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200,000 People Are on Strike… Western Europe Is Paralyzed

200,000 People Are on Strike… Western Europe Is Paralyzed

Posted November. 27, 2002 23:02,   


Western Europe is suffering from a massive strike by the public workers. Especially, there were unprecedented strikes and rallies in France, the UK, and Italy on the 26th, so it was recorded as the‘black Tuesday.’

The massive strike in Western Europe, which is the model of the social welfare, is because the right-sided government policies and the interests of the left-sided unions collided head on. It was predicted in France and Italy, where the right-sided parties are controlling the power, because the neo-liberalism of the government, which tried to reduce the social welfare budget, and the union, which asked the social welfare up to the past standard, defied each other. In the UK, since the Labor Party Cabinet of Tony Blair practically took the right-sided policies, it had small and big conflicts with the unions, which was the biggest supporting base of the Labor Party.

▽France=The public workers such as railroad, transportation, communication, postal service, and air traffic control went to an overall strike. The some 70,000 public workers led by the some 50,000 railroad workers rallied through Paris shouting ‘object to privatization of public companies’ and ‘keep the social welfare and pension.’ Therefore, the operation of subway and bus system was almost paralyzed.

The some 30,000 public workers in other areas also did supporting demonstrations; therefore, the public transportation in big cities like Toulouse, Bordeaux, Marseille, and Lion had problems in operation. And due to the strike by air traffic controllers, 3,800 flights, which were almost 90% of the scheduled 4,300 flights that day, were cancelled. The French media reported, “The usually crowed French sky was empty.”

The French public workers`s union insisted that the policies like privatization of public companies, reducing the manpower, reforming the pension system, and freeing the public services by the President Jacque Chirac and the Jean-Pierre Raffarin Cabinet would worsen the working condition of the workers, and at the same time, it would cause the deterioration of the quality of the public services.

▽The UK〓This day, when some 50,000 fire fighters were on strike for five days asking a raise, some 60,000 teachers joined the strike, so it recorded the biggest strike since the end of the 70`s. As a result of this, schools in London and its vicinities were closed, and employees of 32 district offices in London went on strike asking a raise.

The Prime Minister Blair rejected the 16% raise plan asked by the fire fighters and warned, “The FBU can never win.” The ministers of the Blair Cabinet pointed out, “If you want to get more than 4%, which is proposed by the Government, you should modernize the fallen behind service first.”

However, the leaders of the Unison Union, which has 150,000 out of 260,000 district office employees in London as members, refuted, “We are sick and tired of the statements of the Cabinet Members and Congressmen, who raise their annual allowances by 40% and receive almost 20,000 pounds (about 40 million won) as allowances for living in London area.

▽Italy=In Rome, some 20,000 people rallied to support the Fiat Union, which objected to the massive restructuring of the Fiat Motors. The Fiat Union is insisting the withdrawal of the adjustment firing against the company, which is driving the adjustment firing of 8,100 people under the lead of the Government. The Fiat Motors has experienced financial difficulties for around 10 years due to a drastic decline of demand for its cars and plans to stop the production of the factory in Sycillia for at least a year.

Jei-Gyoon Park phark@donga.com