Morning Star | June 19, 2022
TENS of thousands of protesters gathered in central London on Saturday to demand action to combat the cost-of-living crisis.
Trade unionists and campaigners from across the country marched from Portland Place to Parliament Square for a TUC-organised rally.
Banners such as “Cut war not welfare,” “End fuel poverty” and “Insulate homes now” highlighted widespread concern over soaring bills and spiralling inflation.
Speeches called for higher wages, increased taxes on the rich, better working conditions and also support for the national rail strikes on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday of this week.
More than 40,000 members of RMT will stage 24-hour walkouts in a dispute over proposed job losses and for pay rises that keep pace with inflation.
In her speech, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady criticised ministers.
She said: “Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has threatened rail workers that they will strike themselves out of a job.
“Well you are wrong, Mr Shapps: if you keep stirring, come the next election, you will be out of a job.
“It is time to raise taxes on wealth, not workers,” she added.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “There is no compromise that has been given to us and the message is clear: we are now in a class struggle.”
Challenging the Labour leadership to back the national strike, he asked: “Are you going to be with us or are you going to sit on the sidelines while these Tories butcher the working class all over this country?
“Stand up and fight with us or get out of the way.”
Other union leaders joined the call for unity to win more pay for members.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Workers have had enough. The trade union movement needs to be reborn. We need to act together.”
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “If we all work together, march together and take industrial action together, we can get the pay rise we deserve!”
FBU leader Matt Wrack said: “Their people, their class have always told us that there is no other alternative.
“And our people, our class, have only made progress when we’ve ignored them.”
Warning of possible future strike action in schools, NASUWT general secretary Patrick Roach told the rally: “In the event that teachers’ pay awards don’t, as a minimum, meet our demands, we will be balloting our members to take national industrial action in England, Scotland and Wales.”
Saleyha Ahsan, an NHS doctor and representative from the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group, also spoke at the rally.
She criticised the government for not yet setting up an inquiry into the pandemic, saying: “If they truly cared, if it really mattered to them, about learning these essential lessons to save lives, the inquiry would have started already.”
Executive director of War on Want Asad Rehman told the rally: “Half the world is living in poverty, surviving on poverty wages. It doesn’t have to be like this.
“We have to connect our movement for jobs, for justice and for climate. We demand a workers-led green new deal.”