Archive for the ‘Europe’ Category

Pic: Cyprus Mail

by Paul Severin

When an American sociologist conducted a study of Delta Airlines cabin crew in the early 1980s her interviewees were on average 35 years old and 40 percent were married. The contrast to the Ryanair workforce could hardly be greater. The employees are young, inexperienced, mostly single and almost without exception from Southern or Eastern Europe.

The job at Ryanair has little to do with the jet-set aura that once clung to the industry. It’s a precarious occupation because the job hardly enables a person to establish a sustainable existence. Accordingly, the turnover within the workforce is enormous. Those recruited by Ryanair usually work there for a few years, either on a temporary basis or on an Irish employment contract that grants hardly any rights. A regime of repression and fear has so far been able to keep workers submissive.

Ryanair cuts every corner

There is a world of difference between the work of a stewardess in the 1980s and the situation of the cabin crew at Ryanair today. The downgrading of this group of workers is the result of (more…)

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Lutte Ouvriere’s 2018 fete

The piece below is the July 2 editorial from the national network of workplace bulletins produced all over France every week by the revolutionary workers’ current Lutte Ouvriere.The bulletins are read by hundreds of thousands of workers. On one side of the leaflet is an editorial – the same for all leaflets – presenting Lutte Ouvrière’s position on current political issues. The other side has short articles – they change from company to company – written by members of Lutte Ouvrière workplace groups and that focus on working and living conditions inside the company. The leaflets are free but collections are regularly organized to help finance them.

European heads of state and government recently gathered in Brussels with a view to finding a solution to the so-called “migrant crisis”. An agreement was reached, but it only confirmed the measures that have already brought shame on the Europe of the rich. This agreement is designed to force migrants to stay in the poorest countries of the world and to ensure that women, children and men who try to escape misery and war continue to be treated like criminals.

Governments hosting far-right ministers went home triumphant from the summit. But what about the political leaders who, like Macron, claim to defend a European ideal? Their hypocrisy is despicable! They make resounding speeches exposing the dangers of nationalism and xenophobia but the words they use to justify their rejection of migrants are the words of the far right.

For instance, Macron refuses to open French harbors to NGO-sponsored rescue ships. He claims that the NGOs which look after migrants are (more…)

Eirígí banner: “No freedom without the freedom of women; Cat Inglis is on right

In 2015 the south of Ireland became the first state in which the people voted for gay marriage.  In a referendum in May that year a decisive majority voted in favour of the right of same-sex couples to marry.

The next big battle for social progress was inevitably going to be abortion, as the reactionaries had got in early, securing a victory in a 1983 referendum that added a ban on abortion to the constitution of the state (the 8th amendment).

On Friday this week (Irish time), voters in the south will go to the polls to vote on whether to repeal the 8th amendment,

Recently Philip Ferguson of Redline interviewed Cat Inglis, a long-time left-wing activist and a member of the socialist-republican organisation Éirígí about the issues.

Philip Ferguson: Could you tell us a bit about the role of religion, especially the Catholic Church as an institution, in the life of southern Irish society and in terms of the state, public services etc?

Cat Inglis:  Since the inception of the state the church has had a firm grip on many aspects of Irish life, schools are still run mainly by the diocese and are mostly catholic although in recent years there has been an upsurge in educate together style model among others.  Until about 20 years ago hospitals were run by sisters from various orders.  Overall there was a large religous presence in daily life; in recent years it has been greatly reduced.

PF: How did the 8th amendment come about and what was its practical, legal effect?

CI: Abortion was already (more…)

The following is taken from the site of the Irish revolutionary current Socialist Democracy (here), thus the reference to workers’ battles in Ireland.

In France the Macron Government has set in motion plans for the destruction of the terms and conditions of approximately 150,000 workers in the national rail network, the Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer (SNCF). The level of workers’ anger has produced an impressive response. The major unions involved have been forced into putting forward plans for industrial action and in a show of unity 13 organisations on the left have presented a joint statement of solidarity.

Huge protests took place on March 22nd in many cities and towns which mobilised almost half a million public service workers, not just railway workers but other services under threat, regional public transport employees, hospital and care home workers, Air traffic controllers and Air France employees. These were not token protests but were intended as a prelude to, rather than as a substitute for, the  campaign of industrial action which commenced on April 3rd  with a further 34 days of strike action planned over the next three months. Each Strike will last two days with a return to work for three days on a rolling basis with suggestions by one of the unions involved, SUD-Rail, of the need for an all out strike at that point.

Their plans for the defence of jobs and services has provoked a furious onslaught. Attempts to turn private sector workers against public sector workers are (more…)

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…)