News briefs (May 7, 2001)

PLANT CLOSURE DEAL HELPS HEAL WOUNDS
Markham, Ont. — The union representing employees at the soon-to-be-shut down Visteon plant in Markham, Ont. has negotiated one of the richest plant closure packages in the province’s history. The 1,084 employees of Visteon, an auto parts manufacturer, will receive support from a rich pension and benefit fund worth more than $128-million. The deal gives workers over 55 years of age unreduced pension benefits with no minimum years of service, employees with 25 years’ service will receive full health benefits, $2,000 is available to each employee for tuition and training and an EAP is being set up. Employees are also protected in case the plant is sold prior to its closure in 18 to 24 months.
Knowledge management key to org effectiveness
Toronto — Managing an organization’s knowledge has a healthy impact on the overall effectiveness of an organization, Canadian business leaders say. Ninety-one per cent of leaders surveyed by Ipsos-Reid reported that knowledge management practices have a direct impact on organizational effectiveness. The survey, commissioned by Microsoft Canada Co., indicates the most popular practices include developing a corporate intranet, holding regular events to share knowledge throughout an organization and using software to encourage sharing and collaboration. Of the 402 organizations that participated in the survey, 65 per cent reported that having knowledge management practices in place gave them a competitive edge.

NO TIME FOR LUNCH
Toronto — Less than half of Canadian workers break for lunch every day, a survey by the workopolis.com job site indicates. Of the 1,400 people who responded to the poll, 53 per cent said they do not take lunch every day, one-third said they eat on the run or at their desks every day and another third do so frequently. Only 32 per cent said they take more than 30 minutes for lunch.

SHORT-TERM GLOBAL ASSIGNMENTS RISING
Toronto — More multinational companies are sending employees on short-term global assignments instead of permanently relocating them, a survey shows. Ninety-four per cent of the 500 North American, European and Asian-based multinationals surveyed have employees on three to 12-month global assignments, and 77 per cent expect an increase in the these types of assignments. The majority of the employees who take these assignments go alone. “With companies increasingly competing on the global stage, a higher prevalence of dual-career families and a host of other issues, short-term assignments have emerged as a viable alternative to long-term expatriate situations,” said Adele Yeargen, executive vice-president of the consulting firm, The MI Group, who co-conducted the survey.

WOMEN ENCOURAGED TO PURSUE ENGINEERING CAREERS
Montreal — One of Canada’s largest oil companies wants to encourage more women to pursue engineering careers at Montreal-based Ecole Polytechnique and is donating $300,000 to see that it happens. The money coming from Shell Canada will help to establish the Marianne-Mareschal Chair, consisting of female scientists from the school and from business, which will offer outreach and other academic-related activities.

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