Just 2.5 weeks to December protests
THE BIGGEST ever protest in Europe against neo-liberalism will take place in just two and a half weeks in Nice, in the south of France. Everyone who can should organise now to be in Nice. Tens of thousands of trade unionists from across Europe will be joined by huge numbers of people who see themselves as part of the global resistance to neo-liberal policies and the untrammelled rule of the corporations.
The European TUC expects at least 60,000 workers to march in Nice on Wednesday 6 December, as European Union leaders assemble for a summit meeting in the town. A wide range of groups are also backing a counter-summit which will be launched with a monster rally on the Wednesday evening, chaired by well known campaigner Susan George.
Thousands of people will join the debates and forums of the counter-summit, and on the morning of Thursday 7 December will mount a blockade of the Euro summit. Britain's TUC is backing the European trade union mobilisation for the 6 December.
The key sponsors of the successful Globalisation and Resistance conference, held in Brighton in September, are also backing that protest and the Nice counter-summit. They have issued a statement calling on people to join it (see below). A year ago the new spirit of resistance to global capitalism burst onto the world stage with the great protest in Seattle. Since then we have seen the deepening of that movement across the globe.
The Nice protests promise to mark a new stage in that movement, where all its diverse currents join with the organised working class.
PEOPLE PACKED into a World Development Movement meeting in London last week chaired by Guardian journalist Gary Younge. Speakers included Naomi Klein and environmental campaigner George Monbiot
Get organised today
BRITAIN'S TUC and its affiliated unions are officially backing the 6 December march. Every trade unionist can push to send an official delegation, paid for from union funds, from work or their union branch. Tenants' organisations, debt campaign groups, students and others should organise to get to Nice too.
Some people have already organised to send delegations. Karen Reissman is the publicity officer of Manchester Community Health branch of the UNISON union. "We sent people to the Prague protest against the IMF in September and we are sending a delegation with our banner to Nice," she says. "The European Union is pushing the same agenda as the World Trade Organisation and World Bank-privatisation of public services. From the strike against privatisation in the NHS in Dudley to fights like that against water privatisation in Bolivia, we are part of a global resistance."
Willie Black is a senior AEEU shop steward in Edinburgh. His union branch is backing Nice and looking to send a delegation. He says, "We believe trade unionists have to be at the heart of the protests against the market and the corporations right across the world."
Appeal to join the Nice protests on 6 and 7 December
"EUROPEAN UNION leaders are meeting in Nice in France in early December. Two major issues are on their agenda. One is the proposal for a Charter of Fundamental Rights. The second is a proposal to revise article 133 of the European Union's Treaty of Amsterdam.
The proposed Charter focuses on the rights of business. European Trade Unions have called a major protest on 6 December in Nice to demand that social rights, from the right to strike to the right to decent pensions, form the basis of any Charter. The proposed revision of article 133 of the Treaty of Amsterdam is no merely technical matter. It opens the way for the European Commission to impose neo-liberal trade policies across Europe, regardless of objections from any individual elected government. It will also make the wholesale privatisation of public services like health and education much easier.
The European Union plan is part of the global neo-liberal agenda driven by the giant corporations and the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and World Trade Organisation.
A wide variety of groups in France have called for a series of initiatives, in Nice on 6 and 7 December, including a peaceful occupation of the town as the Euro leaders' summit opens, and a counter-summit of forums and debates. The Nice protests are a continuation of the developing global movement, whose most visible symbols have been the protests in Seattle, Washington, Millau, Melbourne, Seoul and Prague over the last year.
In September we all spoke at the successful Globalisation and Resistance counter-conference to New Labour's annual gathering in Brighton. That conference showed that in Britain too there are a growing number of people who see themselves as part of the growing global resistance to the untrammelled rule of the corporations. We believe that resistance will be strengthened by the Nice protests. We call on anyone who can to join them on 6 and 7 December."
SUSAN GEORGE, GEORGE MONBIOT, CHRIS HARMAN, MARK THOMAS, LIZ DAVIES and GREG PALAST
How to go
ANYONE WITH internet access can find out more information about the protests and the counter-summit. The ATTAC website has links to other useful sites: www.attac.org/nice2000/index.html Getting there: You can fly, go by train or take the regular coach services to Nice.
Accommodation: After the 6 December march many people are likely to be on the streets through the night, as the blockade on 7 December is at 7am. There will be limited accommodation in halls. Coaches are being used as over-night accommodation. For hotels and rooms go through the www.vianice.fr website which under Tourism has an English accommodation section. Or phone Nice Tourisme on 00 33 6 03 34 02 96 or 00 33 4 93 87 07 07.$ Workers of Europe unite
FRANCE'S MAIN trade unions are throwing their weight into building for the protest. The CGT and CFDT, the two biggest union federations, are backing the march on 6 December. The CGT has booked trains, buses and planes from across France. It has issued one million leaflets and plans to issue 10,000 CGT union flags on the day. A "United Collective" is backed by the ATTAC group, which has become a key force fighting against pro-market neo-liberal policies in France. The Peasants Confederation, led by Jos Bov, is also backing the Nice protest. It organised the great carnival of protest in Millau in France last summer. The important SUD trade union federation is also backing the United Collective. The collective is demanding that the French government lays on free trains for the unemployed, low paid and young people to travel to Nice.
And if the government does not comply, it is planning to implement an "operation free transport" protest at Paris rail stations to win the demand. There will also be major contingents in Nice from Italy and Spain. In Italy the important COBAS union organisations and the Social Centres which organise many young people are mobilising. So too is the important CGIL union federation in the northern Italian industrial centres of Turin and Milan.
The mobilisation from Spain looks set to be especially impressive. Josep Gargante from Socialist Worker's Spanish sister organisation, Izquierda Revolucionaria, explains, "The most important trade unions, the Workers' Commissions and the UGT really want to mobilise. "They are talking of sending 20,000 workers to Nice from Spain, and they are laying on free coaches for union members and non-members who want to go."