International news

This week’s International news

US suds giant pampers loyal staff with free holidays

US household products giant Procter & Gamble is rewarding virtually all
of its 90,000 employees with two free days off. The makers of Pampers nappies
and Clairol haircare products said it will provide the one-off benefit to all
of its staff worldwide, giving them the choice of taking time off or the cash
equivalent. Each year the company gives special awards of 50 shares of stock to
2,000 employees. This year, it will increase that number to 3,000 employees.
Chairman and chief executive Alan Lafley announced the benefits last week.
"We’ve never before offered a company performance award such as this, but
you’ve earned it," he said.

UK bucks trend as EU pay rises slow down

The rate of pay increases across the EU fell between 2002 and 2003, although
the UK bucked the trend, according to a report from the European Foundation for
the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. In the EU and Norway average
collectively agreed pay increases were 3.1 per cent in 2003, down from 3.5 per
cent the previous year. The UK collectively agreed pay increases of 3.2 per
cent on average in 2003, up from 3 per cent the previous year – higher than the
average increases in other large EU countries such as Germany (2.5 per cent)
and Italy (2.2 per cent).

Accidents will happen – especially in Estonia

While the UK’s record on serious accidents at work is getting worse, the
factories, building sites and offices of some eastern European countries
joining the EU are becoming safer – except in Estonia. According to statistical
agency Eurostat, assuming serious accidents per 1,000 workers in 1998 are rated
at 100, the UK’s index for 2001 rose to 110, (although it fell to 92 for fatal
accidents). By contrast, some major improvements were made in Hungary, (whose
index fell to 86 for serious accidents in 2001), and in Poland (78), Lithuania
(85), Slovakia (84), and the Czech Republic (91). However, some worrying
problems were identified in Estonia, (up to 132), Cyprus (112) and Latvia

Protests grow as US catches anti-offshoring bug

Trade unions in Europe have long been attacking moves by employers to
offshore work to lower-cost countries, and now similar grassroots initiatives
are under way in the US, writes Mark Childs. An article in national daily
newspaper USA Today said corporate stock purchases, coffee-shop planning
meetings and picket lines are some of the tactics workers are using to
capitalise on the anti-offshoring sentiment. A group in Minnesota has formed a
network of 1,000 people to contact federal and state legislators about
offshoring issues, and plans to boycott a company which has outsourced jobs
abroad. Other tactics include buying stock in companies that outsource in a bid
to influence board meetings.

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