Retail sales in the eurozone fall for the second month in a row in March, according to the European Union’s statistics office Eurostat
The European Union says it is considering “appropriate action” to encourage an improvement in working conditions in Bangladesh factories.
View post: EU considering Bangladesh action
Google is preparing to change the way it presents search results in Europe in a bid to head off antitrust penalties from the European Union.
See the original post here: Google’s new bid to avoid EU fine
The general secretary of the UK’s biggest trade union is re-elected for another five-year term of office.
Read more: McCluskey re-elected as Unite leader
UK hourly labour costs have fallen nearly two euros (£1.7; $2.6) below the European Union average, data from the EU’s statistics agency show.
Read more: UK labour costs below EU average
Labour party look at proposal to encourage workers to participate directly in management
The Government is considering a fundamental review of company law to allow workers to sit on boards. Mrs Barbara Castle, Secretary for Employment and Productivity (DEP), has written to employers and the Trades Union Congress (TUC) telling them of her interest in plans to encourage workers to participate directly in management. A confidential document from the DEP on industrial democracy admits that very large issues are involved, adding that they “could involve a fundamental review of company law and of the accountability of management to employees.”
The TUC yesterday set up a special working party to clarify union attitudes. Sir Sidney Greene, TUC president, is to take the chair and among other members will be Mr Jack Jones of the Transport and General Workers’ Union. The Government paper poses a series of questions about the appointment and authority of workers as directors. The TUC will give Mrs Castle a general reply before embarking on a detailed study.
TUC leaders are expected to tell the DEP that worker directors must be appointed only by the unions and not by shareholders nor by direct election from the shop floor. They believe there need be no conflict of interest between such directors and their union colleagues during plant-level wage bargaining. TUC staff point out that ordinary directors have to juggle their institutional interests and those of shareholders.
Mrs Castle draws attention to West Germany where companies have two boards – one composed of working managers and the other taking a supervisory role. The TUC has not decided whether it wants a similar set-up here and, until it does, it will find difficulty in saying whether it wants full-time voting positions on boards, union officials sitting on a part-time basis, or rank and file workers attending board meetings as advisers.
In the public sector at least, the TUC wants a much more radical approach to the whole question of worker representation. It will tell the Government that union nominees should come from the industry and the region in which they serve as part-time members, and that they should be allowed to continue to hold rank and file union positions during their terms of office.
Pedro Passos Coelho chooses not to raise taxes again in order to meet stringent targets set by international lenders
Portugal’s prime minister has announced plans for further cuts to health and education spending rather than raising taxes again, in order to meet tough targets set by international lenders after the constitutional court threw out budget measures on Friday.
“I shall instruct ministries to implement necessary reductions in functional spending to offset what the court ruling prohibited. It will certainly be a very difficult process,” Pedro Passos Coelho said in a live broadcast on Sunday evening.. He added that while he respected the court, its ruling would hamper government plans to take back control of its own finances from international lenders next year.
The speech followed an emergency cabinet session on Saturday and a meeting between Passos Coelho and President Aníbal Cavaco Silva, who has the power to dissolve parliament but urged the government to complete a four-year mandate it won at the polls in June 2011.
On Friday the court found that proposed cuts in holiday bonuses for civil servants and pensioners were unconstitutional, as were reductions in sick pay and unemployment benefit, all of which would have trimmed €1.3bn from budget spending for this year, according to media estimates. The court, however, upheld other planned measures such as tax hikes.
Passos Coelho’s conservative Social Democrats took power after his Socialist predecessor asked a “troika” of lenders for a bailout in March 2011, before resigning. Since then, the government has imposed stringent and unpopular spending cuts totalling €13bn – about 8% of Portugal’s economic output – which have led to widespread protests in common with other eurozone countries suffering from a persistent economic slump.
The government failed to meet its budget deficit targets last year set by the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank, and in order to fulfil the terms of its €78bn bailout Lisbon has pledged to trim a budget shortfall of 6.4% of gross domestic product in 2012 to 5.5% this year.
Passos Coelho survived his fourth vote of no confidence last Wednesday but faced renewed calls to resign over the weekend. Opposition Socialist leader António José Seguro accused the government of breaking campaign promises and said dole queues of almost a million people showed austerity had merely locked the country into a recessionary spiral, which might yet lead to a second bailout. Portugal’s economy shrank by 3.2% last year.
“The country needs a different exit strategy from the crisis, one that prioritises economic growth,” Seguro told state television. “The country is living in a social tragedy. This needs to change, and that change entails substituting the government.”
In crisis-hit neighbouring Spain, meanwhile, the CSI-F union for civil servants said the government in Madrid should “take note” of the Portuguese court’s decision and reimburse workers with a Christmas bonus axed last December in cuts which likewise aim to trim a yawning budget gap.
Britain will become a net importer of wheat for the first time in a decade this year because of bad weather, the National Farmers’ Union says.
Read the original here: Bad weather hits British wheat crops