Bankers caused the financial market crisis through their mistakes, but it is now the people, who are asked to pay for it. While many banks are back on profitable routes (see, for example, The Telegraph, 6 August 2010), citizens across Europe are expected to pay for the bailouts of banks, be it in the form of unemployment, be it in the form of wage cuts, be it in the form of cut-backs in public services. It is now that governments across Europe cut back on public services including health, education and other social services for disadvantaged groups in society. As Will Hutton wrote in the Guardian on 26 September in relation to the forthcoming budget of the British government, ‘while the country is now exhorted to tighten its belt and pay off its debts, those who created the crisis — the country’s CEOs and bankers, still living on Planet Extravagance, not to mention mainstream politicians — all want to get back to "business as usual": the world of 1997 to 2007’ (Guardian, 26 September 2010).
But workers are not only victims. They are increasingly vocal in their resistance to these cuts. Campaigns are organised at the local level – see here, for example, - the anti-cuts campaign in Nottingham. At the national level, Spanish trade unions have announced a general strike for 29 September. In the UK, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has launched a campaign for a progressive, broad alliance against public sector cuts ‘All Together For Public Services’. At the European, international level, as part of a Europe-wide day of union action against the regressive, anti-worker austerity measures, the European Trade Union Confederation has organised a large demonstration of 50 trade unions from 30 countries also for 29 September. Workers are not prepared to give up without a fight. The message is clear:
‘No to austerity. Priority for jobs and growth!’
Prof. Andreas Bieler
Professor of Political Economy
University of Nottingham/UK
Personal website: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/~ldzab
28 September 2010