Top Stories

October 25, 2012


Equal pay ruling opens door for women to take employers to court

Employers face the prospect of battling discrimination claims years after an employee has left their company following a landmark Supreme Court ruling. More than 170 women who worked in low-paying jobs for Birmingham City Council contested that they were paid less than their male colleagues. On Wednesday they won the right to have their discrimination case heard in the courts. The ruling means that historical equal-pay disputes can be heard in the civil courts and not just in employment tribunals, which only deal with cases that are brought within six months of someone leaving their job. The dispute has been on-going for more than three years. (Independent)

Food & Beverage

Food industry balks at traffic-light code for food

Major food manufacturers have refused to back plans to introduce standard food labelling next year, raising doubts over the voluntary system. Nestlé, which owns brands such as Kit Kat and Cheerios, said it would not use traffic-light colour coding and “high”, “medium” and “low” descriptions for fat, saturated fat, salt, sugar and calorie content. It said it would stick to its use of guideline daily amounts.  “We do not support the traffic lights system because it focuses only on negative aspects of nutrients and does not offer sufficient factual information,” said Nestlé. It has previously criticised regulation, saying it undermines individual responsibility. Kellogg’s, the cereal maker, also said it would not introduce the system, citing doubts about colour-coded labelling. (Financial Times*)

International Development

Concern raised about finance scheme for malaria drugs

The charity Oxfam has cast doubt on an international scheme that aims to boost the provision of the most effective treatment for malaria. The UK Government has contributed £70m to the Affordable Medicines Facility for malaria (AMFm) introduced three years ago by the Global Fund to Fight Aids, TB and Malaria. The Fund acts as a global subsidy to provide greater access to therapy for malaria, aims to reduce the use of older, riskier treatments and to untap the potential of the private sector in reaching remote communities. The scheme is being piloted in seven countries including Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria. However, Oxfam says there is no evidence that the programme has saved the lives of the most vulnerable people. Its future will be considered at a meeting of the Global Fund's board next month. (BBC)

Corporate Reputation

EU acts to end Amazon VAT loophole

Amazon is to be stripped of its tax advantage on the sales of electronic books after the European commission ordered Luxembourg to close a VAT loophole. Amazon is registered as a Luxembourg company and pays that country's VAT charge of 3% when it sells an ebook to a British reader, rather than the 20% it would have to charge if it were UK-based. The Guardian revealed this week that Amazon is forcing British publishers to cover the cost of a 20% VAT charge on ebook sales even though the true VAT cost to the online retailer is a fraction of that. The move by the EU will close a tax loophole that has encouraged companies such as Amazon, Skype and Netflix to be based in Luxembourg to benefit from the 3% rate when selling throughout the EU. (Guardian)

Bank of America faces lawsuit over ‘fraudulent’ home loans

Bank of America is being sued for $1bn (£624m) for alleged mortgage fraud. The civil lawsuit has been brought by the top federal prosecutor in New York, the US Attorney Preet Bharara. He accuses Countrywide Financial, which Bank of America bought in 2008, of selling thousands of toxic home loans to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government agencies that support the US mortgage market. Mr Bharara said that Countrywide’s practices were “spectacularly brazen in scope”. Bank of America has yet to comment. (Times*, BBC)

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