Italy opens door to immigration
Italy is the latest EU member state to open its doors to workers from Central and Eastern Europe. Like many of its European neighbours, it had placed restrictions on the free movement of labour from such countries following the enlargement of the EU in 2004. Going forward, however, workers from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic will be able to work in Italy and employers will not need to obtain authorisation before hiring them. It has also announced that it will increase the number of non-EU workers allowed to work in Italy from 170,000 to 350,000.
US minimum wage changes
In what may seem like an unusual move, Democratic senators recently blocked attempts to increase the US minimum wage from $5.15 (£2.80) an hour to $7.25 by 2010. Their actions were prompted by the Republicans' attempt to link approval of the increase to plans to cut inheritance tax for the rich. The Democrats have vowed to continue with their attempts to get the higher minimum wage approved unconditionally, but this looks unlikely to happen in the immediate future.