By AP, published by CTVnews.ca, plus BBC
London – Thousands of people marched through central London on Saturday in a protest over the soaring cost of living in Britain.
Huge crowds flooded into the British capital for the rally to demand that the government do more to help people faced with bills and other expenses that are rising more quickly than their wages.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been criticised for being slow to respond to the cost-of-living crisis. Inflation in Britain and across Europe has been surging, as Russia’s war in Ukraine crimped supplies of energy and food staples like wheat. Prices were already rising before the war, as the global economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in strong consumer demand.
Demonstrators carried banners with messages such as “Cut war not welfare.” They booed when they passed by 10 Downing Street, the prime minister’s residence, according to videos posted on social media.
Ben Robinson, who works for a housing charity in south London’s Brixton neighbourhood, said the government doesn’t realise how bad things are going to be for the poor.
“We’ve got residents who are coming into our offices who are choosing between feeding their own kids, not themselves, their own kids, and paying rent and heating,” he said. “That is just not a choice that anyone should have to face, you know, in the fourth biggest economy in the world.”
The TUC, an umbrella organisation for labour unions that organised the protest, said its research suggests workers have effectively lost a total of almost 20,000 pounds (US$24,450) since 2008 because pay hasn’t kept pace with inflation.
Johnson’s government is facing heavy pressure to do more to help Britons struggling with soaring fuel and food prices and domestic energy bills. In one example of the crunch for household finances, a data firm said the average cost of filling up a typical family car exceeds 100 pounds ($125).
Members of NASUWT, the Teachers’ Union, were among those who attended the march and called for the profession to receive a “pay uplift and an urgent rebalancing of workload”.
The union said that with living expenses surging ahead of wages, the value of teachers’ pay had fallen by 19% over the last 12 years.
Teacher Stephen Brown said he was attending the march because many of those in his profession were now leaving – piling on the pressure for those who stay in classrooms.
“We’ve had a pay freeze for the past few years… teachers are leaving the profession because they are struggling so much, they just think it’s not worth it,” he said.
The Department for Education (DfE) said it was “incredibly grateful for the continued efforts of teachers and school leaders in supporting pupils” and work was ongoing to “deliver pay increases and pay awards for new and experienced teachers”.
A Treasury spokesman added: “As part of our £37bn support package we’re also saving the typical employee over £330 a year through the imminent National Insurance tax cut, are allowing universal credit claimants to keep £1,000 more of what they earn and have made the biggest cut to all fuel duty rates ever.”
Top People from different unions and members of the public hold up placards as they take part in a TUC national demonstration to demand action on the cost of living, a new deal for working people and a pay rise for all workers, in London, on Saturday June 18, 2022. Photo: Yui Mok/PA via AP and published by CTVnews.ca
First insert: Teachers joined the Trade Union Congress protest to call for better pay. Photo: NASUWT and published by BBC
Front Page: The big protest in London yesterday. Photo: EPA and published by BBC