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Kellogg’s U.S. cereal plant workers reject revised offer

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Kellogg Co said late Wednesday its cereal plant workers had rejected a revised offer by the U.S. packaged foods maker, prolonging the months-long negotiations over a new contract.

The workers went on a strike on Oct. 5 after their contracts expired, as negotiations over payment and benefits stalled due to differences between the company and around 1,400 union members at Kellogg’s cereal plants.

The Froot Loops cereal maker said in a statement its revised offer, which is set to expire on Nov. 11 midnight, was immediately rejected by the union who refused to place it before the employees for a vote.

“This is our “Last Best Final Offer” to the union.”

Kellogg has demanded that workers give up quality health care, retirement benefits, and holiday and vacation pay, Anthony Shelton, president of Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) International Union, had said last month.

The BCTGM union insists on proposals that are “unsustainable and unrealistic”, Kellogg said on Wednesday.

The union will continue with its strike, Bloomberg reported earlier in the day, citing a message from BCTGM.

The union did not immediately respond to Reuters request for a comment.

The revised offer specified that the company will continue with legacy wages and benefits with raised wages for current and future transitional employees, though it did not propose any changes to the current healthcare plans.

Kellogg proposed a two-tier employment system that would slowly take power away from union by removing the 30% cap on the number of transitional workers, BCTGM members said.

“We are no longer proposing a permanent two-tiered structure,” the company said.

The latest stall in negotiations means Kellogg facilities that make breakfast cereals in Battle Creek, Michigan, Omaha, Nebraska, Lancaster, Pennsylvania and Memphis, Tennessee would not be functioning at their full production capacity.

(Reporting by Aishwarya Nair in Bengaluru and additional reporting by Praveen Paramasivam; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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Dollarama beats profit estimates on Halloween spending boost

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Dollarama Inc beat Wall Street expectations for quarterly profit on Wednesday as the discount store operator benefited from strong demand for its higher-margin seasonal products, such as Halloween decorations and candy.

Customers have started spending on decor and party supplies as a majority of the Canadian population is vaccinated, allowing get-togethers and social events to take place.

Total sales rose to C$1.12 billion ($887.76 million) in the quarter, from C$1.06 billion a year earlier, Dollarama said.

The company’s net income rose to C$183.4 million, or 61 Canadian cents per share, in the quarter ended Oct. 31, from C$161.9 million, or 52 Canadian cents per share a year earlier.

Analysts were expecting the company to earn 57 Canadian cents per share, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

($1 = 1.2616 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Ananya Mariam Rajesh in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel)

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Bank of Canada keeps key interest rate on hold – CTV News

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OTTAWA –

Canada’s central bank has sent a warning that increases in the cost of living would continue into next year, but signalled it wasn’t yet prepared to pull its key lever to rein in inflation.

The annual pace of inflation in October rose to 4.7 per cent, a pandemic-era high and the fastest year-over-year gain in the consumer price index in 18 years.

The Bank of Canada said high inflation rates will continue through the first half of next year, but should by the second half of 2022 fall back to its comfort zone of between one and three per cent.

By the end of next year, the bank is forecasting the annual inflation rate to fall to 2.1 per cent.

While the path for inflation and the economy are largely following the central bank’s expectations, the statement released Wednesday said the bank “is closely watching inflation expectations and labour costs” to make sure they don’t take off and cause a spiral of price growth.

The comments in the last scheduled rate announcement of the year left the key rate at its rock-bottom level of 0.25 per cent, unchanged from where it was in January at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The announcement also said that the bank doesn’t expect to raise the trendsetting rate until some time between April and September next year, which is unchanged from its previous guidance.

“Overall, the (Bank of Canada) did indeed resist spitting in anyone’s holiday ‘nog,” Derek Holt, head of capital markets economics at Scotiabank, wrote in a note. “They stayed on track with guidance to begin entertaining rate hikes as soon as next April.”

When the bank moves, it is likely to move fast and furious, said BMO chief economist Douglas Porter. The bank has a history of quickly raising rates from emergency levels, he said, suggesting four rate hikes by the end of 2022.

“When the Bank of Canada believes that interest rates need to go up, they don’t tend to wait around, they tend to move relatively quickly,” Porter said.

The bank said the economy appears to have “considerable momentum” heading to the end of the year after growing at an annualized rate of 5.4 per cent in the third quarter of the year, a hair below what the Bank of Canada forecasted in October.

The Bank of Canada’s statement noted that the quarterly growth brought total economic activity to within about 1.5 per cent of where it was in the last quarter of 2019, before COVID-19 washed upon Canada’s shores.

Similarly, the labour market had a stronger-than-expected showing in November, pushing the share of core-age workers with a job to an all-time high and leaving the unemployment rate 0.3 percentage points above its pre-pandemic level in February 2020.

Still, the bank notes headwinds from devastating floods in British Columbia and uncertainties from the Omicron variant that could throw another wrench into snarled supply chains, and scare off consumers from spending on services.

TD senior economist Sri Thanabalasingam said the bank may move sooner on rates if Omicron proves to be less of a health concern than initially feared, noting the economy can handle it “with inflation running hot, and the labour market on solid footing.”

A rise in rates would impact interest charged for variable rate mortgages, which could tighten the finances of households that over the course of 2021 have added $121.5 billion in mortgage debt, including $38 billion between July and September.

“It’s going to be, I think, particularly problematic for Canadians who have gone into fairly substantial mortgages, particularly when interest rates have been low for such a long period of time,” said Tashia Batstone, president of FP Canada, a financial-planning association.

“What that means is you have to work harder to stick to your budget, you have to be watching the debt that you’re taking on, and in particular watch that you may not be able to have the flexibility around mortgage loans.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2021.

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Pfizer says COVID-19 booster offers protection against Omicron – CTV News

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Pfizer said Wednesday that a booster dose of its COVID-19 vaccine may protect against the new Omicron variant even though the initial two doses appear significantly less effective.

Pfizer and its partner BioNTech said lab tests showed a booster dose increased by 25-fold the level of so-called neutralizing antibodies against omicron.

Pfizer announced the preliminary laboratory data in a press release and it hasn’t yet undergone scientific review. The companies already are working to create an omicron-specific vaccine in case it’s needed.

Scientists have speculated that the high jump in antibodies that comes with a third dose of COVID-19 vaccines might be enough to counter any decrease in effectiveness.

Antibody levels predict how well a vaccine may prevent infection with the coronavirus but they are just one layer of the immune system’s defences. Pfizer said two doses of the vaccine may still induce protection against severe disease.

“Although two doses of the vaccine may still offer protection against severe disease caused by the Omicron strain, it’s clear from these preliminary data that protection is maximized with a third dose of our vaccine,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content

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