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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

General Strikes rock Greece & Belgium

Workers and allies march during the General Strike in Greece, November 9 -- Image via the KKE on flickr

On November 9 both Greece and Belgium saw general strikes as ten-of-thousands of workers, students and allies marched to protest the soaring cost of living.

Workers and their unions in Belgium are refusing to bear the burden of the cost-of-living crisis alone. Dividend payouts to shareholders are up 25% in 2022. Meanwhile energy prices are skyrocketing (gas +130%, electricity +85% in a year) and negotiated salary increases are capped by an arcane anti-worker law. UNI Europa stands in full support of the general strike on 9 November 2022.
A restrictive law, known as the “law of 1996” imposes a cap on how much salaries can be increased through collective bargaining. This cap stood at 0.4% increase after indexation in 2021 and is set to be 0% this year. Meanwhile profit margins of Belgian-based corporations stand at a record high of 46% this year, which has risen from 36% in 1996, when the law was brought in.

In all cities around Greece, tens of thousands of workers in the public and private sector, self-employed and small tradesmen, university and school students, women, and pensioners participated in the mass strike rallies organized by the class-oriented trade unions.
From early morning, strike picket lines were organized outside workplaces of many industrial sectors to ensure that the strike was safeguarded.
The demonstrators demanded substantial increases in wages and pensions, collective labour agreements guaranteeing permanent work with rights, as well as affordable prices in electricity and basic goods for the people, with the abolition of the burdensome anti-people’s taxes.

“Today’s strike is a message of escalation of the struggle. It is a message of uprising in every workplace, sector, and region. Now it is necessary for the working people to become the protagonists, to come to the forefront for life and work with rights” from the All Workers’ Militant Front (PAME) message concerning the strike.

“Today’s mass nationwide strike sends a message across Greece and Europe that the Greek people and their movement will not become accomplices and show tolerance to the anti-people’s policy of the ruling and other parties of the big capital, to energy poverty and EU policies, to the decay of the capitalist system.” General Secretary of the CC of the KKE, Dimitris Koutsoumbas who participated in the strike.

“Across the services sectors, workers are taking action. Through their union action, they are calling for an end to the outrageous double standards. The straight jacket that limits their freedom to bargain for fair pay rises must be removed. Now is the time to do away with laws that transfer income share away from workers and towards the wealthiest in our society. In the face of policy inaction, we will continue to ramp up collective union action,” said Oliver Roethig, UNI Europa head of the strike in Belgium.



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