More than 80,000 people are believed to have come out in protest on Saturday over low wages and government austerity measures.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) organised protests across the country for the Britain Needs A Pay Rise campaign, which demands enforcement of the minimum wage, higher pay for workers, commitment to the living wage and cutting of executive salaries. Members of unions including Unite, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and Unison took part in what's been described as a 'peaceful protest' (though some commenters on Twitter clearly disagreed with the Met's assessment). TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said:.
“After the longest and deepest pay squeeze in recorded history, it’s time to end the lockout that has kept the vast majority from sharing in the economic recovery. Meanwhile, top directors now earn 175 times more than the average worker. If politicians wonder why so many feel excluded from the democratic process, they should start with bread-and-butter living standards.”
Labour's shadow minister for London Sadiq Khan joined the protest:
"Having a job no longer guarantees that you can afford to live in the capital. It’s just not right that Londoners can go to work every day, work long hours and still live in poverty, struggling to bring up their families. Those who live and work in our city should be paid enough not to have to work two jobs, and to keep families out of poverty. Let’s get it straight - wages have completely failed to keep pace with the cost-of living in London. As housing and bills takes up an ever higher percentage of Londoner’s salaries, tens of thousands of hard working families have been pushed into poverty."
Occupy London has also set up camp in Parliament Square for the week, but claimed in a press release on Saturday night that they were being 'violently evicted' by police. Saturday's marches followed public sector strikes earlier this week, including a four-hour strike by the London Ambulance Service last Monday.
Protests also took place in Parliament Square earlier this month over the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which critics believe will result in the the NHS being 'sold to the highest bidder'. The highly contentious negotiations between the US and the EU aim to reduce regulatory barriers for trade, but the less-than-transparent nature of these negotiations has raised concerns over potential loss of jobs and democracy.
Photos by Andy Worthington in the Londonist Flickr pool.