AS INFLATION soars and the cost of petrol rapidly rises, workers across Europe are being forced to protest, with strikes spreading like wildfire.
European energy prices soared after Russia declared its ‘Special Military Operation’ in Ukraine, prompting EU capitalist rulers to impose further sanctions on Moscow.
Benchmark Dutch gas futures rose by as much as 62%, the most since at least 2005. German energy prices for March jumped as much as 58%.
Europe relies on Russia for around 40% of its natural gas. Now the entire weight of this inflationary energy crisis is being dumped onto the backs of European workers who are responding with mass actions.
Transport workers brought Paris to a grinding halt yesterday. And the strike is indefinite. They say that they are out on strike for good and that they will not return to work until their demands are met.
No Metro, bus or tram services (RATP) are running. The French union involved, FO, said on the eve of the strike: ‘If the company does not make any major changes, March 25th will mark the start of long and hard action for the public service.’ The strike is over pay, with workers saying that the cost of living crisis means they can no longer live on their wages.
In Spain, thousands of lorry drivers are on strike. The strike, which began last week, comes in response to surging energy costs. Drivers have been blocking roads and ports, and conducting noisy go-slow protests to draw attention to their demands.
Three trade unions joined with truck drivers and small truck owners, calling themselves the Platform for the Defence of Transport. They went on strike on March 14 saying they face ‘total bankruptcy’. The strike’s first week caused a major disruption of supply chains and shortages of fresh products, such as eggs and other dairy supplies.
In Italy, just a couple of weeks ago, a strike by truckers forced factories to close and left many gasoline pumps dry. Supermarket shelves emptied as perishable goods ran out and new stocks went undelivered. There was no fruit, vegetables and milk.
In Germany last Tuesday, workers at the Just Eat subsidiary Lieferando also went on strike in response to rising fuel costs. This strike wave is essentially revolutionary.
The US is now making a bid to supply Europe with its Liquified Gas, to replace Russian oil and gas. It is however very expensive, and in no way compensates for the vast quantities of gas that European capitalism would lose out on if the US succeeds in completely banning Russian gas.
The US, UK and EU sanctions on Russia are in reality a war against the workers of their own countries, since the workers have to pay the price! The EU capitalists – the bankers and the bosses – fear that the revolution has already begun.
In the UK, the class war is also raging. P&O’s sacking of 800 seafarers on the spot and using security to force them off their ferries has angered the entire working class. The Tory Chancellor’s Spring Statement spelt out that it was the workers, students and the poor who will be hit hardest, pushing a further 1.3 million into ‘absolute poverty’.
In the UK, more than one million people are in debt to loan sharks, millions are unemployed and are threatened with homelessness while they rely on food banks! This crisis is driving forward revolution!
Even the French banking giant BNP-Paribas warned yesterday that the cost of living crisis risks sparking social unrest in Britain because its economy is one of the most fragile in Europe.
L’Atelier, a subsidiary of BNP Paribas, said that there is a danger of ‘social unrest, protest and extremism’ after the UK ranked 35th out of 36 countries for its inability to deliver higher wages.
Only Latvia performed worse, with Spain, Greece and Lithuania making up the rest of the bottom five.
L’Atelier pointed to soaring inflation, wage rises that cannot keep up with the rising cost of living, and record-high prices for housing and rent.
The writing is on the wall, and the Tories know it.
For the trade unions, the only form of defence is attack. The TUC must be forced to call a general strike to bring this government down and go forwards to a nationalised economy, planned production and socialism.
Workers and youth must join the WRP and YS to lead the developing British socialist revolution to its victory!