Europe: Week of ‘Protest and Solidarity’ held across Europe

Make ETUC 29 September "Day of action" decisive workers’ mobilisation

Following the call by sixteen MEPs from European United Left / Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) in the European Parliament, and initiated by Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland), protests and activities took place in many countries across Europe last week. Although mostly modest in size, the breadth of these actions actively point in the direction of what is needed – mass European-wide protest and industrial action to resist the attacks of governments and bosses across the continent.

In protests initiated by the Socialist Party, 500 people took to the streets of Dublin on Saturday 26 June, mobilised around the key slogans of "Stop the bailouts – Oppose the IMF/EU cuts – End the dictatorship of the markets." Earlier in the week, a protest in Belfast, at the European Commission office, received official backing from the Fire Brigades Union, a teachers’ union (INTO – Northern Region), Public and Civil Servants (PCS) and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) and which saw a turnout of over 150 people.

Protest in Brussels

In Greece, protests organised by Syriza took place during the week, together with a rally of hundreds on Friday evening in Athens. In England, the National Shop Stewards Network marked the week with a rally on Saturday 26 June, on the question of international solidarity. In Sweden, activists from four different unions and socialist organisations in the September Alliance network gathered outside the European Commission office in Stockholm. They held a banner saying "No to the big business EU" and handed in a protest letter to the European Commission.

Stockholm, Sweden

In Lisbon on the afternoon of 26 June, Left Bloc activists distributed 200,000 pamphlets on the economic crisis. Around 80 people protested in Brussels in a demonstration organised by the Front des Gauches and supported by Synaspismos (Greece) and Fed Communista de Belge (Italian). This protest took place in an area populated by many southern European communities and received applause and support from many onlookers. Members of the CWI in Austria (Sozialistische Linkspartei), organised a protest in front of the Chamber of Commerce in Salzburg on Wednesday 23 June, together with unfurling a 35 metre long banner proclaiming "International protest and Solidarity" as part of a demonstration on Friday.

CWI actvists raised a 35 meter long banner in the center of Salzburg/Austria saying: "International protest and solidarity"

In Denmark, the annual midsummer rally of the Red-Green Alliance was held in Copenhagen on Wednesday 23 June, with hundreds attending. Finn Sørensen, Vice-Chair of an industry and services trade union in Copenhagen, attacked the claim that the crises in Greece are a result of Greek workers living beyond their means. Instead he placed the responsibility for the crises on the EU, the Greek government and on speculators. A strong message of solidarity was sent to Greek workers from Denmark. In Italy, the week of protest was publicised by Controcorrente comrades intervening in the general strike on 25 June.

Europe headed in direction of Greece

The different levels of protests in the various countries reflect the different levels of struggle and situations in different European countries. However, with the draconian Tory/Liberal coalition budget in Britain and Merkel’s announcement of vicious cutbacks in Germany, and austerity measures announced in France, it is now crystal clear that all of Europe is headed in the direction of Greece – in the sense of vicious attacks on working people. Over the last few days, there were also general strikes or partial general strikes in France, Italy and the Basque Country in Spain.

The week of action initiated by the CWI has pointed the way forward for the workers’ movement across Europe – stressing the necessity of common action on a Europe-wide basis to defeat the onslaught of attacks that are being imposed.

The key focus will now turn to the "Day of action" which has been announced by the European Trade Union Confederation for 29 September. Significantly, Spanish unions have announced that they will organise a general strike for that day. The CWI will be arguing for this day of action to become a significant day of mobilisation and workers’ action across Europe. Where appropriate, like in Spain, general strikes should be organised on this day, together with regional demonstrations across Europe and a major mobilisation in Brussels.

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June 2010