Iraq: No to war in Iraq – European Trade Union Congress calls for work stoppages on 14 March against the war.

A call for work stoppages throughout Europe to protest against the war at midday on Friday 14 March was made by the European Trade Union Congress at a meeting of its Executive last week (6 and 7 March). An ETUC press statement of 10 March talks of the "conviction so largely shared by European citizens" that war is not inevitable and that all efforts should be made to achieve a peaceful disarming of Sadam Hussein.

Stop work to stop the war.

European Trade Union Congress calls for work stoppages on 14 March against the war.

It urges all ETUC affiliates to organise work stoppages and to support massively the demonstrations planned for 15 March. In the case of the outbreak of war, the ETUC declares it will immediately reconvene to decide upon further actions. In response to this, the major trade union federations in Germany and Belgium have called for five and ten minute stoppages, respectively, on 14 February.

If carried out in work-places throughout Europe, a simultaneous strike against the US-led war would have a tremendous impact. However, general strike action of at least half a day would be far more effective in giving a real warning to governments contemplating allowing a military attack to be carried out against Iraq. It would prepare the way for all-out strike action on Day X or the day the real war begins, if the US goes ahead with it. The social democratic ABVV (General Union of Belgium) in West Flanders has called for its members to take strike action during the whole afternoon of March 21st and other trade union leaderships, under pressure from their membership, may well follow suit.

The ETUC has already made a call for a European Day of Action on 21st March – the day before a European Council meeting in Brussels discussing the provision of social welfare across the continent. This day will be seen as a day of protest against war as well as in defence of jobs, living standards and workers’ rights. In Italy, the unions of the base are calling for strike action on that day and on Day X. In Greece, the GSEE (the Greek TUC) has also made a call for 4 hour general strike action on March 21.

Members of the Committee for a Workers’ International and all active trade unionists and socialists need to follow up on this call by the European TUC. Workplace meetings are vital to ensure all the issues are discussed and decisions are made for strike action. The immediate setting up of Stop the War Committees in the workplaces – factories, offices, hospitals, schools, transport depots etc. – are vital for organising the preparation of material and the participation of the work-force in mass protests on 14th March, 15th March, 21st March and ‘Day X’ if and when it comes.

The comrades of Xekinhma – the affiliated organisation of the CWI in Greece – are arguing for a 24 hour strike on ‘Day X’ and for a rolling programme of strikes in different sectors on every day that the war lasts. Similar proposals should be put forward for discussion by workers everywhere, not only in Europe but world-wide.

The Committee for a Workers’ International wants to receive reports and information on all initiatives being taken to involve workers in strike action and mass protests against the new imperialist war of Bush, Blair and co.

Not for a long time has the need for a different world, a socialist world, been so starkly posed or the need for international action and an international party of workers. Help us to build one today. Stop work to stop the war and, if you have not done so already, join the CWI!

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March 2003