Respect for the Shell strikers

From the website:

Respect MP George Galloway has today offered full support to the Shell tanker drivers, members of the Unite union, who have begun a four day strike.

“No one takes the decision to strike lightly,” he said. “Anyone who’s ever lost a day’s pay by taking industrial action will know what the tanker drivers have gone through to reach this point.

“Their strike deserves the support of working people across Britain, whose pay is being held down below the true rate of inflation. Instead of macho posturing, as he’s doing over our civil liberties, Gordon Brown would be better off ensuring fair pay for the tanker drivers, who after all work in an industry that is making record profits from the price of oil.”

Galloway has written to the Unite union and to tanker drivers offering support from Respect.

Message of support:

The billionaire-owned press and politicians from all the establishment parties seem to think that workers who transport fuel don’t have to pay for it at the pump or through soaring prices for food and domestic heating.

Of course you do. And like the rest of us you are fleeced by the robber barons of the oil industry, only for you it’s twice over.

I and Respect know you have not decided to strike lightly. You are fully justified in taking action to achieve long overdue pay increases – which are needed now to keep pace with inflation. The Bank of England has acknowledged that it is not the pay of working people that is driving inflation. Rather it is the greed of companies such as Shell who are profiteering from the price of oil.

In any sane society you would have decent pay, pensioners would not be frightened to turn the heating on in winter for fear of the bills, and our scarce natural resources would be husbanded carefully to meet the needs of everyone on the planet and future generations.

Instead, we’ve got obscene profits alongside rising prices, repossessions, job insecurity and stress.

It’s not only the whole trade union movement who should back you. It is everyone who is hit by the rising cost of a loaf of bread or a packet of rice; the majority of people in Britain who spend most of their income on food and fuel. The lorry owners have something to fall back on. Those who work for a living have nothing except their ability to stand together for the common good.

In pursuing this entirely justified action for decent pay you are not only helping yourselves and your families; you are providing an example for everyone else. If you win, the teachers in your children’s schools might feel emboldened to take further action for decent pay and proper funding for education; others might fight for the pay & resources that will stop vital staff from leaving our public services.

The zealots of failed free market economics say that this will lead to a wage-price spiral. Well it won’t do if the government stepped in to control prices, to prevent profiteering, just as we did in previous national emergencies, just as we did during the Second World War.

This government says we should lock people up for 42 days on the grounds of national security. If they were sincere about that, they’d be banging up the saboteurs who run the oil and gas companies. But all the establishment parties are happy for us to be held hostage by the corporations.

Respect doesn’t agree. And we support you 100 percent.

In solidarity,
George Galloway MP

The Green Party has also backed the action by tanker drivers:

principal speaker Caroline Lucas MEP has pledged the party’s support for the pay claim of the Shell contract drivers […] She also reiterated the Greens’ policy to levy a windfall tax on oil profits to pay for investment to lower fuel bills. […]

“The drivers have our unreserved support in their pay claim. As the demand for oil outstrips supply, Shell profits have soared to £14billion a year – they can afford to pay fair wages. Instead, they choose to squeeze workers for everything they can get.

“It’s about time oil corporations were held to account. They are the winners from the fuel crisis. As pensioners struggle to keep warm, workers have their wages driven down and people worldwide fall victim to deadly floods, storms and droughts, the oil bosses pat each other on the back and award themselves another bonus.

“Shell should stump up, pay their hauliers properly right now, and end this strike. Then they should expect a windfall tax on their enormous profits, gained at the expense of ordinary people. We need warm homes, proper public transport and efficient freight transfer, and the oil profiteers should be paying for it.”

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