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Europe

German Press Review: Showing Strength

The German press on Thursday focused on the now ended wildcat strike by Opel workers in Bochum, as well as on a new report on global corruption.

The Südkurier in Konstanz wrote that with their protest action, the Opel workers showed that they have a very effective lever at their disposal which the concern management has to take very seriously. The assembly lines in Bochum were at a standstill for seven days and after such a short time production was also halted at numerous other GM plants. Therefore, the paper continued, it can be assumed that during the negotiations the management will constantly have the Opel workers’ determination to fight at the back of their minds.

A similar view was expressed by the Pforzheimer Zeitung, which said that by deciding to end their protest the Opel workers changed down a gear at the right time. The demonstration of their power was a success and should prove to be a useful argument in their forthcoming negotiations with the management. Now, it must be the declared aim of both sides to avoid mass-redundancies and to get Opel back on track. The southern German paper thought there is much more at stake than just jobs -- at the end of the day it’ll be a question of whether German employees are to be reduced to an army of working nomads without any rights -- something that has been accepted in the USA for a long time.

In a comment on the annual report on global corruption of the anti-graft organization, Transparency International, the Münchner Merkur wrote that Germany’s place in the international community is somewhere between Austria and Hongkong. Experts spoke of a success, as Germany has laboriously moved up from the 18th to 15th place, it said, but unfortunately cash transported in suitcases and pleasure trips for managers cannot be recorded statistically. The Munich paper advised Germany to take an example from Scandinavian countries in the fight against corruption and let citizens look into the files of public authorities. Even if people don’t take advantage of it, it said, it would have a deterrent effect.

The Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung drew attention to the fact that through bribes, honest competition is distorted and the forces of the market are annulled. Companies and their employees who, through their ability and cost-cutting would really have deserved better, go away empty-handed. This is in every respect bitter, the daily thought, and so the fight against corruption should not only from a legal but also from a political standpoint be given highest priority.