Belgium

New Covid plans

Doctors and scientists want a shift in virus-control policy. An open letter to all the political parties, on 23 June, by leading medical figures, called for an urgent effort to map new policies because "the available evidence indicates that local flare-ups are increasingly likely and a second wave a real risk".

Requisition and workers' control to get tests and PPE

In the Thursday 8pm “clapping for the NHS” on 2 April 2020, many people chanted “Test! Test! Test! PPE!” Health workers are pressing the government on its failure to meet its promises to expand testing hugely, to make PPE [Personal Protective Equipment] available to all, and to agree adequate PPE guidelines for health workers. So, even, are NHS bosses. NHS Providers, a confederation of NHS hospital, mental health, community, and ambulance trusts, said on 3 April: “There are still trusts that are unable to begin testing, and lack of swabs, reagents and test kits is a continuing concern”. They...

Ryanair must change

Ryanair pilots in Ireland, Sweden and Belgium will strike for 24-hours on Friday 10 August. The strike is part of an ongoing dispute as pilots are demanding a fair and transparent approach to transfers between different bases. On 25 July Ryanair escalated the dispute by threatening to sack 100 pilots and 200 cabin crew, or transfer them to Poland. Pilots based in Ireland, and members of FORSA union, have already struck for four periods of 24 hours since 12 July. They may be joined by pilots based in Germany and the Netherlands after a poll by the Association of Dutch Pilots saw 99.5% of...

Mass strikes defend workers’ rights

The strike in France for the withdrawal of the “labour law” is continuing to spread slowly, and this week alone it has won over the waste treatment centres; it is continuing in the refineries; it is supported by thousands of local groups of activists, in particular CGT members, who are active in logistics and transport centres. Meanwhile, on 2 June we saw 30,000 demonstrating in Le Havre, and 45,000 in Marseilles. There is also a strike at Amazon, and in the Bio Habitat firm. No-one is still keeping count of incidents of police brutality in the strike movement, but a threshold was crossed in...

Brussels transport workers take a stand for safety

I have been talking with Brussels transport workers and trade unionists in the aftermath of the 22 March Daesh bombings which killed 32 people and injured hundreds more. Amidst the news reporting and political demagogy, it is important that their voices are heard. Two workers died in the Brussels airport bombing - one working on check-in, the other in baggage handling. Others were injured, and still more were traumatised by what they experienced: helping the injured and dying, seeing body parts among the baggage. At least 14 passengers also perished. I was told that once the airport has been...

Strikes back on the menu in Belgium

Belgian trade unions are mobilising against ruling class plans to “do a Thatcher”, cutting pensions and workers’ rights, and removing the automatic link between inflation and wage increases. Following the election of a right-wing Flemish nationalist dominated government last year, Belgian trade unions — divided by political affiliation and linguistic groups — formed a common front and conducted a wave of national demonstrations and regional strikes culminating in a highly effective and well supported general strike on 15 December. The trade union bureaucracy then entered into long and...

Belgium: general strike on 15 December

The three union confederations in Belgium — the FGTB, linked to the social democratic parties, the CSC, the Catholic confederation, and the liberal-linked CGSLB — have called a general strike for 15 December against the new right-wing government’s cuts plans. There have been regional general strikes on 24 November, 1 December, and 8 November and a demonstration on 6 November. The demonstration was the biggest labour protest in Belgium for many years. The regional strikes have been well-supported too: in each area, nothing has moved on the day of the strike. Teachers have struck nationally for...

Tories plan to double cuts

The Tories’ declared budget plans mean more and more cuts, and at an accelerating rate, in 2015-20. On top of the £25 billion cut from annual budgets between 2010-11 and 2014-5, they would cut another £48 billion from those budgets by 2018-9. The Financial Times estimated the numbers from official statistics and the Tories’ declared intention to have the government budget in overall surplus (current income covering both current and capital spending) by 2020. The Tories plan to do that by cuts, not by taxing the rich. They have offered tax cuts to the rich, on inheritance tax for example. They...

La question nationale en Belgique

Actuellement, les revendications communautaires ne sont pas mises en avant sous la pression des masses, bien au contraire. Le terrain communautaire est la plaine de jeux par excellence des politiciens en accord sur la politique d’austérité néo-libérale à mener, mais qui veulent colorer cette politique de leur propre teinte régionale. Click here to read.

Remaking Socialism: From Socialism's Collapse in 1914 to the Foundation of the Communist International in March 1919

THE ECLIPSE OF THE INTERNATIONAL On 4 August, 1914, the Workers' International breathed its last, and that watchword of socialism "Death to militarism", which should have rung out clear and strong above the tumult of mobilisation and the clash of arms, was unheard by the peoples of the world. No doubt this cry of revolt from a workers' movement animated by a true solidarity of the exploited against their task masters would have been promptly stifled by the death-dealing implements of war, and by the weight of censorship and martial law, but ere its defeat it would have awakened the consciences...

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