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German trade union chief warns Russian gas cut-off may cripple country's major industries

File photo of Yasmin Fahimi, who heads the German Federation Trade Unions (DGB).

The head of a confederation of trade unions in Germany has sounded the alarm that the looming cut-off of Russian natural gas would cripple major industries in the European country.

“Because of the gas bottlenecks, entire industries are in danger of permanently collapsing: aluminum, glass, the chemical industry,” Yasmin Fahimi, who heads the German Federation Trade Unions (DGB) said Sunday in an interview with local Bild am Sonntag daily.

Her dire warning came just a day ahead of an anticipated round of crisis talks between Fahimi and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

“Such a collapse would have massive consequences for the entire economy and jobs in Germany,” Fahimi said, warning of potential dangers to European Union’s biggest economy -- heavily reliant on Russian energy exports -- if Moscow halts its gas transfers to the country as expected.

Scholz called on Germans on Sunday to "stick together" amid the rising cost of living in the country, which is becoming a pandemic across Europe. 

In a video podcast, the German leader conceded that rising prices have become a major cause of concern in the country and unbridled inflation of nearly eight percent is troubling many citizens.

Scholz insisted that the population needs to stick together to weather the nation’s economic troubles, saying: "We must link arms and stick together to come through this very difficult time safely."

However, Fahimi called for a price cap on energy for German households, emphasizing that the country’s companies and households will be further burdened by the surging costs of CO2 emissions, generating a crisis that could also lead to social and labor unrest.

The development came after the head of Germany’s regulatory agency urged residents on Saturday to save energy and to prepare for winter, when the use of natural gas soars, amid fears that Russia might cut off natural gas supplies.  

The country’s Federal Network Agency President Klaus Mueller also called on house and apartment owners to have their gas boilers and radiators checked and adjusted to maximize their efficiency.

“Maintenance can reduce gas consumption by 10 to 15 percent,” he said during an interview with local media outlets.

Also on Saturday, the environment senator for the German city of Hamburg declared that the city will ration hot water in private homes and limit maximum heating temperature in case of a sharp gas shortage resulting from the halt of Russian gas imports.

"In an acute gas shortage, warm water could only be made available at certain times of the day in an emergency," said Hamburg Senator for the Environment Jens Kerstan.

Mueller underlined that residents and property owners need to use the 12 weeks prior to the arrival of colder temperatures to get ready. He added that families should start talking now about “whether every room needs to be set at its usual temperature in the winter – or whether some rooms can be a little colder.”

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