xyc | 05.09.2004 18:09 | Social Struggles
The protests started several Mondays ago in Magdeburg, Eastern Germany, when a short-noticed protest against huge cutbacks in the social welfare system mobilised an unexpected 10.000 people. Suddenly, large-scale protests rocked the streets of several cities in Eastern Germany in the midst of Summer and have spread to many cities in Western Germany as well.
The tradition of Monday protests goes back to 1989, when mass protests were held every Monday all over East Germany, and hundreds of thousands called for regime change, eventually toppling the government.
The new laws called Hartz IV being introduced in Germany are part of a package of neo-liberal cuts to the social system (the controversial Agenda 2010) that have already been decided in parliament under the Social Democrat and Green administration and are scheduled for January 1, 2005. The incredible overhaul of the welfare system is the biggest attack on social benefits in the post-war history of Germany and reduces unemployment payments to the level of welfare benefits (Arbeitslosengeld II ). The plan is considered to mean impoverishment of a large number of long-term unemployed, especially in Eastern Germany, where unemployment rates remain high at 18 to 20 percent, more than double the figure in the Western states. Nobody believes the laws will create new jobs but they will introduce forced labour at 1 Euro an hour, plunging thousands of people into poverty, especially in Eastern Germany which was de-industrialised at a large scale after the so-called reunification in 1990.
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