Energy prices must be capped at a much lower level to help working-class people during the cost-of-living crisis, the Institute of Employment Rights demanded yesterday.
Lord John Hendy QC, chairman of the trade union think tank, slammed the greed of global oil giants in particular, saying they had increased prices to boost profits even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Labour peer told delegates at the bakers’ union’s annual conference in Staffordshire that public ownership of energy firms is also essential to protect affordable access to supplies.
Addressing members remotely, Lord Hendy accused major oil producers of acting like a “cartel, banding together and deciding to put up prices and to hell with the workers who were going to suffer around the world in consequence.
“This is what capitalism does, this is the naked rampant greed of capital wanting more profit, which means redistributing income from wages to profits, from workers to investors, from the poor to the rich and from labour to capital.”
Lord Hendy, who was appointed to the upper house by former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in 2019, also slammed “extremely ominous” Tory attacks on workers’ rights, particularly that of firefighters to bargain collectively.
The Fire Brigades Union’s general secretary Matt Wrack has warned that ministers plan to “increase the power of central government and reduce that of workers” by scrapping the National Joint Council for Local Authority Fire & Rescue Services and replacing it with an “independent” pay review body.
“If they get away with that, in such a well-organised sector, they will come and attack other parts of the trade union movement,” Lord Hendy warned.
“The Tories have got constantly on their mind the possibility of limiting the power of working people to collectively defend their terms and conditions.”
This article was originally published in the Morning Star on Tuesday 7th June.