■ AirlinesSingapore warns pilots
Singapore Airlines pilots were told to "stop, think and be careful" about their confrontational approach that threatens the city-state's role as an aviation hub, it was reported yesterday. "If we lose our competitive advantage, thousands will be out of work and a lot of them will not have the ability to be as mobile as the pilots," The Straits Times quoted acting Manpower Minister Ng Eng Hen as saying. Disgruntled members of the Air Line Pilots Association voted their leaders out last Nov. 17, accusing them of giving in too easily to management in accepting wage cuts and no-pay leave during the SARS outbreak earlier this year. The pilots disregarded the content in which the original deal was struck, Ng said on Sunday. In tackling SARS, management and unions made sacrifices, he added.
■ Fast food
McDonald's rings up a deal
McDonald's Corp, the world's biggest hamburger-restaurant chain, formed a promotional agreement with China Mobile Communications Corp, the world's largest mobile-phone company, as part of efforts to boost sales in China. McDonald's from yesterday will offer discounts of as much as 30 percent on meal combinations to subscribers of China Mobile's M-zone service, said Randy Lai, a Hong Kong-based marketing manager for the fast-food chain. M-zone, which provides downloadable ring tones and games popular with younger customers, has more than 8 million subscribers. "We want to tap into China Mobile's M-zone users, who are mostly 15-25 years old, because teenagers and young adults are our main group of customers," Lai said.
■ Civil service
Early retirement encouraged
Thailand's government will urge 47,000 civil servants it deems incompetent to accept early retirement packages next year in an effort to trim the country's bureaucracy, the prime minister said. The government has prepared a budget of 1.3 billion baht (US$32 million) to compensate the retiring civil servants, Prime Minster Thaksin Shinawatra said late Sunday. "I want to replace them with computers for more efficiency," he said. "The good and competent civil servants, I urge them to stay on. But the incompetent ones, I urge them to take the early retirement scheme," Thaksin said. The plan will be sent to the Cabinet next month for approval and is expected to be implemented by next April, Thaksin said. He did not say how the government will identify the incompetent officials.
EMI pulls offer
Music company EMI Group PLC said yesterday it has withdrawn its offer for the purchase of Time Warner's recorded music business. "We have concluded that it is no longer possible to reach an agreement on terms which would be acceptable to both parties and in the interests of EMI's shareholders," Eric Nicoli, EMI chairman, said in a statement. EMI entered non-exclusive discussions with Time Warner on Sept. 22 about the possible purchase of Warner Music's recorded music division. While EMI did not say how much it was offering, published reports have said EMI has offered about US$1 billion in cash plus a stake of about 25 percent in a merged company.