General strike in France

first_imgFrench President Emmanuel Macron’s government bet that the unions would grow tired, their members pinched by their loss of pay, and that public support would dwindle as travel to and from work became onerous, as their electricity flickered. But the government lost. Marseilles, France In response to massive protests Jan. 9 the French government offered a major concession. But the struggle continues, as does public support for the workers.Workers at France’s Central Bank have decided that starting Jan. 13, they’ll stop supplying ATMs with money. At least one of France’s eight refineries has stopped producing fuel. General assemblies of workers at the other eight refineries are considering keeping their products from being distributed.Many political analysts in France say that government intransigence over pension reform has led “reformist” unions like the CFDT (French Democratic Confederation of Labor) and Unsa (National Union of Autonomous Trade Unions) — which had collaborated with Macron — to withhold support from Macron’s government.  Militant unions like those in the CGT (General Confederation of Labor) and FO (Workers’ Force) have become more confrontational.According to the CGT website, workers demonstrated in 216 cities and towns throughout France on Jan. 9, drawing nearly 1.7 million people to march in the streets. They protested the government’s plan to modify France’s retirement system.  The existing system has given France’s retired population the lowest poverty rate of European retirees.The turnout on Jan. 9 was larger than that on Dec. 5 when the protests started. According to an official report published Jan. 6, the public strike fund for the CGT has received the equivalent of $2.2 million in contributions from 29,214 people all over France.  Other unions have also set up similar funds for online donations and local unions have passed the bucket at demonstrations and marches and on the street.French unions typically don’t have strike funds, but rely on public donations to sustain long strikes.Gov’t withdraws threatAfter the huge Jan. 9 demonstrations, Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced that he was withdrawing plans to increase the retirement age to 64 in the bill he will present to parliament this spring.  This concession removes an obstacle to support from the reformist unions — a red line they were not willing to cross.Prime Minister Philippe has already made similar concessions to the police, dancers at the Paris Opera, nurses, airline flight attendants and pilots.  Spokespeople for the CFDT and Unsa, welcoming his concession, remarked that it was clearly jerry-rigged and said other issues must still be negotiated.The CGT and FO made clear that they are not interested in negotiating terms of a bill that they want withdrawn.  The current system certainly could be improved, with more attention given to the needs of women and low-wage workers, but the government proposal leads nowhere. Much of the financial pressure on the retirement system could be resolved by putting the wealth tax back into effect.Class solidarity is behind the strong public support of the unions’ determination to defend France’s current retirement system, which consists of 42 distinct plans  reflecting the needs of workers in each plan. An interview with a commuter on the government-owned television chain France 2 illustrated this solidarity.This commuter, a woman in her thirties, was spending 90 minutes longer to reach her job and 60 minutes longer getting home.  Her trip home was in a car jam-packed, like “sardines” — the camera showed the sweat on passengers’ faces. She arrived at her station, dark because striking electricity workers had shut off the power.  But as she waited for her bus ride home, she told France 2 she still supported the unions because they were fighting for everyone.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

German tanker Spessart departs EU mission off Africa

first_img German Navy’s Rhön-class tanker FGS Spessart has left the EU Naval Force and Operation Atalanta fighting piracy off the coast of Somalia.The ship spent eighty eight days and sailed over 13,600 nautical miles after leaving Wilhelmshaven navy base on April 18.The EU naval task force is deployed to the Horn of Africa to conduct counter-piracy patrols and to protect World Food Programme ships that carry much-needed humanitarian aid. FGS Spessart’s role was to supply the Operation Atalanta warships with fuel and other supplies to enable them to remain at sea to deter and suppress acts of piracy.During her time with the EU operation, FGS Spessart completed 21 replenishments at sea (RAS) with warships from six different nations, including three Operation Atalanta warships – FGS Bayern, ITS Euro and ESPS Santa Maria, as well as warships from Australia, Great Britain and the United States.FGS Spessart can provide warships and helicopters with fuel, food and water.Speaking about his ship’s important role, Captain Rolf von Bebern said: “During our time with Operation Atalanta, my crew has supplied warships and helicopters with all the fuel that they needed to maintain their patrols and to help keep seafarers safe. Every mission away from home is hard work, but extremely rewarding. I am proud of my crew and we are all looking forward to what we know will be a memorable homecoming in our home port.”FGS Spessart’s transit home to Germany will take three weeks and it will arrive in its home port of Kiel at the end of August. Authorities View post tag: German Navy August 5, 2016 View post tag: Op Atalanta View post tag: FGS Spessartcenter_img Back to overview,Home naval-today German tanker Spessart departs EU mission off Africa German tanker Spessart departs EU mission off Africa View post tag: EUNAVFOR Share this articlelast_img read more


first_imgIn the past 25 years, the face of retailing across this country has changed completely. In have come the big supermarkets and out have gone the local community shops – bakers often being a typical example. And I see nothing in the preliminary report from the Competition Commission that will change anything one iota (pg 8).It says issues brought to its attention include the character of town centres and high streets and while farmers sometimes may get a raw deal, suppliers, it thinks, are faring OK.No threats or promises though. No recipe for change yet. Plant bakers and ingredient suppliers may have fewer small customers but the best of them also have much larger customers in the supermarkets and are grateful for that. So overall, it’s rather bland.Of more interest is the Sustainable Communities Bill, sponsored by Conservative MP Nick Hurd, which has cross-party support. By its existence, it recognises that something needs to be done. It says local shopkeepers should be among those who have a say in planning, parking and, let’s hope one day, in fair business rates. Furthermore, it specifically recognises the value of local food traders because anyone with an ounce of common sense knows that shoppers follow food.That guardian of local bakery traders, the National Association of Master Bakers (NA), has found that it is time for tough decisions at the top. Recently appointed CEO Gill Brooks Lonican has decided to close the training section of the NA, which has lost a considerable amount of money over the years. Our columnist and past president Tony Phillips has been against the way it was run from day one, despite the talent of its assessors. His views have been vindicated and Gill Brooks Lonican has shown the common sense and courage needed by a new CEO (pg 6). This bodes well for the association.Meanwhile, organic wheat prices are at an historic high (pg 4). There is a global shortage of organic wheat and there is no good news on the horizon. But as we went to press the great news is that the national media is full of stories about how wholemeal bread and a high-fibre diet can help prevent breast cancer in pre-menopausal women. Let’s hope sales of added-value wholemeal simply soar!last_img read more

Welcome to the Maritime 21st Century and the New Quest for the Golden Fleece

first_imgI remember as a child being glued to the TV, watching famous oceanographer, Jacques Cousteau navigate his way under the sea. I found myself entering this magical world, where I could join endless varieties of fish in their natural habitat and wonder at the strange beauty of the marine landscape.The ocean’s potentialCousteau was a true pioneer, a visionary ahead of his time. Back in the 1970s, he spoke of the oceans’ potential, predicting a time when the world’s energy crisis would be solved by harnessing tidal and temperature changes in the sea; when metal ores would be mined from the ocean bed and when farmers in diving suits would gather food from marine plantations.Fast forward to today and I continue to be passionate about the ocean. As the Maritime Business Development Leader with Dell EMC OEM, it’s pretty exciting that the company I work for plays an important part in marine innovation.Revolutionising deep-sea explorationExactly why The Arggonauts from the Fraunhofer IOSB in Karlsruhe are using mobile robotics to revolutionise deep-sea exploration. The team is using customised Dell EMC workstation technology – the Dell EMC Precision  7910 – to power a cost-effective solution that maps the bottom of the ocean at a depth of several thousand metres.Powered by Intel® Xeon® processors, the Dell EMC workstations control remote operated vehicles from the shore as well as capturing subsea data camera images. HPC Datacentre compute renders the images and translates data into maps while Artificial Intelligence is used to quickly classify images from the unstructured data.Unmanned underwater technologies and advanced imaging systemsAs the only German group in the prestigious International Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE competition, the Arggonauts, under the leadership of Gunnar Brink, are ranked as just one of nine successful teams from around the world, who have made it through to the final round from the original line up back in 2016. With a prize fund of $7 million, this marine competition aims to discover the mysteries of the deep by combining the power of unmanned underwater technologies with mapping and advanced imaging systems.A modern day Jason, searching for the Golden FleeceFor me, this is Greek mythology reimagined – picture a modern day Jason on the Argo, travelling in unchartered waters, equipped with robotics in his quest for the Golden Fleece!In the final round, scheduled for this November, the Arggonauts will go head-to-head with the other finalists in a field test. The team’s specially designed, unmanned, underwater vehicles, called, “The Great Divers” will have to measure at least 250 square kilometres of the sea bed at a depth of 4,000 metres within 24 hours, find objects and take pictures that are worthy of an award. After completing this task, “The Great Divers” will be collected by autonomously-operated catamarans. The team then has 48 hours to convert the data into a map.The final frontierI believe that this work is critical for the future of our planet. Did you know that we currently have better maps of the moon and the surface of Mars than we do of the bottom of our oceans? It’s amazing to think that the final frontier may not actually be in space, but right here on Planet Earth. If you think about it, most intercontinental communications use deep-sea cables – you could say that the Internet practically comes from the sea! International trade is also linked to the marine world as import and export trade depend on container shipment.We need to accelerate innovationMost importantly, I am reminded of Cousteau’s predictions. With the development of deep-sea exploration coupled with the increasing growth in the world’s population, natural resources from the sea are set to become increasingly important. In my view, we need to urgently accelerate innovation in order to improve the speed, scale and image resolution that is necessary to truly understand the ocean.Protecting sustainable resourcesThe hope is that over the long-term this work will allow us to discover and protect new species and underwater life forms, along with safer methods of exploration. Of course, the kid in me also dreams that this work will shed new light on the ocean. As Cousteau said, “The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.”This project also demonstrates our commitment to Dell4Good, where we put our technology and expertise to work for the good of our planet.  I wish the Arggonauts every success in the upcoming finals and would love to hear your comments and questions.To learn more about Dell EMC OEM Marine Solutions, visit: learn more about The Arggonauts, visit: www.arggonauts.comKeep in touch. Follow us on Twitter and @DellEMCOEM, and join our LinkedIn OEM & Iot Solutions Showcase page here.last_img read more