Archive for the ‘Europe’ Category

Capitalism Derails (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Every week, the French revolutionary workers’ current Lutte Ouvriere produces workplace bulletins at hundreds of job sites all around the country.  Below is a slightly abridged version of the editorial from the latest round of bulletins, issued February 19.  LO’s site is here

The so-called Spinetta report recommends transforming SNCF (France’s state-run national railway) into a limited liability company, closing down “secondary” lines, opening up to competitors, doing away with the current working conditions of railroad employees and slashing five thousand jobs. In other words, this report is laying the groundwork for the accelerated privatization of SNCF and the destruction of railroad employees’ rights.

This is an outright declaration of war, to which the CGT (France’s major union confederation) replied by calling for a day of protest on March 22.

Railroad employees have every reason to fight back and so do all French workers. Given that the government is proudly boasting about the economic recovery and the return of prosperity, no worker should accept to see his working and living conditions get worse. No worker should accept to be treated as a chip in some casino game.

Many commentators and government officials get all worked up when (more…)


Employees of John Deere Europe and members of German industrial metal workers union IG Metall (IGM) protest at the John Deere factory in Mannheim, Germany, January 9, 2018. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

by Bastian Schmidt (Feb 8, 2018)

Last Tuesday night, employers in the German metal sector and the IG Metall union announced new labour contract. As part of the agreement, workers will be able to reduce their workweek to 28 hours for a limited period of time. However, this gain came at the cost of several other givebacks. Let’s examine this agreement more closely.

It has been quite a while since IG Metall mobilized this many workers: almost 1.5 million workers throughout the state of Baden-Wurttemberg participated in the strikes over the past weeks. The workers’ tremendous will to fight not only surprised the bosses but attracted the attention of the whole world. This is because, in the context of the current economic situation, the metalworkers’ union not only put forward demands for increased wages but also called for the shortening of the workday.

On Monday night, the negotiations ended with an agreement. Although the deal applies only to Baden-Wurttemberg currently, it will likely be adopted in other states soon. But is the agreement really as groundbreaking as the workers hoped?

More money, but with caveats. . .

The new collective bargaining agreement will be valid until the end of March 2020 — a period of 27 months. Thus, there will be a labour peace in this key sector of the German economy for at least the first two years of the new “Grand Coalition” to be launched between the Social Democratic Party and the Christian Democratic Union. This is a clear signal the the leadership of IG Metall intends to play a (more…)

Rosa Luxemburg, rallying workers for struggle

by Don Franks

In a February 13th interview in The Listener, Public Service Association national secretary Erin Polaczuk makes a valid point: by going on strike, workers may get hurt.

“I remember some strikes. . . and dad losing his job. In the ’90s he was made redundant and survived on his redundancy pay. It terrifies me to think that some people don’t have that backup, so have no way of feeding their families if they lose their jobs. I don’t think we’ll ever go back to the way things were. Maybe we are in the mature era and the feminisation of the union movement has changed things. We are not guys coming in and having a punch up any more.”

In New Zealand industrial punch ups have sometimes got quite heated, but not to the extent of some overseas confrontations. For example: “During the night two delegates of the railwaymen were arrested. The strikers immediately demanded their release, and as this was not conceded, they decided not to allow trains leave the town. At the station all the strikers with their wives and families sat down on the railway track-a sea of human beings. They were threatened with rifle salvoes. The workers (more…)

Constance de Markievicz, in Irish Citizen Army uniform

by Philip Ferguson

Today (Feb 4) marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of the first woman elected to the British parliament! This was in the general election of December 1918, at the end of WW1. And no, she was not a Tory reactionary, but an Irish revolutionary – Constance Markievicz.

She was in jail at the time in London.

She had been second-in-command lof the insurrectionary forces at Stephen’s Green during the 1916 Rebellion in Dublin and, among other things, performed valuable sniper duties; after the surrender she was tried by court-martial and sentenced to death, commuted to penal servitidue for life on account of her being a woman.

The British were subsequently forced to release the prisoners, from the end of 1916 to mid-1917. Considered one of the hardest of the hard-core, she was in the very last group of prisoners to be released, returning to an ecstatic welcome in Dublin.

In May 1918 she was arrested for sedition and again imprisoned in England. It was here that she ran for parliament.

She stood on a platform of independence and radical social change in Ireland and not taking her seat at Westminster if elected.

In that election, 73 seats were won by people who said they wouldn’t take their seat at Westminster if elected.  A majority of them were in prison or ‘on the run’.

(These people won a majority of the seats in (more…)

An important victory for workers at Ryanair has lessons for workers in this country, especially those employed by multinational companies. . .

Workers have won important victory by using militant tactics, but the war is far from over. . .

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary once declared once that Hell would freeze over before he would allow a trade union in to Ryanair.  The sight of him having to eat his words is indeed enough to bring a glow to the heart of any class conscious worker. At the company AGM just a few months ago O’Leary gloated that “I don’t even know how there would be industrial action in Ryanair. . . There isn’t a union!”  So how then was this victory achieved?


The pilots and crew’s struggle with Ryanair is a lesson in what constitutes effective trade unionism. On the ground activism, self-organisation and above all practical solidarity, in this case international solidarity.  It was this which put ‘the skids’ under the self professed “tough guy” of Irish industrial relations.

The workforce, welded together by the Europe-wide airline network, began to flex its considerable muscle on the back of (more…)

German pilots’ strike 2016 (Photo: Reuters)

by Wladek Flakin

In the first half of 2017, a total of 12.545 people were deported from Germany. But not every deportation was successful. The German government just informed the parliament that between January and September of this year, 222 deportations were prevented because airplane pilots refused to take off. According to the government’s statement, 143 deportations were stopped at Germany’s biggest airport, Frankfurt am Main. A further 40 were stopped in Düsseldorf.

A pilot decides if a flight can start safely. If a passenger is being deported, i.e. forced to travel to a foreign country against their will, then a pilot (more…)

by Daphna Whitmore

The_Young_Karl_Marx_film_posterThis movie is two hours of non-stop Marxist banter. Tossing around the ideas of Marx, Engels, Proudon, Bakunin and Weitling, with references to Hegel here and there, it should be as dry as hell, even for a hardened Marxist. It’s not. It is rivetting. At the Auckland International Film Festival the audience stayed and applauded as the credits rolled.

The opening scene has destitute folk collecting firewood in a forest, and moments later they are savagely beaten by police on horseback. Marx contemplates how gathering dry wood, fallen from the trees and destined to rot on the forest floor, can be treated as an act of property theft?  (more…)