The Slovenia Times

A few Thousands Gathered to Oppose Austerity


Organised by three trade union associations and organisations representing students and pensioners, the protest is part of a Europe-wide action against austerity.

Dušan Semolič, the head of the country's biggest trade union association, ZSSS, told the crowd at the outset of the rally that greedy capital, not scholarships and wages, was to blame for the crisis.

He said that the masses must issue a clear message to politicians "that we live in the 21st century and that workers are not goods" and demand of the government to stand up to neoliberalism, which he said was spreading like a virus throughout Europe.

Europe must change at its core, he said, adding that European countries must resist the solutions being proposed by Brussels. Citing that Europe was facing a democratic deficit, he said Brussels was turning people in to puppets.

Semolič was one of nearly a dozen speakers representing the organisers of today's rally.

Touching on divisions in Slovenia, head of the Association of Pensioner Societies Mateja Kožuh Novak said that politicians knew well that to rule in the name of capital, all they needed to do was to create divisions among the people.

"Don't let them divide us to left and right, to believers and non-believes, to the smart and the stupid, to communists and liberals, to Slovenians and non-Slovenians," Kožuh Novak said.

Meanwhile, Drago Lombar of the Independence trade union confederation said the government must stop using scare tactics and trying to humiliate the masses.

"Stop trying to see that as many of us as possible are out of a job. Instead create conditions that would ensure that as many as possible will have jobs and conditions worthy of a decent life," Lombar said.

Protesters streamed in to the central square all morning, many dressed in red trade union bibs and carrying signs critical of austerity and the government.

"Austere Austerity Leads to Even More Debt,", "You Can Take Everything I Have, But the Economy Still Won't Grow", "Stop to Social Inequality" and "Slovenia is Most Competitive in Corruption" read some of the signs.

The protest has been organised by the ZSSS union confederation, the KSJS public sector trade union confederation, KNSS Neodvisnost union association, the Student Organisation (ŠOS) and the Association of Pensioner Societies (ZDUS).

It is part of a European-wide action coordinated by the European Trade Union Confederation, which saw rallies held in many European countries already on Wednesday.

With Wednesday's demonstrations in Portugal and Spain marred by violent outbursts, the Slovenian organisers have put emphasis on the peaceful nature of the rally in Ljubljana.

Despite this a heavy police presence was seen in central Ljubljana, with Government Headquarters and Parliament House, both only minutes away from Congress Square, cordoned off in anticipation of the protest.

The Ljubljana Police Administration told the STA that the security for today's demonstration was provided by units from the administration, as well as special forces, cavalry units and police dog units.

There have been no reports of violence from the event, although police were forced to intervene when a group of protesters set off a flare in Prešeren Square near the site of the protest.


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