Afternoon Coffee: Companies Flee Spain, Call Center Prison Labor, Outsourced Croissant? Non!

Risk management...
More Companies Cut Spain Exposure -- Corporate storm clouds gathered over Spain again Wednesday as two major European companies joined the ranks of those saying they were taking steps to reduce exposure to the recession-hit country. Companies name-checking Spain as a trouble spot Wednesday included Amsterdam-based financial services group ING Groep NV, which reported a drop in second-quarter net profit of 22% as it took a hit to cut its exposure to that country. Separately, Swedish security services group Securitas AB said it may be forced to terminate more contracts in Spain after significant cuts in unprofitable contracts in the first quarter, amid fears customers in the country may not be able to pay their bills. These steps, coupled with negative remarks from executives about the difficulties of operating in the region and continued grim economic data, are likely to amplify concerns about the Spanish economy amid speculation that the government may need to ask Europe for a financial bailout.

"The company confirmed that since it started using prisoners, it had fired other workers."
Prisoners paid £3 a day to work at call centre that has fired other staff -- A business in Wales is bussing in inmates from an open prison 21 miles away and paying them just £3 a day to man its call centre, the Guardian can reveal. The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) confirmed that dozens of prisoners from Prescoed prison in Monmouthshire, south Wales, had done "work experience" for at least two months at a rate of 40p an hour in the private company's telephone sales division in Cardiff. People working in the prisons sector described the scheme as "disgusting" and a "worrying development". After establishing an arrangement with minimum security HMP Prescoed late last year, roofing and environmental refitting company Becoming Green has taken on a staff of 23 prisoners. Currently 12 are being paid just 6% of the minimum wage. When contacted by the Guardian last month, that figure was 17 – 15% of the company's call centre staff.

Incentives matter?
More Companies Offer Perks To Lose Pounds As Incentives To Stay Healthy Increase -- Though most U.S. employers regularly greet their workers with a bigger and bigger tab for health care, they are also offering perks and cash incentives to stay healthy. Almost 60 percent of large employers are using incentives as a way to get them into a gym, wellness program or other health improvement program, according to a new study by Aon Hewitt, (AON) the large global human resource consultancy. That compares to just 37 percent in 2011.

Seul le meilleur...
Outsourced Croissants Outrage Traditional French Bakers -- In the kitchen, head pastry maker Pierre Gibert still rolls his croissants from triangular strips of dough. "The key to a good croissant is good ingredients and a high quality dough. You have to knead it, let it rise and roll it a second time in butter. That's what gives a croissant its flaky quality," Gibert says. But many bakeries are choosing to outsource this time consuming and laborious first step, instead, buying ready-made frozen dough that they simply bake on site, known as "industrial croissants."

- Sheena Moore

First Voice

  1. Thomas Kase:

    Tricky issue prison labor – Apple for one outright bans it:
    "The Supplier Code of Conduct prohibits all types of involuntary labor, such as slavery, indentured or bonded labor, child labor, and prison labor."

    On the other hand it is a productive way to get prisoners on the path to productive work. Doesn’t mean that going all "laogai" is productive. So what to do? Take a look at this article:

    It becomes a thorny issue when prison labor competes with products against private enterprise and displaces private employment – and I have no easy answer there.

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