Posts Tagged ‘strike’

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Protest of the day

Posted: 11 September 2016 in Uncategorized
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During the past couple of weeks, the only real India economic news in the Western press was the decision by “the Ranbir Kapoor of banking,” Raghuram G. Rajan, to step down from his position as the head of the Reserve Bank of India.

But we read almost nothing about the 2 September nationwide strike by 150 million Indian workers [ht: Magpie], which was certainly the largest strike in India’s long labor history—and may have been the largest general strike in world history.

As Vijay Prashad explained,

Few front page stories, fewer pictures of marching workers outside their silent factories and banks, tea gardens and bus stations. The sensibility of individual journalists can only rarely break through the wall of cynicism built by the owners of the press and the culture they would like to create. For them, workers’ struggles are an inconvenience to daily life. It is far better for the corporate media to project a strike as a disturbance, as a nuisance to a citizenry that seems to live apart from the workers. It is middle-class outrage that defines the coverage of a strike, not the issues that move workers to take this heartfelt and difficult action. The strike is treated as archaic, as a holdover from another time. It is not seen as a necessary means for workers to voice their frustrations and hopes. The red flags, the slogans and the speeches — these are painted with embarrassment. It is as if turning one’s eyes from them would somehow make them disappear.

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Protest of the day

Posted: 18 May 2016 in Uncategorized
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Today, strikes by French railway and port workers [ht: sm] cut train services and forced cancellation of ferry links to Britain—as labor unions sought to force President Francois Hollande’s government into retreat on labor law reforms.

Wednesday’s rail strikes, set to run until Friday morning, reduced high-speed and inter-city services by 40 to 50 percent, also heavily disrupting local and suburban commuter lines, the SNCF state railway company said.

Brittany Ferries announced mass cancellations of connections between Britain and northern France, where port workers joined the industrial action.

Truckers maintained blockades set up on Tuesday in a bid to strangle deliveries in and out of fuel and food distribution depots.

At issue is one of Hollande’s flagship reforms a year from a presidential election, law changes designed to make it easier for employers to hire and fire staff and to opt out of cumbersome national rules in favor of in-house accords on pay.

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Greek workers have begun a 3-day general strike in protest against further austerity measures that are being proposed in return for more bailout money from their European creditors.

Even the Wall Street Journal admits that the proposed package of fiscal retrenchment measures is unsustainable, as it could come to 5 percent of Greece’s gross domestic product.

Eurozone finance ministers are holding a special meeting on Monday to debate the problem. Few expect a solution. One is needed at the latest by July, when Greece will default on bond debts unless a deal unlocks fresh bailout aid. The number causing the most grief is 3.5% of GDP: the primary-surplus target written in last year’s Greek bailout agreement. “The IMF thinks the primary objective should be lower. That would help Greece,” says David Mackie, chief European economist at J.P. Morgan.

Aiming for a smaller surplus would allow for less austerity, and for the Greek economy to breathe, IMF officials have argued for months. But it would also entail restructuring European loans to Greece, so that its debt doesn’t spiral ever higher. At a minimum, the IMF wants Europe to postpone Greece’s payment obligations by decades.

Eurozone governments led by Germany don’t want to take a hit on their Greek bailout loans, which total €205 billion ($234 billion) so far. Berlin is insisting the primary-surplus goal can’t be changed.

The fact is, since 2010, a succession of Greek governments have enacted spending cuts and tax increases worth a total of 32.3 percent of GDP, “a scale of austerity far beyond that seen in any other European country during the financial-crisis era.”

Greek workers are saying no more—and even the Wall Street Journal, which still considers the previous austerity measures to have been “inevitable,” can’t find a policymaker or economist who “argues that further belt-tightening on that scale is what Greece’s economy needs at this point.”