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Anti-Austerity Allies Coming Together for Coordinated European Strikes

Spain's largest unions join call for multi-country day of "action and solidarity" against assault on public programs

Common Dreams staff

In a new development for Europe's anti-austerity campaigners, Spain's two main labor groups, the Workers' Commissions (CCOO) and General Workers' (UGT), announced Friday they would meet the call of other European labor organizations for coordinated action by declaring plans for a national strike on November 14th.

Supported by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), which represents 85 labor organizations from 36 countries across Europe, the "day of action and solidarity" would the first pan-European protest coordinated by anti-austerity allies in Greece, Cyprus, Spain, Portugal, and possibly elsewhere. The ETUC said the day would include strikes, demonstrations, rallies and other actions.

"Unemployment, cuts, the impoverishment of the majority and the deterioration of public services justify a general strike," the CCOO said in a press statement.

The UGT justified the strike by saying the cuts imposed by the conservative government of President Mariano Rajoy are, "strangling the economy and dismantling our social model."

Portugal's largest umbrella union, the CGTP, had already announced plans to hold a national strike action on the same day.

Calling the newly announced coordination a "spectacular" development, CCOO spokesperson Fernando Lezcano said turnout could be massive due to the growing evidence that austerity prescribed by the so-called Troika—the European Central Bank, the IMF, and European Commission—has failed.

"After two and a half years of austerity policies," Lezcano said, "the member countries are suffering worse than before. We cannot take it anymore, we cannot wait any longer. The failure of these policies has been clearly demonstrated."

As ETUC said in a recent statement:

Austerity is not only leading to a social emergency. Austerity is also spectacularly failing: it does not tackle excessive debt burdens, nor does it restore market confidence. Instead, austerity further weakens public finances. Even if Greece or Spain were to run a zero deficit, the debt ratio would still explode because of the collapse of GDP and economic activity exacerbated by unsustainable interest rates imposed to meet the expectations of the financial markets.

Who is benefiting?

Casino capitalism is at the root of the problems we are facing today. This system has failed. But capital does not feel challenged and its operation is still protected. Banks manipulate interest rates in cosy offices, but governments continue to focus on making people pay for its failure.

The European Union institutions, Council, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary fund must target tax justice, end tax competition and tax evasion and finally -but not only- implement a financial transaction tax. Instead they are calling for structural reforms, for cuts in minimum wages, cuts in pensions, cuts in unemployment benefit. This is unfair. This is ineffective. What we need are investments and decent wages leading to sustainable growth.

Plans for next month's strikes takes place as the European Commission concluded the second and final day of a its summit in Brussels. Both The Guardian and Reuters provide coverage of the day's event.

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