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Germany

As Business Booms For BMW, Workers May Lose Paid Breaks

In order to maximize profits, the German automaker wants to eliminate paid 15-minute breaks for its workforce.

BMW Munich HQ and Leipzig plant
BMW Munich HQ and Leipzig plant
Thomas Fromm

MUNICH Due to poor sales in Europe, there are some car manufacturers right now mainly focused on survival. Others, thanks to great sales in the United States and China, are focused on maximizing profits; one of them is BMW.

Last year the Munich firm made a record profit of 5.3 billion euros. And as BMW boss Norbert Reithofer said in a recent interview, maximizing those profits is the central focus. In the first quarter alone, the operating margin was 9.5%, meaning that the company, which had set an objective between 8% and 10%, is right where it wants to be: so profitable that it recently paid out a share on earnings amounting to an average of 8,000 euros to every employee.

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In The News

War in Ukraine, Day 92: Is Severodonetsk The Next Mariupol?

Russian troops are attempting to encircle Severodonetsk, the last key city remaining under Ukrainian control in the Luhansk region, as Vladimir Putin looks to claim victory in a war that is not going Moscow's way. But will the toll be for civilians?

Inside a shelter in Severodonetsk.

Meike Eijsberg, Shaun Lavelle and Cameron Manley

Severodonetsk, the last key city remaining under Ukrainian control in the Luhansk area, is now the focal point of Russia’s war. In 2014, it had been recaptured from the pro-Russian separatists in a hard-fought battle by Ukrainian forces. Now, eight years later, Moscow is launching an all-out attack to try to take it back again.

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Alex Crawford, a Sky News correspondent in the region, says Russian forces have the means to conquer the city that in normal times has a population of circa 100,000 — and Moscow will be eager to cite it as the “victory”. But, Crawford wrote, “the path to victory comes – like the capture of the port city of Mariupol – strewn with the broken and battered bodies of the city's citizens.”

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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