Thousands of demonstrators marched through London on Saturday, accusing the government of failing to address the UK’s fast rising cost of living. Similar marches were held in a number of Irish cities, where communities are confronting similar challenges.
Demonstrators marched from Portland Place to Parliament Square in London, where Trade Unions Congress (TUC) leader Frances O’Grady blamed growing expenses and wage stagnation on decades of austerity policies.
The TUC claims that the average British worker has lost £11,800 ($14,426) in real earnings since 2008, as pay has not risen to match inflation.
The protest drew a diverse crowd, including Labour Party supporters, communists and climate activists, the latter group holding signs demanding the government insulate houses across Britain to offset “fuel 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. This comes as inflation reached a 40-year high of 9% in April, while food prices alone are predicted to spike by 15% this summer. Meanwhile, a recent report states that household disposable income will drop at the fastest rate since record-keeping began in the 1950s, and Brits will experience the steepest decline in living standards since 1956, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility.
Among the demonstrators was a sizable contingent of National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport workers, who brought a marching band. The union had announced earlier on Saturday that it would hold the largest London Underground strikes in 30 years next week, after negotiations failed with the metro network’s operator over pay and benefits.
Simultaneous protests were organized in multiple Irish cities, including Dublin, Galway and Cork. Food and fuel prices have also been rising in Ireland, with the country also experiencing a housing shortage and homelessness crisis.