The Truth is more than a slogan.

It’s a real skill, always knowing what to say and when to stop saying it. In the court of Public Opinion, your case can be won or lost on where you end the sentence. And on making sure your megaphone drowns out everyone else.

In the UK right now, every organised union is either striking or considering strikes, and the service/hospitality sector is massively understaffed. The refrain we’re hearing from the Tory government and corporate bosses is “People don’t want to work.”

It’s a line that has served them well in the past. It’s a small comet-like statement that has a long tail of implications. They say, “People don’t want to work” and they imply that people are lazy, entitled, greedy; that the union bosses are power-hungry. It’s a short, memorable statement that is easily repeated and shouted loudly. They say it and let the listener fill in the blanks with their own prejudices and fears.

The statement is true and false at the same time. The truth lies in completing the sentence.

“People don’t want to work…. A full-time job for wages that don’t cover their rent, food and bills.”

“People don’t want to work… for wages that don’t keep up with cost-of-living increases.”

“People don’t want to work… 3 jobs just to cover expenses and never have any downtime.”

“People don’t want to work… under conditions where they do not feel valued by their employer; are treated, not as people but as interactive pieces of shop equipment by bosses and customers.”

“People don’t want to work… unsociable hours and shift work that leave them no consistent schedule or social life for minimum wage.”

But in the past, the corporate bosses shouted the first part loud and long and used the megaphone of the mainstream media (often owned by the same group of multinational conglomerates as the corporate bosses). They drowned out any rebuttal from the strikers. Things got worse as the Labour Party became New Labour and took a hard right, focussing on winning the business leaders and forgetting the workers they had traditionally represented. (Although, when Kier Starmer reprimanded a Labour MP for standing with the strikers, he faced horrific backlash. He may be reconsidering his position on the issue.)

Still, in this year of strikes in every sector, things are different. The strikes still have tremendous public support. The corporate megaphone isn’t working the way it used to. Why not?

Partly, it’s the mood of the country. Over the last three years we’ve seen the richest 1% get exponentially richer while everyone else struggled. We’ve always allowed special privileges for the rich because we always hoped to be one of them one day. I think people are finally starting to accept that’s not going to happen, so we no longer begrudge people asking for a bigger piece of the pie.

The Unions have much better spokespeople as well. RMT general secretary Mike Lynch has managed to out-shout the bosses and lay out the unions case in terms that are clear and difficult to argue against. They want a pay rise in line with the cost of living, as anything less is effectively a pay cut. They want to protect their jobs and working conditions. The Bosses want to eliminate roles: as people quit or retire, they will not be replaced. This will leave fewer people working harder for no more money. The bosses have yet to counter that argument with something that doesn’t sound like pure greed on their part.

Nurses are striking for more pay. They have suffered 10 years of miniscule pay rises, far less than the cost-of-living increases, amounting to a 20% cut in real terms. Low wages are already driving nurses out of the NHS. Nurses are having to use food banks and work other jobs. They are having to make life and death decisions on lack of food and lack of sleep. Patient care is being compromised. The Government stance is that there is no Magic Money tree for nurses pay. Given the government has seen a 38% pay rise and gets free catered meals in the House of Commons, it appears they have a magic money bush at least. It’s time they learned to share.

Even Harrods security staff are going on strike. Security Guards and CCTV operators are going on strike over a below inflation pay offer. Given Harrods sell High end luxury goods, the loss of their security people may cost them more than the pay rise would have.

I think something that’s made a difference is SOCIAL MEDIA. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok… Everyone has a voice. Every Single One of us has a voice. The 1% is exactly that. One small percentage of the population. No one pays much attention to their mainstream media megaphone.

The rest of us, all 99% of us are listening to each other on social media. We each have a voice, and now we’re all starting to shout in unison.

Fair Pay for all.

Living wages for all.

Tax the Rich.

Fund the NHS.

Simple statements. Complete truths.

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