News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Thursday/Friday 1st & 2nd October 2015

Virgin Media/UPC will launch Irish mobile service on October 5, 2015

   

Virgin Media, formerly UPC, will launch its new Virgin Mobile brand in Ireland on October 5.

The service is to offer unlimited data (with a fair usage cap of 30GB), voice and texts for €25 a month. Alternatively, customers can go for a limited data bundle with 1GB data and 250 minutes of voice and 250 texts for €15 a month.

Existing Virgin Media or UPC customers will be able to avail of either offer for free for the first three months.

The new service will launch with 3G data services, but plans to upgrade to 4G in the first half of 2016. New Virgin Mobile numbers will utilise the 089 prefix.

Virgin Media will sell the new mobile services online at http://www.virginmedia.ie and through existing Virgin Media/UPC stores in Dublin, Limerick, and Cork.

Interestingly, the service will not launch with a series of handsets. Virgin Mobile is currently putting together a selection of handsets that will be available next year.

Speaking at the launch Virgin Group Founder Richard Branson said: “This is a fantastic day for me and everyone at Virgin Media.”

“I’m thrilled to bring our brand to homes and businesses all over Ireland. Virgin Media is going to shake up the market with an unbeatable service – we have a great foundation to build on and there are no limits to what we want to achieve for our customers.”

20% of shop scales gave false readings in 2014

   

More than one in five weighing scales in shops gave false readings last year, while more than a third of taxi meters also failed inspection.

According to the annual report of the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI), 31% of 2,130 vehicle taxi meters tested failed inspections, while 21% of weighing scales in shops tested by NSAI inspectors failed.

Despite this, however, last year saw a sharp increase in the compliance rates among petrol stations. Of the 5,941 petrol/diesel pumps tested by NSAI inspectors to ensure they were calibrated correctly, just 393 failed (7%). Some of the reasons for failures include the petrol/diesel pumps or taximeters had recently been repaired, altered or adjusted, or the seals were broken or damaged.

NSAI inspectors issued warnings to the businesses affected, specifying that the issue be rectified within a certain time frame. The NSAI also investigated 128 consumer complaints of inaccurate weights and measurements.

Throughout 2014, NSAI inspectors conducted 5,659 site visits to businesses, testing 15,032 instruments, from alcohol or liquor dispensers to scales for retail and points of sale.

Head of NSAI’s legal metrology division Paul Turner said not all petrol pumps were under-dispensing petrol to unsuspecting motorists.

“NSAI’s inspectors not only protect consumers, they also look out for traders as well. We had instances where petrol pumps can over-dispense. Ensuring petrol pump instruments are tested on an annual basis, not only increases consumer confidence, but also can potentially save business owners thousands of euro in lost petrol and diesel,” he said. A total of 545 construction industry-related audits were conducted in areas such as external wall insulation systems, window energy ratings, product certifications, air tightness and cavity bead insulation. All 545 were found to be compliant.

Over 7,500 automotive approvals were granted for vehicles, components and systems, focusing on issues such as emissions, engine power, tyres and seat belts.

The NSAI is the Irish approval authority for an EU scheme where a manufacturer can obtain certification for a vehicle type in one EU country and market it EU-wide without further tests.

Pay increase for workers in security and the contract cleaning sectors

 

Ged Nash signs order to boost minimum hourly wage for some 50,000 employees

Minister for Business and Employment, Ged Nash has brought in regulations that will see an hourly wage increase for those working in contract cleaning and security. Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

About 50,000 workers in the security and contract cleaning sectors are to receive pay increases under new employment regulation orders.

Under the new measures signed on Thursday by Minister for Business and Employment Ged Nash, pay for 30,000 contract cleaning personnel will rise to €9.75 per hour.

Pay for 20,000 security industry staff will increase from €10.01 to €10.75 per hour.

Mr Nash urged employers in the retail, accommodation and hospitality sectors, who have so far not engaged in revised wage-setting mechanisms – known as joint labour committees – in their sectors, to do so.

He said as the economy continued to improve these employers could face a squeeze in their labour forces.

Mr Nash made the announcement of the new employment order covering the security and contract cleaning sectors at the launch of the new Workplace Rations Commission.

This forms the centrepiece of major new reforms to the State’s industrial relations machinery which came into effect on Thursday.

Ged Nash signs order to boost minimum hourly wage for some 50,000 employees

   

Minister for Business and Employment, Ged Nash has brought in regulations that will see an hourly wage increase for those working in contract cleaning and security. 

About 50,000 workers in the security and contract cleaning sectors are to receive pay increases under new employment regulation orders.

Under the new measures signed on Thursday by Minister for Business and Employment Ged Nash, pay for 30,000 contract cleaning personnel will rise to €9.75 per hour.

Pay for 20,000 security industry staff will increase from €10.01 to €10.75 per hour.

Mr Nash urged employers in the retail, accommodation and hospitality sectors, who have so far not engaged in revised wage-setting mechanisms – known as joint labour committees – in their sectors, to do so.

He said as the economy continued to improve these employers could face a squeeze in their labour forces.

Mr Nash made the announcement of the new employment order covering the security and contract cleaning sectors at the launch of the new Workplace Rations Commission.

of major new reforms to the State’s industrial relations machinery which came into effect on Thursday.

The Irish among the most tolerant people in Europe

   

Irish people are among the most tolerant people in Europe, but despite this there has been an increase in the number of people saying they have been discriminated against in the past year.

Gender, disability, gay or transgender, different race or religion — it is all the same to the vast majority of Irish people even when it comes to being the Taoiseach, work colleagues or someone having a relationship with a son or daughter.

The only issue where the Irish discriminate more than any other nation is when it comes to where a person lives. A third believe that your address can militate against you getting a job — three times more than the EU average.

However, a quarter of those asked in Ireland said they had experienced discrimination in the previous 12 months — up a full 16 points since the last survey in 2012. This is the highest increase in the EU.

The survey coincides with a report from the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency which warns that xenophobia is on the rise in Europe, and especially against Jews and Muslims.

Their report says it is difficult to know the true extent of anti-Semitism because many countries do not collect figures on this crime while they believe it is under-reported in other countries. Three quarters of those asked said they believed anti-Semitism had increased online in the past five years.

Gardaí registered two incidents in 2013, the latest date for figures, the highest was 13 in 2010.

A conference in Brussels yesterday was told that half of Europeans believe that discrimination based on religion or belief is widespread — up from 39% three years ago. This comes at a time when migrants, mainly Syrian Muslims are seeking asylum in the EU.

Muslims suffer from the lowest levels of social acceptance among religious groups with just two thirds of those questioned across the EU saying they would be fully comfortable having a Muslim work colleague; and less than a half being alright with one of their adult children having a relationship with a Muslim.

While Irish people were the most tolerant when it came to the religion of the person “elected to the highest political office” in the country, Muslims were the most unpopular with 84% saying they would not be comfortable with a Muslim Taoiseach. This compared to 96% being happy with a Christian; 92% with an atheist or Buddhist; and 91% with a Jew.

The survey overall asked people how comfortable they would be with having a woman; a person with a different ethnic or religious background; a person with a disability; or a gay person being elected Taoiseach, working with them, being in a relationship with their son or daughter.

In all of these areas the Irish were either the most tolerant or among the top three or four nationalities, but even so, 20% did not believe gay, lesbian and bisexual people should have the same rights as heterosexuals. The Irish were the third most comfortable having a son or daughter in a same- sex relationship at 74%; and 58% were not fazed by a relationship with a transgender person.

The Irish are a little more shy with people kissing or holding hands in public — 72% approved, which is the EU average; while having homosexuals being demonstrative is at 56% — a higher tolerance than the average.

Almost 80,000 Volkswagen cars in Ireland have the heating software

       

Almost 80,000 Volkswagen cars here have been fitted with the emissions-cheating software

After days of speculation, Volkswagen Ireland confirmed that 79,348 cars on Irish roads are affected.

The specific numbers of vehicles in Ireland affected per brand are: Volkswagen passenger cars (34,387), Audi (16,485), Seat (4,365), ?Skoda (16,004) and Volkswagen commercial vehicles (8,107).

These are vehicles sold through the Volkswagen authorised dealer network in Ireland. However, the company said the number of affected used vehicles which have been imported “is still under clarification”. This number could be up to an additional 30,000 cars, the company said.

In a statement, the company said it would be contacting customers with details of how to rectify the problem.

“Affected customers will be contacted, with details of a process to get their vehicles corrected in the near future. In the meantime, all vehicles are technically safe and roadworthy.

“Under the action plan, the Volkswagen Group brands whose vehicles are affected will present the technical solutions and measures to relevant responsible authorities in October. Customers with these vehicles will be kept informed over the coming weeks and months,” said the statement. The company also said an online service will be provided for concerned Volkswagen customers, so they can check if their cars have been fitted with the software.

“In the coming days, the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) details of affected vehicles will be released centrally from brands to retailers. In addition, an international online self-serve process for customers to check if their vehicle is affected based on VIN will be set up.”

“In addition for Ireland, a website for all brands based on registration number is planned to cover both domestic sales and privately imported used vehicles from other markets, such as the UK,” said the statement.

Monkeys share similar visual illusions as us humans

A new study has revealed that monkeys and humans see visual illusions in a similar way.

   

A new study has revealed that monkeys and humans see visual illusions in a similar way.

According to researchers at Georgia State University, humans and monkeys perceive and misperceive the world similarly, which reflects resemblances in these species’ perceptual systems and their interpretation of their physical worlds.

The research team conducted two computer experiments with human adults and monkeys

In the first experiment, monkeys and humans completed a computer task that required them to choose the larger of two central dots that were sometimes surrounded by the Delboeuf rings.

Humans perceived the Delboeuf illusion, overestimating central dots when small rings surrounded them and underestimating the size of central dots when large rings surrounded them. Monkeys, on the other hand, did not show evidence of the illusion.

In the second experiment, monkeys and humans played a computer game in which they were required to classify a central dot as small or large.

The researchers found evidence of the Delboeuf illusion in all three species. Capuchin monkeys and rhesus monkeys, like humans, classified dots presented inside large rings as small more often than the same-sized dots presented inside small rings.

This showed that the context created by the ring, which was supposed to be ignored, generated a visual illusion. Monkeys and humans alike misperceived dot size depending on outer ring size.

Researcher Audrey Parrish said that the results showed that humans and monkeys share similarities in their perceptual systems, adding that they perceived and misperceive some types of physical stimuli in similar ways.

Parrish concluded that monkeys were an appropriate model for studying human perception and that contextual cues affect perception in ways that are shared across species.

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