Thousands of protesters marched in London on Saturday, accusing the government of failing to tackle the rapidly rising cost of living in the UK. Similar marches have taken place in several Irish cities, where citizens face the same struggles.
Protesters marched from Portland Place to Parliament Square in the British capital, where Trades Union Congress (TUC) leader Frances O’Grady blamed decades of austerity policies for raising costs and stagnating wages.
“Prices are skyrocketing, but meeting room bonuses are back to rock-bottom levels,” she said to the crowd. “Everyone who works for a living deserves a decent living, but British workers are facing the longest and toughest squeeze on their incomes in modern history.”
“If we don’t get an increase in wages across the economy, we will continue to go from crisis to crisis. This cost of living emergency did not come out of nowhere. This is the result of more than a decade of wage shutdowns.
The TUC says the average British worker has lost £11,800 ($14,426) in real earnings since 2008 because pay has not risen to match inflation.
The protest drew a diverse crowd, including Labor Party supporters, Communists and climate activists, with the latter group holding signs calling on the government to insulate homes across Britain to compensate “energy poverty”. Fuel costs have risen dramatically in the UK since Prime Minister Boris Johnson voluntarily cut Britain off from Russian oil and gas imports after Moscow launched its military operation in Ukraine in February.
Britons are now paying more for petrol and diesel than ever before. It comes as inflation hit a 40-year high of 9% in April, while food prices alone are expected to climb 15% this summer. Meanwhile, a recent report says household disposable income will fall at the fastest rate since record keeping began in the 1950s, and Britons will experience the steepest drop in living standards since 1956, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility.
Among the protesters was a large contingent of workers from the National Union of Railways, Maritime and Transport, who brought a marching band. The union had announced earlier on Saturday that it would stage the biggest London Underground strikes in 30 years next week after negotiations with the Tube network operator over wages and benefits broke down.
Simultaneous demonstrations were organized in several Irish cities, including Dublin, Galway and Cork. Food and fuel prices have also risen in Ireland, with the country also experiencing a housing shortage and homelessness crisis.
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