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EU drops charge against Apple in Spotify court battle


The European Union and Spotify are continuing a case against Apple for its alleged “anti-competitive behavior and unfair practices”

The EU’s executive arm, European Commission, launched an antitrust probe into Apple in 2020.

The investigation came after Spotify’s complaint against Apple’s license agreements in 2019. 

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The agreements required app developers to pay a 30 percent commission on all subscription fees received through the App Store.

On Tuesday, February 28, the commission revised its preliminary “statement of objections” against Apple issued in 2021.

The statement initially claimed that Apple had “abused its dominant position” by forcing music streaming app developers to use its own in-app purchase payment system.

It also alleges that Apple has curtailed developers’ ability to notify iOS users of alternate music subscription services available.

Read More: Apple chief Tim Cook insists on massive pay cut after shareholder pushback

On Tuesday, the commission canceled the first charge and said it would now focus on Apple’s anti-steering obligations.

Spotify’s general counsel, Eve Konstan, said: “Today, the European Commission sent a clear message that Apple’s anti-competitive behavior and unfair practices have harmed consumers and disadvantaged developers for far too long.

“We urge the Commission to reach a swift decision in this case to protect consumers and restore fair competition on the iOS platform.”

Spotify, a direct rival of Apple Music, is “by far” the most popular music streaming service in the US and UK, among other countries.

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US iPhone users spend 50 percent more time on Spotify than Apple music, and in the UK, the count is even larger.

An Apple spokesperson said the firm would keep encouraging competition and cooperate with the commission to address its concerns.

The spokesperson said: “We’re pleased that the Commission has narrowed its case and is no longer challenging Apple’s right to collect a commission for digital goods and require the use of the In-App Payment systems users trust.

“The App Store has helped Spotify become the top music streaming service across Europe and we hope the European Commission will end its pursuit of a complaint that has no merit.”

Source: CNBC

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How reopening 12 pubs and hotels in the UK will create 1,000 new jobs

Harrogate’s Hotel St George

Plans have been announced which will see 12 pubs and hotels reopened across the north of England, creating around 1,000 new jobs.

The Inn Collection Group is embarking on an ambitious expansion with a new recruitment drive for the roles.

The Newcastle-based company has seen rapid growth since 2019 and has seen its trading premises grow by around a third in the last calendar year.

READ MORE: Plans to create 1,600 lab jobs in Cheshire approved

It has carried extensive refurbishments on venues across Lancashire, North Yorkshire, Tyne & Wear, Cumbria, and North Wales.

The new roles will more than double the company’s current 900-person headcount.

Some of the roles will be at the Hotel St George in Harrogate, where the company has recently had to make staff redundant

The cuts were as a result of problems within the construction industry and its supply chain.

This meant the company had to cut jobs to ensure the site’s long-term future.

Now, the company is recruiting again as those problems ease.

Sites in the Lake District and Cumbria will open in the spring, and applications are available for a wide range of roles, including general and assistant managers, head chefs, and front of house.

The company says salaries are competitive, and offers a competitive benefits package, as well as a dedicated employee support programme.

Many of the jobs also offer live-in options.

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Liz Robertson said: “It is an exciting time for The Inn Collection Group with so many sites coming back from refurbishment and recruiting their re-opening teams.

“It is a real source of pride that we are looking to expand our people base and that we can offer rewarding positions in great locations with a fantastic company.

“Some positions are being recruited for the very first time by the group, such as the general manager role at our Betws-y-Coed property The Swallow Falls Inn, whilst some like the general manager role at The Temperance Inn in Ambleside are because we’ve seen internal progression of colleagues developing and moving into new roles within ICG.

“The return to trading of the sites under refurbishment is the growth focus for us this year and our new colleagues are going to play a key role, alongside our already valued colleagues, in delivering our goals.”

Roles at the company can be found here .

Image: Google

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Starbucks illegally fired union staff in a “reign of coercion”


Starbucks will rehire workers involved in union activity after a judge ruled they were illegally fired in a “reign of coercion.”

A judge found Starbucks threatened and interrogated employees, limited pay discussions, and sent high-ranking officials to make “repeated and unprecedented visits to stores in order to more closely supervise, monitor, or create the impression that employees’ union activities are under surveillance.”

The coffee giant committed hundreds of violations of federal law at its cafes in Buffalo and Rochester, according to the judge, who said the behavior was “demonstrating a general disregard for the employees’ fundamental rights.”

Owing to its “egregious and widespread misconduct,” the judge ordered Starbucks to recognize a union at its Hamburg, New York, store, despite a previous union loss.

Read More: Starbucks corporate staff lose faith in company values as union battle continues

The judge’s decision is the latest in a string of rulings against the coffee company over its aggressive battle against unionization at its stores.

Starbucks is also facing its corporate staff sending an open letter protesting the company’s alleged union-busting.

US Senator Bernie Sanders also said the committee he chairs will vote next week on subpoenaing interim CEO Howard Schultz on the issue.

Read More: Starbucks sued for accusing unionized workers of assault and kidnapping

Starbucks insists its conduct was lawful and consistent with its existing policies.

A statement said: “We believe the decision and the remedies ordered are inappropriate given the record in this matter and are considering all options to obtain further legal review.”

Starbucks has said repeatedly that all claims of anti-union activity there are “categorically false.”

Decisions of NLRB judges can be appealed to labor board members in Washington, and then to the federal appeals court.

Read More: Starbucks store workers went on strike in New York City

What has Starbucks been ordered to do?

In addition to rehiring the six fired employees, the judge ordered Starbucks to reinstate a seventh employee who was wrongfully fired.

It was also ordered to compensate workers whose hours were reduced in response to the union campaign, and to create a video recording of Schultz attending a meeting with employees during which a notice about workers’ rights is read.

In a statement, the union described the ruling as a watershed event.

Barista Michael Sanabria said: “After waiting through months of stalling tactics and the slow wheel of justice to turn, this will reinvigorate and re-energize the momentum of this movement.”

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Amazon workers ‘determined to win’ company’s first ever UK strike


Amazon workers are “determined to win” the first-ever UK strike as they demand higher pay and better working conditions.

According to the GMB union, the strike and refusal to negotiate will cost the company more than £2 million.

This week, more than 350 workers walked out and joined a picket line outside the Amazon BHX4 depot in Coventry.

Read More: Amazon UK warehouse closures put 1,200 jobs at risk

The GMB said its strike fund has received donations as workers continue to receive community support.

GMB regional organiser Finbar Bowie said Amazon is one of the world’s wealthiest corporations and is being taken on by a group of low-paid workers from the West Midlands.

He said: “It’s a big contrast of power and you can’t help but see the David and Goliath angle to it.”

Read More: More strikes at UK Amazon warehouse as row over pay intensifies

“The workers are boiled up and absolutely determined to win this as they’ve got clear demands. We’re asking Amazon to talk pay and that’s the bottom line.”

He added Amazon does not recognise the union or “necessarily engage with the specific points we ask of them”.

Striking workers are yet to hear from the employer regarding a deal.

Amazon claims only a small percentage of its employees are participating in the strikes.

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The strikes are scheduled to continue on March 2 and for five days in a row between March 13 and March 17.

Source: Retail Gazette

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Travis Perkins’ profits fall after job cuts and branch closures

Travis Perkins

Travis Perkins cut 400 jobs and closed nearly 20 branches at the end of last year as the construction industry slowed.

The chain said “difficult decisions” to cut costs by £25 million this year needed to be made.

The firm shut 19 branches of its general merchant and Benchmarx divisions in the fourth quarter of 2022.

This led to 400 job losses across central support functions and the closure of some sites.

Read More: 150 Jaguar Land Rover factory workers to strike over job cuts and pay

This week, the company announced a 20 percent drop in pre-tax profits to £245 million.

It also fears a difficult 2023 due to a combination of housebuilders slowing down projects and homeowners put off investing in their homes due to the pressure of the cost of living and a rise in borrowing costs.

Travis Perkins says this is likely to hit profits by around six percent.

Read More: Paperchase to close all 106 stores with about 900 job losses

Last year, the company’s adjusted operating profit fell 16 percent to £295 million, falling short of the predicted £320 million, but sales remained resilient, increasing 8.9 percent.

The shortfall was attributed to restructuring costs associated with the closure of 20 smaller branches out of the group’s 1,500, which finance chief Alan Williams said was part of Travis Perkin’s plan to prepare for a tougher year.

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He said the bright spot was in public sector projects such as hospital and school construction, as well as the social housing sector.

He said: “We’re still seeing a lot of refit projects post the pandemic throughout the UK.

He added many offices were being updated to suit more flexible working patterns.

The company predicts inflation for the building goods it sells will be around 5-8 percent this year, down from about 15 percent last year.

Read More: Flybe collapses for the second time with nearly 300 job losses

Williams revealed bricks were one of the worst affected products, with prices increasing by 50 percent in the last 18 months, while the cost of plasterboard increased by 30 percent.

Chief executive Nick Roberts said: “In the second half of the year we made some difficult decisions in response to the weaker trading environment and we continue to be watchful of market trends, working closely with our customers and suppliers to stay on the front foot.”

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Until the most recent downsizing, the organisation employed roughly 20,000 employees overall and had about 1,500 branches.

Source Retail Gazette

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Plans to create 1,600 lab jobs in Cheshire approved

Alderley Park

Plans to build a huge development with room for 1,600 jobs in Alderley Park in Cheshire have been approved.

The plans from Bruntwood SciTech, a 50:50 joint venture between Bruntwood and Legal & General, to construct two additional buildings with a combined area of almost 200,000 square feet for lab and office space, have been given the go-ahead.

New lab space totaling 100,000 square feet will be created across five floors.

Read More: Primark London store expansion will create 250 new jobs

The plans were revealed in September 2022, and the new office building will offer coworking, serviced, leased, created and managed spaces, and 100,000 square feet of workspace over six stories.

According to Bruntwood SciTech, the new advances are appropriate for businesses engaged in the life sciences, technology, and healthcare industries.

These notably in the diagnostics, digital health, AI, and drug research and development industries.

Read More: Italian defence giant Leonardo to create 200 jobs at new Newcastle base

The development will be the first new constructed commercial space to be delivered since the site was acquired in 2014, in addition to its continuing £247 million investment, which has seen a total makeover of the park.

Dr. Kath Mackay, director of life sciences at Bruntwood SciTech, said: “We’re excited to embark on the next chapter at Alderley Park and support the continued growth of the life sciences sector in the UK.

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“Today’s outcome marks a huge milestone for the park and highlights our commitment to providing best-in-class life sciences facilities to support science and technology businesses across the nation.”

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