Protests were held against the rising cost of living across 50 cities and towns in England, Scotland and Wales on October 1.
The national day of action was organised by Enough is Enough (EiE), a coalition of unions and community groups.
National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) Secretary General Mick Lynch told a 10,000-strong protest in London’s King’s Cross that the campaign is about giving a voice to “the whole working-class community”.
“We refuse to be divided. We refuse to pitch rail workers against nurses. We refuse to pitch care workers against private sector workers. We refuse to pitch Black versus white, Muslim versus Hindu…
“We will take this campaign into every town and village, every temple, every synagogue, every gurdwara, every church. The whole working class together, no division. No worker is illegal in this country. We will stand together…”
Lynch appealed to the crowd to “keep working at this every day” and said the campaign “starts in your workplace”.
He told the protest that all politicians were on notice, “whether they are Tory, Liberal, Labour or national politicians in the nations”.
“We will not accept cuts. We will not accept austerity, no matter who’s delivering it…
“We refuse to be poor anymore. We are going to fight for our class. We are going to lift up our hearts … apply our brains. We are going to create a mass movement of working people and we’re going to change this country and we’re going to win…”
The RMT has been fighting a protracted industrial campaign over pay and working conditions in the rail sector. Recent polling suggests that the campaign is strongly supported by the public, despite the government’s concerted efforts to demonise the union.
The RMT and the Communications Workers Union (CWU) are at the forefront of the EiE campaign. The CWU is in the midst of an industrial campaign at the Royal Mail over pay, the future of the company and conditions for its workforce.
To combat the cost of living crisis, EiE is demanding: A rise in the minimum wage to £15 (A$26) an hour; public sector pay rises in line with inflation; pensions and benefits increases in line with inflation; restoration of the right to strike; and a ban on zero hour contracts.
To address soaring energy bills — the energy price cap is expected to soar to nearly £4,000 (A$7025) a year over the British winter — the campaign is demanding the government cancel the price hike announced this month and restore the pre-April price cap of £1,277 (A$2242) a year.
To address the long-term energy and climate crises, EiE is calling for power companies “to be brought into public ownership, with public investment in renewable energy to break the power of the oil giants”.
To address food poverty, EiE is calling on the government to “enshrine the Right to Food in law”, introduce universal free school meals, community kitchens and reinstate the £20 (A$35)-a-week Universal Credit — a payment to assist with the cost of living during the COVID-19 pandemic.
To address the housing crisis, EiE is demanding the government cap rents and build more than 100,000 council homes (public housing) a year, insulate homes and introduce a charter for renters’ rights.
As interest rates rise, EiE is calling for “no return to foreclosures” and a cap on mortgage repayments for at-risk homeowners.
To pay for this program, EiE is demanding that the rich “pay their fair share” through taxes on the wealthiest and the profits of big businesses, and a crackdown on tax avoidance and evasion.
“This can be done by introducing a wealth tax, raising taxes on corporate profits and on the top 5% of earners, closing tax dodging loopholes and abolishing non-dom status, increasing capital gains tax and introducing new taxes on speculation.”
Alongside these demands, EiE is calling to relieve the tax burden on working people, starting by reversing the recent 1.25% hike to National Insurance, which funds the NHS and other social services.