5. Weekly Newsletter

UK Strikes

On the 1st February (Wednesday) the UK will face it’s biggest day of strikes this winter as workers stage a co-ordinated walk out in sectors ranging from rail, teaching and universities. This comes in response to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), who represent the UK’s organised labour movement, protesting the government’s anti-strike legislation and current wage increase offerings. At present, the government are working on anti-strike legislation which would mandate minimum service levels during strikes which the Business Secretary has described as  “balanced, reasonable, and above all fair”. However, the TUC believes this is a “draconian” breach of workers’ rights.

The government has also offered higher average pay increases of between four to five percent this year for the public sector. In real-terms this represents a pay cut due to double-digit inflation during 2022 with the most recent data showing consumer price inflation at 9.2% in December. Additionally, private sector businesses such as the rail companies face ongoing strikes from their 22,000 train drivers (in the Aslef union) after rejecting an eight percent pay rise over two years. On Monday (30th January) firefighters voted, for the first time since 2003, to join nationwide strikes.

Newspapers & Politics

The UK’s front page news cycle over the last seven days has covered a wide range of topics including the ongoing strikes, NHS waiting lists and the chairman of the Conservative Party being sacked by the PM over personal tax claims. The Daily Telegraph used a front page to describe a “hammer blow for Putin” following Germany’s reported move to send tanks to Ukraine. Some of the newspaper front pages over the last week were:

  • Daily Express: Boris- Putin Told Me, I Could Kill You In A Minute
  • The Times: Zahawi axed as Sunak gets tough on standards
  • The Mail on Sunday: King To Welby- I Want Harry At Coronation
  • Daily Mail: Pensions Shake-Up To Keep Over-50s In Work
  • Independent Weekend: Brexit regrets growing – but UK not eager to rejoin EU
  • The Times: PM’s foreign student plan to shore up economy
  • Daily Mail: Hunt- Time To Stop Talking Britain Down
  • The Independent: Allies send tanks to hold back Putin – as Ukraine war escalates
  • The Times: Economy is failing to bounce back fast enough
  • The Daily Telegraph: National Grid ready to pay customers to switch off
  • The Guardian: Britain forecast to reach £1tn export target 15 years late in wake of Brexit

The PM, over the last week, sacked his party’s chairman following an internal investigation which revealed he had breached the ministerial code seven times. The incident surrounded the chairman’s tax arrangements which coincided with his time as chancellor for former PM Johnson and has now resulted in a £5m tax payment. This week has also marked the 100th day of Rishi Sunak as PM which has seen him deal with market ‘chaos’, immigration and now the NHS. Polling shows he has failed to recover the popularity his party benefited from under PM Johnson whilst voters, in focus groups, show concern over trust in the ruling party. However, supporters also point to the PM as being a “problem-solver” who works methodically.

Car Production Falls

UK car production has fallen to its lowest output since 1956 as the industry grapples with semiconductor shortages, uneven demand patterns and sporadic parts supplies from China. Additionally, Honda’s Swindon manufacturing site (which produced 100,000 vehicles per year) closed in 2021 and the Stellantis site (in Cheshire) stopped production of the Vauxhall (or Opel) Astra in preparation for their new electric van which will start production this year. Mini, owned by BMW, has also experienced supply chain issues partly due to their wiring harnesses being manufactured in Ukraine and parts shortages caused by multiple shutdowns in China due to COVID in 2022.

British car production is forecast to rise 15% in 2023 as the worldwide global chip shortage eases but this would still represent a volume 40% below pre-pandemic levels according to the SMMT. However, UK van production has proven to be a success in recent years with a 40% rise in output in 2022; meanwhile, electric and hybrid vehicles now represent a third of all UK output due to the success of the electric Mini, Nissan Leaf and hybrid Toyota Corolla. Although, BMW plans to move Mini electric car production to China in partnership with Great Wall (from Oxfordshire) after 2024 where they currently manufacture 40,000 electric Minis per year. In turn, this will see the Oxfordshire site become a focus for combustion engine production until, at least, 2030 with models such as the Mini convertible soon returning to Britain for production.

UK Strikes

On the 1st February (Wednesday) the UK will face it’s biggest day of strikes this winter as workers stage a co-ordinated walk out in sectors ranging from rail, teaching and universities. This comes in response to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), who represent the UK’s organised labour movement, protesting the government’s anti-strike legislation and current wage increase offerings. At present, the government are working on anti-strike legislation which would mandate minimum service levels during strikes which the Business Secretary has described as  “balanced, reasonable, and above all fair”. However, the TUC believes this is a “draconian” breach of workers’ rights.

The government has also offered higher average pay increases of between four to five percent this year for the public sector. In real-terms this represents a pay cut due to double-digit inflation during 2022 with the most recent data showing consumer price inflation at 9.2% in December. Additionally, private sector businesses such as the rail companies face ongoing strikes from their 22,000 train drivers (in the Aslef union) after rejecting an eight percent pay rise over two years. On Monday (30th January) firefighters voted, for the first time since 2003, to join nationwide strikes.

Newspapers & Politics

The UK’s front page news cycle over the last seven days has covered a wide range of topics including the ongoing strikes, NHS waiting lists and the chairman of the Conservative Party being sacked by the PM over personal tax claims. The Daily Telegraph used a front page to describe a “hammer blow for Putin” following Germany’s reported move to send tanks to Ukraine. Some of the newspaper front pages over the last week were:

  • Daily Express: Boris- Putin Told Me, I Could Kill You In A Minute
  • The Times: Zahawi axed as Sunak gets tough on standards
  • The Mail on Sunday: King To Welby- I Want Harry At Coronation
  • Daily Mail: Pensions Shake-Up To Keep Over-50s In Work
  • Independent Weekend: Brexit regrets growing – but UK not eager to rejoin EU
  • The Times: PM’s foreign student plan to shore up economy
  • Daily Mail: Hunt- Time To Stop Talking Britain Down
  • The Independent: Allies send tanks to hold back Putin – as Ukraine war escalates
  • The Times: Economy is failing to bounce back fast enough
  • The Daily Telegraph: National Grid ready to pay customers to switch off
  • The Guardian: Britain forecast to reach £1tn export target 15 years late in wake of Brexit

The PM, over the last week, sacked his party’s chairman following an internal investigation which revealed he had breached the ministerial code seven times. The incident surrounded the chairman’s tax arrangements which coincided with his time as chancellor for former PM Johnson and has now resulted in a £5m tax payment. This week has also marked the 100th day of Rishi Sunak as PM which has seen him deal with market ‘chaos’, immigration and now the NHS. Polling shows he has failed to recover the popularity his party benefited from under PM Johnson whilst voters, in focus groups, show concern over trust in the ruling party. However, supporters also point to the PM as being a “problem-solver” who works methodically.

Car Production Falls

UK car production has fallen to its lowest output since 1956 as the industry grapples with semiconductor shortages, uneven demand patterns and sporadic parts supplies from China. Additionally, Honda’s Swindon manufacturing site (which produced 100,000 vehicles per year) closed in 2021 and the Stellantis site (in Cheshire) stopped production of the Vauxhall (or Opel) Astra in preparation for their new electric van which will start production this year. Mini, owned by BMW, has also experienced supply chain issues partly due to their wiring harnesses being manufactured in Ukraine and parts shortages caused by multiple shutdowns in China due to COVID in 2022.

British car production is forecast to rise 15% in 2023 as the worldwide global chip shortage eases but this would still represent a volume 40% below pre-pandemic levels according to the SMMT. However, UK van production has proven to be a success in recent years with a 40% rise in output in 2022; meanwhile, electric and hybrid vehicles now represent a third of all UK output due to the success of the electric Mini, Nissan Leaf and hybrid Toyota Corolla. Although, BMW plans to move Mini electric car production to China in partnership with Great Wall (from Oxfordshire) after 2024 where they currently manufacture 40,000 electric Minis per year. In turn, this will see the Oxfordshire site become a focus for combustion engine production until, at least, 2030 with models such as the Mini convertible soon returning to Britain for production.

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