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Weekly News Roundup: Uber Lawsuit, Union Protests, Blackmailed IT Firm

Uber sued in landmark class action suit in Australia

On May 3, more than 6,000 taxi drivers and hire-car operators in Australia filed a class-action lawsuit in the Supreme Court of Victoria against Uber, alleging the company destroyed their livelihoods and operated illegally. The class action alleges the rideshare company knew its Australian business was illegal because its drivers were not properly licensed and did not have proper accreditation to carry passengers.

The lawsuit also claims Uber knew the vehicles driven by its drivers were not properly licensed and used “greyball” software tools to avoid law authorities’ enforcement actions. The case is one of the largest class actions ever pursued in Australia. The lawsuit comes as Uber prepares to raise up to US$9 billion in an initial public offering this year.

Uber denied that it operated illegally. Australian law firm Maurice Blackburn, which filed the suit, did not disclose how much it was seeking in damages, but a spokesman told CNN that the case has the potential to "run into the hundreds of millions" of Australian dollars.

Walmart names new female GC for health and wellness

Walmart has hired Jeanine Jiganti to serve as senior vice president and general counsel for health and wellness. Jiganti is the third female general counsel hired this year at the retail giant.

Last week, Walmart said it had hired Kerri L. Ruttenberg as its senior vice president of litigation, and in February, Rachel Brand joined Walmart as executive vice president, global governance and corporate secretary, reports Bloomberg Law.

China blocks imports from Canadian pork producers

According to Canadian Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau, China suspended pork imports from two Canadian companies, but would not name the companies. However, a document posted to the website of China's General Administration of Customs dated April 30 said that imports from Canadian meat producers Olymel LP and Drummond Export have been blocked.

Olymel LP spokesman Richard Vigneault confirmed that the company's plant in Alberta has been unlisted for exporting pork to China, but did not know the reason why, reports Reuters. Canada-China ties have been rocky since December 2018, when police in Vancouver arrested Huawei Technologies Co Ltd Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on a US warrant.

Hackers blackmail German IT company

Hackers are blackmailing a German information technology company with stolen data on some of the world's largest companies. The hackers created a website in which they claimed to have stolen more than "516GBb data financial and private information on all clients" from IT services provider Citycomp. The firm's clientele includes Airbus, Hugo Boss, Oracle, Porsche, and Volkswagen.

Thousands in Asia march on May Day, demanding better working conditions

Thousands of trade union members and activists marched through Asia’s capitals on May Day, demanding better working conditions. May Day rallies took place in the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, and other parts of the world were set to have rallies as well. The protesters in Seoul rallied in streets, denouncing deteriorating working conditions and calling for equal treatment and pay for non-regular workers.

The protesters also called for the government to ratify key International Labor Organization conventions that would strengthen South Korean workers’ rights for organization and collective bargaining, and take firmer steps toward reforming “chaebol,” or large family-owned conglomerates that dominate South Korea’s economy and are often accused of corruption.

Meanwhile, in Bangladesh, hundreds of garment workers and members of labor organizations rallied to demand better working conditions and higher wages.

About the Author

Wendy R. Leibowitz is a freelance contributor. Her work has appeared in the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, and Chronicle of Higher Education.

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