European heads of state will meet in Luxembourg on 20 November, for an empty summit on employment. We reprint a common appeal for an international demonstration "for a Europe without unemployment, without job insecurity, and without social exclusion"
Europe has the greatest concentration of wealth in the world. Today, it is three times richer than it was thirty years ago. So why is there so much inequality, injustice and unemployment? Why is there so much wide-spread poverty, bad housing and social exclusion? Why the attempt to force women off the labour market and back into the home? Why the systematic expulsion of immigrants? Why is the European Social Policy just a lot of hot air?
For the first time, we are witnessing the emergence of a truly European social movement. There are two examples: the solidarity movement centred around the Renault Vilvorde conflict, and more recently, the European March against unemployment, job insecurity and social exclusion. This March started out from every corner of Europe and converged in the Amsterdam Rally, June 1997, bringing together 35,000 people. The Amsterdam demonstrators, like those who demonstrated for Renault Vilvorde, demand a different Social European policy. A radically different policy from that being put in place by the Maastricht Treaty convergence criteria or that of the Stability Pact, signed in Amsterdam. The primary effect of both these treaties involve cuts in social spending as an excuse for reducing budget deficits thereby effectively blocking any attempt to create a dynamic employment policy.
This meeting of heads of state is the Summit of hypocrisy. How long are we going to accept the masquerade of governments hiding behind the "convergence criteria", the law of market forces and profits?
The European Commission has proposed that the European Union fix targets to curb unemployment. The Commission's proposed aims are to reduce the official rate of unemployment over a period of 5 years from 11% to 7%. This target figure is completely inadequate. Particularly since there are no accompanying obligatory measures that might lend some credibility to such an engagement. In contrast, the Stability Pact contains a string of measures, (including the possibility of heavy fines) for any government not respecting the [neoliberal] guidelines.
But even these modest propositions on unemployment have been rejected by the Member States, at a ministerial preparatory meeting of the Summit. And the European Parliament has rejected, by a handful of votes, a resolution in favour of the Commission's propositions, and another calling for a 35 hour week.
Confronted by such overt cynicism, only a mass movement on a European scale, can change the course of events. The "official" European trade union movement, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), did not mobilise for the Amsterdam Rally. But now they have decided to call a European-wide demonstration in Luxembourg. That demonstration will take place on Thursday, November 20, at 14.30 (2.30 pm). Hardly a day and time which permits a real mobilisation of the hundreds of thousands of wage-earners, unemployed and young people in Luxembourg and the neighbouring countries who demand an alternative social policy.
Even the ETUC slogans are vague: they demand a Social Europe, but without defining any fundamental demands for a real change.
Consequently, it is important that the European social movement can manifest their unity with the maximum force possible. It is for this reason that the network of associations and many trade unions involved in the organisation of the European Marches and the Amsterdam Rally have launched an appeal for a mass demonstration on November 20, in Luxembourg, with two key slogans:
Contact: European Marches against Unemployment,
104 rue de Couronnes, 75020 Paris, France.
Tel. +33 1 44 62 63 44 fax. 01 44 62 63 45
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