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.
These common cutbacks demonstrate that whatever their disagreements over exactly how to deal with the crisis in the eurozone, the European establishment is united in the belief that workers, young people and the unemployed must pay for the economic crisis. The result of these cutbacks will be a worsening of the economic crisis, with these deep cuts substantially raising the prospect of a double dip recession.
In Ireland, we have seen what these attacks mean for ordinary people, with health and education services being attacked, with unemployment, with over 400,000 people already signing on, worsening. Further cutbacks of €3 bn are planned within months, which will most likely see more attacks on pensioners in particular.
These attacks have not been accepted meekly by workers across Europe. Mass opposition has been the result. Before the disgraceful sell-out by most of the trade union leadership in signing up to and advocating the Croke Park public sector deal, Ireland saw a national demonstration of 120,000 people and regional demonstrations with a total attendance of 80,000 people together with an historic national public sector strike.
Greece has seen three major general strikes since the start of the year. May saw the biggest demonstration since the end of the second world war in Athens - an extremely impressive display of the power of workers in Greece.
Spain and Portugal have experienced massive demonstrations of over 100,000 people as well as public sector strikes. Two weeks ago, around one million people marched across France in opposition to pension counter-reform, with a nationwide strike planned for 24 June. Italy has a general strike scheduled for 25 June.
This fightback is precisely the resistance that is needed to defeat the capitalist establishment across Europe. A crucial question is uniting these movements across Europe and having a strong joint response by workers across Europe against paying the price for the economic crisis.
The need for a Europe-wide response is a demand that has emerged strongly from the movements in Greece and elsewhere in Europe, with workers and young people recognising that the attacks being experienced in their country are replicated across Europe. Numerous statements have circulated in the Left in Europe in relation to the crisis. The crucial thing in my opinion is the need for united action, pointing towards the need for united industrial action by the trade unions across Europe.
As a result, I initiated a call for united action – a “week of protest and solidarity” across Europe, which has been supported by 15 other Left MEPs from Greece, Germany, Portugal, France, the Netherlands, Cyprus, Denmark and Sweden, as well as the French New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA - http://www.npa2009.org/) and the sections of the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI - www.socialistworld.net).
I argued that there was for united action to ensure workers are not divided along national lines. The danger of this was demonstrated in the media in Germany and many ther countries where lies about the conditions of workers in Greece are spread to create the impression that ordinary Greeks are responsible for the crisis in their country and must pay the price. The Left must counter this disinformation with facts and figures showing the real situation. For example, contrary to the myth of lazy Greek workers retiring early, the average retirement age in Greece is 61.4 years, higher than the European average!
As I outlined in the appeal
"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."
"We feel that successful co-ordinated protests in the week of 21 to 26 June would have a major impact and send a clear message to the European establishments. It would assist the struggles of workers in the various European countries and be a vital step in building a European-wide resistance to the ongoing neo-liberal agenda."
(Full Appeal availeble here: http://www.indymedia.ie/index.php?obj_id=53&story_id=96...68611