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German unions voice solidarity with strikes

The head of Germany's Federation of Trade Unions warned against the effects of austerity cuts in crisis-wracked southern European countries Wednesday and voiced solidarity ahead of Europe-wide rallies and strikes.

German unions voice solidarity with strikes
Photo: DPA

The DGB, Europe’s biggest trade union confederation with about eight million members, is organising demonstrations in several German towns. But it has not called a strike to mark the anti-austerity day.

“In Greece, Spain, Portugal, savings are being carried out in a one-sided way, at the expense of the people,” DGB president Michael Sommer said on public broadcaster Deutschlandradio Kultur.

“These countries are not only making cutbacks but are being cut back to death. It’s for that reason there is this resistance, this revolt,” he said.

Germany had survived the second wave of Europe’s financial crisis “relatively well” until now, Sommer said. Europe’s top economy was beginning to slow down in certain sectors such as cars and chemicals, he noted.

“We want the right measures against the crisis, that means investing against the crisis and not making savings at all costs,” he said.

And he appealed for action to tackle what he called the root cause of the financial crisis, describing it as the “domination by the financial markets”.

“We stand in solidarity,” Sommer added saying various events were planned in Germany to mark the European day of action to protest austerity cuts.

“We are going to send a message of solidarity to these countries,” he said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has spearheaded the European drive for budgetary discipline as an answer to the eurozone debt crisis, but critics say the policy is snuffing out the economic growth necessary for a viable recovery.

The strikes have also affected hundreds of flights across Europe, especially those to and from Spain and Portugal. A handful of flights have been cancelled in Germany.

Düsseldorf airport reported that 11 flights to and from Spain have been cancelled, while Frankfurt airport – Germany’s biggest hub – reported eight cancelled flights. Three flights were also cancelled at Stuttgart airport, and a further four at Berlin Tegel.

All high-speed Thalys rail services between Belgium and Germany were also cancelled on Wednesday.

The Local/AFP/DAPD/bk

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Emergency numbers fail in several German states

Callers to the emergency numbers 110 and 112 weren’t able to reach operators Thursday morning in several German states.

The 112 emergency number on an ambulance.
The 112 emergency number on an ambulance. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

The emergency number 110 for police and 112 for fire crews failed around the country early Thursday morning, with callers unable to reach emergency operators for urgent assistance between about 4:30 am and 5:40 am local time.

The Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Aid is looking into these outages, which were reported in states including Lower Saxony, Baden-Württemberg, and  Brandenburg, and in major cities like Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg, and Frankfurt. Cologne was further affected by cuts to electricity, drinking water, and regular telephone services. Lower Saxony also saw disruptions to the internal phone networks of police and hospitals.

Emergency services are not reporting any more disturbances and people should be able to once again reach 110 and 112 around the country as normal.

Investigators are looking into the problem, but haven’t yet established a cause or any consequences that may have happened due to the outage. Provider Deutsche Telekom says they have ruled out the possibility of an attack by hackers.

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