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The need for a united European response of workers against the attacks
national | anti-capitalism | feature Thursday June 17, 2010 22:49 by Joe Higgins MEP - Socialist Party info at joehiggins dot eu 01-6795030
European-wide "Week of Protest and Solidarity" 21 to 26 June. Ireland: National Protest on Saturday 26 June at 1pm, Central Bank Plaza, Dublin.
Attacks on working people are mounting right across Europe. The so-called PIGS (Portugal, Ireland & Italy, Greece, Spain) countries have been to the forefront of these attacks. In Ireland, we have seen €7 billion of cutbacks, seriously damaging public services, including health and education. In Greece, there has been a 10% cut in wages and spending in the public sector, together with an increased retirement age, VAT increases and the freezing of pensions. Portugal has a plan to cut its deficit by €11bn over four years through a crisis tax on wages and cutbacks in public services. The Spanish Parliament has passed cutbacks worth €15bn on top of €50bn already agreed. Italy is due to implement "emergency-cutbacks" of €24 bn.
These attacks have also spread to Northern Europe, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel announcing €80 billion worth of cuts the new Tory/Lib Dem government launching a so-called “era of austerity” in Britain with cutbacks of €18 bn being implemented this year.
"The purpose is to proclaim that Left and social organisations reject the policy that it is working people who must pay for the crisis, that we demand an end to the dictatorship of the markets, demand that the financial institutions are taken into public ownership and we declare that European workers stand together in solidarity."
As a result of this appeal being taken up by important sections of the Left across Europe, protests and events will take place across the continent, with two days of protest in Greece against the privatisation of train services and attacks on social services and pension rights as well as a festival of resistance in Athens on Friday night. In Portugal, a day of action is planned by the Left Bloc, who in street activities will distribute 200,000 copies of a pamphlet arguing against the economic crisis. In Germany, die Linke is planning a protest at the European Central Bank. Other protests and meetings will take place in other countries across Europe.
In Ireland, I initiated a meeting of Left organizations to discuss how we could participate in this Week of Protest. The Socialist Party (http://www.socialistparty.net), Workers' Party (http://www.workerspartyireland.net/), Socialist Workers Party (http://www.swp.ie), People Before Profit Alliance (http://www.people-before-profit.org/), Right to Work, Workers Solidarity Movement (http://www.wsm.ie), éirígí (http://www.eirigi.org/), Irish Socialist Network (http://irishsocialist.net/) and Socialist Democracy (http://www.socialistdemocracy.org/) all agreed to organize a protest in Dublin on Saturday 26 June. This will take the form of a national demonstration beginning at 1pm at the Central Bank Plaza which will proceed to the EU Commission Offices on Molesworth Street before finishing at Anglo Irish bank in Stephen's Green. For more on the protest, check out this article: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/96862
This initiative has already been endorsed by almost the entire political left in Ireland and a campaign for trade union and trades council endorsement as well as the support of community based campaigns against the cuts is well underway. The Drogheda Trades Council and the OPW and An Post branches of the Civil and Public Service Union have already endorsed this protest and we continue to work to get further endorsements. I urge anybody who supports this initiative to raise it in their union branch or any community based campaigns they are involved in.
The demonstration on Saturday, together with the activities across Europe is an opportunity to send a strong message to the Irish government and European establishment that we oppose workers paying for the economic crisis and will stand together with workers across Europe to resist the attacks. It is an important step in building a strong European-wide response. A crucial further step will be the day of action organised by the European Trade Union Confederation on 29 September, with protests planned in Brussels and across Europe. Where the conditions are appropriate, I will be arguing for industrial action to be organised on this date by trade unions across Europe to really bring the industrial power of the working class to bear on a European level.
The demands which the protests are organised around across Europe are the following:
· Workers, pensioners, the unemployed, students, youth and those socially excluded must not pay for the crisis - Make the super rich and bankers pay
· Solidarity with the working people of Greece and for the unity of working people across Europe.
· No to cutbacks, wage cuts, unemployment and increases in the retirement age
· No to privatisation of public services
· End the dictatorship of the financial markets, credit ratings institutions and the IMF
· Stop the bailouts of the banks - nationalise the banks and financial institutions in the interests of working people
What you can do:
· Attend the demonstration at 1pm Saturday 26 June at Central Bank.
· Get the endorsement of your union branch, campaigning or community organisation for the initiative.
· Contact us to get leaflets and posters advertising the demonstration to distribute. 01 6795030 firstname.lastname@example.org