Anti-austerity anger stirs strikes, protests in Europe

Updated 14 November 2012
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Anti-austerity anger stirs strikes, protests in Europe

MADRID: Protesters bristling over austerity cuts launch a Europe-wide string of rallies and strikes Wednesday, pouring into streets, refusing to work and grounding more than 700 flights.
General strikes in Spain and Portugal will spearhead the day of action called by European unions and joined by activists as anger over governments’ tight-fisted policies boils over.
For Spain, the eurozone’s fourth-largest economy where one in four workers is unemployed in a deep recession, it is the second general strike in eight months in protest against draconian budget cuts.
Spain’s main CCOO and UGT unions have urged people to rally under slogans such as “They are taking away our future!,” deploying pickets during the night at airports, bus and railway stations.
Activists alerted social networks of an evening rally outside the parliament in Madrid.
The action comes as Spain’s right-leaning government and Socialist opposition discuss how to combat a surge in home-owner evictions, blamed for two suicides in just 15 days.
Neighbouring Portugal, where protesters booed visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday when she came to support Lisbon’s austerity policies, will also hold a general strike.
Protests are being called in some 40 towns and cities across the bailed-out nation, including Lisbon and Porto.
The impact of strike may be undermined by legislation requiring a minimum service in both Spain and Portugal, but airlines have nevertheless warned of a large number of cancelations.
Iberia, Iberia Express, Air Nostrum, Vueling, Air Europa and easyJet cut more than 600 flights including some 250 international routes. Ryanair said no flights had been scrapped yet.
Portugal’s TAP said it was grounding more than 160 flights, most of them international.
Greece is the epicenter of the eurozone’s debt crisis but its unions are focused on the national crisis and it has limited its protest to a three-hour work stoppage and a rally in Athens.
Despite passing a hotly contested 13.5-billion-euro package of austerity measures last week, Athens is battling to convince its international rescuers to unlock the next bailout payment to stave off collapse.
Greece’s finance minister, Yannis Stournaras, warned Tuesday of a “very high” risk of default.
Italian unions, too, are seeking a four-hour work stoppage.
The European Trade Union Confederation said it was the first time that it had organized a day of industrial action that included simultaneous strikes in four countries.
“By sowing austerity, we are reaping recession, rising poverty and social anxiety,” the union confederation’s general secretary Bernadette Segol said in an online statement.
“In some countries, people’s exasperation is reaching a peak. We need urgent solutions to get the economy back on track, not stifle it with austerity. Europe’s leaders are wrong not to listen to the anger of the people who are taking to the streets.”
Short of taking full strike action, unions and activists in other European countries say they, too, plan to support the “Day of Action and Solidarity” against austerity and in favor of jobs.
Union-led rallies are being called across France, Belgium and in Poland, where workers decry “social and wage-dumping” in their country.
High-speed Thalys rail services between Belgium and Germany have also been canceled for the day.
In Germany, viewed by many in southern Europe as the paymaster behind the austerity drive, the union federation DGB has called protests across the country including in Berlin and Frankfurt.
“For now it is mostly people in southern Europe suffering from a crisis they are not responsible for. But the consequences will surely be felt in the rest of Europe,” it said.


With 10-year visa, UAE could be new land of opportunity for Indians

Routine day at Dubai International Airport. AN photo
Updated 23 May 2018
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With 10-year visa, UAE could be new land of opportunity for Indians

  • The ruler of Dubai changed rules to allow foreign investors to fully own companies
  • The Indian banking sector is far more developed in terms of product, technology and the caliber of professionals

NEW DELHI: Indians are likely to “flood” the UAE once its recently announced residency visa rules for students and highly qualified professionals come into place, experts said Tuesday.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, vice president and the prime minister of the UAE, announced on Sunday a 10-year visa for investors, scientists, doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs and innovators, as well as their families.
 As part of the changes, students will get five-year visas and “exceptional” graduates will be eligible for a 10-year visa.  Students currently have to apply to renew their visa each year.
The ruler of Dubai also changed rules to allow foreign investors to fully own companies. So far companies have been required to have a local partner who would hold the majority stake.
 The changes are expected to kick in during the third quarter of this year.
 “The UAE has always welcomed, and always will, innovators and business leaders,” Sheikh Mohammed tweeted as he announced the new rules.
 The UAE, with its proximity to India, high salaries and low taxes, has always been a magnet for Indians. It is home to about 2.6 million Indians who make up roughly 30 percent of the country’s population, according to the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi. These numbers are expected to shoot up once the new rules apply.
 “Indians are always looking at new work opportunities anywhere in the world,” said Aradhana Mahna, managing director of Manya Education, a study abroad solutions provider in Delhi.  While the US and the UK have historically been avenues for Indian students looking to study abroad, the number of students applying to those countries have undergone a “sharp decline” since the election of US President Donald Trump — who made protectionist comments during his campaign days and since taking office — and since the UK decided to split with the European Union, Mahna said.
 “Dubai is close to home and that has always made it a preferred destination for Indians. Especially now with the US going down, it will be flooded by Indians,” she added.
Mukesh Bhasin, partner at Career Connect, an executive search firm that focuses on banking, financial services and the insurance sector (BFSI), agreed that the new rules would go a long way in attracting Indian talent.
 “The Indian banking sector is far more developed in terms of product, technology and the caliber of professionals,” he said. “The encouraging visa regime will lead to a lot of interest from Indian BFSI professionals toward Middle East opportunities given the already-existing tax benefits and international-quality lifestyle.”
 Since the collapse in 2008 of Lehman Brothers, most developed markets, including neighboring Singapore and Hong Kong, have cut back on the number of people they are hiring from abroad for their domestic operations. This includes a slowdown in foreign transfers for Indian employees of multinational banks, said Bhasin.