The chief of Europe‘s trade union, John Monks, warns that the austerity packages being imposed across the bloc will send the continent back to the 1930’s. He also says that the European Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso, fears member states will turn their back on democracy.
“This is extremely dangerous. This is 1931, we’re heading back to the 1930s, with the Great Depression and we ended up with militarist dictatorship.”
“This is extremely dangerous. This is 1931, we’re heading back to the 1930s, with the Great Depression and we ended up with militarist dictatorship,” the general secretary of the European Trades Union Congress (ETUC) says in an interview with EUobserver.
Adding: “I’m not saying we’re there yet, but it’s potentially very serious, not just economically, but politically as well.”
Mr Monks reports that Mr Barroso has similar concerns – but based on diametrically opposed reasoning.
He says the commission chief believes the austerity packages will save Europe from returning to the darkest days of the last century rather than precipitating the fall.
“I had a discussion with Barroso last Friday about what can be done for Greece, Spain, Portugal and the rest and his message was blunt: ‘Look, if they do not carry out these austerity packages, these countries could virtually disappear in the way that we know them as democracies. They’ve got no choice, this is it’,” Mr. Monks says.
“He’s very, very worried. He shocked us with an apocalyptic vision of democracies in Europe collapsing because of the state of indebtedness.”
In recent weeks, a wave of enthusiasm for draconian austerity measures has swept the continent well beyond the bloc’s most troubled economies, which were forced to embrace such cuts in return for EU-IMF bail-outs.
Spain has announced a package of austerity measures amounting to €13 billion.
Trade unions, which have so far mounted a number of general strikes and protests in different countries, are intensifying their offensive against the austerity plans despite Brussels’ misgivings, and are for the first time beginning to co-ordinate their actions across member states.
A Day Of Action
Mr Monks says his executive committee has agreed to call a Europe-wide “day of action” on 29 September, including strikes, demonstrations and meetings with government ministers in all European countries.
The date is scheduled to coincide with a meeting in Brussels of finance ministers.
The ETUC did shy away from calling an outright European general strike.
However: We’re encouraging members to take strike action as part of a menu of different types of activities, but it’s not a general strike,” Mr Monks explaines.
“We can’t call Europe’s unions out on strike – this has to be done at the national level and different people will react in different ways.”
“Some countries have traditions of general strikes and some don’t. They don’t like the idea, especially the Nordics, Germany, UK, the Netherlands and eastern Europe. Half of the EU countries would not go for it.”
Read the original post at EUobserver.com
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