Speech delivered by Dorte Grenaa, chairman of the Workers' Communist Party of Denmark (APK), on behalf of the Danish delegation attending the 7th International Meeting of Trade Unionists, June 22-24, 2001, in Bourges, France.
Last year in Odense, we learned about the struggle of the militant workers
here in Bourges. So, even though it is our first visit to your town, we feel
very much at home, being among fellow workers, who share the same sentiments,
aspirations and goals regarding the rights and the future of the working classes.
We, the delegation from Denmark, want to thank you, the organizers of this year's 7th International Meeting of Trade Unionists, for all the work and efforts you have made in order to make this event a success. We bring greetings of solidarity from all the colleagues we left behind at home, waiting to hear the results of this year's meeting.
Last weekend in Gothenburg, Sweden, huge demonstrations and activities against
the EU Summit and US president Bush, who met with the leadership of the EU,
took place. The national and international media fabricated a picture of a war
zone, of riots and devastating violence in order to justify the scandalous provocations
and brutality of the police, the use of armed force and cynical shooting at
demonstrators, thereby setting the scene for renewed attacks on our rights to
demonstrate and protest.
They were hiding the fact that up to 100,000 people, and this figure is from the Gothenburg police, though there actually might have been a bit less, took part in the huge mass demonstrations. These demonstrators had something different to tell the populations in the EU, the Eastern European countries and the world: We do not want the EU!
The biggest demonstration was the one organized by the Peoples' Movement No to the EU of Sweden with the slogans: "Sweden out of the EU!" and "No to the EMU!".
This was the main substance of the Gothenburg protests, reflecting the fact that the majority of the people in the three Scandinavian countries, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, are opposed to the euro and the EU, and that there is a growing opposition in the other countries as well.
Some of the colleagues from Norway and Denmark took part in Gothenburg with
the slogans of our international meetings: Tous ensemble contre l'Europe du
capital! Fælles kamp mod kapitalens EU.
This is a call that unites the workers from all over Europe and pinpoint, saying that we face a common enemy - the dictatorship of the big monopolies, a wonderland for the capitalist employers and a nightmare for the workers, who are destined to pay the price for the rise of a new economic, political and military superpower.
By saying No, the Irish people has just won the referendum on the Nice Treaty. That means the Nice Treaty is dead! The Irish No means the end of the legality of this treaty, even according to the legal set of rules of the EU itself. But the EU Summit decided not to respect this decision of the people. The EU Summit ordered the Irish government to "do a Denmark" and ensure the "right" outcome at a new referendum, just as it happened with the Danish No to the Maastricht Treaty in 1992.
One of the significant, recent events in the Danish class struggle was the
No to the euro at the referendum last September. For days on, the workers held
theirs head up high, being confirmed by the fact that it was the working class,
who ensured this result.
In the struggle against the EU, we are up against a joint coalition of the bourgeoisie, the monopolies, the employers, the government, the media, the whole establishment, the state apparatus and the trade union leaderships.
The trade union leadership is using arguments like "you don't have to love the euro and the EU, but at least accept them in solidarity with the workers of the other EU countries". Resolutions and manifestations of solidarity with the workers' struggle against the euro and the EU, like the resolution from last year's international meeting, are of significance here.
The top leadership of the trade unions is not in correspondence with the interests and views of their members - neither in general, nor when it comes to the question of the EU.
Instead, they have made new friends and become part of the Euro-trade union system, participating and taking orders from the European Round Table and following its demands for building the common European labour market.
At the same time, the workers are facing the hard consequences of privatisations,
closures of workplaces, unemployment, setbacks and breakdown of collective rights
and labour agreements forcing longer working hours on them in what is called
"flexible working hours", the worsening of working conditions and
the introduction of new wage-systems so that we must work harder for lower wages.
Especially among the unskilled workers in many different sectors, protests and strikes break out. Negotiating new collective agreements, we experience that they much more often than before are rejected by whole sectors and branches of workers. This holds for the workers in the public sector as well. Groups as nurses and teachers, who used to be very obedient, have had enough and make nationwide actions from time to time. Not only the working conditions are worsening, the whole health care, educational system and social sector are being transformed into the concept of business management for the benefit of big capital, instead of serving the interests of free public service for the population.
During the last ten years, the Euro-Social Democratic government has implemented
so many "reforms" that change the working and everyday lives of the
I shall give you one example:
First, the government made the reforms that introduced the establishment of the "third flexible labour market" on which the unemployed workforce is forced to work, deprived of any of the collective labour and social rights, including the right to strike, to trade union membership and even to leave your so-called job, and receiving one tenth of the salary of an unskilled worker on top of his dole or social benefit. We call that slave work.
Consider the fact that around one million people are kept out of the ordinary labour market!
Two years ago, a social reform, stating that the state is responsible to secure people unable to support themselves, wiped out a deep-rooted social right, which goes back to the end of the 18th century!
These "reforms" were made in collaboration with the top leadership of the trade unions.
Just a few months ago, the 25th anniversary of women's right to equal pay was
celebrated. There was, in fact, nothing to celebrate. During the last ten years,
the gap between the wages of men and women has been even growing again due to
the new individual performance-related wage systems. On average, women are paid
20 percent less than men doing the same work, just because we are women. But
this average figure contains much larger differences in the different branches.
Not one of the highly paid government experts was able to explain the mystery
of the unequal pay. The naked facts, stripped of the differences in education,
line of work and so on, still showed that women workers, who are working two
shifts a day, one at work and one at home, are being paid still less.
Since the Danish Social Democratic Party adopted the demand of equal pay for women in its programme, 113 years have passed. We cannot, and we will not, wait any longer.
In the current situation, we have put forward a platform for class unity. It is a concrete programme of the class struggle in three main fields, containing three main demands:
1. The demand for the six-hour working day and six weeks of vacation.
The six-hour working day is the answer to the employers' demand for a more flexible prolonging of the working hours and the answer to the increasing speed and intensity of the work and to the ever-increasing stress and health problems of the workers. To the families, the working men and women, it is essential that it is the daily working day that is reduced.
The demand for a six-hour working day unites all the different demands regarding working hours due to the differences in collective agreements. And it is integrated in the organisations of the unemployed in connection with the demand for real jobs on equal terms.
2. No to the Nice Treaty, No to the EU as a federal state with the EU constitution in 2004 and Denmark out of the EU is a necessity and a precondition for creating our own future in our country.
3. No to the US star war project and its involvement of Danish territories,
No to the militarization, the increase of nuclear weapons and high-tech special forces to ensure the dominance of US imperialism and the EU. This will only bring misery, poverty and death to the workers and oppressed peoples of the world.
At many workplaces, in local trade unions, committees of strike solidarity
and different forms of organisation of militant workers and trade unionists,
there are ongoing discussions about the future of the trade union movement and
the development of a line of class struggle and class unity. This practical,
political discussion and struggle is essential to the outcome of the class struggle,
and therefore to our future.
We have to build, strengthen and develop the line of class struggle, relying on the immense and great force of the international solidarity of the workers throughout the world.
Together, and with joint forces, we can build the future of the working class. And it all starts with words like those of a great Danish poet and singer, Annisette from The Savage Rose, to the working class women:
"So now you know//however small you are//in your arms you carry both the earth and the sky".
Success for our 7th international meeting of class-based trade unionists!