Workers have been protesting in large numbers throughout Europe, against the economic crisis and the escalating attacks on their livelihood. They are opposing the huge increase in energy prices which is making life a living hell for the working people.
Across Europe, workers are opposing the war that NATO led by US is waging against Russia in the name of defending Ukraine. Under pressure from the US the European Union countries joined the US in imposing stringent sanctions on Russia in order to debilitate its economy. Part of these sanctions was to stop buying gas from Russia. The sanctions on Russia have caused enormous damage to the economy of EU countries, as a result of massive increase in gas prices. The working masses are coming onto the streets to voice their protests. These protests have been escalating since September.
Workers in Germany oppose the war and rising energy prices
Protest actions took place in Dusseldorf, Berlin, Cologne and other cities, against the rising costs of energy and the war in Ukraine. Protestors denounced the German government which blames Russia for the energy crisis, yet refuses to certify and launch the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline. They criticised their government for its participation in the war by supplying weapons and its participation in the US led sanctions on Russia.
There were protests in Kassel, demanding a ban on weapons exports to Ukraine. Protesting workers blocked the entrances to the factories of armaments producer Rheinmetall and tank manufacturer Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, denouncing them for the huge profits they are making from the war. Many of the protest actions brought out the fact that German people are deeply concerned at the growing militarisation of the economy. They are demanding that Germany should take the lead to disband NATO and stop its war threats to China and Russia.
Workers in France protest for higher wages
Nearly 1,00,000 workers from various industries and sectors are reported to have held militant protest demonstrations in many cities across France on October 18. In the capital Paris alone, more than 70,000 workers are reported to have joined protest marches.
Workers’ unions staged a nationwide strike for higher salaries, following weeks of walkout-protests of workers in the oil refineries. Transport workers, teachers, food industry workers, public hospital employees, workers of nuclear power plants and workers of many other industries and services joined the strike.
The striking workers are demanding a wage raise up to 10%, to cope up with the soaring cost of living, as France experiences inflation of 6.2 percent — its highest rate in several decades. They are pointing out that the energy companies are making enormous profits from the high oil and gas prices, as the war in Ukraine aggravates an energy crisis.
The strike paralysed train services, metro-train services, suburban train services and bus services in Paris and other major cities of France, inter-city train services, as well as services of high-speed trains on Eurostar, between France and neighbouring countries in Europe.
The French government has issued orders forcing workers in some oil refineries to go back to work. Police have attacked the striking workers in many places and arrested several workers.
Struggles throughout Britain again rising prices and unemployment
Workers in Britain have been coming out in strike struggles throughout the country, in opposition to the all-sided attacks by the bourgeoisie on their livelihood and rights. Massive protest demonstrations are taking place, under the slogan “Enough is Enough!”
Workers are raising their voice against privatisation of public assets and services, the rising cost of living, against inflation and soaring energy prices. In the face of job losses and harsh pay cuts, railway workers, call centre workers, lawyers, journalists, cleaners, transport workers and workers of many other sectors are coming out in protest actions. They are opposing the taking over of public services such as transport, health care and education, which should be the responsibility of the state, by the monopolies.
Thousands of people gathered in Prague’s Wenceslas Square on October 8 to protest the government’s incapacity to address the crushing costs of living and the downgrade in living standards. The protests were organised by the Czech Confederation of Trade Unions. They called on the government to introduce regulations on food prices, basic goods, electricity and gas and to raise the minimum wage.
Earlier, more than 70,000 people protested in Prague on September 3. They demanded that their country should get out of NATO and the EU and directly purchase natural gas from Russia and other countries, in order to bring down energy prices.
Under the banner “prices down”, the Austrian Trade Union Federation has been organising a series of protests in the streets of Vienna.
The workers are expressing their dissatisfaction with the government’s incapacity to deal with the current economic crisis. They are calling for imposition of a price cap for heating, suspension of VAT on groceries and public transport tickets, lower taxes on fuel, and a freeze on rents.
Huge protests have been reported from Italy. People are refusing to pay their electricity bills, which have shot up 300-400 %, and are publicly burning them in the streets.