Thousands of people took to the streets in cities across the UK on Saturday to protest against the cost of living crisis, climate change and to show support for striking rail workers who are involved in an ongoing row with bosses over pay and conditions.
Some attendees also used the wave of nationwide demonstrations to voice their anger at the government’s recent “mini-Budget”.
Lily Holder, 29, who was taking part in a march at King’s Cross in London organised by Enough is Enough – a group founded by trade unions and community organisations to campaign against the rising cost of fuel and energy – said: “It’s time to funnel our collective rage into something active and productive.”
Last month the government stepped in to help cushion the blow of higher energy prices by announcing a freeze on unit costs, meaning that they will not rise above their 1 October level for two years.
Millions of families will continue to feel the pinch, however, as the cost of food and other everyday items increases while wages fail to keep pace with soaring inflation.
Grassroots campaign group Don’t Pay UK called for a day of “national action”.
Its followers were among those who set fire to their energy bills in several cities including London, in a specific protest against rising energy bills.
Don’t Pay UK has already launched a campaign that has received nearly 200,000 pledges from people who said they were prepared to stop paying their energy bills.
It says it will go ahead with the “strike” if the campaign reaches 1 million signatures.
In Glasgow, thousands of protesters gathered on the Buchanan Galleries steps. Activists from the Enough Is Enough campaign joined striking unions in the city on Saturday afternoon.
The rally was addressed by trade unionists and politicians with chants of “Tories, Tories, Tories! Out, out, out!” and “the workers, united, will never be defeated”.
Chris Mitchell from the GMB union, who became well known in the city for his rousing speeches during the Glasgow bin workers strike during Cop26 in November 2021, told the protesters: “You should be proud of yourselves today.
“The working class are alive and kicking!”
Hundreds of people gathered outside City Hall in Belfast to demand more government action amid the cost of living crisis.
The event, which was organised by campaign group the Cost of Living Coalition, was addressed by representatives from trade unions, community groups and political parties.
One of those who spoke to the crowd was Northern Ireland’s Children’s commissioner Koulla Yiasouma.
Ms Yiasouma said that prior to the pandemic there were 110,000 children in Northern Ireland living in poverty. “I can’t even imagine what that’s going to look like by Christmas,” she said.
The commissioner added there were concerns that some children could die from hypothermia over the winter months. “This is Northern Ireland in 2022 and we’re worried about children dying of hypothermia,” she said.
“It’s time for our governments, wherever they are, to make different choices.”