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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 216

Date:- 29 August 2005

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BHP Billiton backs the battle on environment black spots

THERE’LL be further improvements to Sefton’s environmental black spots in the coming months, thanks to additional financial backing for an-ongoing improvement campaign from oil and gas company, BHP Billiton. A global leader in the natural resources industry employing 35,000 across 20 countries, BHP Billiton has pledged a £2,000 boost to the Community Foundation for Merseyside’s Green Machine’ campaign.

Green Machine was launched last year across Merseyside, providing schools and community groups with grants towards the cost of projects designed to improve the environment within local communities. The initiative had already helped generate real, sustainable improvements in the region, including the development of recycling schemes, fly tipping prevention and cleaning up disused areas.

A long-standing commitment to environmental improvement triggered BHP Billiton’s interest in the campaign. The funding will be targeted specifically within Sefton and priority will be given to projects focusing on environmental conservation, education and Sefton’s coastal areas. BHP Billiton is the latest organisation to announce its financial backing for the campaign. Barclays Bank, Unilever, The Tubney Trust, Hemby Trust and HD Wills Charitable Trust have also stepped up in support of the environmental initiative.

BHP Billiton spokesperson Cara Bostock explained:- “BHP Billiton has always had a commitment to protecting and enhancing the environment and the Community Foundation¹s Green Machine initiative is an excellent opportunity for us to help improve the environment in the community in which we operate.”

Community Foundation for Merseyside’s Director of Fundraising and Development, Emma Leaman added:- “BHP Billiton’s generous support is a tremendous boost to our ongoing campaign. More and more businesses and organisations are coming on board with the Green Machine initiative, helping us invest in Merseyside and chip away at urban decay afflicting the region¹s hard-pressed communities.”

BHP Billiton is also planning further support for the Community Foundation¹s work through a legacy, which will help finance future community projects.

The benefits of flexibility

TOURISM companies in Merseyside could find it pays to offer flexible working arrangements to their workforce, according to Tourism HR. The service, supported by The Mersey Partnership, offers bespoke human resources support to the region’s tourism businesses, often at a generously subsidised rate.

Martin King, Director of Tourism at The Mersey Partnership, said:- “The benefits of allowing flexible working, such as offering varied shifts and giving time off for childcare, may seem loaded towards the employee. In fact, encouraging a work-life balance produces happy, loyal staff who feel valued and appreciated. This leads to more effective working relationships and benefits the business by increasing productivity. The tourism industry’s flexible hours offer particular scope for businesses to vary rotas, stagger shifts, or offer jobshare schemes. Tourism HR can help these employers to dramatically improve the way they manage their workforce.”

Employers resistant to adopting work-life balance practices not only limit the potential of their workforce and future growth of their business. By failing to consider requests for flexible working arrangements, they could find themselves facing tribunal claims and significant legal costs.

A recent employment tribunal ruled that a BA pilot, who was refused the right to work part-time to look after her baby had suffered sex discrimination. Jessica Starmer, 26, said she would have had to resign from her £50,000 a year job if her employer did not cut her working hours.

Sarah Penrose, director of Tourism HR, said:- “The law says employers have a duty to seriously consider requests to work flexibly from employees with a child under 6, or a disabled child under 18. But in fact it may pay you to consider offering flexible working to other employees as well. The impressive turnout for a recent Tourism HR event we hosted in Manchester shows that employers are becoming increasingly aware of the need to attract and retain talented workers in order to remain successful and competitive.”

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