At a rally with union workers in London on Wednesday, Sen. Bernie Sander (I-Vermont) praised local train workers for recent strike actions and encouraged rally goers to band together to defeat the greed of the British and global ruling class.
“What is going on today in the U.K. is no different than what is going on in the United States of America. Same bloody thing,” Sanders said in his speech to the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT). “What you are seeing is people on the top who are phenomenally rich are becoming richer, you’re seeing a middle class continue to shrink and you’re seeing millions and millions of people living in abject poverty.”
“In the year 2022, we cannot allow that to happen, whether it’s the U.K. or the United States, working people all over the globe have got to stand together and tell the oligarchs they cannot have it all,” he said.
The speech came at a rally put on amid months of strikes waged by London Underground and Overground public transportation workers, who have staged multiple strikes this year as RMT members fight against low wage raises and proposed cuts to jobs. RMT has rejected several offers from transportation officials, saying that workers’ pensions and pay are under attack.
Sanders praised the workers for their efforts, saying that they are part of a growing labor movement that has the potential to take on oppressive power structures being perpetuated by billionaires.
“What are you looking at globally is a small number of billionaires who have enormous power over the economic life of the people and the political life of the people. And our challenge is to bring people together to stand up to the demagogues who want to divide us up by the color of our skin or where we were born or our sexual orientation,” Sanders said.
In the quest to take on this power, the working class must “think big, not small,” Sanders said, pointing out the vast inequities that are being forced on the working class today. For instance, despite huge advances in technology and productivity, wages are lower today than they were almost 50 years ago, with redistribution of wealth going toward the top, he pointed out.
Workers are having to work multiple jobs to afford to keep their families afloat, forced to pay for ballooning costs of child care and suffering under the growing costs of higher education.
Sanders said that the solidarity between the labor movement and the progressive movement in the U.S. is a promising sign that workers are ready to take on corporate power.
“There is no success, no justice, without struggle,” he said, paraphrasing Frederick Douglass. “They are never going to give it to you. You think the oligarchs are going to say, ‘hey, you made a good case. We’re gonna raise wages for your workers, thanks for informing us what’s going on’?… That ain’t the way it works.”
“The only way justice ever comes about, the only way working people ever make success is when we stand up, we take them on, and we win,” Sanders concluded. “That’s what this struggle is about.”
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