|The News Line: Feature
Tuesday, 13 November 2012
ETUC Day of Action against Austerity tomorrow
THE TUC has sent letters to the Spanish and Greek governments urging them to abandon their austerity programmes and to ‘change course now’.
The letters have been written as part of the run up’ to the 14 November ETUC Day of Action against austerity, for jobs and growth.
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber has written the letters at the request of Spanish trade unions – calling on the President ‘and the rest of the European leaders and institutions, for a policy change. We demand measures that foster growth and create employment.’
The letter to the Spanish government states:
‘As General Secretary of the TUC, the representative voice of people at work in Britain, I am writing to you to express my concerns, and those of the workers that I represent, about the circumstances that have led the Spanish trade unions to call for a general strike on 14 November.
‘The consequences of the austerity policies are devastating for workers and citizens in many European countries, among them Spain.
‘During the recent annual meeting of the IMF in Tokyo, some of its officials brought into question the efficacy of the austerity policies being implemented in several countries, explicitly referring to the case of Spain.
‘The injustice and inefficiency of these measures, which the unions have always warned against, have been already proven.
‘The measures adopted by the government over which you preside are clearly self defeating as the macroeconomic indicators have shown.
‘The persistent recession that now affects Spain has provoked a rise in unemployment, less tax collection and dwindling confidence, among other things.
‘These austerity policies, such as measures on co-payments for healthcare, cuts in healthcare, social services, dependency aid and education; the reduction of the salaries of civil servants; cuts in the unemployment allowances; the privatisation of the railways, etc, are all extremely antisocial.
‘They are having alarming consequences for Spanish citizens and workers. Social exclusion is now a reality in Spain: 13 million people (27% of the population) are living below the poverty line.
‘More than 2 million children grow up in poor households.
‘Finally, Spanish workers are already suffering the effects of the last labour law reform that your government put in place.
‘As a consequence, unemployment and industrial disputes are on the rise.
‘In this context let me ask you, and the rest of the European leaders and institutions, for a policy change.
‘We demand measures that foster growth and create employment: a change in the economic model with a shift towards sustainable development grounded in a dynamic and competitive industrial sector that is based on investment in R&D, and in an education system that stands up for quality and equity.
‘Social dialogue and social consensus are key elements and have to be re-established in order to ensure democracy. Europe needs an economically strong, socially fair and democratically sound Spain.
The letter to the Greek prime Minister states:
‘Mr Antonis Samaras
‘Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic
‘Our sister organisations, the GSEE and ADEDY, have informed us of the structural labour market measures imposed by the Troika that were passed by the Greek parliament on 7th November 2012.
‘On behalf of the TUC, I would like to express anger and dismay about the contents of these measures, which will hit harder the weakest and will deteriorate further the dramatic social and economic situation in Greece.
‘The measures dictated by the Troika concentrate on new cuts in wages and pensions.
‘They disregard and destroy the value of collective bargaining: indeed, the minimum wage will no longer be subject to negotiations but set by law and frozen at below subsistence levels together with long-service ‘maturity’ allowances.
‘Working time and leave regulation will be imposed without any form of negotiations.
‘The single remaining benefit attached to minimum wage, the 10% family allowance, will be removed and will further impoverish workers, pensioners and their families.
‘The new system precludes the extension of the protective framework of collective agreements to all workers and forbids any other allowance.
‘Such measures gravely affect not only Greece and its citizens but the whole of the European working population.
‘Indeed such drastic cuts in wages and pensions, such flexibilisation of working time and working conditions, and such disregard of the value of collective bargaining create a negative downwards competition for all workers in Europe.
‘The TUC strongly deplores and opposes these measures which flagrantly contradict key principles of the European Treaties (namely the horizontal social clause, upwards convergence of living and working standards, strict respect for national systems of industrial relations, etc).
‘The TUC recalls that Greece has already been scrutinised by the Council of Europe and has been found to have violated the 1961 Social Charter by a series of legislation enacted at the express demand of the Troika.
‘The TUC expresses its solidarity with Greek workers and with the Greek population undergoing the most unfair and counter-productive measures, imposed from the outside, and contravening the European Treaties.
‘We ask the Government of Greece to refrain from adopting the revised budget on 11 November as it will inflict further damage on already impoverished Greek workers and their families.
The ETUC is calling a day of action and solidarity on 14 November 2012, including strikes, demonstrations, rallies and other actions, mobilising the European trade union Movement behind ETUC policies.
These express their strong opposition to the austerity measures that are dragging Europe into economic stagnation, indeed recession, as well as the continuing dismantling of the European social model. These measures, far from re-establishing confidence, only serve to worsen imbalances and foster injustice.
The ETUC notes the mounting opposition among citizens and workers in the countries concerned and reaffirm their support for affiliated unions fighting for decent working and living conditions.
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