We Demand Better march: TUC cost of living and fuel price protest in central London today explained - speakers

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Thousands of protestors have gathered in central London to call on the government to take action to address the rising cost of living.

Crowds marched from Portland Place to Parliament Square for a rally, which featured speakers such as Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), which is organising the event.

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According to the TUC’s findings, employees have lost about £20,000 in salary since 2008 because wages have not kept up with inflation.

As a blue flare was let off to signal the start of the march, protestors whistled, cheered and clapped.

Banners reading “Cut war not welfare” and “End fuel poverty, insulate homes now” were carried by demonstrators. Others read “Nurses not nukes”, “Don’t get angry, get active” and “Free Assange”.

Loud music, including the songs ‘9 To 5’, ‘I Need A Dollar’ and ‘Money, Money, Money’ were played through speakers as people sang and danced along.

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Who spoke at the rally?

Demonstrators hold placards during the British Trades Union Congress (TUC) ‘We Demand Better’ rally (Photo: Hollie Adams/Getty Images)Demonstrators hold placards during the British Trades Union Congress (TUC) ‘We Demand Better’ rally (Photo: Hollie Adams/Getty Images)
Demonstrators hold placards during the British Trades Union Congress (TUC) ‘We Demand Better’ rally (Photo: Hollie Adams/Getty Images)

As she spoke to the masses assembled in Parliament Square, Saleyha Ahsan, an NHS doctor and spokesperson from the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group, criticised the Government for not yet establishing an inquiry into the pandemic.

She slammed the Government’s reaction to the crisis, including the partygate revelations, saying that the social parties in Downing Street took place while her father was in hospital.

She said: “If they truly cared, if it really mattered to them, about learning these essential lessons to save lives, the inquiry would have started already.

“Why are they stalling? What else are they hiding?”

“They threw up from too much booze, the rest of us prayed for our loved ones fighting to live, fighting to breathe,” she added.

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Applause and cheers greeted Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, as she delivered a speech to the gathering in Parliament Square.

She said: “I have seen the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has threatened rail workers that they will strike themselves out of a job.”

Shapps has previously said rail strikes will "endanger the jobs of thousands of workers,” and warned individuals planning three days of work stoppages next week that they "risk striking yourself out of a job."

“Well you are wrong Mr Shapps,” said O’Grady, “if you keep stirring, come the next election, you will be out of a job.”

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During the Rail, Maritime and Transport union’s (RMT) strikes on 21, 23 and 25 June, half of Britain’s rail lines will be shut down.

“Let me say this to Boris Johnson, don’t you dare shift the blame for inflation on working people,” she added.

“Don’t you dare, not after a decade of austerity, privatisation and pay cuts Don’t you dare tell working families we have to put up with more pain.

“What about bankers’ bonuses? What about the boardroom raking it in? What about corporate profits? It is time to raise taxes on wealth, not workers.”

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