Real Change, Not Spare Change

Roz Foyer explains how the Scottish Trades Union Congress is countering the right with political education on the cost of living crisis.

We live in an age of misinformation and fake news. With the majority of the media still owned by corporate interests and the right, the ability of trade unionists to win our political and economic case relies on our ability to counter the propaganda of the right and to have workplace conversations which arm our members and activists with the arguments they need. It also requires trade union leaders and reps to listen to workers and to build our understanding of the issues they face.

Nowhere is this truer than in building our response to the current cost of living crisis. We know that the current economic crisis is a product of bad policy as well as of the deeply entrenched inequalities of power and wealth which scar our society. We also know that there are alternatives to austerity, to wage depression and to the politics of fear.

There is a growing collectivism among workers. Workers are leading strikes and engaging in broad-based working-class campaigns around the cost of living. A key priority for our movement is to translate these high levels of solidarity and activity into the growth of a sustainable and angry movement for change.

At the height of the COVID pandemic, the STUC published its People’s Recovery manifesto. It stated:

When trade unionists speak of recovery, we do not mean reverting to life in 2019. We mean recovering, for working class people, the income, wealth and sense of collective purpose stolen from them by decades of political bias towards the rich and powerful.

cost of living course classroom

What was true then is even truer now. The STUC’s Cost of Living political education course examines the history and causes of the cost of living crisis specifically and of our political economy more generally. It examines key global and local factors as well as the arguments, strategies and tactics we need to collectively win the case for change. It is particularly useful for workers involved in current disputes and campaigns, but also looks at how as a movement we can broaden our reach and engage in joint community campaigns by building a shared analysis and vision of the alternative.

Their class is powerful and well-funded, but we have the advantage of numbers. When we are educated, agitated and organised we are more powerful than they dare to imagine. This course, and future courses we hope to run, will help to further build that power and the movement we need to deliver change.

Roz Foyer is General Secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress.