Article first published as Irish People Protest against Austerity Cuts on Technorati.
Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) has called for protests against what he called as harshest budget ever since the state was established. Irish Police are expecting at least 50,000 people may participate in the protests. BBC News has reported that thousands of protesters are already gathering on Dublin streets.
The protests come a day after a humiliating defeat for the ruling coalition in a by-poll. The majority for the ruling coalition has been reduced to just two from six seats after the by-election on Friday, November 26. As a result, the Irish Prime Minister is facing pressures to resign as he lost mandate to take any important decisions on Ireland’s future.
The proposed bailout package of 85 billion euros ($114 billion) is coming with costly austerity measures. The government has already delivered a set of austerity cuts for coming four years that include 5% reduction in minimum wages, pension freeze and public sector job cuts of more than 25,000.
Most depressingly, the media reports suggest that Ireland might be charged with 6.7 percent interest on bailout loans to prop up crisis hit Irish banks. This is well above the interest rate 5.2 percent charged to Greece bailout. This suggests that even more interest rate may be charged for other countries like Portugal and Spain that may claim for bailout in future. There is only 6
Article first published as Portugal Workers Observe 24-hour Strike against 2011 Austerity Budget on Technorati.
Portugal’s two main two workers’ unions’ joint call for 24 hour strike is going successful as per government and unions’ data. Rail services are paralysed from north to south of the country, with 80% of the rail services not running. Majority of the flight services are cancelled according to government sources. The Joint strike call is said to be the first in 22 years.
The unions are critical of the proposed budget cuts saying it is quite unfair that only the workers have to sacrifice. They say they oppose the government’s top most priorities are only deficit, deficit and deficit. BBC news quoted the unions as saying, all of the country’s ports are closed; air traffic controllers and ground staff of airports are observing strike; bus and ferry links are disrupted; fewer than 10% of the workforce at Volkswagen’s Auto Europa plant have turned up for work.
Unfair Media Criticism
As usual, various media of the western countries from EU to the US have written negative analyses on Portugal strikes. They continued to support austerity measures and to oppose workers’ anger towards austerity measures. They failed to acknowledge the hardships to which the workers across the Europe and the North America were subjected to, even though they are not part of the problem of debt crisis and financial crises. Such an outlook can be gauzed to the ownership of all media by a few multinational media companies.
These MNCs are beneficiaries are the austerity measures imposed by the EU countries in the name of maintaining fiscal discipline, as if the workers’ salaries and pensions are the main sources of fiscal indiscipline. These media companies never acknowledge the indiscipline of the
Article first published as Bailout Pushes Ireland into Politico-Economic Instability on Blogcritics.
Ireland formally placed request for aid from the EU and IMF. Ireland people are quite against to this. They are not able to believe that their country needed bailout. They are angry with the U-turn taken by the government, which said initially that Ireland could solve itself its crisis. Earlier, Ireland prime minister Brian Cowen and finance minister Brian Lenihan angrily rebutted the claims that Ireland was on the verge of asking for aid from the EU and IMF even as the preliminary talks for aid began with the European authorities by then.
It is said that Irish people were confident about their capacity to overcome any obstacles that came in their path of development. They had a history of fighting for independence from the England’s colonial rule. They believed that Ireland once saved the European Monetary Union by joining it while it was recording more than 30% of GDP growth rate. They believed in the same vein their country had a capacity to overcome the latest crisis. It seems they could not bear a fact that their country is in a position to beg for aid from other European countries.
Political opportunists always will be there to cash in such situations. They stepped in to cash in the people’s anger. Green party, the junior partner of the ruling Fianna Fail party announced on November 22 that they wanted the parliament dissolved for an early election in January next year. The ruling coalition is on political tight rope walk with just three seats majority in the parliament, where Green party holds six seats. Without GP’s support, the ruling coalition will collapse. So, Green party holds the capacity to force the country to seek early election. But, GP’s announcement to seek an early election might be a mere political exercise to extract more benefits for it.
As expected, Ireland has unveiled tough austerity measures for next four years. These measures are part of convincing EU and IMF that it is committed to deliver tough measures.
Ireland’s four year plan aims to save 15 billion euros ($20 billion). BBC and Reuters have said the joint bailout package from EU and IMF is expected to be worth 85 billion Euros ($114 billion).
The austerity plan also aim to cut 24,750 public sector jobs, to save 2.8 billion euros through welfare spending cuts, to raise additional 1.9 billion euros by increasing income tax. Minimum wage for workers will be reduced and new property tax will be launched. Value Added Tax will be raised to 23% in 2013 from 21% and to 24% in 2014.
The leading economies of the Europe have slowed down in third quarter like the US. The economists and analysts have been in alert mode since it became known that the US growth was slowing down in second half. It is interesting to see these analysts are not worried that much for Europe’s slow growth in second half of 2010.
Europe’s largest economy, Germany is estimated to record a sharp decline in its growth to 0.7% in third quarter comparing with its second quarter growth of 2.3%, which is revised upwards from 2.2%, the previous figure. France GDP growth declined from 0.7% in second quarter to 0.4% in third quarter. Italy’s growth declined to 0.2% from 0.5% of second quarter.
The Eurozone countries grew by 0.4% on average which is a sharp decline from its second quarter average growth of 1%. Last month it was revealed that the UK grew by 0.8% in third quarter, less than 1.2% of second quarter. The US is expected to grow by 0.5% in third a slight increase from its second quarter figure of 0.4%. Japan grew in second quarter by 0.4%, which declined from 1.2% of its first quarter growth figure. Its third quarter figure is not yet released.
BBC | 18 October 2010 | 17:24 GMT
About 1,500 petrol stations in France have run dry or are about to close as fuel supplies are hit by strikes over government pension reforms, officials say. A blockade of oil refineries has lasted a week and the body that supplies most supermarkets says one in four petrol stations is affected. President Nicolas Sarkozy has called a crisis cabinet to protect supplies. He told reporters that the reforms were "essential" and would be carried out.
The exact number of France’s 12,000 petrol stations affected by the strikes is unclear, but oil company Exxon Mobil has described the situation as "critical". A spokesperson said that anyone looking for diesel around Paris or in the western area of Nantes would face problems. Severe shortages have been reported in Brittany in north-west France and the International Energy Agency says that France has begun tapping into its emergency oil reserves.
Workers at France’s 12 oil refineries have been on strike for a week and entrances to many of the country’s fuel distribution depots have been blocked. Panic buying was blamed for a 50% increase in fuel sales last week. The head of the Leclerc chain of supermarkets, Michel Edouard Leclerc, warned that at the current rate his company’s petrol stations would be empty within two to three days if the blockade of refineries remained and fuel imports were paralyzed.
Strike action against the government’s reform plans is being ramped up, with lorry drivers starting the week by staging a go-slow on motorways around several major cities including Paris, Lille and Lyon. A further day of strikes is scheduled for Tuesday, on the eve of a key Senate vote on the pension bill.
Half of all flights to and from Paris’s Orly airport and one in three flights at other airports are being cancelled, according to aviation officials. Airport operator ADP said there were already some delays at the capital’s largest airport, Charles De Gaulle, on Monday because of strikes by oil workers. Street protests have been planned in a number of cities and disruption is also expected on public transport and in schools. The government wants to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62 and the full state pension age from 65 to 67.
BBC News | 13 September 2010 | 11:43 GMT
Union delegates have backed joint industrial action if "attacks" on jobs, pensions and public services go ahead. The TUC’s annual gathering backed a motion which included calls to build "a broad solidarity alliance of unions and communities under threat". TUC chief Brendan Barber warned that big cuts would make Britain a "dark, brutish and more frightening place". The PM’s spokesman said they wanted "partnership" with the unions to tackle the deficit. The opening of the TUC’s 142nd congress – the first under a non-Labour government since 1996 – comes amid concern among unions about the speed and scope of the coalition’s programme to reduce the £155bn deficit. Most Whitehall departments have been ordered to plan for savings of between 25% and 40% ahead of the comprehensive spending review of 20 October.
Delegates debated a motion calling for the TUC’s general council to "support and co-ordinate campaigning and joint union industrial action, nationally and locally, in opposition to attacks on jobs, pensions, pay or public services". It could lead to strikes if the cuts are not scaled back. The motion rejected the idea that cuts were necessary to pay for the deficit and said they were a "savage and opportunistic attack on public services" which "goes far further than even the dark days of Thatcher". TUC general secretary Mr Barber told delegates: "These are not temporary cuts, but a permanent rollback of public services and the welfare state. Not so much an economic necessity as a political project driven by an ideological clamour for a minimal state. "What they take apart now could take generations to rebuild. Decent public services are the glue that holds a civilised society together and we diminish them at our peril. Cut services, put jobs in peril and increase inequality, that’s the way to make Britain a darker, brutish, more frightening place."