Working class slams the ‘anti-worker’ budget in the UK

For more than a year, workers across the UK have been demanding an increase in wages to combat the cost of living crisis

March 17, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
The controversial Spring Budget comes amid a wave of strikes and mobilizations by trade unions in the country. Photo: Jeremy Corbyn

Trade unions, left parties, and civil society organizations in the UK have denounced the Spring Budget 2023, delivered by Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt on Wednesday, March 15. The Chancellor and the Tory party have claimed that the Budget sets forth a growth plan for the country that will help avoid recession and halve the soaring inflation this year. However, trade unions have condemned that it fails to tackle the ongoing public sector pay disputes and neglects the overwhelming demand for an increase in wages at par with inflation.

It has been further criticized on the grounds that it calls for an increase in the UK’s defense spending to 2.25% of the GDP, and promised £11 billion (USD 13.26 billion) to the defense budget over the next five years.

Hundreds of thousands of workers affiliated to various trade unions continued their strikes, demonstrations, and pickets on Wednesday, protesting the fall in real wages and demanding pay restoration. Workers on strike hailed from unions such as the National Education Union (NEU), University and Colleges Union (UCU), Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), Junior Doctors, and others.

To this date, rather than engaging with the protesting workers, the Tory government has resorted to regressive anti-labor measures such as the anti-strike bill and the Scabs’ Charter in order to break strikes and penalize protesting unions and their workers.

As there is no significant and structural relief promised for the overworked and underpaid working class in the 2023 Budget, citing predictions by the Office for Budget Responsibility, the Morning Star has reported that “the take-home disposable income per person in the country would tumble 5.7% by March 2024.”

In a statement on March 15, Robert Griffiths, the general secretary of the Communist Party of Britain (CPB), described the budget as “more pain today, perhaps some jam tomorrow.” The CPB leader also said, “the Treasury is foregoing around £27bn in [Corporation Tax] revenue over the next three years—income that could have been invested in green energy-saving and cost-cutting programs that would keep people warm and help them travel more easily for work, family and leisure purposes.”

On Wednesday, the leader of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), Mick Lynch, stated that “this is a budget for the wealthy thought up by a government that are servants of the super rich…The policies of pay restraint mean workers are getting poorer and are having to work for longer just to make end’s meet.”

“That is why regardless of what Jeremy Hunt has said today workers will continue to fight for a better deal in the workplace and in their communities,” he added.

Jeremy Corbyn, MP and former Labour leader, also criticized the budget on Wednesday, and wrote: “on the same day that 700,000 workers went on strike for decent pay, Jeremy Hunt handed out £9bn in tax cuts to corporations.”