Unions to stage mass EU protest over austerity measures


Unions are organising a mass protest in Brussels over what they call a new round of EU austerity.

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has asked unions across the continent to converge on the EU institutions on 13 December.

MEPs and EU officials seek to return to austerity policies, similar to those that prevailed following the 2008 crash, says the ETUC.

Austerity “means more poverty, people losing their homes, and many not having access to the healthcare they need. We will not stand for it,” the trade union confederation writes on its petition.

“We cannot let the attempt to return Europe to strict austerity rules succeed”, they add.

As Europe “faces a cost-of-living crisis driven by record profits, working people should not be the ones to pay the price”, says the ETUC.

While the demonstration is not intended as a strike, it will likely cause disruptions, particularly to public transport.

The European Parliament, meeting for its Brussels Plenary, already is facing disruption from a Belgian rail strike.

“We have assurances of significant delegations coming from several countries like France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Austria”, says Thierry Bodson, president of the General Federation of Belgian Labour.

The unions want the EU to establish a European solidarity mechanism, similar to the one set up for the economic effects of Covid-19, to offset social and economic repercussions of austerity policies.

“We are heading towards austerity measures that involve a reduction in investments for public and social services, and a decrease in investments for recovery,” Bodson says.

Workers need support from government spending, and increased investment in education and healthcare, as well as fair wages and sustainable economic development, says the ETUC.

“Over the months, it’s becoming clear that prospects are bleak,” adds Bodson.