COMPANY NEWS IN BRIEF

07 October 2020 | Business

Southwest seeks pay cuts from unions

Southwest Airlines said it is asking unions to agree to pay cuts in order to prevent furloughs and layoffs through 2021 as the industry struggles to stem losses from the coronavirus pandemic in the absence of more federal aid.

Unions represent about 83% of roughly 61 000 Southwest employees. Non-union staff salaries will be cut by 10% until Jan. 1 2022, when they will return to the current level.

“Our objectives are to make this quick and simple and avoid furloughs,” chief executive Gary Kelly said in an interview.

The union representing Southwest pilots said it had tentatively agreed to meet and discuss cost savings if a second Covid-19 relief package does not pass in Washington.

Rivals American Airlines AAL.O and United Airlines UAL.O began furloughing 32 000 employees last week when a ban on job cuts expired without another US$25 billion in federal payroll support that airlines have been seeking. -Nampa/Reuters

Cisco is ordered to pay US$1.9 billion

A US judge ordered Cisco Systems Inc to pay US$1.9 billion to a Virginia company that accused it of copying its cybersecurity patents.

US District Judge Henry Morgan in Norfolk, Virginia, concluded after a monthlong non-jury trial that Cisco infringed four patents belonging to Centripetal Networks Inc, of Herndon, Virginia.

In a 167-page decision, Morgan said the case was “not a close call,” citing inconsistencies in Cisco’s evidence and that its own technical documents, many of which Centripetal itself introduced at trial, “proved Centripetal case.”

The pay-out includes an US$1.89 billion award, reflecting US$755.8 million in actual damages suffered by privately held Centripetal multiplied by 2.5 to reflect Cisco’s “wilful and egregious” conduct, plus prejudgment interest.

“Cisco did not advance any objectively reasonable defences at trial” as to the four patents, Morgan wrote. The infringing functionality was added to their accused products post June 20, 2017, and resulted in a dramatic increase in sales which Cisco touted in both technical and marketing documents,” he added. -Nampa/Reuters

SAP to spend more on diverse businesses

SAP will try to allocate 5% of its procurement spending to social enterprises and diverse businesses by 2025 to encourage greater social and environmental responsibility.

The German software group, which has 440 000 clients, appealed to other companies to join it in supporting small businesses owned and run by women or minorities.

SAP’s procurement initiative follows its launch in June of a product to help firms track greenhouse gas emissions in supply chains, backing a view that being transparent about their carbon footprint will be good for business.

The new initiative relates to so-called addressable spend, the share of a company’s procurement budget that can be allocated to social or diverse enterprises, which in SAP’s case equated to up to $60 million a year.

“We all need soap in our washrooms, landscaping for our offices, food and drink in our cafeterias, marketing services and office supplies. These and many more are all products and services provided by social enterprises and diverse businesses,” SAP board member Adaire Fox-Martin said. - Nampa/Reuters

FAA waives minimum flight requirements

The Federal Aviation Administration aid said it would extend temporary waivers of minimum flight requirements at some major US airports through late March 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Airlines can lose their slots at congested airports if they do not use them at least 80% of the time. The FAA said it would extend the waivers at New York’s John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport that were set to expire in October.

At four other US airports where the FAA has a formal schedule-review process - Chicago O’Hare, Newark, New Jersey, Los Angeles and San Francisco - the agency proposes to extend credits to airlines for flights that were cancelled due to the coronavirus as though those flights were operated through Dec. 31.

Major airline groups cited “historically low levels of bookings, with overall bookings down 82% year-on-year for 2020 compared to the outlook for 2019, consumer demand continues to fall and the need for schedule flexibility to support sustainable loads.”

The FAA, which first proposed the extensions on Sept. 11, said it “seeks to ensure the efficient use of valuable aviation infrastructure and maximize the benefits to both airport users and the traveling public.”- Nampa/Reuters

Johnson & Johnson to pay US$100 million

Johnson & Johnson will pay more than US$100 million to settle over 1000 lawsuits that allege the company's Baby Powder caused cancer, Bloomberg news reported, citing people with knowledge of the pacts.

J&J faces more than 19 000 lawsuits from consumers and their survivors claiming its talc products caused cancer due to contamination with asbestos, a known carcinogen. The company has maintained that its talc is safe.

The drug maker declined to comment on the Bloomberg report but reiterated that its talc is safe, does not contain asbestos and does not cause cancer.

“In certain circumstances, we do choose to settle lawsuits, which is done without an admission of liability and in no way changes our position regarding the safety of our products,” the company said in a statement.

In May, J&J said it would stop selling its talc in the United States and Canada after demand had fallen in the wake of what it called “misinformation” about the product’s safety amid a barrage of legal challenges. – Nampa/Reuters

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