Thousands of protesters took to the streets in London and several cities in Ireland on Saturday, accusing the British government of failing to deal with the sharp rise of the cost of living across the United Kingdom.
Demonstrators marched from Portland Place to Parliament Square in the British capital, where Trade Unions Congress (TUC) leader Frances O’Grady blamed decades of austerity policies for rising costs and wage stagnation.
“Prices are skyrocketing, yet boardroom bonuses are back to bumper levels,” she told the crowd. “Everyone who works for a living deserves to earn a decent living, but UK workers are suffering the longest and harshest squeeze on their earnings in modern history.”
“If we don’t get pay rising across the economy, we will just keep lurching from crisis to crisis. This cost of living emergency has not come out of the blue. It is the result of more than a decade of standstill wages.”
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 brought together people from diverse sectors, among them, 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 Great Britain off from Russian oil and gas imports after Moscow launched its military operation in Ukraine in February.
The cost of petrol and diesel for British citizens is higher than ever before. With inflation reaching a 40-year high of 9% in April, food prices alone are predicted to spike by 15% this summer.
A recent report by the Office for Budget Responsibility reveals that Britons will experience the steepest decline in living standards since 1956, as the average household disposable income will drop at the fastest rate since record-keeping began in the 1950s.
Protesters included a sizable contingent of National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport workers. The union 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.