News

This week’s news in brief.


E-mail staff reinstated


Most of the staff suspended from Royal and Sun Alliance’s Liverpool offices for sending a smutty picture of cartoon character Bart Simpson over the company’s e-mail have been reinstated. Seventy of the staff have returned with written warnings. But 10 other employees who were sacked after the images were found are reportedly not returning to work.


Census jobs boom


The Office of National Statistics will create about 70,000 jobs for Census 2001 in the biggest peacetime recruitment drive. The search has already started for for people to deliver and collect forms from every UK household. Part-time positions have a wage of £5.50 an hour.


Gay hate mail probe


An investigation has started after eight gay police officers were sent threatening letters in the post. A spokesman for Metropolitan Police said that the Directorate of Professional Standards, formerly the Complaints Investigation Bureau, was investigating a series of malicious letters that were sent to officers based at West End Central.


Agencies risk debt


Employment agencies are risking bankruptcy and takeover by going into debt in attempts to gain an advantage over competitors, according to research by Plimsoll Publishing. The survey of 1,000 recruitment agencies found that 84 per cent were in debt, with more than half increasing their level of borrowing last year. Only 144 companies showed no debt at all.


BASF axes jobs


BASF Pharma is cutting 250 jobs after its decision to close its research and development arm in Nottingham. The German chemical conglomerate claims the closure, at the end of next month, is unavoidable due to rationalisation. Malcolm Parry, group HR manager for Knoll, the division of BASF Pharma which owns the r&d plant, said, “Our employees will receive more than the statutory redundancy payment.”


60pc are work-sick


More than 60 per cent of people questioned in a survey said they had suffered work-related ill health. The Twenty4-Seven survey of 300 people also claims that 86 per cent felt that those who had suffered ill health at work had the right to seek compensation. The most frequently reported symptoms were fatigue, sleeplessness, lack of concentration and being run down.


Civil servants axed in Mexico restructuring


As many as 8,000 civil service jobs are to be axed by Mexico’s new government to compensate for the larger than expected budget deficit. Half of the 14,000 employees at the state-run National Water Commission will be dismissed, and finance minister Francisco Gil Diaz warned more job cuts to the federal bureaucracy were on the way as part of a massive restructuring.


FedEx tie-up to spawn jobs bonanza in US


US delivery company Federal Express is to create hundreds of jobs through a new seven-year alliance with the US Postal Service. The agreement was announced on Wednesday and is expected to generate an extra $7bn (£4.7 bn) a year for FedEx. Fedex will provide domestic air transportation for certain postal services, creating jobs for 500 pilots and 1,000 mechanics and handlers.


Silicon Valley skills gap may impact on UK


Increasingly large skills gaps in California’s Silicon Valley could affect UK businesses, new research warns. Los Angeles-based IT firm Networking People says the high-paced environment of Silicon Valley has caused technological innovation to spiral, leaving a skills vacuum in its wake. There are 250,000 vacancies for skilled IT professionals, and the numbers are growing rapidly. Tom Smith, UK director of Networking People said, “What happens in the US will affect what happens in the UK. Businesses in this country must start planning for contingencies.”


Shortage of computer engineers addressed


Distance learning specialist Resource Development International is investing £1m to build a UK training facility in Coventry to arrest a 17 per cent shortfall in computer engineers. The RDI Midland training centre will have places for 300 students. The first two courses are ‘A’ plus, for those wishing to become specialists in PC support, and Microsoft Certified systems engineer, an advanced course on system engineering.


Leicestershire learning account shines


Leicestershire Training and Enterprise Council’s Individual Learning Account has been a resounding success, with 95 per cent of respondents in a survey saying they will continue learning. The findings show that 39 per cent would not have been able to study without their Individual Learning Account. The scheme is intended for staff at small and medium-sized businesses, people returning to work, those seeking training in areas of skills shortages and those with few skills.


500 pupils on payroll administration course


A payroll administration course has been launched by the Association of Accounting Technicians to address skills shortages in the sector. In its first year the NVQ/SVQ in payroll administration is being studied by more than 500 pupils in the UK. “Employers are finding it more difficult to find staff who can tackle critical issues,” said Jane Scott Paul, AAT chief executive.

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