This week’s international news in brief
US avoids blame for home office accidents
• The employers of millions of "telecommuters" in the US will not be held liable for any federal health and safety violations that occur at home offices, according to testimony prepared for Congress by the Labor Department. But the recommendation makes an exception in the case of hazardous manufacturing work that employees perform in their homes, such as the manufacturing of electronic components or the assembly of fireworks, that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited in recent years.
EC to force recognition of doctors' qualifications
• The European Commission is piling legal pressure on member states to force them to recognise medical qualifications from other nations. It has announced that it is to launch cases at the European Court of Justice against the Netherlands, Ireland and Portugal in a bid to enforce rules agreed in 1998 on the mutual recognition of qualifications for doctors specialising in occupational medicine. And it is threatening proceedings against the Netherlands, Ireland, Spain and Portugal because they have failed to adopt amendments to a list of specialised doctors' diplomas that are recognised throughout the EU. Portugal, as EU president, is holding a summit on the economy next month which will address liberating the labour market.
Transport employees bring France to a halt
• While truck drivers paralysed key routes in France in protest over the reduction in weekly working time to 35 hours, other transport staff took strike action over pay. Metro employees in Paris took 24-hour action last week in connection with a pay claim. There was another day of action at Air France, also in connection with a pay claim. On 1 February, the 35-hour week came fully into force for companies with more than 20 employees.