Socialist Worker

Fightback grows as austerity measures imposed

Issue No. 2202

A new age of austerity has come to Europe.

Public sector wages have been frozen in Portugal.

France is attempting to bring in a three-year public sector pay freeze.

Governments across the continent are in the process of imposing cuts on a scale unseen in decades. But resistance is also spreading:

  • In Ireland, child benefit has been cut by almost 10 percent and public sector wages by a minimum of 5 percent.

    After the latest bailout of the banks, 2,000 workers marched on the parliament in Dublin last week.

    This is despite most of the country’s union leaders lining up behind the cuts packages.

    The Right to Work campaign in Ireland plans further protests this week.

  • In Germany, pensions have been frozen and the state pension age is being raised.

    Thousands of doctors were striking for higher pay and better working conditions this week. The Marburger Bund union said that the doctors are striking in about 200 public clinics in different German states.

    The union says that the action could continue indefinitely if the towns and cities running the clinics don’t make a better offer.

    The employers are offering a 2.9 percent wage increase. Doctors want a 5 percent rise.

  • Romanian unions have rejected a government plan to cut public wages by 25 percent and pensions by 15 percent.

    These measures are part of an International Monetary Fund bail out programme.

    Union leader Cezar Coraci said, “Nobody denied we must cut down on unjustified budget expenditure, but that doesn’t necessarily mean cutting salaries by 25 percent.”

    The unions have called a strike of 40,000 workers for Wednesday of this week unless the government eases its austerity plan.


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Tue 18 May 2010, 17:44 BST
Issue No. 2202
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