Carmakers to stop paying some workers

Japan’s three biggest automakers are poised to add almost 32,000 people to the unprecedented ranks of North American workers seeking unemployment benefits.

While Toyota isn’t furloughing any of its direct employees in the United States, Canada or Mexico, the carmaker said Wednesday that it will no longer pay the roughly 5,000 people employed by temp agencies to help staff its idled plants in the region. The company will continue to provide benefits for now.

Toyota’s North American unit announced the cost-cutting move a day after Japanese peers Honda and Nissan said they would temporarily stop paying all staff at their idled U.S. plants and ask them to file for states’ unemployment benefits. Honda’s decision affects 16,900 employees; Nissan said it will furlough roughly 10,000 workers.

Toyota is extending the shutdown of its North American vehicle and parts factories a third time, citing the coronavirus outbreak and weak demand. The automaker now intends to reopen the facilities on May 4, two weeks later than planned.

Toyota will continue to pay full-time production workers.

— Bloomberg News


Zoom to launch its new security feature

Zoom chief executive Eric Yuan pledged that his company will meet the highest security standards, seeking to put millions of new users at ease after numerous security lapses on the video-meeting application.

Zoom Video Communications is launching a feature called Security that sets all privacy settings to their highest level, including putting passwords on meetings and employing waiting rooms that force meeting hosts to filter conference attendees, Yuan said Wednesday on a webinar. The San Jose-based company is planning to roll out upgraded encryption for its video calls and meeting rooms for large webinars.

The security webinar was part of Yuan’s mea culpa campaign to rebuild trust with the more than 200 million users who’ve turned to Zoom amid the covid-19 pandemic. Zoom was sued by a shareholder Tuesday who alleged the company fraudulently concealed its lack of end-to-end encryption and its data transmissions to Facebook, just one of several lawsuits that have sprouted during the revelations about the software maker’s privacy problems.

Earlier Wednesday, Zoom announced it had hired Facebook’s former security chief, Alex Stamos, as an adviser and formed a security council to help guide its next steps.

— Bloomberg News


Banks predict long recovery for Canada

The coronavirus pandemic’s economic impact on Canada will be broader and more challenging than the 2008-09 financial crisis, with the recovery likely to take longer than expected, chief executives of the country’s two major banks said on Wednesday.

“This is much more severe than the financial crisis . . . which was really mild for Canada,” Royal Bank of Canada CEO Dave McKay said following its annual shareholder meeting.

While the government assistance measures may appear to be taking longer than ideal, they have come together, “very, very quickly,” given the unprecedented nature of the crisis, Victor Dodig, CEO of Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, said following its investor meeting.

Canada has introduced stimulus worth about $71.2 billion ($100 billion Canadian) for households.

Both CEOs said they expect a slow recovery.

— Reuters

Also in Business

Cisco Systems chief executive Chuck Robbins said he's told staff not to worry about losing their jobs and urged other companies to follow his example when possible. "We're actively involved in the community trying to help people who've been impacted by this, why would we contribute to the problem?" Robbins said in an interview. Cisco has about 75,000 employees.

— From news services

Coming today

8:30 a.m.: Labor Department releases weekly report on unemployment benefits.

8:30 a.m.: Labor Department releases the Producer Price Index for March.

10 a.m.: Freddie Mac, the mortgage company, releases weekly mortgage rates.