UNI to join thousands to march against austerity and for a fair deal

11.12.23

UNI to join thousands to march against austerity and for a fair deal

UNI Europa will join thousands of workers from across Europe who will march 12 December to the European institutions in Brussels in protest at plans to begin austerity 2.0 programme from next year.

The demonstration called by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) is part of a wider campaign for a “fair deal for working people” and comes as ministers and MEPs are in negotiations over a reform of the EU’s economic governance rules.

Under the current draft proposal, 14 member states will be forced to cut 45 billion Euro from their budgets next year alone, according to ETUC calculations based on European Commission data.

The reform comes after the previous rules were suspended in 2020, through the activation of the general escape clause of the EU’s Stability and Growth Pact, to deal with the economic fallout from the pandemic.

New rules are due to enter into force on January 1 but there has so far been no agreement on what they should be. Under the current proposal, member states with a deficit above 3% of GDP will have to reduce their budget deficit by a minimum of 0.5% of GDP every year.

That would lead to fewer jobs, lower wages, stretched public services and leave most EU member states unable to make the investments needed to meet the EU’s own social and climate targets.

New research on the political costs of austerity also shows the far-right is the main beneficiary of the type of fiscal policies being proposed.

The ETUC and its affiliates will use the demonstration tomorrow to call for:

  • Economic governance rules which put the wellbeing of people and the planet above arbitrary limits, including through a ‘golden rule’ for public investment which at least excludes investments for EU social and climate objectives and just transitions from spending limits.
  • The maintenance of successful EU solidarity mechanisms introduced during the pandemic, such as the Recovery and Resilience Facility, which should be made permanent to ensure a level-playing field in investment.
  • A further one year extension of the general escape clause of the Stability and Growth Pact in order to give proper time to achieve a sustainable reform of the economic governance rules.
  • Initiatives needed to ensure a fair deal for workers, including better jobs and higher wages, support to collective bargaining, better working conditions and an end to precarious work.

Speaking at the demonstration, ETUC General Secretary Esther Lynch will say:

“A return to austerity would kill jobs, lower wages, mean even less funding for already over-stretched public services and all but guarantee another devastating recession.

“A return to austerity would mean most countries would not be able to make the investments needed to meet the promises made by EU leaders at COP28.

“What we need is a fair deal for workers: higher wages, quality jobs, reinforcing collective bargaining and strong public services.

“Austerity has been tried and it failed. It is time to learn the lessons of the past and ensure the EU’s economic rules put the wellbeing of people and the planet before totally arbitrary limits.”

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