How will UK strikes affect business?
Various big businesses in the UK are striking on the run-up to Christmas, and it is unclear how exactly this will affect the nation.
Guglielmo Meardi is a Professor of Industrial Relations and Director of the Industrial Relations Research Unit, and offers the following comment on the subject:
“The long-term trend in strikes is declining and an occasional tactical peak before Christmas does not change this. In industrial countries days lost on strikes are 20 times fewer than in the 1970s, and this fall has happened everywhere regardless of business cultures, governments or trade union policies, so it is structural: employment has shifted from manufacturing to services, and from large companies to smaller ones.
"And the trend even accelerates because of generational change: new occupational groups may have no tradition of strike at all, or even know how to go about organising a strike.
“So there’s no realistic risk of going back to the winters of discontent or the bad old days.
“The problem is rather why we have not entered into a radiant future either. Even if strikes are much smaller and shorter, they have not disappeared. And they have become smarter: short actions by small but crucial groups in vital positions of transport, services, and logistics.
"A growing problem is strikes in essential public services, where there are ‘externalities’ that magnify disputes and make them more difficult to solve. Most countries have introduced special legislation to reduce the impact of those strikes, with varying degrees of success.
"The Trade Union Act 2016 tried to do the same, and while its provisions are still to be implemented, the current actions (which would have all met the new ballot thresholds) suggest that it may have missed its target.
"It might reduce large sector-wide strikes in sectors like health and education, but it may fragment and multiply disputes if unions react by focusing on small, cohesive professional groups that are easier to mobilise, thereby making the whole employment relations more unstable, unpredictable and, worst of all, mistrustful.”
Follow @ManufacturingGL and @NellWalkerMG
Ultium Cells LLC/Li-Cycle: Sustainable Battery Manufacturing
Ultium Cells LLC - a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solutions - has announced its latest collaboration with Li-Cycle. Joining forces the two have set ambitions to expand recycling in North America, recycling up to 100% of the scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing
What is Ultium Cells LLC?
Announcing their partnership in December 2019, General Motors (GM) and LG Energy Solutions established Ultium Cells LLC with a mission to “ensure excellence of Battery Cell Manufacturing through implementation of best practices from each company to contribute [to the] expansion of a Zero Emission propulsion on a global scale.”
Who is Li-Cycle?
Founded in 2016, Li-Cycle leverages innovative solutions to address emerging and urgent challenges around the world.
As the use of Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries in automotive, industrial energy storage, and consumer electronic applications rises, Li-Cycle believes that “the world needs improved technology and supply chain innovations to better recycle these batteries, while also meeting the rapidly growing demand for critical and scarce battery-grade materials.”
Why are Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle join forces?
By joining forces to expand the recycling of scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing in North America, the new recycling process will allow Ultium Cells LLC to recycle cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite, copper, manganese and aluminum.
“95% of these materials can be used in the production of new batteries or for adjacent industries,” says GM, who explains that the new hydrometallurgical process emits 30% less greenhouse gases (GHGs) than traditional processes, minimising the environmental impact. Use of this process will begin later in the year (2021).
"Our combined efforts with Ultium Cells will be instrumental in redirecting battery manufacturing scrap from landfills and returning a substantial amount of valuable battery-grade materials back into the battery supply chain. This partnership is a critical step forward in advancing our proven lithium-ion resource recovery technology as a more sustainable alternative to mining, " said Ajay Kochhar, President, CEO and co-founder of Li-Cycle.
"GM's zero-waste initiative aims to divert more than 90% of its manufacturing waste from landfills and incineration globally by 2025. Now, we're going to work closely with Ultium Cells and Li-Cycle to help the industry get even better use out of the materials,” added Ken Morris, Vice President of Electric and Autonomous Vehicles, GM.
Since 2013, GM has recycled or reused 100% of the battery packs it has received from customers, with most current GM EVs repaired with refurbished packs.
"We strive to make more with less waste and energy expended. This is a crucial step in improving the sustainability of our components and manufacturing processes,” concluded Thomas Gallagher, Chief Operating Officer, Ultium Cells LLC.