German public sector strikes to hit air travel on Tuesday

Frankfurt, above, and Munich airports are the two biggest hubs for Lufthansa, Germany’s largest airline. (Reuters)
Updated 09 April 2018
0

German public sector strikes to hit air travel on Tuesday

BERLIN: German public-sector workers will extend strikes to airports across the country, labor union Verdi said on Monday, predicting flight disruption as it seeks to increase pressure in pay talks.
Verdi, which is asking for a 6 percent pay rise for around 2.3 million employees in various public-sector roles across Germany, said ground staff and some fire services staff would be on strike on Tuesday at Frankfurt, Munich, Cologne and Bremen airports.
Frankfurt and Munich are the two biggest hubs for Lufthansa, Germany’s largest airline.
Verdi said the strike at Frankfurt airport would run from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time (0300-1600 GMT) on Tuesday and involve security staff, as well as workers who load and unload planes.
Frankfurt airport operator Fraport warned passengers to expect significant disruption on Tuesday. A spokeswoman said security checkpoints would likely have to be closed due to the strike.
Similar strikes four years ago led to hundreds of flight cancelations at Germany’s largest airport, particularly on short haul flights.
Public transport, swimming pools, garbage collection, and childcare facilities are also areas that have been targeted by strike action in the latest pay dispute.
A third round of pay talks is scheduled for April 15 and 16.
“Employers have not yet put forward an offer. With strikes and industrial action, employees are increasing the pressure on employers to end their blocking tactics,” Verdi boss Frank Bsirske said in a statement.


Davos organizer WEF warns of growing risk of cyberattacks in Gulf

Updated 16 January 2019
0

Davos organizer WEF warns of growing risk of cyberattacks in Gulf

  • Critical infrastructure such as power centers and water plants at particular risk, says expert
  • Report finds that unemployment is a major concern in Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Oman and Tunisia

LONDON: The World Economic Forum (WEF) has warned of the growing possibility of cyberattacks in the Gulf — with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar particularly vulnerable.

Cyberattacks were ranked as the second most important risk — after an “energy shock” — in the three Gulf states, according to the WEF’s flagship Global Risks Report 2019.

The report was released ahead of the WEF’s annual forum in Davos, Switzerland, which starts on Tuesday.

In an interview with Arab News, John Drzik, president of global risk and digital at professional services firm Marsh & McLennan said: “The risk of cyberattacks on critical infrastructure such as power centers and water plants is moving up the agenda in the Middle East, and in the Gulf in particular.”

Drzik was speaking on the sidelines of a London summit where WEF unveiled the report, which was compiled in partnership with Marsh and Zurich Insurance.

“Cyberattacks are a growing concern as the regional economy becomes more sophisticated,” he said.

“Critical infrastructure means centers where disablement could affect an entire society — for instance an attack on an electric grid.”

Countries needed to “upgrade to reflect the change in the cyber risk environment,” he added.

The WEF report incorporated the results of a survey taken from about 1,000 experts and decision makers.

The top three risks for the Middle East and Africa as a whole were found to be an energy price shock, unemployment or underemployment, and terrorist attacks.

Worries about an oil price shock were said to be particularly pronounced in countries where government spending was rising, said WEF. This group includes Saudi Arabia, which the IMF estimated in May 2018 had seen its fiscal breakeven price for oil — that is, the price required to balance the national budget — rise to $88 a barrel, 26 percent above the IMF’s October 2017 estimate, and also higher than the country’s medium-term oil-price target of $70–$80.

But that disclosure needed to be balanced with the fact that risk of “fiscal crises” dropped sharply in the WEF survey rankings, from first position last year to fifth in 2018.

The report said: “Oil prices increased substantially between our 2017 and 2018 surveys, from around $50 to $75. This represents a significant fillip for the fiscal position of the region’s oil producers, with the IMF estimating that each $10 increase in oil prices should feed through to an improvement on the fiscal balance of 3 percentage points of GDP.”

At national level, this risk of “unemployment and underemployment” ranked highly in Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Oman and Tunisia.
“Unemployment is a pressing issue in the region, particularly for the rapidly expanding young population: Youth unemployment averages around 25 percent and is close to 50 percent in Oman,” said the report.

Other countries attaching high prominence to domestic and regional fractures in the survey were Tunisia, with “profound
social instability” ranked first, and Algeria, where respondents ranked “failure of regional and global governance” first.

Looking at the global picture, WEF warned that weakened international co-operation was damaging the collective will to confront key issues such as climate change and environmental degradation.