March 15, 2003: Europe-wide Day of Strike Against War on Iraq

Iraq newsletter 5

Aktiver Widerstand gegen Bushs Irak Krieg1. The European trade union federation for the first time called for walkouts all over Europe on March 14 at 10 minutes to noon. It became a historical event. In Spain 80 percent of all 16.5 million employees took part. In the factories work stopped, and at the schools and universities teachers and students took to the streets. In Italy the strike was marked by heavy worker participation in the large-scale enterprises. In Greece and Italy calls for a general strike at the outbreak of war have been issued.

2. In Germany, for the first time several hundred thousand blue- and white-collar workers - mainly in the huge enterprises of the automobile industry - stopped work for political reasons against the war on Iraq. In North Rhine-Westphalia, in spite of repressive measures in the enterprises more than 100,000 blue- and white-collar workers participated in the strike actions (at General Motors in Bochum, ThyssenKrupp in Duisburg, DaimlerChrysler in Duesseldorf, Ford in Cologne and elsewhere). In the state of Lower Saxony more than 50,000 people went on strike, most of them - 40,000 blue- and white-collar workers - in the VW plants in Wolfsburg, Braunschweig and Hanover. In the region of Stuttgart more than 20,000 people took part; in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania there was a strike in the two big shipyards in Rostock and Wismar; in Halle in Saxony-Anhalt the tramways came to a standstill, etc. This was the biggest political protest strike in Germany since many decades. In many cities also pupils, students, employees in the health service, in day nurseries and other facilities actively took part in the protests.

3.

Against the developing active resistance with the working class as core, oppression on the part of those in power is intensified. The media report only marginally on the historical day of a Europe-wide walkout; in Italy the state television totally ignored the strikes and mass protests. In Germany, the Siemens corporation responded with open repression of the protests that had been prepared in the enterprises. In a letter to all its companies the board threatened to give every employee taking part in the protest actions a written warning. In a circular the Thuringian employers' association threatened all employees with legal action under the labor law. In the struggle against political reprisals a diversity of small actions in the enterprises developed. In individual enterprises declarations were adopted calling for stopping work again on the day of the outbreak of war and gathering in the evening of that day in the cities together with the entire peace movement. 

4.

The Europe-wide day of strike was an important signal for the active resistance. The industrial workers must be the backbone of the active resistance beyond country borders and force the warmongering governments like those of Great Britain and Spain to step down. Today on March 15 thousands of demonstrations and other protest actions against the war are taking place worldwide. For Monday, 17 March, calls are being issued in numerous cities to stage regular Monday rallies and demonstrations. There are also plans for staging motorcades in order to bring traffic to a halt.

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