Thursday, November 15, 2007

Worker Strikes in Europe Could Soon be felt on Economies

From the Wall Street Journal:

“In France, a work stoppage by transport and power workers to protest changes to pension regimes sliced output at French utility Electricité de France SA by around 8,000 megawatts -- roughly 10% of the country's nuclear capacity -- and paralyzed transport routes.

Meanwhile, Germany's government said it fears its continuing rail strike could have a deep impact on the country's economy if it doesn't end soon. Chancellor Angela Merkel's administration is calling on state-owned railway Deutsche Bahn AG and the striking train drivers' union GDL to return to the negotiating table, government spokesman Thomas Steg said at a news conference.”

From AFP:

“Millions of French commuters were left stranded or forced to drive to work and the disruption looked set to continue after unions at the state rail company and the Paris metro operator voted to extend the strike until Friday.

Just 150 of the usual 700 high-speed trains were running and those commuter trains that did operate were packed with commuters and tempers flared. Roads into major French cities were choked with traffic.

Neighbouring Germany had to contend with the biggest strike in the history of its rail system as passenger train drivers joined freight drivers already on strike since Wednesday, heavily disrupting Europe's biggest economy.

Only two-thirds of long-distance trains were running, most of them high-speed trains, and fewer than half of all commuter services were operating.”

From Guardian Unlimited:

“With the train drivers threatening new strikes this week to back their claim for higher wages after the 2-1/2 day walkout to Saturday that was called the most damaging in Germany ever, Glos and Tiefensee warned the strikes were harmful to the economy. ‘We need a quick agreement once and for all,’ Glos told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper. The robust economic upturn is already being burdened by the high oil price and a strong euro. In an environment like this, a strike that hampers freight transport is poisonous for the overall economy.

‘Both sides need to be reminded about their responsibilities to the overall German economy and to consumers,’ he added.”

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