How Technology Can Help Build A More Human Workplace
No matter the industry in which we work, our days are filled with reminders of all the excellent ways technology has changed how we spend our personal and professional time. We are a lot more connected than you ever have, and it is impossible to ignore the flourishing dependency on technology in every aspect of our lives. Our reliance on these new and evolving tools often sparks concern that technology in the workplace will threaten jobs and economic security.It's easy to get caught up in painting a negative picture of technology’s potential impact on our future. But in spite of these fears, technology is not necessarily a job-killing machine. It is the catalyst to solving some of the biggest fears facing our workforce today.Take into consideration how much time we spend each workday on administrative tasks. Studies circulated over the past numerous years have regularly shown anywhere between 10% and 40% of our time at the office is lost to tasks outside of our core job functions: paperwork, scheduling meetings, responding to emails, etc. Imagine what you could do with those 10 extra hours each week. What can technology do to change this?As it turns out, a lot. Some employers are converting to digital tools to automate many day-to-day operations. When technology takes the tedium out of everyday tasks, more time is available for employees and managers to collaborate, think creatively and align employee roles and interests with company goals. Employees are able to spend more time engaging with work that inspires and interests them, which then improves productivity and overall employee happiness.Technology can make it much easier to connect as well — a significant benefit when many of us work remotely. Video conferences and meetings still allow for face-to-face conversations and can foster the all-important manager-employee relationship and other team interactions. Incorporating the tools at our disposal into the office environment will do the work of facilitating connections, leaving employees space in their schedules to focus on what really matters. This “built into the daily routine” style of engagement offers more opportunities for human connection and development.Technology alters how we work and can be a huge benefit. It's incumbent on all of us to evolve and update our skills to match this advance. With the right preparation for this challenge, we are going to not only avoid much of the disruption, but actually use technology to get back to building relationships and strengthening the human connection that is so important in positive workplace environments.With any luck, we can get some assistance from willing employees. As research from PricewaterhouseCoopers makes clear, significantly more than half of all employees now express a preference for either fully digital solutions or a mix of digital and face-to-face solutions when it comes to HR and professional development functions like ongoing performance feedback, real-time job training and receiving and providing regular coaching and development.These tools have to be deployed correctly, with great attention given to employee input and concerns, but it’s reassuring that the appetite for effectively integrated technological support is already here. By using new instruments to support employees’ needs, we are creating more time to focus on the good stuff: meaningful work around creativity, collaboration, motivation, communication and engagement. Putting employees first in this way is secret to creating a more human workplace.This shift can’t come fast enough. It is a fact that employees are any company’s most precious asset, and yet we have many evidence to suggest that most firms are failing to live up to that message. The workplace of the future will truly look very different than it does today, likely in many ways we can’t predict. But the most successful businesses will be those that use technology as a tool to ensure they remain focused on what matters most: their people.FORBES
Eu to Boost Garment Industry in Myanmar
The new phase of the European Union’s SMART Textile and Garments project will bring together brands, trade unions and business associations to boost social and environmental sustainability in Myanmar’s garment industry.The project, funded by the EU, was officially launched in Myanmar last Friday.The SMART Textile and Garments project will work with more than hundred garment and textile factories in Yangon, Mandalay, Bago, Pathein and other regions. The project, which will feature the involvement of local and European experts, will deliver on-site assessment and training on topics such as human resource management systems and workplace communications, occupational safety and health, chemicals and waste management, and energy efficiency.“The European Union’s unwavering commitment and support plays an important role in improving decent work conditions and responsible business practices in Myanmar,” said Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population Permanent Secretary U Myo Aung during the launch of the project.“The project’s aim to is to further strengthen sustainable production practices and responsible supply chains in Myanmar and Europe,” said Jacob A. Clere, team leader of SMART Myanmar. The SMART Myanmar project has been working with garment factories since 2013 to promote sustainable consumption and production (SCP) of garments bearing the label “Made in Myanmar” – a concept with emphasis on resource efficiency and social responsibility. SMART Textiles and Garments builds on SMART Myanmar and will expand training and capacity building programmes for social and environmental performance to more than hundred garment and textile factories in different locations across the country.SMART Myanmar has proven to be an extremely relevant programme in accompanying Myanmar’s apparel industry’s shift to more sustainable practices, said Pedro Campo Llopis, deputy head of development cooperation of the EU Delegation to Myanmar.“Europe is one of the world’s largest consumer markets and European consumers pay a lot of attention to where the products they buy come from and how they are produced. Sustainable production and respect for international labour standards are therefore important topics in the EU’s trade relations with Myanmar and this makes our cooperation with the Myanmar garment sector through the SMART Textiles and Garments programme so important,” Campo Llopis added.Several international retailers including H&M, Bestseller and C&A, have agreed to support the new programme to boost performance within their Myanmar-based supply chains. In fiscal year 2018-19, Myanmar-made garments were among the largest export categories in the country, with over US$4 billion worth of garments exported, according to the Ministry of Commerce. Since 2013, Myanmar’s garment sector has shown staggering export oriented growth. The garment industry serves largely the European market and has created job opportunities for thousands, mostly women.GARMENT INDUSTRY
Zoom Grapples With Security Flaws which Sour Users on App
Google Warns of Security Risks in Sideloading Its Apps on Huawei’s Smartphones
Google has warned of security risks if Huawei smartphone users try to sideload apps, such as Gmail and YouTube, just as the Chinese tech giant is set to unveil new models.Huawei Technologies, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment company, is prohibited from using Google apps and services, including Gmail, Maps, YouTube and the Play Store, under a US government ban that went into effect in May last year.Huawei had planned to unveil new smartphones, PCs, tablets and Internet of Things products at MWC Barcelona, but show organisers cancelled the event, the world’s biggest for the mobile industry, after several major exhibitors pulled out over coronavirus fears.Instead, Huawei has scheduled a webcast on Monday to announce a new Honor-brand V-30 series smartphone, an updated Huawei Mate X model, as well as wearable devices.The ban on Huawei using Google core apps was seen as damaging to the Chinese company, as it undercut its ability to compete in smartphone markets outside China, where Google apps have become an indispensable part of many users' lives.When Huawei’s Mate 30 became its first flagship phone to ship without Google apps built-in, users quickly found ways to work around the ban by downloading the apps themselves. However, on Friday Google issued a warning about such workarounds.“Sideloaded Google apps will not work reliably,” Tristan Ostrowski, Google’s Android & Play legal director, said in a post on Friday. “Sideloading Google’s apps also carries a high risk of installing an app that has been altered or tampered with in ways that can compromise user security.”Sideloading refers to installing apps device-to-device without using the official Google Play store.The clarification was made because Google has “continued to receive a number of questions about … new [Huawei] models launching now or earlier models launched” after the US trade ban, Ostrowski said.Google still provides security and app updates on Huawei devices available before May 16, 2019.Despite the challenges posed by the US trade ban, Huawei has resolved to stay in the international smartphone market. Late last month, it rolled out an improved version of its self-developed ecosystem, Huawei Mobile Services, to users worldwide.A man browses his smartphone outside a Huawei Technologies store at a shopping centre in Beijing. Photo: APThe company said its app store, AppGallery, had more than 390 million active users worldwide as of November, still low compared with Google Play which had more than 2 billion monthly active users in the fourth quarter.“AppGallery is a top platform for Huawei users to access secure and high-quality apps. We encourage our users to explore apps through AppGallery or other secure channels,” Huawei said in a statement in response to Google’s latest risk warning.“Protecting the privacy and security of our users is Huawei’s top priority. Huawei is working with global app developers, through different initiatives, to continuously improve user experience,” the company added.Nicole Peng, vice-president of mobility at research firm Canalys, said the Google statement was not just a warning about security risks. Issued by the legal team, “it was a very clear statement on what kind of Huawei devices are legally and officially supported by Google, which has been vague since May 16 2019”, she said.The US sanctions have hit the Shenzhen-based company’s smartphone business outside mainland China, with western consumers reluctant to purchase the devices without Google services.To compensate, Huawei has stepped up efforts in its domestic market, with its brand accounting for 42 per cent of the Chinese market in the third quarter of 2019, cutting the market shares of domestic rivals such as Vivo, Oppo and Xiaomi, figures from IDC showed.Huawei’s annual Developer Conference has been a key part of its strategy to develop a new ecosystem of apps to make up for the loss of Google. At the 2019 developer conference Huawei officially unveiled its self-developed operating system Harmony, saying that migrating apps over from Android would be relatively easy but that it would prefer to continue using Google’s Android OS on its smartphones.“Time is not on Huawei's side as the existing models have shelf lives expiring in six to nine months,” said Peng. “It is forcing Huawei to push even more aggressively with new devices [loaded] with HMS instead.”Huawei’s efforts to develop its own ecosystem saw a setback this year after the company postponed its 2020 developer conference and then replaced it with a webcast amid the ongoing coronavirus health crisis, which has killed over 2,500 people globally.SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST
Manufacturing and New Automation Technologies - What is Around the Bend?
Predictive analytics, digital twinning, and augmented and virtual reality technologies are all finding uses in manufacturing operations – from line installation and maintenance to process training.Predictive analytics - which allow manufacturers to monitor machine conditions and identify future problems such as failures or malfunctions - is one area of automation that is expected to grow, according to a new report by PMMI Business Intelligence. With this technology, sensors keep track of wear and tear on individual machines and can identify when maintenance will be required, allowing manufacturers to proactively plan their machine maintenance schedules to service multiple machines at the same time. Predictive analytics also helps manufacturers avoid emergency shutdowns and downtime. Digital twinning is one application that is finding new uses in the realm of predictive analytics. Currently, digital twinning is primarily utilized by OEMs to model machine functions and processes before commissioning construction, and it enables manufacturers to calibrate machine parameters to fit into their existing operations. About 33% of leading CPGs are currently working with machine builders who are utilizing digital twinning, and there are predictions of expanding this technology to future designs to streamline installations. Digital twinning technology is also expanding to a larger scale to include an entire line - or even an entire operation consisting of multiple lines – that is recreated in a digital space. The simulation of production processes across the entire line – run in an entirely virtual format – can accurately model line performance and greatly expand the power and scope of standard predictive analytics. On another front, virtual and augmented reality are two technologies that are just beginning to find applications in the manufacturing space. Manufacturers have found uses for augmented reality (AR) in areas such as maintenance and training guidance for employees working on the plant floor. Augmented reality systems create virtual overlays on real physical spaces, instructing employees on how to complete tasks with imbedded video/audio and digitally rendered alterations to the existing environment. Virtual reality (VR) creates an entirely digital world rather than a digital overlay on the existing environment. VR applications have been more limited than AR in manufacturing, but VR is finding uses in areas such as virtually modeling production processes and spaces. In fact, digital twinning is one important VR tool that is beginning to see wider adoption. automationworld.com
Samsung Poised to Benefit from China Virus Woes Afflicting Apple, Other Rivals
SEOUL (Reuters) - Samsung Electronics stands to be a major beneficiary of the China production problems announced by rival Apple Inc on Monday, reaping the rewards of a decade-long bet on low-cost smartphone manufacturing in Vietnam.Half of Samsung’s smartphones are now made in Vietnam, where the coronavirus that has crippled the China operations of Apple and many other firms has so far had only a limited impact on its production.Apple said on Monday it would not meet its revenue guidance for the March quarter due to the coronavirus impact on both production and sales in China, where most iPhones are made. Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp last week also flagged a hit to its March quarter sales.Huawei, another major Samsung rival, has not announced any production problems, but Samsung insiders, analysts and suppliers expect it will also be hit hard due to its heavy reliance on Chinese manufacturing and parts. Many Chinese and foreign firms have begun to re-open China factories that were idled for weeks, but shortages of workers and other problems have in many cases kept output to a minimum.Samsung has also largely ceded the China market to its rivals in recent years, meaning it won’t suffer from the store closures and drop in demand that is hitting Apple and others.“Samsung is better positioned to weather the virus fallout than its formidable rivals such as Huawei and Apple,” a person with knowledge of Samsung’s supply chain told Reuters.“The virus exposed China risks. We feel fortunate that we were able to escape the risks,” he said.Another person familiar with Samsung’s thinking told Reuters: “Samsung does not say it publicly. But it is relieved.” Still, two sources familiar with Samsung’s Vietnam operations cautioned that should the virus outbreak be prolonged, Samsung would feel the impact, as the company sources many components from China.Problems with cross-border shipments also cropped up in the early phases of the virus outbreak as Vietnam imposed stricter border controls, according to Hong Sun, vice chairman of Korea Chamber of Business in Vietnam. The issues have since been resolved, Sun said, but risks remain if Chinese parts suppliers cannot get back to work.Samsung also relies on Chinese contract manufacturers for some low-end models. In a statement to Reuters, the company said: “We are making our best effort to minimize any impact on our operations.”TrendForce recently cut its first quarter production forecasts for Huawei by 15% and Apple by 10%. It cut projections for Samsung Electronics by a smaller 3%.Before the virus, the global smartphone market had been expected to end two consecutive years of falls, driven by smartphones running on faster 5G wireless networks. But the virus outbreak will throw cold water on any rebound, with global shipments likely to record another decline.Since starting phone production in Vietnam in 2009, Samsung has aggressively boosted output through cheaper labor and generous government incentives. A number of South Korean suppliers followed suit, powering its breakneck growth. Samsung ended its own smartphone production in China last year as its market share plunged to nearly zero.Apple makes most of its iPhones in China via Taiwanese company Foxconn. Manufacturing facilities there that produce Apple’s iPhone and other electronics have begun to reopen, but they are ramping up more slowly than expected, Apple said on Monday.Last week, Samsung unveiled a trio of flagship Galaxy s20 smartphones as well as its new foldable phone. Sources said the virus could delay new product launches by rivals.SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS
Drones And AI-Based 3D Virtual Modeling System For Safe Dam Management
SEOUL -- Aerial and underwater drones will create three-dimensional models to check the structural safety of dams in South Korea. Drones will inspect places where human workers cannot reach and structural damage can be analyzed with a virtual twin solution. The Ministry of Environment said in a statement that it would introduce a dam inspection method using drones later this year and gradually establish an artificial intelligence-based smart safety management system by 2025. "It is important to thoroughly inspect dams without blind spots to prevent safety accidents," Environment Minister Cho Myung-rae was quoted as saying. The management system for dams utilizes drones to create "digital twin" models. The digital twin solution creates a clone of an object inside a virtual world to simulate real-world problems. Virtual cloning and testing technology can find how a warehouse would survive in natural disasters. In 2019, LG Electronics partnered with Siemens, a German industrial manufacturing company, to jointly focus on the research of digital twin and the digitalization of manufacturing techniques such as 3D printing of molds and equipment. The dam management system can prevent structural damages and improve the lifespan of machinery and hydropower plants, the ministry said, adding it would establish a management center dedicated for the safe operation of dams. The operation of drones is limited in South Korea except for safety-related purposes. AJU BUSINESS DAILY
How Did Huawei Fall Foul of The US Government and Find Itself at The Epicenter of A New Tech War?
Like many Chinese entrepreneurs, Huawei Technologies’ founder Ren Zhengfei knew he would have to crack the US market before the company could truly become a global operation.Ren, who studied the management techniques of US tech giants like IBM, had been trying to make headway in the US since the early 2000s but was getting resistance from lawmakers there who viewed the company as an extension of Chinese government intelligence efforts.By January 2018 however, Huawei felt that its efforts were finally paying off.Its consumer products chief Richard Yu was slated as a keynote speaker at the giant CES tech fair in Las Vegas, where he planned to announce to the world that US telco giant AT&T would soon start distributing Huawei’s smartphones, a deal that potentially would have given more than 100 million American subscribers the option of using a Huawei phone with their service plan.However, days before the announcement some US lawmakers found out and urged AT&T to cut its ties with Huawei. Under pressure, the US telco pulled out of the deal the day before CES opened.Within hours of the deal’s collapse a frustrated Yu said in a text message to the South China Morning Post that Huawei “had been harmed again”. At the keynote on the second day of CES, he called the snub a “big loss” for Huawei, but an even bigger loss for American consumers because they would not have the choice of Huawei devices.To analysts, the scuppered deal was a sign that the US was determined to never let Huawei enter the American market. To Ren, it was a confusing move that belied America’s strengths, not only in technology, but its rule of law and separation of powers.“There were no milestone events in this development process, and we’ve always viewed the US as a powerful country,” Ren, who serves as the company’s chief executive, told the Post in an interview last month. “We stumbled into where we are today, and we will probably stumble into tomorrow in a similar manner.”Perhaps the clash was inevitable given China’s rise. The country’s GDP per capita has grown to nearly US$10,000 or forty-fold in just three decades, according to the World Bank, creating in the process tech giants like Huawei in telecoms, Tencent in social media, Alibaba (owner of the Post) in e-commerce and DJI in recreational drones.In 2017 US President Donald Trump upped the ante in a range of disputes spanning trade, currency and technology, including slapping a US$1.19 billion fine on Huawei rival ZTE for breaching US sanctions, a move seen as a shot across the bow as far as Huawei was concerned.The US suddenly appeared determined to tar Huawei as a national security threat to America and its allies, whereas China and Huawei sensed a move by Washington to take down a new technology champion.Seven months after the AT&T decision, Washington barred government agencies from purchasing equipment and services from the company.In December the same year, Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, the eldest daughter of founder Ren, was arrested in Canada at the behest of the US for allegedly violating sanctions on Iran and committing bank fraud. Months later, in 2019, the US and Huawei hit each other with lawsuits.The hammer blow to Huawei came in May 2019, when Washington put the Chinese company on a trade blacklist, effectively banning it from doing business with US firms. That meant it could not buy hardware components like semiconductors or access critical software such as Google services on Android, putting its smartphone business outside China at a huge disadvantage.After all, who outside China would want a smartphone without access to Google, Gmail, or YouTube currently?The rift between Huawei and the US also comes as superfast 5G networks – the connectivity backbone for the internet of things, big data and industrial processes such as smart manufacturing – are set to roll out this year.Huawei is the world’s largest telecommunications equipment provider and a leader in 5G – overcoming the likes of Nokia, Ericsson and crosstown rival ZTE.The US, which lacks a telecoms champion after the demise of Lucent Technologies, is reluctant to let China get ahead and has stepped up its campaign against the Chinese company, telling allies that Huawei’s equipment is not secure.However, this did not stop the UK in January from approving limited use of Huawei’s gear in its forthcoming 5G networks. This move may portend well for Huawei in Europe, its second-most lucrative market after China, if the rest of Europe follows the UK’s lead.But how and why did the relationship between the US and Huawei sour?Interviews with current and former Huawei employees, as well as US government officials and analysts, point to a cultural divide, some missteps by Huawei in its early days in the US, and above all Washington’s deep-seated mistrust of communist-ruled China.''The US sanctions were enacted by a relatively small number of people. They don’t represent the American people or US companies.--Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei--Over the course of this series of articles, the Post will examine Huawei’s corporate structure, profile Ren himself, discuss cybersecurity issues at the centre of the rift with Washington, and look at the impact of the “de-Huawei-isation” campaign conducted by the US.In 2001, Huawei executive Charlie Chen set up the company’s first US office but it was tough going and employees struggled to sign up American telco customers, many of whom knew little about the company, much less how to pronounce its name.Two years later, Huawei formed a joint venture with US firm 3Com to provide enterprise networking products, like routers and switches, but a lawsuit just months before alleging that Huawei had copied source code from Cisco’s router software and a separate IP theft case involving Motorola, cast a pall over Huawei’s reputation in the US.Former employees of Huawei say that the Cisco lawsuit became a big concern for potential clients, who would ask if the allegations were true. Over a decade later, Huawei’s critics still tout the case as proof that Huawei steals intellectual property from rivals. However, both companies agreed to an out-of-court settlement in 2004.By 2005, just four years after Huawei set up shop in the US and as George W. Bush entered his second term as US president, a RAND report commissioned by the US Air Force said Huawei had “deep ties with the Chinese military” and that it received support from the government.Huawei has always rejected these claims, stating that it is a private company. In fact, Ren said in 2019 that he would rather close down the company than share sensitive client data with the Chinese government.However, some sceptics remain unconvinced.“If China wants its companies to be treated as neutral, international firms judged on their technology and not the location of headquarters, then the government needs to change the laws and regulations to provide confidence that the risks are limited,” said Michael Wessel, a member of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission.The RAND report caused many in the US to become wary of the company. Huawei’s subsequent attempts to take a stake in 3Com fell through in 2008 after lawmakers raised concerns over Huawei’s possible ties with the Chinese military.But the incident that really tipped Washington over the edge with Huawei, according to industry observers, was in 2010 when the Chinese company was vying for a contract with US telecom operator Sprint to upgrade its mobile network.“Sinophobic politicians, driven by defence and intelligence careerists, and further encouraged by Huawei competitors, launched an all-out and very public assault on the company through the Fall of 2010, drawing on the decades of misinformation that Huawei had, through its historically insular culture, allowed to fester into ‘fact’,” according to a memoir by Bill Plummer, who worked as Huawei's US-based vice-president for external affairs from 2010 until 2018, when his employment was terminated by the company.To show it was open and transparent, Huawei offered to deliver its equipment via a third party firm that would also conduct an independent audit of the hardware, firmware and software before shipping it to Sprint.Separately, Huawei also hired The Cohen Group, founded by former US Defence Secretary William Cohen, to negotiate with the US Director of National Intelligence and agree on a framework through which Huawei could provide its equipment.But when Huawei later independently announced that its third party partner would be Amerilink, a firm headed by former Nortel CEO William Owens, it effectively torpedoed The Cohen Group’s discussions with Washington. As a result, the government deemed Huawei untrustworthy and talks fell apart as Amerilink was viewed as insufficiently independent from Huawei.“Notwithstanding Huawei’s seemingly sincere intent, Amerilink was the lightning rod around which political and competitor adversaries launched their attempts to tank Huawei’s Sprint bid,” Plummer wrote in his self-published book.''We have to stop pretending that a company like Huawei, which received US$75 billion in subsidies and other financial support from the Chinese government, is just like a private sector company in the United States.---Republican Senator Marco Rubio--That Huawei would act independently despite having external consultants, was behaviour seen before by some of its foreign employees. Several former staff who worked outside China recounted to the Post their lack of autonomy in decision making, with headquarters in Shenzhen having the final say, even if it went against what experts in local markets recommended.Huawei’s interactions with Amerilink would have other consequences.The following year, in 2011, Huawei was asked by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) – which oversees foreign investment transactions to ensure they do not jeopardise national security – to divest its acquisition of a small US start-up called 3 Leaf Systems.Huawei’s failure to declare the transaction was seen by regulators as a red flag despite the company’s claim that it did not think it was necessary for a small deal involving intellectual property assets and the hiring of several employees from the firm.Huawei initially disagreed with the CFIUS recommendation to divest, saying to do so could cause “further damage to the Huawei brand and reputation,” which effectively meant a final decision was in the hands of US President Barack Obama. However, the company later backed down and agreed to divest.In October 2012, the US House intelligence committee released a report – the result of a year-long investigation – on Huawei and its Chinese rival ZTE, stating that the two companies posed a national security threat because their equipment could be used to spy on Americans by tapping into private communications on behalf of the Chinese government. Huawei has repeatedly denied such claims.The report went on to recommend that the US block any merger and acquisition activity in the US that involved the two companies, and advised the government to avoid using equipment from Huawei and ZTE.“At this point, Huawei warned staff in the US that the FBI could come in any time to seek our cooperation for investigations,” said one former Huawei employee, who worked in the company’s US office and asked to remain anonymous. “The FBI would regularly speak to our colleagues responsible for M&A.”Five years later Huawei was cited several times in a Pentagon report on how Chinese investments in emerging technology were giving Beijing access to the “crown jewels” of US innovation. The report caught the attention of lawmakers when it was first circulated in Congress, adding to the perception of some in the US that Huawei was a national security threat.Republican Senator Marco Rubio, a fierce and persistent critic of Huawei and the Communist Party leadership in Beijing, told the Post in January: “The presence of Huawei and other non-market Chinese actors in the telecoms space undercuts everyone’s ability to prosper. Even Nokia, Ericsson and Samsung, for example, can’t compete when Huawei’s prices don’t have to cover cost.”“We have to stop pretending that a company like Huawei, which received US$75 billion in subsidies and other financial support from the Chinese government, is just like a private sector company in the United States and that its rise has been fuelled simply by successful business practices,” he said.For Ren, who openly admires American business culture and who is often seen carrying around rival products from Apple, the current US fight against Huawei is not representative of the nation as a whole.“The US sanctions were enacted by a relatively small number of people. They don’t represent the American people or US companies,” he told the Post.SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST
Samsung’s Top Brass Hears About Labor Relations from Presidential Council
Around 20 CEOs of Samsung Electronics and its affiliates on Monday attended a lecture by the head of the presidential council on economic, social and labor affairs, according to the company. The South Korean tech giant invited Moon Sung-hyun, chairperson of the presidential Economic, Social and Labor Council, and arranged a special lecture for the leaders of affiliates, including Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Kim Ki-nam, Samsung C&T CEO Lee Young-ho and Samsung Life Insurance CEO Jeon Young-muk. The lecture was planned as a follow-up measure of Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong’s public apology that admitted the conglomerate’s unlawful practices intended to disrupt labor activities at affiliates. “Samsung will respectfully listen to criticisms and advises from outside the company to learn various views in our society,” Lee said during the apology made on May 6. During the lecture, Moon called on the Samsung executives to change their perception about labor-management relations, as he touched upon the history of labor activities in Korea, forecasts about changing labor-management relations and external views on Samsung’s relations with workers. Samsung has announced the conglomerate will no longer maintain the “no union” policy kept for the past 50 years since its foundation. An official labor union under the Federation of Korean Trade Unions kicked off in November. On Friday last week, Kim Yong-hee, a former employee of the now-defunct Samsung Techwin, ended his nearly one-year protest atop a 25-meter tower in Seoul, after the firm apologized and promised to resolve what he claims was an unlawful dismissal in 1995 in relation to his move to organize a labor union. THE KOREA HERALD
Zero-Emission Truck Startup Nikola Announces Merger with VectoIQ Acquisition Corp.
Nikola Corporation, which specializes in battery-electric and hydrogen trucks and powersports vehicles, announced March 3 they would merge with VectoIQ, a special purpose acquisition firm founded by former GM vice chairman Steve Girsky. Girsky founded VictoIQ in 2016 as a partner for companies dedicated towards developing autonomous and “mobility as a service” vehicles.VectoIQ is also notable for its status as a publicly traded corporation listed on the NASDAQ under ticker sign VTIQ. The combined company, which will keep Nikola Corporation’s name, will be listed as “NKLA.” The pro forma enterprise value of the merger is $3.3 billion.“We are on a roll,” said Nikola CEO Trevor Milton in a statement. “You couldn’t ask for better news for the energy and tech industry.” He also signaled his next priority for the company: sales. “We now need to double down and speed up the timelines and get to market,” said Milton. According to the company, Nikola currently has 14,000 pre-orders worth more than $10 billion.“We couldn’t be happier to have Steve Girsky join our board,” Milton added.Milton will remain CEO of the combined Nikola Corp, while current Nikola President Mark Russell will become CEO of Nikola. Stephen Girsky will join the board of directors.“In our two-year quest to find a partner that was a proven technology leader and focused on making a global difference, Nikola was the clear winner,” said Girsky.Milton founded Nikola in 2016 to make zero-emission vehicles, featuring battery-powered and hydrogen fuel cell-powered trucks. Milton apparently chose the name “Nikola” for his company as a cheeky jab at rival automaker Tesla Motors. The year before Nikola was founded, Tesla CEO Elon Musk criticized fuel cell technology at the Automotive World News Congress, calling hydrogen-powered cars “incredibly dumb.” (Both companies are named for Serbian-American electrical engineer and inventor Nikola Tesla.)In his statement, Milton appeared to indulge in what may have been a dig at Musk: “The world is transitioning to zero emission platforms and Nikola is the leader for heavy duty vehicles. We believe we have a differentiated business model built on economics, not government subsidies.” Aside from state and regional subsidies from building factories in the United States, Tesla received a federal electric vehicle tax credit for its first 200,000 units sold. Tesla no longer receives that credit.INDUSTRYWEEK