VW to step up job cuts
Volkswagen (VW), Europe's biggest car maker, said yesterday that it planned to step up job-cutting measures, particularly at its main plant in Wolfsburg, north Germany. "Despite rising sales, the Volkswagen group still has considerable overcapacity and will therefore be intensifying its efforts to cut back manpower," the car maker said in a statement. "We have surplus manpower of the order of several thousand employees at our German sites, in particular Wolfsburg," VW said. The auto giant did not say exactly how many jobs were on the line, but a report in the latest edition of the weekly newsmagazine Der Spiegel quoted sources close to the company as saying that more than 10,000 jobs faced the chop. The cutbacks would be achieved via measures such as as early retirement.
■ Hong Kong
Record haul of fakes seized
Customs officers in Hong Kong have seized a record haul of 150,000 fake Burberry clothes and products in the city's biggest seizure of its kind. The high-quality items bearing the famous Burberry check design had a retail value of around US$16.7 million, according to the South China Morning Post yesterday. Eleven Hong Kong people including two alleged masterminds of a Hong Kong and Japan counterfeit clothing syndicate have been arrested in connection with the seizure, the newspaper said. The clothes are understood to have been made to order in factories in China and were seized in a Hong Kong warehouse where they were stored before being shipped to China. The items will be shredded and dumped in landfills after a court case involving the suspects ends in around a year's time, the newspaper said.
Business' investments rise
Investment levels of Japanese businesses rose 7.3 percent in the April to June period, according to the Japanese Finance Ministry's quarterly report released yesterday. Compared to the previous year, manufacturers spent 19.8 percent more on plant and equipment, which marked the highest rate of increase since the July to September period in 2001, when the ministry adopted its current calculation method. Meanwhile, expenditure by non-manufacturers rose 1.8 percent, the ministry's quarterly survey showed. As manufacturers' pretax profits increased 14.2 percent, those of non-manufacturers grew 11.9 percent. The combined pretax profits in both sectors gained 12.9 percent for the three-month period, compared to a year earlier. The survey results supported the government's announcement last month that Japan was making an economic recovery.
■ South Korea
Strikes hamper carmakers
Hyundai Motor Co and Kia Motors Corp, South Korea's two largest carmakers, have had total production losses of about 608 billion won (US$594 million) since workers went on strike last month. Hyundai Motor has suffered losses of 396.2 billion won as of last Friday from the 54-hour partial strikes that started on Aug. 25, the Korea Auto Industries Cooperation Association said in a statement yesterday. Kia incurred losses of 211.3 billion won from a total of 48-hour strike that began on Aug. 29. Losses of their parts suppliers reached about 518 billion won. Union workers at Hyundai Motor and Kia are on partial strikes as they demand higher wages and better working conditions.