the economy

Work Until Your End!

Bosses' pay has more than doubled during the past six years while workers wages have remained virtually static. It has been calculated that for every £100 earned by directors in 2000, they now earn £205 after allowing for inflation. But for employees their £100 has climbed to an average of £106.

In the City this year bonuses are expected to reach a record £9 billion. At Goldman Sachs alone, about 4,000 high-flying investment bankers are expected to receive £1 million each and those in the top grade are likely to get £10 million each.

Goldman Sachs was the centre of the recent cleaners' fight for better pay. The cleaners, many of whom are paid the £5.35-an-hour minimum wage, occupied one of the bank's most prominent sites in the City waving placards reading “Goldman Sucks”.

The real cost of inflation

If the government were to announce that it was cutting the wages of all workers there would be uproar. Yet this is exactly what they have done by calling for ‘pay restraint’ and capping all wage rises at 2%. A below-inflation pay ‘rise’ is a pay cut. No amount of statistical trickery changes this fact.

The government’s favoured measure of inflation, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is currently running around 3.3%. However, this excludes mortgage repayments. Does that mean we don’t have to pay them back out of our falling wages? No such luck. The inflation measure that does include these payments is called the Retail Price Index (RPI). It is currently running at around 4.3%. So by the government’s own figures they are imposing a pay cut of over 2%.

The Economics of Freedom

This pamphlet has been written by a group of people in the Solidarity Federation. We are actively involved in taking direct action for a better world. However, we are also interested in what this better world might be like and how it might work. In the current world of US-led terror against terror, corporate cronyism and corruption, and widening global and class inequality, we all want and deserve better. The Solidarity Federation is the British section of the anarcho-syndicalist global movement. Anarcho-syndicalism is about direct democracy – democracy from the bottom up - no party politicians, corporate managers or union leaders. Direct democracy means decisions are made by all those present. Hence, we cannot be prescriptive about what a future, decent economy might work like. It will be decided by the people there at the time. Hopefully, it will happen soon, and everyone will be involved. However, in the meantime, it is rather a cop-out to simply say, “we'll sort that out later” and then, fall back on abstract principles or vague concepts. So, we thought it would be useful to develop a detailed model (but not a straightjacket) of how it could work. This is the result.