A REPORT by an official UN agency has confirmed what every worker across Europe knows – namely that the savage austerity measures carried out across the EU by governments determined to rescue a bankrupt capitalist system has driven an estimated seven million more people into poverty over the past six years.
This figure includes 800,000 children whose lives and future are being sacrificed to bail out a bankrupt system and keep the banks and speculators from going bust following the world banking collapse in 2008.
The 357-page report by the UN International Labour Organisation points out that the policies being driven throughout the EU, and in Britain by the Tories, of ‘fiscal consolidation’ (austerity) are intended to reduce the state debt by slashing public spending on health and welfare in order to achieve a balanced budget.
These cuts, the ILO says, have been imposed ‘without due consideration to the objective of adequate benefits to all people’. The working class and their children are being driven in their millions into poverty as the bankers and bosses dump the full effect of their crisis on the backs of ordinary working people.
The report details the effect of austerity in countries like Ireland, Cyprus, Greece and Portugal where the income of workers has plummeted. In Greece, wages have dropped by 35% since 2008 while unemployment has increased by 28% and youth unemployment is over 55%.
So great is the crisis that the ILO warns: ‘Some estimates foresee an additional 15 – 25 million people facing the prospect of living in poverty by 2025 if fiscal consolidation continues.’ The European Commission itself has admitted that unemployment since the austerity drive has increased to 26 million, including 5.3 million young people and around half of the unemployed have been without a job for more than a year.
The UN’s expert on debt and human rights, Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, hammered the message home last Friday, saying that it’s ‘not acceptable when people no longer have the means to buy adequate food, lose access to essential medical services or cannot keep a roof over their head.’
He went on to condemn the ‘massive violation of social and economic rights in Greece’, the direct result of austerity measures forced on Greece to satisfy international lenders, before going on to call for EU leaders to ‘consider the social and human rights impact of future economic programmes.’
These leaders aren’t interested in the human rights of workers – they are quite willing to condemn millions to poverty and starvation to see that the banks get their money! This report stands as an absolute refutation of the reactionary alliance between the Labour Party, TUC and the Cameron wing of the Tories on staying in EU on the grounds that it will ‘save jobs’.
While the UN are making pathetic and useless calls for the capitalist class to pull back, the working class in Europe is taking the road to revolutionary confrontation. In Greece, the working class and small farmers are engaged in huge class struggles against a treacherous Syriza government determined to impose the austerity demanded by the Troika.
In France, the entire country is engulfed in a strike wave as millions of workers and youth are on the streets against the government’s new laws to drive up the working week and make it legal to sack workers at will.
In Belgium, large parts of the country were brought to a standstill by week-long strikes by transport and public sector workers over wage cuts and changes to the labour laws aimed at introducing zero-hour contracts.
The same revolutionary upsurge in the class struggle can be seen in every country with traditional parties of the ruling class being wiped out as the anti-austerity movement sweeps the continent.
The crucial issue today is the building of sections of the International Committee of the Fourth International in every country to provide the revolutionary leadership that is vital to taking this mass movement of workers and youth to power and to smash the capitalist EU for good and bring about a socialist Europe.