Top Stories

April 25, 2016


Uber reaches $100 million settlement in fight with drivers, who will stay contractors

Uber has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit with its California and Massachusetts drivers for up to $100 million, avoiding a jury trial that could have reclassified contractors as employees and was expected to determine the fate of the so-called gig economy. The proposed settlement, which must be approved by a judge, would allow the ride-hail app to continue classifying drivers as independent contractors though it will make some changes to their working conditions. Under the terms of the settlement, Uber has agreed to stop deactivating drivers “at will” and will allow drivers to solicit tips by placing a sign in their cars. Uber will also facilitate the formation of a “drivers’ association” that “can play a role similar to a union”, according to a statement from the drivers’ attorney, Shannon Liss-Riordan. Though the drivers’ associations and settlement money will only apply to drivers in California and Massachusetts, the new deactivation policy will be implemented nationwide, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announced. (Guardian)



Sainsbury’s becomes first company to use naturally refrigerated trucks

Sainsbury’s has become the world’s first company to purchase a prototype natural refrigerant truck, in a bid to curb emissions from its haulage operations. The working trailer unit, which is made by natural refrigeration technology specialist Carrier Transicold, uses technology from the NaturaLINE refrigeration unit and consists of closed-loop system which uses only CO2 as a refrigerant. While CO2 is a common pollutant, its global warming potential is much lower than other refrigerants such as propane, ammonia, and fluorinated greenhouse gases. “The beauty of Carrier Transicold’s prototype trailer unit is it delivers a massive reduction in F-Gases by using natural refrigerant. This will directly help us achieve our ambitious environmental and sustainability goals, whilst delivering a seismic leap forward in terms of sustainability within the cold chain.” said Gary King, Sainsbury’s operations support manager. “Delivering the first dedicated natural refrigerant trailer prototype into service marks a huge milestone in the development of over-the-road refrigeration using CO2,” added Davis Appel, Carrier Transicold’s president. (edie; Business Green)


Responsible Investment

BlackRock Introduces iShares Sustainable MSCI Global Impact ETF

BlackRock has expanded its suite of socially responsible exchange-traded funds (ETFs) with the launch of the iShares Sustainable MSCI Global Impact ETF. Launched on Earth Day, the fund aims to help investors use their investment portfolios to target companies that enable positive social and environmental change. The iShares Sustainable MSCI Global Impact ETF seeks to track the investment results of the MSCI ACWI Sustainable Impact Index, a new index constructed by MSCI, an independent provider of research-driven insights and tools for institutional investors. The index is comprised of companies that derive a majority of their revenue from products and services that address at least one of the world’s major social and environmental challenges, as identified by the Sustainable Development Goals. “Investor needs are constantly evolving, and BlackRock is focused on creating innovative and scalable solutions to address these changing demands. This new fund arrives at a time when investors – from major global institutions to individual investors – are increasingly looking to achieve their financial goals in a way that also delivers a long-term, positive impact on the world.” said Deborah Winshel, Managing Director and Global Head of BlackRock Impact. (Business Wire)



Ikea starts selling solar panels in UK stores

Ikea has started stocking solar panels in its stores across the UK despite huge government cuts to solar subsidies for homeowners. Shoppers will be able to order panels online and at three stores, initially Glasgow, Birmingham and Lakeside, before the so-called Solar Shops appear in all the Swedish company’s UK stores by summer’s end. Ikea’s new foray with energy company SolarCentury marks its second attempt to sell solar panels, after a two-year pilot with Chinese company Hanergy ended last year. The company maintains that despite low wholesale electricity prices and ministers’ 65 percent cut to solar incentives, after which new solar installations have crashed in the past two months, the technology makes sense for British householders. “Obviously the climate has been changing in the past year in the UK but, nonetheless, our research showed a third of homeowners would really like to invest in solar, and the majority of those are driven by the opportunity to save money,” said Joanna Yarrow, head of sustainability at Ikea UK and Ireland. (Guardian)



HSBC to change executive pay policy

An overwhelming majority of HSBC shareholders have approved a new pay policy for executive directors. The move will cut the maximum amount directors can earn by 7 percent, but the executives’ pay awards for 2015 were backed by 96 percent of investors. They include a total package worth £7.34 million for chief executive Stuart Gulliver. A shareholder advisory group had asked shareholders to reject the 2015 remuneration report. HSBC’s recent annual general meeting outlined its proposals to cut the amount of cash given to directors in lieu of a pension from 50 percent to 30 percent of base salary and make them wait three years before they receive long-term bonuses. The chairman of HSBC’s remuneration committee, Sam Laidlaw, said in his statement the committee believed there should be rewards for delivering results and penalties when they are not delivered in the right way. (BBC)


Image source: DariuszSankowski / CC0 Public Domain