Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sam Gindin: Understanding and Fighting Against Austerity

 The linked video is the first half of a session sponsored by the GWTA (Greater Toronto Worker's Association) recently on austerity. Sam Gindin is a former research director for the Canadian Auto Workers. He retired from the CAW in 2000 and now teaches at York University.
    The sessions discusses some of the causes of the current financial crisis and how the crisis works to impose all sorts of belt tightening measures upon workers. He also takes up the forms of resistance that are growing throughout the world.
    Here are a few of his points in summary form. Gindin points out that measures to weaken unions and the power of workers began back in the 1980's when neo-liberal policies began to be introduced. Globalization and the demands for competitiveness helped decrease the power of workers in advanced capitalist countries. Certainly that process continues today.
   Gindin also mentions that there is now a demand to lower expectations. Capitalist critics argue that the entitlements of workers especially unionized workers are a cause of the debt crisis crushing some countries. Good pensions plans and high wages are no longer affordable.Gindin speaks of democracy becoming thinner as policies are more and more determined by the needs of the system and the one per cent.
    What is happening in Greece and Italy in response to the crisis are good examples of the point Gindin makes. Politicians are replaced by technocrats often linked with the European financial system. An attempt to let the Greek people have a referendum on austerity measures is met with dismay and in effect blocked. For much more see the video.

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