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Charlie Hebdo

(15 January 2015) Like many of you, I am still shocked by the killing of the journalists, cartoonists, other staff of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and the police trying to protect them. It was a brutal attack against freedom of expression and thought, against the freedom to joke, ridicule and laugh with power, religion, with anything really. These rights are so crucial also for trade unionists across the world. The French and European signs of solidarity are impressive. We (...)

Workers’ demands not reflected in Commission Work programme

(18 December 2014) During the Belgian general strike on 15 December I joined workers in Antwerp who control the largest locks in the world. They blocked the bridges and had stopped operating the locks, effectively stopping all shipping in and out of the harbour. As we warmed ourselves over the fire, we talked about their work, what the government plans mean for them, their families and their work. We also spoke about what was happening across Europe and the many actions of public service (...)

The Wizard of Brussels

(3 December 2014) Last week (27 November) EU Commission President Juncker finally unveiled the investment plan that he promised to the European Parliament and especially to the social democrats after the elections in May. His pledge signaled the understanding that investing in the European economy is the only way out of recession. The plan was supposed to assist in boosting growth and create the jobs Europe needs. It would be the end to austerity. And recently it became more. The plan would (...)

#Luxleaks – urgent action needed against tax evaders and their advisors

(20 November 2014) The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker is implicated in the #Luxleaks scandal revealed by the excellent work of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalist on 5 November. He was responsible, as both Prime Minister and Finance Minister, for authorising and approving tax deals with 340 companies. These have cost Member States billions of Euros of lost revenue. Juncker claims not only that the deals were legal but were the same as those (...)

Public investment central to recovery

(3 November 2014) Alarm bells are ringing on all sides over the slow down of EU economic growth, especially in the Euro-zone. The French forecasters of the Economic Observatory (OFCE) are the latest in a string of those who argue that the Euro-zone is on the brink of deflation and recession. They also make the telling point that such a recession would spill-over to the rest of the EU, Europe and beyond. As growth is also slowing down in Russia, Europe is in for a difficult period. But (...)

The dangers of austerity and how it comes back to bite us

(23 October 2014) Several countries in Europe and especially the US are in the grips of an Ebola scare. This does not seem justified to me at the moment. Much can be done to contain the spread of the virus and many workers are doing just that. Health workers are in the frontline of the fight against the disease in West Africa, the US and Europe. We represent several million health care workers - nurses, doctors, other medical professions, cleaners, ambulance drivers and more. Many other (...)

Brussels Bubble thriving this week, as workers across Europe face harsh reality

(8 October 2014) The Commissioner-candidates had to pass the test in the European Parliament. Were they up to the job? Did they have conflicts of interest arising from former businesses interests? Could they be trusted to carry out their duties given the positions taken by the governments who nominated them? The Grand coalition build around soon-to-be President Juncker and the support he receives from the European People’s Party, most of the Socialists and Democrats, the Liberals and some (...)

New EU Commissioners

(23 September 2014) After weeks and weeks of speculation, leaks and videotapes, the European Commission President revealed the 26 remaining candidates for the European Commission. They will now go to the European Parliament for approval. Some of the hearings are set to be stormy. According to incoming President Juncker this Commission will take us out of the crisis and make a fresh start to deliver a Europe of jobs and growth. This is what we all want. The legacy of the Barroso Commission (...)

Back from holidays, business as usual !

(26 August 2014) There was little in the way of a summer celebration for workers at the Irish company Greyhound Recycling and Recovery. The owners are seeking wage cuts of around 30%. They claim that this will make the company competitive. The 80 workers and their union SIPTU challenged the cuts, launched a seris of protests and have now been locked out since 17th June. The company is using legal action to try to prevent protests and blockades amid growing public anger over the company’s (...)

Test for the new EU Parliament - Defend the Maternity Leave Directive

(15 July 2014) The European Commission has indicated it wants to withdraw the maternity leave directive. This initiative is part of its Refit agenda aiming to do away with what it sees as unnecessary regulatory burdens. Removing this directive is also the top priority of the UK government’s Business Taskforce (see Cut EU Red Tape, 24 February 2014). Many women who have recently given birth and/or are breastfeeding would stand to benefit from the directive which would strengthen the (...)

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