Previous Article Next Article All the latest happenings in HR around the world, by Philip WhiteleySchroder denies costs of works council reformGerman chancellor Gerhard Schroder has denied that his Social Democratgovernment’s planned increases in rights for members of works councils will bea burden for business. The enhanced roles for the consultative forums, which were confirmed earlierthis year (globalhr April), give members the right to a say on environmentalissues, training and work organisation. Such a role “should be seen as astrength, not a weakness, by foreign investors considering Germany as abusiness location,” Schrîder told the Sonntag Aktuell newspaper. Works councils can often organise restructurings better than managementalone, he added. www.faz.net Unemployment figures fall in Spain and UKThe official rate of unemployment in Spain has fallen to 9.45%, the lowestrate since 1980. A reduction of 22,000 has taken the number without work down to1.6 million. In the late 1980s, the rate rose to around 25% of the adultpopulation in Spain. The centre-right government of Jose Maria Aznar hasclaimed the creation of 1.2 million jobs since 1997.A similar pattern has emerged in the UK, where the number out of work andclaiming state support fell below the one million mark in March, for the firsttime since 1975. The official rate under the wider definition is just over 1.5million. www.elpais.es www.thetimes.co.ukUS states propose more paid leaveEight states in the US have introduced bills that would provide pay foremployees on leave for the birth or adoption of a child, or for treatment of aserious health condition. Most would use state unemployment insurance funds tofinance the proposed paid leave. One state is seeking to levy a new taxdirectly on employers and employees. These laws were made possible by a regulation passed in President Clinton’ssecond term. The Society for Human Resource Management has challenged theDepartment of Labor regulation, arguing that it over-reached its powers inchanging the laws governing state unemployment systems. No ruling has yet beenmade.The eight states involved are: Arizona, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey,Oregon, Texas, Indiana and Washington State. www.shrm.orgBush intervenes in labour disputePresident Bush has signed an executive order preventing a strike atNorthwest Airlines. In the latest dispute to hit a US airline, talks betweenthe union Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association and management at NorthwestAirlines reached deadlock by mid-March, with the two sides at loggerheads on aseries of issues concerning pay, pensions and back-pay for mechanics, cleanersand custodians. The presidential order delays any industrial action from taking place beforethe middle of May at the earliest. Senior vice-president of labour relations,Robert Brodin, said he had made off-the-record proposals to unionrepresentatives which had been rejected.Skilled migrants leave USA number of skilled immigrant staff in Silicon Valley are now unemployed orin low-paid work, according to a report by the Society for Human ResourceManagement (SHRM). Just six months after the US Congress near-doubled the entryvisa ceiling to alleviate the technical skills shortage, the sudden economicdownturn has meant that many of those who have entered the US are struggling. Some skilled workers “are sitting idle for months or even going backhome”, says the SHRM. Of those in work, some are earning only around $250a week, which is far less than expected and well below the rates of a year ago.In October, the Congress increased the annual cap on the number of skilled-workervisas from 115,000 to 195,000. www.shrm.orgSpanish unions gain access to company InternetThe Banco de Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) has lost a high court case inSpain which means that unions will now have unlimited access to the use ofcompany e-mail to communicate with members on union business. The bank had argued that it complied with Spanish legislation requiringaccess to information by placing a message board for the use of the union. Itfiltered e-mail use, arguing that unlimited access could result in blocking ofthe organisation’s server.But the court agreed with the national union Comisiones Obreras that useshould be unlimited. There have been calls in Spain for the Workers Statute,which sets out the rights to information, to be updated to take account of newtechnology. www.eiro.eurofound.ieEuro experts to look at employee relationsA high-level group studying the state of industrial relations in Europe hasbeen convened by Anna Diamantopoulou, the European Commissioner responsible foremployment. Ten experts from different backgrounds will look at industrial restructuringand how communities can cope with closures or major restructurings by industry.The issue is highly contentious in Europe and there has been fierceopposition from employers to the proposed right for employees to be consultedon any changes. The expert group will look at the quality of industrial relations andexamine how they can be improved, rather than sanctions and the law, accordingto Diamantopoulou. www.eiro.eurofound.ieNepalese hotel staff take strike actionMore than 200,000 employees in the hospitality industry in Nepal began anall-out strike in mid-March. The strikers, members of several unions, want a10% service charge to be added to guests’ bills, with the proceeds distributedamong staff. Hotel managers in the Himalayan kingdom have been forced to prepare roomsand serve meals themselves as they refused to give in to the unions’ demands.Managers have claimed that the tourism industry – which is vital for thecountry – is struggling and cannot afford the increases, a claim denied by theunions. www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/businessArgentina jobs crisis worsensThe outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Europe has worsened theunemployment problems in Argentina. Around 700 jobs in farming and meatprocessing have been lost in the South American country because of the importrestrictions on meat.The job losses have been felt mostly in the Santa Fe region, from wherenearly 50% of food products are exported. These losses add to an already highlevel of unemployment in Argentina. www.lanacion.com.arFrance hires more managers There has been a 12.5% rise in the hiring of managers in France in the past year,according to a study by Manager Employment Association (Association pourl’emploi des cadres). The rate of increase was three times that of the previousyear. Employers have been particularly keen to hire young graduates, theassociation reported. Just over 100,000 managerial posts had been created bythe 11,000 companies surveyed, compared with 66,000 in 1999. www.lefigaro.frIndonesian Nike suppliers accused of abuseA non-government agency has accused managers at nine of Nike’s contractfactories in Indonesia of verbal, sexual and physical abuse. The pressure groupGlobal Alliance produced a report in which it said more than half the factoryemployees interviewed had witnessed verbal abuse, and that more than 10% hadseen improper sexual touching, with a similar proportion witnessing physicalabuse.Nike said the findings were “disturbing” and promised to addressthe matter. It buys from 25 factories in Indonesia. www.cnnfn.comAsia’s skills shortages prompts training investmentsUS-based data storage company EMC has launched its Asia Pacific GlobalTraining Center in Singapore to address the shortage of storage specialists inthe region. The firm has invested S$5m (£1.9m) in the centre, which is itssecond in the region (the first was in Japan). It aims for 2,800 students by2003.In a similar move, Singapore Network Services plans to invest the sameamount over the next three years in a software development and training centrein India. The application service provider will build the centre in the heartof India’s burgeoning software industry in Bangalore. www.CNET.com Global newsroundOn 1 May 2001 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed.