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European austerity protests: country-by-country links

Protests against the austerity budget cuts broke out all over Europe today (and all week).  Most of the coverage focuses on the massive 100,000 person demonstration in Brussels at the European Union’s headquarters, but there were also in various actions in other countries, such as a general strike in Spain, railway workers and doctors refusing to work in Greece, and customs officers and journalists walking off in Slovenia.

Below are links to news from each of those uprisings.  Analysis of the uprisings to come in the next couple of days and this page will be updated as more stories come in.

BRUSSELS
People Power In Brussels
Austerity protests: The view from the street

SPAIN
General strike in Spain to protest against austerity measures. Across Spain picketers took to the streets to protest against government austerity measures in a 24-hour general strike called by the nation’s main labour unions.

Austerity on Fire: Video of street battles in Spain as protests heat up

ROMANIA
Thousands in new protest against Romanian austerity plan: third protest in a week
Romanian Govt In Uproar Amid Austerity Protests

GREECE
Greek railway workers, doctors walk off the job over austerity cuts

IRELAND
Unions stage protests in Dublin and Galway over cuts

SLOVENIA
Thousands of Slovenian public workers strike to protest planned freeze of their wages

PORTUGAL
Portugal prepares more austerity, talks resume amid protests

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Tens of Thousands March in Brussels Over Austerity

by David Brunnstrom Reuters

Tens of thousands of people marched through Brussels on Wednesday on a day of protests across Europe against government austerity measures, which unions say will slow economic recovery and punish the poor. (Editors note: many are reporting over 100,000)

“The main feeling of the people is that for the banking system there are millions and billions of euros, but the social payments are being cut. That’s not right,” said Ralf Kutkowski, a German coal miner protesting in the Belgian capital.

Marchers in Brussels, heading for the EU’s headquarters, waved union flags and carried banners saying “No to austerity” and “Priority to jobs and growth.” The 50 unions represented included German coal miners, Romanian gas workers and Polish shipbuilders.

The protest was led by a group dressed in black suits with black face masks, carrying umbrellas and briefcases, acting as the head of a funeral cortege mourning the death of Europe.

The protest organizers, the European Trade Union Confederation, were aiming to get 100,000 people to march. Belgian police and the unions did not immediately estimate crowd numbers but one police official told Reuters at least 50,000 people were taking part.

Spain’s first general strike for eight years, a protest against the Socialist government’s public spending cuts and easier hire-and-fire laws, had a limited impact beyond disrupting transport and some factories.

Spanish unions said 10 million people, or more than half the workforce, were on strike. The government gave no numbers.

European governments say they have been forced into austerity to avert the danger of a sovereign debt crisis like the one suffered by Greece, but many workers feel they are being punished for problems that were not of their making.

“We don’t want to take it on our backs,” said Philipp Jacks, a German trade unionist marching in Brussels.

Graham Smith, a public sector youth worker from Edinburgh in Scotland, said: “The message is we need our public services because the people who need them most are the people being hit most by the crisis.”

REFORMS SET TO CONTINUE

Protests have taken place in many countries in the last few months. Protests on Wednesday were planned in Brussels, Dublin, Lisbon, Rome, Paris, Riga, Warsaw, Nicosia, Bucharest, Prague, Vilnius, Belgrade and Athens.

Greece’s main unions, representing about 2.5 million workers, did not strike on Wednesday but plan to march to parliament in the evening to protest against measures prescribed by the EU and the IMF in return for bailing the country out.

A few smaller unions called job walkouts. Greek hospitals doctors stopped work for 24 hours and public transport was disrupted.

In Slovenia, about half of public sector workers remained on strike for the third day against a planned wage freeze, causing jams at border crossings with non-EU Croatia.

Economists say strikes and protests are unlikely to force any government to abandon structural reforms or savings measures but could make it harder for some leaders to win re-election and limit the scope of some reforms in the long run.

Economic growth has revived in the European Union, home to 500 million people and the executive European Commission expects the bloc’s economy to grow 1.8 percent this year after a 4.2 percent contraction in 2009.

But EU unemployment is running at 9.6 percent of the workforce, and at around twice that rate in Spain, Latvia and Estonia. Unions say austerity will curb job creation.

Financial markets are also worried about whether countries such as Ireland and Portugal can manage their debt burdens and the Commission wants tough sanctions imposed on countries that break debt and budget deficit rules.

“We understand there is a crisis, but it is being used as a very good excuse for all kinds of pressure on the people who are employees, workers and not in big business,” said Alexander Nikolov, who drove from Bulgaria to protest in Brussels.

Dennis Radtue, a coal mining union representative from Germany, said the gap between rich and poor was growing.

“Rich people have a lot of opportunity to save their money and pay no taxes, while a normal worker has to pay taxes whether he wants to or not,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Emily Coleman, writing by Timothy Heritage; Editing by Ruth Pitchford )

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Naomi Klein to police at G20: “Don’t play PR, do your job!”

From RabbleTV

I love this comment on the YouTube page for the video:

I could play this video 100 times and it would never get old. Naomi speaks the truth and it saddens me what Ottawa and David Miller allowed to happen to Toronto.

share save 256 24 Naomi Klein to police at G20: Dont play PR, do your job!

G20 police repression press conference video

June 28, 2010 10:00am Alternative Media Centre

The Alternative Media Centre, Toronto Community Mobilization Network and Movement Defence Committee held a joint press conference to present first hand accounts of the events that have been taking place in recent hours involving mass arrests, police violence and intimidation across the city.  Here are those accounts (click to go to video).

Intro to Press Conference

Jesse Rosenfeld: The Guardian, Independent Journalist (and in the video above)
Amy Miller: Alternative Media Centre, Independent Journalist
Adam MacIsaac: Alternative Media Centre, Independent Journalist
Sharmeen Khan: Toronto Community Mobilization Network

Claire O’Connor OPIRG-Toronto (I don’t have the video, anyone?)

The speakers highlight the ongoing and politically motivated targeting of journalists and community organizers, as well as the profiling of people on the basis of clothing type, for carrying phone numbers of the legal aid hotline or for residing in certain neighbourhoods. They also reported on the cruel and brutal conditions under which people are being detained, arrested and imprisoned.

Press Release from the press conference

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The Meaning of “Austerity”: Understanding G20 planned cuts

With the G20 announcing that austerity will reign – with efforts to cut deficits on the backs of the poor and not banks, it is important to understand exactly what it is. James Corbett of the Corbett report does a fantastic job explaining ‘austerity’ of  with this overview of what it is, how it works, who it hurts.

share save 256 24 The Meaning of Austerity: Understanding G20 planned cuts
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