Wal-Mart to allow unions
Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world's biggest retailer, gave ground to Chinese pressure yesterday and said it would allow its workers to set up a trade union. The decision by the US-based company, under intense scrutiny worldwide for its labor practices, highlighted the importance of a market where it bought US$15 billion worth of goods last year and is aggressively adding stores. "Should associates request formation of a union, Wal-Mart China would respect their wishes and honor its obligations under China's Trade Union Law," the firm said in a statement. Wal-Mart calls its employees associates. China threatened last month to blacklist Wal-Mart and a handful of other foreign firms if they did not set up trade unions at their China units.
Spending expected to rise
Spending in Eastern Europe and Asia is expected to lead a recovery in the global technology market over the next three years, according to an industry report released yesterday. After enduring years of sluggish growth, technology spending is expected to climb steadily through 2007 as China, Poland and other countries in the developing world invest heavily in hardware, software, networking equipment and services, according to a study commissioned by World Information Technology and Services Alliance, an industry trade group. Total spending should hit US$3.2 trillion in 2007, up from US$2.1 trillion in 2001, the report said. Spending in Asia and the Pacific Rim is expected to grow quickest at 9.3 percent annually, while spending is predicted to increase in Europe, the Middle East and Africa at a rate of 8.9 percent per year.