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The government shutdown in North America is getting uglier with each passing day of its existence. With more than 3,00,000 and 8,50,000 people affected directly and indirectly respectively, the new infliction seems to be unemployment benefits that have risen to a four-week high during the holiday season. While most have been furloughed, many contract workers have also been affected to a great extent, with no signs of revival in sight. Unemployment benefit claims are largely considered one of the most accurate indicators of a market’s and an economy’s overall health. Meanwhile, the standoff between the president and the Congress over budget for his promised wall along the Mexican border.
While we can brush off any ‘Terminator’ like robot rising and taking over humanity situation as of now, the routine tasks and the once with lower skills will fall into Automation’s lap. The World Bank report which stated this also said that going forward human jobs will have more social skills and automation is all slated to change the job-scape. While the old routine jobs will go automation driven, the very technology behind it will create new jobs. The number of jobs created because of automation will supersede the jobs lost due to it and the world economy will look at full employment by 2030.
Staying steady on the frontline for big names can earn employees an all-expenses-paid college degree. Some of the big names in America like Walt Disney, Taco Bell, Yum Foods and Discover are keen on sending the frontline workers back to school. The companies believe that the benefits outweigh the cost and a $ 5,250 federal tax exemption once the employee completes the course is just one of the benefits. Jon Kaplan, Discover’s VP of Training and Development says that 80% of the company’s call center and field staff are not graduates. The programs are a great employee retainer and some of them go ahead to fill the higher ranks in the organization.
“No funding, no E-Verify,” Montserrat Miller, partner office of Arnall Golden Gregory, in Washington DC could not have been more precise while describing the current shutdown of E-Verify. The federal electronic employment eligibility verification service lies unmanaged and the website www.e-verify.gov lies un-updated as it awaits fund in the wake of the partial shutdown of the US government starting December 22, 2018. The next term in the House of Representatives will be run by the Democrats, who have plans to bring into action legislation to fund DHS that supervises E-Verify. But with the majority Republicans deciding not to vote for anything that President Trump does not support, the funding can be a bumpy ride. While employers still have to file Form I-9 within three business days of an employee joining, the DHS said it won’t penalize the holding or limbo cases while the online services remain down.
The American government’s shutdown is now past its week, and the consequences are grim if anything. On its tenth day, with hundreds of thousands of employees directly affected and staring at the face of unending uncertainty over the chances of it being dragged on even further, the employees of nine government agencies are now exploring other employment opportunities or even selling their assets in their efforts to survive. The shutdown, which has affected more than 750,000 workers, directly and indirectly, is the consequence of a standoff between President Trump and the Democrats over fund allotment towards a wall in Mexico.
The world’s largest e-commerce portal has announced its plans to hire 25, 000 employees for it’s Washington D.C. facility. Almost all of them would be technology workers, escalating the war for talent that several large American defense contractors and their vendors are already facing, even further. While Amazon has not yet announced any specifications or job descriptions, it is already a well-known name in the employer market, with more than 18,000 army vets and family members in its workforce. Recruitment specialists in the region are already speculating that the vets working in Lockheed Martin and Booz Allen Hamilton, will be poached.
Spencer Neumann, the former ex CFO of Disney and the recent ex- CFO of Activision, is all set to add media streaming behemoth Netflix to his repertoire of employers. According to a recent announcement, Netflix is hiring him as their Chief Financial Officer. According to a recently published Bloomberg article, however, Neumann was fired from his job and placed on paid leave of absence for reasons not related to financial performance. While the buzz is that his suspension may be due to disciplinary action, Neumann is one of more than a dozen senior executives who has been fired for non-performance related causes over the last twelve months.
The average American workforce is aging significantly and will need to learn to rely on older workers in less than 5 years, according to a recent report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The reasons cited primarily comprise the significant fall in birth rate and better life expectancy, as workers continue to shun retirement and keep their employment. For employers, it could be a double-edged sword, since they need to increase their flexibility and adaptability while focusing on productivity and technologically viable. On the other hand, older employees tend to work harder and be more loyal and understanding. This was especially true for the SMB workforce.
According to a recent article in the British Publication The Guardian, the government of the UK needs to look into the plight of the workers in the ‘Gig’ economy to combat grueling work conditions and extreme hours. In the age of multiple ‘gigs’ or assignment based employment, worker’s rights have been claimed to be severely trampled on, especially in larger companies like Amazon, where ambulances have been called into the company’s warehouses 600 times in three years. Referring to a review by a think-tank that proposed 53 remedial measures to protect the workers, the publication advocated penalties for the employers who mistreat staff and deprive them of humane work conditions.
American government employees may face the irony of the famous Pink Floyd number as they were left in the lurch over the Christmas Holidays, as the institution went into shutdown last week. With President Trump’s demand over a $5 bn+ funding to build a wall along the US - Mexican border being rejected by Congress and both the Republican and Democrats locked in a stalemate over the funds, the president seemed unwilling to reach a settlement with anything less than an absolute approval. The impact of this has been felt by over 300,000 federal employees, many of whom have been furloughed indefinitely.
Ever since their walkout in November this year due to massive complaints of pay inequality, forceful arbitration policies and other discriminations, the TVCs at Google ( Temporary Workers, Vendors, and Contractors) have evolved from being a mere shadow workforce to a full scale, the organized entity under a single platform. “Google Walkout for Real Change”, the organization of Google TVCs, have written to CEO Sundar Pichai about their grievances as well. However, the search engine giant has vehemently denied any wrongdoing. Google maintained that the TVCs are not marginalized shadow workers as they claimed to be, but instead, had different policies than FTEs in place for them.
The world’s most valuable technology company is all set to invest $1bn in a brand new campus at Austin, Texas, in addition to new sites in Seattle, San Diego and Culver City. True to its statement last year over investing $30bn in the US, Apple is living upto its promise of creating more than 20,000 jobs across the country. The massive Austin campus alone is estimated to add 5,000 employees in just its initial stages, in several high-end and specialized functions like research, customer service and finance. The company also said that it expects another 15, 000 hires to be made over the medium term.
An investigation by the US Department of Labor revealed that Well Fargo, the US financial conglomerate, has been on a hiring spree in other countries after laying off thousands of employees within the US. The laid-off employees, mostly from the customer service function, will be eligible for government aid, the department stated, which provides weekly income and training for reemployment. Wells Fargo has been on a firing spree over the past couple of years, aiming to reduce its headcount by 26,000 employees. These are aligned to its goal of cutting costs by $4 billion by 2020 in efficiency enhancement efforts.
Santa has some counter-offers for 20 Facebook subcontractors, demanding better work conditions and if they do not take the deal, they can very well lose their jobs. While Facebook is touted as a good place to work, the goodness stops with the full-time employees. Many full timers have too joined the dispute wagon and are voicing for the rights of the subcontractor workers. The contractual staff dispute is about Filter Digital management, a Facebook Reality Labs subcontractor and twenty contractual research assistants and programmers who signed a letter dated December 6 demanding better work conditions. Facebook on their part refuses to mark this counter-offer or leave the situation as an ultimatum.
The European Central Bank recently had a face-off with the moment of truth as it acknowledged that some of its junior position candidates might have cheated on an online test. The bank was relying on a firm named Team Focus for online test to judge process information abilities and sift through the massive candidates for junior roles. The Team Focus contract that was between 800,000 to 1,000,000 euros now stands canceled in the wake of leaked online answers. Bank staffers had raised a red flag way back in 2017. The bank hired 639 people on contractual and fixed basis last year and now is insisting candidates take online test in the bank premises. The fate of the people who are hired by the bank using the test is still unclear.
Its rumble and roll time for France’s state-owned railways SNCF employee as the company plans to trim 2,090 by 2019. The 150,000 employees strong company will hire 170 people and swing the ax on 2260 jobs. The French parliament took matters in its own hand by passing a law to revamp the debt riddle company. The transformation is set to dawn on SNCF, despite three-month long strike against the reform. The company is all set to end its domestic passenger monopoly and enter into the league of a joint-stock company as the state agrees to own a part of the debt.
It took just two drivers and a strong appeal for Uber to classify its drivers as workers in Great Britain, entitling them to rights like minimum wage. The Silicon Valley firm lost its latest court bid in the UK over “Uber’s working arrangements as being inconsistent with the driver having a direct contractual relationship with the passenger,” as per the summary by the Courts of Appeal. The company whose flotation value lies at $120 billion may see a considerable slip in its UK profit if they are to follow the verdict. The company plans to appeal to the Supreme Court, while the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain who was the voice of the drivers in the appeal criticized Uber’s move for a second appeal.
Bank of England recently came under the radar of Britain’s National Audit Office for reckless spending on unproductive overheads, which include massive spending on buildings and IT infrastructure. Citing the ignorance of streamlined procurement policies and the fact that the agency disregards thrift, the Audit Office pointed out that the HQ of the bank had approximately 800 empty seats and had more than an astonishing 700 different job titles. Wastage on procurement stood at 200,000 GBP in 2017 alone. In response, the COO of Bank of England, Joanna Place, said that the budget for the year had been held due to the hard work and commitment from all employees at the institution.
A mere 65% of companies in the US plan to hold office parties this holiday season, according to a report recently released by a reputed HR consulting firm. Attributing this to the menace of the #metoo movement that is sweeping the corporate world, it said that companies are increasingly growing weary of any possibility of an untoward incident at such parties. This number comes close to the holiday season of 2009, where only 62% of the companies had any office festivities, and that was largely due to the Great Recession. Guidelines from several organizations for office party goers include “no touching” even while dancing and “no after-party” with any staff member.
They promised more jobs when Sprint and T-Mobile joined hands in a merger, but they might be the harbinger of lower wages for retail workers in the industry. The proposed merger may bring down the wages of retail workers by 1-3% says a study. The said study is done by a non-profit and non-partisan group, the Economy Policy Institute and says the wages can decline to the extent of 7%. To add to the woes, workers who are not a part of any of the two companies like the retail employees and distributors of competitors AT&T and Verizon will face the heat.