The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) is staging a European Day of Action on 29 September in opposition to austerity programmes being adopted by governments all over the continent.
Around 100,000 people, from across the public and private sectors, are expected to take to the streets of Brussels in a massive demonstration that will be coordinated with simultaneous protest actions in different European capital cities.
Trade unions are demanding that governments implement recovery plans that are rooted in prioritising quality jobs and growth, instead of deep and ideological attacks on public services.
The Spanish trade union movement has shown its support for the ETUC initiative by calling for a general strike on the same day. Demonstrations will also take place in Cyprus, the Czech Republic, France, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Serbia.
Referring to European governments’ austerity packages, ETUC General Secretary, John Monks, said: “Cutting in a recession, when unemployment is already high, cutting labour rights and pensions is wrong. It is what predecessor governments did in the 1930s and we all remember what happened in that tragic decade. Economic depression led to political conflict and war. We don’t want any repeat of that.”
This is also the message that trade unions intend to communicate to the European Commission President, José Manuel Barroso, and the current President of the EU Council, Belgium’s Yves Leterme, whom they will meet after the demonstration.
As an alternative solution to the austerity programmes, trade unions are proposing growth policies based on Europe offering its own bonds, a financial transactions’ tax on speculators, and helping individual countries in trouble.
The European Day for action is, beyond all, a call for solidarity. “Solidarity has been lacking in the EU during the past 12 months. They have listened too much to the markets – and not enough to the people,” Monks concluded.