#178: Strike cancelled, forest occupied, anti-vax teacher, indoor farm flop
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Train strike cancelled
Rail union EVG called off a massive 50-hour strike it had planned for this Monday and Tuesday after Deutsche Bahn and the union reached a deal about the minimum wage for DB workers. It turns out, in an absurdity typical for Germany, that a special exception had been made for the STATE-OWNED rail operator, meaning many low-paid workers (cleaners, security, the people who cut vegetation away from the tracks) were paid under the minimum of €12/hour and had to receive top-ups from the taxpayer. Robbing Peter to pay Paul, in other words. Despite the cancellation, some trains still weren’t running Monday, DB said, because of the massive logistical challenges of switching back to regular service at short notice.
You might as well give up driving in Berlin. Monday and Tuesday morning, Letzte Generation activists again blocked the A100 autobahn and various thoroughfares in Tempelhof, Prenzlauer Berg and Treptow. These people are stubborn! For details, check out Tagesspiegel’s news blog. Meanwhile, according to RBB, in the southeast of the city, activists are occupying a wooded area in Wuhlheide to protest plans to build a new four-lane road known as the Tangentialverbindung Ost (Gesundheit!), which would see the destruction of 15 hectares of forest. Protesters have built treehouses and set up hammocks in the trees. Construction isn’t set to begin until 2026.
€50k for anti-vax teacher
A 62-year-old teacher who was fired during the pandemic for posting a video featuring a concentration camp with “Impfung macht frei” (“vaccination sets you free”) over the gate (a reference to a similar saying on the gate to Auschwitz) has been awarded €50,000 in compensation by a Berlin court, taz reports. In another video he claimed state vaccination policies had worse consequences than Hitler, Stalin and Mao. The education department’s lawyer defended firing the teacher by arguing his videos were incompatible with his duties to educate students about democracy. Equating vaccinations with the greatest crimes of the 20th century was simply unacceptable in the teaching profession.
According to Handelsblatt, Berlin “vertical farming” company Infarm (the one that runs those in-store grow-cases full of micro-greens that I’ve never seen anyone buy) is shifting most of its operations away from Europe, possibly the Middle East, thanks to sky-high energy costs here. Infarm laid off 500 people last year and lost €67 million in 2021, according to a source in the firm. And to think Infarm was once valued at €1 billion.
Meanwhile in Neukölln …
Something more sustainable than indoor salad factories seems to have sprouted at Hermannstraße 86: Spore, a non-profit “cultural initiative facilitating programs on regenerative ecological practices through experiences of intergenerational learning.” The culture space partners with indigenous communities in Yucatán and hosts all kinds of workshops and events in English. The info.
Five members of Berlin’s Remmo mafia family have been sentenced between four and six years in prison for their involvement in the 2019 robbery of jewels worth €116 million from the Grünes Gewölbe museum in Dresden. The defendants received reduced sentences in exchange for returning 18 of the 21 pilfered jewels. The state of Saxony is claiming damages worth €89 million for the missing gems, as well as damage to the the museum and a parking garage where the robbers set their getaway car on fire.
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