UK economy shrinks as Brexit looms

Britain will exit from the European Union later this month. (AFP)
Updated 10 October 2019

UK economy shrinks as Brexit looms

  • Gross domestic product — the combined value of all goods and services produced in the economy — slid 0.1 percent in August from July

LONDON: Britain’s economy contracted in August, official data showed Thursday ahead of the nation’s exit from the European Union later this month.
Gross domestic product — the combined value of all goods and services produced in the economy — slid 0.1 percent in August from July, the Office for National Statistics said in a statement.
That contrasted with upwardly-revised monthly expansion of 0.4 percent in July.
On a brighter note however, the ONS also revealed that the economy grew 0.3 percent in the three months to August compared with the previous quarter.
“Growth increased in the latest three months, despite a weak performance across manufacturing, with TV and film production helping to boost the services sector,” said Rob Kent-Smith, head of GDP at the ONS.
Sterling barely budged on the monthly reading, which was only moderately worse than market expectations of zero growth.
“The most recent GDP readings from the UK have shown a contraction in month-on-month terms — but taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture, it does not appear quite so bad,” noted XTB analyst David Cheetham.


Air France unions braced for job cut talks

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.