According to the Bundesbank, German
GDP grew by 3.6% in 2010. This comes after the steep 4.7% drop in 2009,
when the recession hit Germany hard. Unemployment has gone down from the
10.5% peak of 2005 to 7%. It now stands at just under three million.
Volkswagen is taking on 3,000 workers, BMW and Daimler 400 each.
Lufthansa has announced plans to take on an extra 4,000 staff this year.
The same picture can be seen in chemicals, electronics and other
industries. When the rest of Europe is facing lay-offs and sluggish
growth, what is different about Germany?
Yesterday, December 15, Greece was
shaken by yet another powerful general strike, which saw at least 80,000
workers march through the streets of Athens, with many more
demonstrating in other cities against the latest round of austerity
measures introduced by the government. A very angry mood is developing
among workers and youth, which will inevitably lead to a major
confrontation between workers and the capitalist class.
On Friday, October 22, finally the
French government managed to get the pensions reform passed through the
Senate. The increasingly unpopular government of Sarkozy, faced with an
unprecedented movement of strikes, demonstrations, road blockades, mass
pickets and general assemblies, hoped that this, together with the
beginning of the All Saints school holidays, would bring the mass
movement to a halt. This does not seem to be happening, however.
After October 12th, the movement against
the attack on pensions has reached a critical threshold. The great days
of action are no longer the centre of gravity, although they are still
massive and increasingly militant, as shown by October 19th. Now, the
central axis of the struggle has shifted onto open-ended strikes and
pickets blockading different sectors of the economy.