Stop dead end of austerity, say EU trade unions

14 Nov 12
Workers across the European Union have begun a day of strikes and protests, calling for governments to abandon the ‘total dead end’ of austerity and to focus on job creation.

By Nick Mann | 14 November 2012

Workers across the European Union have begun a day of strikes and protests, calling for governments to abandon the ‘total dead end’ of austerity and to focus on job creation.

Day-long general strikes are being held in Portugal and Spain, with a four-hour stoppage due in Italy later today and a three-hour walkout by workers expected in Greece. In total, 40 trade unions are expected to take part across 23 countries.

This morning saw early reports of clashes between police and protesters in Spain, as strikers tried to stop buses leaving Madrid’s main bus station. Hundreds of flights have been grounded and rail services cancelled.

The protests come against the backdrop of rising unemployment across the EU, with the average jobless rate across the 27 member states reaching 10.6% in September. In Spain and Greece, the rate is now about 25%.

In a statement, the European Trade Union Confederation, which is co-ordinating the industrial action, said: ‘The aim of this European day of action and solidarity is to call upon Europe’s leaders to demonstrate their determination to really get to grips with the deterioration in employment and to respond to the growing social anxiety felt by Europe’s citizens.

‘Austerity is a total dead end, and must be abandoned. Social protection and wages can no longer be sacrificed. This is a social emergency, and it is time to listen to what the citizens and workers have to say, and to change course.’

Bernadette Ségol, ETUC general secretary, added that austerity was leading to recession, rising poverty and social anxiety.

‘In some countries, people’s exasperation is reaching a peak. We need urgent solutions to get the economy back on track, not stifle it with austerity. Europe’s leaders are wrong not to listen to the anger of the people who are taking to the streets. The troika can no longer behave so arrogantly and brutally towards the countries which are in difficulty,’ she said.

‘They must urgently address the issues of jobs and social fiscal justice and they must stop their attacks on wages, social protection and public services.’

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