Socialist Worker

Mood of resistance sweeps continent

Issue No. 2204

Taking to the streets of Paris last week to defend pensions  (Pic: Phototheque Rouge/JMB)

Taking to the streets of Paris last week to defend pensions (Pic: Phototheque Rouge/JMB)

The British protests against cuts on 22 June will be part of a cross‑European fightback. There are moves towards a day of coordinated strikes and demonstrations across the continent.

Portuguese workers took to the streets of the capital, Lisbon, last Saturday to protest against the minority Socialist Party government’s plans for wage and job cuts.

The General Union of Workers claims around 300,000 people joined the demonstration—the equivalent of over 1.5 million in Britain.

They marched with placards and banners reading, “Stop the rise in unemployment”, “No to austerity” and “Those responsible for the crisis should pay for it.”

Portugal’s union leaders say the rally last weekend was only the first step in protest at an austerity plan including tax rises and a freeze on civil service workers’ pay.

“It’s a stage of a continuous struggle that will intensify,” said Armenio Carlos, a member of the union’s national leadership committee.

“We’re leaving all options open, including calling a national general strike.”

Three days earlier, up to one million French workers took part in some 90 demonstrations across the country against an increase in the age at which workers receive their pensions.


Italy’s six-million strong CGIL union announced a nationwide stoppage for Friday 25 June to be preceded by protest rallies around the country two weeks earlier.

Bankers increased the pressure on the Spanish Socialist Party after the credit ratings agency Fitch raised fears that the government might not be able to meet future debt repayments, causing markets to tumble.

But this has only increased support from workers for resistance. A public sector strike is set for next Tuesday 8 June, and private sector unions are discussing joining in.

Romanian workers, facing 25 percent public sector pay cuts, have launched their biggest strikes and protests for 20 years.

Hundreds of thousands struck and tens of thousands marched on Monday.

Greek workers in the private sector union GSEE are to strike against attacks on their pensions.

And the union’s leader called for a day of strikes and protests across Europe—a call quickly supported by Italy’s CGIL.

“At this moment we need initiatives at a European level,” said CGIL leader Guglielmo Epifani. European unions were meeting to discuss the plan as Socialist Worker went to press.

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Tue 1 Jun 2010, 18:54 BST
Issue No. 2204
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