On Wednesday 30 November, public sector workers will protest against austerity measures in more than 25 European countries, following a call for action by the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU). Actions will include strikes, demonstrations and public marches.
In Britain, unions are planning the largest strike since 1926 – to oppose changes to public sector workers’ pensions. In Portugal, following the most successful general strike since the dictatorship, trade unions will demonstrate as the parliament votes on new austerity measures. In France, unions have organized a national day of action with rallies and demonstrations, and are planning a major strike in two weeks.
In Bulgaria, a national demonstration will take place on 30 November. Belgian trade unions will be protesting outside the Greek and UK embassies in solidarity with Greek and British unions on 30 November and a national mass demonstration is planned on 2 December. Greek trade unions will hold a general strike on 1 December. The list covers virtually all European Union Members States and most of Europe’s countries.
The European Commission adopted its Second Annual Growth Survey on 23 November, which continues its mantra about reforms of public administrations on purely economic terms without looking at how to develop quality public services which are so badly needed in these times of economic crisis. The Commission argues that coordinated austerity is the medicine needed to get us out of the economic mess that speculators and greedy bankers created (read EPSU’s response here). Public sector unions were expecting a focus on investment and growth to address high unemployment and rising poverty in the European Union. EPSU strongly believes that a change in policy is necessary, away from austerity, precarious jobs and inequality towards more social justice and fairer taxation.
For this reason, from Scotland to Greece and from Portugal to Poland, workers will be saying “Enough is enough!” on 30 November. ”Europe needs to make a credible stand on sustainable development, fair taxation, investment in public services, more equality and less poverty,” says EPSU General Secretary Carola Fischbach-Pyttel.
EPSU has sent a letter to the Commission’s President demanding a financial transactions tax (FTT) be instituted in Europe, as a first step towards achieving a global FTT. EPSU argues for tax justice based on progressive taxation systems. Europe must abolish its tax heavens, fight corruption, tax fraud and corporate tax evasion.
Europe’s public service unions also stand up for the right to collective bargaining and the autonomy of unions and employers. The European Commission and the European Central Bank must stop their interference in industrial relations and collective bargaining. EPSU is further concerned about the endless list of policy demands to strengthen economic coordination and monitoring of budgets. This does not allow for democratic debate which must be at the heart of European policies.
“This European day of action is the beginning of a process to give European people a real sense of unity, the current policies in Europe will destroy all we have fought for in the last decades. We say no to coordinated austerity madness and yes to a social and democratic Europe,” concluded EPSU’s General Secretary.
EPSU is supporting further actions that will take place in the coming weeks across European Union members states.
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EPSU is the European Federation of Public Service Unions. It is the largest federation of the ETUC and comprises 8 million public service workers from over 275 trade unions; EPSU organizes workers in the energy, water and waste sectors, health and social services and local and national administration, in all European countries including in the EU’s Eastern Neighborhood. EPSU is the recognized regional organization of Public Services International (PSI).