John Monks, head of the European Trade Union Confederation, speaking against trimming public expenditure, after talks in Brussels with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, said: “We will be keeping up the pressure in the months ahead. We don’t want a bleak mid-winter for the unemployed.”
Barroso defended fiscal cuts; Monks warned they would harm economic recovery and spoke of a European “day of action” being planned for 29 September. The focal point would be a protest at a meeting of EU finance ministers.
Monks said: ‘‘The key timing will be in the early autumn and the winter as people realise the extent of the cuts on pay, on jobs, on pensions. This is when things can get hot.’‘
Philippe De Buck, head of employers group Business Europe, called for restraint. He said: “We have to rebuild confidence therefore social dialogue is important but we also count on the responsibility of social partners to avoid social unrest.’‘
The head of France’s main union federation CGT, Bernard Thibault, said workers were the main victims of a crisis which they didn’t cause, and that dialogue with Barroso was not productive.
Barroso said the talks were tough and “very open” but insisted austerity measures are needed.