The Guardian: LONDON, England, By Tom Ambrose – Tens of thousands of people are due to march in London on Saturday in protest over the government’s handling of the cost of living crisis.
Trade union leaders will join frontline workers and community organisations in calling for a “better deal” for those struggling to cope with soaring inflation.
Organised by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), the march will start at midday, with protesters walking from Portland Place to Parliament Square for a rally.
The TUC said there was “harrowing” evidence of the impact the crisis was having on families, with workers suffering the “longest and harshest” squeeze on earnings in modern history.
Frances O’Grady, its general secretary, said: “Prices are skyrocketing, yet boardroom bonuses are back to bumper levels. 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.”
Workers have lost an average of almost £20,000 in cumulative earnings since 2008 because pay has not kept pace with inflation, the TUC said, adding that it was the biggest loss of “real wages” since the 1830s.
O’Grady said it was “gut wrenching” to hear how workers were struggling, with no safety net to fall back on and the pay slump showing little sign of slowing.
She told the news agency PA Media that the Conservatives were now the “party of pay cuts”, accusing the government of turning its back on those who made such “extraordinary sacrifices” by continuing to work during the COVID crisis.
Boris Johnson was “cynically abandoning” his commitment to a high-wage economy, she claimed.
“He and other ministers are treating workers like Oliver Twist by telling them not to dare ask for a decent pay rise. The last thing we need right now is for wages to be held down.
“We cannot be a country where nurses have to use food banks to get by.”
O’Grady said she had heard a “harrowing” story of children keeping back part of their school lunch to take home for their evening dinner.
PA Media contributed to this report
Top Feature Photo: A protester holds up a placard at a demonstration in Birmingham earlier this year – Mike Kemp/In Pictures/Getty Images