Hundreds of flights canceled in Germany as airports hit by strikes

German public sector workers union Verdi leader Frank Bsirske delivers a speech during the strike at the Frankfurt airport in demand for higher wages on April 10. (Reuters)
Updated 10 April 2018

Hundreds of flights canceled in Germany as airports hit by strikes

FRANKFURT: Thousands of passengers were left stranded at German airports on Tuesday as ground staff and other public sector workers staged walkouts across the country to increase the pressure in a pay dispute.
Lufthansa had said that it was canceling more than 800 of its planned 1,600 flights on Tuesday and Frankfurt airport operator Fraport had warned of disruption.
As well as Frankfurt, Germany’s busiest hub for airlines, airports in Munich, Cologne and Bremen were hit. The industrial action also affected nurseries, rubbish collection services and swimming pools in several German states.
German union Verdi wants a 6 percent pay rise for its 2.3 million public sector employees at the federal and local level. Germany’s federal government and municipalities have rejected that, saying such a rise would force them to outsource jobs.
Some passengers expressed frustration over the delays.
“I’m upset. I’m affected by these strikes too often,” said Roswitha Karl, who was at Frankfurt airport waiting to board a flight to Moldova for a holiday.
“First, there was the pilots’ strike, then the ground staff and then the security staff, it’s a matter of luck,” said Karl.
Airline rebooking counters had a long queue of passengers, while other stranded travelers were waiting in the terminal. While some frantically tried to change their reservations, others took the delays in their stride.
Jana Glaeser had arrived in Frankfurt from Miami and her flight to Berlin was canceled. “Now we’re getting a train ticket instead. Hopefully everything works out,” she said.
In western North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, local transport, public utilities and childcare centers were hit. There were long tailbacks on motorways, and in southern Baden-Wuerttemberg buses and local trains stayed in depots.
“We want to send a clear signal to employers with these massive strikes,” said Frank Bsirske, head of Verdi, Germany’s biggest labor union for service sector employees.
He said the union would escalate the dispute if employers did not present an offer next week. The third round of talks starts on April 15.
Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, is in robust shape, with record tax revenues and a budget surplus. Rising employment, inflation-busting pay rises and low borrowing costs are fueling a consumer-led upswing.
“If not now, when can we have significant increases for all workers, also in the public sector?” said Bsirske.
In the industrial sector, 3.9 million workers agreed on a pay and flexible working hours deal in February that amounted to a roughly 4 percent rise per year for 2018 and 2019. Inflation edged up to 1.5 percent in March.
The European Central Bank is keeping a close eye on the German wage negotiations for any sign that wage growth is picking up, potentially lifting inflation and allowing the ECB to start winding down its massive stimulus program.
Neighboring France has also faced industrial action in the last few weeks in protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s planned reforms.

Saudi Arabia and UAE launch a new joint cryptocurrency

Updated 20 January 2019

Saudi Arabia and UAE launch a new joint cryptocurrency

  • The cryptocurrency will be limited to banks during its first stages
  • The program will also help the two countries evaluate the monetary policies of a centralized currency

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have launched a joint cryptocurrency during the first meeting of the Saudi-Emirati Coordination council Saturday in Abu Dhabi, UAE’s national press agency WAM said.

The cryptocurrency will be limited to banks during its first stages, until the governments have a better understanding of how Blockchain technology operates cross-borders.

The currency operates on the use of a “distributed database between the central banks and the participating banks from both sides,” aiming to protect customer interests, set technology standards and assess cybersecurity risks. The new program will also help evaluate the impacts of a central currency on monetary policies.

During the meeting, representatives of Saudi Arabia and the UAE also signed the Joint Supply Chained Security Cooperation program, which tests the two countries abilities to provide vital supplies during times of crisis and national emergencies, as well as share expertise and knowledge in the field.

All 16 members of the executive committee of the council followed up on the execution of the initiatives mentioned in the Strategy of Resolve.

Representatives also set five other initiatives to enhance the cooperation between the two countries, such as facilitating the traffic between ports, improving airports to make it easier for people with disabilities to travel, creating a financial awareness program for children aged 7-18, starting a joint platform to support local SMEs, and the integration of civil aviation markets,

The committee was headed by Mohammad bin Abdullah Al-Gergawi, minister of cabinet of affairs and the future of UAE, and Mohammed bin Mazyad Al-Twaijri, minister of economy and planning in Saudi. The committee will also monitor the implementation of the initiatives.