Your commercial news round-up: Microsoft layoffs, university strikes, gender reform bill, BBC Sport, inflation, abusive police

updated on 19 January 2023

Reading time: five minutes 

Trigger warning: this article’s final story contains information about the Metropolitan Police that mentions rape, this may be distressing for some readers. 

Microsoft has announced plans to cut 10,000 workers from its staff highlighting the impact of the current economic crisis on tech meanwhile, staff at universities are planning an 18-day strike, there’s a constitutional clash between Scotland and the UK government, and the BBC has said "free Olympic viewing for everyone". But that’s not all, we have good news when it comes to inflation before ending on a troubling story about the Metropolitan Police that may be difficult for some to read. It’s been a turbulent week in commercial news but we’re here to cut through the noise with coverage of this week’s top stories.  

  • Tech giant Microsoft has announced plans to lay off 10,000 workers beginning on Wednesday 17 January, as it seeks to cut costs in the face of a looming recession. The announcement comes after Microsoft reported its slowest growth in five years in October. The cuts amount to less than 5% of its global staff, but the company hopes this reduction will allow them to refocus on their strategic priorities, such as artificial intelligence, which Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chief executive called “the next major wave of computing”. In a message to staff, Nadella said: “These are the kinds of hard choices we have made throughout our 47-year history to remain a consequential company in this industry that is unforgiving to anyone who doesn’t adapt to platform shifts.” Microsoft isn’t the only tech company to make significant workforce cuts; Meta cut 11,000 staff at the end of last year and Amazon began its layoff of 18,000 staff this Wednesday, reflecting the current economic turmoil businesses are having to currently combat.  

  • University students may be unhappy to hear that more than 70,000 staff across 150 UK universities have confirmed plans to strike for 18 days between February and March this year. The University and College Union (UCU) is set to confirm official dates of the action next week but have said that the strikes are over disputes in pay, working conditions and pensions. They were made an offer of a 4% to 5% pay increase on Wednesday, which they rejected, instead seeking a meaningful pay rise that reflects the cost-of-living crisis while also looking to put an end to “insecure” contracts. Jo Grady, UCU general secretary, said: “University staff dedicate their lives to education, and they want to get back to work, but that will only happen if university vice-chancellors use the vast wealth of the sector to address over a decade of falling pay, rampant insecure employment practices and devastating pension cuts. The clock is now ticking for the sector to produce a deal or be hit with widespread disruption throughout spring. The choice is theirs.” 

  • A constitutional row has ensued between Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, and the UK government after it blocked Scotland’s gender reform bill. The bill, which was passed by Scottish MPs last month, intends to make it easier for transgender people to change their legally recognised sex. It’s the first time in history that a Scottish law has been blocked for affecting UK law, with the UK government stating the reforms could have ramifications on Britain’s equality laws. Sturgeon stated that blocking the bill was a “full-frontal attack” on Scottish parliament, warning that if the block succeeded it would be the “first of many”. The Scottish government plans to dispute the veto, through judicial review, if necessary, but at current is awaiting further detail from UK ministers. Allister Jack, the UK government’s Scottish secretary, will use a Section 35 order to block the reforms, claiming they’d have a “significant impact” on legal rights to:  

  • run single sex clubs; 
  • run single-sex schools; and 
  • equal pay. 

Glenn Campbell, BBC Scotland’s political editor, called the move to block the bill “a major and unique intervention”.  

  • In sporting news, Olympic fans will be pleased to hear that the BBC has confirmed it’ll continue to air free coverage of all Olympic Games until at least 2023. The broadcasting company announced this as part of a new partnership with the European Broadcasting Union and Warner Bros. Discovery. The BBC attracted 36.4 million television viewers for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 despite the footage being delayed and has confirmed it’ll continue to air the games across all its platforms.  

  • Some greatly needed good news on the UK’s economic front, after hitting a 41-year peak in October, inflation has slowed for its second consecutive month. According to the Office for National Statistics, consumer price inflation fell to 10.5% in December, a 0.2% decrease from November, which had fallen from the record high of 11.1% earlier in autumn. Despite this decline economists have said they don’t expect an ease of pressure on the Bank of England to raise interest rates.  

  • Metropolitan Police officer David Carrick has pled guilty to 49 cases of rape, false imprisonment, and sexual offences between 2000 and 2021 against 12 women. The Metropolitan Police have apologised after it emerged that Carrick, an armed officer, had come to the attention of police over nine separate incidents spanning across two decades. Carrick used his position to gain women’s trust and scare them into silence. Carrick was first suspended from duty when he was arrested in October 2021 and pled guilty to 43 charges, including 20 counts of rape in December. Assistant Commissioner Barbara Gray, the Metropolitan’s lead for professionalism, said: “We should have spotted his pattern of abusive behaviour and because we didn’t, we missed opportunities to remove him from the organisation. We know they [his victims] felt unable to come forward sooner because he told them they would not be believed.” Harriet Wistrich, director of the Centre for Women’s Justice, said: “We have known for some time that there has been a culture of impunity for such offending by police officers. Recent reports show a woefully deficient vetting and misconduct system and a largely unchallenged culture of misogyny in some sections of the Met.” Mayor of London Sadiq Khan added that "serious questions must be answered about how he was able to abuse his position as an officer in this horrendous manner".  

Check the News every Thursday for this weekly commercial news round-up. 

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