Mass Protests Continue Demanding Economic Stability and Opposition to Sanctions Against Russia
The peoples of Europe are continuing their mass protests as the political, economic and financial crises in which their countries and all of Europe are mired continue to deepen. It is the peoples who are bearing the brunt of governments in service of the rich which are either forced to submit to U.S. hegemony and U.S./NATO dictate or are rebelling against it. Throughout October protests over fuel prices and high costs of living took place in more than 90 countries worldwide.
In Prague, the Czech Republic, mass actions filling Wenceslas Square have been taking place since early September. On October 28, Independent Czechoslovak State Day, a national holiday celebrating the date in 1918 when Czechoslovakia was created, tens of thousands of people rallied in the square in an action called by the organization "Czech Republic First!" The action demanded that the coalition government of Prime Minister Petr Fiala resign and reiterated the call for the Czech Republic to get out of the EU and NATO, to end its involvement in the conflict in Ukraine (which the Czech Republic has provided with heavy weapons), including the sanctions against Russia. "Russia's not our enemy, the government of warmongers is the enemy," one speaker said.
A similar rally was held in the country's second-largest city of Brno.
Prague, Czech Republic, October 28, 2022. Sign reads "Dilettantes Resign."
Prior to that, on October 8, thousands gathered in Wenceslas Square in an action called by the country's major trade unions. They demanded the government take immediate action to end the people's impoverishment. The unions pointed out, "By procrastinating, the government has allowed the situation to reach a state where in our country we have one of the highest inflation rates in the EU, households are losing purchasing power and companies are losing their competitiveness. We have repeatedly appealed to the government since its inauguration to start solving the situation. We present concrete solutions and measures on how to proceed, we offer help. The government has been silent for months, and instead of actually helping people and businesses, its officials simply ignore the situation."
The days when the country's major trade unions put their faith in bringing back classical capitalism as they did in the early nineties when the former USSR collapsed are back, only this time the disastrous conditions are clearly seen as a problem of capitalism, not socialism while the demand for democracy persists under the new conditions of neo-liberalism.
Prague, Czech Republic, October 8, 2022
This action was preceded by another action at the square on September 28, organized by Czech Republic First! In keeping with the 70,000-strong action it held on September 3, it continues to call for the Czech government to secure gas contracts with Russia and be "militarily neutral" regarding the crisis in Ukraine instigated by the U.S. and NATO to provoke Russia.
Prague, Czech Republic, September 28, 2022
In France, on October 18, a nationwide general strike was held to demand an increase in wages and the restoration of the purchasing power of people affected by the crisis. The General Confederation of Labour (CGT) informs that there were nearly 180 demonstrations with the participation of some 300,000 people across France, including 450 in Gap, 2,500 in Pau, 7,000 in Bordeaux, 10,000 in LaeHavre and 70,000 in Paris.
Angers, France, October 18, 2022
Laval, France, October 18, 2022
Versailles, France, October 18, 2022
Paris, October 18, 2022
Valenciennes, France, October 18, 2022
Tulle, France, October 18, 2022
In Paris on October 16, more than 100,000 people marched to denounce the Macron government's failure to tackle the cost of living crisis and the climate crisis.
Paris, France, October 16, 2022
Strikes by oil refinery and oil depot workers employed by TotalEnergies and ExxonMobil were underway for several weeks until October 20, until employers offered wage increases. At their height, more than 30 per cent of gas stations were affected by shortages.
Workers at Électricité de France's Bugey nuclear plant started a strike on October 13. Besides the rising cost of living, workers are incensed that the energy monopolies are charging extortionate rates and making obscene profits at the expense of the people amidst a growing energy crisis. As of October 20, strikes had affected 20 of the country's 56 nuclear reactors.
On October 9 in Paris, hundreds of demonstrators waved French flags and held large banners reading "Resistance" and "Frexit," the latter expressing their demand that France should leave the European Union. The protesters shouted "Leave NATO" and denounced NATO "warmongering" and the economic crisis arising from EU sanctions imposed on Russia over the Ukraine conflict. They also called for the resignation of President Macron, and that his government should stop supplying arms to Ukraine.
Paris, France, October 9, 2022
Also on October 16, tens of thousands marched in Chisinau, Moldova, to oppose the rising cost of living and to demand the resignation of President Maia Sandhu and the government.
In Italy on October 16, protests were held in Rome, Bologna, Palermo, Ancona, and other places, protesting the high cost of living, profiteering by the energy companies and imperialist warmongering. At the action in Rome, demonstrators called on the government to leave the NATO military alliance and demanded an end to the conflict in Ukraine. The new Prime Minister responded saying Italy is committed to NATO.
Rome, Italy, October 16, 2022
In Cyprus on October 15, workers mobilized by the Pancyprian Federation of Labour marched to the Ministry of Finance in Nicosia, to demand living wages and the recognition of other rights, measures to strengthen collective agreements and an immediate reduction of the value-added tax on fuel, electricity and other essential goods and services.
Nicosia, Cyprus, October 15, 2022
On October 14, the Workers' Party of Belgium (PTB/PVDA) continued its weekly Fridays of Rage protests, this one held in Brussels at the headquarters of the energy monopoly Engie. Protest marches took place in Charleroi and Gand.
Brussels, Belgium, October 14, 2022
A similar mass protest took place in Brussels on September 21, in which 10,000 people took part. Protestors told Euronews they want local, national and European politicians to take immediate measures to help them with the financial burden of the crisis. They say the responsibility lies with national politicians to address the matters now and they rejected government attempts to skirt responsibility by saying that geopolitical problems are the cause of the crisis and it is out of their control.
News agencies report that workers and their defence organizations are planning a general strike for November 8.
In Graz, Austria on October 14, people marched to demand lower prices and increased wages.
Graz, Austria, October 14, 2022
In Amsterdam, the Netherlands on October 13, students and youth groups demonstrated against the University of Amsterdam's mistreatment of international students. The university exploits them as cash cows, yet does not provide adequate access to housing and other facilities and services after they arrive. The action took place in the context of broadening actions by the Dutch people for the right to housing.
Amsterdam, Netherlands, October 13, 2022
In Greece, working people are protesting against the persecution of workers by employers and the state. On October 9, a concert by the Panhellenic Music Association was organized at Th. Malerdou Square in the city of Larymna in solidarity with the workers of the state-owned General Mining and Metallurgical Company (LARCO) who have been fighting against the privatization of the company and demanding its reopening and full operationalization.
On October 7, trade unions in Thessaloniki had organized a massive demonstration in solidarity with persecuted workers of the Malamatina Winery and the Hellas Gold mines.
Greek workers are said to be preparing widescale strikes on November 9 to oppose the increasing cost of living.
Thessaloniki, Greece, October 7, 2022
In Germany, activists report that tens of thousands of people have been driven into poverty. Many cannot pay their energy bills, while predatory energy companies and others are taking advantage of the situation.
In Berlin on the weekend of October 15, hundreds of people affected by Germany's cost-of-living crisis gathered outside the Federal Chancellery to protest the worsening situation, calling for help securing decent housing and more support for people in low-income households. Some of the signs called for "immediate help for the poor" while other placards read, "We need healthy food. Abolish poverty!"
Prior to this, in Cologne on October 1, hundreds of people protested against rising inflation, especially in energy prices, shouting, "Enough is enough: Prices have to fall." The demonstrators demanded that recent gas prices hikes be withdrawn, and that an upper limit for rent increases be set. They also asked for an increase in pensions and social benefits, as well as a decrease in the cost to use transit systems. Germans have also been calling on their government to open up the Nord Stream 2 pipeline with Russia to lower energy prices and ensure that people have heat to get through the winter.
Cologne, Germany, October 1, 2022
(With files from Anadolou Agency, People's Dispatch, BBC, Global Times, Euronews, CMKOS. Photos: Naprvnimmiste, CMKOS, 902.gr, PressTV, CJB, KPO, LFI, Jeunes Insoumises, UDCGT53, Sindica Estudian, G. Ledhuy, CGT)
This article was published in
Volume 52 Number 10 - October 2022