Brest March / France
There 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
The 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 m�lent, 3 bis rue Cl�ment, 38000 Grenoble, or by E-Mail : firstname.lastname@example.org. Mobile tel. n of the march : 06 08 57 82 10.
Italy - Thursday 17th April
In 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, 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, 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, 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.
Finland - Thursday 17th April
The marchers started out in great enthusiasm despite the stark polar conditions of the North of Finland, because the tiny village of Ivalo is well within the artic circle. A form of rally took place, organised by the Finnish Coalition of the Unemployed. The participants wore an orange chasuble. The march organisers estimated that they would be going through 81 towns and villages. The 4 marches will converge between Helsinki and Turku on the 10th May. This date has been chosen because it is the anniversary of the agreement made between the government and the federation of trade unions for the reduction of unemployment benefits. The media is following the march with close attention. As for Canal March, it is filming the Finnish marchers and the video cassette (n 2) will be available at the end of April.
In Athens, Friday, 18th April, a meeting was held with over 300
people, with the vice-president of the CGT, responsible for
European matters and also a French representative. Mobilisation
for the march started a few months ago. Therefore, the results of
their efforts were impressive. There is a small network of the
unemployed, which is a member of the European Network of
Unemployed (ENU), which has started to talk about the
Besides this network, there are militant left-wing trade unionists who have worked to alert other union groups on the need for a common plateform between workers and the unemployed and so as to benefit from the social momentum created by the European March.
While these first links were being established, an important debat had already started between the government(PASOK, the Greek equivalent of the French Socialist Party) and militant unionists of the CGT. (Greece has only one trade union, the CGT). This debat occurred just when the Greek prime minister announced to leading members of PASOK, that laisse faire economics must end and that two urgent reforms were necessary. Firstly, the loosing up of the labour market -meaning more flexibility, and secondly, the reform of social welfare protection, which targeted in particular, the state pension provisions. Faced with these agressive measures a large part of the CGT leadership looked for ways for mobilising a counter attack; the European March offered them an ideal means for rejecting the government's new European construction policy. Consequently, the organisation of the Greek mobilisation has got off to a very good start. Already, collectives exists in 25 departments, and soon there should be more collectives in the 52 departments of Greece. As for the problem of tranporting marchers, buses have already been rented and even a special Airbus has been rented to meet up with the other marchers in Amsterdam on 14th June!