Global newsround

Whiteley reports on what’s happening in HR around the world

plans to consolidate its airlines down to three

Civil Aviation Administration of China has confirmed plans for mergers to
reduce the country’s 10 airlines to just three. The aim is for the new carriers
to operate in a more efficient manner as part of the nation’s preparations for
entry into the World Trade Organisation.

largest of the three new companies is likely to be formed by the combination of
China Southern Airlines with China Northern Airlines and Xinjiang Airlines. It
will have 34,000 employees, 512 domestic routes and 94 international flights.

may force Comair to close

Air Lines may close its subsidiary Comair in response to an all-out strike by
pilots, the US carrier has warned.

Reid, the company’s president, issued the ultimatum as the seven-week walk-out
was prolonged in mid-May when the pilots voted to reject proposals made by
federal negotiators. The dispute is centred on pay, conditions and on-call
arrangements at Comair, which the union says fall short of the norm for major

at the parent company have reached a settlement, however, making Delta Air
Lines’ pilots some of the highest paid in the industry. Pay increases range
from 24-34%. Delta’s 9,800 pilots had threatened to strike.

women gain right to work nights

French parliament has passed a law giving greater opportunities for employers
to hire women for night work. The measure was supported by the ruling Socialist
party, but was opposed by smaller parties both of the right and left. The rule
brings France into line with a European law guaranteeing equality between women
and men.

of State for the Rights of Women, Nicole Pery, said night work should remain
"exceptional for men and for women". Employees have the right to
switch to day work with no loss of pay if it is for genuine domestic reasons.

newspaper Le Figaro reported that 800,000 women already work nights, mostly in
hospitals, under derogations from existing French law.

takes aim at job-for-life culture

Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi has asked the Ministry of Health,
Labour and Welfare to study ways of increasing the scope of fixed-term
employment contracts. He believes that greater use of two- and three-year
contracts would give employers more flexibility.

commentators argue that the difficulties in making redundancies in the Japanese
system are holding back company restructuring. However, job-cutting programmes
are continuing in the country. Car firm Isuzu has followed Nissan and Mazda in
announcing plans for a reduced payroll. It is seeking to cut 3,000 jobs or 10%
of its workforce.

happy with their 35-hour working week

first major inquiry into the effects of the 35-hour week in France, introduced
by the Socialist government under Lionel Jospin, has found that nearly 60% of
respondents reported a "general improvement" in working conditions.

one-third of respondents – who were interviewed at home without their employers’
knowledge – reported that there was no change, while 13% said it had made
matters worse.

were more likely to be satisfied than non-qualified staff, with three-quarters
of women managers finding favour with the law. The findings of the study, for
which 1,618 people were interviewed between November 2000 and January 2001,
were announced by labour minister Elisabeth Guigou.

35-hour law came into effect for larger employers in spring 2000.

brewery faces strike over 40% jobs cut

protest has erupted in Europe over alleged failure to consult the workforce
over job cutbacks. Employees in the Spanish breweries run by the
Netherlands-based company Heineken held a national strike in May to protest at
a planned 40% reduction in personnel.

two main trade unions, the Union General de Trabajadores and the Comisiones
Obreras, called for the company’s managers to divulge more information about
the planned jobs cull.

follows protests against food company Danone, retailer Marks & Spencer in
France and steel company Corus in the UK against redundancy programmes in which
unions have complained of being kept in the dark. M&S is likely to face
court action over the closure of its stores in France.

dips in the US

US figures reveal that labour productivity registered a surprise fall in the
first quarter of 2001, recording the first drop since 1995, official figures
revealed. The Labor Department said that the non-agricultural output per employee
fell at an annual rate of 0.1% in the first three months of the year, compared
with a 2% rise in the final quarter of 2000.

disappointing figure was explained largely by the rise in unit labour costs at
an annual rate of 5.2%, which was the largest since a rate of 5.5% was recorded
in the final quarter of 1997.

remains sluggish in Germany

levels remain at nearly 10% in Germany, the largest economy in Europe,
government statistics have shown. The figure dipped just slightly from 9.8% to
9.5% in April, with 3.9m people out of work. In response to the figures the
Labor Office president Bernhard Jagoda said, "The weakening of economic
growth is leading to stagnation in the labour market."

economists argue that the interest rate for all 11 countries in the euro zone,
currently set to reduce inflation to the target 2% rate for the continent, is
too high for Germany which needs more reflationary policies.

lobbies for spouses’ employment opportunities

than 20 multinational companies have set up a campaign to lobby for increased
working rights for the spouses of expatriate employees. It will start in the
US, where it has received backing from congressmen and senators for a Bill to
be presented this year proposing work permits for spouses under certain conditions.

companies giving support include Shell, Siemens, UBS Warburg and Unilever.

group will be known as Permits, and says that experience in countries which do
allow spouses to work, including the UK, Australia and Argentina, shows that
the effect on local labour markets is negligible and that the transfer of
skills can be positive. Canada and the Netherlands loosened restrictions in

investors plan Tech City

group of Saudi investors is negotiating with 24 international companies to
establish a US$2bn industrial city for hi-tech manufacturing. The city will be
built on a 100 sq km plot on the Red Sea coastline between Jeddah and Yanbu,
said Naseyat Investment Centre general manager Ahmad Al Joufi who is masterminding
the plan. Provisional approval from the Saudi authorities has been secured,
although no licence has been issued as yet. Al Joufi said construction would
take about three years.

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