Air France unions braced for job cut talks

Unionists carry a chain to lock the headquarters’ entrance of Air France’s “HOP!” airline in Bouguenais, western France, on July 03 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 03 July 2020

Air France unions braced for job cut talks

  • At least half of the cuts will likely entail voluntary departures and retirement plans

PARIS: The French government on Friday called on Air France to avoid mandatory layoffs as the airline prepared to announce some 7,500 job cuts to cope with a collapse in travel due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Managers at the airline, part of Air France-KLM Group, are due to meet labor unions in Paris on Friday to detail the redundancy plans affecting some 15 percent of all employees, including pilots, stewards and ground staff.
At least half of the cuts will likely entail voluntary departures and retirement plans, sources familiar with the matter said this week, while 1,000 jobs are likely to be cut at Air France’s “HOP!” airline.
But the prospect of possible compulsory layoffs has raised alarm among workers and the French state, which has granted Air France $7.87 billion in aid to help it survive the pandemic.
“A successful labor reorganization is one where there are no forced departures,” junior economy minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher told Sud Radio on Friday.
Pannier-Runacher said the government’s aid package for the airline, which included state-backed loans, was justified as the carrier was “on the edge,” but called on Air France managers to pursue cutbacks responsibly.
Aircraft maker Airbus’ plans to cut some 15,000 jobs across Europe — with a third of those in France — sparked similar warnings this week, as a wave of restructuring triggered by the virus outbreak begins to hit.
Under CEO Ben Smith, who joined from Air Canada in 2018, Air France-KLM has sought to cut costs, improve French labor relations and overcome governance squabbles between France and the Netherlands, each owners of close to 14 percent of the group.


Huawei: Smartphone chips running out under US sanctions

Updated 08 August 2020

Huawei: Smartphone chips running out under US sanctions

  • Huawei is at the center of US-Chinese tension over technology and security
  • Washington cut off Huawei’s access to US components and technology last year

BEIJING: Chinese tech giant Huawei is running out of processor chips to make smartphones due to US sanctions and will be forced to stop production of its own most advanced chips, a company executive says, in a sign of growing damage to Huawei’s business from American pressure.
Huawei Technologies, one of the biggest producers of smartphones and network equipment, is at the center of US-Chinese tension over technology and security. The feud has spread to include the popular Chinese-owned video app TikTok and China-based messaging service WeChat.
Washington cut off Huawei’s access to US components and technology including Google’s music and other smartphone services last year. Those penalties were tightened in May when the White House barred vendors worldwide from using US technology to produce components for Huawei.
Production of Kirin chips designed by Huawei’s own engineers will stop Sept. 15 because they are made by contractors that need US manufacturing technology, said Richard Yu, president of the company’s consumer unit. He said Huawei lacks the ability to make its own chips.
“This is a very big loss for us,” Yu said Friday at an industry conference, China Info 100, according to a video recording of his comments posted on multiple websites.
“Unfortunately, in the second round of US sanctions, our chip producers only accepted orders until May 15. Production will close on Sept. 15,” Yu said. “This year may be the last generation of Huawei Kirin high-end chips.”
More broadly, Huawei’s smartphone production has “no chips and no supply,” Yu said.
Yu said this year’s smartphone sales probably will be lower than 2019’s level of 240 million handsets but gave no details. The company didn’t immediately respond to questions Saturday.
Huawei, founded in 1987 by a former military engineer, denies accusations it might facilitate Chinese spying. Chinese officials accuse Washington of using national security as an excuse to stop a competitor to US tech industries.
Huawei is a leader among emerging Chinese competitors in telecoms, electric cars, renewable energy and other fields in which the ruling Communist Party hopes China can become a global leader.
Huawei has 180,000 employees and one of the world’s biggest research and development budgets at more than $15 billion a year. But, like most global tech brands, it relies on contractors to manufacture its products.
Earlier, Huawei announced its global sales rose 13.1 percent over a year ago to $65 billion in the first half of 2020. Yu said that was due to strong sales of high-end products but gave no details.
Huawei became the world’s top-selling smartphone brand in the three months ending in June, passing rival Samsung for the first time due to strong demand in China, according to Canalys. Sales abroad fell 27 percent from a year earlier.
Washington also is lobbying European and other allies to exclude Huawei from planned next-generation networks as a security risk.
In other US-Chinese clashes, TikTok’s owner, ByteDance, is under White House pressure to sell the video app. That is due to fears its access to personal information about millions of American users might be a security risk.
On Thursday, President Donald Trump announced a ban on unspecified transactions with TikTok and the Chinese owner of WeChat, a popular messaging service.