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Millions of People Participate in the First European Day of General Strike

Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany, 14th and 15th November 2012


14 November 2012 – At midnight the first European-wide general strike in history since the 2 nd World War began in Spain and Portugal. The initiative had been taken by the trade unions of both of these countries to set an effective signal against the crisis dictates of the „Troika“ from the EU, ECB and IMF. The European Trade Union League (EGB) had declared November 14 th as a „Day of Action and Solidarity“. Millions of blue- and white collar workers participated in Spain and Portugal in strike actions, demonstrations and rallies.
In Spain the 24-hour general strike shut down entire economic sectors, especially in transportation and commerce. A center of strike participation was in the big factories.
Production came to a complete stand-still in the Spanish auto plants VW/Seat, Opel, Ford and Nissan. The trade unions estimate participation in the general strike at 80% of all employees.
In Madrid, as well as in a number of cities, the police attacked demonstrators with rubber bullets. More than 70 persons were arrested and 34 injured.
In Portugal especially the transportation sector and public services were hit by the strike. No subways, buses or trains were running. The airline TAP canceled almost half of its flights. In hospitals up to 90 percent of the employees walked off work. Strikes were also led in the postal service and in educational institutes. Trade unions conducted rallies in about 40 cities.
Demonstrators carried banners with „Throw out the Troika“. Days before a large majority of the trade unions of the umbrella organization UGT hat followed the call for today's general strike. As a result the UGT chairman Joâo Proença, who had previously rejected participation, had to give out the call.
In Italy the largest trade union CGIL had called up to a four-hour general strike and organized about 100 rallies. Employees in many factories and offices participated with walk-outs. In Rome massive police interventions also took place.
In Greece the trade unions called up to strikes and rallies between 12 noon and 3 p. m.
Schools and government offices remained closed during these hours. For three hours radio and TV journalists broadcasted only news on the European day of action. In Athens a demonstration took place. However, participation was lower than in the general strike actions of the previous week. Eye witnesses reported that a certain disappointment first had to be coped with that the latest crisis program had been passed in parliament anyway.
In Belgium the railway workers went on strike, but also the employees in industrial factories like Audi in Brussels. The Ford workers in Genk participated in rallies after company management had extended short-time work for fear of a real strike. „For sale: the Atomium, the Eiffel Tower, the Acropolis“ could be read on the banners of demonstrators in front of the EU Commission in Brussels where the central rally of the EGB took place.
In France demonstrations took place in a number of cities. The crisis programs of the so-called „left government“ of President Hollande met with great anger. In Marseilles demonstrators demanded unlimited work contracts, retirement at age 60 and higher wages. In front of the prefecture of the departments the masses of people sang the „Internationale“ with their fists raised.
Demonstrations and rallies also took place in Poland and Bulgaria. In Bulgaria various parties and independent trade unions called up to a strike, especially in the transportation and health care sector, in the garment industry, as well as in parts of the mining industry. There was little to no trade union participation in Scandinavia. Neither did the trade unions in the Netherlands call up. In Rotterdam a rally took place in front of the Unilever Company.
In Germany there were also rallies and demonstrations in at least 24 cities to which regional trade union groups as well as local alliances called up – in Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, Stuttgart, Bochum, Duisburg, Gelsenkirchen, Mannheim, Nuremberg, Düsseldorf and Lübeck.
At the rally in Berlin a letter from Portugal was read out. Workers, among them from Daimler and Siemens, took part. In Stuttgart about 500 people participated in a rally to which especially the Metal Workers Union had called up. Delegations came from many factories. A further rally of a united action of various organizations with about 1000 participants took place afterwards.
In Hamburg striking workers from Neupack determined the scene at the DGB rally on the „Geese Market“ with about 300 participants. Aside from the MLPD, representative of the Left Party and of migrant organizations took part. The MLPD flyer was distributed in front of several factories and met with positive response. In Kassel about 500 people participated at a rally of several trade unions and left political organizations. A youth representative from the railway company spoke as well as a student from Italy, who reported about the situation of the youth there, the local DGB chairman condemned the police deployment in Rome which had just taken place. Everywhere the solely ruling international finance capital was in the center of criticism. The collection of signatures for the admission to the elections and the manifesto of ICOR and ILPS met with great interest according to reports submitted.
The MLPD participated in most of these actions. In the days before it had already geared its work to participating in the day of general strike in Germany in the spirit of solidarity and the joint struggle of all workers and employees in Europe and building up the corresponding action alliances. At the Europe Seminar of ICOR Europe and MLPD the 1250 participants unanimously passed a resolution for a European-wide general strike on 14 November under the slogan „Together we are stronger than the Troika“. The call was broadly distributed in a flyer of the MLPD in front of the big factories. Many workers so heard about this day for the first time.
In and in front of large factories, actions took place, for example in front of the spring factory in Hagen-Hohenlimburg and during the change of shifts in front of several mines. In front of Auguste Victoria in Marl the miners' movement „Kumpel for AUF“, miners' wives and the MLPD made the day of strike known with posters and short speeches. Again and again groups of up to 30 miners waited, listened and discussed. Many asked why the IGBCE did not also call up to strike. The idea of struggling across borders met with great interest. The most discussed question was how it is possible to push through our interests against the ruling powers.
From HSP Dortmund a correspondent reported about information given in front of the plant by the works council: „Colleagues from HSP hat painted a banner: 'HSP workforce: fight together against EU crisis policy – one workforce – one struggle. Give regular jobs to the AUG colleagues!' Olaf Kamhoefer from the local metal workers union, as well as delegations from other factories came: colleagues and the head of the IGM shop stewards of TKS (Westfalen steel plant), a shop steward from Conti-VDO in Dortmund, a delegation from the Dortmund Monday demonstration, as well as the MLPD. Various representatives of the HSP-workforce and the head of the works council Gerd Pfisterer emphasized that we in Europe should not allow ourselves to be divided. The slander against „the Greeks“ must be rejected.“
How very much this first European-wide day of general strike caused the solely ruling international finance capital to become uneasy was seen in the reaction of Philippe de Buck, the head of the European Employers' League „Business Europe“. „That costs billions of euros“, he lamented. He also saw the danger that Europe as a „hoard of trade union action“ would lose „attraction for investors“. This might be merely his smallest concern if the beginning international union of industrial workers and trade union members continues. While the ruling powers regard the workers to be „cost factors“, such a day of strike shows their joint strength and what values they actually produce every day.
That this joining of forces is not limited to Europe is shown by the solidarity declaration of the militant trade union league KMU from the Philippines, which expresses:
„On behalf of the Philippine workers and people's masses, the KMU expresses its heartfelt solidarity with the workers and broad masses of people in Europe, as well as their European-wide day of action against crisis programs...We call upon all workers to struggle for socialism and to support the struggle for independence and democracy in the neocolonial dependent countries.“


The day of the European General Strike was an Important Signal

November 15, 2012 – We are documenting further reports on yesterday's memorable day of a European general strike. It was an important signal for a joint cross-border struggle. In Spain 9.1 million people went onto the streets. The industrial workers of large companies, especially in the auto plants, formed the backbone of the 24-hour general strike. According to trade union statistics, about one million people participated in the big demonstration in the capital city of Madrid. They targeted the Troika and the respective national governments which coordinate their crisis programs against the masses more and more.
This had definite effects on the ruling powers. Yesterday's mass media still reported rather benevolently about the militant mass demonstrations. Then they turned more and more, focusing on „riots“. But the pictures do not show demonstrators attacking the police, but the opposite instead, how these blindly attacked young demonstrators. In Spain 142 people have been arrested in the meantime.
This is unacceptable. No criminalization of the mass protests against the Troika! Release all those who were arrested! For a full and legal right to strike in all matters in all EU states! That also must become a joint demand across borders.
This day has been fought for by the masses, in many countries against media censorship and also against the will of right-wing trade-union leaderships. For example, the chairman of the trade union league FNV in the Netherlands stated that time was supposedly too short for preparations. But the plans for a European-wide day of action had been known for more than four weeks.
In Germany many effective militant actions took place which were supported by militant trade unionists, Monday demonstrators and initiatives for social and democratic rights. Yesterday in Bremen 1000 demonstrators went into the streets. Reports from Witten about a two-hour militant action at Bosch-Rexroth in which representatives from eight factories in the region state:
„They had struggled for giving trainees regular jobs and don't want to be left in the cold. The trainees in their first year also were there. The local press attended. Parents of trainees and city council members. There was an open microphone which was welcomed...They consciously felt that they were part of the European protests. It was a day which, according to a number of participants, brought a lot of consciousness and clarity.“
In Duisburg the Monday demonstration called up to a rally and demonstration through the inner city. Steel workers, women from the trade union Verdi, the youth league Rebell and several migrant organizations participated. Passers-by and some participants who had criticized that in Germany so few people went into the streets overlooked the fact that Germany, which maintains to be so democratic, actually has the most backward and repressive right to strike in Europe.
The MLPD was the driving force to make this day of general strike an important signal in Germany, too, for strengthening the tendency toward the  internationalization of class struggle.#

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