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8th February 2023
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Few U.S. employees have a work `best friend'
A recent Gallup poll found that just two in 10 adult U.S. employees say they have someone at work they consider to be a ‘best friend.’ The percentage under age 35 fell by three points when compared to pre-pandemic 2019, to 21% from 24%, said Gallup workplace and well-being researcher Jim Harter. There was no change for workers 35 and older, he said. “We’re seeing in the data that younger people in general are feeling more disconnected from their workplaces,” Harter observed. “You can attribute some of that potentially to remote work. If they’re less connected to their workplace, they have fewer opportunities to connect with other colleagues and to develop those kinds of friendships that they might have had in the past.”  Johnny C. Taylor Jr., president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management, says more companies are actively encouraging friendships. His organization is one of a growing number of employers that buy lunches for people who invite somebody they're not close with to a meal as a way to encourage new ties. “From a diversity, equity and inclusion standpoint, we're trying to get people together who have different sets of experiences, lived experiences, backgrounds, etc.,” Taylor said. “The idea is, you go to lunch with a stranger and make them a friend.”
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McDonald's pledges to better protect workers in the U.K.
McDonald's has signed a legally binding agreement with the U.K.'s Equalities and Human Rights Commission which requires the company to deal with what is thought to be more than 1,000 complaints from staff about workplace behavior. The U.K.’s Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU)  has previously raised the alarm over a “toxic culture” in McDonald’s restaurants. Ian Hodson, national president of the BFAWU, said: “It’s shameful that one of the richest corporations on the planet doesn’t take sexual harassment seriously until we raise it . . . I pay tribute to all our members who have spoken out on this issue and encourage McDonald’s to work with us in ending sexual harassment.” The agreement commits the group to a number of measures to better protect workers in the U.K., including communicating a “zero tolerance” approach to sexual harassment, providing anti-harassment training for employees, and improving policies to better respond to complaints. Alistair Macrow, chief executive of McDonald’s in the U.K. and Ireland, said the company already has a “strong track record” in this area but wants to further improve it. He added: “As one of the U.K.’s leading employers, the safety and wellbeing of our people is our absolute priority. It is hugely important to me that everyone in our organization feels safe, respected and included at all times – this is core to the values of our business.”
Kenya labor court rules that Facebook can be sued
A labor court in Kenya has ruled that Meta, Facebook's parent company, can be sued after a former employee filed a lawsuit citing poor working conditions. Meta sought to have the case thrown out, arguing that courts in the East African country do not have jurisdiction over Facebook's operations. But Judge Jacob Gakeri said: "Since the petition has raised certain actual issues that are yet to be determined, it would be inopportune for the country to strike out the two respondents from the matter." Daniel Motaung has said that while working as a moderator for Meta in Kenya he was exposed to content including rape, torture and beheadings. He said this put his and his colleagues' mental health at risk, and Meta did not offer any support to employees. Motaung, who was employed in Facebook's African hub in Nairobi, which is operated by Samasource Ltd., also said he and colleagues were allegedly required to work unreasonably long shifts, and offered minimal pay. Amnesty International Kenya Executive Director Irungu Houghton termed the ruling as “historic,” adding “This is a significant step that ensures the authority of Kenyan courts to protect and enforce fundamental human rights . . . The social media platforms have serious impacts on people’s lives and societies. They must be more accountable.” 
Boeing to axe 2,000 finance and HR jobs
Boeing plans to cut about 2,000 jobs in finance and human resources this year, as it focuses on engineering and manufacturing. The move comes as the company puts more of its resources into "products, services and technology development." It will outsource some of the roles to Tata Consulting Services, a unit of one of India's largest conglomerates.  "We have and will continue to communicate transparently with our teams that we expect lower staffing within some corporate support functions," the company told the BBC. "As always, we will support affected teammates and provide assistance and resources to support their transition," it added.
Zoom cuts 1,300 jobs as demand slows
Video conferencing company Zoom is laying off 1,300 staff as the pandemic-driven boom in online meetings slows. The layoffs will hit nearly 15% of its workforce. CEO Eric Yuan said: "We worked tirelessly . . . but we also made mistakes. We didn't take as much time as we should have to thoroughly analyze our teams or assess if we were growing sustainably, toward the highest priorities.” Mr Yuan said he would also reduce his salary in the coming fiscal year by 98% and forego his bonus. Other members of the executive leadership team will see their base salaries fall by 20% and lose bonuses, he added.
eBay plans to lay off 500 employees
eBay has announced plans to lay off 500 employees globally, representing 4% of its total workforce. In a memo to employees, chief executive Jamie Iannone said the company decided to make cuts after examining the global macroeconomic environment over the past several months. "This shift gives us additional space to invest and create new roles in high-potential areas - new technologies, customer innovations and key markets", he added. eBay is the latest tech firm to announce major job cuts. Last month, Google revealed plans to lay off more than 12,000 workers, Microsoft disclosed plans to cut 10,000 employees and Salesforce announced plans to lay off 7,000 workers.
Apple expands BNPL trial to retail employees
Apple is expanding an internal test of its upcoming "buy-now-pay-later" (BNPL) service to its retailer employees, having previously trialled it with corporate staff. Apple Pay Later allows shoppers to split the payment for purchases into installments. The service was first announced last June and was planned to be released last September as part of iOS 16. Instead, it was delayed until 2023 after technical challenges, Bloomberg previously reported. The service will run on a new financial platform that Apple designed for in-house initiatives. 
Chipotle profits hit by higher labor costs
Chipotle Mexican Grill has reported weaker-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings and revenue, with customers pulling back on their restaurant spending. In the three months to December 31st, net income totaled $223.7m, or $8.02 per share, up from $133.5m a year earlier. Excluding certain legal expenses, corporate restructuring costs and other items, Chipotle earned $8.29 per share. Net sales climbed 11.2% to $2.18bn, with like-for-like revenue rising 6.9%. Analysts surveyed by Refinitiv had expected per-share earnings of $8.90 and revenue of $2.23bn. Higher menu prices helped offset rising food costs as the company paid more for dairy, tortillas, beans, rice and salsa. Executives also said the company spent more in sick pay and medical claims than expected. 
Third wave of French pension protests
Trade unions in France on Tuesday led a third wave of nationwide strikes against President Emmanuel Macron's plans to make French people work longer before retirement. The multi-sector walkouts in public transport, schools and refinery supplies came a day after pension reform legislation began its passage through parliament. The government says people must work two years longer in order to keep the budget of France’s pension system in the black. Philippe Martinez of the hardleft CGT union said: "This reform will upend the lives of several generations. If the government stubbornly forges ahead, we will step up our protest with longer and harder actions." Laurent Berger of the moderate CFDT union said: "These concessions are just patches. Increasing the legal retirement to 64 is the core of this reform and it is deeply unfair. It is a democratic folly for the government to turn a deaf ear to the protest."
Ford works council to update staff in Germany on job cut talks
Ford’s works council in Germany has invited workers to a meeting on February 14th to update them on talks with management over planned job cuts at the automaker's European plants, a union representative has said. Ford said late last month it would decide by mid-February on how many jobs would be lost after the works council at its Cologne plant informed staff that up to 3,200 roles may be lost in the worst-case scenario. The plant in Cologne employs about 14,000 people.
Nintendo pledges 10% pay hike to employees
Nintendo says it still plans to lift base pay for its employees by 10%, even though it has lowered its full-year profit forecast due to the strength of the yen. "It's important for our long-term growth to secure our workforce", Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa said as the company said it is projecting a 4% drop in operating profit to ¥480bn ($3.6bn) for the year to March 31st, well below the ¥582bn expected among economists polled by Refinitiv. Net sales are expected to drop to ¥1.6tn, from ¥1.65tn.

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