unemployment sparks German protests FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sun, 8 Feb 1998 04:41:23 -0800 (PST)


FWD 5 Feb 1998 http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/newsid_53000/53874.stm
BBC World News

RECORD UNEMPLOYMENT FIGURES SPARK PROTESTS


An effigy is left burning in Cologne to protest against high unemployment.

Germany's unemployed have taken to the streets in protest. It follows the
announcement earlier on Thursday of record post-war unemployment figures of
4.8 million.

The figures represent unemployment levels not seen since the days of the
Weimar Republic.

Seventy cities were affected by the demonstration as 40,000 people marched
through city centres and attempted to enter buildings. About 50
demonstrators, some with sleeping bags, occupied an unemployment office in
Frankfurt while several hundred protestors in Berlin chanted "Kohl must
go," referring to the German Chancellor, Helmut Kohl.

Some 1,500 demonstrators in Berlin were held back by police near the
Brandenburg Gate.

The demonstrations were particularly strong in the east of the country,
where unemployment is highest, with 11,000  people taking to the streets in
the states of Thuringia and Saxony.

One demonstrator said he wanted to "do like the French jobless," a
reference to widespread demonstrations by unemployed in France in December
and January.

The unemployed said they would continue their protests each month, when
unemployment figures are released.

French support

Leaders of French jobless action committees have expressed support for the
German protestors.

Robert Cremieux of the MNCP committee of unemployed people said that
Europe's jobless were in the process of setting up a Europe-wide network to
help their cause.

France currently has just over 3 million unemployed, a 12.2% unemployment
rate.

The president of Germany's Federal Labour Office, Bernhard Jagoda, said
that the jobless increase in January was caused by seasonal factors and
that mild weather had kept the rise "limited in relation to that usually
reported" for the winter month.

The issue, which now threatens Chancellor, Helmut Kohl's prospect of
re-election in September, has become Germany's most pressing domestic
issue.

But the government minister Frederic Bohl said that the government can see
no alternative to its current employment policy. Mr Bohl said the reforms
passed by the government since 1996, including those covering health care,
pensions, work rules and state ownership of industry, "will eventually pay
off in new economic growth and jobs."

Unemployment continues to be much higher in eastern Germany, running at
21.1% from 19.4% in December, while in western Germany the figures were
10.5%, up from 9.9 %.

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