Published: 18/07/2022
Category: On The Job
Published: 18/07/2022
Category: On The Job

We live in a world awash with media spin, willful misinformation, and political careerists, where the truth gets trampled by corporate media and shameless self-interest.

So when someone unflinchingly pierces the heart of the whole charade, it’s like a gust of fresh air blowing away the sleaze and cynicism.

Take British trade union leader Eddie Dempsey, as a fine example. He is the Senior Assistant General Secretary of the National Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Union (RMT) in the UK.

The RMT is engaged in a summer long industrial campaign in the UK over jobs, pay and conditions. Last month, union members voted in their thousands to go on a national strike – the biggest the country had seen in decades.

Industrial action has continued right across the UK to date, and further strike action is planned in August.

Over the last four decades Britain’s rail services have been privatised.

Former prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s promised land of cheap fares and efficient services has delivered the highest priced rail tickets in Europe, huge profits for private operators, and a workforce that is understaffed, poorly paid and over worked.

RMT members have had enough.

Naturally, any strike action of this type is bound to trigger the usual talking heads in the establishment who roll out misleading stereotypes and tropes about unions.

On a recent TV talk show appearance where he was being grilled about the need for strike action, Dempsey was having none of it. Like a grandmaster chess player, he set up the board to best champion workers’ rights and made his checkmate move.

“I have to tell you, it’s a bit of a check having a program asking are trade unions being greedy for asking for a pay rise,” Eddie Dempsey said.

“The FTSE 350 top companies in this country, their profits have gone up 73% since 2019. When are we going to ask are they being greedy? What about the railway companies that have been ripping this country off for years”

Dempsey aptly noted that the media weren’t asking about the railway companies’ profits yet questioned workers’ demanding a wage rise to keep up with daily expenses.

“We’ve got the highest fares in Europe because profiteers have been robbing this country blind for years. At the same time, later this year, energy prices are going to be so high, some of my people will be spending two full months of take home pay on energy,” Dempsey said.

“And you’re telling us that we’re greedy for workers to keep up with it?”

“What we need in this country is the cost of living crisis addressed through the wage packet. We need price caps on energy, and we need profits taken down a peg or two, because the people at the top of the economy, they’re having a disco, and everyone else has been told to they’ve got to carry the can and tighten their belts,” he said.

“It’s not on.”

The echoes of Dempsey’s delivery can be heard in Australia as well, where workers are confronting the same issues with energy prices and the cost of living while profits climb for big companies.

The latest research from independent think tank The Australia Institute shows that companies are banking record profits rather than using them to shield consumers from cost increases.

It’s more proof that big businesses are actively making choices which harm the economy and are putting millions of households under financial stress in order to increase their margins and secure record CEO bonuses.

ACTU President Michele O’Neil shared Eddie Dempsey’s stance.

“Corporate Australia is causing the cost of living crisis by passing on price increases and refusing to give working people decent pay rises. This is all about protecting their record high profit share at all costs,” she said.

“Businesses could absorb cost increases into their record-setting profit margins, but instead have chosen to pass them straight on to consumers, fuelling inflation and creating a cost of living crisis in this country.

“Our system is broken when big business is setting records for profits and bonuses but workers’ pay hasn’t increased in real terms for nearly a decade,” O’Neil said.

As for a disco with the bosses? That’s no one’s idea of a good time!

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Cover photo image credit: KoolShooters

While big business have their disco, unions raise the alarm on wages

While big business have their disco, unions raise the alarm on wages