Two years of struggle against the Michel-government – Two years of combative illusions
It appeared official last Thursday: The social protest against the reactionary government-Michel I and its very worker-hostile austerity policies came to a dead end, because of the three big Belgian Unions.
“In 2014 the Union leaders made a mistake. They had to strike away the government. Though, because they did not let the government fall, they gave this weak and divided government a chance to increase the austerity policy”, the Linkse Socialist rightly wrote in a pamphlet to mobilize for the great manifestation of this day. However, they made the mistake to suggest that the Union leadership only made a mistake in tactics in regard to the struggle against the government, instead of making the masses aware of the fact that this was the deliberate aim of the Union leadership! The Union leadership wanted to canalize the anger of their organized basis through harmless protests and by letting it bleed to death. We can only come to the conclusion this has worked.
Dockers against the Michel-government
Once again the Pseudo-Left in Belgium has let themselves be fooled by the ‚radical‘ language of the Union bosses: Marc Goblet (“far left” within the FGTB) called for the fall of the government by a general strike before the end of this year. Date of strike: 7 October.
However, in the De Standaard of the 22th of September we could already read that “the three big Unions had “canceled” their, for the 7th of October, planned strike” Only the ACV-Metal called for a strike anyway (in metal and textile – good for 200.000 workers). Other Unions would follow in other sectors with actions, but a general strike stayed off. Marc Leeman (ACV-boss) was confused by this: “What signal are we giving? We do not strike and we do strike. It is not very clear.” The CEO of the Federation of Belgian Enterprises, Pieter Timmermans, had not much hope left for a return to an “easier social climate” after the news of a general strike, but it is clear he can feel safe again.
Workers filled the streets as far as one could see
The De Tijd (29 September) wrote on the morning of the manifestation that “one of the many proposals, one by the N-VA, would be a second index jump”. “Nonetheless it would not apply to everybody, only for pensions and unemployment benefits…” The day after the Het Laatste Nieuws continued that the N-VA once again wanted to get rid of “the fiscal deduction of the Union membership fee and wanted to correctly tax the Union premium tax.” (The Union premium tax is a certain amount of money that the employer pays for his employees which are syndicalized) This open and provoking Union-bashing by the N-VA/MR-government will probably not flare up the protests against the government again.
In regard to the manifestation itself we must come to the conclusion that this time there was no opportunity for militant participants to get into a direct fight with Michel’s police core on the Zuidlaan. Apparently the Union bureaucracy had gotten their orders from Jambon, by hermetically sealing of the Zuidlaan with barriers manned by the internal Union stewards, who acted as the “auxiliaries” of the cops. Because of this, the masses were not able to hang around at the end of the manifestation with a lack of speechers and music. The set-up of the cops and the Union bureaucracy was very successful: the most part of the militants went to the station to return straight home.
Pyrotechnics lightened at the barricaded Zuidstation
No, any form of militant protest or independent organization of the worker itself was once again stopped by the Union bosses. (Still some libertarian communists gave the headquarters of the PS and the office of B-post a nice ‚makeover‘) Once again the Union bureaucracy had to let down the reformist left; it simply does what has been its function since 1914. Namely: Making sure that the capitalist production process keeps on functioning well. Keeping the class peace (between capital and wage labor) intact!