Support protests in Nice on 6 Dec
NICE, IN the south of France, looks set for one of the biggest mobilisations yet against "globalisation" and its associated "neo-liberal" free market policies. Trade unionists, protesters against Third World debt, the unemployed and young people disgusted by global capitalism will all be protesting in the town on 6 and 7 December.
French trade union leaders expect at least 50,000 people from France to join the demonstration. Trade unions across Europe, including Britain's TUC, are backing the protest too, and calling for official delegations to it.
Major delegations of workers are already planned from countries such as Italy and Spain.
The ATTAC organisation, which campaigns against globalisation and has 27,000 members in France, is also urging its members to get to Nice.
Many of the organisations which backed the 26 September Prague protest against global capitalism, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are also backing this one.
European Union leaders are meeting in Nice on 7 and 8 December to discuss two key matters.
One is a series of technical-sounding changes to EU institutions and treaties in the run-up to the planned entry of European countries into the union. The second is to agree a European Charter of Fundamental Rights.
Behind both lies a drive to push more attacks on welfare and workers' rights, and to ram through privatisation.
ATTAC vice-president Susan George has issued an appeal calling on people to get to Nice.
If the European Union leaders get away with their plans, she argues, "the gains of the past 100 years at least, including our social rights, our public services, healthcare and education systems, are all at risk. "We must mobilise."
Business heart of EU
ATTAC IS one of the major organisations in France challenging globalisation and neo-liberalism. It began three years ago around the call to impose a tax on financial speculation.
ATTAC has since broadened to become a focus for many people who want to mobilise more generally against global capitalism.
It has recruited 27,000 members in its three years of existence. Among its leading figures are campaigner Susan George, who lives in France, and Bernard Cassen of the influential left wing monthly Le Monde Diplomatique.
Some people in Britain see the European Union as a benign force which can be looked to to improve conditions in Britain.
That is a measure of how bad things in Britain have been under both Tory and New Labour governments. But it is a profoundly mistaken view of what the EU is.
ATTAC rightly sees it as one of the key institutions of global capitalism: "The engines of neo-liberal globalisation are not only the transnational firms, the financial markets and institutions like the IMF, World Bank, OECD and World Trade Organisation. They are also the governments of the major industrialised countries and the European Commission. The commission has systematically pursued its offensive against public services, and for privatisation of education and health in particular."
ATTAC points out that business is preparing for a new privatisation drive. The European Services Forum, the main European industry lobby group pushing for services liberalisation, hosts a major event this month: "The conference has the official support of the European Commission and the World Trade Organisation."
- More information on the Nice protest and the issues at stake can be found on the following websites.
Most are in French but contain options for an English version: www.attac.org www.charte-ccdf.org and www.euromarches.org. Or you can send an e-mail request for more information to the Nice collective: firstname.lastname@example.org (send an empty message and just put subject as "Subscribe"). The CGT appeal can be downloaded from www.cgt.fr
French unions are mobilising
FRANCE'S trade union federations are seriously mobilising for the protest. The CGT is the country's most important trade union federation. It has issued a call for people to mobilise for Nice.
It cuts through the technical reforms to EU institutions to insist they are in reality a way of smuggling through an intensified drive to the privatisation of public services.
"Since the Treaty of Rome in 1957 the European Commission has put neo-liberal principles first. It has shown a constant desire to deregulate and to privatise," says the CGT.
"This year it is again attacking the railways, the post, telecoms, gas and electricity. Powerful mobilisations" will be needed, it says, "to beat back these attacks. The 6 December protest will be a strong response to neo-liberal politics."
It also notes that the Charter of Fundamental Rights being proposed by European Union leaders enshrines business principles. It has no mention of the right to work or the right to strike. Instead it talks of the "freedom to conduct a business".
The CGT calls for:
- The right of asylum.
- The right to a home.
- The right to strike.
- The right to social protection against exclusion and poverty.
- The right to a decent pension.
- The right to work.
- The right to a living wage.
- The right to decently funded public services.
THE CGT has already booked the following transport:
- Two planes from Brest and Rennes in Brittany.
- Two high speed TGV special trains from Paris with 1,931 places.
- Two trains with 1,060 places from the Bordeaux region.
- Train from Toulouse with 1050 places.
- Train from Limoges with 340 places.
- Buses with a total of 4,000 seats from the Rh(tm)ne Alpes region, and many more buses from every region in France.
The union federation is also producing one million leaflets this week, and plans to distribute "10,000 union flags in Nice, which will be necessary to give a real CGT coloration" to the protest.
The official trade union march takes place in Nice on the afternoon of Wednesday 6 December.
Many protesters plan to stay on for a series of further protests, including a blockade of the European Union leaders summit and a counter-summit.
A local Nice coordinating committee, ATTAC and other groups have backed these events.
The blockade will begin on the evening of 6 December and continue right through the night and into 7 December, with street forums, debates and other events.
And here too
"WE ARE sending a delegation to the 6 December demonstration in Nice," says the British TUC.
"We have written to all our affiliated unions about Nice and we are encouraging all of them to send delegations to the march."
In every union people should move quickly to make sure that happens. At your next union or shop stewards meeting raise the Nice protest and push for an official delegation.