U.S. stocks continue to set new records as investors welcome better-than-expected corporate earnings and signs of strength in the job market.
See original here: Dow, S&P hit new highs in quiet trading
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U.S. stocks continue to set new records as investors welcome better-than-expected corporate earnings and signs of strength in the job market.
See original here: Dow, S&P hit new highs in quiet trading
Tobacco giant warned of loss of jobs in UK before packaging rules were dropped, and anti-smoking camp also cites possible fear of Ukip
Anti-smoking campaigners have accused the government of caving in to pressure from the tobacco lobby and running scared of Ukip after plans to enforce the sale of cigarettes in plain packs failed to make it into the Queen’s speech.
Minutes released by the Department of Health show that one of the industry’s leading players had told government officials that, if the move went through, it would source its packaging from abroad, resulting in “significant job losses.”
Cancer charities and health experts were expecting a bill to be introduced last week that would ban branded cigarette packaging, following a ban introduced in Australia last December. At least one health minister had been briefing that the bill would be in the Queen’s speech. But the bill was apparently put on hold at the last minute with the government saying it would be a distraction from its main legislative priorities.
Ukip, which enjoyed considerable success in last week’s elections, has positioned itself firmly on the side of smokers and there is a suspicion that the Tories scrapped the plan because they did not want to be seen as anti-smoking.
It has emerged that senior Department of Health officials held four key meetings with the industry’s leading players in January and February, when at least one of the tobacco giants spelled out to the government that its plan would result in thousands of jobs going abroad.
Department of Health minutes released last week reveal that Imperial Tobacco, British American Tobacco (BAT), Philip Morris International and Japan Tobacco International were each invited to make representations to the government, in which they attacked the plan and its impact on the UK economy.
Only the minutes of the meeting with Imperial have been released. They record that Imperial warned if plain packs were introduced it would source packaging from the Far East resulting “in significant job losses in the UK.”
The tobacco giant also outlined how its packaging research and development department supported small and medium-sized enterprises in the UK and argued that standard packs would “result in some of these being put out of business”.
It added that the plan would boost the illicit trade in cigarettes, which already costs the Treasury £3bn in unpaid duty and VAT a year. And it noted that 70,000 UK jobs rely on the tobacco supply chain, implying some of these would be threatened if the illicit market continued to grow.
When asked to hand over its assessment of the impact of the plan, Imperial refused, citing commercial sensitivity.
The decision to delay the introduction of plain packs is a major success for the tobacco lobby, which has run a ferocious campaign against the move. Cigarette makers fear that the loss of their branding will deprive them of their most powerful marketing weapon. The industry has backed a series of front campaign groups to make it appear that there is widespread opposition to the plan, a practice known in lobbying jargon as “astroturfing”. Many of the ideas were imported from Australia, where the tobacco giants fought a bitter but ultimately unsuccessful campaign to resist plain packs. Much of the Australian campaign was masterminded by the lobbying firm Crosby Textor, whose co-founder Lynton Crosby is spearheading the Tories’ 2015 election bid.
Crosby was federal director of the Liberal party in Australia when it accepted tobacco money. Crosby Textor in Australia was paid a retainer from BAT during the campaign against plain packs. Some anti-smoking campaigners are now questioning whether the decision to drop the plain packs bill was as a result of shifting allegiances at Westminster.
“It looks as if the noxious mix of rightwing Australian populism, as represented by Crosby and his lobbying firm, and English saloon bar reactionaries, as embodied by [Nigel] Farage and Ukip, may succeed in preventing this government from proceeding with standardised cigarette packs, despite their popularity with the public,” said Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the health charity Action on Smoking and Health.
The decision to drop the plan will become a divisive issue for the coalition because the Liberal Democrats were strongly in favour of the measure, which will still be introduced in Scotland.
It is also a concern for the government’s own health adviser. “Our view is that plain packaging is one of a range of measures shown to be effective in reducing the amount of people taking up smoking,” said Professor Kevin Fenton, director of health and wellbeing at Public Health England, the government agency charged with helping people to live longer and more healthily.
A Department of Health spokeswoman denied that tobacco lobbying had been a factor in the decision to pull the bill. “These minutes simply reflect what the tobacco company said at the meeting, not the government’s view,” she said. “The government has an open mind on this issue, and any decisions to take further action will be taken only after full consideration of the evidence and the consultation responses.”
Those struggling to find work or facing money problems are being targeted with phoney job scams, Citizens Advice warns.
Continue reading here: Warning given over phoney job scams
OFL Statement on Day of Mourning for Workers Killed or Injured on the Job April 28, 2013
Read more here: Without Justice, No Fallen Worker Can Rest in Peace
For the first time in ages, the job figures are unambiguously grim – and things are pretty miserable for those in work
Whenever they have been asked to defend their austerity programme, ministers have not had much good economic news to cite. The GDP figures veer between mediocre and dismal, the public finances are not much better and, what’s more, the forecasts keep getting worse – as this week’s downgrades from the IMF illustrate. Which has left the government with precious little to show that its policies are working – apart, that is, from the resilience of the labour market. Indeed, 2012 was the best year for employment growth since 2000.
Which must make yesterday’s jobs figures doubly alarming for the coalition. Unemployment always constitutes bad economic and political news; but these particular numbers also knock away a rather lonely-looking support for current economic policy. And make no mistake, for the first time in ages, the statistics are unambiguously grim: unemployment and youth unemployment both up – and the numbers of people out of a job for over a year steadily rising. What’s more, for those in work things are pretty miserable: the average employee is now seeing his or her pay rise at an annual rate of just 0.8%. Inflation, as measured by the retail prices index, is 3.2%. In other words, workers are seeing their real pay fall by 2.4% a year. The Office for National Statistics notes that this is the slowest nominal-wage growth it has seen since its records began in 2001 – and obviously lower even than in the depths of the banking crisis.
Such poor figures show how meaningless it is to talk of double- or triple-dips. At this stage after a recession, the labour market is normally adding jobs and workers are seeing their wages go up. Not in this slump: the median employee is now being paid over 10% less than they were
Ken Radford, a former miner who was at the Battle of Orgreave, talks to Ann Czernik about how Margaret Thatcher’s funeral will not heal the wounds his family still feels from her policies
In 1984, Ken Radford was a young man who did not want much – just “a decent wage, food on the table, and a better standard of living” for his family and community in Oughton, South Yorkshire. Like his mates, and thousands of other miners across the country, he worried what would happen if the pits closed, and was drawn into a class war.
“Thatcher wanted to crush the miners. That was her goal, that’s all she wanted,” says Ken.
Thirty years on, this is the first time he’s spoken in depth about the strike. Ken and others like him never talk about it. It’s too hard, too painful, too raw still. “A lot of people talk in beer and they go home and sleep it off next morning,” Ken says.
For Ken, Orgreave brings back mixed emotions. He made good friends, good memories; he shook Arthur Scargill’s hand. But he says: “What them bastards did to us, it goes deep, lass. It really goes deep.”
During the strike, police put Ken’s village under surveillance. Men and women were regularly stopped from travelling and police boarded public transport, buses, stopping cars and vehicles going to power plants, coking and steel works. On 18 June 1984 police were directing the miners into Orgreave with smiles on their faces.
“That day at Orgreave was planned,” says Ken. “They guided the lads in, telling us ‘that’s where you go lads, go into that field there’. We didn’t realise at the time what was going to happen but we found out. They gave us shit. You’ve seen the pictures: lads in T-shirts. It was frightening.
“They cordoned us off, there were more police than normal and they were just going to town. They blocked off the gates down at the bottom. All of a sudden they were banging their shields and we knew what was coming. They were animals. I had a lot of respect for the police before but that day I could have killed them. They murdered us.”
Ken carried his haemophiliac father-in-law across the field to prevent him bleeding to death. “There was a war, the ranks just opened up, horses came and they just charged. I don’t know how many were injured, there were a lot of lads just covered in blood. It looked like a battlefield.”
But Ken remembers a better time. His wife stood by him, battling on the street. There was a sense of community, of cohesion. “There were more people together, people speaking.” They called him Red Ken and the name stuck for a few years. He wanted something done to save his community from poverty.
Today, he says the area wants flattening. His wife works at Meadowhall, the cavernous shopping centre between Sheffield and Rotherham built, ironically, on a former steel plant. Ken laughs: “That makes sense doesn’t it: knock down a rolling mill and build a shopping centre.”
He says of the traumatised landscape: “We need jobs and industry. There is always spare land round here. Every time I go to me mam’s, I go past pit head. It hurts. My kids have never seen a pit head. I keep saying I’m going to take them to Wakefield to the mining museum but I can’t do it.”
Ken has two daughters, one son and four grandchildren. He’s seen his lad, now 25, defeated by lack of work and opportunity since being laid off by a local engineering firm five years ago. Ken shakes his head . The social stopped his money because “they said he wasn’t proving he was looking for work – he’s been looking for years.”
His eldest daughter works for her sister-in law’s debt recovery business. His other daughter – on her own with two children since her husband left – works behind a bar.
During the strike, Ken was the poorest he’d ever been, but still remembers it being one of the best Christmases ever: “My wife got a fur coat out of it. I had a pair of real Italian leather shoes.” Help came from all over – often from unlikely sources. And half the time, miners couldn’t understand the descriptions on food on packets or the games that well-wishers sent.
Every child of striking families went to school in a parka because a factory sent a job lot. The fur coat came in handy when Ken was cutting up cloth and anything else he could find to keep his family warm. Now, he asks himself if it was worth it. “There’s times I start doubting, and I think ‘no, I took a stand’”. He clenches his fist. “It’s killing me that there are still people round here who say ‘Our lad hasn’t got a job. I don’t know what he’s going to do when I go’ – I say fight.”
Thirty years on, Ken says the hope, heart – and jobs – in this once-thriving community have gone, and the pubs are empty. “People would pop in after work. Late shift finished at 10pm – straight in for the last couple of pints. Days, you’d pop in for a couple of pints. It was a lad thing, we were just all lads. It were brilliant … That’s gone. Thatcher and her kind, they took it all away.”
The ‘advanced manufacturing plant’ on the site of the former coking plant will only provide a fraction of the number of old jobs and are predominantly highly skilled, postgraduate positions. Around the site, dozens of private, executive-style homes are being built in readiness – a million miles away from the high density, social housing and type of employment skills available in traditional mining villages.
As for Thatcher’s legacy, Ken says: “My lad’s out of work. He’s 25, he’s had three, maybe four years’ work in the past nine years. He’s a good lad. Thatcher destroyed him through no fault of his own … Thatcher took everything away – hope, everything – just for her own pride.”
The BBC’s business correspondent recalls being told: ‘I didn’t realise people like you were clever’ and explains why blagging it is a good idea
I am a young woman, with a regional accent, from a working class family, who has had a pretty standard education. So far, so ordinary. But in the places I’ve worked, one or more of these things would put me in the minority.
When I was 18 I joined Black & Decker as part of a pre-university ‘year in industry’ scheme. At that time it was a business full of men who had been there for years. When I turned up with my youthful enthusiasm and stilettos I was a novelty. Some tried to chat me up; most ignored me. I’d gone from being top dog in school to underdog in the workplace, so I made it my mission to show them that I was useful.
That, along with some cheeky banter, eventually won them over. The team accepted me as one of their own and the success of my work there lead to me winning the ‘Young Engineer for Britain’ award. After that I got interviewed a lot by the media. I was a journalist’s dream case study; a gobby girl with an accent who was good at engineering.
Through my media appearances, I managed to wangle a part-time job in the BBC current affairs department, which I did whilst studying for my science degree. Being a woman wasn’t a novelty to my BBC bosses — lots of women work in the media – this time I stood out because I had a northern accent.
I remember once at the end of a BBC job interview the manager said to me: “I didn’t realise people like you were clever.” I don’t think he was being intentionally nasty. At that time in the BBC he was surrounded by clones of himself, give or take some facial hair and glasses. He had never worked with anyone ‘like me’ before and so thought he was taking a risk by employing me. Later I found out that he’d also told the rest of my team that ‘someone very different was joining who would stir things up a bit’. Fundamentally though, I’m not any different, I just talk differently.
The problem in business isn’t that women are overlooked because they are women, it’s that most people subconsciously look to employ a mini-me. It’s not a gender issue, it’s about diversification full stop. It’s hard to change that mindset and it hits women particularly hard because men historically have always been the recruiters.
Recently I was involved in a debate at Macquarie Bank looking at how businesses can make their employee pool more diverse. One of the panellists was Noreen Doyle, a senior executive with over 40 years experience as a business leader. She suggested that for women to do well they need to take on a more male mindset and ‘blag it’. She added: “There’s a 80:20 rule. A job opens and women who feels she meets 80% of the criteria, applies. A man will say, ‘I have 20% of the criteria – I’ll learn the rest on the job.’ “
When I joined BBC Breakfast I was surprised by the number of viewers who felt that the BBC was doing something radical by putting me on national news to talk about business. I wasn’t what they deemed a typical BBC reporter. There was a misconception that I was there to fill some type of BBC northern quota. Yet I had been working for the national news for 10 years and been involved in making lots of our most high profile programmes. If I were a stick of rock I’d have ‘BBC’ written right through me.
This is why quotas for women in business can be dangerous, because they can undermine the credibility of the women who get top jobs. It’s a view that I’ve found is shared with other women at the top of their game. Eithne Wallis told me that in her role as the founding director general of the National Probation Service, she didn’t support quotas but said that without diversity targets the status quo would prevail: “The achievement of diversity in the workplace is critical to its effectiveness as well as being an ethical issue.” But, she added: “Positive discrimination was absolutely not allowed. It was instead, about creating the culture, end to end systems, and level playing fields to ensure that appropriate access and advancement was made available to all.”
There is an assumption that if you’re in the minority in the workplace then you’ll have a harder life than most. Personally I have had a wonderful career so far, but what has been vital is having champions; people in the business who mentor you, but also sing your praises to others. Mine have fought battles for me in work and taught me that if you know what you’re talking about and you work hard then you don’t need to fit a preconceived mould. Your genetic makeup and upbringing is irrelevant, it’s how you use your ability that counts.
Stephanie McGovern is business correspondent for BBC Breakfast
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New cash-counting machines to replace 689 workers, six months after 165 jobs scrapped at supermarket’s Bradford HQ
Nearly 700 back office staff are to lose their jobs at Morrisons as the UK’s fourth largest supermarket chain cuts costs after last year’s fall in profits.
New cash-counting machines are being installed in stores, meaning that 689 cash office managers and supervisors would no longer be needed, the company said. It added: “The introduction of new technology is an ongoing programme to ensure that Morrisons continues to improve its competitiveness.”
The decision comes six months after 165 jobs were scrapped at the company’s Bradford headquarters when its financial transaction processing service was outsourced to an Indian firm.
A four-week consultation has started with staff; however, it is understood that they are unlikely to be redeployed to other jobs.
The last major round of redundancies by the company was in 2006, when about 2,000 workers were axed as a result of the closure of three depots, in Kent, Bristol and Warrington.
Morrisons has been struggling recently, despite coming through the horsemeat scandal unscathed, thanks to its integrated supply chain.
The lack of an online groceries operation and its limited number of convenience stores – the two biggest growth areas in food sales – mean the company is lagging behind competitors.
The most recent data by analysts at Kantar Worldpanel revealed Morrisons’ market share fell to 11.7% in March, compared with 12.3% at the same time a year earlier; it was the only major supermarket to suffer a fall.
At its annual results last month, the company reported its first decline in profits for six years – a 7% fall in pretax profits to £879m on sales of £18.1bn. Like-for-like sales were down 2.1% and 400,000 shoppers went elsewhere.
Morrisons is the only big four supermarket yet to launch a groceries website. However, chief executive Dalton Philips said one would start in early 2014 and it was revealed bosses had been in discussions with Ocado.
The market is worth £5.6bn a year and is expected to double within a decade, with rivals at Asda, Sainsbury’s and market leader Tesco all reporting double-digit growth in online sales.
Another double-digit growth area which Morrisons has failed to capitalise in is convenience stores, which has been dominated by Tesco and Sainsbury’s.
Philips said he wants to focus attention on opening about 100 new M Local branches, mainly in London and the south east, where the business is least exposed. Earlier this year the company snapped up 62 former Jessops, Blockbuster and HMV stores from administrators after all three businesses went bust.