Posts Tagged ‘France’
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Tags: austerity, Britain, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, protest, protests, Spain, strikes, workers
Workers are participating in anti-austerity strikes and protests across Europe—in France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy, and Britain—as part of the European Day of Action and Solidarity.
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Tags: austerity, France, protest, unemployment, workers
Tens of thousands of French workers marched on the Paris auto show and across the country to denounce hardship and job losses in a country where unemployment is at its highest since 1999 and economic growth has stopped.
Tags: corporations, France, protest, unions, United States, workers
French workers protest against the closing of a PSA Peugeot Citroen plant just outside Paris, with union leaders calling the move a declaration of “war.”
Reuters highlights the differences between the responses of American and French workers to the recent closing of automobile manufacturing plants in the two countries as well as the differences between the provisions made for the workers affected by the closings.
When U.S. carmakers slashed production capacity in exchange for government rescue four years ago, workers faced up to change. Though unions bargained hard for existing employees, they agreed to factory closures and cuts in wages and benefits for new hires. Thousands of workers accepted redundancy payouts and moved on, without a huge outcry.
In Europe it’s different. In July, after workers at French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen learned of company plans to close a plant in the suburbs of Paris, union leader Jean-Pierre Mercier went on the attack. Within hours he was calling for a “shock campaign” to force PSA Chief Executive Philippe Varin to keep the plant open.
“We have the power to make Peugeot back down, to preserve our jobs,” Mercier, head of the hard-line CGT union at the factory targeted for closure, told a crowd gathered by its gates. “We are a political bomb, a social bomb, and we intend to detonate.” . . .
Compared with carmakers’ restructuring in the United States, Peugeot’s plan is relatively modest and its deal for workers generous. The firm says all workers will be offered new jobs of some sort. Half will be transferred to its factory in Poissy, another Paris suburb. The rest will be kept on-site if Peugeot can lure a new industrial employer to Aulnay, or transferred to other factories. Those who choose to leave will receive 1,000 euros for every year they have worked at Peugeot, and help towards job-training.
“Restructuring in Chicago and Detroit was a totally different issue,” said Karl Ostler, a director at FTI Consulting specializing in industrial restructuring. “Labor laws in Europe, especially France, are far stricter and unions are far stronger.”
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Tags: austerity, capitalism, election, France, Greece, Left, noncapitalism
Clearly, the politics and policies of austerity have been summarily rejected in both France and Greece. Now, of course, comes the hard part: figuring out what a non-austerity approach will look like not only in those two countries but also across the rest of Europe.
Meanwhile, Paul Krugman, who does understand that “the austerity program that has defined being Serious in Europe is an abject (and predictable) failure,” falls into the trap of asserting that the rejection of austerity favors “extremists right and left.” However, if you exactly examine the results of the election in Greece, nothing could be further from the truth: while the fascist right (Golden Dawn) did in fact increase its percentage of the vote and has won seats in parliament for the first time, the majority of the anti-austerity vote went to the non-establishment left: SYRIZA (the Coalition of the Radical Left), KKE (the Communist Party of Greece), DIMAR (the Democratic Left), and OP (the Ecologist Greens). That does represent a shift to the Left.
A similar shift is evident in France, having elected the first Socialist president since François Mitterand.
And one last thought: how ironic that Robert Reich chooses today to announce that “We don’t need socialism. We need a capitalism that works for the vast majority.”
Francois Hollande’s victory doesn’t and shouldn’t mean a movement toward socialism in Europe or elsewhere. Socialism isn’t the answer to the basic problem haunting all rich nations.
Clearly, both Krugman and Reich reject austerity, in Europe and the United States. But it’s also clear the centrist alternative they offer—more economic stimulus and a more equitable sharing of productivity gains—may be left behind by the move to the Left of austerity’s discontents.