Austerity Europe – the trade union alternative
(8 May 2012) Trade unions stand up for workers. We, as unions, will have to give a message of hope and a perspective that there is an alternative to austerity misery that affects so many of our members – it was one of the statements made by participants at a seminar organized by EPSU affiliates Verdi (Germany), Italian CGIL-FP and UK’s Unison with the participation of the Austrian colleagues of GdG-KMSfB on 4 May 2012 in London.
We live a bizarre triumph of failed policies – the deregulation of financial and labour markets has led to increased inequalities and the near collapse of the financial system, and still many governments and not least those of Germany, Italy and UK as well as the European Commission are continuing to push for them.
EPSU’s Deputy General Secretary, Jan Willem Goudriaan gave an overview of the European policies adopted and the outlines of a European alternative to austerity as considered by EPSU. The unions exchanged experiences of the work that is being done to oppose the austerity policies and concrete examples of coalition building such as the Austrian campaign focused on local and regional level to gain support for taxation measures on banks and on wealth.
The Italian colleagues reported on the Italian Water Movement as an example of successful coalition building. The coalition defeated proposals to privatise local public companies.
Verdi colleagues underlined how the German labour market reforms have lead to a low wage economy with more precarious jobs and increased inequalities that should not be the example for the rest of Europe. Unison colleagues explained how the cuts could lead to three quarters of a million jobs being axed and the educational work that is being undertaken with members.
The unions adopted a statement and will continue to explore further work and cooperation that might include joint actions.