Just three days before thousands will converge on Washington DC demanding jobs and justice on Oct. 2nd, over a 100,000 angry trade unionist from across Europe marched in Brussels, Belgium, the de facto capital of the European Union. The march and rally shut the city down. Their banners and placards demanded "Priority: jobs and growth," and "No austerity." Unemployment in the EU, like the US is running near 10%.
They were joined by thousands more in 13 other European capitals protesting European Union austerity plans including wage cuts, job cuts, pension cuts and cuts to social programs. The labor movements say that the cuts viciously target the poor and working class and will slow recovery.
The actions included mass participation of all kinds of workers from German miners to Polish shipbuilders, from Greek doctors to French public workers. In addition over 10 million workers joined a general strike in Spain that shut down many heavy industries and brought airline travel to a standstill, backing up flights all over Europe. Transportation strikes in Poland, Greece and several other capitals also crippled transportation for hours.
In Dublin, Ireland a worker blocked Leinster House, the seat of the national parliament of Ireland with a cement truck. The truck sported a banner reading, "Anglo Toxic Bank - bankrupt." Written on the back of the truck was, "All politicians should be sacked."
John Monk, general secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation, a main organizer of the Brussels demonstration said, labor wants a "better society where those who are too big to fail cannot be allowed to continue to ignore those who they have regarded as too small to matter."
In many of these actions, speakers noted that workers all over the world are taking action and mentioned the coming October 2nd One Nation rally for jobs in Washington, DC. They called for international solidarity in the fight for jobs and economic justice.
Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO was quoted in support of these actions, "During this economic downturn, creating good jobs and helping those who have lost their jobs are defining issues not only for Americans - but for all workers throughout the world. We need a global economic recovery that works for all working people."
Likewise the AFL-CIO has linked the Oct. 2nd rally in DC to the September 29th EU demonstrations. Read the AFL-CIO Blog story here.
Continuing the fight, European and labor movements around the world are also promoting an upcoming October 7th "World Day for Decent Work." Over a 150 events, in 55 countries have already been announced.
Sharan Burrow, the general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, a major coordinator of labor's World Day actions, said, "Tens of millions of jobs have been lost, and 100 million people pushed into absolute poverty in the developing world. Governments, especially the G20, pledged to regulate the finance sector, to create jobs, and put the world on a sustainable and productive pathway. We will continue to step up the pressure until they do."