Sunday, October 03, 2010

euro banks vs. labor - the death match


Video - RT coverage of people against EU cash machine with anti-austerity marches.

GlobalResearch | While Labor Unions celebrate Anti-Austerity Day in Europe, the European Neoliberals raise the ante.

Most of the press has described Wednesday's European-wide labor demonstrations and strikes across in terms of the familiar exercise by transport workers irritating travelers with work slowdowns, and large throngs letting off steam by setting fires. But the story goes much deeper than merely a reaction against unemployment and economic recession conditions. At issue are proposals to drastically change the laws and structures of how European society will function for the next generation. If the anti-labor forces succeed, they will break up Europe, destroy the internal market, and render that continent a backwater. This is how serious the financial coup d'etat has become. And it is going to get much worse - quickly. As John Monks, head of the European Trade Union Confederation, put it: "This is the start of the fight, not the end."

Spain has received most of the attention, thanks to its ten-million strong turnout (reportedly half the entire labor force). Holding its first general strike since 2002, Spanish labor protested against its socialist government using the bank crisis (stemming from bad real estate loans and negative mortgage equity, not high labor costs) as an opportunity to change the laws to enable companies and government bodies to fire workers at will, and to scale back their pensions and public social spending in order to pay the banks more. Portugal is doing the same, and it looks like Ireland will follow suit - all this in the countries whose banks have been the most irresponsible lenders. The bankers are demanding that they rebuild their loan reserves at labor's expense, just as in President Obama's program here in the United States but without the sanctimonious pretenses.

The problem is Europe-wide and indeed centered in the European Union capital in Brussels. This is why the major protests were staged there. On the same day that the strikers demonstrated, the neoliberal European Commission (EC) outlined a full-fledged war against labor. Fifty to a hundred thousand workers gathered to protest the proposed transformation of social rules by the most anti-labor campaign since the 1930s - even more extreme than the Third World austerity plans imposed by the IMF and World Bank in times past.

The neoliberals are fully in control of the bureaucracy, and they are reviving Margaret Thatcher's slogan, TINA: There Is No Alternative. But there is, of course. In the small Baltic economies, pro-labor parties have made it clear that the alternative to government shrinkage is to simply repeal the debts, withdraw from the Euro and break the banks. It is either the banks or labor - and Europe has just realized that this is truly a fight to the economic death. And the first test will come this Saturday, when Latvia holds its national parliamentary elections.