People across Europe are uniting in a day of action, resistance and solidarity against austerity. This is an historic day, as it is the first time strike action has been coordinated across the continent. Forty unions in 23 countries are taking part in …

Walton Pantland

People across Europe are uniting in a day of action, resistance and solidarity against austerity. This is an historic day, as it is the first time strike action has been coordinated across the continent.

Forty unions in 23 countries are taking part in action ranging from general strikes in Portugal and Spain, through stoppages in Greece and Italy, and strike action, protests and demonstrations in other countries, including Belgium and France. This ETUC Google map gives an indication of some of the actions.

In Portugal and Spain, schools were closed, public transport shut down and hundreds of flights were cancelled. No trains are running in Belgium, and there have been large scale demonstrations – and clashes with police – in most Italian cities. Demonstrations in Greece have been largely peaceful.

Austerity is a project to redistribute wealth from working people to the rich. It’s premised on the lie that we all lived beyond our means, and that now there’s no money left. Allegedly, we’re all in it together, and we all have to take the pain. This is not true. Huge quantities of money are being lost to the economy through tax avoidance. Companies are making record profits as they use the recession as an excuse to suppress wages and fire people.  Some of them, like UK energy companies, have been colluding to defraud the public by rigging prices.

The financial crisis was caused by a parasitic financial system that feeds on the real economy. It has turned into a wholesale looting of what is left of the commons by a vicious neo-liberalism intent on destroying social democracy and the post-war social consensus in Europe. The financial crisis is being used – as described by the Shock Doctrine – to re-engineer the economy so that it serves only the rich and the powerful.

We can stop them if we fight together. Today is an important step in this battle to defend the future from those who want to sell it for short term profit. There are alternatives. We can build a democratic, green economy that serves the needs of the world’s people, instead of its elite. We can invest in our communities, our social services, and our productive economy.

But to do this we need to fight together, to listen to and learn from each other, and to express solidarity.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License.
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Walton Pantland

South African trade unionist living in Glasgow. Loves whisky, wine, running and the great outdoors. Walton did an MA in Industrial Relations at Ruskin, Oxford, and is interested in how trade unions use new technology to organise.

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