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AltAusterity Digest #48 May 17-23, 2018

This week in Austerity News:

May 25, 2018

Striking rail workers in France have rejected government plans to phase out generous contracts and open the state-owned rail network to competition. Despite the almost 95% rejection rate from workers, the state-rail company (SNCF) insisted the vote has no legal value. The vote comes after a series of rolling two day strikes which were initiated in April and are planned to continue until the end of June. The opening of the SNCF to competition will fall in line with EU requirements as the government also aims to absorb €35bn of the companies €46bn debt.

In an opinion piece for Al Jazeera, Vito Laterza assesses the implications of the Italian coalition government which will tie the populist parties of the Five Star Movement and The League. While the alliance has surprised some, Laterza claims that the far-right League and the “post-ideological” Five Star Movement have united around an anti-austerity and anti-migrant programme. The coalition partners have put forward a unique policy blend of tax cuts, basic incomes for the unemployed, a reversal of pension and retirement cuts, challenges to EU budget policy and anti-immigration policy entailing detention and deportation.

A study led by researchers at the Imperial College London and the Universidade Federal da Bahia has found that further cutbacks to social programmes in Brazil could lead to increases in avoidable child deaths. The economic crisis that hit Brazil in 2015 has led to major reductions in social programme funding, which has hit poor children the hardest. Specifically, statistical analysis concerning the two main poverty-alleviating welfare programs – the Bolsa Familia Programme (BFP) and the Estrategia Saude da Familia (ESF) – projected that maintaining funding could reduce child mortality by up to 8.6% for the period 2017-2030.

In an interview with the Toronto Star, Ontario New Democratic Party leader Andrea Horwath said that an NDP government would not use back-to-work legislation to end public sector strikes. Horwath’s anti-austerity platform also includes a free child-care for low income families, an additional $19 billion in healthcare spending, a universal pharmacare plan, extended dental coverage for workers, and the re-publicization of Hydro One through buy-backs. As the June 7th election draws nearer, new polling shows that the NDP have a slight lead (37.0%) over the Progressive Conservative Party (36.0%). In third and fourth are the Ontario Liberals (23.0%) and the Green Party (4.0%).

That's it for this week's Digest! Check back next Friday morning for another edition, or subscribe to our newsletter for a weekly roundup. We'll also Tweet each time we add new content, so you can keep up with our work @AltAusterity and join the #altausterity conversation!