Despite the economic crisis, Tesco today announced profits of 1.45 billion pounds for six months, a rise of 10 percent. People Before Profit Charter supporters are holding protests in a number of cities. A leaflet is attached.a5tesco-profits
Supporters of the People Before Profit Charter in Cardiff have been busy organising a protest outside British Gas headquarters to highlight the broadly-supported demand for a windfall tax on the obscene profits of the energy giants. The protest has already been backed by some local councillors from Labour and Plaid Cymru, as well as many local activists and trade unionists. Speakers for the protest, who will be announced shortly, will be introduced by Marianne Owens, Vice Chair of the PCS Union in Wales.
Cardiff supporters of the charter have set up a facebook group which already has almost fifty members, and they and are hoping to use the protest as a launch-pad for a public meeting to bring together these people and others to discuss the best way of fighting to achieve the goals it sets out.
Local activist Adam Johannes, said that “British Gas hiked prices to increase profits by 500% last year, now they and the other gas companies have increased bills again. We see no reason why a quarter of the population should be plunged into fuel poverty so that Jake Ulrich, boss of Centrica can “earn” a million pounds a year.
“The government pledged billions to back up Nothern Rock and then nationalise it to bail out some bankers. How about renationalising the gas companies to bail out ordinary people at the mercies of these cowboys? Enough is enough.”
The demonstration will be held at 2pm on Saturday September 27th, outside British Gas headquarters on Churchill Way in Cardiff City Centre.
Several groups of Charter supporters are organising lobbies of MPs to demand a windfall tax. Others are holding events at Tesco after it declares its profits on 30 September.
With bosses telling ordinary people to tighten their belts, and disposable income falling by 15% the recession is beginning to hit working people hard. The question of how we respond is becoming more pressing. In light of this People Before Profit are holding a discussion with Paul Mason and Graham Turner on The Recession – What does it mean for us?
Paul Mason economics editor of Newsnight
Graham Turner of GFC Economics and author of The Credit Crunch
Tuesday 2nd September, 6.30pm, Friends Meeting House, Euston Rd, opp Euston station
The National Pensioners Convention (NPC) is one of the organisations backing a lobby of parliament on Wednesday 22 October. It will call for decent state pensions for all generations. The lobby is specially relevant as fuel bills go though the roof. The NPC has claimed that the announcement that energy bills may rise later in the year by 40 percent will push another 1.6 million older people into fuel poverty.
Dot Gibson, NPC vice president has said: “The announcement will have a devastating effect on those older people already struggling to pay their energy bills and is likely to drag well over a million more into financial hardship. Around 2.4 million pensioner households are currently spending more than 10 percent of their income on fuel bills, and a 40 percent increase in energy bills will mean that millions of older people will be facing even higher bills than before and having to make the unenviable choice between whether they can eat or heat.”
“For every 1 percent increase in bills, a further 40,000 older people fall into fuel poverty and every year, well over 20,000 die from the cold. It’s time the government intervened to prevent the energy companies making profits at the expense of vulnerable pensioners, raised the winter fuel allowance to £400 and regulated social tariffs to give proper discounts to older customers.” For a flyer see 22oct1 or go to www.pension100.co.uk
The past few days have emphasised the centrality of the issues raised in the People Before Profit Charter.
Official inflation figures released yesterday (12 August) show the CPI measure of inflation at 4.4 percent. So the government’s own preferred statistic demonstrates that Gordon Brown’s 2-2.5 percent pay limit is half the rate of inflation.
At the same time the water companies are insisting they should be able to raise prices at 3 percent above inflation for the next five years! And the rise will be even higher if you don’t have a water meter.
Workers are told to accept wage “rises” less than inflation, the multinational corporations expect to get more.
Tony Woodley, joint general secretary of the union Unite, echoed several of the demands of the Charter when he said this week, “Workers are the victims of inflation not its cause. The government must act to help those unable to cope. Our case for a windfall tax on the greedy oil companies and the utilities companies is unarguable. Its time to stop dithering and start acting.
“EDF is a perfect example where this French company is limited under law from raising fuel prices in France but EDF can hit British families with massive increases.
“The government needs to do more for the UK housing market by reducing or removing stamp duty and they should kickstart house building by announcing a massive increase in new council houses.
“These are the bold moves which would show the electorate the Government is listening and is prepared to act. These measures would go along way towards reconnecting Labour with its core voters.”
We urge trade unionists, campaigners, anti-war activists, anti-racism campaigners, pensioners and others to sign the Charter (see right) and to raise in their organisations an active programme to win its demands.
Inflation and recession are now tightening their grip on the economy with every day that passes. Working people face rapidly increasing prices, especially for food and fuel; government led pay restraint; rising unemployment and a disastrous housing crisis.
At the same time the super-rich continue to enjoy huge profits, salaries and bonuses – yet pay less tax than under the Tories.
The desperation felt by many is having equally serious political effects: the resurgence of the Tories and an increase in anti-immigrant and fascist arguments.
We need a coordinated response to these threats. As part of this response please add your name to this Charter and then move support for the Charter at your trade union, party or campaign organisation.
- Wage increases no lower than the rate of inflation as given by the Retail Price Index. No to the government’s 2 percent pay limit.
- Increase tax on big companies. Introduce a windfall tax on corporation superprofits, especially those of the oil companies.
- Repeal the Tory anti-union laws. Support the Trade Union Freedom Bill.
- Unsold houses and flats should be taken over by local councils to ease the housing crisis. No house repossessions. For an emergency programme of council house building.
- Stop the privatisation of public services. Free and equal health and education services available to all.
- End the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and use the money to expand public services. Stop the erosion of civil liberties.
- Abolish tax on fuel and energy for old people and the poor. Re-establish the link between wages and pensions.
- No to racism. No to the British National Party. No scapegoating of immigrants.
- Reintroduce grants and abolish tuition fees for students.
- Increase the minimum wage to £8.00 an hour.
Many workers and trade unionists are now engaged in strikes and protests to defend their pay, jobs and services. We pledge ourselves to support their action and to support the campaigns that are dedicated to protecting working people, including:
- Unite Against Fascism
- Public Services not Private Profit
- Defend Council Housing
- Stop the War Coalition
- Keep Our NHS Public
Please return to: People Before Profit Charter, BM 6035, London WC1N 3XX or email your name and details to firstname.lastname@example.org