LABOR

Ford Canada Workers Accept Contract

Ford Canada workers have overwhelmingly accepted a new labor deal, even though it offers some of the lowest wage gains in their union's history and allows for hundreds of layoffs. The Canadian Auto Workers union said Sunday that 95 percent of Ford union workers accepted the three-year deal, which had been tentatively reached by negotiators last week.

The deal allows Ford to trim its 11,600-member union workforce by 1,100 positions over the next three years and includes the closure of a casting plant in Windsor, Ontario. It offers base wage hikes of roughly 1.5 percent in the first year, followed by two annual increases of 1 percent.

The CAW is now negotiating with DaimlerChrysler on a new deal and was in talks with the automaker all weekend. There is a midnight strike deadline today for the union to reach a deal for 11,400 DaimlerChrysler workers.

EUROPEAN UNION

Developing Nations Call for Sugar Reforms

Farm ministers from developing countries called on the European Union to reconsider planned cuts in guaranteed sugar prices, arguing that the changes would hurt poor farmers. Ministers from Fiji, Guyana, Jamaica, Mauritius and Swaziland were holding talks with their E.U. counterparts on behalf of the 76-nation African, Caribbean and Pacific group.

Britain's farm minister, Margaret Beckett, is seeking an agreement on proposals to slash sugar prices by 39 percent before the end of November.

Targeted Subsidies Sought for Job Growth

European Union regulators will propose this week that government subsidies be directed to areas that will create jobs, such as in research and start-up companies, to boost economic growth in the 25-nation bloc.

The new rules, which must be approved by E.U. member states, aim to clarify existing guidelines to help governments win faster approval for state aid. Under the proposals, the commission will allow aid to new business ventures through tax exemptions and subsidies of as much as 1 million euros over three years. The regulators also propose more flexible rules on government support for risk capital and research and development.

ENERGY

Russian Oil Producers to Freeze Gas Prices

Russia's major oil producers agreed at a meeting with Industry and Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko to freeze their domestic gasoline prices until the end of the year, Khristenko's spokesman said.

"Almost unanimously and absolutely voluntarily, the heads of the oil companies said that they are ready from today to freeze their fuel prices until the end of the year," spokesman Stanislav Naumov said.

Lukoil, the biggest Russian crude oil producer, confirmed that it had capped gasoline prices, but no other companies made a similar announcement.

MERGERS & Acquisitions

Deutsche Post Looks to Buy Exel

Deutsche Post, Europe's biggest postal-service provider, offered to buy England-based Exel for $6.7 billion, a deal that would make it the largest in the global logistics industry.

Deutsche Post is trying to reduce its dependence on mail operations in Germany, where it is due to lose its monopoly in two years. Exel is active in 135 countries, delivering food, medicine and auto parts.

Compiled from news service reports.

CAW President Buzz Hargrove, second from left, shakes hands with union members at a ratification meeting in Windsor, Ontario.