Memo to EU leaders: If austerity fails, it’s austerity’s fault – not that of workers’ rights

Europe needs an alternative vision and this has to be done by putting faith in people, rather putting faith in the “elites” and destroying social rights.

E-mail-sign-up Donate

 

.

Tony Burke is the Assistant General Secretary of Unite

European-Union-flag-burningKarl Marx said:

“A spectre is haunting Europe.”

That spectre today is austerity and it is ready to haunt the UK. Ahead of the European Union leaders summit on Wednesday called to discuss growth, unions, including the European TUC are saying – enough is enough.

Bernadette Ségol General Secretary of the ETUC said:

“Austerity is an impasse. We expect recovery projects based on sustainable investments, not policies focused on structural labour market reforms.”

And at a recent conference in Manchester supported by Unite, Unison and the GMB, unions sent out the strong message that it is time for unions to fight back across the EU and defend the gains made by working people over the last 60 years.

At the conference I made the point that the anger the austerity agenda is fuelling is calling into question the very future of the EU itself.

 


See also:

Europe’s Right still full-steam ahead on mad dash for austerity 16 May 2012


 

Greece, where real wages have fallen by over 25 per cent may be about to leave the Euro; in Spain, where the debt crisis has taken hold, there are one in four out of work and over 50 per cent of young are without a job.

And the technocrats running governments are taking an axe to long fought for employment rights. Take Italy where the ex-Goldman Sachs adviser appointed as Prime Minister immediately made it easier for bosses to fire workers. That was the centre piece of his plans for recovery from the crisis that his former employers and the rest of the banking class caused.

Attacks are also being made on long established national collective bargaining arrangements, which provided protection and a level playing field.

Europe needs an alternative vision and this has to be done by putting faith in people, rather putting faith in the “elites” – the six States retaining their AAA ratings.

State-owned banks and the ECB need to be investing and not hoarding cash. Manufacturing needs to be nurtured. Growth cannot be based on reducing workers rights and making decent stable jobs into even more precarious employment.

And the rich must be made to pay their fair share.

As the ETUC says:

“Fair taxation has to be a priority, there needs to be the introduction of a financial transaction tax and measures to put an end to tax havens.”

But most importantly the trade union movement across Europe needs on the  front line of the fight against the dismantling of social Europe – the social Europe that gave workers decent holidays and working hours; maternity and paternity leave; employment rights for part-time and agency workers, health and safety rights and a Europe which supported national collective bargaining to protect working people.

In the UK the Clegg-Cameron government have slashed taxes for the rich – despite the talk of deficit cutting and are being pressed to bring in more stringent austerity measures and to attack employment rights further.

Calls are being made from assorted right-wing allies for further watering down of EU employment rights, longer public sector pay freezes and an end to national pay deals.

László Andor, the European Commissioner for employment and social affairs told the Manchester conference:

“We are now in the fifth year of the economic crisis and there is little indication of any improvement. Joblessness has reached record levels and the outlook is one of stagnation.

Here in the UK, the government has applied an aggressive deficit reduction strategy, but despite these cuts the deficit is still 8.4 per cent of GDP. And, with UK unemployment running at 8.2 per cent, one is entitled to ask if the medicine is curing or killing the patient.”

What is clear is that we cannot disentangle ourselves as what is happening across the EU as the world capitalist crisis hits Europe with exceptional force.

The EU must now move beyond the crisis by rejecting banker-imposed austerity and rebuilding Europe based on growth, social protection, good jobs not a race to the bottom – a race going nowhere.

 


Sign-up to our weekly email • Donate to Left Foot Forward

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today. 

24 Responses to “Memo to EU leaders: If austerity fails, it’s austerity’s fault – not that of workers’ rights”

  1. Philip Hollington

    Memo to EU leaders: If austerity fails, its austerity’s fault – not that of worker: http://t.co/GIgxCDgd by @TonyBurke2010

  2. David Marsden

    Memo to EU leaders: If austerity fails, its austerity’s fault – not that of worker’s rights: http://t.co/GIgxCDgd by Unite’s @TonyBurke2010

  3. sylvain giraud

    RT @leftfootfwd: Memo to EU leaders: If austerity fails, its austerity’s fault – not that of workers’ rights http://t.co/ld335hOK

  4. Pulp Ark

    Memo to EU leaders: If austerity fails, its austerity’s fault –… http://t.co/XHK2iBXg #SustainableEconomy #austerity #muslim #tcot #sioa

  5. Michael Gomersall

    RT @leftfootfwd: Memo to EU leaders: If austerity fails, its austerity’s fault – not that of workers’ rights http://t.co/D2VEs578

  6. leftlinks

    Left Foot Forward – Memo to EU leaders: If austerity fails, its austerity’s fault – not that of… http://t.co/QrLPg1XU

  7. Notenuffluv

    Memo to EU leaders: If austerity fails, its austerity’s fault – not that of worker: http://t.co/oIjdFSvP by @TonyBurke2010

  8. H. O.

    RT @leftfootfwd: Memo to EU leaders: If austerity fails, its austerity’s fault – not that of workers’ rights http://t.co/qrihzYPD

  9. Lasse Kalheim

    Memo to EU leaders: If austerity fails, its austerity’s fault – not that of worker: http://t.co/GIgxCDgd by @TonyBurke2010

  10. Debs

    Memo to EU leaders: If austerity fails, its austerity’s fault – not that of worker’ rights: http://t.co/GIgxCDgd by Unite’s @TonyBurke2010

  11. Brian Tomkinson

    Memo to EU leaders: If austerity fails, its austerity’s fault – not that of worker: http://t.co/GIgxCDgd by @TonyBurke2010

  12. Rikbut

    Memo to EU leaders: If austerity fails, its austerity’s fault – not that of worker’s rights: http://t.co/GIgxCDgd by Unite’s @TonyBurke2010

  13. Alan Casual

    Memo to EU leaders: If austerity fails, its austerity’s fault – not that of worker’s rights: http://t.co/GIgxCDgd by Unite’s @TonyBurke2010

  14. Janet Graham

    Memo to EU leaders: If austerity fails, its austerity’s fault – not that of worker: http://t.co/oIjdFSvP by @TonyBurke2010

  15. BJ

    The working people of Europe are sick and tired of listening to this kind of two-faced rubbish.

    The Labour support of this EU corporatist club is beyond comprehension and the members of the ETUC, who are fully in support of the club, are just as culpable for what is happening now.

    The trade unions have jumped on the gravy train and are just as responsible for the mess Europe is in – in the UK the work force has been chucked on the scrapheap in favour of cheap labour from the poorer countries; the high levels of unemployment in countries such as Greece and Spain are directly linked to high levels of immigration.

    “Fair taxation has to be a priority, there needs to be the introduction of a financial transaction tax and measures to put an end to tax havens.”

    And where will this tax go – more glass palaces and private jets for van Rompuy and Ashton? How about allowing all of those countries in trouble to suspend all payments to the EU and allow countries like Greece to recover.

    The unions, rather than representing the ordinary working people, are in thrall to the EU and its institutions; they have their snouts in the trough.

    Don’t pretend to represent us!

  16. Erin van der Maas

    Memo to EU leaders: If austerity fails, its austerity’s fault – not that of worker: http://t.co/GIgxCDgd by @TonyBurke2010

  17. Panda

    Memo to EU leaders: If austerity fails, its austerity’s fault – not that of worker’s rights: http://t.co/GIgxCDgd by Unite’s @TonyBurke2010

  18. Catkins500

    Watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcGh1Dex4Yo&feature=youtube_gdata_player to see who the real culprits are. Every politician of every hue is signed up to support those who truly call the world financial tune and I trust none of them. There is an alternative.

  19. John Scovell

    Memo to EU leaders: If austerity fails, its austerity’s fault – not that of worker’s rights: http://t.co/GIgxCDgd by Unite’s @TonyBurke2010

  20. Jose Aguiar

    Memo to EU leaders: If austerity fails, its austerity’s fault – not that of workers’ rights http://t.co/KHxO3Zy9 via @leftfootfwd

  21. JC

    Until anyone actually describes what they will do, then the current model is the only one on the table. It’s no good saying things like “The EU must now move beyond the crisis by rejecting banker-imposed austerity and rebuilding Europe based on growth, social protection, good jobs not a race to the bottom – a race going nowhere.” without putting more detail on it. How much money do you want to spend? What on? What evidence do you have that it would have the effect you claim? Where would it come from and what would be the effect of raising it?

    Just to talk about a growth based agenda doesn’t make any sense.

  22. cameronsfollys

    Memo to EU leaders: If austerity fails, its austerity’s fault – not that of workers’ rights http://t.co/48CF7lGa

  23. Workers' rights are being abused all around the world | Left Foot Forward

    […] Memo to EU leaders: If austerity fails, it’s austerity’s fault – not that of workers’ rights 19 May […]

  24. "We must all be up to this challenge together": A new social compact for Europe | Left Foot Forward

    […] Memo to EU leaders: If austerity fails, it’s austerity’s fault – not that of worke… 19 May […]

Leave a Reply