Denmark: Massive demonstrations for better welfare – the struggle must continue!

For the third time in one and half years over 100,000 people have come out to the streets in Denmark to protest against cuts to the welfare state. The Danish working class, particularly the public sector workers, have had enough. But mobilisations are not enough. What is needed is a bold leadership that can lead the movement to victory.

Massive demonstrations for better welfare – the struggle must continue! On Tuesday 2 October 90,000 demonstrators gathered in front of Parliament in Copenhagen, while several thousand more gathered around the country. In Copenhagen it was a mixture of pupils, apprentices, students and especially public employees.

The trade union for many of the public employees, FOA, had printed a large amount of red cardboard placards in the shape of hands with some of the main demands; "Higher wages" and "more hands" (i.e. more employees in the public sector).

Those in the care of elders in Copenhagen went on strike for the entire day, in protest against cut to the welfare system. That the radicalization has gone far was shown in the fact that the policemen from the morning announced on the radio that they would participate in the demonstrations for the first time in 25 years. You could see several policemen in uniforms, as participants in the demonstration shouting along with the slogans. 

The mixture of participants showed clearly what the cause of these protests was; years of starving the public sector, which affects children, old, the sick on not least the public sector workers where more and more are getting stressed out.

There were several speakers at the rally and all, including the chairman of the LO (Danish TUC), Hans Jensen, and the chairman of the high school student union, DGS, Gry Poulsen, made it clear that enough is enough with these cuts.

The demonstrators showed an enormous will to fight. But what was lacking was a wider perspective. On Tuesday September 25 there was a meeting for all students that passed several resolutions saying that the struggle is not over until all cuts have been withdrawn. But on the demonstration there were no proposals from the speakers on how to win the struggle. And that's a pity. These protests are not for fun - the demonstrators were on the streets because the limit was reached long ago. This struggle cannot be stopped just because dissatisfaction has now been shown. This has to be a struggle to get the cuts withdrawn.   

This demonstration was the third demonstration with up to a 100,000 demonstrators within one and a half years in Denmark, all against cuts to the welfare. But the latest two have shown that the right-wing liberal government won't stop the attacks as long as it knows that the struggle will only be one-day demonstrations.

If the leaders of the trade unions and student movement seriously mean that the cuts have to stop, then they cannot stop the struggle now. They should call a meeting for representatives of all workers in the public sector and schools, where the next steps can be discussed. It is absolutely crucial that this meeting appeal to the workers in the private sector, for an alliance. The struggle for better welfare is a united struggle, for all workers and youth in Denmark.

The struggle cannot end here!

Enough words, now to deeds - the leaders of the trade unions must take the responsibility on their shoulders and lead this struggle to the end!

The next step must be a national meeting for all representatives from schools, universities etc., and all public workplaces, that can decide the next steps in the struggle!

For the unity of the youth and the workers of both the public and private sector!


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