Categories: Local San Diego News , FacebookTwitter October 1, 2018 Posted: October 1, 2018 00:00 00:00 spaceplay / pause qunload | stop ffullscreenshift + ←→slower / faster ↑↓volume mmute ←→seek . seek to previous 12… 6 seek to 10%, 20% … 60% XColor SettingsAaAaAaAaTextBackgroundOpacity SettingsTextOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundSemi-TransparentOpaqueTransparentFont SettingsSize||TypeSerif MonospaceSerifSans Serif MonospaceSans SerifCasualCursiveSmallCapsResetSave SettingsENCINITAS (KUSI) – Beacon’s Beach reopened to the public Monday, 48 hours after a 13-year-old boy was seriously injured in a shark attack at the scenic northern San Diego County surf break.With no reported shark sightings in the area following the weekend attack, the city decided to allow the public back onto the stretch of Encinitas shoreline, beginning at 7 a.m.Lifeguards and police will continue running extra precautionary patrols at the beach off Neptune Avenue by ground and air throughout the week, according to city officials.Keane Hayes of Encinitas was mauled by a shark of undetermined type about 7 a.m. Saturday, while lobster diving on the first day of this year’s season for legally harvesting the crustaceans.Witness Chad Hammel told reporters he had been with a group of friends in the ocean when he heard the boy screaming.“His whole clavicle was ripped open,” Hammel said. “We told him he’s going to be OK, he’s going to be all right — we got help. I yelled at everyone to get out of the water.”Four beachgoers, including a kayaker, helped the injured boy get to shore and provided first-aid prior to the arrival of an ambulance. Medics airlifted Keane to Rady Children’s Hospital, where he was admitted in critical condition.By Sunday, the youth’s condition had been upgraded to serious, according to hospital spokesman Carlos Delgado.During a briefing late Monday afternoon, physician Tim Fairbanks, chief of pediatric and trauma surgery at Children’s Hospital, told news crews the teen “did well in the operating room” while undergoing surgery for a “very large injury.”The wound stretched over the left side of Keane’s body and head, from his upper back and torso to his arm and the side of his face, according to Fairbanks.“Keane wants you to know that he has all his limbs, and he is going to be going home fully intact,” the doctor said.The teen’s mother, Ellie Hayes, described her family as “blessed” in light of her son’s good prognosis for a full recovery. She praised his positive attitude in the aftermath of the traumatic experience, calling him “very brave, very strong.”“He’s a warrior,” she told reporters during the hospital news conference.Referring to Keane’s efforts to quickly get out of the ocean immediately following the attack, his mother said, “I didn’t know he was that good a swimmer.”She also extended thanks to the good Samaritans who came to her son’s aid at the beach.“We really do believe they saved his life,” she said.A GoFundMe.com donation page set up to help the Hayes family with medical expenses had raised more than $28,000 as of late Monday afternoon.A marine biologist from Cal State Long Beach is working to identify the type of shark that attacked the youth, according to lifeguards.The press conference with Ellie Hayes, Keane’s mother, and Tim Fairbanks, Chief of Pediatric and Trauma Surgery at Rady Children’s hospital can be seen below. RELATED STORY: Encinitas beach reopens after shark attacks 13-year-old boyORIGINAL STORY: 13-year-old boy suffers major injuries from shark attack in EncinitasKeane Webre-Hayes recovering inside his hospital room at Rady Children’s Hospital – San Diego. (Photo: Ellie Hayes, Keane’s mother) Mother of teen attacked by shark in Encinitas speaks about her son’s condition Updated: 9:02 PM
January 21, 2019 KUSI Newsroom, Updated: 7:08 PM Tree falls on Point Loma Heights home killing two occupants Categories: Local San Diego News, Traffic & Accidents FacebookTwitter Posted: January 21, 2019 KUSI Newsroom 00:00 00:00 spaceplay / pause qunload | stop ffullscreenshift + ←→slower / faster ↑↓volume mmute ←→seek . seek to previous 12… 6 seek to 10%, 20% … 60% XColor SettingsAaAaAaAaTextBackgroundOpacity SettingsTextOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundSemi-TransparentOpaqueTransparentFont SettingsSize||TypeSerif MonospaceSerifSans Serif MonospaceSans SerifCasualCursiveSmallCapsResetSave SettingsSAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Jessica and Troy Nelson, owners of Trojan Promotions in Grand Forks, died while on a trip to San Diego early Monday.According to social media posts, they were killed when a 75-foot tree fell onto the house they were staying in. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the tree fell around 6:15 a.m., local time, killing two occupants.Krisi Lund, the senior production manager for Trojan Promotions, said Jessica and Troy were attending an industry trade show in the area.The Union-Tribune reported a third person was inside the house at the time but escaped. Further information about the victims was not immediately available.Jessica and Troy were not just owners of the business, but worked alongside their employees and treated them with generosity.“They poured their heart and soul into everything that they did, and this business was one of those things,” Lund said. “They built this business and this is the most wonderful business. They were so good to all of us.”Troy’s father started a business forms company, Nelson Business Forms, and Troy began working there in 1990. In 2007, Troy and Jessica made Trojan Promotions a separate entity from Nelson Business forms.Laura Endres, who works for Newman Outdoor, did business with Jessica and Troy.Endres said that the couple was very involved in the business community of Grand Forks.“They did a really good job taking a business that (Troy’s dad) started and turning it into something amazing,” Endres said. “It was going to lead to great things.”Lund had worked with Jessica and Troy since 2008 and said they had become more like family than friends.“We’re all having a hard time here today,” Lund said. “They were wonderful people, they were dog lovers, they were outdoors lovers.”
KUSI Newsroom, September 10, 2019 Categories: Local San Diego News FacebookTwitter Posted: September 10, 2019 Closing arguments in trial of man accused in condo fire that killed his children KUSI Newsroom SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – The father of two children who died in a Rancho Bernardo condominium fire fell asleep while drunk with a lit cigarette in his hand and then abandoned his kids to try and save himself, a prosecutor said Tuesday, while a defense attorney told jurors that a defective cell phone was a far more likely ignition source.Jurors heard final summations, then began deliberating the charges against Henry Lopez, 39, who is charged in the Oct. 28, 2017, deaths of his 7- year-old daughter Isabella and 10-year-old son Cristos. He faces up to 14 years in prison if convicted of involuntary manslaughter, child endangerment and reckless fire starting.Deputy District Attorney Kyle Sutterley alleges that Lopez got drunk following an argument with his girlfriend, fell asleep and ignited a blaze in his bed. The prosecutor alleges that Lopez, upon waking to find the condo ablaze around 3:15 a.m., went past the children’s bedrooms on his way down the stairs and punched out a first-floor window to try and escape the flames.He then went back upstairs and started pounding on the walls, then passed out from the smoke at the top of the stairs, where firefighters later found him, Sutterley said.According to the prosecutor, Cristos walked into his father’s burning bedroom, laid down on the floor and died of burns to more than 80 percent of his body. Isabella went into her brother’s room, laid down on the bottom bunk bed and “fortunately never woke up” after passing out due to smoke inhalation, Sutterley said.“A parent has a responsibility to care for their children, a responsibility to protect their children, and if need be, to sacrifice themselves for their children. And Henry Lopez, on Oct. 28, 2017, he failed his children, and as a result, one of them burned to death, and one of them went to sleep and never woke up,” Sutterley said in his closing argument.Defense attorney Paul Neuharth Jr. alleges it was more likely that his client’s iPhone 6 caused the blaze while it was charging beneath Lopez’s pillow.Neither cigarette butts, nor the phone, were found in the remnants of the blaze.Sutterley said investigators located a drinking glass within the area where the fire started, which may have been used as a makeshift ashtray. Prosecutors say a similar glass full of around 75 discarded cigarette butts was located in a trash can in the home’s garage. However, no cigarette butts were found inside the glass in the bedroom.Neuharth told jurors there was no proof that a lit cigarette started the fire, with the only evidence of smoking inside the home coming from the defendant’s ex-wife, Nikia, who said she once witnessed him smoking marijuana in his bed.Lopez told investigators he only smoked on his outside patio and never inside the house, particularly due to his son’s asthma.Wayne Whitney, an investigator with the San Diego Fire Rescue Metro Arson Strike Team, testified last week that despite the lack of cigarette butts in the burned bedroom, he was able to make a “reasonable inference” that cigarettes sparked the fire, by way of Lopez’s alleged smoking habits.Whitney conceded that the cell phone was a possible cause of the fire, but said he didn’t believe it would have ignited the condo fire if it were under Lopez’s pillow, as a lack of oxygen would have smothered the blaze and kept it from spreading.Sutterley said the burns Lopez sustained on his back, arms and particularly his hand were more consistent with holding a lit cigarette, rather than a cell phone igniting beneath his pillow, which Sutterley argued should have caused burns to Lopez’s head.Neuharth emphasized that Whitney came to his conclusion despite no evidence that Lopez smoked in the home that day, while on the other hand, cell phone records proved the phone was in the condo, though it’s unknown whether it was in Lopez’s bedroom.Wall outlets and candles in Lopez’s bedroom were ruled out as potential causes of the blaze, as they were outside the area where investigators believe the fire began.Smoke detectors in Lopez’s bedroom and one of the children’s rooms were unplugged or removed, according to Sutterley, who said Lopez had a 0.229 blood-alcohol content when blood was drawn at a hospital less than two hours after the fire.Neuharth contested the idea that Lopez did not do whatever he could to try and save his children, telling the jury that the defendant went back upstairs and beat a hole in the wall in attempt to get to the youngsters’ rooms amid thick smoke filling the condo. The attorney argued that had it not been for the timely arrival of firefighters, Lopez, too, would have died from smoke inhalation.“What more can you ask of a parent than to give their life and if not for whatever matter of seconds it would have been or a minute before he was brought out and resuscitated, he would have been dead along with the children,” Neuharth said.Sutterley argued Lopez’s first instinct was selfishness and self- preservation, as “he was so deep into a bottle of whiskey and a cigarette that he forgot (the children) were there or abandoned them on purpose. But either way, as a parent, your first thought is to save your children. Your first thought is to your kids. It’s not to yourself. It’s not to the front door. It’s to save your children.”
The last U.S. patent covering the original Roundup Ready soybean trait expires in 2015. As U.S. farmers begin thinking about purchasing their soybean seed for 2014 planting, they have a new resource to answer their questions about the expiration of Monsanto’s original Roundup Ready soybean trait – soybeans.com.“Even though the original Roundup Ready soybean trait is covered by a patent in the United States until the start of the 2015 planting season, we’re already getting questions from farmers about what they can and cannot do with Roundup Ready soybeans. Soybeans.com can help answer questions growers may have about patents as they pertain to planting and saving original Roundup Ready varieties, as well as the benefits of new seed. It’s a great resource for farmers as they plan for next year,” said Monsanto’s U.S. Oilseeds Product Management Lead Norm Sissons.The site outlines Monsanto’s commitments regarding the original Roundup Ready trait patent expiration, explains the different patents and breeders’ rights typically covering soybean seed, and includes frequently asked questions and a decision tree on saving seed.“We hope by having a web site like soybeans.com available, we’re able to provide a useful service to farmers and answer their questions,” said Sissons. “Soybeans.com helps give farmers a good understanding of seed patents, so they are aware of how they can legally use the seed they purchase and so they understand which seeds varieties are still protected by patents and may not be savable, including Monsanto’s second generation higher yielding soybean trait, Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield.”“Because patent law and seed technology is complicated, figuring out which seeds can be legally saved and planted is complicated too. Soybeans.com is a good first stop for farmers who are interested in potentially saving and planting soybeans with the original Roundup Ready trait,” Sissons added. “We recommend they review soybeans.com and then visit with their local seed dealer to get more information before purchasing their seed.”About Monsanto CompanyMonsanto Company is a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality. Monsanto remains focused on enabling both small-holder and large-scale farmers to produce more from their land while conserving more of our world’s natural resources such as water and energy. To learn more about our business and our commitments, please visit: www.monsanto.com. Follow our business on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MonsantoCo, on the company blog, Beyond the Rows at www.monsantoblog.com, or subscribe to our News Release RSS Feed.
ASA congratulates Louisiana soy growers for leading the nation in average yield per acre in 2014 with an average of 57 bushels per acre.According to the Daily Agri-News Report from Louisiana Farm Bureau Agri-News Radio Network, this is a first for Louisiana and weather along with research into varieties, planting dates and soil types played a big part in the yields.Following close behind at the number two state for average soybean yield per acre is Illinois with 56 bushels per acre.Click here and scroll to page 45 to see more average yield per acre information by state.
FAS personnel visit a feed distributor in Siem Reap, Cambodia as part of a CAST Cambodia project oversight mission. The team learned how the sales representative for Agrimaster, a buyer of U.S. soybeans and soybean meal, gives customers technical assistance on animal nutrition and management as a way to promote their products.A newly constructed aquafeed plant—the first in Cambodia to produce high quality fish feed, will start production in June. The plant will incorporate U.S. soy into fish feed for the ASA WISHH Commercialization of Aquaculture for Sustainable Trade (CAST) Cambodia project.CAST, a USDA Food for Progress funded project, will accelerate production of high-demand fish species for the Cambodian market and develop a lasting aquaculture industry. The five-year CAST project is a prime example of WISHH’s enterprise-driven development approach. A key aspect of the project strengthens local production of high-quality feed and fish. CAST makes it possible for Cambodia’s private sector and universities to work closely with U.S. soybean growers and businesses, as well as academic and non-governmental organizations.Last week, officials from USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) visited Cambodia to see the progress of CAST activities and had the opportunity to spend time on a fish farm, hatchery and different markets where fish are sold into the distribution network.They were also able to visit the first aquafeed plant, newly constructed by project partner, Agrimaster, a leading producer in swine and poultry feed and an importer of U.S. soybeans and soybean meal.International Program Specialist William Shields and Agricultural Attaché Megan Francic (FAS/Ho Chi Minh City) oversee the ASA WISHH program’s implementation of the project.The FAS officials met with CAST Chief of Party Jim Hershey and Operations Consultant Sambath Sak, and together they gave a program update to the Ministry of Agriculture’s Fisheries Administration.The team met with other organizations working on aquaculture and received a briefing on the CAST baseline study, which is surveying over 1,000 fish farmers and other businesses in the freshwater fish aquaculture value chain.
Clark Public Utilities has received good marks from the Washington state Auditor’s Office.In its accountability and compliance report issued Monday, the auditor’s office said the utility’s “internal controls were adequate to safeguard public assets” and that the utility also “complied with state laws and regulations and its own policies and procedures in the areas we examined.”The areas the auditor’s office examined included utility billing and adjustments; debt covenants; open public meetings laws; bidding and prevailing wage rules; ethics laws; payroll and personnel benefits; and environmental program compliance.Clark PUD provides electricity to more than 183,000 customers in the county. It also provides water to about 30,000 customers in Hazel Dell, Salmon Creek, Lake Shore, Hockinson, Brush Prairie, La Center, Meadow Glade, Amboy and Yacolt.
Vancouver’s top leaders said Monday they’ll back a plan for bus rapid transit on Vancouver’s Fourth Plain corridor to Northeast 121st Avenue, but made it clear they still have questions about financing, business impacts and station locations.A majority of the city council appeared to support plans for bus rapid transit that has buses in mixed traffic rather than in a dedicated lane, and with a likely mix of curbside and center median stops along the way.A public hearing and vote is set for May 21, in advance of a June 12 C-Tran Board of Director’s meeting that will set the stage for applying for Federal Transit Administration grants that will cover much of the construction costs.The cost to build the line to 121st could land anywhere from $40 million to $55 million; other options included a terminus at Vancouver Mall and at Northeast 162nd Avenue. C-Tran expects as much as 80 percent of that to be covered by federal grants, although project manager Chuck Green acknowledged Monday that the feds may only cover 70 percent of construction. The plan would shave eight minutes off of peak transit travel times, and keep them relatively constant into 2035. Construction on the line could begin as soon as early 2014, with the line up and running by late that year or in early 2015, Green said.Green addressed several critiques of the system’s plans, including the lack of dedicated lanes for bus travel, a hallmark of many bus rapid transit lines around the country.
Katrina Wegner admits she felt naive after she was duped by a man who hacked into her computer over the phone last week.The Vancouver resident got a call from a man claiming to be with Microsoft support who said her computer was running slowly and sending out error reports. Her caller ID showed a number from Ontario, Canada. At first, he seemed legitimate. Having just sent her Windows 8 phone to the Nokia store for repairs, she thought they might have found a problem with the computer since the two sync. He walked her through steps to remotely gain access to her computer — having her type in codes and commands. She gave her IP address and computer ID. “The way that he got into my computer seemed really official,” Wegner said. From there, he pulled up her notebook and typed in prices for a program that he said prevented hackers from entering her computer. When she told him she didn’t have enough money for the program, she saw the cursor move toward the webcam. She couldn’t move the cursor and told him someone was accessing her webcam. He softly chuckled. “That freaks me out,” Wegner said. “Some people just have no respect for other people’s property.”She asked for his phone number and he recited her own number back to her, at which point she pulled the battery out of her computer and hung up.
Archaeologists are comfortable around headstones. A trip to the cemetery is pretty much another day at work, or in the classroom.Doug Wilson, archaeologist at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, brings college students to Vancouver’s Old City Cemetery for summer field-school sessions. In addition to learning how markers are cultural resources, the students document the information on the weathered stone monuments. And we’ve all been seeing plastic tombstones planted in front yards the past few days, signifying nothing more serious than an ongoing Halloween candy binge.But there was one collection of grave markers that sent a chill down the spines of local archaeologists. It was discovered a few years ago, before the Vancouver Land Bridge and the two cabins representing the workers village were built on the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.Back then, the area east of Interstate 5 and north of state Highway 14 was a blackberry patch. As maintenance workers hacked through the brambles, they found Army grave markers.“I sucked in my breath when I heard on the radio that military gravestones had been found,” Fort Vancouver Superintendent Tracy Fortmann recalled.“It was startling. To see a number of headstones, it’s not something you anticipate while cleaning out blackberry bushes.”Park Service archaeologists started to sort things out. The stones weren’t neatly arrayed; they were scattered around. Some stones were broken. Some markers had other issues: typographical errors.
The city of Ridgefield took the first step toward hiring a new city manager Tuesday, closing the application period in its search for a top administrator.Applications for the post, which oversees the city’s day-to-day business, have been trickling in since Ridgefield’s previous city manager, Phil Messina, announced his resignation in November. But on Tuesday, that trickle turned into a deluge, as the city received 12 more applications.It was unclear exactly how many total applications the city has received.A hiring committee will soon sort through the applications, narrowing them down to a list of finalists. The process of naming a new manager could take a little more than a month — possibly longer if officials decide to extend the deadline.That will only happen if the city’s hiring committee is unimpressed by its slate of finalists, something officials have worked to avoid.Mayor Ron Onslow said the city has reached out to potential candidates in an attempt to recruit them to Ridgefield.“The city has been pursuing certain people,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll get some good ones.”Unlike many cities — including Camas, which recently hired Pete Capell as its new city administrator — Ridgefield hasn’t had to hire an outside consulting firm to assist with the search. The Prothman Co., will conduct background checks at a reduced price because Messina, who was recruited for the job by Prothman, resigned after less than a year.Messina said he was stepping down for personal reasons.Three panels — representing council members, citizens and city staff — will interview the three finalists in February. The city anticipates having a new manager in place by March.
LOS ANGELES — Seeking a way to prevent violence like last year’s deadly Boston Marathon bombing, an Islamic advocacy group Monday announced a plan aimed at helping U.S. mosques identify and re-educate radicals.The Muslim Public Affairs Council — which long has pushed for a moderate, American-based Islam — hopes its “Safe Spaces Initiative” will get mosques to stop a pattern of dealing with extremists by simply shunning them and kicking them out.The plan was unveiled a day before Tuesday’s one-year anniversary of the marathon bombing, allegedly orchestrated by ethnically Chechen Muslim brothers who lived in the Boston area. One of them, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, had turned toward extremism and was banished from a Boston-area mosque after challenging its moderate teachings.“The message there was that ejection is not the answer,” said Salam Al-Marayati, president of the Los Angeles-based council. But, Al-Marayati noted, it is not an uncommon reaction: Many American mosques traditionally have dealt with radicals by kicking them out or finding ways to isolate or distance them from the larger group.“Ejection from the community does not solve the problem. It just makes the problem worse,” Al-Marayati said.The initiative, which the Muslim council will begin promoting nationwide, calls for mosques to continuously present mainstream visions of the faith. If a believer turns toward radical — potentially violent — views, mosques should intervene by offering mental health and religious counseling and, when warranted, seeking help from the police.
SEATTLE — A new poll shows strong support among Washington voters for a ballot initiative that would require background checks on all firearm sales in the state.The Elway Poll found that 70 percent of people were inclined to vote for Initiative 594. The same poll showed that 46 percent of people were inclined to vote for a competing measure, Initiative 591, which would prevent Washington state from adopting background-check laws stricter than the national standard.Thirty-two percent of respondents said they were inclined to vote for both initiatives in November.The poll of 506 registered voters was taken July 8-11. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.
GRESHAM, Ore. — Arizona Sen. John McCain was in Oregon on Thursday to help rescue Republican Monica Wehby’s U.S. Senate bid.McCain talked about health care, military spending and veterans issues with Wehby and several dozen supporters at a Veterans of Foreign Wars hall outside Portland. He’ll hold another event with Wehby in Salem and will raise money for her campaign.Wehby’s run against first-term Democrat Jeff Merkley has been beleaguered by a series of stories from her campaign and personal life, including old police reports showing an ex-husband and former boyfriend had both made harassment complaints against her. She also was accused of plagiarizing her health care and economic plans.McCain did not mention the controversies but offered an endorsement of Wehby and said she was in “a winnable race.” Wehby, a physician who did work during her training at a Veterans Administration facility in Los Angeles, would be invaluable in the Senate, McCain said.“This will be the instant expert,” McCain said. “This will be the go-to person in the United States Senate when we’re talking about all the things that need to be done for our veterans.”Pitching herself in a state dominated by Democrats, Wehby says she’s an independent thinker who won’t be beholden to the Republican Party.
Huawei Japan joins Kansai Economic Federation with eye on World Expo 2025 and Osaka IR As Tomakomai City, Rusutsu village and other local municipalities are actively preparing for the IR selection process, Hokkaido Economic Federation – a corporate group made up of 500 companies in Hokkaido – published a report in support of IR selection.The topic of the report was, “Achieving Hokkaido Regional Tourism Promotion with a focus on IR” and emphasized two main points – one, that Hokkaido is the optimum location for the “Developed Nation Tourism” concept of a Japan IR and two, it will largely contribute to resolving the tourism and economic social problems in Hokkaido. Analysis shows that it will be possible to attract customers to tourist locations via IR facilities, particularly for long-stay tourism. These efforts are in conjunction with the planned privatization of seven airports in Hokkaido and extension of the Hokkaido bullet train.At the same time, anxiety is rising among residents of Hokkaido, especially regarding problem gambling, and the topic of taking measures and offering courses to deepen the public’s understanding while minimizing the negative image of IRs was also introduced in the report“Our belief is that an IR will provide a large economic ripple effect and we can expect innovations in tourism, development of human resources, industrial technology, transportation and other innovations for Hokkaido’s future, and we should promote it,” the report concludes. RelatedPosts Load More Lack of premium mass strategy begs questions of SJM’s Grand Lisboa Palace launch: analysts Genting’s Resorts World Las Vegas names five key additions to executive team
Some 30 security scanner operation staff at Stansted Airport plan to take industrial strike action over a pay rise dispute. The security scanner operators were offered a salary increase of 1.5%, which they rejected.They are calling for a pay rise of 3%.The strikes, which are planned for 23 and 31 of August, were voted for by 87% of the 80% of staff that opted to vote.The 30 staff are members of the National Union of General and Municipal Workers (GMB). They are directly employed by private contractor Mitie.GMB negotiators have asked the independent conciliator ACAS to assist in arranging a meeting with Mitie in time to avert the need for industrial action. Mitie has responded with an offer of a meeting on 3 September.Gary Pearce, organiser at the National Union of General and Municipal Workers, said: “Mitie shareholders saw a 7% increase in dividends for 2014 and Mitie achieved a 13.5% increase in profits after tax, which compares to the 1.5% pay offer rejected by members.”The total cost to the [organisation] of the 3% pay rise is around £24,000 per year […] The 1.5% offer that was rejected is less than the average pay rise in the private sector of 2.7%.”A spokesperson from Mitie said: “We have just been informed by the union of two potential dates for strike action. We are hopeful that this can be resolved using ACAS over the next few days but in the event that industrial action does happen we have contingency plans in place.”
If you read nothing else, read this …Many employees are not paying enough into pensions.Financial education, employer matching and tax relief can encourage staff to increase pension contributions.Auto-enrolment and the pension freedoms have helped to highlight the importance of good contributions. Clare Grice: More than doing the right thingAside from the fact that employers should want to do the ‘right thing’ in supporting their employees, being faced with an ageing workforce as a result of inadequate savings ought to encourage employers to take action on pension contributions.Both auto-enrolment and the pension reforms have done a great deal to address the apathy of the UK population towards pensions. Employers should use this new environment of engagement to encourage pension participation and increased contributions.Auto-enrolment has, quite rightly, been hailed as a success in getting more people into pensions saving, but there is a risk that simply being automatically enrolled may make some employees think they have done enough to provide for retirement.Providing a high-quality pension scheme to employees is fruitless unless employers are able to communicate the benefits of it. Financial education is key to explaining the importance of making the right level of contributions. But it will only be a success if it goes hand in hand with an effective communications strategy. Clear communications are of paramount importance in breaking down the barrier of complexity that can be one of the many issues preventing adequate employee pension savings.Another action employers may take is providing for automatic increases in employee and employer contribution rates following certain levels of pay rise. Employer contributions are probably the biggest influence in encouraging increased pension contributions, as employees are more likely to raise contributions when the employer offers matched rates up to a certain level.Clare Grice is a partner at Mills and Reeve Employees contribute an average of 5% of their earnings towards their retirement savings, according to the Employee attitudes to pay and pensions report by The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), published in March 2015. According to Chris Curry, director of the Pensions Policy Institute, the optimal contribution is 14% to 16% of earnings. So how can employers encourage their staff to pay more into their retirement funds?1. Use financial education Financial education can boost employees’ understanding of pensions. Some 45% of employees would be willing to save more if they had a better idea of how pensions worked, according to Capita Employee Benefits’ Employee Insight Report, published in July 2015.Pete Strudwick, pension and benefits partner at LV=, says: “Auto-enrolment has worked wonders for engaging [employees] with investing, but people may be scared of investment jargon, which can lead to them burying their heads in the sand.”One of the biggest hurdles employers will need to overcome is ensuring staff are aware of their financial future. Nathan Long, head of corporate pensions research at Hargreaves Lansdown, says: “In reality, most people aren’t going to know how much their ideal annual pension contribution is. But if they do, they’ll know more about the scale of the ‘problem’ and how much they need to be saving.”Financial education is most successful when it is tailored and relevant to employees’ financial situations. “Employers need to target different age groups differently and consider promoted employees, as well as when workers hit milestone birthdays, and tailor communication around them,” says Strudwick.Individual guidance for employees can be a great way to educate them about their retirement income. Older staff could particularly benefit from better knowledge, says Curry. “The impact of tax relief for older workers can really boost contributions, but opt-out rates for auto-enrolment are higher in older workers due to lack of understanding,” he explains.2. Matching contributionsOffering matching contributions can act as a way to increase employee pension contributions, and it may set the wheels in motion for staff to increase their focus on financial wellbeing. Strudwick says: “If employers match what staff contribute, it can really incentivise saving.”Auto-escalation, whereby workers are encouraged to put some, or all, of their salary increases into their pension, can also boost retirement funds. However, Curry warns: “If employers put more into employees’ pension pots, it could encourage them to do the same, but it could also cause employees to pay less as they may presume what their employer is giving is enough.”3. Tax reliefIf an employee contributes to an occupational pension scheme, which is registered with HM Revenue and Customs, then these contributions, up to a maximum of 100% of earnings, are allowed as a deduction against the employee’s taxable income. This may not be something workers are aware of, and employers may need to do more to rectify that, paticularly because employers’ contributions are allowed as a deduction against its profits for corporate tax purposes and are not taxed as other employee benefits are.Employees could also save tax and national insurance contributions by sacrificing salary or bonus in exchange for their employer paying an equivalent pension contribution, which reduces both employer and employee NI contributions, and income tax for the employee.4. Auto-enrolment opportunitiesThe advent of auto-enrolment has led to an increased number of employees saving into pensions and brought retirement savings into the spotlight. Some 95% of older workers are likely to receive good value on their pension if they stay in a workplace scheme after being auto-enrolled, according to The Benefits of Automatic-Enrolment and Workplace Pensions for Older Workers, published by the Pensions Policy Institute in May 2014.Many employers see the re-enrolment stage as another chance to educate staff with pensions. Neil McCawley, group head of reward at construction and building products distributor Wolseley UK, says: “Next year offers an opportunity for employers to re-engage staff with their pensions.”Wolseley UK will re-auto-enrol staff who originally opted out in May and June 2016.Auto-enrolment increased Wolseley’s pension scheme take-up from 75% to 90%. Wolseley also varied the structure of its trust-based defined contribution (DC) scheme to drive engagement around pension contributions. Prior to auto-enrolment its contribution levels were between 1% and 5% for staff and 1.5% and 7.5% for the employer. However, since its 2014 staging date, employees contribute between 1% and 9%, while Wolseley contributes between 2.5% and 12.5%.5. An eye on the futureEmployers and staff need to keep a constant eye on their pensions and the pensions industry, particularly with the introduction of the pension freedoms, auto-enrolment, the ever-changing economy and the eradication of the default retirement age. Some 41% of employees stopped or reduced retirement savings during the economic downturn, according to research by HSBC published in January 2015.“The pension freedoms have created a bit more buzz around saving for retirement, and employees’ contributions have gone up,” says Long.Employers must emphasise the importance of good pension contributions and highlight the impact it may have on the talent pipeline. After all, as Strudwick says: “Do [employers] really want to be having performance management issues from employees who can’t afford to retire?”Case study: Peel Ports Group raises contributions with communicationPeel Ports Group raises awareness of pension contributions among staff by increasing its matching contributions and using specific communications.The employer increased its matching of employee pension contributions from 3-6% to 3-10% from January 2014 to coincide with its auto-enrolment staging date.Around one-third of Peel Ports Group’s 1,100 employees were part of its stakeholder pension plan prior to the change in matching rates, according to Amanda Willis, pensions manager. She believes the pension scheme has grown in popularity since.To highlight the increase in contribution matching, Peel Ports introduced a range of communication initiatives. Willis explains: “We gave all staff the opportunity to have conversations with a pensions professional, either internally or externally, and gave them letters explaining the options.“In November 2014, we released our first pensions and benefits newsletter covering all the changes to state pensions and the flexibilities. It went down really well. The pension freedoms have made staff see pensions as a savings vehicle and they have become more engaged.”It sent out its second newsletter in June 2015. This followed pensions briefings held towards the end of 2014 and in March 2015 to highlight the importance of pension contributions.Willis says: “With the retirement projection and ‘retiready’ site [provided by] Aegon, employees can work out exactly how much they need to be saving.”Peel Ports Group won ‘Best defined contribution (DC) pension change’ at the Employee Benefits Awards 2015 and was awarded the Pension Quality Mark Plus in November 2014. More employees than ever are aware of the need to save for retirement, thanks to auto-enrolment and media warnings of pensioners in poverty. But getting staff to save is just the first step. Contribution levels also have to be right if individuals are to achieve the lifestyle they want in retirement.
More than half (54%) of respondents value a good work-life balance above everything else in their jobs, including pay and benefits, according to research by Coople.Its survey of 2,000 UK employees also found that almost a third (30%) of respondents feel work has caused them to feel stressed and unhappy.The research also found:20% of respondents believe work has negatively affected their health.51% of respondents attribute their lack of social life to work commitments.28% of respondents work late, 18% respond to work emails out of office hours, and 10% pick up work calls outside of their working hours.Jacques de la Bouillerie (pictured), managing director at Coople, said: “Britain’s current work model is broken and it’s unsettling to learn of its ramifications on employee health and wellbeing.“Flexible working is the solution; small changes like allowing employees to work flexible hours where possible, can make the world of difference to employee fitness, happiness and welfare, as well as increasing productivity.”