European unions protest this week
Demonstrating just how widespread the anti-austerity campaign is, this week will see protests across Europe led by the trade unions. Unprecedented trade union unity in Portugal will see the two main trade union confederations, UGT and CGTP-IN, mount a general strike on Wednesday 24 November – only the second such occasion since the restoration of democracy in the 1970s. Then on Saturday 27 November, there will be demonstrations in Dublin, called by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, and in Rome, called by the General Confederation of Italian Trade Unions (CGIL). In Ireland, there is a tough budget coming up and the trade union movement is calling on the Government to resign and call a General Election. Berlusconi’s Italian Government is also facing a Parliamentary no confidence vote (although less over cuts than over his general stewardship of the country) which could see General Elections there too. The TUC has sent messages of support to all four trade union confederations (not least because the ICTU sent its Vice President to address the Westminster Rally we held just ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review last month.
The TUC’s mass demonstration is, of course, planned for Saturday 26 March, and trade unionists should be planning now to get a big turnout. But not everyone is backing demonstrations as the way to get our point across. Tim Gee explains the not always straightforward relationship between national demos and local activism at Liberal Conspiracy, and more exotically (sorry Tim!), Eric Cantona has become the figurehead for a plan to carry out mass cash withdrawals from he banks on 7 December. The TUC is not convinced that a mass run on the banks would be a good thing (especially if you’ve got a mortgage or an overdraft!) It was after all the run on Northern Rock that first brought the global financial crisis to widespread attention in the UK.