Workers across Europe are meeting the deepening recession and growing job losses with action. Over the course of the last weeks, literally millions of workers have taken to the streets with strike action and demonstrations. They are calling on governments to protect workers rather than the bankers that have benefitted from many of the bail outs to date.
Striking against Sarkozy
Two and half million workers took to the streets in France in late January to protest against conservative president Nicolas Sarkozy.
Despite his statements criticising neo-liberalism, Sarkozy has taken no action to protect the workers facing a 10 per cent unemployment rate along with growing inflation.
Workers from the public and private sectors took strike action—in many industries for the first time in living memory.
Action continues in Greece
On the back of inspirational strike and protest action against their conservative government last December, Greek workers and now farmers are continuing to pressure the government.
Greek farmers blockaded roads leading to Athens, strangling the city and leading the government to announce new subsidies and price increases.
The economic situation in Greece is worsening, with effective wage cuts and growing unemployment.
There are plans for further strikes in late February.
As the economic picture across Europe worsens, this developing protest movement is providing hope for those hardest hit by the wage freezes and job cuts. There have also been protests of thousands in Russia and across Eastern Europe, along with significant strikes in Italy.
In 2008 governments worldwide found over US$3 trillion dollars to bail out literally hundreds of banks and financial groups but there has been little in the way of serious employment programs or welfare for those hardest hit by the crisis.
The wave of strikes and protests across Europe is just the first step in a long battle over who is to pay for the economic crisis.
The inspirational gains that these workers have already made show that if you are willing to fight you still can win, even in these trying times.
By Ernest Price