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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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Credit unions plan for more members

Category : Business, World News

The UK’s network of credit unions is set to expand after 31 groups signed up to a major investment project.

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Greeks stage anti-austerity strike

Category : Business

A general strike against tough austerity measures is under way in Greece, with trade unions calling for “mass mobilisation” of protesters.

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Carmaker Opel to close German plant

Category : Business, World News

German carmaker Opel announces the planned closure of one of its factories by the end of 2014 after a deal with unions falls through.

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International Airlines Group loses senior executive after union conflict

Category : Business

Boss Willie Walsh replaces Rafael Sánchez-Lozano with Luis Gallego, hated by the company’s workforce

Willie Walsh, boss of the merged British Airways and Iberia, lost one of his senior executives on Wednesday when the head of the Spanish airline stepped down after months of conflict with unions over layoffs.

Rafael Sánchez-Lozano, who had led the airline since 2009, and International Airlines Group (IAG) decided “by mutual agreement” that he would give up his duties as Iberia chief executive and as a board member of the parent group immediately, the company said. It gave no reason for the departure of one of the company’s key figures.

Walsh has replaced him with one of the people most hated by the company’s workforce, Luis Gallego, the chief executive of budget carrier Iberia Express, which is the major source of tension with the company’s workers.

Unions had threatened to hold a total of 15 strike days in February and March, blaming Walsh directly for the company’s apparent inability to negotiate. Strikers carried anti-British placards, claiming Spanish interests had been ignored in the merger.

Clashes with police at Madrid’s Barajas airport in February set the tone of a bruising confrontation that will be difficult to heal, despite a recent compromise deal cutting 3,100 jobs.

Spain’s transport minister, Ana Pastor, had pushed for the deal with unions after warning that the strikes would cause damages of €10m (£8.4m) a day to the recession-struck economy.

Iberia had wanted to sack 3,800 of its 18,000 employees and cut 15% of capacity, including on long-haul routes to Latin America. It had said it needed to “take drastic measures to reduce costs and improve unit revenues in order to remain in business”.

Walsh said Sánchez-Lozano had “led the airline through a very difficult period in the midst of a deep recession and completed the first important step towards returning the airline to profitability”.

He added: “Luis Gallego has extensive experience across a range of international airlines. He was instrumental as chief executive of Iberia Express in creating an airline that is a great success.”

Sánchez-Lozano said: “After reaching agreement with the mediator and the majority of our unions, we have achieved an important milestone as we restructure the airline. The company is now entering a new phase and it is time for me to pass on the baton to my successor.”

Iberia’s bad performance last year drove IAG, which also owns BA, into the red with pretax losses reaching €1bn.

Its operating loss was €351m (£304m) and its struggling performance registered in a €343m writedown that reflected how far its value has fallen since its merger with BA in 2011.

The merger created an airline with 61.5 million passengers flying to 205 destinations worldwide.

Teachers announce series of strikes

Category : Business, World News

Teachers in England and Wales are to stage a series of strikes in a continuing row over pay, pensions and workload, unions have announced.

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Apple fined for making French staff work nights

Category : Business

Ruling could disrupt preparations for new iPad as court imposes damages after trade union complaint

Apple has been fined and banned from requiring staff at seven of its French stores to work night shifts.

The ruling may cause problems for arrival of the new iPad, expected next month, as staff often work after hours to reorganise the stores so that the latest merchandise is on display for product launches.

The courts took action after a group of trade unions filed a complaint. Apple was ordered to pay them €10,000 (£8,600) in damages and was warned it would be liable for a €50,000 penalty for every further infraction.

French law forbids shifts between 9pm and 6am unless the work plays an important role in the economy or, as with the emergency services, is socially useful.

Unions had complained that although Apple’s stores shut at 9pm, staff were often required to stay as late as 11pm, tidying the store after hours or on duty in the workshops. Apple declined to comment.

The ruling was described as a “severe condemnation” by Eric Scherrer of the cross sector union Confédération Française des Travailleurs Chrétiens. He added: “This decision is very good and shows the court’s willingness to enforce night working laws.”

Willie Walsh to axe 4,500 jobs at Iberia

Category : Business

IAG boss on course for another showdown as trade unions respond to announcement with intention of five-day strike action

Willie Walsh is once again on a collision course with his own employees after announcing he will push ahead with plans to axe at least 4,500 staff at British Airways’ sister airline Iberia, prompting trade unions to retaliate by declaring five consecutive days of strike action.

Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group – BA and Iberia’s parent, had demanded acquiescence by 31 January to a plan to cut nearly a quarter of Iberia’s workforce. IAG has said the Spanish airline is in a fight for survival, with losses running at around €1.7m (£1.5m) a day, and blames overcapacity and high staff costs. Unions representing Iberia’s ground and cabin crews responded with a pledge to hold strikes over five days later this month.

Walsh said: “We’re disappointed that no agreement has been reached. Iberia is ready and willing to negotiate with the trade unions. We are determined and united to implement the necessary changes to secure the future survival and viability of Iberia.”

He first used the phrase “fight for survival” when he was BA chief executive in 2009, setting the scene for a confrontation with cabin crew over cuts that led to 22 days of strikes the following year.

Iberia on Thursday published an offer it had made to unions to reduce redundancies in return for deeper pay cuts, with pilots losing almost a quarter of their salary. The proposal was not accepted and staff warned that total redundancies could top the 4,500 originally proposed.

IAG said it will start implementing alternative plans, aiming for breakeven by the second half of this year. It is pushing ahead with plans to cut 15% of Iberia’s route network this year, focusing on profitable long-haul flights.

The dispute at Iberia is likely to prove more wounding politically in Spain than the BA cabin crew dispute of 2010 was in Britain. The downgrading of hitherto well-paid jobs and loss of almost a quarter of the workforce at the national carrier will take place against a domestic economic backdrop of a Spanish unemployment rate of around 25%.

Walsh, who forced through a major restructuring at BA to create a new breed of lower-paid, more flexible cabin crew, will not be directly involved in the confrontation in Spain, where resentment has built up against BA since the merger in 2011. Rafael Sánchez-Lozano, Iberia’s chief executive, has also warned that the airline’s future is “bleak” without radical action.

Strikes remain likely. One analyst said: “This could get messy. If I’m a survivor at Iberia, where’s the upside? You can grind people into the ground but you’ve got to show the people the way to the sunny uplands.”

IAG insists “synergies” will prove the logic of the merger by 2015 when Iberia hopes to achieve an acceptable level of profitability, but Walsh does not want the timetable for cost-cutting at Iberia to slip.

Douglas McNeill, investment director at Charles Stanley, said: “There is a high chance that management will prevail in any dispute because they are well prepared. When unions went on strike last January the company was still able to operate the vast majority of its flights and the damage was modest. Its cash reserves are such that it’s something the company can handle. As with BA in 2010, this will be the decisive factor.”

Just over two years since the merger, IAG’s shareholders have seen BA’s new partner drag down the profits. McNeill said: “At the time of this merger, they promised significant results by 2015. In football terms, they are a goal down and it’s half time.”

Spain agrees Parador hotels cuts

Category : Business

The Spanish government reaches agreement with unions about job losses and closures of its chain of hotels in converted castles, mansions and monasteries.

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Iberia strike cancelled by unions

Category : Business, World News

Unions at the Spanish national airline Iberia call off strike action scheduled for the run-up to Christmas.

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Strikes likely at Iberia just before Christmas

Category : Business

General Workers’ Union says strikes are to protest against ‘unnecessary layoffs’

Unions representing most workers at the Spanish airline Iberia said on Thursday that they would stage six days of strikes immediately before the Christmas holidays in a protest against the company’s plans to lay off 4,500 staff.

The stoppages by Iberia ground staff and cabin crews will be held on 14 December and from 17-21 December.

Francisco Rodriguez, of the General Workers’ Union, Spain’s largest, said the strikes were to protest against the “unnecessary layoffs”.

International Airlines Group, the merged British Airways and Iberia, plans to cut 23% of the Spanish company’s staff, saying the carrier is “in a fight for survival”. The pilots’ union, Sepla, is not among the six unions backing the strike.