Timesizing® Associates - Homepage

Timesizing News, Jan.31+ February 1-10, 2004
[Commentary] ©2004 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 622, Porter Sq, Cambridge MA 02140 USA 617-623-8080


2/10/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 2/09 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -

  1. Cacophony rises over social contract on job creation, donga.com.
    SEOUL, South Korea - The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), an umbrella of independent trade unions, said on Feb.9 that it will start a work-sharing campaign by reducing overtime hours, a move that is fueling controversy.
    Meanwhile, the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI), a business lobby, demanded some parts of the tripartite social contract, which was signed by representatives from government, labor, and industry late last week, should be reconsidered as they run counter to an improved competitive edge.
    The KCTU said in a press conference at its headquarters, that full respect for the principle of a 40-hour workweek will create a considerable number of jobs. It said it will help create jobs with an anti-overtime campaign.
    The KCTU said it will launch the campaign at 1,000-plus workplaces such as public corporations, financial institutions and large companies starting July 1. It projected at least 500,000 jobs will be created by the time the campaign is spread to all sectors.
    Employers expressed concern about the campaign, citing an increase in wage bills. “Investment should be increased by lessening burdens on corporations to create jobs,” Lee Dong-eung, director of the Korea Employers Federation (KEF) said. “Hiring new employees by reducing overtime hours will increase financial burdens on them.” Lee Soo-ho, the new KCTU chairman, commenting on the job creation social contract of Feb.8, said, “I wonder whether it will be viable because the contract was signed hurriedly and excluded the KCTU, of which about 80% of trade unions at the big corporations belong.”
    Concerning a two-year freeze of wages at large corporations in the contract, Lee said, “This rough-and-ready, one-time measure presupposes the sacrifice of workers, which will lead to the social contract foremost highlighted by wage freezes.” He concluded, “The wage freeze will weaken workers’ buying power, decrease consumer spending, and make economic growth much tougher.”
    Asked whether or not the KCTU will join the tripartite commission of the government, industry, and labor he answered, “As we have repeatedly said before, the KCTU will join the commission only if it becomes an independent body which can implement its own contracts.” He also proposed a meeting with the president, other high-level officials and the employers’ representatives.
    The KCTU also proposed:
    1. negotiations of social contracts on an industry-by-industry basis;
    2. cancellation of the government’s provisional seizure of trade union assets in a damages lawsuit against trade unions and;
    3. formation of a tripartite arbitration body to resolve about 40 prolonged labor disputes.
    In related news, Lee Gyu-hwang, a FKI director in a meeting of standing committee members of the tripartite commission, said, “The social contract stipulates that excessive arbitrary adjustments of employment should be held in check.” He continued, “However, any change in employment launched by management according to its need is arbitrary.” Lee concluded, “‘Excessive’ should be replaced with ‘unreasonable’.” “I’d like to point to the fact that the agreement on the social contract is a proposal by the basic principle committee of the commission, not a final version,” [he added].

  2. [And here's some valuable human-interest and personal-experience material of workweek reduction from S.Korea -]
    Five-day workweek spurs new consumption trends
    [AND greater independence from the unpredictable export markets!]
    - However, partial implementation, bleak economy mean no big profits for corporate community, Korea Herald.
    [Then complete the 40-hour implementation and trim the workweek further. Activate all those domestic consumers you've "iced" in unemployment, welfare (2m US families), disability, homelessness, prison, and forced retirement, forced part-time and forced self-employment. To follow up, we've finally found some specific figures on US self-employment: in 2002, 13.8m (10%) of the overall workforce were self-employed while 5.6m (16%) of workers aged 50 & over were self-employed, presumably because no one would hire them and CEOs have looted their pensions. Both 2002 percentages were down compared to 1994 (12% and 21% respectively), presumably because with all the intervening work-force and consumer-base downsizing, there are so many fewer opportunities now. See "Over-50 set minds its own business," 3/18/2004 WSJ, D2.]
    SEOUL, South Korea - When July comes around this year, Baek Yong-gy expects to be freer. He looks forward to taking up sports and traveling. He will simply enjoy the chance to invest more time in himself and focus on self-improvement. "I'll have the chance of a better quality of life," the 41-year-old says. "I'll be able to enjoy life."
    [Free time is indeed the most basic freedom, giving opportunity, as it does, for the exercise of all the others.]
    Baek will not be alone. As of July 1, he and thousands of other workers will benefit from reduced working hours, opening up opportunities to balance their work and personal life. With the National Assembly's approval of the shorter working week bill last August, the weekly average working hours for public sector and private companies with more than 1,000 employees will fall to 40 from the current 44 hours . For most, this will mean discarding their partial workday, Saturday, and enjoying a five-day workweek.
    As the economic climate will be a major factor determining the pace at which society adopts a shorter workweek, after decades of toil that won Korea its status as an economic miracle nation, experts predict that Korean consumers will only adapt to the new lifestyle slowly and gradually and that the move will only affect less than one in eight workers.
    According to Samsung Economic Research Institute's 2002 report on the "five-day workweek and changes to soft industries," the phases in which people may conform to a leisurely lifestyle can be categorized into three types: cocoon, active and practical.
    The first category describes individuals who will pass their time at home enjoying various hobbies or watching television. The second refers to those who will actively take part in activities outside the home and the third to those who will use the extra time to expand their knowledge and seek ways to increase their income.
    The SERI report says that in the early stages, the majority of workers will be in the cocoon category, due to income factors, lack of information and the need to get used to allocating time wisely. And as the shorter workweek gradually becomes a part of their lifestyle, individuals will shift to the active type and invest more in themselves in order to become the practical type.
    But despite these theories, employees like Baek, who is a manager at Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co., may defy the phases and go straight from phase 1 to 3. "Even if it means a little sacrifice in my finances and working harder on weekdays to keep my weekends open, I plan to expand my hobbies and explore new places around Korea," he said. "I also plan to strengthen my work skills by reading related books and improve my English by joining a conversation club," he added, emphasizing that it will be an investment for himself and will improve productivity at work.
    Meanwhile, for businesses, the changes will mean more opportunities to drive up sales. As Korean society strives to integrate the value of personal free time with the traditional national work ethic, industries expect to see an increase in consumption tied to leisure.
    Retailers such as E-mart and Carrefour, pinpoint recreational equipment and clothing, as well as electronics items. Recreational items would include in-line skates, athletics shoes and hiking gear. Electronics would be MP3 players, digital cameras, handheld TVs and computers. "I can't wait to take up in-line skating and do more traveling," said Choi Sung-kyu, a 48-year-old investment policy manager for Gyeonggi Province.
    With traveling becoming ever more popular, the retail industry predicts that demand for car accessories will grow and the auto sector forecasts that demand for sports utility vehicles will continue to rise as the value of leisure time permeates through society. Hyundai Motors, for instance, says it has seen a growing trend for SUVs from 26.4% of its total sales in 2000 to 33.4% in 2003. "This preference can be attributed to a society growing more conscious of the value of leisure time," a manager at Hyundai Motor Co. said. The issue of adopting a five-day workweek was first raised in 1998.
    "We expect the rising trend to continue, especially with more companies adopting the shorter workweek," the Hyundai manager added.
    In addition to growing demand for products related to recreation and travel, the "do-it-yourself" concept is also expected to gain in popularity in Korean culture. “We predict a sales increase in home improvement items not only because people will spend more time at home and want to improve their living environment, but also because of rises in labor costs,” noted a Carrefour spokeswoman.
    But while consumer trends may sway in such a direction, most businesses do not expect a dramatic boom in sales come July 1 but expect a gradual change in consumption, mainly because the five-day week concerns only a part of Korea’s working society.
    The shorter workweek will be adopted in stages before becoming the norm. According to the bill, after the first stage this July, companies with 300 employees or more will implement the reduced workweek July 1, 2005, while remaining workplaces will only do so in 2011.
    The corporate community is also realistic about social unrest and the effects the move will have on the unstable economy.
    "Given the ongoing recession that shows no sure signs of abating any time soon, we don't expect consumers to suddenly spend their money, nor will we generate high profits," said Kim Dai-sik, manager of public affairs at Shinsegae Co. Ltd. He was referring to the company's E-mart operation, the nation's largest discount chain store.
    Industry experts agree. Im Bock-soon, director of the distribution & logistics team/research division at the Korea Chamber of Commerce & Industry, notes that the five-day workweek for public institutions and conglomerates this July will affect only a small%age of the working population. According to the Ministry of Labor, it will account for 13.6% of employed people.
    "With the five-day week to affect only a portion of our society, it's hard to say that it will actually be a regularized system affecting the masses and bring about sweeping changes," Im explained. He further noted that the sluggish economy, added to the high unemployment rate, would rather discourage consumer consumption. "Also, with our per capita income standing at $10,000, businesses can't expect many people to spend much."
    Im pointed out that some working people may want to spend their extra time to build their work skills to reinforce their competitiveness in the labor market.
    Underscoring the fact that a reduced workweek does not necessarily prompt spending, even before it became law, the banking industry had been practicing a five-day week from July 2002.
    [How, pray tell, does that support the view, not the 'fact', that a reduced workweek doesn't necessarily prompt spending? Where's the data on 5-day workweek banking employees' spending compared to 5½-day workweek, say, insurance employees' spending adjusted for any differences in pay levels?]
    Securities and insurance firms followed suit, while conglomerates like Samsung and Hanwha joined this year.
    "We have witnessed a trend in consumption for leisure-related items but we didn't see a leap in profits when the banks changed," Kim Dai-sik of Shinsegae said.
    Even though travel ranks high among people's leisure activities, socio-economic conditions will still dictate travel behavior. "Domestic journeys totaled 300 hundred million [sic] last year and we expect the figure to increase by 7% this year, given the gross domestic product should grow at least 5%," said Choi Sung-woo, director of the domestic tourism promotion team at the Korea National Tourism Organization.
    [So what's your guess, sportsfans? Does this mean (A) 300,000,000 domestic journeys last year or (B) 300,00,000,000 = 30,000,000,000 = 30 billion? We'll spring for (A).]
    The country's struggle to cast off its old labor culture and raise itself out of its status as a developing country will not be the main influences affecting the way people adapt to a work life with more free time. Naturally, with the uncertain economic outlook straining consumer confidence, many will want to play it safe rather than discover too late that they have jumped the gun.
    Im, the director of the Korea Chamber of Commerce & Industry said, "At a time like this, I think one would need a lot of courage to spend."

  3. Big brand retailers turning up the heat for vulnerable workers - Oxfam, UN Observer.
    Big brand companies and retailers in the fashion and food industries are driving down employment conditions for millions of women workers around the world, according to a new study by international agency Oxfam.
    Oxfam says that huge retailing “empires” are undermining the very labour standards they claim to uphold by using a common business model that demands ever-quicker and cheaper delivery of the freshest and latest products. The companies are using their power at the top of global supply chains to squeeze their suppliers to deliver. This pressure is dumped immediately onto women workers in the form of ever-longer hours at faster work rates, often in poor conditions and with no job security.
    The report says that millions of women are being denied their fair share of the benefits of globalisation as a result.
    “This is where globalisation is failing in its potential to lift people out of poverty and support development,” says Oxfam’s Make Trade Fair campaign director Phil Bloomer.
    [Ah, globalization is failing everywhere to lift people out of poverty. Any place such as India where jobs are appearing is wiped out in spades by places such as the USA where jobs paid five times as much are disappearing. Globalization is just a license for multinational executives to extend their skimming field and add to their already wastefully high 'compensation.']
    “There is a widening gap between the rhetoric of global corporate social responsibility and the reality of the corporate business model. Many corporations have codes of conduct to hold their suppliers accountable for labour standards, but their own ruthless buying strategies often make it impossible for these standards to be met.”
    Oxfam’s report “Trading Away Our Rights” published today combines research from 12 employment-related campaigns across rich and poor countries, and interviews with more than 1000 workers, factory and farm owners, global brands, importers, exporters, union and government officials.
    Examining the lucrative food and clothing industries, the report finds that companies are outsourcing their production and using their dominant market position to drive cost and risk down their supply chains. Corporate buying teams have massive power to pressure their suppliers to deliver “just-in-time” orders at lower prices.
    Companies such as Tesco, El Corte Ingles-Induyco, Taco Bell and Wal-mart must radically alter the way they work with producers and in negotiating deliveries and prices, Oxfam says. Farm and factory owners told researchers they realize that the real power within the corporations lay with the buying teams – whose actions Oxfam says are helping to cause worsening employment conditions – rather than those teams responsible for codes of conduct. “Ethical trade just doesn’t fit neatly into numbers so gets left out of the picture,” a former buyer for a UK supermarket said.
    Bloomer says: “Today’s business ethos is ‘make it quick, make it flexible, make it cheap’. Anyone appalled by terrible labor conditions in the world today should be asking, ‘so who turned up the heat?’ The workers at the bottom of the global supply chains are helping to fuel national export growth and shareholders’ returns – but their jobs are being made ever more insecure, unhealthy and exhausting and their rights weakened. This must change.”
    Women workers are being hit especially severely: their stories debunk the myth that theirs is just “extra” income. Many women are expected to care for families and be the bread-winner – but more often today in unreliable, distant or poor conditions. This burden is ruining women’s health, breaking up families and communities and undermining the prospects of future generations, the report says.
    “Jobs in labor-intensive industries are celebrated as empowering women,” Bloomer says. “While we welcome the fact that millions of women are getting a wage, the wage alone doesn’t free them from poverty. Instead they’re being burnt-out by working harder, faster, over longer hours and with few health, maternity or union rights. This is a poor strategy for improving women’s lives.”
    Meanwhile, many governments – encouraged by the World Bank, the IMF and big business – are also complicit as they continue to pursue laws and trade agreements that allow for deeper “flexibilization” of labor. This results in countries being pitted in competition to provide the most flexible workforce.
    For example, in Chile 75% of women fruit-pickers are now on temporary contracts and work 60-hours per week in season, but still one in three earns at or below the minimum wage. In the UK, employers have been legally able to pay home-workers just 80% of the minimum wage, and without redundancy, holiday or sick pay, or pension rights. Fewer than half the women in Bangladesh garment factories have a contract and most get no maternity or health coverage. In China, young women face 150 hours of overtime each month and 90% have no access to social insurance. Oxfam documents hundreds of similar abuses happening in countries across the world.
    “This short-term advantage of trade is short-sighted and comes at the risk of a long-term cost to society,” Bloomer says. “Improving employment conditions, on the other hand, would be a powerful catalyst for reducing poverty. It would strengthen an international trading system that is rightly being seen as failing the poor and would create new opportunities for investment, growth and development.”
    In addition to changes needed in corporate behavior, states must also begin to guarantee workers’ right to join trade unions and to bargain collectively, and to better enforce labor laws especially those that support workers who are raising families. And consumers ought to support brands that sustain good jobs as much as good fashion.
    Oxfam is supporting campaigns around the world to help impoverished workers improve their conditions of employment, for instance, in Honduras, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to ensure redundancy compensation; in Kenya to secure union and maternity rights in EPZs; in South Africa, the US and UK to enforce fair wages; in Colombia to reject expanding working hours; and in Central America to reject temporary contracts with no health cover.
    To obtain the report, “Trading Away Our Rights: Women Working in Global Supply Chains”, please visit: http://www.oxfam.org.uk/what_we_do/issues/trade/trading_rights.htm

  4. MEPs to rule over working time opt-outs, EUObserver.com [Belguim].
    BRUSSELS - Parliamentarians will tomorrow vote on banning EU countries from ‘opting-out’ of legislation which limits the working week to 48 hours.
    This opt-out has mainly been used by the UK, which has employed it across the board for all types of workers. But recently other countries have also planned to use this option – in France, Germany and the Netherlands for health workers and in Luxembourg for the hotel and catering trades.
    However, a report by Spanish Socialist MEP [member of Euro parliament] Alejandro Cercas calls on the European Commission to implement infringement proceedings against the UK Government for "widespread and systematic abuse of the directive".
    This non-binding report seeks to put pressure on the Commission as it is currently reviewing the 1993 working time directive.
    The vote in the plenary is expected to be a close one, with the Christian Democrats and Liberals expected to vote against the abolition of this opt-out. The Christian Democrats, who voted against this report in committee, are expected to vote against the report in plenary if it is not amended.
    But the Socialists will provide their support.
    "...Working time has to be well regulated and the abuses of the working time directive have to be corrected", a spokesman for the European Socialists said on Friday.

2/07-09/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 2/06-08 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
  1. 2/09   ETU aims for 36-hour work week, by Marcus Pabian, Green Left Weekly [Australia].
    MELBOURNE, Victoria State - On February 4, an historic mass meeting at the Collingwood Town Hall of 1000 Electrical Trades Union (ETU) stewards from across the industry voted for a sustained state-wide campaign for a 36-hour working week. Improved safety, a 5% annual increase in wages and the employment of 200-300 new apprentices will also be key demands.
    The campaign aims to reverse the damage caused by the privatisation of the State Electricity Commission (SEC) of Victoria in 1992. “This meeting of all the workers in the industry was the first time since privatisation and the members loved it. The passion is there, the strength is there”, ETU state secretary Dean Mighell told Green Left Weekly.
    The February 5 Age reported that “a separate meeting of up to 1500 Australian Service Union call-centre workers, supervisors and technicians... also endorsed the campaign.” “We have been working for the last two agreements, over a period of six years, to try and bring the enterprise agreements into line. When the SEC was privatised in 1992, the industry was blown apart. Not just in terms of massive job losses and the regional decline, in places like the Latrobe Valley... but the companies were broken off and sold off”, Mighell said.
    New apprentices
    Mighell explained that the industry has been infiltrated by contractors, and that companies have stopped taking on apprentices. “If you look at the old SEC, it was not run for profit, it was just about providing a safe, reliable electricity service, and it had a social commitment to train kids. It would have 350 apprentices on at any given time”.
    Now, said Mighell, “the best estimates we can get is that they have got no more than 30 or 40 apprentices state-wide. They did not train one new line-worker apprentice between 1992 and 1997. The industry has got a massive skill shortage.”
    The ETU is attempting to bring the working week down from 37.5 hours to 36 hours, and to increase the number of apprentices by demanding that companies employ one apprentice for every three tradespeople. This would address the lack of skilled labour and improve safety.
    Lacking regulation of their activities, private companies have employed unskilled labour, undermining health and safety conditions. “They are not trained to perform work safely on the system, it puts other workers at risk, it puts the public at risk”, said Mighell.
    On February 4, the ETU forced a government report on the privatised power industries’ safety performance to be made publicly. The mass meeting that day demanded a licensing and registration system to screen unskilled line-workers so health and safety are ensured. The report foreshadows the introduction of such a registration system. “That’s a great victory for us. But the devil is in the detail... We need to make sure that this system is used in a pro-worker, not an anti-worker, [way]”, said Mighell.
    Opposition
    According to the February 4 Herald Sun, Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry spokesperson David Gregory claims that a 36-hour work week would reduce jobs and increase the cost of doing business.
    Mighell rejects this: “If you go back to 1856, the mainstream press of the day screamed with great horror [at] the introduction of an eight-hour working day. They saw it as the greatest social ill of all time. Shorter hours is not anti-jobs, it’s pro-jobs... There is absolute evidence that a whole lot of jobs are created by a 36-hour work week, particularly if you draw down the number of hours workers spend doing overtime.”
    In February 5 Age, Phillip Green from the National Electrical Contractors Association said he “[didn’t] see a four-day week happening given the skills shortages in the industry”. “The only way to overcome the skills shortage is [training] more apprentices. If they put on more apprentices, 36-hours is very real.”, Mighell responded.
    Work bans, including on overtime, will begin on February 10, as well as industrial action tailored to each company. The ETU is expecting a long campaign and is prepared to call a state-wide stoppage. “If they absolutely reject apprentices, absolutely reject shorter hours, then the troops [at the mass meeting] said: `Let’s all go out together!’”, explained Mighell.

  2. 2/08   Government team to weigh five-day work week, by Gideon Alon, Ha'aretz [Israel].
    ISRAEL - The cabinet on Sunday approved the establishment of a special governmental team to look into the economic viability of shortening the working week to five days, with Saturday and Sunday becoming official rest days. The cabinet stipulates, however, that any such plan would have to guarantee that the number of weekly work hours was not reduced as a result of moving to a two-day weekend.
    [Huh?]
    The team will be headed by Immigrant Absorption Minister Tzipi Livni. The final composition of the team will be decided by leaders of the Likud, Shinui, National Union and National Religious Party factions, and will include experts from various fields. Among the issues that the committee will examine is the economic and social impact of the change. The composition of the team will be submitted to the cabinet for approval at the end of the month.
    Announcing the establishment of the team at Sunday's cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said that the decision had been taken in consultation with other members of the coalition, and that the aim was to reduce the friction between the religious and secular communities, and to avoid penalizing those to observe the Sabbath.
    Tourism Minister Effi Eitam (National Union) welcomed the announcement. He said that the move to a five-day week would eradicate Saturday trading, without harming economic activity. "Observant Jews are currently forced to work on Saturday and tens of thousands of salaried employees are not enjoying a proper day of rest."

  3. 2/08   Ill-advised labour reforms, by Jason Clemens & Mark Mullins, Toronto Star.
    [Guess the Star has been taken over by near-sighted Rupert Murdoch.]
    TORONTO, Ont. - Ontario Liberal government labour reforms are travelling across a familiar arc, one traced by NDP and Conservative governments before them. The Bob Rae government leaned left (with employment equity and hiring quotas) and Mike Harris pulled back to the right (with a loosening of provincial regulation). Now, the pendulum is swinging back again towards the centre, that sweet spot of Liberal ambition.
    All might seem well with labour relations in this comfy middle ground because it appears to balance competing interests. But a central point is lost in all of this political to-ing and fro-ing: These labour rules have an impact on the job market. Never mind the unions (cheered on by the left) and the companies (supported by the right). What is best for workers in terms of individual rights and job opportunities?
    Labour Minister Chris Bentley's specific commitment is to review the Employment Standards Act and pay special attention to the number of work hours permitted without approval from the labour ministry. The government is considering undoing Conservative legislation by requiring ministerial approval for employees to work more than 48 hours in one week.
    Although the minister has stated his intention to be "fair and balanced," the notion that Ontario requires bureaucrats to intervene in the labour market to protect workers reveals a 19th-century view of labour relations that is out of touch with North American norms.
    [No, a 20th-century view when it comes to defining the job market in terms of workweek per person so that everyone can easily support themselves in the age of automation - and even more a 21st-century view for economies that wish to stay out of the Third World. But once the workweek is tied to unemployment in inverse variation, minimum wage laws and other micromanagement can be dismantled.]
    Introducing yet more rigidity into Ontario's labour market will do absolutely nothing to spur investment or economic growth, and in all likelihood will impede both.
    To understand why this is so, remember that flexibility is critical to a high-performing labour market. It allows both employees and employers to respond to changes in market conditions. Flexibility for workers means that they are able to quickly and easily divert their efforts to areas of higher value and thus higher wages.
    Employers, on the other hand, require flexibility in order to respond to changes in the demand for their goods and services, including adding shifts or additional hours in peak periods, introducing new technologies to lower costs, and expanding to foreign markets.
    Rigid labour laws, particularly those that are prescriptive in nature rather than outcome-based, can create enormous impediments that result in lost job opportunities and keep workers and companies from ever reaching their full potential.
    Ontario is in no position to risk eroding its labour market.
    [It's labor market is already eroded - like everyone else's - because labor is in gross surplus and is getting cheaper and cheaper, bringing consumer markets gradually down further and further. These morons mean job market.]
    In a recent study comparing labour market performance across all Canadian provinces and U.S. states, Ontario ranked 24th on employment [= jobs] growth,
    [so quit straining for 40-hr/wk job growth which will forever withhold the liberating benefits of worksaving technology and just share the vanishing employment!]
    average unemployment, the duration of unemployment, and worker productivity. This places Ontario in the middle of the pack, well below the province's potential.
    A brief perusal of all the various standards, regulations, and requirements imposed on employers by the labour ministry shows the hurdles businesses face to satisfy the government that they are treating their employees fairly. These employees would be better served if companies focused on making better products, improving customer service, expanding their business, or finding new and less expensive ways to make better products, instead of completing paperwork.
    Bentley and his cabinet colleagues apparently believe that a more regulated environment leads to better labour market outcomes. If that were the case, then Quebec and Saskatchewan would have thriving labour markets, since they maintain the most rigid labour regulations in Canada. Unfortunately for their residents, heavy-handed regulation has not ushered in prosperity. Both provinces perform poorly on labour market outcomes, as measured by the indicators discussed previously.
    [These boys apparently haven't figured out that there's a third way to go in regulation.]
    Ontario needs more flexibility, not less.
    [Ontario will have a lot more flexibility if the government can move into the worktime capping and OT-targeted training business and get out of the wage control and job creation business.]
    Ontario still requires mandatory arbitration without offering less expensive alternatives
    [there's nothing less expensive than arbitration - unless you mean overpowering employer bullying],
    possesses onerous successor rights (purchasers of failed companies must uphold collective agreements that may have produced the bankruptcy),
    [boy, these guys are really out to shrink the Ontario consumer base by shrinking employee gurantees on behalf of Poor Little Employers]
    and protects unions by precluding workers' choice laws.
    [What rot. Employees have no "choice" in a provincial, national and global labor surplus because they have no bargaining power.]
    These are just three examples of many where Ontario is simply out of step with more dynamic and successful North American labour markets.
    [Ha! These Yank-worshippers are doing the usual externalization of the USA's technologically disemployed, including 2.2 million prison and jail inmates, 5.7-plus million disabled, and 940,000 youth homeless, not to mention the millions still within regular capped unemployment and welfare benefits, and the millions forced into early retirement, or forced out of retirement, or forced into multiple no-benefits part-time, or forced into "self-employment." Dynamic and successful indeed!]
    More worrisome, however, is the interventionist tone of the government. Its view, implicit in the suggested reforms, is that the best labour outcomes emanate from regulation.
    [Read your history, you ignoramuses. They always have and they always will.]
    The alternative view, which the government seems to have completely ignored, is that workers have more power and security in a highly competitive labour market,
    [how could workers possibly have more power and security in a highly competitive labor market? The whole problem of the last 30 years is that with automation, downsizing and immigration, the labor market has become so competitive that workers have no power or security - what planet do Clemens & Mullins live on, or are they mere little Murdoch robopaths?]
    one characterized by low unemployment rates, high levels of job creation, [and where in the world today do you find that, you dufuses? In the USA? Don't make us laugh.]
    and increasing worker productivity.
    [These guys are sooo screwed up. Increasing worker productivity militates against worker power unless hours are automatically lowered as productivity is raised. What a bunch of doubletalk! Are these birdbrains really Canadians? Ifso, they're a disgrace to the land of the maple leaf.]
    In such an environment, employers must compete for labour by supplying well-paying jobs, better opportunities, and a receptive work environment.
    [Baloney. The only environment in which employers must compete for employees is an environment of war-level labor scarcity, and the only way to get that kind of environment without world war in the age of robotics is - sharing the vanishing work via workweek reduction and overtime-to-training&hiring conversion, instead of straining for makework and artificial public- or private-sector job creation.]
    If the overall goals of the government are to enhance labour market outcomes [whatever that means] and improve general economic performance [for whom? and in what time frame?], then the last thing Queen's Park [ie: the Ont. govt.] needs is more heavy-handed regulation. If anything, Ontario needs more flexibility and more choice in the labour market.
    [Agreed - in all but worktime per person per week - because the 40-hour a week jobs just aren't there any more in anywhere near sufficient volumes for all the people who need them. And that's a direct consequence of skyrocketing productivity per person per workhour and that's a direct consequence of wave after wave of inrushing worksaving technology, whose whole purpose of making life easier for everyone happens automatically only when we implement automatic unemployment-countering workweek adjustment, instead of kneejerk workforce- and consumerbase-clobbering downsizing.]
    And that is something that no Ontario government has ever really considered.
    [Oh, we bet they considered it plenty back in the Depression when they were debating and eventually legislating the 40-hour workweek. Read your own history, you pathetic excuses for reporters or columnists or whatever the hell you call yourselves! - if you can ever get untangled from your puppetstrings.]

  4. [and here's a little backsliding -]
    2/08   Health-cost surge hurts profits, jobs, Chicago Daily Herald.
    USA - Health-care costs at Thomas Built Buses have jumped between 10% and 15% each of the past three years. For workers, that means two things: smaller raises and longer hours as the company puts off hiring.
    [Note here the usual marriage of long hours, less hiring and, due to labor surplus, lower pay - and downward-spiraling consumer base.]
    "We've had to batten down on our spending, whether it's on headcount or equipment," said John O'Leary, president of the High Point, N.C., subsidiary of DaimlerChrysler AG's Freightliner unit. Thomas Built is one of the three biggest U.S. makers of school buses. Thomas Built has its 1,500 employees in North Carolina working 10-hour days and Saturdays rather than expand the payroll and take on more benefit expenses.
    [Does that go for you too, John, or are you still getting a fat annual bonus? - because in a labor surplus, you hold all the cards.]
    Ford Motor Co. Chief Executive Officer Bill Ford, in Chicago last week for the auto show, said health care costs are his biggest challenge. "We are paying more for health care per vehicle than we are paying for steel," he said, adding there is no easy solution. Ford spent $2.8 billion - $700 per vehicle - in 2002 on health care for U.S. employees, retirees and dependents.
    U.S. companies' health insurance premiums surged 42% in three years to $9,100 for an employee and family last year, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. This year, employers face a further jump of 14%, according to a survey by Hewitt Associates, a consulting firm based in Lincolnshire.
    Coming on top of rising liabilities for retirees' health care, such expenses are becoming a drag on hiring. Economists from Harvard University and the University of Chicago found when health charges doubled in the 1980s, companies extended working hours as much as 3% rather than add workers.
    Democratic presidential candidates are starting to focus on health expenses as a hindrance to growth. And the White House has proposed giving Americans who make less than $15,000 a refundable tax credit of as much as $1,000 for buying health insurance, which would add $70 billion to the deficit over the next decade. pResident George W. Bush in his state of the union message acknowledged "rapidly rising health-care costs."

  5. 2/06   Family comes first for three-quarters of workforce, PersonnelToday.com [UK].
    UK - Three-quarters of working parents put family friendly working hours ahead of other benefits such as health insurance and pensions, according to a new survey published today to coincide with the launch of the Working Families charity.
    Asked what benefits they would prefer, 44% said they would like flexible working hours, 30% said a shorter working day, 14% wanted gym membership, 4% maternity and paternity leave, 4% pensions or life insurance and 2% health insurance.
    Asked how they would spend an extra [free] hour in their day, 62% said they would spend more time with their family and 34% wanted time on their own. Just one person (a mother of two) would spend more time at work.
    Working Families chief executive Sarah Jackson said: "We know that long working hours are no good for business or productivity, and that they damage our health and family life. It's time for a new family friendly working agenda to match the changing face of British family life. "We want to see more opportunities for people to work flexibly, more flexible care services and an end to the long-hours culture that means that a third of fathers hardly see their children during the working week".
    Working Families was formed after the merger of the two leading charities campaigning for work-life balance - Parents At Work and New Ways to Work.

  6. 2/08   Bosses told to help dual-role women, by Craig Bildstien, South Australia Advertiser.
    ADELAIDE, State of South Australia - Women are suffering greater levels of fatigue and distress as they try to balance work and family commitments, research shows. The 40-page report on family and work initiatives was prepared by the University of Adelaide's Graduate School of Business. It found that it was critical that employers provided a work environment that allowed staff to manage their work-family roles. "There is a marked increase in sole parent families and higher women's participation (in the workforce) . . and women are more concerned about their family issues than men at work," the report says.
    The findings are the catalyst for a statewide survey of small and medium-sized businesses, which are being targeted as part of the Federal Government's push to find better work/life strategies. The Better Work Life Balance survey is being run by the Office of the Employment Advocate in Adelaide. Questionnaires are being sent to employers and staff to be completed anonymously.
    The project follows receipt of the University of Adelaide report by the OEA, a copy of which has been obtained by The Advertiser. It says there are "real economic and social benefits" to be gained from businesses having family-friendly practices. The report says a study conducted in NSW last year found companies with work-life strategies were able to reduce staff turnover and absenteeism, increase the return rate from parental leave and boost employee job satisfaction. The OEA says it can help SA employers "build an effective business culture" and increase productivity.
    Regional manager Steve Ronson says those businesses that participate in the survey will get professional assistance to design and implement a range of best practice work and family life initiatives. "We would like to know what you think is important to making your life easier so that you could better balance your work and family responsibilities," it says in its employee survey. "If something is good, tell us – the same for those things that are of concern to you."
    Questions include issues such as part-time work and job-sharing, access to single days of annual leave, flexible start and finishing times, time off in lieu, paid paternity leave, family/carer's leave and breastfeeding policy.
    A 2002 OECD report Babies and Bosses – Reconciling Work and Family Life, says family-friendly practices are more likely to make headway in larger firms than small ones.

2/06/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 2/05 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
  1. Snap-On announces work week reduction, Upper Des Moines River (News) [IA].
    ALGONA, Iowa - Snap-On Tools company spokesman Rick Secor has confirmed that the manufacturer's Algona plant has gone to a three-day work week effective Feb. 1. The reduction in hours is expected to be a temporary measure. "We have gone to a three-day work week," said Secor, who works out of the company's headquarters at Kenosha, Wis. "The reduction is really to adjust our production to the short-term demand. We expect to be back to full-time shifts by March."
    The plant's employees, who make large tool storage components, normally work five days a week with the plant running 24 hours a day. At full staffing levels, Snap-On Tools employs approximately 400 at the Algona plant.
    Secor also confirmed that the company has also reduced its salaried staff at the Algona plant by four positions. Attempts to reach a local spokesman for the International Assoc. of Machine & Aerospace Workers union were unsuccessful.
    [So Snap-On has cut to the bone and finally had to implement what they should have been doing all along = timesizing, not downsizing - though even in this case, they did not timesize and crosstrain enough to completely avoid staff (and market) reduction. But compare the staff reduction without timesizing during the last dip in short-term demand -]
    A little less than a year ago, Snap-On terminated 20 salaried positions - approximately one third of its salaried positions in Algona - as a cost-cutting measure while also laying off another 35 hourly workers. Those moves came on the heels of a December 2002 layoff of 130 hourly workers. Many of those hourly workers were later called back to work in March 2003. Snap-On Tools has been a local employer for approximately 49 years.

  2. The politics of wellbeing - People no longer expect governments just to make them safe and rich - Now we want to be kept happy as well, by Madeleine Bunting, Manchester Guardian [UK].
    [With the UK economy in almost as deep covered-up distress as the US, how can Madeleine say people currently expect governments to make them rich? Madeleine must dwell in an affluent, self-insulating and -isolating circle (bubble?) of people.]
    Politics is coming up against a new problem. People may be getting richer but they are not getting happier.
    [Uh, Madeleine, maybe dozens of people are getting richer but thousands of people are getting poorer.]
    All around us we see the diseases of affluence: stress, obesity, debt and depression.
    [These are equally or more-so the diseases of poverty.]
    A group of economists in the US and the UK are laying out a new territory for political engagement; labelled the "happiness economists", they argue that the preoccupation of governments with economic growth misses the point.
    [Well, that's certainly true, as pointed out 30 years ago by the Limits to Growth team at MIT, Dennis & Dana Meadows, Joergen Randers and Bill Behrens. But who would have thought that the apologists for the prevailing dysfunctionally astonomical concentrations of skills, employment, income and wealth could have come up with yet another yardline on which to pitch the barricades against actually designing a cap (oh horrors!) for the first of these concentrations?!]
    Robert Lane at Yale, argues in his exhaustive analysis of levels of happiness around the world, The Loss of Happiness in Market Democracies, [that] after a certain point [in the growth] of national wealth, happiness does not continue to increase. It's the law of diminishing returns.
    [Lordy, a mainstream economist finally mentioning "diminishing returns" alias marginalism in the context of national wealth! Toot de horn, ring de bell! Lhoudly cry hallelu! But how interesting that he's still not mentioning the dysfunctional concentration of that wealth, or in the usual bleeding-heart parlance, the unfair distribution thereof, or in its commoner unactionable caption, the widening wealth "gap." The ability of in-the-box thinkers to come up with time-wasting dodges to avoid facing the worksharing imperative never ceases to amaze us!]
    America reached this point in the 1950s and ever since then measures of happiness have actually been in decline.
    [What an admission! Quick, somebody run and inform happy happy Stephen Moore, co-author of Things are Getting Better All The Time, mentioned yesterday in 2/05/2004 #4!]
    For all its wealth [never mind that its astronomical concentration in the top income brackets!], the US is less happy.
    In this country, the debate has been led by economists Andrew Oswald and Richard Layard, both of whom believe that government policy should be less focused on increasing GDP than on increasing happiness. A new concept is emerging of a politics of wellbeing -
    ["New"??! Just because the UK has suddenly followed the US in changing the word for it from welfare to wellbeing doesn't make the concept "new"! Welfare societies and economies have been around ever since New Zealand went socialist in 1865, and azzamadderofak, ever since the evolutionary Fabian Society morphed out of the revolutionary Fellowship of the New Life in 1884, speaking of which -]
    - a phrase ["politics of wellbeing"] which covers the disparate range of subjects included in the Fabian Society's conference this weekend, The Way We Live Now.
    [Compare this title to Stephanie Coontz's The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap (1992). Note this book's implications for Lane's thesis about the 1950s - a time of much less concentrated work, income and wealth; namely, we weren't that much better off but since there were fewer of us to share the wealth after the wartime killoff of surplus labor hours, the top brackets, perceiving a shortage of labor, competed against one another for "good help" and effectively wound up sharing the wealth or at least the national income a lot more voluminously - and everyone was a lot happier.]
    The responsibilities of the state were once clear - defend the realm and maintain law and order. At the heart of the postwar political consensus was the task of government...to offer electorates economic growth.
    [Yeah, the old "put off evening up the slices by keeping the whole pie growing" routine, so that the filthy-rich could always silence complainers with "Never mind relative to us, are you better off this year relative to you last year or not? ... Then shaddap!"]
    What the voters wanted was rising living standards.
    [Or that's what the top brackets always told us we wanted - relative only to our living standards last year, of course, not relative to theirs.]
    But the economy is no longer a major political issue; recent Mori polls showed that voters placed economic performance very low down their list of priorities at the ballot box. This is a measure both of Labour's success at managing the economy and the emergence of a new cross-party political consensus which accepts that given the extent of economic globalisation, government has few effective tools to intervene.
    [Unless it cuts the globalization voodoo and goes back to the effective tools it's always used in the past to intervene in the draining of the wealth of the nation and the race to the bottom - fair trade, not 'free' trade.]
    So what is government for? If it can't do much on the economic front - such as stop call centre jobs being outsourced - then what can it do?
    [So this is the latest line of smoke & mirrors from the multinational but ever suicidally near-sighted power elite = Now that we've taken over your "democratic" governments and forced them into race to the bottom with the Third World, it's an irreversible change. Never mind that we designed and implemented it, we are not going to redesign it and implement a reversal until we have fostered so much growth (Limits to Growth predicted a max-out at around 12B world population) that a conjunction of ecological crashes are going to wipe out one or two thirds of that population and a lot of us along with them. Then maybe we'll "get it."]
    At the same time, its [government's] traditional responsibilities of defence have also become more complex and harder to quantify; politicians themselves admit defeat on this front, saying they cannot guarantee the country against terrorist attack.
    [Especially when all the movers and shakers have fallen into the Chesterton Trap.]
    How do you measure the effectiveness of government anti-terrorist strategies?
    [Bush suggests number of pre-emptive strikes, number of economic reconstructions, number of years till you bust your own economy....]
    So the state has to search for new territory for a politics which engages with the electorate and demonstrates its effectiveness.
    [Ooh goody, new smoke and mirrors! But can we really call bread and circuses "new"?]
    What's interesting about the politics of wellbeing is that it draws the state into issues which were once considered the private responsibility of individuals.
    [Madeleine's pawnship is exceeded only by her ignorance of history. She probably thinks the 40-hour workweek was given to Moses by God on Mt. Sinai, c.1500 BC instead of being an artifact of local, state/shire and national governments as they gradually cut the 80-plus workweek in half in the 100-plus years before 1940.]
    Take work-life balance. Is this an issue on which the government should get involved or is it up to individuals to resolve the conflict between work and care themselves? To what extent is long working hours and the time squeeze a personal choice? Or a problem generated by intensifying economic competition and job insecurity which leaves people with constrained choice?
    [Oh Lord, another ignoramus reinventing the wheel. Truly, if you haven't learned the lessons of history, you're doomed to repeat them. Aaaaaaaaall through the 1930s, the USA was debating and redebating the constitutionality of limiting the workweek, and it kept coming up with "constitutional!"]
    If the latter is the case, how then should government support the fabric of family and social life.
    [ Spread the vanishing work to everyone who needs to support themselves +/- a family.]
    Traditionally, there has been a strong presumption in this country that the care of children is the private responsibility of the family; unlike other countries such as Sweden and the former Eastern bloc countries, Britain did not develop a state system of childcare in the 20th century. That could well change after the next election with universal childcare being widely touted as likely to be the centrepiece of New Labour's election manifesto.
    [What an unnecessary and self-destructive development in a non-timesizing world. Look at the layers of worksaving technology we have, and yet by countenancing a suicidal downsizing response to it instead of timesizing, we have drained our free time for childraising and are turning that over to strangers!]
    Increasingly, what the politics of wellbeing amounts to is that governments are being forced to consider how to intervene to mitigate the social consequences of [CEO-skewed!] market capitalism. The state cannot simply let individuals pursue their own consumer choices when the consequences of those choices - indebtedness and obesity are both examples - can fall on the taxpayer. If intensified competition is leading to unprecedented levels of work-related stress, voters want the government to find effective strategies to intervene. Increasingly, voters are looking to government to identify and deliver the "good life".
    [So drop the voodoo about the inevitable inexorability of globalization and downsizing, restore "private property" on the nation-state level vs. CEO-sponsored multinational communism, and unemployment-countering workweek adjustment. No big mystery. It's simple and obvious.]

  3. Minnesota health care workers condemn Bush overtime plan, by Barb Kucera, Workday Minnesota.
    ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota nurses and other health care workers will work longer hours for no more pay under the Bush administration’s new overtime regulations, workers said at a news conference Thursday.
    Some 8m American workers, including more than 200,000 in Minnesota, will lose overtime protections under the new regulations, which the U.S. Department of Labor plans to implement next month. Some of the jobs affected are police, firefighters, nurses, retail managers, insurance claims adjusters and medical therapists.
    “It is a difficult balance, but overtime allows me to provide for my family,” said Sylvia Isaacson, a member of SEIU Local 113 and a cardiovascular associate at United Hospital in St. Paul. “Under the new rules, working mothers will be forced to work longer hours away from their children without being able to earn any extra money.”
    [Invalid. Anyone who depends on overtime or overwork to make enough personal disposable income is living an unsustainable worklife in an age of inrushing worksaving technology. Our present ambivalent overtime regulations that give employees monetary incentives while giving employers monetary disincentives must redesigned to give consistent monetary disincentives to both - UNLESS they are willing to reinvest every penny of overtime and overwork earnings in worksharing in terms of OT-targeted training and hiring. Cut the double message. Cut the double game. Cut the waffling and fence-sitting. There's no future in it. It is totally and completely unsustainable on a long-term whole-systems basis.]
    Changes to the regulations would mean that millions of salaried workers making between $22,101 and $65,000 who now are eligible to receive overtime pay could be reclassified as executives or administrative or professional employees—and would no longer qualify for overtime pay.
    Isaacson and Jean Ross, a registered nurse and member of the Minnesota Nurses Association, said that is wrong. “I work in a profession severely challenged by not enough workers,” Ross said. “Exhausted nurses are trying to care for too many patients.” Loss of overtime pay will make it harder to recruit new people into the health care field and retain experienced workers, she said.
    Both Ross and Isaacson are covered by union contracts that guarantee overtime pay. “But if non-union workers lose their overtime pay, it will only be a matter of time before corporate executives try to take overtime protection out of our union contracts,” Isaacson noted.
    The workers appeared at a state Capitol news conference called by Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe and state Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson to highlight the Bush administration’s poor record on jobs and worker rights.
    Democrats in Congress made a last-ditch effort to block the overtime regulations last month, but failed. McAuliffe said it was unlikely they would take other action during the 2004 session.
    “There’s very little that the Democrats can do,” he said. “The only thing we can do is make sure we win the House and Senate and the White House in this fall’s elections.”

  4. Study of Atlanta law firms finds flexible work schedules profitable, more written part-time policies needed, press release from Georgia Assoc. for Women Lawyers via PRNewswire via Yahoo News.
    [This article's focus on beefing up corporate-level part-time is similar to the Netherlands' national focus on beefing up economywide part-time. We do not believe that bottom-up caps have worked in the past or are working now as well as top-down caps. Setting minimum incomes, for example, just creates inflation which soon trivializes the minimum, while setting maximum incomes, however astronomically high at the outset, and requiring reinvestment of the overage in income-targeted training and hiring, creates more and more sustainable consumer activation and economic dynamism without economically dysfunctional inflation (though of course there will be economically necessary price rises in specific products and services functioning as investment targeters to let them keep up with new demand).]
    ATLANTA... - More than ever, women lawyers today place a premium on flexible work schedules, and law firms that support such schedules reap benefits in the form of higher retention, increased profitability, and improved morale.
    These conclusions emerged from the "It's About Time" study, the first comprehensive survey of part-time policies and practices among Atlanta-area law firms. The study was conducted by the Georgia Association for Women Lawyers (GAWL) and the Women in the Profession Committee of the Atlanta Bar Association, in partnership with the Georgia Commission on Women.
    The authors surveyed law firms and lawyers, gathering responses from 37 Atlanta-area law firms, comprised of more than 7,000 lawyers, as well as from 167 individual attorneys. Survey respondents were women and men, associates and partners, part-time and full-time lawyers, and retired and active attorneys. The part-time participants in the survey had an average age of 37 years and an average of seven years of full-time legal experience before they went part-time.
    The survey responses debunk a common myth that part-time schedules are unprofitable. "Many firms figure the costs of attrition into their assessment of overhead," said Rebecca Godbey, president of GAWL, and a principal in Bird & Godbey LLP. "By improving retention, part-time schedules actually reduce attrition-related costs and improve the firm's bottom line."
    Other major findings include: As the highlights above suggest, the study revealed numerous benefits to firms that encourage and support equitable part-time schedules, among them: Lack of flexible schedules a barrier to women
    "The single most important finding of this study is that many women will continue to walk away from law firms, even as mid-level and senior associates, until they find a work schedule that complements their quality of life," said Mary Grace Diehl, chair of the Atlanta Bar Association's Women in the Profession Committee and a partner with Troutman Sanders LLP.
    One third of surveyed law firms do not permit part-time attorneys to advance to partnership. In those firms, part-time lawyers - mostly women - are not considered for partnership, regardless of their performance and their seniority.
    "A law firm without a flexible partnership track drives a disproportionate number of women out of the workplace and leaves the women who choose to stay in the firm with less hope of achieving real influence," said Diehl. "By contrast, firms with part-time partnership tracks benefit in the form of improved retention, diverse viewpoints, and a wider range of role models and mentors, not to mention increased business prospects."
    According to the study, reversing lawyers' diminishing leadership in the community is another important reason to promote flexible work schedules and partnership tracks. On average, part-time respondents reported that they work about 1,400 hours annually, which is about 28 hours a week for a 50-week year.
    "Years ago, 1,400 hours of work was considered a full-time schedule," said GAWL's Godbey. "The American Bar Association itself, in its 1962 handbook, noted that, given a lawyer's civic, administrative, and other non-billable matters, there were only about 1,300 billable hours in a year. The contemporary model of emphasizing much greater billing has prompted widespread calls for reform due to the negative consequences for pro bono work and the incentives for fraud, among other disadvantages."
    "All in all, flexible schedules and paths to partnership are crucial to increasing the number of women leaders in law firms," said Godbey. "The opportunity to work and advance to partnership on a reduced-hours schedule is about fairness, the integrity of the legal profession and devotion to our families and communities."
    More firms need written part-time policies
    The study also helped pinpoint problem areas for law firms that want to support their part-time attorneys. For example, only about one third of the firms reported having written part-time policies. Yet even at firms with written policies, attorneys often learned of those policies by word of mouth or by approaching their supervisors. And in spite of written policies, many attorneys reported that firm management failed to assist them with the implementation of their part-time arrangements.
    "Many law firm practices create or perpetuate the belief that a part-time arrangement is a special accommodation for mothers rather than a legitimate career choice for any attorney," said Diehl. "Ad hoc implementation, secrecy about part-time 'deals' with individual lawyers, inadequate monitoring of part-time arrangements, and the failure to assure consideration for partnership are among the practices that clearly stigmatize these arrangements - and the lawyers who enter into them."
    Although part-time attorneys generally reported that they were satisfied with their schedules and felt loyal to their law firms, they were dissatisfied with their opportunities for advancement and the negative attitudes that frequently accompanied their part-time arrangements. For example, respondents to the survey indicated that some partners refused to work with or vote to advance part-time associates and that some peers disrespected or resented part-time attorneys.
    For firms wanting to achieve the benefits of forward-thinking part-time policies, the study makes several recommendations: About the Atlanta Bar Association...
    Formed in 1888, the Atlanta Bar Association is the largest metropolitan bar association in the Southeast.... [It] has more than 6,000 members in a 12-county area of metropolitan Atlanta....
    About the Georgia Association for Women Lawyers
    Founded in 1928, the Georgia Association for Women Lawyers (GAWL) proudly serves...more than 8,000 women who are admitted to the State Bar of Georgia.... GAWL [has] local chapters in Atlanta, Savannah, and Columbus.

2/05/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 2/04 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #2 which is from the 2/05 WSJ or NYT hardcopy), and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
  1. Lorry drivers suffering at hands of long-hours culture, by Quentin Reade, PersonnelToday.cin [UK].
    UK - Excessive hours are having a damaging effect on the family and social lives of most UK lorry drivers, with one in four currently working more than 60 hours a week.
    Research by one of the UK's largest road transport trade unions, Usdaw, shows that of the nearly 750 road transport members surveyed: Usdaw is urging transport company bosses to start negotiating with unions and workers now, ahead of the introduction of an EU directive in March 2005, which will limit the working week of drivers to a maximum of 48 hours. Usdaw general secretary Sir Bill Connor said: "The Road Transport Working Time Directive will revolutionise a sector plagued by problems associated with a deeply-embedded culture of working long hours. "Our survey clearly shows that this culture is damaging the family nd social lives of drivers. Usdaw welcomes the directive, as it will bring huge benefits to our 20,000 road transport members. Change will be tough for some transport companies, but it needn't cause complete chaos. The proactive companies are already working with unions and workers to phase-in new working practices and allay the fears of many drivers, who expect to lose out financially as a result of the reduced hours. The industry already has a shortage of skilled drivers - unless companies sharpen up, they stand to lose a lot more."
    Two separate major agreements negotiated by Usdaw in recent months - with ACC Transport (part of The Co-operative Group) and A F Blakemore & Son Ltd (which distributes to 750 Spar stores) - have resulted in reduced working hours at no financial loss to a total of around 1,300 drivers. Both deals were specifically linked to the requirements of the Road Transport Working Time Directive.

  2. [Contrast the suicidal belly-aching from American truckers -]
    Truckers look in their ranks for 'Fallen Angel' writer, by Andrew Jacobs, NYT, A26.
    [Notes threatening Ricin use attached to two parcels actually containing Ricin and signed 'Fallen Angel' were dropped off last Oct. & Nov. at US mail facilities, one of which serves the White House.]
    ...The drivers who haul the nation's goods [oh, cut the melodrama!] wondered whether one of their own might have used bioterrorism to publicize opposition to trucking rules that took effect last month. The regulations, which aim to reduce accidents by reducing how long drivers can stay on the road, have roiled the industry, which is already reeling from a recessionary drop in freight and higher fuel costs.
    [Our heart bleeds for this egregious case of private-sector makework (see makework 'realm' #11). Apparently truckers don't mind the grossly inefficient jobs that come from duplicating train-locomotive drivers thousands of times, but they do mind the jobs that come from cutting their workweek. Make up your minds, if any, diesel demons!]
    The president of the SC Trucking Assoc., Rick Todd, said..."It's hard to imagine anyone could be this upset about these changes."...
    [However -]
    Among the road-rattled drivers who were filling their fuel tanks at a truckstop near [Spartanburg SC], passions ran high, especially among independents...who say the regulations lead to longer hours and less money.
    [Well, maybe the regs should be redesigned to better do their job of making our highways safer.]
    "This guy must be a kook, but at least folks are going to listen to what he's saying," said Joe Thompson, who has been driving his 18-wheeler for 10 years. "The feds are killing us with their bureaucracy."
    [This guy's been listening to rightwing talk radio.]
    ...FBI...agents were looking into the possibility that a disgruntled trucker was responsible for the parcels.
    Federal transportation officials say...the changes are the most far-reaching for the industry in 65 years, reducing daily driving time to 10 hours from 11. Officials say..\..the rules, which took effect on Jan.4 and have a 60-day grace period, would save 75 lives and prevent 1,300 fatigue-related accidents a year by establishing a routine for truck drivers that they say more closely mirrors natural work and sleep rhythms....
    The most contentious change involves calculating workdays. Drivers can be on duty only for 14 hours a day [oh that's real safe!], meaning that if a driver spends 6 hours awaiting goods at a factory, a delay that truckers say is no uncommon, the driver can stay on the road for just 8 more hours.
    [Just sounds like a spur to better management and coordination to us. Why should truckers get blasted and highway drivers get endangered because of sloppy goods preparation?]
    Time spent stopped for fueling, napping or eating is not counted as rest time. Some drivers say that keeps them behind the wheel for longer uninterrupted periods. In some cases, drivers say, the rules make them drive faster.
    [High time to move this freight back to railroads. Get it right away from little passenger cars etc.]
    "We've got to get the same work done in less time, and that makes the job more stressful," said Bob Williams, a "tanker yanker," a hauler of hazardous chemicals.
    [Oh Jeezuz, why isn't this stuff required to be on trains?!]
    "Listen, we're adults, and we know when it's time to rest [oh sure!]. If we didn't, we'd be in a graveyard already."
    [And many of you are!]
    ...For owner-operators who are paid by the mile, less driving time means less money and more time away from home.
    [Sure, if managers' scheduling skills remain as sloppy as before.]
    "These new regs are going to put us under," said Rodney Snyder, a driver for 14 years. "I'm thinking of getting out of the business."
    [Good, then the scarcity of drivers will raise bargaining power and pay and improve working conditions and safety for the survivors.]
    ..\..Not everyone is displeased over the new rules, especially those that mandate a 10-hour break after every 14 hours. Fleet drivers who receive steady salaries or hourly wages are the biggest winners....

  3. Four-day week bid by unions, by Paul Robinson, The Age [Australia].
    STATE OF VICTORIA, Australia - More than 3000 electrical linesmen, engineers and call-centre workers yesterday endorsed a campaign for shorter hours and a big boost to apprentice numbers to help solve chronic industry skill shortages. The campaign, which will seek a trial working week of four, nine-hour days, also wants Victoria's five electricity distribution and transmission companies to hire one apprentice for every three tradesmen.
    Employers agree there are skill shortages. Last year they fended off moves from Irish labour poachers who were offering local linesmen attractive packages to move overseas.
    Meeting at Collingwood Town Hall yesterday, more than 1000 electrical trades unionists warned that the overwork of tradesmen and the use of untrained staff threatened safety.
    Electrical Trades Union secretary Dean Mighell said about 2500 lineworkers had agreed to a campaign of bans and limitations - and statewide stoppages - starting next week.
    A separate meeting of up to 1500 Australian Services Union call-centre workers, supervisors and technicians, who have the same enterprise agreements, also endorsed the campaign.
    Mr Mighell said that the former State Electricity Commission "used to hire more than 350 apprentices a year, but since privatisation in 1992 there have only been a handful employed, which is just not on". He said the union also wanted a licensing system to keep unskilled workers out of the industry. "The four-day week idea is a natural extension of the 36-hour week," he said. "It's really a win-win for workers and employers. Overtime can be done on the Friday, which leaves workers with a two-day break which is spot-on for families... the system needs to be trialled."
    National Electrical Contractors Association executive director Phillip Green dismissed the shorter week as unsustainable.
    [Here's a small thinker who doesn't "get" the implix of technology and robotization.]
    "Look, there will be some action on wages and hours, that's a fact of life, but I don't see a four-day week happening given the skill shortages in the industry."
    Meanwhile, an audit of Victoria's electrical assets has found the system needs more attention paid to maintenance and safety, despite it having one of the best records in the world. The report, by the state's chief electrical inspector, Ian Graham, also foreshadowed the introduction of a registration system for lineworkers "to ensure that the necessary competence standards are followed for all work undertaken on the electricity supply network". Mr Graham said safe work practices were not always followed in the industry and more audits would take place to monitor safety.

  4. [Here's a load of happytalk that ignores Juliet Schor's "Overworked American," Roper Reports Worldwide and German Institute of Economy Labor & Welfare -]
    Could our time pressures simply be a state of mind?, by Cindy Goodman, Miami Herald.
    MIAMI - Tami Garcia is a busy working mom. She's in a constant struggle to get everything done. She has two kids and a husband who helps out around the house. She has a Miami business that sells rubber stamps, and it's just taking off. She says she's always pressed for time. Lots of us say the same thing. We are always rushing everywhere. We feel like life moves too fast.
    But guess what? Americans actually have more free time than they did in the 1960s.
    For four decades, sociologist John Robinson of the University of Maryland has measured how much free time Americans have. He says we only feel more overworked, more harried. ''We're working less, marrying later, having fewer children and retiring earlier,'' Robinson says.
    Despite various surveys to the contrary, Americans have increased their work hours only slightly, not significantly, says Robinson, who adds that people exaggerate how much they work. Sure, there are workaholics, but the number of holidays and vacation days has more than doubled since 1960. But when people keep time diaries, what they say doesn't always match what they record, Robinson says. ''There's a tendency for Americans to overstate how much they work now and have a romantic vision of the past,'' he says.
    Watching TV is the number one free time activity in America. Surveys have revealed that much of the leisure time gained in the past 40 years has been spent in front of the tube. Yet, TV watching rates as average or below average in enjoyment, especially in relation to other more active uses of free time.
    Robinson also has looked at how technology has affected our free time. Americans spend an average of two hours a week on the Internet, taking the time away from sleep and TV watching.
    Garcia, owner of Stamp Miami, admits that she watches some television, usually kid shows with her sons. After family care is done, she also finds time to read trade magazines and make scrapbooks. Garcia believes that the reason she feels like she's pressed for time is all her boys' activities. 'A lot of my free time is scheduled. Between kids' birthday parties and their other activities . . . people walk around with their day planners and Palm Pilots scheduling away,'' she says.
    Todd Templin, chairman of Weston Business Chamber of Commerce, plays golf every Saturday. ''It's so routine that it is a scheduled event, and I don't even recognize it as relaxing time,'' he says. ``The time that we can just sit and relax is the time that's missing.''
    If we're so pressed for free time, it's hard to explain how 36m people find time each year to golf and how Americans spend $5B a year on admissions to sporting events.
    Stephen Moore, co-author of Things are Getting Better All The Time [happy happy Stevie Moore believes in automatic progress no matter how much we screw up], says, ``One of the reasons Americans are so pressed for time is there's so much more to do in life today.''
    We are substituting quicker activities for more time-consuming ones. Speed and brevity are more widely admired today, whether in serving food, reading magazine articles or having conversations. These days, the battle for Americans' disposable time is becoming more intense than for their disposable income. We are offered satellites that bring us more TV stations, bigger movie theaters with more films and thousands of websites with wide-ranging content. ''We have choice overload,'' Moore says. ``All the choices may be stressing us out.''
    Our response to more choices has been to do two or three things at once, behavior known as multitasking. At least one-quarter of TV viewing is combined with other activities, Robinson found.
    Even so, Josh Levy of Miami Beach believes he has plenty of free time. He's single, 30, and a lawyer with a small firm. He falls in the demographic group with the most free time. Levy says he is deliberately waiting to get married and refraining from community commitments. He doesn't schedule activities, preferring to ''go with my heart.'' He says he still could devote more time to work and be content. Levy says people who complain they don't have enough free time have more responsibilities. ''It doesn't seem as if they feel miserable; they are just disappointed that they can only do one of the eight things that are available to them,'' he says.
    Doug Jolly, a single dad and chief operating officer of Doctors Hospital in Coral Gables, has managed to keep his life in balance, even with all the choices available. He gets into a routine during the work week, using off-the-clock hours to oversee homework and watch the History Channel. While he has the responsibility of child care and housework, Jolly still feels like he has enough free time. He considers his free time his weekend hours when he and his 10-year-old son, Matthew, ride bikes, sail or cook together. He also enjoys gardening. ''It's an activity that doesn't require mental intensity. I find myself thinking through things,'' Jolly says. ``That's really my relaxing time.''
    Overall, people are doing better than they think they are in squeezing some relaxation in their lives. Notes Robinson: ``Even if we have not achieved a society of leisure, people have gained free time.''
    [Happy happy happy - we don't hafta do nuthin, jess let thet progress roll on all by itself. Doncha feel better already? - especially you unemployed, welfare cases, 5.7m disabled, 940k youth homeless, 2.2m incarcerated, force-retired, force- unretired, forced multple part-time, etc. etc.]

2/04/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 2/03 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
  1. Airbus leads the way in industry, by David Jones, Daily Post via icNorthWales [UK].
    UK - ...Aerospace output from industries in Northeast Wales and the Northwest of England...last year [was] a quarter of the total UK aerospace output - and the sector supports more than 60,000 jobs in the region..\.. Engineering trade union Amicus says leading aerospace company Airbus UK should be used as a blueprint to improve the competitiveness of all UK manufacturing businesses. The suggestion comes after Airbus secured a...contract from the Ministry of Defence for a fleet of airtankers which will have the wings manufactured at Broughton, Flintshire....
    Amicus general secretary Derek Simpson, on a visit to the Broughton plant today, will say that Airbus' approach to employee involvement and consultation and its investment in R&D are turning Airbus into the world's leading aerospace company.... Airbus plays a key role in financing advanced aerospace research and development programmes in UK universities, investing approximately 10% of turnover in innovation, said Mr Simpson. Other areas of UK manufacturing spend much less on R&D, averaging just 2% of turnover. He also praised Airbus for working closely with unions following the downturn in the global aviation industry in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the USA in 2001. He said the company had saved 1,200 jobs at its Broughton plant by introducing a 35 hour week..
    By contrast, Airbus' biggest rival, US firm Boeing, made 30,000 compulsory redundancies. Airbus has now opened up a productivity gap of up to 50% on some aircraft over Boeing and last year for the first time delivered more jets - 305 compared to 281 from its Chicago-headquartered rival.
    [So Airbus, by practicing timesizing, not downsizing, is beating the pants off downsizing Boeing in employee morale, loyalty and productivity. This is the kind of competition that will eventually force the dinosaurs, like Boeing, to timesize or fold.]
    Airbus UK currently employs 84,000 jobs, directly and indirectly, in the UK, of which 6,200 are at Broughton. Landing the Airtanker contract for European aerospace consortium EADS has guaranteed 7,000 Airbus jobs..\..
    Mr Simpson will be with a party from the Manufacturing Alliance, which brings together some of the UK's leading business figures to encourage manufacturers to share their knowledge and experience and which is meeting at the plant for an industry summit. He said: "It's vital for the future of UK manufacturing that Airbus' methods become the rule, not the exception. The lessons of businesses such as Airbus, need to be applied across the board if manufacturing businesses are to replicate Airbus' unrivalled success."...

  2. Push for a longer weekend, by Mandi Zonneveldt, Melbourne Herald Sun [Australia].
    AUSTRALIA - Electricians working in Victoria's power industry are pushing for a permanent long weekend. Up to 2000 electricians employed by the state's largest power companies will walk off the job today in support of the campaign. The 36-hour working week is part of a log of claims put to the industry by the militant Electrical Trades Union [ETU]. The ETU also wants power companies to employ more apprentices and improve safety.
    ETU members will stop work today to attend a mass meeting at Collingwood Town Hall to consider industrial action to support the campaign.
    ETU state secretary Dean Mighell yesterday argued a cut to working hours would create jobs for young people. "The old SEC trained thousands of apprentices," he said. "Where are those jobs in regional Victoria like there used to be?"
    Power companies contacted by the Herald Sun yesterday said they were still negotiating with the union about wages and conditions. But Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry spokesman David Gregory warned a 36-hour week would cut jobs, not create them.
    [Ah, the poor employers' dilemma in a robotizing world - free trade and Third World competitiveness and longer hours and smaller and smaller domestic consumer bases, or fair trade and Third World upgrade pressure and shorter domestic working hours and larger and larger domestic consumer bases.]
    He said a reduction in working hours would push up the cost of doing business. "In most cases, it means that people continue to work the hours they were working previously . . . but claim overtime payments two hours earlier than they would otherwise," he said.
    Mr Gregory said pressure would inevitably mount on other industries if the ETU was successful in its campaign to cut working hours.
    The mass meeting today is expected to be one of the biggest gatherings of power industry workers since the battle over privatisation.
    Power companies do not expect the mass walk-out to affect electricity supplies. But some services to customers may be affected.

  3. Job sharing on the tenure track, by Julie Rubley of Virginia, Chronicle of Higher Education.
    [Again, remember that job sharing is based on the rigid 40-hour workweek and is therefore not the ultimate answer, which is work sharing with no connotation of an underlying fixed-workweek definition of "full time."]
    USA - When Mark Kuhlmann and Mary Allen began job hunting in the late 1990s, they were looking for a college that would let them share a teaching position. They didn't have children yet but knew they wanted time in their lives to raise a family. Job sharing, they thought, was the solution.
    The trouble was, few institutions were interested in the concept, until Allen interviewed for a tenure-track position in microbiology at Hartwick College [Oneonta NY]. During her interview, Allen brought up the idea of job sharing, and to her surprise, college administrators looked intrigued. While Hartwick officials couldn't do anything about it at the time, they said they would be open to such an arrangement down the road. So Allen accepted a full-time job at the liberal-arts college, and her husband took an adjunct position there, with the understanding that they could later approach the college about job sharing.
    "We thought that once we got there," Allen says, "we could figure out how to make the arrangement work."
    So in the summer of 1998, the couple said goodbye to Florida State University, where they had done their graduate work, and headed north to Hartwick's 425-acre campus in Oneonta NY. Within two years, Hartwick had made good on its word, allowing the couple to split a full-time, tenure-track position in the biology department (although technically they share a position and a half).
    [This is getting a little more flexible, but is still merely a transitional step toward the slowly fluctuating workweek of the future. In a further but still pre-economywide step, organizations would vary their workweek according to market demand for their employees' services, implementing intensive cross-training in an effort to avoid layoffs while retaining a single companywide workweek. For schools, this would mean that the workweek would fluctuate with enrollment.]
    The college also became one of the few institutions to create an official policy on such arrangements. Allen and Kuhlmann - still the only professors ever to share an appointment on the campus - helped craft the policy.
    John W. Curtis, director of research at the American Association of University Professors, says that in seeking to recruit and retain professors, colleges frequently offer couples full-time jobs in different departments, but rarely do they allow two people to share a single position. "Many of these situations are a bit ad hoc," he says. "It's a matter of making accommodations that work for particular people. But the conditions for the appointment should be set down at the beginning so everyone knows what the plan is."
    For Allen and Kuhlmann, the split position means that they each have more time to spend with their daughter, Emily, 4, and son, Nathaniel, 1. Allen, a specialist in microbiology and microbial ecology, is a tenured associate professor. Kuhlmann, a specialist in marine and aquatic ecology, is an assistant professor who comes up for tenure next year. Each works three-quarters time [whatever that is in academe].
    That was not the arrangement that Hartwick came up with on its first attempt to develop the split position. Its first proposal outlined more of a truly "shared position," in which the couple would have been evaluated as one unit. "We didn't like the idea of each other's tenure being linked so closely," Allen says. "If we didn't get tenure, we'd wonder what caused it. Was it him? Was it me?"
    So the two professors came up with a counteroffer for Hartwick officials, asking to share a position and a half, and to be evaluated separately for tenure. The officials came back months later with a rewritten policy and a new contract proposal. Both reflected everything the couple had requested, including that the professors would be evaluated for tenure individually on their own merits, on their own timetables, and with their part-time employment in mind.
    Allen and Kuhlmann signed the agreement in July 2000 and began their split position that fall. The college's four-page-long policy on shared appointments was added to the faculty manual.
    The couple's division of labor is clear on the campus and at home. During the fall semester, for example, Allen taught two lecture courses and a lab; Mr. Kuhlmann taught a lecture course and two lab courses. Both work on the campus on Mondays and Wednesdays, while the children are at home with a baby sitter. Allen stays home with the kids on Tuesdays; Kuhlmann, on Thursdays. She works Friday morning. He works Friday afternoon. Both put in long hours after their children go to bed.
    "I don't know if it's so much for them as for me because I wanted to watch them grow up instead of getting home at 6 p.m. and getting them ready for bed by 8," Kuhlmann says. "I feel like I'm raising them, rather than leaving them." "We constantly say, 'I can't believe it's all worked out so well,'" he adds.
    The split position has had its financial drawbacks. [Note the unhistorical assumption throughout that "full time" is, always has been and always will be a fixed, permanent and eternal figure - thus denying humanity of ever getting any further benefit from technology in terms of the most basic freedom, free time.]
    What the two biologists see as deficiencies hasn't hurt them at Hartwick, though. Allen earned tenure in the fall of 2002. Kuhlmann goes up for tenure in the fall of 2005. His tenure clock started later because he wasn't in a tenure-track position from Day 1 at Hartwick, as was Allen.
    Ronald M. Brzenk, a professor of mathematics and chairman of the tenure-and-promotion committee at Hartwick, says that at each of the professors' midprobationary reviews, there were no major concerns. "The only place where their less-than-full-timeness came through was in the teaching load," he says. "But when one examined the quality of their teaching, it didn't much matter."
    Brzenk says the two professors are expected to do only three-quarters of the work, in terms of teaching, scholarship, and service. If anything, he says, officials have had to caution them not to overextend themselves. He applauds the split arrangement, saying it has helped the college to retain two good professors in one department for a little more than the price of one. "We live in a small, dinky town, and it's difficult to recruit academic couples, so anything we can do to recruit two quality professionals, we should do," he says.
    As for Allen and Kuhlmann, they predict there will come a day when they can do more for the college - perhaps as soon as their children enter elementary school. "I'm imagining that when the kids get older, my productivity will pick up," Kuhlmann says, "and then I'll have extra time and make up for the deficit now."
    [Again the assumption, even among intellectuals who should know better, that productivity is based on quantity, not quality, of time.]

2/03/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 2/02 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
  1. IG Metall's future hinges on wage talks, Deutsche Welle [Germany].
    With a failed strike, internecine power struggles behind it and eroding membership, IG Metall's contentious wage negotiations this year could determine the union’s future – and whether it has one.
    Just after the stroke of midnight last Thursday, more than 16,000 metalworkers from DaimlerChrysler to Airbus laid down their tools in the first major wave of "warning strikes" by IG Metall, Germany's second-largest trade union. The strikes came on the eve of the "hot phase" of annual wage negotiations. But after a difficult year for IG Metall that saw the union walk away with empty hands from a major strike in eastern Germany, a months-long power struggle among its leadership and a steady erosion of its membership rolls, 2004 is looking to be a decision year for IG Metall and its boss, Jürgen Peters.
    The end of the 35-hour week?
    The difference this year is that employers, with their eyes fixed on the popularity of the recent reform trend in Germany, are calling for an end to the 35-hour work week - considered sacred by the union. If he is unable to come back to his workers with an acceptable offer, analysts believe Peters could be shown the door.
    So far, employers are offering a wage increase in two stages - each representing a 1.2% increase over a period of 27 months. Linked to that raise is a demand that companies be able to expand the work week from the current 35-hours to 40 hours.
    [Hey, if longer hours are so "competitive," why stop there? Why not 50, 60 or 70 hours a week? Hell, why not the 80 hours a week of 1776-1840 or all 168 hours a week? We can compete to see who wins the trophy for the most karoshi's (deaths by overwork)! - and the smallest consumer base.]
    The proposal also leaves it up to the companies to decide whether to give workers extra pay for their overtime. IG Metall, on the other hand, is calling for a 4% pay hike during the next 12 months for its 3.4m workers. At the core of the negotiations is the question of the work week. If employers have their way, it would lay a major plank in the IG Metall platform to ashes. Previously, the union argued that a shorter work week would create additional jobs.
    Union charges 'deceit'
    As happens every year, unions and employers are firing and endless stream of charges and countercharges. "We've told the employers and we demand again today that they tender a negotiable offer," Peters (photo) told German public broadcaster ARD. If the employers don't Peters has threatened, then a "row" with the union may be inevitable. In other media interviews, Peter has uttered the words "extortion" and "deceit" when describing the deal the employers have put on the table.
    Still, Peters has indicated a willingness to renegotiate the "playing rules" for more flexible work hours with employers. With its proposed "working hours accounts," IG Metall is offering to split the 35 hour work week up in a way that would allow workers to be deployed at times when they are most needed. But employers say that would do little to reduce personnel overhead costs and are continuing to push for the union to abandon its 35-hour work week. "We want to solve this costs problem without having to cut jobs and without having an impact on the monthly earnings of employees" said Martin Kannegiesser, head of the Gesamtmetall employers' association told the public radio station Inforadio Berlin-Brandenburg. But he argued that could only be possible with an extension of working hours. "When a company is in a difficult innovation and reorganization phase, which many companies are rapidly entering into, then today's working hours are no longer sufficient."
    [And what's to stop suicidally short-sighted CEOs from claiming they're ALWAYS "in a difficult innovation and reorganization phase"?]
    But the Social Democratic parliamentary group leader Franz Müntefering offered the union his support on Sunday. "The demand from employers for longer working hours for the same money is, in reality, a demand for reduced wages," Müntefering told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.
    [AND a demand for a smaller consumer base.]
    Regional unions hint at flexibility
    Though Peters, often seen as a hard-nosed traditionalist, has shown few signs he is ready to compromise on any major points, softer tones could be heard from the union’s regional branches. Over the weekend, Jörg Hofmann, the head of IG Metall's influential Baden-Württemburg state chapter, which is home to some of Germany's biggest blue chip manufacturing companies including DaimlerChrysler and Porsche, told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper that the union would likely come up with a new counterproposal for employers in order to "take the air out of the debate of working hours." According to Hofmann, the working times of the union's members are already considerably flexible - a point IG Metall hopes to get across in negotiation rounds this week.
    Peters on the dock [Brit: "on the hot seat"]
    If the union fails, the political costs could be considerable for Peters. When he took IG Metall’s top position last summer, many both within and outside the union had their doubts about whether he was the right person to lead IG Metall into the future. Peters, an old school leftist, remains a controversial figure after an ugly dispute over his role in organizing a disastrous strike last spring which sought to cut working hours of members in eastern Germany to 35 hours a week at time when unemployment in the region hovered at around 18%. That started a power struggle between traditionalists and modernizers in the union who felt Peters wouldn’t be able to help IG Metall adapt to the realities of modern industrial Germany.
    A new playing field
    This time around, employers have come to the bargaining table with a stronger hand against which Peters’ aim of traditional union negotiations may not play well. Following three years of diminished investment and a stagnant market, the German economy is now showing signs of recovery, with an uptick in investment expected in 2004. But the playing field has changed. With the European Union’s eastward expansion it will be easier for companies to invest in neighboring lands where wages and costs are lower. "IG Metall would be well advised, especially after its debacle in the east to avoid strikes," Gesamtmetall deputy chief Otmar Zwiebelhofer told the newspaper Die Welt. "If it comes to general strikes, the wage landscape will look a lot different. Then many more firms will be able to leave (the employers’ associations). Then the unions wouldn’t have any employers left who were prepared or willing to negotiate."
    Publicly, at least, Peters seems prepared for the fight. He has described the call for unpaid extended working hours as "brazen" and alleged that it would sink wage costs by 14.5% and threaten as many as 400,000 jobs in the sector.

1/31-2/2/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 1/30-2/01 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
  1. 1/30   Slow Life Workshops' promote a simpler lifestyle, by Megan Lee, Seattle University Spectator.
    [Note that Timesizing.com supports shorter working hours but not tying shorter hours to the simplicity or frugality movement or any other particular lifestyle. In fact, the shorter hours agenda has historically made the most progress during crises of under-consumption (ie: depressions), not periods of over-consumption (booms or bubbles). Once we implement unemployment-adjusted working hours however, it will be possible (and a lot easier!) to reduce ecology-threatening consumption without destroying the economy.]
    The first of three scheduled Slow Life Workshops on campus took place on Jan. 24. These workshops are forums for people to listen and talk about issues related to the “Take Back Your Time” movement.
    There were only a handful of students in the homogenous crowd, which spilled out of the small room on the fifth floor of the Casey Building, but the meaning of the workshop applies to everyone. It is the people who are suffering most that don’t have the time to attend events like this. The movement is concerned about the poor people who are working three jobs to make ends meet, and can’t even entertain the idea of “free time,” as well as people who are sacrificing their health, families and relationships for work.
    The forum began without introduction. Attendees knew what it was about and why they were there. Cecile Andrews, professor of “Simplicity Movements: Social Justice and Happiness in the Consumer Society,” author of “The Circle of Simplicity: Return to the Good Life” and local ringleader of the movement, began casually, reminding the audience, “you couldn’t expect to start an event like this on time.”
    She warmed the crowd with a ‘talk to your neighbor about time’ exercise, and then dove in, commenting how interesting it is that Seattle, with all the “rich people,” is the sort of center of this movement. The irony didn’t end there.
    John De Graaf, KCTS and author of “Affluenza” and “Take Back Your Time,” was the forum’s featured guest. He reminded the audience that this movement is nothing new and has historically been an underground movement. It has just reemerged as a response to the extreme consumerism running rampant in society. De Graaf stressed the exigency of the movement saying, “We need to do it now—there is no present like the time.”
    Andrews and de Graaf then talked more about the recent difficulties with the movement, such as advertising slogans like “simplify your life—buy an SUV,” the recent Spending Bill passed by the Senate making it easier for employers to not pay overtime and the “Simple Life” program on the FOX network. They feel these are harmful to the movement but can be overcome—reminding people that this isn’t about laziness it’s about healthiness and being aware.
    De Graaf first visited Seattle University in the mid-1980s, when he showed his film “God and Money.” The film addressed how the Catholic Church was dealing with Reaganomics. It was around that time the Church came up with “Economic Justice for All,” a book written by Catholic Bishops, detailing the Catholic Church’s official stance on the issue.
    He discussed how in 1965 sociologists predicted that by the turn of the century Americans would be dealing with “too much leisure time.” They predicted that the increased amount of automation would evolve into a workweek of 15-17 hours. Apparently it didn’t work out that way. “We have doubled our productivity since the 1960s, but we have put our gains into more money and more stuff instead of turning gains in productivity into more leisure time like Western Europe.” De Graaf mentioned.
    In the 1990s he made the documentary “Running out of Time,” a project examining how Americans—when asked how they were doing—would say “busy” instead of “fine,” exemplifying toxic cultural shifts. Americans are more, not less busy, a trend that continues.
    “We work longer hours than peasants in Medieval Europe,” said De Graaf. “Back then they had more mandatory religious holidays and worked shorter hours in the winter. We also bring our work home.”
    This is what prompted the “Take Back Your Time” movement and book. The national institution of Earth Day, (instituted by former President Nixon) supporters of the movement have instated a day: Oct 24. If Americans didn’t work from then through the end of the year they would get the same ‘vacation-time’ as do workers in Western Europe. It began as a grassroots movement, but is growing.
    Now, he sees the movement as becoming more “mainstream.” Recently, De Graaf and others within the movement were contacted by the French water company Perrier, aiming to do a publicity campaign called, “Take Back Your Lunch.”
    Perrier, a club soda company, did a study that found 67% of Americans eat their lunch at their desk and the American lunch hour has been reduced to 29 minutes—they feel this may be combated by drinking Perrier. The movement had no issue with this, after a background check on Perrier, reminding people that they are not “anti-corporate.”
    Andrews also coordinates the Simplicity Circles Project. She asked audience members, many who are involved in these circles, to list good connotations of slow (versus the bad ones so pervasive in society.) The audience listed words like: relaxed, savored, methodical, quizzical, thorough, patient, deliberate, reflective, aware, convivial, harmonious, hospitable, etc.
    These ideas are what the “Take Back Your Time” movement focuses on. Giving the American people back what is lost by overworking and over-scheduling. Andrews added, “It’s why so many people don’t have memories—because of all the social pressure.”
    They discussed America in contrast to the rest of the world, since America is the most “productive” and most “over-worked” country. Supporters feel something’s got to give.
    “We have to keep talking to each other in our daily lives—on the bus, in line, wherever,” added Andrews. “We need to talk about the movement, we need to talk about things that make you mad (like microwavable scrambled eggs), and we need to talk about matters of substance.”
    Sarah Greene, junior eco-studies major, was another of the handful of students who attended. She is one of Andrews’ students and appreciates her approach. “After my gloom-and-doom classes I go to her class and it’s a way out—something different,” said Greene.
    “I see SU as a logical place to have these forums—we already have professors doing work in this area,” commented Kevin Uhl, Earth Action Coalition and senior eco-studies major. “I hope it becomes more involved with these new, but old, but good ideas.”
    Additional forums are scheduled for Feb. 21 and March 20, but Andrews is hoping that these forums will be on-going, monthly events. For more information contact her at andrewsc@seattleu.edu or timeday.org.

  2. 2/01   Union hours push 'a threat' to casuals, by Jim O'Rourke, Sydney Sun-Herald [Australia].
    Jobs for poorly educated and low-paid workers will disappear if trade unions persist in campaigns to reduce working hours and limit casual employment, the Centre for Independent Studies has reported. A push for a shorter working week would erode low-paid workers' income by cutting their overtime earnings, a policy analyst at the centre, Kayoko Tsumori, said.
    [Doesn't sound like this study is very independent. And when you ask somebody from Japan or the USA to do such a study, these are the developed economies with the longest annual working hours, so you may be getting somebody who doesn't have a life.]
    In an essay for the centre, Ms Tsumori rejected union arguments that introducing laws to cap weekly working hours would create more jobs for those with few skills by redistributing work to the under-employed. She said employers would, instead, use any new positions to employ more high-skilled workers. Ms Tsumori also said workers should be allowed to make up their own mind if they wanted to work long and family-unfriendly hours.
    [Basically Tsumori says, no regulations, and with a power gradient slanted steeply toward employers, "workers should be allowed to make up their own minds" means employers can do anything they want to employees, such as shortsightedly turning the whole economy into a third-world sweatshop or worse.]
    The ACTU is currently planning a work and family-friendly hours test case in the Industrial Relations Commission which, among other things, would make it illegal for bosses to force employees to work long hours.
    Studies have shown almost 40% of Australian employees work more than 40 hours a week. Unions were prompted to list the test case that would also seek to give job security to casuals by giving them the right to choose permanency after six months of continuous casual work.
    In France, for example, the Government has enshrined a 39-hour week in law.
    [Good grief, where has this reporter been for the last seven years? France has "enshrined" a 35 (thirty-five) hour week in law. It was 39 from 1982 to 2000.]
    Any companies that have employees working unpaid overtime can be hit with fines of more than $1 million.
    Ms Tsumori said unions claimed casual workers suffered greater job insecurity and more economic stress than their permanent colleagues. "Yet surveys show that many casual employees are satisfied with their jobs and choose to work casually to reap benefits such as flexible working hours and casual loading," she said. "Forcing employers to offer permanent jobs to casuals would further reduce job opportunities as employers may cease to employ casuals. It would destroy jobs for low-skilled or less educated people who use casual work as a stepping stone to further job prospects. "The unions are, in the name of shielding workers from the allegedly adverse effects of long hours, closing off opportunities for individuals to make their own decisions about their own working lives according to their own needs and preferences," she said.
    [- never mind how that shrinks the consumer base and the overall economy and their "own needs and preferences" in the longer term? This "expert" has the time horizon of a fruitfly.]
    Ms Tsumori said the unions' attempt to impose uniform working conditions on the entire workforce was little more than a bid to bolster the union movement's faltering legitimacy by preventing workers from negotiating their own pay and conditions.
    The ACTU has argued that working long hours disrupted workers' family and private lives and could endanger their mental and physical health.
    [Always the same lame bleeding-heart arguments. When are we going to get into some powerful "shrink the consumer base and the whole economy" arguments and do the numbers! Put it to them - they're chipping away their own empires!]
    Ms Tsumori's report came as the ACTU filed submissions in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission on Wednesday seeking a weekly increase of $26.60 in minimum award pay rates - to $475 a week.

  3. 1/31   Labor advocate predicts FLSA revisions will prompt numerous legal challenges, by Dave Gardner 12/08/2003, via Northeast PA Business Journal.
    For business leaders, a strategic balancing act may become necessary to cope with proposed changes to the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
    The revisions, which will redefine which employees are exempt from overtime, probably will take effect early in 2004. The United States Department of Labor (DOL) developed the revisions without Congressional approval by amending portions of the FLSA originally enacted in 1938.
    The changes to employee classifications will affect millions of workers. Because of the probability that certain employees will be reclassified as exempt and others as eligible for overtime pay, the effects of these revisions are being carefully studied by both management and labor advocates.
    Sheryl Fleming-Chromey, president of The Productivity and Performance Center, a business-planning center in Scranton, says that the FLSA was last revised in the 1950s. Because of this, the changes are of special interest to employers in highly competitive environments.
    "This is a time of great change in the way organizations do business, with things happening almost at the speed of light," says Fleming-Chromey. "I believe the FLSA changes are long overdue, but will not consistently lead to longer work weeks. What will change is the eligibility of many employees for overtime pay . . . I'm sure employers will do the right thing."
    [Ri-i-ight.]
    Central to the new FLSA employee classifications are changes to the minimum employee compensation necessary to classify workers as exempt. The previous level was $155 per week for 40 hours, with the new weekly total is $425. Another change involves revisions to the employee "duties test," reclassifying many workers based on their primary assignments, training and skills.
    The DOL claims that 1.3 million additional low-wage workers will now gain overtime protection. It also states that overtime protection will be strengthened for 10.7 million hourly workers. Additionally, the DOL's position is that overtime litigation will decrease, and overtime rules will be easier to apply and enforce.
    For every employer, enacting the FLSA revisions will involve an internal study to examine their workforce for mandatory reclassification. Fleming-Chromey says this will be a formidable job, with potential DOL penalties for miscalculation. Changes will then be made to select employee classifications - "base plus overtime" or "exempt." As the new classifications are administered to each affected worker, the employer must consider how the changes will affect worker-management morale. According to Fleming-Chromey, to avoid workforce disruptions, the employer must be savvy and work with the employees who are no longer eligible for overtime. While work hours could rise for select employees, she believes most employees are already working the amount of hours they will under their new classification. What will change is the amount of paid overtime.
    "As employers administer the changes, they must be guided by the value of the people they must recruit, hire and retain," says Fleming-Chromey. "Employee morale always follows conditions in an organization, and most employees come to work wanting to do a good job. To compete in today's economy, employees at every level must have the necessary skills that can be leveraged to meet customers' needs. Because of this, administration of the FLSA changes must be highly strategic to avoid employee disruptions."
    Controversy has mounted about the effects of the FLSA changes. The National Center for Policy Analysis has stated that the changes will have a positive effect on lower income workers. Yet, the Economic Policy Institute has stated that eight million workers are likely to lose their right to overtime when the proposed rules take effect, because simplification of the Act will broaden the classes of workers that can be considered exempt, including many types of professional workers who are currently receiving overtime pay.
    Wendell Young IV, representative for the 22,000-member United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 1776, says he believes the FLSA changes are controversial and will inspire many legal challenges after they become law. "We believe the DOL had no right to change the FLSA's overtime regulations without congressional approval," says Young. "Organized labor leaders across the country are waiting to observe the impact of the changes, which in the short run will have less effect on workers with skills that are in rising demand, or employees covered by labor contracts. Yet, in the long run, the FLSA changes will be a big item at the collective bargaining table."
    According to Young, workers reclassified as exempt should be wary of the potential for longer workweeks. This could disrupt childcare arrangements with parents no longer arriving home at a specific time because they are now exempt. Two-income families, particularly where one parent leaves for work when the other arrives home, will be especially vulnerable. Non-union workers that are reclassified as exempt will be the most vulnerable.
    Detailed information about the proposed FLSA changes can be obtained by viewing the "Federal Register" on the Internet.
    The changes in the workplace inspired by the FLSA revisions will unfold over time, but a member of a regional mental healthcare network is concerned about families and longer employee workweeks. Dr. Dave Brolan, director, Work-Life and Counseling Services at Moses Taylor Hospital in Scranton, administers an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) used by employers across the region. Businesses enroll in the EAP, and then make confidential referrals for employee counseling.
    "The United States is experiencing movement towards a longer work week, and this trend runs against the momentum in Europe and much of industrialized world," says Dr. Brolan. "As a modern society, this is increasing employee stress, particularly for women with families to care for. While our work has increased affluence and consumer buying potential, it has not generated more personal happiness."
    Brolan says that mental health counselors are treating increased numbers of women who are suffering from work-related family separation issues. While men are also affected, women make up the majority of those requiring counseling.
    Intergenerational issues, such as caring for older parents who have become ill, and increased day care for children, have lowered the quality of life for many working women." "As the length of our work week has increased, the love/work/play axis has been tipped against families," explains Brolan. "For many workers, the only meaningful relationships they experience are at work. This all adds to up families under increasing stress, and increased needs for employee counseling."

  4. 2/01   US miracle is based on longer hours for less pay, by Doug Henwood, The Guardian [UK].
    In the late 1990s the US was famous across the globe for its New Economy. Computers had unleashed a productivity miracle, recessions were relics of a transcended past, ideas had replaced things as the motors of economic life, the world had become unprecedentedly globalised, work had evolved into something deeply meaningful and mutual funds had put an end to class conflict.
    That miracle did not quite work out as hoped, but now the US economy is working a new kind of miracle: clocking near-Chinese rates of GDP growth while producing hardly any new jobs. In the third quarter of 2003, the economy grew by 8.2% while employment rose 0.1%.
    In the fourth quarter Canada, despite being about one-eighth the size of its southern neighbour, produced more new jobs than the US - not in percentage terms but in absolute numbers.
    Strangely, the two miracles are not unrelated. The economic heart of the 1990s miracle was the productivity revolution. There is no doubt that the official productivity statistics shook off their 20-year-old torpor in the mid-90s and accelerated significantly. But what does that mean?
    There are at least two ways to approach that problem: the technical and the philosophical. Let us take the technical approach first. Labour productivity measures real output per hour of labour. There are serious problems in estimating both the numerator and denominator of the productivity equation.
    The labour inputs to the productivity calculations are not hours worked but hours paid, as reported by employers to the bureau of labour statistics (BLS). That is no small distinction.
    One of the undisputed stars of the productivity revolution is the huge retail group Wal-Mart, which has repeatedly been sued for requiring its "associates" to work long after they have clocked off for the day. The BLS does not have firm estimates of how long management work weeks are; essentially it makes a guess.
    At Wal-Mart, many store managers work 60- or 70-hour weeks, but the productivity statistics assume far less. The same goes with the computer industry. The BLS assumes that executives in the hi-tech sector work normal 35- or 40-hour weeks. To anyone in the industry, that assumption is hilarious.
    There are plenty of problems with measuring output, too. Take, for example, the computer. If today's $1,000 PC is twice as fast as last year's then, according to conventional economic logic, its "real" value is twice the 2003 model's. Who knows if that is true? If you are typing letters and sending email, the speed increase hardly makes a difference.
    But to the official US accountants, the matter is settled. That logic ripples throughout the statistical apparatus. According to economist Robert Gordon, one of the few mainstream sceptics on the productivity revolution, most of the acceleration in productivity has occurred in the manufacture of computers and similar devices. Gordon's conclusion is controversial but even enthusiasts concede that productivity in heavy computer-using industries - such as finance, business services and communications - has either been increasing very slowly or declining.
    But the technical argument needs a broader context. The point of increasing productivity is, or should be, to improve our material standard of living and make our lives a little easier. The American productivity miracle has done neither. Even at the peak of the boom, more than 60% of respondents to a Business Week poll said the miracle had done little to raise their incomes or improve their job security.
    Over the longer term, productivity gains have done little to ease the work effort, either. A worker paid the average manufacturing wage would have had to work 62 weeks to earn the median family's income in 1947. In 2001, he or she would have had to work 81 weeks. So, despite the fact that productivity was up more than threefold over the period, the average worker would have to toil six months longer to make the average family income. Americans work more hours a year than just about anyone else on earth, and things only got tougher in the 1990s. Some revolution.
    During the boom, there was plenty of irrational exuberance and spare cash to spice things up a bit. American workers saw some real wage growth in the late 1990s, a welcome change from the previous 20 years of stagnation alternating with decline. With the bursting of the bubble and the emergence of a jobless recovery (with no real wage growth), the underlying reality of the productivity revolution has been revealed: wage squeezing and extra pressure in the workplace.
    The essence of the US economic model was nicely encapsulated in a 1997 article by New York Times reporter Alan Cowell. In the midst of lecturing the Germans on the need to give up their long weekends and long vacations, Cowell recommended that they adopt the American approach, which he defined as "working longer for less".
    [Thanks, Cowell. With 'experts' like you to guide us, who needs backward time travel?]



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