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Timesizing News, January 1-9, 2004
[Commentary] ©2004 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 622, Porter Sq, Cambridge MA 02140 USA 617-623-8080
1/09/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 1/08 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #1 which is from the 1/09 NYT hardcopy), and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
1/08/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 1/07 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #1 which is from the 1/08 WSJ hardcopy), and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
- In Germany, shifting the cost of the pension to the worker, NYT, W1.
[All the more reason to share the vanishing work by means of workweek reduction, instead of worklife reduction (prolonged education and/or ever-earlier retirement.]
- Tyson continuing to reduce hours, by Scott Aldis-Wilson, Garden City Telegram [Kansas].
KANSAS - Hours at the Holcomb Tyson Fresh Meats Inc. plant remain below the normal 40 to 48 hours per week, public affairs director Gary Mickelson said Wednesday. And though the discovery last month of a cow in Washington state with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as mad cow disease, has figured into the decision to keep hours lower, it is not the only reason.
"All of our beef plants, including our Finney County complex, were already running at reduced hours before the BSE discovery," he said. "We are continuing to run at reduced hours while we assess the overall product demand."
Mickelson said Tyson has 10 plants in the United States that either slaughter, process or do both to cattle, like at the Holcomb plant. All of them, he said, have been at fewer hours since October due to the usual dip in demand for beef that accompanies the holiday season. The reduced hours typically run until Easter. The Holcomb plant, he said, remains running at about 32 to 36 hours each week. The plant employs about 3,100 people.
This year, he said, the mad cow discovery is an additional factor on the market. "Certainly, we're going to run at reduced hours while we assess the impact of BSE," he said.
Mad cow disease is seen as a threat because humans who consume infected material can develop the brain-wasting variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease. Though 153 people have contracted the disease globally, primarily in Great Britain, no American has yet been diagnosed with it.
Tyson shares have fluctuated in the last two weeks, as well, dropping from a high of $13.98 Dec. 24 to a closing price of $12.59 Dec. 26. As of Wednesday, though, the closing price was $13.48 per share.
While he sees domestic prices as stabilizing, Mickelson said the export market, responsible for $1.7B in Tyson sales during the 2003 fiscal year, remains a concern. More than 30 countries have banned U.S. beef since the discovery. For now, he said, the employees are being informed of plant hours a week in advance. "We make that judgment on a weekly basis," he said.
- Britons want flexible work hours, BBC News.
BRITAIN - Eight out of 10 [80%] employees want more time with their friends and families, according to the Dept. of Trade & Industry (DTI).... The DTI surveyed 1,129 workers as to what they would like to do if they could balance their work and lives more effectively..\.. Employees said a better work-life balance would allow them to pursue the arts, play more sport or learn a foreign language. Overall, more than one-quarter [25%] said they were spending too long at work. However, 38% of employees have been able to persuade their employers to allow them more flexible working....
["Flexible" working is irrelevant to real progress unless includes reduced working.]
Last year the government introduced a law to allow working parents to request flexible working. Employers are not bound to agree to their workers' requests, but if they refuse they have to give their reasons.
[Another ineffectual law to grant permission to make a request that employees could already make, with only the silly, not-worth-enforcing "penalty" of "OK, but you have to tell them why not!" And is it really only for parents? If so, it would be another new subsidy on reproduction in an age of over-population.]
Trade & Industry Secy. Patricia Hewitt praised employers for making "great strides" in helping workers to balance work with their lives outside the office.
[And what, pray tell, would those "great strides" be??]
"Accommodating these interests and commitments will not only help workers stay healthy, but will also benefit the bottom line through reduced absentee rates and recruitment costs," Ms Hewitt said.
[All these are matters about which employers care little when there are plenty of cheaper job-seekers waiting to replace their current relatively expensive employees. Such matters are only of concern during perceived labor shortages, the likes of which only occur during major wars, plagues, or following workweek reduction. The compelling benefit for employers of workweek reduction and higher wages is sustainably larger markets.]
In response, the TUC [Trades Union Congress] called on the government to stop allowing on opt-out from the EU working time directive. "The government cannot have it both ways. Either it continues to defend the UK's opt-out from Europe's working time rules or it is on the side of people trying to balance the pressures of work with the rest of their lives," said Brendan Barber, the TUC general secretary.
- [Here's a reaction to the same non-event from the Scottish point of view.]
Scots work harder at getting a life, by Frank O'Donnell, Scotmsan.com [UK].
SCOTLAND - Four in ten Scots [40%] have changed their working hours in order to achieve a better work-life balance and make more time for interests outside of the office, according to new government research.
In a report that suggests new family-friendly employment laws are proving popular with the electorate,
More than a quarter [25%] of workers said they were spending too much time at work and were having to compromise other interests and family commitments as a result.
- 90% of Scots said they would spend more time with their family and friends if they could balance their job and other interests more effectively.
- Seven in ten [70%] adults said they would like to pursue their interest in the arts,
- while more than half (56%) would be keen to play more sport.
- Four in ten [40%] said they would do some form of voluntary work,
- and the same number [40%] said they would join a club or hobby group if they could manage the time they spend in work.
The survey of more than 1,200 full and part-time workers by the Dept. of Trade & Industry suggests the government’s Work-Life Balance campaign is having a positive impact on ordinary families.
The policy has been criticised by the Tories, who believe it imposes additional pressure on businesses. But as the number of working parents soars and average commuting times increase, perks such as flexible working hours, teleworking and "duvet days"[??] are increasingly being offered to help counteract workplace stress and reward employees for the extra hours they put in.
[Where are the metrics on these perks???]
Patricia Hewitt, the Trade & Industry Secretary, welcomed the results [what results?] and praised employers for making "great strides" [what strides??] in helping people to balance work with their life outside the office. "On top of all the traditional New Year’s resolutions, it’s good to see that many employees have resolved to get a much better balance between work and other aspects of their lives," she said.
[Employee resolve is irrelevant when employees are in surplus and have no power to enforce their 'resolves'. Worktime reduction is the lever that wins all other good treatment for employees. It is not merely a single nice result of employee requests made out of their weak position in the middle of a national and global glut of jobseekers.]
"We already know that people can work much more effectively if they can balance the varying demands on their lifestyles, so it makes good business sense for employers to cater for all employees’ needs."
Under legislation brought in last April, the government did not guarantee the right to flexible working for all, but instead brokered a "softly, softly" approach which forces employers to seriously consider any request for flexible working.
["Forces" employers merely to seriously consider??? Pathetic! It's time that unions and anyone interested in real economic recovery quit wasting their time fighting for window dressing and focused powerfully on fighting for fluctuating adjustment of the workweek against unemployment.]
The campaign focuses on ways to retain the skills of working parents by helping them to continue their careers. Other initiatives include enhanced maternity rights and the introduction of adoption, paternity and parental-leave rights.
[Clearly the campaign is still focused obsoletely on quantity, not quality, of life.]
A survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) said that since the legislation came into force, more than a quarter (28%) of employers have seen an increase in requests for flexible working.
[Quit wasting time and track down the employers' responses to those requests!]
Better news for the Labour government came with the finding that 76% of employers said the impact of the new legislation had been negligible [where's the "better news" there?!] and 90% reported no significant problems in complying with the new regulations.
[But how many actually complied??]
This came despite widespread concerns that businesses, particularly small firms, would suffer under the extra burden of regulation.
[WHAT "regulation"? - they scribble out a note with their reasons when they say "no".]
The CIPD reports also found that employees at all levels were taking up the flexible working option and not just those in the lower grade.
[What numbers? What percentages?]
Managers, professional and technical staff who previously may have considered such a move as career-limiting, are widely represented among the groups seeking flexible working, added the institute. The majority of the requests, however, have come from women, with the most common call being for part-time working, home working and term-time working.
Ms Hewitt believes that accommodating people’s interests and commitments "will not only help workers stay healthy, but will also benefit the bottom-line through reduced absentee rates and recruitment costs". While it may be too early to determine whether flexible working has led to measurable benefits for businesses in terms of increased productivity, staff retention or lower absence rates, the CIPD found that 68% of employers said it had a positive effect on employee attitudes and morale.
[But what percentage of employers are DOING it?]
In the latest survey, 87% of workers said that having interests and commitments outside the workplace helped to achieve a more fulfilling work-life balance.
[This is the slipperiest damn "news" reporting we've seen.]
Mike Emmott, an employee relations adviser with the CIPD, said that while the new regulations have worked well in encouraging workplace flexibility, they have had no direct effect on the culture of long working hours.
[Finally the truth.]
"The evidence is that long hours are becoming more of a problem, rather than less," Mr Emmott said. "There is a solid minority, who are mostly men, who continue to work in excess of 48 hours - sometimes because they want to, but sometimes because they are forced to. The flexible working arrangements have not had an impact on that."
[Then they have been ineffectual and are nothing but valium.]
- Put down that tool - A still bigger regulatory burden for European businesses? The Economist print edition.
BRUSSELS - The British work longer hours than anyone else in the European Union (EU), which may account for Britain's faster rate of economic growth in the past decade.
[Could be, because if a population gets stress-related illnesses oftener and has to go to the doctor oftener, that boosts their GDP. If their neglected children get in trouble oftener and get locked up oftener and force a boost in jails and prisons, that adds to their GDP. You get the picture.]
But the [nasty] European Commission wants to put a stop to it. In a recent communique it notes disapprovingly that, “The UK is the only member state where weekly working time has increased over the last decade.” The commission reckons that British companies may be systematically violating the EU's “Working Time Directive”. This ordains that Europeans should work a maximum of 48 hours a week on average. Under the directive, workers can sign an “opt-out”, agreeing to work more than 48 hours. Some 33% of British workers have signed such opt-outs, although only 16% are believed actually to be working more than 48 hours.
[A level playing field of worktime per person is the primary mutuality of our lifetimes. If a nation doesn't comply with the EU's regulations on this, it should be automatically kicked out of the EU and subjected to massive sanctions.]
Anna Diamantopoulou, the European commissioner for employment and social affairs, smells a rat. Firms in other European countries have not made much use of opt-outs. But, she thinks, nasty British bosses may be forcing workers to sign opt-outs as a condition of taking a job. (Some Americans may actually want to work more than 48 hours, but surely no European would be so daft, seems to be her reasoning.)
[The Economist, ever failing to connect the dots between long worktime and small consumer base, is stooping to ridicule, but fewer Americans than British are in a position to make a choice on this, and fewer Brits than Euros are in a position to make a choice on this. The puppydog British "conservatives," ever anxious to suck up to their US betters, have no limits in the extremes they're willing to go along with as the great Bush regime breaks rule after rule.]
Citing rationales ranging from “health and safety” to the need to maintain “minimum social standards” in the EU and to strike a better balance between work and family life, the commission is launching a “consultation of interested parties” on possible changes to the directive. The commissioner hopes that Britain will be able
to come up with solutions on a voluntary basis. This sounds innocent enough. But, in reality, if it does not, the commission will probably devise a new directive.
[The commission itself is in desperate need of cutting the bleeding-heart rationales and connecting the dots to consumer confidence and solid economic recovery.]
The commission's hope is not simply to rein in the corporate Stakhanovites of Britain.
["On September 1, 1935, the newspaper Pravda, organ of the communist party, reported that
a Donbas miner named Stakhanov had extracted 102 tons of coal in a six-hour shift, exceeding the norm more than fivefold. Thus began the Stakhanovite...campaign urging workers to...feats of super-productivity.... There took shape the strategy of "substituting intensification for investment" - that is, squeezing more out of less - even if that meant pushing the capacity of...workers up to and beyond their limits." Webpage *Stakhanov and his Followers. But the ever-Stakhanovite Economist mag pushes on -]
Recent judgments from the European Court of Justice have raised the prospect that the Working Time Directive will impose huge new costs on health systems across Europe. Two court rulings last year mean that periods when doctors are “on call”, but not actually working, now count as “working time”. The German government says that this will force it to hire up to 27,000 new doctors and raise health spending by E1.75B ($2.2B).
[So do they want to create jobs and lower their 10% unemployment or DON'T THEY?]
Germany, the Netherlands and Spain are each drawing up legislation to incorporate the “opt-out” into their health systems.
[Then like Britain's, their GDP, carefully defined to go up regardless, will continue to go up and their quality of life will continue to go down, as in Britain.]
The political implications of this make it highly unlikely that Mrs Diamantopoulou will actually propose scrapping opt-outs altogether. Instead the commission is likely to push for tighter definitions of the conditions under which opt-outs can be used. This will inevitably reduce labour-market flexibility
[except for the many ways in which the 35-hour workweek in France increased labor-market flexibility - "Many companies negotiated more flexible working, low pay increases and shorter breaks in return for implementing the new limit." - see 5/17/2001 #2 and other articles in spring/2001]
and may introduce yet more burdensome corporate form-filling and regulation.
[Sooo burdensome to avoid cannibalizing your own consumers! Lucky the Brits got rid of slavery in 1824 or The Economist would be telling us how much form-filling and regulation abolition would introduce.]
The British government claims to welcome the commission's review. Privately, however, it hopes that the appointment of a new commission next autumn will ensure that Mrs Diamantopoulou does not have enough time to revise the directive. She will certainly need to work long hours to get it done.
[Unless she delegates and time-manages, abilities that Brits and Americans are losing.]
Fortunately, being classified as a manager, at least she has an automatic opt-out from the Working Time Directive.
[As automation and robotization proceed, and CEOs' downsizing response continues, exemptions from overtime rules get more and more costly in terms of de-activated consumers and taxes to support the disemployed on unemployment, welfare, disability and in homeless shelters and prisons.]
- Labor, management move toward pivotal changes, Korea Herald.
SOUTH KOREA - Workers will have plenty of reasons to take to the streets again.
[No they won't - S.Korea is going to cut hours, not jobs, and shorter hours has always been a unifying issue in labor history while layoffs and pay have been divisive. See Roediger and Foner's history, "Our Own Time."]
Labor experts say 2004 will likely be another year of turbulence between labor, management and government.
[They must be pretty ignorant experts in view of the common sense that S.Korea is about to enact - see below, bolded.]
Among the key issues are a five-day workweek, wages, union organization and a national labor relations road map for workers and management.
The April 15 National Assembly elections also will be major concern, with labor hoping to make it a ground-breaking event. Not only will the nation's largest labor federations be voicing their concerns, they anticipate placing pro-labor candidates in parliament. "We are very positive about the April election. This year, the Democratic Labor Party will establish its first foothold in the parliament. It will become a political breakthrough to transform our society," said Kwon Young-ghil, the party president.
At least one or two pro-labor election winners should come from the southern manucturing cities of Changwon and Ulsan, party officials said. Currently, the Democratic Labor Party, which is supported by the 685,000-strong Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, the second-largest umbrella labor group in Korea, has no presence in the 273-seat National Assembly.
"Before the general election, labor unions also will likely focus on social issues such as wealth disparity, discrimination against non-regular workers and the new labor relations road map, in a bid to gain greater public attention," said Noh Myung-jong, deputy director at the labor relations division of the Ministry of Labor.
The road map, written last year by a task force of experts appointed by the Ministry of Labor, has three aims: minimize social costs from labor disputes, improve flexibility and job security in the labor market and narrow the gaps in pay and working conditions between permanent and contract workers.
The Korea Tripartite Commission, a policy consultation body of labor, management and government, will attempt to distill the roadmap into legislature for National Assembly approval, but labor and management disagree on many proposals. Caught in the middle, President Roh Moo-hyun's administration probably will again hear accusations of being either pro-labor or pro-management. The commmission also will focus on job creation, the government's top priority this year.
"Unions and businesses are aware of the problems generated by the frozen labor market. A social convention for more jobs will be made by February," said Kim Keum-soo, the commission chairman. "When the election is finished, the labor focus will move to the enterprise-level. Beginning in June, union leaders at local worksites will start to brace for collective negotiations with management under the new 40-hour workweek," said Noh, the labor ministry official.
Public companies, finance and insurance firms and large corporations with more than 1,000 workers are required to adopt the system in July.
The shortened workweek will be phased in at all work sites by 2011. Companies may adopt the system early, and the government has promised financial support to those that do. While businesses want to reduce payment to workers in line with the curtailed work hours and delay implementation of the scheme, workers want to maintain their current pay and early adoption of the new working hours.
[Question for businesses - how fast do you want your domestic consumer markets to grow?]
Another sensitive issue is corporate restructuring that results in job loss. "We will make our best efforts to prevent massive layoffs expected after business takeovers in Ssangyong Motor and others this year," said Noh Jae-yeol, policy chief at the Korea Metal Worker's Federation.
The industry labor group has Hyundai Motor, Kia Motor, Hyundai Heavy Industries and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering as its major members.
In August, the foreign work-permit system will go into effect. About 60,000 to 70,000 foreign workers are expected to enter Korea this year under the new foreign labor scheme, which will entitle them to the same labor protections as Koreans.
Guest workers will be allowed to work in Korea for up to three years. By February, a cross-ministerial committee is expected to set worker quotas based on country of origin and industry needs.
Workers hired on a day-to-day basis, such as construction laborers, will be eligible for employment insurence [sic]. Also, companies with more than 50 employees will be asked to fill at least 2% of their work force with disabled employees. Before, the employment recommendation applied to businesses with more than 300 workers.
New parents with a child less than one year old will be entitled to 400,000 won per month during their maximum one-year paid leave, a 100,000 won per month increase.
- Insurance sector work hour revamp flayed, Gulf News [United Arab Emirates].
DUBAI, U.A.E. - The New Year 'gift' of a five-day work week and eight-hour straight shift has been "foisted on us without notice or consultation", charged the chief insurance industry spokesman yesterday. "We are meant to be living in a free economy, but these rules make me think it is not at all free but controlled," contended Juma Saif Rashid bin Bakhit, chairman, Emirates Insurance Association.
An emergency meeting has been planned for January 11 to draft an urgent response. Bin Bakhit pulled no punches when he spoke to Gulf News against the wide-ranging rules, announced to boost emiratisation in the sector. Sweeping changes announced last week would revolutionise working conditions in insurance companies so they become a more attractive option for UAE national jobseekers. The length of the week would be reduced to five days from six, and working hours standardised at one block shift per day ending at 3.30pm, rather than split working hours.
Speaking in his personal capacity, Bin Bakhit, however, pointed out the new rules would damage companies by making them less competitive, and that the different working times would only mean limited contact with insurance and reinsurance partners abroad. He also believed that staff who apply only after the imposition of better conditions are less likely to be dedicated to their careers.
With the new measures supposed to be implemented on February 1, the industry is formulating an urgent response at the upcoming emergency meeting. "At first we will find out who in the industry is in opposition to these ideas and who is in favour. But these government plans are so far-reaching and damaging that I would expect that we will soon begin to work out how we can oppose these measures and what alternatives we would suggest," Bin Bakhit said. "It could be disastrous for the country's insurance market because the proposed changes in working times would mean only minimal contact with insurance partners elsewhere in the world, especially in the UK and Europe. This could impact on airlines, because if any of our members fail to provide adequate insurance cover the loss would be very great," he argued.
The chief industry spokesman noted local insurers had come up with their own suggestions for increasing emiratisation in the sector, but these had been batted back without consideration. He also pointed out all the UAE's insurance companies, which number more than 50, together employ a combined workforce of a mere 3,600. Of these, at present about five% are UAE nationals. He added that industry captains believe creating an insurance training college especially for UAE nationals would benefit both the companies and the local students alike.
Bin Bakhit believed the best way to increase emiratisation is by learning from successful UAE nationals and imparting their knowledge to students. "There are many UAE nationals involved in big business in the Dubai's business parks and free zones. They did not get there by being given easy options or comfortable conditions, or even by any process of emiratisation. They are serious and creative people who proved themselves and did not seek any help or drastic modifications from the sectors in which they work. We should learn from their example when we are trying to get people to follow in their footsteps."
He challenged that no one in the emiratisation committee understands insurance at an expert level. He also queried how the rules currently in the process of being implemented can be imposed in a free economy. "Does the Ministry of Economy and Commerce want the UAE economy to be a free one or a controlled one? Did the ministers work out the working hours of the car agents and any other companies? A free economy means that the ministry does not intervene in these matters."
[Except when the uneven playing field that results from such non-intervention necessitates taxpayer support of mounting numbers of disemployed in a context of increasing robotization in order to retain some semblance of a domestic consumer base, OR accepting the collapse of the domestic consumer base. Bin Bakhit is just manifesting more of the widespread partitioned thinking that has not thought even two moves ahead in the chess of economic evolution. ]
He felt officials of the economy ministry should understand that their role should be one of the supervisor and controller and not administrative. "Our companies have their own board of directors that should determine their working hours in accordance with their needs."
[That just guarantees that their "needs" will rapidly mount to all 168 hours per week from each employee, i.e., literal 24/7.]
Bin Bakhit, who is also vice-chairman of Alliance Insurance Co, observed: "Starting a straight shift at 7.30am is very early, and even at 8.30am insurance workers would not be in a position to talk to business partners in European financial centres. Nobody will be able to do the job properly because we are dealing with foreign firms that are three or four hours behind. "We should not change the entire insurance sector just for the sake of a few UAE nationals who are not happy with the sector. Why should we reward them? "A national who wants to work and is in need of work will find no difficulty in the split shift system. A worker does not need any excuses to join. A serious citizen would only need proper training and qualifications. "We are a free economy and as such the ministry of economy should not impose such onerous rules on us as we need to keep pace with the advanced economies every minute."
Explaining his concept of emiratisation, he said it would be all about providing opportunities – not an effort to spoil nationals. "We should be giving them opportunities – and whoever gets an opportunity should prove that it is deserved, and should not impose conditions beforehand if he wants to work. We should not care about those who do not want to work. "If my son is spoilt and not ready to take obligations I would not give him a job. For example, anyone can see that the number of UAE national women in banks is greater than the number of UAE national men. Why is that? It is because a lot of young men are simply not ready to bear the responsibility."
He rejected the idea that the decision-makers should spoil UAE nationals in order to attract them into certain sectors. "What these people don't realise is that they are potentially damaging the industry while making these proposals. Emiratisation needs a supreme committee that groups specialists from all sectors – and the policies should be formulated after consultations with the various sectors."
Weekend needs to be changed
Juma Saif Rashid bin Bakhit, chairman, Emirates Insurance Association, had a few of his own personal views and suggestions that he hoped the authorities at the economic ministry and Tanmia might consider. Friday and Saturday would be a more preferable weekend to Thursday and Friday as the latter would mean only two and a half days of effective contact with reinsurance companies and business partners abroad. The split shift should stay for the same reason.
An insurance academy should be created as a joint venture of investment from the insurance industry and the government, especially designed for UAE nationals.
1/07/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 1/06 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #2 which is from the 1/07 NYT hardcopy), and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
- Agency head Steven Kandarian will return to private sector, WSJ, A8.
DC - The head of Pension Benefits Guarantee Corp. [PBGC] announced he is leaving the agency that insures private-sector retirement plans...to devote more time to his family. Mr. Kandarian, who was appointed to head the PBGC on 12/02/2001 by Secy of Labor Elaine Chao, spent weekdays in Washington and on weekends commuted home to Boston, where his wife and 3 young children live.
Mr. Kandarian...plans to return to the private sector. Before joining the PBGC, he spent more than 20 years as an investment banker and was the founder and managing director of a private-equity partnership.
- Labor Department overtime memo raising eyebrows, Workday Minnesota.
ST. PAUL, Minn. — An advisory from the U.S. Labor Dept. to businesses around the country on how to avoid paying overtime is raising eyebrows - and concerns. The Labor Dept. memo to employers tells them how to get around new overtime regulations scheduled to take effect in March. The regulations, which have been opposed by organized labor, include overtime pay for workers earning less than $22,000, but make millions of higher-paid workers ineligible.
The Labor Dept., which is supposed to be an advocate for the country's workers, isn't doing its job, said Diane O’Brien, communications director for the Minnesota AFL-CIO. "The rules are a sham. And, they can be summarized as a 'work more, earn less' philosophy,” she said. "This is absolutely amazing. We're going to pass new rules that are going to be good for workers, in public, and behind the scenes, we're going to coach employers on how not to follow even those limited, dismal rules." [She] said 200,000 Minnesota workers will lose eligibility for overtime under the new rules.
The Labor Dept. memo suggests employers can reduce hourly wages and add the overtime to equal the original salary, limit employee hours, raise salaries to the $22,000 threshold or mak[e] various "payroll" or "bookkeeping" adjustments so workers don't qualify.
[More of Bush's policy of "How much faster can I depress effective aggregate demand and kill off the American economy?" Money is like hot air. You don't have to strain to get it up to the ceiling [if any] - it goes up automatically, thanks to the inherent overlap of money and power. What you have to work on is getting it down to the floor where it actually warms some feet and does some good.]
The Dept. says it is just advising businesses of available options, not making recommendations.
The bottom line will be smaller paychecks for many Minnesota workers, O’Brien said. "In many work places, where workers are not well paid, we're going to find their employers studying administration memos, learning how to pay people even less. What does that mean? It means fewer school clothes. It means a tougher time paying the rent. If you had some overtime, and now you're losing it, it makes it that much harder to buy gas to get to your low-paying job. This is not a good thing for working people, and it's not a good thing for our country."
[Oh cut the bleeding-heart crap, you ineffectual moron! Talk their lingo! Connect the dots to collapsing consumption and fragged recovery! Rub their faces in their own slow suicide! Draw them a diagram!]
The new rule will revise the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act. The change sets a salary cap and defines the jobs in which workers who put in more than 40 hours a week are eligible for time-and-a-half pay.
Members of Congress, meanwhile, will try to fight the proposed rule when they return to Washington Jan. 20 by blocking a Labor Dept. funding bill.
[Perfect. "How fast can we destroy the US economy and ourselves?"]
- Deutsche Telekom predicts growth in 2004, Converge Network Digest.
PHOENIX, Ariz. - Deutsche Telekom [DT] delivered on its financial restructuring promises in 2003, said Kai-Uwe Ricke, the company's CEO, speaking at Smith Barney Citigroup's Entertainment, Media & Telecommunications Conference in Phoenix.... Compared to its European peers [ie: rivals], Ricke said DT is better positioned for earnings growth because of the market strength of its four divisions: T-Com, T-Systems, T-Mobile and T-Online, \so\ while reducing debt, DT has once again become a "profitable growth" company....
Among the major issues facing DT are personnel cost management challenges. The company's leadership is proposing to its unions a 10% reduction in working hours and pay per year....
1/06/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 1/05 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #3 which is from the 1/06 WSJ hardcopy), and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
- Springdale-based Tyson Foods Inc. is continuing reduced hours at its beef plants as the industry adjusts to the effects of the discovery of a case of mad-cow disease in the U.S.,
More than 30 countries banned American beef after a Canadian Holstein slaughtered December 9 in Washington state was confirmed as the nation's first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy. In October, Tyson reduced hours at some of its beef slaughter plants because supplies dropped after a May outbreak of mad-cow disease in Canada. The company has eleven beef-processing plants in the United States and one in Canada. Beef production adjusts seasonally, with production increasing with the summer grilling season.
- Young doctors and wish lists: No weekend calls, no beepers - Lifestyle matters more than money in choosing a specialty, by Matt Richtel, NYT, front page & A17.
Jennifer Boldrick...a graduate of Stanford University Medical School, is training to become a dermatologist [which] has become one of the most competitive fields for new doctors, with a 40% increase in students pursuing the profession over the last 5 years, compared with a 40% drop in those interested in family practice. The field...satisfies [a] longing. Today's medical residents, half of them women, are choosing specialties with what experts call a "controllable lifestyle."
..\..Dr. Boldrick.\.lights up when the topic turns to blisters, eczema and skin cancer. She is also a big fan of getting a full night of sleep. And the combination of these interests [makes] Dr. Boldrick...part of a marked shift in the medical profession....
"The surgery lifestyle is so much worse," said Dr. Boldrick, who rejected a career in plastic surgery. "I want to have a family. And when you work 80 or 90 hours a week, you can't even take care of yourself."
- do not work nights or weekends,
- have decent control over their time
- and are often paid out of pocket, rather than dealing with the inconveniences of insurance.
Other specialties also enjoying a surge in popularity are radiology, anesthesiology and even emergency-room medicine, which despite their differences all allow doctors to put work behind them when their shifts end, and make medicine less all-encompassing, more like a 9-to-5 job.
What young doctors say they want is that "when they finish their shift, they don't carry a beeper; they're done," said Dr. Gregory Rutecki, chairman of medical education at Evanston Northwestern Healthcare, a community hospital affiliated with the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University.
Lifestyle considerations accounted for 55% of a doctor's choice of specialty in 2002, according to a paper in the Journal of the American Medical Assoc. in September by Dr. Rutecki and two co-authors. That factor far outweighs income, which accounted for only 9% of the weight prospective residents gave in selecting a specialty.
Many of the brightest students vie for several hundred dermatology residency spots.
[This is the kind of cultural change that will force the stodgy old boys of the AMA to "physician, heal thyself!" in the lousy time management they display in most specialties and the artificial skill bottlenecking they practice.]
The National Residency Matching Program, which matches medical school graduates to residency openings, reported that
Numerous medical educators noted that the growth of interest in these fields coincided with a drop in students drawn to traditional - and all-consuming - fields. In 2002, the number of students interested in general surgery dropped to 1,123 from 1,437, for example.
- in 2002, 338 medical school seniors were interested in dermatology, up from 244 in 1997 - though the 2002 figure still represented only 2.3% of the potential doctor pool.
- In 2002, 944 seniors wanted to pursue anesthesiology, compared with 243 five years earlier -
- while interest in radiology almost doubled, to 903 from 463, according to the matching program's figures.
..."There's a brain drain to dermatology, radiology and anesthesia," Dr. Rutecki said.... What is new, say medical educators, is an emphasis on way of life. In some cases, it even means doctors are willing to take lower-paying jobs - say, in emergency-room medicine - or work part time. In other fields, like dermatology and radiology, doctors can enjoy both more control over their time and a relatively hefty paycheck. According to the American Medical Assoc.,
The number of dermatology residencies has been steadily growing. The American Academy of Dermatology says there are 343 dermatology residents in their third year, 377 in their second years, and 392 in their first.
- a dermatologist averages $221,000 annually for 45.5 hours of work per week. That's more lucrative - and less time-consuming -
- than internal medicine or pediatrics, where doctors earn around $135,000 and spend more than 50 hours a week at work....
- an orthopedist makes $323,000 for a 58-hour week \while\
- a general surgeon averages $238,000 for a 60-hour week....
The trend comes as the medical profession is already struggling to balance the demands of patient care with the strain put on doctors from overwork.
Since last year, new rules have limited a resident's hours to 80 hours a week....
[= still the level of the national workweek 100-150 years ago while millions of people go without jobs. Gross time mismanagement.]
- Husband and wife share school job, by Jacqui Walls, PA News via The Scotsman [UK].
NOTTINGHAM, England - A husband decided two heads were better than one after he successfully applied for the other half of his wife’s job to make them joint headteachers of a primary school.
Les Hurst and his wife Cal, who have five children aged between nine months and 12, took the decision to seek a job-share position after the birth of their twin sons last year. The pair were believed to be one of the first married couples in the country to divide a school headship between them, a teaching union spokesman said.
Mr Hurst will be joining his wife to share responsibility of 355 children at Greenwood Junior School in Sneinton, Nottingham, later this year. After 18 years as headteacher of Lantern Lane Primary School in East Leake, Nottinghamshire, he applied for the position while his wife was on maternity leave. He said: “It’s going to be very exciting in terms of professional development for both of us. “We have worked alongside one another as colleagues in the past and we have total professional respect for one another.”
Mrs Hurst, who took on the headship at Greenwood two years ago, was desperate to return to the post after twins Seamas and Gabriel were born last year. She said: “I was trying to work out a way of going back to the job I love and giving 100% to the school while also doing the best for my family. “We talked through every aspect in great detail and realised that sharing the headship could work really well because we are such a team in our personal lives as well. “This solution gives us an opportunity to be really flexible. We talk shop all the time anyway. If it gets to be too much we’ll just have to ration it!”
Mrs Hurst returned to school this week after maternity leave and was expected to be joined by her husband after the Easter break in April.
Her school was recently praised by an Ofsted inspection team, who described her leadership as “very effective” and commented on the school’s “pleasant and harmonious atmosphere”. Mr Hurst has also earned a glowing report from Ofsted after seeing his school expand and move into a brand new building during his 18 years in office. Nottingham City Education spokesman Graham Chapman said: “Teaching is all about the best interests of children and it looks as though two excellent head teachers have found a perfect way of combining their family life with their very successful careers. “I am sure that many other heads seeking a work-life balance will follow in their footsteps but it doesn’t seem likely that this particular
job-sharing combination will be repeated too soon.”
David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Headteachers, said: “I have heard of husband and wife teams in the independent sector but this is either the first or one of the first I have heard of for public sector schools.
“It is very unusual. The number of job shares is increasing and it can work extremely well.
“It certainly opens up career paths, particularly for female heads who have perhaps had a child and will want to continue with headship but can’t do it full time because of their commitments.
“It can work and does work.”
- Sleep in shorter supply for most, BBC News.
UK - Nearly three quarters of us are getting less sleep than we were five years ago, a survey has found. The research, commissioned by Travel Inn, found 57% of us feel that lack of sleep affects our performance at least once a week.
Sleep deprivation has led to 30% falling asleep on public transport, and 13% at a business meeting.
Figures show UK full-time employees work longer than in other European countries.
We should all be aware of our body's needs and of the potential effects of not getting sufficient sleep. Our usual working week is the highest in the European Union - 43.3 hours compared with an average of 39.3 hours across the rest of Europe. Amongst full-time employees, a quarter of British men and a tenth of women usually work more than 48 hours a week.
The survey found that over half of us (54%) have fallen asleep in an inappropriate place as a result of lack of sleep. Often, this is, at worst, just embarrassing. For instance, 29% of us have fallen asleep during a film or a play. But more worryingly, 5% of those surveyed said they had fallen asleep while driving.
There is a big North-South divide, with 85% of people in the North saying they get less sleep than they did five years ago, compared with just 59% in the South.
Sleep expert Professor Chris Idzikowski said: "People are working longer, but we are still trying to maintain decent social lives, and what is getting squeezed out is sleep. We are getting less sleep than we really need. "We should all be aware of our body's needs and of the potential effects of not getting sufficient sleep, such as poor performance at work and generally feeling unhappy. "We are not designed to work 100% of the time. The body needs to replenish itself."
Professor Idzikowski said the consequences of trying to do without sleep were graphically illustrated by the loss of the Space Shuttle Challenger. "That was mainly because people were working through the night, and were being browbeaten into making decisions."
Researchers from Pennsylvania State University found that missing sleep can affect hormone levels and generate harmful chemicals in the body. They suggested that women may live longer on average than men because they are better sleepers.
Separate research has also suggested that sleep deprivation may even cause mental retardation. Even losing an hour's sleep a night may have noticeable effects on a child's mental performance.
Travel Inn is launching a campaign to encourage people to have an extra hour of sleep every night for a week to find out if it improves their performance and general happiness.
- Small exporters laying off staff as [NZ] dollar rises, by Liam Dann, New Zealand Herald.
The rising [NZ] dollar is forcing some small exporters to lay off staff, says Export New Zealand's Gilbert Ullrich.
Companies had laid off staff in the last few weeks and others had extended holidays and reduced working hours to stay afloat. "The situation is pretty grim."
The falling value of the US dollar seriously damages the competitiveness of New Zealand exports. While the [NZ] dollar remains relatively stable against most other currencies, the bulk of export sales - including those throughout Asia - are made in US currency.
Big exporters like Fonterra were able to run long-term currency hedging policies but that was not an option for smaller businesses, Ullrich said. "It's hard to read crystal balls and it costs money."
Most small companies were busy running the business and trying to keep costs down. They did not have time to be currency traders.
It was particularly frustrating to see the property sector and retailers talking about a booming economy when the country's export returns were falling dramatically, he said.
[Big deal, we expect that retail, property and domestic consumption in general is huge relative to exports. The U.S. GDP is 2/3 consumption. How much is New Zealand's? It appears in none of the lists on The Economist Pocket Guide's trading pages (32-33, 2004 ed.) so it's neither very high nor very low.]
Meat [ie: NZ lamb?] exporters have identified the dollar as their biggest problem. The rise of the [NZ] dollar was a much greater cause for concern than the issues such as the BSE [mad cow?] scare in the US, said Meat New Zealand chief executive Mark Jeffries. "Up above the 67 US cents mark is starting to get very serious," he said.
On December 24, US wholesale beef prices were 17% higher than they were 12 months earlier. But once the exchange rate rise was factored in, actual returns to New Zealand exporters were down 7% on the year, Jeffries said. Based on yesterday's exchange rate, real returns were down 9%, he said.
It was inevitable the loss in export earnings would flow through to farmers, said a meat company executive, who asked not to be named.
1/03-05/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 1/02-04 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #1 which is from the 1/03 The Economist hardcopy), and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
- Truckers back longer workday - But critics worry about safety as new 11-hour limit goes into effect, by Tim Bragg, (AP via) The Fresno Bee.
TRAVER, Calif? - Trucker Olon Toby said he's too old to drive 10 straight hours anymore.
After climbing down from the cab of his truck Sunday at a rest stop along Highway 99 near Traver to stretch his legs, the 44-year-old said people shouldn't worry too much about new federal rules on the number of hours that truckers are allowed to drive.
The new rules, which took effect Sunday, allow truck drivers to stay on the road for up to 11 hours at a time, compared to the 10-hour maximum that had been allowed before. Under the new rules, truckers have to rest at least 10 hours before going back on the road, two hours more than what was required under the previous requirements.
Toby said most truck drivers no longer push their stamina to keep driving all day and night, a practice he said was common once. But he fears some people who criticize the new rules already blame truckers for more than their fair share of accidents on the highway. "If they don't let us drive for more than eight hours, then nobody should be allowed to work more than eight hours a day at any job, even if they get overtime," Toby said.
[Damn right, Toby! Nobody should!]
The government said the new rules will make the roads safer because truckers will have to rest for two more hours between driving shifts. The Transportation Dept. estimates the change will reduce deaths associated with truck-driver fatigue from 440 to 335 a year.
Some safety groups and the truckers' union disagreed, saying that allowing a trucker an extra hour behind the wheel will result in more, not fewer, dangerously fatigued truckers on the road.
Bob Carscadden, a motorist who was traveling with others to Canada on Sunday, said he understands the new rules may help truckers, but he said the safety of other motorists shouldn't be taken for granted. "I don't understand how letting them drive 11 hours instead of 10 will help things much," he said. "There are already too many trucks on the road as it is."
Dean Watkins, a trucker from Oregon who stopped at the Traver rest stop Sunday, said the new rules will help truck drivers where it matters the most, in their wallets. Many workers are paid by the hour, but truckers are paid by the mile. More hours on the road means more money, he said. But he acknowledged the rules may be hard to enforce because many truckers falsify their log books. "Almost everyone does it - the police know that," Watkins said. "We're just trying to do the best we can."
- Lawyers trying to slow down the meter - Work-life balance has become a hot topic for firms grappling with gruelling hours, by Ann Kerr, Toronto Globe & Mail.
CANADA - Sandra Schulz had a successful, 20-year career as a litigation lawyer, Queen's Counsel and partner in an Edmonton law firm. Last year, she chucked it all.
Among the major problems, Ms. Schulz was tired of the long hours she put in at the office, as well as the pressure to maintain a certain level of billable hours. It would have helped to work from home part-time, and restructure the billing format, but she couldn't negotiate that with her firm, Ms. Schulz says.
Now, Ms. Schulz is working as a chartered mediator dealing with arbitration cases, reducing her hours as a lawyer by about one-third. "I haven't regretted this change for a minute," she says.
Laura Stoddard is another lawyer who was concerned about the personal cost of a demanding legal career. Unlike Ms. Schulz, she didn't want to leave her job as an associate tax lawyer at McMillan Binch LLP in Toronto. She was worried, though, about juggling motherhood with work demands. When she became pregnant in 2002, Ms. Stoddard was able to arrange a four-day week, and it's made all the difference. "It's a great arrangement that still lets me be involved in complex, exciting cases but leaves more time for my family," she says.
Both lawyers represent one of the pressing problems facing the legal profession: the need to resolve work/life balance issues. Concern is growing about overwork and frustration pushing talented lawyers out the door - and, in cases like Ms. Schulz's, out of the profession altogether. "Retention is a burning issue for our members," says Veronica Jackson, a member of the Canadian Bar Association's [CBA's] futures committee and a litigation lawyer with Gange Goodman & French in Winnipeg. "Everyone's saying: 'We need to look at making changes but we need some guidance.' "
The CBA and the profession at large hope they will get some of that guidance from the results of an extensive survey that is being conducted among more than 10,000 practitioners across the country who work in firms with 25 lawyers or more. The study is being sponsored and paid for by 10 major law firms, including McMillan Binch.
The study, being done by Catalyst Canada Inc., a non-profit research and advisory organization, will look at a number of issues related to work-life balance, and make recommendations to improve job satisfaction. For instance, lawyers are being asked whether they have enough control over their work structure and hours, and whether the pressure to meet targets for billable hours forces them to work too much.
Previous studies have indicated the severity of the problem. A 2001 Catalyst survey of U.S. lawyers found that 71% had trouble balancing work and personal demands. In a CBA study involving nearly 600 Canadian lawyers in 2002, 60% said more is needed on the job to help them achieve a better balance. "We keep hearing that lack of flexibility is at the crux of it. We want to find out how to make real changes to move the legal profession forward," says Susan Black, vice-president of Catalyst Canada.
The first results, showing the impact of job dissatisfaction on turnover rates, will be ready in March.
A widely cited U.S. survey by the National Association for Law Placement in 1998 highlighted just how serious the attrition problem is. NALP tracked more than 10,000 new associate lawyer hires over an eight-year period. It found that nearly 10% left their firms within the first year, and the figure jumped to 43% within three years.
"I think most of the large firms would acknowledge their numbers aren't far different," says Stephanie Willson, director of professional growth and management at McMillan Binch. "Every firm is losing people we don't want to lose and we have to ask ourselves why."
The legal business has become increasingly competitive for clients and, as a result, for top-flight talent to serve them, Ms. Willson says. At the same time, other options for lawyers have expanded. Firms in other countries are hiring more Canadian lawyers. Some lawyers are jumping to large corporate legal departments or government in the belief that the workload is easier, she adds.
But that's not always so, Ms. Jackson says. She used to work three days a week as a criminal prosecutor, but the hours were intense. "From July of one year to March of the next, I was in court every day. I was up until the early hours of the morning every day to prepare," she says.
Since joining Gange Goodman, Ms. Jackson has been able to work from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. most days, so she can be home with her children. In fact, the five other lawyers in her small firm also fashion their hours when possible to fit the needs of their families. "Firms have to be flexible but it's also up to individuals to propose something that suits them better," Ms. Jackson says.
Some firms, such as McMillan Binch, have an official alternative work arrangement policy. "A couple of lawyers have plainly said that if this option wasn't available, they would have dropped out of the practice," Ms. Willson says.
Still, only four associate lawyers, all female, out of a total of about 160 have taken the firm up on its offer. Perhaps there's a lingering fear that working less won't cut it in the high-pressure, high-stakes legal profession. The CBA questionnaire about work-life issues found that 70% of men and women believed working reduced hours negatively affected their chances for advancement in a firm.
Ms. Willson admits that, given the competitive environment and client-service focus, work-life balance can be a difficult issue to solve. "We want to make accommodations where possible but we certainly don't want to lose our biggest clients to people down the street who are willing to move mountains," she says. "That's the conundrum."
Ms. Willson is looking forward to the second part of the Catalyst survey, to be conducted this summer, that will question clients about whether they need legal advice on call around the clock. "The survey will include clients who have used lawyers in alternative work arrangements and we'll see if there are gaps or problems. We'll have a better idea of what is, or isn't, possible," Ms. Willson says.
Meanwhile, it isn't only gruelling hours that throw lawyers off balance. "Everything has to be on the table, from the billable hours model to better workplace relations within firms and support for families," Ms. Jackson says. There are signs the profession is starting to pay attention, she says. For instance, the recent Manitoba Bar Association conference added activities for spouses and children for the first time, she says.
McMillan Binch is trying to encourage positive working conditions on several fronts. The firm is going wireless, Ms. Willson says, which will help lawyers gain more control over their time. If a client meeting off-site finishes at 4:30 p.m., for instance, the lawyer won't have to head back to the office to log on and check e-mail. It can be done on a laptop from home, the cottage or anywhere else.
McMillan Binch and other firms are eagerly awaiting the results of the new survey, Ms. Willson says, because they have to do all they can to retain their talented practitioners. "When you come down to it, all we're really selling is our people."
- Britain's long workweek comes into EU sites, Reuters via WSJ, A17.
BRUSSELS - The EC said it was worried that British companies were requiring staff to work long hours, but it didn't say whether it would seek to close the loophole that allows companies to breach EU working limits.
British employee work the longest hours in Europe with 16% of workers, or 4m people, breaking the EU's 48-hour weekly limit, according to a commission report. The largest British employers' organization, the Confederation of British Industry, says 33% of the workforce sign an opt-out agreement with companies, waiving the right to a 48-hour week [cap].
"We can't be sure that workers who sign an opt-out agreement at the same time as an employment contract have a real choice," said the EU's employment and social affairs commissioner, Anna Diamantopoulou, at a news conference.
[Especially in the context of a huge and mounting labor surplus.]
The commission is reviewing the EU working-time directive, which says employees cannot be forced to work more than 48 hours a week, on health and safety grounds.... The commission would come forward with draft legislation to revise the existing rules by autumn at the earliest..\..
Ms. Diamantopoulou said the 48-hour working limit wouldn't be raised in the new proposal. However, she called for flexibility in the health sector to curb the long hours worked by doctors without causing an explosion in costs, which is a key concern for Germany, the Netherlands and Britain..\..
Britain has made the most extensive use of the opt-out, sparking concern among trade unions that employees' rights are being ignored. "Many (workers) often feel pressurized by their employers to sign themselves out of working time protection," the Trade Unions Congress said in a statement, welcoming the commission's report. "Removing the individual opt-out would help signal the end of Britain's unhealthy long-hours culture."...
- Unions slam EU report on working time, EUPoliltix [Belgium].
European trade unions have slammed Brussels over its probe into the effect of EU rules on working time.
The report, unveiled on Monday by EU employment chief Anna Diamantopoulou was greeted with disappointment by John Monks, General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation. EU employment chief Anna Diamantopoulou has been reviewing implementation of key workplace rights legislation ten years after its introduction, and unions had hoped for more concrete proposals in the report which would stop Britain and other countries abusing their opt-out.
"With Commissioner Diamantopoulou having accepted that the implementation of the Working Time Directive has been unsatisfactory...I am very disappointed that the commission has not felt able to come forward now with concrete proposals for remedying the situation," said Monks.
However, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) who has been campaigning for Britain to preserve it's right to implement the opt out urged the Commission to give workers the flexibility to work longer as well as shorter hours. "The Commission is right to recognise the importance of choice over working hours and the value of the individual opt-out from the working time rules," said Susan Anderson, CBI Human Resources director. "This review must not lead to the removal of that vital freedom. UK employees have more choice about the hours they work than those almost anywhere else in Europe. They
value that flexibility and so do employers."
Under the European working time directive employees cannot be forced to work more than an average of 48 hours a week. But in 1993 Britain negotiated an opt-out which allows countries to evade the limit to the working week subject to certain conditions. And according to the Brussels report, twice as many UK workers opt out of laws to restrict their working hours as elsewhere in Europe. The commission is concerned that workers are being asked to sign the opt-out agreement at the same time as signing employment contracts - effectively limiting their freedom of choice.
"We appreciate the importance of freedom of choice of individuals as to how they work," said Diamantopoulou on Monday. "But in practice the measures that the directive foresees to safeguard the workers' interests when opting out are not properly implemented."
The findings of the investigation show that Britons work the longest hours in the EU, with 16% of the workforce claiming to work more than 48 hours.
The report will now be reviewed by EU employment ministers and the European Parliament, with a final decision expected by autumn 2004. Any changes to the directive would need the backing from a qualified majority of EU member states.
- Land Rover pay row intensifies - Staff will work no more than 37 hours each week, BBC News [UK].
UK - Staff at Land Rover are stepping up their industrial action in a dispute over pay.
Members of the TGWU and GMB trades unions are joining Amicus members in withdrawing the flexible working time arrangements they have with the car maker. Staff at the Land Rover plant in Solihull [suburb of Birmingham], West Midlands, will work no more than 37 hours each week from 0730 GMT on Monday. Workers want more than the 6.5% pay increase over two years offered by Land Rover, which is owned by US car giant Ford.
Staff say the deal would leave them worse off than their colleagues at Jaguar - another Ford company.
By sticking to a maximum of 37 hours each week, staff are rejecting the current system under which working hours are flexible over the course of a year.
Workers at the plant in Solihull enforced an overtime ban days before Christmas and warned managers further action would be taken in the New Year if the pay issue was not addressed. Shop stewards are due to meet again on Wednesday to consider their next move. Amicus chief negotiator Duncan Simpson said: "In the meantime, we call upon the company to think again and reopen negotiations in order to avoid a possible escalation of the dispute."
- Business rejects plans for casual work rights, by Kate Gauntlett, The West Australian.
AUSTRALIA - Business has given the thumbs down to a Labor plan which would see casual workers win the right to holiday, sick leave and other entitlements.
Under the draft proposal, casual workers employed on a regular basis would be converted to permanent part-time status and get benefits they would not otherwise be entitled to as casuals. The policy platform, to be debated at Labor's national conference, also commits the party to restoring much of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission's power to intervene in industrial disputes, abolishes Australian Workplace Agreements and establishes a standard of 14 weeks paid maternity leave.
Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Peter Hendy said the proposal was a misreading of the labour market that could significantly reduce earnings for many of Australia's 2.2 million casual workers. Allowing holiday and sick pay would only be possible by removing casual loading rates worth up to 30% in a pay packet, he said. Mr Hendy said surveys showed 70% of employees wanted to remain in casual work and almost half were young people and students not looking for a long-term labour market commitment.
George Etrelezis, managing director of WA's [Western Australia's] Small Business Development Corporation, said the plan could mean less flexibility and more red tape for small businesses. "One of the secrets to success in a small businesses is flexibility and casual staff provide that," he said. Restaurants and other night traders in WA relied heavily on casual workers, who often chose those jobs because they too wanted flexibility.
Federal Employment Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews said the plans would be a huge slug to businesses and would cost jobs. But Labor workplace relations spokesman Craig Emerson said enlightened businesses would not experience any extra costs from the move and welcomed input into the detail of the plan from employers. UnionsWA assistant secretary Dave Robinson said many long-term casual workers, particularly women, had missed out on entitlements such as parental leave because of their classification. Mr Robinson said casualisation of WA's workforce had increased dramatically over the past decade, with employers seeing it as a way to employ a temporary workforce without the associated benefits.
Democrats employment spokesman John Cherry said the ALP [Australian Labor Party?] policy was a step in the right direction. It was outrageous that some workers were continuing to be employed year in year out without a permanent job. He said figures showed about one million of Australia's casual workers had been in the job for more than a year.
Labor's recipe seen as menu for disaster
Tony Crucitti believes a Labor Party proposal to give casual workers more benefits could threaten his Northbridge family business. Mr Crucitti has owned and operated the Barocco restaurant with brother Lorenzo for six years and employs up to 15 casual staff. In peak seasons such as summer, that number increases to 35. Mr Crucitti said yesterday Labor's idea to give casual workers the right to holidays and sick leave would be not be viable for businesses such as his. "Unless there is going to be a change in the tax system or discount in council rates or insurance premiums, how can restaurateurs in future be able to sustain cash flow to employ not just only casual staff but full-time staff as well?" he said. "I just think they
are trying to make policies without looking at the proper facts." Mr Crucitti said more detail was needed on how many working hours would define a part-time employee and the specific benefits they would be due.
Business owners could be tempted to rort [sic = Aussie slang? for 'circumvent'? or 'play' or 'fool'?] the system by finding loopholes to avoid the cost of the added entitlements. Casual employees could either have their hours reduced or could lose their jobs as employers tried to budget for extra entitlements.
[Compare the attempts of some U.S. businesses such as UPS to marginalize (specifically, 'part-time-ify'] full-time employees to save on benefits. Contrast the generous benefits accorded part-time employees in The Netherlands. The global, downsizing-following-technological-innovation-increased labor surplus guarantees weakening position of employees, weakening employment, weakening consumer bases and weakening economies, globally.]
1/02/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 1/01 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #6-8 which are from the 1/02 NYT & WSJ hardcopies), and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
- [timesizing gains an ally in removing a great obstacle - Ford chairman calls for national healthcare -]
1/03 The year of the car - Detroit's Big Three are serious about making cars again, The Economist, 47.
[First, the bad news - "being serious" to The Economist means laying off some of your workforce - and inherently laying off some of your own best customers -]
...Restrictive union deals with the Big Three have limited lay-offs. With American car firms struggling, that is beginning to change. Following last summer's deal with the UAW, the Detroit carmakers will close at least 6 assembly and component plants and sell off other operations.
Faced with a bleak assessment of the future, the union agreed to try to narrow the productivity gap with the mostly non-union factories opened in America's southern states by European and Japanese manufacturers. Such factories will soon have the capacity to produce more than 25% of the vehicles sold in North America.
However, the UAW refused to budge on health care, now one of the biggest single items in the cost of a Detroit car.
That led Ford's chairman, Bill Ford, to call for a national healthcare programme....
[The attachment of benefits to the rigidly and outdatedly defined "full-time" job is one of the biggest obstacles to urgently needed reduction of the workweek to share and spread shrinking human employment that is constantly passing over to automation and robotics. This issue was discussed by Juliet Schor in The Overworked American (1991), p. 145. Benefits in general must attach to a fluid definition of "full time" to allow implementation of bidirectional timesizing and not just workweek increases. The key benefit these days seems to be health insurance. And the only models of health insurance that accommodate workweek reduction are the employment-linked Hawaiian plan around 1991 (before they ruined it by modifying it for convergence with Hillary Clinton's small-business-punishing plan), or the employment-decoupled plans of Canada and Europe (and Japan?)]
- 1/04 Women make up nearly half the work-force. So why are they only directors at 9% of firms? - The findings of the first national audit of sex and power in Britain, by Andrew Johnson, The Independent [UK].
BRITAIN - More than 25 years after the Sex Discrimination Act became law, the first national audit of gender and power has revealed that women have failed to break men's stranglehold on control in business, politics, public authorities and industry.
The report, Sex and Power, Who Runs Britain?, to be published tomorrow by the Equal Opportunities Commission, uncovers some sobering statistics. Women make up nearly half the work-force of Britain but only 9% of top company directors; they comprise 70% of local authority employees, but only 13% of council chief executives; and in the police just 7% of senior officers are women.
The same depressing picture emerges from virtually every sector. Just 9% of editors are women; only 18%
MPs are women; 12% of elected council leaders are women; 6% of High Court judges are women; and 29% of heads in secondary schools The only areas of life in which women have achieved parity at the top seem to be running charities and in the Welsh Assembly, where 50% of the representatives are female.
Not surprisingly, the report calls for more transparent recruitment procedures. It says women are still disadvantaged by the "old boys' network" where senior positions are not widely advertised but filled informally.
But the real blame, says the report, lies with old-fashioned employers, and women's partners, rather than a male chauvinist culture. The authors say that the failure of women to reach the highest jobs in politics, business and the law is not because of sexism, but because they are left with the responsibilities of rearing children or caring for elderly relatives. Thus does Britain's long-hours culture and inflexible working practices make it impossible to combine a high-flying career and family.
In the past three decades society has changed, with more women working than ever before - 45% of the work-force are women, two thirds of whom have children - and fathers are spending more time with their children. But employers have yet to catch up. Inflexible working hours make it practically impossible to pursue a career and devote time to a family. And it is women who tend to make the sacrifice because they value power and status less than men.
Julie Mellor, chairwoman of the Equal Opportunities Commission, points out that care has been effectively privatised over the past few decades. So instead of care being seen as a collective responsibility, looking after children or elderly parents is seen a problem for the individual to tackle alone. Real equality, she says, requires caring to be seen as "an issue for the body politic".
The EOC says that crèches in the workplace, job sharing or term-time working, home working, dependency leave and child breaks are the way forward. Marks & Spencer, which has introduced many of these practices, has increased the number of women in senior management by 21% in a decade.
But the feminist and author Beatrix Campbell said that the real issue for both men and women is time. "There is a crisis in our culture," she added. "We have by far the longest working hours in Europe. Men are working the same hours as my father's generation in the 1940s and 1950s. "There has to be a cultural revolution. That means both men and women having a working life that more closely corresponds to the seasons of children's lives."
Isabella Moore, 55, first woman president of the British Chambers of Commerce. One daughter, aged 25.
I started my business when my daughter was young because of the flexibility that offered me. I run a technical translations company.We need to ensure support is in place to encourage entrepreneurial activity. There is a huge untapped resource.
Jacqui Smith, deputy women's minister, 40; two children, aged 10 and five.
I had my five-year-old since I was elected to Parliament. It's a challenge. I've been able to make choices with my husband, as he works part time. People have got to stop being apologetic for trying to organise their working lives around their families, because it is family life that is important.
Marilyn Mornington, District Circuit Judge, 49. Single parent, two children, aged 17 and 20.
I was working three days a week when my children were small and gave up my civil practice. It was a huge financial sacrifice. Being a judge fits much more easily into family life than being a barrister.
Jane Roberts, 48, leader of Camden Council and child psychiatrist. One child, 13.
You are juggling two jobs and a family. Meetings are in the evening, so we leave when children are going to bed. You have to say you don't have to give up your life. One day a week I'm going to be at home with my family.
Stella Manzie, 43, chief executive of Coventry City Council. No children.
What is critical for anyone in any senior position is that, unless they are single, they have a supportive family. I have women friends who could have been in senior positions but a significant number have chosen, for caring reasons, not to take that route. So yes, I think it is still a big issue. An encouraging trend is that organisations are acknowledging that men also have caring responsibilities. At Coventry we have men who say, "I can't stay late because I have to pick up the kids from school". It helps women chief executives to juggle their job and family life if their partner is supportive. A number, because of their partners' working lifestyles, can be much more flexible.
Margaret Wood, 45, Assistant Chief Constable of West Mercia Police; two children, aged 10 and 12.
You have to be well supported - that's the only way you can manage. I'm well supported by my husband. He was a police officer and then retired and took care of our children. But for a while both of us worked, and we paid for care. It has all worked out very fortunately for me.
Amanda Platell, former editor of the 'Sunday Express' and deputy editor of 'Today' and former spin doctor to William Hague.
I don't have kids. I think that's one of the things that made it easier for me. When I arrived in Fleet Street in 1985 in my mid-20s, I was in a bunch of really talented young women, but so many of them ended up at 30 wanting a family and in the "features ghetto" - the one place where there's some hope you might get to see your kids. All the positions of power in newspapers are held by men. Newspapers are brutal and very demanding in the amount of time they want from you. You can't do it in eight hours. I don't want to say that you can't be an editor and a mum - I think the demands of raising a young family and that job are very difficult, but when your kids are a bit older, less so. But unless you have a fantastic partner prepared to carry a huge amount of the burden, I don't think it's possible for women to be newspaper editors.
- 1/02 Financial incentives 'won’t encourage later retirement' - Adopting a policy of financial incentives to urge people to retire later will not work, new report warns government, as factors leading to choosing to retire are more complex than plain financial issues, HR Gateway [UK].
BRITAIN - The Government has been warned that adopting a ‘simple’ policy of increasing financial incentives to get people to work past retirement age will not be enough as decisions to retire are much more complex than the rewards they gain.
A range of financial benefits have been suggested by the Government in its Age Matters consultation, but factors such as health and family circumstances are much more important determiners of retirement, says the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF).
In its latest research report, the JRF argues that health and family as well as how people view themselves within their job determines whether someone retires. Finances are most often felt as a constraint, determining whether retirement at a preferred time is really affordable, it argues:
‘What will not work is simply to create financial incentives to work longer. For example, if we were to delay pensions until 70, without a huge change in current working patterns and opportunities, the result for many poorer people would simply be to prolong out-of-work poverty,’ said JRF advisor, Donald Hirsch.
The needs of the baby boomer generation are varied and a one-size-fits-all prescription will not work, it states. In order to make life better for older workers greater flexibility, work-life balance and opportunities to learn are needed, not a work-until-you-drop policy:
‘A first step would be to extend legislation so that all workers have the right that was recently given to parents with young children to ask their employers for part-time and other flexible working options.
‘Another key task will be to make work more worthwhile for older people, with opportunities to learn and to work in new ways, to the mutual benefit of individuals and the economy,’ says Hirsch.
The report found that employers have only just begun to adopt policies to encourage older workers to stay in work, and to avoid wasting their talents. Training and career development activities remain skewed towards younger workers, it states.
Meanwhile, new research published by the Dept. of Work & Pensions (DWP) suggests that a third of women in the workforce aged 50 and over plan to retire after State Pension Age [which is???].
Almost a third of the workforce, both men and women, aged 50-69 want to retire gradually by reducing their working hours prior to fully retiring, the Factors Affecting the Labour Market Participation of Older People report states.
Other findings from the JRF research include:
- A high proportion of men and women workers over 50 have caring responsibilities for older relations, but this does not typically lead them to give up work. Nevertheless, as the pressures to continue working beyond retirement age increase, there is a risk that the availability of informal, family care will diminish, putting professional caring services under extra strain.
- Many workers leaving jobs before state pension age have little option about the timing of retirement. Those in professional and managerial jobs tend to enjoy greater choice and control over how and when they leave the workforce than those in less privileged occupations.
- Almost as many people who leave their career jobs before retirement age can be found working part-time, or in temporary or self-employed 'bridge' jobs a year later, as are fully retired.
- The most attractive and lucrative 'bridge' job options, such as consultancy work, tend to be taken by men who were well paid and well qualified in their previous career. Women more commonly take up part-time work after leaving their 'main' career, and frequently at lower rates of pay.
1/01/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 12/31 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #1 which is from the 1/01 NYT hardcopy), and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
- Mirrorworks: Know-how, The Mirror [UK].
This week, in our regular advice column on dealing with situations at work - how to beat the post-holiday blues:
- Try not to return on a Monday. We Brits hate the first day of the working week. A short first week back can really help.
- Resolve to leave on time. Burning the midnight oil will simply undo all the good of the holiday.
- The same goes for your breaks - it's counter-productive to try to work through them as soon as you return in an attempt to clear your desk.
- Prioritise. Deal with the most important jobs first. It might sound obvious but many of us get side-tracked by trivialities.
- Book your next holiday. There's nothing like another break to give you a positive focus. And now's the time to start budgeting for it if necessary.
- If you're swamped with emails is it because you didn't redirect them to a colleague? Did your voicemail message tell people to call back after your return or call a colleague rather than leave a long message? Both options will save you a lot of hassle and time when you return from your next break.
- Chances are you ate far better and had a more relaxing time on your holiday than you do at work, so introduce some of those healthy habits, such as decent meals, at work, or reading on the train rather than say, answering emails on your laptop or making calls on your mobile.
How to jump-start your brain after vacation - To avoid wasting time, pretend you are still out and blockade your cubicle, by Jane Spencer, 1/06/2004 WSJ, D1.
- [Here's an odd one where a school board thinks four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days from its secretaries entitles it to reduce their vacation days. No net effect for timesizing except in the regressive cut in vacation time -]
Plainedge School District in employee dispute with secretaries, by Christina Troiano, Massapequa Post [NY].
PLAINEDGE, N.Y. - Despite two court decisions against them, Plainedge School District officials said last week that they will continue to fight a contract dispute over vacation time with the Plainedge School secretaries.
Meanwhile, officials for the unit said the district has "cheated" the employees over time and that their continued refusal to abide by the contract is going to cost taxpayers dearly.
The dispute, which began in the summer of 2000, involves the question of vacation days. At that time, the district settled a contract with the secretaries changing their five-day week to a four-day week. As a result the district reduced their vacation days from 15 to 12 to represent the shorter work week.
But Barbara Fisch, president of the Plainedge educational secretaries, said the employees are still working the same number of hours over the four days and are, therefore, entitled to the same number of vacation days they enjoyed under the five-day week.
Not so, said Superintendent of Schools John Richman. "I think it is illogical for the secretaries to think they would be entitled to extra vacation when they have every Friday off from work," he said.
[This is the kind of cluelessness we're up against. People who can't see the difference between four 8-hour days and four 10-hour days.]
"I think we have a legitimate claim and are entitled to the right to pursue all the legal avenues available to us."
Fisch [however] said the contract did not specify that the vacation days would be reduced, and the district is therefore in violation of the contract.
"The district has been charging them every summer so when this is resolved there will be damages that have extended over many years and the compensation will have to be settled," said Louis Stober, an attorney representing the secretaries from the law offices of Louis D. Stober Jr. in Garden City.
"The courts agreed, but Plainedge wants to appeal again, and all this costs money," Fisch said. "I obtained the records through the district through freedom of information and found out that about $31,000 has been used for legal fees, because Dr. Richmond has cheated the secretaries. It is using taxpayers’ money."
The issue has been brought to court and the decision was in favor of the secretaries. The district then took it to the Nassau County Supreme Court where Honorable Judge Joseph Covello was in favor of the secretaries. The district is now preparing to bring the case to the New York State Appellate Division, 2nd department. However, according to Stober the appeals division takes very few of these type of cases.
In the meantime, the district is spending money on legal fees and putting off the inevitable. Stober said that the secretaries have won every step of the way and that the court has held unequivocally that the district was in violation.
"It is a standard breech of contract and they (the district) will be out of appeals soon," Stober said. "There will have to be a readjustment of vacation time or a monetary reimbursement. It will probably be a mixture of both because some employees may not still be employed by the district."
"We have been fighting this grievance for many years," Eileen Miele, recording secretary for the Civil Service Employees Assoc. (CSEA) Union said. "Unfortunately the district is appealing again and we are going to fight it to the bitter end."
"The issue doesn’t make any sense at all," Richman said. "It’s not reasonable at all."
[Again, the cluelessness of this guy, who can't tell the difference between 40 hours a week (4x10) and 32 hours a week (4x8). Time for a major campaign to get him OUT of this job before he bankrupts taxpayers by his pointless but persistent litigation.]
Deputy Superintendant Jeff Burns agrees and said that the district will do everything it can do legally to protect the taxpayers.
- Large number of jobs lost in garment sector, Fibre 2 Fashion [India].
PHILIPPINES...- In the recent times a large number of workers have lost their jobs in garment and textile industry.
According to a labor group more than 5,000 workers lost their jobs. The reason the identified behind this huge amount of job loss is closure of shops and companies moving their operations to China and Vietnam.
In a position paper submitted to the House of Representatives committee on labor and employment, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino claimed that a total of 5,565 factory workers have been retrenched since June because of the closure of five textile and garments factories in Parañaque, Las Piñas and Mandaluyong in Metro Manila; in Rizal, east of Metro Manila; and in Laguna, southern Luzon.
This is aside from 4,569 workers who were affected by the shortened work week, work rotation, and temporary closure of nine garments and textile factories.
"These massive layoffs are indicative of the hemorrhage of jobs afflicting the garments and textile industry, and manufacturing as a whole, due to the onslaught of globalization," Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino National President Victor Briz told the House panel.
The labor group said majority of the workers who lost their jobs were from Novelty Philippines Inc., which laid off almost 3,000 employees - 80% of whom are women - when it closed last September 28. Company owners attributed the closure to financial losses brought about by fewer orders from the United States.
- Abramson defends his tough decisions - Many current, former politicians give him high marks in his first year as metro mayor, by Joseph Gerth (firstname.lastname@example.org), Louisville Courier-Journal [KY].
"The fact is we're running this government with less people, less money and delivering at least the same level of services, and I would submit in some areas we have enhanced the level of services," Metro Mayor Jerry Abramson said. [photo caption]
LOUISVILLE, Ky.- In his first year as metro Louisville's mayor, Jerry Abramson has angered police officers, labor unions and metro government employees and engaged in a bitter court fight with the Jefferson County sheriff.
Given the tough choices he knew he must make to form a new government during a sluggish economy, Abramson didn't expect to make many friends last year.... Abramson ordered all employees who weren't covered by union contracts to work 40-hour weeks, with no change in pay. Workers in the old city and county governments had workweeks ranging from 35 to 40 hours.
However, former city and county workers in most areas continue to work under different salary schedules. And union employees are still governed by city and county contracts that in some cases won't expire for three years.
Abramson said he won't be able to equalize salaries and work rules until the metro government negotiates new contracts. He also will be asking unions to accept new contracts that exclude first-year pay raises to match the nonunion employees who didn't receive a raise last year.
One union has accepted such a contract....
- Looking back at 2003, Joliet Herald News [IL].
...Herald News reporters voted these the top 10 stories for 2003:
- City fights Evergreen Terrace...low-income, high-density apartment complex...
- Manhattan [IL] soldier killed in Iraq
- Child killer gets life sentence
- County battles over airport plan
- Casino tax rate raised
The state this summer hiked casino taxes to battle a $5 billion budget deficit. The Empress and Harrah's in Joliet responded by cutting hours and laying off workers.
The higher tax went into effect July 1 and will last for two years or until the state is able to sell the 10th gambling license that once was held by owners of the proposed Emerald Casino in Rosemont.
Riverboats must pay a graduated tax that increases along with their receipts. They pay a 50% tax on revenues of $100m and up. For revenues above $250m, the casinos must pay a 70% tax.
The layoffs were part of an adjusted business plan by Joliet's two casinos to avoid making more than $250m.
The tax also forced Joliet officials to adjust their business plan. The city expects to lose $3.2m in revenue this year and $5.6m in 2004. Joliet's proposed budget addresses the shortfalls by trimming casino funding the city normally distributes to other government entities and social service agencies. Since July 1, Harrah's Joliet Casino and Argosy's Empress casino in Joliet have eliminated about 250 jobs through layoffs or voluntary severance. Harrah's now has about 1,200 employees at its Joliet operation. The Empress now employs about 1,300 workers.
Joliet City Manager John Mezera lashed out at the state tax. "Everybody loses," he said. "Nobody comes out ahead because of the 70% tax. It's very obvious that this tax needs to be eliminated immediately."
- Police nab 'Nightcrawler'...a suspect in...sexual assaults...
- Power plant opposed
- Priest sex scandal continues
- Conviction in slaying of nurse
- Over troubled waters. The Jefferson Street bridge was knocked out of service for five months when it was hit by a barge.... Shortly after re-opening...the bridge was once again hit by a barge....
- Nice work...if you can do it, letters to editor, WSJ, A9.
- By Ray Sheen of Taylors SC.
Robert Reich got it almost right in his Dec.26 editorial-page commentary "Nice work if you can get it." His explanation of why manufacturing jobs have disappeared from the US economy is correct. It is not because they "went to China" - it is because of increasing productivity in all sectors of manufacturing.
[So far we agree, technologically multiplied productivity is the biggest reason why manufacturing and other jobs have disappeared from the US economy - but then comes this bizarre statement -]
In the consulting work I do, I just as often see factory layoffs and closings due to companies' inability to keep up with technology as I do from a transfer of work to a low-wage country.
[We're familiar with the idea that more technology means more downsizing and layoffs. Now this dude comes up with the idea that less technology means more layoffs. "Damned if we do and damned if we don't" - unless we switching from downsizing to timesizing. Reich came up with the outdated hope of job growth in the high-tech sector. This reader places his hope in a complete contradiction -]
...The manufacturing sector will thrive only when the bureaucrats and unions are ready to accept the reality of industry in the 21st century - innovate or die.
[Bizarre. Clearly this reader can't think too far ahead - to the next wave of innovation being responded to with downsizing of employment and consumption. So the imbalance worsens, between rising productivity and lowering consumability.]
- By Thom Shulok of San Diego.
[The above reader gets it right on the basic driver of persistent depression, we believe, namely downsizing, whether in response to not keeping up with technology (or in response to keeping up with technology!). This reader dwells devastatingly on Reich's outdated hope of jobs in high tech -]
I was stunned by the former labor secretary's poor grasp of the ongoing decimation in high-tech employment. Instead of spending his time touring...robotized factories, perhaps he should take a hard statistical look at the future of domestic symbolic analyst employment [= Reich's tortured phrase for high-tech jobs]. Only this month, Forrester Research reported the expectation that by 2015, 26% of today's software engineering jobs will be lost to off-shoring.
While those numbers might surprise some outside the profession, the Forrester report is no revelation to domestic software engineers. In stark contrast to Mr. Reich's historical musings about neo-Luddites and antiglobalists, Microsoft, IBM, HP and a host of other major technology companies continue to move R&D jobs overseas. These are not low-skilled, back-office jobs. These are the very same jobs he claims are the manifest destiny of US knowledge workers. To fulfill that destiny, Mr. Reich is soundly convinced that our salvation lies in the higher education of our citizens.
Well, Mr. Reich, I and most of my colleagues hold master's degrees from respected universities, and for several years we've watched our job opportunities vanish in the face of a similarly educated Far-East workforce willing to work for the salary of a Starbuck's barista. The shopworn platitude of higher education is neither the problem nor the answer, unless perhaps you mean the education of the myopic denizens of the Dept. of Labor. We are not witnessing the classic re-enactment of low-skilled jobs draining away to developing economies, but the creation of an entirely new watershed that is inexorably eroding opportunities from even the most highly educated of our domestic workforce. The direct and indirect implications are far-reaching: If I and my colleagues can no longer afford to send our daughters to Brandeis, Prof. Reich may find himself out of a job as well.
- By Bill Deibel of Seattle.
[The last reader places hope in a supposed third category between high-tech and "personal service" workers that he calls -]
...for lack of a better name..."skilled occupations where the work must be performed at a set location" [within the U.S., including -]
The third category of occupations requires...the willingness to get one's hands dirty, and sometimes comes with a hazardous work environment....
- repair and maintenance of transportation, construction, utility, factory, office and mining equipment
- construction, from home remodeling to dams and bridges
- natural resource recovery and harvesting - minerals, petroleum, gas and logs....
[And we're back to the confrontation with technology, because all these jobs are getting automated and robotized. Our grandparents all knew the answer, workweek reduction. They practised it from 1776 to 1940. Only since 1940 have we imposed this artificial blockage of freezing the workweek. When will we ever learn, or even just re-learn and remember how our grandparents did things? And our grandparents were the ones who expected that we would only be working 20-30 hours a week by now. The fact that we aren't, in the year 2004, at our degree of efficient worksaving technology at the robotics level, is an insult to intelligence. Any way you look at it, the workforce and the consumer base it represents and supports is disappearing, and since consumption is 2/3 of the US economy, the US economy is also vanishing.]
- 24/7 in the New Year? letter to editor by Brad Bradford of Upper Arlington OH, NYT, A18.
Prof. Lizabeth Cohen's comments about the need for leisure (Arts & Ideas, Dec.27) recalled the sonnet by William Wordsworth, "The World Is Too Much With Us."
The second...line [is]:
"Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers...."
For those who have to struggle every minute to survive, the poem may seem irrelevant. But for the vast majority of Americans, the poem urges us at least to examine how we are living and to question whether a 24/7 [work]style is imperative.
[Apparently not, nor is it healthy, according to this item -]
Sleep: How to fight rising 'slumber debt', by Lidia Wasowicz (email@example.com), United Press International.
Editors' Note: UPI surveyed 71 specialists for a series of articles examining the consequences and costs of the industrialized world's nightmarish sleep debt and ways to turn around the troublesome trend. Part 3 [herewith] describes what causes, who risks and how to pay off the sleep debt.
SAN FRANCISCO... - If you're one of the 56m sleep-deprived Americans, you can blame Thomas Edison and, perhaps, your parents.
With artificial lighting, spawned of the American inventor's incandescent bulb, and industrialization, agrarian societies rising and setting with the sun gave way to cities that never sleep - and individuals that rarely rest.
The slumber debt continues to accrue, a United Press International survey of specialists has found.
Some experts think the repayment plan must begin at birth. Babies taught healthy sleep habits will be less likely as adults to face slumber deficits that can impair alertness, performance, memory and health, they reason.
"It appears that we have a feedback cycle for poor lifestyle," said Dr. Susanna McColley, division head of pulmonary medicine at Children's Memorial Medical Center in Chicago.
As industrialization took the strain out of procuring food, doing laundry and washing dishes, it also removed opportunities for burning calories and stimulating slumber. "Physical activity promotes sound sleep, and poor or inadequate sleep appears to be associated with obesity," explained McColley.
The digital revolution further subdued the call to slumber by promoting an extended and sedentary workday.
"(Sleep deprivation) has increased due to lifestyle choices, the fast pace of the electronic/information age and the need to soak in all the information," noted Dr. Phyllis Zee, professor of neurology at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. "Although companies are downsizing, overall productivity has increased - people who have jobs are working harder and longer hours."
[When will people wake up to the fact that these always go together. The missing middle term is the job market. With companies downsizing, employees become more and more an over-abundant, surplus commodity. There are more and more people looking to do your job for less. Your reaction? Insecurity. And insecurity leads to working harder and longer. "See, they wouldn't do THIS!" Oh yes they would, because they're more desperate than you. Because they're the ones with no income. And so the dynamics of downsizing instead of timesizing starts by destroying employment, then moves to free time, then moves to high pay, then moves to the consumer base, then moves to the whole economy, just as in the 1920s lead-in to the Great Depression.]
To fight off sleepiness, the night owls are following marketers' advice to wake up and smell the coffee.
"The use of caffeine (is) a symptom of our sleep-deprived society," Zee observed. "We are self-medicating!"
Trouble is, excessive caffeine intake, along with alcohol consumption and inadequate physical exercise - two other signs of the times - incite sleeplessness, scientists pointed out.
Modern-day forces work equally hard against youngsters getting the zzzs they need. Studies of children and adolescents have documented how academic demands, social pressures and after-school jobs have squeezed slumber off the top-priority schedule. "In addition, television and Internet appear to play a major role in limiting our leisure and sleep time," said psychologist Avi Sadeh of Tel Aviv University in Israel. "It has been shown that children who have a TV set in their room sleep less than those who don't."
A litany of factors contributes to the Western world's sleepless state: stress, disrupted schedules, medications, drugs, obesity, even poor-sleeping bed partners, noted Matthew Walker, instructor of psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston.
The National Sleep Foundation reports adults now average fewer than 7 hours of sleep during the workweek, with 33% of them getting less than 6½ hours.
Adolescents, with their shifting biological rhythms that push up their natural sleep schedule, are particularly prone to give short shrift to shut-eye. Just as they are settling into their deep morning sleep, it is time to wake up. "There is much evidence suggesting, with puberty, children tend to shift their sleep phase to later hours, and, if required to wake up for school, they accumulate a sleep deficit, and many of them are chronically sleep-deprived," Sadeh told UPI. The discrepancy has prompted officials in several educational systems to consider later start times for the high-school day.
Shift workers experience a similar disruption of circadian rhythms, with similar consequences.
Other sleep-troubled groups include post-menopausal women, the overweight and obese, individuals with such chronic diseases as asthma or pain, parents with small children and animal owners who let their pets spend the night, said Dr. Anne McTiernan, author of "Breast Fitness: An Optimal Exercise and Health Plan for Reducing Your Risk of Breast Cancer" (2000, St. Martin's Press) and member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.
In a study of 300 patients, Dr. John Shepard, medical director of the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center in Rochester, Minn., found 22% shared their bed with their cat or dog. Of these, 53% admitted to nightly sleep disruptions, perhaps due to snoring, reported in 21% of the canines and 7% of the felines. The quality of slumber depends on the light, temperature, humidity, movement and sound in the room, Shepard noted.
Seniors - who are prone to illness, disorders such as apnea and restless legs syndrome and a degenerating biological clock - have sleep troubles all their own. "When people grow old, their sleep needs decrease, their sleep is more fragmented, and they tend to sleep more during daytime in addition to their nocturnal sleep," Sadeh remarked. "However, many elderly people, particularly in special homes, are expected to sleep 'like babies,' and the result is that they get excessive sleep medication to make them sleep, sometimes much more then they need."
For most groups, psychological stress is the primary cause of short-term sleep problems, said Shelley Tworoger of the Fred Hutchinson center.
"However, certain medications (such as decongestants or steroids), shift work, jet lag, and working long hours or multiple jobs are also important contributors to poor sleep habits," McTiernan added.
Some 88 sleep disorders, such as insomnia, leavems [omission??] of would-be-sleepers tossing and turning.
A portion of these disturbances begin in infancy, said Dr. Marc Weissbluth, professor of clinical pediatrics at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern and author of "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" (1987, Random House). "Babies who don't sleep well turn into middle-age adults and elderly who don't sleep well," said Weissbluth, who also wrote, "Your Fussy Baby: How to Soothe Your Newborn" (2003, Random House). "Adults don't sleep well because they never learned how to sleep as children because their parents didn't teach them."
In fact, the message about sleep most caregivers pass on to their youngsters is one better left unsaid, said Rafael Pelayo, Stanford University neurologist who specializes in the relatively new medical field of sleep disorders. "Children model the parents' attitudes about sleep, and most parents give the wrong message that sleep can be avoided," Pelayo said in a telephone interview. "We send the message that sleep is something bad, if the child misbehaves, we send him to bed early, but if he's good, we let him stay up." It should be just the opposite, with a chance to get under the covers offered as a reward, not a punishment, he advised.
With the average sleep time slashed by 20% in the past 100 years, it might be time to wake up to the consequences of a nation that refuses to close its eyes, scientists said. "The single, overarching, most important thing is to give sleep a higher priority than many, many other things, particularly on a daily basis," stressed Dr. William Dement, professor of psychiatry and founder of the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic.
Is it possible to get too much shut-eye? "My position is the more sleep, the better," asserted Dr. Clete Kushida, director of the Stanford Center for Human Sleep Research. "We're so chronically sleep deprived, extra sleep can't hurt."
Before Edison saw the light, Walker reminded, humans were sleeping on average 10 hours a night - without ill effects. "Treat yourself to a few sleep-ins!" he advised.
- World watch -...Europe - Chirac makes employment a priority for 2003, AP via WSJ, A7.
PARIS - French Pres. Jacques Chirac made employment a top priority for 2004, promising a new law to boost job creation during his New Year's Eve speech.... Citing the country's economic growth in 2003, Mr. Chirac said, "What is at stake in 2004 is to make the most of this growth, with one priority: employment."...
Mr. Chirac said he had asked PM Jean-Pierre Raffarin to consult with business leaders and unions to come up with a new law on employment. The call echoed past efforts to bring down joblessness. The previous Socialist-led government lowered the workweek to 35 hours from 39, an attempt to force companies to hire more staff to keep productivity in line.
[No, an attempt to force companies to hire more staff to keep consumption up in line with productivity.]
However, Mr. Chirac and business executives say the shorter week has made France less competitive.
[with the sweatshops of eastern Europe and the Third World, but more in balance with its own technology-multiplied productivity.]
Parliament has since raised the limit on overtime hours and reduced benefit payments by employers.
[Not even the present government of world's most advanced economy, with a watered-down 35-hour workweek, understands the priority, nay, the urgent imperative of squeezing the technology-diminished market-demanded working hours out across the entire adult population, all of whom need to support themselves lest taxpayers have to do so.]
- US Airways to lay off more than 550 flight attendants, AP via NYT, C3.
....on Jan.15..\..after hundreds of others return from voluntary leave, which was intended to help the airline weather its spiraling finances and bankruptcy.... The layoffs apparently mark the end of the voluntary furloughs that US Airways..\..which is based in Arlington VA [and is] the nation's 7th-largest airline, had offered its employees to stave off jobcuts. Under the offer, longtime employees could go on leave to preserve a younger worker's job.
[If these were definite-term leaves, this would be a new voluntary type of timesizing, not downsizing.]
A US Airways spokeswoman, Amy Kudwa, said no further voluntary furloughs were planned.
- Insurance staff get five-day week, by Samir Salama, Gulf News [United Arab Emirates (UAE)].
DUBAI, U.A.E. - The insurance industry received a surprise New Year's gift with the introduction of a range of improvements to working arrangements. A shorter working week, with a two-day weekend, and the scrapping of awkward split shifts that consume large chunks of the morning and afternoon are some of the new measures.
The move is to attract more nationals to insurance industry, which has been identified as one of the key sectors for more local recruitment by government officials. Authorities are keen to ensure that the target industries have the similar benefits and conditions as the public sector.
Working hours will generally be fixed at 7.30am to 3.30pm and during Ramadan an hour will be dropped from the beginning and another from end of the shift.
Job quota for nationals in the insurance industry is also on the anvil.
Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Minister of Economy and Commerce, has issued a decision granting staff of insurance companies in the UAE 2-day weekend – Thursday and Friday – and 8-hour straight shift from 7.30am to 3.30pm. The working hours during Ramadan will be reduced by two from 8.30am to 2.30pm.
Under the decision which takes effect from February 1, insurance companies, agents and brokers operating at border outlets and re-insurance section in head offices of insurance companies can ask their staff to put in extra hours provided they are compensated.
The decision is among other steps to increase the percentage of nationals in the insurance sector. Economy ministry sources said: "The first quarter of this year will witness more measures in this regard, including penalties for the companies which fail to recruit certain% of UAE citizens. "Long working hours and one-day weekend are among the major blocks that hinder emiratisation in the insurance sector."
Insurance industry workers here gave a rousing welcome to the news of a five-day workweek as a harbinger of better things to come for other industries in the UAE. Imad Khashfeh, a Lebanese insurance officer, said that the move is excellent on the business and social scenes. "The straight working hours will make insurance companies more accessible for their clients and will improve their business. "The move will help us socialize better," Imad added. He also believes the move will encourage more and more UAE nationals to take up jobs in the insurance industry. "Most of the UAE citizen who join insurance companies are studying and were complaining of the split shift and the long working hours. Ghazim Sulaiman, a claims processor at a local insurance company, said the new rule is a "very good news" to start 2004. We're quite happy about it … I guess it gives us a good reason to celebrate. "An eight-hour work-day is just right. In the insurance industry, the workload is quite tough, because of the amount of pressure. Working beyond your optimum level increases the likelihood of mistakes creeping up. "Also localisation of jobs in the insurance industryis a positive step forward."
Sulaiman added: "The volume of work in our industry flows like a river. We're constantly busy with the millions of cars in the UAE, which has a high incidence of vehicular accidents." Roberto A., an insurance claims processor with local affiliate of an American insurance company, said: "A two-day weekend is also good for our families and the domestic tourism industry.
"Some countries in the West still manage to produce the best products which we all use even if the people who make them only work for five days a week. Our challenge is to make weekends worthwhile."
Yousuf Al Baadani, a UAE national, said the move would definitely make the insurance sector a favoured option for all young nationals. "Previously, a national would think twice before taking up a job in an insurance company. Now I think this industry will be more attractive. But I think authorities must also impose higher salary packages for citizens in this sector," Al Baadani said.
- 5-day workweek to kick off in major firms, Korea Times.
SOUTH KOREA - Big changes are in store this year in the workplace as more people will be able to enjoy weekends off and foreign workers will be employed under a newly- established work permit system. Public companies, finance and insurance firms, and workplaces with over 1,000 employees will introduce the five-day workweek from July. Businesses with less than 1,000 workers may also adopt shorter working hours this year if an agreement is struck between labor and management.
In line with these measures, public officials will have one Saturday off every month from January, and two Saturdays off from July. But the monthly leave for workers and women's paid menstrual leave will be scrapped, and people will be allowed 15 to 25 days of paid holidays per year.
The work permit system for foreign workers will be implemented from August, allowing migrant workers to work legally in the country for up to three years. Workers who apply for childcare leave will receive 400,000 won per month, an increase from the previous 300,000 won, while daily contracted workers and foreigners will additionally enjoy employment insurance benefits.
- [Chirac is still shadowboxing with 'competitiveness' instead of implementing full-scale workweek adjustment vs. unemployment à la Robien Law (see under economywide macro working models) -]
Chirac says top priority is jobs - Unemployment at 9.6%, by Christine Ollivier, Associated Press via Boston Globe [USA].
PARIS - President Jacques Chirac made employment a top priority for 2004, promising during his New Year's Eve speech a new law to boost job creation. Chirac spoke after the French national statistics agency announced a slight decrease in the jobless rate, from 9.7% in October to 9.6% in November. The news suggested that France's recovery remains on track after a third-quarter pickup.
Chirac thanked the French for helping bring growth in 2003. Gross domestic product in 2003 was expected to reach a modest 0.2% expansion. "What is at stake in 2004 is to make the most of this growth, with one priority: employment," Chirac said.
Chirac said he had asked Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin to consult with business leaders and unions to come up with a new law on employment. The call echoed past efforts to bring down unemployment. The previous Socialist-led government lowered the workweek from 39 to 35 hours, an attempt to force companies to hire more staff to keep productivity in line.
However, Chirac and business executives claim the shorter week has made France less competitive.
[Only if you're competing for longest hours and lowest efficiency.]
One main complaint is that it puts strain on smaller businesses.
[Smaller businesses export less than larger businesses and don't need to be internationally competitive anyway.]
"The 35-hour work week was putting the brakes on activity," Chirac said. "It has been made more flexible," with parliament raising the limit on overtime hours and reducing benefit payments by employers. The statistics agency, Insee, said the number of unemployed dropped by 7,000 to just over 2.6 million in November. It used data standards set by the International Labor Institute.
Economists had expected the number of people out of work to rise by 10,000 to 15,000. Still, the overall jobless rate has climbed over the past year. It stood at 9.2% in November 2002. The unemployment figures "let us hope that the structural policies of the government over the past 18 months are starting to bear fruit," Social Affairs Minister Francois Fillon said.
Some market watchers remained cautious. BNP Paribas economist Dominique Barbet said the figures were surprising, given modest growth and the delay between employment and output cycles.
"It's too early to judge whether the drop will continue . . . or whether we are just facing some odd data before the actual pickup of the labor market occurs," Barbet said.
Click here for spontaneous cases of primitive timesizing in -
Nov.21-30/2003 + Dec.1
1998 and previous years.
For more details, see our laypersons' guide Timesizing, Not Downsizing, 'flung' into print as a campaign piece during the 1998 race for Joe Kennedy's empty Congressional seat. The handbook is available online from *Amazon.com.Top |
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