This week’s international news

Secret Service agents bring race bias claims

• Three black Secret Service agents have filed a formal discrimination
complaint against the US Secret Services Agency, saying they were slighted in
promotions, assignments and training. In the complaint filed with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission, the agents called for compensation and an
overhaul of the promotion and evaluation system. Yvette Summerour, the
highest-ranking black female agent, said she was in charge of last year’s Nato
summit security force and has received an award for her performance, but has
been denied promotion. Secret Service spokesman Jim Mackin told Newsweek that
"certainly we are concerned" about the black agents’ claim. He said
the agency has tried to maintain a diverse workforce. Of the 2,300 Secret
Service agents worldwide, about 200 are black.

IT experts go back to school to fill skills gap

• Leading companies in Belgium have offered to release some of their IT
personnel to teach in schools and colleges because so few technically-able
young people are emerging. They reported having to shelve important projects
due to the hi-tech skills shortage but were keen to second staff to teach in
order to address the problem, as only about 1,000 IT specialists graduate each
year. But the proposal, from firms including Compaq and Philips, received a
cool welcome from educational establishments, which questioned the ability of
the secondees to teach.


Privatised firms shed 35,000 jobs says union

• Spanish companies privatised by the centre-right government of José Maria
Aznar have shed over 35,000 posts, a report by the main union the UGT has
claimed. The telecoms giant Telefónica was responsible for the bulk of the
redundancies. Unemployment has continued to fall in the country, however, from
a high of 25 per cent to about 15 per cent. There is a general election in
Spain this month.

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