TUC warns austerity policies imposed on Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain risk ‘dragging the whole of Europe into economic stagnation’

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The TUC has warned that austerity policies imposed on the people of Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain risk ‘dragging the whole of Europe into economic stagnation’.

It comes as millions of workers across Europe are taking part in protests and general strikes against cuts to jobs and living standards.

TUC general secretary designate Frances O’Grady is due to address an anti-austerity rally later outside the London offices of the European Commission.

She is expected to say: ‘We stand in solidarity rejecting austerity and demanding a future that gets people back to work and that protects our public services.

‘Our message to the Commission, the IMF and governments across Europe is loud and clear: the people of Europe will not stand for fiscal fundamentalism and will fight for an alternative based on social and economic justice.

‘It is no exaggeration to say this is a critical time for Europe.

‘Across the continent – from Berlin to Athens, London to Lisbon – governments are imposing austerity measures that are killing growth, destroying living standards and undermining the social provisions that have long been a defining part of the European project.

‘Greece is facing yet more savage austerity, with services, jobs, pay and pensions trimmed even further to the bone and in Spain, half of all young people are now without work, an almost unimaginable situation in a modern industrial democracy.

‘Those in the corridors of power in Brussels and Frankfurt need to understand this – that if ordinary European workers feel that the EU is about little more than cuts, open markets and privatisation, then the European project will collapse just as surely as night follows day.

‘It’s time for change, it’s time for a workers’ Europe.

‘In place of austerity, we need policies that promote decent jobs, decent wages and decent services. In place of cuts, we need tax justice so the super-rich pay their fair share at long last.

‘And in place of attacks on our rights, we need to get tough on the bankers who caused this mess.’

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber and president, Lesley Mercer, are also handing in a letter at the EC’s Westminster offices addressed to Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, spelling out the growing opposition to austerity and calling for an immediate change of direction.

The letter – signed by Brendan Barber – says: “The austerity measures that the European Commission, the IMF and the European Central Bank are imposing on some countries and advocating for others are dragging the whole of Europe into economic stagnation.

“These measures, far from re-establishing confidence in the financial markets, only serve to worsen imbalances and foster injustice.

“Workers and citizens are paying the price for a crisis they did not cause, in unemployment, falling wages and living standards and cuts in public services.’

“So-called ‘fiscal consolidation’ has had a sharper effect than originally estimated by the Commission and the IMF.

“This miscalculation has had a disastrous impact on the daily life of citizens across Europe, but especially so in Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain.

“Recession can only be stopped if budgetary constraints are loosened and imbalances eliminated, with a view to achieving sustainable economic growth and social cohesion.”

The TUC has also written similar letters to Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy at the request of the Greek and Spanish unions.

UnionNews will be reporting later as British trade unionists and members of the European Parliament join a protest outside the European Commission offices in Brussels.


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