Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/302/13783

From The Socialist newspaper, 31 May 2003

Strike Wave Rocks Europe

AS STRIKES and demonstrations against public sector cuts sweep France, Germany, and Austria, the mainstream British press's most prominent mention of this mass movement is in the gossip columns - apparently Madonna is upset because her daughter's teachers have been on strike!

It is no accident that there has been a virtual news blackout on this pan-European strike movement, New Labour are terrified that workers here in Britain will take the same road.

The governments of France and Germany hoped to gain electoral support as a result of their opposition to the war on Iraq. However, despite the popularity of that one policy, they remain as deeply disliked as Blair in Britain. And like Blair, they are conducting a vicious class war against working people.

Against a background of economic recession, 'neo-liberal' attacks (i.e. cuts in social spending, privatisation, labour market deregulation, etc) are being stepped up against the working class. In France and Austria the centrepiece of these attacks is a 'reform' (i.e. destruction) of the pension system (see French workers' protest: Building For A General Strike ). In Germany it is "Agenda 2010" - a brutal Thatcherite onslaught on benefits and working conditions.

Capitalism is an inherently crisis-ridden system. The German economy and to a lesser degree that of other parts of the Eurozone, is experiencing a severe slowdown. For the capitalists the solution to this crisis is to restore their profits by driving down the living conditions of the working class.

The working class in France, Austria and Germany have not suffered the defeats that Thatcherism inflicted on workers in Britain. They are fighting to defend social reforms won in the post-war period (when capitalism could afford to more easily give concessions to the working class) which have long been undermined in Britain.

But this does not in any way mean that these struggles can't be won. After all, it's not the first time that 'pension reform' has been attempted in France. When a right-wing government attempted it in 1995 they were met with massive strikes of the public sector, which defeated the attacks and led to the fall of the Juppe government.

This time, the government is very determined but so too is the French working class, despite the prevarications of their leaders, as shown by the massive million plus strong demonstration in Paris.

Escalating the action

The next step should be to build towards a private and public sector general strike. Already private-sector workers, including Michelin tyre workers, have taken part in the action to a greater degree than in 1995.

France may seem a world away from Britain but, despite the differences, it is not. Until a few weeks ago Austria, now engulfed by a major strike movement, had a lower level of strikes than Britain. Yet now, the Committee for a Workers' International's (CWI - the socialist international organisation to which the Socialist Party is affiliated) call for a 24-hour general strike is receiving an enthusiastic response.

In Britain workers are facing a new round of neo-liberal attacks from Blair. Foundation hospitals would be a qualitative step towards the destruction of the NHS.

Working class communities and sections of the middle classes are also facing education cuts and top-up fees. And while there are not currently national strikes taking place there are a whole series of local public sector strikes.

The mood of the strikers is more angry and determined than it was a year ago when the number of public sector strikes first started to escalate. Blair is right to be worried by workers here learning from the mass movements shaking the Eurozone.

The time when the outlook of Britain's working class was dominated by the defeats of the 1980s has come to an end. Instead, we are at the beginning of a new period of struggle.

The socialist has a vital role to play in politically arming the struggle, while arguing that only on the basis of a socialist transformation of society can working people permanently attain decent living standards.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 31 May 2003:

School Cuts Wreck Our Future

Building A Fighting Leadership For The PCS

End Low Pay In The NHS

Strike Wave Rocks Europe

French workers' protest: Building For A General Strike

Israel/Palestine: Behind Sharon's 'Change Of Heart'

Education: SATS tests

G8 Summit: Protesting Against Imperialism And Its Corporate Agenda

After the Scottish elections: How Is Socialism To Be Won?

India: Massive General Strike Against Privatisation

Drop All Charges Against Day X Detainees


 

Home   |   The Socialist 31 May 2003   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Europe:

triangleA socialist approach to Corbyn and a customs union

triangleMay's EU speech kicks the can down the road

triangleGorbachev: Accidental architect of world change

triangleTory Brexit divisions, Corbyn's opportunity

triangleTory infighting escalates - workers' action can oust them

Strike:

triangleUCU members vote to end pensions dispute

triangleBromley libraries - indefinite strike action continues

triangleFCC Wilmington refuse workers' strike in hull stands firm

triangleMcStrike: ballot for strike action at six McDonald's stores

Britain:

triangleWaltham Forest Socialist Party: Young people and the fight for a future in austerity Britain

triangleNorth West Socialist Party conference

triangleRussia, spies and nerve agents

Working class:

triangleRefugees march against racism and to demand rights

triangleContinuing the fighting tradition of working class women

Public sector:

triangleGender pay gap figures show need for trade union action

Germany:

triangleGerman engineering strike puts shorter week on agenda - but could have won more

Austria:

triangleVienna: 50,000 march against racism and austerity

International

International

18/4/18

Catalonia

Catalonia: 1m marchers demand self-determination

13/4/18

Syria

No to the bombing of Syria!

11/4/18

Poland

Poland: huge demos against right wing government's abortion ban

11/4/18

Kshama Sawant

Defend socialist councillor Kshama Sawant against lawsuits

11/4/18

Ireland

Ireland: March against misogyny and injustice

11/4/18

Hong Kong

Workers' protests against state repression in China and Hong Kong

10/4/18

Syria

No to bombing Syria

4/4/18

Gaza

Gaza - protest is not terrorism!

4/4/18

Catalonia

Catalonia: new Francoist coup - general strike now!

28/3/18

USA

USA: Huge 'march for our lives' protests

28/3/18

France

France: Pressure mounts on Macron government

28/3/18

Russia

Russia's predictable presidential election

21/3/18

Brazil

Brazil: Psol councillor Marielle Franco murdered

21/3/18

US

US school shootings: student walkouts challenge establishment

21/3/18

US

West Virginia teachers' strike victory

triangleMore International articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


April 2018

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999