European Austerity Deepens, Workers Strike Back

September 26, 2012

Plutocrats in Europe are continuing their march against the poor and working class. Their efforts to bleed workers dry has once again pushed unions in Greece to declare a nationwide general strike. And in Spain, protests this week turned violent as more austerity measures threaten the lives of workers already hurting from high unemployment and suffocating budget cuts.

Greek workers have endured massive cuts over the last several years and have repeatedly been forced to use the one thing they still have: the power to withhold their labor.

According to the Washington Post,

The country’s prime minister, Antonio Samaras, has been pushing a package of pension cuts and public salary reductions worth $14.6 billion next year in order to satisfy the conditions of its February aid package from the rest of Europe. In a country with 24 percent unemployment, those measures are already inciting protests and labor unrest.

Up to 200,000 protested in Athens and major public services including transportation were ground to a halt. Smoke and teargas filled the streets in front of the parliament building where protesters clashed with police.

One might think European leaders would have gotten the hint the last couple of times Greeks struck against the priorities of the elite. But as much as workers have a huge stake in killing the project of austerity, the one percent is heavily vested in moving that project forward – even if it means throwing Europe into a maelstrom of social unrest.

In Spain, austerity is further fraying national unity – so much so that the country’s Catalonia region is threatening to secede.

David Dayen at Fire Dog Lake writes,

Police beat protesters near the Parliament in central Madrid [on Tuesday], firing rubber bullets and charging the crowds…The massive protests we’re seeing in Madrid today [are happening] in advance of what will likely be another austerity budget by the Spanish government. The people only suffer from continued austerity at a time of 25% unemployment. So they filled the Plaza de Espana and elsewhere to call for changes.

Through their action, European workers continue to provide one of the strongest cases against the politics of austerity. Their counterparts in the U.S., while more atomized and seemingly docile, have been standing up and striking back against corporate greed and budget cuts as well.

Beleaguered Walmart warehouse workers have taken the daring step of striking against their employers and focusing their pressure against the retail giant’s notoriously vicious anti-union policies. That kind of fightback is crucial in the U.S. where politicians – Republicans and Democrats alike – continue to push for the same anti-worker and anti-poor policies that are unraveling whole countries on the other side of the Atlantic.

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About SubterraneanDispatcher

Brian Tierney is a longtime socialist activist who works as a communications specialist for a labor union in Washington, DC. After completing his undergraduate studies in International Affairs and Latin America Studies, he has been working in the labor movement and writing reports and analyses on various struggles for social and economic justice. In addition to reporting on protests in the DC area, he also writes about union struggles, immigrant rights, the fight to defend public education, and struggles of the poor and working class in general. His work has been published in The Washington Post, The Nation, The Progressive, Common Dreams, CounterPunch, Socialist Worker and The Neoprogressive. Brian can be reached via email at btier@yahoo.com.

Posted on September 25, 2012, in Austerity, Budget Cuts, Corporate Greed, Labor Movement, Plutocracy, SubDisp Exclusive, U.S. Politics, Union Rights, Workers Rights. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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