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European Edition
21st July 2021
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BlackRock increases opposition to high executive pay in Europe
BlackRock has increased its opposition to executive pay in Europe over the past year, details of the asset manager’s voting records show, indicating an increased willingness to drive up corporate governance standards. BlackRock said it voted against management on 33% of “say-on-pay” proposals in European companies in the year to the end of June – up from 26% last year. This increase in opposition votes was “largely attributed” to BlackRock's opposition to adjustments that companies made during the pandemic. “BlackRock opposed executive pay programmes when companies were not able to explain how these adjustments supported long-term, sustainable value creation for shareholders, ” said Sandy Boss, global head of investment stewardship.

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Google staff wait to hear whether their remote work plans will be approved
Bloomberg reports that Google’s ongoing deliberation about which individual employees will get to continue working full time remotely and who will need to come in to the office is causing staff to be frustrated by a lack of clear direction and uneven enforcement of the policy. Despite an unexpected rebound in productivity in the remote working era, the company is sticking with its plan to bring most employees back to offices this fall. Internal research at Google also showed that employees want more “collaboration and social connections” at work, according to Brian Welle, a human resources vice president at the Alphabet unit. Welle did not provide exact data but said “more than 75%” of surveyed employees answered this way, adding that most staff also specifically wished for physical proximity when working on new projects. "There’s something about innovative work — when you need that spark . . . Our employees feel like those moments happen better when they’re together,” he said.
Apple is to delay office returns until October
Apple is to delay the return of staff to its offices by at least a month to October at the earliest and is recommending that workers at its retail stores, whether vaccinated or not, wear masks as COVID-19 cases surge in the U.S. and elsewhere. In localities where the authorities have reinstated mask mandates, retail workers must comply, the company told its employees. Apple had dropped its internal mask mandate in June. The iPhone maker will inform its employees at least a month before their expected return to offices, according to people familiar with the matter.  Apple CEO  Tim Cook had originally planned a summer return. When staff members eventually return, they are expected to work from the office on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Wednesday and Friday will be optionally remote for some employees. Workers specialising in hardware will be required to work from the office four or five days per week. Apple says the return to work arrangement is a pilot and will be reevaluated next year.
Gorillas delivery riders protest about working conditions
Rapidly-expanding Berlin-based grocery delivery start-up Gorillas has contended with multiple worker strikes and protests in the past month amid the termination of some employees’ tenure, a lack of suitable equipment, and pay discrepancies. The Gorillas Workers Collective recently organised a protest that saw employees and activists cycle to three different delivery warehouses, temporarily halting operations at each one. "There are a lot of issues," said Gorillas rider Anna Zakelj, who identified missing pay, insufficient poor weather gear, and chronic back pain from carrying heavy loads as her main concerns. "The company is expanding so quickly without fixing existing problems." Gorillas reached an estimated valuation of $1bn in just nine months and hired 10,000 employees.
Finns aren't what they used to be
Happiness rates among Finns have fallen since 2016 – although Finland remains the happiest country in the world for a fourth consecutive year. Seventy-six per cent of respondents reported being quite happy, down from 80 per cent in 2016, according to a survey conducted by the Finnish Business and Policy Forum (EVA) which suggests that one in five Finns is unhappy, up from 17 per cent in 2016. The ‘quite happy’ response is nevertheless still a high figure compared to international statistics.  "One of the reasons for the decline in happiness may be the effects of the coronavirus crisis on working life and the lives of people of working age," EVA research manager Ilkka Haavisto said. The biggest decline in happiness was observed among those in leadership positions, academically educated, entrepreneurs, employees and those between the ages of 26 and 55 years.
Whirlpool workers block rail tracks
Whirlpool workers in Naples yesterday blocked the high-speed rail tracks at the southern Italian city’s central station in protest at the US domestic appliance maker's announcement of the closure of its local operation. The protest lasted for about two hours. Workers from the Naples plant had previously blocked access to the departures area of the city's Capodichino airport. Whirlpool has started a procedure to fire 320 workers at the plant.
COYO acquires French employee engagement platform Jubiwee
Social intranet and employee communications platform COYO has acquired Paris-based people analytics platform Jubiwee. Jubiwee offers a new generation engagement analytics platform with a user-centric approach to improve employee experience, reduce turnover and improve retention. More than 40 French blue-chip companies use Jubiwee to assess staff motivation or to support transformation projects. Thibaud Martin, co-founder, and CEO of Jubiwee, said: “The people analytics and overall employee engagement market has grown tremendously in recent months, partly due to the COVID-crisis. Also, customers have grown more mature and demanding. To capitalise on this shift, we decided to partner with a strong, renowned, and ambitious company that shares the same values: COYO. Joining forces with COYO is the best way to build a more comprehensive offer and accelerate at this crucial time.”
Deutsche Bank raises junior banker pay
Deutsche Bank is raising the amount it pays investment banking analysts by $15,000 to $100,000, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters late on Tuesday. U.S. analysts being promoted to the associate level midyear will see their pay rise by $25,000 to $150,000.
Most UAE organisations experience cyberattacks targeting remote workers
Eighty per cent of UAE-based organisations have experienced cyberattacks as a result of more employees working remotely, according to a poll. The UAE findings are extracted from the fourth installment of VMware’s Global Security Insights Report, which was based on an online survey of 3,542 CIOs, CTOs and CISOs in December 2020 from around the world, including 250 in the UAE. “The rapid switch from a centralised workplace, infrastructure and applications to distributed workforce, cloud-based and modern applications has resulted in organisations losing visibility of their networks,” observed Ahmed El Saadi, Regional Director of Sales, Middle East, Turkey & Africa, VMware. Rick McElroy, Principal Cybersecurity Strategist, VMware, said: “Legacy security systems are no longer sufficient. Organisations need protection that extends beyond endpoints to workloads to better secure data and applications. As attacker sophistication and security threats become more prevalent, we must empower defenders to detect and stop attacks, as well as implement security stacks built for a cloud-first world.”
Senate passes bill to ban Xinjiang goods unless waiver given
A bill has been passed by the U.S. Senate that would ban all goods from or made in China's Xinjiang region unless importers can prove they weren’t made with forced laboru. The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act requires the U.S Department of Homeland Security to create a list of entities who collaborate with the Chinese government in the repression of ethnic minority Uyghurs and other groups. It also contains a “rebuttable presumption” that assumes all goods were made with forced labour unless the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection gives an exception. Bloomberg notes that the U.S. has repeatedly criticised Beijing over its actions in Xinjiang, saying they amount to genocide and crimes against humanity. 

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