Sunday, October 17, 2021

SPD chief warns "Scaremongering" – Concern about rising prices – Verdi demands more wages

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Consumer advocates are sounding the alarm – and are demanding more housing benefits due to rising gas prices. Verdi, on the other hand, wants higher wages. The SPD leader Norbert Walter-Borjans warns against unsettling the population.

In view of the high inflation rate, the service union Verdi wants to achieve “clearly noticeable increases in real wages” in the coming collective bargaining negotiations. These are necessary so that the employees and their families can absorb the price increase, said Verdi chairman Frank Werneke of the editorial network Germany (RND). “Since the price jumps for food, energy and petrol in particular affect people with lower and middle incomes, our tariff demands include minimum amounts that make the wage increases for these employees above average,” Werneke emphasized.

Consumer prices in Germany rose by 4.1 percent in September compared to the same month last year. The main reasons for this were higher energy costs and the value-added tax that was raised again after a reduction.

Meanwhile, the SPD chairman Norbert Walter-Borjans warned against panic-mongering. “If scare tactics are carried out with the uncertainty, it is simply irresponsible,” Walter-Borjans told the RND. A year ago, the energy prices fell very sharply due to Corona, now the increase is all the steeper – “together with the expired VAT reduction, understandably causes great uncertainty, even if the average price increase is much lower,” emphasized Walter-Borjans, who in the Context speaks of a “zigzag movement”. Nevertheless, he takes worries about rising gas prices very seriously.

Carsten Linnemann, deputy chairman of the CDU parliamentary group, contradicted the SPD politician. “The risk of persistently high inflation of well over two percent is high. That hits households in Germany with full force,” said Linnemann to the RND. At low interest rates, this is “a cold expropriation of savers.”

In the meantime, consumer advocates have been calling for help for low-income households in view of the sharp rise in gas prices. “Rising prices should be cushioned by topping up the housing allowance for households with low incomes,” said Thomas Engelke from the umbrella association of the Federation of German Consumer Organizations. “In the case of households that do not receive housing benefit, the government must do everything possible to ensure that gas bans are not imposed and people are left in the cold if they fail to pay.”

The rise in gas prices is “worrying,” Engelke told the newspaper. “Wholesale prices for gas have tripled in the past twelve months. For private customers, too, further significant price increases can be expected in the coming year,” he predicts. The security of supply is also worrying.

“It is not yet clear to what extent the end customers will receive increased wholesale prices”, demands the energy policy spokeswoman for the Greens in the Bundestag, Julia Verlinden in the “Welt”. The federal government must now clarify with the suppliers what price development can be expected from January 2022. “On this basis, politics can look where there is unreasonable hardship and where support is needed.”

According to experts, German gas storage facilities are currently 70 percent full – 90 percent is usual before the start of the heating season. The energy expert of the SPD parliamentary group, Johann Saathoff, reassured: “We don’t have to worry about supply bottlenecks in the future. The European Union is connected to large import pipelines that guarantee the supply.” There are also a large number of liquid gas terminals that can import natural gas from all over the world.

However, according to the FDP, the current stocks show a fundamental weakness in the gas supply in Germany. The fact that the storage facilities were not filled in time was a “political failure,” said the energy policy spokesman for the FDP parliamentary group, Martin Neumann, of “Welt”. “We need clear structures as to who is responsible on the part of the state and who watches over the security of supply.”

According to the paper, the organization of gas stocks is not regulated by the state, but a matter for the energy companies. The federal government rejects state intervention.

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