UAW strike ‘is the largest industrial action to hit GM’

UAW strike ‘is the largest industrial action to hit GM’
US presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren attends the picket line with striking General Motors workers in Hamtramck, Michigan. (Reuters)
Updated 24 September 2019

UAW strike ‘is the largest industrial action to hit GM’

UAW strike ‘is the largest industrial action to hit GM’
  • Presidential contender Elizabeth Warren joins demonstration in Michigan

DETROIT: Union members picketing a sprawling automobile assembly plant in Detroit marked “Solidarity Sunday” as the United Auto Workers (UAW) strike against General Motors entered its second week.

Nearly 50,000 GM workers had walked off the job last week, beginning the largest industrial action to hit the carmaker in more than a decade, after talks on a new four-year contract between GM and the UAW hit an impasse.

On Sunday, about 250 union members holding up placards reading “UAW on strike” demonstrated outside the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant, joined by Democratic presidential contender Elizabeth Warren and sympathetic union members employed elsewhere.

The workers insisted they were willing to keep the strike going for as long as necessary.

“My dad is a retiree and told us that you have to be prepared, because you never know what the company is going to throw at you during a contract year,” said Yolanda Passement, the recording secretary for UAW Local 22, adding that she’d been saving since January in preparation for a walkout.

Moriha Ross was on the picket line with her nine-year-old daughter who is deaf and suffers from cerebral palsy.

Anticipating a walkout, Ross made preparations for her care.

“We made sure we had all of our prescriptions filled,” she told AFP.

Coianne Avant was forced to transfer to another plant in Flint, Michigan earlier this year when GM slashed production at the Detroit-Hamtramck facility ahead of its planned shuttering next January.

Before the strike began, Local 22 had gone to businesses and community groups asking for their support against GM, which announced last November that Detroit-Hamtramck was among three North American plants to be shuttered.

“I don’t know why GM is doing (this). What they’re losing every day with the plants not running would have paid for everything we’re asking,” Avant said.

The plant in Flint is her ninth in her two decades with GM, and requires a round-trip commute of more than 100 miles from her home outside Detroit.

Despite working overtime and saving what she can, Avant says she still struggles.

“I work from paycheck to paycheck just like everyone else. We make a livable wage. Most of the people can afford a house and a car. Now they don’t even want to pay us that,” she said of GM.

Hamtramck, surrounded almost entirely by Detroit, has been a home for auto manufacturing since Dodge Brothers started a plant in 1914.

GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant opened in 1985 and has, from the start, been a source of controversy among workers.

A year after it opened, the company eliminated the plant’s second shift, laying off hundreds, UAW Local 22 retiree Doris Parnell recalls.

“They’ve never lived up to their promise to the people who were working here,” said Parnell, who added that the local government gave the company millions of dollars in tax abatements to pay for the plant’s construction.

At the start of the strike, GM expressed disappointment, saying it had presented a “strong offer” and “negotiated in good faith.”

Warren, the Democratic hopeful, told reporters that she was in complete support of the workers.

Their votes will be crucial for the Democrats to recapture Michigan, whose support for Donald Trump was key to his winning the 2016 election.


Digital banks in Saudi Arabia to reduce costs and stimulate competition — SAMA

Digital banks in Saudi Arabia to reduce costs and stimulate competition — SAMA
Updated 1 min 57 sec ago

Digital banks in Saudi Arabia to reduce costs and stimulate competition — SAMA

Digital banks in Saudi Arabia to reduce costs and stimulate competition — SAMA
RIYADH: Digital banks licensed in Saudi Arabia will help improve the quality and user experience for customers in the Kingdom, supporting innovation and reducing costs, said Yazeed Alsheikh, director for general of banking control at Saudi Central Bank (SAMA).

This will directly contribute to stimulating competition with local banks and financial technology companies, he told Al Eqtisadiah paper.

The Saudi Cabinet gave its nod to the Kingdom’s finance minister to issue licenses for the country’s first digital banks, STC Bank and Saudi Digital Bank, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Tuesday.

STC Pay will be converted into a local digital bank, STC Bank, with capital of SR2.5 billion. A second lender, Saudi Digital Bank, will be formed by investors led by Abdul Rahman bin Saad Al-Rashed and Sons Company with capital of SR1.5 billion.

There is a difference between financial technology companies and digital banks, Alsheikh said.

“The financial technology companies are based mainly on innovation in the use of technology for a specific activity, and providing a specific financial product or service to the target segment of beneficiaries, through digital platforms or smart applications,” Al Sheikh said.

“Digital banks’ concept is broader and more comprehensive in providing Integrated banking products and services, such as accepting deposits, financing and other banking services through digital channels exclusively, and have different regulatory and supervisory requirements,” he said.

The two new digital banks in Saudi Arabia will rank 12th and 13th among the national banks operating in the Kingdom in terms of capital, once they obtain the final license to operate.

Suspected cases of corporate collusion in Saudi Arabia surge in 2021

Suspected cases of corporate collusion in Saudi Arabia surge in 2021
Updated 26 min 8 sec ago

Suspected cases of corporate collusion in Saudi Arabia surge in 2021

Suspected cases of corporate collusion in Saudi Arabia surge in 2021
  • Cases investigated rises to 86 in 2021 from 55 in 2020
  • Value of cases more than SR1 billion

RIYADH: Cases of suspected collusion in tenders being investigated by the Saudi General Authority for Competition (GAC) rose to 86 in 2021, up from 55 last year and 15 in 2019, Al Arabiya reported.

The value of projects being investigated in the Kingdom amounted to more than SR1 billion ($267 million), Abdulaziz Alzoom, governor of GAC, said in a statement.

In a previous statement, GAC said it had started investigations, research and gathering of evidence with a number of establishments, based on communications it had received from other authorities, and complaints from individuals and companies.


Oil prices rise further on tight supply outlook, eyes on OPEC+

Oil prices rise further on tight supply outlook, eyes on OPEC+
Updated 25 June 2021

Oil prices rise further on tight supply outlook, eyes on OPEC+

Oil prices rise further on tight supply outlook, eyes on OPEC+
  • U.S. infrastructure bill brightens demand outlook - analysts
  • OPEC+ meeting on July 1, seen cautious with easing output cuts

SINGAPORE: Oil prices climbed for a third straight session on Friday, on track for a fifth consecutive weekly gain, as demand growth is expected to outstrip supply on bets that OPEC+ producers will be cautious in returning more output to the market from August.
Brent crude futures rose 6 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $75.62 a barrel at 6:46 a.m. GMT, heading for a 2.9 percent jump for the week.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 5 cents, or 0.1 percent, at $73.35 a barrel, headed for a 2.4 percent weekly gain.
Both benchmark contracts settled at their highest levels since October 2018 on Thursday.
“Expectations of tightness in global market is the major factor supporting crude oil as demand is recovering while OPEC+ has constrained supply and US stocks are falling,” said Ravindra Rao, vice president for commodities at Kotak Securities.
Oil also got some support on Friday as the approval of US infrastructure bill boosted optimism for energy demand outlook, analysts said.
All eyes are on the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and allies — together called OPEC+ — who are due to meet on July 1 to discuss further easing of their output cuts from August.
“(The market) certainly has momentum behind it...It’s really in the hands of OPEC+,” said Commonwealth Bank commodities analyst Vivek Dhar.
On the demand side, the key factors OPEC+ will have to consider are strong growth in the United States, Europe and China, bolstered by vaccine rollouts and economies reopening, offset by rising COVID-19 cases and outbreaks in other locations, analysts said.
“I think OPEC+ will carefully calibrate production hikes from August onwards to meet rising demand without causing significant price fluctuations,” said Margaret Yang, a strategist at Singapore-based DailyFX.
“The market has likely priced-in an August hike in advance,” she added.
ANZ analysts have predicted OPEC+ would step up supply with a small increase of 500,000 barrels per day in August, adding to the 2.1 million bpd they agreed to return to the market from May through July.
The prospect of sanctions being lifted on Iran and more of its oil hitting the market anytime soon has dimmed, with a US official saying “serious differences” remain over a range of issues over Iran’s compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal.


Iraq, UAE’s Masdar sign solar power agreement

Iraq, UAE’s Masdar sign solar power agreement
Updated 25 June 2021

Iraq, UAE’s Masdar sign solar power agreement

Iraq, UAE’s Masdar sign solar power agreement
  • 2,000 MW of solar to be built according to agreement
  • Cost of deal undisclosed by Iraqi Oil Ministry

DUBAI: The Iraqi electricity ministry signed with Masdar, a United Arab Emirates-based renewable power developer, an agreement to build solar power projects in central and southern Iraq, with a total capacity of 2,000 Megawatts, the Iraqi oil ministry said on Thursday in a statement.
The project is the biggest investment in Iraq’s renewable energy industry, the statement said, without indicating its total cost.
Iraq is planning to build a number of power plants in the coming years in partnership with international and Arab companies. Some will use solar energy, while others will run on fossil fuels, including gas that is produced during the extraction of oil, by introducing it into the electricity production system, Iraq Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul Jabbar told Asharq recently.


Lebanon caretaker PM approves financing fuel imports at weaker exchange rate

Lebanon caretaker PM approves financing fuel imports at weaker exchange rate
Updated 25 June 2021

Lebanon caretaker PM approves financing fuel imports at weaker exchange rate

Lebanon caretaker PM approves financing fuel imports at weaker exchange rate
  • Lebanon is in the throes of a financial crisis described by the World Bank as one of the deepest depressions of modern history
  • Lebanon’s central bank asked the government on Thursday to provide it with a legal basis to lend it foreign currency from its mandatory reserves to fund the subsidised fuel imports

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister on Friday approved a proposal to finance fuel imports at the rate of 3,900 Lebanese pounds to the dollar, instead of the previous 1,500 pound rate, amidst worsening gasoline shortages.
The weaker exchange rate, which will effectively decrease the subsidy on fuel, is expected to raise the price of gasoline for consumers but enable the government to supply fuel for a longer period of time.
Lebanon is in the throes of a financial crisis described by the World Bank as one of the deepest depressions of modern history. Fuel shortages in past weeks have forced motorists to queue for hours for dribbles of gasoline.
Lebanon’s subsidy program, introduced last year as the country’s economic meltdown translated to harsher living conditions, covers basic goods such as wheat, medicine and fuel and costs around $6 billion a year.
Half of that amount is spent on fuel.
Lebanon’s central bank asked the government on Thursday to provide it with a legal basis to lend it foreign currency from its mandatory reserves to fund the subsidised fuel imports, an indication that the bank has all but run out of reserves.
Mandatory reserves — hard currency deposits parked by local lenders at the central bank — represent a percentage of customer deposits and are usually not drawn upon except in exceptional circumstances, with the correct legal permission.
Lebanon’s foreign currency reserves stood at slightly more than $15 billion in March. The Central Bank has not given an updated figure since then.