People on the move

first_imgDistributionand logistics company Mayne Nickless Express has promoted its HR managerMichael Doolin to director of resources and training. Doolin has worked for thecompany for the past two and a half years and took his non-executive roleearlier this month. The post involves conducting the company’s paynegotiations. Based at the company’s UK head office in the West Midlands,Doolin will be responsible for all HR and training issues on behalf of thegroup’s companies, including Parceline, Mayne Logistics, Interlink Express andInterlink Ireland. Related posts:No related photos. Top jobLiamDonnelly has been appointed HR director of HMV Europe – his first board HRappointment. Donnelly had 10 years’ experience in a variety of HR roles inretail and has worked for Kingfisher, owner of high street retail chainsWoolworths, B&Q, and Superdrug. His bigbreak came when he worked for Entertainment UK, which supplies CDs toKingfisher retail outlets. This led him to work for Music and Video Club, afterwhich he defected to its major competitor, HMV. While hewas senior HR controller at HMV, he pioneered a staff survey, called YourShout, which gave employees a say in HR policy. He islooking to oversee the training of store managers across Europe. “My goal is toensure HMV has the very best specialist retail managers in its stores whoreally know their areas. Those are the people who really make the differenceand the ones who are the hardest to keep hold of.” Previous Article Next Article People on the moveOn 12 Dec 2000 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Internationallaw firm McDermott, Will and Emery has recruited Christine Jordan to take onthe new role of London HR director. Jordan will head the London office’s HRteam. The firm has 125 lawyers and legal and professional support staff, andhas been expanding since the office opened two years ago. Before joiningMcDermott, Will and Emery, Jordan was HR director at the Securities and FuturesAuthority for seven years. Jordan has worked at the London Stock Exchange andoutside the City with Vernalis Group, a publicly quoted biotechnology company.last_img read more

Safe and sound

first_img Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Employers endanger lives, their companies’ reputations and risk court actionevery time they send employees on trips overseas and fail to take the correctmeasures to safeguard their welfare. Dave Abbott assesses the risksGlobalisation means health and safety overseas has become a serious issue,with HR management held accountable for designing and implementing effectivestrategies to mitigate risks. The Health and Safety Executive stipulates that companies are legallyrequired to demonstrate a “general duty of care” to staff on foreignassignments. This does not just apply to companies with overseas offices orproduction facilities, but any organisation whose staff participates ininternational sales trips, vendor assessments or other assignments that couldpotentially place them in harm’s way. Recent incidents highlight the risks of non-compliance, and in anincreasingly litigious society, the legal jeopardy companies risk by not takingthe correct measures to safeguard employees. The kidnap, torture and murder of three expatriate engineers of the Britishcompany, Granger Telecom in Chechnya in 1998 was headline news and led to legalproceedings against the company, claiming it was negligent in “the propercare of its employees”. In “traditional” global businesses, such as oil, gas and minerals,engineering and so on, ensuring the safety of employees in distant lands isconsidered a core HR management competence. However, even these experiencedcompanies have been exposed to damage when their employees become targets. Forexample when four executives of Union Texas Petroleum were murdered in Pakistanin 1997, the company was sued by the victims’ families for negligence. But threats do not just encompass “dread” risks like abduction,assault and robbery or terrorism. The greatest actual risks overseas, which notonly apply to countries that are perceived as dangerous, may be from”mundane” dangers like road accidents, fires in buildings, or simplyfalling ill without proper medical resources. One of the areas all too oftenoverlooked are the inoculations and the precautions required against the everincreasing threat of malaria. Reducing the risks So what should HR teams be doing to safeguard employees, whether expatriateor locally hired? As with all health and safety issues, the first principle is to conduct athorough risk assessment. Audit the deployment of staff overseas – who isactually where? For each assignment or post the potential risks should beidentified, then evaluated. Evaluation means that a risk is appraised firstlyin terms of the likelihood of an incident, and secondly on its potentialconsequence. For example, a 30-year-old, physically fit expatriate employeemight reasonably be considered unlikely to suffer a serious acute medicalcondition. However, if something does happen then the outcome may depend ontheir access to local medical resources. Some organisations, such as international aid agencies, are taking the riskmanagement process one stage further and applying exacting minimum standardswhen recruiting for posts likely to involve overseas assignments. Although anorganisation must be very careful not to act in a discriminatory manner, it canensure that the individuals it sends to difficult or dangerous environments arephysically and psychologically suited to the sort of risks they may encounter,both in the normal line of work and if things go wrong. Variations of risks within a country, a region or a city must always beconsidered, for example, some cities such as Johannesburg have very highviolent crime statistics but can be safe places to be if you choose home andworkplace locations carefully. On the other hand, some crimes aregeographically diverse, for example, cross-border kidnapping is becomingprevalent in some parts of Latin America. Remain aware of the day to daychanges going on every region you have a company presence, how they may affectyour personnel and that your security measures are consistent with any changes.Try and stay one step ahead. Government bodies offer sources of information on security risks overseas.Large multinationals with in-house security departments will probably subscribeto one or more of the proprietary country risk information services, butinformation is also available from reports by the US Department of State (www.travel.state.gov) and the BritishForeign & Commonwealth Office (www.fco.gov.uk/travel).It’s worth remembering however, that both have been criticised for phrasingrisk assessments carefully to preserve diplomatic sensitivities. Pre-deployment briefings These services, however, fail to address the more common, everyday dangersinvolving road travel and safety of buildings. Pre-deployment briefings should be given both verbally and in written formand must include a security assessment of the intended location and advice onpersonal security measures. Some measures can be mandatory, othersprecautionary. Wherever possible employees’ dependants should be included inthese briefings. If your chief executive enjoys the assignment of a closeprotection operative for an overseas trip, the operative’s first insistenceshould be to “buckle up” in the car. For executives travellingwithout this level of specialist support, training is essential on how tominimise travel risks. Many precautions are simple, like taking a hotel roombetween the second and tenth floors (accessible to fire ladders). In order toremain inconspicuous, executives could check into a hotel using their own, notthe company name. And because an executive of a Fortune 500 company is anattractive target for crime, “dressing down” may be a good idea, butavoid corporate clothing which may be akin to a badge saying “mugme”. Staff who did their share of student backpacking, and the air milesaccumulators who regard themselves as “able to look afterthemselves”, may not see a need for such briefings and training – but thecorporation has a duty to ensure that they get it anyway. If accommodation is being arranged for a longer stay, the employee and theirfamily must be given security advice both in the selection of a suitableproperty and in safe behaviour while living there. A good knowledge andacceptance of local customs and habits may help to avoid offending the localpopulation and may alleviate any potential security situations. Use a reputablesecurity firm with a local presence that can advise and provide a 24-houron-call service. Typically, an apartment in a serviced block will be moresecure than a detached house, but the “micro-environment” must beassessed properly. Notwithstanding incidents such as the assassination of theBritish diplomat Stephen Saunders in Greece in June last year, travel by privatecar is generally the safest mode of transport. In many countries it isadvisable to use local and trusted drivers who have a better knowledge of thearea and the risks. Other precautions A pre-travel necessity that is all too often overlooked is ensuring thatemployees receive any required inoculations or anti-malarial precautions intime. To be effective these must be planned in advance to give the jabs ortablets time to become active. Risk management strategies should always encompass contingency plans thatare clear, comprehensive and properly communicated. This should include anevacuation plan covering both medical and security emergencies (confirmedin-country with the relevant embassy or consulate). Cynics may say that acontingency plan cannot cover all eventualities, but ArmorGroup’s experienceshows that, in an emergency, a “plan from which to deviate” isinfinitely preferable to having none at all. Finally, the HR group must ensure a proper link up with the appropriateinsurance providers. Special risks cover may be required and this increasinglyincludes a kidnap and ransom (K&R) policy. It is a fact of life that aransom often changes hands in resolving kidnappings in many countries. Morecrucially, K&R insurers can also arrange specialist crisis managementsupport, which has been shown statistically to improve survivor ratesconsiderably. The vast majority of overseas assignments are safe and enriching foremployees and their organisations. But the consequences of not applying bestpractice to health and safety in international environments can lead topersonal tragedies, organisational jeopardy and legal proceedings. Dave Abbot is director of ArmorGroup Safe and soundOn 1 Apr 2001 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

Star player

first_imgStar playerOn 15 Oct 2002 in Personnel Today ForBernard Buckley, super-interim status comes from being a skilled salesman andstrategist. By Sally O’Reilly Inevery walk of life, there are those who make a living, and those who stand outas top performers. And the IM sector is no exception. Even when business isslow for providers, and the majority of interims are left waiting for the phoneto ring, there is an elite group who are in constant demand, frequently movingfrom post to post through personal recommendation, and having the luxury tochoose between assignments. But what distinguishes this group from their lesssuccessful peers? And can others learn from their experience?BernardBuckley is a man who can provide some of the answers. He is unquestionably inthe league of ‘super-interims’, and has spent the past seven years tackling ahuge range of diverse senior HR appointments. He believes the secret of hissuccess lies in the experience he gained before he began his life as an interim– and some very careful planning.”Inmy previous life, I worked for a variety of organisations, including BritishOxygen, where I was the youngest senior HR executive in the group, and TheLondon Stock Exchange. I finally ended up as HR director, Europe, with theNational Australia Bank Group, setting up an integrated HR function for theEuropean business – a massive job,” says Buckley. “When I left, I hadseveral job offers, but they were all more of the same thing. So I stood backand decided what I wanted out of the rest of my career.” Althoughhe initially saw interim as a stop-gap while he decided on his next move, hewas won over almost immediately. “My first assignment was four months inthe public sector, where I had never worked before. It was my first experienceof understanding how to deal with the bureaucracy.” Right away, he sawthat IM was a way to use his broad experience to dramatic effect.”Youare going in with no baggage, no induction period, and you agree what you aregoing to do and over what period of time at the very beginning,” heenthuses. “You are using all your skills, and getting the best out ofpeople, often without having any management control over them. There is nopolitics, and no worry about the historical situation; you go in there withfresh ideas.”Buckley’ssenior HR experience meant he was eligible for very challenging, board-levelposts – but it was his flexible and thorough understanding of what his new rolemeant which kept him in the fast lane. “A lot of my time out was forplanning – developing my CV and so on. I knew I was going to be working in adifferent way. As a senior corporate HR director, your reputation is important,but you aren’t selling yourself. As an interim, selling and marketing yourselfis vital. You have to demonstrate that you have done a range of differentthings, and the depth of your experience.”Heis also clear about where his strengths lie, and how they might fit into a neworganisation. “I would see myself as very definitely a generalist, and mykey skills are organisation, design and development in changeenvironments,” says Buckley. Being aware of his skills also means he isfocused about how they can be applied. This is an attribute he believes iscommon to all super-interims.”Thereare groups of ‘super interims’ and they don’t just rely on suppliers, they arebusy reading the FT, seeing what’s going on in industry and where opportunitiesmight lie,” he stresses. Buckley cites the example of his interimappointment with consultancy e21, whose start-up he read about in the financialpress. Thisgroup also uses different networks to find new work. “Networking iscentral to keeping your career on track: it keeps you up to date with what ishappening and gets you new appointments,” says Buckley. “Insome of my jobs – such as my assignment at the Stock Exchange – I’ve set upexternal networks, with the aim of creating a forum to exchange ideas aboutorganisational, management development and other HR issues. And I’ve kept intouch with them ever since. Suppliers also have networking events, and it’simportant to keep up your links with them.”Reputable,well-established consultancies have an important role to play, particularly forIMs with less experience in marketing themselves, says Buckley. “There are a number of topconsultancies which are very critical in terms of getting known in theindustry,” he says. “Agencieslike BIE, Odgers, Impact Executives, Interim Leaders, Ashton Penney andBrooklands Executive fill large strategic roles, and will often pick just oneperson from their database, because they know they are the right fit for thejob.”It’salso important to use assignments to develop your experience, and fill existingskills gaps. “I pick assignments which I know will be good for my CV –companies in the FTSE 100, or public sector mergers, or high-profile financialinstitutions, for instance.”Thenappointments add to your professional reputation and development, and at thesame time increase your skills and raise your profile.”Beingprofessional and organised may help put you in the super-interim league, butBuckley stresses that to stay there, you need to maintain your energy andenthusiasm levels by taking regular breaks and holidays. “I plan my timevery carefully at the beginning of each assignment: currently I have booked myholiday right through until next April,” he says. “And I rarely workbetween mid December to mid January. You can take the initiative – although itdoes take time to have the confidence to do this.”Confidenceis also needed when it comes to choosing an assignment – Buckley points outthat there are some jobs that no one in their right mind would take. “Ihave been offered assignments which were a poisoned chalice, and the best thingis to turn these down, even if you have no other work on the horizon,” hesays. “You can be labelled for life if your name gets attached to adisastrous assignment – often, this can be a lack of clarity or clearobjectives at the outset.”Sayingno does get easier, Buckley believes. “The key thing is to be clear aboutwhat is required from the beginning,” he says. “And you do need toknow where the line of authority is.” He also turns down work whichinvolves a long commute. “I won’t do assignments which involve metravelling three or four hours a day. I left permanent employment because therewas too much travel.” So his current assignment in the City is ideal – hewalks there from his home in Wapping in just 20 minutes. Doesthis mean he has found the perfect way of working, which is stimulating, lucrativeand even allows him a decent work-life balance? Buckley thinks he still hassome way to go. “My aim is to work less – to use my experience to a pointwhere I can work with organisations on a non-executive or consultancybasis,” he says. Buthe is more than satisfied with what he has achieved so far. “I like beingoutside the political perspective – and the fact there is an end-date means younever get bored,” he says. “There is a particular piece of work youhave to get done, it’s challenging – and you move it forward.” Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. last_img read more

Getting to the boardroom

first_imgProfessor Victor Dulewicz looks at what HR managers can do to get on theboard Why now? There has never been a better time for HR directors and managers to securetheir place on the board. For years, the HR profession has bemoaned the factthat it is under-represented at board level. Now, the Higgs Report (produced byindustry expert Derek Higgs) which looked at the role and effectiveness ofnon-executive directors (NEDs), has recommended that companies choose theirNEDs from a wider range of disciplines and a greater number of people – whatHiggs calls a wider ‘gene pool’. Why HR? Don’t do yourselves down. HR professionals already possess expertise inbehavioural skills, remuneration, selection and development, as well asnumerous other skills and competencies that make them well placed to contributeat board level. What can I do to improve my chances? The competencies needed to be an effective NED have been identified in astudy commissioned by Higgs and from earlier research conducted for the Governmentby Henley Management College and the Institute of Directors (IoD). Competenciescan be split into enduring qualities (things like diagnostic ability,independence and integrity, which can be difficult to develop) and othersskills such as strategic awareness and change-orientation, which can bedeveloped. There’s not much scope to improve your enduring competencies – you eitherhave integrity or you don’t – but managers can enrol on business educationprogrammes to improve competencies such as perspective. Higgs also emphasised the need for good ‘behavioural skills’ and teamwork inthe boardroom. Again, HR professionals are strides ahead of other disciplinesin these areas. So, hone your committee skills: make sure your prospective boardis aware of your ability to facilitate effective teams as well as yourpersuasiveness and listening skills. Be sure of the basics You’ll need to be able to demonstrate your in-depth knowledge of your area,but also make sure that your prospective chairman knows the range ofdisciplines a modern HR manager must cover. Additionally, you should be able to demonstrate a sound knowledge of therole of the board, the role of the executive and NED and corporate governance,and a working knowledge of the board’s financial and legal responsibilities. Give yourself the edge Again, HR managers are well placed to tap into the newer areas – such ascorporate social responsibility (CSR) – that are creeping onto boardroomagendas. Awareness of current standards of good practice for the board (basedon the handbook Standards for the Board, written by Henley faculty members andthe IoD) will stand a candidate in good stead. Finally, immerse yourself in the literature surrounding this subject. Takepart in board simulations, if possible and attend training programmes in areasin which you feel less confident; and consider a mentor – they can help devisea personal development plan targeted to your specific needs. Professor Victor Dulewicz is head of the HR management and organisationalbehaviour faculty at Henley Management College Further information – DTI Higgs Report, www.dti.gov.uk/cld/non_exec_review– Centre for Board Effectiveness, Henley Management College,www.henleymc.ac.uk,01491 571 454 – Institute of Directors, www.iod.co.uk,020 7766 8866 Comments are closed. Getting to the boardroomOn 6 May 2003 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Letters

first_imgThis week’s lettersExorcise doubt and embrace strategyI read Stephen Overell’s column (‘Dancing to the devil’s tune’, Off Message,9 December 2003) with absolute dismay and have to say he has vividly outlinedthe reasons why we need strategic HR rather than the personnel departments ofpre-1994 (his date, not mine). His arguments against the concept of human resources being a strategicrather than tactical body within organisations sum up the dilemmas that facemany in the profession. My position on this is simple: too many professional colleagues have failedto make the transition from being personnel manager to HR director. They havebecome locked in the minutiae of personnel matters and cannot, or will not makethe transformation to being strategic leader and thinker. I have found this tobe true in all aspects of HR and training and development enterprises. Theambivalence that many chief executives feel towards HR is due to its inabilityto – in the words of a well know furniture company – ‘chuck out the chintz’. Too many senior colleagues feel safe and happy dealing with employment lawand welfare issues while not addressing the business imperatives of theorganisation that HR can deliver. Far too many HR professionals do not see HRas a function that can ensure that the organisation has ‘the right people,doing the right things, in the right way, at the right time and in the rightplace’. Ulrich is not the devil. In fact, if followed, he could be the saviour ofHR. For too long colleagues have been seen to be the ‘blockers’ toorganisational progression, the people who say ‘no’ or ‘maybe’, who always seedifficulties where none exist. HR exists to deliver the people element of thecorporate plan. Its strategy must be demonstrably and inextricably linked tothe organisation’s business plan and targets. I fear that too often HR has beencast, deservedly in many cases, as the luddites of modern organisations. Butfor what, other than delivering organisational performance, could it, or shouldit, exist? Most organisations want to be an employer of choice, and most realise thatin a competitive market they need to be able to offer better terms than theircompetitors. By adopting a strategic approach to HR there is no need to abandonthe personnel functional issues of welfare, grievances, and so on. What has tobe found is a balance. Why employ a whole department to provide employment lawadvice, when one person with access to an IT system and appropriate softwarecan deal with an organisation’s needs? If we wish to live in a world where organisations still look after employeesfrom the cradle to the grave and offer jobs for life, we can forget any elementof UK plc being a competitive business. Organisations will always need to provide personnel functions, but themajority of these back office roles can be provided through an outsourced callcentre. Too frequently those who cry for a return to the old days of highlystaffed personnel units are the same people who do not acknowledge that linemanagers are, in fact, their direct report’s personnel manager. Anorganisation’s HR department is a port of call when all else fails or high-leveladvice is required. Overell needs to understand the difference in the role of an HR departmentand the trade unions or staff associations. HR is about representing staffinterests, but unlike unions – whose role it is to represent the actual peopleand their individual needs – HR has to ensure that people issues (such asmotivation and performance) are included at the strategic level. HR goes wrongwhen it tries to supplant the unions’ role. HR managers should be ensuring that ‘our people’ deliver the people elementof the organisation’s business plan. The Accounting for People taskforce’sreport really sets out once and for all the clear shift senior HR professionalsand HR departments have to make if we are to remain competitive, and if HR isto retain a place at the strategic board. Richard Cullen Chartered FCIPD, FCMI, Trustee of the Strategic Planning Society Do not forget that ‘people’ are the key I enjoyed Stephen Overell’s piece, (‘Dancing to the devil’s tune’, OffMessage, 9 December). He need not feel lonely. I often feel that HR is indeed obsessed with its own importance, worryingabout ‘a seat at the table’ and ‘being all business partners now’, and so on.Such concerns reflect both the insecurity of the function and a somewhat lostrole. It is, of course, ‘people’ that are important, not the HR function. Someorganisations have renamed their functions simply that – which is a stepforward (or is it backward?). I believe, unhesitatingly, that HR initiatives should support the businessgoals, that they should have a real measurable return (which may not be purelyfinancial), and that HR has a lot of professional help to offer to peopleprocesses. But disciples of Ulrich should read him properly. He didn’t sayeveryone should be strategic – it is but one role. Another of his four roleswas ’employee champion’. Many have, I fear, forgotten that. It is sad when youoverhear (as I have) people in difficulty say: ‘HR? They are the last peopleI’d go to’. There will always be a job to be done in the more effective management andmotivation of people. And that means caring about the needs of the board, theneeds of managers and the needs of the employees. Andrew Mayo Director, Mayo Learning International Learning culture is key to stressbustingWhile I agree with Bill Esterson’s statement that communicationis vital to handling stress (Letters, 6 January), it’s a mistake to imaginethat stress is caused by poor management and that by educating management, theproblem may be solved. Stress is an individual’s response to a stimulus and theresponse varies greatly from person to person, day to day. Moreover, we alladapt to stress as part of our lives. Some people take avoidance measures insickness, complicity or unexpected absence. Others deploy defence mechanisms,such as truculence, quitting or dishonesty.If we perceive management to be the cause of stress, and onlyfocus on this, the employee has no opportunity to develop coping skills.Employees who are taught effective ways to deal with stress are more likely toremain with an organisation, which will then be better placed to addresscritical issues without interference. As a small company established in 1986, employing 250 people,we can ill afford bad management. We have developed a learning culture whereinter-personal skills are the key and managers are trained to expect socraticdebate as part of the employee learning cycle. We have sustained attritionrates of less than 2 per cent, in an industry notorious for attrition rates of80 per cent per annum. What’s more, our sickness absence rates remain less thanthree days per person.Del HunterDirector HR and development, SSR Personnel ServicesEducation requires long-term planningWhy is it that so many corporate universities have failed toachieve their full potential in the UK?An effective corporate university must be aligned to businessand organisational objectives and must help deliver quantifiable benefit to thebusiness by improving the organisation’s capability and capacity to deliverincreasing value to its customers. This requires a high level of commitmentfrom senior management and must be viewed as a long-term investment rather thana rebranding exercise for training and development. Designing and implementing a sustainable way of addressing therequirement to constantly learn, harness and use knowledge and bring peopleinto collaborative relationships to seek and solve problems althoughchallenging, is a far more effective solution than a succession of changeinitiatives.Having been one of the team of founding directors of thecorporate university at Unipart and as current director of the DTI’s corporateuniversity for small business professionals (BLU), my experience has been thataddressing organisational and personal development needs can be an effectivecompetitive weapon in the knowledge economy. It really can help deliverbreakthrough levels of performance improvement. Environments that encourage thesharing of learning and knowledge will help create real competitive advantagein UK enterprise.However, this requires strong leadership and a long-termcommitment. There are no silver bullets or quick fixes. Ian CampbellDirector, DTI Corporate universityWriting can unlock hidden potentialPeople at work have two kinds of contract these days, and bothshould be of vital concern to HR managers. The first one is obvious – it’slegal, it’s written down and it’s about terms and conditions. The second isless obvious, as it’s not even written down, but is understood between employerand employee.The fact is, employee expectations have risen. Although the‘job for life’ went some time ago, people now expect their job to add to thequality of their life. This means they want to pursue more of their individualinterests at work, putting their own personality into the contracted hours.The changing structure of employment reinforces this. More andmore of us work in the ‘service’ industry, which means we’re in the business ofproviding service. So employers are looking for real service skills that comefrom inside rather than being imposed. This means giving people theencouragement and permission to bring more of their humanity into the workplace.This automatically implies enabling people to be more creative.Our creativity – our ability to think, generate ideas and express them – iswhat distinguishes us as human beings. The ‘human resources’ we seek are surelycreative resources because we’re not after automatons at work. All organisationswant thinking, expressive individuals able to provide ideas and solutions. Thisapplies just as much to, say, a lawyer as it does to an advertising executive.The surest way to unlock this creativity is through writing. Weall have to write at work. We can all benefit ourselves and our organisationsif we become more creative in our business writing. Let’s recognise writing notjust as a competency to develop, but as a means to liberate people at work toexpress more of their innate creativity.John SimmonsDirector of training & development, Thewriter.co.uk Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article LettersOn 13 Jan 2004 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

West coast fatalities force rethink on rail staff safety

first_img Comments are closed. West coast fatalities force rethink on rail staff safetyOn 1 Mar 2004 in Personnel Today The safety of workers on the UK’s railways has been thrustsharply into the spotlight following the deaths in February of four workers onthe west coast mainline near Tebay on the edge of the Lake District. Initial investigations by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), BritishTransport Police and the Railway Inspectorate revealed that although the wagonwas fitted with brakes, they were not functioning properly. As a result of the fatalities, Network Rail insisted that the brakes on allsuch trailers are thoroughly tested prior to use. In addition, it hasstipulated that metal wedges be used in front and behind any decoupled unit.The trailer involved in the incident had been held in place by wooden blocks. However, the RMT union, which represents rail maintenance workers, hascalled for a blanket ban on the use of the wagons until the investigations arecompleted. The four fatalities were part of a group of 10 maintenance staff working onthe line. Three others were injured. Concerns have also been raised over new safety helmets that may have meantthey could not hear the approaching wagon. Ironically, in February, the HSE published a new volume of its RailwaySafety Principles and Guidance series looking at the safe movement of trains. In a series of unrelated incidents earlier in February, Network Rail’sinfrastructure division was fined £20,000 for failing to inspect linesidefencing near Windsor, Berkshire, where, a year earlier a US serviceman was struckand killed by a train. Also in February, Network Rail and Balfour Beatty’s rail infrastructure armwere fined £300,000 after a four year-old was electrocuted on a live rail atStrood, Kent in 1999. New statistics published by the HSE have shown that slips, trips and fallsremain the most common cause of injuries on the railways. From April 2002 to the end of March 2003, slips, trips or falls resulted in86 major injuries to staff and 460 passenger injuries requiring hospitaltreatment. A further 1,199 passengers were admitted to hospital following accidents onstairs and escalators at stations, including two deaths. On 16 March, the Railway Inspectorate is holding a free, one-day seminar toraise awareness about this issue. The seminar takes place at the National Railway Museum in York. For furtherdetails call Jill Moore, on 0161 952 8358. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Argos staff share a 5.9m pound pot from savings scheme

first_img Previous Article Next Article Argos employees across the UK will benefit from a potential pay-out of £5.9mfollowing the maturity of the first share purchase scheme run by its parentcompany GUS plc. Under the terms of the Sharesave Scheme, which was first introduced in 2001,employees can buy shares in GUS at a 20 per cent discount using a tax-freesavings account. Employees can save between £5 and £250 per month for three orfive years. At the end of the savings period members have the option of using all oftheir savings and bonus to buy the GUS shares at a discount or taking all oftheir savings and bonus in cash. Around 2,200 staff will benefit. The average profit per employee will be£2,590, with top investors receiving more than £10,000. Argos staff share a 5.9m pound pot from savings schemeOn 10 Aug 2004 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. last_img read more

Pending home sales decline for third straight month

first_imgMessage* U.S. pending home sales declined for the third consecutive month. (iStock) A measure of pending home sales declined for the third consecutive month, as prices rise and inventory shrinks.The National Association of Realtors’ pending home sales index declined 2.6 percent in November from the previous month. That represents a much steeper decline than October’s, when pending home sales ticked down 1.1 percent from the previous month. The monthly index tracks contract signings and closings for existing single-family homes, condos and co-ops. Closings usually occur within a month or two of the contract signing.Read morePending home sales fall again as prices continue to riseOffice apartment REITs get shot in the arm from vaccine newsHome prices hit fastest growth in six years Despite the consecutive months of decline, contract signings remain elevated compared to the previous year. Contract signings were up 16.4 percent year over year in November — an all-time record.Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, attributed the monthly decline in pending home sales to a shortage of available homes and rising prices. “It is important to keep in mind that the current sales and prices are far stronger than a year ago,” Yun said.The median home price reached an all-time high in July, exceeding $300,000, as workers, untethered from their offices, hunted for digs with more space for remote working and virtual school. An S&P index which tracks home prices in major metropolitan areas showed prices were up 8.4 percent year over year in October — a growth rate not seen for more than six years.With more buyers on the market, the supply of homes has also dwindled. Homes under $100,000 were the hardest to come by in November, with 38 percent fewer on the market compared to 2019. By comparison, the supply of homes priced at more than $1 million were down only 1.4 percent year over year.In 2021, Yun predicted that mortgage rates will rise slightly, to 3 percent from the current 2.7 percent, due to government borrowing.But with the vaccine and a congressional relief package on the way, Yun anticipates the new year will also bring a 10 percent rise in sales of existing homes and a 20 percent rise in new home sales.Contact Georgia Kromrei Email Address* Full Name*center_img Tagscase-shiller national home price indexHousing MarketNational Association of Realtors Share via Shortlink Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlinklast_img read more

Value of building at former Domenico Vacca flagship cut by 70%

first_img Commercial Real Estatefifth avenueRetail Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink 15 W 55th owner Solly Assa. (Getty, Google Maps)UPDATED, April 2, 2021, 10:15 a.m.: In May 2019, luxury retailer Domenico Vacca exited its Midtown flagship store amid a legal battle with landlord Solly Assa, who accused the company of not paying its $4 million annual rent.Nearly two years and one pandemic later, the mixed-use building at 15 West 55th Street has seen its value slashed by nearly 70 percent.A new appraisal from Trepp lists the value of the 59,000-square-foot building at $37.8 million, down sharply from $119 million in 2015. The property includes 15,000 square feet of retail space and 31 apartments, according to Trepp. Domenico Vacca’s lease had been set to run until 2025 before the space was vacated.The new appraisal makes the building worth far less than the $73 million CMBS loan that Barclays provided on it. After Domenico Vacca left the location, net operating income shrunk to $660,921 at the end of 2019, down from $4.9 million at the end of 2017, according to Trepp.ADVERTISEMENTAssa defaulted on the loan and it was sent to special servicing in 2019. Earlier this year, Assa — who founded and runs Assa Properties — worked out a deal to modify the loan and reduce the interest rate to 3 percent. The loan on the building is now current.The property is one of two buildings known as The Branson at Fifth; the other is 19 West 55th Street. Assa acquired them for a combined $60 million in 2013. He sold 19 West 55th in 2018.Read moreLandlord Solly Assa and suitmaker to the stars domenico vacca are fighting over $4million midtown retail lease>Solly Assa sells midtown apartment building following airbnb settlementTroubled loan on cassa hotel residence in times square falls in to deliquency Full Name* Message* Email Address*center_img Assa attributes the valuation plunge at 15 West 55th largely to New York City’s Covid-related retail woes.“It’s hard right now, everything has stopped,” said Assa, who also developed Cassa Hotel & Residences nearby. “It’s a very unusual situation for us and the industry.”In February, The Real Deal counted 32 vacant storefronts along 17 blocks of Fifth Avenue in that Midtown area, which is some of the most expensive retail real estate in the world but has been slammed over the last year. Numerous tenants have walked away from leases, including luxury retailer Valentino. The company exited its nearly 20,000-square-foot space at 693 Fifth Avenue, with eight years remaining on the lease. The brand inked a new lease for a smaller store in Soho in February.For Assa, the valuation plunge at 15 West 55th is the latest problem for a property that has had several. In January 2018, he agreed to pay $1.2 million to the city following allegations the building and three others were being operated illegally as a hotel. Around the same time, he sold 19 West 55th for $50 million to Abraham Leifer’s Aview Equities.Assa maintains he didn’t know about the illegal rentals. “We never ran any of that,” he said.Contact Keith Larsen Tags Note: The story has been updated to reflect the current status of the loan on 15 West 55th Street. Share via Shortlinklast_img read more

Coney Island Wonder Wheel reopens

first_imgThe Wonder Wheel in Coney Island (Getty)An excursion synonymous with summer in New York City is back.Coney Island’s iconic amusement park will reopen today as its famous Wonder Wheel starts turning, the Brooklyn Paper reported.“It’s exciting, but at the same time, we know that we have a responsibility to open safely. And that responsibility comes before anything else,” DJ Vourderis, whose family has operated Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park since his grandfather Deno bought it in 1983, told the publication.The park will require thrill seekers to take some precautions, such as wearing masks and social distancing, while it operates at 33 percent capacity, and only on the weekends until Memorial Day, after which it will open daily through Labor Day.ADVERTISEMENTSoon it will feature a new roller coaster named Phoenix to symbolize the park’s rebirth after the pandemic.The $12 million investment, split between land acquisition and construction, might open before this year’s season ends.Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced more than a month ago that outdoor amusement parks could reopen beginning April 9 at reduced capacity. Guests can reserve a time online to enter the park.Luna Park, another Coney Island amusement park, put its $20 million expansion on ice when Covid descended on the city early last year. The expansion included plans for winter attractions.Last year Luna Park began negotiating with the city for a lease extension through 2040, which it believes would help it endure, if not become a year-round attraction.The Vourderis family said it will maintain its annual “Blessing of the Rides” tradition to open its park, with civic leaders and local residents gathering for a ribbon-cutting. The family plans to honor health care workers at the ceremony, which will double as the park’s 100-year anniversary celebration.“We would like health care workers to be the first ones on the Wonder Wheel,” DJ told the local publication.The park turned 100 years old last year, but no celebration was held because of the pandemic.[Brooklyn Paper] — Orion Jones brooklynconey islandCoronavirus Share via Shortlink Tags Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlinklast_img read more