Europe’s unions under pressure to respond to austerity…
This is the 1970s Depression all over again – this time on a global scale. Governments are going to fall.
This puts the wind to the sails. It is the type of action I would expect, demand, in fact, from the humanity in Europe. If this can be coordinated correctly it will bring government to this point: ordering the goon squad to keep whacking her citizens with tear-gas and sticks until they go back indoors, or, seeing the gathering grim determination of active citizens collectively finding their Archimedean Point, the goons themselves will beg to stand down. They may even join their fellow citizens. After all, these are not Indonesian goons we are talking of here, these are European goons. And, they are Unionized. They have an undeniable stake in this. Perhaps they themselves will glimpse a New Horizon.
What a moment. We hold our breath as “The Whole World is Watching,” and, though through sheer exhaustion of spirit we may have come to believe otherwise, we now know beyond question that we continue to live in interesting times.
“The whole world is watching.
The whole world is watching.
The whole world is watching.
The whole world is watching.” Chicago Transit Authority, 1969
Europe’s unions caught between members and markets
European trade unions are facing up to a difficult choice: acquiesce to austerity measures and infuriate members, or fight them with strikes and risk a market backlash that could make the economic situation worse.
At one extreme is Ireland, where unions have avoided widespread industrial action over existing cuts — some of the earliest and sharpest in Western Europe — in part because the resulting market reaction would hurt workers more.
Trade union congress leader Jack O’Connor told Reuters last week that he feared foreign investors would interpret serious strikes as a sign Ireland might not be able to push through cuts and meet debt obligations, leaving it unable to borrow.
“Even if you win (the strike campaign), you could end up losing,” he said — but he said the decision was costing him sleepless nights and would not rule out further strikes if the government pushed through new cuts.
At the other extreme is Greece — where the European Union and International Monetary Fund (IMF) are demanding harsh spending cuts — where unions say they will strike in June and push for Europe-wide action against austerity measures.
“We’ll be pushing until the end to prevent the worst,” GSEE union head Yannis Panagopoulos, promising maximum resistance to a bill that raises the retirement age and curtails early pensions.
Panagopoulos says he is already talking to other European unions and hopes they can work together to hold back a wave of austerity measures as governments pull back on stimulus spending and start to address deficits.