International news

This week’s International news

Canadian bosses cash in on battle for talent with US

The basic pay of directors at 58 of the 60 largest Canadian public companies
increased dramatically in 2003, due to longer working hours and the need for
more attractive incentives to lure US talent. A ‘Report on Business’ survey,
published in the country’s Globe and Mail newspaper, found that base retainers
paid to directors climbed 28 per cent in 2003 from 2002. The jump is a whopping
61 per cent, if share grants to directors are included, with many companies
increasingly relying on this form of remuneration. David O’Brien, chairman of
Royal Bank of Canada, told the paper that four of its last six new directors
came from the US because of its growing business operations in that country.
"There is just generally higher pay in the US, and I think that’s had some
impact in the larger companies of having to bump remuneration to attract an
international group of directors," he said.

Spain puts high-speed train hostesses in trousers

Hostesses on the high-speed train between Madrid and Seville have won their
12-year campaign to wear trousers at work, reports The Independent. Since the
line was opened in 1992, the azafatas – or ‘ladies in waiting’ – have had to
wear a skirt 2cm above the knee. But Spain’s first female public works
minister, Magdalena Alvarez has now announced that hostesses can wear trousers
if they want. "Female workers have the right to feel comfortable, and not
feel under scrutiny just because they are women," she said. The azafatas
had argued that the skirts forced them into ‘unnatural postures’ when getting
items from the trolley. A spokeswomen for the hostesses said: "Let’s hope
the decision has a knock-on effect on other companies. We are not

US public sector pays bonuses to majority of staff

Government figures in the US have shown that almost two-thirds of its 1.6
million federal full-time civilian workers received merit bonuses or special
time-off awards in 2002. Of the 62 per cent who received awards, half received
US$811 (£447) or more. The typical bonus amounted to 1.6 per cent of their
salary. Under American civil service rules, federal agencies may give cash
awards or additional time off to reward employees for good annual performances
or contributions on specific projects. This method of payment is proving very
popular. The National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy and the
General Services Administration each gave bonuses to more than 90 per cent of
their ‘general schedule’ employees.

Online guidance on employing the new Europeans

The European Union (EU) has codified and publicised the often complex set of
rules controlling the migration of eastern and southern European workers from
the 10 countries which joined the EU last month. These transitional rules –
designed to ease the impact of their accession on the EU’s 15 established
member states – have been posted online at EURES, the European job mobility
portal. This site has information on the rules applicable to workers moving to
or from Hungary, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland,
Slovenia and Slovakia. It is not completely comprehensive, as the European
Commission has noted a "small number of Member States" have yet to
provide information on their national rules. In these cases, companies or
workers can contact a EURES adviser in the destination country (details on the
same site). It also includes rules on moving to pre-enlargement EU countries
and allows prospective workers to publish CVs and companies to post vacancies.

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