Belgian unions are organising a national demonstration on 22 May over attacks on the right to protest and right to strike. This comes as corporations such as retailers Ahold/Delhaize, bank ING and clothing/fashion house Zara have been abusing a legal loophole (with a unilateral demand and hearing) to prevent pickets in Belgium. Workers organise pickets to inform shoppers and people and to make the strike effective - while judges oblige the employers. This shows the basic attitude of profit-maximising companies. If they can break the organised workforce, they will.
Such attacks come as extreme-right wing parties are doing well in opinion polls. Their thugs attack people of a different opinion. Like the French mayor Yannick Morez, who faced death threats and an arson attack on his family following his willingness to host a reception centrum for asylum seekers in Saint-Brevin-Les-Pins. On the other side of the Atlantic, Trump continues to fan the flames of the far right with his divisive conspiracy theories as he barrels towards a 2024 presidential campaign. European companies which are active in the US should speak out against this rhetoric - and this also goes for their European business organisation (BusinessEurope). Incidentally, this year marks ninety years since Hitler dissolved the German trade unions (2 May 1933). He did this without massive opposition from the employers. As Biden said recently, “If we are complacent, if we are silent, we are complicit in perpetuating these cycles of violence.”
The creeping curtailment of rights being experienced by the Belgian workers is underlined in the work of the Council of Europe’s European Committee on Social Rights. It reported on the growing number of violations of trade union rights at the EPSU Executive Committee. The growth of the extreme-right and how we stand up to this - as well as the attacks on trade union rights - will be issues discussed in the ETUC Congress, taking place 23-26 May in Berlin. EPSU will be present with a large delegation led by the President. EPSU will speak for public service workers and Congress will pronounce itself against new austerity measures as part of economic governance. The Congress adopts a broad agenda on defending workers and promoting new rights. You can follow all the action across EPSU’s social media channels.