The Enough is Enough campaign (hereafter “EiE”) was formed in August 2022, founded by trade unions and community organisations.
Its goal is to fight the cost of living crisis to “push back against the misery forced on millions by rising bills, low wages, food poverty, shoddy housing”.
In the opening video for Enough is Enough, Mick Lynch began it by powerfully saying: “People are fed up by the way they are treated at work. We need to turn that mood into a real organisation on behalf of the working class.”
Mick Lynch has become the face of the EiE campaign as the General Secretary of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers.
Lynch frequently represents the campaign in interviews and at rallies, at one of which he said: “The redistribution of wealth in this country. That’s what we need. Prices are rampant, Inflation is rampant. What else is rampant?
“Profit has never been higher, we’ve never had so many billionaires in this society. The super rich are getting richer and richer year after year. The workers are getting poorer year on year, and what do we say we refuse to be poor anymore.”
The campaign has been endorsed by many trade unions and organisations we are familiar with, including the University and College Union (UCU) and the Communications Workers Union (CWU) who represent the likes of emergency call responders and posties. It has been praised by US Senator Bernie Sanders.
The Enough is Enough campaign has five demands to combat the Cost of Living crisis:
1. A Real Pay Rise.
2. Slash Energy Bills.
3. End Food Poverty.
4. Decent Homes for All.
5. Tax the Rich.
“Fair pay, affordable bills, enough to eat and a decent place to live. These are not luxuries, they’re your rights.”Dave Ward, General Secretary of the Communication Workers Union
The Five Demands:
- A Real Pay Rise:
The EiE campaign is advocating for fair pay-rises for each trade union that has had a pay cut in real terms over the last few years due to inflation as well as a raise in the minimum wage to £15. TUC, the Trade Union Congress, announced in July that nurses and paramedics will suffer a real-term pay cut of over £1,000. This is being seen across all sectors as salaries will face real-term pay cuts unless they have been adjusted to inflation rates.
On the EiE website it says that an increase of the minimum wage is needed to “reward the people who actually run this country, not the fat cats.”
This demand also includes the right to strike effectively and a ban on zero hour contracts. There is no law that guarantees the right to strike in the UK as it stands. For a ballot on striking to count, a minimum of 50% of members must have voted for the action to go ahead. This caused huge difficulties during the pandemic.
Pictured above is the Stirling RMT picket line on the October 10, 2022. The RMT strike was called after the union rejected a 5 per cent pay deal. They are calling for renewed talks and a better deal as that deal was a real terms pay cut. The current inflation rate is at 12.3 per cent.
A pay cut in real terms: the salaries of workers have stayed the same, however, due to a rise in inflation, the cost of living has increased which means that salaries/wages do not pay for the same amount of goods/services.
- Slash Energy Bills:
According to Enough is Enough, in September, GMB Union found in a survey that ⅓ of people have been driven into debt by the high energy bills. This was before the price cap rose on October 1. There is now an energy cap on prices so that the average household across the UK will pay a maximum £2,500 annually for gas and electricity, according to Ofgem (the energy regulator for the United Kingdom). Compared to the previous £1,277 price cap pre-April 2022.
The government will pay the energy suppliers for the loss in their profits due to the energy cap. The Guardian reported that this will cost the Westminster government £89 billion.
The Enough is Enough campaign is demanding a reinstatement of the old price cap and bringing the energy system back into public ownership.
All of the UK’s electricity boards were privatised in 1990. Different parts of the energy sector have been undergoing privatisation since British Gas was privatised under the Thatcher government in 1986. This means that the government cannot control the prices of energy to the public.
Furthermore, the campaign has estimated that re-buying key energy systems to bring them back under public ownership would cost £2.85 billion. Compare this to the eye watering figure of £2.87 billion that it cost the government to bail out Bulb, the energy company that went into special administration in November 2021.
The CEO of Shell, Ben van Beurden, spoke at the energy conference in London earlier this week saying that energy companies should be taxed to “protect the poorest people from soaring bills”. He went on to say that “one way or another there needs to be government intervention”.
Rishi Sunak, the former Chancellor, had planned a windfall tax on energy companies to provide funds for the government to tackle the Cost of Living crisis.
The new Prime Minister Liz Truss, a former Shell employee, cancelled the windfall tax and stated in parliamentary questions that “I am against a windfall tax. I believe it is a wrong thing to be putting companies off investing in the United Kingdom”.
Windfall Tax: a one-off tax for companies that are ‘deemed’ to have made an unreasonable amount of profit in a given year, due to unusual favourable market conditions.
“So it’s time everyone in this country who’s got a rotten landlord, who’s got a low wage, who’s got in-work benefits, who’s going to a food bank, who can’t get a doctor’s appointment, who can’t get housing. It’s about time we all stood up together and said, enough is enough”.Eddie Dempsey, Assistant General Secretary of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers
- End Food Poverty:
EiE is calling for the right to food to be enshrined in law, the introduction of universal free school meals, community kitchens and reinstating the weekly £20 Universal Credit uplift.
The Universal Credit uplift was introduced at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to give households more disposable income. It was scrapped at the end of September 2021.
The Child Poverty Action group warned that there are 800,000 children who live below the poverty line in England that do not qualify for free school meals. There has been no change to the free meal scheme since 2018, other than the successful campaign by footballer Marcus Rashford to extend free meals during school holidays in November 2020.
This comes as Tory councillors in Bedfordshire, England made headlines after rejecting a proposal for an extra £660,000 for the free-meals scheme and minutes later attacking a motion that would stop an increase of their allowances due to inflation. The motion was voted down so the councillors did not receive a pay cut in real terms.
- Decent Homes for All:
EiE is calling for rent caps as many families will struggle with rent, heating and food bills this winter as well as calling for an increased number of social houses to be built on an annual basis and a charter that would ensure the rights of tenants.
The charter would also ensure standards of housing for renters and ensure insulation for homes to lower their energy bills.
The campaign also calls on limitations for AirBnBs and the number of holiday homes in any given area so that there is availability of accommodation for locals.
The EiE campaign praised the work by Living Rent which saw Scotland introduce a rent freeze until March 2023.
- Tax the Rich:
The most topical demand of the Enough campaign was as a result of the ‘mini-budget’ from Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng who had proposed a tax cut for those earning over £150,000. It was reversed following the biggest devaluation of the pound ever, dropping to $1.03.
Ten days later, Kwarteng then tweeted to announce the U-turn on the proposed policy, stating that the tax-cut would not go ahead.
The cap on bankers’ bonuses was also abolished in the ‘mini-budget’. This is a part of the current Prime Minister’s plans for trickle down economics.
There have been calls from every side of the political spectrum to take measures to address the growing inequalities across the UK.
Trickle-down economics: Economic policies that benefit the richest first so that their economic growth would then benefit everyone as companies would supposedly grow and create jobs.
The EiE campaign is calling for a wealth tax to be introduced for the top 5 per cent earners and hiring taxes for multinational companies.
October 1 was the National Day of Action across the United Kingdom, with 50 rallies being organised. The closest rallies to Stirling were held in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee.
On the social media accounts of EiE, it was estimated that 100,000 people joined rallies across the country on October 1.
A group of University of Stirling students called the Stirling Solidarity Space attended the rally held in Dundee. Where they heard from speakers from the UCU members, Living Rent, the Dundee Pensioner Forum.
The Stirling Solidarity Space also emphasised how they were able to show their solidarity with Unison workers who have been striking against the University of Dundee for over 570 days now: “Workers do not want to go on strike, they are not paid whilst they strike, they strike as a last resort.”
Brig reached out to the Stirling Solidarity Space for a comment on the EiE campaign in which they stated: “The Solidarity Space team agrees with the Enough is Enough campaign demands and the power that it’s building in working class communities across the UK. We recognise that this struggle is one which affects all of us – students, university staff, the general population – we’re all suffering.”
The Solidarity Space said of the day they were “truly inspired to hear the voices of workers, students, and tenants up in Dundee. However, this is just the start of the movement and it’s time to get involved”.
The Stirling group is also trying to highlight the difficulty for students during this Cost of Living crisis which has not been a focus of the EiE campaign per se. When speaking to Brig it was said: “Too many students are balancing work commitments and what is supposed to be full-time (emphasis added) education in order to feed themselves and heat their homes”.
If you are interested in joining the Enough is Enough campaign or are looking for more information, see their website: https://wesayenough.co.uk/
Featured Image Credit: @eiecampaign
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