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Up to 100,000 union members are marching on Brussels today (29 September) to demand a softening of “draconian” austerity budgets in EU countries. Unions hope their action will lead to a rethink of national and EU anti-recession strategies.
The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) called for a European Day of Action on Wednesday to demonstrate against the austerity measures adopted recently by many European countries and to ask for recovery plans promoting quality jobs and growth.
As many countries have been badly hit by the global financial and economic crisis, European authorities have decided to implement drastic budget measures and social reforms, such as Greece’s austerity plan or France’s pension reform.
Between 80,000 and 100,000 members of fifty Trade Unions organizations from 30 countries are expected to take part in the demonstration held on Wednesday in Brussels.
Austerity budgets: too far, too soon?
The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), the main force behind the Brussels march, hopes that by sending a strong message it can prompt a rethink on austerity programmes it views as draconian.
In a 28 September interview with EurActiv, ETUC Secretary-General John Monks explained that unions believe both national governments and EU leaders went too far, and too soon, panicking at the onset of the Greek crisis and adopting austerity measures which have led to a “real risk” of a double-dip recession.
Conny Reuter, president of the Social Platform, a network of European social NGOs, shares the unions’ view, and before leaving to join today’s Brussels march told EurActiv that the over-the-top budgets have led to a dangerous slashing of social spending across the EU, giving the example of a 30% cut in teachers’ salaries in Latvia.
After the demonstration, an ETUC delegation is expected to meet European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme, whose country ensures the rotating Presidency of the European Union.
Besides the Euro-demonstration in Brussels, a general strike has been called in Spain for the first time in 8 years. Actions and demonstration movements will also take place on Wednesday in other European countries, namely Portugal, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Serbia, Romania, Poland , Ireland and France.