Italy, Spain and Greece erupting against EU austerity

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ITALIAN car giant Fiat has shut down five of its plants as the Italian ruling class struggles against a transport workers strike directed against the austerity government of the unelected, appointed Prime Minister, Mario Monti.

Lorry drivers are striking over tax rises on petrol and have set up road blocks throughout the country.

Fiat shut down after making 20,000 fewer cars over the last three weeks due to the strike actions.

Four of the plants are in the south of Italy – including its Pomigliano plant, near Naples, where it is making the new Panda – and one is in Turin.

Fiat, which also owns the US carmaker Chrysler, is now insisting that conditions need to be right for it to keep its Italian car factories open – meaning that the closures could be long term.

Its chief executive Marchionne took over in 2004 and has been in a permanent war against the trade unions. He says that Fiat’s Italian plants were running at just 50% of their potential capacity, while plants in the US and Poland are working at full speed.

Monti, who took over from Berlusconi, states that either the trade unions agree to the necessary wage and job cuts or the working class faces an ‘economic disaster’ like the Greek workers.

Meanwhile in Spain, the leaders of the country’s two main labour unions, Comisiones Obreras and Union General de Trabajadores, yesterday called a general strike for March 29 in protest at the ‘labour reforms’ imposed by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. He predicted that the new measures, plus the $17 billion deficit reduction package, would cause a general strike before he brought them in!

It is now much easier to sack workers, and the amount of compensation workers have to be paid when they are sacked has been drastically reduced. Unemployment has hit 22%, with youth unemployment running at 50%. Even the government is predicting a further 630,000 jobs will go this year.

Ignacio Fernandez Toxo of the Workers Commission likened the changed labour laws to those that existed under the Franco fascist dictatorship.

The UGT leader Candido Mendez said: ‘It is a strike that is fair and necessary.’ The unions have also called midday rallies across Spain this Sunday to protest against the reforms.

Spain’s economy collapsed in 2008 when the real estate bubble burst. The government is pledged to bring a swollen government deficit of 11.2% of gross domestic product in 2009 down to the EU limit 3% by 2013.

Meanwhile in Greece, the working class is battling against EU-imposed mass unemployment and the most savage wage and job cuts ever. The appointed government is itself under the ‘iron heel’ of over 100 EU appointed Franco-German commissioners.

These commissioners have now reported back that they have managed to grab back almost 946 million euros in back taxes. However, Commissioner Horst Reichenbach noted that the haul of 946m euros, while only a fraction of the 8bn euros in taxes still outstanding, was still more than double the 400m euros that had been targeted last year for Greece. So a useful start had been made in bleeding Greece dry!

Reichenbach noted that the country could boost its exports by as much as 10% if it brought its standards in line with the rest of Europe’s.

The EU crisis is bringing with it dictatorship, austerity, poverty, mass unemployment, general strikes and revolutions to the whole of Europe.

The task of the hour remains the building of sections of the Fourth International all over Europe, to lead the European socialist revolution, to replace the bankrupt and broken EU with the socialist United States of Europe, as part of the world socialist revolution.