Trade Unions Just Say ″No″ | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 07.05.2003
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Trade Unions Just Say "No"

German editorialists are preoccupied with trade union resistance to Chancellor Schröder's social and economic reform agenda. They also deem Poland's relationship to the United States revolutionary.


The best of the German press, digested for you daily.

Commenting on the negative outcome of a meeting between German Chancellor Schröder and the head of Germany’s trade union association, Michael Sommer, aimed at overcoming differences, the Berliner Kurier says that these talks had to fail. Schröder’s planned social and economic reforms, "the Agenda 2010, stood between the two men," the paper writes, "and neither of them was ready to compromise," The paper puts the blame on the unions, which, it says, are not offering alternatives. They only have one answer, the paper contends, and that is "no."

The trade unions’ blocking policy doesn’t represent the opinions of its members, says the southern German Frankenpost, citing a recent survey that shows that only 37 percent of union members stand behind trade union leaders firm opposition to Schröder’s reform plans. Taking this into consideration, the paper says, Sommer should have used the meeting with the chancellor to suggest compromises.

Munich's TZ sees a more favorable atmosphere developing for Schröder’s social reforms. The left-wing rebellion against the chancellor seems to be breaking down, the paper says. It contends that many Social Democrats have suddenly understood that if Schröder were to fall, their party would be out of government for many, many years.

Another topic of comment in German papers is Poland's suggestion that German and Danish troops help it patrol Iraq. The Mitteldeutsche Zeitung from Halle says that the German attitude toward its neighbor has always been an arrogant one. But it could change very quickly, the paper predicts. "Seeing Poland enjoying better relations with the United States than Germany is a true revolution," the paper says.

For the Rheinpfalz from Ludwigshafen the Polish proposal shows two things: Firstly, the war in Iraq is having dramatic consequences on transatlantic relations as well as on the European order. Secondly, the Europeans are still ages away from a common security and defense policy.

The Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten comments on the missing tourists in Algeria, accusing the North African country of holding back crucial information. For weeks Algerian officials have given different -- sometimes even absurd -- explanations about the disappearance of the 31 European tourists, the paper writes. One day they said that the tourists got lost in the desert, the next day there "talks with the kidnappers" were suddenly underway. Total confusion is the result, the paper says, adding, "It seems that the Algerian security authorities do not want to reveal the background to this hostage crisis."