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Liberia Loses Over US$12M

first_imgLiberia’s Finance Minister Amara Konneh has disclosed that the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Liberia and other countries within the Mano River Union (MRU) region has already cost the country’s economy US$12 million between April and June alone. This amount represents about two percent of the country’s fiscal budget – and the disease is still spreading. This means that Liberia would have to revise down its projected gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 5.9 percent by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as reported by our business desk last week. Minister Konneh didn’t, however, say how much the economy would lose in the months of July and August, which witnessed increased in the spread of the Ebola epidemic in Liberia. He is quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying that the Liberian government is scrambling for a response to the crisis. “We are scrambling for a response to this crisis … If it is not contained it will have serious consequences for our economy,” Konneh told Reuters. Liberia’s economy is being hurt as a result of massive slowdown in cross-border trade as the country’s military has been deployed at key border points connecting Sierra Leone and Guinea to enforce a 90-day State of Emergency. The local economy is also hurt by the Ebola outbreak as many consumers hold back spending thereby forcing certain businesses to suspend operations or operate for half day. Daily newspaper sales have dwindled as print media houses report large numbers of returns. The manager of one of the local dailies told our business desk over the weekend that he is considering reducing the quantity of papers he prints. “This paper is not being sold because government offices have urged most of their ‘non-essential staff’ to stay home and these people are our customers,” he said on condition of anonymity. Like the media houses, most local businesses are becoming worried about paying their taxes at the end of the month. For cross border traders business environment is bad as their movement has been restricted in a bid to contain the Ebola virus.     Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, who are experiencing the deadliest outbreak of the Ebola epidemic, are among the world’s poorest countries at the bottom of global development indexes. These countries have shown signs of leaving behind brutal wars and leaping into Africa’s economic boom – before the outbreak of the lethal Ebola epidemic.As the world’s biggest outbreak ravages the populations of these small states from West Africa’s Mano River Region, their resource-dependent economies are reeling from the impact.With the death toll more than 980, Ebola is hitting tourism, reducing travel and trade, and slowing farming and mining, delivering body blows to what had been buoyant GDP growth driven by increasing foreign investment, officials said.”A common feature of these three countries is they’re all fragile states,” Makhtar Diop, the World Bank’s vice president for Africa, said on a call with reporters.”It means that they’re countries that need more support from the international community in normal times … And this external shock that they’re currently facing, this crisis, is taking them even further back,” Diop said.”You have to divert resources. You have to divert energy. So you are slowing down the other aspects of real economic development just to fight a disease that erupted out of nowhere,” Konneh stated.An initial World Bank-IMF impact assessment for Guinea, where the outbreak started in a remote forest region and has killed over 350 people, projects the bauxite exporter’s GDP growth falling from 4.5 percent to 3.5 percent.The World Bank and African Development Bank have committed US$260 million to help the three worst-affected countries.Fleeing Farmers, Falling RevenuesThe World Bank said agriculture had been hit in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia as rural workers fled farming areas in the affected zones, where some Ebola patients have been shunning medical treatment and hiding away in their villages.Liberia’s Finance Minister Konneh observed a slowdown in farming and transport and reduced activity at popular markets could push up prices of essential food items and other goods.”We’re watching inflation. So far it’s not been bad but we’re worried about the Lofa food belt where people are quarantined and major markets closed. We expect hoarding by people in urban areas that could drive food prices up,” he said.In Monrovia, residents said the Ebola emergency, and the fear and suspicion it has generated, was disrupting daily life, affecting everything from street hawking to taxi fares.Due to the fear of contagion from close contact – Ebola is spread by contact with the bodily fluids of infected humans or animals – taxis were now only taking three passengers in the back instead of the previous four, and this had pushed fares up.Konneh said the government would prevent price-gouging.Some major airlines such as British Airways and Emirates have halted flights to affected countries, and expatriates there are fleeing the Ebola risk, government officials said, adding this reduced consumption and revenues.”We’ve seen international workers leaving the country in numbers,” Minister Konneh said.Appeal to Investors to StayMost major foreign companies operating in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia are reportedly responding cautiously, reducing staff movements and adopting precautionary health measures. There are reports that some foreign companies have begun evacuating their expatriate staff from Liberia.The World Bank warned that if the evacuation of skilled expatriate staff continued, there would be a “sizable decline in production” from mining operations in the affected region.The two big iron ore miners in Liberia, Arcelor Mittal and China Union, are still operating, Konneh said.”We are trying to ensure we put in place health protocols in mining areas,” he added.Canadian Overseas Petroleum, a partner with oil major ExxonMobil in offshore exploration in Liberia, however, announced recently that it was pushing back the start of drilling.ExxonMobil declined to comment on personnel but said safety was a top priority. “Our Monrovia office remains open,” the company told Reuters.Liberian and Sierra Leonean officials have appealed to major investors not to abandon their countries because of Ebola.”My message is: ‘Don’t leave the country. Stay with us – let’s fight this together’,” said Konneh.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Creative industry Needs Enabling Environment to Survive

first_img– Advertisement – Says classical and inspirational singers Nah WleetuNah Wleetu, one of Liberia’s few classical and inspirational singers, has called on all political actors in the country to create an enabling environment for those with creative abilities, including holders of intellectual property rights.The singer, who discovered his vocal ability at a tender age, noted that the artistic community does not need handouts, but rather the appropriate legal framework that will benefit creative individuals.He added that although there have been some good laws passed, more needs to be done from political actors and stakeholders when it comes to upholding or implementing the law, which would be beneficial to both government and the holders of intellectual property rights. He said this inaction from the country’s leaders has been the major challenge to the survival of Liberia’s arts and culture sector.Nah noted that the creative industry is a powerful means of connecting people, as it bridges linguistic and cultural divides, as well as serves as a vehicle for expression and identity like no other.“Collectively, the creative industry ecosystem generates rich, social, cultural and economic benefits by creating jobs, bringing about economic growth, and much more.“In addition, the creative industry, when protected by laws that are implemented, can deliver significant economic paybacks for Liberia, especially through employment.“Moreover, when the well-being of the artistic industry is taken into consideration by political actors by enforcing copyright, setting policies for royalty generation and fighting copyright infringement, it results into attracting highly skilled young workers, which in return attracts business investment,” Nah said.Nah, a social philosopher who is a graduate of the University of Liberia, also noted that an enabling environment will be created when access to training and education programs to help artists and their management teams or players to understand the business concept of music brings about growth in the sector.He added that when political actors create the needed environment and enforce the current laws, they significantly improve the chances of developing an effective regulatory and business environment that allows the artistic industry to thrive on its own.Meanwhile, Nah has sent out a challenge to the next president – whoever that may be, to prioritize the development of the creative industry by encouraging business owners to invest in building state of the art venues by giving them tax incentives for doing so. This, he said, will serve as a motivating factor for people to invest in the industry.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Berbice man attempts to kill ex-wife

first_img…torches Port Mourant homePolice are on the hunt for a man from Babu Jaan, Port Mourant, Corentyne Berbice who on Wednesday evening tried to kill his ex-wife using a knife, a piece of wood, and a broken glass, before allegedly setting fire to a $27 million house, reducing it to rubble.Forty-seven-year-old Owamawattie Alves, also called Ann, was rushed to the Port Mourant Hospital after the near-death experience. Displaying her injuries, the mother of four said that after walking away from the 28-year-old relationship two years ago, her 62-year-old ex-husband, of Rose Hall Town, has been stalking her.According to Alves, the relationship was very abusive, and she decided in 2016 to put an end to it after her husband was jailed for two years for abuse perpetrated against her. She said that ever since his release from prison, he has been threatening to kill her.The reminds of the $27M buildingShe related that on Saturday last, while she was at the Port Mourant Market, he approached her with a cutlass and threatened to end her life, but she was able to make good her escape and report the incident to the Police.The man was arrested on Monday, and was expected to be placed before the court on Thursday. However, he was released from Police custody on Wednesday.The woman said that on Wednesday evening, at about 19:00h, as she was walking up the stairs of her home, she heard someone moving in the house, but thought it was her daughter.She then realised that it was her ex-husband, and the two ended up in a scuffle during which the kitchen cabinet fell, alerting her daughter, who tried to stop her father’s advances.Alves said her ex-husband picked up a door bar and hit her in the head, but her teenage daughter grabbed the door bar. The man then picked up a bottle and hit her again in the head. After the bottle broke, he attempted to cut her throat, but she was able to hold him off, and received only a cut to her chin.She said the man then drew a knife, but his daughter held on to the blade, and was cut as her mother tried to escape.The woman was rescued by villagers as she ran out of the house, and the Police were contacted. However, before the Police arrived, the suspect made his way into the nearby bushes.The woman and her 17-year-old daughter had been living in the three-bedroom house for the past three months, after the owner, Mahindra Mangroo, allowed them a place to stay.She and her daughter went to the Whim Police Station to report the incident, and upon seeing the two women covered in blood and with torn clothing arriving at the station, most of the officers left in the patrol vehicle.The lone constable who remained could not have done much. He called a senior officer, who then instructed that the patrol return and take the women to the hospital.The woman said that after she left the hospital, she and her daughter, who is seven months pregnant, were advised not to sleep in the house, so she took her youngest daughter to another daughter’s home to spend the night. However, a few minutes later, the Police informed her that her home was on fire.She said she has lost all her belongings, while her daughter has also lost all the clothing she had purchased for her unborn child.She says she is now living in fear until her ex-husband is caught.(Andrew Carmichael)last_img read more

Video: Suarez shows why Barcelona paid £75m for him

first_imgLuis Suarez has been in the papers for all the wrong reasons in the last few months, but all that is set to change if this assist is anything to go by.The Uruguayan, who is almost more synonymous now with biting opponents than scoring wonderful goals, superbly set up Gerard Pique during the La Liga side’s Catalan Super Cup victory.Espanyol equalised through Anaitz Arbilla and the match went straight to penalties at full-time, with Ivan Rakitic scoring the winning penalty for Barcelona.Check out this unselfish lobbed pass and leave us your thoughts on Suarez below…last_img read more


first_imgA partially blind young man who also has another severe disability is on the road to getting his Masters Degree in Accounting at Letterkenny Institute of Technology.Inspirational Seamus McGrory, 25, from Letterkenny lost his right eye when he was just one year old when he developed a tumour in his retina.Seamus was later diagnosed with ataxia – a progressive condition of the nervous system which causes him problems with his balance, speech and also causes slurred speech. But despite his challenges, Seamus is now on the verge of qualifying as an accountant and has become a role model for all young people with difficulties.Although he attended primary school in Letterkenny until he was eight, his parents had to make the heartbreaking decision to send him to St.Joseph’s School for the Blind.“It was a hard decision for them to send me to Dublin. Both my parents are blind,” revealed Seamus.Seamus managed to come home every weekend and even made friends with two other Donegal lads in the school. Seamus managed to pas his Junior Cert with flying colours at Errigal College in 2003 and, despite taking a break from his studies, he sat and passed his Leaving Cert 18 months later.In 2006 he decided he would like to do business studies and has settled in like a natural at the Port Road campus.Indeed he recently received an award for outstanding student endeavour from the LYIT School of Business.“It was one of the most emotional moments of my life and getting that award with my friends standing by my side,” beamed a very proud Seamus.Not content with being a Grade A student, Seamus has also learned how to swim at the Aura Leisure Centre and also got his amateur radio license. For the future, Seamus has three goals he would like to see achieved.“I want to become a fully-fledged accountant, I want to live independently, and to see Liverpool win the Premier League.”Well at least we know Sean will undoubtedly fulfil his first two goals!Ends THERE’S NO ‘ACCOUNTING’ FOR AMBITION AS SEAMUS PROVES! was last modified: May 15th, 2011 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:AccountantLYITSeamus McGrorylast_img read more

Teachers sue local district

first_imgWHITTIER – The California Teachers Association sued a Whittier school district Tuesday, alleging a district policy prohibiting teachers from displaying political signs in their cars violated the teachers’ free speech. In the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit, the union and the East Whittier Education Association claim the East Whittier City School District and its superintendent, Dorothy Fagan, enforced a policy prohibiting public school teachers from having political signs in the windows of their cars while parked in district parking lots. “This was a huge sign in the windshield of their cars that asked people to vote for the board candidates the teachers were supporting,” Fagan said. “We said they could have those signs anywhere on their car and anyplace but not in our district parking lot, and that was the reason we asked them to move them. At that time we asked them not to display the signs.” She said she had not seen the lawsuit and declined further comment. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl eventAccording to court papers, the district allowed teachers to display political bumper stickers on their cars before the November 2005 election. However, that policy changed with the election of members to the district’s board of education. The East Whittier Education Association endorsed three candidates running for seats on the board and produced signs that could be placed in car windows, according to court papers. On Nov. 2, the district told the principals of Ocean View and Leffingwell schools that teachers either had to remove the signs from their cars or move their cars to a different parking lot, according to the lawsuit. “As a direct result of \ actions, employees have suffered and will continue to suffer severe and irreparable injuries in that the exercise of their right to freedom of speech has been chilled and the damages attributed to the abridgment of the employees’ speech right is priceless,” according to the lawsuit. The association is asking the district to rescind all directives restricting employees from displaying political signs. Staff Writer Tracy Garcia contributed to this City News Service story.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Ex-Liverpool keeper backs Karius to stay at Anfield despite Alisson deal

first_img silverware How Liverpool could line up at Leicester with midfielder set for lengthy absence 3 REVEALED Oxlade-Chamberlain suffers another setback as Klopp confirms serious injury Loris Karius will STAY at Anfield despite Liverpool’s expected signing of Alisson, according to former Reds goalkeeper Chris Kirkland.Karius’ future has been one of the key discussion points of the summer following his horror show in last season’s Champions League final. The German glovesman made two huge errors that allowed Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale to score in Real Madrid’s 3-1 defeat of Liverpool. Karius’ latest error came in Liverpool’s friendly defeat of Tranmere last week 3 Karius conceded three times in the Champions League final – with two of the goals entirely his fault Top nine Premier League free transfers of the decade REVEALED Which teams do the best on Boxing Day in the Premier League era? RANKED predicted How the Premier League table could change after the Boxing Day fixtures “He’ll be extremely nervous.“It’s the one position where you need confidence. If you haven’t got confidence you can kind of get away with it on the pitch as there are other players around you to disguise it, but as a goalkeeper, if you’re not confident you can make mistakes – and mistakes can end up in the back of the net.“He’s got a tough pre-season, but he’s got a great manager there who will want to do the best for Karius, not just the club. He’ll want to look after the player and try and help the player through.” Boxing Day fixtures: All nine Premier League games live on talkSPORT 3 England’s most successful clubs of the past decade, according to trophies won gameday cracker Every current Premier League club’s best kit from the past decade shining Premier League Team of the Season so far, including Liverpool and Leicester stars huge blow smart causal Should a deal for Alisson be confirmed, there have been suggestions Karius could leave Liverpool to try and rebuild his career away from the judgemental eyes of the Anfield faithful, but Kirkland has backed him to stay and regain his confidence under a ‘fantastic manager’.“It’s a tough one,” Kirkland said on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast. “I’ve said before that he’s at a fantastic club in Liverpool where he’ll get all the support he needs… he’s got a fantastic manager and all the staff around him.“If they do bring Alisson in it says that he’s going to be the No.1. “I’ve always been a fighter so I’d always want to stay and fight and try and get through it, but that might be out of his hands now.“If the club turn round and say ‘we’re going to get someone else, we think it might be best for you to [leave]’… but I can’t see Liverpool doing that. I think they’ll support him all they can, but they will get another goalkeeper to come in and play.“What happened [in the Champions League final] – you never get over that. It will always be in the back of his mind.“I did the pre-season game at Tranmere and unfortunately he made a mistake in that as well. possible standings Latest Liverpool news Jurgen Klopp, the Liverpool manager, was backed to move for a new goalkeeper when the transfer window opened, but the Merseyside outfit returned to pre-season earlier this month with Karius, Simon Mignolet and Danny Ward remaining as their senior shot-stoppers.Karius went on to make another error in a friendly victory over Tranmere, and in the last few days Liverpool have reportedly made a bid to sign Alisson, the Roma and Brazil ace, for a fee that would make him the most expensive ‘keeper in the history of the game. Where Ancelotti ranks with every Premier League boss for trophies won last_img read more

49ers sweep CSUN in Big West volleyball

first_img In doubles, the 49ers’ Williams and Rocha had a first-round bye to reach today’s play. The 49ers’ doubles duos of Katayama-Tabatruong and Weeks-Porsz lost Friday. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Ali Daley had 14 kills and Erika Chidester added 13 to help the Long Beach State women’s volleyball team to a 33-31, 30-21, 30-25 victory over Cal State Northridge in a Big West Conference match Friday night in Northridge. The 49ers also got 23 assists from Nicole Vargas and 16 from Dyanne Lawlor in improving to 13-4 overall and 3-1 in conference play. CSUN fell to 3-12 and 1-4. Among other key contributions for the 49ers were nine kills by Alexis Crimes and 15 digs by Heather Laudato. Vargas also had eight digs. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 The 49ers topped the Matadors in hitting percentage in Game 1, .356 to .349, then held clear advantages in the second (.308 to .205) and third (.367 to .140) games. Long Beach State will play host to Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside next Friday and Saturday, respectively, at the Walter Pyramid. Women’s tennis Three Long Beach State singles players and one 49er doubles duo advanced to today’s round of 16 in the CS Fullerton Fall Intercollegiates. The 49er had one singles winner in the first round Jessica Weeks, who beat Yasaman Sakhakorn of UC Riverside, 6-0, 6-1. Weeks went on to beat Heidi Kaloi of UC Irvine in the second round, 6-3, 6-4. LBSU’s Katy Williams and Sandra Rocha had first-round byes. In the second round, Williams beat Ashley Ellis of USC, 6-1, 6-1, and Rocha beat Cheyenne Inglis of Cal State Fullerton, 6-1, 6-1. First-round losers in singles for LBSU were Rachael Porsz, Krystina Katayama and Emmanuelle Tabatruong. center_img Mariko Crum added seven kills and Robin Miramontes had five for the 49ers. Darla Donaldson led the Matadors with 12 kills and Val Kepler had 10. Kayla Wright totaled 42 assists for CSUN. last_img read more

A.F. show to feature past, present craft on weekend

first_img This is Edwards’ first air show in two years. Last year’s open house was canceled because of tight budgets and base personnel’s heavy workloads, since organizing and conducting the event requires thousands of man-hours in addition to regular duties. Some 175,000 to 200,000 visitors are expected over both days, about usual for recent open houses. However, base officials are asking visitors to carpool with family and friends if possible because last week’s thunderstorms left water on Rogers Dry Lake, which was to be used for parking. Reducing the number of cars means visitors won’t have to park as far from the flightline and waits to get into parking areas won’t be as long, Ball said. “Our intent was originally to park on the lake bed. That was plan A. We’ve got a Plan B,” Ball said. “There’s lots of room. We want to save some space by having people carpool.” EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE – Tens of thousands of visitors are expected this weekend to watch aircraft from the U.S. Air Force’s past, present and future. World War II-era fighters and a bomber will fly at Edwards Air Force Base’s two-day open house along with a stealthy supersonic F/A-22 Raptor, a remote-controlled Predator spy plane, and a tilt-rotor CV-22 Osprey that takes off like a helicopter but flies like an airplane. “We’ve got everything, from vintage aircraft all the way to the most current aircraft available,” Edwards spokesman Chris Ball said. Gates will open at 7 a.m. and flying demonstrations will start at 10 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday. The flying concludes about 4:45 p.m. both days. Among the aerial performances will be one by retired Brig. Gen. Charles “Chuck” Yeager, the first man to break the sound barrier, flying a P-51 Mustang like the ones he flew during World War II. Yeager’s Mustang will be in the air with an F/A-22 Raptor, the Air Force’s latest air-superiority fighter. Other past-present pairs will be a B-1 bomber and a World War II-era B-25, a P-38 Lightning with an F-16, and two Korean War-era jets, a Soviet MiG-15 and an American F-86 Sabre. The sonic boom that traditionally opens the flying portion of the event will be flown on both days by retired Maj. Gen. Joe Engle, a former X-15 rocket plane pilot and a former space shuttle astronaut. The open house will have about one mile of aircraft displays. Among them will be aircraft representing the Air Force’s future, including the X-45A, a forerunner of a future unmanned combat craft; the Osprey tilt-rotor transport; and the Global Hawk reconnaissance aircraft, a robot plane used over Iraq and Afghanistan. Among the highlights will be “Tora Tora Tora,” a pyrotechnic show using vintage World War II aircraft to re-enact the Dec. 7, 1941, bombing of Pearl Harbor. NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center will participate in the flying demonstrations with four NASA aircraft – a modified F-15B, an F/A-18 jet, a T-34, and an ER-2, a civilian environmental research version of the U-2 spy plane. Dryden aircraft on display will include the B-52B “mothership” used to launch research aircraft, including the X-15 rocket planes and, more recently, the record-setting X-43 scramjet and the Apollo-era Lunar Lander Research Vehicle. A full-scale mock-up of the X-43 and replicas of NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Mars rovers will also be on display. The Army precision parachute team the Golden Knights will make two performances each day of the open house. Charles F. Bostwick, (661) 267-5742 Edwards Air Force Base air show tentative performance times for Saturday and Sunday. Base officials noted that times are subject to change. 9 a.m. Pre-show Stearman flight 10 a.m. F-16 sonic boom, P-51 pass 10 a.m. Golden Knights flag jump 10:10 a.m. Opening ceremony 10:20 a.m. F/A-22 demonstration 10:23 a.m. Gen. Yeager P-51 flyovers 10:29 a.m. F-22 overtaking pass of P-51 10:32 a.m. F-22 demonstration 10:42 a.m. F-22, F-16, P-51 flyover 10:48 a.m. Break 10:58 a.m. B-1 demonstration 11:10 a.m. B-25 Mitchell flyover 11:16 a.m. B-1 overtaking, photo passes with B-25 11:22 a.m. CJ-6 demonstration 11:37 a.m. F-86 flyover 11:43 a.m. MiG-15 flyover 11:49 a.m. F-86 / MiG-15 tail chase 11:55 a.m. Break 12:05 p.m. Giles-202 demonstration 12:17 p.m. Dutch F-16 single ship demonstration 12:31 p.m. B-52 demonstration 12:39 p.m. Glider act 12:55 p.m. Break 1:05 p.m. C-17 demonstration and drop 1:20 p.m. Golden Knights 2 p.m. T-6 heritage flight 2:25 p.m. Break 2:35 p.m. Predator flyover 2:41 p.m. B-52 high-altitude pass 2:45 p.m. F-16 single ship demonstration 3:05 p.m. P-38/F-16 heritage flight 3:11 p.m. Break 3:21 p.m. Julie Clark Mopar T-34 demonstration 3:33 p.m. CV-22 demonstration 3:43 p.m. B-2 demonstration 3:49 p.m. NASA ER-2, F/A-18, T-34 demonstrations 4:09 p.m. Break 4:19 p.m., F-117 demonstration 4:27 p.m. Tora Tora Tora 4:37 p.m. Air Force Flight Test Center aerial review 4:41 p.m. Show ends 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Union willing to end walkout in NYC

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake “Were it not for the pension piece, we would not be out on strike,” Transport Workers Union Local 100 President Roger Toussaint said in an interview with New York-based all-news channel NY1. “All it needs to do is take its pension proposal off the table.” As the strike proceeded through a second day Wednesday, state Supreme Court Justice Theodore Jones ordered Toussaint and two of his deputies to court Thursday morning to face criminal contempt charges for ordering the illegal walkout. Jones has already imposed $1 million-a-day fines on the union, and he could impose individual fines on union leaders and workers as well. New York’s attorney general has asked Jones to fine union officials, and Jones said it was a “distinct possibility” that he could jail them for defying a court order barring the strike. Union lawyer Arthur Schwartz warned that hauling Toussaint into court would halt the state-supervised mediation and could make a settlement even more difficult. NEW YORK – Threatened with huge fines and possible jail time, the city’s transit union suggested Wednesday that it would be willing to end a strike that has shut down bus and subway service for two days – if a plan to change workers’ pensions were dropped. The union’s suggestion came as millions of New Yorkers again trudged to and from work – some walking miles, others riding bicycles and in-line skates in the morning’s 24-degree chill. The contract covering 33,000 New York transit workers expired last week, and the union called the strike Tuesday morning despite a state law banning public employee strikes. According to the union president, the sticking point is a proposed change in pensions. The Metropolitan Transit Authority’s last contract proposed maintaining a retirement age of 55 but increasing what new hires contribute to the pension plan. New employees would pay 6 percent of their wages during their first 10 years, rather than the current 2 percent. Mayor Michael Bloomberg also said he didn’t think jail was appropriate. “The fines are what is going to hurt. Fines don’t make you a martyr and fines you don’t get back,” he said. Lawyers for the city began a separate legal proceeding to turn the financial screws on rank-and-file union members, a move that could bring them to court to face charges of civil contempt. Michael A. Cardozo, New York City’s corporation counsel, asked the judge to issue a second order directing union members to return to work. If such an order were ignored, Cardozo said the city could ask for heavy fines per worker – a punishment beyond the docked-pay penalty workers already face. The fines, at the judge’s discretion, could range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars and would come out of the workers’ own pockets rather than union coffers. “We’re doing everything possible to make the union obey the law,” the judge said, adding that union members need to “realize the economic consequences of their actions.” Meanwhile, the war of words between Bloomberg and the union continued. “It needs to end, and it needs to end right now,” Bloomberg said in a news conference Wednesday, repeatedly lashing out at what he called an “illegal, selfish strike” and questioning how union leaders could claim their walkout would benefit the working class. “Working people are the ones who are being hurt,” Bloomberg said. “The busboy is getting hurt, the garment industry worker is getting hurt, the owners of mom and pop businesses. … The ones getting hurt the most are the ones who can least afford it. If they don’t get paid, they don’t eat.” The strike was responsible for a 40 percent decline in business at restaurants, an 80 percent decline in visitors at museums, and a 90 percent decline in customers at the Fulton Mall in Brooklyn, the mayor said. He estimated the city’s lost revenue at $300 million to $400 million a day.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more