Britain has been marked by industrial unrest the second winter of discontent (though not a patch of the mass walkouts in Great Britain in 1978-79) and will culminate in the coming days with rail and postal workers, NHS staff and driving instructors (yes, that surprised me too) all walked out over pay and conditions.
A vote among RMT members on the final pay offer to rail workers closes on Monday with a recommendation to rail union members. rejects the proposed agreement. Offer could be significantly higher but a 10 per cent pay rise over two years has been blocked by government ministers, the Financial Times revealed last week. The last of several 48-hour RMT departures scheduled over the Christmas period will start on Tuesday.
More than 1 million business days expected to be lost as a result of strikes December was the UK’s worst monthly breach since Margaret Thatcher was in office.
The pressure on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s administration is increasing pass an anti-striking law, and we may hear more about it this week, but successive Tory prime ministers have made similar promises that have failed to deliver. Whatever Sunak does now, it will be too late for them escalation in industrial action During the Christmas holidays.
Want better news? Tuesday will see the first of Europe’s new generation of weather satellites has been activated From Kourou in French Guiana to space. Despite Billy Bragg’s wishful thinking in space equipment, the €4.3 billion Meteosat Third Generation system has provided a real breakthrough for meteorologists, providing more accurate forecasts, including better warnings of approaching storms.
The three satellites will orbit Africa in a geostationary orbit 36,000 km above the equator. From there, they will provide images of Europa every two and a half minutes, including the first comprehensive observations of lightning from space. By doing so, the system is predicted to save lives that could otherwise be lost in extreme weather.
And then there’s football.
If you hate the FIFA World Cup, you’ll be happy to know that this is the last week of the tournament. If you like it, you can enjoy it the crescendo of an extraordinary month For a great game with the remaining four teams playing in the semifinals on Wednesday before the final on Sunday – read the FT’s coverage for full details.
It’s not just the holidays that are clustered this week. Markets focused on interest rate announcements from a trio of shorted economies: the US, the EU and the UK. All three are expected to taper off their projected bullish levels.
There is also a lot of information from the US and UK that has implications for rate setting committees. The gap between short-term and long-term borrowing costs – at its widest level since 1981 – fueled expectations among investors that the Fed would stay the course tightening monetary policy to tame inflation despite growing recession concerns.
The UK’s Monetary Policy Committee last met in early November, focusing on restoring confidence in the country’s economic management. The Bank of England continues speak harshly, but this time the MPC’s response is expected to be more measured. Expectations are for a 0.5 percentage point increase in the base rate on Thursday, rather than a repeat of last month’s 0.75 percentage point increase.
Weekends with G7 purchasing managers’ index numbers. There is also a summit of EU leaders and OPEC publishes its monthly forecast report.
It’s a quiet week for earnings announcements, but one with some notable companies reporting from specific sectors. In retail, there is H&M, which talks about it A revival in the Chinese market after a long consumer boycott. Expectations are also high from Spain’s Inditex, home to the Zara brand, among others. For technique, there is acquirer Oracle. And in the outsourcing arena, Capita and Serco are represented.
Read the full week-ahead calendar here.
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