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Timesizing News, April 1-15, 2004
[Commentary] ©2004 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 622, Porter Sq, Cambridge MA 02140 USA 617-623-8080


4/15/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 4/14 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -

  1. Forbes gives qualified support to 40-hour work week for cops, by T.K. Whyte, Jamica [ie: Jamaica?] Observer.
    Police Commissioner Francis Forbes yesterday gave qualified support to a 40-hour work week for cops, but suggested that a more viable option would be to pay lawmen who work overtime.
    The manpower shortage would make a 40-hour work week difficult to implement, he said, but he would support any move to make lawmen more comfortable.
    Forbes was responding to the Police Federation's call for a five-day work week to be put in place within the next three months. The Federation has been agitating, since 1961, for shorter work hours for its members and over the last 25 years have made consistent calls for a shorter work week.
    Yesterday, the Federation presented the police commissioner and the national security ministry with two research papers that supported the Federation's call. According to chairman, Sergeant David White, one of the papers showed that more than 99% of lawmen now work in excess of 40 hours weekly, while the other paper showed the rationale for the hours to be reduced to 40 hours a week. "We are looking forward to a tangible response," the Federation head said.
    The research findings, he explained, showed that working in excess of 40 hours: A five-day work week, he added, should be integral to ongoing efforts to modernise the force.
    The national security's permanent secretary, Gilbert Scott, who agreed that the proposal is in keeping with the modernisation thrust, also gave qualified support to the Federation's request. "The ministry will support the proposal. It will be given due consideration, but it will have to go through a process. But I can tell you, the ministry will treat it with due consideration and the seriousness with which the federation put it forward," Scott said.

4/14/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 4/13 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
  1. Extending the working week, Expatica [Netherlands].
    Overview - Germany's struggle to emerge from a prolonged period of economic stagnation seems to be taking on almost legendary proportions. In the second and final part of a series looking at the nation's economic woes, Jean-Baptiste Piggin asks: are longer working hours the answer to the country's problems?
    [If they were, the country would have had no problems at all since the early 1800s when working hours were over 80 a week.]
    GERMANY - Nine years after Germany pioneered the 35-hour working week [huh?], the nation is now debating whether to restore longer working hours as a way of healing its economic ills.
    [Lord, Lord, what fools these mortals be!]
    The emotive debate pits the big unions, which regard shorter hours as a way of spreading the available work further, against the 16 state governments which are struggling to improve public services on a fixed income.
    The states have already renounced a labour agreement guaranteeing hundreds of thousands of public service employees a 38.5-hour week and said all might have to undertake 40 or even the 42 hours worked by elite-category civil servants who promise allegiance to the state.
    ["Elite-category"?? A little flattery and some people will even kill themselves for you.]
    Edmund Stoiber, the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU) premier of Bavaria, said Saturday the longer week, without additional pay, would set an example for private industry.
    [Jawohl, an example of the Race to the Bottom.]
    Trade unions were outraged. Frank Teichmueller, a leading official of Germany's biggest industrial union, IG Metall, said in an interview with NDR radio: "Go and ask an ordinary dockyard worker whether he'll build more ships if he works five hours longer, or if it just means fewer employees at the dockyard."
    [And fewer consumers to ride cruise ships, or demand the services of cargo ships.]
    At the same time, Michael Sommer, head of the DGB trade union federation, has threatened strikes if there are attempts to make people work longer in the public services.
    Talk about the extending the work week comes about nine years after IG Metall mounted strikes that led to car and aircraft factories and other big plants reducing the working week to 35 hours.
    [Hey, at least they're focused on the right variable for a change - they just haven't comprehended the degree to which they must modify it in the downward direction to make capitalism hum. As Art Dahlberg said, "I contend that under a chronic and genuine scarcity of labor {engineered by a workweek reduced enough to spread the vanishing work to everyone and provide full employment}, Capitalism is potentially almost an ideal system of economy, that it can secure all and more than Communism has to offer, at the same time as it avoids Communism's major difficulties and evils." Jobs, Machines and Capitalism, 1932.]
    Workers in other industries spend longer on the job: the average German's working week is 39.9 hours, says the Dublin-based European Foundation for the Improvement of Living & Working Conditions. The French have the shortest average in the EU at 38.3 hours.
    Both nations only count actual hours of work, not meal-times and breaks, and the figures reflect overtime hours, which are paid extra, as well as longer hours worked by the self-employed and executives.
    Britain's average is 43.5 hours, but it is customary in that country to treat meal-times as part of the working hours.
    Stoiber's proposal was backed Sunday by Angela Merkel, leader of the allied Christian Democratic Union (CDU). However the CDU's labour wing disagreed: its leader, Hermann-Josef Arentz, told WDR radio longer hours might make some jobs superfluous and lead to lay-offs.
    [There's no "might" about it. That's near-sighted CEOs' whole purpose behind longer hours, just as their whole purpose behind technology is layoffs. They seldom connect the dots between their employees and their markets.]
    In the state governments, where the size of the workforce and tasks are usually fixed in Byzantine agreements, longer hours may mean more tax forms can be stamped and more potholes in roads can be fixed.
    But business leaders questioned this week whether the solution was so simple in private industry. Diether Klingelnberg, president of the VDMA federation of engineering industries, said the flexibility to raise or lower hours in line with the work available was more important than the unit cost of labour.
    [That's the way Nucor has found it. But they give lifetime job security in exchange for this kind of flexibility, and they'd have richer, stabler markets if the national and global workweek ceiling was lower.]
    "Even in communist China we enjoy more entrepreneurial freedom than in Germany," he said in remarks quoted by the daily Die Welt. "In Switzerland, pay is 30% higher than here, but one can manufacture 15% cheaper."
    At a CSU meeting on Saturday, Siemens chief executive Heinrich von Pierer called for a 40-hour week and described a model agreement at the company's Osram light-bulb factory in Eichstaett, which breaks out of the usual rigid German collective labour contracts. The Eichstaett working week can be anywhere between zero and 48 hours: in winter, when demand for light-bulbs is high, hours are long. In summer, the staff work shorter hours and have time to enjoy the fine weather, he said.

  2. Lords want UK to keep 48-hour opt-out, Publican [UK].
    UK workers should keep the right to opt-out of the 48-hour maximum working week, says a House of Lords committee.
    [Sooo kind of these privileged parasites to condescend to extend such a "right" to the hoi polloi. If it please meluds, may they also have a "right" to self-flagellation and suicide so the top brackets can display them to tourists and compact into their bank accounts more wastedly concentrated income?]
    The controversial voluntary opt-out, which allows employees to agree to work beyond the maximum, is at the heart of disagreements between the government and the EU over the Working Time Directive.
    Lord Williamson of Horton, chairman of the European Union select sub-committee, said: "The voluntary individual opt-out is one of the best ways for the UK to preserve the flexibility it needs to thrive against intense global competition."
    The National Association of Licensed House Managers is among the UK unions which has campaigned against individual opt-outs, arguing that workers can be pressured into agreeing to waive their rights.
    Lord Williamson said: “The Government should look at ways of preventing workers from being coerced into working long hours if they don't want to. But it's important that those who want to work overtime should be able to do so."
    While other EU member states routinely extend the 48-hour week by collective agreements with unions, in the UK only 36% of the total workforce, and only 22% of private sector employees, are covered by collective agreements.

4/13/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 4/12 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
  1. The bottom line - Those Sunday blues, again, by Avraham Tal, Ha'aretz [Israel].
    ISRAEL - In every generation of MKs [= members of Knesset, translation: MPs = members of parliament], there is always one who wants to see his name immortalized in a law that turns Sunday into a non-religious day of rest. In the last Knesset, it was Nahum Langenthal (National Religious Party). His bill passed the preliminary stages but got no further. Before him there were other religious politicians, or at least those of the religious persuasion, among them Rabbi Michael Melchior when he served as Diaspora affairs minister and Natan Sharansky as interior minister. Now Leah Ness (Likud) has submitted her bill, in which Sunday becomes a rest day, Friday becomes a five-hour workday and Monday through Thursday get an extra working hour attached.
    [This seems to imply that Israelis currently work five 9-hour days from Sunday to Thursday, with their weekend on Friday and Saturday. If so, Leah Ness is proposing to move 5 of Sunday's hours to Friday and spread Sunday's remaining 4 hours across M,T,W,Th, giving each of them a 10-hour day.]
    It is clear what lies behind the bill: wanting to give those who observe the Sabbath a day of rest in the week when they can go about doing things that are forbidden to them on Shabbat. But there's another reason: the fact that many shopping centers, mostly those outside of towns, are doing super business on Saturdays. Shop owners who for one reason or another do not open on Saturdays feel discriminated against.
    Ness' bill would reduce the working week formally from 43 hours (42.5 in the public sector) to 41 hours, but in effect, it would be [reduced] much more.
    [Why does Avraham Tal imply the current workweek is 43 or 42.5 hours? And why does he say Ness's bill would cut it to 41 hours? Four 10-hour days plus one 5-hour day is still a 45-hour workweek.]
    It is known that productivity is much lower in the later hours of the working day, whether in a factory or office, and that an extra hour's work tacked onto the end of Monday through Thursday will add almost nothing [in productivity]. And the probability of those who currently don't work Fridays going back to work on that day, and the extra benefits they will produce from these extra five hours, are very small. At the end of the day, the bill would likely end up reducing the working week to one of 35 hours.
    [Opaque.]
    In industrialized nations, one of the reasons given for moving toward a workweek of 32-35 hours (concentrated in four days) is that factories would be compelled to hire extra staff and this would reduce unemployment. This is both valid and true in those countries where productivity is high and the increased expenditure of taking on more workers in order to produce the same output does not hurt profits.
    [No, it is true in any country where management is willing to share more of the profits with workers in order to gain stronger markets founded on a stronger consumer base. Productivity regardless of marketability is irrelevant.]
    But in Israel, where productivity is low and in recent years has fallen, the very opposite would happen - factories would close as they are no longer profitable, and unemployment would grow.
    [Then you just reduce the workweek further. The key is centrifuging the profits which are currently funnelled into a dysfunctionally astronomical concentration and sluggish consolidation in the top income brackets.]
    In any case, our competitive efficiency would be harmed and Israeli plants would lose out to foreign companies.
    [Only if exports are a significant percentage of Israeli GDP, and if they are, Israeli security is at risk because Israel has no control over foreign markets; it only has control over its own domestic markets.]
    One should note the warning given by Oded Tyrah, president of the Manufacturers Association, which estimated the cost to the economy of adopting Ness' proposal at NIS 18 billion (Maariv, March 13) [we'll guess that NIS stands for 'new Israeli shekels'],
    [funny how management always thinks that costs to them equate to costs to the economy - when they are culling far more than their share of the national income - or Israeli unemployment would be less, - the beauty of workweek reduction or ' timesizing' is that it levels the management-labor playing field and disciplines management with a perceived labor shortage, which by flexible and gradual market forces induces management to reinvest more of their share of the national income in their own consumer base, - additionally, Tyrah ignores the savings to the economy of not having to support as many unemployed]
    and to add on top an expected 50,000 jobless when labor costs go up as a result.
    [Tyrah is assuming that the top brackets are going to hang onto their grossly outsized share through thick and through thin. But this is not the lesson of economic experience. There have been periods when the top brackets have been induced, willingly though not necessarily uncomplainingly, to reinvest more in their employees and via their employees, in their own consumer base. The result has been unprecedented prosperity. Unfortunately, these periods have been largely historical accidents and very unfortunate accidents on other scores to boot. For example, the World Wars were just such accidents, and their prosperity was achieved the same way workhour reduction operates - by removing vast number of excess working hours from the job market, creating a perceived shortage of labor hours on offer in the job market, and harnessing the free market to force the top brackets, sometimes kicking and screaming in their own unique and precious way, to paying more for help. Wars are usually aided by a good deal of disease, and World War I's tonic effect on the economies of, e.g., US and Canada, was certainly boosted by the worldwide flu epidemic. This effect goes back to the Great Plague of 1348 and before. The Plague killed off an estimated 25% of Europe, and nothing on earth could hold the serfs "down on the farm" at that time or restrain wages, - not even early royal attempts at wage-price controls. And once more money got in the hands of the people who actually spent it, on bread and wine and food and clothes, instead of saving more and more of it or thinking of investing more and more of it in huge clumps, the added velocity of monetary circulation dynamized the economy of England and Europe and the loudly complaining affluent were surprised by a greater and securer ownership of wealth than they'd had before.]
    It is difficult to estimate the exact cost, but such a move would definitely be negative and would undoubtedly be hugely expensive.
    [No, it would definitely be positive and be hugely rewarding in countless dimensions.]
    In the future [what future?!] there is a place for a four-day working week, with hours gradually reduced to 35, along European lines.
    [French and German rightists are currently using just these same lame fears as arguments to relengthen the workweek, which will result in clear depression - if the top brackets are capable ever of admitting such.]
    But this will be possible only when - and if - Israeli productivity rises again and compensates for the reduced work hours. Until then, the working week should stay at five days.
    [Dahlberg predicted this kind of contorted, self-defeating reasoning way back in 1932. Here's the passage, page 29, Jobs, Machines and Capitalism (1932):
    There are writers enough today who hold to the view that the working day should be shortened, but they always infer [does he mean "imply"?] that it is a goal to be reached ...I aim to point out {in Chapter VI, p.122} that most of the inefficiencies about which they complain...result from not reducing per capita working hours while labor-saving machinery [is] injected - that these industrial wastes constitute the expedient and logical recourses to which displaced labor and capital...flee when driven out of old activity by technical invention...."]

4/10-12/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 4/09-11 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #6 which is from the 4/10-12 WSJ &/or NYT hardcopy), and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
  1. 4/09   Fifth-grade teachers to share classrooms - Schools try job-sharing program, by Paula Vogler, Easton Journal [MA].
    EASTON, Mass. - A new job-sharing pilot program for four fifth-grade teachers will start next fall. The teachers, two from the Richardson School and two from the Olmsted School, approached School Superintendent William Simmons with the proposal in December 2003.
    In discussing the need of trying job-sharing for teachers, Simmons noted the resignation of Jennifer Eccleston, a first-grade teacher at Parkview School, as an example of a bright, young teacher that had to choose between a career or raising a young family. "We've had occasions where we have lost extremely talented teachers juggling starting a family and working full-time," Simmons said. "This is an attempt to retain excellent young teachers without them having to make that choice."
    The program has the support of the respective schools' principals, the School Committee and Easton Educators Assoc., the teachers' union. "On a whole, the union is very much supportive of this teacher initiative," said Easton Educators Assoc. president Janet Tyson.
    Under the proposal teachers Maura Fine and Kristen Maffeo of the Richardson School and teachers Kerri Schwarz and Shawna Powers of the Olmsted School share the fifth-grade duties of one class at their respective schools. Simmons said that one teacher will most likely work Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning while the other teacher in each team will work Wednesday afternoon, Thursday and Friday. The teachers will keep in contact and up on what is going on in their class through journals, phone calls and their common overlap time on Wednesday.
    Initiating this program will not cost the school district more money however now that the four teachers will be working half time, or the equivalent of two full-time positions, two additional fifth-grade teachers will have to be hired.
    Many neighboring communities such as Norton, Attleboro, Sharon and Brockton have job-sharing opportunities for teachers. Simmons noted that in some cases, as in Boston, teachers sign up to job share and are then assigned a partner who they didn't know ahead of time, something that can cause potential problems. "My strong feeling is that there is much more likely to be success if the two teachers want to work together and have learning experiences, styles and approaches that are compatible," Simmons said. "That is the case in this instance."
    The two teams of teachers are very familiar with each other and in fact do some team teaching in their current schools. Sometimes they may bring both classes together and team teach while other times they may trade off in each other's classrooms.
    Currently there is no set plan to choose which students will be put into the two team classrooms although Simmons noted that no one would be forced to participate if they didn't want to. "No parent who is uncomfortable with the concept will be required to have their child participate," said Simmons. "We want to make sure that no one is forced into this situation."
    Noting that research has shown that students benefit from being exposed to different teachers and their teaching styles, school committee members enthusiastically endorsed the program. "My reaction is that I wished our children were young enough of take advantage of this program," said School Committee member Caroline O'Neill. "With two teachers to one class teaching to their strengths the child sees different styles and learns from that."
    "This grade level is used to having different teachers and different schedules," said School Committee member Ellen Boyajian. "I want to see this kind of support so that we don't lose valuable teachers."
    The pilot program is scheduled to run for one year during which time the teachers as well as administrators can evaluate the process and parents can give their input as well.

  2. 4/10   Don't just stand by while American workers lose overtime pay, by US Senate candidate Charles Fowler, PRWEB via Emediawire.
    OVERVIEW - Workers stand to lose overtime pay and more with Coors in the Senate. Charles Fowler launches a campaign of fresh ideas in his bid to succeed retiring Republican Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell. Regarding current measure before the Senate to change the FLSA, Fowler says, "It is wrong to force workers to 50 and 60 hour work weeks or more, without overtime pay."
    [Wrong even with overtime pay!]
    This debate is clouded on both sides of the issue, but it does bring in focus the need for the average American to have representation in the Senate. Fowler is a Progressive Candidate that will fight to protect overtime pay for the American workers. His compassionate views make him the best candidate for the future of Colorado and America.
    COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The current debate going on in the United States Senate regarding the possible elimination of overtime pay for workers, is the first step down a slippery slope. It may be politics as usual, with all the partisan bickering and political maneuvering. But it is bad for America and the losers will be the American working people.
    Peoples Weekly World says of this effort: "...will deny overtime pay to any worker with even minimal "supervisory" or "administrative" duties and who earned more than $22,100.00 a year." "...would harm millions of workers, including firefighters, police, paramedics, nurses, social workers and many others."
    Charles Fowler supports Senate Amendment 1580 which would protect the rights of employees to receive overtime compensation and block Department of Labor proposed regulations on overtime pay. Fowler says: "Big government has messed with the American workers long enough, IF ELECTED I WILL SERVE AS A WATCHDOG FOR WORKERS."
    Charles Fowler has launched a campaign of fresh ideas in his bid for the Republican nomination to represent Colorado in the United States Senate. Fowler's message is clear: "What the people need in Washington is a watchdog for the American worker. It reminds me of the "Capital Hill Blue" motto which says: "Nobody's life, liberty or property is safe while Congress is in session." This humorous though somewhat irreverent motto should serve as a warning to all Americans to keep a close eye not only on Congress, but on our own Department of Labor. In fact, it is time to find out where all candidates and elected officals stand on these important issues."
    One of the problems facing the American voter is the simple fact that the United States Senate is largely controlled by millionaires, most of whom cannot relate to the average citizen.
    Fowler goes on to say: "It is just like this rancor in the Senate regarding overtime pay protections which concerns millions of workers, both Republicans and Democrats. It is always wrong to take away a benefit that was already given. It is wrong to change the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 in this manner. The Act is outdated, but it should be changed to the maximum benefit of all workers and to the harm of none."
    Regarding the situation in Colorado, Fowler goes on to say: "Now with the introduction of Peter Coors to the U. S. Senate race in Colorado, the plot thickens. Is this the same Coors who locked out over 400 employees on Sunday, July 28, 2002 at GRAPHIC PACKAGING CORP., their carton plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Graphic Packaging, which is owned by the Coors Family is where employees were routinely working 80 hours a week and were locked out in the process of negotiations. Coors final offer included mandatory overtime, being required to work holidays and with Coors demanding up to 20 hours a week of mandatory overtime, eliminating valuable time employees had to spend with family or attend church. According to the AFL-CIO "the conduct by Coors against these workers is an attack against labor because the employees were rejecting sweatshop employment conditions."
    Charles Fowler affirms that: "On most issues it is very possible that I would find myself standing alongside Peter Coors in support of his candidacy. Of course I won't know until he speaks to the issues. But this much I know; it is wrong to force workers to 80 hour work weeks. And it will be wrong to force them to work without overtime pay. It will be unfortunate for any candidate to be elected this year, without making a firm committment, one way or the other on these issues. It will be wrong for Colorado and for America."
    Charles Fowler again: "I am willing to go to Washington in order to fight for the First Amendment, to cut government waste, to find more money for education and to fight for the working people of this country, both Republican and Democrat."
    Charles Fowler is a progressive candidate that will "fight to protect overtime pay for the people of America and stand up for everyone who goes out and works hard every day to provide for their families, pay their bills and pay their fair share of taxes."
    Regarding this crucial Senate race Fowler states his reason for running: "I was just toying with the idea of launching a Senate Campaign until I received a letter from a fellow Republican. I understood the premise of this letter and took no offense. But there was one sentence that bothered me."
    "It is no longer ideals and issues that win political races in America, it is name recognition and money."
    "Now what is troubling about this most, is that it is true. The fact that candidates are elected without ideals, without vision and without having to take a clear stand on any issue. When I began to really think about that statement is when I was inspired and became determined to follow through with this campaign of fresh ideas and call for a reformation in American politics. It is time in America for Candidates to run on important issues and stand up for the very ideals that make this country the greatest on earth. Yes, I believe in America and I believe in American values. I believe the day will soon come again, when issues will win campaigns in this country."
    Charles Fowler is the only Progressive Republican challenger to Conservatives Peter Coors and Bob Schaffer in the Colorado Senate Race.

  3. 4/11   Weekly working hours of urbanites drop under 50 for first time ever, by Bae Keun-min, Korea Times.
    S. KOREA - People engaged in non-farming businesses work less than 50 hours per week on the average last year. It is the first time that the figure came in below the 50-hour mark since the National Statistical Office (NSO) began tabulating the data in 1980. However, four in 10 workers still exert themselves too much, laboring more than 54 hours a week.
    The NSO on Sunday said the average weekly working hours of laborers in non-farming industries, including the self-employed, marked 49.8 hours, down from 50.5 hours in 2002. But it was much higher than the legal working hours of 40. The figure hit the highest of 60.4 hours in 1982.
    The average weekly working hours for whole labor forces, including farming sector, stood at 49.1 hours in 2003, further down from 49.8 hours in 2002.
    ''Changes in viewpoints on labor have had a significant effect on the decrease in working hours,'' NSO director Kwon Oh-sool said. ''A great number of the self-employed and store owners take rest on Sundays and workers have eschewed jobs with long working hours.''
    He said, despite the serious unemployment, youths are avoiding positions in small and medium-sized enterprises, whose jobs are relatively harder and require longer periods of working hours.
    Although the average working-hours has been diminishing, 7.82 million out of 19.87 million workers were overworked, with more than 54 hours per week as on-duty hours last year.
    The nation's legal working hours were reduced to 40 hours per week last year from 44 hours in preparation of the 5-day workweek system, whose implementation will gradually begin from this coming July.

  4. 4/10   Women come off worse, Manchester Guardian [UK].
    As you hunt for the Easter eggs or visit the garden centre this weekend, spare a thought for the nearly 3 million British workers for whom the Easter break represents a pay cut. They may get an Easter Monday bank holiday, but they are the ones who pay for it - time off, but no pay. Many others have the bank holiday counted as part of their four-week annual holiday.
    It is a reminder of the peculiarity of the British work culture: compared to the rest of Europe, Britain has fewer bank holidays, takes less holiday and its men work the longest hours.
    Not surprising then that work-life balance is an issue rapidly rising up the political agenda. This week has seen both Patricia Hewitt, the trade secretary, and Alan Milburn exploring exactly what this strange, useful term means in politics and policy. It is not a minute too late; recent polling for the Equal Opportunities Commission found that 79% of parents thought their vote would be influenced by what a party would do on work-life balance. Yet only 2% of MPs saw this as an important issue. Here is a striking case of disconnect between the realities of people's lives and the priorities of the political establishment. More depressingly, the research found a deep scepticism among voters that their struggle to combine work and care was susceptible to effective political intervention.
    There are great political dividends to be won by the party which convinces voters they can help. Patricia Hewitt, the trade secretary, deserves considerable credit for having pioneered this kind of time politics since the early 1990s; her package of reforms, now a year old, is bearing fruit - a million employees have made use of the right to request flexible working and 80% of employers admitted that it had not caused them any difficulties. That is the good news. What is disheartening is that the vast majority of these employees are women - only 10% are men, despite the fact that much of the Dept. of Trade & Industry's advertising campaign was directed at men. The danger is that the right to request will only entrench a twin-track labour market, with carers sacrificing better pay and promotion prospects for flexibility.
    Ms Hewitt is pondering the next step in the face of a chorus of demands - extend the right to request flexible working beyond just parents with children under six to those caring for older relatives; or extend paternity leave; make parental leave available to fathers; bring paid maternity leave into line with other European countries (Britain still lags badly behind on this). This was the territory into which Alan Milburn plunged in a speech this week. He argued for a shift in workplace ethos away from the premium on stamina and long hours. He called for a 10- to 15-year two-pronged approach for government to help families balance work and home, and to achieve universal, affordable childcare. There is a strong chance that some of this thinking will feature prominently in the manifesto. Childcare, in particular, under New Labour has been ad hoc and is desperately in need of a long-term sustainable strategy.
    But what is lamentably lacking from both Ms Hewitt and Mr Milburn's thoughts is ending Britain's opt-out from the working-time regulations. Mr Milburn argues that it will damage competitiveness and productivity. It is a spurious argument which has to be nailed. Regulation of working hours can actually stimulate more productive use of time;
    [quick, somebody tell Bavarian PM Stoiber! (story below)]
    the French have cut working hours and, over the same period, increased their productivity. Britain and America have preferred the light touch and the result has been an increase in working hours;
    [and reduced worker-hour productivity]
    the results of this are working cultures which, once again, discriminate against all those with caring responsibilities - many of whom are women.

  5. 4/09   Bavaria's Stoiber pushes for 40-hour work week, Focus reports, Bloomberg.com.
    Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber is pushing for Germany to return to a 40-hour work week without raising wages in order to help improve the country's economy, Focus reported, citing an interview.
    Germany's economy, the world's third-largest, was built with a 40- or 42-hour week instead of the 35-hour week advocated by some labor organizations, the magazine quoted Stoiber saying in an advance copy of an article to appear in its next edition.
    [and built on longer hours in an economy at a much lower level of technological efficiency and productivity.]
    Adding one hour to the nation's average work week would boost Germany's economy by more than 1% [unlikely, because it will evoke resentment and featherbedding among all but the workaholic minority of employees] and add 60,000 jobs, Stoiber said, according to Focus.
    [Adding 60k jobs would be some trick - concentrating the shrinking number of market-demanded working hours on fewer persons and getting more jobs out of it. Voodoo economics: "longer workweeks mean more productivity" - false in the age of robotics, and "more productivity means more jobs" - also false in the age of robotics, especially when we're ignoring the marketability of all this productivity and we're already seeing weak markets and flagging consumption due to a downsized consumer base. Zumbuddy send Shtoiber to Herr Freud zu get hiss head read.]

  6. 4/12   Arcelor SA, WSJ, C5.
    ...plans to invest about E350m ($422.8m) in Luxembourg during the next 3 years, but warned that jobs will be lost.
    [This case carries job loss back from productive technology to the investment that pays for it, a clear case of concentrated profits rolled up into huge investment capital which is then put into undermining its own consumer base. This provides a more critical argument than we've previously seen for invoking Timesizing's nationwide employment&income-centrifuging function.]
    Luxembourg PM Jean-Claude Juncker said Arcelor is planning to make "considerable investments" in the country but there will be "consequences for personnel."
    A spokesman for the Luxembourg steelmaker said it submitted a report on the competitiveness of its Luxembourg operations, where it employs 7,500 people. The report calls for increased productivity and job cuts.
    The company plans to invest E170m in a new plant and another E170m in the company's other activities in Luxembourg.... A person close to the company said the number of jobcuts would be about 1,000 [13.3%]. Arcelor was created 2 years ago by the merger of Usinor SA of France, Aceralia Corporacion Siderurgica SA of Spain and Arbed SA of Luxembourg.
    [Again the toxic takeover-downsizing connection.]

4/09/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 4/08 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #1 which is from the 4/09 WSJ &/or NYT hardcopy), and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
  1. [An occasionally cryptic, quickly dashed-off story from another workaholic English-speaking economy, making some excellent points about the irrelevance of politics to most citizens, the studied cluelessness of politicians relative to the time bind, and media manipulation dba negative spin of news about shorter hours -]
    A hedonist's charter - Money does not bring contentment - So how do you forge a politics where happiness is the priority? by Polly Toynbee [any relation to Arnold?], [Manchester] Guardian.
    UK - Another miserable bank holiday.  Gradgrind Britain, with the fewest national holidays [in the EU, but probably not fewer than US], is the only EU country not to make employers pay out for bank holidays. Some 3 million will not be paid if they take the day off; most of them will be low-paid women. It's a small meanness, but it signifies much.
    As Britain fights to retain its unique opt-out from the 48-hour Working Time Directive, the CBI [stands for something like Committee for Business & Industry?] campaigns hard to keep it.  It is, it says, "vital to preserve workforce flexibility".
    Flexibility is a poisoned word, more often an employer's right to resist working rights than an employee's right to work flexible hours. Nearly 4 million workers "agree" to work over 48 hours, and are often forced to sign a waiver. It was no-sign, no-job at the agency where I worked when researching my book on low pay. That meant working in a care home, 12-hour shifts, Saturday and Sunday every other weekend, with no flexibility, although most staff were mothers.
    But that's what "keeps the UK competitive", say employers. Indeed it is, and the EU should forbid it as unfair competition with more civilised countries who refuse to sweat their workforces. Is that the way Britain wants to live? Poll after poll says it's not. A four-day week is most people's dream. That aspiration is not on the political radar, yet politicians worry that people feel politics is irrelevant to their lives.
    Mori [??] has produced a new social survey - Life Satisfaction and Trust in Other People - exploring what makes people happiest. It confirms the overwhelming evidence from economists that income is not an important determinant for life satisfaction for most people. The poll shows that a doubled GDP over 30 years has made Britain not a jot happier.
    LSE [London School of Economics] Professor Richard Layard is one of the new economists turning to hedonics [the study of happiness], after finding that growth alone does not pro[duce] happiness. In his lectures he showed that once people earn above £10,000, money doesn't matter much.
    Mori confirms that it is how people feel about the pecking-order that affects their happiness. Overestimating how much happiness more money will buy, people climb on a hedonic treadmill going nowhere.
    Mori, like the rest, finds education is a key determinant of happiness. A degree brings far more life satisfaction than the paltry financial rewards the government promised in the tuition fees debate. It should have said: "A degree makes you happier." So does being happily married/partnered. So does living in a place you don't want to move out of and feeling safe in your surroundings. Joining groups, participating, volunteering, going to the theatre and retiring all score high on the hedonic scale. Trust in others comes with all this.
    Mori says its research should give the government a reason to dampen down "the pressures of consumerism and work and promote education that gives a more rounded view of happiness". But, the report says: "Governments that attempt to argue for less emphasis on economic factors are likely to be seen as attempting to manage expectations downwards, or to lack ambition."
    A year ago the prime minister's Strategy Unit produced similar findings in Life Satisfaction: The State of Knowledge and Implications for Government. It was an astonishing document and it should have started to shift political priorities. Did it? Its Strategy Unit author David Halpern says: "It's being mulled over. It's a new lens to look through."
    As other surveys point the same way, these ideas spread. The first green shoot of this thinking may come in how public services are delivered. Mori finds targets for public services raise expectations "that will always expand beyond delivery and help create a state of continual dissatisfaction". So how do you make people more satisfied?
    Labour looks to the Canadians, who have abandoned all measurements except one. Every public service there was told to raise public satisfaction by 10% - and they did. They focused on what people appreciate most: politeness, promptness, never being passed from one official to another. Waiting times for appointments mattered less than being treated fast and well [once you went to the appointment].
    Pure pursuit of happiness in the NHS [Britain's National Health Service] might risk offering cordon bleu meals and a smiling doctor, but lethal results.
    [that is, might try offering a few luxuries and less stressed, more people-skilled doctors, even at the expense of a higher mortality rate?]
    But the Danes - the happiest nation [by what measure?] - score low on longevity, so does that matter? Hedonics might say it doesn't.
    Shifting public service targets to "satisfaction" is relatively easy. The hard task is changing beliefs about money. Evidence piles up that, as Britain gets richer, it gets no better at Jeremy Bentham's "greatest happiness for the greatest number". Gross inequality of income is doubly dysfunctional:
    1. it gives only a little pleasure to the richest while creating dismay for the majority.
    2. It channels too much into private hands and not enough into state coffers that deliver the things that satisfy - universal, good education from the cradle, or safe and beautiful neighbourhoods.
    The right responds by saying this is just old-style socialism in fancy new clothes. Some commentators hate the "happiness" concept, spouting John Stuart Mill's dictum that it is better to be Socrates than a happy pig, which misses the point: the hedonic proposition offers more Socrateses and fewer pigs.
    The right insists there is a zero-sum game between happiness and the long hours, high productivity and high-growth culture. Not so, says Halpern. Note how the happiest countries - the Nordics and Canada - combine wealth, growth, shorter hours, higher taxes and contentment.
    In France the 35-hour week created 450,000 jobs and it made most people happier. The only news reaching these shores was negative: some employers complained, though more discovered new useful flexibility. Some employees lost overtime earnings but 95% lost nothing, while productivity per hour and per worker rose sharply. It was almost all win-win.
    [Aha, another commentator who has noticed that the two-guy media (Murdoch & Black?] have been smearing France's 35-hour workweek in the English-language press.]
    Hedonic thinkers are treated as off-the-wall unrealists. How do you forge a politics where happiness is the priority? Politicians need to find a suitable language for it. An exchange at a policy network seminar for European social democrats, chaired by Peter Mandelson, descended into a zero-sum choice between a Europe that dwindles into insignificance in low-growth social contentment and a Europe that is a contender, punching its weight in the world. But hedonists say that is a false choice. Halpern says: "Satisfied nations are the most successful. This is about high human capital economics."
    These ideas take time to drip into the body politic. As ever, New Labour is a hotbed of thinktank optimism when talking among its own kind, but afraid to whisper more visionary ideas in public. Its narrow economic focus still fears that Britain's only productive advantage comes from driving a large, underpaid, under-protected workforce to work harder and for less than its EU competitors.
    [The famed 'race to the bottom' - and progress be damned.]
    Happy holiday!

  2. [Meanwhile, back in workaholic America, CEOs are gradually ensuring that slavery makes a comeback -]
    Cheating the hourly employee, letters to editor, NYT, A22.
    Re "Altering of worker time cards spurs growing number of lawsuits" (NYT 4/4/4, A1):...
    [This whole set of letters concerns a vital aspect of humanity's future, if any = enforcing the critical worksharing that is critical to any substantial human progress beyond our current pathetic backwater of unlimited concentration of resource access at one end and unlimited degradation at the other.]
    1. By Norman Heinle of Fords NJ.
      Time shaving is a form of payroll fraud..\..
      [And not merely fraud, but...]
    2. By Charlotte Winderman of Philadelphia.
      Forcing people to work without pay is defined as slavery. The 13th Amendment made that practice illegal. The small fines and wrist slapping have not stopped the practice of altering time cards of employees. What is needed are jail sentences for the CEOs of the companies that sanction these policies.
    3. ..\..By private investigator and wage&hour law specialist Michael McGrorty of L.A.
      The alteration of time records is primarily done to avoid the payment of overtime required by either state or federal law. The problem is sufficiently widespread to engage an army of federal investigators, not to mention those of the various states.
      The practice, once found mainly among smaller businesses, has become common in large retail chains, which pressure local managers to cut costs in any way possible.
      The nature of wage and hour enforcement is restorative rather than punitive; the object is to obtain wages for workers rather than to teach a lesson to the company.
      The toothlessness of the law is the reason for its constant violation. Regardless of the size of the offense, the culprits return to their business, a bit lighter in the pocketbook but not much the worse for the attempt.
    4. By Charles Gossett of Pomona CA.
      Your article...raises questions about related issues. To what extent is "time shaving" a problem in unionized workplaces compared with nonunionized companies?
      Is the rather steady recent increase in the productivity of American workers [or rather the rather recent inability to hide it any longer!] a function of the fact that employers are simply lying about how many hours their employees have to work to get the job done?
      And where are enforcement efforts by the Dept. of Labor?
      [Bush's Dept. of Labor is just a branch of the Dept. of Management, and not a particularly far-sighted or whole-systems one.]
    5. ...By Daniel Rubock of Pelham NY.
      Your article about how easily managers alter computer records of hourly workers' time cards brings to mind the concerns about electronic voting systems.
      In the same way that paper records could mitigate the threat of hackers stealing an election, a paper trail could help control the theft of workers' wages.

  3. [And even in more advanced Vermont, and even at maximum-risk worksites such as a nuke -]
    Coalition claims VY workers forced to work overtime, by Carolyn Lorié, Brattleboro Reformer [VT].
    BRATTLEBORO, Vt. - The New England Coalition filed an allegation with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that workers at Vermont Yankee [VY] are being forced to work overtime and discouraged from voicing their concerns about the extended days. The letter was sent on April 6 by Peter Alexander, executive director of the coalition, which is a nuclear power watchdog group. According to Alexander, workers contacted the coalition through the hotline set up specifically for Vermont Yankee employees with safety concerns.
    Alexander would not specify how many calls had been made regarding the extended workdays, but said that it was more than one. Nor did he indicate if the calls were made by permanent workers or contractors hired for the refueling outage currently under way. The coalition, he said, has a strict policy of protecting the identity of the callers. The letter states that workers "expressed concern about the adverse safety implications of being forced to work six and seven-day strings of 12-plus hour days during the current refueling outage." Alexander said that he was concerned about the quality of the work being done at the plant, which is not only undergoing refueling but physical modifications in preparation for the proposed 20% "uprate."
    Larry Smith, spokesman for Vermont Yankee, said plant officials have not received a copy of the letter or been contacted by the NRC. "When we get something, we'll evaluate it and respond promptly," he said. Smith added that although there was work being done "around the clock," safety remained a top priority.
    NRC regulations stipulate that workers must be allowed to self-declare if they are unfit to work for any reason, including fatigue.
    According to the coalition's letter, one Yankee employee reported that telling his supervisor that he was too tired to work would be "career suicide."
    Neal Sheehan, NRC spokesman for region I, said the commission was in the process of establishing more stringent rules regarding how many hours can be worked.
    Current NRC guidelines do not allow shifts longer than 16 hours. Workers are allowed to work In 2002, however, the commission voted to develop new rules. A document outlining the new plan states that the established policy limits "allow too many hours of work and insufficient time for rest to ensure that personnel working within the limits are not impaired by fatigue form working excessive hours. Specifically, the limit of no more than 16 hours in any 24-hour period is too high to ensure that personnel are not impaired by acute fatigue." The new rules have not yet been established.
    When asked how many hours Vermont Yankee workers are putting in during one shift, Smith said there was "no real answer," adding that it varied according to the type of work being done.
    At least 148 permanent workers at the plant belong to Local 300 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. According to local president George Clain, there are processes in place for dealing with forced overtime, but the union has not had to employ them. "We have not heard one complaint from any of our members, permanent or contractors," he said.
    The only calls from Yankee workers, said Clain, have been complaints about overtime not being given according to seniority.
    Alexander acknowledged that many workers want the overtime but said that employees should have the option to work less if they feel their ability to perform has been diminished.
    Not only is there concern about the quality of the work being done at the plant but, said Alexander, there is concern about employees driving on the roads while extremely fatigued, posing a threat to themselves and other drivers.
    Vernon Police Chief Ian McCollin said a handful of tickets have been issued recently for minor infractions but couldn't specify if the drivers were from the plant. He said the department made it clear to Vermont Yankee officials that speed limits will be strictly enforced.
    According to Sheehan, the NRC will convene a panel to investigate the allegation. He said he did know how long it would take.
    Alexander said that he received an e-mail from David Vito, allegations coordinator for the NRC, the day after he filed the allegation.
    Alexander and Vito discussed options for dealing with the allegations, including the NRC writing a letter to Entergy.
    While Alexander said that he supported this, he added that more had to be done quickly as the outage is expected to last only four weeks and a enormous amount of work is being done under a great deal of pressure.
    "It needs to happen now," he said.

4/08/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 4/07 via GoogleNews , and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
  1. Duke ends donation to Red Cross chapter, by Christopher Kirkpatrick (ckirkpatrick@heraldsun.com), Durham Herald Sun [NC].
    DURHAM, N.C. - Duke has ended a yearly donation to the local chapter of the American Red Cross that was used to help recruit blood donors - a blow to the charity that already has laid off half its staff, cut salaries by 20%, cut hours and canceled retirement benefits.
    In each of the last several years, Duke University Hospital has given the Central North Carolina Chapter about $100,000. It also has made a yearly donation of varying amounts for 25 consecutive years to pay for recruitment, local chapter manager Lynn Sherrill said....
    Last year, Duke decided it shouldn't donate the money anymore, because it also buys blood from the charity, Sherrill said. That cut and this year's bleak donations prompted her to ask the county for a $28,000 grant, Sherrill told the Durham County Commissioners on Monday. "They were paying for it twice; they didn't say that, but I think that was their sentiment," Sherrill said. "It is my understanding that Duke has had difficult years, and this year in particular, as far as hospital business goes...."

  2. Alabama - Corrections overtime pay skyrockets, Birmingham News via producer Richard Burkard of WTVM, GA.
    All the inmates in Alabama prisons cost the state a lot of money. Now an official has put a price tag on it. State Corrections Commissioner Donal Campbell tells the Birmingham News that $12 million in overtime was paid to staff members last year. That amount has increased 645% since 1996. And it's nearly half the amount paid by all Alabama state agencies.
    Campbell notes Alabama has 5,000 more inmates now than in 1997. He also says much of the overtime for officers was mandatory, because 170 staff members are serving overseas with the National Guard.

  3. Nash: Low staffing may mean temporary closure of West Side fire station, by Kristina Arvanitis, Winchester Star.
    WINCHESTER, Mass. - Fire Chief John Nash told members of the Board of Selectman Monday night that the town's West Side fire station may be forced to close 30% of the time due to budget cuts in fiscal year 2005. When devising the fiscal '05 budget, former Town Manager Brian Sullivan reduced the fire department's budget request by $77,000, funding that would have filled a vacant position and provided funding for overtime pay, according to Nash.
    Nash told the selectmen that since the town could not shoulder another reduction of the current minimum manning for the department, he may be forced to shut down the West Side station in the summer months when firefighters take vacation leave. He also reported that the auxiliary station may also need to close approximately 10% of the time during the rest of the year.
    Nash said the nationally recommended standard is 14 firefighters at a fire, but that the department in Winchester is currently at 9 men on a shift. In its request, the fire department was hoping to fill a vacancy left by a paramedic who took a position on the Reading department. Nash added that replacing the vacant position with overtime services would exceed the salary and benefits of the firefighter by almost $5,000. "We would be losing a position at a time when the only person on the ladder truck is the driver," he said....
    Selectman Elizabeth Cregger lamented...that targeting other departments was also problematic. She said reduced hours at the public library that could lead to its decertification was a possibility, as well as a trimmed overtime budget for the police department. "There's no way that public safety can remain unscathed one way or another," Cregger said. "Wait, that's not true. We do have options. We could shut down the library. That's a thought."...

  4. [bonus -]
    Participate in Circadian's 2005 Shiftwork Practices Survey: annual report provides mission-critical data to managers of extended hours operations, PRNewswire via AOLNews.
    LEXINGTON, Mass. - While the advantages of running a business beyond the hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. are obvious, there are often costs and liabilities attached to these extended hours of operation. Most often, the burden falls on the facility managers and shift supervisors to mitigate losses due to the absenteeism, tardiness, injury, turnover, and excessive overtime that occur more frequently during extended hours. These managers need to be able to measure their results against those of their peers. That's why each year, leading international research and consulting firm Circadian gathers data from all industries that use shiftwork, and presents the results in its Shiftwork Practices report, the gold standard for assessing and comparing trends vital to the 24/7 economy.
    Highlights from last year's survey results include: Shiftwork Practices provides the latest trends and key performance indicators and, where relevant, breaks down information by region and industry to help show how the data vary. Circadian also makes predictions for trends in for the coming year, so that managers can better determine what actions they may need to take.
    For managers, participation in this year's survey is a chance not only to make themselves heard, but also to join voices with other managers across multiple industries and geographical locations. "By collecting these data, facilities can identify potential cost savings within their organization," said Alex Kerin, Ph.D., a Circadian researcher and consultant, and author of last year's report. "In these competitive times, it is critical to identify excess bottom line costs. I would urge all extended hours operations managers to complete the survey." This year, Circadian is proud to offer survey participants the executive summary of the report, along with last year's Shiftwork Practice Alerts, a suite of four exclusive special reports on issues affecting extended hours operations. (These four reports cover the effective use of napping, employee- selected schedules, noise in extended hours workplaces, and exercise.) Participants will also receive a three-month subscription to Managing 24/7, Circadian's monthly electronic newsletter made specifically to keep facility managers up to date with the latest research, news, and trends. These products, valued at over $200 are free to managers who complete the survey. Completing the survey is fast and convenient. Simply visit Circadian online at www.circadian.com/practices and follow the instructions.
    About Circadian:
    Circadian is the leading international research and consulting firm assisting companies with extended hours operations to improve profits by increasing productivity and reducing the increased costs, risks, and liabilities of human factors. Circadian's mission is to empower its clients to effectively use extended operations to compete in the global 24/7 economy. Extended hours operations encompass all work environments with irregular schedules, night and evening shifts, or extended hours, typically outside the hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Since its incorporation by Dr. Martin Moore-Ede in 1983, more than half the Fortune 1000 has benefited by working with Circadian. For more information, visit www.circadian.com
    Contact:
    Alex Kerin, Ph.D., 781.676.6918, akerin@circadian.com

4/07/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 4/06 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
  1. Surge in staff requests for flexible working, by Christine Buckley, The [London?] Times.
    [From the Timesizing viewpoint, flexible hours are just rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic, unless they permanently reduce hours without cutting benefits, for example, as job sharing sometimes does. But job sharing, based as it usually is on splitting a rigid "full-time" 40-hour workweek, does not have the required flexibility for a sustainable, economy-wide solution to hidden unemployment and deactivated consumers. What we really need is worksharing, where the definition of full-time is adjusted gradually downward from the 40-hour level until everyone can work and support him/herself, and government income supports and job-creation programs can be dismantled and taxes safely reduced (sales taxes are particularly destructive since they discourage what we want, namely, demand for goods and services). "But won't pay shrink when the workweek is cut?" No, pay depends on the supply and demand for labor - scarce labor, high pay - surplus labor, low pay. Cutting the workweek and spreading the vanishing employment reduces the labor surplus and increases the scarcity of labor. Pay rises as employers bid against one another for good employees. Minimum wage laws and living wage campaigns aren't needed. The national income gets centrifuged out of the 'black hole' in the top brackets and spread around to the people who actually spend it, and the increased spending represents increased demand and motivates increased supply, and the rising tide floats all ships, including those of the top brackets, which thereby become more robust and sustainable. By contrast, the almost unimaginable concentration of income and wealth of the top income brackets today is cannibalizing its own consumer base and suctioning the markets away from its own investments - a classic depression profile.]
    UK - Employers are experiencing surging demand from staff for flexible working, and most firms say that these sorts of family friendly arrangements have little impact on their business.
    Evidence of a shift towards flexible working comes on the anniversary of the introduction of laws and regulations to help balance work and family life. More workers are likely to ask to work flexibly in the future, according to a survey in the Equal Opportunities Review published by LexisNexis, the information group.
    Nearly 75% of companies surveyed said that they had had requests for flexible working over the past year and 90% said that they allowed women to work part-time or as a job share when they returned to work after having children.
    The Government last year introduced a right to request part-time working after maternity leave but the measure left many unions sceptical about its effectiveness. The survey found that women were far more likely to return to work after having children if their employer offered more than the legal minimum of maternity leave and pay. The study also found that nearly 70% of employers allowed their staff to temporarily reduce their working hours and let them vary their start and finish times.
    The review questioned mainly smaller and medium-sized companies, but it also included major large employers. But the upbeat survey came as another study of small businesses found that many managers in smaller companies were unaware of basic employment rights. Research by Consult GEE found that 33% of employers believed that the flexible working regulations meant that anyone who asks to work flexibly is allowed to do so.
    Consult GEE found that 50% of the employers surveyed did not know how many weeks holiday employees were entitled to and 80% did not realise that equal pay legislation applies only to pay disputes between the sexes.
    Stuart Chamberlain, employment law specialist at Consult GEE, said: “Any company that cannot afford to employ a dedicated specialist has real difficulties.”
    A survey for Maternity Alliance also found that many employees were in the dark about their rights. Dave Prentis, general secretary of the public services union Unison, said: “It is worrying that 25% of parents didn’t even know they had the right to ask for flexible working arrangements. The challenge now is for unions to work with employers and the Government to make sure that parents know their rights.”

4/06/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 4/05 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
  1. Struggling workers hoping to bail when economy improves, by Julie Forster, Knight Ridder via Miami Herald.
    [Don't hold your breath!]
    ST. PAUL, Minn. - In his former job, Mike McGuire's workload grew with every round of layoffs. As head of service for a medical and dental benefits administrator, he took on increasing responsibility during the last few years as management layers were peeled back. The stress was getting to him. So, when a headhunter called, he jumped.
    His former boss tried to entice him to stay with stock options and other perks. "Yeah, all of that," McGuire said. But as the saying goes, it was too little, too late.
    As the job market begins to loosen, companies could find that the years of retaining their best employees with merely the promise of a job are a thing of the past. Having been socked with three years of cost cutting, salary freezes and layoffs, some survivors are polishing off their resumes and preparing to bolt.
    Employees intending to leave their posts as soon as the job market opens up are at the highest level in four years, according to WorkTrends 2004, an annual survey of more than 10,000 U.S. workers. The report, by Minneapolis workplace research firm Gantz Wiley, was released in February.
    "There is a weariness of it all from the survivors of the layoffs," said Scott Brooks, executive consultant and research director for Gantz Wiley.
    To be sure, the productivity gains posted over the last few years are good for the economy. But those gains have come on the backs of professionals, many of whom are operating in a sort of shell-shocked haze while their companies extract as much as they can.
    The economic downturn forced McGuire...to take on longer hours, more work and more stress as the company went through several rounds of layoffs. When he came to the company four years ago, he was responsible for two call centers. By the end he was in charge of call centers across the country and what had once been his boss' job - the entire telecommunications side of the operation. He also ended up running all Web-based customer-service functions.
    "Your focus gets pulled in so many directions that you don't produce the quality product the customer is looking for," he said. Like other professionals, he had had enough with multiple jobs and 60-hour workweeks.
    The squeeze on workers is evident in the numbers. Overtime hours are inching up and wage increases have been declining. Workers' wages and benefits grew a measly 0.7% in the fourth quarter of 2003 - the smallest quarterly increase in a year.
    "White collar professionals have had to work longer hours, in part, because all businesses have had to do more with less," said Sung Won Sohn, chief economist for Wells Fargo Bank.
    But relief may be in sight.
    ["Had to"?? Not if we cut the free-trade myth and restore our domestic markets with Timesizing.]
    After making stunning gains over the last three years, productivity actually started to slow in the final quarter of 2003. As productivity slows, that translates to the creation of jobs in the face of rising demand, said Sohn, who recently heard from Silicon Valley executives that for the first time in nearly four years, tech workers are job-hopping.
    They're not the only ones.
    McGuire landed a job at Minneapolis-based U.S. Bank where he is senior vice president of 24-hour banking and financial sales, overseeing the banks' sales and customer service functions. The new job offers the opportunity to move up the ladder at a much larger, growing and more established firm. And, with most of his experience in the financial services industry, it was exactly what he wanted.
    As economic conditions brighten, companies need to figure out ways to keep their choice employees on board, either with challenging opportunities or better pay and flexibility, experts say. Otherwise, like McGuire, they'll be out the door.
    Meanwhile, companies also need to address a growing credibility gap with their workers, who are increasingly cynical and suspicious of information they receive from their employers. According to a Towers Perrin survey of 1,000 working Americans released in January, less than half think they are receiving truthful information about their company's financial status and business strategy.
    The results should be a wake-up call to senior executives worried about retaining their most talented employees in 2004, said Karen Leonard, a Towers Perrin principal and leader of the communication consulting office in Minneapolis. Close to 60% felt shareholders were getting more accurate information about the company's financials and strategy and more than half thought that their company is putting too positive a spin on the information given to them.
    "Their perception is that there is more straightforward information going to shareholders and customers than employees," Leonard said.
    Worried about retention, some companies are taking steps. "We are concerned about losing our top talent," said Randy Ross, a Best Buy Co. vice president. Richfield-based Best Buy rolled out in February a more generous benefits package, including a wider mix of options for health, tuition assistance and life insurance. The company also introduced a new employee stock-purchase plan that allows its 70,000 full- and part-time employees to buy company stock at a reduced rate.
    On top of that, it recently launched a long-term incentive program for midlevel managers and up that includes a mix of restricted shares and stock options.
    A few times a year, Best Buy surveys its employees to measure how engaged they are at work. One question asks: "How likely are you to consider leaving the company?" If there are areas in the company with sub-par results, "We immediately launch an action plan to improve that," Ross said. Ross knows employees who don't feel challenged will make the leap if and when a headhunter calls.
    Recruiters are seeing some signs of a jobs recovery. Lee Artimovich, managing director of the Minneapolis office of the executive recruiting firm Korn/Ferry, senses that his clients now have a more positive attitude about the economy. Lately, his business has started improving. "But it's not a rocket ship to the moon," Artimovich said. "This is slow, steady growth."
    According to a national executive survey conducted by Korn/Ferry, more than half of the respondents (58 percent) said they expect to change companies by the end of the year, while 96% expect to switch by August 2004. Though 85% have updated their resumes within the last six months, only 38% are yet to see a vacancy that specifically interests them.
    "The global recession has significantly tested the mettle of today's work force," said Paul Reilly, chairman and CEO of Korn/Ferry International, in a statement about the study. "Employee productivity metrics are at all-time highs. It's natural that many executives are feeling burnt out in their current roles and a reviving economy brings promise of finding something new."
    Lower down the ranks, the fear that has dominated workplaces since the economy started its decline is turning to optimism. The number of Americans worried about losing their jobs fell to 17% in January, down from 20% in December, according to the Hudson Employment Index, a monthly measure of employee attitudes on work issues.
    The numbers are based on survey responses from about 9,000 U.S. workers. Overall, 31% predict their companies will be hiring more people while just 16% expect layoffs.
    At the same time, many workers are eager to change jobs. Only one-third of nonsupervisory workers said their company offered the best opportunity for advancement. Nearly one in three employees are job hunting and nearly two out of three said they would seriously consider another job offer, the research found.
    James...is one example. After graduating from college, he started work as a software engineer in Minneapolis for a wireless services company. He still works for the same company but in Austin, Texas. After a series of layoffs, he managed to keep his job and was handed additional duties along the way. With the extra work came a salary freeze. James is his middle name. He didn't want his last name used for fear of retaliation.
    When he started with the company he mainly worked on software development. After the person who manages Web services was laid off during the first round of job cuts, James picked up that job, too. "I just get one thing done and I have two more things to do," he said. "It's almost making me work bad, because I'm just trying to figure out the biggest problems. I keep getting e-mails, `Have you got this done yet, or that done yet?' and I've only got two hands." What he wants is simple: Less work and better pay. In November, he started sending out resumes.
    In January, he began hearing back from interested employers and was scheduled to come back to the Twin Cities for some job interviews. He is from St. Paul and is looking for a job in the area. "I think it's starting to loosen up," he said.
    Pay raises and bonuses aren't the only things to keep people on the job. If a company has been frank with its employees and transparent about the company's business prospects throughout the downturn, that's one important factor in retention, said Dennis Ahlburg, associate dean of the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.
    Another is treating employees with respect and recognizing hard work. "Companies that have manipulated workers' fear of losing their jobs are going to see much more turnover," Ahlburg said. "Workers will say, `This company screwed me in the downturn so I'm going to get out of here and find a company that will treat me right in good times and in bad.' It's the best people who will be out the door if they have a sense of not being fairly treated in the last couple years."
    In 2000 and 2001, researchers at the University of Minnesota studied 1,000 new hires at seven leading Minnesota-based companies to try to find out what factors affect employee retention the most. They tracked the employees every four months over the two-year period. The most critical predictor of whether people would stay was their initial measure of commitment, said Ahlburg, a co-author of the study. The 98 employees who left their companies were less committed to the company in the first place, and they thought it would not be difficult to get another job.
    "Companies need to look at their work force and say, `Who are the people who can most easily move' and focus on them," he said. "Then they need to figure out who are those showing the lowest sense of commitment. If those are valuable employees, they need to work on what issues those employees have."
    The study also shows the importance of the first month an employee is on the job. Companies can boost that initial level of commitment first by giving the employee clear information about what the job entails, a detailed orientation, people who will help them learn the ropes, and formal mentors. "You have to get it right from the beginning," Ahlburg said. "If not, it is very hard to get that person committed to the organization."

4/03-05/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 4/02-04 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #4 which is from the 4/03-05 WSJ &/or NYT hardcopy), and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
  1. 4/02   More with less, Expatica [Netherlands].
    EUROPE - No matter what the line of work, almost anyone you talk to these days tells the same story: they feel they are doing more work than previously with official German data underlining the trend. We argue that the shape of the workplace is changing dramatically as globalisation takes hold.
    More with less has become the new theme of the modern workplace. That is, more work with fewer people [and longer hours] and, where possible, less pay.
    ["Whether you work by the piece or the day,
    Increasing the hours decreases the pay."
    And vice versa.]
    No matter what the line of work (public or private sector) or what part of the world, almost anyone you talk to these days tells the same story: they feel they are doing more work than previously and that their employer seems very reluctant to move to reduce the current long dole queues by taking on new employees to help out.
    What is more, the faltering state of the long-promised economic upswing also seems to mean that companies are driving some hard bargains when it comes to pay increases. It also means that many employees feel compelled to take additional jobs or work to try to make ends meet.
    Official data released showed that German employees worked two hours longer on average in 2003, which was the first annual rise in more than a decade.
    The tough economic times has resulted in cutting costs becoming almost an employer obsession with hundreds of thousands of jobs lost in many industries as companies have launched a seemingly never-ending restructuring drive. At the same time, the rapid pace of globalisation has opened up new labour markets in countries with cheap and often skilled workforces.
    Whether it be Mexico in the case of the US or Central European states such as Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary in the case of Europe or even further afield to nations such as India it appears that what jobs are being created by many western-based commpanies seem to be being outsourced or dispatched to other parts of the world.
    But this does not seem to have helped to ease the workload back at home base or eased the record high unemployment in many nations.
    Evidence has already emerged how the present high levels of unemployment that are distorting the performance of economies are around the world with consumers following the classic course of holding back from spending during times of high joblessness.
    This is despite a raft of sometimes generous tax cuts handed out by governments keen to try to encourage consumers back into the shops and showrooms so as ensure their national economies remain on a growth path.
    The number of jobs that are being out sourced might seem comparatively small. But oursouring combined with the growing sense that the existing labour force is handling more work are now both looming large over the political landscape almost as much as the economic devastation caused by unemployment.
    Despite signs that an economic pickup has been taking hold in the US, the failure of the world's biggest economy to generate new jobs and the reports about the number of jobs being exported has now emerged as a key issue in the run-up to the November presidential election.
    The problem for many workers is that it is going to get worse. Western European governments might be throwing up the barricades becasue of fears about a wave of cheap workers and so-called 'benefit tourists' flooding into their labour market once the new 10 largely Central European nations formally join the European Union on 1 May.
    But the real threat to western European might be their number of companies deciding to shift to Central Europe or exporting their jobs to the new EU member states.
    At the same time, employers, most notably in Germany, have launched a fresh campaign to raise the average working week to 40 hours from the standard 35 hours in the country's western industrial heartland, to meet a possible[??] pickup in demand.
    [Where's the demand going to come from when they'll be concentrating even more of the vanishing work and funnelling even more of the luxurious profits to the relatively few in the top income brackets?!]
    The standard working week is 38 hours in the nation's former east.
    But it is not just the private sector that has decided that the time has come to reverse the trend to a shorter working week. Faced with a crisis in Europe's once generous welfare systems, politicians have also been arguing that people might not just have to work longer days but also roll back their retirement plans to help boost state finances and to maintain the existing standards of the social state.
    [Ah, how do they figure that longer working hours and rolled-back retirement are maintaining existing standards?! And how do they figure that politicians today have any views independent of the private sector?]
    For all those complaining about having to deal with more working [such silly complainers! they should just LOVE working round the clock like Americans and Japanese and Bangladeshis and 19th-century millworkers!], it would seem to be a case of enjoy what leisure time you have at the moment.
    [This shows the costs resulting from the failure of the labor movement to focus on workweek reduction to zero unemployment.]

  2. 4/4   Productivity is up, but so is burnout, by H.J. Cummins, Minneapolis Star Tribune.
    USA - Heather Wells had spent 15 years in corporate America by 2002, but she'd never worked at such a fever pitch.
    When she wasn't traveling to meet with marketing clients in four time zones, she chased through 7 a.m. consulting sessions, back-to-back meetings, and finally phone calls and e-mails that kept her at her desk long after night darkened the office windows.
    Her company upped her annual revenue goal from $30 million to $45 million. She lost her secretary and her boss, and had to pick up pieces of their work. Her consumption of aspirin and Tums grew with her workload. Exhaustion set in, followed by months of bed rest after she became pregnant, then depression and the realization that it was time to leave.
    "My body just said, 'You're done,' " Wells said.
    Scratch corporate employees these days and you're likely to find that many have a common itch to rebel against more demands, longer hours, a faster pace and "doing more with less."
    The U.S. workforce has produced a remarkable surge in productivity in recent years, essentially without help from any new hiring. The annual Star Tribune 100 survey of Minnesota's largest companies shows revenue and profits are up smartly for most of the firms, while employee counts are flat or down. In fact, if fast-growing retailers Target and Best Buy were left out, the other 98 firms in the ST100 would have added less than 1% to their payrolls.
    Not surprisingly, worker burnout is showing up in a variety of measurements - sleep problems, safety lapses and employees' own embarrassed accounts of compromised work.
    Recent nationwide employee surveys turned up these stress markers: Many workers are not taking all of their vacation time, according to WorldatWork, an association of compensation professionals.
    The average work week (which includes full- and part-time workers) has remained fairly stable at 34 to 35 hours since the 1980s, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But that figure masks important differences among groups, according to a study last year by Jerry Jacobs, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania. One subgroup was people who work more than 50 hours a week, and from 1970 to 2000, that rose from Longer hours clustered into the professional, technical and managerial jobs, Jacobs found.
    "All you have to do is look at the profits at corporations versus the number of employees, and you discover that the folks who are left ... are handling a lot more than they ever had to in the past," said Joyce Gioia, a futurist at the Herman Group in Greensboro, N.C.
    Looking to change jobs
    Workers have been resigned to the increased workloads in recent years, in part because they saw no other jobs available. Now employer surveys predict a big jump in hiring, the first signs of which might have emerged in Friday's surprisingly strong employment report, and workforce surveys indicate employees are poised like never before to change jobs. Half of 3,200 workers polled said they're looking to change jobs, in last summer's Emerging Workforce Study by Spherion, a Florida staffing firm.
    Experts say the high stress and low morale of recent years, combined with a growing expectation among workers for a better work/life balance, make this restlessness greater than in typical job expansions. They say today's workers are more comfortable jumping to less conventional jobs such as contract, temporary or consulting arrangements.
    Heather Wells, for example, is still in the workforce, but instead of working for someone else she's running her own marketing business, Executive Events, out of her home in Excelsior.
    "Our study reveals a surprisingly confident, self-reliant workforce that is poised to walk out on employers at the first opportunity," said Spherion President Robert Morgan.
    Will corporate America respond with more worker-friendly policies? As recently as last fall, the trend was moving in the opposite direction: Companies were cutting back on such things as flex time, job sharing and telecommuting, according to a survey by the Society for Human Resource and Management trade association.
    But some see the beginnings of a turnaround. "It might be hard to believe now - as everybody is overworking, stressed to the limit - but there are companies interested in changing their corporate culture," said Susan Seitel, president of Work & Family Connection in Minnetonka, a workplace consulting firm. That means not less work but new levels of flexibility, Seitel said.
    "These are places where bosses tell you exactly what they need from you and when, and then how you do it and when is your business. It can be a tremendously difficult step for managers," Seitel said.
    The stakes for businesses are high, said Steve Kenney, recruiting manager at Robert Haft Finance & Accounting in Minneapolis. "You find your best people are the first to volunteer to help out with projects, and the least likely to complain if they're overworked or overwhelmed," he said. "Instead they just disappear, they go take a new job."
    Additional duties
    A heavy workload led Lisa Zaic to leave Target Corp. last summer after three years. She now runs her own company, Zakewear Inc. in Plymouth, producing an earmuff called "Hat Flaps," invented by her husband. First hired as a middle manager in accounts payable at Target, Zaic saw her workload more than double when she was given additional supervisory duties within the retailer's online business. After a year of 10- to 14-hour days, she was shocked to get only a "satisfactory plus" review in the company's new employee evaluation program. Up to that point, Zaic had gotten only exceptional reviews in her 15-year career. Her raise dropped from 8%, the year before, to 1.5%.
    "I remember feeling absolutely staggered," she said. "I thought I was doing an incredible job. I left feeling that in order to excel to the point of being financially compensated for it, it would take absolutely everything I had mentally and physically."
    Zaic still has lots of praise for Target and those she worked with there. The company taught her a lot, she said, but she needed to leave because "the workload was growing exponentially." Target spokeswoman Lena Klofstad said the company values work-life balance among its employees, and it has been cited as one of the top companies for working women in the country.
    At Best Buy's corporate headquarters, work weeks regularly run 55 hours or more. "There's no doubt there has been more stress and pressure over the past few years," said Dave Telschow, a director of parts and services for Best Buy. "With the economy, things are as intense as they've ever been," Telschow said.
    But the company provides a child-care center, a fitness center, a bank and other services for employees' convenience, said Randy Ross, human resources vice president. More broadly, Ross said, Best Buy is implementing the kind of work flexibility that Seitel described.
    For Telschow, a major improvement was the company's consolidation of 13 office locations into one. "I was always having to leave one meeting early and show up at the next one late," he said. Every Friday now, Telschow telecommutes from home. He starts work at 7 a.m. so he can log off his computer by 3 p.m. Most weeks, he and his family leave Friday evening for their cabin at Otter Tail Lake.
    Telschow says he can wade through e-mails, phone calls and other paperwork more efficiently at home. He also takes the company's flexibility as an expression of appreciation and trust in him. "Frankly, I feel better about Best Buy if I'm not sitting in traffic Friday afternoon, after a long week of hard work," he said.

  3. 4/4   Fathers too scared to request flexible work hours, by Sarah Womack, Telegraph.co.uk.
    UK - Fathers are failing to capitalise on new flexible working time arrangements because they fear that it will mean "career death", the Government admitted last night. Just one in 10 of those men eligible has asked to change hours, despite legislation which gives them the right to ask for flexible working, including only working during school terms, job sharing and working from home.
    The admission came as the Department of Trade and Industry publishes a survey today of 3,500 parents which claims an extraordinary response to the arrangements - but only among mothers. One in four women has asked to change hours, it says. But fathers are holding back because they think they will be passed over for promotion, or sidelined.
    The survey coincides with Europe's largest fatherhood conference, organised by Fathers Direct, which is being held in London. The right to request flexible working was one of a number of measures, including two weeks' paid paternity leave, introduced under the 2002 Employment Act, which came into force last April. Those entitled to ask for it must have a child or children under six or a disabled child or children under 18.
    Patricia Hewitt, the Trade and Industry Secretary, said: "In so many organisations it's acceptable for a woman to say 'I have got children and I need to combine [that with work]', although even then she might be regarded as not being serious about work commitments. "But for a man to say he wants to balance work and family is so counter-cultural that many men fear it is going to be career death."
    Under the law, an employer need only give "serious consideration" to a request for flexible working and can refuse because of a "sound business reason", such as additional costs. If an employee goes to a tribunal and wins, compensation is capped at £270 a week, for up to eight weeks.
    Charities, including the Maternity Alliance, argue that even among those mothers who ask for flexible working when their children are young, many have to accept a cut in salary or job status.
    Contrary to the DTI's poll, its research shows that a quarter of parents have had their request for flexible working refused. Nearly half (45%) said their employer did not know or follow the correct procedure for considering their request and 92% said their employer refused a request for reasons not allowed by the law.
    "We want a new right for parents to reduce their hours if they return to work within one year of their baby's birth," said Liz Kendall of the Maternity Alliance. "Too many parents are having their request refused for unjustifiable reasons."
    The Work Foundation's analysis showed that low-income parents have less chance of having their request accepted by employers.
    Jack O'Sullivan, of Fathers Direct, the national information service for fathers, said that fathers now did a third of parental child care in dual-earner families.

  4. 4/05   Germany rethinks generous perks for civil servants [and everyone else - except CEOs], by Almut Schoenfeld, WSJ, A17.
    BERLIN - ...The country's worst economic crisis since World War II [at least in the minds of the German plutocracy] for the first time has shone the spotlight on the perks of...Germany's 1.8m active civil servants. or Beamte [/bayAMtuh/].
    [Are any civil servants active?]
    The privileges of the 1.3m retired civil servants are also being scrutinized for possible cuts, as the government wrestles with a budget deficit that exceeds EU limits.
    ...One reason privileges haven't been reduced over the years is that the Beamte includes close to a third of Germany's Parliament. Moreover, the group's lobbying organization...the German Assoc. of Civil Servants..\..is one of the most powerful in the country - even though its members can't strike....
    Among other ideas, changes being discussed include -

4/02/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 4/01 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -

  1. Almost half of firms offer flexible working to all - No it is not an April Fool; Almost one year after right to request flexible hours for parents entered statute books, huge 45% of firms have extended option to all staff, suggest new figures, HR Gateway [UK].
    UK - A full year after parents and carers were given the right to request flexible hours a new survey suggests that employers are starting to find it problematic just to offer the option to one section of their workforce.
    The latest IRS Employment Review survey suggests that while half of organisations introduce flexible hours only to meet legislative requirements, 45% have extended the option to all employees while many more want to see it extended.
    28% make flexible working available to staff in line with statutory requirements, while 26% of employers base their decision on an individual employee's circumstances:
    ‘Many employers are now recognising that a policy, which brings perceived benefits to one section of workforce also risks alienating other employees.
    ‘The survey’s findings reinforce the view that flexible working can no longer be seen simply as the “family-friendly” option,’ IRS Employment Review managing editor, Mark Crail, told HRG today.
    However, while some employers are extending the option to all staff, a large number reserve non-parental flexible working for recruitment and retention purposes of specific skill sets or positions. While 45% offered flexible working to all, 56% say they use the option ‘always or sometimes’ in attracting staff, depending on the job, suggesting that employers can see the value of flexible working as a recruitment tool.
    These findings are supported by 54% reporting that improved staff retention is one of the top three main objectives for introducing flexible working – legality and an improved employer brand (36%) are the other reasons.
    Much of employers’ increased warmth towards offering flexible hours is down to take-up in general not being great [translation: attributable to employees' taking advantage of it not being widespread], suggests Crail, and points out that many employers see the only way forward as being up: ‘Part-time working is the area where employers expect to see the biggest growth followed by variable starting and finishing times and temporarily reduced hours.   40% also expect homeworking to feature more and 61% already allow staff to work from home at least one day a week.
    ‘Of course, flexible working is not always an option. Nearly three in ten employers told the survey they had rejected a request and HR needs to look at how such workers can gain improved flexibility in their lives,’ he said.
    Other findings include -

  2. [bonus]
    Ill. Gov. Defies Federal Overtime Rules, by Melanie Coffee, AP 04/02/04 20:43 EST via AOLNews.
    CHICAGO - Illinois' governor signed into law new rules on who can be paid overtime - defying proposed federal changes that could lead to fewer types of workers receiving extra pay.
    Supporters said the Illinois law will prevent an estimated 375,000 people from being classified as salaried workers, causing them to lose overtime pay.
    ``Here in Illinois we value hard work and we believe you should get a fair day's pay for a fair day's work,'' Gov. Rod Blagojevich said just before signing the legislation.
    Critics said the governor jumped the gun because the federal rules have yet to be released.
    ``I'm not sure why we passed a bill to change rules that don't actually exist,'' said Republican state Rep. Mark Beaubien. ``Basically, it's just another indication that the governor is very much beholden to the unions.''
    The new federal regulations would allow employers to count such experience as military and technical school training when classifying workers as salaried professionals exempt from overtime pay.
    The proposal also would raise the minimum weekly wage for white-collar jobs not entitled to overtime from $155 to $425.
    The Labor Department began drafting the new rules after business groups pressed the Bush administration to rewrite a section of the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act. The Act requires employers to pay an hourly rate of time-and-a-half to some workers logging more than 40 hours a week.
    Federal officials tout the proposed new rules as a way to make more than 1.3 million lower-paid workers eligible for overtime. They estimate 644,000 higher-paid workers could lose overtime eligibility, but unions estimate that some 8 million workers nationwide could lose overtime pay.

4/01/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 3/31 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
  1. Compulsion playing larger part in 48-hour opt out - New survey from CIPD suggests almost 200% increase over past 5 years in number of employees citing element of compulsion in ‘their’ decision to work over 48 hours a week [our quotes], Human Resources Gateway (HRG).
    [No kidding.]
    UK - The number of employees saying that there is an element of employer compulsion to their working over 48 hours a week has risen by almost 200% over the past five years, claims a new survey today. The Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD) survey of 750 people working long hours, suggests that although the majority say it is through choice, increasing numbers appear to be citing compulsion playing a part.   70% of respondents said that it was either ‘partly’ or ‘totally’ their choice to work over 48 hours, with 30% for the former suggesting an element of compulsion - this figure is up from 11% in 1998.
    Also, potentially giving weight to union arguments that opt-out abuse is more widespread than realized is the fact that 37% of respondents say they signed the opt-out as part of their employment contract, a practice likely to be outlawed next year.
    Paul Sellars of the Trades Union Congress told HRG today that the report was a ‘shot in the foot’ for the CIPD. While it tries to paint a picture that everything is OK with the opt-out, the reality is different, he said: ‘The small print of the survey shows that things are far from OK; the survey is a real shot in the foot. The evidence for employer abuse of the opt-out is strong and it is the reason it should be removed,’ he said.
    Gerwyn Davies, author of the report, disagrees with Sellar's comments. While the rise in compulsion is a ‘matter of concern’, he said, it does not alter the fact that blanket legislation is no solution to the problem: ‘The rise in compulsion needs to be tackled but removing the opt-out is not the way. We need to get employers sitting down with staff and offering flexible working across the board. Removing the opt-out is just removing freedom of choice,’ he said.
    However, Sellars points out that in France when they set a limit of 35 hours a week it forced an emphasis on performance which in turn raised productivity: ‘..losing the opt-out, if handled properly, could bring a new dawn for productivity,’ he said.
    Not so, says Davies. France had to backtrack on its 35-hour week.
    [France did not "have to." The politics went the wrong way, that's all. The left was more splintered into small parties than the right so in the primary election, Chirac (slight right) came first, Pen (waaay right) came second, and Jospin (left) came third, and only Pen got to duke it out with Chirac in the final election. And Chirac promptly forgot all the hard lessons of the mid-90s that drove even the moderate right to cut hours in 1996 with the voluntary Robien Law.]
    The best way is to create high performance workplaces based on flexibility, good job design, staff empowerment and lifelong learning: ‘Our studies show that by introducing a High Performance Workplace model you can improve productivity by 20%,’ said Davies.

  2. Family-friendly policies benefit employers, study finds, by Paul Robinson, The Age [Australia].
    AUSTRALIA - Hundreds of Australian companies and institutions that have introduced family-friendly work policies have reduced staff turnover, absenteeism and increased the rate of return from parental leave, a study has found.
    The study by Work Life Balance International of more than 300 public and private companies has also challenged the myth of the long-hours working culture. Its study found many staff reported they were working longer but not smarter and were not more productive.
    The study found "best-practice" companies that promoted family-friendly policies, such as paid parental leave and flexible working hours to cope with children, had fewer stress-related absences, lower turnover and increased employee motivation.
    The study, which has evaluated the core companies every year since 1997, nominated 20 organisations that topped the list for best practice in work-life balance. They included: The director of Managing Work Life Balance, Barbara Holmes, said more than 40% of the banking sector had reported that employees were spending more time at work because "presence is rewarded rather than results". But Ms Holmes said only 12% of workers from best-practice companies believed that to be the case. "For the first time we asked respondents about productivity, long hours and personal effectiveness. The data is suggesting that the 'long hours culture' may not be delivering the anticipated increases in performance," she said.
    Ms Holmes said the study showed 44% of evaluated companies were now using some form of flexible work option, such as parental leave, family leave or working from home, compared with 39% last year.
    ACTU president Sharan Burrow said a work and family test case would be launched in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission this year. She said unions were seeking improved rights for workers with family responsibilities. These included new rights for parents to make the switch to part-time work in light of research showing that 60% of mothers working full time would prefer part-time work, she said.



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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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