Workers Protest Austerity with Strikes and Sitdowns

By Harry Kelber | The American Labor Reform Movement | October 15, 2012

Whether you are in France, Nigeria, Slovakia, Spain or Bangladesh, unions and their unemployed members are fighting hard against their government’s belt-tightening "austerity" wage and tax policies. They are using rallies, marches, strikes, sitdowns and other actions to demand jobs.

They are also fighting for the right to form and join unions, for freedom of speech and for a "living wage " using extraordinary actions, such as shutting down factories, holding plant managers as hostages, reducing a town’s electricity, blocking traffic and other attention-getting actions., such as hunger strikes

Interestingly, many of these protest campaigns are led by working women, who devise special actions to dramatize their demands. In one case, the women assembled on the roof of a factory and threatened to jump off together unless the employer agreed to discuss their demands.

The increase in the protests on every continent was undoubtedly influenced by the uprisings that started in Tunisia and Egypt and now has engulfed the entire Middle East, with a civil war in Syria.

Why No Real Protest from U.S. Unions on "Austerity?

With at least 12 million Americans still unemployed and several million who have lost their homes, why is there no national outcry from the AFL-CIO to forcefully demand that the government create the urgently needed jobs and provide real relief to the heavily mortgaged home owners?

Why have the U.S, unions limited their protests to periodic verbal complaints about joblessness, but no national action? Not even a "civil disobedience" protest. Or a massive, week-long picketing of Congress. Or a four-hour national work stoppage? Or any action that expresses the anger and suffering of millions of our citizens.

And where is AFL-President Richard Trumka? What is he actually doing about the unemployed, except keeping his perpetual silence and letting union members shift on their own?

Is this the kind of leadership we expect from our top officer during a time of economic crisis?

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