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Timesizing News, February 11-20, 2004
[Commentary] ©2004 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 622, Porter Sq, Cambridge MA 02140 USA 617-623-8080

2/20/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 2/19 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #1 which is from the 2/20 WSJ &/or NYT hardcopy), and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -

  1. Cabinet decisions - In North Carolina, furniture makers try to stay alive - Mr. Stanco strives to boost efficiency and morale; Company looks to China [and to timesizing] - Sanding rough spots by hand, by Dan Morse, WSJ, front page, A6.
    [Despite several downsizings in the past 4 years, this company did have a timesizing event last fall (11/13/2003 #1) and these excerpts mention it at the end.]
    THOMASVILLE, N.C. - A little more than a year ago, Rick Stanco was handed the reins of a cranky old factory here in the heart of U.S. furniture-making country. His challenge: Show the bosses at Furniture Brands International Inc. why they shouldn't just shut the place down.
    [How motivating - let's just all kill ourselves.]
    Furniture Brands, the largest residential furniture company in the U.S., had recently shuttered 17 other plants in the U.S. as part of a major shift toward importing more products from China.... In a June 3 [2003] investors conference, the company's chairman, Mickey Holliman, spoke of his commitment to the Far East....
    [as if the Far East, not America, needs his commitment!]
    Mr. Holliman added that Furniture Brands, which is based in St. Louis...would be closing more plants in the U.S. Two weeks later, [he] closed a plant in Winston-Salem NC, eliminating 400 jobs (6/19/2003 #1).
    [And de-activating maybe 800-1000 American consumers, many of them his own and his customers' customers. Brilliant. In the immortal words of Lily Tomlin, No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up.]
    Mr. Holliman, who himself had experience running factories [but he probably didn't get too close to those, yuk, employees!], tried to send out word that imports would be good for the company's remaining workers....
    [Yeah, sure.]
    In early November, the [Thomasville] plant suffered...a blow. On the instructions of his supervisors, Mr. Stanco gathered 28 workers in a conference room [dba gas chamber] and told them they were losing their jobs...citing soft demand.... Several weeks later, he had to lay off another 28 workers.... Approaching Christmas, Mr. Stanco's plant was running only four days a week....
    [See fuller write-up on 11/13/2003 #1.]

  2. Across the table - CUPE's anti-stress guidelines could spur radical change, by Wilfred List, Canadian Occupational Safety Magazine Feb/2004.
    CANADA - It has long been recognized that workplace-generated stress can have a devastating effect on the health of employees. But until recently unions and employers have been slow in dealing with the causes of stress. Instead, they have focused on treating the symptoms rather than recognizing stress as an occupational health and safety hazard that requires action to prevent its onset. Many companies have attempted to deal with the problem through wellness programs and various stress-management techniques to help employees cope.
    But the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) rejects those steps as band-aid solutions that do nothing to eliminate stress hazards. Instead, it is taking aggressive steps to deal with stress as an occupational health hazard. CUPE's concern about the impact of workplace stress on the health of its members has led it to make the issue of stress a priority for its health and safety committees. A guideline for its activists and 500,000 members, entitled, "Enough Workplace Stress: Organizing for Change," signals that the union intends to tackle work environment issues that lead to stress in a manner no different than other health and safety hazards at work. That could lead to such extreme measures as refusing "unsafe work," which would include work overload and excessive pace of work.
    CUPE's 45-page guide provides information on the causes and effects of workplace stress, but it is also advanced as a tool for action....
    This new emphasis on stress will be carried over to the bargaining table, with the potential for confrontation on such demands as minimum staffing levels, more favourable shift arrangements, limits on overtime and shorter work weeks, among other proposals aimed at reducing stress.
    How it will all play out remains to be seen. But it is clear that stress prevention will be a dominant feature of industrial relations in the years ahead. And given the enormous amount of data on the effect of stress on health, it will be difficult for employers to dismiss out of hand proposed workplace changes aimed at reducing stress.

  3. Government sets target of 2 million new jobs, by Kim Jong-yoon & Kim Ji-soo , Joongang Ilbo.
    SOUTH KOREA - Without giving details of how it would be accomplished, the government announced yesterday it intended to create 2 million jobs over the next four years. The decision was made during a meeting of economic leaders presided over by President Roh Moo-hyun at the Blue House.
    Discussing the results of the meeting, the Ministry of Finance and Economy said that 1.5 million jobs would be created through a projected 5% average annual growth in gross domestic product. About 200,000 to 300,000 new jobs would come from the service sector and 200,000 to 300,000 through job-sharing [hopefully they mean 'worksharing' so hours aren't kept high and rigid by the 40-hour workweek] or by having workers accept reductions in pay and working hours to curtail layoffs.
    The effort to boost employment follows an announcement of the worst youth unemployment statistics in 34 months. Also, it comes just a day after the new finance minister, Lee Hun-jai, expressed skepticism that the Korean economy would grow by more than 5% in the coming year.
    The National Statistical Office said yesterday that the nation's unemployment rate last month stood at 3.7%, marking a slight increase of 0.1% over the previous month. In particular, unemployment among young adults in the 15-29 age bracket rose to 8.8%, which was the highest level since unemployment in March 2001 soared to 9%.
    The office said that 21.9 million people were employed in January, a drop of 160,000 from the previous month. Officials construed the discrepancy to mean that the number of jobs available in the country shrank. On the other hand, the number of people who lost jobs during the period was 854,000. The unemployment figure does not include those who have given up on the job search. The statistical office said that 124,000 people gave up their job hunts in January. The figure marks a 14.8% increase over the previous month, and is 82.4% higher than in Jan. 2003.

  4. Cheap products' human cost - China's success in the PC revolution lies in its mostly young and low-wage workers, who put in stunning amounts of overtime, by Karl Schoenberger, San Jose Mercury News.
    ZHONGSHAN, China - Pan Qing Mei hoists a soldering gun and briskly fastens chips and wires to motherboards streaming past on a conveyor belt. Fumes from the lead solder rise past her face toward a ventilating fan high above the floor of the spotless factory. Pan, a 23-year-old migrant worker, said the fumes made her lightheaded when she first arrived from a distant farm village three years ago. Now she's used to them - just as she's used to the marathon shifts, sometimes 18 hours a day.
    Hundreds of thousands of young Chinese like Pan have flocked to the Pearl River Delta to work in electronics factories that assemble computers and other products for the world's major tech companies.
    [Surplus begets poor conditions.]
    These hard-driving, highly efficient component factories, many of them owned by Taiwanese companies, are essential to the personal computer industry as competition drives down prices.
    What has escaped notice is one secret to their success: They take advantage of a workforce willing to work extraordinary amounts of overtime, often in violation of China's national labor law.
    Workers like Pan come from impoverished villages for a few years to live in company dormitories, eat in company cafeterias and routinely work minimum 12-hour shifts, six days a week. Pan's base wage of 30 cents an hour is roughly China's minimum wage. Working at least 130 hours of overtime a month, at up to 50 cents an hour, she earns about $150 a month.
    Much of that she sends home to support her parents, who are subsistence farmers, and what is left she spends on her room and board, and she saves for medical emergencies.
    With its estimated 100 million migrant workers and its notoriety for low wages and lax enforcement of labor and environmental laws, China is fast becoming the world's premier electronic workshop, analysts say. Contract manufacturers that make components for leading PC companies are moving operations here from Taiwan, Malaysia and Mexico, and bringing their subcontractors with them.
    Long work hours
    • Young, rural women from poor villages
    But critics of economic globalization, and its unintentional side effects in the Third World, are expanding their scrutiny beyond Nike and the Gap to high tech. The industry's clean image and its reputation for high standards of corporate responsibility are at risk. "The problem is that overtime abuse is just as bad in the high-tech industry as it is in the garment industry, and the hazardous-materials issue is even worse,'' said S. Prakash Sethi, a professor at Baruch College's Zicklin School of Business in New York. "It's false to say workers love overtime. They do it because they cannot afford to live without it.''
    [And the more they do it, the greater the surplus of labor hours and the shortage of employment hours - and the poorer the conditions. The longer the hours they work, the worse their position, and they're not the ones with the power to change things, unless they get organized. Present-day economic theory is an insult to intelligence. It 'externalizes' all this top-priority suffering. Joan Robinson called standard economics a branch of theology. A branch of Satanology more likely.]
    Pan Qing Mei is typical of the young rural women who have rushed to the electronics factories in the Pearl River Delta in recent years. This is China's gold coast, where special export zones adjacent to the former colonies of Hong Kong and Macao are driving the nation's economic boom. Standing on a polished floor under bright lights, Pan is one of hundreds of women working along rows of assembly lines in the factory owned by Wistron Corp., a subsidiary of Taiwan-based Acer Group. Wistron recruiters visited her vocational high school in northeast Guangdong, about 300 miles from Zhongshan, and signed her up as one of the plant's first workers.
    In classic company-town fashion, she works, eats, sleeps and spends her scant free time at Wistron, which deducts room and board from her paycheck. Since she started, her total monthly income has doubled. But the demands on her time have also accelerated, said Pan, wearing the company uniform of a checkered, static-free jacket and white cap.
    Most contract manufacturers in China like Wistron, experts say, run their factories on two 12-hour shifts, enabling them to lower costs by hiring fewer workers. That means managers expect Pan and her co-workers to put in at least 72 hours during a six-day workweek. The central government's law restricts a laborer's monthly hours including overtime to 249; Pan typically works a minimum of 312 hours a month.
    [= 69 hrs/wk in a 4½-wk mon.]
    Wistron appears to be violating the law by encouraging employees like Pan to work so much overtime, but the company says the local labor bureau allows up to 36 overtime hours a week, not 36 a month as the central government's law mandates. Indeed, in the casual legal environment of China's outlying provinces, local labor officials assert they can waive enforcement of the national law, experts say, enabling municipal governments to attract foreign investment with competitive incentives that include no enforcement of labor regulations as well as tax holidays.
    Labor loopholes
    • Local officials waive national laws "There's a loophole in the national labor law that these people are taking advantage of,'' said Anita Chan, a labor scholar at the Australian National University and co-editor of its China Journal. "Even if one can argue the practice is not necessarily illegal, it's not moral.''
    That gray zone of regulatory enforcement puts women like Pan in a particularly vulnerable spot. The assembly lines of these factories are almost exclusively staffed by young women who don't stay long on the job and are easily replaceable. In Shenzhen, the core of the regional industrial zone, half its 3.5 millions migrant laborers in all sectors work seven days a week, according to a Chinese labor think tank. About 60% are women, typically between the ages of 17 and 23.
    The overtime trap can be seductive for these workers, and the line between volunteer and compulsory work often is blurry. Pan said she needs the overtime so she can send money home to her parents and two sisters. Her melodic voice lowered to a whisper when a grinning factory supervisor approached within earshot of her conversation with a foreign reporter.
    "The overtime hours are very long, but it's not just about making money,'' she said. "There's nothing to do here after work, nowhere to go. I play a little basketball, but that's all there is.'' Wistron managers boast of their good record on employee welfare at the plant. "We're a Taiwanese company, and there are political considerations to our being here in China, as well as issues with our customers,'' said David Shen, the plant's account manager. "We can't afford to violate local laws and customs.'' Asked later to clarify the company's overtime policy, Wistron officials did not respond.
    Whether the overtime in these plants follows Chinese regulations - or acceptable international standards - is a question that threatens to hound U.S. electronics companies as they send their production work to contractors in China. "The worst hazards in a Chinese factory are invisible,'' said Chan Ka Wai, an investigator with the Hong Kong Christian Industrial Committee, a labor-monitoring group that has exposed widespread abuses in the electronic toy industry. "And it's not a problem with labor standards, it's a problem with enforcement and corruption.''
    One U.S. high-tech giant is addressing concerns about working conditions as it enters the opaque world of contract manufacturing. In its contracts with Chinese suppliers, Microsoft has specified a 40-hour workweek and allows only "consensual overtime'' during peak production periods of the Xbox game console soon to be made by Wistron.
    "My understanding is that the 12-hour shift is not the norm for the Xbox,'' said Matt Pilla, a Microsoft spokesman. "As we get into hardware production, we want to make sure our overseas partners share our values.''
    Pilla said Microsoft plans to monitor compliance with labor standards as part of routine quality audits of its contractor factories.
    Competitive edge
    • Asian contractors help cut costs
    To succeed in a fiercely competitive market, PC brand companies have relied on offshore contractors for years. With the exception of Dell, whose own employees still do the final assembly in the United States - adding custom features and plugging in the microprocessor and other high-value parts - PC makers rarely even touch the products that they design and market, industry experts say.
    The move to contractors in China is "accelerating,'' said Tim Dinwiddie, who manages a sprawling electronics factory complex in Zhuhai for Flextronics, one of the largest U.S.-owned contract manufacturers. "Most everything in the electronics industry is going to come to China during the next four to five years,'' he said.
    Critics of contract manufacturing say it can be a model for high-tech sweatshops that exploit low-wage migrant workers and jeopardize their health and safety. But proponents call it a model of productivity that lowers overhead, cuts consumer prices and raises living standards in developing countries. "It's not Dell that competes with Compaq as a single company, it's the whole supply chain each company uses,'' said Seungjin Whang, co-director of Stanford Business School's Global Supply Chain Management Forum. Whang believes that the long hours in Chinese factories are the unintentional consequence of the pressure on contractors and their subcontractors to cut their costs. Fewer employees working longer hours reduces the overhead. "I don't think PC brand makers cause this to happen deliberately, but it's implicit in their cost-reduction efforts,'' he said.
    Dinwiddie of Flextronics said he does not see an end to the demand for "voluntary overtime'' in his workforce. "If we don't provide them with what they think is the right amount of overtime, they will quit,'' he said.
    Critics see it differently. "Instead of benign neglect on the part of manufacturers, it's becoming a matter of negligence,'' said Sethi of Baruch College, who studies labor conditions in China. "They are taking advantage of these girls, and taking advantage of China's inability to enforce its labor laws.''
    Seagate's operations in Shenzhen, just across the border from Hong Kong, show that U.S. companies can face the same issues over wages, hours and benefits that confront Taiwanese contractors.
    The Mercury News interviewed two former workers from the Shenzhen plant who described working 12 hours a day, sometimes up to 15 hours, for seven straight days over long periods during the past two years. They also said Seagate shortchanged their pension benefits when the Scotts Valley company laid them off and closed the plant in late March. Seagate did not comment on the disputed pension accounts, but said it was investigating the overtime issue.
    The Seagate pension dispute is not unusual, according to Liu Kai Ming, director of Shenzhen's Institute of Contemporary Observation, a fledgling independent think tank of Chinese labor scholars. Nor are the overtime hours at the plant. "This is not the only case of its kind in the IT sector, and I think it gets a lot worse,'' said Liu, author of the recently published "Migrant Labor in Southern China.''
    Labor disputes usually are associated with the dinosaurs of state-owned industry in China's northeastern rust belt, but Liu cited government statistics indicating there were 13,000 labor disputes in the sprawling Shenzhen "special economic zone'' in 1999. That equals almost one-fifth of all such cases in the nation.
    Liu said information about the region's electronics workshops is particularly scarce. "It's very difficult to get cooperation and do research in the IT industry. They don't let us into their factories,'' Liu said. "These companies are not getting pressure from society yet. But in the future, the problems of extraordinary overtime are going to get a lot of attention.''

2/19/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 2/18 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
  1. Rookie steps gingerly into the labour minefield, by Ian Urquhart, Toronto Star.
    TORONTO, Ont. - While prodding unions with the stick of wage restraint, the Liberal government at Queen's Park is also offering the carrot of rollbacks of Conservative changes to the province's labour laws. The carrot is being held by Labour Minister Chris Bentley, who says his goal is to "restore the balance in labour relations" in the province. ..."It is an important goal for its own sake," he said in an interview this week in the boardroom at the labour ministry's University Ave. offices. "Some of the Tory legislation was so obviously unbalanced that it calls into question what they were trying to achieve."
    As a rookie in the Legislature, Bentley...was a surprise choice for cabinet last fall. He is well-known in legal circles in his hometown of London, where he was a top-flight criminal lawyer, but not in Queen's Park circles. That is starting to change as he sets about dismantling the Tory labour legacy.
    First on his hit list was the so-called 60-hour work week. Bentley promised last month to introduce "fair and balanced" legislation in the spring session to ensure that employees cannot be forced to work more than 48 hours a week.
    Next are the Tory-mandated requirements that instructions on how to decertify a union be posted at every unionized workplace and that union officers' salaries over $100,000 be published annually. Bentley called such measures "mean-spirited" and noted that there was no corresponding requirement for posters on how to certify a union in non-union workplaces and for publication of management salaries over $100,000. He suggested both these measures will be repealed this spring....

  2. Making the perfect switcheroo - While one is teaching at Harold Oliver Intermediate Center, the other is being a mom - then comes time for the flip-flop, by Traci Jan (503-294-5970; tracyjan@news.oregonian.com), Oregonian [OR].
    PORTLAND?, Ore. - Tricia Murphy pulls her station wagon into the school's 15-minute parking zone, leaves her keys in the ignition and hops out to meet her teaching partner, Amy Olson Rocha. Murphy's 14-month-old daughter, Madison, and Rocha's 20-month-old son, Nicolas, sleep strapped to their car seats while the moms debrief at the curb.... Some are still finishing their state writing tests, Rocha says. And they want to know which movie they get to watch tomorrow at the Valentine's party.
    Murphy...and Rocha...share students, cars and babies in what their colleagues at the Centennial School District's Harold Oliver Intermediate Center call the most symbiotic job share they've ever seen. Morning mom becomes afternoon teacher. Morning teacher becomes afternoon mom. A seamless transition for the two women and both sets of charges.
    They ironed out the arrangement with the principal in September that's the envy of working mothers in any profession, one that leaves both women with more energy to parent and teach. It works because of diligent planning and constant communication - phone calls in the middle of the day, familyroom chats after school and, to their husbands' chagrin, more phone calls at night. Conversations flit from individual students to diaper rash to lesson plans.
    Each lugs her teaching materials and planners to school in identical blue-and-white totes. Neither wastes a minute of class time because she has only half of the day to teach her lesson. They've instilled a sense of ownership and community in their students, who are charged with keeping the class on task, mediating peer conflicts and doling out rewards....
    The babies' mornings start in the kitchen of Murphy's Northeast Portland home, where Nicolas' father, a financial adviser, drops him off. While Murphy feeds the kids, Rocha teaches reading to 26 fifth-graders in Room 48.
    While the babies play in the living room littered with primary-colored plastic toys, the fifth-graders run their daily 15-minute "community circle" in which classmates take turns complimenting one another for "being a good partner with the ball" and "not talking during reading."
    Rocha teaches reading, spelling and problem-solving in the mornings. Murphy teaches writing and math in the afternoons. Both teach social studies and science.
    Friends and colleagues for three years, Murphy and Rocha say they're lucky to have found a partner in whom to entrust her child and career. "People at work crack up because it feels like we should just be married," Murphy says. "I feel like this is such an old-fashioned communal way of raising kids."
    "Having Tricia, I don't ever worry about anything," Rocha says. "I don't feel spread so thin. I can put a lot of energy into what I'm doing on both sides."
    They also value each other's perspective and support in what can often be an isolating profession. One of them usually stays levelheaded when the other is frustrated. They routinely bounce ideas off each other to help solve classroom problems, whether it's helping Rocha think of an appropriate punishment when students don't turn in a class project or ensuring that Murphy smoothly implements a new math curriculum.
    "They debrief constantly so the kids can't pull the wool over their eyes," says Jillian Clinton, an education assistant in the class.
    After each morning's 15-minute exchange, Rocha drives the babies to her Troutdale home in Murphy's station wagon. Murphy walks into the cafeteria at 11:30 am to round up her students from lunch. Girls run to hug her. One shows off a missing molar she had pulled that morning. Boys bare their teeth and tongues, stained blue from lollipops.
    "Having two teachers is cool because every afternoon is kind of like a new day," says Natalia Arias-Davis, 10.
    "And if Ms. Rocha gets mad, she just leaves and then Ms. Murphy comes," says Julianna Stai, 11.
    The class wins with two teachers, says Principal Char Harris, who job shared for five years to care for her son in the early 1980s when job sharing was still unusual. Students don't have to adjust to extremes when teachers have similar styles, behavioral expectations and teaching philosophies, she says.
    Split-day job shares like Murphy and Rocha's work better than split-week job shares, Harris says, because daily contact helps teachers build better relationships with students. "You have two rested, excited teachers coming in for half the day," she says. "It's a good model for our students as well to see that you can work and be a mom, that you can care about your students and your own child."
    On the rare occasions that students see both teachers at once, they always ask who's watching the kids. Sometimes the teachers will bring their babies along. During an all-day field trip, Murphy met Rocha and their students at the zoo at her usual time and rented a double stroller. Rocha took over the babies while Murphy took over the class.
    The only times the teachers ask their families to baby-sit during the school day is during parent-teacher conferences, which they both attend. And if one falls ill, the other substitutes and works a full day.
    English language teacher Cynthia Khawaja calls theirs a "flawless partnership" that flows into the way they raise their children. At the end of the school day, Murphy drives Rocha's truck to her partner's Troutdale home to pick up Madison, who's usually fresh from a nap. The mothers recap their day, sometimes for hours, on the family room couch while their children play....
    Both Murphy and Rocha plan to have another child in a few years. "I told her, 'You have to tell me when you're going to,' because I don't want her to go on maternity leave without me," Murphy says. "But if we both have another one . . . we'll have to get a minivan."

2/18/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 2/17 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
  1. Family is priority at work, by Neil Hodgson, Liverpool Echo.
    UK - Family-friendly working hours are now almost as important to staff as extra pay and holidays, claims Liverpool-born union leader Sir Bill Connor. The general secretary of shop workers union Usdaw said flexible hours are a key item on most union bargaining agendas and ranked equally as important as traditional mainstays such as extra pay and more holidays.
    [But note article below which states that "flexible working conditions have not led to a reduction in the number of hours that people work," so flexibility of worktime is irrelevant - we need reduction of worktime to maintain and rebuild employment and the consumer base.]
    He was speaking in the wake of two new surveys. One revealed that more than half of UK mothers have either asked, or plan to ask, to work flexibly. This follows the introduction of new regulations last April that gave parents of children under six a legal right to request flexible working.
    [If the workweek was down to levels it should be for our levels of worksaving technology, childcare would not be an issue. As it is, couching this issue in terms of fostering reproduction is a mixed blessing in an age of over-population. We need shorter hours for everyone, not just parents, because only an across-the-board approach will provide the jobs needed for our huge hidden global unemployment.]
    The second showed that three in every four workers now put family-friendly working hours ahead of other benefits.
    Two-thirds of Usdaw's 330,000 members are women and Sir Bill said: "Employers are gradually recognising that staff can work equally well and efficiently if given a little leeway to care for children and dependents. This issue is gaining momentum for Usdaw members. Demands for more flexible working hours are nowadays one of the first items on the bargaining agenda when Usdaw meets with employers to improve workers' terms and conditions."
    The union conducted its own survey of members last year that revealed 65% of mums, dads and carers felt juggling the demands of work with bringing up a child or caring for dependents had got harder over the previous three years.
    [Bingo. This at a time when many companies are holding out meaningless "flexibility" lures.]
    Many had experienced problems with getting time off when their child was ill and others said they were not able to afford to take parental leave as it was unpaid.

  2. Long hours are taking their toll, by Jon Griffin, Evening Mail via ic Birmingham.co.uk.
    UK - Stress levels are soaring for Midland business leaders with more than half suffering from work-related anxiety, a new survey reveals. And over two-thirds are in danger of exceeding the Government's recommended working week as set out in its Working Time Directive, say business advisers Grant Thornton.
    The survey revealed that a "long hours culture" is well developed in the region with 62% of senior business people working between 9 and 11 hours per day and 5% working over 60 hours per week.
    The Government's Working Time Directive stipulates that workers should not work more than an average of 48 hours per week over a 17-week period. The survey also discovered that while 45% of Midlands companies offer flexible working conditions, it has not led to a reduction in the number of hours that people work.
    69% of respondents work a five day week, 13% work a six day week and 21% frequently work at weekends.   5% of respondents work a four day week or less.
    David White, partner at Grant Thornton in Birmingham, said: "The survey was carried out among senior business people so it is not surprising to see high levels of commitment, both in terms of time and hands-on involvement. However, the frequency of weekend working and the fact that 13% work a six day week is worrying and this will inevitably lead to increased stress levels if people are not achieving the right work/life balance.
    "On the other hand, flexible working may allow people to work from home from time to time and this could potentially improve the situation."
    A total of 53% of the sample admitted to suffering from work-related stress. The principal cause cited was having 'too much to do in too little time' (42%) followed by 22% of respondents citing a lack of communication and consultation.

2/17/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 2/16 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
  1. Candy workers want less working days, Jakarta Post.
    TANGERANG, Indonesia - About 1,000 workers of candy producer PT Super Worldwide Foodstuff Industry went on strike on Monday at the factory on Jl. Gatot Subroto Kilometer 6, to demand that the management grant them a five-day working week.
    "It's all right if we have to work on Saturday, but the management should pay us overtime and not include it in our monthly wages," one of the workers of Sugus candy producer, who requested anonymity, told The Jakarta Post.
    The workers plan to continue the protest at the Tangerang municipal manpower agency office on Tuesday.
    [Great town name! but not in our big old ('68) Rand McNally atlas.]

  2. Sharing a career, getting a life - Some find part of a full-time job is better than a whole part-time job, by Shade Maret, Raleigh News [NC].
    [Let's review the Timesizing position on job sharing. It's great as a transition strategy, but it's still usually based on a rigid, permanent, out-dated, arbitrary 40-hour workweek. What we need is a workweek that fluctuates gradually downward - maybe just one hour a year (referendum call) - as work-saving technology advances and more employees become downsized and under-employed.]
    RALEIGH, N.C. - Dr. Michele Martin sees patients Monday, Tuesday and part of Wednesday. After Wednesday morning, though, she's a stay-at-home mother, shuttling her 22-month-old daughter to and from a mother's morning-out program at the church and running errands. If her patients at Wilkerson Obstetrics & Gynecology in Raleigh need to see someone when she's off, they're not left in the lurch: Dr. Andrea Torsone works the rest of the week.
    The two, part of a growing number of professionals who share jobs, split patient care, deliveries, operating expenses and late nights on call. They also share a salary.
    "I'm so happy with it because I wanted time to be a mommy," said Martin.... "But I can still be a physician, which I worked toward for about eight years post-college. You hate to give that up."
    Martin is finding balance in home life and work by collaborating with someone who shares the same professional philosophy and personal goals she does. She realized that she needed an alternative work arrangement when sleepless nights of delivering babies on call were compounded by more sleepless nights nursing her own baby every few hours. Her husband is a doctor who was on call as often as she was.
    Job sharing is becoming more popular because people want to spend more time with their children, pursue other interests or have more free time as they near retirement age, said Roger Herman, a workplace consultant at The Herman Group in Greensboro. It often works better than a part-time schedule because employees can take full ownership of the position, work doesn't pile up, and they can split benefits not offered when working part time.
    Some divide the week in half, working the first part while their partners take the last. Others work mornings while their partners take the afternoon shift.
    Some employers are embracing job sharing because they are looking for different ways to recruit and retain top talent as they anticipate a severe shortage of skilled labor, Herman said.
    This year for the first time, teachers who share jobs in the Wake County school system can get retirement benefits and health insurance, said Toni Patterson, assistant superintendent of human resources for the school system. So far, it is working well, and the school system plans to use the alternative for retention and recruiting.
    Lee Ann Hoskin teaches language arts, reading and social studies at Olive Chapel Elementary School in Apex while Jennifer Rogers picks up math, science and computer classes. They write report cards and hold parent conferences together. Hoskin can contribute to her 401(k) and pick her daughters up from high school. She rarely feels stressed anymore.
    "I don't know if I would have been back or not," Hoskin said, about what might have happened if she had had to work full time.
    Often, job sharing works only after employees have paid their dues, proving themselves valuable enough to cut back their hours. That's partly why Gina Goldthwaite, a veterinarian at Quail Corners Animal Hospital in Raleigh, says she feels fortunate to have such a schedule. Goldthwaite...began looking for a part-time position after she graduated from vet school and finished her internship. Lisa Farling, now her partner, had been working at Quail Corners and was looking for a flexible arrangement.
    Now the two split clients, on-call duty and holiday workdays while spending half the week with their children. They take extra time to discuss patients and the best treatment options. "We sell ourselves to our clients by saying you get two of us," Farling said. "You get two minds, a second opinion. I think that's an advantage."
    [It is!]
    Flexibility required
    People who share jobs agree that communication is the greatest challenge. It's not for everyone: You can't put an inflexible person into a flexible arrangement like job sharing, experts say. And there will always be clients who are more comfortable talking to one doctor, veterinarian or teacher.
    It's also difficult to keep expectations in check. Colleagues sometime expect more because they see two people, even if they are supposed to be doing one person's job. For some doctors, the rising cost of malpractice insurance, which cannot be shared, can make the arrangement less appealing.
    Olive Chapel Elementary School allowed parents of students who would be in the third-grade classroom shared by Hoskin and Rogers to decide whether it was a suitable arrangement.
    Although many employers offer flexible work alternatives such as telecommuting and part-time work, job sharing is less common than some other work arrangements. According to management consultancy Hewitt Associates' 2002 survey of 960 mostly large employers, 74% offer some type of "alternative" job arrangement, such as flex time, summer hours, or part-time work, while 28% offer job sharing. But that's up from 18% in 1990.
    Spokesmen with Cisco Systems and SAS Institute, technology companies with large Triangle operations, said job sharing is not something they do very often. The two companies do offer other flexible work arrangements.
    Retaining talent
    Pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, however, uses job sharing because it increases commitment, morale and job satisfaction, according to spokeswoman Patty Seif. "It's something you offer because you want to compete for talent," Seif said.
    It has helped the company, which employs about 6,000 workers in the area and has one of its twin U.S. headquarters in Research Triangle Park, keep Eileen Monaghan and Carolyn Watson happy.
    The scientists have worked at GSK for more than 10 years and have been sharing a job since November 2002. Together, they help oversee development of new medicine in the neuroscience department, splitting time spent researching, consulting with experts and designing studies for clinical trials.
    Monaghan initiated the arrangement so she could pursue a Ph.D. in pharmacy at Campbell University. She approached Watson, whom she had previously worked with on a project. She learned that Watson, too, wanted more time off to spend with her children.
    Does it ever get confusing?
    Monaghan searched frantically in her coat pocket for her keys one day to leave work and get to class when she realized she had taken Watson's jacket instead of her own off their shared hook.
    Mostly women
    [So, hey, if job sharing becomes a major avenue to timesizing in otherwise clueless economies like U.S. and U.K., maybe "women are going to save the world" after all!]
    Job sharing has been fueled by women with children at home, said John Challenger, of Challenger Gray & Christmas, an employment research and recruiting firm. It works well for such jobs as lawyer, administrative assistant and doctor, but is harder to handle in management positions, he said.
    Soon it will probably be more common among men, as people look to balance their lives in new ways, Challenger said. The workers are often happier, work harder and stick around longer, he said. This will be key as the economy improves [and how's that going to happen, John?] and companies work to retain people.
    Farling, who says she works 10% to 25% more than she is contracted to at the animal hospital, says she wouldn't do it if she weren't happy. She gets the rewards of practicing medicine while still having time for her family.
    "I hope we can keep doing this for years and years," Farling said.

  3. Economic thought places too much value in consumerism, by Donald Chance (a retired professional and a doctoral student in environmental design & planning), Collegiate Times [VA].
    [We're going to leave out the confusing and extraneous anti-consumption parts (not anti "consumerism" which is a movement including Ralph Nader and Consumers' Report that works for quality products) of this article. Anti-consumption is one of the tempting tangents people are always wandering off on when they can't keep their focus on cutting worktime and the admittedly tricky time dimension. Plus history indicates that the shorter-hours movement gains the most traction during recessions and depressions which are crises of under-consumption, not over-consumption. Tying the shorter hours movement to the simplicity or frugality movement (Juliet Schor and John de Graaf take notice!) is a big mistake in terms of strategic effectiveness, even though, once implemented, the core institutional design for fluctuating adjustment of the workweek against unemployment will make it much easier to cut consumption and nurture nature without torpedoing the economy.]
    Last week, Professor Djavad Salehi-Isfahani from the economics department of Virginia Tech lobbied persuasively[?] for the growing flood of outsourcing in his article, “Outsourcing benefits U.S. and international economies,” (Collegiate Times, Feb. 13).
    [So, Isfahani is another standard economist who has joined Bush's chief economic adviser Greg Mankiw, Fed chief Alan Greenspan, and today's (2/17's) Political Capital columnist Alan Murray ("Despite the outcry, Mankiw was right about outsourcing," WSJ, A4) in straining to rationalize a non-WinWin strategy that they are not being hurt by.]
    May I modestly dissent, suggesting given the serious implications, we may want to revisit the underlying assumptions. Neo-classical economics is largely the narrow world of utility maximization,
    [not necessarily narrow - what's the utility of a bunch of deactivated employee-consumers in the first world?]
    or in the case of outsourcing, the theory of comparative advantage. It is one limited way of thinking; a...belief system essentially assuming efficiency is...good [regardless of collateral human suffering].
    The problem with relying foremost on a neo-classical economic paradigm without greater reflection is [that] it is an epistemological bungalow … no upper story.
    [A sonorous but ineffective metaphor because there's nothing obviously better about a two-storey house than a bungalow, especially if you're getting on in years.]
    Efficiency, when we unwittingly catapult it to the top of public policy as the value trumping all others, functions too often without regard for long-term [OR short-term!] consequences and human values.
    The economist’s arguments for global outsourcing of both professional and skilled trade jobs is essentially three-fold:
    1. cheaper consumer goods and increased societal wealth,
      [strangely overlooking the almost invariable juxtaposition of prosperity aka wealth in one of the few situations we could count on it last century, wartime, with more expensive goods - this 'advantage' is knocked out by rising import prices (WSJ today 2/17, A1) as we trash the dollar anyway]
    2. income transfer from the first world to the third world
      [strangely overlooking the forced nature of this charity and the reprimand, "charity begins at home," especially when we have many unemployed, many welfare cases, record bankrupts, record disabled, record homeless, record incarcerated, and untold force-early-retired, forced-interrupted retirements, forced self-"employed" without clients, forced multiple part-time....]
    3. and for the unlucky losers, just reeducate yourselves for some increasingly unspecified emerging employment area until those careers are also shipped overseas due to labor cost differentials.
    Just to play devil’s advocate, let’s take on these three assumptions one at a time.
    1. American society has been fed a steady diet by the prophets of boom promising that orgy-like consumption will somehow make you happier....
      [cut to the 'time' mention -]
      It can be argued persuasively that citizens of other industrialized nations with...higher consumer costs enjoy a higher quality of life and more life satisfaction than we Americans — even with a backdrop of higher unemployment levels and less disposable income. They enjoy more time to be human....
    2. This brings us to the next dilemma in the debate over outsourcing, the cavalier acceptance of the human misery it can cause. American workers, professional or skilled trade, will never compete at current wage and benefit levels with third-world workers earning less than $100 a month for an 80-hour work week.
      The Wall Street Journal ran a thoroughly researched story on Wal-Mart practices in China, where 80% of its suppliers exist. Factories were constantly forced to accept low price contracts under government threat. The only way for the supplier to meet Wal-Mart demands were to function with abhorrent worker safety standards, little or no benefits, child labor and an 80-hour work week, where wages were less than $150 a month. IBM calculates professional engineering services outsourced to India cost a mere 25% of those of America. Productivity gains can be shipped anywhere in the world with relative ease, meaning America can never solve its outsourcing problem by developing a productivity differential. It comes down to wages, benefits, and workplace and environmental standards.
      From the American worker’s perspective it is a race to the bottom. Fair trade as opposed to free trade would have to be played on a level playing field, which would mean restricting open trade to countries with similar standards — essentially only first-world nations.
    3. The final point made in the article argues the solution for the temporary displacement of workers is reeducation. Is it reasonable to suggest to a late middle-aged electrical engineer, radiologist or computer programmer with children in college and a mortgage to go back for training in some unspecified technology to make less money starting at the bottom, if hirable at all, given latent age discrimination?
      Now apply the same absurdity to a skilled tradesperson. Anyone suggesting such nonsense has virtually no true connection with the realties and burdens of America’s working class. In this recession, displaced workers — both professional and skilled trades — who were lucky enough to eventually find replacement employment took an average 30% pay cut. Our employment statistics even miss the significant problem of the chronically under-employed. What about the implications to a small community heavily dependent upon the local manufacturing industry?
    The questions and implications over outsourcing practices are too serious to be dismissed based on former experience and theory. Frederick Taylor, the father of scientific management, efficiency and systems engineering stated, “In the past the man has been first; in the future the system must be first.”
    [Nonsense. As Buckminster Fuller repeatedly pointed out, machines, including systems, are merely extensions of human beings, not replacements, and saying 'the system must be first' is merely a covert way of saying, 'a certain system-controlling subgroup of humans (including me) must be first.']
    Personally I think the notion is worth a little debate if not an all-out rumble. So I have devised a little gut test. If the economics faculty at Tech would be willing to join the outsourcing party and give up any claim to tenure, with compensation to management based solely on productivity, such that younger and cheaper scholars or video courses from the world’s best economists could be employed at any time, thereby reducing costs and improving productivity, then I might take its neo-classical theories a little more seriously. There is nothing like having a little skin in the game to focus your perspective.
    [Amen to that! Many analysts, such as Steve Roach of Morgan Stanley, were loud supporters of downsizing for all these same efficiency-regardless-of-people reasons, until they or someone close to them got downsized. Steve 'did the flip' in the mid-90s when his sister got canned.]

2/14-16/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 2/13-15 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
  1. 2/16   No light in the tunnel as drivers shun offer, by Sean Nicholls & Tim Dick, Sydney Morning Herald [Australia].
    SYDNEY, New South Wales - Only 12 of 300 train drivers [4%] have accepted the Carr Government's cash offer to lure them back to longer working hours, forcing rail chiefs to announce more cancelled services which may extend to the end of the week.
    [So, some intelligent employees at last! Somehow, 96% of these train engineers know that if you have to choose one of shorter hours and higher pay, if you choose shorter hours you wind up with both but if you choose higher pay you wind up with neither.]
    RailCorp's chief executive, Vince Graham, conceded yesterday that there had been only a "marginal improvement" in the number of drivers available for overtime in response to the $5m deal.
    [Let Graham hire more engineers and quit compromising the safety of his passengers by using overtime. Not enough money. Take a paycut, Graham, you're sure not displaying much management skill.]
    More than 120 services a day would be axed, including 12 daily morning peak-hour services and nine in the afternoon peak period. Up to half of these trains would not be replaced by buses.
    "If we get an improvement in driver availability I would hope we can improve that situation later in the week," Mr Graham said.
    The NSW president of the Rail Tram and Bus Union, Bob Hayden, said some drivers were concerned that if they accepted the offer - $400 extra a month to work normal overtime - it would look as if they had been holding the system to ransom, rather than having genuine concerns. Mr Hayden said some drivers had continuing safety concerns about Tangaras but he predicted that the majority would return to working overtime.
    A RailCorp spokeswoman, Helen Willoughby, said the number of drivers on the network would increase by 22 this week, with 10 graduating last week. But the problems are set to worsen with maintenance workers expected to walk off the job for 24 hours on Friday over what they claim is inconsistent and unfair drug and alcohol testing.
    In response to reports yesterday that many drivers found themselves idle during shifts, even at the height of the crisis, Mr Graham said rostering would be raised in coming enterprise agreement talks.
    The award restricts drivers to 217 kilometres a shift, which meant "a driver isn't . . . going to spend much more than half their shift physically driving a train".
    The Premier, Bob Carr, said a return to normal services depended on "drivers doing what the union is strongly recommending to them".
    The Opposition Leader, John Brogden, said an internal RailCorp memo, dated Feb.9, showed the Government was already planning service cutbacks and was using the crisis to mask this.

  2. 2/15   More mums to benefit from paid parental leave scheme, by Jonathan Milne, stuff.co.nz.
    WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Self-employed mothers are set to receive paid parental leave under a major extension to the $42 million scheme. It is believed the proposal would also extend the paid leave from 12 weeks to the International Labour Organisation standard of 14 weeks. The recommendation-to-cabinet coincides with Labour Minister Margaret Wilson's drive for work-life balance: providing the workplace flexibility to allow workers to get home to their families.
    Denise Kingsmill, the architect of British workplace reforms, has been talking to Wilson about initiatives such as the European 35-hour week and requiring companies to report annually on how they look after their staff. ...Tomorrow, Rotorua-born lawyer Kingsmill..., author of a 2001 pay equity report and a new human capital review, arrives in Wellington as a guest of the Human Rights Commission. She is part of a government campaign to combat New Zealanders' workaholic culture of "presenteeism", after research last year showed it would take a personal crisis for most Kiwis to cut their working hours.
    In a career that has swung from corporate fashion and trade union law to merger inquiries and women's pay, Kingsmill has been variously described in British newspapers as "radically chic" and a "zealot". As a result of Kingsmill's 2003 Accounting for People report, Tony Blair's government has signalled that all large companies will be required to report on how they manage "human capital".
    "It will be a very funny company for which people are not material to their future success," Kingsmill told the Sunday Star-Times. "We think that they will raise their game in relation to managing people, and that they will start to utilise this resource more effectively, more imaginatively, more intelligently."
    She said one of Britain's largest financial services companies was experimenting with nine-day fortnights to combat the "cult of presenteeism". "It's the jacket-on-the-back-of-the-chair syndrome - people aren't actually doing more work, they're just spending more time at work."
    But the former Competition Commission deputy chair acknowledged she had always worked longer than the hours she preached. "I probably do a lot more than 35 hours - but I choose my own hours." Kingsmill has a long-term partner and two adult children. "I think guilt goes along with motherhood, no matter what, but now my children are old enough . . . they don't seem to feel there was any time that they didn't get as much attention as they needed."
    She believed work-life balance was about giving people more control over their lives, moving away from the old master and servant relationship of "do as I say". "You can't expect a worker to be productive in the workplace if they're worrying about childcare back at home, if they're sitting there wondering who's picking the kids up from school."

2/13/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 2/12 from AOLNews (except #3-4 which are from the 2/13 WSJ &/or NYT hardcopy), and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
  1. Ferry report recommends more crew members, by Timothy Williams, AP 02/12/04 17:40 EST via AOLNews.
    NEW YORK - Four months after a crash that killed 11 passengers, a review released Thursday on the Staten Island Ferry recommends hiring new managers and scores of additional workers to ensure the boats operate safely. The report by the Global Maritime & Transportation School at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy also urged a stronger management structure, less overtime and a third pilot on each boat, instead of the current two....

  2. American Residential reports fourth-quarter and 2003 results, Business Wire 02/12/2004 16:14 Eastern.
    SAN DIEGO - American Residential Investment Trust, Inc., the parent company of American Mortgage Network (AmNet), a wholesale mortgage bank serving mortgage brokers nationwide, today reported fourth-quarter and 2003 results.... American Residential reported a consolidated net loss of $406,000, or $0.05 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2003. [However,] Consolidated net income for 2003 was [a record] $29.0 million, or $3.57 per diluted share [great!], inclusive of $10.9 million, or $1.34 per diluted share, related to tax benefits [ohoh]....
    Commenting on results for the fourth quarter and year, John M. Robbins, Jr., Chief Executive Officer, said, "While the fourth quarter did not meet expectations, 2003 as a whole was a year of significant achievement for American Mortgage Network. Since its inception two years ago, AmNet has become one of the top 25 wholesale lenders in the country. We strengthened our operating platform, enabling us to expand rapidly, grow market share and create value for stockholders. We aggressively expanded into new geographic areas by opening 12 new regional loan production offices, bringing our total to 21. Our product offerings now cover some 80 programs ranging from conforming to Alt-A loans to serve a wide range of borrower's needs in a purchase market. This growth has been accomplished organically [good!] as we simultaneously strengthened our balance sheet and accumulated substantial cash reserves.
    Robbins continued, "Loan volume did decline in the fourth quarter and margins on that volume were compressed. During the second and third quarter, we aggressively entered new markets and increased staff to handle volume and to capitalize on this unprecedented market opportunity. However, when fourth-quarter activity abruptly slowed, the staffing levels we put in place to respond to second and third quarter volumes were no longer necessary, so we have reduced headcount in most branches [bad] and eliminated overtime [good!] and temporary labor costs. Our ongoing challenge will be to balance future growth opportunities with the reality of today's mortgage market. Consequently, as we enter new markets and add to our sales force, operations in existing branches will continue to be evaluated and rightsized to align infrastructure costs with volume levels."...
    Contact: American Residential Investment Trust, Inc., San Diego Investor & Analyst Relations: Judith Berry, Executive VP and CFO, 858-909-1230 jberry@amnetmortgage.com or Clay Strittmatter, Senior VP, Finance 858-909-1340 cstrittmatter@amnetmortgage.com....

  3. German union preserves 35-hour workweek, Dow Jones via WSJ, A9.
    FRANKFURT - Germany's powerful IG Metall trade union forged a regional deal with employers that preserves the 35-hour workweek and provides a 2.2% pay raise.
    ["Preserves" doesn't sound too hopeful.]
    The agreement came after marathon 18-hour negotiations between IG Metall, which represents 3.5m German metalworkers, and manufacturer representatives in the southwestern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg - often a bellwether for wage deals across Germany. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said the accord lends "solid support to Germany's recovery."
    [Germany has an 11% unemployment rate and its biggest union still hasn't figured out that the only reason for pay demands is to have something to give up in order to get even shorter hours demands, and many more people employed. As long as there's high unemployment, labor is common as dirt and powerless as dirt and cheap as dirt. Unions are roadkill. Now even, it turns out, in Germany. And that means the national income concentrates and the national consumer base shrinks and the downward spiral starts that leads to the Third World. Schroeder doesn't know what he's talking about.]
    Union members will see bigger paychecks starting in March and will get an additional 2.7% raise next year. Manufacturers won more freedom to determine workweeks: They can have as many as 50% of employees work as much as 40 hours a week without overtime pay, compared with 18% currently.
    [Once again, labor has sold its birthright, control over the supply of itself via control over worktime per person, for a mess of pottage - a temporarily uninflated couple of extra euros - big deal. Employers are washing out the shorter workweek and layoffs and steeper unemployment will follow.]
    Metalworking companies also won the ability to initiate future wage and hours talks at the company level, rather than through more cumbersome national collective-bargaining sessions.
    Divide and conquer. Germany is toast.]

  4. [the opposite of timesizing -]
    Brazil: Slave workers found on senator's ranch, Reuters via NYT, A6.
    Dozens of workers were found in slavelike conditions on a senator's ranch, the Labor Ministry said, as Congress debated a bill to confiscate the land of such employers. The discovery of the 32 workers on the ranch of Sen. Joao Ribeiro of the rightwing Liberal Front Party came 2 weeks after 4 ministry officials investigating slavery elsewhere were found shot to death. The killings prompted efforts to speed up passage of the legislation. The workers on the senator's ranch, in northern Para, were not allowed to leave, worked 7 days a week and received no pay, the ministry said.

2/12/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 2/11 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
  1. Auckland unionists in call to cut hours, by Mathew Dearnaley, New Zealand News.
    New Zealand's largest trade union is marshalling forces for a shorter working week in the private sector - and a hefty pay increase.
    About 400 workers rallied in Auckland yesterday to sign off claims by the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union for negotiations with metal trades employers. They added their voices to similar meetings in Wellington and Christchurch for higher pay, more time off, and longer tea breaks in a renewal of the industry's influential multi-employer collective agreement.
    The 50,000-member union intends pushing at talks due to start in a fortnight for what it terms a "substantial" wage rise of 5% as well as an average working week of 37&1/2 hours.
    Its bullish stance angered National's industrial relations spokesman, Roger Sowry, who saw it as a foretaste of what employers could expect under beefed-up employment legislation. "This union views itself as the one that will set the trend for all other claims in the country with the amendments (Labour Minister) Margaret Wilson is pushing through Parliament," he said. "It will be bad for productivity and will ultimately cause job losses."
    Union secretary Andrew Little said a better "work-life" balance would give workers greater incentive to lift productivity within a shorter week. He cited a survey of about 1000 adult New Zealanders, of whom 73% said they would prefer more spare time than more money.
    [Free time is the basic freedom, without which the others are useless.]

  2. Euro-MPs urge end to UK's working week opt-out, by Geoff Meade, PA News The Scotsman [UK].
    [For one economy to have a higher workweek ceiling than others is similar to that one economy's practising slavery. For one economy to have no workweek ceiling in a robotizing world IS slavery.]
    Euro-MPs today called for an end to Britain’s opt-out from Europe’s maximum 48-hour working week.
    They voted in Strasbourg for a resolution calling on the Brussels Commission to review the rules “with a view to” obliging all EU member states to stick to the agreed maximum.
    Today’s vote has no legal force, but puts pressure on the Commission to revise the rules in the face of strong British government opposition. “We believe that everybody should have the legal right to work longer than 48 hours if they choose to do so,” said a Government spokesman. “The key word is ’choose’. No one should be forced to work beyond 48 hours if they do not wish to. But equally they should not be forced to work less than 48 hours. “There are many reasons why some people willingly work longer hours, taking advantage of overtime to earn more money, for instance.
    [Any "taking advantage of overtime" is taking advantage of the unemployed and people whose jobs are insecure.]
    But of course if any employer is exploiting the system we want to know about it.”
    [What nonsense. Here we find no acknowledgement of the generally overpowering employer advantage at the bargaining table in a world where automation is frequently met with downsizing. And even in Germany, there are still many many people who don't understand that human progress is about better and better technologies of sharing. And the key variable in our lifetimes to share is shrinking (due to technology), market-demanded worktime. To talk about a "legal right to work longer than 48 hours if they choose to do so" and "no one should be forced to work less than 48 hours" is similar to saying, "no one should be forced to stop for a red light if they choose not to do so," or "no one should be forced not to steal if they choose to do so," or even "no one should be forced not to murder if they choose to do so." To worry about the "freedom to choose" longer hours in an automating world is to worry about the "freedom to choose" to deprive others of their livelihoods.]
    The opt-out from the 48-hour working week was offered to all EU governments when the EU’s Working Time Directive was first agreed.
    [If the offer was of a permanent opt-out, it was a lethal error, but our understanding was that the opt-out was meant to be a temporary arrangement only to ease the transition to EU membership. If the UK wants to remain at its current sweatshop levels, it should resign from the EU or be kicked out.]
    Britain said it would take advantage of the opt-out, but now the Commission is consulting the member states about changing the rules.
    Euro-MPs have now expressed their opinion, and the Commission is expected to draw up a report on working time in the next few months. But the final decision rests with EU ministers – and Britain is determined to retain the flexibility for workers to work as long as they wish.
    [No population that doesn't wake up to the progress-blocking effect of overtime in the context of un- and under-employment is going anywhere. There were plenty of "gentlemen" in England in 1824 who wanted to "choose" to own as many slaves as they wished - but slavery was abolished anyway, against their "freedoms" and "wishes." Did they also have the gall to protest about their slaves' precious "flexibility to choose to remain slaves"? If today's spindoctors were present, they certainly would have.]

  3. [Short-sighted S.Korean 'research' institute fights workweek reduction, even just to world-standard 40-hour level! -]
    5-day workweek hikes labor costs by 10%, by Bae Keun-min, The Korea Times.
    SOUTH KOREA - If the five-day workweek program is implemented without consideration of the nation's labor productivity, the system will only result in labor cost increases by some 10%, a market research organization said on Wednesday.
    The LG Economic Research Institute (LGERI) said, referring to a report by the International Monetary Fund that an employee in South Korea produced a value added per hour of 39 in 2002, far smaller than other advanced nations. Japan's figure stood at 72, while Norway and the United States possessed the productivity figures of 114 and 100. Germany and Finland marked 99 and 84.
    The LGERI said companies have to make efforts to boost their productivity in order to meet the new workweek system. Otherwise, companies may lose competitiveness. ``Despite the reduced legal working hours, wages will rise by at least 10% if they remain the same as before,'' the LGERI said. ``If the five-day workweek is implemented without improving labor productivity, labor costs are estimated to rise by some 12.2% due to increases in overtime pay and per hour wages.''
    [Workweek reduction is not about productivity or comparisons with other economies. It's about the idea of self-support and independence, and ending the exclusion of more and more citizens from those basic human rights as automation and robotization advance and are met with downsizing instead of timesizing. Workweek reduction in the age of robotics is about saving the concepts of work and social integration. Any population that does not share the vanishing work anywhere on the planet will gradually split into two species, fewer and fewer workers and more and more drones, the Morlocks and the Eloi. This is a hurdle in the advancement of any intelligent species. Flunk this one and you stay in Grade 8 forever without ever going on to High School.]
    The LGERI said it estimated the rise based on the actual working hours of the occupation, which were 47.8 hours per week between 2000 and 2002.
    The LGERI said some 15% of additional productivity enhancement is needed in order to restrain pressures on wage increases and stumbles in production. ``First, efforts to increase labor efficiency have to continue without setbacks, including the establishment of standard working hours for a duty based on experienced workers' performances,'' the LGERI suggested.
    The research institute also suggested other measures to raise production efficiency such as the strengthening of workers' capabilities in performing multiple tasks, reform of bureaucratic organizations into jobsite-oriented ones and the raising innovation and competitiveness.

  4. German industry, union reach pay deal, by Isabell Scheuplein, Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
    PFORZHEIM, Germany - Germany's largest manufacturing union and employers in a key region agreed Thursday on a pay deal, averting the threat of a major industrial strike in Europe's largest economy. The deal includes a 2.2% raise for the year starting March 1 and another 2.7% for 14 months starting next March 1 for workers in the auto, electrical and engineering industries.
    The IG Metall union had sought a 4% raise this year - a demand backed by nearly two weeks of brief warning strikes at plants across Germany. Employers had offered a 1.2% raise over 15 months starting Jan. 1, to be followed by another 1.2% raise over the next 12 months.
    Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said the deal was good for both sides and would help keep the economic recovery on track. Frankfurt's stock market edged up. "It is a very good conclusion," Schroeder said on N24 television.
    Meeting under the IG Metall union's threat to call a strike ballot among its 2.56 million members, union and employer delegates announced the deal after 18-hour talks that lasted through most of the night. It was negotiated in Baden-Wuerttemberg state, home to heavyweights such as automaker DaimlerChrysler, and traditionally the pacesetter for German industrial wage talks. Union and employer leaders said they would recommend to their members that it by applied nationwide.
    Both sides said they also agreed on three-year experiment to give more companies wider leeway in working out longer hours with employees in situations where that can save jobs - but only if the union agrees.
    [No concessions on longer hours conduce to strengthening the work ethic or the consumer base in the age of automation and robotics.]
    Eckart Tuchfeld, an economist at Commerzbank in Frankfurt, said the concession did little to loosen union control over working hours and largely reflected practices already allowed under Germany's consensus-based system of labor relations.
    "This is certainly not the progress we have been hoping for," he said in a telephone interview. "The progress on reforms is very slow in Germany. This is a step in the right direction, no doubt, but we need quite a few more of these kinds of steps."
    [This in-the-past thinker is calling regress "progress," as if Germany should start climbing back up the workweek to 54-hour weeks, 60-hour weeks, even 80-90 hour weeks. Is slavery also "progress," Herr Tuchfeld? With experts like you, who needs morons?]
    Employers gave up on their demand to allow management and workers to negotiate longer working hours than the industry's 35-hour week without needing union approval. Employees could work up to 40 hours without extra pay under the arrangement, and special payments such as Christmas bonuses could also be cut, said Gesamtmetall, the industry employer federation.
    Chief employer negotiator Otmar Zwiebelhofer called the deal "an important step on a new, common path." German Economy Minister Wolfgang Clement said the deal shows genuine progress and a new flexibility in German labor negotiations, calling it a "shining entry" into the new year.
    But the experiment will apply only to companies with a large share of white-collar workers, meaning that large industrial companies probably won't benefit from it.
    Still, the exemption for longer working hours showed that German labor relations - often criticized by economists and executives for one-size-fits-all pay deals that don't take the situation of individual companies into account - is "not a rigid construction," IG Metall official Joerg Hoffmann said.
    [If managers can't deal with the discipline of a workweek maximum, they are no managers for the future, for they are concentrating a vanishing national resource, market-demanded employment, and they are spreading under-employment and damaging their own domestic consumer base. In crude terms, they are shitting where they eat. They're like Edinburgh city councillors 200 years ago arguing against a new sewage system to clean up the streets. Do they want people to work, or do they want to support them with taxes, or do they want to kill them? If they want everyone to work, then they must let technology make it easier for them to work by timesizing instead of making it harder to work by downsizing.]
    Workers have staged warning strikes across Germany since Jan. 29 to build pressure on employers. But with the economy barely recovering from three years of stagnation and unemployment at about 11%, labor's room for maneuver was limited.
    [Even in Germany, if they have 11% unemployment, labor has been lazy and has fallen behind in achieving the level of workweek reduction appropriate to the economy's level of automation.]
    In 2002, the union won a 4% increase for 12 months and 3.1% for the next six months after 10 days of full-scale strikes. Last year, an IG Metall strike for shorter working hours in formerly communist east Germany collapsed in failure after widespread public criticism, even among some union officials.
    [A widely clueless public, or maybe, as in the US, a widely manipulable public - by clueless media and a suicidally near-sighted power elite.]

  5. Striking baggage workers ignore deadline, Independent Online [South Africa].
    UNION OF SOUTH AFRICA - Striking baggage workers from the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) have not met Equity Aviation Service's deadline on a wage offer, the company said on Tuesday. Equity Aviation spokesperson Herman Fleischman said: "We did not hear from them and are now strategising on the way forward." The company had given Satawu a 5pm Monday deadline to accept its latest wage offer to end the seven-week strike.
    Equity Aviation was now considering whether to talk directly to striking staff. "We are confident if we do that we can reach an agreement."
    Satawu secretary-general Randall Howard said in a statement on Tuesday the union would "be stepping up its solidarity actions. "A march on Transnet headquarters has been planned and pressure on government will be stepped up."
    At the centre of the dispute is the company's wish to increase working hours from 40 hours a week to 45 hours.
    "We will not budge on this. We will not be competitive if we don't do it," said Fleischman. "They need to look at the bigger picture".
    [The bigger picture, au contraire, is that only the export sector worries about international competitiveness. South Africa is only dependent on exports for a minority of its GDP and has a huge unemployment problem. The unemployed are de-activated consumers, who, if activated by employment, could more than match the export sector of the economy and put the nation's economic fortunes in its own hands instead of leaving it vulnerable to the vaguaries of international markets. If Fleischman is worrying about the competitiveness of only his own company, no company management that can't handle the discipline of its existing workweek ceiling is worthy of continuing in their management roles. This is a crucial skill for all managers across the globe at this point in human history.]

2/11/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 2/10 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
  1. Metalworkers rethink wage strategy, Expatica [Netherlands].
    FRANKFURT - The leadership of Germany's powerful metalworkers union IG Metall began meeting Tuesday in Frankfurt to review the union's next moves in a wage conflict with employers. However, IG Metall deputy chairman Berthold Huber said he was "sceptical" that a new wage deal could be reached in talks with the employers, according to an interview published Tuesday by the Financial Times [FT].
    The union is seeking a one-year, 4% pay rise for some 3.5 million workers in Germany's key metals engineering and electronics sectors.
    The employers association Gesamtmetall has offered two increases, of 1.2% each, to be carried out over a 27-month wage accord period. But Gesamtmetall coupled the offer with a demand that there be an option to increase working hours, in a "corridor" of 35 to 40 hours per week, at no additional pay, as companies may require. IG Metall flatly rejected this.
    After a one-month truce period expired at the end of January, IG Metall began a campaign of limited warning strikes, calling off tens of thousands of workers for one-hour walkouts at plants around the country in order to step up the pressure on employers. On Tuesday, the union again called thousands of metalworkers off their jobs in various parts of the country, a focal point being a Ford car plant in the city of Saarlouis.
    Meanwhile Huber, who heads IG Metall's collective bargaining unit, told the FT that IG Metall was not keen on all-out strike action, while indicating that the working time issue, rather than wages, had become the focal point in the dispute with Gesamtmetall. But he was cautious about the prospects for a deal.
    "I'm sceptical that we can find a solution at the negotiating table," Huber said. He called the Gesamtmetall demand for longer working hours as being "totally unacceptable", with the union prepared to defend the 35-hour work week. "Our people see the idea of working 40 hours a week, in some cases without extra pay, as an unacceptable provocation," he said.
    For IG Metall, the wage battle is the first faceoff against employers after its disastrous campaign in the summer of 2003 to try to force through the 35-hour week in eastern Germany. The union was forced to back down in the face of employers' resistance and increasingly damaging publicity to the union when its strategy of hit-and-run strikes, chiefly against automotive components suppliers, caused some car plant shutdowns in the west.
    In the FT interview, Huber said the "mistakes we made" in 2003 would not be repeated in IG Metall's current wage conflict strategy.

  2. End to the 40-hour working week? NewstalkZB via XtraNews [New Zealand].
    NEW ZEALAND - The 40-hour working week could be on the way out.
    One of the country's biggest unions is seeking a reduction in hours worked before overtime applies. Manufacturing workers in the Engineers' Union are holding a series of stop-work meetings to discuss a national pay claim. EPMU Secretary Andrew Little says following a survey, their claim includes a 37½-hour working week.
    He says when people were asked to list their preferences, about 70% wanted more time off instead of a pay rise. Longer smoko breaks, a pay increase, rewards for skill and health and safety issues are also features of the workers' claims. Secretary Andrew Little says workers deserve more time for morning and afternoon tea. He says 15 minutes is the standard now, and the working week should be shortened to 37½ hours.

  3. Conditions at Wal-Mart factory criticized - Overworked: A factory in China that makes toys for the retailer pays its workers less than the minimum wage and tricks the company's inspectors during their visits, Taipei Times via Reuters.
    CHINA - Labor rights groups on Monday accused the world's biggest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc, of turning a blind eye to abusive conditions at a factory in China that makes plastic toys for the company. The National Labor Committee and China Labor Watch said in a report that workers at the factory in Chang Ping Township in Guangdong Province were paid less than the legal minimum and worked longer hours than legally allowed.
    A Wal-Mart spokesman said he was not aware of the specific allegations but that the company worked to ensure factories all over the world were run legally and inspected for abuses.
    The report said the Chinese factory management trained workers to answer prepared questions and paid them a bonus for remembering them correctly during visits by Wal-Mart inspectors. It said emergency fire exits and medical boxes were normally locked, but the Chinese managers unlocked them ahead of inspections. They also doctored time cards, the report said. The rights groups said Wal-Mart appeared to condone the Chinese management's methods.
    "No company could be that shallow or gullible, unless it were consciously acting out a role with the full intent of achieving the desired result - a whitewash," the report said.
    Bill Wertz, a spokesman for Bentonville, Arkansas-based company, said Wal-Mart had experienced inspectors who adhered to its corporate standards. "It would be a complete violation of our policy for anyone to participate in any charade that would merely make a pretense of observing a thorough inspection," Wertz said.
    The rights groups said workers received an average US$16.5 an hour when the legal minimum in China was US$0.31 an hour. The workweek was seven days when five days was legal and people toiled for up to 20½ hours per shift.
    The groups said the same He Yi Electronics and Plastics Products Factory produced "bobblehead" sports star dolls for America's major professional sports organizations through US company Fotoball.
    Charles Kernaghan, head of the National Labor Committee, said the sports organizations - including the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and the National Collegiate Athletic Association - had not responded to his letters.
    "We're hitting a stone wall with these people, which is sort of amazing, given their profits and the salaries ... the players won't be happy that their images are being made by workers in China with zero rights," said Kernaghan, who revealed in October that a sweatshop in Honduras made the clothing line of hip-hop music and fashion entrepreneur Sean Combs.

Click here for spontaneous cases of primitive timesizing in -
Jan.31 + Feb.1-10/2004
Nov.21-30/2003 + Dec.1
Aug. 28-Sep.1/2003
Aug. 16-27/2003
Aug. 8-15/2003
Aug. 1-7/2003
July 29-31/2003
July 22-28/2003
July 16-21/2003
July 5-15/2003
July 1-4/2003
June 28-30/2003
June 21-27/2003
June 14-20/2003
June 6-13/2003
June 1-5/2003
May 27-31/2003
May 20-26/2003
May 1-20/2003
1998 and previous years.

For more details, see our laypersons' guide Timesizing, Not Downsizing, 'flung' into print as a campaign piece during the 1998 race for Joe Kennedy's empty Congressional seat. The handbook is available online from *Amazon.com.

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