Thursday, June 26, 2008

Cost of living (up again)

I don't know what your weekly food bill is, but it's gone up quite dramatically over the last year:

A basic basket of a dozen essential items has soared by an average of 23 percent in the past year. For example, 12 eggs, which cost £2 last May, are now £2.92 – a 46 percent leap. The price of a bag of rice has increased by 93 percent.

A chicken costs £1.50 more than 12 months ago and bread is up 28 percent, butter 30 percent and milk 17 percent.

Food prices across the board have risen by 6.6 percent in the last year, with the cost of staple foods soaring even faster.

A typical family’s annual shopping bill has gone up by about £1,000 in the past year – that’s an extra £2.70 every day.

A thousand pounds per year is approximately £20 extra per week. For most people, myself included, that is a lot of money in a weekly budget. At the same time, the government's drive to push down workers' wages is not restricted to the public sector. What they always say is that wages drive up inflation, and so they are calling for 'restraint', the burden of which overwhelmingly falls on workers especially low paid workers. This is one reason why it is so essential that public sector workers not only strike, but strike to win. Dave Prentiss is saying the right things, but it's going to come down to the initiative of trade unionists as to whether decisive action is taken, or whether it is confined to symbolic action with the goal of slightly improving bargaining power with the government.