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European Edition
10th June 2021
Greek workers strike against labour reform bill
Workers in Greece are on a day-long strike today to protest against a government proposal to overhaul labour laws that unions say will undermine worker rights and enable companies to introduce longer working hours through the back door. The most contentious part of the proposed government bill, which was announced last month and is expected to be voted on next week, allows employees to work up to 10 hours on one day and less time on another. Unions fear this will let employers force workers to accept longer hours. The bill would also give workers the right to disconnect outside of office hours and introduce a ‘digital work card’ to monitor employees' working hours in real time, and also increase legal overtime to 150 hours a year.
Over half a million people in rich countries lost their jobs in April
More than half a million people in rich countries became jobless in April as the economic fallout of the pandemic continued, according to the latest data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which reported that the joblessness rate in the OECD’s 30 member states rose to 6.6% during the month, from 6.5% in March. The total number of unemployed in OECD countries reached 43.781 million in April, up by 722,000 from the previous month.  The jobless population in seven major countries - Canada, United States, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom - increased by 234,000 to 21.7 million. The global economy is expected to grow faster this year following the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and fiscal stimulus in major economies, the OECD said. “Global economic growth is now expected to be 5.8% this year, a sharp upwards revision from the December 2020 Economic Outlook project of 4.2% for 2021.”
Train drivers in Germany to strike after pay talks break down
The German Train Driver’s Union (GDL) is to launch industrial action on Deutsche Bahn services after pay talks with the state-owned company collapsed. The union said that it will call on its members to go on strike after four rounds of talks on a new pay deal broke down. “We wanted to negotiate and reach an agreement, but Deutsche Bahn refused again,” said GDL boss Claus Weselsky. Deutsche Bahn said it offered the union a pay package equivalent to one that was agreed between the government and state employees last year which guaranteed a pay rise of 3.2% over 28 months.
US banks outpace Europeans in return to the office
European banks including Barclays, Deutsche Bank and HSBC are taking a more relaxed approach than American peers such as JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs when it comes to a return to the office, reports Reuters, which surmises that Wall Street bankers who are back behind their desks might win more facetime with clients, and an even greater share of deals. US bank staff “may now find themselves at an advantage as their offices fill up: colleagues can quickly share ideas or deal gossip; more frequent face-to-face meetings with clients help to build trust.”
Fierce competition for workers in UK drives pay surge for top talent
Pay across key UK sectors, including construction, hospitality, engineering and pharmaceuticals, is up by an average of 13% so far this year compared with a year ago, according to recruiter Manpower Group. The company said competition for top talent is so intense that two in every five job offers are being met by a successful counter-offer by the candidate’s current employer. Jason Greaves, of Manpower, said: “The boom in hiring means the UK, in a lot of skillsets, is now facing an acute talent shortage. Even pre-Covid there was already a skills shortage in engineering, procurement and driving, and that has been exacerbated now. We’ve never seen this level of pay rises before. We’ve had skills shortages before, but the organisation's grasping for talent now is as great as it has ever been.” The HR industry itself is facing pressure, with earnings growing by 5% or more as recruiters require more staff to cope with increasing demand.
People analytics start-up ChartHop raises $35m
People analytics start-up ChartHop has raised $35m in a series B funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz, with contributions from Elad Gil, Cowboy Ventures, and SemperVirens. New York-based ChartHop, which CEO Ian White founded in 2018, brings together people datasets including payroll, demographic, performance, and engagement. “Companies invest so much in their talent, and yet they have shockingly little insight into it. Other functions in the organisation have great software, but arguably the most critical part of the org does not have the tools to derive insights and understand the impact of the work that they’re doing. ChartHop is filling this void,” White told VentureBeat. ChartHop has also announced a new positioning that embraces the company’s roots in People Analytics – one which approaches People Analytics as distinctly different from what has come before. Learn more about how the company is thinking by reading this blog by Ian White.
Amazon to invest €2.5bn to open data centres in Spain
Amazon plans to invest €2.5bn in new  data centres in the Spanish northern region of Aragon that will open in mid-2022. The cloud computing service unit of Amazon, Amazon Web Services, will invest the amount over a period of ten years, the company said. The investment includes capital expenditure, the construction of the centres, imports of equipment and operating expenses such as the salaries of the 1,300 employees the company will hire there.
EU states reject attempt to ban UK from Horizon projects
EU member states have voted against efforts by the European Commission to ban UK participation in cutting-edge research programmes funded by the Horizon Europe programme. EU governments determined last week that any ban could only be imposed by a qualified majority vote and ruled out any blanket ban on companies from non-EU countries including the UK, Israel and Switzerland pitching for contracts in the highly competitive sectors. A ban on UK participation was being pushed by French commissioner Thierry Breton.
Dutch bosses can reward staff for getting Covid-19 vaccine, lawyer says
Employers in the Netherlands can legally give their workers a bonus to motivate them to get vaccinated against Covid-19, a lawyer has said.  "In terms of employment law, there are no clauses that would prohibit this," senior lawyer of employment law Pascal Besselink of DAS told BNR. "You don't see any legal obstacles to such a vaccination bonus. The moment you make that agreement, there are no records. It doesn't violate the GDPR as long as you don't register it," said Besselink. Privacy laws dictate that whether or not an employee was vaccinated must not be noted on their files.
Airline automates some recruiting tasks to speed hiring process
Southwest Airlines is investing in digital job placement tools, including chatbots, to expedite the hiring process amid resurging demand as air travel takes off and a competitive labor market. “The labor market is probably as tough as I’ve ever seen it, and so we’ve got to be able to move with speed, and that’s where all these tools come into play,” said Greg Muccio, the carrier’s director of talent acquisition. Southwest uses a platform from Phenom People that powers the company’s careers site, and uses artificial intelligence to target job postings and messaging to potential candidates. Some video interviews have been conducted via Zoom and Microsoft but the airline expects to move to a videoconferencing tool that is part of the Phenom platform to take advantage of archiving capabilities and keep all recruiting tools in one place. Phenom CEO Mahe Bayireddi says the company's platform also features deep-learning algorithms that can score job candidates based on their skills and experiences and help recruiters decide which candidates should be prioritized, although Mr Muccio said these capabilities won’t be used because he prefers that humans control that part of the recruitment process.
Most UAE workers are prepared to change career path
The pandemic has driven a paradigm shift in attitudes around long-term employment and almost two-thirds (63%) of UAE workers are now willing to pursue different career paths post-crisis, according to a study by management consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Middle East job site “Over the past year, technological disruption has accelerated tremendously. The increasing presence of automation in work processes has seen concerns regarding job security rise substantially, with many now questioning their futures as a result,” said Dr Christopher Daniel, Managing Director and Partner, BCG Middle East, adding “As such, workers have experienced a change in professional outlook. This is emphasized through the survey’s findings, with around two-thirds of respondents reaffirming their perceptions that retraining is a viable route towards new opportunities.”
Pandemic hits Japan's food trucks
Japan Times reports on how the pandemic has badly impacted  the nation's food truck industry. More people are now working from home and many events have been canceled, and the state of emergency in Tokyo, Osaka and other prefectures has seen local governments place restrictions on where the trucks can operate. "We've seen a drop in the number of places where we're allowed to operate," said Atsushi Oshima, the operator of Potage-Ya, a food truck specializing in vegetable soup.

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