International news: alcoholic doctor loses discrimination claim

A doctor with a drinking problem has lost her claim that her dismissal was discriminatory. Stephanie Bekker claimed that as an alcoholic she should be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act – a law similar in provisions to the Disability Discrimination Act in the UK. But the US Court of Appeal has ruled that she was disqualified from claiming because she posed a risk to the health and safety of patients.

Truck drivers’ hours law opt-out talks go on

Negotiations to end the opt-out of truck drivers from the European Working Time Directive have become bogged down. The French government still hopes to resolve the issue under its presidency, which expires in December. Countries are divided on whether time spent loading or waiting should be included, and on restrictions on weekend and feast-day work. The likely standard working week will be 48 hours, with an absolute ceiling of 60 hours.

Buy-out proposed for ailing Exel French arm

The management of loss-making French transport group Exel Logistics has proposed a buy-out of the company by management and employees. British parent company Exel-Ocean has spun off the French subsidiary, which lost around £3m (Ffr30m) in July due to a strike and £1m (Ffr10m) in September owing to the fuel tax protests. Under the plan, staff would own 11 per cent of the company and five senior managers would own 66 per cent.

Skills shortages see US work visa quota raised

The US Senate has approved a measure to increase the ceiling on work visa permits to 195,000 by 2003. "Employers are scrambling to hire skilled workers in virtually every field, not just the high-tech arena," said Susan Meisinger, executive vice-president of the Society for Human Resource Management. The measure now passes to the House of Representatives.

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