European Workers Issues

Tens of thousands of German industrial workers on strike

By our reporters, 1 February 2018

Up to 500,000 workers are participating in one-day strikes in Germany’s automotive and electrical industries, the largest strikes in the sector for 15 years.

Hundreds of thousands of industrial workers strike in Germany

By Peter Schwarz, 31 January 2018

Germany’s biggest strike wave in 15 years is another sign that 2018 will see an intensification of class struggle internationally.

German industrial workers poised to launch massive strikes

By Dietmar Henning, 29 January 2018

Due to the militant atmosphere in the plants, the IG Metall union was compelled against its wishes to break off the fifth round of collective bargaining talks in Baden-Württemberg.

Germany: IG Metall greets far-right AfD participants at union protest

By our correspondents, 23 January 2018

The reactionary orientation of the union was most evident when an IGM functionary greeted the participation of the far-right AfD on the demonstration.

Carillion collapse in UK leaves pension scheme deficit of £2.6 billion

By Robert Stevens, 22 January 2018

A Sky News investigation revealed that Carillion’s debts and pension liabilities were almost double the amount initially cited.

UK: The political lessons of Carillion’s collapse

By Julie Hyland, 17 January 2018

When CEOs, accountants, regulators and governments are all implicated in such events, it is not the corruption of a single corporate entity that is at issue, but the capitalist profit system itself.

UK: Carillion collapse threatens jobs and pensions, exposing plunder of social assets

By Julie Hyland, 16 January 2018

There are reports of banks shifting Carillion off their balance sheets over the last months in anticipation of its inevitable folding.

The merger of Germany’s Thyssen with Tata Steel

Vote “No” on union-backed steel contract! Defend all jobs!

By the Sozialistische Gleichheitspartei, 16 January 2018

The Sozialistische Gleichheitspartei calls upon steelworkers at ThyssenKrupp to reject the contract negotiated by the IG Metall trade union and to take measures to prepare a struggle to defend all jobs.

German industrial workers continue strikes

By Ulrich Rippert, 13 January 2018

The IG Metall trade union is increasingly concerned by the unrest and radical atmosphere in the plants, but has indicated its readiness to compromise and reach a sell-out deal.

Greek workers stop work in opposition to Syriza anti-strike and austerity measures

By Robert Stevens, 13 January 2018

Strikes shut down the Athens rail system, ships were unable to sail, and state-run hospitals were forced to rely on reserve staff.

160,000 industrial workers strike in Germany

By Peter Schwarz, 11 January 2018

Amid widespread anger over social inequality and corporate job-cutting, there is a growing determination to fight for improvements in wages and working conditions.

French automaker PSA colludes with unions to prepare mass job cuts

By Alex Lantier, 10 January 2018

PSA Peugeot-Citroën is slashing jobs across Europe and in France, where it is using provisions of President Emmanuel Macron’s antidemocratic labor decrees.

French chemical industry unions back contract violating minimum wage laws

By Alex Lantier, 8 January 2018

Backed by the European Union, President Emmanuel Macron is using his labor decrees to try to scrap basic social rights won by the working class.

Volkswagen plans to dismiss all temporary contract workers in German plants

By Dietmar Henning, 8 January 2018

VW’s mass firing of temporary contract workers is the prelude to sweeping job cuts and attacks on the gains of all autoworkers.

UK rail workers continue strikes against Driver Only Operated train plans

By Michael Barnes, 8 January 2018

As dangerous incidents begin to escalate, the rail companies and the Tory government refuse to retreat in their war against conductors’ jobs.

UK workers confront rising job losses in 2018

By Tony Robson, 8 January 2018

At no point have Unite, GMB, the retail workers union, USDAW, or any other, even mooted a fight in defence of a single job.

Regional transport workers strike in Netherlands

Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East & Africa

5 January 2018

A 24-hour strike involving some 12,000 workers hit bus and train service on Thursday in the Netherlands to demand better pay and working conditions.

Macron turns France’s labor decrees on auto workers

By Alex Lantier, 29 December 2017

The announcement of mass layoffs by Europe’s second-largest automaker is part of a relentless international assault on workers' jobs, working conditions and social rights.

Israeli workers protest job cuts

Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East & Africa

29 December 2017

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Massive job cuts at Opel and Vauxhall

By Marianne Arens, 23 December 2017

The management board, works council and IG Metall union have agreed on a drastic reduction in staff and labour costs at Opel to make the company more profitable.

Engineering workers occupy three BiFab yards in Scotland

By Darren Paxton and Sandy Campbell, 23 December 2017

Although workers effectively took control of the yards, the GMB and Unite trade unions were at pains to insist the action was a “work-in.”

Wildcat strike stops production as workers eject union leaders at Ford Romania

By Eric London, 23 December 2017

The spontaneous walkout took place the day after Ford and the union agreed to a sellout contract with similar terms as those imposed on workers in the US and Canada.

General Electric follows Siemens in announcing mass layoffs

By Gustav Kemper, 12 December 2017

The American conglomerate General Electric announced the layoff of 12,000 workers last week, including 4,500 in Europe.

Protesting workers at bankrupt Air Berlin denounce Merkel government

By Gustav Kemper, 27 November 2017

More than a thousand employees of the insolvent airline gathered Wednesday in front of Berlin Central Station for a demonstration against imminent mass redundancies.

Bus workers in northwest England escalate strikes for pay parity

By John Newham, 27 November 2017

As more disputes erupt, the unions are doing everything to contain the situation and oppose any united offensive by transport workers.

Strikes at five UK rail companies

By our reporter, 13 November 2017

Outside London Waterloo, the UK’s busiest train station, large pickets were mounted as up to half of all services were cancelled.

Plant closures and layoffs on the agenda at German conglomerate Siemens

By Elisabeth Zimmermann, 9 November 2017

Several thousand job cuts will hit Siemens Group's Power Generation sector as well as its subsidiary, Siemens Gamesa, which manufactures wind turbines.

Siemens and Alstom rail train units merge as corporations prepare for trade war

By Gustav Kemper, 6 October 2017

The merger of the two companies, with 62,000 employees and an annual turnover of around 15 billion euros, creates the world’s second-largest railway technology company.

Monarch Airlines collapse causes air travel chaos

By Steve James, 3 October 2017

Monarch is the third major European airline to go under this year.

Millions of European workers in precarious employment

By Verena Nees, 26 September 2017

On the 150th anniversary of Marx’s Capital, a new report reveals how European capitalism has created a huge army of precarious workers, plunging millions into poverty.

Portuguese nurses strike against an 11-year pay freeze

By Ajanta Silva and Paul Mitchell, 20 September 2017

Despite Socialist Party government threats, some 85 percent of the 70,000 nurses in the country took part in the strike, bringing services to a halt.

French unions try to strangle workers’ opposition to Macron

By Anthony Torres and Alex Lantier, 19 September 2017

The unions, whose strike calls are carefully prepared beforehand with the government, are terrified of being outflanked on their left by an eruption of workers’ struggles.

UK: Pay cap for majority of public sector workers to continue, despite government defeat

By Robert Stevens, 14 September 2017

August saw a further precipitous decline in living standards for all workers, due to the rising cost of fuel, clothes and food imports, with wages as a share of national income the lowest since the Second World War.

Royal College of Nursing union holds rally in London

No answers to attacks on public health care

By Ajanta Silva and Paul Mitchell, 8 September 2017

The “Summer of Action” was largely restricted to appeals to MPs and photo opportunities for RCN bureaucrats and union officials making occasional media appearances.

Rank-and-file committees needed to take forward UK rail workers' safety fight

By Tony Robson, 6 September 2017

Workers need to take the dispute out of the hands of the ASLEF and the RMT and link it with a broader struggle against austerity and cost-cutting in the public and private sectors.

Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East & Africa

Portuguese Volkswagen workers rebel against Workers Commission collaboration

2 September 2017

Volkswagen workers in Portugal launched a strike against the German-based automaker the week over extended Saturday working.

Unions help Caterpillar restructure with closure of Belgian operations

By Ross Mitchell, 30 August 2017

The Caterpillar plant in Gosselies was the biggest industrial site in Wallonia, Belgium’s southern, primarily French-speaking region.

Conservative government review of UK “gig economy”—a whitewash for the corporations

By Thomas Scripps, 28 August 2017

The report’s bias in favour of employers is not an oversight, as the political establishment that Matthew Taylor speaks for has no intention of bringing “precarious employment” under control.

Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East & Africa

British Airways cabin crew extend strike

11 August 2017

The dispute is one of the longest running in the history of the European airline industry.

Union ends strike by Fiat Chrysler workers in Serbia

Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East & Africa

21 July 2017

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New strikes in the UK against Driver Only Operated trains

By Thomas Scripps, 15 July 2017

Recent talks have enabled Southern, Northern and Merseyrail management to escalate strikebreaking plans and impose regimes of intimidation.

“The glamour of the job is just a mask”

British Airways crew members defy strikebreaking operation

By Ross Mitchell, 7 July 2017

Prior to the strike, the union drafted up a "final compromise position" behind the backs of its members, which has not been made public.

Historic strike vote by Bank of England staff; Kenyan doctors’ union signs agreement to end dispute

Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East & Africa

7 July 2017

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The importance of the VW Strike in Slovakia

By Ulrich Rippert, 1 July 2017

Auto workers at the Volkswagen plant in Bratislava, Slovakia resumed work at the beginning of this week. Eight thousand of the 12,300 workers at the plant had struck for six days and paralyzed production.

Manchester Metropolitan University staff oppose site closure, redundancies

By Margot Miller, 1 July 2017

University bosses plan to shut the Crewe campus, threatening 370 jobs, on the grounds that it is “no longer academically or financially sustainable.”

Support the strike by VW workers in Slovakia!

By Ulrich Rippert chairman of the SGP and SGP candidate in North Rhine Westphalia, 26 June 2017

The 8,000 striking Volkswagen workers in Slovakia deserve the support of VW and all autoworkers throughout Germany and the world.

UK: Sheffield Jobcentre workers continue fight against job losses and relocation

By Danny Richardson, 24 June 2017

The dispute centres on a national plan to close more than 1 in 10 Jobcentres around the UK, with the loss of up to 750 jobs.

Over 8,000 VW autoworkers launch unlimited strike in Slovakia

By Dietmar Henning, 22 June 2017

The autoworkers are engaged in the first strike since VW began operations in the Eastern European country in 1991.

UK unions suppress strikes for duration of general election campaign

By Margot Miller, 6 June 2017

The unions have performed this service on behalf of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who wants no association with actual struggles of the working class.

“It’s sheer slavery”

Amazon warehouse worker in Manchester UK “enterprise zone” speaks of intolerable working conditions

By our reporters, 19 May 2017

Amazon’s warehousing operations have become a byword for ultra-high levels of exploitation of a largely minimum wage workforce, who carry out highly demanding physical work.

VW trade union boss pockets €750,000 per year

By Dietmar Henning, 17 May 2017

It has just been revealed that the salary of Bernd Osterloh, chairman of the joint works council of the Volkswagen Group, totals around €750,000 per year.

French auto parts workers at GM&S threaten to blow up plant to block closure

By Anthony Torres, 16 May 2017

The only way forward is a broad mobilization of workers to defend jobs at GM&S in a break with the union bureaucracies and in opposition to newly elected President Emmanuel Macron.

UK National Union of Teachers sabotages struggle against funding cuts

By Tom Pearce, 16 May 2017

While the NUT continues to oppose action, other education unions, including the NASUWT, are equally concerned about preventing strikes.

Rail companies Bombardier and Siemens plan merger

By Gustav Kemper, 25 April 2017

Since the beginning of 2017, the two rail companies have been engaged in secret merger negotiations behind the backs of their employees.

Fujitsu strikers in the UK speak out in defence of framed-up Maruti Suzuki workers

By our reporters, 22 April 2017

Workers on the picket line at Fujitsu in Manchester discussed support for the victimised Indian workers, their own dispute and Saturday’s international March for Science.

UK nurses in online vote over strike in protest at low pay

By Margot Miller, 22 April 2017

Registered nurses earn an average of just £23,319 per year and had their pay kept up with inflation they would now earn £26,584.

“They’re stuffing money into the pockets of the shareholders”

British autoworkers strike BMW to defend pensions

By our reporters, 20 April 2017

The strike is the first by the BMW’s British workforce, who could lose up to £160,000 each if pension cuts are enforced.

Attend NHS FightBack meeting in Bournemouth

UK: Oppose health care cuts, redundancies and privatisation of the National Health Service

Statement by NHS FightBack

11 April 2017

Health workers and all those who want to fight in defence of the NHS must build a new leadership, which fights on the basis of a socialist programme.

Occupational therapist and service user condemn attack on Bournemouth Intermediate Care Team

By Ajanta Silva, 11 April 2017

A resident said, “The loss of this team should be of grave concern to everybody in Bournemouth.”

Southern GTR train drivers in UK vote down union sell-out again

Build new organisations of struggle to unify rail workers

By Michael Barnes, 6 April 2017

Rail workers must break the stranglehold of the unions by creating their own rank-and-file organisations of struggle.

Irish bus workers defy unions and continue strike

By Dermot Quinn, 5 April 2017

To the consternation of the unions and political establishment, Bus Eireann workers set up pickets at city bus depots and trains last Friday.

German auto workers oppose Maruti Suzuki frame-up

By K. Nesan, 5 April 2017

Many Daimler workers in Stuttgart agreed to sign the online petition demanding the release of their colleagues in India.

UK: Strikers at Fujitsu support release of framed-up Maruti Suzuki workers

By our reporters, 29 March 2017

The pickets expressed their support for the campaign to release the Maruti Suzuki workers by applauding a Socialist Equality Party member who had appealed to them for support.

For a unified struggle of drivers and conductors

Vote “no” to the ASLEF sell-out deal at UK’s Southern GTR rail!

By the Socialist Equality Party (UK), 22 March 2017

Another “no” vote in opposition to the ASLEF/Southern deal would represent a powerful blow against the plans by the train companies and government to impose DOO.

UK train conductors strike three rail companies

By Robert Stevens, 14 March 2017

The strike by 2,000 conductors proves the willingness of transport workers to fight the destruction of their working conditions and livelihoods.

UK striking rail conductors explain: “This is about the public and their safety”

By our reporters, 14 March 2017

WSWS reporters spoke to striking rail conductors during Monday’s strikes.

UK rail conductors strike at three companies to defend jobs and safety conditions

By Robert Stevens, 13 March 2017

Claims by the government and rail companies that removing conductors and eventually drivers will have no impact on public safety have been proven false by several recent incidents.

UK: Unite union imposes isolation of Heathrow cabin crew strike

By Ross Mitchell and Robert Stevens, 11 March 2017

Unite has done nothing to mobilise the support of other cabin crew in defence of the Heathrow crew, either at that airport or at any other in the UK.

“They want to cut thousands of jobs.”

PSA purchases Opel-Vauxhall from General Motors

By Marianne Arens, 8 March 2017

The works council and IG Metall union are covering up the danger facing the jobs and living standards of workers after the takeover of Opel and Vauxhall by the PSA Group.

Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East & Africa

3 March 2017

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Southern railway workers in UK strike in the face of union sabotage

By Michael Barnes, 28 February 2017

Southern Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) conductors and drivers carried out a 24-hour strike to oppose job-cutting demands that endanger passengers.

With mass job cuts looming, German union pits Bombardier workers against one another

By Dietmar Henning, 24 February 2017

The Canadian aircraft and train manufacturer Bombardier is planning massive job cuts, including the possible closure of factories.

Spanish dockworkers threaten to strike

By Alejandro López, 24 February 2017

Dockers are facing a savage attack on their working conditions by the Popular Party-led government, port companies and the European Union.

UK: Southern GTR drivers vote against union-backed sellout deal

By Michael Barnes, 18 February 2017

This principled stand by a majority of drivers comes despite immense pressure from management and the union to accept the deal.

Lufthansa-union agreement on arbitration ruling: an attack on pilots in Germany

By Dietmar Henning, 18 February 2017

Lufthansa and the pilots union have accepted an arbitration ruling on compensation for 5,400 pilots, and the airline linked the agreement with a new declaration of war on workers.

Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East & Africa

By our reporters, 17 February 2017

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UK: A conductor’s appeal to Southern GTR drivers

Vote “no” in the “referendum” on Driver Only trains

8 February 2017

The Socialist Equality Party (UK) has received the following letter from a train conductor.

Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East & Africa

27 January 2017

The World Socialist Web Site invites workers and other readers to contribute to this regular feature.

Verdi union strangles bus drivers’ strike in Hesse, Germany

By Marianne Arens, 23 January 2017

With the two-week strike by bus drivers gaining popular support, the public service sector union Verdi agreed to arbitration and to enforce “industrial peace.”

Support the striking bus drivers in Hesse, Germany!

By the Socialist Equality Party (Germany), 21 January 2017

The strike by Hesse bus drivers is significant because millions of workers in Germany, Europe and throughout the world suffer under similar conditions.

UK: ASLEF drivers’ union calls off Southern Rail strikes

By Robert Stevens, 20 January 2017

The planned action was over the company’s plans to widen the use of driver only operated trains.

Striking bus drivers in Hesse, Germany: “The latest company offer is a joke”

By Marianne Arens, 20 January 2017

Verdi is conducting the most limited possible action, mobilizing only bus drivers immediately affected while refusing to extend it to other sections of workers.

Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East & Africa

20 January 2017

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Germany: Bus drivers in Hesse continue their strike

By Marianne Arens, 18 January 2017

In the last few weeks and months, workers in bus and transport companies and the public sector have commenced major strikes in France, Italy and the US.

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.

Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East & Africa

6 January 2017

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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

30 December 2016

The World Socialist Web Site invites workers and other readers to contribute to this regular feature.

Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East & Africa

23 December 2016

The World Socialist Web Site invites workers and other readers to contribute to this regular feature.

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.

Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East & Africa

2 December 2016

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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.