It’s a cost of greed crisis – organise, unite, fight back!
By Ann Orr
The local elections on 18 May are happening in the context of ongoing political crisis at Stormont and continuing strikes in both public and private sector workplaces. Two young trade union activists and Socialist Party members will be offering a socialist alternative: Amy Ferguson (Omagh) and Neil Moore (Botanic, South Belfast). Both are campaigners against gender violence and transphobia and activists involved in environmental struggles.
Trade union activists
Amy and Neil have experience in organising workers including in precarious industries like hospitality with a record of innovative initiatives for example organising against sexual harassment in hospitality. They are raising the need for socialist policies in their campaigns including calling for the nationalisation and democratic running of energy and food companies – an essential move to end the profiteering. Research by Unite the Union shows that in 2022 food inflation added an estimated £837 to average UK household bills while the three largest supermarket chains increased their profit margins in the first 6 months of that year by 89% in comparison to pre-covid levels.
The ongoing decimation of public services by the Tories but also parties in Stormont and local councils is another issue being highlighted by both campaigns. Combining full support for workers engaged in struggles over pay, terms and conditions and in defence of public services with clear calls to coordinate struggles and unite working-class people from Catholic and Protestant backgrounds Amy and Neil are demonstrating the type of struggle that is required.
With the right-wing transphobic & anti-feminist backlash in full swing, we need socialist feminism now more than ever! Amy and Neil, both supporters of ROSA, the socialist feminist movement, have consistently campaigned for abortion rights and access. They have been part of organising against gender violence both in workplaces and through campaigns and protest actions such as participating in standouts against gender violence and LGBTQ-phobic violence.
Socialist feminism means recognising that our struggle to end gender violence, racism, transphobia and all oppression must by necessity be an anti-capitalist struggle; because the system not only benefits in various ways from divisions amongst us, but also because capitalism is inherently exploitative, divisive and violent. Changing the entire system requires active movements of solidarity and struggle of working-class people of all genders.
Reject dead end of sectarian politics
Neil and Amy also stand for uniting all of the struggles in a common movement of young people and workers from Protestant, Catholic and other backgrounds. One important step in this is the creation of a new party on a real cross-community basis that can be a political voice for working-class people here. Such a party can be built from existing campaigns and those that will continue to emerge on issues of the climate crisis, gender violence and oppression and crucially linking with existing and new trade union activists across different sectors. Such a force will be a strong threat to both Unionist and nationalist parties and be an important step towards providing a real alternative to the sectarian dead-end.
Use your vote but also: help us build a socialist alternative
Local elections can be an important opportunity to reject the capitalist and sectarian status quo on offer by the main parties. If you live in Omagh or the Botanic, please vote #1 for Amy and Neil. In other areas we would encourage you to vote for any other genuinely cross-community, socialist candidate.
The local elections will not solve the issues we face: from poverty wages and the exploitation of workers to oppression and gender violence, to climate destruction. To achieve this you need to get active in the urgent struggle to build a movement to not just challenge the worst excesses of greed and capitalism but to build a completely different society. Only on that basis can we find solutions to the burning issues that we are confronted with including the climate crisis and ongoing sectarian division. If you agree, it’s time to get involved