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(en) DA #29 - Social Democracy & Other Myths - Actions+Comment: Heavy metal workers (de)

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Wed, 18 Feb 2004 09:52:37 +0100 (CET)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
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The Social Democratic green government and the Christian Democrat opposition
in Germany have recently agreed to slash health care spending by 23 billion
euros from 2007. Workers will have to pay higher insurance contributions.
Patients will have to pay 10 euros to visit the doctor, and more for
drugs. It is aimed at lowering labour and other costs for business and
increasing ‘efficiency’ in the health care sector. The first
reforms will be implemented from January 2004. Top Social Democrat
Gerhard Shroeder has also won support from the majority of the Social
Democrat Party to push through legislation to further deregulate the
labour market. Sounds familiar to those of us in Britain? Schroeder
seems to be following the new Labour “Third Way” to the
letter. To make Germany more ‘competitive’, he plans to lower
labour costs and cut welfare. How long before he starts cutting
income tax to further benefit the rich?

Of course, this all has a certain logic to it if you accept there is no
alternative to capitalism and the free market. Germany has to compete
with other countries, all of whom are cutting their workers conditions
to the bone. So, it is German workers which have to pay the price. Not
surprisingly, the German labour unions oppose the plans, especially
the metal workers’ union, IG Metall, electing a so-called left-wing
leader, Jurgen Peters.

As we have seen in Britain, everything Germany does will make the
rich richer and widen the already outrageous inequality gap. In the
short to medium term, German workers will need to form a united front
against the bosses and politicians, who are all united against them.
This needs to be a class front, since it is opposing the onslaught of the
upper classes, and their collaborators in the working/middle classes.

From our experiences in Britain, from Thatcher, Major and Blair, it
seems likely that the bosses/politicians will try to pick off groups of
workers one at a time – remember the steelworkers, printworkers,
and then, of course, the miners in the 1980s. Thatcher did most of the
dirty work before her greatest admirer, Tony Blair, got in on the act.

As soon as one group of German workers is attacked, all the other
groups need to back them up to stop the rot. It may sound like old
ideas, but an injury to one is really and truly an injury to all, and unified
action such as a general strike is the only effective defence. All
German workers need to occupy their workplaces to stop bosses and
scabs taking them over, and keep state forces such as the police at
bay. It sounds like a tall order, and one we failed at in Britain, but it is
the only option.

Of course, such actions would scare off union leaders, who will want
to come to some sort of accommodation with the bosses and
politicians, thus giving them legitimacy as union bosses. But give any
boss an inch, and they’ll take a mile.

From hard experience, we can let German workers know what
mistakes we workers have made in Britain, i.e. fighting (or not)
individually, and from this, come up with more ways of taking them on
and defending ourselves more effectively.

If Schroeder can’t get his reforms through, it is likely his
government will fall, and a right-wing Christian democrat
‘alternative’ will get elected. They will have to be fought just
as hard. Whether Christian democrat, social democrat, or even fascist
or Marxist, they are all the same – they represent the bosses
against us, the workers, and we have to stand and defend ourselves
against them or they will crush us.

Direct Action is published by Solidarity Federation, the British section
of the International Workers’ Association
* DA is the Solidarity Federation magazine which is about getting
real change with anarcho-syndicalism. What’s that?

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