Big European anti-austerity strikes

This video from Spain today is called Anti-austerity strike in Madrid.

By Dave Sewell in Britain:

Wed 14 Nov 2012

Europe rocked by general strikes in Portugal, Italy, Spain, Greece

Workers walked out today in general strikes across Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece as well as parts of Belgium.

In Spain this is the second general strike in a year—and more workers have been joining in.

“We were picketing from 5:30am,” Jesus Castillo, a lecturer at Seville University, told Socialist Worker. “First for the cleaners—it was the first time they’ve had a picket line. Then for the teachers and administrative workers.

“Then we marched from campus to campus, going into the few classes that were taking place and explaining to people why they should come out and strike.”

In all 90 percent of students and workers at the university did strike. Elsewhere workers in transport and manufacturing also reported very high turnouts.

By the middle of the day the cities were filling up with protesters. “There must have been tens of thousands in Seville,” said Jesus. “And this evening we’re coming back out to surround the regional parliament—it’s run by the left, who say they support the strike, but they are putting through cuts too.”

There were also to be massive evening protests in Madrid and other cities.

Thousands marched in Lisbon. There were organised blocs of dockers with flares, local government and education workers, university students and more. People waved Greek flags and placards harking back to Portugal’s revolution—and even briefly invaded a supermarket.


Thousands of workers and students converged on city and town centres across Italy as part of a four hour general strike. In Turin students occupied the central railway station and raided the police station there. They also occupied local government offices.

In Rome there was a “guerrilla war” between police and protesters as students made shields and barricades to use against police lines.

In Naples protesters lay on the tracks in the central train station and Metro workers walked out, bringing the city grinding to a halt.

“There is high support for the strike,” Leopoldo Tartaglia from the CGIL union told Socialist Worker. “The crisis of unemployment, a reduction in working hours and the wage freeze means that everyone has less.

“We are now heading to a situation where the mass of people are working poor. We will not hesitate to strike again to defeat these attacks.”

In Greece unions called a three hour stoppage from noon. Around 10,000 marched on the parliament in central Athens, and many more held meetings and demonstrations nearer their workplaces.

Local government workers protested at the town halls, many of which are occupied. And one of the liveliest contingents on the main demonstration was of the workers who have been occupying the main senate of Athens University.

These two sections of workers face massive job cuts from the cuts package narrowly voted through parliament last week.

“The union leaders want to wait and see what happens at the meeting of Eurogroup finance ministers next week, where it will be decided if Greece will get its bailout money,” said Panos Garganos, editor of Workers’ Solidarity. “But still, people came out and demonstrated across Greece.”


There was also a general strike called in the Belgian city of Liege, where 6,000 people came out and marched. Across Belgium rail workers also struck and blocked the rails, in protests at rail cuts planned next month, and there were strikes at a number of factories and power stations.

“I was at a picket of 100 last night, and another of the same size this morning,” said Michel Abdissi of the train workers’ FGTB union. “There were major pertubations in the north, and not a single train ran in the south.

“Train workers were out against problems in Belgium—massive public sector job cuts, wages being held down compared to inflation, and the fact they want to privatise the train system like what you have in England.

“And we especially didn’t want to leave our colleagues in southern Europe to fight alone. We need a real fight for a different kind of Europe, instead of the catastrophe we see now.”

There were also protests in cities across France, as well as in other major capital cities around Europe.

By early evening thousands of protesters in Lisbon were laying siege to the Portuguese parliament. They tried to break police lines, and when pushed back started to build barricades in the side streets.

All the unions have hailed the strike as a success—even those that didn’t support it—and a national demonstration has been called in two weeks time.

“We need to follow the example of Greece, and get more action after today” said unemployed Kyria Kos on the Lisbon demonstration. “The people of the world are rising up. Together we can do it.”

See also here. And here. And here.

Trade union protests in Britain in solidarity with European strikers: here.

11 thoughts on “Big European anti-austerity strikes

  1. Tragic cost of crisis for Ireland’s emigrants

    On 1 November the crisis in Ireland and Europe took on a clear face and a tragic story for me. Declan Gilmartin, 22, from Leitrim hanged himself in north London.

    Like many young people from Ireland, economic conditions drove him to seek work abroad, far from his family and friends. He moved out of necessity rather than choice and in the process became alienated and lonely.

    Ireland is losing a generation. Some 182,900 15 to 29 year olds have left since the crisis began. Many then face real social problems without the support networks they grew up with.

    Capitalism seeks to alienate and divide us, and we strive to offer a socialist alternative. But the only option Declan felt he had was to take his own life.

    Ruairi O’Neill, Bristol


    • Who wrote this? I am Declan Gilmartins sister, do not write stuff like this without knowing the facts. Declan was a well respected and well known young man in a very close knit Irish community in Cricklewood and played football for the Garyowen football club, the reception our family recieved from the Irish community there reflects this, do more research. Educate yourself before writing. Karen Gilmartin Msc


      • Hello Karen, as the signature says, and the link underneath it, this is a leter by Ruairi O’Neill in Bristol. I only blogged it. I think you should contact Ruairi O’Neil and Socialist Worker weekly to discuss this. All my best wishes for you and your family.


        • Thank you very much for your wishes, I have contacted The Socialist Worker weekly regarding the misleading article of “Tragic cost of crisis for Ireland’s emigrants”. Lack of research was conducted by Mr Ruairi O’Neill, Bristol. I know you only blogged this article but unfortunately this man used a misleading Irish emigrant suicide stereotype and labeled my brother by using him as an example to support the main theme of his article which was non-applicable to our situation.
          Best wishes,
          Karen Gilmartin Msc


          • Thank you Ms Gilmartin, for this comment!

            I blogged Mr Ruairi O’Neill’s letter to the editor as I thought it was an example of the economic crisis’ impact on people’s lives. I hope you can further solve this issue with the Socialist Worker editors.


            • Don’t turn Declan into a stereotype

              I am writing to correct Mr Ruairi O’Neill (Letters, 17 November). He states that “on 1 November the crisis in Ireland and Europe took on a clear face and a tragic story for me. Declan Gilmartin, 22, from Leitrum hanged himself in north London”.

              The fact is Declan Gilmartin died on 2 November and Leitrim is the correct spelling of this county in Ireland.

              Mr O’Neill is correct when he says “Like many young people from Ireland, economic conditions drove him to seek work abroad. He moved out of necessity rather than choice.”

              However, the process did not make Declan “alienated and lonely”. He had family and friends in London before he arrived and he made numerous friends during his three years in Cricklewood.

              He was a well respected and a well known young man in a very close knit Irish community. Declan played football for the GAA Garryowen football club.

              The outstanding reception the Gilmartin family received from the Irish community reflects that this young man was by no means alienated and lonely. Over a hundred people gathered in St Agnes church in Cricklewood on Friday 9 November to offer their condolences and pay their respects to the family. Many of these people followed Declan to Ireland to bring him to his final resting place and attend his removal and funeral.

              On the other hand, Mr O’Neill is correct when he describes how “Ireland is losing a generation. Some 182,900 15 to 29 year olds have left since the crisis began. Many then face real social problems without the support networks they grew up with.”

              This is non-applicable to Declan Gilmartin, there is a Leitrim association in London. In Ireland, the GAA is the heart of every community and this is truly the case with the Garryowen football club.

              London has numerous support networks for Irish emigrants, after all, the truth of the matter is, London is and traditionally always has been a very popular destination for Irish emigrants in this economic crisis and previous economic crises throughout Irish history.

              Mr O’Neill emphasises that “Capitalism seeks to alienate and divide us, and we strive to offer a socialist alternative. But the only option Declan felt he had was to take his own life”.

              Declan Gilmartin’s death was suicide by misadventure; it was not pre-planned or pre-meditated. This shows little respect for the Gilmartin family and his many friends, no consideration was given. Mr O’Neill makes an uneducated hypothesis and uses the tragic death of a young man as a case study which does not support the main theme of his letter.

              I know the facts and I am educated to talk about this issue because I am Declan Gilmartin’s sister and our family have much appreciated respect and gratitude for the Irish support networks in London.

              It is obvious Mr O’Neill did no previous research before writing. The grammar used was notorious. One can only wonder what University this so called writer Mr O’Neill attended.

              Educate yourself before writing. In the words of Saint Augustine of Hippo: “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

              Karen Gilmartin, County Leitrim, Ireland



  2. Pingback: Record visitors numbers to this blog in November. | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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