Connect with us

Business

Global trade unions urge UK to resolve rail strike row

Published

on

Members of the RMT rail union have scheduled three strikes this week in a dispute over pay, pensions and conditions
Share this:

International transport trade unions on Friday urged London to negotiate a swift end to Britain’s biggest rail strike in over 30 years, on the eve of the latest walkout.

More than 100 unions have written an open letter to UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps calling on him to help settle the bitter row over pay, as surging inflation sparks growing industrial unrest.

The letter, coordinated by the International Transport Workers’ Federation, comes one day before the third of this week’s three rail strikes.

“We are writing to call on you to meet with the transport unions to discuss rail workers’ concerns and enable the unions to reach a negotiated settlement to the disputes with rail employers,” the letter read.

And it called upon the government to “defend rail workers’ jobs, pay, conditions and pensions”.

Shapps has so far refused to get involved in negotiations, arguing that they should be held between workers’ trade unions, Network Rail and private-sector railway operating firms.

The letter was signed by unions from across the world, including Asia, Europe, South America and the Middle East.

“We are shocked that … the UK government is set to impose cuts to railway services and scrap infrastructure projects at exactly the time when it should be investing, expanding and promoting public transport, especially the railways to help reduce global emissions from transport,” the letter continued.

“We call on you to do what’s right by these workers and their communities, and call on you to meet urgently with the transport unions.”

The RMT rail union insists strikes are necessary as wages have failed to keep pace with UK inflation, which has hit a 40-year high and is on course to keep rising.

The RMT also accuses Shapps of having “wrecked” negotiations by not allowing Network Rail to withdraw a letter threatening redundancies of 2,900 RMT members.

However, Shapps has called that “a total lie”.

Rail staff went on strike on Tuesday and Thursday — and are also set to do so on Saturday in the absence of a deal.

A Department for Transport spokesperson denied that the government had sought to obstruct any agreement.

“It is entirely false to claim the government is blocking negotiations,” the spokesperson stated.

“We have said from the outset we urge the unions and industry to agree a deal that is fair for railway staff, passengers and taxpayers.”

Separately, British Airways workers at London’s Heathrow airport voted on Thursday to strike over pay.

Members of the GMB and Unite trade unions overwhelmingly backed action and warned of a “summer of strikes” as the nation’s cost-of-living crisis worsens.

Share this:

Business

Snap to slow hiring after dismal earnings pummel stock price

Published

on

By

Snap said its loss more than doubled in the recently ended quarter despite rising use of Snapchat
Share this:

Snapchat’s owner plans to “substantially” slow recruitment after bleak results Thursday wiped 25 percent off the stock price of the tech firm, which is facing difficulties on several fronts.

Snap reported that its loss in the recently ended quarter nearly tripled to $422 million despite revenue increasing 13 percent under conditions “more challenging” than expected.

A hit with young internet users in its early days, ephemeral messaging app Snapchat has remained a small player in the social networking space as competition has grown ever more intense.

“We are not satisfied with the results we are delivering, regardless of the current headwinds,” California-based Snap said in a letter to investors.

The firm pointed to a punishing confluence of increased competition, slowing growth of its revenue, “upended” advertising industry standards and macroeconomic woes.

Snap share price was around $12 in after-hours trading in the wake of the earnings report.

“Competition — whether it’s with TikTok or any of the other very large, sophisticated players in the space — has only intensified,” Snap chief financial officer Derek Andersen said on an earnings call.

“So it’s hard to disentangle the numerous factors here impacting what’s clearly a headwind-driven deceleration in our business,” he added.

The number of people using Snapchat daily grew 18 percent to 347 million from the same quarter a year ago, Snap reported.

Snap last month launched a subscription version of Snapchat as it looks to generate more money from the image-centric, ephemeral messaging app.

– Trouble on multiple fronts –

Snapchat+ is priced at $4 a month and will provide access to exclusive features. It said that these would include priority tech support and early access to experimental features.

The subscription version of the service made its debut in Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States, Snap said.

Snap in February reported its first quarterly profit, but two months later warned that it saw the economic outlook as having darkened considerably.

“It’s clear that the challenging economic environment continues to put pressure on Snap’s business,” said Insider Intelligence principal analyst Jasmine Enberg.

“Snap is also still reeling from the impact of Apple’s privacy changes, which have disproportionately impacted performance advertisers, creating a one-two-punch to its entire ad business.”

Apple rocked the digital advertising landscape by tightening privacy controls in the software powering its iPhones, letting users curb the tracking data used to target ads.

Snap is a small player in the online ad market, accounting for less than one percent of the money spent worldwide, which makes it more susceptible to such changes and challenges than internet giants such as Facebook-parent Meta, Eng said.

“It can be difficult to attribute deceleration to any one factor,” Andersen said. “But in order to keep growing, we’ve got to stay focused on the inputs that we control.”

Snap a while back recast itself as a “camera company,” fielding offerings such as picture-taking glasses called Spectacles.

“Long-term the most exciting opportunity is (augmented reality) and we’re investing heavily around the future of AR,” Andersen said.

Meanwhile, the battle for people’s attention online grows increasingly fierce as established titans such as Meta and Google adapt offerings to changing trends and relative newcomers such as TikTok grab the spotlight.

Anderson added that Snap intends to effectively pause hiring and look at reining in other expenses, joining a growing number of tech firms throttling back costs.

“We intend to substantially slow our rate of hiring to effectively pause growth in our headcount, which is a significant portion of our office,” he added.

Share this:
Continue Reading

Business

Volkswagen to change CEO and style with departure of Diess

Published

on

By

Diess has led Volkswagen's pivot to electric vehicles but ruffled feathers with his divisive style
Share this:

Volkswagen unexpectedly announced Friday that its CEO Herbert Diess will step down in a few weeks after four years at the head of the German auto giant as it attempts an ambitious shift towards electric vehicles.

Diess’s will leave the helm from the top of the world’s second-largest automaker “by mutual consent” on September 1, Volkswagen said in a statement.

The outgoing CEO had been in the hot seat at Volkswagen for months amid clashes with workers’ representatives and a nagging troubles at the group’s software division.

The change at the top comes as Volkswagen is aiming to leave behind combustion engines to become the world’s biggest electric car manufacturer by 2025 — a target boosted by Diess himself.

Diess had “played a key role” in the transformation of the group, steered the company through “extremely turbulent waters” and “implemented a fundamentally new strategy”, said Volkswagen supervisory board chairman, Hans Dieter Poetsch.

The reins will be taken by Oliver Blume, the current boss of the Porsche sports cars, part of the Volkswagen family of 12 brands, which also includes the likes of Skoda and Audi.

The switch was decided at a meeting of the group supervisory board on Friday.

“Team spirit, fairness and passion are essential for success,” he said in a statement on Friday.

Blume will stay on as the CEO of Porsche, which is in the midst of planning an entry onto the stock market, potentially as soon as this year.

– Software malfunction –

Diess took over Volkswagen in 2018, tasked with turning the page once and for good on the 2015 “dieselgate” scandal, where Volkswagen tampered with millions of diesel vehicles to dupe emissions tests.

Under Diess, Volkswagen has backed its electric shift with a total of 46 billion euros ($46.8 billion) in planned investments over the next five years.

Latterly, Diess took over responsibility for VW’s tech division Cariad on the board of management.

But the development of a platform to be used in the group’s vehicles has however been mired by “production delays” that have “cost money”, according to German automotive expert Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer.

The software branch had likely “created too many problems and challenges for the VW Group”, he said.

Revitalising the software division would be top of Blume’s in-tray, Dudenhoeffer said, along with the future of Volkswagen’s battery strategy. 

In one of his last acts as CEO, Diess laid the ceremonial cornerstone at the site of the group’s first in-house battery factory alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

– Divisive style –

The outgoing CEO often ruffled feathers with his divisive style that led to clashes.

An open admirer of Elon Musk, the CEO of American electric vehicles pioneer Tesla, Diess said last year the storied German carmaker would need a “revolution” to take on its US rival.

His suggestion last October that up to 30,000 jobs could be at risk at Volkswagen in Germany if it could not cut costs in its transition to battery-powered models angered powerful workers’ representatives.

In 2019, Diess was made to apologise for making a play on words with a Nazi slogan — “EBIT macht frei” — a ham-fisted attempt to underline the importance of operational profits to the group.

The Volkswagen group as a whole has been in the spotlight of late for its operations in the Chinese province of Xinjiang, where authorities are accused of leading a crackdown against the Muslim minority.

Diess said recently the automaker “should stay” in the region and gave assurances there is “no forced labour” at the factory it operates together with its Chinese partner SAIC.

Share this:
Continue Reading

Business

Twitter reports earnings miss, cites Musk buyout uncertainty

Published

on

By

Twitter cites Musk deal uncertainty in earnings miss
Share this:

Twitter reported disappointing results on Friday, a miss that the social network attributed to “headwinds” including the uncertainty related to Elon Musk’s buyout bid.

The firm is locked in a legal battle with the mercurial Tesla boss over his effort to walk away from his $44 billion deal to purchase the platform, leaving the company in limbo.

Twitter missed expectations with revenue of $1.18 billion, due to “advertising industry headwinds… as well as uncertainty related to the pending acquisition of Twitter by an affiliate of Elon Musk,” the firm reported.

The news comes days after Twitter notched a victory in its fight with Musk, when a judge agreed to a fast-track trial on whether to force the billionaire to complete the buyout.

Musk argues that the platform misled on the number of fake accounts on the platform, but the social media platform counters that he is just trying to get out of the deal.

Musk’s lawyers had pushed for a February 2023 date, but the court in the eastern US state of Delaware hewed closely to the uncertainty-wracked platform’s desire for speed and set an October start.

– Losing money –

Billions of dollars are at stake, but so is the future of Twitter, which Musk has said should allow any legal speech — an absolutist position that has sparked fears the network could be used to incite violence.

Twitter is left with anxious employees, wary advertisers and hamstrung management as it is limps along while waiting to learn how the saga will end.

In early May, at an annual marketing event where companies negotiate large advertising deals, Twitter was “not able to give advertisers any clarity or confidence” that it would continue to be safe showcase for them, said Angelo Carusone, president of watchdog group Media Matters.

“They didn’t go anywhere close to what they normally sell at that event. And it’s obviously been sluggish since then,” he told AFP previously.

The San Francisco-based social network cannot afford to lose customers. 

Unlike big fish such as Google and Facebook parent Meta, which dominate online advertising and make billions in profits, Twitter lost hundreds of millions of dollars in 2020 and 2021.

The group will capture less than one percent of global ad revenue in 2022, according to eMarketer, compared to 12.5 percent for Facebook, 9 percent for Instagram and nearly two percent for booming upstart TikTok. 

On top of that, Twitter’s user base is barely expected to grow and may even shrink in the United States, analysts have noted.

Share this:
Continue Reading

Featured