News briefs

N.B. employers get five years to fix gender equity • PM restructures HR ministry • Trying to unionize Wal-Mart, again • Firms have trouble fixing poor leaders • Bureaucracy awash in nepotism: report • Acrobat with HIV challenges Cirque du Soleil • Stress highest in service industry

N.B. employers get five years to fix gender equity

— The New Brunswick government is asking businesses to join a five-year voluntary plan to reduce the pay gap between men and women. Margaret-Ann Blaney, Minister for the Status of Women, said if there is no measurable difference after five years the province will consider legislation.

PM restructures HR ministry

— Human Resources Development Canada has been dismantled in one of the first decisions made by Prime Minister Paul Martin after taking office. The department is being divided into two new entities. The Department of Human Resources and Skills Development’s mandate is to support human capital development, labour market development and the cultivation of lifelong learning, states a departmental release. The Department of Social Development will oversee income security programs such as the Canada Pension Plan, as well as other assistance programs.

Trying to unionize Wal-Mart, again

Jonquiere, Que.
— Wal-Mart has been thwarting union drives in Canada and around the globe for years. But that won’t stop people from trying. The United Food and Commercial Workers has filed an application to represent employees at a store in Jonquiere, north of Quebec City, and says it’s cautiously optimistic about its chances.

Firms have trouble fixing poor leaders

— Although business leaders are aware of poor and mediocre managers in their organizations, they have trouble dealing with the problem, a global survey reports. Executives said their organizations have difficulty holding weak leaders accountable for their performance. The survey, Leadership Forecast 2003-2004 by HR consulting firm DDI, also found 78 per cent of all organizations are having trouble finding leaders, and only 32 per cent of the current leadership pool have the skills needed in today’s business climate.

Bureaucracy awash in nepotism: report

— Managers in the federal government continue to promote and hire relatives and friends despite rules to prevent the practice, a report by the Public Services Commission states. The commission looked at 1,000 hirings and found required documentation missing in 51 per cent of cases. Nepotism is hurting employee morale, the report notes.

Acrobat with HIV challenges Cirque du Soleil

— Quebec’s world famous Cirque du Soleil says an acrobat with HIV represents a health and safety risk in case of a collision with other performers. Matthew Cusick, fired from the company’s Las Vegas show, says the circus is discriminating against him. The case is before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission.

Stress highest in service industry

— Levels of stress and depression are higher among workers in the hospitality and retail sectors than among other workers, says a report by employee assistance plan providers the WarrenShepell Research Group. The report reviewed three years of data representing 13,100 cases from a population of 91,000 employees, and found higher rates of personal stress among hospitality employees, as well as higher incidences of domestic violence among retail workers (at twice the national norm).

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