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Telstra becomes first Aussie telco to mandate COVID jab

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Australia’s biggest telco, Telstra has announced it plans to mandate the COVID vaccine amongst its workforce

The telco giant plans to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for 8,300 frontline staff.

The mandate though, is in defiance of the Business Council of Australia’s stance that employers should only take this step with the backing of government health orders.

The telco giant stated that it would require about a third of its workforce to be vaccinated, and had commenced a one-week consultation period with staff, unions and partners ahead of what will be one of corporate Australia’s largest mandatory vaccination drives.

Telstra now faces a showdown with unions over the proposal

Telstra boss Andy Penn says that the vaccine requirement would apply to about 8300 workers but not those who could work from home or were outside Australia.

The telco is facing potential legal challenges, however, after chief executive Andy Penn said in a letter to employees that those who refuse the vaccine may be forced into ‘‘medical retirement’’.

“This policy would make getting vaccinated a requirement for roles where they are in regular contact with customers, the public or other employees, such as our frontline and business-critical teams, and those who need to visit customer premises at times,”

Telstra is now the fourth company to mandate Covid-19 vaccinations, joining SPC – which was the first business to force employees to get the jab, as well as major airline Qantas and Australia’s second-biggest private hospital operator, Healthscope.

Virgin Australia, the second largest airline in Australia is still to confirm its vaccine mandate.

Anthony Lucas is reporter, presenter and social media producer with ticker News. Anthony holds a Bachelor of Professional Communication, with a major in Journalism from RMIT University as well as a Diploma of Arts and Entertainment journalism from Collarts. He’s previously worked for 9 News, ONE FM Radio and Southern Cross Austerio’s Hit Radio Network. 

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Money

AI pushes the Nasdaq to a record-breaking close

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The Nasdaq achieved a record-breaking close, surpassing its previous record high of 16,057.44, which was established on November 21, 2021.

Artificial assistance

Artificial intelligence-related technology stocks, such as Nvidia (NVDA.O) and Microsoft (MSFT.O), have greatly boosted the index.

The Nasdaq Composite has increased by almost 7.2% this year.

The tech-focused index surged 43% in 2023, and as chipmakers gained traction and confidence increased that the Fed might achieve a soft landing—that is, curb inflation without inciting a recession—stocks surged strongly by year-end.

In contrast, Nvidia increased by 1.9% on Thursday, bringing its total gain from a year ago to around 250%.

Market boom

Every S&P 500 subs sector saw a gain at the end of the month.

Analysts at Deutsche Bank report that the index has now increased for 16 of the past 18 weeks, matching the record most winning weeks last attained in 1971.

Bitcoin also moved closer to its all-time high.

The price of the virtual currency momentarily surpassed $64,000 as spot bitcoin ETFs helped drive it to heights last seen in 2021.

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Disney sign off on mega merger with India’s largest conglomerate

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India’s top conglomerate Reliance Industries and Walt Disney announced the merger of their India TV and streaming media assets, forming an $8.5 billion entertainment juggernaut.

Disney, Reliance sign non-binding agreement for India’s largest media conglomerate

Reliance, led by Asia’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, will inject $1.4 billion in the merged entity, with the company and its affiliates holding a more than 63% stake, with Disney owning the rest, the companies said in a joint statement.

Mukesh Ambani, Reliance’s multimillionaire CEO

Media rivals

With two streaming platforms and 120 TV channels, the combined company will be a formidable opponent for competitors like Netflix and Sony of Japan in the $28 billion media and entertainment market, which is expected to grow to $100 billion by the end of the decade.

Disney’s lengthy battle to stop users from leaving its collapsing Indian streaming service and the financial burden resulting from billion-dollar payments for Indian cricket rights before the deal, providing yet another illustration of how difficult it can be for Western companies to expand in India.

Ultimate alliance

“The combined entity will create a sports behemoth in India,” stated Jinesh Joshi, an analyst at Prabhudas Lilladher in India.

“This merger will give Reliance great bargaining power when it comes to negotiating advertisement contracts … For Disney, coming together with a bigger player, in terms of (financial) pockets, will give it a cash cushion,” he continued.

According to the corporations, the combined company will serve the approximately 750 million viewers in India as well as the Indian diaspora worldwide.

According to Disney CEO Bog Iger’s statement, “Reliance has a deep understanding of the Indian market and consumer,” and the acquisition will enable “us to better serve consumers with a broad portfolio of digital services, entertainment, and sports.”

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Money

Warner Bros Discovery plans to shutdown popular NZ news network

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One of New Zealand’s two free-to-air television networks claimed it will be shutting down all newsroom operations, television news broadcasts and website from June 30, with the loss of up to 200 media jobs.

The once-thriving network, which had been a staple in the New Zealand entertainment industry, is now facing financial turmoil, sending shockwaves through the media landscape.

Warner Bros Discovery, who own the NZ news network, stated the decision comes following further attempts to reduce costs and that meant major changes including the planned shut down of the newsroom.

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