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THOUSANDS of workers and campaigners fighting against the rising cost-of-living crisis will gather across Britain on Saturday to demand better jobs and living conditions.
Protesters will rally in more than 30 towns and cities across the country, from Aberdeen to Stoke, for a day of action organised by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, supported by dozens of trade unions and campaign groups.
Inflation is surging with CPI already at 7.5 per cent, while workers are seeing increases in their bills and National Insurance payments as of April 1.
And approximately 22 million people will see an annual increase of £693 on their energy bills due to the price cap rise.
In Manchester, workers who have been involved in a successful industrial action at First and others currently on strike at pallet supplier Chep will be among those speaking on their struggle.
The protest in London – organised with Revolutionary Socialism in the 21st Century (rs21), Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and Fuel Poverty Action – will hear from a range of speakers, including Peace and Justice Project founder and former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said protests were springing up because “people are fed up of rich men telling them that they have to pay for boardroom greed and colossal market failure.”
She said: “There are workers up and down Britain fighting for fair pay so they can afford to put food on the table and heat their homes.
“Whether it’s refuse workers on strike in Coventry or construction workers on strike in Scunthorpe, where employers can pay, they should pay.”
Calling for people to join the protests, RMT said public ownership was needed to “end the parasitic profiteering” and Mr Corbyn said: “We must stand together against the soaring cost of living and fight for a wealth tax.”
Labour MP Richard Burgon hit out at oil and gas giants profiting while the cost of living soars.
He said: “People should come before profit and those companies should be hit with a massive windfall tax that could be used to lower people’s bills, tackle food poverty and tackle the growing NHS backlog.
“[The Tories] want the costs of this crisis to fall on the shoulders of ordinary people while British billionaires, who are getting £290m richer every day, are let off the hook.”
He called for the tax hike on working people to be scrapped and replaced by a wealth tax on the richest 1 per cent.
Keep Our NHS Public co-chairman Dr Tony O’Sullivan called the government “callous” for writing off billions of fraud dished out by Chancellor Rishi Sunak and wasted on crony contracts while stealing back £20 from struggling people on universal credit.
“Poverty is spreading like the pandemic,” he said. “We demand emergency funding for the NHS and for people living in crisis.”
Linda Burnip of DPAC warned that any rise in the cost-of-living will force disabled people using social care to choose between “living, existing or possibly even dying.”
She said: “Disabled people who need social care and support to live in the community have already been pushed into abject poverty by the amount they are forced to pay for this service, often well over £100 a week with those with the highest needs paying the most.
“Approximately one in three disabled and older people using social care are in debt and unable to pay those charges and face prosecution by local authorities.”
Rs21 organiser Charlotte said the protest was unifying people who “don’t just have to take [issues of rent prices, low pay, workplace struggles and gas prices] lying down.
“There is power in collective action,” she said.
“If we come together to fight we can change things, and this weekend is just the start of that fight.”
John Rees of the People’s Assembly said: “It’s time to stop Johnson. When he’s not partying, or trying to start a war with Russia, he’s busy trying to force a fresh wave of price rises and austerity on working people here. It’s time to turn anger into action. Join us [on Saturday] and again on March 4 and April 2.”
To find a protest near you, visit the peoplesassembly.org.uk.
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