Thursday, September 2, 2010



Chronicle produced by editorial of the Russian communist newspaper
"Hammer and Sickle” (Serp I Molot)

To save the trillions of dollars of European bankers and capitalists, the ruling circles of the capitalist countries since the beginning of this year, launched an attack on the social rights of workers.

The global economic crisis is not over. Since the beginning of spring this year, it has again demonstrated its brutal grip. Some countries of Western Europe are on the brink of bankruptcy. In Greece, the budget deficit amounted to 14% of the gross domestic product, its liabilities far exceeded the country's capacity to repay foreign loans. A similar situation exists in Spain and Portugal. The EU and the IMF quickly issued loans to euro area countries amounting to 750 billion euros, requiring them to reduce social spending and guarantees. Capital seeks to solve problems on the backs of working people.

In Western European countries, they have begun to reduce social spending, wages, pensions and benefits, alongside their subsequent pay freezing and mass dismissals.

The rise in unemployment, cuts in social rights, especially hurt the workers and employees of the public sector - teachers, doctors, aviators and railway workers, according to representatives of almost all categories of workers. Once again the working class is at the forefront of political struggle. On the appeals of unions, hundreds of thousands of people have been involved in nation-wide strikes and taken to the streets of cities in Greece, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and other European countries. "In anticipation of the new reform, a response on the streets is vital. We, the workers are obliged to confront these measures. Always the same thing - people have to pay for the crisis, and we must resist this ", - say the demonstrators.

Here is a summary of the major class battles in the spring and early summer this year in Greece, Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and Britain.

Greece was plunged into ongoing since the beginning of the year general strikes and demonstrations by workers and employees, which sometimes were accompanied by clashes with the police turning into real street fighting.

Greek workers were protesting against the government's decision to sharply reduce the state budget spending. Pensions are being reduced by 40-50%, the salaries of civil servants – by at least 20%, increasing the retirement age to 67 years, and are raising taxes on the income of workers.

On 10 and 24 February – the two first general strikes by Greek workers and employees took place, organized by the country’s major trades unions. On Feb. 24 leading force of the strike were employees of Transport and Communication. All means of transport in the country came to a halt. Flights were canceled. Railways stopped. Teachers and health worker also went on strike. Schools and universities closed. In public hospitals doctors treated only emergency cases. Journalists joined the action and radio and television stopped working.

On March 5 – there was a 24-hour strike by PAME – Militant Workers Front.

On March 11 - the third general 24-hour strike. The strike involved 2,5 million Greeks - about half the working population. All air, rail, maritime communications, as well as public transport stopped working. Schools, universities and hospitals were closed. Among the strikers were air traffic controllers, port workers and coast guards, firefighters, bankers, garbage men, the judiciary and lawyers, the media, and in some cases police. In connection with the strike, local authorities and the state power company stopped working.

On April 21-22 – a 48-hour general strike PAME took place, joined by sailors of the port of Piraeus. Large multinational companies and factories were frozen, shopping malls, hotel complexes and the largest port of the country and Europe – Piraeus were closed.

April 26 saw the continuation of the strike of seamen of the port of Piraeus.

On May 20 - the fourth since the beginning of the year 24-hour general strike of the Greek workers and employees, which paralyzed the country.

On May 31, in the ports of the country went on a Panhellenic 24-hour strike of all categories of ships.

On June 3, Greek journalists and employees of public transport had a 24-hour strike.

On June 10, for 24 hours all passenger and freight trains in Greece were cancelled. Workers opposed the authorities' intentions to sell the 49% stake in the state railway company to pay off debts to bankers and the Greek capitalists.

29 June saw the fifth general 24-hour strike by Greek workers and employees. The Greeks protested the pension reform. 3 million people took part in the general strike. These were public-sector and municipalities workers, hospital staff, banks and courts. The strikers were joined by journalists. The transportation system of the country was completely paralyzed.

Spain was on the verge of disaster after Greece: a budget deficit of about 10% of GDP. Since June, civil servants salaries have been cut by 5%, and subsequently frozen. 13 thousand employees in the public sector fall under the reduction (now in Spain, the unemployment rate is 20%). Indexation of pensions will be abolished and retirement age increased.

On March 12 a mass workers' strike took place in protest against the policy of austerity. Overground and underground transportation stopped working. Airline pilots (airline Alitalia) and railway employees went out on strike. Shipping was terminated. On 13 March, in Rome was a huge demonstration of 200 thousand people.

On March 31 about 30% of passenger and freight trains were cancelled in Spain as a result of the trade unions declared a one-day strike of railway workers.

On June 8, Spain was plunged into a nationwide strike by public servants, organized by the country’s leading unions. Demonstrators opposed the government's decision to lower the wages of civil servants by 5%. In protests across the country participated 2,5 million people or 2 / 3 of all civil servants. In Madrid the workers blocked the buildings of ministries and roads. The strikers temporarily blocked the main street of the capital of the region, Barcelona, blocking it with burning tires.

In Bilbao, the largest city in the Spanish Basque country, demonstrations in some cases degenerated into clashes with police.

On June 28 began a three-day strike on the Madrid Underground which put the Spanish capital on the verge transport collapse.

Leading Spanish trades unions called for a general strike by workers and employees on September 29.

Portugal. The IMF prescribed a reduction of the budget deficit from 9.3% to 3% of GDP. According to the budget adopted on January 26, public sector employees should have their wages frozen, retirement age increased, and jobs in the public sector will be cut by 10% (unemployment rate in Portugal is more than 10%).

On March 4, a 24-hour strike of 500 thousand workers and employees of the public sector, protesting against government policies took place. It was organized by the coalition of trade unions “United front". Transport was stopped, schools and hospitals closed. The strike was also joined by employees of the courts, taxation and customs, as well as refuse collectors. The action was attended by 80% of public sector workers.

On March 23, by call of a union, 10 thousand railways employees struck. The strike paralyzed much of the rail transport, both passenger and freight.

On April 29, employees of public transport continued their strike action. Protesters were opposed to a wage freeze and the privatization of state companies.

On May 31 in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, 300 thousand people took part in a protest organized by a union.

In France, workers opposed the reform of the pension system, which provides for the gradual increase of retirement age from 60 to 62 years. Also expected was to increase over 10 years the payment of salaries of civil servants into the social security fund, and improving work performance required to obtain a full pension.

On February 4, railwaymen went on a 24-hour strike. More than a third of workers did not work. The railway employees demanded higher wages and opposed job cuts.

On February 23, French air traffic controllers went on strike to oppose the reduction in staff.

On 26 February, in the largest French ports, dockworkers went on strike, protesting against the privatization of companies.

On March 23 by call of the trade unions in protest against the austerity measures, hundreds of thousands of transport workers, education and communication workers did not turn up for work. Public transport, schools, kindergartens, a post office and state television went on strike. About 40-50% of teachers protesting against the education reform and massive cuts (this is not the first teachers' strike this year) supported the strike. Railway workers went on strike. Across the country, 177 demonstrations were held, which were attended by 800 thousand people.

On April 7, train services in France were once again disrupted because of an on-going strike by train drivers, the third this year.

On April 26, five trade unions for workers of the European aircraft group Airbus went on strike in France. The workers demanded higher wages and job creation.

On May 27, more than a million people took part in a nationwide strike organized by the six largest unions in the country. Employees of all branches and directions opposed the pension reform.

The strike, announced by French nurses-anesthesiologists, was attended by about 80% of workers in operating theatres of French hospitals. In Paris, several hundred protesters stormed the Montparnasse station and blocked railway lines.

On June 15, over 20 thousand people, protesting against increasing the retirement age took to the streets of Paris.

On June 24, France was plunged into another nationwide strike. Civil servants and teachers took part. In Paris alone, the demonstration attracted 130 thousand people. Trade unions reported 120 thousand protesters in Marseilles, 70 thousand protesters in Bordeaux, 60 thousand in Toulouse and 25 thousand in Lyon. There were a total of about two hundred such demonstrations.

On 1 July, France was on the verge of collapse because of the strike by transport workers. The trade unions of railways, aviation, subway and bus service opposed to pension reform took part in the strike.

In Italy, on March 12 there was a mass workers' strike in protest against the government's economic policy. In the largest cities in the country overground and underground transport stopped working, there was a reduced number of flights, and cancellation of trains was announced. Maritime transport was disrupted. In addition to the employees of urban and interurban transport, the strike involved employees of state structures, banks, savings banks, pharmacies, schools and hospitals. The strikers demanded higher wages, and more favourable conditions.

On June 12, thousands of Italians took to the streets in Rome to protest against the austerity measures proposed by the government. 100 thousand people took part in the action.

On June 25, Italy held a nationwide strike. Workers opposed the government's decision to freeze salaries and pensions and to suspend a number of public projects.

In Britain, on February 5, a 24-hour strike by the London Underground took place, which marked the beginning of a series of similar protests.

On March 9 in Britain, a 48-hour general strike by civil servants took place, which was attended by tax officials and the courts, museums and libraries – in all about 200 thousand people. The strike was prompted the government's decision to reduce by one-third, compensation for dismissal. The event was one of the largest in the country recently.

On March 19, flight personnel of British airline British Airways after the failure of two weeks of talks with the airline began a three-day strike, supported by 80% of workers. Two-thirds of flights were cancelled. Workers were opposed to plans to cut 1,200 jobs and freeze wages for two years.

Mass strikes and manifestations by the working people, starting last Autumn, also affected Romania, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and other European countries. With each passing day, militant resistance of the working class in all capitalist countries is growing. This dispels the myths of bourgeois capitalism's apologists and their sing-alongers - the revisionists, that in the capitalist countries there is no longer a working class and that it has lost its fighting qualities. Mass strikes and demonstrations in the spring and early summer of this year, rejects these assertions. And only the policy of "social partnership", conducted by the largest trade unions in Europe (which, under pressure from the workers and employees are forced to take action by the organizers of strikes), constrains the revolutionary energy of the masses.

Russian workers must take their cue from their class brothers abroad and move from local and fragmented actions to a nationwide political strike.

The general strike is a powerful weapon in the hands of the working class. The ruling class is afraid of nothing so much as a general political strike of workers, engineers, clerks, rallying the workers, fostering their class consciousness and fighting spirit, able to force the authorities to fulfil the demands of the people or to withdraw in shame, and acting as the main force of the revolutionary transformation of society – the socialist revolution, which alone has the power to abolish capitalism and to end all the misery and suffering of the working classes.

Chronicle produced edition of the newspaper "Hammer and Sickle” (Serp I Molot)

( FB-AUCPB Comment.. In fully agreeing with the above article of events, in Britain, we have also entered the age of harsh austerity. Instead of the IMF imposing austerity measures in return for loans or bailouts as in some other countries, we have Cameron and his Tory – Liberal cronies doing the job for the IMF. That is, imposing fierce austerity measures and swingeing cuts upon the working people who will have to bear the brunt and foot the bill for them under the cheap slogan “Big Society”. While the bankers are busy popping open their champagne bottles, “swallowing their pills at the same time” and “snorting their coke” in London’s Square Mile celebrating their recent profits, working and unemployed people have years of misery awaiting them, with the prospect of being thrown onto the streets, without a livelihood or home. We need to unify and resist the cuts and follow the Greek example….mass general strikes, week long ones if necessary, mass demonstrations and other militant actions on a continuous basis and force the Government to halt the cuts. The pro-Cameron populist slogan “Big Society” is nothing more than carving up, selling off to private companies, DIY private health care and education, botched services and more poverty for millions of people.

Together we can halt the process…together we can bury capitalism!

For Bolshevism-AUCPB