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Timesizing News, June 16-30, 2004
[Commentary] ©2004 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 622, Porter Sq, Cambridge MA 02140 USA 617-623-8080


6/30/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 6/29 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #2 & 7 which are from the 6/30 newspaper hardcopy), and excerpts and [comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Californians have access to first paid family leave program in the country - Statewide study shows broad support for law, lack of knowledge about accessing benefits, PRNewswire via Yahoo News.
    SACRAMENTO, Calif. - On July 1, California's new Paid Family Leave Law goes into effect, providing most Californians six weeks of partial pay when taking leave from work to care for a seriously ill parent, spouse, child, or domestic partner, or to bond with a new baby, foster, or adopted child. A recent study by the California Family Leave Research Project shows that, despite extensive public support for paid leave, only 22% of Californians are aware that they are eligible for the benefits.
    Introduced by Senator Sheila Kuehl, sponsored by the California Labor Federation, and signed into law by Gov. Gray Davis, this groundbreaking legislation creates the first comprehensive paid leave program in the nation. (While the federal Family Medical Leave Act grants 12 weeks of unpaid family leave to eligible employees at large companies, many working families cannot afford to take the time off work without pay.) Paid Leave benefits are entirely employee-funded through California's State Disability Insurance (SDI) program and allows employees to collect up to 55% of their salary, up to a maximum of $728 per week, while caring for their loved ones. Employers will pay nothing.
    "I am immensely proud to have authored this historic legislation. Paid family leave will make it possible for thousands of Californians to meet their family responsibilities while keeping their jobs," said Senator Kuehl. "Employers will be able to retain skilled employees without having to pay for their time off. Families will be stronger, workplaces will be stabilized and, as families are more secure, communities will be strengthened, as well."
    A statewide study by the California Family Leave Research Project, headed by Ruth Milkman at the University of California, Los Angeles, reveals that slightly more than half of California employers already provide family and medical leave benefits beyond what is required by the current federal law and those that do may benefit from higher employee retention rates and reduced costs associated with recruiting and training new employees. The study also found that while 85% of adults surveyed favored a law guaranteeing partially paid leave, only 22% were aware of California's new Paid Family Leave Law.
    Paid Family Leave comes at a critical time when there are more families that depend on two incomes than ever; more single-parent households; and a growing number of workers who need to care for ailing family members. Studies indicate that of the thousands of caregivers under age 65 in California who are juggling caregiving and job responsibilities, 15% had to reduce their work hours and another 15% were forced to quit their jobs to handle family responsibilities. Paid family leave will allow these family caregivers, the unsung heroes of the nation's healthcare crisis, to care for elderly parents without losing their jobs and will help new parents give their children the time and attention they need for a healthy adulthood.
    "Study after study tells us what we already know, that the parent-child bond during the first few months is vital to a child's healthy development," said Rob Reiner, chair of First 5 California, a state commission dedicated to improving the lives of children ages 0-5. "Now parents will have the opportunity to strengthen that critical bond."
    California is leading the nation by demonstrating that paid family leave is crucial to a healthy society. For further information about these benefits, qualifications and how to apply, visit: http://www.paidfamilyleave.org or www.edd.ca.gov.
    The Paid Family Leave Coalition, a statewide group of unions, social services and advocacy organizations, is working to educate California's working families about paid family leave. Members of the Coalition include: Labor Project for Working Families; Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center; National Partnership for Women & Families; California Labor Federation, Office of Senator Sheila Kuehl; First 5 California; Family Caregiver Alliance/National Center on Caregiving; Equal Rights Advocates; California National Organization for Women; CA Commission on the Status of Women; Asian Law Caucus; California Women's Law Center; and Southern California ACLU.

  2. It didn't succeed, so Iwate Prefecture decided to give up - Unprosperous Japanese state, egged on by its governor, goes slow and likes it, by Sebastian Moffett, WSJ, front page.
    [Here's a story to warm the cockles of Carl Honoré's heart (author of In Praise of Slowness) -]
    MORIOKA, Iwate - Nothing was going right for the residents of northern Iwate Prefecture. Try as they might, the[y] seemed stuck in a poor backwater, with factories closing, shaky state finances, and few prospects.
    So three years ago, Gov. Hiroya Masuda sent out a...message: Just give up.
    [Throughout this story, we experiment with different translations of what the reporter usually translates as "no effort," which we find quite unacceptable because of the emotional and value "charge" required. We do play with "effortless" but usually settle on "no exertion," "no strain," or for more Madison-Avenue appeal, "no sweat."]
    "We don't [strain ourselves] in Iwate," [he] declared in a nationwide ad campaign that has run annually since 2001. Iwate should build traditional wooden houses rather than modern buildings, he said. Instead of striving like the big cities for economic growth, people should take pride in their forests.
    "In Tokyo, people are chasing speed, and life consists of working, eating and sleeping," says...Mr. Masuda, who has local-government employees print the we-don't-[strain] slogan on their business cards. "Here, I want people to go home early in the evening, take a walk with their family, and talk to the neighbors."
    The wacky ads have been a hit. They have boosted Mr. Masuda's standing in Iwate, helping him get elected for a 3rd time last year, with 88% of votes cast. They also struck a chord with Japanese worldwide.
    Opposing [exertion] in Japan is as bizarre as disparaging freedom in America. But since their economy slowed in the 1990s, many Japanese have started to question whether their hard work is really worth it.
    In the past, even average Japanese workers who devoted their lives to a corporation could prosper. "If you graduated from college and worked solidly, you would reach an annual salary of 10m yen," about $90,000, says economist Takuro Morinaga, author of a shelf of downshifting bestsellers with titles such as "It's Cool to Be Poor." But now that not everyone gets rich, "they think, why should they work themselves to death for their company?" he says.
    The same logic applies to regional economies. Poorer areas used to believe they could catch up with Tokyo living standards, and the central government helped with generous handouts. But this aid has been slashed, and while the urban economies are taking off again, many provinces remain stalled. Iwate people earn less than 60% of what people in Tokyo do, and the prefecture has debts of about $9,000 per citizen.
    Far from being derided, the four annual ad campaigns attracted a total of 23,816 overwhelmingly favorable emails - mainly from women tired of trying to cope with the strain of work and family. "Iwate is great for daring to renounce exertion," wrote one...woman. "This really takes a weight off my shoulders."
    Actually, the most enthusiastic anti-exertion people are former city-dwellers who have rushed to Iwate to lead the slow life - people like the governor himself who used to work for the national government in Tokyo.
    Tetsuya Watanabe, a former publishing-company employee, now grows flowers and vegetables on a picturesque 2½-acre farm surrounded by mountains, woods and rice paddies. Mr. Watanabe, a philosophy graduate, says [the effortless life] means living a more fulfilling life, closer to nature and away from the economic pressures of the city.
    "We don't [exert ourselves] in a normal way, but we're very busy," says [he] over a lunch of fish, rice and home-grown vegetables. "It's just not the kind of busyness where you feel stressed."
    Tokyo native Nobuo Yoshinari is spreading the effortless message to the younger generation. He sued to work so hard for an event-promotion company that his wife complained he talked only about business. A few years ago, he quit and moved to Iwate.
    Now...he runs the Iwate Children's Forest, a center that mixes play and learning. Kids study flowers, cook outdoors and clamber over obstacle courses. And the center has what Mr. Yoshinari calls an "effortless declaration for parents" including the instruction, "Don't tell your kids to be quick, or thoughtlessly hurry them up."
    Mr. Yoshinari is also building a nature retreat deep in the Iwate mountains. Urban Japanese use high-tech electronic toilets, and throw out perfectly good TV sets. At the "Forest & Wind School," toilet users sprinkle wood shavings over waste, which is then applied to the school's vegetable patch or fermented to produce "biogas," fuel for the center's cafe.
    Such projects have turned Iwate into a mecca for Japan's nascent slow-life movement. Small towns are promoting green tourism, where urban visitors come to work on a farm, search the mountains for wild vegetables, and make traditional paper. Iwate's standout industrial complex? Japan's biggest wind farm.
    Traditionalists think this has all gone too far. Toshio Sasaki, a...local assemblyman who used to run a fishing business, says he has been striving to drag local living standards closer to those of Tokyo.
    [Sasaki should save his breath and just move to Tokyo.]
    [He] says it is crazy to waste nearly $400,000 each year on ads that make the prefecture look lazy.
    [Sasaki needs to study marketing. It's a prime marketing principle to package up what you've already got lots of, however unusual, and SELL it, without straining to change. And for the religious, remember George Beverly Shea's song at the Billy Graham tent meetings? - "Just as I am, without one plea...." And for the non-religious, remember the Beatles'? - "Mother Mary comes to me, whispering words of wisdom, 'Let it be.' "]
    He says Iwate, with its harsh winters, rugged mountains and struggling fishing villages, was built on exertion - and needs plenty more in the future. Protesting the no-exertion campaign in November 2002, he told the Iwate Assembly: "Our elders were like oxen, who said nothing but exerted themselves."
    [Don't sound like much of a life, Toshio.]
    What really bugs him is urbanites who patronize the region as a quaint backwater. "One woman wrote the prefecture to say she was trying hard to raise her children and wanted Iwate's nature to be preserved so she could eventually come here to relax. I thought, 'What about us in Iwate? Are we supposed to just remain backward for the sake of these people from Tokyo?' "
    [On the other hand, is Iwate supposed to cut down its forests and pave over its fields just because locationally rigid, obsessive-compulsives like Sasaki can't exert himself and MOVE to Tokyo?]
    The counterattack widened in June when Iwate mgmt consultant Ken Miya gave a speech at a conference in Morioka, the prefecture capital, titled, "Let's Exert Ourselves, Iwate!" His small-business clients would collapse if they didn't exert themselves, he told 100 local officials and businessmen. He wanted Mr. Masuda to exert himself to pay off Iwate's public debt, which recently triggered a 4% paycut for public employees. But instead, "the governor is sweating and straining to explain the no-exertion declaration," he said. "Hasn't he got anything better to do?"
    [Sounds good enough to us.]
    But many locals back Mr. Masuda. Hiroko Fujisawa, a baker, says that people were long used to the slow life in Iwate but the governor helped them see this as good. "Masuda gives us hope for the future," she says.
    Mr. Masuda says that instead of just goofing off, the "don't sweat it" campaign is about rethinking values. He thinks it has given locals confidence in the things they have - pleasant scenery, traditional pottery and natural foods - so they focus less on the things they don't have. "There is more pride in the region and its culture and history," he says. "Young people's thinking will change, and they will stop yearning for Tokyo."
    [However, like so many of working to shorten the workweek, Masuda is 24/7 -]
    As for going slow, Gov. Masuda doesn't always heed his own advice. He gets up at 6 am and starts work at 7:30. He works in the prefecture office until 6 or 7 in the evening. He also works Saturdays and Sundays, and says, "I don't have so much free time."
    [Now when someone doesn't practice what he preaches, that is troubling. Here's hoping Masuda is like the Little Toymaker, "who never worked a day in his life" - because he loved it so much, it was aaaall play.]

  3. U.K. may crack down on employers who force long hours (update1), Bloomberg.com.
    The U.K. government said it's considering how to crack down on companies that force employees to work long hours, the Dept. of Trade & Industry said.
    Employment Relations Minister Gerry Sutcliffe opened a consultation on rules surrounding the 48-hour workweek mandated by the European Union. Britain allows employees to opt out of that requirement.
    Unions that represent 8 million of the U.K.'s 28 million workers have complained that two-thirds of workers say they're routinely asked to work more than the maximum. Unions founded Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labour Party in 1900 and still contribute a third of its annual budget.
    ``Some parties have raised concerns that some people are pressured into signing the opt-out,'' Sutcliffe said in a statement. ``Such action is illegal, as the opt-out must be signed voluntarily under current employment legislation.''
    The Trades Union Congress [TUC], an umbrella group that represents most U.K. unions, condemned the government for sticking to its commitment to allow workers to opt out of the EU rule. Some unions including the Rail, Maritime & Transport union are pressing for a 35-hour workweek as is mandated in France.
    ``It's hard to take this consultation seriously,'' said Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC. ``The minister's statement makes it clear that the government has made its mind up to resist an effective crackdown on Britain's long hours culture.''
    Time limits
    About 3.75 million people work more than 48 hours a week, up 500,000 from 1992, when there wasn't any protection against long hours, the TUC said.
    The lobby group's research indicates that a third of workers are aware they must consent to working more than the limit. A third of those who do work the longer hours said they hadn't been asked to opt out.
    Sutcliffe's office will collect comments from industry, employer lobby groups and union leaders until Sept. 22. The Confederation of British Industry, the nation's biggest business lobby group, said the TUC's concerns' are ``wildly overdone.''
    ``We welcome the government's commitment to maintaining the freedom of U.K. employees to opt out of the working time directive,'' said John Cridland, deputy director of the CBI. ``People should have the right to say 'no' to long working hours, but they should also have the right to say 'yes.' ''
    [The "right" to say 'no' is irrelevant when they don't have the power to say 'no', and they don't have the power because they're a surplus commodity which should have been reducing worktime per unit (oops, person) all along as automation poured into the economy.]

  4. UK managers running on empty as work overload spirals, Online Recruitment [UK].
    [Most likely, "empty" of scheduling skills since they have so much power over employees in a labor surplus that they can throw their weight around and whine like the Princess and the Pea. Plus anywhere below CEO they too are victims of the creep of the workweek back upward to levels common in 100 and more years ago.]
    UK managers are overworked, put business ahead of family, and work within a negative culture, according to a survey released today by the Chartered Management Institute and Adecco, the global leader in HR solutions. The Business Energy Survey questioned over 1,500 managers and found UK businesses failing to understand the wants and needs of their most important assets and workplace energy dropping dangerously low.
    The Business Energy Survey, conducted in May 2004 assessed the attitudes, motivations and aspirations of 1,500 managers. The key findings were: The report shows that volume of work has adverse effects on employee energy levels. Around one third (35%) admit to having no energy on weekday evenings because of work and 24% of people admit to using the weekend solely to recover from work. However, managers seem [good actors!] happy to work extra hours providing they feel a sense of purpose in their work (61%) and are helped to achieve their goals (56%).
    "This research highlights that energy levels amongst UK managers are dangerously low," said Richard Macmillan, Managing Director of Adecco UK and Ireland. "However, it’s clear that employees are not afraid to work at this level providing their ideas are heard and they can be made to feel valued, empowered and are allowed to work more flexibly. Companies need to sit up and address this before it’s too late."
    Many managers feel that there is a negative management style operating in their organisation with most crying out for open and receptive management but not getting it. 34% believe the prevailing management style is bureaucratic, and 31% believe it is reactive. Despite the time and effort spent by managers in trying to develop effective communications strategies, less than one-third of respondents expressed satisfaction with the communications.
    Mary Chapman, chief executive of the Chartered Management Institute, says: "It’s easy to see why frustrations exist. The pace of change and a desire to reduce costs has had major implications on working patterns in many organisations, but all too often these are not communicated effectively and they take their toll through longer working hours and a drained workforce. Part of the problem lies in senior management believing one thing about morale, when those closer to the coal-face have vastly different experiences. It’s only when people begin to feel a close, and meaningful, involvement with their organisation that they bring energy, enthusiasm and passion to their work. And when that happens the end result is often seen in greater drive, productivity and results."
    The survey shows a real desire from managers to develop new flexible ways of working. The most popular idea is to introduce compressed working weeks (39%) and career breaks (32%). However, despite the enthusiasm for these new flexible benefits only a few people (around 6% and 5% respectively) believe these will ever be brought in by their organisations. "UK businesses need to spend more time talking with their managers and listening to their concerns and new ideas. Many of us may be working into our late 60s and 70s so companies that embrace flexible ways of working are more likely to keep people motivated and enthusiastic about their jobs," adds Chapman.
    Recruitment is clearly a problem for many businesses surveyed. 34% of respondents cited ’difficulty in recruiting the appropriate staff’ as a reason why new working practices had been introduced. Despite the time and effort spent by managers in trying to develop effective communications strategies, less than one-third of respondents expressed satisfaction with the communications.
    "It is no wonder many organisations have trouble finding and keeping the right people given what we’ve found here," said Richard Macmillan. "The atmosphere they are creating inside their businesses is not the positive, proactive, empowering culture where most would aspire to build their careers. By listening to and embracing new ideas companies can retain their best staff and build a reputation that attracts new talent."

  5. Germany puts extra hours into keeping domestic jobs, by Ralph Atkins & Hugh Williamson, Financial Times [UK].
    [This way lies doom.]
    For 4,000 workers making cordless and mobile telephones at two Siemens sites in North Rhine Westphalia, north-west Germany, the choice last week was simple: work 40 hours a week instead of 35 without extra pay, or the electrical engineering group would shift half their jobs to Hungary.
    The deal between Siemens and trade unions is being hailed by some in Germany as a landmark agreement. It showed a willingness by unions to abandon the long-cherished 35-hour week
    [ah, not so long, actually - only started in 1984, we believe - the 40-hour workweek is much older, starting around 1940, and longer workweeks go back indefinitely]
    - once [and still] a symbol of affluence, now viewed by some [who don't "get" technology] as a competitive handicap creating higher labour costs.
    Dieter Hundt, leader of the BDA employers association, says the Siemens example could "help create a new collective bargaining culture".
    Germany's sluggish economy has dragged down eurozone performance in recent years. It emerged from three years of stagnation in the second half of last year, with exports benefiting from the world economic upturn, but there has been little impact on high unemployment.
    Some see an extension of working hours as essential to stopping jobs moving to lower-wage economies.
    The debate in Germany is also being closely watched in France. EADS has indicated that if longer working hours became common in Germany, it could put French plants at a disadvantage.
    Not everyone wants to see the Siemens deal repeated. IG Metall, the powerful engineering trade union, says its agreement with Siemens was a one-off. The company had already moved most of its electronics assembly plants out of Germany, enabling it to "blackmail" staff, says Wolfgang Müller, Siemens specialist at IG Metall.
    Since last week, however, it has become clear that Siemens is unlikely to remain an isolated case. Industry observers believe similar deals are under discussion at Bosch, another electrical engineering group, and at MAN, the truck and engineering conglomerate.
    DaimlerChrysler, the automotive group, said this week it wanted to move more research and planning staff to a 40-hour week.
    Employers in the construction industry, where the latest round of wage negotiations began on Monday, propose lengthening the working week from 39 to 42 hours.
    According to Daniel Gros, director at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), Germany is engaged in "competitive deflation" by curbing wage increases and increasing working hours. He compares the process with France during the franc fort period in the early 1990s, when wage increases were kept below those of Germany and French industry gradually increased its competitiveness. "It takes five or six years," Mr Gros says. "But at the end you have a big gain in market share."
    In its annual macroeconomic report this week, CEPS suggests smaller eurozone economies have performed better recently because they have adapted better to global competitive pressures. In contrast, the debate about reform in larger nations such as Germany had been "almost exclusively conducted in domestic political terms".
    Germany's business leaders and politicians are divided over a longer working week. Martin Kannegiesser, president of Gesamtmetall, the engineering employers organisation that negotiates with IG Metall in wage talks, says there is "no point introducing something across-the-board that many [companies] do not need".
    He points out that the latest industry-wide deal signed with IG Metall made room for company-specific arrangements, which could include reducing the working week to just 30 hours.
    Another argument is that longer hours for the same pay would do nothing to solve Germany's biggest economic challenge: sluggish domestic demand.
    [Bingo! In fact, it would make domestic demand even more sluggish.]
    Peter Bofinger, one of the "wise men" who advises Berlin on economic policy, says that "wage cuts make this problem worse" and "extra working time [with no extra pay] amounts to a wage cut".
    [Correct.]
    The effects of the boom in German exports have not been felt in the high street, and uncertainty about jobs is adding to consumer nervousness and a disinclination to spend. GfK, the market research group, predicts sentiment will improve slightly in July but warns: "It is clear that consumers will scarcely be able to contribute to the overall economic recovery this year."
    But other experts say the domestic demand argument assumes jobs would remain in Germany. Thomas Mayer, Deutsche Bank's chief European economist, says: "The Siemens example shows working 35 hours a week would have meant 2,000 jobs less," and the impact on consumer spending would have been even worse.
    Moreover, Mr Mayer adds, a move towards longer working hours without extra pay in Germany would ease the European Central Bank's worries about high inflation caused by oil prices feeding through to wage settlements.
    Given the fragility of the economy, German politicians and trade unionists would probably find higher interest rates harder to stomach than a longer working week.

  6. Experts: Longer work week already reality, Deutsche Welle [Germany].
    [Note the attempt to spin this as news or new or surprising, when in fact, long workweeks are as old as the hills - they're what real progress is freeing us from, not sinking us back into.]
    While Germans are debating whether to extend the work week to help the country's ailing economy,
    [in fact, by concentrating work on a smaller proportion of the workforce, it would shrink the consumer base, drain social services and further damage the country's ailing economy - which is ailing because current workweeks are not SHORT enough for the nation's rising levels of worksaving technology]
    some experts say many employees already spend almost 40 hours on the job each week.
    [Probably quite true, since labor surplus yields job insecurity which results in nobody wanting to be the first to leave the office at night.]
    When electronics giant Siemens and trade union representatives recently agreed to re-introduce the 40-hour work week at two German plants in return for a two-year job guarantee,
    [OK only if employees are guaranteeing management a 40-hour workweek for only two years]
    some employers and conservative politicians hailed the deal as a way to secure jobs.
    [Ha. They don't know their own workweek history.]
    Union leaders meanwhile vehemently opposed the idea, saying that they had only agreed to the Siemens deal because the company, which had threatened to move 2,000 jobs to Hungary, agreed to invest in German factories.
    Jürgen Peters, the head of Germany's metal workers' union, IG Metall, said that a universal 40-hour work week would serve as the country's "biggest job destruction program since World War II" [quite correct, except that World War II created jobs in America by creating demand for destructible products (and employees)] and denied reports that hundreds of German companies were trying to follow Siemens' lead.
    But longer work weeks have been a topic during the current contract negotiations for 800,000 employees in the construction industry as well as 150,000 people employed by Germany's railway company, Deutsche Bahn.
    Six million unemployed?
    Peters added that unemployment figures would quickly rise should the work week be extended, leaving a total of six million Germans without jobs. Currently, about 4.3 million people are unemployed.
    But experts from the federal agency that handles unemployment said the debate about an extended work week was futile as most Germans de facto work 40 hours. "We're not that bad ['bad' being shorter than 40? - maybe this guy should work for the Federal Management, not Labor, Agency]," Eugen Spitznagel from the Federal Labor Agency's economic research institute, IAB, told Berliner Zeitung.
    While Germany's average work week with 37.7 hours ranked among the shorter ones when compared to other EU countries, most people actually ended up working longer than contractually required, bumping the actual work week to 39.9 hours, Spitznagel said. That puts the country just below the average work week of the 15 old EU countries, which is exactly 40 hours.
    Labor contracts already require Greeks, Poles and Hungarians to work 40 hours per week, while workers in France only have to spend 35 hours on the job.
    A risk of deflation?
    Other economic experts cautioned however that extending the work week could actually harm Germany's economy: The resulting lower hourly wages would dampen consumer spending and lead to decreasing prices. "Should the 40-hour work week become the norm here, we would face a risk of deflation," Peter Bofinger, a member of the government's economic advisory council, told Berliner Zeitung.
    While some companies, such as carmaker BMW, said they planned to look at longer work weeks in certain sectors, others, including Deutsche Post, already have flexible contracts in place that allow work weeks with up to 48 hours.
    At [Deutsche?] Telekom, however, executives said a longer work week was the last thing they needed. "Our problem isn't that we have too much work to do, but rather too little, considering the number of employees," said the company's CEO, Kai-Uwe Ricke, adding that Telekom had recently lowered its average work week to 34 hours.
    [Here's a group of executives with their heads in the present and future, not the past.]

  7. [Bonus - this one's for Jay Griffiths -]
    Clock watching divides workplaces, but time favors neither side, by Jared Sandberg (jared.sandberg(at)wsj.com), WSJ, B1.
    [Not true. Time favors whichever side gets and keeps their worktime in shortage, not surplus, and right now it's definitely employers, not employees.]
    When John Bullard was an hourly worker years ago, time seemed to tick differently than it does now. In one job, he manned a conveyor belt for a food company, watching raisins float by for 8 hours straight and plucking out the ones that were unsuitable for inclusion in the company's fruit bars. The pace was glacial, he says, "akin to watching a mudpuddle evaporate."
    Needless to say, Mr. Bullard kept an eye on the clock and dashed for the door at the end of the day. But not as recklessly as his colleagues at another company, which overhauled engines. Their end-of-the-day stampede actually injured a woman who was unfortunate enough to be behind the exit's doubledoors at precisely 3:30 pm.
    Nowadays, as a salaried engineer-training coordinator, Mr. Bullard feels less governed by time but no less a victim of it: "I never feel there's enough," he says.
    Time may be many things - money, an enemy, a healer, something either saved or wasted - but at work it's never on your side. Employees think it moves too slowly. Managers believe it goes too fast. In general, their different perspectives illustrate the great divide between bosses, who tend to think that presence ["face time"] equals productivity, and workers, who often feel forced to provide proof of their commitment.
    Some well-worn tricks can give the impression you work long hours: These are last-resort tactics, however, and useful only if the boss-departure variable in the time-to-leave equation is a number greater than 6pm: time for me to leave equals X (the time the boss exits the building) plus Y (less than 60 seconds).
    ...Clock watching is often a symptom of being too skilled for the job at hand. "When you're doing something and your skill and the challenge are closely aligned, you lose your sense of time," says Geoff Godbey, professor of leisure studies at Penn State University. But when skill and challenge are out of balance, it's time to look for a new job - time [and job market - increasingly rare] permitting....
    As our economy became more service-based, work became potentially infinite, says Prof. Godbey, pushing the...moment of departure later and later because there was always more to do.
    [Disagree: (1) work was always potentially infinite and there was always "always more to do," but between the 1790s and 1940, labor was focused enough to keep sporadically cutting the workweek and keeping a controlled immigration rate so that we avoided a permanent labor surplus - up until 1940. (2) After 1940, we froze the workweek regardless of inrushing automation, and once the babyboomers hit the job market starting around 1970 (worsened thereafter by the entry of women and by repeated jumps in uncontrolled immigration), we became such a permanent surplus commodity that everyone was insecure and no one wanted to be the first to leave the office at night. Management's position became proportionally stronger, and management's skills proportionally weaker - especially in the scheduling and workload-allocation departments. In short, the increasingly sloppy limits on work are a function of employees' slide into surplus and consequent loss of power.]
    ...According to a survey by the Families & Work Institute...

6/29/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 6/28 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts and [comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
  1. Many firms struggle over 5-day workweek as deadline looms, JoongAng Daily [Korea].
    [Whining employers had the same "struggle" when asked to cut from the 84- to the 72-hour workweek.]
    SOUTH KOREA - On Thursday [July 1, 2004, incidentally Canada Day], companies that employ more than 1,000 people, financial institutions, insurance companies and public firms must adopt the 40-hour workweek system.
    According to the Ministry of Labor, about 1.8 million workers in 8,400 companies and institutes will participate in the reduced working hour system initially. The system will gradually be applied to other companies until 2011.
    Many firms are struggling with unions over the five-day workweek although the starting date is just around the corner. Management and unions have not agreed on detailed enforcement measures, such as a reduction in annual and monthly days off, payment for working on non-working days and special days off for women.
    One of the biggest issues is the adjustment of the number of vacation days. According to the revised Labor Standards Act, companies should abolish the monthly day off and provide fewer than 25 days of annual leave. The number of annual vacation days begins with 15 and increases one day every two years. But this law specifies minimum working conditions, and companies can develop their own systems based on management-labor agreement.
    Management wants to follow the law as it is, while unions want no reduction in working conditions.
    "If management and unions cannot reach an agreement [by Thursday], the working hours will drop to 40 hours a week but the other working conditions, such as annual and monthly days off, will remain as they are [until they reach a compromise]," an official at the labor ministry said.
    There are also some concerns over possible inconvenience in using public services, such as national and public hospitals, subways, the bullet train and electricity, due to their insufficient preparation. Over 280 public institutes must introduce the five-day workweek, but many of them have not set the details yet, as the government and workers disagree on an increase in the workforce.
    But some companies are peacefully introducing the five-day workweek system. The Korea Occupational Safety & Heath Agency decided to provide an option of paid vacation or an overtime allowance when an employee works more than the legal overtime hours.
    Lotte Confectionery Co. decided to abolish a monthly day off, but instead it will increase its financial support for the college tuition of workers' children from the current 80% to 100%, and will increase its lengthy-service allowance.
    Daesang Corp. and Hyundai Development Co. will pay 150% of a worker's wage for overtime, more than the minimum required, since they have a lot of Saturday work.

  2. Call for longer Belgian work week, Expatica [Netherlands].
    BRUSSELS – Belgian workers should be prepared to consider putting in more hours a week if they do not want their jobs to disappear abroad, the country's main business lobby said on Monday.
    According to the Federation of Belgian Enterprises (Fédération d'Entreprises Belgiques? = FEB), Belgium may soon need to extend its statutory working week from 38 to 40 hours.
    ["Need"? Whose "need"? Fatuous CEOs should consider their prior need for consumer markets before they start reconcentrating work and wages on fewer people.]
    The FEB wants the country's trade unions to consider the possibility seriously and points to the case of two German factories belonging to the electronics and construction firm Siemens as evidence of the need to look again at the question of working time.
    [Working time per person should vary inversely with comprehensive unemployment, and continuously, automatically fluctuate downwards as long as unemployment is too high or rising.]
    German unions at the two Siemens plants agreed last week to extend the working week at the factories from 35 to 40 hours in order to prevent the firm relocating 2000 jobs to its operations in Hungary.
    [CEOs intent on this kind of reversal should be barred from the richer consumer markets in the economies they are draining of quality of life.]
    The two German plants employ 4,500 people.
    FEB President Pieter Timmermanns said in an interview with Flemish newspaper De Morgen on Monday that Belgium would soon 'need' [our quotes] to consider similar measures.
    [Does Belgium have zero unemployment that they have no genuine opposite need to spread the vanishing work further by means of a lower, not higher, statutory workweek?]
    At present however Belgian trade unions remain fiercely opposed to any moves to lengthen the statutory working week.
    Under Belgium's current working time rules, anyone working more than 38 hours a week in Belgium should be paid overtime or granted time off in lieu.

6/26-28/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 6/25-27 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #3 which is from the 6/26-28 newspaper hardcopy), and excerpts and [comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
  1. 6/25   Embrace a leisure life - Local activists aim to change U.S. lifestyles, by Sabrina Crawford, San Francisco Examiner.
    USA - It's no great secret that Americans lead very, very busy lives. In fact, a recent report by the International Labor Organization shows that we work more than any other industrialized nation, even the notoriously workaholic Japanese.
    60-, sometimes even 80-hour work weeks, and letting years go by without taking a single vacation, have become accepted. Meanwhile family, friends, travel, relaxation and just plain old-fashioned fun have taken a back seat, finding no space left in the packed Palm Pilot.
    But now, a growing group of advocates of the leisurely life are hoping to change all that.
    Partners in crime and devotees of the leisure movement Kristine Enea and Dean LaTourrette have officially declared today "National Leisure Day." To celebrate, the duo's company, "Leisure Team Productions," will host a free party tonight at the Canvas Gallery in San Francisco.
    [Perhaps we could talk them into aligning National Leisure Day with Take Back Your Time Day on Oct.24 so we get some synergies.]
    "You need leisure to stay a happy, healthy, sane person," said Enea, who co-authored "Time Off! The Unemployed Guide to San Francisco" with LaTourrette.
    [Kind of a confusing message in that title. Is it about financially secure leisure or financially insecure unemployment? Time off is not the same as unemployment.]
    Childhood pals and avid travelers, the duo became true leisure devotees when the dot-com bubble burst - leaving them and many others in the Bay Area exhausted, unemployed and with ample time to ponder their real priorities.
    "When we started researching the book, we realized how bad as a country we really are," LaTourrette said. "We work much harder than any industrial nation, more than Europeans by a long shot."
    Conjuring images of office workers playing hooky, swapping slacks for shorts and reclining with drinks, today's first "official" celebration of National Leisure Day is sure to be light-hearted.
    Some 80% of men and 62% of women work more than 40 hours a week, according to the ILO. Americans work That's why activists like John de Graaf, editor of "Take Back Your Time, Fighting Overwork & Time Poverty in America," supported by a growing number of organizations from labor groups to church councils, are spearheading not just holidays, but full-throttle political campaigns to reign in work hours and increase time off.
    "We work the longest hours; said de Graaf, who established Take Back Your Time Day Oct. 24, the anniversary of the implementation of the 40-hour work week.
    The National Day of Leisure will be tonight [presumably Fri, June 25], 7 p.m.-midnight at the Canvas Gallery, 1200 9th Ave, San Francisco.
    [Ah, a national event in just San Francisco, and a day in just 5 hours? What kind of media did they put together for this? If they'd done a rudimentary websearch and put it on the SWT elist and into our grapevine, we could have publicized it in advance. Gotta work together.]

  2. 6/26   Shorter working hours don't harm EU competitiveness, says MIT professor, Euractive.com.
    USA VS. EUROPE - ...Europeans are just as productive as Americans, but they choose to work fewer hours, argues Prof. Olivier Blanchard.
    [Again the myth of employee choice rather than the reality of considerable labor-movement focus, recently reversed, on shorter worktime.]
    The EU's future competitiveness [in current Race to the Bottom, or Back to the 19th Century] will, however, depend on the success of necessary 'reforms' [our quotes]. ...Living standards [definition??] are 30% lower in the EU than in the US, and this gap has remained unchanged in 30 years.
    [These statements are apparently based on a self-serving US definition of "living standards" which conveniently overlooks ("externalizes") American welfare, disability, homelessness, incarceration, and forced (un)retirement, self-'employment', and (multiple) part-time which is all huge relative to Europe.]
    This seems to confirm many analysts' claims that the Lisbon process [ref?] is ailing and that the EU's economy is doing considerably worse that the American one.
    [Again, a self-serving conclusion on the part of American do-nothing economists.]
    In an exclusive interview with EurActiv, Professor Olivier Blanchard from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has [only partly] challenged this view.
    "These figures are correct," says Blanchard.
    [though the measures themselves are wrong, irrelevant and misleading - as you'd expect from MIT, the great academic agency of some of the most near-sighted of American CEOs - with the noted exception of Noam Chomsky.]
    "However, over the same period, the GDP per hour, i.e. productivity, has increased substantially in the EU, the productivity gap has nearly entirely been made up. The catch-up vis-a-vis the US has been tremendous, with a productivity growth nearly double that of the US."
    The explanation for this is, according to Blanchard, to be found in the number of hours worked per person, which have decreased in the EU since 1970.
    [Interestly, here he says that worktime per person matters (true) and later he says it doesn't.]
    "If you want to caricature the situation, you could say that the Europeans have been much more productive than people in the US, but rather than getting the benefits in the form of higher income [=short term, and longer term, higher labor surplus and lower wages], they have chosen more free time [and lower labor surplus and higher wages, all longer term]," says Blanchard.
    So, should Europeans work more to keep up their competitiveness? Not at all, argues Blanchard. "It is really all down to choice.
    [Blanchard presents the usual CEO smokescreen that employees have choice, regardless of the supply and demand of them; that is, the surplus or shortage of labor hours in the job market. Certainly CEOs have a choice in the current gross global labor surplus, but there's really little employee choice, because, as a surplus commodity, employees have little power - that's why American unions are down to less than 14% of the workforce and now even European unions, like the "giant" IG Metall in Germany, are losing power. Too bad they didn't stay tenaciously focused on their one, long-term, market-harnessing, power issue (shorter hours). Too bad they slipped off onto the short-term, market-bucking issue of higher pay. In short, they "sold their birthright for a mess of pottage." (Genesis 25.)]
    "As individuals, we can [choose to] work the entire week [meaning?] and have a full income, or we can [choose to] work only half the week for half the income.
    [That's nonsense in a tight job market. First, note the insinuation that there's a fixed, unquestionable, set-in-concrete "entire" or "full" workweek that everybody knows about and accepts, presumably of 40 hours, but of course, once you're in this mindset, the "40" figure is just a minimum - regardless of the fact that between 1776 and 1940, the workweek changed from an undefined 80-84 hours a week or more to a defined actually vary not with working hours (or productivity - his next error) but, like every other commodity (except in this "Ptolemaic" economics where "labor is different"), with supply and demand - in this case, with the supply and demand of labor. And of course, by increasing worktime per person instead of decreasing it as technology rolls in, CEOS are increasing the over-supply of labor, and thereby pressuring wages down and under-employment up and consumption down. In short, CEOs are cutting their own consumer markets and their own throats. Their self-immolation is already manifest in the current spate of takeovers and takeover attempts, regardless of hostility (eg: Oracle vs. PeopleSoft) and furious results-restatement and figure-fiddling, regardless of fraud (eg: Enron, Tyco, Global Crossing...).]
    "It [working hours per person] does not matter...for competitiveness or growth..\.. What matters is the productivity. If we are productive in the hours we work, that's absolutely fine...for competitiveness or growth."
    [So Blanchard merely substitutes one simple-minded assumption for another. He says worktime per person doesn't matter for competitiveness and growth but output per person ("productivity") does. However, he doesn't question whether competitiveness and growth are really appropriate goals, rather than very long-term sustainability. He doesn't question the current definitions of competitiveness and growth, which are both arguably self-contradictory and self-undermining. And he neither sees, in the longer term, that worktime per person does matter to wages and consumption, nor that it does matter to economic sustainability. The impact of worktime per person on the very long-term sustainability of economies is overlooked even by most ecological economics, even though its impact is so critical that it could be rightly regarded as the lynchpin, currently missing, between eco-economists' professed goal of sustainability and their chaotic wishlist of ecological goals and policies.]
    However, Blanchard warns that the EU's future productivity is in danger if urgent policy 'reforms' [our quotes] cannot be implemented. "The Lisbon agenda is a list of very nice things, but it lacks backbone [ie: toughness on employee-consumers? = ticket to depression]. It is all over the place," complains Blanchard. According to him, governments should mainly focus on two things: 'reforming' their social security systems and stimulating research cooperation between universities and private companies.
    [Again, the vague invocation of more research and innovation, regardless of the fact that it's the response to innovation (in terms of downsizing instead of timesizing) that's creating all the difficulties for the conventional growthgrowthgrowth mindset.]
    "I think that it is possible to have both high social protection and a productive economy. But many countries in Europe (not all) have very inefficient social systems which kill productivity by increasing costs and complicating the life of firms. In these cases, reforms are needed, for instance in the area of employment protection laws and unemployment benefits," says Blanchard.
    [Though he sounded hopeful at first, Blanchard comes off in the end as hopelessly confused.]

  3. 6/28   Health matters - Work may hold one key to a longer life, by Tara Parker-Pope [encore(at)wsj.com], WSJ, R6.
    ISRAEL - ...While it's long been theorized that those who stay busy in their older years have better health, there has been little research to back it up. And it's never been clear whether older workers fared better because they were working, or whether they were still working because they were healthier to start with.
    But a long-term study of 1,000 men and women born in 1920 is shedding more light on just how much impact work and retirement can have on longevity. The participants all joined the study [in 1990] at the age of 70 and have been followed for the past 14 years by geriatrics researchers from the Hadassah Hospital Mt. Scopius in Jerusalem.
    [Is this 1000-person sample located in Israel, and ifso, is there an unmonitored factor of stress due to Mid-East political turbulence?]
    After crunching the data at the 6-year and 12-year marks, and controlling for individuals' health at the beginning of the study, among other factors, the researchers found that it was work - [that is,] whether a person kept working or retired - that emerged as a major determinant in whether a person was still alive. Among the 1,000 people studied, those who continued to work at the age of 70 and beyond were 2.5 times as likely to be alive at the age of 82 as those who had retired and weren't working at the beginning of the study.
    Chasing the wrong dream [retirement]?
    ...It appears that the longer you continue working, the better. "We are more confident today that if you continue working and postpone your retirement as much as possible, you will be better off," says [Dr.] Yoram Maaravi, lead researcher and a senior physician at the Jerusalem hospital conducting the study.
    "But the majority of people around the world are waiting for retirement - they are dreaming about retirement. It's only the minority who hope to keep on working."
    [This intensifies the "Timesizing Imperative" = share the vanishing work, as an alternative to the prevailing Retirement Imperative = "making room for young people in the job market." Timesizing eliminates two dysfunctional current rigidities:
    1. inflexible ceilings on worklife (65, 70, 60, 62, 55..., whatever) and
    2. the downwardly inflexible ceiling on the workweek.
    Timesizing also eliminates agism by treating infirmity, regardless of age, the same as any other rehabilable disability, and identifying technologically facilitated job design (as for Stephen Hawking) as a future priority.]
    ...Losing a job at an older age [however] can be particularly devastating. ...Yale researchers followed 4,220 workers, aged 51 to 61, for six years, during which time 457 workers lost their jobs. The study, published in May in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, showed that people who are laid off very close to retirement age are nearly three times as likely to suffer a stroke.
    ...Part of the reason may be that older workers have more medical concerns than younger workers, and they often are less likely to find a new job than a younger [person]. "When they do, these positions commonly offer lower wages [common across all ages!] and in some cases, diminished occupational status, loss of seniority and reduced health and pension benefits," says William Gallo, assoc. research scientist and lead author of the Yale study.
    ...An earlier study by the same scientists showed that finding a new job did, on average, protect a worker from further declines in physical health as well as [psychological] depression.
    But for those workers who find themselves miserable in their jobs and can't wait to retire, the Israeli study did offer some hope. It appears that the same level of protection offered by paid work also can be obtained by doing unpaid work - essentially, extensive volunteering that amounts to a regular job.
    [Lucky thing for Phil Hyde and Timesizing.com!]
    The study found that busy volunteer workers were also more likely to be alive than their fully retired counterparts. Whether full-time work or volunteering offered more protection than part-time efforts isn't known.
    But the researchers did control for... ...The data showed that the benefits of working on either a paid or volunteer basis were due to something other than simply keeping busy, higher economic status, or regular interaction with friends or family.
    A need for meaning
    "I think it's more profound, having to do with satisfaction in life, meaning to life," says Dr. Maaravi. "...I think you can control it. If you like working, try to keep working. If you don't like your job, try to find something that is meaningful that keeps you active."
    While many retirees find meaning and purpose in helping to care for grandchildren, additional research shows that may not be the healthiest way to spend the retirement years. In the US, about one in six grandparents have cared for a grandchild for at least six months or more. A continuing study of more than 54,000 nurses showed that retired nurses who cared for grandchildren at least nine hours a week had a 55% increased risk for heart attack, according to the November issue of the American Journal of Public Health.
    While caring for grandchildren can be rewarding, it can also be stressful, noted the researchers, from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. They speculated that the nurses spent so much time caring for grandchildren that they had less time to exercise, get adequate sleep and generally take care of themselves. But notably, it was work that again appeared to offer some protection. Nurses who cared for grandchildren but also continued working had a 30% lower risk [of] heart attack than non-working caregivers.
    ...Says Dr. Maaravi, "If you put ['investment'] effort into finding work that is meaningful, you are gaining life."
    ["For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Matt.6:21=Luke 12:34.
    Original Greek: hopou gar estin ho thèsauros sou, ekei estai kai hè kardia sou.
    Literally: where for is the treasure your, there willbe also the heart your.
    (We didn't take enough Aramaic to reconstruct the real original.)]

  4. 6/25   Siemens secures longer working hours, Deutsche Welle [Germany].
    GERMANY - With Siemens threatening to relocate jobs to eastern Europe, the powerful IG Metall caved-in on a sacred issue: the 35-hour work week. This could be the start of a trend towards longer hours for workers across Germany.
    Everyone agrees that times are tough in Germany. The unemployment rate has hovered stubbornly above the 10% mark for months. An increasing number of companies are slashing jobs and relocating production facilities abroad, where labor costs less and corporate tax rates are lower. It's no wonder the average German worker is worried.
    Siemens, Germany's largest electronics company, issued an announcement in March stating that it would cut some 2,000 jobs at plants in Bocholt and Kamp Lintfort. It threatened to move them to Hungary if unions did not make concessions to help reduce personnel costs.
    In recent years, the industrial giant has shaved 35,000 jobs as part of a plan to cut personnel costs by $30 billion. The latest events in this long saga have been closely followed by workers throughout the country. The situation at Siemens is similar to that at many German companies and the outcome could have far-reaching implications.
    IG Metall agrees to 40-hour week
    On Thursday, IG Metall, the trade union representing Siemens workers, reached an agreement with the company's management. In exchange for a two-year guarantee not to relocate the jobs and a promise to invest an additional E30 million ($36.4 million) in the factories, workers agreed to work an additional five hours a week at no extra pay. This will bump their total number of hours per week up from 35 to 40.
    The decision by IG Metall workers to accept longer hours signals a significant reversal on a previously sacred issue, the 35-hour work week. The limit was a hard-won victory for the powerful union, established after a seven-week strike in 1984.
    Companies have long loathed the 35-hour work week.
    [Nonsense. Plenty of companies loved it, because management could enjoy it too. And plenty of CEOs were smart enough to know that productivity in the technological age does not vary with working hours, but with versatility and creativity.]
    Its abandonment is symbolic of the new realities in Germany.
    Companies, unions struggle with new realities
    German labor costs are the highest in the European Union, a fact that has not escaped the attention of CEO's. Companies need to cut costs, executives say, or they will have no choice but to relocate jobs elsewhere. In March, even Ludwig Georg Bauer, president of the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, recommended that German companies move production to low-wage eastern European countries.
    And despite German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's protests that such a move would be "unpatriotic," neither he nor anyone else has been able to stem the tide. Volkswagen produces numerous models at its Slovak factory, which employs thousands, and is planning to cut 2,500 jobs at its German plant in Wolfsburg.
    So when Siemens managers threatened to do the same, they exercised significant leverage over IG Metall, which knew the risk was all too real.
    The trend towards longer hours
    Now that IG Metall has given in, others are likely to follow suit and spark a trend towards longer hours throughout the country, say many experts. Employees at Germany's national railway Deutsche Bahn, Daimler Chrysler, and civil servants will negotiate new labor contracts this year. The precedent set in the Siemens case will no doubt affect the outcome. The experts are divided on whether that's a good thing.
    "Those who think they can improve the ability of German firms to compete internationally via salary reductions and the seemingly endless extension of the working day will only face the same problem in one or two years," Steffen Lehndorff, a labor expert at the Gelsenkirchen Institute for Work and Technology, told the Berliner Zeitung daily. "It's an endless downward spiral," he added, pointing out that Siemens workers only won a two-year commitment.
    Hagen Lesch, a labor expert at the Cologne Institute for Business Research, sees the outcome in a more positive light. "I hope it's the start of a trend," Lesch told DW-WORLD. "Of course, it's a good thing if it secures jobs in Germany. Extending the length of the working week is an excellent tool to sink the cost of production in Germany - and ensure that German firms can compete internationally."
    [Nonsense. It just increases employee fatigue, and resentment, and featherbedding, and resistance to further innovation in terms of automation, mechanization and robotization. It's going backwards, enslaving people more instead of getting the promise of technology to free them more.]
    In contrast to Lehndorff, Lesch believes Siemens workers will not find themselves in the same position in two years time, since the company has also agreed to invest substantial sums in the two German factories. This makes it less likely they will leave it all behind to then have to invest in new facilities in eastern Europe.

  5. 6/27   Parents' long working hours costing kids: Kiro, stuff.co.nz.
    [Arguments for shorter hours on the narrow rationale of helping parents and facilitating reproduction (rather than for everyone for many, many reasons) conflict with ecological goals of countering unquestioned, uncontrolled, environment-disregarding and unsustainable population growth. Then there's the class system this approach sets up, either coddling parents and evoking resentment, or sidelining parents and prejudicing their careers. Plus there's the need to share all endangered employment, not just parents' endangered employment, since under current downsizing-type capitalism all innovation is met with downsizing, not just innovation in skill areas of people who happen to have kids.]
    NEW ZEALAND - The Children's Commissioner has warned that New Zealand children are not receiving enough quality time in the family environment because parents are working longer hours.
    Cindy Kiro addressed the New Zealand Kindergartens Inc. national conference and annual general meeting on Saturday in Nelson, NZ. She told delegates families were the "best place for children to grow up". But New Zealanders worked some of the longest hours in the western world and children were missing out on beneficial development time with parents.
    The Government needed to implement family-friendly work policies to ensure children received enough parenting time, as was their right under the United Nations convention on the rights of the child, she said.
    Dr Kiro supported moves by the Government to increase access to childcare services for working parents and to provide more early childhood education. But she warned that such moves could also reduce the amount of dedicated time parents spent with their children in the home....

6/25/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 6/24 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #1 which is from the 6/25 newspaper hardcopy), and excerpts and [comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
  1. Want amid plenty - an Indian paradox: bumper harvests and rising hunger - the world has enough food, but the poor can't afford it, by Roger Thurow & Jay Solomon, WSJ, front page.
    [So the problem is poverty, not hunger. Compare, "the nation had enough money in the Depression, but the poor couldn't get it." So the problem is not low quantity, but maldistribution. Compare, "the nation has enough employment, but too few jobs." The problem is almost never insufficiency. Just an overwhelming of the centrifugal forces on money or whatever by the centripetal forces. In a word, misallocation and maldistribution. And the easiest place to start in balancing the centrifugal and centripetal forces in economics is time, not money; employment, not income or wealth - because in rebalancing worktime, you're not creating dependency as in jumping to money balancing, and you're not fighting as much resentment from A when you take work away from him/her to give to B as when you take money. For many, free time is its own reward.]

  2. Siemens and unions strike deal, AP & Reuters via IHT staff via International Herald Tribune via Bloomberg.
    Plan to transfer jobs to Hungary is halted
    [But for how long, since labor thus has even less power and focus than before?]
    Siemens, Germany's largest electronics company, said Thursday it had halted plans to shed 2,000 jobs in Germany and build a new factory in Hungary after labor unions agreed to longer working hours.
    [Thus making labor unions completely and totally useless.]
    The two-year agreement with the IG Metall union specifies that workers at the company's Bocholt and Kamp-Lintfort facilities must work an average of 1,760 hours a year measured over the two-year period. That amounts to an average 40-hour week, and permits the company to gear up when there is more work and have people work less when business is slow.
    [The flexibility is fine, but the baseline of the 40-hour week is 60 years out-of-synch with current levels of technology.]
    "The solution for Kamp-Lintfort and Bocholt is a triumph of reason," said Heinrich von Pierer, Siemens's chief executive.
    [Ha. A workweek level suited to 1940 levels of automation at the dawn of the Third Millennium? On the contrary, it's a triumph of management near-sightedness and incompetence.]
    Von Pierer has said the facilities must cut costs or see jobs move east. "Our employee representatives, IG Metall and our company management have shown that there are realistic ways to counteract job cuts in Germany."
    [Not for long. This degree of employment concentration guarantees that lots of people are excluded from participation in the workforce, and consumer demand is flaccid compared to its potential under worksharing-enabled full employment.]
    The agreement takes effect July 1 and guarantees the jobs of the covered workers at the two plants - more than 4,000 in all - who assemble mobile and cordless phones.
    [For how long?]
    The deal also replaces the Christmas and summer vacation bonuses with a single sum tied to performance, the company said.
    "We can't say we're happy with the results," said Wolfgang Nettelstroth, an IG Metall labor union spokesman for the North Rhine-Westphalia region, where the two Siemens plants are located. "The workers may still lose their jobs after two years."
    [Bingo.]
    Wages in Hungary are 30% lower than in Germany, Siemens has said. A worker in Berlin earns E2,700 a month, or $3,300, compared with E500 a month in neighboring Poland, the company said.
    . IG Metall has been reluctant to give up the 35-hour week, which it won through a seven-week strike campaign in 1984.
    But workers at the shop floor level have been more willing to make concessions given Germany's chronically high unemployment rate, which was 10.3% in May.
    [Chronically high because there's too little of the workforce on the 35-hour week and the 35-hour week is too high for current levels of German technology.]
    . German labor costs, the highest in the European Union, are prompting companies to relocate production to markets including Eastern Europe, India and China.
    Siemens, one of Germany's biggest employers, is looking for ways to cut $30 billion in personnel costs and has eliminated more than 35,000 jobs in the past three years.
    [That's 35,000 fewer confident consumers, many of them now poverty-enforced absolute-minimum consumers. Brilliant, Siemens! Too further concentrate the national income in your own already bulging, upper-bracket pockets, where it's wasted, you have guaranteed that the foundational consumer base supporting all this superfluity is weakened and diminished.]
    "We have to bring down costs and we have to grow," Von Pierer said Thursday. "I'm content with the results."
    [Von Pierer is fit only to be a truffle digger.]
    Siemens, with a domestic staff of 167,000, has said it cannot sustain production of some telecommunications equipment in Germany as prices drop. The wage accord will save E5 for every phone made at the two factories. In the second fiscal quarter through March, Siemens earned just E1 in profit for every phone sold.
    In a separate announcement, Von Pierer said Siemens expected rising mobile phone sales this quarter and next, fueled by the introduction of new models.
    "We expect significantly improved sales this quarter and next," Von Pierer said. The company's fiscal year ends in September.
    Siemens plans to introduce about 30 new mobile phone models this year. The mobile telecommunications division, which includes phones and network equipment, is Siemens's largest by revenue.
    Siemens is counting on demand for phones and other telecommunications equipment to make up for slowing sales of turbines and expenses related to faulty transportation equipment.

6/24/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 6/23 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #1 which is from the 6/24 newspaper hardcopy), and excerpts and [comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
  1. [Kerry should be pushing for shorter maximum hours, not higher minimum wages.]
    The wages of politics, editorial, WSJ, A14.
    John Kerry says he wants to raise the minimum wage to $7 an hour from $5.15....
    [which would fly in the face of market forces which are downpricing a surplus commodity, labor hours in the job market as worksaving technology pours in.]
    and his proposal has us thinking: Why stop there? Why not $10 an hour, or $20, or for that matter whatever a US Senator makes?
    [This addresses the arbitrary guesswork of the $7 figure. Kerry should at least be trying to base it on something in the economy, for example, making it a%age of average CEO compensation in the Fortune 1000 - which presumably would obviate indexing it to inflation.]
    ...Wage floors...tend to price certain kinds of labor out of the job market. Businesses hire and pay workers what they think their skills are worth relative to other ways they can spend their capital [BUT PRIMARILY relative to the supply, if any, of other workers who are willing to sell their skills for less - and in a labor surplus, there is a plentiful supply of such workers].
    Force the price of labor too high, and suddenly businesses hire fewer workers, especially those at the lower rungs of the skill ladder....
    [Note accompanying chart -]
    Priced out of jobs
    The minimum wage keeps unemployment high among those with few skills and little experience.
    US unemployment [overall] 5.6% [Then for some reason, the chart gives the French (9.4%) and German (9.8%) unemployment rates, which are less diluted and rosied-up than the official US rate and therefore not comparable.]
    [What's the way out of this dilemma? Don't set a higher minimum wage, set a lower maximum workweek. Of the two traditional goals of American labor, higher pay and shorter hours, if you can just get one and it's higher pay, you wind up with neither, because you're bucking market forces and doing nothing about the pervasive labor surplus that market forces are responding to by lowering wages in the first place. However, if you can just get one of those goals and it's shorter hours, you wind up with both, because you're creating a perceived labor shortage that market forces respond to by raising wages.]

  2. {The backward French finance minister, Sarkozy, is in full flight, attacking the French exception (35-hour workweek) despite avowed nationalism.]
    Scrap 35-hour week, Sarkozy says, BBC News [UK].
    [That's odd. This guy says he's a nationalist, but he's attacking the thing that France is famous for all over the world, the one area that France has undisputed world leadership on, and the aspect of French culture that has the best claim to being the lauded 'exception française.']
    The 35-hour week is putting a huge strain on the French economy, Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy has said.
    In an interview with newspapers Les Echos and the FT, Mr Sarkozy blamed tight restrictions [ie: reasonable, automation-age limits] on working hours for France's budgetary problems.
    The policy directly costs the French Government and firms 16bn euros (£10.6bn; $19bn) a year, Mr Sarkozy said. And by restricting companies, the rule has left the French economy far less flexible than its competitors. "We simply have to accept that those who want to work longer to earn more should be allowed to do it," he said.
    [In other words, the old seduction of "wages vary with working hours" = work longer and you get more, never mind you're worsening the labor surplus and excluding more people who are then willing to do your job for less. Wages (labor price) actually vary with supply and demand of labor, like every other commodity. They do not vary with labor hours or with productivity. In fact, they vary inversely with labor hours and productivity because the more worktime and output per person, the faster consumer demand is satisfied and the lower the demand for labor - and therefore the price of labor (wages).]
    Trimming the fat
    [Nice sound byte, except when the "fat" is employees, the "fat" is also consumers and their families, dba MARKETS. Lay off that kind of "fat" and you're cutting your own markets. Somehow Sarkozy and his ilk never seem to be able to connect the dots here, obvious though they be to many of us.]
    Mr Sarkozy, who makes no secret of his presidential ambitions, used the interview to lay out his economic and political manifesto.
    His most urgent problem is French state finances, which are currently in breach of eurozone criteria after repeated failures to curb spending.
    Mr Sarkozy gave no immediate counter-proposal for working-time rules, but reiterated his commitment to trimming budgetary fat. In particular, he said it should be possible to force people to pay more for healthcare.
    [Another proposal for de-optimizing the allocation of the national income by pushing more of it into the top brackets where it's spending gets dramatically slowed down, with economy-shrinking, tax-revenue shrinking consequences.]
    The government is considering introducing a flat excess payment, under which patients pay part of the cost of treatment up to a certain limit.
    He also strayed into foreign policy, arguing that France had recently become too exclusively friendly to Germany.
    [Yeah yeah, let's have another Franco-Prussian War! Where do they get these troglodytes?]
    Mr Sarkozy, keen to portray himself as a champion of French nationalism, recently annoyed the Germans by bailing out engineering company Alstom, the target of takeover interest from German firms.
    [There's the real source of his budget problems - how many billions did that little piece of welfare-for-the-rich push the budget deeper into the red?]

  3. Germany plans to extend working hours for [ie: of, or even, against] civil servants, Bloomberg.com.
    [Note the subtle word-selection selling, in the English version(!), of this backward plan.]
    German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's cabinet is planning to extend [ie: increase] weekly working hours for federal government-employed civil servants to ease pressure on a budget strained by dwindling tax receipts and rising welfare costs.
    Interior Minister Otto Schily, 71, will scrap a 14-year-old regulation governing hours for 300,000 federal government staff.
    [Note attempt to spin hours regulation as old-fashioned, when in fact, re-raising working hours is pushing us backward in time, excluding more people from the workforce, and raising government budgets if they plan to maintain unemployment benefits at current levels, and if they don't, they clobber their own domestic consumer demand and destabilize their own economies with severe poverty creation. Speaking of old-fashioned, Schily is 71. We usually censor all agism in these articles, unless it's age-at-death or germane to the statistics like teen unemployment, but in this case there is considerable self-contradiction in a septagenarian's attack on a teenage regulation as old-fashioned. Schily seems to be saying, "Long working hours were good enough for me when I was a young man and dammit, they're good enough for you today!" or worse, a la misery-loves-company: "I suffered long working hours and everyone else should damn well suffer them too!" - never mind how much more worksaving technology we have today, or how much we might need current levels of consumer demand on which to base all the rest of the economy.]
    The decision, yet to be formally endorsed by the cabinet, will extend the working week to 40 hours from 38 1/2 hours. ``Over the longer term, we're aiming to cut positions by limiting new hiring,'' Schroeder's spokesman, Bela Anda, told a regular government press conference in Berlin.
    Germany's budget deficit, about half of which stems from federal government funding shortfalls, has exceeded European Union limits for three years. Almost half of Finance Minister Hans Eichel's 258 billion-euro ($312 billion) draft 2005 budget, published today, is assigned to debt servicing and pension costs.
    Schily's plan, which doesn't need parliamentary approval [why not??], follows a decision in March by Germany's TdL public sector employers' group that scrapped agreements governing weekly hours for civil servants employed by the 16 regional governments.
    The southern state of Bavaria has since raised weekly working hours for government staff to 42 from 40.
    [We ask the same question here as the Wall St.Journal correctly asked about minimum wage in the story above. Why stop at 42? Why not go back to the 1920s' 44-hour workweek maximum, or the 19-teens' 48-hour maximum, or the 19-aughts' 54-hour maximum (six 9-hour days). Hell, why not abolish any workweek ceiling at all and go back to the 168-hour maximum workweek of slavery. Then see how long your consumer markets last as you concentrate the national income even more astronomically in the top brackets.]
    Personnel costs account for 41% of all state spending, the TdL said.

6/23/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 6/22 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts and [comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
  1. Disappointment at Budget's disincentive to work [overtime], press release by Employers & Manufacturers Association, scoop.co.nz.
    WELLINGTON, New Zealand - The Prime Minister effectively acknowledged in Parliament yesterday that the Budget offers a disincentive to middle-income earners to work overtime and the like, and that is very disappointing, the Employers and Manufacturers Association (Northern) says.
    [A clearly designed disincentive against all kinds and conditions of overtime is vital to preserving and growing any national consumer base.]
    "The Prime Minister told Parliament yesterday that middle-income earners are just as well off on money obtained through the tax system as on money earned from working [overtime]," said Alasdair Thompson, EMA's chief executive.
    [It's unclear why or how NZ's tax system gets involved in compensating people for not working overtime.]
    "This unfortunate remark is not the type of signal business wants to hear as they desperately stretch to meet labour and skills shortages.
    [Under Timesizing, if the unemployment rate, as defined by referendum, gets too low, as defined by referendum, the workweek can adjust upwards and lengthen. Otherwise, it stays down and employers, subject to market forces, have to bid against one another and raise wages to get good employees. The result is wartime prosperity without the war, as money centrifuges out of the concentration in the top income brackets and gets out to the people who immediately spend it. Employers typically squeal blue murder while this salutary process is happening, but are much better off afterwards.]
    "In an answer to a question, the PM said people are just as well off on money coming into their pockets through the targeted tax rates announced in the Budget as from working overtime.
    [Huh? How can money come into people's pockets from taxes? And what does it have to do with overtime?]
    "The response underscored the Budget's focus of wealth redistribution.
    "The signal bodes ill for New Zealanders' ambitions for a higher standard of living since redistributing the nation's income won't build a better education system or provide more health services."
    [It sure as hell will! Centrifuging concentrated income and wealth and getting it out to the people who immediately spend it instead of hoarding it creates wartime levels of monetary circulation and effective demand. The rising tide lifts all boats, including employers', and provides a lot stronger tax base to finance better education and health services. Read your economics of marginalism! As money concentrates, it gets more sluggish and less dynamic and useful. As money centrifuges, it gets more active and faster moving. Or as Will Rogers put it, "Money's like manure: it's no good unless it's spread around."]

6/22/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 6/21 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #2 which is from the 6/22 newspaper hardcopy), and excerpts and [comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
  1. Ministry wants employers to pay part-timers extra for overtime, Asahi Shimbun, [Japan].
    JAPAN - The labor ministry is pushing for legislation that would require employers to pay part-time workers extra for overtime work.
    [An interesting development in that it pushes overtime pay down the workweek. However, it's still rather a complicating tangent when "full-time" needs to be redefined downward in response to the comprehensive unemployment rate, and when overtime needs to be redesigned to stop sending the double message of somewhat discouraging employers (having to pay extra) while somewhat encouraging employees (getting to receive extra freely spendable pay). In our design, both employers and employees are discouraged from overtime unless it's completely voluntary and only involves deflationarily motivated employees who love their job and want to share their skills and beef up their CV with 'supervisor'.]
    The move is designed to free up more time for part-timers to attend to their personal affairs, including the tending of children and the serving of local communities.
    The Ministry of Health, Labor & Welfare plans to submit a bill, known as the ``bill for harmony between work and life,'' to next year's regular Diet session to start in January, officials said.
    The core of the new bill is based on ideas currently being discussed by a ministry advisory panel. The panel is scheduled to nail down the details in a report by the end of June.
    The draft bill will then be debated at the Labor Policy Council before the ministry finalizes it into a bill by the end of the year.
    A backlash from restaurant operators and retailers, which rely heavily on part-time workers, is expected.
    Current laws require that extra compensation be paid only when the work exceeds 40 hours per week. The ministry intends to expand the scope to include any amount of work that exceeds the hours defined in the employee's contract.
    There are an estimated 10 million part-time workers nationwide, but few work more than 40 hours.
    [Ah, wouldn't 40 make them full-time?]
    A number of the proposed measures will apply to all workers. Employers, for example, will be called on during the hiring process to clarify whether prospective employees will be required to work overtime, and if so, how often they will be asked to do so. If they choose not to pay the extra overtime rates, employers will be required to offer days off in lieu. Employers would also be obliged to have clearly defined procedures for asking workers to put in overtime hours.
    To enable the growing number of researchers at start-ups who prefer to work long hours over a concentrated period of time to continue to do so, the ministry plans to call for the introduction of systems in which workers can choose hours freely, without a limit being set on daily working hours.
    [There's a real step backward. This should only be possible for employees who reinvest their overtime earnings in overtime-targeted training and hiring.]
    Instead, the ministry is considering a number of measures to prevent overwork, including how to prevent employers from forcing workers to work long hours without their prior consent.
    For the benefit of those wishing to work at home in order to tend to young children or family members in need of care, the ministry is considering calling on businesses to adopt the so-called presupposed working hours system, in which compensation for work put in at home is paid based on predetermined hours.
    The ministry also wants to call on businesses to close the gap between treatment of permanent employees and those working limited hours or on term-limited contracts.

  2. [Here's an approach the Wall Street Journal toys with that Timesizing could well benefit by -]
    Manager's journal - Go ahead, take a risk, by Managing Dir. Adrian Slywotzky of Mercer Management Consulting, WSJ, B2.
    What are the risks you should be taking but aren't?
    Most managers treat risk as an unwanted byproduct of the business. They think narrowly of financial, operating, and hazard risks, such as currency fluctuations, employee fraud, and earthquakes....
    [On the face of it, worrying about employee fraud is "thinking narrowly" but worrying about currency fluctuations and earthquakes is pretty comprehensive thinking. How about we recast the paradigm and the sentence to -
    They think narrowly of fashionable (last 50 years) risks, such as hazard, operating and financial risks (and we would include as a financial risk "strategic-risk events" like stock market collapse that Adrian makes so much of), instead of thinking more comprehensively of completely neglected risks, such as contributing to cumulative economywide downsizing that has passed the point of market absorbability and set the economy on a long-term downward spiral of consumer demand.
    The main countermeasure that can address this unfashionable, "let's not even think about it" strategic risk is to replace downsizing with timesizing, and by preserving your workforce, preserve your own and your customers' customers.]

6/19-21/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 6/18-20 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #1 and ##3-6 which are from the 6/19-21 newspaper hardcopy), and excerpts and [comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
  1. 6/20   'Summer hours' offers workers a breather and helps firms keep morale high, by Maggie Jackson, Boston Globe, J1.
    ...An increasing number of employers are offering "summer hours" - a part time or reduced schedule that often includes bonus Fridays off. The low-cost or no-cost perk keeps burnout at bay and morale high in an era of long hours and scant raises. It also fits in with Americans' continued propensity ["propensity"? we're dignifying this with Keynes-speak?] to take frequent but short vacations.... There's a great variety of such programs but most fall into two main categories: you must work for your time off, or it's a "freebie"..\..
    1. "It's great for recruiting, but it has more of an impact on retention," says Susan Glover, director of HR at Waltham MA's Bentley College, which has offered the benefit for more than a decade. "Once you experienced that benefit, it would be very hard to leave."...
      At Bentley, staff work a 9½-hour day Monday through Thursday to earn Fridays off, this summer from May 17 to Aug. 20. "It's a long day but it's definitely worth it," says Glover, who spends her extra days with her two children, ages three and six.
      Not everyone at Bentley can take part. The computer operations, campus police, and facilities departments remain staffed on Fridays, and some areas of the college - such as undergraduate admissions - have a skeletal staff. Faculty don't participate, as they scatter during summer. In total, about 60% of the college's 1000 employees use the program. "I'm sure it cuts down on phony sick calls," says Glover....
      And for employers, summer hours are a bargain because at least some segments of the workforce tend to stay productive - even at the beach [argggh, cellphone alert]. ...Glover, for instance, checks her voicemail and email on summer Fridays from home [pathetic]. Some client-oriented firms mandate that employees leave a cellphone number on their extra days off. "With the technology today," says Glover, "they can always find you." [= even more pathetic.]
    2. Assemblyline workers at Lasertone, a toner cartridge recycler in Littleton MA, get summer Fridays off with pay [starting in June] if they meet a series of production goals the month before.
      So alluring is the opportunity that the company's 2 dozen manufacturing workers have only missed the mark twice in the four years they've had the program.
      ["Only"? That's 50% of the time!]
      This year, they [did meet the] goals, including a 5% boost in production without a drop in quality. ...On her first Friday off..\..Eloina Faria, a Brazilian-born [production] worker whose husband works [at Lasertone] as well...went to the beach with her husband and their 13-year-old daughter.
    3. Bosses realize that in an age of cost-cutting, summer hours are an easy morale booster, says Jim Barbagallo, a partner at Porter Novelli, a PR firm that offers about 6 bonus vacation days to each employee during the summer at its 12 offices nationwide. "We shoo people out," says Barbagallo. "It's important that folks get a breather."
    Improvements in the economy are inspiring nearly 33% of workers to take more time off this year, according to a survey by the American Management Assoc.  About 17% say they will take fewer days, and the remaining 50% will take the same days off as last year, the survey of 335 firms found.
    [Big deal. The AMA's surveys are understandably suspect.]
    This year, about 60% of all vacations lasted 4 nights or less, says travel consultants Yesawich Pepperdine Brown & Russell. That propensity to take short breaks makes summer hours all the more popular....

  2. 6/20   Hey, America, you need a vacation, by Diane Barnet, Christian Science Monitor.
    ARLINGTON, Tex. – As summer beckons, millions of Americans will hit the road on their annual vacations. But for how long?
    A week? Two? Is this long enough to decompress from 50 weeks of 24/7 activity? Compared with our European counterparts, Americans' annual vacations are meager indeed.
    In Germany, even the lowest-rung factory worker gets 30 days' paid vacation on average (or 24 days by law.) In France the norm is five to six weeks. Australians get 30 days paid vacation by law and take 25 days on average. Yet these countries maintain high rates of productivity. Could it be that their employees work more effectively and are less stressed due to a saner balance between work and personal life?
    We Americans are among the hardest-working people in the industrialized world, but dealing with work and home takes a toll on our physical and mental health. We juggle long work weeks with commuting and civic activities. Families rarely sit down to dinner together. Children are overscheduled. It often takes two incomes to pay the mortgage on a house and achieve ever higher material standards of living. We seem condemned to a relentless treadmill.
    Why are we so work-obsessed? One hundred years ago, sociologist Max Weber's "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism" defined work as the driving engine of capitalism, but stated it could also be an iron cage trapping us in all-consuming labor. Weber theorized that the Puritans distrusted leisure and saw work as a means to glorify God and keep human beings out of trouble. Today, money rather than divine inspiration motivates us, but our Puritan heritage remains a strong influence.
    Under current federal law, Americans actually have no right to vacations. While it is true that most employers have some sort of vacation policy, at least for salaried - as opposed to hourly - workers, annual vacations average a week or two for most of us with little negotiation permitted as to when we may take them. Downsizing, weakened unions, and outsourcing have reduced vacation time from what was given in the 1950s and 1960s.
    Nor is there a paid-leave structure of any kind in the US as there is in the European Union, Australia, Canada, and Japan. The Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 provides up to 12 weeks' leave in any 12-month period, but it is unpaid leave meant to be used for medical emergencies.
    All work and no play is counterproductive. We humans need downtime to recharge our batteries, define our priorities, and just relax. There is nothing wrong with doing nothing. In his book "Work To Live," Joe Robinson makes a powerful case for less work and more play, rather than living exclusively for work. He argues that we need a minimum paid-leave law for the same reason that Congress passed tough new accounting and executive compensation laws in 2002 in the wake of corporate scandals - because a completely unregulated market is a potential disaster for employees.
    We workaholic Americans need time off for rest and repair, to focus on family life, and to distance ourselves from work problems. As a start, we can express support for minimum annual paid leave to the chairmen of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions and to his counterpart in the House of Representatives, as well as to each member of these committees.
    There's more to life than noses and grindstones. It's all about balance.

  3. 6/19   Tests for hundreds in TB death of Va. nurse, by Sonja Barisic, AP via Boston Globe, A3.
    [You can sort of understand the need to test thousands of restaurant customers of Arlington MA Friendly's who have recently come in contact with a waitress with highly infectious Hepatitis A, but someone in the healthcare area who coughed for six months on the job and then DIED??? This is a another indictment of forced workaholism and bad management in American "health" care. Physicians, heal yourselves!!!]
    NORFOLK, Va. - ...A federal health official [Dr. Kenneth Castro, director of TB elimination division for Ctrs for Disease Control & Prevention in Atlanta] called it shameful that anyone should die of TB, a curable disease. In the US, fewer than 1000 people die of tuberculosis [TB] each year.
    Yet the nurse at Chesapeake General Hospital remained undiagnosed and untreated "until it was in a very late stage," said Dr. Nancy Welch, health director in Chesapeake, a community near Norfolk.... Welch said it is unknown how the nurse caught TB.
    The nurse had been coughing since October, but continued to work at Chesapeake General Hospital until April, officials said....
    [This is our first definite and most concrete example of the dangerous direction American healthcare has descended into in the last 50 years, with ever sillier bottlenecking of access to medical skills and ever worse scheduling and shift management skills of pompous senior physicians and hospital administrators. The whole culture of American medical care is profoundly sick, and is setting a self-destructive example for the whole of American management and work culture. "I'm overworked, ergo I'm important." Yeah, and unbalanced and dangerous to the point of suicidal and murderous. ENOUGH already!!! Grow up, American physicians! You're acting like spoiled-baby brats with a precious, self-martyring, work-life balance-draining kind of anorexia nervosa. And where is the insulated, pampered and overpaid CEO on this issue?]
    Donald Buckley, the hospital's president and CEO, would not comment specifically on the case but said hospital employees are encouraged not to work when they are sick.
    [Ha! He and his ilk have seen to it that American hospitals are so understaffed to pay his bloated salary that pressures are constant and pervasive to come to work regardless.]
    "Employees have to accept responsibility for their own health, especially if they are healthcare workers," Buckley said....
    [This victim-blaming buck-passer should be tried and hanged for murder. HE'S getting the big bucks. HE'S the one who's set the workworkwork culture of the hospital.]
    Health and hospital officials refuse to identify the nurse, citing privacy laws [read "coverup"], but the Virginian-Pilot newspaper identified her Thursday as Deborah Byrd Chrysostomides, 52, of Virginia Beach. She died last Saturday at a Norfolk medical center....
    TB is highly treatable and is not casually spread.... TB has an incubation period of months or even years; it can be spread only when it is an active case.

  4. 6/21   Chicago Sun-Times officials..., news pointer (to B3), WSJ, front page.
    ...used various methods to inflate circulation. The disclosure follows reported discrepancies at Newsday.
    [And all kinds of other corporate figure-fiddling. Why? Shrinking markets, because shrinking consumers, because shrinking employees, because shrinking jobs, because wave after wave of mechanization, automation and robotization against a frozen 1940-level workweek. Alternative? Stage I: adjust the corporate workweek downward with revenues and keep your workforce who are your, and your customers', customers. Stage II: adjust the nation's workweek downward as comprehensive unemployment moves upward and keep the nation's workforce which is the nation's consumer base. The nation's consumer markets are the basis of its industrial markets and job markets and financial markets, contrary to investors' illusion that the financial markets are the basis of all the other markets. Note we don't talk about the "financier base," just the consumer base.]

  5. 6/20   Global shifts raising issues of income equality - 'The distribution of income and wealth is more unequal than ever': Mark Zandi, chief economist at Economy.com, by Robert Gavin [rgavin(at)globe.com], Boston Globe, front page, flagged by Frank Breen of Maryknoll Community of Walpole MA.
    ...The benefits of economic growth are increasingly concentrating in the upper reaches of the income scale, according to Northeastern University's Center for Labor Market Studies. Over the last decade in...the United States...only the best paid workers [ie: top executives] expanded their share of total earnings, and much of that came at the expense of middle-income workers. Northeastern's analysis was based on Census Bureau data on full-time employed people, 20-64 years old.
    By the end of the 1990s, the highest-paid 20% of workers had increased its share of the nation's earnings to 48% from 44% at the end of the 80s. The middle 40%, meanwhile, saw its share fall to 30% from 32%....
    This erosion of what Andrew Sum, the Northeastern center's director, calls the "rich middle" is largely caused by the loss of manufacturing jobs, which, for more than a half century, boosted workers...to the middle class. Since 1990, when income inequality began to accelerate, the US has lost 20% of its manufacturing jobs....
    [And now the job loss has started on service jobs, thanks to an invisible major in automation and robotics and a visible minor in offshore outsourcing, and it's working its way up the wage scale - we begin to get some action when its reaches the foothills of the executive suite.]
    ...Globalization and technology continue to restructure the labor force.
    [Let's quit beating around the bush. Technology and globalization (meaning uncontrolled job exports {outsourcing jobs to automata and to cheaper foreign labor} and product&service imports, immigrants and births) are reducing the labor force and the consumer base. This way lies chronic depression on Third World levels.]
    The government is trying to help workers make the transition from old- to new-economy jobs.
    [Don't bother. No jobs are safe. The only jobs that can't be outsourced offshore are jobs that are "nailed down" by local ties, such as janitors of apartment buildings. All skill levels are getting outsourced, and the only skills that can't be automated and computerized are those which are completely non-routine. And government's efforts to help are a drop in the bucket. Government got distracted from effective worksharing in 1941 to military makework. Today's military makework isn't keeping up with the surplusing of labor - hasn't since around 1970 when the postwar babyboomers hit the job market. Then the labor surplus was worsened by housewives starting to enter the job market around 1980 and unprecedented numbers of immigrants starting around 1990. Today there is a timesizing imperative. We must switch from makework to sharework, from straining for sufficient artificial job creation to simply sharing the vanishing market-demanded employment, however low the workweek level that requires. Won't wages collapse? No, because wages vary with supply and demand, not working hours (regardless of productivity) or productivity (regardless of marketability). We cut the workweek in half between 1776 and 1940 (from over 80 hours to 40) and wages doubled and tripled because we avoided Third World levels of labor surplus. We passed a 30-hour workweek through the US Senate in 1933 and a 44-hour workweek through both Houses in 1938, reducing it to 42 in 1939 and 40 in 1940, achieving a 1% drop in unemployment for each of the four hours cut from the workweek (17.2% to 9.9% amplified by Lend Lease) just as France achieved between 1997 and 2001 (12.6% to 8.6%). To save our consumer base, we must go back to fluctuating adjustment of the workweek against comprehensive unemployment, alias Timesizing. You can't attack the income gap directly first without creating dependency. You must attack the employment gap first, not only because you're making self-supporting work easier and better paid as labor hours move away from an oversupply condition, but also because it's easier to take something away from A to give to B when it's work and not money.]

  6. [How are we going to do this? Here are some ideas from America's beginnings -]
    6/20   'Rebels and Redcoats' has a revolutionary take of American independence - Historian tells the British side - On [PBS'] WGBH, Channel 2, June 23 and 30, 9-11 pm, by Scott Alarik, Boston Globe, N4.
    ...When the story focuses on how the war was fought, however, Washington's stock rises \despite\ his checkered military credentials. ...Even when he could not outfight the British, he consistently out-thought them. From the beginning, Washington understood this would be a new kind of war.... He brilliantly used retreat as a positive military tactic, not merely to protect his army, but to shift and control the theater of operations, so that...he could "accept battle only on his own terms."
    The superior British army won victory after victory, only to lose entire campaigns with a single defeat. Washington lost battle after battle, but even his smallest triumphs brought great rewards. His 1777 victory at Trenton NJ gained his army precious supplies, time to rest and train, and the beginning of military shipments from [monarchical, aristocratic] France.
    Washington understood that he did not need to win, he merely needed to not lose.
    [Compare the position of the Vietnamese vs. US, the Palestinians vs. Israel, and the Iraqis vs. US.]
    Nathanael Greene, perhaps his ablest general, says, "We never have to win a battle to win the war. The side that ultimately gets the support of the people will prevail."...
    [Compare the campaigns of early Christianity, of women's suffrage, and of civil rights, stopping smoking, and gay rights. And therein lies the key strategy for Timesizing, and though it may not happen first in the U.S., it has to be polished and published here first in order to be picked up fastest elsewhere.]

  7. 6/19   Living to work or working to live? - Australians are working harder and enjoying it less, by Jennie Jones, The Australian.
    AUSTRALIA - Earning a crust is getting harder. We're working longer hours. House prices are rising faster than our wages. More parents are juggling young families with paid employment. It's no surprise more and more Australians are biting off more than they can chew.
    For some, the fight to survive financially leads to the commonly dismissed condition of workaholism.
    Defined by the support group *Workaholics Anonymous as having an unhealthy relationship with work, being passionate about what you do and working hard is not a problem, but letting it rule your life and make you unhappy is.
    And we can expect to see a lot more of it.
    "When American companies buy out Australian companies, their work culture can be imposed on us," says workplace psychologist David Brown, author of Stress Unmasked.
    "They have a much more callous attitude to workers. There are cases of employees being bussed in to American call centres, and burning out in less than a year.
    "People are seen more as a disposable asset, which has never been the Australian way."
    Expressions such as "doing more with less", which Brown says also originate from America, are becoming more common.
    Australians are feeling the pressure to take on more work than they can handle, Brown says.
    "It is impossible to relax if you can't finish your tasks," he says. "Work should be pleasurable. "The key is to communicate with your employer, and ask them to prioritise your tasks. How you spend your time should be a management decision. "The more you communicate on an even level with your boss, the more they'll respond in a similar fashion."
    According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australia's average working week has risen from 39.5 hours to 42.3 hours during the past 21 years, boosted by the third of us who work overtime regularly. And one in five adults are working more than 50 hours a week. But this is still lower than many other countries.
    Surveys show that British workers do an average 43.6 hours a week, with 20% clocking up more than 60 hours.
    US workers put in the most hours a year, totting up 100 hours annually more than Australians.
    And Australia is under increasing pressure to keep up with international standards, despite having fewer colleagues to share the workload with.
    [Wouldn't this actually be increasing pressure to keep down with the deterioration of international standards?]
    "There are fewer employees on the job than there were a few years ago," says Russ Collison, NSW state secretary of the Australian Workers' Union.
    "Casual workers are a growing trend. On a day-to-day basis, many employees are aware that if they get up and express their concerns about wages and conditions, they could be putting their jobs at risk.
    "This is a result of downsizing or companies moving offshore, and it puts more pressure on people who still have their jobs."
    No one wants to look incompetent and as a result some people hide their inability to cope, Brown says. "There's a big stigma in admitting you can't cope," he says. "People are not getting the help they need, and they merit good help."
    But he believes this is about to change, with record numbers of people attending support groups such as Workaholics Anonymous.
    Established in New York in 1983 by a corporate financial planner and a schoolteacher, who had both been "hopeless" work addicts, 26 WA meetings are now held across America each week.
    Only one WA meeting is currently held in Australia, which is weekly in Wollongong. A second group is being set up in Sydney.
    "Working hard is rewarded," says Vivienne, a 55-year-old academic who helped set up the Wollongong meetings four year ago. "You get money and status. To be hardworking is seen as a good thing, and people joke about being workaholics. But it's no laughing matter."
    Vivienne has first-hand experience of how devastating the consequences can be. "I used to be a secretary and worked long hours, typically from 8.30am to 6.30pm - and didn't always take a lunch break," she says. "When I later went to university, I'd stay up all night drinking coffee and working on my essays.
    "But I was desperately unhappy. I passed my degree, but after that could barely set pen to paper. "I ended up with writer's block for four years and very nearly gave up on my career."
    Other WA members have similar stories to tell, which include setting unrealistic goals, trying to keep up with demanding to-do lists and eventually burning out.
    Friends and families around them often suffer too, with the workaholism often contributing to relationship break-ups.
    "My problems partly contributed to the break up of my two marriages and a following relationship," says Vivienne. "I'd either come home very late or bring my work home, and would talk about how hard my day had been. But until it was pointed out to me, I didn't realise it was taking over."
    At the WA meetings, members follow 12 steps of recovery that involve admitting they have problems, being honest about their strengths and weaknesses, making amends to people they had harmed and learning to be less self-critical.
    "Workaholism is a problem and people are in denial," she says.
    "They are not always able to see that they need help. It is just as destructive as other addictions, but we need to do more about it."

6/18/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 6/17 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #1 and 2 which are from the 6/18 newspaper hardcopy), and excerpts and [comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
  1. Corrections & amplications - The total wealth..., WSJ, A2.
    ...held by ultra-high-net-worth individuals, or those with at least $30m in financial assets, in the US and Canada increased to $3.04 trillion in 2003 from $2.1 trillion in 2002.
    [And how many in that group?]
    A front-page article on 6/15 on a resurgence in millionaires last year incorrectly said total wealth rose to $2.5 trillion in 2002, mistating the amounts and the time frame.
    [Again, this level of uncapped, concentrated, consolidated, wasted income and wealth is way beyond the point of diminishing returns and is producing a third-world, black-hole economy, more so in the US than in Canada because at least all Canadians have healthcare and this is a powerful centrifuge and activator of spending power. Canada's more graduated income tax and shorter worktime per person are other such factors.]

  2. Europe vs. America, editorial, WSJ, A10.
    [The Journal tries to sneak in equating standard of living with economic growth a la GDP, but Europeans have a far higher standard of living than Americans, despite lower GDP growth, since GDP counts all kinds of bad stuff as positives.]
    The growing split between the US and Europe has been much in the news, mostly on foreign policy. But less well understood is the gap in economic growth and standards of living. Now comes a European report that puts the American advantage in surprisingly stark relief.
    The study, "The EU vs. the USA," was done by a pair of economists - Fredrik Bergstroem and Robert Gidehag - for the Swedish thinktank Timbro. It found that if Europe were part of the US only tiny Luxembourg could rival the richest of the 50 American states in GDP per capita. Most European countries would rank below the US average, as the nearby chart shows.
    The authors admit that man doesn't live by GDP alone [or at all?!], and that this measure misses output in the "black" [ie: black-market?] economy, which is significant in Europe's high-tax states. GDP also overlooks "the value of leisure or a good environment" or the way prosperity is spread across a society....
    [So by the lethally flawed GDP measure, probably some of the Third World would also beat some of the EU and be right up with top states. Here's the chart -]
    Germany and Arkansas
    GDP per capita in the richest and poorest US states and selected EU countries in 2001. [God knows we'd rather live in Germany or Italy rather than Ark. or Mont. Clearly Europe gets a lot more out of its GDP per capita than backward, Third World-headed USA. As Will Rogers said, money's like manure - it's no good unless it's spread around. This article is a prime indictment of the GDP index as a measure of anything relevant or meaningful, but it's wise for Europeans to publish crap like this now and then to keep dumb American plutocrats misled into thinking they're The Best so they'll leave Europe alone - "living well is the best revenge."]

  3. Europe on holiday, op ed by Alberto Alesina, Daily Times [Pakistan].
    Europeans tend to prefer vacations over growth. Personally, I love taking more and more vacations. But I cannot (and do not) then complain if my income does not grow faster and faster.
    [Maybe that's because you haven't yet considered that wages are a matter of supply and demand of labor, not amount of worktime per person. And if we reduce worktime per person, we create a shortage of labor which market forces automatically reward with higher wages. If the higher wages aren't coming, the worktime per person is still too much for the economy's current levels of worksaving technology and needs to be cut to provide more attractive job options for employees to switch to in order to discipline employers, raise wages, and centrifuge the vast consolidated income that's tightly concentrated in the top brackets.]
    Currently, the average number of hours worked per person aged 15 to 25 each year in France and Germany is about 50% lower than in the United States. Other European countries (for example, Italy and Spain) fall somewhere between these poles.
    [Irrelevant to wages except insofar as cutting hours further would decrease labor supply and raise wages and consumer demand, while increasing hours back to previous historic levels would increase labor supply and decrease wages and consumer demand, as in the U.S.]
    Although some Americans always like to boast about their superior work ethic, this disparity in working hours between the US and Europe has not always existed. Indeed, until the mid-1970s, the number of hours worked on either side of the Atlantic was roughly the same.
    From the mid-1970s on, however, Americans continued working more or less the same number of hours, while Western Europeans began working less and less each year. If Western Europe needs an explanation as to why its rate of economic growth is lagging behind the US, it need look no further.
    [Who cares about its rate of GDP growth, when quality of life in Europe is so much higher and when GDP counts so many negative and destructive factors?!]
    The average number of working hours per person depends on a variety of factors: Virtually all the difference between the US on one side and France and Germany on the other are due to the first two factors, each with roughly equal weight.
    [Doubtful. Workweek length is of profound importance since it's all year round and not just once a year.]
    So, lower participation in the labour force explains half of the difference, and longer vacations for those who do work accounts for the other half. The importance of vacation time should come as no surprise to anyone who has experienced Europe’s deserted cities in August, the three-week vacation ‘bridges’ in April and May in France and Italy, the ‘rush hours’ that take place every Friday at 2 PM in German cities, and crowded ski slopes in February due to winter school vacations.
    [Note the boon to leisure industries in Europe.]
    But knowing ‘how’ Europeans work less is one thing; knowing ‘why’ Europeans work less than Americans is another. One view is that Americans are perceived (and like to see themselves) as Calvinist workaholics, whereas Europeans like to think that they know how to enjoy life’s pleasures. As a European working in the US, I admit that I do take many more vacations than my American colleagues. So there may be something in this “cultural” explanation. But why did this start around 1973?
    [Because the postwar babyboomers hit the US job market around 1970, began to create a serious labor surplus which clobbered American labor's leverage at the bargaining table, and rising job insecurity meant that people started avoiding being the first to leave the office at night. Housewives entering the workforce in the 1980s worsened it, and greatly increased immigrants entering the workforce in the 1990s worsened it further.]
    A second argument attributes the difference to income taxes, which, in fact, have increased significantly in Europe since the 1970s, while in the US income taxes fell from the early 1980s onward.
    [Nonsense. While federal income taxes fell, federal Social Security taxes and state income taxes rose, by even more than the much touted fall.]
    Income taxes certainly must affect willingness to work.
    [Baloney. They're virtually irrelevant despite so-called "conservatives" complaining about them. If you gotta support yourself, you support yourself.]
    They may not change by much the number of hours worked by the main breadwinner in a family (typically a man), but they do influence the participation of women in the labour force. After all, why work, when your after-tax salary barely pays for childcare and household help?
    [The babyboomer-led labor surplus was a much earlier and stronger determinant of this gotta-work anxiety on the part of housewives.]
    But even this is not a sufficient explanation, because studies of how the supply of labour responds to tax changes suggest that something else must explain the enormous gap between US and Europe, especially France and Germany.
    For the age group over 50, the structure of pension systems is clearly a major factor.
    [Oh c'mon. Americans, generally, don't think that far ahead.]
    It was and remains much more profitable to retire earlier in Europe than in the US. Why should a Frenchman or Italian in his early sixties work today, when in the 1990s he could have retired in his mid-fifties with 80% or more of his last working-age salary? For women, the retirement age in the mid-1990s was even lower. Public sector employees had even more advantages.
    Nor is that all. In the 1980s and 1990s, many European labour unions, in response to rising unemployment, adopted the policy of ‘work less, work all’. In other words, they obtained shorter hours (i.e., more vacations [OR PRIMARILY fewer hours per workweek!]) in order to keep employment up.
    [A vital and increasingly necessary strategy.]
    The problem is that total compensation did not go down in proportion to the shorter hours, thus leading to an increase in pay per hour.
    [Not a problem in the age of automation and robotics.]
    Lower productivity and higher unit labour costs eroded firms’ willingness to hire, leaving Europe with chronically higher unemployment than in the US.
    [But Europe didn't and doesn't have lower productivity because they resist technology less, and use technology more, than US employees. And with a "chronically" richer consumer base per capita and less spending power wasted in astronomical concentrations in the top income brackets in Europe = again, this does not sound like a "problem."]
    Today’s debates about growth in Europe are full of buzzwords like ‘knowledge-based society,’ ‘technological progress,’ and ‘investment in education’. Europeans certainly need something to compensate for a short working life with many vacations.
    [They have it = relatively huge effective consumer demand per capita relative to the USA.]
    But much of this discussion is merely a form of ‘political correctness’. It is more reassuring — and ‘feels better’ — to tell Europeans that [GDP] growth is sluggish because society is not sufficiently knowledge-based, rather than pointing to the trade-off between vacations and growth.
    [With so many American consumers handicapped by being consigned to welfare (2m families), disability (5.7m in 7/03), homelessness (930k youth, never mind all ages), prisons (2.2m) and impoverished retirement, self-employment, part-time work and moving back with parents, why not just tell Europeans that America's faster GDP growth is irrelevant or misleading?]
    Europeans tend to prefer vacations over growth. Personally, I love taking more and more vacations. But I cannot (and do not) then complain if my income does not grow faster and faster.
    [Nobody's forcing you to listen to their complaints. "If you don't like it, don't listen to it." The Europeans are a lot feistier in defense of their interests than increasingly sheeplike Americans, and it's still true that "the squeaky wheel gets the grease."]

  4. French employment policies hinder productivity: institute, Xinhuanet via www.ChinaView.cn.
    [Productivity in the age of automation still a matter of working hours? This institute is a little out of touch.]
    PARIS - French employment policies adopted in the early 1990s had hindered its productivity for over a decade,the country's statistics office said Thursday.
    France's productivity declined for 14 straight years since registering a growth of 2.5% from 1983-1990, recording a growth of merely 1.0% from 1990-1995 and 0.5% from 1995-2002, the Paris-based National Institute of Statistics and Economic Study (INSEE) said in a report on the French economy 2004-2005.
    Meanwhile, the annual growth rate of productivity per capita went down from 2.55% before 1992 to 2.1% from 1993-2002, the report said.
    INSEE believes the shrinkage is due in great part to France's employment policies started in the early 1990s.
    It said shortened working hours caused productivity per capita to fall 5.6% over the 1996-2002 period.
    [Productivity regardless of marketability is irrelevant, and productivity per capita is also irrelevant. During this period the relevant measure of productivity per employee hour in France rose and is currently well above American productivity per employee hour. In addition, France is less dependent on exports than the USA because it has stronger consumer demand per capita. Let's quit wasting time talking about outdated and irrelevant measures like "productivity per capita"!]

6/17/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 6/16 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #5 which is from the 6/17 newspaper hardcopy), and excerpts and [comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
  1. Family time-off win for workers, by Matthew Denholm, news.com.au.
    AUSTRALIA - The nation's workers soon will be able to take 10 days leave a year to care for family members.
    The "personal leave" entitlement has been agreed between union and employer groups. It is one of the biggest wins for employees in recent years.
    The breakthrough, to be announced in the next fortnight, will particularly benefit employees with children and ageing parents.

  2. [and from Phil's keynote partner last Friday evening at the Chicago conference -]
    Slow down in a fast-forward world - From the boardroom to the bedroom, people are realizing the benefits of deceleration as an alternative to 'rampant rushaholism,' by Carl Honoré, Toronto Globe & Mail, C1.
    CANADA - Every parent knows that children like bedtime stories read at a gentle, meandering pace. But three years ago, I was too fast, too hectic, too hurried to slow down with Dr. Seuss. Instead, I whizzed through The Cat In The Hat, skipping a line here, a paragraph there, sometimes a whole page. Things got so rushed I found myself devouring a newspaper article about a series of books called The One-Minute Bedtime Story.
    And that's when the alarm bells started ringing. Had it really come to this? Am I really in such a hurry that I would fob off my son with a sound bite at the end of the day?
    Thankfully, I never bought the 60-second stories. Instead, I began to investigate the prospects for slowing down in a world obsessed with accelerating.
    We live in a culture addicted to speed, to doing everything faster, to packing more and more into less and less time. As Klaus Schwab, founder and president of the World Economic Forum, put it: "We're moving from a world in which the big eat the small to one in which the fast eat the slow."
    Of course, speed is not always bad. It can be fun, liberating, empowering. The problem is many of us have forgotten how to decelerate. We are stuck in fast forward.
    The never-slow-down approach takes a heavy toll. Canadians now sleep 90 minutes less a night than a century ago. Stress-related illnesses are soaring and people are burning out younger than ever before. We have less time for family, friends, community. In our haste, we have forgotten how to relax, how to take real pleasure from things, how to enjoy the moment.
    The good news is that there is an alternative to rampant rushaholism. Across the West, people are slowing down, and finding that a little deceleration helps them do everything better. In the process, these rebels are laying the foundations of a worldwide Slow movement.
    In the workplace, slowing down can mean putting in fewer hours. Hard work is a fine thing but too many of us are slaves to the job. In Europe, though, working hours have been falling steadily.
    [Or unsteadily, now that Chirac in France and Schroeder in Germany have swung their weight behind efforts to dilute and weaken 35-hour workweeks.]
    The result is a quality of life - how does six weeks' annual vacation sound? - that North Americans can only dream of.
    Not surprisingly, working less can mean working more efficiently. Canadians spend longer on the job than many Europeans - and have a lower rate of hourly productivity to show for it.
    Perhaps that is why North American companies are starting to take a less-is-more approach to work hours. On any given day, up to 40% of staff at Royal Bank of Canada are on a work-life balance program - job-sharing, flexi-time or reduced hours. The result, according to RBC, is happier, more productive employees.
    Even in the United States, which now works longer [annual] hours than Japan, companies can see the writing on the wall. Software giant SAS combines a 35-hour work week whenever possible with generous vacation benefits. The payoff: robust profits and a place in the Top 10 of Fortune's Best Companies To Work For.
    Cutting hours is just one way to benefit from slowness in the workplace. Another is to allow staff to take breaks during the day.
    Research suggests that workers who leave their desks for lunch or other time-outs come back refreshed and invigorated. They are more creative, too, because a relaxed brain comes up with richer, more subtle solutions to problems.
    That is why more companies are offering staff the chance to slow down on the job with on-site massage, yoga or Pilates.
    Others, such as Royal Dutch/Shell Group's headquarters in London, set aside a quiet room free of phones, computers and fax machines.
    In its Tokyo office, where 12-hour days are not uncommon, Oracle Corp. has installed an elegant Meditation Room. At first, staff stayed away, fearful that shifting down a gear would hurt their output. But many are now converts.
    "People who think that taking 10 or 15 minutes to sit quietly in a room is a waste of time are wrong," one Oracle executive told me. "By slowing down a little, you come back to the fast part of your day with more energy and clarity."
    Some companies are taking that logic to its conclusion by encouraging staff to nap on the job. A recent NASA study found that a 24-minute snooze does wonders for a pilot's alertness and performance. Many of the most influential figures in history were nappers: John F. Kennedy, Thomas Edison, John D. Rockefeller and Winston Churchill.
    Yarde Metals, an American company that makes metal products, urges staff to take sleeping breaks - and claims to reap the benefits in better morale and higher productivity. In Spain, where no one has time to go home for a midday doze, workers are filing into modern "siesta salons" for a short back rub and 40 winks.
    At one such salon in Barcelona, I met the manageress of a business supplies company after her daily nap. "By the early afternoon, I start to flag," she said. "A short siesta is the perfect way to recharge my batteries."
    To help staff wind down, more companies are encouraging them to leave the office behind completely. Ernst & Young, the accounting firm, has told its U.S. employees that it is okay not to check e-mail and voice mail over the weekend.
    Of course, slowing down pays dividends beyond the workplace.
    Many are embracing a less hurried approach to food, and eating better as a result. The Italian-based Slow Food movement, which argues that what we eat should be cultivated, cooked and consumed at reasonable pace, now has 80,000 members in 50 countries, including Canada. Other signs that people are turning away from the high-speed, high-turnover approach to food include the rise of farmers' markets, artisan bakeries and micro-breweries.
    Even reality TV is getting in on the act. A production company in Calgary is now putting together a show called Fixing Dinner that will teach families the lost art of shopping for fresh ingredients, cooking a simple meal and eating together.
    Millions now benefit from slower forms of exercise such as yoga, tai chi and SuperSlow weightlifting. Tired of the quick-fix approach of conventional medicine, millions more are turning to complementary and alternative therapies, which offer less hurried, gentler forms of healing.
    The slower-is-better principle is also gaining ground in the bedroom. A few years ago, we all laughed when Sting boasted of long hours spent enjoying Tantric sex with his wife. Yet now couples all over the world are flocking to wokshops on the art of unhurried lovemaking. Italy even has a Slow Sex movement. As one recent graduate of a Tantric sex course in Vancouver told me: "When you slow down in bed, you get more bang for your buck, physically and emotionally."
    Not surprisingly, slowing down in one walk of life can lead to slowdowns in others. After discovering the joys of slower sex, an Englishman I know went on to slow down his company, which makes ventilation systems for buildings. Instead of dashing to fill every order as quickly as possible, his staff now take their time. The result is that product standards are up and the work is pouring in.
    Parents are also realizing that the modern penchant for hot-housing children is a bad idea. Overscheduled and overworked, many kids are suffering from stress or even burnout. Children need free time to relax and recharge. What's more, drifting around, exploring the world at their own pace, even getting bored, teaches them how to think creatively and how to get along with others.
    To ease kids off the fast track, many parents are cutting back on extra-curricular activities. This helps mums and dads slow down, too, because the whole family has more free time.
    Some educational authorities are also trying to ease the burden on children. In Britain, a swanky private school recently banned homework for kids aged nine to 13. The high-achieving parents were up in arms - until they learned that a similar ban had pushed up average marks by 20% in a rival school.
    Before arriving at high-achieving Harvard, every new first-year undergraduate now receives a seven-page letter extolling the virtues of doing a little less and taking time off to relax. The letter's title: Slow Down.
    Slowness is even leaving its mark on urban planning. Everywhere, cities are curbing traffic to make more space for walking and cycling. The New Urbanism movement, which fosters community spirit by building walkable neighbourhoods, is sweeping North America. Markham, Ont., now plans every new development along New Urbanist lines.
    "You live better when your neighbourhood allows you to slow down," said one resident of Kentlands, Md., one of the movement's showpiece suburbs.
    Of course, you can take this deceleration thing too far. Too much slowness is just as bad as too much speed. What we really need is balance - an understanding that sometimes fast is good, but that sometimes slow is good, too.
    By allowing myself to put on the brakes when appropriate, I have become more relaxed, more energetic and more able to take pleasure from things.
    Bedtime stories are certainly a lot more fun now that I'm no longer speed-reading them.

  3. [Now for the negative side of today's worktime news -]
    Gridlock over working time, EUPolitix [Belgium].
    Employers, trade unions and the European Commission will meet on Thursday in a last ditch attempt to find common ground over negotiations aimed at amending EU rules on working time.
    Calls to revise the existing "Working Time Directive" followed a report commissioned last year on how current legislation in this area is shaping up.
    Brussels then launched a consultation earlier this year to gauge advice from workers' and employers' groups on the best way to reform the most contentious parts of the law, namely the opt-out, reference periods and definitions of "working time".
    The final consultation phase finishes at the beginning of July, and the Commission is keen for both sides to find a basis for negotiating a mandate to revise the rules.
    But the two parties are at loggerheads over how to reform the directive, and chances the of industry agreeing to sit round the negotiating table are looking slim.
    "We do not envisage entering into negotiations," a spokesman for UEAPME, a small business employers association, told EUpolitix. "There is a huge gap between the social partners on reference periods, definitions and the opt-out. There is no sign that the gap is diminishing."
    John Monks, Secretary General of the European Trade Union Confederation said in a statement that any failure to negotiate would be "regrettable" as both sides "could make some progress on resolving issues."
    If both sides decide that negotiations are not possible, it will be up to the Commission to come up with proposals, expected to be based on the first round of consultations.
    Much focus has been placed on Britain since it negotiated an opt out in 1993 allowing governments not to apply the limit to working hours under certain conditions which include prior agreement of the worker and no negative fall-out from refusing to opt out.
    The UK has been singled out by Brussels which has found that twice as many UK workers opt out of laws to restrict their working hours as elsewhere in Europe.
    The European Commission is concerned that EU rules designed to protect workers' rights are being sidelined.

  4. U.S. working conditions supporting working families lag far behind many other countries, News-Medical.Net.
    A new report of research on 168 countries led by Jody Heymann, Associate Professor of Society, Health & Human Development at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), finds that working conditions in the United States that support working families, lag far behind scores of other countries. The report, The Work, Family and Equity Index: Where Does the United States Stand Globally? is being released today in Washington DC.
    Among the report’s findings: “The United States trails enormously far behind the rest of the world when it comes to legislation to protect the health and welfare of working families. Scores of countries guarantee paid leave for new mothers and fathers, the opportunity to breastfeed, sick leave, and some minimum annual leave that can be spent with children, elderly parents or other family members. The United States guarantees none of these to working Americans or their families.” Jody Heymann explained, “This is only the beginning of the list. Protections against extreme work hours or weeks with no breaks are among the other areas where the US lags. Moreover, we have fallen behind when it comes to services for pre-school and school age children, as well as in working conditions. The costs are enormous to the health and welfare of children, the disabled and elderly, and the working adults who care for them.”
    “The Work, Family and Equity Index lays bare just how far behind the U.S. is when it comes to the most basic work and family issues, like paid parental leave," said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney. "Working families are deeply concerned about how to balance work and home, and this thorough study should raise alarm bells from coast to coast about how far our nation needs to come to meet their needs."
    The full report is available at www.globalworkingfamilies.org

  5. Kerry raised $100m since super Tuesday, news blurb, WSJ, front page.
    ...but hasn't yet matched Bush. Kerry proposed helping working parents by keeping schools open late.
    [Grrreat! That would help Wal-Mart (6/16/2004 #3 below) and K-Mart (6/25/2002 #1) work employees late off-the-clock too!]

6/16/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 6/15 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #1 & 2 which are from the 6/16 newspaper hardcopy), and excerpts and [comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
  1. [latest from the world's most flexible corporate design with timesizing and paysizing (see our working models page) -]
    Nucor Corp. - Quarterly forecast is raised on increasing steel demand, WSJ, D9.
    Nucor Corp. boosted its 2nd-quarter earnings forecast, citing higher margins and strengthening of global and domestic demand for steel. The Charlotte NC steel producer...expects earnings of $2.75-2.95 a share in the quarter, up from an April projection of $2-2.20 a share. Nucor said its two newest steel mills, which achieved significant turn-arounds in the first quarter, have exceeded performance expectations for the second quarter [Q2]. Other positive factors include the continued strength of the sheet steel market and the improving performance of the steel-products segment, the company said.
    For the year-earlier Q2, Nucor reported net income of $8.4m, or 11 cents a share. The company's shares rose $2.69, or 4%, to $69.54 in 4 pm NYSE composite trading.

  2. [Those who would destroy France's shorter workweek are slammed by voters -]
    Election roils France's public-sector overhaul, by Charles Fleming, WSJ, A12.
    PARIS - After a severe setback in last weekend's European elections, the French government is trying to rescue its unpopular program aimed at rolling back the country's sprawling public sector, by offering concessions to angry employees at the nation's state-owned gas and electricity companies.
    [Here's hoping employees don't again sell their birthright for a sop.]
    Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy told Parliament yesterday that the government would push ahead with plans to convert energy utilities Electricite de France SA and Gaz de France SA from state agencies to ordinary companies. But he backpedaled on plans to privatize the two by selling minority stakes to financial investors, promising that nothing would happen before mid-2005.
    Angry electricity workers, afraid privatization would erode the job security their civil-servant status ensures, have been ratcheting up their campaign in recent days to get the government to back off all change. They have been marching in the streets and cutting off electricity supplies to towns.
    Pres. Jacques Chirac's government took a beating in Sunday's elections to the European Parliament, underlining the unpopularity of its attempts at making long-delayed cuts in France's pension and health-care benefits. Both Mr. Chirac and PM Jean-Pierre Raffarin have said since the election that they intend to pursue their overhaul program.
    The latest concessions on Electricite de France and Gaz de France call that resolve into question. A similar move in 1995 to change the retirement benefits of railway workers sparked massive protests and strikes, crippling the country and eventually bringing down the conservative government.
    In recent days, the government has tried to buy peace with a long list of concessions to workers, including the guarantee of staff benefits, extra pay, new hiring and a progressive rolling back of plans to sell shares in the company.

  3. Kmart's rebound pains workers - Retailer denies cuts targeting employees as it vies for customers with Wal-Mart, Target, by Tenisha Mercer, Detroit News via Indianapolis Star.
    TROY, Mich. - Kmart Holding Corp.'s relentless cost-cutting has impressed Wall Street and helped the retailer climb back into the black. But its employees say they are bearing the brunt of the austerity push.
    Earlier this year, the discount retailer cut hours for thousands of employees, sharply reducing its full-time work force. Now the company has eliminated automatic annual pay increases in favor of merit raises and has implemented changes to employee medical coverage, which some workers say is resulting in higher deductibles.
    Former Kmart employee Audrey Mitchell...of Orlando, said she had no choice but to retire in March after her full-time job was cut to 22 hours a week. "I couldn't understand why they were doing this to me," said Mitchell. "I was a Kmart girl. Whatever they needed me to do, I did it."
    The moves come as Kmart struggles to compete with Wal-Mart Stores and Target. Kmart operates 1,511 stores and has 158,000 employees."
    The company closed nearly 600 stores and slashed 57,000 jobs before emerging from bankruptcy in May 2003. It plans to sell as many as 24 of its stores to Home Depot for up to $365 million.
    The store closings and cost-cutting have left many Kmart workers unsettled. Many employees are sounding off on Internet message boards about the cutbacks and changes.
    Last month, the retailer reported its second consecutive profitable quarter in three years, with a net income of $93 million for the first quarter that ended April 28.
    Kmart spokesman Jack Ferry said the company has not singled out employees for cost-cutting. "The focus will continue to be on profitable sales, controlling costs, streamlining overhead, improving customer service and increasing asset productivity," Ferry said.
    Ferry said Kmart's changes to workers' hours were the result of streamlining operations, which means less manpower. But Liz Rizzo, a 29-year employee at the Kmart in Livonia, Mich., said the workload has increased at her store. "The reality is, there is the same amount of work as before but fewer people," she said.
    Kmart would not disclose how much store employees earn per hour on average. Part-time employees start as low as $7 an hour, according to employees. Wal-Mart and other retailers also have faced complaints from workers and labor advocates about their pay scales.
    "They can't afford to drive off associates," said Gary Ruffing, a former Kmart executive who is now a retail analyst with BBK Ltd. in Southfield, Mich. "The biggest thing from a morale standpoint is they have to start winning, doing things that show that the profitability of the company will be dependent on the associates."



Click here for spontaneous cases of primitive timesizing in -
June 1-15/2004
May 15-31/2004
May 1-14/2004
Apr.16-30/2004
Apr.1-15/2004
Mar.23-31/2004
Mar.11-22/2004
Mar.2-10/2004
Feb.21-29/2004 + Mar.1
Feb.11-20/2004
Jan.31 + Feb.1-10/2004
Jan.21-30/2004
Jan.10-20/2004
Jan.1-9/2004
Dec.20-31/2003
Dec.11-19/2003
Dec.2-10/2003
Nov.21-30/2003 + Dec.1
Nov.11-20/2003
Nov.1-10/2003
Oct.25-31/2003
Oct.21-24/2003
Oct.15-20/2003
Oct.10-14/2003
Oct.8-9/2003
Oct.4-7/2003
Oct.1-3/2003
Sept.27-30/2003
Sept.18-26/2003
Sept.10-17/2003
Sept.1-9/2003
Aug. 28-Sep.1/2003
Aug. 16-27/2003
Aug. 8-15/2003
Aug. 1-7/2003
July 29-31/2003
July 22-28/2003
July 16-21/2003
July 5-15/2003
July 1-4/2003
June 28-30/2003
June 21-27/2003
June 14-20/2003
June 6-13/2003
June 1-5/2003
May 27-31/2003
May 20-26/2003
May 1-20/2003
Apr.11-30/2003
Apr.1-10/2003
Mar.21-31/2003
Mar.1-20/2003
Feb.15-28/2003
Feb.1-14/2003
Jan.16-31/2003
Jan.1-15/2003
2002
2001
Y2000
1999
1998 and previous years.

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

Questions, comments, feedback? Phone 617-623-8080 (Boston) or email us.


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