Timesizing® Associates - Homepage

Timesizing News in Apr. 1-15, 2001
[Commentary] ©2001 Phil Hyde, The Timesizing Wire, Box 622, Cambridge MA 02140 USA 617-623-8080


4/13/2001  glimmers of timesizing - interest spreads in Europe -

  1. [First, here's where it's spreading from -]
    Jospin seeks second wind as French strikes widen, Reuters 15:31 04-12-01 via AOLNews.
    Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, aiming to revive his left-wing government's flagging fortunes, announced new measures to help French workers on Thursday as strikes and protests reflected a souring public mood. Jospin told a government strategy session he would boost low wages, improve job searches for the unemployed, expand credits for firms shortening the workweek and consider penalties for profitable companies that sack workers....
    [The whole problem with left-wingers is that they don't do the minimum. They do the maximum. They have no sense of strategy. No sense of how little they have to do to allow the market to take over and take care of all the details. All they have to do is define the playing field - as a workweek that will allow everyone to earn a living and support themselves so taxpayers don't have to. A workweek that will enable every citizen to have a good job, so government doesn't have to get into makework and taxes. And training, preferably on-the-job, so employers quit whining about "shortage of qualified applicants" and roll up their sleeves and do the training only they can do most efficiently, because only they know exactly what they want, and when and where and how much and how long they want it. All Jospin has to do is get that workweek down, tie-in overtime-targeted training as it comes down, and let market forces take care of all the rest - the market will drive up wages without government micromanagement, facilitate job searches by multiplying job openings, and provide so many opportunities that bosses who love layoffs even when they're in profit find themselves with no employees and no company - because employees have so many choices. Good employers, however, find their markets burgeoning because the wealth of the nation is getting centrifuged to people who turn it over instead of sitting on it and scooping more regardless of how much they already have. But the essential lesson of the great experiment in France is not lost on employees in other European countries -]

  2. German air controllers threaten warning strikes, Reuters 07:46 04-12-01 via AOLNews.
    FRANKFURT...- Germany's air traffic controllers threatened on Thursday to launch warning strikes after the Easter holidays and called for more favourable labour conditions, including shorter working hours....

  3. Blair praises teachers but offers nothing on hours, Reuters 05:54 04-12-01 via AOLNews.
    LONDON - ...A home-rule parliament in Scotland has pledged to move teachers to a 35-hour working week within five years.... School teachers argue that they put in many hours of work outside the classroom that are not reflected in their contracts or pay..\..
    English and Welsh teachers want similar treatment.... The normally moderate Association of Teachers and Lecturers voted strongly this week for a cut in their working hours and are threatening industrial action, although not a full strike, unless the government takes [them] seriously. The more hardline National Union of Teachers meets in Cardiff over the weekend and is pursuing the same goal....
    Prime Minister Tony Blair took time out from fighting foot-and-mouth on Thursday to praise Britain's teachers but made no move to address their demands for a shorter working week....

4/11/2001  glimmers of timesizing -
  1. ANTEC to implement force reduction program, PRNewswire 04/10/2001 08:45 EDT via AOLNews via RadioTony.
    DULUTH, Ga. - ..."We are taking these actions today in order to better match our ongoing operating expense levels with the realities of the market conditions that our Company and our industry in general are experiencing," said Robert Stanzione, ANTEC President & CEO [yesterday]. "We have already implemented a number of short term cost saving actions such as reductions in conference and advertising expense, reduced second shift labor and the implementation of four day work weeks in certain factory locations. However, we must now undertake these additional force reductions in order to address our current business conditions and to position the Company for a return to profitable growth. Force reductions are always very diffciult; however, we will provide transition benefits for those employees that are impacted by this action," concluded Stanzione....
    *ANTEC Corporation [Nasdaq: ANTC] headquartered in Duluth, Ga..\.. is an international communications technology company serving the broadband information transport industries. ANTEC specializes in the manufacturing and distribution of products for hybrid fiber-coax broadband networks, as well as the design and engineering of these networks....
    [Here's another case where timesizing is seen as the short term, mild solution whereas downsizing (of 400 - see our downsizing page 3/11/2001) is seen as the longer term, strong solution. Part of this is due to the current inflexibility of the workforce, who have not fully faced corporate downturn and the question of "slightly less money but job survival and more free time, OR no job and no money after unemployment runs out, plus further downward pressure on the wages of those still employed 'full' time." In the most successful economies of the future, this will all change. Finally realizing their long-term disempowerment, the workforce will smarten up and clearly decide in favor of small hours and pay cuts (paycuts being only temporary because of preserved labor shortage) for everyone instead of complete job cuts for a wage-depressing few. Timesizing will be seen as the short and long term solution, and downsizing will be viewed only as a final measure in cases of corporate extremis, nay, 'defunctis' - that is, only immediately prior to corporate liquidation.]

  2. US April consumer confidence unchanged, Bloomberg poll shows, Bloomberg Apr2/10/2001 0:01 ET via AOLNews.
    ...Only 26% said they were very concerned or somewhat concerned they may lose their jobs or have their hours cut in the next year..\..
    [So as the downturn wears on, hours cuts are becoming more familiar to consumers as the alternative to job cuts - "timesizing, not downsizing."]
    The latest Bloomberg index was based on a survey of 1,205 adults, who were asked about their personal finances, their views on the economy and their purchasing plans. The poll was taken April 3-8.... Men were more confident than women....
    [Yeah, guys' egos have always suckered them more than gals'.]

4/10/2001  glimmers of timesizing -
4/07/2001  glimmers of timesizing -
  1. Analysis - Layoff outcry masks better French business climate, by Noah Barkin, Reuters 09:35 04-06-01 via AOLNews.
    PARIS...- A fierce public and political backlash to corporate layoffs in France is reinforcing stereotypes of a country more concerned with preserving the social status quo than the well-being of its companies.
    [Ah, how about "with preserving the well-being of its employees and markets than the super-astronomical surplus well-being of its employers and coupon clippers"?!]
    But cliches can be deceiving. Executives that do business in France and investors that put their money in the country say the business climate here has improved dramatically in recent years. ...They say the state is taking a more laissez-faire approach to industry and companies are freer than ever before to run their activities as they see fit.
    [Hey, when government controls a minimum in the middle, it can decontrol a maximum everywhere else. And France, alone in the world, has begun serious enforcement of sharing the vanishing work, by shortening its workweek from 39 to 35 hours. That defines "controlling a minimum in the middle" for the next century or two. Because, when everybody supports themselves, government and taxpayers don't have to, so government programs, bureaucracy and taxes can be slashed.]
    ...Fund managers say they are investing more in France than they ever have and statistics show that foreign direct investment is also on the rise....
    FRANCE LURES INVESTORS
    In recent years, French firms have emerged as global leaders, driven by a new breed of French manager....
    [The competition for good workers and the need to constantly train in a low unemployment, worksharing economy provides good discipline for management. Never mind the "discipline of the workforce." The workforce has been in such global surplus for the last generation, market forces have disciplined it practically into wimphood. And throughout the world, management has been spoiled by this and has become worse and worse in real management skills, preferring to buy market share by acquisition than building it the old-fashioned way, and prefering to hype stock price by downsizing rather than by building sales in the old-fashioned way. The workforce doesn't need discipline today - top executives do! And the shorter workweek has been providing that discipline for French managers. If France graduates beyond the most primitive form of Timesizing and adds continuous overtime-targeted training and constant workweek fluctuation against unemployment and underemployment, French managers will be so damn good they'll kick our butts. Re investment in France, see also 2/17/2001 #3.]
    Even companies in which the French state owns a stake - France Telecom, carmaker Renault and majority-airbus owner EADS - have emerged as global leaders in their sectors and attracted US and British investors.... The French economy has grown faster than that of traditional European powerhouse Germany since 1997..\..
    [The French started a program of taxbreaks (the Robien Law, sponsored by the right) to incentivate voluntary corporate workweek reduction the previous August. By January 1997, 105 companies were taking part and using the program to create jobs or avoid layoffs. What a "coincidence" that France started kicking Germany's big butt that same year.]
    According to government figures, foreign direct investment in France nearly doubled to $22.58B...between 1994 and 1998... Ironically, economists say, part of the reason for this impressive showing is the quiet progress France has made in reforming its labour market..\..
    MORE JOB CUTS EXPECTED
    [but] will be greeted with more harsh rhetoric from the government. But that rhetoric is unlikely to dissuade investors from continuing to pour their money into the country.
    [But France desperately needs to move on to Phase 2 of Timesizing and bust open its skills bottleneck. And it may soon need to adjust the workweek further downward - or implement automatic flexibility of the workweek against unemployment and under-employment.]
    "All this noise does not put me off investing in French companies," said the head of European equities at another London-based fund management group. "Our view is that most French companies are well run and know the environment in which they are operating. You don't have the flexibility that you have in the US and UK [yeah, flexibility to destroy your markets with downsizing] but ultimately, you can get things done.
    [without killing your own consumer base.]

  2. SNCF cancels [two thirds of] trains after unions reject renewed offer, Bloomberg Apr/06/2001 14:01 ET via AOLNews.
    French rail workers staged a ninth day of sttrikes after [three small] unions rejected the state railway's offer to delay a...split...into autonomous units to...reduce the railway's 6.9B euros of debt \and\ make cash available for investment \spending\ an extra 122m euros ($110m) on pay [increases of 1.2% this year], benefits and extra [1,000] staff....
    The railway has a payroll of 175,000, making it France's fifth-biggest employer. It already agreed to take on 25,000 new workers this year, partly under the 35-hour working week law.... SNCF has estimated it earned its first profit in 15 years last year after a strengthening economy boosted revenue on passenger services..\..
    "The vast majority of our employees are very unhappy that just 500 of their colleagues are bringing the entire system to its knees," said an SNCF spokeswoman [Societe Nationale des Chemins de fer Francais]. The two largest rail unions..\..The Confederation Generale du Travail and Confederation Francaise Democratique du Travail...accepted SNCF's proposals...and didn't call on [their] members to strike today, said CFDT national representative Denis Andlauer..\.. The unions which called on members to continue their action were SUD-Rail, Force Ouvriere and the drivers' union Syndicat Autonome des Conducteurs. They are demanding SNCF's reorganization be scrapped entirely....

  3. French 2000 private-industry pay gains outstrip public workers, Bloomberg Apr/06/2001 7:06 ET via AOLNews.
    PARIS - ...Salary growth in private industry, excluding overtime and bonuses, accelerated to an average 1.7% last year, in line with inflation, compared to a 1.6% gain a year earlier, national statistics office INSEE said. By contrast, civil servant pay slowed to 1.2%, from 1.4% in 1999....
    Fewer Hours
    The reduction in the statutory workweek to 35 from 39 hours has helped give France [Europe's second-largest economy] one of the lowest wage inflation rates in Europe. The [INSEE] report showed that overall inflation-adjusted or real wages declined 0.3% in France in 4Q00 from the same period a year earlier, while they increased 0.1% in Germany, Europe's largest economy. French companies and employee representatives have negotiated reduced work times on the understanding that there would be limited wage increases....
    [This temporary inflation-dampening effect of the transition will obviously vanish as the transition recedes into the past, so France needs another permanent inflation control. And it can't go back to the barbaric growth-bashing one we use via "St. Greenspan" - higher interest rates to discourage business borrowing&hiring and foster workforce-scaring unemployment. So what should it do? We recommend harnessing the nation's volunteer and charitable instincts into the job market by shifting the enforcement of the shorter workweek from carrot (tax breaks) to stick (overtime taxes) - with a complete exemption for companies and individuals that reinvest their overtime profit or earnings in overtime-targeted hiring and if necessary, training. This has the effect of balancing the usually overwhelming inflationary incentive (the quantitative money motive) in an economy with now-harnessed deflationary incentive (qualitative job satisfaction). The corporate overtime tax with its transformational exemption is Phase 2 of the Timesizing program, and the individual overwork tax (overwork is overtime from all sources) with its apotheosizing exemption is Phase 3. Wages are already jumping - probably in now-used-to-shorter-hours large firms -]
    Today's report also showed that hourly wages in the French private sector...in the three months ended in December...advanced 5% from a year earlier..\..0.6% [in the quarter]. INSEE attributed 0.2 percentage point[s] of the quarterly gain to the shorter workweek..\..
    Companies with more than 20 employees had to implement the law in February last year, while smaller businesses have until January 2002 to comply....

4/06/2001  glimmers of timesizing -
  1. Jobless claims highest since 1998, by Jeannine Aversa, AP-NY-04-05-01 1714EDT via AOLNews.
    ...The Labor Dept. reported Thursday that initial applications for jobless benefits climbed by 18,000 to a seasonally adjusted 383,000 for the workweek ending March 31. That was the highest level since July 4, 1998, when claims stood at 384,000.... "Our research shows that sustained jobless claims around 375,000 is consistent with zero job growth," said Maury Harris, chief economist at UBS Warburg. Initial claims have been at or above the 375,000 mark for the last five weeks.
    During the last three months of 2000, the economy slowed to an annual rate of just 1%, the weakest performance in more than five years.... To cope with the slowdown, companies - particularly manufacturers, which have been hardest hit by the slowdown - have cut production, trimmed payrolls and reduced workers' hours and overtime....

  2. [Here's a company that is trimming payroll without trimming jobs. The question is, because the "full-time" hours clearly aren't needed, are they also trimming hours in conjunction with trimming pay? First, the brief NYT version, then additional details from AP - but not the answer.]
    Agilent cuts worker pay, Bloomberg via NYT, C4.
    Agilent Technologies, a maker of test and measurement equipment for electronics, said it was cutting workers' salaries by 10% because of "dramatic slowing in customer demand." Pay reductions began April 1 for 200 senior managers and will begin May 1 for the rest of the work force. The pay cuts will last until the third quarter, ending July 31, the company said.
    [Of course, prolonged "slowing in customer demand" may force them to continue past July 31. Here are added details from the AP version -]
    Agilent Technologies cutting pay, by Brian Bergstein, AP-NY-04-05-01 1919EDT via AOLNews.
    ...Agilent Technologies Inc. lowered its second-quarter outlook Thursday and is slashing all 48,000 employees' pay by 10% to help weather a worsening slowdown in demand.
    [Even if they're not trimming hours to match, this is a real company team that sacrifices together, starting at the top - just like timesizer Lincoln Electric.]
    Agilent, which was spun off from Hewlett-Packard Co. in 1999, said the pay cuts were being imposed to avoid layoffs....
    [Aha, there's the reason for the two-way employer-employee loyalty - Hewlett-Packard traditionally was a very good company for respecting employees. And the pay cuts are explicitly to avoid layoffs, just like timesizing vs. downsizing.]
    The cuts...will last at least through July 31, possibly longer....
    [Just as we thought. The NYT version made them sound less realistic, more cheerleadery than they are, and, by omitting "all 48,000" (above), downplayed the inclusiveness of the cuts.]
    Palo Alto [Calif.]-based Agilent said in February that orders had slowed signficantly, especially for its semiconductor test products and wireless and imaging components. Since then, the picture has gotten even grimmer, with "major customers" sharply reducing demand.... Agilent expects the pay cuts will save about $70m per quarter. In addition, the company has stopped hiring, reduced the use of temporary workers and consultants, and limited travel and discretionary spending....
    [So they mention everything but trimming hours. Yet clearly they don't need the "full" time. Anyway, here's a bizarre twist at the end from an analyst -]
    Gregory Konezny, senior research analyst at U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray...said he was lowering [his] estimate [from $1.60] to $1.25 per share. "What Agilent is saying is, 'We think this is a short-term issue,' Konezny said, referring to the decision to cut pay rather than impose layoffs....
    [Konezny has it backwards, like so many CEOs. In fact, layoffs are the short-term reflex. The long-term strategy is exactly what Agilent has started doing. This is proven by decades of experience on the part of Lincoln Electric and Nucor Steel. They have both found a full complement of skills, high productivity based on high morale, and high morale based on everyone sacrificing together, to be a lot more sustainable in the long term than layoffs! It is layoffs that are the short-term action because they don't even look ahead far enough to see that they're worsening the downturn much more severely than "everyone sacrificing together, starting at the top."]

4/05/2001  glimmers of timesizing -
  1. France to stick with economic strategy - PM Jospin,
    Reuters 00:01 04-04-01 via AOLNews.
    PARIS - ..."France is now regarded as a country which succeeds, where the economy is held up as an example"..\..Prime Minister Lionel Jospin said on Wednesday..\.. France will stick to the economic policy that has secured solid growth and cut unemployment by more than a million since the government took power in mid-1997, [he] said....
    His Greens Party coalition partners, who scored relatively well in the polls, have been raising pressure on Jospin and his Socialist finance minister, Laurent Fabius, to devote more cash to social welfare and anti-poverty measures.
    [Even the Greens have a tough time getting their heads out of the mindset of government bandaids. But once you start sharing the vanishing work by trimming the pre-technology workweek and squeezing out the employment and wages onto more and more people until you include everyone in a healthy self-supporting situation, you just don't need the Keynesian micromanagement and crutches any more. You've made it much easier for people to earn a good living - and an honest living. Of course, France needs to finetune its "timesizing" to integrate continuous automatic training.]
    Economic growth of some 3% per year [compare current US at 1% - ed.], coupled with subsidised youth job programmes, a shorter work week and cuts in levies on low-wage work [huh?? -ed.], have reduced French unemployment to 8.8% from 12.5% when Jospin's team took over. "This is not about orthodoxy in economics...," he said.
    [And indeed, France under both the right (1996-97's Robien Law) and left (2000's 35-hour workweek) have faced down mainstream economists who totally block on any talk about worktime as an economic variable, let alone a control variable, let alone the control variable. You have never seen such a superstitious bunch of taboo observers. They're pathetic. They try to spin the shorter-hours movement - and our 200 years' history of shortening the workweek from 80 to 40, as the "lump of labor fallacy" when they should actually be calling it the "lump of employment truism" - in other words, the fact that in the immediate term when many CEOs are doing mass layoffs and fueling recession, they should simply trimming their workweek, retraining and keeping everyone employed, restricting firing to a case-by-case basis for just cause.]
    ..\..Jospin, facing fresh calls from his coalition ranks to spend more on the poor a year before elections, said he expected solid economic expansion despite the U.S. slowdown, and said there was no reason to feel either depressed or self-satisfied.... "I want neither unbridled optimism [and] euphoria [nor] doomsaying or nervous breakdown. What I want to do move us all forward," he said..\..
    [Sounds like pretty balanced talk.]
    "The factors underlying [our] economic growth are solid," he said in an interview with a group of reporters, alluding to forecasts by the statistics office INSEE of 3% growth for the first half of the year. "Strong growth, falling unemployment, control of inflation and solid investment - the economic fundamentals are good and that should give confidence to the country and to consumers,"...he said.
    [Hey, they're doing better than Germany, Europe's megilla-gorilla - see articles on 3/07/2001 and especially "Analysis - French steal economic march on German neighbours" 2/07/2001 - and certainly better than US.]

  2. French service sector PMI [purchasing managers' index] lowest since January '99,
    Reuters 02:47 04-04-01 via AOLNews.
    PARIS...- French services sector companies reported their slowest expansion rate in more than two years in March, as well as a slight decline in confidence about prospects, a Reuters survey...compiled with the French CDAF purchasing managers association..\..showed on Wednesday....
    SKILLS SHORTAGE IN JOBS BOOM ECONOMY
    Highlighting the irony of France's position as one of the strongest performers of the large European economies, the poll confirmed reports from firms of labour shortages and rises in staff and other "input costs."
    [There is widespread confusion between "skills shortage" and "labor shortage" with many people using them interchangeably, but they're quite different. This Reuters reporter should be sticking to "skills shortage" here. The whole point of cutting the workweek to generate a labor shortage is to incentivize the private sector to raise wages and set up training programs to alleviate the chronic skills shortages that develop once an employer class, spoiled by labor surplus, starts passing training costs along more and more to the government and the workforce. And the point of all that is to centrifuge income to the extent needed to provide sustainable markets for all the technology-multiplied productivity that huge investment capital needs to invest in. It's not demand-side. It's not supply-side. It's balance-side at last - a balance of production and consumption, of output and purchases.]
    "Tight labour market conditions [i.e., skills market -ed.] were widely cited by firms to have contributed to a further marked increase in staff costs in March," the statement said. "Skill shortages were again reported to have restricted firms' ability to service backlogs of work," it said.
    [Time for France to add the pièce de résistance feature of timesizing, namely, overtime-to-training conversion or overtime reinvestment in training. They have really implemented only a pretty primitive version of this whole approach. They will also need to flex up the workweek and keep it adjustable. It needs to be constantly adjusting against unemployment. As long as unemployment is too high or rising, that workweek needs to be gradually adjusting downward to squeeze out the natural market-demanded work onto everyone who should be supporting themselves instead of government (i.e., taxpayer) supported. This is turn will raise wages to somewhere like the level they need to reach to be able to provide markets for all the technology-amplied output of a developed economy. Negative inflation (and not all price rises are negative) can be blocked by the growing balance between inflationary incentive (money motive) and deflationary incentive (job satisfaction) that comes about naturally when you cap the number of hours that people can work for freely spendable income, but give them the opportunity to work any overtime as long they reinvest overtime profits and earnings as directly as possible in their source, in an overtime-resolving way; that is, in training and/or hiring. This effectively harnesses the voluntary and charitable instincts within society, Bush Sr.'s "thousand points of light," which hitherto have been wasted or negative in their effect on wages, and gets them directly involved in substantive quantifiable human progress instead of evermore bleeding-heart feel-good sentimentalism - which simply diffuses meaninglessly into the ether, or, as we say, actually depresses wages by setting up free services that compete with the job market, and thence worsens the "black hole" concentration of income and wealth, and the imbalance of investment and sustainable production.]
    French unemployment, which stood at 12.5% when the Socialist-led coalition took power in mid-1997, has fallen to 8.8%, the lowest in a decade, as a result of healthy growth, subsidized youth jobs, and a cut in the work week....
    [We maintain that the "subsidized youth jobs" are peripheral and entirely unnecessary under a workweek that is appropriately low for the current levels of worksaving technology, and that the "healthy growth" is primarily a direct and indirect result of the centrifugation of income which the shorter workweek provides, AND that this approach is not the private preserve of the left. The Robien Law in France between 1996 and 1997 provided for reduced workweeks on a company-by-company voluntary basis, incentivated by payroll taxcuts. The fact is, that once a government does the minimum amount of proper refereeing in the center of the economy and guides the private sector into cleaning up its own mess (mass underemployment due to mass layoffs) instead of passing it along to government and taxpayers, the government can in fact cut taxes drastically.]

4/4/2001  glimmers of timesizing -
  1. French March consumer confidence falls to 4-month low, Bloomberg Apr/03/2001 10:17 ET via AOLNews.
    French consumers grew more pessimistic for a second month as stock markets fell, world economic growth slowed [but not theirs - ed.] and foot-and-mouth disease spread to the European continent....
    Still, in France, tax cuts worth 200 billion francs ($26.7B) between 2000 and 2003 and falling unemployment have helped underpin consumer confidence and spending so far.
    [So the French are cutting taxes! Good, we weren't sure (see comments below on 4/01/2001 story). If they trim their 1925-appropriate workweek further and absorb that last 8.8% unemployed into the job market, they can cut their taxes and show us up even further because their private sector will be cleaning up its own mess for once instead of leaving it to government.]
    The jobless rate fell to a decade-low of 8.8% in February.... The French economy created a record number of jobs last year as faster growth and the reduction of the statutory workweek to 35 from 39 hours persuaded companies to hire....
    [Squeeze out, like toothpaste, that vanishing, market-demanded employment for humans onto everyone as computers eat up the work. Let's sail together into a workweek-trimmed, well-paid, well-rested, and leisurely future instead of luffing along with a pre-technology 40-hours or more that we've set in concrete!]

  2. Michelin, unions sign accord to implement 35-hour work week, Bloomberg Apr/03/2001 14:44 ET via AOLNews.
    CLERMONT-FERRAND, France...- Michelin & Cie. agreed with labor unions on a formula to implement the 35-hour work week law at its French plants, ending more than a year of complex and often tense negotiations.
    Unions representing 60% of employees signed the accord, which entitles them to between 10 and 15 additional days off annually and pay rises of between 3.5% and 4%, the Confederation Francaise Democratique du Travail union said in a faxed statement. The world's biggest tiremaker agreed to take on 1,000 extra employees, it said.
    [Now, what was it that those lump-of-"labor" harpies were cackling about - can't make more jobs by sharing the available employment, etc.?]
    Michelin needed an agreement to be eligible for government compensation linked to the new law...
    [hm, how do we get details?]
    ...and to allow it to implement more flexible working hours. An efficient French manufacturing base is critical for the world's second-biggest tiremaker, which exports half of its domestic production.
    [Huh? Paragraph 2 says it's the biggest. Para. 3 says it's the second-biggest. Doesn't Bloomberg News have any editors? Meanwhile, on the ancient and long-standing scribal principle of LEGIUS DIFFICILIOR POTEST (let the more difficult reading prevail), we'll go with second-biggest.]
    It has taken since January 2000 to reach an accord, an indication of the long-standing antagonism between Michelin's management and organized labor.... Michelin's plants were hit by wildcat strikes in September 1999 when it announced 7,500 firings in Europe, the same day it reported a 17% increase in first-half profit..\..
    [Sounds like these boys are from the caves in the Neander Thal. 'Course it wouldn't make any difference in America. The increasingly robot-brained American workforce would just say, "Oh they were forced to do that," grab their toothbrushes and go home - "It's my fault." "I've got to retrain myself." "I've got to work harder - 24/7!" and of course, "I don't begrudge Bill Gates a penny of what he earns," they would intone, with glassy-eyed fixed smiles. We at Timesizing.com don't anticipate that Americans will be smart enough to pick up Timesizing in a big way, but for a few more years while they've still got the biggest economy, others are more likely to notice it and pick it up from here than from anywhere else.]
    Carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen was the first large French industrial company to reach an agreement on the 35-hour law in February 1999.

4/03/2001  glimmers of timesizing -
4/01/2001  weekend glimmers of timesizing -

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