Amazon vs unions, Credit Suisse and Nomura losses and Suez Canal unblocked
Daniel Harries

"Amazon is making a mint in the coronavirus crisis. For this reason alone, wage evasion must be stopped there."

Orhan Akman, the representative from Germany's Verdi trade union, called out Amazon ahead of an attempt to organize workers at six Amazon sites in Germany to go on strike. The union is demanding a pay increase of 4.5 percent for workers in the retail and mail order industries.

Verdi's actions mirror similar union efforts in the UK and U.S.. Unite, one of Britain's largest unions, has set up a hotline via which employees can complain about poor treatment. Amazon is at the center of claims that staff have been mistreated throughout the COVID-19 pandemic but argues that employees have excellent pay and work in "safe" conditions. 

In the U.S., the company's workers are voting on whether to form a union. Their efforts have been supported by progressive politicians such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, both of whom have been criticized by the company's officials. 

The outcome of the vote, along with the actions in the UK and Germany, could lead to a ripple effect of industrial action across Amazon's many sites.

Two leading international banks have warned of large losses after a U.S. hedge fund, for which they provided brokerage services, defaulted on a margin call over the weekend.

Credit Suisse said Monday it may have suffered a "highly significant" loss from a default by a U.S.-based hedge fund on margin calls that it and other banks made last week, while Japan's Nomura said it could face a loss of $2 billion due to an event with a U.S. client.

Credit Suisse didn't identify the "significant" hedge fund or the other banks affected, or give other details of what happened. News reports identified the hedge fund as New York-based Archegos Capital Management.

Elsewhere in the newsletter, we have a graph detailing how volatile March was for oil prices amid the Suez Canal being blocked and OPEC+ meetings. There's a report from Barcelona, which hosted a 5,000-person concert in a significant step forward from the COVID-19 crisis and much more. 

Read on for more of the day's business news in full. 

Daniel Harries 

Digital correspondent 

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Shipping traffic through Egypt's Suez Canal resumed after a giant container ship, which had been blocking the busy waterway for almost a week, was refloated, the canal authority said.

Russia's energy ministry said the Suez blockage has highlighted the safety and sustainability of its Northern Sea Route and Russian energy pipelines.

Royal Dutch Shell has proposed linking its directors' pay more closely to the group's climate performance and severing the link between bonuses and liquefied natural gas production volumes. 

Facebook plans to build two new undersea cables to connect Singapore, Indonesia and North America in a project with Google and regional telecommunications companies to boost internet connection capacity between the regions.

A trade union has called for Deliveroo's UK riders to strike when the meal delivery service floats on the stock market next month, saying the action would highlight dissatisfaction with the company's business model and approach to workers' rights.

Ahead of its IPO, Deliveroo says investor demand has exceeded the full size of the deal. Deliveroo is expected to make its stock market debut in London on March 31 in what could be the biggest listing by a firm on the London Stock Exchange in a decade. 

Top asset managers BlackRock and Vanguard Group have joined an investor push to limit greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. The two largest U.S. fund managers will now account for roughly half of the $32 trillion of total assets supporting the initiative of groups including the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change in Europe and the United Nations-backed Principles for Responsible Investment.

China announced tax breaks to spur growth of its semiconductor industry. Beijing is accelerating efforts to transform China into a self-reliant "technology power," one of the year's top economic priorities. 

The UK government has rejected a request for $234m in financial support for Liberty Steel, the steelmaker at the center of the Greensill Capital collapse. Unions are now calling for the company to be nationalised. 


WATCH: Organisers in Spain hosted a concert for 5,000 people in Barcelona to see if same-day tests and masks could stop the spread of COVID-19 in large groups.



Asda shop workers have won a key court case as they continue to fight for equal pay and the ruling could have ramifications for a host of other supermarkets. A total of 44,000 shop workers, many of whom are female, want to be paid the same money as higher-paid warehouse workers, who are mostly male.

CGTN Europe spoke to Kiran Daurka, a partner at law firm Leigh Day, which is representing Asda workers, about what's next in the case and what wider repercussions it may have. 


How significant is the ruling? 

It is a significant hurdle that we have crossed today. This particular part of the litigation allows the women now to compare themselves with men who work in distribution centers for a number of supermarkets across the country. This particular case is in relation to Asda, which was previously owned by Walmart, but the ruling now applies across the board to all supermarkets and, in fact, probably broader than that to all employees where they have a segregated workforce, where men and women work in separate places. And there is now a chance to say that the women can compare themselves with the men, provided that they are employed by the same people.  


The judge stressed this does not mean the claimants have won equal pay yet. So what is next for the Asda shop-floor workers?  

So when we bring an equal value claim, there are three parts to the litigation. The first is comparing, which we have now put to bed and that is now sorted. The second is assessing the jobs. So we will ask the tribunal to look at the jobs of the women and compare them with the jobs of the men to see that they are in fact the same demands and just as demanding. And then, finally, once we succeed, Asda and supermarkets will have to argue that they can justify the pay difference. So, still two more days to go. However, we are already making significant progress on the second stage while we were waiting for the comparability arguments to be played out. 


And finally... The price of Brent Crude Oil has been having one of its most volatile months in recent years. Initially boosted by the decision of oil-rich nations (OPEC+) to maintain the current levels of production. The price tumbled on March 23 when the Ever Given became a household name after the container ship got stuck in the Suez Canal, blocking much global trade. Then it sharply spiked as traders bet the blockage would stifle supply. The past few days' uncertainty have led to something of a mini W-shaped recovery for the price to the pre-Suez level.

Source(s): AP ,Reuters

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