WELCOME TO FORKLIFTACTION.COM, MATERIALS HANDLING ONLINE.
This is issue #58 of your personal newsletter - May 23, 2002.
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The independent, global newsletter for industry professionals.
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IN THIS ISSUE:
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INSIDE FORKLIFTACTION.COM
1. LINDE: Q1 RESULTS DOWN
2. MITSUBISHI-CATERPILLAR WORKERS UNIONISE
3. SURVEY REVEALS SHODDY FORKLIFT PRACTICES
4. COMBILIFT WINS EXPORTER OF THE YEAR
5. BT ROLATRUC STRENGTHENS UK NETWORK
6. COPPERS ON THE HUNT FOR STOLEN COPPER


INSIDE FORKLIFTACTION.COM
EVENTS
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1. LINDE: Q1 RESULTS DOWN
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WEISBADEN, Germany -- Linde's materials handling segment, comprising Linde, Still and OM Pimespo, has kept first quarter 2002 materials handling sales at EUR702 million, just down from the first quarter of 2001, which was EUR707 million.

Received orders fell 3.6 percent to EUR756 million, compared to EUR784 million in 2001, but that was better than the materials handling market generally, which Linde said had dropped 11 percent.

New products launched at CeMAT 2002 would improve sales, Linde said, but the company's operating result fell EUR36 million to EUR17 million due to costs associated with introducing new products, an unfavourable sales structure, competitive pricing pressure and a deliberate 10 percent production reduction. Orders on hand had improved, and production facilities had operated healthily.

For full-year 2002, cost-cutting measures would offset the reduced operating result, but "sales will not quite achieve the high level of the previous year", Linde said in an interim financial report.

Linde said it had increased market share for orders received in Europe and Germany and improved its position in Asia, due in part to an economic recovery in the region and Linde's cooperation with Komatsu Forklift Ltd.

Website: www.linde.com


2. MITSUBISHI-CATERPILLAR WORKERS UNIONISE
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HOUSTON, USA -- Mitsubishi-Caterpillar Forklift America (MCFA) employees have joined the Sheet Metal Workers' International Association (SMWIA) after a narrow vote last week.

The decision was made after a 208-198 affirmative vote, said MCFA human resources director Mike Clark. It was the fourth attempt at unionising the plant. Commenting on the narrow result, Mr Clark told Forkliftaction.com News "had the wind been blowing the other way, we wouldn't be having this conversation".

Mr Clark said press reports that workers were upset about a lack of respect and low pay rates were "grossly inaccurate".

"The company strives to make the working and pay conditions at the plant favourable for employees, and unions are not a common thing here in Texas," he said.

"MCFA's production and maintenance employees receive automatic, seniority-based wage increases twice annually, on their service anniversary date and again six months later. The last such increase was on February 25, 2002, as a three percent upward adjustment of all production and maintenance employees' wages."

Under US labour laws, MCFA is now obliged to bargain conditions on good faith with the union to reach an agreement. Should an agreement not be reached within one year, the workers who voted for unionisation can vote again to resume direct negotiations with their employer.

"Despite the union's slim victory, MCFA recognises and accepts its responsibility to bargain in good faith with the union," Mr Clark said. "MCFA and its employees are committed to continue working as a team to provide our dealers and customers with the high level of service they deserve."

MCFA manufactures and distributes Mitsubishi and Caterpillar forklifts and parts through more than 150 dealers in the USA, Canada and Latin America.

Website: www.mcfa.com


3. SURVEY REVEALS SHODDY FORKLIFT PRACTICES
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LBF:\data\NEWBELFAST, Northern Ireland -- One person is killed in Northern Ireland every nine months in a forklift accident, a new survey has revealed.

According to a report prepared by Northern Ireland's district councils, four in every five businesses using forklifts are disregarding safety procedures.

Environmental health officers visited 299 premises and inspected 428 forklift trucks, said a Belfast Telegraph report. The businesses included hardware stores, supermarkets and warehouses which used forklifts regularly.

But 80 percent of the firms inspected were incorrectly operating the machines. Among the breaches the officers found were:
* Pillion passengers riding on fork tines;
* Forklifts operating in public areas, such as showrooms;
* Forklifts operating with poor attention to public safety and with no pedestrian areas, warning devices or signs; and
* Keys left in unattended forklifts.

Belfast City Council environmental health manager Suzanne Wylie said many accidents were due to bad practices, poor premises design and layout, and insufficient maintenance and operator training.

"To minimise the potential for accidents, only trained, authorised drivers should use forklifts and operations should be well planned and supervised, particularly to make sure pedestrians are not at risk," she said.


4. COMBILIFT WINS EXPORTER OF THE YEAR
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CLONTIBRET, Ireland -- Combilift is Ireland's DHL Exporter of the Year for 2001.

Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment state minister Noel Treacy presented the company with a trophy, more than EUR12,500 in international shipments, and funds towards Combilift's overseas marketing programme.

"Combilift (is) to be congratulated on (its) commitment to innovation and persistence in pursuing opportunities in the global competitive marketplace," Mr Treacy said.

The DHL Export Awards recognise Irish companies involved in export and develop public awareness of the role small business plays in Ireland's economy.

Combilift's all-directional forklift is exported to 29 countries, the company said in a statement. Combilift was launched with three staff in 1998, and now occupies an 18,000 square-metre plant and employs more than 60 people.

Turnover had increased 98 percent last year, the company said.

Website: www.combilift.com


5. BT ROLATRUC STRENGTHENS UK NETWORK
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SLOUGH, United Kingdom -- BT Rolatruc will strengthen its support network through measures which include establishing a new fleet management centre in the Midlands to house BT's rental fleet and provide used equipment for UK customers, and creating customer business centres in Warrington and Leicester.

The fleet management centre, north of Leicester, would house the company's used equipment range and provide storage for BT's short-term rental fleet, the company said. The centre would be equipped to maintain rental equipment, prepare machines for sale and conduct equipment overhauls for customers.

During the past five years, BT Rolatruc has made significant investments in its Warrington and Leicester centres, increasing capacity for new equipment to be prepared for sale in Warrington and including a parts storage area and a rental workshop in Leicester.

BT Rolatruc would continue to operate from networked regional offices, its administration centre in Nottingham, and headquarters in Slough.

Website: www.bt-rolatruc.com


6. COPPERS ON THE HUNT FOR STOLEN COPPER
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FOREST OF DEAN, United Kingdom -- Thieves have used a forklift to steal GBP2000 of copper from a Forest of Dean company.

Three men in a white van drove into the yard of Federal Mogul Camshaft in Tutnalls, Lydney, and used a nearby forklift to load two metal drums, weighing 500 kilograms each, into the van and drove off.

Kate Nelmes, spokeswoman for Forest of Dean police, told the Western Daily Press "we are asking people in the copper or scrap metal trade to be on the lookout for this stolen material".


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