The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has called a demonstration on 29 September 2010 with a large unified march from the Gare du Midi to the Cinquantenaire, from 1pm to 3pm.
Following the financial crisis which began in the USA and the collapse of the bank Lehman Brothers, governments have made no attempt to correct the ills which led to the crisis. After thirty years of deregulation and globalisation, financial integration has carried financial power to its zenith, giving a continuous downward pressure on wages.
As well as that, policies of austerity are being put in place all over Europe.
Leaders and speculators want to make workers, pensioners, the unemployed, etc, pay for the crisis. Everywhere we see a retreat in all the acquired social benefits such as retirement, healthcare insurance, even the independence of occupational health.
Civil Servants are obviously the privileged target for sacrifices not only in Greece but also in numerous other European countries which have seen a substantial decrease in spending power. In addition we are witnessing a reduction in public services (teaching, health, etc) which risks putting a question mark over European social cohesion.
Pensioners are also one of the categories targeted in austerity plans by delaying retirement age combined with various conditions limiting the size of pensions.
If austerity is applied to workers, profits rise again sharply but speculation leads to manufacturing being carried out in countries where wages are low rather than in Europe.
Such a policy is destined to fail as underlined by Keynes after the crisis of 1929: lots of economists in Europe or in the USA argue that in these conditions such austerity will kill the recovery.
A different type of policy is not only possible but even desirable. Let’s become active, let’s push our leaders to call a halt to austerity, let’s get production going again through innovation… R&D sees the Commission’s proposals for financial regulation as a first step in the right direction.
Let’s support, with R&D, the demonstration on 29 September. The Commission needs to take European citizens’ unease into account and propose solutions which are in the European social tradition.