International news

This week’s International news

Olympics in jeopardy as builders walk out

Greece’s preparations for the Olympics hit a further stumbling block after
construction workers went on a 24-hour strike over pay. Thousands of
construction workers in Athens did not turn up for work after rejecting a 3.2
per cent pay rise. The General Confederation of Labour trade union is demanding
an 8 per cent hike in wages. Commenting on the employers’ pay offer, the union
said: "If these provocative positions are maintained, a conflict will be
inevitable with all its consequences for the country’s priorities ahead of the
Olympic Games." The strike took place on the same day as the ceremony to
mark the arrival of the Olympic flame in the Greek capital.

German engineering giant sheds 2,500 jobs

Siemens, the German engineering company, says plans to offshore jobs to
counter mounting competition from Asia and high domestic labour costs will
affect around 5,000 staff. The company, one of Germany’s biggest employers,
will cut 2,500 jobs in the country as a result of the plans, and another 2,500
local staff will have to change job or location, a company spokesman said.
Siemens employs 170,000 staff in Germany, but has cut 35,000 jobs worldwide in
the past three years and 60 per cent of its workforce is now abroad. Last
month, Gerhard Schrîder, the German Chancellor, called offshoring
‘unpatriotic’.

Chinese graduates desperate to show ‘skills’

Female graduates in China are getting so desperate for jobs that some are
attaching revealing photos of themselves to their CVs, together with details of
their dancing and drinking abilities. The China Daily newspaper reports that
gender bias means female graduates are often shunned for jobs and so are
turning to ever more imaginative ways to entice potential employers. Some women
are pictured in mini skirts or bikinis, while others tell of their abilities in
the field of singing and dancing, according to the newspaper. China has equal
opportunities legislation, but Beijing Municipal Women’s Federation said there
was "a lack of implementing measures to help achieve that goal".

US economy bounces back with new jobs

The US economy created 308,000 jobs in March, the largest monthly increase
in four years, and shattered the 200,000-per-month gain expected in times of
economic recovery. The news comes after repeated attacks by presidential
candidate John Kerry, who had criticised low job creation under George Bush and
the Republicans. The unemployment rate rose from 5.6 per cent to 5.7 per cent
as more workers came into the market, according to the US Labour Department.
"Today’s employment report clearly demonstrates the positive impact the
President’s pro-growth economic policies are having on job creation," said
US treasury secretary John Snow.

Call for rights for Ireland’s migrant workforce

The Human Rights Commission and the National Consultative Committee on
Racism and Interculturalism have called for government action to tackle the
exploitation of migrant workers in Ireland. The two groups launched a report
today recommending ways to make government policy friendlier to migrants and
ways to integrate foreign workers into Irish society. Maurice Manning, the
president of the Human Rights Commission, said such workers should be treated
as human beings rather than economic entities. He also said human rights must
be a key feature of the Irish Government’s proposed immigration legislation.

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