Netherlands: students and cleaning workers taking action

The Netherlands is experiencing significant social struggles. This is happening in a time when political campaigning is  beginning, after the fall of the government, and with elections looming. These are to be held on June 9.

Several groups are fighting for their rights. Today there wile be a student demonstration in The Hague (linked article is in Dutch). This is a next  step, after several student occupations of university buildings in February. Students are protesting against austerity measures in higher education. There is the threat of a 20 percent cut in the budget for higher education. There is the plan to raise college fees, and to dismantle the system of student grants. Higher education will become more expensive, quality and accessibility will suffer, if plans like these are implemented. That is why students are taking actions, and rightly so.

Meanwhile, an inspiring campaign of cleaning workers fighting for better wages and respect, is continuing. Hundreds of cleaners have been striking,  at railway stations and at Schiphol Airport (link found via Labourstart.org; there is much more information to be found, but mostly in Dutch). There has been a sit-in in the station hall of Utrecht Central Station which lasted five days and nights. Negotiations have failed. The actions will continue.

Actions like these deserve solidarity. They show that there is an alternative beyond the dismal electoral choices on offer. These choices basically come down to different ways, speeds and amounts of austerity. No inspiring solution is to be found there, even if some may still grudgingly accept the need for a tactical vote against the  right wing. The road of struggle leads somewhere, the road of electioneering leads to more disappointment and despair.

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