European workers fight austerity

This video is about a solidarity demonstration with the struggle of Greek workers, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 18.12.2012

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Workers across EU rally against cuts

Wednesday 29 February 2012

by Our Foreign Desk

Trade unions staged protests against European Union austerity measures today in Belgium, Spain and Greece, a day before a key EU summit.

Massed in front of EU headquarters in Brussels, organised workers demanded a financial transaction tax, a clampdown on tax evasion and a pooling of debt through the use of eurobonds instead of cuts to public spending, welfare provision and workers’ rights.

Representatives of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) met EU President Herman Van Rompuy to push the workers’ demands.

“Enough is enough. Austerity measures do not work,” said ETUC leader Bernadette Segol at the demonstration.

“We have alternatives and Europe must work for employment and social justice. And we haven’t had that until now.”

After meeting leaders of the trade unions and employers federations in Brussels, EU Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso acknowledged that “sacrifices are being made on an unfair basis.”

Mr Barroso said he intends to take steps during the two-day summit to fight tax evasion and boost a financial transaction tax.

“We want to keep our social model, but there is a need to reform,” he said.

In addition to the rally outside EU headquarters, well over 1,000 Belgian union activists protested outside the national bank.

In Greece, unions held a three-hour work stoppage from noon and rallied in central Athens against a 22 per cent minimum wage cut as well as slashed benefits and pensions.

The minimum wage for workers under the age of 25 has been cut by 32 per cent.

The cuts were passed by MPs in a bid to secure a second package of loans from the EU, the European Central Bank and the IMF.

Doctors at public hospitals and some private practices also kicked off a 24-hour strike over health care spending cuts, while striking local government workers occupied town halls across Greece for four hours.

In Spain, thousands of high school and college students demonstrated in cities against cutbacks in education in a country with nearly 29 per cent unemployment.

Civil servants in Castilla La Mancha walked out to protest against wage cuts of up to 8 percent.

See also here.

Tens of thousands of students rallied across the Czech Republic today against the right-wing coalition government’s plans to slap them with university tuition fees: here.

9 thoughts on “European workers fight austerity

  1. Nationwide three-hour strike in Greece

    Three-hour labour stoppages were held across Greece Wednesday, organised by the private-sector GSEE and the public sector ADEDY union federations. Municipal workers occupied local town halls during the walk-out.

    The action came as parliament began approving further austerity measures—agreed with the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank—in return for a second loan of 130 billion euros.

    On Tuesday, the parliament approved an additional 3.2 billion euros in spending cuts. This includes cutting civil servant pensions by 12 percent, or more than 1,300 euros. Civil service pensions have already been cut by 10 percent.

    Doctors held a one-day strike on Wednesday against health spending cuts. That day, parliament debated emergency measures to restructure the health service in line with the troika’s demands. Health services are to be merged as part of cuts to the public health budget.
    Protests in Spain

    Protests took place across Spain Wednesday in opposition to the Mariano Rajoy Conservative government’s attempts to slash public spending by half this year.

    The protests involved large numbers of youth. Nearly one-half of young people are officially out of work in Spain, with the figure higher in many areas.

    Cuts in education budgets, the lack of jobs and prospects saw tens of thousands of high school students take to the streets in 40 towns and cities across the country.

    In Valencia, scene of recent education protests that were brutally attacked by police, students gathered to denounce police violence and spending cuts.

    In Madrid, thousands gathered outside the national education ministry, targeting the offices of Santander bank for a noisy protest as they marched to Puerta del Sol square.

    In Barcelona, riot police were mobilised against demonstrators gathered outside the stock market, beating and arresting youth. Several took shelter from the police assault in the University of Barcelona. Students reported indiscriminate assaults and arrests, and accused police of using rubber bullets in an unprovoked attack.

    A demonstration later in the day to the city’s convention centre, host to a world mobile phone trade event, was prevented from reaching its goal by barriers and a mass police presence.
    Airport staff in Frankfurt end strike

    A strike over pay and conditions by airfield staff at Fraport, based at Frankfurt aiport, ended in the early hours of Thursday morning.

    Earlier, a court had banned a threatened six-hour solidarity strike by air-traffic controllers, scheduled for Wednesday. The ruling came too late to prevent delays and cancellations at the airport—the third busiest in Europe. Lufthansa said it had cancelled 20 long-haul flights and that a further 140 flights had to be cancelled.

    The GdF union said it had no plans for further action.
    FT journalists vote to strike

    According to the web site of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), reporters on the Financial Times (FT) have voted by three-to-one to take industrial action over their 2012 pay claim which, owing to the inflation rate, is a real-terms cut.

    “The management had offered a rise of 2 per cent, while retaining a third of the money set aside for this year’s increase, to use as merit pay or for staff retention at the managing editor’s discretion. The strike call came as the FT announced a 27 per cent profit increase at the group,” the NUJ said.

    Anger among journalists on the paper was “further fuelled when it was revealed that John Ridding, FT Ltd’s CEO, took home £928,000 in 2010. Figures from Companies House show that his remuneration has increased by 95 per cent in the four years to 2010. During the same period, staff were asked to accept redundancies and a one-year pay freeze,” said the NUJ.

    According to figures released by Pearson, the FT’s parent company, turnover was up last year by 6 percent at £427 million.
    South Yorkshire Stagecoach bus dispute ends

    A six-month pay dispute between the Stagecoach transport company and bus drivers in the South Yorkshire area—Barnsley, Rotherham and the Dearne Valley—concluded earlier this month.

    The bus workers began a series of strikes in November after turning down a 5.5 percent pay increase.

    According to the BBC, Paul Lynch, managing director for Stagecoach in Yorkshire, said, “The deal which has ultimately been agreed is, as we always said it would be, actually worth a little less than we offered before strike action began.”

    Stagecoach said it was pleased to have reached an agreement and hoped to “put this matter behind us.”

    The February 20 issue of the Doncaster Free Press pointed out that the protracted industrial dispute has resulted in the originally imposed hourly rate of £8.74 being “increased” to £9.05 plus back pay—a rise of just 31 pence.
    Ireland: energy company workers may strike over cuts

    “Bord Gáis is facing industrial action up to and including strikes by its entire workforce over the company’s decision to cut overtime and allowances without agreement,” reported the Irish Examiner February 28.

    The workforce of 1,000 would be striking against the energy company’s implementation of a 7.5 percent pay cut. The company has announced its intention of saving 115 million euros over the next four years, with 34 million from wages.

    The Irish Examiner said that a “deadline of January 1 was set for the completion of negotiations on the overtime and allowances. When that date passed without agreement another deadline was set for January 27. When that deadline was also passed the company decided to press ahead with making the cuts. It said a clause in the 2000 ‘Response’ company-union agreement meant it could do so while the matter was still to be agreed.”
    London Underground workers to ballot for strike

    The RMT union is to ballot its members on the London Underground for strike action. It comes after the union rejected a £500 bonus for taking on additional duties during the Olympic Games in July being held in the capital.


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