Tens of thousands of Austrians angered by the government’s inertia in tackling runaway costs of living took to the streets of Vienna and eight major cities on Saturday.
The Austrian trade union federation OeGB called the nationwide protest in a bid to put pressure on the conservative-Green coalition that it blamed for “watching idly as our life becomes unaffordable.”
Some 20,000 Austrians turned up for a “Prices Down” rally in downtown Vienna, according to OeGB. City police declined to share their estimates.
About 10,000 more protested in Linz, Bruck an der Mur, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Klagenfurt St. Polten, Eisenstadt, and Bregenz.
Trade unionists accused big business of ripping off private consumers as they struggle to pay skyrocketing energy, heating and food bills.
Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen said his post did not allow him to join the rally but assured protesters of his solidarity.
“This solidarity should not only be felt in the heart but, above all, in the wallet of those who are wondering how to pay for their shopping at the end of the month,” he said on social media.
Vienna Mayor Michael Ludwig called the hike in consumer prices a great challenge for a large portion of the population and voiced his support for the unionists’ demand for pay raises.