SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Tens of thousands of Canadians have staged a protest against changes by the Conservative government to employment insurance (EI), saying the reforms unfairly target seasonal workers and part-time workers.
Protesters marched through the city of Montreal on Saturday, voicing their opposition against reforms by the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, which took effect in January.
The reforms demand workers to accept a 30-percent cut in salary and travel up to 100 kilometers (62 miles) from their homes.
Demonstrators said they were concerned about the effects of the changes on small fishing villages, saying that the residents could be forced to leave in order to find a job - which would devastate their communities.
The participants in the rally included farmers, seasonal workers, human rights activists, labor unions, parliamentarians from all three federal opposition parties and members of organizations for people who are unemployed.
Since the changes in employment took effect, protests across the country have been held, particularly in the provinces of Quebec and the Maritimes, where many workers have seasonal jobs.
The Canadian government has estimated that the EI reforms will save CAD 12.5 million in 2013 and CAD 33 million next year.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –Tens of thousands of demonstrators are marching in dozens of Spanish cities to protest record unemployment rates and the government’s handling of the economic and corruption scandals. It comes just after Spain’s jobless figure hit the 5 million mark.
Rallies have been organized in Madrid and 60 other cities by 150 organizations, including trade unions representing the construction, car, television, police, and health services industries. The actions were called "against unemployment and for the renewal of democracy," the UGT, one of the biggest trade unions, said in a statement.
General Workers Union spokesman Candido Mendez told AP that most people reject the government’s austerity policies, which he said were pushing many people toward poverty and away from democracy.
"Bread and a roof at a fair price," read some of the signs waved by protestors. Others brandished pictures of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy with the words "Wanted: serial con man".
The UGT urged "a radical and urgent change in economic policy in Europe as well as Spain".
"The policies of 2012 have been a resounding failure in tackling the crisis and have only made all our problems worse," the union said.
Rahoy and his government insist that budget cuts are necessary to meet the targets for cutting deficit that has been agreed with the EU. Officials believe the present austerity will strengthen Spain's finances and economy in the long run.
Still, on Saturday, New Europe Online reported that the number of unemployed people in the European country had gone over the 5-million mark for the first time since such records began.
But while the overall jobless rate is at 26 per cent, the figure among youth is even higher – soaring to over 50 per cent. Many of the nation’s young graduates and qualified professionals are emigrating to other countries to find work.
The protests come just two weeks after tens of thousands of demonstrators marched in cities across Spain to rally against the economic hardship and corruption caused by the country’s financial crisis. Dozens of people were arrested or injured in Madrid.
Spain’s economy is embroiled in its second recession in three years, sparked by the 2011 collapse of the country’s housing market.www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) has found itself in the spotlight once again, after a Conservative MP uncovered that £14.7m ($22.4m) of taxpayer funds were used to silence whistleblowers. That's equivalent to the annual salaries of 750 nurses.
The figures show that around 90 per cent of the 598 NHS compromise agreements included gagging clauses, MP Steve Barclay told the Daily Mail. The findings cover a three-year time period up to 2011.
"These gagging clauses are having a chilling effect on whistleblowers,” said Barclay, who is a member of the Public Accounts committee.
"It means that hundreds of potential whistleblowers may have been prevented from speaking out for fear of legal action, at a total cost to the taxpayer of almost £15 million ($22.9m),” he added.
The politician said the findings show that whistleblowers who want to speak out about the NHS are induced with taxpayers’ money, and agree to sign away their rights to take their complaints any further.
"It is glaringly obvious that many NHS employees feel they are being silenced by non-disclosure clauses in their contracts," he said.
Barclay has written to committee chairman Margaret Hodge, requesting that Sir David Nicholson – Chief Executive of the NHS – be recalled to discuss the use of gagging clauses within the health service, and to give evidence to the Commons public accounts committee.
It remains unclear whether Nicholson and other executives were in the loop regarding the gag orders.
Gathering the figures was a two-year battle for Barclay, who finally obtained them after tabling a number of Parliamentary Questions. The Department of Health and Treasury had previously refused to publish the costs.
Some of the highest ‘special severance payouts’ were at Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which paid £224,000 ($342,000) in 2011.
Meanwhile, a Department of Health spokesman defended the NHS, saying that the number of confidentiality clause payouts was falling sharply and that in 2011/2012, there were 'just' 20 cases – at a cost of just over £500,000 ($763,000). This figure did not include costs for the 105 Foundation Trusts which spent a total of £2.5m ($3.8m) on gagging clauses.
Barclay’s findings come just one week after Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt warned against silencing disapproval from within the NHS.
For too long there had been a culture of celebrating success in the NHS but “not being honest about failure,” Mr. Hunt told BBC Radio 4. “We must have a culture where people are not afraid to speak out.”
The information begs the question of how many deaths and malpractice incidents could have been prevented if the gagging orders weren’t taking place. The NHS has been awash with malpractice scandals recently, including the Mid Staffordshire case in which 1,200 patients needlessly died.
Last week, former chief of United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust, Gary Walker, revealed a £500,000 ‘super gag’ he was given in 2010. The money was offered in exchange for keeping silent regarding his belief that his hospital was a threat to patients’ safety. His former employer now faces a major investigation over its unusually high death rates.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) --The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has issued its latest analysis of the UK jobs market and it says there is a high possibility that the number of people in work in the UK will reach 30 million by 2015.
It says that low wage increases and attempts by firms to retain skilled worlers has helped to keep unemployment down.
It said the number of people working will continue to grow in 2013 but that the reasons for this during a period when the economy is weak remain difficult to explain.
However, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) said earlier this month that it does not expect the number of people in work to increase between quarter four of 2012 and quarter four of 2013.
The CIPD uses its report to attempt to explain what it calls the “jobs enigma” of 2012 that allowed employment to rise despite the weak economy.
Unemployment has been falling for most of 2012 and fell by 82,000 in the three months to October to reach 2.51 million. Over the same period there was a rise of 40,000 people in work, up to 29.6 million, the highest number of people working since records began in 1971.
The CIPD says that a combination of factors have helped keep the labour market resilient; lower labour costs as a result of below-inflation pay rises, “labour hoarding” whereby firms are holding on to their most skilled staff to use for the recovery and to keep training costs down and the growth in the overall supply of the labour market that is making job-seekers become more efficient and competitive in their search for work.
However, this means that if the economy does grow it may not be matched by labour force growth because of the number of highly skilled workers being retained in the present economic conditions but currently being under utilised.
The CIPD contradicts several other reports in recent months that say that there is a growing problem of underemployment – where people want to work full-time but are only able to work part-time. In September the TUC said that one in ten workers was “underemployed” and looking for extra hours.
Meanwhile, a separate report written by the former head of the CIPD, John Philpott, predicts that workers will have to work harder and for longer hours and for very little more pay to hold onto their positions in 2013.
He believes there will be limited job creation in 2013 and that unemployment will rise to 2.63 million as the number of people looking for work increases at a faster pace than the number of new jobs being created. Dr Philpott does expect youth unemployment to improve, to come down from around one million to 900,000 in 2013.
Dr Philpott who leads the Jobs Economist consultancy said: "Our jobs outlook for 2013 is relatively optimistic in that we expect only a modest rise in unemployment. However, the fact that this can be considered good news merely underlines the harsh reality of current economic austerity.
"GDP may grow somewhat faster but 2013 will be another year of hard slog, with longer hours for those lucky enough to have jobs and a further squeeze on living standards for workers and the jobless alike."
Mark Beatson, chief economist at the CIPD, said: "The jobs enigma, of strong growth in private sector employment in the absence of sustained economic growth, has been one of the most mystifying economic features of 2012, and if 2012 proved an enigma, the labour market appears equally difficult to pin down for 2013.
“Whatever happens, it seems certain that the squeeze on employees’ living standards caused by average earnings going up by less than prices will continue into a fourth consecutive year.”
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Two years after upping its targets for recruiting women, aboriginals and visible minorities, the Canadian Forces is falling far short of meeting its goals.
According to statistics provided to CBC News Network's Power & Politics by the Department of National Defence, women now make up less than 15 per cent of the military – well below the 25 per cent target and even behind its previous target that was based on 2001 census data.
Visible minorities account for less than 5 per cent of the Canadian Forces – that's less than half the goal of nearly 12 per cent, and aboriginals make up just over two per cent of the military, compared to the 3.4 per cent target.
The employment equity recruiting goals aim to meet the targets by 2013.
DND says it's committed to better reflecting Canadian society and has community outreach, advertising and other initiatives to increase diversity.
So why is the military still primarily made up of white men? Does it matter? And is the military doing enough to meet its own targets?
Speaking to CBC News Network's Power & Politics Chris Alexander, parliamentary secretary to the defence minister, said it's critical for the Canadian Forces to better reflect Canada's demography reality in order to project our values around the world. The department has set "ambitious targets" and is working hard to make better progress.
He pointed out that Canada is ahead of the curve on many fronts compared even to like-minded democracies – including the role of women in every capacity.
Alexander told guest host Hannah Thibedeau: "I think we can do more, but I think we need, as Canadians, to understand we have done well," he said. "They are submariners, they are fighter pilots."
The Conservative MP said today's dynamics are shaped by decades of past policy decisions, and blamed the Liberals for contributing to the problem by closing down reserve units when they were in power. Those units were helpful in recruiting target groups, he said.
But NDP MP and military procurement critic Matthew Kellway said the data masks an even more troubling trend. Women mostly serve in traditional roles in the military, and constant conflict between aboriginal groups and the federal government has thwarted efforts to attract more aboriginals to serve.
He said the Canadian Forces must do better in order to win support from the public.
"If the Canadian Forces wants the support of the Canadian population, it's imperative that they reflect the diversity of the population," said Kellway.
Liberal defence critic John McKay said the military isn't in tune as it should be with successful recruiting techniques. He said the Canadian Forces must do a better job of aggressively targeting groups in urban cores.
Walter Dorn, a professor of defence studies at the Royal Military College of Canada, said the military is doing much work to improve the numbers – but still needs to do more to change the "culture."
"Despite the best efforts, there's still a tendency for the white males to dominate in the Canadian Forces, and that's only natural. By being themselves they're going to have tendencies and biases that aren't shared by other communities," he said. "A lot of that is nuanced and subtle, but it's definitely there."
Dorn said the linguistic and cultural skills of minority groups not only better reflect Canada on the world stage, but are also an operational asset in deployments abroad.—www.shafaqna.com/english
SHAFAQNA (Shia international Association) — A recent study revealed that Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Oman are the least to integrate women in the job market.
According to a report issued by the Gallup institute published in the Saudi newspaper al-Riyadh, the percentage of women working in Saudi Arabia is below 22 percent, compared to the average 40 percent in the Middle East and 43 percent worldwide.
The report added that Qatar and Oman are also amongst the countries with the least percentage of women employment together with other non-Arab countries like Ecuador, Bolivia, Botswana, and Rwanda, where there is a gap of around 22 percent between male and females in the job market.
In contrast, the percentage of women employment in Kuwait is about 88 percent high and male employment stands at 89 percent. Kuwait was listed as one of the world’s first countries in women employment together with Singapore, Belgium, Finland, Denmark, Estonia, and Malta.
As for other Gulf countries, the report noted that female employment in Bahrain has reached 61 percent compared to 80 percent for males.
In other countries the percentage of the employment of females exceeds that of males. These include Ireland, Mongolia, Finland, and Serbia.
It was also noted that countries with a high level of local production are ones in which there is a gap between male and female employment. The report revealed that women across the world do not generally contribute to global economy as much as men do.
In the case of Saudi Arabia, official statistics revealed that the number of working women is 100,000, all in professions deemed “primary” according to the Saudi Professional Classification Manual.
The Saudi Ministry of Labor is currently launching several initiatives that aim at enhancing the role of women in the job market in a way that does not violate social norms.
Towards this end, the ministry issued last week a decree to hire female shop attendants in stores selling women items like clothes and accessories. A second decree allowed women to work as cashiers in supermarkets and a third gave women the chance to work in family public parks. A fourth ministerial decree stated that cooks in restaurants can be women provided that the illicit privacy laws, where a woman is not allowed to be with an unrelated man, are strictly followed. —www.shafaqna.com/english