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Analysis: A railway strike would cause serious damage – and that’s exactly the point

ICYMI: Tens of thousands of railway workers are set to quit their jobs just after midnight tomorrow night unless they can get better working conditions from their employers. Unions representing mechanics and conductors have been locked in negotiations with the railways, with little sign of progress.

Business leaders become increasingly anxious as time goes on, writes my colleague Chris Isidore. Any prolonged strike promises to create a logistical nightmare that will worsen supply chains, create shortages of consumer goods and drive up prices – not unlike how the pandemic has shut down parts of the economy in 2020.

Here are some of the areas where business leaders and economists expect disruption:

LOWER RESULT

Of course, all these disruptions are exactly the point. America’s economy can’t fully function without trains or the people who run them, but engineers and conductors say they’re at breaking point. They often work 14 days in a row. They have no sick days, no fixed weekends, and are penalized for missing work, even if it’s for a doctor’s appointment or a family emergency. These conditions fuel a high turnover rate, which puts additional pressure on workers.

“The average American wouldn’t know we got fired for going to the doctor,” Dennis Pierce, president of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, told The Washington Post. “We have guys who have been punished for being absent for a heart attack and Covid. It’s inhumane.”

NUMBER OF THE DAY: 4.13 billion dollars

Google suffered one of its biggest setbacks on Wednesday when a top European court fined it $4.13 billion for using its Android mobile operating system to thwart rivals. This is a record fine for a violation of antitrust laws.

THE NEW KING

King Charles, after more than 70 years of waiting, finally ascends the throne. This is the ultimate promotion. But his former house staff may not be so lucky.

According to the Guardian, up to 100 staff at Clarence House, his former official residence in London, were told on Monday they could soon be made redundant. It was just four days after the queen died.

Many staff members, according to the newspaper, had assumed that they would follow the king to his new home. Instead, they received a letter from the king’s chief aide saying their jobs were under threat.

“Everyone is absolutely livid, including the private secretaries and the senior team,” a source told the Guardian. “All the staff have been working late every night since Thursday, only to end up with this.”

Of course, there’s no good time to hear you’re about to be fired, but it didn’t help that the notice came at the same time church services were being held for the Queen. .

The union representing royal household workers called the decision to announce redundancies during the period of national mourning “nothing short of heartless”.

While some personnel changes were expected, the “magnitude and speed” at which potential layoffs were announced were “unresponsive in the extreme”, union general secretary Mark Serwotka said in a statement.

Oh, and in case anyone forgot: the UK is in the midst of its worst cost of living crisis in a generation, with double-digit inflation, a looming recession and many people face a winter in which they will have to choose between eating and heating their home.

King Charles, on the other hand, has just inherited a fortune (the value of which is kept secret, because…reasons) which is not subject to UK 40% inheritance tax.

MY TWO CENTS

It’s unclear at this point just how involved Charles himself would have been in the staff reshuffle at home. But he’s clearly a public relations failure early in his reign, and he’s not the only one getting attention this week.

On Tuesday, a leaky fountain pen prompted him to huff: “Oh my god, I hate this!… I can’t stand this fucking stuff!” before leaving, clearly unhappy. Perhaps he was still grumpy from the previous incident a few days earlier, when he waved in frustration at one of his attendants to move a tray of pens from one side of the table to the other while signing a large cartoonish document during his proclamation ceremony. Charles looked insulted that no one had thought to move a tiny pencil case for him until he beckoned someone to do so.

None of this would be a big deal for, say, an American president, who is both head of state and head of government. But for the British monarch, pageantry is pretty much all you do. Charles has had a lifetime to prepare for it, under the guidance of a mom who was a great master at being cool, and yet he still can’t hold the landing.

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