International news: telecoms firms to negotiate after union action

Liberalisation of the telecoms sector in Europe is causing huge business
restructuring and union protests.

Newly privatised Telecom Italia will shed more than 13,000 posts under its
new owner the computer firm Olivetti. Unions responded with a one-day strike
and demonstrations in Milan and Naples, attended by about 10,000 people.

In response the management has agreed to negotiations, which will discuss
industrial relations, job grades and working time, with a view to cutting the
number of redundancies.

Rejection is not discrimination, US judge rules

The "other woman" who lost her job after her manager’s wife
discovered the affair lost sexual harassment and sex discrimination claims in a
case in New York.

"Rejection and discrimination are not synonymous," ruled Judge
Robert Sweet, throwing out Shayne Kahn’s claim.

The judge said of the manager involved, Steven Wolfe. "Subjectively, he
behaved like a cad."

Moustaches make a comeback at theme parks

Entertainment giant Walt Disney has relented its stance on facial hair by
scrapping a 43-year-old ban on moustaches for its theme park staff.

Disney Attractions president Paul Pressler wrote to the 12,000 staff saying
the moustache edict was lifted because surveys show customers do not find them
objectionable – provided they are neatly trimmed.

But the dress code remains strict, with beards, nose rings and dyed hair
still prohibited. Sideburns below the bottom of the ears are not allowed.

Nightmare of staff losing sleep over work

Half of all adults in the US commonly skip sleep to catch up on work, even
though many reckon it harms their ability to do their work, according to a
survey by the National Sleep Foundation.

Only a third of those questioned said they sleep the recommended eight hours
a day.

Half of those questioned acknowledged that being sleepy at work affects how
much they can get done, and a fifth admitted to making errors due to tiredness.

Lack of sleep caused 14 per cent to be late for work and 4 per cent to miss
work altogether.

Threatened strike over industry pay deal

IG Metall of Germany, considered to be Europe’s strongest trade union,
threatened strike action to secure a pay rise of 5.1 per cent over two years
for its 750,000 metal industry members in North Westphalia.

It originally put in a demand of 5.5 per cent for just one year. Union
leaders had also sought a lowering of the retirement age from 65 to 60. This
was refused but employers offered greater opportunities to work part time from
the age of 57.

It was the first dispute to arise in the annual pay round in Germany, in
which deals are struck for each sector.

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