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Belgium

Workers' Party of Belgium leader: "We have to struggle to bring down this European Union and build another form of cooperation"

 

Workers' Party of Belgium supporters rally in solidarity with the people of Greece

 

On October 15, Liam Flenady interviewed David Pestieau, Vice-President of the Workers' Party of Belgium (PTB) at their headquarters in Brussels. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstance, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewalis only publishing this interview now but we believe it will be of great interest to our readers.

 

Since the interview was conducted, a number of significant events have taken place in France and Belgium, including the Paris attacks on November 13 and the ensuing lock-down of the city of Brussels, as well as the banning of the Paris Climate March planned for November 29. These events have had a significant impact on the political situation in Belgium and Europe, and the Worker's Party has playing an important role in responding to them.

 

While not covering this new situation, this interview still represents an important introduction to the politics of the PTB and their orientation towards significant issues in Belgian and European politics.

 

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Over 100,000 people demonstrated as part of the union-led national day of action on October 7 in opposition to the austerity measures of the government of Prime Minister Charles Michel. What are the key issues facing the people of Belgium, and what’s next for the struggle?

 

Belgium: Towards a major confrontation after successful general strike

Strikers march on December 15, 2014.

[For more on Belgium, click HERE.]

By Daniel Tanuro

December 17, 2014 -- International Viewpoint, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The 24-hour strike that mobilised the Belgian working class on December 15 was an enormous success. The country was completely paralysed: in Flanders, in Wallonia and in Brussels, in the private and public sectors, in industry and the services, transport and the trade, the big and small companies. Such a massive movement has not been seen since the strike of November 1993 but, unlike that one, the strike of December 15 should not remain uncompleted.

Belgium: Far-left breakthrough as Workers’ Party enters parliaments

By La Gauche

July 11, 2014 -- International Viewpoint -- Before May 25, there were no elected representatives of what is called the "radical" left in Belgium, unlike in other countries in Europe. This anomaly has now been corrected.

The PTB-GO![1] lists are in fact sending two members to the Belgian federal Chamber of Deputies (Raoul Hedebouw in Liège and Marco Van Hees in Hainaut), two to the Walloon parliament (including the steelworker Frédéric Gillot) and four to the parliament of the Brussels-Capital region. Apart from Vincent Decroly and Bernard Wesphael, who were elected for the Ecolo party but who continued to sit after resigning from their party (one on the federal level and the other in the Walloon region), there had been no member of parliament to the left of the Socialist Party (PS) and the Greens since the early 1980s.

Liège and Hainaut

Belgium: Left parties to form united electoral ticket

[For more on Belgium, click HERE.]

Statement by the LCR-SAP secretariat

December 31, 2013 -- International Viewpoint -- The end of the tunnel is far from being in sight. We are only at the beginning of a gigantic offensive by European capitalism against the world of labour, youth and women. Since 2008, in the European Union (EU), more than 2 billion private bank debts have been transformed into public debts, and these debts serve as the pretext for a ferocious austerity.

The sacrifices imposed on the majority of the population aggravate deficits and recession. But the dominant class continues to pursue them. Why? Because its objective is not purely economic but strategic: it wishes to break social resistance, dismantle what remains of the “welfare state”, reduce the public sector to its simplest expression and structurally weaken the trade unions. The drift of the employers’ discourse on competitiveness is revealing: for the bosses, it is no longer enough that “labour costs” are aligned with other European countries — it is henceforth in the context of the world market, faced with the “emergent” capitalism of China and elsewhere, that workers on the old continent should be “competitive”.

The EU, capitalist war machine

Belgium: Eight questions on trade union independence and politics

Document of the General Federation of Belgian Labour (Fédération Générale du Travail de Belgique/Algemeen Belgisch Vakverbond, FGTB/ABVV) in Charleroi and Sud-Hainaut, Belgium

[For background, see "Belgium: Class trade unionism seeks political expression".]

October 22, 2013 -- International Viewpoint -- The Charleroi and Sud-Hainaut regional organisation is the second biggest of the FGTB in membership terms (102,000). It has just printed 10,000 copies of a pamphlet whose key passages are reproduced below.

1. Can trade unions get involved in politics?

Belgium: Class trade unionism seeks political expression

Daniel Piron, the Charleroi regional secretary of the FGTB.

By Daniel Tanuro

October 17, 2013 -- International Viewpoint -- In the social and political history of Belgium, May 1, 2012, could mark a milestone. On that day the leaders of the Charleroi regional branch of the socialist trade union General Federation of Belgian Labour (Fédération Générale du Travail de Belgique/Algemeen Belgisch Vakverbond, FGTB/ABVV) — the second biggest in the country, with 102,000 members — publicly broke with the social-democratic party and called for a rallying of the left to the perspective of a new broad, anti-capitalist force to the left of the Parti Socialiste (PS) and the Greens. An unprecedented thunderbolt… and not without consequences.

May Day speeches in Belgium are generally unsurprising but like all rules, this has its exceptions. On May 1, 2012, in Charleroi, a big stone was thrown in the water by Daniel Piron, the regional secretary of the FGTB. Before stunned and furious social-democratic leaders, and in the presence of several hundred enthusiastic trade unionists, Piron denounced the austerity policies with which the PS has collaborated for 25 years without a break.

Congolese community calls for solidarity; Mineral profits fuel Congo violence


Sydney, December 10, 2011 -- Leaders of the Congolese community in Australia, at a meeting organised by the Latin American Social Forum, explained the crisis the Democratic Republic of Congo is facing after more than 50 years of exploitation by the Western countries and their local allies, and appealed for solidarity from the international socialist movement. Above community elder Mbuyi Tshielantende speaks (translated by Fralis Kolanga).

Liliane Lukoki discusses the situation of women in Congo; Fralis Kolanga calls for solidarity.

Nuclear means catastrophe: The lesson of Fukushima

People are tested for radiation exposure near Fukushima. 

By Daniel Tanuro

March 17, 2011 -- International Viewpoint via Climate and Capitalism -- What has happened was entirely predictable: yet another major nuclear “accident”. At the time of writing, it is not yet certain that it will take on the dimensions of a disaster similar to Chernobyl, but that is the direction in which things, alas, look set to evolve. But whether it develops into a major disaster or not, we are once again faced with evidence that nuclear technology can never be 100% secure.

Irish crisis: A complete failure for neoliberalism

Protest against austerity outside Irish government buildings in Dublin.

By Eric Toussaint, translated by Christine Pagnoulle in collaboration with Judith Harris

January 3, 2011 -- CADTM -- For a decade, Ireland was heralded by the most ardent partisans of neoliberal capitalism as a model to be imitated. The "Celtic Tiger" had a higher growth rate than the European average. Tax rates on companies had been reduced to 12.5% |1| and the rate actually paid by the transnational corporations that had set up business there was between 3 and 4% -- a CEO’s dream!

Banning the veil: Rights of women or anti-Islamic racism and communalism?

July 21, 2010 -- On July 13, the parliament of France, on the eve of Bastille Day, voted 335 to one in favour of preventing Muslim women wearing a full face-covering veil in public. The July 13 Le Monde said the new law was strongly supported by the right. The Socialist Party, Communist Party (PCF) and Green Party abstained. Anyone who chooses to wear a face covering on religious grounds now faces a fine of 150 euros or a “citizenship course”. The law does not come into effect until spring 2011 to allow a period of “education”. There is also a year in prison and a fine of 30,000 euros for anyone found guilty of forcing a woman to wear a veil, a penalty which is doubled if the “victim is a minor”.

Earlier this year, the Indian organisation Radical Socialist issued a statement taking up this wave of Islamophobic legislation in Europe.

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Statement by the Radical Socialist organisation, India

Patrice Lumumba `will live forever’ -- exclusive book excerpt

Leo Zeilig, author of Lumumba, a new political biography of Congo independence leader Patrice Lumumba, has kindly given permission for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal to offer its readers an exclusive excerpt to download.

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