Europe:

Growing Resistance to Reactionary Agenda of Monopoly Capital

June 11, 2010

In recent weeks, workers throughout Europe have organized widespread strikes and other actions in opposition to the attempts of monopoly capital to further shift the burden of the economic crisis onto the backs of the people. In one form or another, all the capitalist governments are following a common agenda of cutting back on vital social investments and trying to eliminate various economic guarantees gained by the workers over decades of struggle. Below, we briefly review some of the most recent struggles.

In Italy, a general strike is planned for June 25. The national strike has been called by the CGIL Labor Confederation and follows a recent general strike of workers in Florence. The public and private sector workers are striking to protest austerity measures including some $30 billion in government spending cuts.

On June 8, over 10,000 workers marched in the Belgian capitol of Brussels, calling for wage hikes amid rising prices.

On the same day, hundreds of thousands of public sector workers in Spain went out on strike to protest government plans to slash wages of public workers by 5% and impose a partial freeze on pensions. In part as a result of previous austerity measures, 25% of Spanish workers are employed under temporary contracts. The country's two main national unions, the General Union of Workers and the CCOO, are planning to strike again as the government moves on plans to impose anti-worker changes in the country's labor laws.

On the same day, journalists and public transport workers in Athens staged a 24-hour strike to demand a halt in layoffs, proposed increases in retirement age and pension cuts. The workers also demanded unemployment assistance and protection of all jobs. On June 5, Greece's two largest trade unions, GSEE and ADEDY, representing 2.5 million workers, staged a rally of thousands of workers in Athens. On May 20, tens of thousands of Greek workers went out on the 4th general strike of the year, closing schools, halting ferries and trains and keeping hospitals running on emergency staff only. The strike was called by the GSEE and ADEDY to protest proposed pension reform and other austerity measures. The Greek government has recently implemented huge spending and job cuts as well as increases in consumer taxes.

On May 31, tens of thousands of Romanian education, health care, and other public sector workers went out on strike to protest government plans to slash wages by 25%.

On May 29, 300,000 people marched in the Portuguese capitol of Lisbon to protest government austerity plans.

On May 27, hundreds of thousands of workers held street rallies in cities across France to protest government plans to raise the retirement age.

These widespread actions reflect the growing resistance of European workers to the reactionary program of monopoly capital. In these struggles, the workers are flexing their muscles and proving, once again, that they are the decisive social force. The key to advancing the situation further is for the workers to come forward with their own aims and agenda, with a program for opening the path for progress and socialism.