Diary of the
Paris, wednesday 16th april 3 p.m.
Sarajevo Tuzla / Bosnia Monday 14th aprilThe press conference at Sarajevo, Monday morning, 14th April, was somewhat disrupted by the Pope's visit taking place at the same time. However, news items were transmitted to different radio and television channels which retransmitted the news items (with Carol Faure, an unemployed activist of the French association). Still Monday morning, things going very well at Tuzla, a working-class and multi-ethnic town. Meetings took place with the miners' union, then on to the hospital, with Xavier Rousselin, from CGT Onic, and for the European Coordination. Later Carol and Xavier met the postmen at 14h.00 -their union was the first independent union to be created about four months ago. A union march took place in the town's streets, the first time such an event had occurred since the war. A ceremony took place in Kapija square, with people leaving bouquets of flowers at the spot where 71 people died, mostly young people, in May 1995. A wreath was laid in the name of the March. Eight Bosnians are to join the French march to Amsterdam in the middle of May. All that remains to be done is to get the visas.
Dublin / Ireland Monday 14th aprilThe future march is due to set off in June. An official launch of the march took place in front of the European Commission Offices in Dublin. The rally was well covered by the media, with interviews of marchers, INOU officiels and with Christopher Aguiton for the European Coordination.
Brussels / Belgium Monday 14th aprilOn Monday, while waiting for the march to pass through Belgium, Belgian marchers and other groups invited themselves for a little visit to the officies of Mr Jacques Santer, President of the European Commission. His office is well known to the unemployed, as it is on the way to the local job centre in Etterbeck where they have to sign on. Many associations were there, the Front des Sans Abris (Homeless), les Compagnons du partage, le Syndicat de locataires (tenants association), the Commission jeune de la Marche europ‚enne (Youth M.E.), and a local respresentative of the CSC. A delegation was received, where an unemployed worker symbolically offered a pair of used sneakers, worn down in the fruitless search for jobs to Mr Jacques Santer. The Belgian delegation also informed Mr Jacques Santer, that the European March is due in Brussels in May, and that it will make a special stop in Vilvoorde. The delegation assured him that they would certainly get in touch with him soon so as to join them in setting up a debat.
Toulouse / France Monday 14th aprilThe European March will leave Toulouse on the 1st Mai. But as a kind of rehearsal, a demonstration and a squat was organised for the badly-housed by various associations,: the Mid-Pyrenees March group,(TO7, AC!Sud, DAL, UTC, APEIS-Cahors, Informelles, Culture and Libérté, CGT Comit‚ de Chômeurs, Groupe des 10, with the support of FSU, UD-CFDT, SGEN-CFDT). A subsidiary of Usinor-Sacilor was symbolically occupied for one night. A rally against the privatisation of France-Telecom also took place.
Brest March/ France Monday 14th aprilThe Brest March Diary is being written up by Michel Cochet who communicates the energy and enthusiasm of those on the Brest part of the march. Here in brief is what he has noted: Monday, the 3rd day of the march. Stopped at the Nobel de Pont de Buis factory. Reception given by Sud Chimie, followed by a reception given by the local town hall. Then we continued marching on to Chateaulin. We suspended a banner over the motorway bridge which was cheered by lorry drivers. After a reception at the town hall, a debat was held in the evening on local taxes with the tax union, SNUI, and a representative of the Confederation of Small Farmers of South Finistere. There are fifteen permanent marchers on the Brest march.
Le Mans / France Monday 14th aprilThe group of Le Mans (AC!,ASDEIC Bouloire, ASTRE Le Mans and La Flèche, Federation of Small Farmers, FSU, SUD-PTT, SNUI, Une Terre Humaine, CSF, JOC, Atams, CCQS, JAC, Paij) arranged a meeting in front of the local job centre (ANPE), to speak about the European March. A programme of initiatives has been organised for the region, which will include going to Alen‡on on Labour Day, 1st May, to meet up with the Brest part of the March
Grenoble March/ France Mardi 12th aprilOn Tuesday evening, a reception was held for the marchers at the Chambery town hall. The mayor is a former socialist minister. The marchers met a tenant living in local council housing (HLM) under the threat of eviction at the end of the month. The order was made by the local town hall! At first they refused to reconsider their decision. But faced with the threat by the marchers to camp in front of the local town hall, the tenant was swiftly promised rehousing. Local groups have promised to keep on a eye on the tenant's case and to look after her.On Wednesday morning, there was an occupation of the local job centre (ANPE) of Chambery, to demand the right to put up notices by local unemployment groups; a meeting was held and tactics discussed with them. Later in the day, there was a visit to Trivalor business premises.
Murcia / Spain wednesday 16th aprilThe actual departure of the Spanish march took place today at Murcia with two hundred marchers on route for Alicante. The march will then go in the direction of Perpignan, France. There are six French marchers, including two marchers trained to take video recordings of the march. The first important stop will be Barcelona, where a debat is scheduled on the rights of immigrants. Representatives from French immigrants and anti-racists groups plan to be if they can. The Catalan committee of the March is made up of trade unionists (CGT, Barcelona Workers Committees, Federation of Catalan Workers, etc.), associations (civic plateform for social rights, immigrant federations, Kairos, Soldarity Associations House, many youth organisations, the Assembly of unsuppressives, squat groups), and political organisations (the Greens, Catalonia Communist Party...)
Brest Marche / FranceThere is a Brest chronicle »Once upon a time in the West« being written by Michel Cochet. Four numbers are planned, and the first part is already available on the Internet in French. Reading it will give a lively impression of the rich panorama of the march.
Tuesday, 15th April. Extracts from the chronicle. »The marchers are in Quimper. The march left for the Prefecture, accompanied by over 200 people. Such support warms the heart! It's clear that the people of Quimper kept their rendez-vous with the march. At the Prefecture, our friend the accordonist, agreeably completed his sono. We formed a symbolic human chain around the building, blocking the traffic. The results were great. We're received by the Head of the Prefect Cabinet. A first for the Breton March. He said that he understood us, and that he wished us well and gave us the best of luck, and also said that our march was vital in these times when unemployment is a scourge. His sympathy was such, that listening to him, you wondered if he really was a representative of the present government, which we know only too well...« Later after dropping by at the youth hostel, we set out to enjoy a sumptuous buffet given by the Mayor of Quimper at the House for Associations of Pen Ars in a working-class district. The local youths were also invited to share the evening with us. There was a lively atmosphere. The buffet was followed by a show put on by different groups of young people: music, juggling, Breton music - absolutely great! To round off the evening, there was a short debat. Here we invented a new sort of meeting: marchers lined up like rows of onions facing the guests and in a few words gave an idea not only of their experiences , but also their personal messages as marchers. The effect was incredible. The hall was full. The questions and answers were then followed by an appeal to the people of Quimper to continue this joint initative and to fight against local unemployment and to send a coach to Amsterdam. The presence of so many young people and in particular those from the local Arab community, served to underline the object of our action, which is to fight against the party of hate that is being built up on social problems caused by unemployment and exclusion. The slogan of the march is »work for all and all together!«
Arrived in Lorient, Wednesday, 16th April, where there was a meeting and a debat organsied by APEIS of Lanester and AC!Lorient. There were a less satisfactory level of participants compared to the preceding days.There was an unemployed person who raised the question as to why we were are so few and why is there such poor contact between the unemployed and the trade unions? Two ideas emerged from this discussion: firstly, that there should be closer ties between the unemployed and the unions, and secondly, there should be a consensus on key ideas, because this division with unions is not understood and is not dignified in the current social climate which confronts us.
At Hennebont, the marchers were warmly received at the local market, where the day ended with a big Fest Noz.
Grenoble March / France Mardi 12th aprilThe Grenoble Women's collective for the Rights of Women, prepared a white book for the march and a banner calling for »Unity for the Rights of Women.« This white book will be carried by women members of the march to Amsterdam and throughout the march will be used to testify their hand, their experiences and comments so that unemployed women can have the opportunity to express themselves. The women behind this initiative have also launched an appeal to interested groups to meet them at every stage of the march. Contacts: Elles s'en mêlent, 3 bis rue Cl&233;ment, 38000 Grenoble, or by E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Mobile tel. n° of the march: 06 08 57 82 10.
Italy tuesday 17th aprilIn Italy there has been no march departures. But there has been a series of meetings in different towns and cities. The purpose of most meetings has been to creat the right conditions to set up independent unemployment movements and to encourage coordination on a national level with working people's organisations.
In Rome, Tuesday, 15th April,
In Rome, Tuesday, 15th April,there was a rally for the European March. An entirely new organisation for the unemployed, was set up in the surburbs, with a call for a demonstration in front of the Rome Town Hall. It demanded that construction work should be confined to unemployment cooperatives. This was followed by an appeal for participation in the Amsterdam rally of 14th June. On the 16th April, the Young Communists organised a meeting on Vilvoorde and on the French AC! movement.
In Florence, Wednesday, 16th April,
In Florence, Wednesday, 16th April,at a well attended meeting of the Refondation Communists and Anarchists, a motion was passed to make the march known in the town and to do this especially through the distribution of tracts.
At Livourne, Thursday, 17th April,
At Livourne, Thursday, 17th April,a joint public meeting was called. A committee of the over-40s unemployed, joined the meeting. This marks an important step in Italy as few unemployment groups appear to be well organised. A local day of action was organised on the question of the Reduction of working hours.
This diary covers the latest informations which we have received. It also includes two first hand experience reports: one on the demonstration in London, 12th April written by Peter Cooper, of the British organisation for the European March; the other report, is written by Michèle Prouzeau, a French activist, who joined the Italian march between the 14th and 20th April.
After Madrid, the next stop was at Segovia, where two demonstrations had been organised: one in front of the equivalent to local Confederation of Spanish Industries, and once again, another demonstration to protest against the prison conditions.
Madrid, Thursday, 24th April. Support for 32 workers made redundant at a chicken factory called »SADA« whose premises are at Palencia. The workers were sacked without any compensation, a delegation joined in the demonstration with a banner of the European March bbearing the slogan - SOLIDARITY. Convergence at Palencia with the march from Galicie and there, many marchers signed on to go to Amsterdam. In the evening, a debat was organised by the association holding the reception with the marchers took place and included the sacked workers of SADA.
Palencia, Friday, 25th April. Next day. Invasion of a Palencia supermarket by the marchersto denounce SADA,. All the cash-outs tills were blocked, and marchers demanded by the marchers boycott all SADA's products. The company itself is a branch of the Belgian group. This particular action made the front page of the local paper.
Italy week of the 14th to 20th AprilThere was a symbolic departure of the Italian marches in Crotone (at the extreme end of southern Italy) on the 14th April 1997. Symbolic, because unfortunately, there will be no marches from Italy this year, however a series of initiatives have been planned. A rally was held at the ENI chemical factory, a well-known popular symbol in the struggle for safeguarding jobs which has become very important over the last few years. There were representatives from all the ENI unions to confirm their participâtion in a unified movement of chemical and metalligurical industries. This is being set up on 22nd May and is specially aimed to protect jobs. National representatives from other Italien organisations were also present at the rally, where they agreed to work together for the mobilisation to go to Amsterdam.
Naples 15th aprilIn Rome: two initiatives took place for the European March. The first initiative, on the 15th April, was to organise a reply to the Treu project,. This was organised by the Young Communists of the PRC, and also made up of different political tendencies which attracted around 200 people. The second initiative, on the 22nd April, was a demonstration in Rome. In both demonstrations, there was a call for the first time for a massive demonstration of the unemployed, fixed for the 17th June in Rome. In Florence, on the 16th April and in Livourne, on the 17th April, united public rallies took place. The Appeal for Amsterdam was made based on the list of demands drafted at the Brussels Assizes. In spite of a high level of grass roots activity in Livourne, the committe for the over-40 unemployed is relatively isolated from other groups and consequently, suffers from the effects of isolation.
March Grenoble - 22ndAprilHalt!. Franco-Swiss frontier. No sign of life from the Customs control or even police. The March is free to cross the border without any control whatsoever and take the Geveva road. Arrived in Geneva, at 12h there is a reception in a squat. Lunch with about 50 militants, it's international and it's very festive. Morning: cortege of 200 demonstrators, crossing the city to join a rally in front of the headquarters of the International Labour Office (ILO). Decision taken to occupy an office. so that all the militants can get together, and as expected a very lively discussion takes place. At the end of the evening, a meal and a bed offered by the Geneva Town Hall.
Geneva, 22nd April.Early morning. How romanique! Breakfast on the Lake Leman in a boat owned by the elected representatives of Geneva. At 11h demonstration in front of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) with about 100 people with debat. At 12h pic-nic in the WTO park, and also end of morning. Afternoon. Cortege of about 300 people, setting out to go through Geneva and denounce rampant neo-liberalism. Action -sticking posters up ; outside and inside Macdonald's,place covered with slogans denouncing the exploitation of staff. Split up of cortege outside ARTAMIS, a disused factory, which is now a housing 200 associations, all sharing a communal life,with culltural activities.
Geneva, 24th April. Midday. Lunch for the marchers at Paquis on the Lake Leman beach., offered by the town hall. In the morning, visit to a retraining workshop and at the end of the morning, joined in a demonstration organised by Swiss teachers. There were over 2000 people, their welcome was warm as they greeted us with applause. Great sale of all European March badges and journal (A Amsterdam). Throughout the three days at Geneva, all actions and initiatives shown on Swiss television and writtten up in local and national Swiss papers.
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