Instead of the Tories’ little-Englandism and Miliband’s shameful opportunism, let’s have a working class response to the present European crisis:
14 November: European unions to strike together (adapted from Workers Liberty)
By Ruben Lomas
Trade union federations in Greece, Spain, Portugal, Malta, and Cyprus have called general strikes for Wednesday 14 November.
Unions in France and Italy are also said to be considering calling mass strikes.
The Spanish union federation CCOO aid: “Unemployment, cuts, the impoverishment of the majority and deterioration of public services justify a general strike.”
The CCOO and UGT, Spain’s two main union federations, held a “social summit” with working-class community organisations, students’ unions and smaller trade unions to launch the strike call. Unemployment in Spain has reached 25%.
The European TUC has called for a “day of action and solidarity on 14 November, including strikes, demonstrations, rallies and other actions.”
The 14 November will be the 21st day of general strike action in Geece since 2009. Most general strikes have been for a single day, although some have lasted 24 hours.
This strike call is important. The European-wide natue of the crisis and the capitalists’ austerity agenda cannot be effectively answered by national action . A European workers’ response is necessary.
A day of coordinated strike action will help shift the struggle away from national movements trying to find solutions to “their” national economic crises, and towards a European working class response to a European bosses’ offensive.
14 November wil not be a magic bullet. As the Greek experience shows, even a series of general strikes do not necessarily topple governments or force them to change course. What they can be is a focal point and a platform for coordinating resistance.
In each European country, scialists must organise for the maximum possible rank-and-file control over the strikes. The direction of the action must be decided by the requirements of workers themselves, not some schema of the union bureacrats. Anti-EU posturing, letting national ruling classes off the hook (a favourite activity of Stalinist and nationalist anti-EU fanatics), must be avoided at all costs.
A European general strike as a one day spectacular, an excercise in letting off steam, will be a futile and counter-productive excercise.
In Britain, socialists and serious trade unionists should fight for our unions to be involved. Where possible, existing disputes should schedule action for 14 November.
If it’s not logistically possible, or doesn’t make industrial sense, to strike on that day, other actions should be organised.
Stewards should call workplace (or after work) meetings to discuss potential disputes and, in the public sector, a fightback against the pay freeze.
Lobbying the TUC to call a general strike on 14 November is unrealistic and counter-productive. All serious militants know that even a freak “general strike” call from the TUC would not, presently, get a response from the rank and file.
Instead, 14 November should be the focus for action that can be achieved around existing disputes, with socialists emphasing the European-wide nature of the crisis that we all face.
Calls for withdrawal from the EU can only be a nationalist distraction from what we need to say and do within the working class and society as a whole at the moment.