Socialist Worker

International round-up

Issue No. 1765

International round-up

Growing strikes in Argentina

NINETY thousand workers took to the streets of Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, last week.

They were protesting at wage and pension cuts imposed by the government in conjunction with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The protest was called jointly by two of the country's three trade union federations.

It included transport workers, teachers, shop workers and electricity workers. It followed three weeks of road blockages by the unemployed and a month of strike action by teachers.

The latest deal with the IMF involves further loans to the government to allow it to pay interest on what it owes the banks. But it does nothing about the cuts and unemployment. And few mainstream analysts expect it to solve the financial crisis.

Delegates from the unemployed were discussing last weekend where next to go in their campaign of road blockages. Some of the leaders were trying to hold the movement back, claiming this was necessary to "win public opinion".

Left wing activists were saying that only extending the pickets and the strike movement could beat the government and the IMF.


Italy

THE RIGHT wing government of Silvio Berlusconi has forced the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the UN to move a conference due in Rome in December.

It did so fearing another Genoa-style demonstration. "It is necessary to save the capital from the risk of devastation," claimed Berlusconi, although the police not the protesters were responsible for the devastation in Genoa five weeks ago.

Judicial and parliamentary inquiries are making this increasingly clear, with police chiefs contradicting each other and the account of what happened put out by the interior minister and accepted by Tony Blair. Magistrates finally released 11 German protesters from prison last week, but four more are still locked up.

Further big protests are due over the next three weeks. As the government begins to push through a new anti-strike law, a stoppage was due on the Alitalia airline on Friday, and rail strikes are planned for 21 and 22 September. The following week the No Global movement is organising big protests against a NATO summit in Naples, two days before the Washington demonstration against the World Bank.


Macedonia

FOREIGN secretary Jack Straw has admitted that NATO troops are likely to remain in Macedonia long after the 30-day period they had planned. That is an acknowledgement that the deal NATO is trying to force the Macedonian government and Albanian rebels to accept is not a basis for peace.

There are tensions within the Macedonian government and parliament over ratifying the deal. The NATO operation to gather in weapons is nothing more than a symbol which itself is breeding further resentment.

Albanian guerrillas were reported to be crossing the border to Kosovo (administered by NATO) at the weekend, weapons in hand. Many NATO governments fear the British dominated intervention in Macedonia will embroil them in war.

Albanians and Macedonians would be the greatest victims of such a conflict Albanian guerrillas kidnapped two Macedonian civilians in the north western village of Beloviste at the weekend. And a firebomb destroyed a tea house in an Albanian district of the capital, Skopje, on Sunday.


Denmark

HIGH SCHOOL students in Denmark showed how to fight rising class sizes last week when they struck, picketed and marched across the country. Thousands of students in over 100 of the country's gymnasiums, equivalent to sixth form and further education colleges in Britain, joined the one-day strike on Thursday of last week. They were protesting against class sizes rising above the 28 they are supposed to be limited to. Teachers arrived at work to find student pickets. All refused to cross as they support the students' demand for more staff and smaller classes. Lene Rind, head of one gymnasium, drew wider lessons from the students' protest: "When I saw the barricades at the school gates then I think there's something of the same spirit as in the 1960s and 1970s."


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News
Sat 8 Sep 2001, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1765
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