European Workers Issues

Subway, train and airline workers strike in the UK

By Robert Stevens, 11 January 2017

The 24-hour strike that paralysed the London subway system Monday was followed by the start of two 48-hour walkouts by drivers on Southern Rail and British Airways cabin crew.

UK rail union TSSA and pro-Corbyn Momentum stoke up anti-European sentiment

By Paul Mitchell, 10 January 2017

A video posted by the pro-Corbyn Momentum organization seeks to portray the population of Europe as benefitting from the privatization if the UK’s rail network.

Wakefield school cleaning workers sacked after three-month strike in UK

By Barry Mason, 6 January 2017

Unison, with over 1.2 million members and an annual income of more than £200 million, has proved unwilling and incapable of defending the jobs of three embattled cleaners.

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UK: Appalling warehouse working conditions exposed at JD Sports

By Joe Mount, 3 January 2017

A succession of governments have created the conditions for the legal, uninhibited exploitation of workers, removing restrictions on business and cutting spending on welfare benefits.

1,000 former GM Opel workers facing joblessness in Germany

By Dietmar Henning, 3 January 2017

Instead of the new jobs promised by the IG Metall union, Opel workers face precarious employment, temporary work and welfare.

Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East & Africa

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Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East & Africa

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UK unions seek to head off further strikes

By Chris Marsden, 22 December 2016

This week, a strike by conductors on Southern Rail was joined by a walkout of Crown Post Office workers, while further action was scheduled to take place at Swissport and British Airways.

Berlin’s Humboldt University plans massive job cuts

By Katerina Selin, 19 December 2016

The latest developments at Humboldt University are linked to the drastic austerity policy of the Berlin Senate regarding higher education.

Unions back pension attacks at Tata Steel UK

By Danny Richardson, 15 December 2016

Tata and the unions are working to abolish the British Steel Pension Scheme that Tata had been seeking to eliminate ever since it bought its UK steel plants in 2007.

Rail strike halts services throughout southern England

By Richard Tyler, 14 December 2016

The ability of railworkers to prosecute a successful fight to defend their pay, conditions and the safety of the travelling public, is undermined by the unions and Labour Party.

Striking Lufthansa pilots demonstrate in Frankfurt

By Marianne Arens, 2 December 2016

Hundreds of striking Lufthansa pilots gathered at Rhein-Main Airport in Frankfurt on day seven of the latest pilots’ strike.

Irish unions seek deal with government to prevent industrial unrest

By Dermot Quinn, 2 December 2016

Posturing as defenders of workers interests, the union bureaucracy is trying to re-establish the “social partnership” agreement with the government it previously enjoyed.

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Germany: Striking pilots need a socialist perspective

By Ulrich Rippert, 1 December 2016

The strike by 5,400 Lufthansa pilots deserves the support of all workers.

Lufthansa makes new offer to striking pilots

By Dietmar Henning, 28 November 2016

The offer made by the Lufthansa board on Friday evening is aimed at breaking the resistance of the pilots’ union and pushing through fundamental changes in working conditions.

Huge growth in “precarious employment” in the UK

By Thomas Scripps, 28 November 2016

The total number of workers in self-employment, temporary work and zero-hours contracts has increased by nearly 2 million over the past decade.

“Buried alive by the National Coal Board”

The Aberfan disaster in Wales 50 years on

By Margot Miller, 28 November 2016

A total of 116 children perished in the avalanche of coal waste—almost half of those at Pantglas Junior School—along with 28 adults, including five teachers.

Volkswagen plans 30,000 job cuts

By Dietmar Henning, 19 November 2016

VW and its works council agreed to the destruction of more than one in seven of the company’s current 200,000 staff worldwide as part of the so-called Pact for the Future.

Uber UK verdict highlights super-exploitation through “self-employment”

By Thomas Scripps, 19 November 2016

Since its founding seven years ago, Uber has extended its reach to 66 countries and 507 cities worldwide, with over 1 million drivers.

Buyer reportedly found for German supermarket chain

By Dietmar Henning, 3 November 2016

An agreement has reportedly been reached to divide up the German supermarket chain Kaiser’s Tengelmann.

Germany: UFO union calls off strikes and begs for hearing with Lufthansa bosses

By Dietmar Henning, 2 November 2016

The Independent Flight Attendants Organisation has cancelled strikes planned for this week at Eurowings, declaring it is “speechless” at the company's tough stance.

Eurowings strike grounds domestic German flights

By Dietmar Henning, 31 October 2016

The conflict is a reaction to Lufthansa’s strategy of reducing the wages and working conditions of all of its employees to the level of its cut-price subsidiary airline Eurowings.

Flight attendants union calls off strikes at Eurowings airline in Germany

By Dietmar Henning, 26 October 2016

The small sectoral union, Ufo, does not represent any alternative to the large service sector union Verdi which collaborates closely with Lufthansa and other companies.

National strike needed in Britain to defend striking Southern GTR conductors

By Michael Barnes, 18 October 2016

Conductors should reject the RMT’s proposal to accept new contracts.

German government expands military operations in the Middle East

By Johannes Stern, 14 October 2016

In future, German soldiers will monitor Syrian airspace on board NATO’s AWACS reconnaissance planes.

Italy: Strikes and protests against the Renzi government’s “Jobs Act”

By Marianne Arens, 4 October 2016

Italy is experiencing a wave of strikes by rail workers, flight attendants and teachers that are also directed against the traditional unions.

The pseudo-left’s role in the defeat of the British junior doctors’ struggle

By Robert Stevens, 3 October 2016

The Socialist Workers Party sowed illusions in the trade unions and the Labour Party at every juncture in the junior doctors' struggle.

Irish unions call off Dublin bus strike

By Dermot Quinn, 30 September 2016

The unions are winding down the dispute and paving the way for the defeat of their members’ struggle.

The Verdi union’s despicable role in the breakup of Germany’s Kaiser’s Tengelmann retail group

By Marianne Arens, 30 September 2016

Roundtable talks, secret negotiations, time limit extensions—the unions are seeking to ensure nothing prevents the smooth sell-off of the retail chain.

German supermarket chain to be broken up with thousands of jobs lost

By Marianne Arens, 22 September 2016

The trade unions and the SPD have given their seal of approval to the destruction of jobs, wages and workers’ rights in the store chain merger.

French unions join far-right movement against refugees in Calais

By Anthony Torres, 12 September 2016

The CGT is inciting nationalist hatred to divide the workers and disorient their opposition to the wars and social cuts of the French government, which it helped elect.

Working conditions worsen in Germany

By Dietmar Henning, 10 September 2016

Working conditions in Germany have worsened significantly. Evening, night and weekend work as well as both paid and unpaid overtime are on the rise.

Appeal by Berlin Senate candidate Andy Niklaus: Workers need their own party!

By Andy Niklaus, 9 September 2016

Andy Niklaus has worked for the Berlin Transport Company for 25 years and is running as a candidate of the Partei für Soziale Gleichheit in the Berlin Senate elections on September 18.

British Medical Association calls off junior doctors strikes

By Robert Stevens, 8 September 2016

The junior doctors have been isolated by both the trade unions and by the Labour Party, with a key role played by party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Volkswagen production halt affects almost 30,000 workers

By Dietmar Henning, 24 August 2016

The hard-line position of company headquarters toward suppliers is part of a massive attack on workers.

UK: Strike action at historic low, and unions work to keep it that way

By Simon Whelan, 23 August 2016

The virtual disappearance of strikes during a period when workers’ jobs, wages, and conditions have been under unparalleled attack is a damning indictment of the trade unions.

Trade unions work to suppress German hospital strikes

By Markus Salzmann, 23 August 2016

With some difficulty, the trade unions managed to suppress the justifiable anger over poor working conditions and inadequate pay at hospitals.

Thyssen-Krupp Steel works council meeting prepares job cuts in Germany

By Dietmar Henning, 18 August 2016

Around 250 works council officials from Thyssen Krupp’s steel division met at a conference last Friday in Duisburg.

Lufthansa sets a course for confrontation with pilots

By Marianne Arens, 16 August 2016

The breaking off of talks between the pilots’ union and management heralds a new phase in the dispute.

BHS scandal in the UK: The real face of capitalism

By Jean Shaoul, 13 August 2016

The BHS/Philip Green scandal shows how asset-stripping, sale-and-lease-back arrangements, dummy companies and tax havens are now the norm, not the exception.

Union calls off UK rail strikes

By Michael Barnes, 12 August 2016

By calling off the Scotrail and Southern GTR strikes, the Rail, Maritime and Transport union has again proved its worth to the government and the rail companies.

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Southern rail conductors begin longest UK rail strike in 50 years

By Robert Stevens, 9 August 2016

The five-day stoppage by train conductors on the busy Southern rail network has caused widespread disruption, with some 60 percent of services expected to be cancelled.

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UK: Weymouth and Bridport bus drivers escalate strike action

By Ajanta Silva, 3 August 2016

The Weymouth bus drivers’ dispute demonstrates that whenever the union bureaucracy are forced to call industrial action, they ensure that it remains isolated.

Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East & Africa

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UK trade unions fail to mobilise for anti-austerity demonstration

By Paul Mitchell, 19 July 2016

The most striking feature of the London demo was the absence of trade union leaders and Labour “lefts.”

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By , 15 July 2016

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Five agency workers crushed to death in British scrapyard

By Danny Richardson, 11 July 2016

Three serious incidents have occurred at the Hawkeswood Metal recycling plant in the Nechells area of Birmingham in the last few years.

UK junior doctors vote to reject contract

By Paul Mitchell, 7 July 2016

Junior doctors rejected a contract supported by the British Medical Association union that slashes overtime pay and extends working hours.

Lufthansa flight attendants union accepts arbitration agreement

By Marianne Arens, 6 July 2016

By agreeing to the arbitration award, the union is stabbing cabin staff and pilots in the back in their struggle to defend jobs, wages and pensions.

UK teachers hold one-day strike against education bill

By Tania Kent, 5 July 2016

The strike by National Union of Teachers members takes place amid the drive for the complete privatisation of state education.

Volkswagen: 700 workers lose their jobs in Germany

By Dietmar Henning, 5 July 2016

The VW board is using the company’s current crisis to make long-planned cuts in its workforce, relying heavily on the IG Metall trade union and its related works councils.

Workers at two UK rail companies strike against threat to jobs and safety

By Michael Barnes, 29 June 2016

On all existing driver-only operations there are no conductors or onboard staff, other than the revenue inspectors.

IG Metall trade union backs Volkswagen board

By Dietmar Henning, 28 June 2016

IG Metall sprang to the support of management, which is exploiting the emission scandal to impose the biggest ever attacks on jobs, wages and conditions.

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Despite mounting opposition, French unions signal concessions on labor law

By Alex Lantier, 20 June 2016

The Stalinist General Confederation of Labor has indicated that it may be open to negotiating firm-level contracts under the new law that violate the national Labor Code.

Billionaire former BHS boss faces down UK parliamentary committee

By Jean Shaoul, 20 June 2016

Some 11,000 workers are set to lose their jobs and around 22,000 present and future retirees will see their pensions decimated after the collapse of high street retailer BHS.

Leeds bus workers strike over pay

By Barbara Slaughter, 18 June 2016

Earlier this month, 250 workers employed by First Bus Leeds voted unanimously to reject management’s paltry pay offer and begin a campaign of strike action.

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Belgian unions try to suppress country’s growing strike wave

By Ross Mitchell and Paul Bond, 13 June 2016

The unions in Belgium and France view a joint struggle by workers in both countries as a threat.

North Sea oil workers must wage unified struggle

By Steve James, 13 June 2016

The crisis in the North Sea industry is one expression of the global capitalist chaos in oil production.

Sports Direct and BHS: The real face of British capitalism

By Julie Hyland, 13 June 2016

While lamenting Ashley and Green as the “unacceptable face of capitalism,” the media made clear that much of what had occurred was perfectly legal.

Bond yields fall as fears rise over global economic growth

By Nick Beams, 11 June 2016

As the pile of negative yielding government debt passes the $10 trillion mark, it has been described as a “supernova that will explode one day.”

UK trade union federation calls for Britain to remain in EU

By Robert Stevens, 11 June 2016

The Trades Union Congress is backing the Remain campaign on the cynical basis that it is necessary to protect workers from the attacks of the Conservative government.

Public meeting at Humboldt University in Berlin

The referendum on Brexit: Why the SEP rejects both camps

By , 11 June 2016

On Friday, June 17, Chris Marsden, a member of the International Editorial Board of the World Socialist Web Site from Britain, will speak in Berlin at Humboldt University on the referendum for British withdrawal from the EU, and on the party’s campaign for an active boycott.

British rail workers facing state repression

By Michael Barnes, 10 June 2016

Workers have held strikes to protest the elimination of the safety-critical role of the conductor, who operates doors on the busiest routes in the UK.

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Strikes against austerity in France and Belgium defy union pressure for sellout

By Alex Lantier, 9 June 2016

Garbage workers took strike action in several cities across France, joining rail, port and oil workers in France and rail workers in Belgium.

UK: The political fraud of the Another Europe is Possible campaign

By Julie Hyland, 7 June 2016

The campaign makes no mention of the Cameron government’s austerity agenda that has seen millions of jobs destroyed, wages cut, welfare slashed to the bone and migrants denied entry to the UK.

Strikes in France elicit support from German workers

By Verena Nees, 3 June 2016

Sympathy from workers and young people, anger and resentment in the media—this is how Germany is reacting to the strikes in France.

Strike wave against labor law spreads in France

By Kumaran Ira, 2 June 2016

As the trade union bureaucracy prepares to sell out an escalating strike wave, opposition to the Socialist Party’s “El Khomri” labor reform is mounting in the working class.

UK firms use new regulations to cut pay and conditions

By Danny Richardson, 2 June 2016

Many of the attacks on wages and conditions began within the food industry, which is heavily reliant on the use of agency workers as cheap labour.

French strike movement exposes bankruptcy of New Anti-capitalist Party

By Alex Lantier, 2 June 2016

The emergence of the working class as the central force in struggle against France's Socialist Party government refutes the anti-working class perspective of the NPA.

The return of the “grand narrative”

By Andre Damon, 1 June 2016

The resurgence of the class struggle is undermining the intellectual charlatanry that underpinned the ideological dominance of various forms of anti-Marxism over the past half-century.

Belgian public sector goes on strike in run-up to French rail walkout

By Ross Mitchell and Alex Lantier, 1 June 2016

Workers are mobilising across national borders in Europe against the reactionary austerity policies that the entire European Union has imposed since the 2008 crash.

CGT union tries to block general strike against French labor law

By Alex Lantier, 30 May 2016

On the BFM-Politique show, CGT General Secretary Philippe Martinez said he was in back-channel talks with the government over its unpopular labor law.

Amid strikes, French President Hollande pledges to impose labor law

By Alex Lantier, 28 May 2016

Hollande is manoeuvring to use the trade union bureaucracy to contain social anger among workers against his reactionary labor law reform.

The El Khomri law in France and the Schröder-Blair Paper

By Peter Schwarz, 28 May 2016

Over the past decade and a half, the social democratic parties, working with the trade unions, have led the drive to impose austerity on the working class.

Greece's Syriza government imposes harsh austerity measures

By Christoph Vandreier, 27 May 2016

Eurogroup finance ministers have made clear they will accept no way of dealing with the Greek debt crisis other than continuing attacks on the working class.

Rail strike hits Belgium

By Ross Mitchell, 27 May 2016

Rail workers began an indefinite strike Wednesday evening in Belgium, paralysing mass transit and creating traffic jams in Brussels.

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Strike wave against austerity spreads in France, Belgium

By Kumaran Ira, 26 May 2016

Police repression of anti-austerity protests in France and Belgium is enraging workers and driving broader layers of the working class into struggle.

Mobilize European workers to defend French strikers!

By Alex Lantier, 26 May 2016

The most powerful ally of workers struggling against pro-austerity governments in France, Belgium and Greece is the European and international working class.

The Brexit referendum, socialism and the European working class

By Julie Hyland, 26 May 2016

The following is a speech delivered to public meetings by Julie Hyland, assistant national secretary of the SEP, on the Party’s campaign for an active boycott of the referendum on the UK’s membership in the European Union.

International finance capital and the strikes in France

By Nick Beams, 25 May 2016

The aim of the “structural reforms” demanded by the IMF and the financial elites is the destruction of all the social gains of the European working class won in the past seven decades.

Belgian prison wardens strike met with government repression

By Ross Mitchell, 25 May 2016

The government plans to shrink the public sector by 20 percent, with pay and staffing being cut by 10 percent by 2020 overall.

Oil workers mobilise against French labour law

By Kumaran Ira, 23 May 2016

The Socialist Party is sending riot police to break up refinery strikes as they cause fuel shortages across France.

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French government backs neo-fascist protest against opposition to labor law

By Alex Lantier, 19 May 2016

Wednesday’s protest, organised by a police union close to the neo-fascist National Front, was aimed at intimidating broad popular opposition to the Socialist Party's labor reform.

Wage deal in Germany: IG Metall agrees to end industry-wide contracts

By Dietmar Henning, 16 May 2016

Industry heads are enthusiastic about the deal that allows individual corporations to be released from wage contracts when profits are lower than desired.

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Protests erupt in France against regressive labor law

By Alex Lantier, 12 May 2016

Protesters clashed violently with police and sacked the headquarters of the ruling Socialist Party in several cities across France.

Volkswagen board pockets €63 million in 2015

By Dietmar Henning, 10 May 2016

Despite the exhaust emissions scandal and record losses, the nine members of the VW Executive Board were paid €10 million more in 2015 than the previous year.

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Volkswagen works council and IG Metall back executive bonuses

By Dietmar Henning, 2 May 2016

While thousands of workers are losing their jobs due to the emission scandal, top executives are reaping huge bonuses.

Workers and youth in Amiens speak out against French labour reform

By Antoine Lerougetel, 29 April 2016

A WSWS team spoke to protesting youth who unanimously criticised the strategy of the trade and student unions as insufficient to struggle against the labour reform.

German public sector union holds “warning strikes”

By Marianne Arens, 29 April 2016

Selective strikes are taking place in the public sector across Germany this week, but the Verdi union is determined to impose attacks on wages and work conditions.