Good morning, here’s your Wednesday morning briefing to set you up for the day ahead. Look out for these three things happening around the world today.
Ohio pleads with General Motors over plant closures
General Motors CEO Mary Barra announced what will be the largest round of job cuts and plant shutdowns in a decade, should the car manufacturer go ahead with its plans, last week. Up to five plans will become “unallocated” in 2019, meaning they will no vehicles will be produced there, with up to 15,000 jobs at risk.
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The company’s plans have come under fire from politicians and union bosses this week, including President of the United States Donald Trump and the United Auto Workers union, who believe GM is breaching earlier agreements.
Barra will be in Ohio, one of the city’s where GM has said it will halt production, today. There she will meet Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown, who will press the company to reconsider its decision.
“If you love this country, you fight for the people who make it work – people like the workers at Lordstown [the Ohio plant],” Brown said ahead of the meeting. “Senator Portman and I are committed to saving these jobs and call on GM to work with us to find solutions.”
UN attempts to settle Western Sahara dispute
United Nations will today host a roundtable discussion between representatives from Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and the Frente Polisario over the long-disputed Western Sahara.
The discussion is being held to “take stock of recent developments, address regional issues, and discuss the next steps in the political process”.
The UN has listed Western Sahara as a non-self-governing territory since the 1960s after Morocco claimed the area from the indigenous Saharawi people (now represented by Frente Polisario).
After negotiating a truce between the two in 1991, the UN promised to hold a referendum on the country’s future government. However, that goal has yet to be reached.
French parliament reconsiders fuel hikes
French lawmakers will meet today for an urgent debate after President Emmanuel Macron was forced to suspend a planned fuel tax increase following weeks of protests and rioting across the country.
Stricter vehicle emissions rules, which were supposed to begin in January, have also been suspended.
These changes were proposed as a way to pay for new initiatives aimed at combating climate change. The debate will focus on finding new ways to fund these environmental measures, as well as the impact that any implemented measures might have on French citizens.
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While Macron’s intentions seem good, a recent poll found that three in every four French voters approve of the protests.
The cost of diesel has already climbed by 23% since Macron entered office, with many accusing him of pushing through changes that favour the rich.