International news: car giant backs down from race statement

• Lakeside Toyota has backed off its statement that a senior executive
threatened to fire a director if he hired any more black employees. The company
changed its position after the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in the
US added five more names to a federal lawsuit alleging a white supervisor
struck black salesmen with sticks and used racial slurs to address them. The
suit now alleges all five black salesman, as well as original complainant Eddie
Boyd, were forced to leave after complaining about abuse by a white used car
manager. The person to whom they complained, used car director David Oseng,
reported the matter but was told he needed "an attitude change" and
was eventually fired, the EEOC says. In an earlier court filing, Lakeside Toyota
admitted a senior manager told Oseng not to hire any more black people or he
would be fired. In the new filing, the company says Oseng was told not to hire
any more "unqualified" black people.

Large organisations top diversity league in US

• Thirty-eight per cent of US employers have a formal diversity programme,
according to a survey by William Mercer. Large organisations (5,000-plus staff
are almost three times as likely as mid-sized organisations (fewer than 5,000
staff) to have diversity programmes. Two-thirds of the large employers have
formal programmes, compared to only 24 per cent of mid-sized organisations.
Such programmes are more common among services companies (41 per cent) than
manufacturers (28 per cent).

EU to widen competition in postal services

• The European Commission has drawn up controversial plans for opening up
the E80bn ($75.5bn) EU mail market to further competition. It is expected to
adopt the proposals on 24 May to liberalise 27 per cent of existing postal
monopoly services by 2003. The proposals are highly sensitive as many national
postal services and governments, including France, are strongly opposed to more
liberalisation. The debate about postal competition has become highly
politicised with warnings of the threat to rural post offices.

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