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European Edition
23rd June 2022
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Ford chooses Valencia for new electric car plant
Ford has chosen a plant in Valencia in Spain to build its next generation electric vehicles in Europe. The US automaker selected the site over a rival facility in Germany. The company plans to only sell electric cars in Europe by 2030, ahead of a planned EU ban from 2035 on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles. There will be "significant" job losses as part of its changing strategy, a Ford spokesperson told Reuters. Facilities that do not secure production orders for electric vehicles, such as the overlooked Saarlouis facility in Germany, which employs 4,600 workers, face the threat of closure once the EU ban comes into force. Ford has warned there will still be staffing cuts even for plants that are selected for electric vehicle assembly - including the Valencia plant, which employs 6,000 workers. Jim Farley, Ford's president and chief executive, said the automaker’s pivot to electric vehicles in Europe would require tough decisions. "The European auto industry is extremely competitive, and to thrive and grow we can never settle for less than unbelievably great products... [and] ultra-lean operations," he said.
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German hotel industry says COVID mistakes can’t be repeated
The head of Germany’s DEHOGA hospitality body says lawmakers need to prepare now to be ready for the coming winter, as the country’s hotels seek to recover after the pandemic. "The mistakes of the past cannot be repeated," said DEHOGA president Guido Zoellick, as he urged the state and federal governments to issue clear rules and a unified course on COVID-19 policy for the winter. Zoellick said a lack of workers continues to be a major hurdle to recovery. He wants labour immigration rules for non-EU countries to be simplified. There were roughly 1 million full-time workers in the industry recorded in March 2022, he said - 63,700 fewer than the in same month in 2019 but 61,000 more than in March 2021. "This is encouraging and shows quite a few employees are returning and new employees are also being recruited," said Zoellick.
Swedish gaming firm hit by war is reorganising
Stockholm-headquartered gaming company G5 Entertainment is overhauling its organisational footprint by opening offices in Georgia, Malta, Montenegro and Turkey after its 1,000-strong workforce, which was split evenly across Russia and Ukraine, was upended by the outbreak of war on February 24th. Vlad Suglobov, the company’s Russia-born CEO who himself is based in California, said the aim of the changes is to diversify the staff base and to offer safe relocation for those forced to flee their home countries. “We will still probably be Eastern European-focused in terms of developer talent,” Suglobov said. “That’s where the company grew out of and this is where people running the company are from.” G5 is a free-to-play gaming specialist with titles such as ‘Sherlock’ and ‘Jewels of Rome.’ The company has significantly more women customers than men.
Brexit cut UK productivity and wages, study claims
A study by the Resolution Foundation and the London School of Economics has concluded that Britain’s departure from the EU has damaged its competitiveness and will cut productivity and wages over the next ten years. The research claims a fall in trade to the UK’s largest non-EU goods import markets could not be explained by the pandemic while labour productivity is expected to fall 1.3% by the end of the decade as a result just of Brexit-related changes in trading rules. This will contribute to weaker wage growth, with real pay set to be on average £470 per worker lower each year by 2030 than it would have been had the UK stayed in the EU, the report stated.
Union calls 24-hour warning strike in German ports
Several thousand workers at ports in Germany are being urged to take part in a 24-hour warning strike from Thursday morning by the trade union ver.di. Workers in Emden, Bremerhaven, Bremen, Brake, Wihelmshaven and Hamburg were called on to participate following the collapse of a fourth round of wage negotiations. The union wants a pay rise of €1.20 ($1.26) per hour and inflation compensation over 12 months for 12,000 workers.
Netherlands to have 1.2m migrant workers by 2030
The Netherlands will have around 1.2 million migrant workers by 2030 if current demographic  trends continue, De Telegraaf reports based on a study commissioned by the association of employment agencies EBU. The country counted 750,000 migrant workers at the end of 2019. EBU expects that the number will only increase due to increasing local staff shortages.
KPMG and Cambridge University strike deal to study workplace wellbeing
Researchers from Cambridge University in the UK will be allowed to go into KPMG to study the impacts of its mental wellbeing initiatives, the Big Four firm has said. The partnership will be conducted with a view to developing strategies to boost productivity, minimise staff turnover, and cut wellbeing related absences. KPMG UK chief executive Jon Holt said: “Businesses need research and data to help them invest in the right areas to support their staff through a huge period of change, as we emerge from the pandemic and introduce new ways of working.” Cambridge University's Professor Andy Neely said the study will seek to “reimagine the world of work” with a view to developing “effective strategies and interventions” to improve workplace wellbeing.
The case for turning off your Zoom camera
Workplace experts say turning off video call cameras could improve worker wellbeing and make meetings more efficient. "At the beginning of the pandemic, it made a lot of sense that people wanted to be on camera, because we were living under the premise that this was going to be a two-week pause of our lives – and so we were like, 'We want to see everybody, we want to connect'," says Allison Gabriel, professor of management and organisations at the University of Arizona, who has studied the effects of Zoom fatigue. But most workers now well know that leaving cameras on for everything can exacerbate Zoom fatigue: a tiredness linked to factors including fixating on your own on-camera appearance and the cognitive strain of trying to identify non-verbal cues that are much easier to interpret in person.  These distractions may also reduce productivity, if workers are "focusing on themselves and how they might be being perceived,” rather than the meeting itself, says Winny Shen, associate professor of organisation studies at York University, Canada.
Ageism is alive and well and can harm health
Nearly all older adults have experienced some form of ageism in their day-to-day lives, according to new research. "Ageism may be the most common form of discrimination and the most socially condoned form," said study author Julie Ober Allen, an assistant professor of health promotion at the University of Oklahoma. "Awareness of how harmful racism, sexism, homophobia and other '-isms' can be has increased in the last 60 years, but ageism still gets overlooked and ignored," she said, observing that "Some older adults may laugh it off like it's no big deal, but they may internalise it, and these internalised ageism beliefs and stereotypes may be the most harmful." When internalised, ageism can affect mental and physical health, Allen said.  "Like other -isms, ageism is a source of stress, and people have a stress response, so we expect the physical reactions will be the same."  
Unilever secretly fought ban on plastic sachets
An investigation by Reuters reveals that Unilever privately lobbied against a ban on plastic sachets used for soap while publicly describing the packaging as “evil” because it could not be recycled. The CEO of the consumer goods giant, Alan Jope, said the business “had to” stop using the sachets to package small portions of soap, detergent and shampoo two years ago but behind the scenes, the company privately lobbied against bans on the packaging that had been proposed in India, the Philippines and Sri Lanka, where they were contributing to mountains of plastic waste and pollution. Separately, Jesse Fried, the Dane Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, writes in the Telegraph on how Unilever’s capitulation to the demands of an anti-Israel lobby group to stop selling Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in the Jewish state has led to the collapse of the business set up by licensee Avi Zinger, who employs hundreds of Arabs, Jews, and Sudanese refugees in Israel to distribute and sell the product.
Beyonce’s paean to the Great Resignation
Many media commentators are saying Beyonce’s new single, “Break My Soul,” sounds like an anthem for the millions of Americans who have quit their jobs over the past year and are seeking better opportunities with unemployment at a record low. The song’s first verse explains: “Now I just fell in love / And I just quit my job / I’m gonna find new drive / Damn they work me so damn hard / Work by nine / Then off past five / And they work my nerves / That’s why I cannot sleep at night.” Nick Bunker, an economist at job site Indeed, said Beyonce’s track “is one instance of a broader public awareness or discussion about people quitting their jobs, which is reflective of what’s happening in the labour market and society.”  The track, which debuted Monday, is part of Beyonce’s new album, “Renaissance: Act 1,” that’s due to be released on July 29th.
Gulf countries face skilled worker shortage
Gulf countries have some of the highest shortages of skilled workers in the Middle East, according to a new report. PwC’s survey of more than 1,500 employees across the Middle East found that three-quarters (75%) of respondents in Kuwait and 60% of respondents in Qatar said their country has a shortage of people with specialised skills. In Saudi Arabia, 58% of respondents acknowledged that there is a skilled labour shortage in their country, while 46% in the UAE shared the same view. Employers in the region recognize the importance of retaining staff with skills, the survey suggests. Thirty-eight per cent of respondents across the Middle East, slightly more than the global average, said their companies had increased salaries as a strategy to retain skilled talent. “This may reflect the increasing tendency of employers, especially in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, to raise salaries rather than hire scarce and therefore expensive foreign talent to address skills and labour shortages,” PwC said in its report.

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