4/12/2016 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) email@example.com unless otherwise initialed) -
- Campaigners fear banks' opening hours cut could signal closure of branches, TheSun.co.uk
RBS has made a loss every year since its bailout in 2008. (photo caption)
LONDON, U.K. - RBS and NatWest plan to cut some branches’ opening times by more than two hours a day.
The move could be a big step towards shutting them, campaigners feared last night.
The banks are considering reducing hours of business by up to 30 per cent.
[So, from 37.5 hrs/wk to (5x5hrs15mins=) 26.25 hrs/wk, but better hourscuts than jobcuts, timesizing than downsizing.]
That could chop two hours and 15 minutes from a working day of seven hours and 30 minutes.
Staff in the South East were told of the plans, as well as 200 potential redundancies, last week.
It is not known how many branches will be hit or when the changes will kick in. RBS — NatWest’s parent bank — is 73 per cent taxpayer-owned. It has made a loss every year since its bailout in 2008.
A spokesman for both banks said they had to “remain viable and relevant”.
He added: “This is clearly difficult news for staff affected by these changes. We will do everything we can to support them, including seeking redeployment opportunities wherever possible.”
- People criticising 'don't even use the library' - Councillor defends hours cuts for Burnham and Highbridge libraries, thisisthewestcountry.co.uk
BURNHAM-ON-SEA, U.K. - The decision to cut opening of hours at both Burnham-on-Sea and Highbridge libraries has been defended this week by councillors.
The reductions come as part of a money-saving scheme that sees Burnham's library lose four hours per week and Highbridge library's hours cut by three and a half.
The services will open later and close earlier on specific days.
Somerset County Council have approved £7.8million worth of cuts, with £200,000 being drawn from library services.
The council however have stood by their decision.
A Somerset County Council spokesperson said: "We know how important library services are to people across Somerset, and our teams work hard to ensure they are vibrant places offering a variety of community activities and services.
"This is while having to respond to the stark reality of the on-going financial challenge for local authorities.
"The decision to reduce opening hours, even by a small amount, while keeping core opening times, means we can sustain our valued services, and most importantly, keep our libraries open.
"It enables us to deliver savings equivalent to the cost of running the county’s ten smallest libraries – no mean feat in the face of plummeting local authority funding.
"Any change in opening times will be published on the Somerset County Council website and advertised at individual libraries, so please speak to staff at your nearest library for details."
The council also confirmed that no job posts have been lost at either library because of the reduction in opening hours.
[Better hourscuts than jobcuts, timesizing than downsizing.]
Councillor Janet Keen has championed the decision to cut hours, as she said whenever she goes in, there 'is hardly anyone there.'
She said: "The proposed new opening hours are all I've got to go on at the moment, but I haven't got a problem with it if this is the case.
"If cost cutting has to happen, i am perfectly happy with it.
"I spend more time myself in Highbridge library and I've been in sometimes and there is nobody there- I'm the only one.
"Why spend tax payers' money if people don't really use it.
"It seems the people who shout and criticise the cuts in hours are people who don't even use the library.
"I have no quarrel with the cuts as more often than not, I'm the on;y person in there and that's a usual occurrence.
"I cannot sympathise with people who criticise because I doubt they go in either library."
Currently, Burnham and Highbridge Town Council have not discussed the issue.
4/10-11/2016 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed) -
- Reviewing Share Performance for : Lincoln Electric Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:LECO), 4/10 (4/09 late pickup) WallStreet.org
NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - In the last month, Lincoln Electric Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:LECO) shares have moved up. The stock has gained 1.79% over the past month. Focusing in on the past five trading days, shares have moved -0.73%. Since the start of the calendar year, the stock has performed 12.75%.
[Lincoln Electric is practicing timesizing on the corporate level, flexing its workweek and not its workforce.]
Analysts have recently provided opinions on company stock . According to First Call, brokerage firms have a 2.6 recommendation on a consensus basis. The recommendation uses 1 to 5 scale where a 1 or 2 indicates a Buy recommendation, 3 a Hold and 4-5 a Sell.
Lincoln Electric Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:LECO) has posted trailing 12 months earnings of $1.68 per share. The company has seen a change of -46.40% earnings per share this year. Analysts are predicting12.94% for the company next year. The firm is yielding 6.70% return on assets and 11.80% return on equity.
In taking a look at technical levels, shares are trading 3.49% away from the 50 day simple moving average and 4.19% away from the 200 day simple moving average. Based on a recent bid, the stock is trading -16.42% away from it’s 52- week high and 28.48% away from its 52 week low. After the recent increase, investors may also look to see if the stock has entered overbought territory and could possibly ripe for a pullback. Traditionally a stock is considered to be overbought when the Relative Strength Index moves above 70. As of writing, Lincoln Electric Holdings Inc.’s RSI stands at 53.03 . In looking at volatility levels, the shares saw weekly volatility of 2.35% and 2.20% over the past month.
- Brief: Carbo Ceramics says implementing furloughs, unpaid time off, and voluntary leaves, 4/11 Reuters.com
BENGALURU, India - Carbo Ceramics Inc
* Carbo Ceramics says implementing furloughs, unpaid time off, and voluntary leaves
[Better furloughs than firings, timesizing than downsizing.]
* Carbo Ceramics says neither CEO's employment contract nor any other employment agreement has been amended in connection with program
* Executive officers will voluntarily participate in one or more of programs
* Executive officers will see expected annualized reduction in monthly cash compensation in range of about 10 pct-30 pct
Source text for Eikon: (1.usa.gov/1SJ56sN ) Further company coverage: (Bengaluru Newsroom: +1 646 223 8780)
4/09/2016 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) email@example.com unless otherwise initialed) -
- French protest planned "reforms" [our quotes] to 35-hour work week, AP via CTVnews.ca
s attends a protest against proposed changes to France's work week and layoff practices, in Paris, Saturday, April 9, 2016. The board [His poster] reads: "Our democracy is an illusion". (photo caption)
PARIS, France -- French police clashed Saturday with hundreds of protesters in Paris, sending clouds of tear gas wafting across the city's Place de la Nation traffic circle.
The unrest was one of several rallies marred by violence amid nationwide peaceful protests against the labour reforms being championed by the country's Socialist government.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in Paris to protest the changes to the rules governing layoffs and [further weakening of] France's 35-hour work week. Officials hope the changes will inject some flexibility into the country's stagnant labour market. But many on the left fear it will do little more than weaken the nation's generous social protections.
Local media counted at least 200 demonstrations across France, including a march in Paris kicking off from Place de la Republique, the home of a round-the-clock Occupy Wall Street-style sit-in that materialized in reaction to the "reforms."
There were clashes elsewhere. French television broadcast scenes from the western city of Rennes, where police faced off with gas mask-wearing, shield-wielding rioters clad all in black.
Continued unrest over the labour plans is piling the pressure on France's ruling Socialists, who have already been forced to retreat over security plans to pull the citizenship of dual nationals convicted of terrorism.
- Stalling salaries of PGI nurses illegal, says NWA president, The Tribune News Service via tribuneindia.com
CHANDIGARH, India - The PGI move to stall salaries of newly-recruited nurses is unlawful, stated Nurses’ Welfare Association (NWA) president Lakhvinder Singh here today.
“The PGI [Post-Graduate Institute (of Medical Education & Research)] also issued an advisory note to nurses to revert to the previous working hours within 48 hours or face action,” he said while addressing a press conference. Lakhvinder refuted the allegation that newly-appointed nurses had changed their working hours without informing the authorities.
He said the PGI administration had been exploiting the newly-recruited nurses by making them work for more hours than the recommended 160 hours per month or 40 hours a week. “These nurses have been forced to work for 192 hours per month, which was a violation of rules,” he said.
Another member of the association added: “We have never refused to do the 8-hour shift. But if we are made to overwork, we would fall ill and would be unable to take care of our patients.”
During the press meet, NWA members also highlighted that the governing body of the PGI never passed, recommended or suggested any amendment to increase the working hours of nurses.
“Our appointment letters mention an 8-hour shift. It is wrongly being interpreted by the PGI administration,” said another nurse.
Nurses lamented that the PGI administration failed to negotiate in order to settle the issue and was compelling the nurses to go on strike by stopping their salaries and threatening disciplinary action against them.
4/08/2016 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed) -
- Waning hydroelectric power output leads to four-day workweek in Venezuela, by Michael Harris, Hydro Review via hydroworld.com
CARACAS, Venezuela - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has mandated a four-day workweek for all public sector employees while the South American country copes with severely reduced generation from its hydroelectric plants amidst drought.
Speaking in an address on state television yesterday, Maduro said Fridays will be considered a holiday for a 60-day period in an effort to avoid energy rationing. Maduro also recently extended the government's Easter holiday to a full week in an effort to reduce power consumption.
"With maximum collaboration from all Venezuelans, we must embrace a plan to overcome this difficult period of great risk," Maduro said. "We're going to have long weekends, so we need public and state workers to increase their output so it doesn't affect productivity."
Maduro has also started forcing large consumers of energy -- including malls, hotels, and other businesses -- to generate some of their own energy to avoid outages.
The plan is being panned by many Venezuelans, who say Maduro's plan will only further cripple what is already an ailing economy by limiting access to government services and forcing public sector consumers to install generators.
Hydropower accounts for 14.6 GW, or about 73%, of Venezuela's energy supply, according to World Energy Council data. Much of that energy comes from the 10.2-GW Guri hydro project, which ranks amongst the world's largest.
However, water levels have fallen so low behind the plant's massive dam that the remaining pockets of water in the reservoir are unable to reach the powerhouse. Minister of Energy Luis Motta said earlier this week that the country has begun dredging in an attempt to direct water to the turbines.
- 48-hour work weeks too much? Alberta teachers take part in workload survey, by Sarah Offin, GlobalNews.ca
EDMONTON, Alta., Canada - Sure, the summers holidays are appealing, but a new study reveals Alberta teachers are putting in some extra time during the busy school year.
The government, Alberta Teachers’ Association and school boards released a new study Friday which said, on average, teachers are working about 48 hours a week, including weekends, during the school year.
The survey polled 1,500 Alberta teachers from all grade levels, tracking hours spent on work before and after school, as well as on weekends.
Instruction takes up about 50 per cent of teachers’ time, while educational supports, such as planning administration, grading assignments, communicating with parents and extra-curricular activities were also included.
Workload issues were also identified. Teachers surveyed said there was an increase in the number of high-needs students in their classrooms and that parent and community expectations were also an added pressure.
“This is rich data that confirms the complexity of teachers’ practice,” Mark Ramsankar, president of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, said in a news release. “Clear concerns arise about how teachers are being distracted from their core work with students, and we will need to have discussions about conditions that impact the classroom experience.”
The survey was administered by R.A. Malatest and Associates. It cost the Alberta government roughly $500,000.
“This survey will help inform discussions with education partners as we move forward,” Education Minister David Eggen said. “This confirms what Albertans already know, that teachers are professionals who dedicate their time and energy to our future generations.”
Results exclude weeks such as Christmas and spring break, as well as the final week of June when school calendars are shortened.
4/07/2016 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) email@example.com unless otherwise initialed) -
- Short-time Working [worksharing, German: Kurzarbeit] Ends at K+S, by Dede Williams, CHEManager International via chemanager-online.com
HATTORF, Germany - Improved water flow in the river Werra will allow German minerals producer K+S to lift short-time working at the plant in the town of Werra, the company has announced. Production will also resume at the Hattorf, Germany, site this week.
The short-time working plan implemented on Apr. 1 affected some 650 employees at the Hattorf and Wintershall and around 300 employees at Unterbreizbach and Merkers.
[Better to have shorter worktime for all than smaller workforce and consumer base = Timesizing rather than downsizing.]
As it was also possible to empty the process wastewater basins, production water can now be discharged directly once again, so nothing prohibits operating potash production capacity at full run, K+S said. If conditions worsen, shorter hours may have to be “briefly reintroduced at any time.
Although the company is “happy that we’ve been able to end the unavoidable introduction of short-time working after just a few days,” plant manager Roland Keidel said receiving a wastewater injection permit of sufficient scope as soon as possible remains essential.
K+S has been in a protracted discourse with and among the German federal states over injection of saline wastewater into the soil to relieve the burden on the river.
- Guest commentary: Modern workplace needs modern protection for workers, by Annette Case, East Bay Times via MercuryNews.com
OAKLAND, Calif., USA - Silicon Valley is the new face of the gig economy, which relies heavily on temporary and independent workers. It stands in stark contrast to the (not so) New Deal of the 1930s that created the traditional 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. workday. As society embraces a new understanding of work, we require a new system that will benefit all working people and foster a healthy economy.
The New Deal shaped a standard of American work in which employees committed a 40-hour workweek to their employer in exchange for basic protections such as minimum wage and safe working conditions.
[And with a low enough maximum workweek, we would not have needed the inflexible and unskilled-excluding minimum wage. But even Annette Case misses the vital maximum aspect of the standard workweek, and the fact that it hasn't been adjusted for the wave after wave of worksaving technology since 1940.]
The New Deal also secured unemployment insurance benefits and Social Security for retirement. Beyond helping individuals weather the hazards of life and age, these commitments also safeguard the economy during downturns. This social contract balanced risk for employers and employees alike and created economic stability for families.
But today, work has fundamentally changed. The benefits and security that traditionally accompanied a 40-hour workweek are weaker and even more tenuous for those in the nonstandard labor force.
Nonstandard work that does not operate within a 40-hour workweek or with a single employer, is more common.
A recent study I co-authored, "Promoting Security in the 21st Century Labor Market," shows that across these diverse work arrangements, American workers share a growing sense of unpredictability and insecurity in their lives.
In California, while wealth amasses for the highest paid few, especially in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley, the concentration of low-paid jobs has steadily increased. The working class cannot rely on steady employment, consistent hours, wages or benefits.
Employers cut costs and sometimes avoid labor protections, by creating volatility in workers' lives through last-minute schedule changes, unpredictable hours of work, or classifying workers as independent contractors (as in the case of Uber drivers).
A volatile employment market puts workers' and their families' well-being and stability at risk.
The system hasn't caught up with these changes. For example, workers in nonstandard, often low-paid positions are much less likely to receive unemployment benefits.
In California, only one in three unemployed workers receives unemployment insurance benefits, while gig economy and other self-employed individuals are almost entirely excluded from benefits.
It's time we update our 1930s promise to a 21st century mobile economy. California is already leading the way in modernizing unemployment insurance by supporting part-time workers and those who need to leave a job for a good reason, such as caring for family.
We should explore new models, such as allowing the self-employed access to unemployment insurance as we do for paid family leave in California.
It is timely that Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, introduced a bill that would give California gig workers the right to collectively bargain for benefits and wages.
New forms of work are here to stay and will continue to evolve, and we must update our understanding of employment.
Modern labor protections and social insurance should be available to all people regardless of their work arrangement.
A 21st century social contract that can keep pace with economic changes and provide a measure of economic security for all people will encourage innovation and tap the full potential of people working today and tomorrow.
Annette Case is a senior consultant for the Oakland-based Insight Center of Community Economic Development.
4/06/2016 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed) -
- No daylight saving in Karnataka; here, govt work hours get changed because of heat - This practice started in the mid-70s, (4/07 timezone issue) TheNewsMinute.com
KARNATAKA, India - As the mercury continues to soar and drought-like conditions prevail in some parts of the state, the yearly practice in northern Karnataka districts of advancing the working hours in government offices commenced from April 1.
This practice of work hours from 8 am to 1.30 pm [5½ hrs] instead of 10 am to 5.30 pm [7½ hrs] for employees of the government, local government and State undertakings was introduced in the mid-1970s and was discontinued in some years.
The northern part of Karnataka witnesses excessive heat waves in the months of March-May in the region.
On April 1, this change of timings [six-day? 33-hr workweek instead of 45? (minus lunch?)] was applied in six northern districts of Bidar, Kalaburagi, Yadgir, Raichur, Koppal, Ballari of Kalaburgi division and Vijayapura and Bagalkot of the Belagavi division.
Refer to the chart below for the highest temperatures in March in the eight districts.
http://www.thenewsminute.com/article/no-daylight-saving-karnataka-here-govt-work-hours-get-changed-because-heat-41215 [& scan down]
- 575 nurses change working hours ‘without approval’, PGI stops their salaries, by Adil Akhzer, IndianExpress.com
Chandigarh Newsline had last week reported that PGI was mulling action against the nurses, who allegedly changed the duration of their shift times in the last week of March.
CHANDIGARH, India - The PGI administration [Post-Graduate Institute (of Medical Education & Research)] has issued orders stopping the salaries of 575 newly-joined nurses for allegedly changing their working hours without approval from the administration. The nurses, all on probation, have also been served advisory notes.
Chandigarh Newsline had last week reported that PGI was mulling action against the nurses, who allegedly changed the duration of their shift times in the last week of March.
Official sources told Chandigarh Newsline on Tuesday that the PGI administration issued its orders on Monday. “The decision has been taken after nurses on probation changed their working hours without any approval from the administration,” a senior PGI official said.
A PGI spokesperson also confirmed the administration order. “The salary of the nursing staff has been stopped from March 24,” the spokesperson said. “PGI is planning to take action under the relevant rules if these nurses do not revert to their duty as per the condition in their appointment letters.”
There are three shifts, each of eight-hour duration, for the nurses. The nurses, however, had recently begun demanding that their shifts be changed to morning (6 hours), evening (6 hours) and night (12 hours) instead of the morning (8 hours), evening (8 hours) and night (8 hours) shifts.
[Presumably not that much is happening at night, so on a six-day week? with overall pay-per-person unchanged, one third of the nurses get longer less-busy hours (72hr workweeks?) but two thirds of the nurses get shorter more-busy hours (36-hour workweeks?). Sounds like a reasonable plan, considering the night nurses could almost sleep through their shifts while the day nurses were working their butts off and neglecting their families.]
“If they (nurses) have signed appointment letters for eight-hour shifts, how can they now go against the administration and change the shift hours on their own,” said a PGI official. “The administration will deal with this issue very strictly”. The official termed the step taken by the nurses as “dangerous” which can lead to “termination of their services.”
[Oh it's the usual boring power and ego issues instead of willingness to experiment with bold new ideas that make employees happy. This is why India is still third-world.]
A PGI nurse too confirmed the development. “Yes, an advisory note has been issued in which we have been asked to report back to the eight-hour shifts in the next 48 hours,” she said. Defending the change of working hours, the nurse, also associated with the PGI Nursing Association, told Chandigarh Newsline the working hours are more than the recommended norms. “If PGI takes any disciplinary action against the nurses, we will immediately launch an agitation which will be supported by the All India Nurses Federation,” the nurse said.
4/05/2016 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) email@example.com unless otherwise initialed) -
- CAC students support 4-day work week, by Rodney Haas, (4/04 late pickup) Casa Grande Despatch via trivalleycentral.com
SIGNAL PEAK, Ariz., USA — As Central Arizona College continues to study the prospects of moving back to a five-day work week from the current four-day week, the students at the college have registered their opinion.
According to a survey conducted by the staff of The Cactus, the college’s student-run newspaper, 83 percent of students were in favor of keeping the four-day work week while 17 percent supported a change.
“It was overwhelming to keep it four days, and the reasons for keeping it were students have to work on Fridays, they had to work on the weekends, and it was another day for students to do homework without having to travel to class,” said Dominic Savana, one of the editors of the newspaper.
The survey was conducted in person mostly at the Signal Peak and Maricopa campuses, Savana said, between the February and March Governing Board meetings.
In February the board directed staff to conduct a study on the impact such a move would have on the college. Additional research is being done by the college, and a full report is expected at an upcoming board meeting.
The newspaper surveyed 373 students asking a simple yes or no question, “Should the college change to a five-day week?”
Of those respondents, 309 said “no” while 64 students said “yes.” Each student was asked to give a reason for their answer.
Of those who favored a change, some said they wanted to see facilities opened on Friday and Saturdays, especially the learning centers and libraries.
“I felt it was fair even though the five-day part of the vote was in the minority, that voice should be heard,” said Savana, who presented the paper’s findings at the March board meeting.
Originally the college went to a four-day work week during the summers as a cost-cutting measure, then adopted it year-around beginning in fall 2013.
Now-Acting President James Moore said in a 2014 interview with the Casa Grande Dispatch that a survey was conducted showing students wanting to come to campus fewer times and wanting a more condensed schedule of Monday-Wednesday or Tuesday-Thursday classes.
Because of this, Fridays tended to see less activity on campus.
“We were light on Fridays anyway,” Moore, who at the time was vice president of college affairs. said in 2014. “The students said, ‘When I have to come out here more times, it’s more difficult for me because it’s more child care and more gas.’”
Angela Askey, executive director of public relations and marketing for the college, said CAC has a lot of students who go to school full time while also maintaining full-time jobs.
Once the staff concludes its research, it will give its findings to the board, which will make a determination.
- To increase productivity and decrease work hours, Spain's PM set to end 'siesta', IndiaTvNews.com
MADRID, Spain - Spain has announced plans to cut the working day by two hours and bring an end to the siesta, in an attempt to bring the country into line with its European counterparts and increase productivity.
According to the media reports, the country's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he wanted the working day to end at 6pm, bringing an end to the traditional three-hour midday lunch and nap breaks to bring Spain into the 21st century.
Mariano Rajoy,leader of the coalition government, made an announcement in response to concerns about Spain’s slow economy and citizens’ quality of life.
He said "I will find a consensus to make sure the working day ends at 6pm."
Spanish workers currently start working at 10am, staying until 2pm when they have a siesta up to three hours before leaving at 8pm.
The siesta was founded historically for the country's agricultural workers so that they could avoid the unbearable midday heat, according to media reports.
Still despite having more working hours than their German counterparts, Spanish workers' average productivity is far much less than them.
A 2013 Spanish parliamentary commission said: "We need more flexible working hours, to cut our lunch breaks, to streamline business meetings by setting time limits for them, and to practise and demand punctuality."
"The cutting the siesta would raise the quality of life, raise the low birth rates and reduce marriage breakdowns," says the report. (blowout quote)
Mr Rajoy is also looking to turn the clocks back by one hour to bring Spain in line with Greenwich Mean Time.
Spain has been one hour ahead of Britain since General Franco adopted Berlin time.
The odd time arrangement dates back to 1942 when Hitler's Nazi regime backed support from former dictator General Franco. He showed his support by adopting German Time.
4/03-04/2016 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed) -
- Is a recession on the horizon? Furloughs, freight shipments at UP, BNSF give snapshot of economy, by Russell Hubbard, 4/04 Omaha World-Herald via omaha.com
OMAHA, Neb., USA - A low unemployment rate, a strong housing market, booming car sales: Some pictures of the U.S. economy are downright rosy.
But there could be a storm brewing — a rumbler that has some people mentioning another “r” word: recession.
It has been whispered about at the highest levels for some time now. In February, the Wall Street Journal’s survey of global economists showed that the gurus of the green stuff pegged the odds of recession in the next 12 months at 21 percent — twice that of a year ago and the highest since 2012.
A recession is defined as a drop in business, trade and industrial activity signaled by a decline in gross domestic product for two consecutive quarters. And no one likes what comes with that: job cuts, wage freezes, reduced working hours and frazzled household budgets as businesses cope with low demand by reducing expenses.
The textbook definition hasn’t happened yet. And most experts don’t think there is an immediate danger. But the whispers are growing louder — train-whistle loud if you listen to what is coming out of two economic bellwethers with heavy ties to Nebraska.
Many see the health of Union Pacific Railroad and BNSF Railway as indicative of the health of the overall economy, because they haul the raw materials that make the world go: food, fuel, fiber and construction materials. Low shipments from producers to processors to end users, the reasoning goes, mean low economic activity.
“Anyone can have opinions about the economy, but the freight data doesn’t lie,” said Matt Troy, a transportation industry analyst for Nomura Securities in New York City. “If transportation companies aren’t moving it, no one is selling it and no one is buying it.”
And freight shipments are way down — 6 percent lower so far in 2016 for all U.S. railroads than at the same point in 2015.
As for how the railroads are behaving — as opposed to what some economic experts are saying about the broader economy — they already are in deep drawback on jobs: More railroad workers are on furlough, or temporary layoff, than at any time since the 2007-09 Great Recession.
Omaha-based Union Pacific, employer of 8,000 Nebraskans and the second-largest U.S. railroad, has 4,100 people on furlough. That is more than at any time since 2008 and 2009.
Texas-based BNSF, owned by Omaha’s Berkshire Hathaway and the largest U.S. railroad, has 4,600 on furlough, also the most since the last recession. BNSF employs about 5,000 Nebraskans.
Neither railroad had any comment for this story. Both are still profitable, and each employs more than 40,000 people overall to run their vast rail networks in the western United States.
But expectations for the near future are muted. BNSF Chairman Matt Rose told an energy industry conference in Montana last week that the railroad has stopped hiring and is offering buyouts to older employees. He said the rough patch might last for years.
And it can’t be blamed strictly on lower shipments of oil — North American production trimmed due to plummeting prices — or on coal, which is way out of favor as an electric utility fuel. Shipments of both have fallen dramatically at both Union Pacific and BNSF.
Also down year-over-year at Union Pacific, according to recent regulatory filings, are grain (8 percent), stone, gravel and sand (20 percent) and metals products (14 percent). At BNSF, food shipments are down 3 percent, metals 17 percent, and scrap metal 13 percent.
“It is getting harder and harder to trivialize these trends,” said Joseph Schwieterman, a transportation industry professor at DePaul University. “This is becoming cause of concern. I can’t remember last when almost everything was down.”
Gross domestic product is the monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a specific time period. It’s the best snapshot of a nation’s economic might.
The United States, by one widely followed World Bank measure, has the largest economy, worth about $18 trillion a year. Nations in the middle of the Top 50, such as Argentina, have economies worth about $1 trillion. Smaller countries, such as Macedonia, have annual GDPs of $10 billion — less than half the annual operating revenue of giant U.S. companies such as Union Pacific and BNSF.
Size is one thing, however, and growth is another. Economists say the important thing is for an economy each year to produce more and better goods and services, and the personal incomes that can afford to purchase them. And U.S. growth lately hasn’t been snappy.
The last recession ended in June 2009, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. Since then — between 2010 and 2015 — real annual GDP growth hasn’t surpassed the 2.5 percent growth of 2010. It has now been 10 straight years that the nation’s GDP has not grown by the 3 percent a year that many economists say is indicative of a vibrant and expanding economy.
The thesis in favor of a coming recession is gaining traction among the world’s investors and money managers. Last week, economists at BNP Paribas, the France-based third-largest bank in the world, wrote in a report that the U.S. economy peaked at the end of 2014. Corporate-profit weakness, slow investment by private businesses and low consumer spending are worrying, BNP Paribas said.
Also last month, the oldest quarterly survey of macroeconomic forecasts in the United States, begun in 1968 and conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, showed muted expectations.
Based on surveys of 40 forecasters, the median expectation for U.S. GDP growth was trimmed for the first three quarters this year — with expectations for first-quarter growth sliced to 2 percent, from 2.5 percent. For the second quarter, the estimate has been pared to 2.5 percent, from 2.6 percent. In the third quarter, Philadelphia Fed forecasters expect 2.3 percent growth, from an earlier expectation of 2.9 percent.
Although none of that adds up to a recession, it does indicate a cooler outlook.
And that is a view shared by some area business owners.
“Things are a little sluggish,” said John Vyhlidal, one of the owners at Omaha metal fabricator Tri-V Tool & Manufacturing, which serves the ag, telecommunications and industrial markets, among others.
“We are still hiring and still running some overtime,” he said, “but not hiring as aggressively and not running as much overtime.”
[Better furloughs than firings, but furloughs are a form of worksharing that wait recovery from elsewhere = a halfway step to full Timesizing that changes the dynamics and starts creating recovery right where it is. If these big companies stepped the rest of the way to full Timesizing, they would quit chronic overtime and keep hiring. They would shift from unwieldy furloughs to general workweek reductions to reveal more overtasked and overtime employees, and with increased cross-training, task realignment, and increased and improved shift suturing, they would again...KEEP HIRING. CEOs used to realize that THEY hire and fund their own customers and customers' customers, and if they demur and wait for other CEOs to do it, the whole thing starts to shrink. That's what's been happening. With Timesizing, you quit waiting and start creating - your own little recovery. And CEOs are only worth their megabucks if they're creating, not waiting. Because a waiting CEO has a worse than neutral effect on the economy. A waiting CEO is shrinking the economy. The magic here is provided by increasing the workforce regardless of technology, because there have to be more buyers to purchase the increased output of all this productive technology, and if CEOs cut employees instead of cutting workweeks, there are fewer buyers, not more. And the additional money that coagulates in CEOs' pockets doesn't count because they don't use it for buying stuff, just for papering their walls with stock certificates and thumping their chests.]
Vyhlidal said the plant is running about 45 hours a week, down from the 52 hours when times were flush. Though he wouldn’t call current conditions recessionary, he said, “they are far from booming.”
[Now he and his fellow CEOs need to change this existing corporate workweek-DOWNsizing and WAITING-for-recovery strategy into a workforce(&consumerspending)-UPsizing and recovery-CREATING strategy.]
Contact the writer: 402-444-3197, email@example.com
- [And from the employee's point of view, workweek reduction can be blocked, regardless of same or increased productivity and creativity, by guilt and fear of name-calling by self-righteously workaholic colleagues -]
I cut my work hours by 17% for 2 weeks and the hardest part had nothing to do with staying productive, 4/03 BusinessInsider.com
NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - In March, I undertook an experiment of sorts in which I cut my work hours by 17% to see how it would affect my productivity and well-being.
Instead of working from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and reading a work-related book during lunch, I worked from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and took a half-hour lunch break.
It was incredibly difficult — so difficult that I returned to my normal work hours immediately after the experiment — but not for the reason you might think.
While I was able to get all my work done in a shorter day, I felt really guilty about working less than all my colleagues.
There were some days when I waited until 5:30 to leave, simply because it took half an hour to convince myself that it was okay to walk out the door while the rest of the staff was still hard at work.
My fear was that those who didn't know about my experiment (and maybe even those who did) would perceive me as a slacker — not as a paragon of efficiency who was able to complete all her work in shorter hours.
Perhaps if I'd had a "good" reason for leaving early or taking a lunch break, I'd have felt less guilty. Like if I'd had young kids to pick up from school.
Instead, I spent my lunch breaks and evenings off having some quality "me" time. I drank tea. I read Marie Claire and Vogue. I sat in the park and dog-watched. And absolutely none of that seemed as important or as essential as work.
Of course, the solution here might not be about trying to convince other people that personal time is important and efficiency is great. It might be more about persuading myself that, if I've got permission from my manager, it's okay to leave when I finish my work.
After all, no one made me feel guilty — I did that myself.
I imagine that if I'd continued working a shorter day, eventually I would have gotten over the guilt and shame. Right now though? I'm back to my old schedule, and honestly, it's a relief.
[But hey, if productivity's not the problem, maybe guilt can be countered by health and unique-legacy concerns.]
4/02/2016 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed) -
- City workers protest furloughs, Mississippi News Now via WDAM-TV via wdam.com
JACKSON, Miss., USA - Last year the city of Jackson was facing a $15 million dollar budget shortfall. That's when they decided to furlough city workers once [one day?] every four weeks. After six months of shorter checks and shorter work weeks, that's not resting well with some city workers.
Friday morning some of those city workers protested outside of city hall. The rally was organized by the Mississippi Alliance of State Employees and the Communication Workers of America.
The workers we talked to say losing one day a month in pay, has hampered their abilities to pay their bills and make ends meet.
"I can't go out, I have to cut back on groceries, essentials, cleaning supplies; cant afford to go to the doctor like I really need to," said public works employee Patricia Magee.
Perry Wallace, another public works employee said,
"It hurt me by my ends ain't meeting, I feel like my check be low," said Perry Wallace, another public works employee. "Every[?] Friday and I feel like we should work 5 day weeks like everybody else."
[Uh, you do work 5-day weeks three weeks out of four, don't you?]
This month will be especially hard because they are facing two days, without pay.
[How so? (unexplained) ]
The city of Jackson released this statement saying:
"As we've stated throughout the process of preparing this fiscal year's budget, the furlough decision was not an easy one to make. We had a choice between massive layoffs and a once-a-month furlough [and raising taxes on the rich?]. We value our city employees and we were determined to save jobs. When we presented the budget for the City Council's approval, the furlough was among a number of measures included to address declining revenue while preserving city jobs and services."
[Better furloughs than firings = timesizing not downsizing - but what massive universal cowardly prejudice against raising taxes on the rich. They have sooo much money that it's basically wasted in storage, while partially because of this massive cowardice, they have nothing solid to invest in anyway because by coagulating so much of the money supply, they're cannibalizing their own foundational markets. But here we have employees protesting for more work. Let's get back to the more usual and strategic situation of employees protesting for less work, but with an odd wrinkle = from extremely high hours down to very high hours -]
- Regine favors shortened work hours \- Actress\ Regine bats for shorter working hours on TV [set], by Nestor Cuartero, Tempo via entertainment.tempo.com.ph
MANILA, Philippines - The launch of a comedy, light drama series such as “Poor Señorita” wasn’t exactly the perfect setting to discuss issues like unfair labor practices in TV and movies, and all that.
Nevertheless, the subject came in handy as lead actress Regine Velasquez is of the opinion that taping hours for TV shows must be regulated.
The veteran singer-actress said that she supports a move by the Actors Guild of the Philippines wanting to cut down work hours of actors and crew members to 15 per taping day. She said the move is primarily for health reasons.
Not rocking the boat:
In pressing for some changes, Regine was careful to say that the actors need not rock the boat of management.
“We want to arrive at a comfortable agreement where the rights of both parties can be protected,” she stressed. She assured there are no unreasonable demands being put on the table by the actors, who are also careful not to offend management.
It is the quality of life of actors in general that they want to protect, she added. Regine was asked the question in light of a spate of deaths obtaining in the entertainment industry that presumably stemmed from overwork and fatigue due to extended hours on the set.
[Then this is not just about protecting quality of life - it's about protecting life itself.]
Back to Romcom:
Regine returns to the teleserye scene after five years of vacation, owing to her pregnancy. She cut short a series, “I Heart You Pare,” to focus on her pregnancy, her first.
She admits to feeling nervous this time. “I feel good, however, that I’m doing a comedy, a light series. I know pwede rin akong magdrama, but I also know it’s not my forte, so dito nalang ako sa alam kong kaya ko.”
In “Poor Señorita,” Regine is cast as a rich woman who suddenly becomes poor. Then she meets a gang of streetchildren who teach her the value of love.
The light romantic-comedy series airs nightly after “24 Oras” on GMA Telebabad. “Poor Señorita” also stars Snooky Serna, Mikael Daez, Sheena Halili, among others.
Nestor Cuartero [is] Entertainment Editor at Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation
4/01/2016 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) email@example.com unless otherwise initialed) -
- Voestalpine puts 800 employees in Kindberg on worksharing – A large part of the 1,050 employees at the oilfield-equipment manufacturer Voestalpine Tubulars is feeling the crisis in the oil industry, (3/31 late pickup) DiePresse.com
KINDBERG, Germany - Voestalpine Tubulars in Kindberg is putting around 800 of its 1,050 employees in Oberstyrian Kindberg on kurzarbeit (worksharing) because of the difficult market in the oil industry. This program at the specialist in seamless steel pipe production for oiltransport takes effect from April 1st and will last up to eight months, a source at the company stated in a report in the "Kleine Zeitung." For up to eight months, the employees will be registered on kurzarbeit to the extent of a maximum of 40 percent of their worktime, according to the Voestalpine firm.
The wage replacement rate is around 90 percent, so the employees can still make a living, it said. The decrementing of vacation days had run out. "We want to keep the workers in any case," said company spokesman Peter Felsbach. It is hoped that the business recovers, but when that may be, no one can say; "That would be reading tea leaves."
No investments in oil companies
There are no large investments in oil fields currently and also for continuing the business, there was already enough in stock. "But this stock will now get used up," according to Felsbach.
"Depending on increasing demand in the oilfield sector, we of course plan to switch back to normal working hours", according to Voestalpine Management board member, Franz Kainersdorfer. About 80 percent of Tubulars' sales are in seamless pipes. Regardless of the current market situation, Voestalpine still continues unchanged its 2015-2017 investment program in Kindberg, he said.
In fiscal year 2014-15, Voestalpine Tubulars did 574 million euros in business and employed 1200 workers. Voestalpine Tubulars GmbH & Co KG are joint ventures (50 percent each) of the Voestalpine Group and the American company NOV Grant Prideco, one of the world's largest producers of drilling products.
- French Labor Protests Shut Down Eiffel Tower, by Ryan Biek, (3/31 late pickup) Newsy.com
PARIS, France - Over 200 protests were expected Thursday against French labor reforms that would allow companies to add more hours to the workweek.
The Eiffel Tower was shut down Thursday as a national strike against labor reforms reportedly left the monument with too little staff.
The new labor proposals don't aim to completely undo the current 35-hour work week. However, the new legislation would let companies schedule workers up to 48 hours a week, and allow for 60-hour weeks in extreme circumstances.
Two hundred demonstrations were expected to occur across the country. The protests follow smaller union and student protests that erupted in violence last week.
France's labor laws are great for people in some careers, but many blue-collar workers are actually earning less because overtime pay is mandated after 35 hours, and their shifts have become limited.
[Well, longer hours are NOT the way to earn more because overall, they concentrate the natural market-demanded employment on fewer potential customers and that concentrates the buying power too, while depriving those who still have full-time jobs plus chronic overtime of opportunity to shop and while pauperizing evermore former customers who cut spending more and more because they just don't have the money. Is this really so hard to understand? It's not brain surgery! Just ask the brain surgeon across the street in Somerville, Peter Black!]
French leadership is also hoping reforms will help reverse record-level unemployment. As of mid-March, more than 3.5 million people in France were unemployed.
A recent poll found more than half of French citizens said reform is needed. But another poll found 58 percent of French citizens oppose the reforms currently offered.
These proposals are even more dramatic, considering the prime minister and president who are pushing them are a part of the Socialist party that originally mandated the 35-hour work week.
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For more details, see our laypersons' guide Timesizing, Not Downsizing on Amazon.com.
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