The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) representing workers in 23 countries called for solidarity action today, protesting against austerity plans under way and on the horizon.
Our correspondent in Brussels said: “The unions are asking for a change in direction. In their view the economic solutions brought in are not working. They say austerity measures will drive Europe into stagnation and recession, and that more inequality and unemployment will come from that, and less growth.”
But sceptics feel these demonstrations are an exercise in futility, recalling the trade unions congress in Athens in May 2011, where representatives expressed their rejection of austerity planning and the economic governance policies pursued by European governments and the European Commission.
ETUC was born in 1973 and has 85 member organisations today in 36 European countries from west to east. Among the main aims: lobby the European decision-making process, negotiate with employers keeping social dialogue open and coordinate union actions.
But the complexities of harmonising are vast. Conditions from country to country are enormously different. Population sizes, geography and administrative systems can make it so what one area wants is the opposite of another. The unions say this is a social emergency. With official EU statistics showing a shocking wealth disparity earlier this year – Luxemburgers have on average seven times greater purchasing power than the people of Bulgaria – it’s feared that failure to correct faulty distribution of wealth will provoke a worse future.