by Asbjørn Wahl
Asbjørn Wahl advises the Norwegian municipal workers union, chairs The campaign for the welfare state and is the chair of the International Transport Workers Federation panel on climate change.
“Pensions have been cut by up to 15–20%, while the wage level in the public sector has been reduced by anything from 5% (Spain) to over 40% (in the Baltic). Collective agreements and trade union rights are being set aside – not via negotiations with trade unions but via government decrees and political decisions. This has happened in at least nine European Union (EU) countries (the Baltic states, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland). If the trade union and labour movement is unable to contain this development, it may be facing a decisive and historic defeat in Europe.
How could this happen in a part of the world which has harboured some of the strongest and most militant trade union and labour movements in the world? Why have not opposition and resistance been stronger?”