London, Sultana said that some people in the Labour party need to ‘pick a side’ and understand that strikes are disputes between workers and bosses, not workers and other workers.

She said: “We’re not going to take this anymore and we’re going to fight back, we’re here because this is the biggest assault on living standards on record.

“Energy bills, food prices, fuel: soaring. Wages: falling far far behind. We call it a cost of living crisis, but it’s not just that, it’s a crisis for our class not theirs.

“For them its record corporate profits, its a record number of billionaires and its record wealth for the top 10% - its a cost of living crisis for the many but it’s a bonanza for the few.”

At its centre, the Enough is Enough campaign has five key demands, which it says will help to address the cost of living crisis, but also, beyond this, reorient the economy and society in a way which is fairer for the average worker.

Its demands are:

  • A Real Pay Rise
  • Slash Energy Bills
  • End Food Poverty
  • Decent Homes for All
  • Tax the Rich

Enough is Enough has announced that it will hold mass rallies across the country in the coming months, and will put forward further courses of action.

‘Unite for a Workers’ Economy’

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said figures released this week which showed record inflation in July and a historic drop in real wages prove that wages are not driving inflation.

The union, which is one of the largest in the UK and is thought to have the most private-sector members, is set to launch its new Unite for a Workers’ Economy campaign, which has similar stated goals to that of Enough is Enough’.

She said: “Since the pandemic, the FTSE top 350 have seen profits soar by 43 per cent. Britain has a profiteering crisis - when is something going to be done about that?"

Unite members in a wide range of workplaces have won pay rises which match or even beat inflation in recent months.

In the last week, bus drivers who’d been on strike in the North West were offered an 11.1% backdated payrise and British Airways workers won a pay offer worth an average of 13%.

Ms Graham said that in the last year, the union has “delivered at the workplace winning over £100million for members in dispute”.

The union leader, who was elected last year on a platform focussed on organising and building worker-power throughout the main sectors of the economy, has called for a “totally new approach” and for, “the trade union movement to lead”.

“Too often workers are taken for granted,” she said, “their concerns ignored whilst politicians protect corporate profits at the expense of wages and services.

“No amount of lobbying in Westminster will change that. We need a totally new approach.

“We need to build power in our workplaces and simultaneously organise in our communities. Unite will establish permanent bases on the ground to work with workers within their communities. We will help deliver practical change that people can touch and feel. And we will develop our own programme - a Workers’ Manifesto.

“It’s time to do things differently. It is time for the trade union movement to lead.”