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UK car manufacturing falters in September

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The fall in UK car manufacturing was predominantly attributed to an overall fall in demand of 14% in the UK market.

UK car output fell 4.1% to 153,224 vehicles last month. The months of April, May, June and August also saw declines.

Domestic demand declined by a large sum to 31,421 units (14.2%) in September. This contributes to the overall year-to-date production decrease of 2.2%. Alongside this, exports dropped by 1.1% to 121,803.

The first nine months of 2017 has seen 1,259,509 cars manufactured, a decline of 2.2% when compared with last year.

With many looking towards more environmentally-friendly modes of transport and the advent of the e-car, the traditional British car manufacturers are unsurprisingly taking a hit. The beginning of this week saw Mayor Sadiq Khan introduce the toxicity charge (T-charge) to encourage people to drive less polluting cars. This will add to the already-existing £11.50 congestion charge.

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Jaguar launches I-Pace one-make racing series

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Luxury carmaker Jaguar has announced a one-make racing series based around its electric I-Pace sports car, with the first race taking place next year.

The series, known as the I-Pace eTrophy, will use an ‘arrive and drive’ format for 20 drivers at each race with full technical support, spare parts and equipment. The modified electric I-Paces will use technology from the manufacturer’s I-Pace SUV, which will go on sale later this year.

“With 20 identical specification production based I-Pace eTrophy race cars going head to head, it comes down to the drivers and their individual driving styles to be crowned champion,” the company said. “Held over ten races and in some of the world’s most celebrated cities, the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy promises to be the next chapter in our Race To Innovate.”

The new series will appear on the supporting bill of the all-electric Formula E world championship, which Jaguar Racing joined in 2016. The company recently announced that all its new road cars will be electric or hybrid from 2020 onwards.

“Jaguar returned to racing in 2016 with the mission ‘Race to Innovate’,” explained Gerd Mäuser, Jaguar Racing chairman. “With the launch of the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy, we’ve strengthened our commitment to battery electric vehicles, international motorsport and Formula E. As a British team, we’re proud to announce today the launch of the world’s first production battery electric vehicle championship. We’ve always said we want to prove our electrification technologies on the track – this is the proof.

“I’m looking forward to seeing a full grid of Jaguar I-Pace race cars in late 2018, soon after the first Jaguar I-Pace hits the road in Europe. Ultimately, this innovative series will enhance the technology in our future electric vehicles and benefit our customers. Formula E has grown exponentially since we joined as the first premium manufacturer last year, with recent commitments from Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche,” he said.

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Southern Rail owner handed £13.4m fine

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Southern Rail’s owner has been fined £13.4m by the Department of Transport over delays.

The Go-Ahead Group operates Southern Rail via its Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) subsidiary.

“We are pleased that this issue has been concluded, and accept and are sorry that our service levels haven’t been good enough for passengers”, said GTR CEO Charles Horton. “We run the most congested network in the UK where passenger journeys have doubled in the last 12 years.”

“This has meant we have been running services for more and more passengers while also allowing stations to be rebuilt, platforms extended, track and signalling replaced and new trains and technology introduced too.”

Unions have rejected the fine as being too lenient.

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Advance tickets to be sold on day of travel on UK trains

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Train operators have agreed a deal whereby advance tickets can be sold on the day of travel to British railway users, in some cases up to ten minutes before departure.

The announcement was made by the Rail Delivery Group, which brings together Network Rail and the railway operators.

“Not everyone can plan journeys in advance and now more people can buy cheaper tickets on the day, even on their way to the station,” explained Jacqueline Starr, Managing Director of Customer Experience at the RDG.

“We want customers to get the best possible deal whenever they travel. With 97 per cent of your fare going back into running and improving the railway, investment is driving quicker improvement, more choice and greater freedom.”

The initiative was first made by CrossCountry in 2015, with over a million advance ticket journeys undertaken since then. The popularity of advance tickets, typically only available until midnight before the day of travel, has quadrupled in the past decade according to the RDG.

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£150m aviation investment announced at Rolls-Royce

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Aircraft engine giant Rolls-Royce has announced £150m of investment in its civil engineering facilities in the UK.

The development at new and existing facilities is intended to provide for a plan to double engine production and will come onstream over the next few years, with the company developing and testing the next generation of aviation engines.

“This investment comes at a time of unprecedented growth in Rolls-Royce, said Eric Schulz, Rolls-Royce president. “We are doubling the production of new engines at the same time as introducing three new engines to the market.

“With this investment, we are creating the capacity and flexibility to deliver on our goals, while committing to sustain employment in the UK and I would like to thank the unions for their support in delivering this important package of investment.”

The group employs over 22,000 in the UK and the bulk of the investment will be formed by a civil aero engine testing facility at Derby. Derby’s maintenance repair and overhaul facility, its Derby manufacturing facility and its Nottinghamshire factory are also in line for investment, and the company announced a reversal of previously announced plans to close its Derby precision machining facility.

The news was welcomed by business secretary Greg Clark and Unite negotiator Simon Hemmings.

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No ‘rationalisation’ at Vauxhall, says Business Secretary

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UK Business Secretary Greg Clarke has claimed that GM-owned carmaker Vauxhall’s UK future is secure.

“There is some way to go in discussions between GM and PSA but I was reassured by GM’s intention, communicated to me, to build on the success of these operations rather than rationalise them,” he said having met General Motors president Dan Ammann amid reports of a sale of Vauxhall and Opel to the parent company of Peugeot and Citroen.

“We will continue to be in close contact with GM and PSA in the days and weeks ahead,” said Clark.

GM was more cautious in its announcement: “While we have no definitive news to report at this time, we can affirm that our objective in exploring opportunities with PSA Group is to build on the success of Opel Vauxhall and to put the business and the operations in the strongest possible position for the future. We look forward to engaging with our stakeholders as part of these ongoing discussions,” it said.

The proposed deal is facing union opposition and political uncertainty, with details of the plan still thin after news of takeover talks emerged earlier this week.

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“She only makes the tea”: 10 reasons why employers don’t pay the minimum wage

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The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has published a list of the most bizarre excuses why businesses refuse to pay the minimum wage.

It is topped by “The employee wasn’t a good worker so I didn’t think they deserved to be paid the National Minimum Wage,” followed by “It’s part of UK culture not to pay young workers for the first three months as they have to prove their ‘worth’ first,” and in third place was “I thought it was ok to pay foreign workers below the National Minimum Wage as they aren’t British and therefore don’t have the right to be paid it”.

The move comes as the government launches a £1.7m awareness campaign aimed at educating workers regarding their entitlements.

“There are no excuses for underpaying staff what they are legally entitled to,” explained Business Minister Margot James. “This campaign will raise awareness among the lowest paid in society about what they must legally receive and I would encourage anyone who thinks they may be paid less to contact Acas as soon as possible.

“Every call is followed up by HMRC and we are determined to make sure everybody in work receives a fair wage,” she said. The National Living Wage will increase to £7.50 per hour this spring, with the National Minimum Wage ranging from £4.05 to £7.05.

That list in full:
  1. The employee wasn’t a good worker so I didn’t think they deserved to be paid the National Minimum Wage.
  2. It’s part of UK culture not to pay young workers for the first 3 months as they have to prove their ‘worth’ first.
  3. I thought it was ok to pay foreign workers below the National Minimum Wage as they aren’t British and therefore don’t have the right to be paid it.
  4. She doesn’t deserve the National Minimum Wage because she only makes the teas and sweeps the floors.
  5. I’ve got an agreement with my workers that I won’t pay them the National Minimum Wage; they understand and they even signed a contract to this effect.
  6. My accountant and I speak a different language – he doesn’t understand me and that’s why he doesn’t pay my workers the correct wages.
  7. My workers like to think of themselves as being self-employed and the National Minimum Wage doesn’t apply to people who work for themselves.
  8. My workers are often just on standby when there are no customers in the shop; I only pay them for when they’re actually serving someone.
  9. My employee is still learning so they aren’t entitled to the National Minimum Wage.
  10. The National Minimum Wage doesn’t apply to my business.

Uber Loses London Lawsuit Over Drivers’ Pay, Vacation Time

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Landmark lawsuit could have ramifications for over 400,000 drivers

Uber Technologies Inc. lost a suit over how the controversial taxi company treats its U.K. drivers in the first ruling to come out of a London tribunal examining whether they’re entitled to the minimum wage or holiday pay.

The case, brought by two drivers, is the first against Uber in Britain and could have ramifications for the rights and pay of more than 40,000 drivers using the service in the U.K. The company said that its UberX drivers in the country received an average of 16 pounds ($19.50) an hour after Uber had taken its service fee.

“This judgment acknowledges the central contribution that Uber’s drivers have made to Uber’s success by confirming that its drivers are not self-employed but that they work for Uber as part of the company’s business,” Nigel Mackay, a lawyer at Leigh Day who represented the drivers, said in an e-mailed statement Friday.

The San Francisco-based company has faced complaints about working conditions around the globe. A $100 million-settlement in a U.S. lawsuit with 385,000 current and former drivers in California and Massachusetts was rejected by a federal judge.

Freedom, Flexibility

Uber said that while the London ruling only affects two people, it planned to file an appeal.

“The overwhelming majority of drivers who use the Uber app want to keep the freedom and flexibility of being able to drive when and where they want,” Jo Bertram, regional general manager of Uber in the U.K., said in an e-mailed statement.

Winnings at London’s employment tribunals are capped at about 80,000 pounds unless claimants can prove they’ve been victims of discrimination or were mistreated for blowing the whistle on corporate misconduct.

The company was valued at $66 billion in its latest round in June, making it the world’s most valuable privately-held technology company.

The decision could have wide-ranging impact for the group of technology companies that claim they are operating “marketplaces” that connect freelance workers with customers. Among these companies are food delivery services like U.K.-based Deliveroo and Berlin-based Foodora, a brand that is run by Rocket Internet’s Delivery Hero.

‘Gig Economy’

“This decision will potentially open the floodgates for further claims, not just from Uber drivers but from thousands of others who work in the gig economy,” said Lee Rogers, an employment lawyer at Weightmans, who wasn’t involved in the suit.

In New York City earlier this week, the taxi drivers’ union and individual drivers sued Uber, claiming it engaged in “wage theft” by not paying minimum wage or overtime. Some of the same drivers and the taxi union had previously filed a different suit in U.S. federal court alleging Uber violates the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act and New York labor law.

Uber has faced similar actions in the U.S. states of California, Florida and Massachusetts too. In those cases, Uber has so far been largely successful in arguing that drivers must take their disputes with the company to private arbitration, which prevents the drivers from pursuing a class action lawsuit against the company.

(Bloomberg)