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steven36 posted a topic in General NewsFRANKFURT (Reuters) - Ford said on Thursday it will cut thousands of jobs, look at plant closures and discontinue loss-making vehicle lines as part of a turnaround effort aimed at achieving a 6 percent operating margin in Europe. Ford Europe has been losing money for years and pressure to restructure its operations has increased since arch-rival General Motors raised profits by selling its European Opel and Vauxhall brands to France’s Peugeot SA. Ford said it will seek to exit the multivan segment and focus on developing more profitable “crossover” and sports utility vehicles, and will stop manufacturing automatic transmissions in Bordeaux in August. It will also review its operations in Russia, and combine the headquarters of Ford U.K. and Ford Credit to a site in Dunton, Essex. “We are taking decisive action to transform the Ford business in Europe,” Steven Armstrong, group vice president, Europe, Middle East and Africa, said in a statement. “We want to be a net contributor of capital and not a net detractor,” Armstrong told journalists on a later call, referring to Europe’s financial contribution to U.S. parent Ford Motor. Asked whether the revamp could include plant closures in Europe, Armstrong said: “A review of the manufacturing footprint is part of this process.” Ford’s announcement on layoffs came as Britain’s biggest carmaker Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is also set to announce “substantial” job cuts, a source told Reuters. Armstrong said any layoffs and plant closures at Ford would be subject to the outcome of formal negotiations with labor representatives, adding that he hoped that job cuts could be achieved by “voluntary means”. Unite, Britain’s biggest trade union said it was engaging with Ford in an effort to safeguard jobs. The cost-cutting plan has not been adjusted to account for the possibility of a ‘hard’ exit by Britain from the European Union without securing tariff-free cross-border trade, Armstrong said. “If Brexit went in the wrong direction we would have to have another look, to mitigate that,” Armstrong said. A Ford spokesman said the carmaker currently assumes that any Brexit deal would keep tariff-free trade between Britain and Europe. Ford Europe, which employs 53,000 people, has struggled to turn a profit, reporting a 245 million euro ($282 million) loss before interest and taxes in the third quarter, equivalent to a negative 3.3 percent EBIT margin. Armstrong declined to quantify the job cuts, pending negotiations with labor leaders, but said they would run into the thousands. The company was in negotiations with worker representatives about potential cuts at its Saarlouis plant in Germany, where 6,190 staff assemble cars, as the carmaker considers discontinuing production of its Ford C-Max model. “We will migrate out of the MPV segment,” Armstrong said, referring to the family vans segment. The company is unlikely to develop next-generation diesel engines for smaller vehicles, Armstrong said, explaining that customers have been abandoning the segment more aggressively than anticipated. Going forward Ford will seek to offer an electric or hybrid version of all its vehicles and the electrification plans are not contingent on striking a deal with Volkswagen, Armstrong said. The carmaker continues talks about a far-reaching alliance with Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) in a deal that could increase Ford’s manufacturing scale in commercial vehicles, Armstrong said. Volkswagen and Ford will unveil an expanded alliance during the Detroit auto show, which starts next week, that goes beyond cooperating in the area of commercial vehicles, two sources familiar with the discussions said on Wednesday. Source
steven36 posted a topic in General NewsInternal documents obtained by Motherboard show that the company is preparing for layoffs—megamergers, deregulation, and tax breaks aren’t providing the public benefits AT&T promised. AT&T is preparing for yet another significant round of layoffs according to internal documents obtained by Motherboard. The staff reductions come despite billions in tax breaks and regulatory favors AT&T promised would dramatically boost both investment and job creation. A source at AT&T who asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak publicly told Motherboard that company leadership is planning what it’s calling a “geographic rationalization” and employment “surplus” reduction that will consolidate some aspects of AT&T operations in 10 major operational hubs in New York, California, Texas, New Jersey, Washington State, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, and Washington, DC. A spokesperson for AT&T confirmed to Motherboard that it is planning to “adjust” its workforce. While AT&T has yet to come up with a final, formal internal tally for this new round of looming layoffs, AT&T employees worry the staff reductions could prove to be significant, especially outside of these core areas. Managers are being briefed on the plans now, though AT&T isn’t expected to formally announce the specifics until they’re finalized later this month. The staff reductions were first announced in an internal memo sent to managers last Friday by Jeff McElfresh, President, Technology & Operations at AT&T. “To win in this new world, we must continue to lower costs and keep getting faster, leaner, and more agile,” McElfresh told employees. “This includes reductions in our organization, and others across the company, which will begin later this month and take place over several months.” The ongoing consolidation isn’t surprising for a company that’s attempting to pivot from curmudgeonly-old phone company to sexy new media brand via its acquisition of Time Warner. AT&T’s desperate to shed old DSL customers it doesn’t want to upgrade, and instead want to utilize those resources for its pivot into streaming video over wireless. This news comes in the wake of AT&T receiving a $20 billion windfall last quarter courtesy of the Trump administration tax breaks. That’s in addition to the friendlier environment AT&T finds itself in as a result of the Trump administration’s assault on consumer protections ranging from net neutrality to broadband privacy guidelines. In a memo of talking points advising managers on how to address employee concerns obtained by Motherboard, AT&T attempts to explain away the disconnect between the company’s words and its actions. “What we’ve said was that AT&T planned to invest an additional $1 billion in the United States this year as a result of tax reform, and that research shows that every $1 billion in capital invested in the telecom industry creates about 7,000 good-paying jobs for American workers, across the broader economy,” the memo states. But wireless sector investment actually declined last year, with most of the savings from regulatory favors and tax breaks going instead toward stock buybacks, executive compensation, or to pay off the mammoth debt accumulated by a series of AT&T megamergers many consumers and employees didn’t want in the first place, critics charge. When contacted for comment, AT&T confirmed that the company was planning another round of staff reductions, but insisted that any layoffs would only impact a very small portion of the company’s overall workforce. “We are hiring to meet the needs of the growth areas of our business,” the company told Motherboard. “In fact, we hired more than 20,000 new employees last year and more than 17,000 the year before. In cases where we do have to adjust our workforce, we take steps to lessen the effect on employees.” But outside analysis and union officials contest these numbers. AT&T’s offshoring efforts have resulted in 44 closed call centers and 16,000 lost US jobs since 2011. And despite AT&T CEO Randall Stephen promising 7,000 high-paying jobs thanks to the Trump tax cuts, a new report released this week by the Communications Workers of America claims 10,700 US-based union jobs have been eliminated in the last year alone. Thanks to a reduction of future AT&T tax liabilities in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, AT&T saw profits of $29.5 billion in 2017, up from $13 billion in 2016. The permanently-lower tax rate should net AT&T an additional $3 billion annually in perpetuity, the CWA report states. Similar windfalls have been enjoyed by Verizon, which has also responded not with raises or hiring, but staff reductions. AT&T initially insisted it had doled out $1,000 bonuses to 200,000 employees as a direct result of the Trump tax cuts. It was later revealed that these bonuses had already been negotiated as part of unrelated union negotiations. Even then, the $200 million expenditure from the bonuses amounted to just 7 percent of AT&T’s expected annual benefit from the cuts, the report found. "Despite its strong financial position and promises to invest in its American workforce, AT&T has shifted much of its employment away from good, family-supporting jobs and towards a low-wage model that undermines the quality of its customer service and its standing as a good corporate citizen," the CWA said in this week’s report. Granted none of this is really new. Both AT&T and Verizon were widely criticized back in 2014 when it was similarly found that telecom tax breaks didn’t result in increased investment or job creation. AT&T’s promises of “synergies” in the wake of its $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner have proven to be similarly hollow. And the industry’s false claims regarding the benefits of killing net neutrality are well documented. Someday, younger generations may want to seriously reconsider America’s historical obsession with blindly throwing tax breaks, subsidies, and deregulatory favors at companies in exchange for benefits that seem to never actually materialize. Until then, we seem intent on repeating the same mistakes, having learned little to nothing from experience. Source
steven36 posted a topic in General NewsVerizon Media, the division comprising brands like HuffPost, AOL, Yahoo, TechCrunch and Engadget, is set to lay off about 150 employees, the latest retrenchment by the telco’s still-declining digital-media group. Verizon confirmed the cuts, which were first reported by CNN. The job cuts represent around 1.4% of the 10,500 employees in Verizon Media, which the telco formed after acquiring Yahoo and AOL. Verizon Media did not provide details on which areas of the business will be affected by the layoffs. The pink-slips will hit U.S. teams across the organization, per CNN. In a statement, a Verizon Media rep said, “Our goal is to create the best experiences for our consumers and the best platforms for our customers. Today we are investing in premium content, connections and commerce experiences that connect people to their passions and continue to align our resources to opportunities where we feel we can differentiate ourselves and scale faster.” The cutbacks come after Verizon Media let go 7% of its employees in January, or around 800 staffers. Verizon Media revenue in the third quarter of 2019 was $1.8 billion, flat with the prior quarter and down 2% year over year. Revenue from mobile advertising is now outpacing desktop, which has been declining for years, according to the company. Going forward, Verizon Media is focused on augmenting its advertising revenue with subscription fees (via services like HuffPost Plus and TechCrunch’s Extra Crunch), and transactions and ecommerce, such as the launch of Yahoo Sportsbook to allow mobile sports betting (initially only for users in New Jersey), CEO Guru Gowrappan said at a media conference last month. Gowrappen, speaking the Code Media conference, also said Verizon is not selling HuffPost after reports that the telco was shopping the brand (possibly because it could not find a buyer). Verizon Media previously sold off other assets including Tumblr, Flickr and Moviefone. Source