Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
. 24/7 Space News .




INTERNET SPACE
Silicon Valley talent dream tied to immigrant hopes
by Staff Writers
San Francisco (AFP) Feb 17, 2013


Germany demands probe of Amazon work conditions
Berlin (AFP) Feb 17, 2013 - A German government minister called Sunday for a thorough probe into allegations that foreign seasonal workers hired in Germany by US online retail giant Amazon were harassed and intimidated.

Labour Minister Ursula von der Leyen told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper that any proof of wrongdoing could result in serious consequences for the temporary employment agency used by Amazon.

"There is a strong suspicion here which is why we need to lay all the facts on the table," she said.

"If the investigation shows there is something to the accusations against the temporary placement agency then its licence is at risk."

A public television documentary broadcast Wednesday said workers brought in from crisis-hit countries such as Spain to help at Amazon warehouses faced bullying from security personnel, some of whom wore clothing associated with neo-Nazi groups.

It added that Amazon paid the workers less than advertised and that their belongings were regularly searched in the temporary housing they were provided.

Services union Verdi has long accused Amazon of paying its seasonal workers unfair wages and going overboard on surveillance.

The US company, which has about 7,700 people on staff in Germany and hires additional temporary workers at peak times, said it was looking into the allegations and would not tolerate intimidation at its sites.

Hensel European Security Services, the company targeted in the documentary, also denied any wrongdoing.

"The accusation that our company harbours far-right views or supports them is false," it said in a statement.

It confirmed that its staff had searched temporary workers' rooms but said this had taken place with the agreement of the hotel and in order to investigate reported theft.

Silicon Valley's long crusade to break open doors to America for foreigners with key technology skills hinges on a political battle in Washington over broader immigration reform.

For more than a decade, the tech sector has been struggling to get more visas and green cards for immigrants with engineering, math or science skills.

While Silicon Valley has been largely backing reform-minded Democratic candidates including President Barack Obama, Republicans have begun paying attention to broader immigration reform, an issue dear to US Latinos.

"The election happened and the Republicans took a shellacking from Hispanics," said Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation think-tank in Washington.

"It was a wake-up call," he continued. "A comprehensive approach to immigration reform became viable."

The new political landscape hobbled efforts to push through stand-alone legislation focused just on high-skilled workers.

"High-skill immigration is definitely being held hostage to broader reform," Atkinson said.

Stanford University fellow and Singularity University vice president Vivek Wadhwa champions STEM immigration.

"Who is behind the US tech boom right now? Immigrants," Wadhwa said. "Just as the US is reinventing itself with a whole range of technologies we are cutting off the circulation in Silicon Valley."

A Republican-backed House bill to expand visas for foreigners graduating from US universities with advanced degrees in science and technology was killed in the Senate by Democrats in the name of broader immigration reform.

"We need visas and a new-and-improved immigration arrangement for Silicon Valley and the high-tech sector, but the only way we will win reform is to fight for top-to-bottom overhaul of our immigration system," Democratic congressman Luis Gutierrez said in an editorial on technology news website TechCrunch.

Gutierrez is chairman of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and was responding to comments by Wadhwa, who testified in Washington this month.

Wadhwa claims the two issues are separate.

"Providing citizenship to people who jumped over the border is contentious; it's toxic," Wadhwa maintained.

"In the meantime you are holding hostage the legal, skilled immigrants -- scientists, engineers, doctors -- who the whole world wants."

Reforming the immigration process for the tech industries would mean ramping up the number of H-1B visas, for immigrants with special skills.

Wadhwa said the reform should also change the system which ties those with H-1B visas to specific companies, to allow them to seek better compensation or new jobs, or start their own firms.

"We are basically choking off immigrant entrepreneurship," Wadhwa said.

Microsoft has cited a lack of visas for engineers as the reason it opened a development studio in the Canadian city of Vancouver.

Atkinson said this moves production offshore, and "that is not good for this country."

A stand-alone reform bill by Republican Senator Orrin Hatch would raise the annual cap on H-1B visas to 115,000 from 65,000 and pump the money into STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education in the United States.

"There is no down side to supporting a good high-skill immigration bill," Atkinson said.

Now, analysts say Republicans and Democrats appear to be looking at a comprehensive measure that deals with high-skilled workers and the millions of undocumented aliens.

"Because our immigration system needs fixing top to bottom, fixing it all at once is the right way to approach things," Gutierrez said.

The strategy could succeed with the help of Silicon Valley companies that believe the only way to get the immigration changes dear to them is to back an overhaul of the system.

"This is critical to America's future," Yahoo! chief Marissa Mayer said in a statement released early this month after meeting with Obama to discuss immigration reform.

"I urge Congress and the president to work together in a bipartisan effort to reform policies on immigration, including meaningful reforms to hiring and retaining highly-skilled talent."

The fact that this is not an election year lends hope for support from legislators who might view immigration reform as politically risky.

"You are always playing the roulette wheel when you predict legislation in Washington," Atkinson said. "But, I think the odds aren't bad for something this year."

.


Related Links
Satellite-based Internet technologies






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





INTERNET SPACE
Zuckerberg owns nearly a third of Facebook: US regulators
San Francisco (AFP) Feb 13, 2013
Mark Zuckerberg's stake in Facebook has climbed to nearly 30 percent since the leading social network made its dismal stock market debut, according to a filing Wednesday with US regulators. Zuckerberg owns 632.65 million Facebook shares as compared with the slightly more than 500 million he held in September when the stock's sagging price prompted a promise he would not sell any for at least ... read more


INTERNET SPACE
Building a lunar base with 3D printing

US, Europe team up for moon fly-by

Russia to Launch Lunar Mission in 2015

US, Europe team up for moon fly-by

INTERNET SPACE
NASA's MAVEN Mission Completes Assembly

Rover Walkabout Continues at Cape York

Mars Rock Takes Unusual Form

In milestone, Mars rover collects first bedrock sample

INTERNET SPACE
Orion Lands Safely on Two of Three Parachutes in Test

Supersonic skydiver even faster than thought

Ahmadinejad says ready to be Iran's first spaceman

Iran's Bio-Capsule Comes Back from Space

INTERNET SPACE
Welcome Aboard Shenzhou 10

Reshuffle for Tiangong

China to launch 20 spacecrafts in 2013

Mr Xi in Space

INTERNET SPACE
Low-Gravity Flights Will Aid ISS Fluids and Combustion Experiments

Progress docks with ISS

NASA to Send Inflatable Pod to International Space Station

ISS to get inflatable module

INTERNET SPACE
Another Sea Launch Failure

ILS Concludes Yamal 402 Proton Launch Investigation

Ariane 5 delivers record payload off back-to-back launches this week

Eutelsat and Arianespace sign new multi-year multiple launch services agreement

INTERNET SPACE
Earth-like planets are right next door

Direct Infrared Image Of An Arm In Disk Demonstrates Transition To Planet Formation

Kepler Data Suggest Earth-size Planets May Be Next Door

Earth-like planets may be closer than thought: study

INTERNET SPACE
Researchers strain to improve electrical material and it's worth it

Explosive breakthrough in research on molecular recognition

Indra Develops The First High-Resolution Passive Radar System

ORNL scientists solve mercury mystery




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement