Cost of Living protests

On the 12th of February protests were held across the country against the Cost-of-living crisis being perpetrated against the people of the UK by the Tory Government.

In Newcastle, protesters gathered at the Monument to demand action from the Government and in a show of solidarity and support for workers staring down the barrel of cuts to stands of living and growing poverty.

At the rally PCS National President and Left Unity National Committee member Fran Heathcote addressed the gathered crowd. Fran told the gathered protesters that PCS will be balloting members from the 14th of February over the cost-of-living crisis and demanding improvements to pay and pensions for our members working in the public sector. She told the gathered crowds of the impact of policies of successive governments which has seen the casualisation of work, of endemic low paid insecure work and the enormous rise in food banks; and how these issues are inextricably linked. Far from Prime Minister Johnson lauding the rise of food banks it should be recognised for what it is: the clear demonstration of his government’s failures.

The recent statement by Andrew Bailey, Governor of the Bank of England, a man earning half a million pounds a year; who announced this week that Britons shouldn’t ask for a pay rise this year was utterly denounced. He was told “try telling that to our low paid members struggling to feed their families, who are having to make a decision between heating and eating!”

No-one was left under any illusion it is greedy workers demanding more money that is causing inflation or that we shouldn’t demand pay rises to feed ourselves and our families when big energy companies like BP announce record profits! At the same it was announced that neither BP nor Shell paid any taxes in the UK in the last 3 years and instead trousered £210 million in credits from the UK public purse.

Fran highlighted the fact that when Jeremy Corbyn called for public ownership of energy companies, the establishment went all–out to destroy him! She went on to say that whilst they’re attacking us, Tories like Truss and Johnson are travelling around Europe stirring up trouble; trying to distract us from troubles at home, but they are also playing a dangerous game.

She told protesters that the trade union movement must be absolutely opposed to war, where it is always the working class that suffer. And that if anyone believed the propaganda coming from Johnson, Truss and Biden, “I have just a few words – Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Yugoslavia – NO TO WAR! Don’t believe the rhetoric.”

The gathering was told of the growing tide of opposition and how the mood is changing, with people having had enough. Trade Unions are leading the fight back.

Unions such as the UCU, the NEU, and many more are standing up for members alongside PCS. In the planned ballot on the 14th, PCS members will be asked to send a message to the government that with rising bills and a hike in living costs, our members cannot, and will not, wait. They’re being forced to work longer; they’re paying out more and they’re getting less for it.

The PCS ballot will test the mood, gauge support, and is a strong signal of intent: A battle cry from PCS members. Alongside a united coordinated campaign across the trade union movement and in communities; both in the public sector and private sector, we can succeed in opposing this rotten government, and reject their attempts to make us pay for their crisis.

The demonstration heard from more speakers including Labour MP Ian Lavery, from the UCU and NEU on their disputes and campaigns. As well as speakers from Unite Community and the young Greens – demonstrating the breadth of opposition to the current crisis.

The demonstration was further bolstered by protesters from Kill the Bill who joined their voices to the groundswell calling out the Tories attacks on the people of the UK.

The gathering, made up of all sections of society, young and old; left the rally with hope and determination to succeed in the fight back against the Tories and their corrupt and self-serving agenda with cries of Tories, Tories, Tories OUT, OUT, OUT!

Steve Swainston

Video of Left Unity NEC speakers at cost of living protests below.

Martin Cavanagh in Liverpool
Liz McGachey in Glasgow
Fran Heathcote speaking in Newcastle
Tracey Hylton in Liverpool