Thursday, May 27, 2010

Can't pay. Wont pay.

I went to the excellent 'Can't Pay. Wont Pay' meeting last night with a constellation of lefty speakers including BA workers. You can read reports from Liam, and Brendan, you can also see Caroline Lucas's speech here and read the text of one of the Greek speakers.

As a solidarity meeting with Greek workers and those resisting cuts across Europe, including in the UK, it was really useful. In particular I found the speaker from Unite when she was talking about the BA dispute enlightening and inspiring - which is what you want from an evening like this really.

What's clear is that while we face our own government's slash and burn approach to public spending here this is part of a global picture where the conditions of the poorest are under threat and jobs and services are in the firing line.

I thought I'd look up a few examples from Europe over the last couple of days, and I'm not even including Greece.

In France they are striking to protect retirement rights, including a protest of a million people.

Italy, they face wage freezes and public sector cuts, all to save the Euro. The unions say this could spark a national strike.

The German government, which is coordinating the Euro bailout packages is looking to ways of regulating the banking sector and are banning short selling, which is good... but of course the bail out packages they are arranging are the ones that come with strings attached to attack workers conditions. At least they are blowing up banks in retaliation.

In Spain it's likely there will be a general strike as the austerity package squeaks through Parliament.

Belgium may be the favourites to win Eurovision but they face higher education cuts, and private sector one day strikes and wildcat actions.

Denmark is seeing protests about aid cuts, and welfare cuts. in Ireland, which is still officially in recession, the spending cuts have begun to bite.

in the Czech Republic, they are trying to piece together some sort of political consensus in order to initiate economic 'reforms'.

There are mass protests in Romania. Albania is in political turmoil. Meanwhile the Wall Street Journal reports that the US is ticking us off for not having a stern enough response to the crisis.

Of course in the United Kingdom we're squealing as we get hit with a fraction of the cuts to come.

I think I see which way the wind is blowing right now. I guess we have two choices. We can suck up the job cuts and withdrawal of public services or... we can pose and alternative while throwing a spanner in the works.

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