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Possible Eruption of Volcano in Central Philippines Causes Evacuation of 45,000 Residents
Aired December 22, 2009 - 12:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
STAN GRANT, CNN INT'L. ANCHOR, PRISM (voice over): Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes in the central Philippines, waiting anxiously for a volcano to make up its mind and maybe blow its top.
On the brink of a deal, Israel says abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit must be freed, but is the state willing to pay the price?
And in our "Prism Segment" tonight, is the right to strike a fundamental human right? Or in some cases should striking be illegal?
From CNN Abu Dhabi in United Arab Emirates, this is PRISM, where we take a story and look at it from multiple perspectives. I'm Stan Grant.
Bursts of ash, oozing lava and tens of thousands of people likely to spend Christmas in a shelter, all of this is unfolding in the central Philippines where Mount Mayon is threatening a major eruption anytime now. Many villages have been evacuated from areas surrounding the country's most active volcano. Its rumbling has created a number of earthquakes keeping communities on edge. Well, James Reynolds joins us now on the line from nearby Legazpi.
And, James, give us a sense of the anxiety, the feeling amongst people there as they wait to see exactly what the volcano does.
JAMES REYNOLDS, JOURNALIST: I spent the afternoon at the Mayon Volcano observatory with the scientists there and we were watching regular ash explosions. And the scientists, they are just waiting for a -for the show to begin, so to speak. They are all set for the big eruption any day now.
And obviously, amongst the people who have been evacuated and are facing the prospect of spending Christmas in a rescue, in an evacuation center, you know, it is a daunting prospect.
GRANT: Take us through that evacuation procedure. How many people were moved and are they confident they have everyone out of harm's way?
REYNOLDS: I was speaking to some local journalists this morning, and the latest figures they had were between 45,000 and 47,000 people who have been moved out of the danger zone, which is a ring of about eight kilometers from the center of the volcano. And the soldiers, the Philippine army have been doing regular patrols, to try and stop people sneaking back in to get back to their livestock and their households.
GRANT: James thank you very much for bringing us up to date on that. James Reynolds, there, joining us from Legazpi in the Philippines.
Now some fast facts on the Mayon volcano. It is located about 500 kilometers south of Manila and rises to nearly 25,000 meters. It is the most active volcano in the Philippines, erupting at least 49 times in the last 323 years. Its most violent eruption was in 1814, killing 1,200 people.
Much of Europe is now in winter's icy grip and some 80 deaths have been blamed on the cold and snow. Some from road accidents, but many were homeless out in the cold. Meanwhile, travel troubles are far from over. EasyJet has canceled more than 150 flights today. Other carriers have also called off a number of flights and some officials warn that further delays and more cancellations lie ahead.
But there is some good travel news. Many Eurostar trains are now rolling again, that is after weather stalled the service for three long days and stranded some 75,000 holiday travelers on either side of the English Channel. There is still a huge backlog of passengers and many may be in for a very long wait.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Depends on how many people are in front of you, really. And whether they have priority, whether they have been here since the first day when Eurostar stopped. If you have tickets ongoing you in priority listing, so, it is very difficult to know when you are going to go.
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GRANT: Parts of the U.S. are reeling from one major snowstorm and another is about to hit. The latest round slammed the Northeast over the weekend and left some 200,000 homes without electricity. Power may not be restored to many of them until Friday. We will have details on the next storm in our weather segment just ahead.
Several labor strikes are looming ahead of the holidays. In our "Prism Segment" we are asking the question should all workers have the right to strike? A look now at some walkouts making news. Postal workers in Australia are staging a strike this week over job protection and other issues. Union members in most states have agreed to return to work tomorrow as a sign of what they call Christmas goodwill. It is the second strike in a week involving up to 20,000 workers out of a total workforce of 35,000. Some disruption of mail deliveries is expected, although Australia Post says they should be minimal.
Another strike in the works would, again, effect travelers in England. A British court blocked a possible British Airways strike last week, which could have impacted up to 1 million passengers over the holidays. But now two separate strikes targeting London's subway system could interrupt services starting today. Two groups of union workers are involved in the walkouts that could disrupt services through Christmas. A two-day strike back in June shut down The Tube, forcing commuters to find alternative transportation.
There is lots of buzz about the strikes on social media. Some are upset, others are just trying to get the word out. Several postings on Twitter read like this: "EDF Powerlink strike may close Tube over Christmas," then offer a link to a story.
There are several like this one, which reads: "What? Tube strike on the night of the office party?
JustanotherJack writes, "This doesn't sound too good."
Now just last week, when it looked like there might be a British Airways workers strike, emotions skyrocketed, so did concerns about how 1 million passengers were going to find alternate travel plans at the last minute over the Christmas holidays. Union leaders insisted a strikes was warranted and necessary, even though a judge blocked the strike for now.
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TONY WOODLEY, JOINT GENERAL SECRETARY, UNITE: Our members who decided on this action, their representatives, believe that this strike for 12 days needed to be that long to concentrate British Airways' minds that this isn't a run of the mill issue, it is not small issues. It is very, very, very serious.
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GRANT: Now, just the threat of a strike caused panic among passengers. Some took immediate action to work out a back up plan at significant cost, and that generated ill feelings toward the workers.
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KATIE MARCUS, BRITISH AIRWAYS, PASSENGER: I've going to school with about 16 girls and about half of them that I came here, on British Airways, with have been affected. And they have had to pay at least $300 to about $2,000 extra just to make sure that they had a ticket home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because they were going to buy another ticket from another airline?
MARCUS: Yes, before Christmas to see their family.
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GRANT: Now under some international labor laws the right to strike is considered a fundamental human right. Yet not all countries allow walkouts. Opinions vary widely on this subject. So we posed the question, should workers in all sectors have the right to strike. From the streets of London, some answers for you.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, everyone has the right to go on strike, but of course the circumstances matter in each particular case. And it is better for industrial relations and for functioning of the economy if you can avoid strikes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I work as a firefighter and I don't think we should be allowed to go on strike at all. Essential services, the trains, firefighters, police, ambulance crews, hospital staff, I don't think they be allowed to go on strike at all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it is going to cause harm to other people, then there is not need.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I do think they have a right to go on strike, if their employer breaks their terms of employment, then yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Surely, I would have the right to say I don't like these working conditions and we have run out of other options, maybe this is the thing to do. I don't know whether I personally would go on strike.
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GRANT: Well, for some perspective we want to turn to Gregor Gall now. He is a professor of industrial relations at the University of Hertfordshire, just outside London. He joins us from Edinburgh, Scotland.
And, Professor, this big question exactly who should be allowed to strike, if you are talking about transport, you are talking about health. Should people in most sectors be able to take this type of action?
GREGOR GALL, RESEARCH PROFESSOR, UNIV. OF HERTFORDSHIRE: I think there are two ways of looking at it. The first is to say that all workers should have the right to go out and strike, because there is an imbalance in the level of power between the employer and the union.
But the second point to see is that if there no right to strike, in say, essential services, transport, health services and so on, then those workers should have the right to arbitration, which is a system by which an independent third party would adjudicate on the disputes between the employer and the employee. And if there was no right to strike, then there has to be kind of system in place, which would allow the disputes to be settled.
GRANT: Let's look at the BA strike.
GRANT: Let's look at the BA strike, we heard from the union last week, saying they believe that this is eroding the rights to strike. If you take a look at BA and you take a look at where the public came down, where public sympathies lie, what does it say about the way that was handled?
GALL: Well, I think that the union, the Unite Union, in a sense pressed the nuclear button by threatening to take 12 days of action at this very sensitive time, when people are trying to get home to see family and friends. They did that because they felt that they needed to send a very clear message to the company.
But I think that all unions should be aware that it is not just the industrial leverage that have which will make a difference to whether they win their dispute. It is also where public opinion lies. And I think in this case if the dispute had gone ahead with the consequences that were likely to happen then they would have lost a lot of public support. And that would have had some bearing on the outcome of the dispute.
GRANT: You describe it, I read, as mutually assured destruction. On the one hand the union was taking this action at some risk to itself, on the other hand, the company itself is going through tough financial times. In the modern economy do unions, overall, need to find a more effective way of dealing with this at a time, as you say, when there is dwindling public support and indeed dwindling membership across world for unions.
GALL: Well, I think it is a difficult problem for them, because clearly at the moment with the recession, or a depression going on around the world, there is a need for unions to be able to protect their members. The problem that they have is that union membership, in most countries that are in the world, is not a much, much lower than it was 20 or 30 years ago. In fact, only in some Scandinavian countries has union membership held up.
So, unions are in need of being able to have power to exercise, but the membership densities that they have doesn't allow them to do that. In that sense, you could argue that maybe they need to look for other mechanisms which may be through arbitration or through the law in order to allow them to protect their members' interests.
GRANT: If we look at the Thatcher years, here in Britain, of course, a big crackdown on unions. Given the reaction to the BA strike and the likelihood, some say, of a conservative government being elected at the next poll, in Britain, what changes do you foresee under a Conservative rule, in Britain, in the future when it comes to the right to strike?
GALL: I think there are three things. The first is that the Conservatives have already signaled that when ballots take place in Britain to allow official lawful strikes they have said that rather than just being a simple majority of all of those that vote for the strike, a simple majority needed to take -for the strike to take place, what they have said is that there will have to be a simple majority of all those entitled to vote. And what that means is those that do now vote will be counted as no votes. So, if you like, the threshold of what is needed will go up. That is the first change.
The second change is that Boris Johnson, who is the current mayor of London, has signaled that he would like there to be a no strike ban on the London underground. And that may well become Conservative Party policy.
And the third change is I think the employers, all around the country, under a conservative government, will be more keen to use injunctions, as British Airways did last week, in order to prevent strikes.
GRANT: Professor, appreciate you giving us this -your time today on PRISM. Thank you very much for that.
Professor Gregor Gall joining us there from Hertfordshire University, he was joining us from Edinburgh, Scotland.
Now the right to strike, some different opinions as you heard there. That was our "Prism Segment" this evening.
What price for one man? Israel considers the question as it tries to win freedom for Gilad Shalit.
And where does Santa really come from? We'll take you there and explain how the economy is taking a toll.
GRANT: Israel has given its response to the latest offer by Hamas to exchange a captured Israeli for a number of Palestinian prisoners. Gilad Shalit was seized three years ago in a cross-border raid. Hamas is offering to return him, but only in exchange for hundreds of prisoners currently in Israeli jails. Jerusalem Bureau Chief Kevin Flowers joins us now with more on the story.
Kevin, bring us up to date on the latest with this deal.
KEVIN FLOWERS, CNN INT'L. JERUSALEM BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Stan, after two days of intensive Israeli government discussions there were hopes there that a deal with - a potential deal for the release of captured soldier Gilad Shalit, might be in the offing. And late last night the Israeli government made -the prime ministers office made a public announcement and it said that it was instructing its negotiator to continue on with the negotiations.
Now this went a bit short of the expectation that maybe the Israeli government would actually say that they had accepted the terms of the Hamas' - of Hamas' terms for a prisoner release. So, what we are left with today are conflicting reports about whether or not an offer has been made to - an Israeli offer has been made to Hamas and what Hamas' potential answer to this will be. Both sides are keeping things very close to their vests right now, not saying very much.
Now, of course, this prisoner release is a hugely controversial issue here in Israel with many people opposed to the notion of releasing hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, many of whom have been convicted of attacks against Israeli citizens. And the government, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under increasing pressure to make some sort of deal, by many here, but opposition is still great in many quarters, Stan.
GRANT: Kevin, thank you very much for that. Kevin Flowers joining us there form Jerusalem.
Well, in Spain it is known as The Fat One, the gambler has only a slim chance at winning world's biggest lottery, the billions of dollars in this year caught in the excitement surrounding the draw.
MALE SINGER: Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way.
GRANT: (INAUDIBLE) ? Not necessarily, especially when everyday is December 25th. The town where Christmas is more about money than magic.
GRANT: We have been talking a lot about the weather earlier in the program, the U.S., in Europe. Let's take a look at global weather picture now. Lola Martinez is at the International Weather Center -- Lola.
LOLA MARTINEZ, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Now I want to take you into Thailand, where the big problem here has actually been the flooding . Four days in a row. Let's see some images, because it is a rather serious situation here. People living on the Thai/Malaysian border enduring a fourth day of flooding after the heavy rains filled and swelled the already overflowing waters from local rivers. Over 500 families have been evacuated in the Sungaicoloc (ph) district.
We will keep you posted, unfortunately more rain is still in the forecast across this part of the world, Stan. Back to you.
GRANT: Not looking good. Thank you very much for that, Lola. Lola Martinez joining us there from the CNN World Weather Center.
Need a little extra spending money for the holidays? How about $3 billion? That is the payout in the world's biggest lottery. It is not for nothing that the annual Christmas lottery in Spain is called "El Gordo", the Fat One.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I have a feeling, but you never know. We will have to celebrate before the draw just in case. Then you will maybe celebrate twice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are unemployed so we told ourselves we have nothing better to do, so let's see it live in case it brings us some luck.
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GRANT: Well, for a $286 ticket this year's 1,950 top prize winners. Each got $430, 000 tax free. Not a bad year.
Well, in China Santa Clause comes to one town every single day. That is where most Christmas decorations are manufactured and then sold to a global market. And as Eunice Yoon explains in Yiwu, the yuletide lasts all year long.
MALE SINGER: Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way .
EUNICE YOON, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It is a cacophony of Santas. Imagine listening to this nearly everyday of the year. That is life for many in this corner of the globe. And we're not talking about the North Pole.
(On camera): Christmas trees like these will be brightening up homes all over the world. The managers of this market say over 80 percent of all Christmas decorations are bought and sold in Yiwu.
(voice over): This town in China is home to the biggest wholesale market in the world. Traders come from all over to stock up on stockings, tinsel, ornaments, and paper Santas, sold by people like Myu Hong Sha (ph). Myu (ph) depends on Christmas celebrations, though her understanding of the Christian holiday is more practical than anything else.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Christmas means I get more sales and more money.
YOON: Sellers and buyers say the down economy this year has dampened yuletide spirits.
PRADEEP BOKARIA, BUYER: Things have given (ph) us less business right now. That is why the economies, everywhere, they are falling, in the world.
YOON: Artificial tree maker Wu Jun says sales at her factory dropped by as much as 30 percent. To cope she is turning to markets outside the United States and Europe, to Brazil and even China.
WU JUN, ARTIFICIAL TREE MANUFACTURER (through translator): It is getting trendy to celebrate Christmas here. You will see a lot of shops, big shopping malls, and hotels putting up huge decorations to attract people.
YOON: The gifts end up at this port, hundreds of containers depart Yiwu every day delivering their precious cargo to homes across the globe. Wu can't imagine her work without the festive event.
JUN (through translator): Without Christmas I would have nothing to do.
YOON: And who wants to sit idle in Santa's workshop? Eunice Yoon, CNN, Yiwu, China.
GRANT: And that's it for me in Abu Dhabi. "Worlds Untold Stories" is up next.