Australia signs $50 bln submarine contract with France after two-year squabble

Former Royal Australian Navy submarine HMAS Onslow is towed past the Sydney Opera House on its way to be refitted at Garden Island naval base in this October 16, 2008 file photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 11 February 2019
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Australia signs $50 bln submarine contract with France after two-year squabble

  • Australia’s 12 new submarines are at the center of its plan to significantly expand its military to protect strategic and trade interests in the Asia-Pacific region

SYDNEY: Australia signed a production contract with French shipbuilder Naval Group on Monday for a fleet of 12 new submarines, worth A$50 billion ($35.5 billion), ending a two-year wrangle that cast doubt over one of the world’s most lucrative defense deals.
Australia selected the French builder as its preferred bidder for the fleet of submarines in 2016 ahead of other offers from Japan and Germany.
However, final contracts were delayed amid domestic media reports of cost blowouts and production delays.
Australia and Naval Group signed a Strategic Partnering Agreement, the overall contract to guide the construction, to end the impasse.
“This means we are ensuring we are at the front of the pack when it comes to the latest naval vessels and firepower,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Canberra.
Australia’s 12 new submarines are at the center of its plan to significantly expand its military to protect strategic and trade interests in the Asia-Pacific region.
The first of the new submarines is scheduled to be delivered in the early 2030s and the final vessel during the 2050s.
Australia rejected offers from Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries, as well as Germany’s ThyssenKrupp AG, when it accepted the French bid. ($1 = 1.4081 Australian dollars)


Google to end forced arbitration for all worker disputes

Updated 7 min 9 sec ago
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Google to end forced arbitration for all worker disputes

SAN FRANCISCO, US: Google said Thursday it will no longer require that its workers settle disputes with the company through arbitration, responding to months of pressure from employees.
The change will take effect March 21 and will apply to current and future employees. Employees that have settled past disputes won’t be able to re-open their cases.
Google said last year it would end forced arbitration for sexual harassment and assault cases, and Thursday expanded that practice to all worker disputes. Google’s parent company, Mountain View, California-based Alphabet Inc., has its nearly 100,000 employees.
The updated practices only apply to Google employees, and employees of Google projects such as Deep Mind and Access. Other Alphabet subsidiaries, such as Waymo, are not included.
Mandatory arbitration requires employees to settle their disputes with the company privately and outside of court. The practice, widespread in US employment contracts, can lend itself to secrecy and has faced criticism recently.
Google workers who staged a walk out late last year have continued to press the tech giant to drop forced arbitration requirements. Protest organizers commended Google for Thursday’s announcement, but wrote in a Medium post that they would not officially celebrate until the changes went live in employee agreements.
Google won’t make all employees re-sign their work contracts, it said, but will post the policy change internally and update its contracts for new employees.
The company also said it would extend the change to its agreements with contract workers. But it will not require vendors to change their own contracts, meaning some workers could still be held to the previous standard.
Other tech companies including Facebook, Uber and Microsoft have recently ended forced arbitration for sexual assault and harassment claims.
Google Walkout organizers who are focused on forced arbitration issues said they would continue working on ending the practice at other companies. Members of the group plan to meet with lawmakers in Washington, D.C., next week to advocate for a federal law against forced arbitration.