Business and City Summary

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The Independent Online
Test case over pension rights

Unison, Britain's biggest union, is to ask a Sheffield industrial tribunal tomorrow to refer a test case to the European Court, in an attempt to establish pension rights for council employees transferred to private contractors.

Richard Doughty was employed as a gravedigger by Rotherham Council until the service was contracted in January to a private company under compulsory competitive tendering. The company has no pension scheme. The loss of employer contributions will leave Mr Doughty, 49, with one-third of the pension he would have received if he had stayed with the council.

Orly monitored

The European Commission is to monitor the allocation of take-off and landing slots at Orly airport outside Paris after the French authorities said commercial flights in and out of Orly were to be limited to 200,000 a year to reduce noise pollution. Other airlines fear that the decision by the French will be used to stifle competition.

Ernst lawyers axed

The US arm of Ernst & Young, the accountancy firm, axed 37 of its 65 in-house lawyers and closed a data processing centre with the loss of 200 jobs as part of a shake-up of its legal department that will lead to more work being done by external advisers.

Kvaerner settlement

Three disputes between Kvaerner, the shipyard company, and the oil group Norske Shell over constructions for an oil platform have been settled out of court. But a compensation claim for alleged delays is to go to arbitration and a hearing is set for next year.

FR hope fuelled

FR Group, the aerospace company which yesterday saw interim profits rise 17 per cent to pounds 12.3m, believes it is the front- runner for a dollars 100m 10-year contract to supply refuelling systems to the US Defense Department.

Polish road for LDV

British van maker LDV, which emerged 18 months ago out of the collapse of Leyland Daf, has won a multi-million-pound deal to export kits of its 400 series range of vehicles to Poland.

Healds cut

Healds, a chain of 39 convenience stores based around Preston, said yesterday it was introducing half-price newspapers in almost all stores, in a special promotion to run until Christmas. Frank Heald, joint managing director, said the company wanted to establish itself as a newsagent following the introduction on 1 October of Office of Fair Trading rules which obliged wholesalers to supply new outlets.

World Markets

New York: Some strong third- quarter earnings reports pushed shares sharply higher. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 55.51 points higher at 3,876.83.

Tokyo: The yen's weakness against the dollar supported sentiment as the Nikkei average gained 76.71 points to 19,821.46.

Hong Kong: Bargain-hunting lifted the Hang Seng index 113.92 points (1.23 per cent) to 9,362.32.

Sydney: Sustained buying in good volume advanced the All Ordinaries 15.5 points to 2,003.6.

Bombay: A big profits increase by Reliance Industries triggered some buying fever. The index rose 27.7 points to 4,438.65.

Johannesburg: Gold shares posted heavy losses on the weaker bullion price. The overall index tumbled 73 points to 5,525.

Frankfurt: Firmer bonds contributed to a 46.27-point rise by the DAX index to 2,071.06, only a whisker off the day's high.

Paris: Recovering after early profit-taking, the CAC-40 index closed 20.7 better at 1,919.02.

Zurich: In a continuing technical recovery, helped by bond futures, the Swiss Performance Index put on 9.91 points to 1,702.95.

London: Report, page 28.