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UK inflation falls but remains in double digits



Inflation in the UK slowed in March, but less than economists had expected, keeping the figure in double digits.

Consumer prices rose 10.1% in March from a year ago, the Office for National Statistics said on Wednesday, slightly slower than the 10.4% in February. But economists had expected the country’s inflation rate to fall below 10 percent for the first time since the summer.

The UK’s annual inflation rate peaked at 11.1 percent in October, but its downward trend was broken in February when the rate rose unexpectedly. The Bank of England then raised interest rates for the 11th consecutive time in March to 4.25 percent.

A return to a downward inflation path may bring some relief to households and policy makers, but UK cost of living issues remain acute. Food prices rose about 19% year-over-year in March, with prices for bread, meat and cooking oils continuing to rise rapidly. According to the statistical agency, price inflation for bread and cereals is at a record high. Core inflation, a measure that excludes food and energy prices that tends to be more volatile, was 6.2 percent, the same as the previous month.

And headline inflation is still high compared to international peers. In the United States, the consumer price index slowed in March, up 5 percent from a year ago, while inflation in the euro area fell to 6.9 percent.

While inflation is expected to slow sharply later this year due to lower energy prices, uncertainty remains about how quickly price growth will return to the 2 percent target set by the central bank. Bank of England policymakers are closely monitoring private sector wage growth and service prices for signs of how much inflationary pressure is taking root in the economy.

On Tuesday, data from the statistical agency showed wages before bonuses rose 6.6% in the three months to February from the same period a year earlier, beating economists’ expectations. But there were also signs that the UK labor market was starting to lose ground, supporting bets that the Bank of England was close to stopping rate hikes. In February, private sector wage growth slowed slightly for the second straight month as job openings fell and more people returned to work, data showed on Tuesday.

Inflation in the services sector, which is heavily influenced by companies’ payroll costs, remained unchanged at 6.6%.

Bank of England policymakers will meet again in early May to decide whether to raise interest rates again.

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Sensex down 100 pips; metallic luster; IT, bank case



LIVE stock market updates: Benchmark S&P BSE Sensex fell about 100 points, or 0.2%, to 59,600 on Wednesday amid losses from Infosys, HCL Tech, Asian Paints, Wipro, HUL, TCS, Bajaj Finserv, ITC, ICICI Bank and Kotak bank . Meanwhile, Nifty50 was trading below 17,650.

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Apple Store Union says company is dragging out contract



This week, Towson, Maryland-based Apple Store workers met with company representatives at a downtown Baltimore hotel to discuss what they hope will be a groundbreaking union contract at the tech giant.

But after four two-day talks since January, those workers say they’re not convinced Apple will ever want to do a deal with its first U.S. union store.

“They fight us every step of the way,” Kevin Gallagher, who teaches customer classes at the Apple Store, told HuffPost during a break in hotel talks. “Looks like they’re trying to drag this out as long as possible.”

Gallagher and his union colleagues appeared victorious in their election last June, voting 65 to 33 to join the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, or IAM, one of the most recent resounding union victories at previously non-union companies, including Amazon, Starbucks, Trader Joe and REI.

But, like employees of other companies, Apple Store employees have even harder lifting they still have a long way to go: securing their first contract with a powerful employer who wants to keep unions out.

“They don’t seem to want to accept that they now have a union,” Jay Wadley, an IAM spokesman who is negotiating the union, said of Apple.

The stakes are high for both sides, as a solid collective bargaining agreement could convince Apple workers elsewhere to try to unionize. The company is facing campaigning not only from IAM, but also from Communications Workers of America, who formed the company. second retail union last October at a store in Oklahoma.

“They fight us at every step of the process. It feels like they’re trying to drag this out for as long as they can.”

— Kevin Gallagher, Apple Store employee and member of the union negotiating committee.

Billy Jarbaugh, who, like Gallagher, is a member of the Towson store’s negotiating committee, said he was outraged last week when he learned that managers shared a small handful of union proposals with non-union stores during morning meetings. Jarbaugh said the proposals were carefully chosen and taken out of context to make the union look bad.

One of the proposals concerned seniority and promotion. Workers suggested that if managers determined that two workers were equally qualified for a position, then it should go to the one with the longer tenure, rather than being left up to the manager. They claim it will remove management bias, but they say the offer has been “hyped” to make it sound like new hires won’t get promoted.

“There is a great plan to dismantle this movement and devalue it in every possible way,” Jarbaugh said.

Wadley said the company that shared the union’s proposals with other stores was “a stab in the back”.

“It reinforced my mind that they were not going to sign a contract,” he said.

Gallagher and Jarbo said that after they learned of the meetings, they suggested that the company bid on Zoom so that all Towson store employees could see both sides’ proposals and negotiations for themselves. According to them, the company’s lawyer immediately rejected the request.

“Now we want full transparency,” Jarbaugh said.

California-based Apple did not respond to emails from HuffPost asking for comment.

The Apple Store in Towson, pictured above, was the company’s first unionized store.

Somodeville Chip via Getty Images

Workers from other recently unionized companies have faced similar obstacles in their negotiations. Workers United has organized almost 300 Starbucks stores and is at odds with the company over remote negotiations as Starbucks insists both parties meet in person only. Labor Council General Counsel accuses Starbucks of illegal rejection of the deal over zoom.

After Amazon workers formed the company’s first American union at a warehouse in Staten Island, New York, last year, the company disputed the election results, accusing union and union representatives of irregularities. The lawsuit associated with the challenge delayed bidding by several months, and the union called it a disruptive tactic on the part of the company. The board officially confirmed the election results in January, but Amazon also appealed the decision.

When it comes to negotiating first contracts, time is on the employer’s side. The union has every reason to reach an agreement as soon as possible and show workers in other places that they can increase their wages and get new guarantees by forming a union. But as a general rule, it is in the employer’s interest to take the time and hope union support wanes over time and the workers still don’t have a contract to showcase their efforts.

Sometimes employers deliberately delay the process in the hope that a de-certification campaign will be carried out. That is when the employees petition for an election to vote for the dismissal of the union from the workplace. Workers may request a vote to remove certification after one year has elapsed since the union has become their representative.

“Hopefully, we can get them a contract that will make a big difference in their lives,” Gallagher said of his colleagues. “It all comes down to whether or not Apple is really willing to settle for anything.”

“There is a great plan to dismantle this movement and devalue it in any way possible.”

– Billy Jarbaugh, Apple Store Worker and Union Bargaining Committee member.

According to data from Bloomberg’s Law, these days it takes a union an average of 465 days to secure a first contract. In some cases, an agreement is never reached, a fact that many employers are happy to share with workers before they vote in union elections.

It’s been less than a year since the Apple Store Towson unionized. IAM says it agreed last year to postpone talks until after the company’s busy holiday season, if the company had planned days of talks on the calendar.

The workers said the company and the union have reached several preliminary agreements on smaller issues so far, but the most contentious ones are expected to come. The union declined to give details of the workers’ economic demands, such as a minimum wage or an annual percentage increase, as they have not yet been tabled.

One of the problems with the first contract is that there is no existing framework to build on. Many non-union employers are hesitant to abandon any of their existing policies for fear of opening up to new demands from other workers.

Wadley said the negotiating team proposed a grievance procedure – another union contract standard – and that Apple quickly dismissed it.

“They don’t want to do anything different than what they’re already doing,” he said. “I don’t believe they want to give us something that you could use to organize elsewhere.”

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Evan Gershkovich is not a spy



He is a reporter in the sacred tradition of those who risk everything to get a story.

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