European worker revolt

From the Nov.-Dec. 2010 issue of News & Letters

World in View

European worker revolt

In Europe, capitalism’s deep economic crisis continues to unfold in ways that threaten the social benefits and social safety net that working people have fought for over decades.

First came the rescue of the banks and bankers–paid for through the public treasury. Privatize the profits; socialize the debt! Now all government talk and action is in terms of “austerity,” that is, finding new ways to make the masses pay for the crisis and guarantee new wealth distribution for the capitalists. Among the proposals being implemented are: cutting back pensions; raising the retirement age; eliminating hard-won benefits like childcare subsidies; imposing new labor “flexibility” rules (read: make it easier to fire workers); and yet more privatization.

What is encouraging is the unfolding of a massive workers’ resistance. From Greece to Spain, Ireland to France workers have taken to the streets in massive protest demonstrations. (See in-person report of French resistance, page 1.) The question remains whether the union leadership in various countries will only allow “show” protests of one-day short strikes, or whether the European working class can force a more militant and deeply rooted protest to emerge.

–Eugene Walker

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