Rudi Kennes, worker and trade unionist, heads European election list PVDA-PTB


The PVDA-PTB is aiming with Rudi Kennes for a first European seat from Flanders (today Marc Botenga is a European MP for the PVDA, elected from French-speaking Belgium). Kennes gained fame as chief delegate for the socialist metal trade union ABVV-Metaal at Opel Antwerp, and vice president of the European works council of General Motors. If elected, he will be the first worker from Flanders to move to the European Parliament.

Rudy & RaoulPVDA-PTB President Raoul Hedebouw: "I am proud that we can send a seasoned worker and trade unionist to Europe. Rudi is the right man to translate the demands of the European struggles into the parliamentary hemisphere, and to help stop the wild austerity plans that are in the pipeline."


Rudi Kennes (b. 1959) grew up in a working-class family in Antwerp's Rupel region, among the brickyards. As a 15-year-old he started working in a metal factory, and a few years later he was able to get a job at Opel Antwerp. In the fight to save jobs at Opel and stop the plant's closure (2009-2010), he became a familiar face at the pickets and a solid negotiator around the table.


His leftist heart also brought him to politics. First with the then Flemish Social Democrats of SP.a, for which he was elected to the Willebroek municipal council. And from 2021 with the PVDA-PTB, where he is a parliamentary associate of his comrade in arms from the automobile (Ford Genk), Gaby Colebunders, and that other labor-syndicalist, Nadia Moscufo.


"When people hear something about Europe, they have the reflex: 'oy, that's going to cost us money again!" says Kennes. "Many of the austerity measures that affect working people come straight from the bubble of the European establishment." He is outraged that "a handful of commissioners earning up to 25,000 euros a month decide on prices, wages, taxes and pensions of millions of people who barely make it to the end of the month."


Rudi Kennes brings his vast European experience and contacts: "The struggles - and victories - at Ryanair, at Amazon, in healthcare, in rail: these are the voices I want to make heard in the European hemisphere. With the perspective to aim for a very different Europe, where not the freedom to enslave and make unbridled profits are untouchable, but the social rights of the working class."


Rudi Kennes grew up close to the Fortress of Breendonk, a notorious Nazi prison and transit camp during World War II. He is a member of the Independence Front of former resistance fighters, and a staunch anti-fascist.


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