Europe against Austerity Action Conference Statement and Report

Europe is plunging deeper and deeper into crisis. Its governments are continuing with their failed austerity policies in spite of the ever-increasing struggles of the peoples of Europe in defence of the social and economic gains that they have made over many decades. The economic crisis has increasingly become a social and political crisis as people face poverty, hunger and even death, as a result of the catastrophic and government-imposed failure of health systems and social services. The far right is attempting to profit politically from the suffering inflicted on working people and vulnerable groups are being targeted together with those most militant in their opposition to the re-emergence of fascism.

Across Europe we are seeing escalating opposition and resistance to austerity: in Greece, in Spain and in Portugal, we have seen huge mobilisations, and in some areas an increase in the unity on the left so desperately needed. Yesterday in London, we saw a vast demonstration, led by the trade unions, and drawing together people from all walks of life in opposition to the savage and unnecessary cuts to public spending. There can be no mistaking that this class war against working people must be opposed even more strenuously.

At this conference today we commit ourselves to continuing to develop and consolidate the ongoing cooperation between organisations fighting austerity across Europe, to stand in solidarity with those on the front line of the struggle – most notably in Greece, and to work together to strengthen the economic, social and political alternatives to neo-liberal capitalism and the austerity policies it has adopted.

We will work together in the months ahead, cooperating for the ETUC Day of Action on 14 November, moving towards the Alter Summit in 2013, and increasing our work for left and movement unity, for common action, mutual solidarity, communication and coordination.

London, 21 October 2012

Over a hundred delegates packed into the Coalition of Resistance’s conference at the Unite the Union headquarters in London on Sunday afternoon, to strengthen anti-austerity coordination across Europe.

The event followed a massive anti-cuts demonstration on Saturday 20th October, called by the British TUC. Speakers included parliamentarians Marisa Matias MEP, from Bloco de Esquerda in Portugal, Stefanos Samoilis MP, from SYRIZA in Greece, and Jeremy Corbyn, Labour MP from the UK. Other participants included trade unions from across the continent, as well as left and green parties and representatives from a wide range of social movements.

Sessions included Eurocrisis – Into the Abyss, a very informative debate on the economy including representatives from CADTM, NEF, SYRIZA and Elisabeth Gauthier from Transform and the PCF; The Shape of the Resistance, which included representatives from OLME in Greece and Front de Gauche in France, plus a lively contribution from Florian Wilde from Die Linke in Germany; No to neo-liberal education, which included representatives from teachers’ unions, the NUT, DOE and FSU; and Actions, co-operation and the timeline to Athens 2013 which addressed concrete steps in our joint work. Speakers included Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party in England and Wales and Vladimir Nieddu from SUD Sante in France. Frederic Leplat moved the conference statement on behalf of the Coalition of Resistance.

The conference expressed strong support for the ETUC Day of Action on 14thNovember and there was extensive discussion about the role of different types of action in taking the movement forward, including general strike action. Whilst Europe has seen a large number of one day general strike actions over the last year, it has not been sufficient to bring an end to austerity programmes. Britain itself has not seen a general strike since 1926 but it is now on the agenda at the highest trade union levels, including consideration by the TUC itself. Discussion also focused on the need for a clear and positive alternative to austerity and the vision of a different type of Europe, in the interests of ordinary people, which we can achieve if we work together. The importance of international solidarity was repeatedly stressed especially with regard to Greece. Delegates from Greece emphasized their urgent need for an increase in solidarity action, particularly from the trade union movement. The conference concluded by committing to working towards the Alter Summit in 2013.

International contingent to join TUC demonstration

A high profile delegation of parliamentarians and senior trade union figures from across Europe will be joining the TUC demonstration tomorrow, Saturday 20th October. They will be hosting a Press Conference at 11am outside HMS President on the Embankment, near Blackfriars Bridge, London.

Coming to London to express their solidarity against cuts and austerity measures in Britain, representatives from Greece, Portugal, Spain, France and Germany are at the cutting edge of the struggles in their own countries for economic alternatives.

The delegation includes:  Stefanos Samoilis MP from SYRIZA in Greece which shot to prominence in recent elections, under the leadership of Alexis Tspiras; Marisa Mathias MEP from Bloco de Esquerda, in the leadership of the recent massive demonstrations in Portugal; Florian Wilde from Die Linke, Germany’s successful left party; Elisabeth Gauthier from the French Communist Party, prominent in the Front de Gauche; Giorgos Charisis from the ADEDY trade union federation of Greece; Haralambos Kokkinos, Vice-president of the DOE primary education trade union of Greece; Dimitris Gkinis of the OLME secondary education trade union of Greece; Annick Coupe, leader of the Solidaire trade union of France, and many others. (full list below note 1)

Today The Guardian published a letter from the delegation, explaining why they are marching in London. (text below note 2)

Stefanos Samoilis MP said: ‘People are facing poverty, hunger and even death, as a result of the catastrophic and government-imposed failure of health systems and social services across our continent. Ordinary people are suffering on almost every front. Today we represent the peoples of Europe, standing together with the people of Britain. Together, in solidarity, we will defeat this onslaught – for the sake of the future of humanity.’

Press Contacts:

Frederic Leplat   07941893212

Paul Mackney  07974353709

Notes

1 Delegation members

Stefanos Samoilis MP, Syriza, Greece

Marisa Mathias MEP, Bloco de Esquerda, Portugal

Florian Wilde, DieLinke, Germany

Elisabeth Gauthier, French Communist Party

Giorgos Charisis, ADEDY union federation, Greece

Haralambos Kokkinos, Vice-president, DOE, Greece

Dimitris Gkinis, OLME union, Greece

Annick Coupe, Solidaire union, France

Dominique Giannotti, FSU union, France

Alfons Bech, Comissions Obreres of Catalonia, Spain

Anders Svensson, Welfare not Profit, Sweden

Verveine Angeli, Attac, France

Christian Pigeon, SUD PTT, France

Nicolas Galepides, SUD PTT, France

Fred Madelin, SUD PTT, France

Myriam Djegham, Les Comités action contre l’Austérité en Europe, Belgium

Athanasios Kikinis, DOE union, Greece

Loukas Korfiatis, OLME union, Greece

Myriam Bourgy, Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt,Belgium

 

2 The Guardian letter text 19.10.12

‘Europe is plunging deeper into crisis. Its governments are continuing with their failed austerity policies in spite of the ever-increasing struggles of the peoples of Europe in defence of the social and economic gains made over many decades. The economic crisis has increasingly become a social and political crisis as people face poverty, hunger and even death. Those who oppose austerity must work together to reject policies which leave the majority of our populations in hardship and misery. That is why we have come to London and tomorrow we will march on the TUC demonstration, A Future that Works, alongside the people of this country, against austerity and for a future that works.’