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European Days of Solidarity and Protest
Saturday May 15, 2010 22:17 by Jolly Red Giant - Socialist Party / CWI
Joe Higgins, Socialist Party MEP from Ireland and member of the Committee for a Workers´ International initiated a meeting with fellow MEPs with the intention of countering both, the nationalist slanders of the international media and European leaders against the Greek workers and youth; as well as to counter the illusion that the huge bail-out package of €750 billion which was agreed by the European Commission, the euro zone member states and the IMF represents the beginning of a solid recovery.
Nikolaos Chountis, MEP for the Greek Syriza Party thanked Joe for taking the initiative for a European Day of Protest against the crisis. Nikolaos explained the grave consequences the austerity measures will have on the Greek working class and youth. He also alluded to the possible reshaping of Greece’s political landscape as a result of the draconian measures that will be implemented by the so-called socialist PASOK government. Correctly, Nikolaos pointed out that the protest should not only aim at organising solidarity with the Greek workers and youth. He explained that striving to reinforce the Growth and Stability by the European leaders will affect the whole of the European working class and that this needs to be countered by joint acts of the European working class.
Søren Bo Søndergaard, a Danish MEP from the Red Green Alliance also expressed support for Joe Higgins’ initiative. Søren added another important point to the discussion by saying that the Danish media and probably the media in other countries that are not yet directly affected by the devaluation by the ratings agencies and the dictate to implement huge cuts, have spread lies about Greek workers and Greek living standards which need to be exposed in order to mobilise people in support of the Greek workers. Søren also made the point that the idea of letting the rich pay for their crisis should be incorporated in our material.
Kyriacos Trianthaphyllides from the Cypriot AKEL Party stressed the necessity of having a “real” mobilisation for such a protest. He said we need to mobilise through the trade unions and bring our people onto the streets. He also explained that Greek wages are already very low and that the so-called “prestigious” 13th and 14th month of wages which have been used to outline the “luxury” life of the Greek workers are in fact essential for Greek workers to make ends meet.
Carmen Hilario represented the Left Bloc from Portugal in this meeting. Carmen started her contribution by sending the apologies of the three Left Bloc MEP´s, Miguel Portas, Rui Tavares and Marisa Matias. They were not able to attend the meeting due to other commitments but they nevertheless give support to the initiative and the idea of an active protest. Carmen explained that the Portuguese government has recently adapted its own Stability and Growth Programme for Portugal which includes very detailed proposals of cuts. The Left Bloc has published a document “15 measures for a decent economy” which counter the government’s proposals and explain that different policies are possible.
Many other valuable contributions were made about the various aspects of the crisis. The meeting took place in a constructive and friendly atmosphere. Agreement was reached about the central idea of “We will not pay for the crisis” as a starting point for the mobilisations. This was added by basic demands for Workers´ Unity across Europe, the need to reject cuts in wages and attacks on living standards and to say no to privatisations. The idea to break the dictatorship of the markets and financial institutions by putting them under public control in order to save the interests of the people was also widely agreed.
Joe Higgins made the point that the “markets” (in reality, a small number of tremendously wealthy individuals, hedge funds, speculators and banks) are being accorded a dictatorship-like power by the media and many governments. The savage assaults on the living standards of working people are being justified as necessary to “satisfy the markets” as if they were a god-like creature whose existence and powers are almighty and not be questioned.
Furthermore, terminology such “fiscal consolidation” and “internal devaluation” are being used to disguise their real meaning, namely: attacks on the working class.
The meeting agreed to propose the week of June 21 – 26 as dates for European protests and for those dates to be discussed in our respective organisations and parties, as well as the trade unions, social movements and other left organisations.
A next meeting has been called for next week in order to finalise the proposals and ideas. This will allow time to get more GUE/NGL MEPs on board.