With over 25 million unemployed in Europe, figures out this week in the UK add to the increasing evidence that inequalities are rocketing. After years of real wages stagnating or falling for the majority, wages and pensions are under attack across the Continent, allegedly to ‘drive growth’.
While the situation is increasingly desperate in southern Europe, the pressure to reduce workers’ terms and conditions is intensifying across Europe. The Council of Europe last week ruled that the Troika’s demands in Greece had violated fundamental workers’ rights. We are facing the challenge of a generation to fight for and defend our basic rights and services. Rights which many before us fought for and died to protect.
The British government has been central in efforts to pull us back to a 19th Century labour market, not just for British workers but for all. As leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament, MEP Martin Callanan has asked European leaders to strip back employment protection legislation and lead a deregulatory charge. This summer, he claimed that basic protections such as rights for temporary agency workers or maximum working hours were “totally irresponsible in the current climate”. Despite the evidence that it is deregulation that has got us into this mess in the first place. Deregulation of financial markets and increasing precariousness in the labour market. Austerity will not and cannot drive growth.
The recipe of the IMF’s structural adjustment programmes cutting the ‘three Ps’ (pay, pensions and public sector) is self-defeating and counter-productive. It’s not just the ETUC saying that, in October in Japan at its annual meeting with national finance ministers, including George Osborne, IMF Director Christine Lagarde admitted that they’d got their sums wrong and that coordinated fiscal consolidation is stripping more out of the economy than putting in – she also admitted that any stimulus measures were more effective than the IMF had been admitting.
Austerity is killing recovery in the same that it did in the 1930s. Creating a breeding ground for the far-right and sacrificing not only our young workers but also solidarity between people in Europe: a fundamental principle of the European Union.
It is time to choose an alternative strategy. An alternative based on investment, equality and employment.
Bringing together unions from 36 different European countries, and 10 sectoral federations, the European TUC represents 60 million workers. We are united in our demand for greater social justice, good and safe jobs, fair pay and pensions, quality public services and investment in education and training. 60 million workers calling for an alternative to austerity.
I encourage you to take any action available to you: write a letter, organise a workplace event, join a demonstration or rally, and show that solidarity is still alive in Europe.
Originally published here: http://nextgenerationlabour.org/2012/11/demand-an-alternative-to-austerity-on-14th-nov/