Labor Unrest Spreads across Europe: Strike wave hits Europe as workers oppose austerity measures

by Ulrich Rippert
Global Research, March 5, 2010

Last week was marked by two significant developments. A strike wave hit Europe as workers in a series of countries began to demonstrate their opposition to the austerity measures demanded by the European Union and the banks.

In all countries, the trade unions responded by isolating and suppressing the workers’ actions and closing ranks with their respective governments and the European financial elite. The central concern of the unions was to prevent the working people of Europe from uniting in a common struggle against their common enemy—the European bourgeoisie and its agents in the national governments and the European Union.

On Monday of last week, 4,500 pilots employed by Germany’s biggest airline, Lufthansa, went on strike. On the same day, air traffic controllers in France began strike action, while workers at Total’s oil refineries continued their national walkout. In Great Britain, flight attendants at British Airways voted by over 80 percent in favor of a strike.

On Tuesday, large demonstrations were held in Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia protesting the cost-cutting measures introduced by the Socialist Party (PSOE) government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

On Wednesday, some 2 million workers took part in a general strike in Greece that brought the country to a halt for 24 hours. All flights into and out of Greece were cancelled when air traffic controllers joined the strike.

In the Czech Republic, the unions announced that public transport would be brought to a standstill starting March 1, and Portuguese unions prepared for a one-day public sector strike on March 4 to protest a freeze on wages.

The British Independent newspaper warned that the eruption of strikes and protests heralded the biggest wave of rebellion “experienced on the continent since the revolutionary upheavals of 1968.