News from Berlin and Germany, Thursday 9th February 2023

Weekly news round-up from Berlin and Germany



Kottbusser Tor police station in to open on 15 February

The controversial new police station at Kottbusser Tor in Berlin-Kreuzberg is to open on 15 February. This was announced by Interior Senator Iris Spranger (SPD) during a visit to the future station, found on the first floor of a high-rise building in the overpass over Adalbertstraße. Senator Spranger explained that at around 3.24 million euros, the costs for the conversion of the rooms there remained somewhat below the planned budget. Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) said that after years of discussion, the project has now been implemented in one of the most crime-ridden locations. She went on: “It needs a clear signal that the rule of law will not back down.” Source: tagesspiegel

Cement injection to save U2 at Alex

The excavation pit for the tower block the French investment firm Covivio is planning next to the Park Inn Hotel has damaged the tunnel of underground line 2. As things stand currently, the line will only shuttle between Klosterstraße and Senefelderplatz until August. However, official documents show the retaining walls, which are supposed to secure the excavation pit, could not withstand the pressure of the groundwater, and were pushed in by more than five centimetres. It has already led to water ingress in the tunnel. An elaborate procedure is being discussed to solve the issue, with steel anchors and an injection of a special emulsion to make the ground under the station harder. Source: rbb

Strike day in the public sector

Ver.di has called for a large-scale warning strike in the public sector in Berlin this Thursday. Among others, the city cleaning services and clinics are affected. The GEW already called teachers to strike on Tuesday and Wednesday. Ver.di and the civil servants’ association DBB demand for 10.5 per cent more income or at least 500 euros more for the approximately 2.5 million employees. According to the union the reason for the strike is the so far inconclusive round of collective bargaining for federal and local government employees. There will be no strike in the senate and district administrations, as their employees are paid according to a different collective agreement. Source: rbb


Germany should take in earthquake victims

After the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria, Baden-Württemberg’s state parliament president Muhterem Aras (Greens) has spoken out in favour of allowing people from the Turkish earthquake region to stay temporarily in Germany. “I suggest a three-month residence permit for those affected,” she said. “The prerequisite must be relatives living here make a declaration of commitment to pay for all costs incurred,” Aras added. On Monday, Aras wrote on Twitter that she herself had experienced an earthquake in Turkey as a child in 1971. “I remember exactly where I stood – rooted to the spot, in shock – until my aunt swept me away,” Aras said. Source: swr

Poor, poorer, old

Another (sad) record to get used to: in 2022, real terms wages in Germany fell by 4.1 per cent compared to 2021. This was reported by the Federal Statistical Office. It is also true that gross earnings rose by an average of 3.4 per cent during the same period. However, the inflation rate of 7.9 per cent has outstripped the nominal increase by some margin. This is the first time since 2008 that earnings have lost value, reported the Wiesbaden-based authority. Moreover, declining incomes today mean fewer resources in later retirement. Data from July 2021 shows that almost 18 percent of all pensioners in Germany find themselves below the poverty line (under 1,135 euros per month).Source: jungewelt

Höcke´s Party

An old email is catching up with Alice Weidel (AfD) for the second time. Sent in 2013, the email shows the current party leader speaking of Germany being ruled “by enemies of the constitution” who are “nothing more than puppets of the allied powers”. ZDF magazine “Frontal” recently confronted the AfD leader with this email, which was already discussed a few years ago. The AfD politician, on the other hand, refuses to comment. This and other examples actually show the politics of the party today, like the politics of the far-right Thüringens Landeschef Björn Höcke, were already recognisable in its founding year of 2013. Source: nd-aktuell

Can’t get no satisfaction, for good reason

For the more than 2.3 million young people without vocational qualifications, what the federal government is now planning must seem like sheer mockery. As early as February, the cabinet wants to pass a further education law that is also supposed to encourage the training market. But little more remains of the training guarantee announced in the coalition agreement than the word itself. A real training guarantee is only possible with a legal right to a place on a relevant course. Incentives for more training places in companies can only be found with a future fund into which all companies pay and from which new in-company training places are funded. Source: taz

Nice extra for existing rail customers

According to plans from the coalition government, from May onwards people will be able to use buses and regional trains all over Germany for 49 euros a month. This provides a good incentive for climate-friendly behaviour, but is it enough? The great thing about the 9-Euro-Ticket was that suddenly almost everyone could afford mobility and it was so much cheaper than driving (and thus good for the environment). Poor people will fall by the wayside, as well as the environment. For 49 euros, will people really switch from cars to packed buses? Source: taz

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