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Timesizing News, July 20-30, 2004
[Commentary] ©2004 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 622, Porter Sq, Cambridge MA 02140 USA 617-623-8080


7/30/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 7/29 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #1 which is from the 7/30 newspaper hardcopy, & backup from recently- & soon-again-to-be-vacationing Alan Applebaum of Brookline MA), and excerpts and [comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Germany: Siemens posts a gain, by Victor Homola, NYT, W1.
    The German electronics and engineering group Siemens said it earned $815m euros ($981m) in Q3, an increase of 29% from the period a year ago. Sales rose 5% to 18.2B euros ($21.9B) and new orders booked by 11% to 19.1B euros ($23B).
    [This is the worst kind of corporate citizen, more like a corporate terrorist, that via adverse actions against its own workforce, weakens its own and others' consumer markets.]
    Heinrich von Pierer...attributed the results to an "improvement in the macro-economic environment"....
    [But then the other Euro firm that's been going backward toward longer workweeks lately is in profit too -]
    DaimlerChrysler's net surged fivefold, pointer blurb (to A2), WSJ, front page.
    on Chryster's rebound and truck and bus sales....

  2. Euro-labor, sans siesta - European workers, so envied by Americans for their 35-hour workweek and five- and six-week vacations, are having to put in more hours, Christian Science Monitor.
    In Germany last week, DaimlerChrysler persuaded support staff at its Mercedes division to work longer hours without more pay. The deal is preceded by a recent agreement at conglomerate Siemens, which extends the work week at one of its divisions from 35 to 40 hours.
    In France, auto-partsmaker Robert Bosch got some of its workers to add an hour to the legally mandated 35-hour work week. Introduced in 2000, the shorter week has boosted overtime pay and absenteeism, and the finance minister wants reform.
    Europe needs to push this trend. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development shows a steep 20% drop in hours worked in Germany and France since 1970. Even though these nations can compete with US productivity on a per-hour basis, their workers' overall output lags the US by 10 to 20%.
    Europeans have a point in that their work ethic allows for more balanced living. But there's plenty of room for change before their cherished lifestyle is in serious danger.
    One thing that can ease the transition is for executives to make sacrifices along with workers. In their deal last week, Mercedes management agreed to salary cuts when their unions said they would forgo a planned wage increase. That's a model for America, too.

  3. Business in Germany and France - Europe's workplace revolution, The Economist, UK.
    [Don't they mean "counter-revolution"? Lengthening the workweek is not going forward. It's going backward.]
    FRANKFURT & PARIS - Despite their protests, Germany's workers are starting to accept that they may have to work longer hours. Will their French counterparts be next?
    "A victory for common sense," was how Germany's chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, greeted DaimlerChrysler's deal last week with employees at the Mercedes car plants in southern Germany.
    [Yeah, the common sense of 1940!]
    Workers agreed to receive lower pay in future, with longer working hours for some, in return for keeping their jobs until 2012. Because of union-led industrial action, this was not quite what Daimler had sought - a move to a 40-hour week, which Siemens, another big company, had won shortly before. Nonetheless, it was indeed further significant evidence of an outbreak of common sense among German workers. And about time too. German firms desperately need some labour market flexibility if their domestic operations are to remain at all competitive.
    Germany's standard 35-hour working week - compared with Britain's 37 hours and America's 40 - is the result of negotiations; France's is statutory. Yet France, too, is all a-buzz about the possibility of firms demanding longer hours from workers. Symptomatic of the heightened sensitivity, this week Electricité de France summoned one employee to a disciplinary hearing after she wrote "Bonjour Paresse", a book celebrating corporate laziness. A feverish debate has been triggered by the French government's declared intention to reconsider the 35-hour-week law soon, as well as by this month's vote by almost all 820 workers at a factory in France of Robert Bosch, a German maker of car parts, to work an extra hour per week for no extra pay so that Bosch does not move their jobs to the Czech Republic.
    Is this the moment that the famously inflexible, worker-friendly continental European model of capitalism finally grasps the nettle of reform? Though the rhetoric of the trade unions is as shrill as ever, the attitude of workers has certainly started to change in Germany, even if it is not yet clear by how much. What is going on in France is more difficult to determine.
    Work, work, work
    The response in Germany to the deals at Daimler and Siemens has been overwhelmingly positive. (Siemens persuaded its employees to increase their working week from 35 to as much as 40 hours without more pay by promising not to relocate to Hungary.) One rare dissent came from Heiner Flassbeck, chief economist at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, who claimed that the deals cut pay but did not raise productivity. More typically, Holger Schmieding, an economist at Bank of America, called the deals "pure capitalism". Dirk Schumacher, an economist at Goldman Sachs, attributes a small rise in the expectations part of the Ifo business-confidence index in July to the "glimmer of hope that German labour is getting more competitive".
    France's labour ministry provides information on the 35-hour working week. DaimlerChrysler reports on its deal with French workers. See also Robert Bosch.
    Other German firms have been inspired to seek similar deals. KarstadtQuelle, a department store and mail order chain, aims to stretch its work week to 40 hours; so do Continental, a tyre maker, and Thomas Cook, a travel agent. Numerous mid-sized companies are revisiting their labour agreements.
    Officially, however, Germany's big unions remain opposed to breaking the 35-hour-week barrier. IG Metall attributes the victory of Siemens to "blackmail". Workers' representatives at MAN, an engineering group in Augsburg, have warned that the workforce will take action, as the Mercedes workers did with some modest success, against the introduction of a 40-hour week. But the big test of whether there is any bite left to back up the union bark will come in September, when troubled carmaker Volkswagen will seek to negotiate a 30% cut in its personnel costs in Germany.
    VW already has some flexible working hours, although the weekly average does not exceed 35 hours. It has also experimented since last year with performance-based working hours. For over a year, workers producing Touran minivans have been paid according to performance, based on a 42-hour week. The project, "Auto 5000", has drawn its workforce from the unemployed, and pays below the union average wage. VW will not be drawn on whether it sees this as the shape of working hours to come - and IG Metall says it is determined not to accept a clear breach of the 35-hour week. The outcome of these negotiations will say much about where corporate Germany is headed.
    Meanwhile, in France, the unions have taken their German counterparts' talk of blackmail further, one union leader calling Bosch's threat to move abroad jobs at its factory near Lyon as "terrorism". They have also been feeding the press with accusations that various French firms plan to follow Bosch in increasing working hours.
    Each of the firms named denies having any such plans. These include Doux, Europe's biggest chicken abattoir, headquartered in Brittany; SEB, Europe's largest maker of small household equipment; and Carrefour, Europe's biggest retailer. SEB says it is only talking with unions about increasing the work week at a factory in the Vosges region from 32 to 35 hours - not introducing a 38-hour week, as reports suggested. In 2000 SEB had introduced the 35-hour week at all its factories except the Vosges site. Carrefour says it has no plans to challenge the 35-hour week, despite reports to the contrary - and points out that it was among the first firms to introduce the 35-hour week and pays workers more than its competitors. Indeed, the contrast between the bold German firms, willing to take on their unions, and their timid French counterparts is striking. So far, despite legal changes in January 2003 that gave them room for manoeuvre, no big French firm has yet dared to challenge the sacrosanct 35-hour week.
    [No progress is sacrosanct. It's all as vulnerable as democracy in Florida.]
    Why the big difference, if all is as it appears, between French and German willingness to countenance reform? The German economy is in worse shape than the French, so the need to reform is more urgent. Proximity may have made German workers more aware of the credible threat of jobs going to central and eastern Europe. Many German companies have already relocated some activities and are planning to relocate some more. Bosch already employs 7,400 people in the Czech Republic, where German is widely spoken.
    And the relationship between unions and bosses in Germany is traditionally consensual, emphasising that both sides are "social partners", whereas in France, despite a smaller proportion of the workforce being unionised, it has tended to be highly confrontational. The French unions seem to mean it when they describe plans to tamper with the 35-hour week as the "revenge of the bosses", whereas the German unions have been willing to strike deals with individual firms provided they are not forced to abandon their rhetorical commitment to the 35-hour week.
    So perhaps, somewhere beneath the fiery rhetoric and demonstrations, Germany's bosses and workers have reached an unstated consensus that longer working hours, and greater flexibility, are necessary if the country is to regain its competitive edge. And perhaps it will take a more competitive Germany, thanks to the reforms now under way, to prompt a similar epiphany among the French.

  4. It's a small world, The Journal News.com, NY.
    If there is animus between the Americans and the French - and for the sake of argument let's just say that there darn well is - we really should come clean and admit that it has nothing to do with their holier-than-President Bush attitude before the Iraq war and everything to do with French cinema.
    Most Americans might not know much about the French, but what they do know, from the movies, is that the French have it much, much better than we do, having long ago mastered the delicate balance between when to work and when to kick back - a dance hardly ever solved by weary, long-faced, overworked Americans.
    "Summer" in French cinema means more baguettes, more wine and more smoky coffeehouse discourse, to go along with seemingly endless, languid weeks in the city or by the sea or in the countryside - the very good life without any visible mean of support. The envy makes our blood boil - though perhaps no more.
    As it turns out, the same interconnectedness in the world economy that has Kerry-Bush fretting about the loss of better-paying jobs, and Bush-Cheney telling voters that outsourcing isn't without virtue, is also having an effect on Western European workers, including the French, who, get this, also vie in the world economy.
    Under threat of wholesale job losses to longer-working Central and Eastern European nations, the French, the Germans and other Western European workers are being called upon to put in longer work weeks and to trim their seven-plus weeks of vacation - without taking home any additional pay. So long to those August-long flirtations by the sea.
    What the competition looks like: In the Czech Republic, wages are 40 percent cheaper than in France, and employees work five more hours a week and get one and a half fewer weeks of vacation. Such disparities have long endured in Europe. They are increasingly untenable, with the ever-expanding European Union of trading and regulatory partners. Ten new economies, including the poorer, formerly behind-the-Iron Curtain nations of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, joined the alliance May 1.
    As the walls between markets fall, employers and governments are looking to even the playing field. Four major European companies have demanded more work hours for no more pay. The French finance minister is advocating for a relaxation of France's mandated 35-hour work week - a law designed to encourage more hiring, but counterproductive when competition-stressed employers pack up for cheaper labor elsewhere.
    "At some point, workers have got to choose," professor Richard Jackman of London School of Economics told USA Today. "They can't have high pay and long holidays."
    [Here's an economist who doesn't know economics, much less common sense. He's still stuck in the pre-technological age when "work hard to get ahead" still meant something because not every single repetitive task was getting automated. Doubtless he still follows the Ptolemaic theory that wages vary with worktime, never mind sweatshops, or with productivity, never mind marketability. In Copernican economics, wages, like every other kind of price, vary fundamentally with supply and demand. And the thing that is depressing wages is the injection of worksaving technology against a frozen 1940 workweek across much of the developed world. Workers have got to focus on their one power issue, shorter worktime, because that alone can create a perceived shortage of them, of labor, and harness market forces to flexibly raise wages regardless of worktime per person - except insofar as it has to be adjusted to preventing labor supply from luffing into wage-stomping surplus.]
    In the United States, of course, such choices were long ago made for legions of employees - those who toiled in the steel plants of Western Pennsylvania or the auto plants of Detroit or the manufacturing plants of central New York. That work has contracted in many places, vanished in others. Change takes some getting used to.
    [That's not change; that's destruction. And it's not Schumpeter's "creative destruction" either. It's being made up largely by a huge prison-building and populating process, and by high homelessness, disability and welfare. This kind of change - for the worse - certainly does take some getting used to, and if European economists are too obtuse to see which way progress runs, even though they've been on its forefront for several decades, they're certainly welcome to join us here in the United States in our accelerating slide into the Third World. After all, "misery loves company."]
    As the Western Europeans will learn once again.
    [Not necessarily - not if they implement Timesizing, ie: automatic adjustment of the workweek against comprehensive unemployment and automatic overtime-to-training&hiring conversion.]
    For the record, in Western Europe output per hour worked is up from 65% of U.S. levels in 1970 to 91% in 2002. And in the most prosperous European nations, including France and Germany, productivity now rivals that in the United States.
    "We could confirm the popular perception that Europeans work less than Americans; in fact, they work about one-third less," said economist Paul Swaim. "But we also found that average incomes in Europe were also about one-third lower, because output per hour was essentially the same."...
    [Of course, that ignores the hugely expensive provision, for Americans, of health insurance, which Europe has but which our two-adult family was paying $900/month for till recently, and now we're "only" paying $600-700 a month. Great! C'mon down! Maybe Swaim and the other native-born economic terrorists of Europe who are so eager to pull down their own living standards should start talking about comparable disposable income instead of simplistic income. And as we mentioned above, wages do NOT vary with output per hour, so if his income figures are based, as he seems to imply, on output figures, he's way off anyway. Doesn't he have any more direct measures of income? And then there's the problem that "average incomes" ignores the very important wrinkle of income concentration, not as tight in Europe as America, but still a huge argument against taking average income as any indication of quality of life.]

7/29/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 7/28 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #1 which is from the 7/29 newspaper hardcopy, & backup from recently- & soon-again-to-be-vacationing Alan Applebaum of Brookline MA), and excerpts and [comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
  1. Love of leisure, and Europe's reasons, by Katrin Bennhold with Elisabetta Povoledo, International Herald Tribune via NYT, A8; text via GoogleNews via KE.
    COPENHAGEN - Between mountains of suitcases and children racing each other with luggage trolleys at the airport of this Scandinavian capital, Maibritt Ditlev, husband, Anders, and daughter, Lotte, in tow, remarked that her whole country seemed to be going on vacation.
    "In Europe we like our summer holidays," she said, emphasizing that even a lot of cash would not tempt her to give up her two-week trip to Iceland. In fact, she works part time because she treasures time off. "We have a nice house and can afford to go on two family holiday a year - what would we need more money for?"
    This image of a casual Western European work ethic tends to be viewed with just short of scorn by the world's other wealthy economies. As Europeans like the Ditlevs happily continue to trade income for a slice of leisure time that would be unthinkable in the United States or Asia, the gloomy headlines about Europe's economic future multiply.
    Europe, the standard criticism goes, has not matched the American expansion for most of the last decade and has even fallen behind Japan in recent quarters. Its citizens are on average almost 30% poorer than their counterparts on the other side of the Atlantic, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a group of 30 countries committed to democracy and the market economy. Potential growth in the next decade risks being stuck at 2% - one percentage point below that of the United States.
    Is Europe, with the shortest workweeks and longest holidays in the world, doomed to lag behind, a victim of its penchant for more leisure and a too generous welfare state?
    One response: If the answer is yes, then so what?
    Some economists and European officials argue that, rather than reflecting a failure to catch up with its more industrious competitors because of faltering productivity growth, Europe's more modest income level mainly reflects policy choices that have tended to put a premium on leisure and equality at the expense of greater wealth.
    Over the last half century, Western Europeans have gradually opted to work less and take longer vacations. They have put in place varying national versions of public universal health care, education and retirement benefits. They have set up a complex web of minimum income legislation, including unemployment subsidies and disability benefits, and basic social welfare, in an effort to limit the risk of destitution.
    "The welfare state is an efficiency device against market failure,'' said Nicholas Barr, a professor of public economics at the London School of Economics. "It's a perfectly rational policy to accept lower output for higher welfare.''
    Or as Joaquín Almunia, European commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, put it, for Europeans, economic growth is a tool, not an end in itself.
    "We are not in a race with the U.S.,'' he said. "Our goal is not to grow as fast as the U.S. or anybody else, but to do what we need to protect our economic and social model.''
    Plenty must be done to keep the system financed and the moral principles underlying it alive, Mr. Almunia said. The European Union faces challenges, including a stagnant, aging population, chronic underemployment and competitive pressures from the eight new Eastern European members and Asian growth markets like China and India. It has already missed many of the targets it set in its bid to become the most competitive economy in the world by 2010, as promised at a leaders' meeting in Lisbon four years ago.
    As the German telecommunications giant Siemens showed by extending a union's work week to 40 hours from 35 with no extra pay, pressure is mounting to wring more work from Europeans, who put in an average of 10% fewer hours than Americans.
    But for all the bad publicity the European economy receives, it is not performing that poorly. The combined gross domestic product of the 15 members of the European Union before the expansion on May 1 lagged behind that of the United States by about one percentage point a year in the last decade, largely because the region's population expanded at less than half the pace of United States'. The average income per person grew about 1.8% a year on both sides of the Atlantic, said to Kevin Daly, an economist at Goldman Sachs in London.
    Contrary to conventional wisdom, Western European productivity growth outpaced that of the United States in the last 30 years: gross domestic product per hour in the European Union is less than 10% below G.D.P. in America today; in 1970 the gap was closer to 35%, said the European Union's Ameco database. In some countries, including France, productivity now exceeds that in the United States.
    But if Europeans are still poorer than Americans, it is because fewer of them hold a job, and those who do have gradually reduced the time they spend at work. Americans have been much more hesitant to work fewer hours, keeping the tally virtually unchanged over the last 10 years despite strong growth.
    "You have to ask yourself who really is the odd one out,'' Mr. Daly said. "Leisure is a normal good, and as you become richer, economic theory says that you consume more of it.''
    Polls show that Europeans are by and large happy to pay high taxes in return for social services, and anecdotal evidence suggests that the concept of well being in Europe is less linked to material wealth than it is in the United States.
    "Americans move from the 20,000 -square-feet house to the 30,000-square-feet house to the 40,000-square-feet house. It's a different mentality,'' said Kenneth S. Rogoff, an economist at Harvard University and former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund.
    Enjoying coffee at a brasserie in Paris, Thomas Levassor, 28, said he worked in Silicon Valley as a software engineer for three years, but returned to France to have a family.
    "There is a window of maybe five years where the American lifestyle is great - when you're young and healthy and ambitious and single,'' he said. "After that, other things become more important, like culture and family, and then you're much better off in France.''
    Giuseppe Roma, who conducts society studies at Censis in Rome, says European shoppers are increasingly rejecting status-quo purchases to buy quality-of-life products.
    The new attitude, he says is: "I care about the real quality of life. I may not buy Prada, but I will buy organic olive oil.''
    Still, some economists say Europe's social model is costing it dearly. In a society that prides itself on egalitarian values, too many people are unemployed or outside the labor market, doubly raiding public coffers by not paying taxes and often receiving benefits at the same time. The jobless rate in the European Union's 15 old members rose to 7.8% last year, compared with 6.1% in the United States, said the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
    With a growing number of retirees, joblessness is increasingly straining the continent's state-financed pension and health systems: the combined burden is forecast to rise to as much as 8% of gross domestic product in most European Union member nations, the European Commission estimates.
    Martin N. Baily, who led the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Bill Clinton, says the important thing for European policy makers is to replace the concept of job security with that of employment security.
    High minimum wages coupled with high payroll taxes and strict job protection laws have priced low-skilled workers out of the labor market in Europe's core economies, notably Germany and France, he said. Lowering both and paying low-wage earners a subsidy would achieve comparable income levels and make it cheaper for companies to hire.
    Instead of an American-style anything-goes labor market, he said, Europe has its own success stories to learn from. Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands have all increased employment beyond even American levels by conditioning generous jobless benefits on tangible efforts to look for work.
    "The notion of social cohesion has tended to protect existing workers to the detriment of those out of a job,'' said Mr. Baily, a senior fellow at the Institute for International Economics in Washington. "But that doesn't mean that you have to dismantle the welfare state. There are European solutions for European problems.''
    A generous welfare state does not only have costs. Europe has less child poverty, a lower incidence of illiteracy and a smaller prison population than the United States, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development statistics show. Europeans have a slightly higher life expectancy and can hope to spend more of their old age in good health than Americans.
    According to surveys by the World Database of Happiness, which is run by Prof. Ruut Veenhoven at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, residents in many European nations are more satisfied with their lives than Americans and residents in more hard-working nations, like Japan, where people have been clocking even more hours than in the United States. More significantly, measures of happiness in the America and Japan has been flat over the last 30 years, while they have been rising in most Western European countries.
    "The main difference with the U.S. is that we spend more time enjoying life,'' said Jorgen Ronnest, director for international affairs at the Danish Employers' Confederation, which represents about 30,000 companies. "And if you look around, maybe we don't need more refrigerators and more cars.''

  2. Upbeat economic outlook - French PM vows to keep jobs at home - Raffarin says short working hours hamper economic growth and pledges to cut unemployment rate, Reuters via Straits Times, Singapore.
    [This should be a fun experiment: maintaining and increasing consumer markets by maintaining, debugging and intensifying France's current 35-hrs/wk/person level of centrifuged employment vs. simultaneously decreasing and increasing consumer markets by disemploying people in a reconcentration of French employment back up to 39 hrs/wk per person in order to try to pull jobs back from unregulated Third World economies.]
    PARIS - French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin has pledged to make the fight to stop the flow of jobs abroad a top priority but warned workers that their short work week was 'killing growth'. In an attack on the 35-hour-week legislation introduced by the Socialists before the conservatives took power, he told the Lower House of Parliament on Tuesday that his government would allocate spending in next year's budget to attract companies to France. 'The 35 hours have killed growth since 2000,' Mr Raffarin said. 'Our next budget will aim to relocalise jobs to our country. The fight against delocalisation will be one of my very top priorities in the 2005 budget.' Faced with high labour costs, some firms are shifting production away from France to lower-cost countries, making the government worry about the competitiveness of French industry. Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy has suggested giving tax exemptions to firms that 'relocalise' jobs to France in poor areas. Mr Raffarin is eager to reduce France's unemployment rate of 9.8%, above the euro zone's rate of 9.0%, after voters punished his conservative administration for its jobs record in European and regional polls in June and March. He delivered an upbeat economic outlook, saying growth would be above the government's previous forecast. 'We modestly predicted growth at 1.7%. Today we have a forecast of 2.3%,' he said, adding that his Socialist predecessors had put off reforms that could have boosted growth. Despite the return of growth in France, some firms are moving abroad. Semiconductor maker STMicroelectronics, for example, is shifting production from a plant in the western city of Rennes to Singapore. President Jacques Chirac said earlier this month that French workers should be able to work more than 35 hours a week, answering calls from Mr Sarkozy for changes to boost the competitiveness of French industry. Some French workers have begun to accept longer working hours as the price for holding on to their jobs. Workers at a Robert Bosch car parts factory voted this month to put in more hours for the same pay in a bid to save jobs, making them the first employees to vote to scrap a 35-hour week. Bosch said the plan would prevent production moving to the Czech Republic, where labour is cheaper. Europe's biggest cable maker Nexans has said it may ask workers at its French factories to follow the Bosch example. In Germany, workers at manufacturing and technology giant Siemens and at carmaker DaimlerChrysler have also agreed to work longer hours in moves aimed at boosting productivity. In its monthly bulletin for July, the Bank of France said that workers in France and the broader euro zone had enjoyed pay rises in recent years despite weak productivity gains, and that this had contributed to 'stickiness' in inflation. Mr Raffarin said the government would maintain a freeze in state spending to help cut France's public deficit.

  3. Socorro County Sheriff's deputies unionize, by Audry Olmsted and Lisa J. Tabet, El Defensor Chieftain, NM.
    SOCORRO COUNTY, N.M. - Socorro County Sheriff's Office employees have been officially recognized by the state of New Mexico as a union, according to Sheriff's Deputy Richard Wells, president of local union chapter. Wells said that 85-90% of the Socorro deputies signed membership cards almost a year ago. According to Wells, in an effort to save money, the county put the deputies on a 36-hour work week. The Coalition of Public Safety Officers contacted Wells about being unionized last year. Sean Bergen, with the Coalition of Public Safety Officers, said some deputies are collecting food stamps because they cannot survive on the 36-hour week. "The most important thing is to decide what they want in their contract." Bergen said. Safety and pay will be the issues at stake. "We will now be able to enter in a contract with the county. We will be able to negotiate wages, benefits and working conditions in the county." Wells said. The next step will be to negotiate a contract with the county. "The county has a lot of problems; we recognize that." Wells said. Wells hopes to have someone from his department look at the county budget to see where the money is going. "We don't have to take everything at face value anymore." he said. County Manager Jody McSmith said the county has not been notified of the card count yet. "I'm sure the labor board will be contacting us soon." She said. "I hope the response is positive. I hope that we can work something out." Wells said. The Coalition of Public Service Officers is a division of the Communications Workers of America.

  4. Nurses could lose overtime pay, by Dave Mecham, WZVN-TV, FL.
    LEE COUNTY, Fla. - In just a few weeks, overtime pay is going away for many registered nurses. That's because new federal rules governing who is eligible for overtime [OT] and who is not, go into effect. Will the new rules affect the quality of your health care? The new overtime rules are meant to overhaul 1930's legislation which set a standard 40 hour work week that most people are familiar with. But the way some professions are paid is changing and that could mean more than just the end of overtime. In mid-August, new federal regulations make it easier for employers to reclassify their employees as salaried professionals and that means no overtime. Nursing professionals say this new rule will increase the shortage of registered nurses. "With the nursing shortage, nurses are not willing to work without overtime," said Diane Corrie, of the Critical Care Nurses Association. Two of Southwest Florida's largest hospitals say even though they have the option to cut overtime, they will continue to pay it. Officials at Lee Memorial say that could be an advantage over hospitals who plan to cut OT for registered nurses. Those affected by the overtime change come from a wide array of occupations including mortgage loan officers, chefs, athletic trainers, and funeral directors. Anyone earning less than $23,000 a year will be eligible for overtime.

7/28/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 7/27 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #6 which is from the 7/28 newspaper hardcopy, & backup from recently- & soon-again-to-be-vacationing Alan Applebaum of Brookline MA), and excerpts and [comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
  1. Council supports push to share jobs, by Tim Dick, Sydney Morning Herald, Australia.
    WILLOUGHBY, N.S.W., Australia - Some voters may get two local councillors for the price of one if a push to allow councillors to share jobs is successful. Willoughby Council has voted nine to three to support the principle of job sharing for councillors. Some commentators say there is no reason state and federal politicians could not share their jobs as well. Councillor Kate Lamb sponsored the motion, which passed on Monday, after hearing of two local women who had planned to stand together at the last elections but were told it was not allowed. She said the council should be "opened up to as broad and diverse a range of people as we have in our community". The Local Government Association president, Sara Murray, said job sharing was not possible under present legislation, but the Willoughby vote meant the issue would be discussed at the association's conference this year. Sarah Maddison, convener of the Women's Electoral Lobby NSW, described the move as fantastic. As long as voters knew the situation during an election, she said, she could see no problem. Advertisement Advertisement The federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Pru Goward, said if the council believed it could be done at local government level, it could also be tried at state level. However, she said, "the problem with elected work is that the job is as long as a piece of string". Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show 165,000 women and 19,600 men work in a job sharing arrangement out of a national workforce of 7.9 million. And most of those who share jobs do not have young children. Alison Peters, of the Labor Council of NSW, said job-sharing had not taken off in the same way part-time work had, partly because there was a great deal of management resistance. Job-sharing for councillors does not have universal approval. A spokeswoman for the Minister for Local Government, Tony Kelly, said the role of a councillor could not be shared. The Opposition spokesman on women, Catherine Cusack, also dismissed it, suggesting two councillors would "end up spending more time talking to each other than to constituents". But the Women's Electoral Lobby said there would be advantages, even for politicians at state and national levels. Members of Parliament made judgements "when they are extremely tired or under the influence", Dr Maddison said.

  2. Wake up! Globalization's coming, by Dave Lindorff (dlindorff@yahoo.com), CounterPunch, CA.
    [This is a little late, isn't it? At this point, globalization is starting to go away again, having demonstrated its problems.]
    Get to work, Americans! Globalization is coming home to roost, and you're going to be getting very, very busy, with no rest in your dotage.
    That's the message from United Airlines and Old Europe this past week.
    First Old Europe, where workers at a company at the Bosch car parts plant in France resignedly voted to accept a management demand that they increase their workweek (but not their pay) by an hour from the state mandated 35-hour week because of increased competition from abroad. That was followed by DaimlerChrysler in Germany, where workers agreed to return from a 35 to a 40-hour week, again with no increase in pay, under the threat of seeing plants outsourced to South Africa. Other workers in France and Germany have been giving up two weeks of paid vacation and agreeing to increased workweeks after similar threats. It appears that the 35-hour workweek, introduced only a few years ago as a pioneering reform in France, is on its deathbed, a victim of globalization. In the U.S., of course, the 40-hour week, once hailed generations ago as a great reform by the labor movement, died so long ago-sometime back in the Reagan years, I believe-that it is in severe rigor mortis at this point, with the average workweek hovering in the 42-hour range and rising. Meanwhile, people in America aren't just having to work longer to make ends meet - and increasingly just to keep their jobs; they can also forget about retiring at 65-and even about getting a pension. Virtually all American employers long ago did away with so-called defined benefit pension plans-the ones that established a certain level of monthly benefits and then paid those benefits based on the number of years a worker was employed-and replaced them with so-called defined payment plans, where workers (and sometimes employers) paid into a plan and then the pension, upon retirement, would be based on how much was paid in, and on how well the company managed to invest those paid-in moneys. Now many companies are trying to weasel out of those meager pension plans too. One way has always been to drop workers before their plans are "vested", usually after five years of employment. If that happens, the worker keeps what she or he has invested in a plan, but the company can keep what it contributed. Many workers, particularly at the lower end of the pay scale, but increasingly in higher paying white-collar jobs too, shuttle through a series of short-term jobs and never manage to get vested, in the process getting robbed of a lifetime's worth of employee contributions to their never earned pensions. Corporate lobbyists have managed to prevent Congress from ever passing legislation making pensions fully portable from job to job-an obvious bit of basic decency that seems to elude even Democratic politicians. Another way of avoiding pensions, growing in popularity in management suites, is to hire contract workers and temps to do jobs once done by employees, since the outsourced jobs don't get any benefits. But it gets worse. United Airlines just announced that it wants to terminate its pension payments, and going forward, possibly cancel its pension program altogether. The company claims it needs to take this drastic step to remain competitive. Of course, to "remain competitive" with United, other airlines will argue that they have to do the same thing. (Did anyone say collusion?) As this screw-the-worker movement spreads, as inevitably it will, like a wildfire, what we can expect to wind up with is American workers putting in 9-hour days, maybe adding a sixth day to the work week, and an end to retirement, since people will have to stay on the job until they die to keep paying for rent, food and medical care.
    Welcome to the 19th century.
    Can child labor be far behind? Actually, they've actually been tinkering with the law here in Pennsylvania, where you'll find children under 16 working in supermarkets and fast food joints under new "liberalized" labor laws (no doubt this is going on in other enlightened states too). Adding factory jobs and coal mining is just a matter of degree. And yet they keep saying globalization is good, because "free trade" brings us cheaper goods and services. Now, finally, we are seeing the seamy downside of all this. Corporations do just fine with globalization. They get to produce where it's cheapest, sell the same goods back to us at huge mark-ups, and extort us into surrendering hard-won gains in pay, working hours, and retirement benefits, just to stay employed. For the people though, globalization is just a form of governmentally sanctioned extortion, and until the working people of America massively return to trade unions, and insist that politicians respond to human, instead of corporate needs, it will only get worse.
    Dave Lindorff is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled "This Can't be Happening!" to be published this fall by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net.

  3. Ask Dr. Wally: If you have a ticket to ride, it's time to use it, by Wallace Johnston, Richmond Times Dispatch, VA.
    Q: I have to agree with the comment you made about "at-will" termination of employees. North Carolina is one of the states where that can happen. (So is Virginia.) If you read the N.C. Wages & Hours Act, you find that the employee is basically at the mercy of employers. The act is heavily in favor of business owners, and the only rights I can find in there for the employee are: 1) You have the right to expect to be paid for your hours and 2) Nonexempt employees have the right to expect time and a half for hours worked in excess of 40 hours during any work week. Related to this, I find that the maximum number of hours an employer can demand from an employee during any workweek is 168. This is because there are only 168 hours in seven days! If such a demand is made, the employee is obligated, and his or her only recourse is to quit if that is not acceptable. This makes North Carolina look like a "slave" state, with the employees assuming that status. It also keeps state regulators out of the picture and allows market forces to drive the issue. While an employer can make outrageous demands and expect to have them met, he will soon have no one working for him, as employees vote with their feet. I work in retail, and the demands and pressures are extraordinary! For the past two years, I have experienced the most humbling, nay, degrading, both physically and mentally, job of all: serving the consumer public. There has been neither satisfaction, nor appreciation for any of the strain I have been subjected to. I have been working schedules that no one in his or her right mind would accept, and I questioned it because I felt that what they expected was surely illegal. I was shown the act and discovered they were well within state laws on the issue, which has forced me to look at the situation in a different light. I no longer complain about it, but I am looking for a new job. Moreover, I have had to adopt a completely mercenary mind-set just to keep my sanity. As the unemployment situation continues, job seekers will be forced to take more low-paying and undesirable jobs, and the balance swings in favor of employers who need to fill these jobs. They will find, if they choose to look, that people of enormous talent and education are filling their low-status jobs. Unfortunately, they are neither concerned about nor appreciate what these people have to offer. That is because there are floors that need sweeping, groceries to bag, and urinals to scrub, which are surely more pressing than anything else. What a world we live in! Unhappy A: Your summary has been noted. Yes, employment at will does seem to put a heavier burden on employees. I am sure many readers will agree with you.
    Please clearly identify any e-mail to Dr. Wally by stating in the subject box: Question for drwally. The new e-mail address is drwally@askdrwally.com. Wallace Johnston welcomes visitors to the new www.askdrwally.com Web site.

  4. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, by Wayne Barrett, with Christine Lagorio, Village Voice, NY.
    Hillary Clinton was at her breakfast best back in May, reminding the Anti-Defamation League's National Leadership Conference that Robert Frost said "fences make good neighbors," and saluting Ariel Sharon's 450-mile wall as "the responsibility of any government" faced with deadly border incursions.... Even on the domestic side, where she's a bitter opponent of the Bush tax cuts and Medicare drug bills, she's co-sponsoring a brutal bill imposing a 40-hour work week on welfare recipients and a Bush-backed, Rick Santorum-sponsored bill for faith-based social-service funding. While she's received strong ratings from top environmental groups, she's voted with the Republicans on curious key issues - from air-conditioning efficiency to toxic incinerators. She was even part of a Senate bipartisan minority to back oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico....

  5. Workplace needs a woman's touch, by Prof. Joan Stringer of Napier University, The Scotsman, UK.
    ...Above all, employers must address the work/life balance and move away from the long hours culture which pressurises employees into believing they cannot both succeed at work and devote time to family and other activities. Mr Bloom's attitude that family life gets in the way of work is sadly all too prevalent - though I note with pleasure rather than surprise the extent of the condemnation that Mr Bloom's comments generated. But Britain's long hours culture is also extremely damaging. Not only does it keep men away from their families, it blocks the progress of many women towards more senior positions at work. There is a real need to break the link in some employers' minds between long hours and productivity, and to establish instead the goal of achieving high productivity for every hour worked. Childcare assistance, flexi-time, variable working hours, job-sharing, working from home, tele-working and career breaks bring sweat to the brow of many managers, particularly those in small to medium-sized companies. But this is a very blinkered view. Women's careers don't stop the minute they have a child. If a woman feels her employer is supportive, she will come back to work and continue the fruitful relationship. Otherwise she will take her skills, experience and knowledge elsewhere. And the costs of replacing her can be quite significant. Absenteeism costs UK business billions every year - how much of that is due to women "coping" with the absence of affordable childcare? Or indeed men, because our culture does not encourage men to share these kind of responsibilities? Managers need to play the long game in terms of female employees because only those that do will prosper and grow thanks to the diversity of skills and talents women will bring to that company.

  6. Europe is urged to fight budget gaps [by OECD], by Marcus Walker, WSJ, A11.
    ...A growing list of employers are looking to emulate companies, including Siemens AG and DaimlerChrysler AG, which have struck recent agreements with their workforces to cut pay or increase working hours [without increasing pay]. Such agreements reflect -

  7. French GDP growth to better forecast: Raffarin, AFP via Expatica, Netherlands.
    PARIS - Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin told lawmakers Tuesday that the French economy was poised to grow 2.3% this year rather than the government's initial forecast of 1.7%. Raffarin also told the National Assembly that he "will maintain the goal of zero growth in state spending" in the 2005 budget, which is currently under preparation. "We will reduce the deficit by several billion euros by controlling expenses ... We will also take budgetary and legislative measures that are necessary to restore purchasing power to the French people," he said.
    [ie: taxcuts? 60-70% of most governments in industrialized economies today are makework. If they attack their consumer markets on two fronts at once, by concentrating the technologically vanishing employment of the nation and also cutting taxes and government makework, we forecast fast sharp ongoing recession, similar to Japan's since 1990.]
    Raffarin in addition took a swipe at the 35-hour work week, established under the former Socialist administration of Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, asserting that it had "killed growth starting in 2000." "Growth - it's the work of the French people. Let's not forget that truth." Citing a recent projection by the French national statistics institute INSEE, Raffarin said his government was "today on a forecast of growth of 2.3%" this year. INSEE late last month said French growth should reach 2.3% in 2004, surpassing the anticipated average growth rate in the 12-nation euro zone this year. In another report, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development predicted Tuesday that the euro zone economy was likely to grow by 1.5% this year and by 2.5% in 2005.

  8. France's Sarkozy may quit to seek top party post (update2) - Sarkozy has disagreed with Chirac, 71, by seeking to loosen a law limiting the work week to 35 hours and by advocating defense savings to reduce the government, by Gabriele Parussini (gparussini@bloomberg.net), Bloomberg.
    PARIS - French Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy may resign to seek the leadership of President Jacques Chirac's Union for a Popular Movement, three officials of the governing party said. Taking the top party position would pave the way for Sarkozy...to run for the presidency in 2007, the National Assembly members said. Chirac said in a July 14 television interview that Sarkozy, in office for fewer than four months, must resign should he become leader of the party, known as UMP. ``Sarkozy's going to run and he will be elected'' party chief, said Claude Gloasguen, a UMP member of parliament and minister for state reforms in 1995, in an interview in Paris. Chirac ``is wrong in forcing him to choose'' between the jobs. Sarkozy has disagreed with Chirac...by seeking to loosen a law limiting the work week to 35 hours and by advocating defense savings to reduce the government deficit. He has sought to boost consumer spending by persuading retailers such as Carrefour SA to lower prices, and secured European Union approval for a French rescue of Alstom SA, a maker of ships, trains and power stations. ``A departure of Sarkozy might have an effect'' on the nation's benchmark CAC 40 stock index because of the minister's help for companies such as Alstom, said Louis Pestel, who oversees the equivalent of $3.1 billion at Lazard Freres Gestion in Paris. The index is little changed so far this year....
    Job creation
    Job creation has stalled amid economic growth that Sarkozy said would reach 2.4% this year. France's unemployment rate, at 9.8%, equals Germany's as highest among the Group of Seven industrialized nations. For the third year in a row, the government's budget deficit will exceed the European Union's 3% ceiling in 2004. The finance minister is the most popular member of Chirac's government, with an approval rating of 60%, according to a survey by Ipsos for the weekly magazine Le Point. Chirac's approval rating is 49%, the poll of 955 eligible voters conducted by telephone on July 16 and July 17 found. Ipsos gave no margin of error for the survey. Sarkozy's rivalry with Chirac dates from 1995, when the then-budget minister supported Edouard Balladur's failed challenge to Chirac in presidential elections. Balladur was President Francois Mitterrand's prime minister at the time.
    2007 plans
    Chirac has not said whether he will seek a third term that would make him the longest-serving president, with a total of 17 years. Sarkozy hasn't said he intends to run. In a November television interview, he said he does think about becoming president, ``and not just when I'm shaving.'' Sarkozy has advocated giving people the option to work more than the legal limit of 35 hours, winning support from businesses, which must pay an extra 10% to 50% for overtime.
    [To avoid "giving people the option" to return to slavery (see today's story #3 above), the Timesizing program gives only a certain kind of person the right to work more than the legal limit of whatever the current rate of automating and robotizing human jobs, as signaled through the comprehensive unemployment rate, determines. And that kind of person is a person who loves their job so much, who has so much qualitative and deflationary incentive, that they are willing to share it with others by reinvesting 100% of their overtime earnings in training and hiring others, and thus to ensure that their overtime is not due to a skill bottleneck in the economy.]
    In a speech July 8 to executives in Paris, Sarkozy said the government needs to eliminate punitive overtime payments to help companies increase their international competitiveness. His comments were ``very much appreciated,'' said Gerard Mestrallet, chief executive officer of Paris-based Suez SA, the world's second-biggest water utility. Chirac has avoided endorsing Sarkozy's position. The president said in the July 14 interview the government, labor unions and business group should negotiate agreements at branch or company levels, allowing those who want to earn more to work more.

  9. 40-hour work week would boost German GDP, DPA via Expatica, Netherlands.
    BERLIN - A nationwide return to a 40-hour work week would add 0.5 percentage point...to Germany's annual economic growth, a bank report said Tuesday.
    [Clobber your quality of life to the tune of 5 extra hours of work a week with no comparable pay raise just so bankers can boast about a lousy extra half percent in the squishy GDP measure? If Germans go for this, they'll lose their reputation for intelligence and efficiency just as fast as Switzerland did when it flushed Swissair down the toilet.]
    The extra GDP would come only if workers agreed to work longer hours without any pay increase, said the Deka Bank study reported by the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper. Longer hours without pay have been agreed in several landmark agreements in Germany over the past month including with workers at industrial giants Siemens and DaimlerChrysler. Many Germans currently work a 35-hour week with up to 35 days of paid vacation a year. The report noted that aside from a longer work-day, another method to impose a 40-hour week would be to trim about 12 days of paid vacation. Germany's economy has been in stagnation for the past three years but the government and economists predict growth of between 1.5% and 1.8 percent this year.

  10. German business confidence rises amid export growth (update2), by John Fraher (jfraher@bloomberg.net), Bloomberg.
    FRANKFURT - ...Addicted to exports
    [More than France, less than U.S. - not crucial to German economy.]
    With exports driving German growth and unemployment weighing on consumer spending, the recovery may also be reined in by a global slowdown, said economists including Deutsche Bank AG's Thomas Mayer. U.S. retail sales fell in June by the most since February 2003, while Chinese economic growth unexpectedly slowed in the second quarter. ``The economy is being carried forward by exports, which makes it vulnerable to external developments,'' said Mayer, Deutsche Bank's chief European economist. ``The external impulse for Germany will be weaker'' in the second half. JCF Group, a compiler of analyst surveys, estimates that profit among the euro region's 600 biggest companies may shrink by 1% on average in the third quarter from the second. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development today said risks to a euro-region recovery include an appreciation of the euro, which makes exports more expensive abroad, and a surge in crude oil prices.
    European confidence
    For now, business confidence is rising across the 12 nations sharing the euro. Belgian business confidence, regarded by some economists as a benchmark for Europe, jumped this month to the highest since November 2000, the central bank said yesterday. In Italy, the third-largest economy in the euro region, Rome-based Isae's confidence index rose to 95 from a revised 93.5. Executives' assessment of Germany's growth prospects may improve after workers at companies including DaimlerChrysler AG agreed to longer working hours and reduced wage rises, said Nerb. ``There was a positive effect from this side and I wouldn't be surprised if we saw more in the future,'' he said, referring to this month's business report. Thomas Cook AG, Europe's second-biggest tourism company, said 2,000 staff agreed to work longer. A month ago, 2,000 Siemens employees agreed to extend their work week after the company threatened to shift production to Hungary. ``After a long time we're back on track toward a positive economic development,'' said Bernd Brinkmann, a board member at Ehlebracht AG, a German maker of interior lighting and office equipment.

7/27/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 7/26 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #1 which is from the 7/27 newspaper hardcopy, & backup from recently- & soon-again-to-be-vacationing Alan Applebaum of Brookline MA), and excerpts and [comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
  1. Siemens's elder statesman - CEO Heinrich von Pierer holds sway in business - and politics, by Matthew Karnitschnig, WSJ, A14.
    ...Just how powerful the Siemens chief has become became apparent last month in negotiations with Germany's formidable metalworkers union, IG Metall. Siemens, which has 167,000 employees in Germany, threatened to move two handset factories to Hungary if workers didn't agree to work 40 hours a week [up from 35] at no extra pay. The demand challenged what many in Germany consider the labor movement's crowning achievement: the introduction in the 1990s of the 35-hour workweek....
    [Actually, labor's crowningn achievement would have been the introduction of an adjustable workweek that was indexed inversely to unemployment - as long as unemployment was too high or rising, the workweek would automatically adjust downward and keep the technologically vanishing employment spread out across the entire workforce, regardless of waves of automation and robotization, so that the consumer base would not be continuously eroded. The challenges of skill transfer and inflation control would be handled by automatic overtime-to-training&hiring conversion at the new 'reinvestment threshold' marking the adjustable top of the workweek.]
    ...A former city councilman, Mr. von Pierer used his political talents to win over the company's rank and file, often sitting down for a beer and bratwurst after work to discuss employee concerns.
    [Again, labor sells its birthright for a mess of pottage, just as in the Depression in America when the CIO split off from the AFL and agreed to stop pressing for the 30-hour workweek in exchange for fireside chats, an alphabet soup of makework campaigns, and the Big-Govt Four: social security (now insecure), minimum wage (ever too little too late & too two-edged), workmen's comp (now bloated & abused), and unemployment insurance (still unextended).]
    One of Siemens's workers councils even made him an honorary member. A record of engagement with workers lent Mr. von Pierer a degree of legitimacy that proved crucial in helping to sell the longer workweek. "We need two things in Germany: [correct! (1) gradual and automatic unemployment-countering workweek reduction, and (2) automatic reinvestment of overtime profits&earnings in training&hiring - but that's not where Piltdown-man von Pierer's head is at -]
    1. innovation [whose worksavings got them into this crisis of underconsumption in the first place]
    2. and cost-efficient labor conditions," [whose stinting on wages denied spending power to the consumers most likely to spend it fast]
    he told workers time and again.
    [If you repeat something often enough, people just get tired of mentally rebutting it. It's Hitler's Big Lie strategy, now firmly ensconced in the neo-con repertoire at the US White House.]
    After weeks of negotiations, the unions [worn down? - and lacking a comprehensive alternative vision like Timesizing] finally agreed to Siemens's terms, a deal expected to serve as a model for wage negotiations across German industry.
    [Great, a model for further weakening consumer demand.]
    Indeed, last week DaimlerChrysler AG won labor concessions extending the hours of some of its workers....

  2. Burrito joints pay back wages - DOL: Burrito joints failed to combine hours at multiple locations, HR.BLR.com.
    A Boston-area restaurant chain has paid 67 employees $119,046 in back wages to settle allegations that it violated the overtime and recordkeeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), according to the Dept. of Labor. Investigators form the Labor Dept.'s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) said that Cambridge-based Boca Grande, which owns and operates the Boston Burrito, Cambridge Burrito, and Brookline Burrito restaurants in those communities, failed to pay overtime wages to employees between August 2001 and August 2003. In addition, the department accused the restaurant chain of failing to maintain adequate payroll records. The restaurants had employed the same workers at multiple locations without combining the hours worked at each location, according to the department. The employees were paid straight time for the hours worked at each location, when they should have received overtime for the hours worked over 40 in a single work week. The department says the company cooperated fully with WHD and paid the back wages to its employees.

  3. And on the seventh day we rested? - Maybe those old blue laws weren't so crazy after all, by Nancy Gibbs, Time magazine.
    Once upon a time, in the "Dominion Of New Haven," it was illegal to kiss your children on Sunday. Or make a bed or cut your hair or eat mince pies or cross a river unless you were a clergyman riding your circuit. If you lived in Connecticut in 1650, there was no mistaking Sunday for just another shopping day; regardless of whether you'd go to hell for breaking the Sabbath, you could certainly go to jail. Centuries later, the sense that Sunday is special is still wired in us, a miniature sabbatical during which to peel off the rest of the week and savor ritual, religious or otherwise: Sunday worship, Sunday football, Sunday papers, Sunday brunch, the day you call your mother, the night the family gathers around the TV to watch, once upon a time, The Wonderful World of Disney and, now, The Simpsons. The idea that rest is a right has deep roots in our history. Blue laws were a gift as much as a duty, a command to relax and reflect. That tension, explains Sunday historian Alexis McCrossen, has always been less between sacred and secular than between work and respite; America does not readily sit still, even for a day. The Civil War and a demand for news begat the Sunday paper; industrialization inspired progressives to argue that libraries and museums should open on Sundays so working people could elevate themselves. Major league baseball held its first Sunday game in 1892 (the Cincinnati Reds beat the St. Louis Browns, 5-1). Joseph Pulitzer realized the Sunday paper was less about news than about fun, comics and book reviews, and soon the theaters were open too, as well as amusement parks and fairs. Over time, Sunday has gone from a day we could do only a very few things to the only day we can do just about anything we want. The U.S. is too diverse, our lives too busy, our economy too global and our appetites too vast to lose a whole day that could be spent working or playing or power shopping. Pulled between piety and profit, even Christian bookstores are open. Children come to Sunday school dressed in their soccer uniforms; some churches have started their own leagues just to control the schedule. Politicians recite their liturgies in TV studios. Post offices may still be closed, but once you miss that first Sunday e-mail from the boss, it becomes forever harder not to log on and check in. Even the casinos are open. If your soul has no Sunday, it becomes an orphan, Albert Schweitzer said ‹ which raises a question for our times: What do we lose if Sunday becomes just like any other day? Lawmakers in Virginia got to spend part of their summer break debating that question, thanks to a mistake they made last winter when they inadvertently revived a "day of rest" rule; hotels and hospitals and nuclear power plants would have had to give workers a weekend day off or be fined $500. After a special legislative session was convened to fix the error, Virginia's workers, like the rest of us, are once more potentially on call 24/7. Meanwhile, Rhode Island just became the 32nd state to let liquor stores open every Sunday; until this month, they could do so only in December, perhaps because even George Washington's eggnog recipe called for brandy, whiskey and rum. Social conservatives may want to honor the Fourth Commandment, but businesses want the income, states need the tax revenues, and busy families want the flexibility. With progress, of course, comes backlash from those who desperately want to preserve the old ways. Mom-and-pop liquor stores in New York fought to keep the blue laws to have more time with their families. Car dealers in Kansas City, Mo., pushed for a law to make them close on Sundays so they could have a day off without losing out to competition. Chick-Fil-A, a chain of more than 1,100 restaurants in 37 states, closes on Sundays because its founder, Truett Cathy, promised employees time to "worship, spend time with family and friends or just plain rest from the work week," says the chain's website. "Made sense then, still makes sense now." Pope John Paul II even wrote an apostolic letter in defense of Sunday: "When Sunday loses its fundamental meaning and becomes merely part of a 'weekend,'" he wrote, "people stay locked within a horizon so limited that they can no longer see 'the heavens.'" In an age with no free time, we buy it through hard choices. Do we skip church so we can sleep in or skip soccer so we can go to church or find a family ritual ‹ cook together, read together, a Parcheesi challenge ‹ that we treat as sacred? That way, at least some part of Sunday faces in a different direction, whether toward heaven or toward one another.

7/24-26/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 7/23-25 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #2 which is from the 7/24-26 newspaper hardcopy, & backup from recently- & soon-again-to-be-vacationing Alan Applebaum of Brookline MA), and excerpts and [comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
  1. 7/24   Economists slam employer demand for longer work week, Helsingin Sanomat via YLE24 Online, Finland.
    Finnish economists are highly sceptical of the suggestion that extending the work week would give a boost to the national economy.
    [Good. One community of economists who can see the nose in front of their faces.]
    Employer organisations have called for an increase in working hours. However, according to the Government Institute for Economic Research, a longer work week may actually decrease productiveness. This view is echoed by other top economic institutions in Finland, reports the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat. Head economist for the Federation of Finnish Cooperatives, Pasi Holm, says that a much better way of boosting the economy would be to put efforts into employing more people. He says employment could be funded i[f] companies held off on huge pay raises. Kari Alho, head researcher for The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy also says that employment is a much better approach than a longer working week.
    [And of course, the easiest way to employ more people (and reactivate more confident employee-consumers) is shorter workweeks, not longer. As even Republican Pres. Herbert Hoover in 1932 called shorter hours the quickest way to create more jobs. (Ben Hunnicutt, Work Without End (1988), p.149.]
    The debate over Finland's working hours was sparked in Germany, where electronics company Siemens extended its employees' hours from 35 to 40 hours a week.

  2. 7/24   Concessions by employees at Daimler - A German trend to a longer week, Bloomberg via NYT, B3.
    FRANKFURT - DaimlerChrysler employees at Mercedes factories in Germany have agreed to smaller raises and increased hours after the carmaker threatened to shed 6,000 jobs, adding to pressure for a longer workweek nationwide.
    [What pressure to add to? There was no pressure to add to. And if this pressure is successful, consumer demand in Germany will collapse just as fast as Japan's did when they too decided that their "old-fashioned" ways, in their case, lifelong employment, should be replaced by American-style downsizing in the late 1980s.]
    Emboldened by the reduced power of labor unions amid rising unemployment, Germany's biggest companies are asking employees to work longer to save their jobs.
    [Thus Germany's biggest companies are set on a suicidal consumer-clobbering course, that will concentrate the technologically vanishing employment-income and -wealth of the nation and raise unemployment even more. Germany is starting a self-fueling path to the Third World.]
    The Daimler agreement, which will reduce costs by 500m euros ($613m) a year [and its markets by how much per year?], follows an agreement by 4,000 Siemens employees last month to extend their workweek. Thomas Cook, the large tourism company, said on Thursday that 2,000 of its employees would [also] work longer.
    [Thos. Cook is particularly suicidal because not only is it reducing its best customers = its own employees and their dependents, but it is a leisure company that fueling a trend to reduce leisure! How stupid can you get?! Now listen to the self-duping rant -]
    "These company-specific agreements [ie: divide and conquer, vs. economy-wide] are helping to improve cost competitiveness, making companies more productive [manhours have nothing to do with productivity in the Technological Age] - that helps investment [not when the market weakness is felt!] and, eventually, employment [Orwellian: 'help employment by harming employment']," said Elga Bartsch, a [particularly confused] economist Morgan Stanley in Frankfurt....
    [She needs to talk to Steve Roach at Morgan Stanley in NY. See 7/22 #1 below.]
    Daimler will safeguard jobs at Sindelfingen, the company's biggest Mercedes plant, and two other factories until at least 2012 [and then further Armageddon?!], Juergen Schrempp, CEO of DaimlerChrysler, said at a new conference. Workers will forgo some of their planned pay increases from 2006 and some employees will work 40 hours a week [despite Germany's overall 10% unemployment and east Germany's overall 18% = all handicapped consumers]. Executives will accept a 10% pay reduction, Mr. Schrempp said.
    [And they richly deserve it for not rejigging their world leadership in worksharing systems into a more flexible and market-determined Timesizing system.]
    The accord will end temporary walkouts that stopped production of at least 2,800 cars at Daimler's German plants.
    "We found a good solution for Daimler as well as for Germany," Mr. Schrempp said....
    [No you didn't. You only found a faster route to depression and lower quality of life.]
    Germany's $2.5 trillion economy has not grown more than 1% in any of the last 3 years.
    [So what - it's sustainable, and its GDP figures are counting a lot less bad stuff than the American GDP, such as prison and shelter building, and the inflated GDP of the irrelevant and unnecessary Iraq invasion.]
    Unemployment has risen to 9.8% from 7.6% at the end of 2000, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development [OECD]. The increase in the jobless rate has reduced union membership by more than one-third since reunification in 1991.
    The German chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, said in a statement faxed to news organizations, "The agreement between the management board, the works council and IG Metall [the union] is a victory for reason."...
    [Nope, it's a victory for irrational and purposeless introduction of technology, because instead of using worksaving technology to make life easier for everyone by freeing everyone from work, they are actually seeing lengthening human worktime, not shortening it, thus turning themselves into passive luddites, determined to block the positive promise of technology and turn it the curse of longer worktime and more control, by them, over people's lives and freedoms. It's also a victory for such a huge lack of creativity and imagination that they have failed to design a way to avoid the Race to the Bottom and continue their leadership in quality of life and real freedom, founded on the most basic freedom, free time, without which the other freedoms are meaningless.]
    Thomas Cook, based near Frankfurt, and the Ver.di union agreed on Friday to delay a wage increase, originally scheduled for July 1, until Jan.1, 2006. The company, owned by KarstadtQuelle and Deutsche Lufthansa, agreed on Thursday with Ver.di to extend the workweek for about 2,000 workers to 40 hours, starting Aug.1.
    Other companies considering increasing hours in Germany to reduce costs include [All of whom should know better. Compare Wall St. version -]
    7/26   Less leisure in Germany - DaimlerChrysler pay concessions may lead to deals at VW, GM, by Stephen Power & Marcus Walker with Jo Wrighton, WSJ, A13.
    FRANKFURT - Wage concessions won by DaimlerChrysler AG last week add momentum to a trend of receding worker entitlements in Europe - a development that has the potential to spur the Continent's sagging economy and boost its competitiveness.
    The deal at the car maker's Mercedes division, where unions gave up a planned 2.8% wage increase and agreed to let support staff work longer hours with no additional pay, is expected to help other companies, including rivals Volkswagen AG and General Motors Corp.'s Opel unit, in their own efforts to get more from their employees. "Mercedes is an alarm for the unions," says Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, professor of automotive research at the University of Applied Sciences in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. "They are afraid that in a very short time the general wage conditions will be renegotiated in every company."
    [The unions better get focused on their power issue, fuller employment through shorter hours, and forget about money for the duration, or they will be toast. All these suicidal management-serving predictions will come true, and worse.]
    For years, Europeans have claimed their short workweeks and long vacations add up to a better, healthier lifestyle than what U.S. workers enjoy.
    [Absolutely true.]
    But [shortsighted, history-ignorant, mainly US & UK] economists increasingly say the surfeit of leisure is taking a toll in jobs and economic growth.
    ["Surfeit" of leisure? Surplus of free time? How can you have a surplus of the most basic freedom? Let us remind ourselves that in both America and Britain, hard labor, not plenty of leisure, is still a punishment.]
    A recent study by the OECD found that the number of hours put in by the average worker in France and Germany has declined by more than 20% since 1970...
    [exactly what you would expect from the waves of worksaving technology that have flowed into their economies in these 34 years, but watch the perverse spin...]
    accounting for much of Europe's productivity deficit compared with the U.S.
    [- only in the irrelevant productivity measure of output per employee, which is so misleading, a slave who works all 168 hours a week could conceivably have the highest output per worker - and yet represent the opposite of human advancement and progress. The OECD should be ashamed of mentioning this ridiculous measure and the WSJ of repeating it.]
    Overall output per worker in France and Germany is 10-20% lower than in the U.S. [irrelevant],
    even though German workers are as productive as Americans per hour workers [relevant]
    and French workers are more so,
    according to the OECD.
    The current 'trend' [they're stupidly trying to pump it into a trend anyway!] is toward more work without more pay....
    [In other words, more concentration in the nation's employment and income, meaning more unemployment and less spending to turn the current uptick into a robust and sustainable economic recovery - "show us the consumers!" Already Germany is hurting for consumer demand and what are these supposed "experts" doing? - ensuring there'll be LESS.]
    Europe's biggest cable maker, Paris-based Nexans SA, said last week it is considering copying a deal reached by autoparts maker Robert Bosch GmbH. Bosch hammered out an agreement with its Lyon, France, plant that challenges a French law limiting workers to 35 hours a week.
    Europe's biggest mail-order company, KarstadtQuelle AG of Essen, Germany, likewise said it would scale back planned layoffs if warehouse workers agree to a longer working week.
    [And how long will that mere reduction of layoffs last? This is like the job blackmail that Raytheon and Fidelity Investments exercised on the Massachusetts legislature in the 1990s: "Give us tax breaks or we'll take jobs out of the state." The legislature gave them the tax breaks and they still took jobs out of the state. There was no oversight, no guarantees, no enforcement, no mechanism to perform on the promise. And just as the Mass. legislature caved then with no long-range alternative strategy, these employees are acquiescing now to their own slaughter.]
    ..\.."The management extracted cost cuts from us that hurt us a lot," said Erich Klemm, the head of DaimlerChrysler's workers' council and a senior member of IG Metall, the powerful union covering Germany's auto sector....
    [Kind of makes you wonder what the heck these big-union guys have been doing all these years with the manifest benefits of worksharing in operation all around them, with all kinds of money, resources and personnel, and yet they have not optimized the system and made it more flexible and capable of employing all of Germany's 10% unemployed.]
    "The alternative would have been new confrontations every year about investment decisions, jobs and pay," he said....
    [Pathetic! He sounds tired, and kinda cowardly, doesn't he? And maybe kinda lazy. What a louzy leader. And again, he has too little imagination to imagine a THIRD alternative instead of just accepting the phony ultimatum framed by nearsighted management. Well, there is a third way and it is market-oriented, consistent, sustainable and looong-term - and it is Timesizing.]
    In recent weeks, industrial conglomerate Siemens AG prodded 2,000 workers in its mobile-phone division to extend their workweek to 40 hours from 35.
    A similar deal for longer hours was pushed through at the Dutch unit of U.S. office-equipment maker Smead Manufacturing....
    On Friday, [Daimler] CEO Juergen Schrempp said his company's agreement would enable it to cut costs by E500m ($605m), and continue assembling its C-Class compact sedan at its Sindelfingen plant....
    Yet workers countered by pointing out repeatedly that the Mercedes division hardly needs to cut costs after posting E3.1B in operating profit in 2003.
    [This is the most self-destructive kind of CEO strategy there is - at a time of huge operating profit, this CEO has contrived to belittle and shrink his company in the quintessential form of its workforce and through them and their dependents, in its best customers. He has no future, because the 'future' he is moving towards is the past. He is disempowering and impoverishing his own consumer base, and slitting his own vulnerable throat. In the future, his like will be compared to suicide bombers, who destroy others and themselves as well.]
    ..\..The company had threatened to cut 6,000 jobs - roughly 3% of its German work force - and shift production of new versions of the C-Class elsewhere.
    [But the lazy, weak, unfocused and strategically prioritized union leaders caved also despite the CEO's weaknesses -]
    ...His plans to invest in Mitsubishi Motors Corp. collapsed in May. Without labor's backing [after that collapse], his grip on the top job would be severely weakened. [He] also had few easy alternatives to reaching a deal with German workers because [Daimler] has no assembly plants in central Europe or other low-wage locations except for South Africa....
    In the deal Daimler announced, assemblyline workers will continue putting in 35 hours a week, but support staff such as cafeteria workers and security guards will gradually extend their workweek to 39 hours with no additional pay....
    [Thus less time, and no more money, for shopping. This is a recovery strategy??]

  3. 7/25   Millions may lose overtime eligibility, by Niala Boodhoo (nboodhoo@sun-sentinel.com or 954-356-4208), Sun-Sentinel.com, FL.
    The most sweeping changes in the nation's labor laws in more than 50 years - affecting whether millions of workers are eligible for overtime pay - are set to take effect next month. Initially proposed more than a year ago by the U.S. Labor Dept. as a way to bring labor laws in line with modern jobs, the rules are being debated in Congress and on the presidential campaign trail. Legislators have proposed alternatives to the revisions, but the amendments are unlikely to pass before the changes take effect Aug. 23. Presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry says if he's elected, his administration will reverse the rules. Politicians and labor groups are wrangling over the categories of workers, and how many of them, would be affected, further obscuring an already complex thicket of new rules. One point seems clear: The regulations will do little to clear up confusion surrounding overtime rules and may even cause more lawsuits, labor attorneys say. Labor groups and others who fought the revisions say that more than 6 million white-collar workers are going to lose the right to receive overtime pay. "This is the most significant rollback in employee rights in the last 50 years," said Ross Eisenbrey, policy director for the Economic Policy Institute, which receives about a third of its funding from organized labor groups. The institute says those affected include 920,000 people who will no longer be eligible for overtime because they can be considered "learned professionals" despite lacking college or graduate degrees. For example, under the new rules, chefs with degrees or comparable work experience can be considered exempt learned professionals. An estimated 160,000 workers in the finance industry, such as people who process mortgages, also won't qualify for overtime. One example of the confusion in the new rules: If you promote or market a financial product, you are not eligible for overtime, but if you sell it, you are. Workers on both ends of the salary scale are affected: 117,000 computer programmers and nursery school teachers will lose overtime pay, the Economic Policy Institute estimates. The Labor Dept. has called the institute's figures "misinformation." According to its estimates, the new rules will strengthen overtime rights for 6.7 million workers, including 1.3 million low-wage earners. Except for jobs specifically noted in regulations as exempt, most low-wage workers will qualify for overtime. The rules also seek to address one particularly ripe area for lawsuits: who is considered a manager. Here's what the rules don't change: Police officers, firefighters, and other public safety workers are not affected by the changes; workers covered by union contracts, including those in white-collar jobs, will also remain largely unaffected; and blue-collar workers such as mechanics, electricians, plumbers, carpenters and construction workers - as long as they're not managers - also remain eligible for overtime regardless of their wages. How much demand exists for certain types of workers will also delay the effects of some of the changes. For example, under the new regulations, registered nurses don't have to be paid overtime. But in South Florida, as in other parts of the country, the current shortage of nurses means that hospitals will continue to pay overtime, at least in the short term. "Employers would probably exempt nurses" from the new regulations "out of need," said Martha Baker, a nurse at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami who is also head of its health-care workers union. Athletic trainers and funeral directors are among other professions specifically named in the rules as no longer eligible to earn overtime. While the revisions use language basically similar to that used in the old rules, it includes specific examples that would affect many more people, said labor lawyer Jim Leonard, an Economic Policy Institute consultant who had worked at the Dept. of Labor for 22 years. One such case involves the "team leader." According to the new rules, such a person is defined as "an employee who leads a team of other employees assigned to complete major projects," such as negotiating a real estate transaction or collective bargaining agreement, or designing or implementing "productivity improvements". Overall, there are three major points to know about the new rules. First, anyone who earns $455 a week or $23,660 a year or less must receive overtime after 40 hours of labor during a work week. As under the old rules, that doesn't apply to doctors, teachers and lawyers. What is new is that teachers of "nursery school pupils" will not be eligible for overtime. Julie Blanco, who has been at the South Miami Lutheran preschool for three years, said she depends on overtime almost as part of her regular salary because she always works at least five hours of overtime a week. "I think that it's a big part of the salary, considering what we get paid; we count [on] that almost more than our regular salary," said Blanco, who gets $8.40 an hour. She thinks the new guidelines, and the possibility that other nursery schools wouldn't offer overtime, may discourage others from doing the work. The school's director, Yolanda Borroto, said she'll continue paying her workers overtime because she thinks they deserve it. Workers who earn $100,000 or more a year, what the Labor Dept. calls the "highly compensated" individual, are exempt from receiving overtime under the new rules if they also perform some work of "overtime-exempt executives, administrators or professionals." The $100,000 includes any money earned during the year, including bonuses. Finally, the rules detail who falls under the category of "overtime exempt executives, administrators or professionals," as well as computer and outside sales employees. That last group is what businesses, labor groups and lawyers have been poring over for months. For example, an overtime-exempt "executive" can mean anyone whose primary duty is the management of a department or enterprise, who supervises two or more people and who makes recommendations about workers. The regulations actually state that someone can simultaneously stock shelves or serve customers, and supervise employees. " 'Executive' isn't anything like you think. It's not an executive at a Wall Street firm or a corporate raider," Eisenbrey said. "They've changed that to someone who is managing no more than two employees at the Wal-Mart toy department." Many such managers have already filed claims against their employers, arguing that they deserve overtime. Last week, a former Blockbuster store manager in Miramar sued in federal court seeking a class action against the video store chain, claiming that she and others deserve overtime pay. The number of class action lawsuits all white-collar workers, not just managers, have filed against companies to claim overtime pay tripled to 102 last year, from 31 in 1997. Many say the new changes to federal regulations are so ambiguous that it might cause even more lawsuits. "The thing I find most ironic about these regulations is the Labor Dept. said its major purpose was to clarify the regulations," said Leonard, the former Labor Dept. lawyer, who is of those who think the rules will lead to more disputes. "I think many of the changes that have been made, because they're internally inconsistent, are going to lead to more confusion than there is now."

  4. 7/25   Eight more paid holidays for British workers - Millions of workers to be given eight more days' holiday, by Andrew Grice & Barrie Clement, Portside via Independent/UK via news.independent.co.uk.
    Millions of workers will be guaranteed an extra eight days paid holiday a year under a peace deal hammered out between the Labour leadership and the trade unions. After negotiations lasting until 3am yesterday, unions leaders hailed a wide-ranging package of employment rights as a significant breakthrough after a period of difficult relations with the Government. The deal will also ensure that unions bankroll Labour's general election campaign. Labour officials were seriously concerned about the party's finances following the decision by the GMB general union to withhold £750,000 from the election fighting fund. Ministers promised to extend workplace rights in return for union support in heading off a revolt by grassroots Labour members at a key policy meeting which ended yesterday. Hostile motions about the Government's education and health policies were heavily defeated at the national policy forum at Warwick University, which means Tony Blair could have a relatively smooth ride at Labour's annual conference in September. The concessions include ending the practice under which employers can count bank holidays towards the minimum holiday entitlement of 20 days a year. The Government agreed to drop its opposition to a European Union directive which seeks to ensure that agency and temporary workers enjoy similar rights as permanent employees. It accepted for the first time that workers who are transferred en masse to new employers would have their pension rights protected. There was no commitment to union demands that companies should be forced to contribute to workers' pension funds. But ministers agreed to consider compulsion following the completion of a government inquiry into the issue. The Government also signalled support for moving towards a minimum 50% employee representation on the boards of pension trustees and pensions becoming a collective bargaining issue under union recognition legislation. When public bodies purchase goods and services from the private sector, they will be urged by the Government to take into account the impact of their decisions on British companies and their employees. Ministers said they would also "move towards'' a situation whereby British industry received the same degree of support as in Germany and France. Labour sources said that the agreement was a "balanced package" based on fairness, but the deal could worry bosses. On the eve of the meeting, the CBI urged Labour not to abandon its good relationship with business by making concessions to the unions. However, there was no agreement on union demands for the Government to re-nationalise the railways, and this could be put to a tricky vote at the September conference. There will also be demands for local authorities to play a bigger role in the provision of housing.

  5. 7/24   Take a vacation, if only in your mind, by Donna Wright (745-7049 or dwright@bradentonherald.com), Bradenton Herald, FL.
    ...What amazed me most about my [vacation] recollections in the wee hours of Wednesday morning was the return of the sense of freedom that always accompanies the best vacations. Readers of my column know that in the spring and summer I often return to this theme - the importance of getting away, of opening up ones' mind to something new, of living for a brief spell in total freedom, without deadlines and obligations. In our profit-driven society these times are considered a luxury, even a waste of time to some. Long trips - the kind that allow time to not only decompress but totally relax as well - are becoming very rare because most employers don't like their employees to take off more than a few days in one stretch. One no sooner comes down from the adrenaline rush and it's time to get back into the harness. There is a good reason for this. The workforce in many companies has been reduced to skeleton crews to maximize earnings for stockholders. There is certainly is nothing wrong with making money, but there is the golden mean of proportion. I have always admired the French perspective on what is really important in life - good food with good friends who share good wine, ignoring the clock. Famous for their vacations, the entire French nation goes on vacation for a month in August. The French work week years ago was cut to 35 hours to make sure people had time to spend with friends and family. But France is also struggling with economic hard times, made worse by high unemployment, decreased productivity and soaring taxes - problems forcing a proposal to restore the 40-hour work week. Those generous vacations benefits have weakened France's ability to compete with U.S. production levels. And so they are adjusting to their way of life to fit ours.
    How sad that the French are throwing in their picnic napkins.
    Everything I have learned in covering the health beat for the past three years points to the dangers of a driven life where there is little time off to completely escape the demands of relentless work. We are taking the world with us down that road of stress and strain and in the name of profit so we can buy more things that we haven't the time to enjoy.

  6. 7/24   Europeans will work more like we do before we work less, by David Nicklaus (dnicklaus@post-dispatch.com or 314-340-8213), The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, MO.
    It's the time of year when many of us start thinking about vacation, and wishing we had more of it. Wouldn't it be great to work in Europe, where the typical employee gets six to eight weeks of vacation? According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the average American worker clocked 1,792 hours last year, while German, French and Dutch workers all spent fewer than 1,500 hours on the job. At 40 hours a week, the difference amounts to more than eight weeks' worth of leisure. What's more, the Europeans have achieved all of this newfound free time in the last 25 years. In 1979, they worked nearly as many hours as the Americans. While our time on the job has barely budged, the Germans have cut their hours by 19% and the French by 18%. Are we workaholics, or do we simply have more incentive to work? A paper written last year by Edward C. Prescott, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minnesota, argues that it's the latter. He concludes that French, Germans and Italians work fewer hours because they face higher marginal tax rates. In other words, we work longer because we get to keep more of the money. It's worth recalling that U.S. marginal tax rates have fallen dramatically since the 1970s. That's provided enough incentive to keep coming into the office, despite rising affluence that should have given us a greater taste for leisure time. Europeans, whose tax rates remain high, have chosen additional leisure instead of additional income. This choice does come at a cost. The standard of living in the European Union, as measured by gross domestic product per person, is about 70% of the U.S. level. This ratio has been stagnant since the 1970s, even though Europe has nearly caught up to the United States in labor productivity. Unemployment also remains stubbornly high: It's 10.5% in Germany and 9.8% in France, compared with 5.6% here. Faced with inflexible labor-market rules - including those long, mandatory vacations - companies are reluctant to hire. Recently, European employers have begun to demand more work from their workers. The six-week vacation remains sacrosanct, so far, but the powerful IG Metall union agreed to increase the workweek to 40 hours from 35 hours at two Siemens plants in Germany. Siemens had threatened to move 2,000 jobs to Hungary. DaimlerChrysler also is asking some of its German workers to lengthen their hours. In France, union members at a Robert Bosch plant agreed to give up eight holidays after the company threatened to move their jobs to the Czech Republic. France's finance minister wants to loosen the law requiring a 35-hour work week. That law was enacted just six years ago. Believe it or not, the socialist-led government at the time said the law would increase employment. But that ignored the realities of the global marketplace. "Europe has, in its own way, outsourcing pressures that exceed those in the United States," said Ed Potter, president of the Employment Policy Foundation in Washington, D.C. When U.S. companies want to outsource work to a nation with educated workers and low wages, they look to places such as India and China. European companies have to look just a few hundred miles to the east, to the nations that once were behind the Iron Curtain. Labor costs average $5 an hour in the 10 countries that recently joined the European Union, including Poland and Hungary. They're about $25 an hour in the EU's 15 older members. The global marketplace isn't a race to the bottom. The United States and western Europe can maintain their wage advantage, Potter says, if they stay ahead on education, training and technology. But work rules that increase the cost of employment will come under increasing pressure. So, don't expect to be working like a European anytime soon. Instead, they may have to start working more like us.

  7. 7/23   Strikers defy deadlines and face arrest, by Yoo Choonsik & Park Sung-woo, L'express.mu, Mauritius.
    South Korea deployed hundreds of troops to help at subway stations yesterday during a strike while union action widened to a car plant and activists at a major oil refiner defied arrest and deadlines to return to work. The wave of strikes pose a serious test for President Roh Moo-hyun, a former labour lawyer who has previously been criticised by employers and foreign investors for being too soft on militant labour unions. The widening strike action comes when the economy, Asia's third-largest, is struggling with weak domestic spending and depressed business investment. Ahn Chang-ho, deputy chief for public security at the state prosecution office, said it planned to file for court warrants later in the day for the arrest of five union leaders at LG-Caltex Oil Corp for organising the strike. Another official denied that prosecutors had come under pressure to act against the strikes, which the government has called illegal. "It's not true that our decision is being influenced by the presidential office, but there are procedures we have to take before we actually arrest someone," said the official. More than 850 troops were deployed at stations to help after some 65% of unionised subway workers in Seoul and three other cities took their strike into a second day, officials said. Workers ignored a 9:00 a.m. (0000 GMT) deadline set by one of the two subway operators in Seoul to return to work, government officials said. The other operator set an 11:00 a.m. deadline. And most strikers did not return to work at the huge oil refinery complex run by LG-Caltex Oil Corp. by an 8:00 a.m. deadline set by management, company officials said. LG-Caltex, a 50:50 joint venture set up in 1967 between South Korea's LG Group and ChevronTexaco Corp., said only 32 union members had turned up, and 802 were still absent. Apparently hit by the labour unrest, the company delayed a $300 million bond offering "until further notice", a market source said. Company officials could not confirm the delay. The company said about a third of plants had resumed normal operations and it now aimed to bring its refinery back to full operation in a week or two. It normally produces 650 000 barrels per day and accounts for a quarter of domestic refining capacity. The industrial unrest spread into the automobile sector when workers made good on a threat to strike at Ssangyong Motor Co., a sports utility vehicle maker, the company said. The company's 5 600 member union had staged a partial strike since July 12 to push for higher wages and job security because of a planned sale of the company to a new owner. Seeking to turn public opinion against the subway strike in a country that traditionally sees a wave of industrial unrest in the summer, operators in Seoul placed advertisements in several newspapers criticising the striking workers. "Is it fair for an employee working 19 days a month and receiving 45 million won ($38 700) a year to stage a strike?" read the advertisement. "Does the company have to accept the union's demand the workforce be increased by 34%?" Union officials were not immediately available to comment. The subway strikers appeared unmoved after warnings by operators in Seoul, Pusan, Taegu and Inchon ­ all owned by city governments ‹ that they would face punishment or dismissal if they failed to return to work by Thursday morning. Prosecutors warned unions on Wednesday that leaders of the subway strike could face arrest and that they may detain organisers of the walkout at LG-Caltex Oil Corp. Subway managers have already suspended dozens of union leaders for organising the walkout. The strike was launched after management rejected union demands for wage increases of up to 10% and the recruitment of more workers after the work week was cut to five days from six [or 5½? - starting...]from this month. About 10 000 former drivers, soldiers and public workers have been drafted in to try to keep the subway running, but trains were now running at much wider intervals than usual.

  8. 7/25   Overcoming unjustified strikes by sticking to principles, by Jong-Hoon Lee (taylor55@donga.com), Donga, South Korea.
    The subway strike, the greatest challenge of this year's labor "summer strife," was concluded on Saturday with no lasting consequences after the Busan Subway labor union and management reached a compromise and the Seoul Subway union withdrew from the strike. In addition, the Seoul National University Hospital union, an umbrella organization of the healthcare workers union, reached an agreement with management on Friday, 44 days after the strike. In all, most companies, excluding LG-Caltex Oil and some other companies, have returned to normal business. All three parties, the government, labor union and management jointly concluded that "this year's struggle for wage increases resulted in a soft landing with no extreme disputes due to government's and management's strong determination not to allow illegal strikes, and the union's effort to restrain itself from launching general strikes."
    From hospitals to subways
    This year's summer strife started with the healthcare workers union's strike, which was the summer's first industry-level general strike, demanding management "increase the work force according to the five-day work week" on June 10. However, with the NLRC's (National Labor Relations Committee) decision to conditionally defer emergency mediation, the union could be able to continue its legal strike and negotiate with management. With the time granted by the NLRC almost expiring on Friday, both the union and management settled on an industry-level agreement, the main point of which was a 40-hour work week, every other Saturday off, the abolition of monthly days off, and diminishing vacations. KorAm Bank's strike, which started on June 25 because of the union's opposition to the merger of KorAm with Citibank, which brought up the controversy of "the outflow of domestic capital," escalated into a worst-case situation with the union and management suing each other. Both sides reached a last-minute compromise on July 12, however, 18 days into the strike, by agreeing on key issues such as subsidizing the merger and improving working conditions for underpaid posts. Even the metal union and auto workers' unions, which often lead hard-line labor activism, finished their wage and working condition negotiations with no major frictions. The Hyundai Motor Company labor union finished its strike on July 1 after five days, compared to last year's 42-day strike. Kia Motors, although it suffered a rupture in negotiations, settled a labor deal with the union and lost less productivity than it did last year. The subway strike, which was the climax of the summer's labor strife, ended on Saturday after four days, with the union backing down and agreeing to return to work and negotiate later because of the decision of the NLRC to resort to emergency mediation, which put priority on the public good, and was an example of management's meticulous preparations for a strike.
    Establishment of independent negotiations and punishing unjustified strikes
    Unlike last year, the NLRC encouraged independent negotiation between unions and management by deciding on conditional emergency mediation for essential public-interest businesses such as the healthcare workers' union and the Busan subway. Although the government restrained itself from intervening in negotiations,it showed firmness by deciding to use the law in illegal strikes such as the SNU hospital, LG-Caltex Oil, and the subway strike, making clear that it would not tolerate unjustified strikes. Seoul City's "return to work first, negotiate later" policy worked this time, which was something not seen before in the past. In particular, the subway union decided to end the strike after internal conflict, showing that "a strike for the sake of striking" is no longer acceptable. Furthermore, the new leadership of the KCTU (Korean Confederation of Trade Unions) received positive reviews after it refrained from annual general strikes and public demonstrations and attempted to lead only legal strikes to reduce the inconvenience of consumers, and stop the unjustified extreme labor strife pushed for by hard-liners. "During this summer's labor strife, the wrong negotiating ideas of socalled 'stubborn wins' or 'if we unconditionally hold our ground, the government will intervene' were not effective," said an official from the Ministry of Labor. "In the future, I think labor and management relations that follow the rule of law will be established under the roof of independent negotiations."

  9. 7/23   CEOs to scrap group negotiation system, by Kim Yon-se (kys@koreatimes.co.kr), Korea Times, South Korea.
    Korean banks are unique in the world as wage negotiations are made collectively.
    [This is not unique. This is the way German industry has done it for years. They're now trying to undo it because it gives labor "too much power." Of course, when labor doesn't have "too much power," management takes it all and markets collapse = depression.]
    CEOs of local banks are contending that this system must be suspended as each bank has a different business strategy and performance record. The criticism came out after the labor and management negotiations of 36 local financial services companies, including Kookmin Bank and the Korea Development Bank, Friday reached a joint compromise on wages and the adoption of the wage peak system. Foreign financial companies here, such as Citibank and HSBC, are not included in the 36-member joint labor union as they pay salaries according to workers' performance, regardless of their age. With the agreement, many of the 36 financial companies are expected to introduce the wage peak system from next year, in which job security is guaranteed until retirement but employee's wages gradually decrease from a certain age. Shin Dong-hyuck, president of the Korea Federation of Banks (KFB), and Yang Byung-min, leader of the Korea Financial Industry Union (KFIU), agreed that, under the wage peak system, the retirement age will step up to 59, from the current 58. Under the program, employees will receive their highest salary at the age of 54, then will steadily face wage reductions thereafter. They will receive 75% of their peak wage at the age of 55, and 55% at 56 and 35% at 57, while their job security would be guaranteed until the age of 58, the company's retirement age. Economists say Korea and Japan are the only nations in the world, which have the ``joint'' negotiation system on wages and the wage peak program in the financial sector. ``Financial service companies in the United States and Europe can't even think about the joint wage talks between all unionized workers and management,'' Citigroup senior economist Oh Suk-tae said. Concerning the wage peak system, under which job security is guaranteed until retirement but employee's wages gradually decrease from a certain age, Oh said, ``The system is a product of the Korean way of thinking.'' Foreigners in Korea have a negative view on the system, saying that the system will dent the government's restructuring drive and cause further labor-management feuds, as well as reducing productivity. They advised that in order for the system to successfully take root in Korean society, a company should provide various options and guidelines for employees. Kim & Chang attorney Jeffrey Jones said it will produce a very negative effect in the workplace by de-motivating employees in the long run and ultimately result in a decline in productivity But supporters claim the wage peak program will resolve employees' job security concerns as well as allowing management to cut labor costs, while increasing productivity and motivating workers. The wage peak system is one of key policies that the Roh Moo-hyun administration is seeking to adopt for the aging society. Woori Bank personnel manager Park Seung-jae said, ``U.S. financial companies don't permit the labor union activity. But European companies often protest the management though there is joint movement.'' In addition, the 36-member joint talks resulted in a 3.8% pay raise for regular workers and a 7.6% increase for non-regular workers. They also agreed to introduce a system which gives non-regular workers the opportunity to have regular jobs and revision of holidays according to the implementation of the five-day work week system. The KFB, composed of 19 banks, and the KFIU, composed of 85,000 employees from financial services companies, held the joint wage negotiation for nine days since last Thursday.

  10. 7/23   Daimler wins deal on labor cost cuts - 500E million savings come as Continent shifts to longer hours, Bloomberg & AP & Reuters via International Herald Tribune.
    [Wait till they see the E1000m in lost markets.]
    FRANKFURT - The movement toward longer workweeks for European employees gained further traction on Friday as DaimlerChrysler workers at Mercedes factories in Germany agreed to smaller pay raises and increased hours after the carmaker threatened to move 6,000 jobs out of Southern Germany. Emboldened by the reduced power of labor unions amid rising unemployment, some of the biggest European companies are asking employees to work longer to save their jobs. The DaimlerChrysler agreement, which will reduce costs by E500 million, or $609 million, a year, follows an acceptance by 4,000 Siemens employees last month to extend their workweek. Thomas Cook, Europe's second-biggest tourism company, said Thursday that 2,000 employees had agreed to work longer hours. And in France, where Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy is pushing to loosen the nation's six-year-old law mandating a 35-hour workweek, workers at a Robert Bosch car parts factory voted on Monday to work an additional hour a week in an effort to save jobs, making them the first employees to vote to abandon the 35-hour week. "These company-specific agreements are helping to improve cost competitiveness, making companies more productive - that helps investment and, eventually, employment," said Elga Bartsch, an economist at Morgan Stanley in Frankfurt. "We're going to see more of this." The negotiations at DaimlerChrysler were contentious and marked by a week of protests and brief work stoppages. To soften the blow, management agreed to share the pain. DaimlerChrysler's management board, the top executives who run day-to-day operations, agreed to accept a 10% cut in compensation, and other senior managers will also make unspecified pay concessions, the company said. DaimlerChrysler will safeguard German jobs at Sindelfingen, the company's biggest Mercedes plant, and two other factories until at least 2012, the company's chief executive, Jürgen Schrempp, said at a news conference Friday. Workers will forgo some of their planned pay increases from 2006, and some will work 40 hours a week, for many an increase from 35. The accord ended the temporary walkouts at DaimlerChrysler's German plants, which have stopped production of at least 2,800 cars, according to estimates by the company's union. "I do think we're seeing a development in collective wage deals towards making it easier to set separate agreements on conditions for individual companies," said Stefan Schneider, a Deutsche Bank economist. Germany's economy has not grown more than 1% in any of the past three years. Unemployment has risen to 9.8% from 7.6% at the end of 2000, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The increase in the jobless rate has reduced union membership by more than one-third since reunification in 1991. Chancellor Gerhard Schröder greeted the carmaker's deal with the IG Metall union as "a victory for common sense" [everyone else translated this as 'victory for reason' - see our rebuttal today in #2 above] that would strengthen Germany's economic recovery and set a precedent for coming talks at Volkswagen, which on Friday cut its profit forecast for 2004. (Page 13). "I am certain that after DaimlerChrysler the negotiations at Volkswagen over cost cuts and job security will lead to a successful agreement," Schröder, who is on vacation in Italy, said in a statement. The dispute centered on DaimlerChrysler's home state of Baden-Württemberg, where workers enjoyed better terms and conditions than at other plants in Germany. Mercedes had threatened to move production of the new version of its C-class model from Sindelfingen, near the group's Stuttgart headquarters, to plants at Bremen in northern Germany and at East London in South Africa, threatening 6,000 jobs. Under the agreement, paid hourly breaks for workers in Baden-Württemberg would be cut by roughly half, with some workers losing 30 hours of breaks a year. Workers in all of Daimler's development and planning departments agreed to a 40-hour workweek. Their hours had previously varied from 35 a week to 40. Service and support employees, many of whom are paid the same as factory-floor workers, agreed to increase their work week to 39 hours from 35 in gradual steps without additional pay. The big German industrial union IG Metall, which had previously warned that an attack on the collective wage deal covering workers at Sindelfingen could threaten the whole system underpinning German industrial relations since World War II, said the deal would not lead to an erosion of union power. "This result is a slap in the face for those who had been looking for a general extension of working hours and breaking collective agreements," said Berthold Huber, the union's deputy leader. The agreement followed growing calls for longer working hours from political leaders like the Bavarian state governor, Edmund Stoiber, but political pressure counted less than the threat of jobs being exported outside Germany, analysts said. Germany's collective wage-agreement system leaves employers and unions the right to negotiate deals independently, and past agreements had contained clauses allowing companies in difficulties to negotiate separate clauses. "There were always special clauses that allowed individual deals for companies in difficulties which have gradually been expanded a little, and that's been used here," said Schneider, the Deutsche Bank economist. "If collective wage deals start to develop in that direction, it would probably be the best result of all," he said, adding, "I think it's too early to be talking about burying the collective wage system."

  11. 7/23   DaimlerChrysler workers agree to EU500 million cuts (update7), by Christian Baumgaertel (cbaumgaertel@bloomberg.net), Bloomberg via MSNBC.
    FRANKFURT - DaimlerChrysler AG employees at Mercedes factories in Germany agreed to smaller pay raises and increased hours after the carmaker threatened to shed 6,000 jobs, adding to pressure for a longer work week nationwide. Emboldened by the reduced power of labor unions amid rising unemployment, Germany's biggest companies are asking staff to work longer to save their jobs. The DaimlerChrysler agreement, which will reduce costs by 500 million euros ($612 million) a year, follows an acceptance by 4,000 Siemens AG employees last month to extend the work week. Thomas Cook AG, Europe's second-biggest tourism company, yesterday said 2,000 staff will work longer. ``These company-specific agreements are helping to improve cost competitiveness, making companies more productive - that helps investment and, eventually, employment,'' said Elga Bartsch, an economist at Morgan Stanley in Frankfurt. ``We're going to see more of this.'' DaimlerChrysler will safeguard jobs at Sindelfingen, the company's biggest Mercedes plant, and two other factories until at least 2012, Chief Executive Juergen Schrempp, 59, said at a press conference. Workers will forgo some of their planned pay increases from 2006 and some staff will work 40 hours a week. Executives will accept a 10% pay reduction, Schrempp said. The accord will end temporary walkouts at DaimlerChrysler's German plants, which have stopped production of at least 2,800 cars, according to estimates by the works council. DaimlerChrysler shares rose as much as 1.6% to 36.77 euros and were up 0.1% at 36.26 euros at 1:39 p.m. in Frankfurt.
    Thomas Cook, Volkswagen
    ``We found a good solution for DaimlerChrysler as well as for Germany,'' said Schrempp, who doesn't disclose his pay. Germany's $2.5 trillion economy hasn't grown more than 1% in any of the past three years. Unemployment has risen to 9.8% from 7.6% at the end of 2000, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The increase in the jobless rate has reduced union membership by more than one third since reunification in 1991. Thomas Cook, based near Frankfurt, and the Ver.di union today agreed to delay a wage increase scheduled for July 1 until Jan. 1, 2006. The company, owned by KarstadtQuelle AG and Deutsche Lufthansa AG, yesterday agreed with Ver.di to extend the work week for about 2,000 workers to 40 hours starting Aug. 1. Other companies considering increasing hours in Germany in order to reduce costs include Volkswagen AG, Europe's biggest carmaker; MAN AG, Europe's third-biggest truckmaker; Linde AG, Europe's largest maker of forklifts and KarstadtQuelle, Germany's biggest owner of department stores.
    Shorter week, higher costs
    [and also higher profits, higher markets, higher productivity, greater freedom]

    ``Companies realize that Germany's problem is not only political but also to do with things that were agreed with unions in some places a long time ago,'' said Morgan Stanley's Bartsch. Today's agreement at DaimlerChrysler scrapped an accord dating from the 1970s giving workers a five-minute break every hour. Workers in the manufacturing industry in western Germany put in about 18% fewer hours than their U.S. counterparts in 2002, according to figures from the industry-sponsored IW economic institute in Cologne. Wage costs in Germany were some 12% higher than in the U.S. Mercedes, the world's biggest maker of luxury cars, is seeking to lower costs as it loses ground to Bayerische Motoren Werke AG and Volkswagen's luxury Audi unit. At the same time, new production processes have reduced the number of workers needed to build the same number of cars.
    `Victory for reason'
    [See our rebuttal of this phrase in #2 today (above).]
    ``The agreement between the management board, the works council and IG Metall is a victory for reason,'' German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said in a statement faxed to news organizations. ``The compromise that has been reached will contribute to an economic recovery.'' In France, Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy is pushing to loosen the nation's six-year-old law mandating a 35-hour work week. Robert Bosch GmbH, also based in DaimlerChrysler's home town of Stuttgart, this week became the first company in France to increase hours at no extra pay. Under today's agreement, DaimlerChrysler is restricted from firing workers in Germany for the next seven years. The workweek for service workers will be increased gradually through 2007 to 39 hours. Workers now work a 35-hour week, not including overtime. From the age of 60, hours will be reduced to 34.5 hours per week.
    [Agism? Unacceptable.]
    Production of future versions of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and E-Class models will be made in Sindelfingen, said Erich Klemm, chief workers' representative and deputy chairman of the supervisory board, at the press conference. Mercedes CEO Juergen Hubbert had threatened to move the Mercedes C-Class model's production from Sindelfingen to South Africa and Bremen, Germany, where labor costs are cheaper if no agreement were reached.
    `Painful cost'
    Workers agreed to a 2.79% pay cut in 2006 that will be offset by a one-off payment of the same amount. Pay increases stemming from an already agreed upon leveling of blue collar and white collar workers will be capped at 1.5%, the union said. Worker representatives and management declined to say how much money that measure will save the company. As many as 2,500 temporary workers, or 1.5% of the German workforce, can be employed by the company. They will be paid according to wage agreements in the metal industry, not including bonuses and extra pay offered to permanent workers. ``There are difficult conditions for the company and we've come up with a fair agreement,'' Klemm said. ``It's come at the painful cost of 500 million euros.'' Union membership in Germany has slumped in the past decade. The IG Metall union, which organized the demonstrations at DaimlerChrysler, suffered its worst defeat since 1945 in Eastern Germany last year. German unions had 7.4 million members last year, down more than a third since German reunification.

  12. 7/23   Workers' paradise in Germany may be over - More work, and less vacation, may be answer [ha!] to economic woes, by Andy Eckardt, NBC News via MSNBC.
    [What 'woes'? Most of these companies are in sustainable profit. Most of these CEOs are loaded with lucre. This is nothing but boredom and follow-the-fad. There is no deep thinking behind it. If there were, they would realize they're diminishing their own markets when they diminish their own company payrolls.]
    MAINZ, Germany - The height of the European summer season has been cold and damp, but the heat has been on German workers ahead of the traditional holiday month of August as they struggle to maintain the luxury [no, necessity in Robotics Age - if you want consumers] of 35-hour work weeks, generous vacations, and a comfortable welfare system. As the Germans along with their co-workers in other European Union nations gear up for the month-long August holiday, manufacturers like Bosch, Linde and DaimlerChrysler are asking their employees for deep concessions - and threatening to move production to cheaper eastern European countries should their demands not be met. Despite rising costs, uncertain job markets and struggling economies, many families will spend five weeks or more on leisure time this summer. But, under the present economic conditions, economic analysts and politicians are wondering whether Europe can continue to afford so many days off. And German workers, the most pampered of them all, are beginning to realize that the vacation may be over.
    Worker's paradise
    Germany and France still enjoy the largest number of vacation days among all countries in continental Europe. The French get 30 days of paid vacation with an additional 11 public holidays, while in Germany workers receive 24 days off, plus up to 13 religious holidays. By comparison, workers in Japan vacation on average 18 days a year and Americans have only 10 days off per year. Germany's economy has been stagnating for years, choking from enormous labor costs, which are the second highest in the world. Economists believe that working harder, often without extra pay, will be difficult to avoid in the future. A conservative politician in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein recently sparked a renewed public debate about German work laws, when he openly called for a reduction of Germany's public holidays. Germany's largest and economically strongest state, Bavaria, enjoys 13 "bank holidays," while some states only get a total of nine public holidays. "Our country needs a uniform holiday regulation because every additional work day will bring economic growth," conservative party politician Peter Harry Carstensen told the weekly Bild am Sonntag newspaper. Petersen's remarks were immediately met by strong criticism from Germany's influential churches and the country's mighty labor unions.
    Protests against new plans
    Economic leaders in Germany have repeatedly argued that a 35-hour work week, which applies to public and private sector jobs in the western part of Germany (eastern Germans work on average 38 hours per week), is no longer feasible if European countries want to remain competitive in a global market.
    [Do they really want to turn Germany into China or Bangladesh? or even prison-spattered America for that matter?]
    "We are experiencing a creeping deterioration of competitiveness," DaimlerChrysler boss Juergen Hubbert told German television ZDF. In recent years, large German firms such as DaimlerChrysler have stepped up their efforts to press workers for concessions and to abandon the 35-hour work week - models which were agreed in so-called "tariff agreements" in the early 1980s. The Mercedes Car Group, the largest contributor to operating profits at U.S.-German automaker DaimlerChrylser, has asked employees at its largest plant in Sindelfingen to work longer hours without compensation. The company wanted to cut additional pay for evening and night shifts, as well as the five minutes of paid break time that workers accumulate every hour, in order to meet its goal of saving nearly $600 million. Workers initially balked, noting increasing vehicle sales in Germany. But Friday, the parties reached a breakthrough agreement after nearly a week of tough negotiations. The so-called "employment pact" includes a reduction of more than $600 million in staff costs, while the company in return guaranteed more than 6,000 jobs. "The achieved agreement is a role model for Germany as a production location," said DaimlerChrysler chairman Juergen Schrempp.
    False job security
    For decades, the work hours in Germany have fallen, from 48 hours a week in the 1950s to 35 hours in the nineties.
    [This attempt to spin shorter hours as old-fashioned won't work - the work hours in Germany and the entire developed world have actually fallen for centuries - from 80-84 hours around 1900, to 40-48 hours in the 1940s and 50s, to 35-40 hours in the 1990s. Long hours are backward, not forward. Long hours are past, not future. Long hours are Third World, not First World. Long hours are from poverty, not prosperity.]
    At the same time, the amount of vacation days rose in some fields of the labor market above 30 days, while more and more Germans took early retirement. "Longer work hours will only solve part of the problem," said Hilmar Schneider from the Institute for the Study of Labor in Bonn.
    [Longer work hours won't solve a bit of the problem. They will only concentrate the technologically vanishing human employment further, disemploy more, and de-activate more consumers. Productivity without marketability is irrelevant.]
    "We have to achieve a drastic change in our social welfare system in order to fight unemployment and stagnating growth," Schneider said.
    [The social welfare system is of far secondary importance. Of primary importance is the failure to automatically adjust the workweek downward as inrushing technological worksavings took over repetitive human functions.]
    EU vs US - Comparing the expanded European Union with the United States
    Variable - E.U. - U.S.
    Population - 453m - 293.1m
    GDP - $11,076B - $10,398B
    Land Mass - 1,516,995 sq.mi. - 3,717,796 sq.mi.
    Currencies - Euro* - U.S. Dollar
    *3 EU members don't use the euro. [UK, ??, ??]
    (Source: MSNBC research)
    [You can see the Europeans' logic in dreaming of matching the USA in economic power, especially with nutcases like Bush-Cheney and the neo-cons in power, but if Europe is going to start copying all the stupid, self-destructive aspects of the Bush-Cheney USA to accomplish that, what in the world is the whole point?! Prisons all over the land, disability and homelessness everywhere you look except in the increasingly fortress-like gated communities, unemployment and welfare alternating with forced retirement and self-'employment.' If this is truly what Germany and France now want, (A) they're welcome to it and (B) they'll probably find the smaller EU members (like Finland today in #1 above) distancing themselves.]
    Economic experts complain that high unemployment benefits, which allow workers to reject lower paid job offers, cripple the country's economy. With more than 4.1 million people out of work and an economic growth forecast of only 1.5% - compared to 4.7% in the United States - dark clouds continue to move in over Germany's economy. "Unemployed workers have to be taken out of the illusion that they can wait for a well-paid job that will meet their, often high, qualifications," said Schneider. Even Germany's socialist government, traditionally a strong supporter of union demands, has come to realize that rigid employment laws, a complex welfare system and additional payroll costs - such as company contributionsto health insurance, government pension plans, and unemployment insurance - have caused a gridlock.
    Flexible work hours
    "42 hours are reality" read the front-page headline in the national Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper on Wednesday, citing a study which showed that the average full-time employee in Germany already works nearly 42 hours per week. A figure that is only slightly below the average of the other EU countries. The analysis, which was conducted by the ISO institute in Cologne, also showed that the average employee would prefer to reduce the overall work hours, even if this would result in less pay. "Germany has to say goodbye to the fallacy that it will suffice to spread the workload to more shoulders in order to fight unemployment," wrote the weekly newsmagazine Der Spiegel. In fact, many companies have already implemented longer work hours and more flexible models. The country's Mittelstand - small and medium-sized firms that form the backbone of Germany's economy - have gradually switched to flexible 32- to 40-hour weeks. Metal manufacturer ThyssenKrupp made the 35-hour week an exception in parts of the company and just last year, reached an agreement with 700 employees, who were willing to drop part of the negotiated salary increases and do without holiday pay. When Germany's HDW shipyard was bidding for a $153 million building contract, it had the choice of drastically lowering production costs or loosing the deal to its competitors in Korea. HDW's worker council, the metal union IG Metall and employers agreed on temporary cuts for the 3,200 workers. Until Aug. 31, 2005, employees will have to work 276 additional hours and will receive less for Christmas and vacation bonuses. An internal company survey showed that 75% of HDW's workers "feel good" about the deal, even though it means more work and less money.

  13. 7/23   German Workers Agree to Longer Hours, by Sabine Siebold & Mark Thompson with Moritz Doebler, Reuters.
    STUTTGART/FRANKFURT[/BERLIN], Germany - Pressure to lengthen Germany's work week looked set to increase after employees at carmaker DaimlerChrysler and tourism firm Thomas Cook agreed Friday to work longer to save jobs and cut costs. DaimlerChrysler workers agreed to implement a 40-hour week for some jobs and cut paid break time to secure 6,000 jobs in Germany in a deal that will save 500 million euros ($613 million) a year from 2007. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder greeted the carmaker's deal with the IG Metall union as "a victory for common sense," which would strengthen Germany's economic recovery and set a precedent for talks at rival car maker Volkswagen "I am certain that after DaimlerChrysler the negotiations at Volkswagen over cost cuts and job security will lead to a successful agreement," said Schroeder, who is on holiday in Italy, in a statement. The agreement will guarantee companies more flexibility as they face global competition while at the same time securing jobs in Germany, Schroeder said. At Thomas Cook, workers agreed to raise their weekly working hours to 40 from 38.5 for one year from August, with an option for a 12-month extension. The works council agreement, which excludes Thomas Cook's Condor charter airline, is designed to return the firm to profitability in 2006. The employees also agreed to delay a pay rise by 18 months. About 2,000 of the 5,500 workers at Thomas Cook in Germany were due to receive a 1% salary increase from the start of this month under a previous industry-wide agreement. Thomas Cook, jointly owned by Deutsche Lufthansa AG and retailer KarstadtQuelle, is already eliminating 400 jobs and sought the concessions in order to reach a target of reducing costs by 25%. Thomas Cook had a record loss of 251 million euros ($307.8 million) in fiscal 2003. DaimlerChrysler shares traded 0.88% firmer at 36.53 euros by 1012 GMT, slightly outperforming the Dow Jones Stoxx European autos index. DaimlerChrysler said its deal, struck after weeks of talks during which employee protests disrupted output, would help luxury unit Mercedes grow profitably and guarantee production in Germany until 2012. "The agreement sets the course for increased productivity and efficiency and so strengthens the long-term competitiveness of the Mercedes car group," Mercedes chief Juergen Hubbert said, adding the group would make up production lost. Over 60,000 employees took part in nationwide protests last week, incensed that they were being asked to make sacrifices while senior DaimlerChrysler management appeared untouched by the group's problems at Chrysler in the United States and its Japanese partner, Mitsubishi. In a conciliatory gesture, DaimlerChrysler's management board agreed to take a cut of 10% in overall remuneration, while 3,000 managers in Germany will also have their packages reduced as part of the cost-cutting program. The dispute centered on DaimlerChrysler's home state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, where workers enjoyed better terms and conditions than at other plants in Germany. Mercedes had threatened to move production of the new version of its C-class saloon from Sindelfingen, near the group's Stuttgart headquarters, to plants at Bremen in northern Germany and at East London in South Africa, threatening 6,000 jobs. Paid hourly breaks for workers in Baden-Wuerttemberg will be cut by roughly half, with some workers losing 30 hours of breaks per year. Workers in all of Daimler's development and planning departments will implement a 40-hour working week. The carmaker's productivity plan follows a similar move by manufacturing and technology giant Siemens AG, which recently won employee agreement to increase working hours at two German works without extra pay. In France, workers at a Robert Bosch car parts factory voted Monday to lengthen their working hours to save jobs, making them the first employees to vote to scrap France's 35-hour week. ($1=.8155 Euro)

  14. 7/23   German unions give concessions to hold job[s], UPI via Washington Times, DC.
    FRANKFURT, Germany - German workers at DaimlerChrysler agreed Friday to new work rules to save their employer $612 million a year, the Financial Times reported Friday. After three days of talks, the union for research and development staff at IG Metall agreed to lengthen the work week from 35 hours to 40 hours, for an annual worker cost savings of $612 million. Also, there will be a 39-hour week for services staff in Baden-Wurttemberg to iron out regional wage inconsistencies, and overall employee flexibility will be increased. Meanwhile, some 3,000 managers and executive board members have agreed to pay cuts, with board members taking a 10% pay cut. Getting the concessions cost DaimlerChrysler future flexibility: it had to guarantee more than 6,000 jobs at the previously threatened Sindelfingen plant in southwestern Germany, plus factories in Unterturkhiem and Mannheim, until 2012. DaimlerChrysler had previously threatened to shift production of its new Mercedes C-class car to Bremen in northern Germany and another plant in South Africa because of the higher costs in Sindelfingen. Analysts agreed that it was likely to be copied by other employers, particularly in the automotive and engineering sectors, the core of Germany's traditional manufacturing strength.

  15. 7/24   The bottom line - Better off with a job, by Avraham Tal, Ha'aretz, Israel.
    At the start of the decade, the socialist government in France created the 35-hour work week with great fanfare. Recently, the French began adding up the results of the reform - which cut four hours from the work week with no reduction in pay - and the results are embarrassing.
    [Hardly. They cut their unemployment by 1% for each of the four hours they cut their workweek, from 12.6% to 8.6% before the US-led recession dragged them down, last among the EU.] The Economist weekly reports that the reform's major goal - reducing unemployment - was unsuccessful.
    [The Economist in the UK is well-known to be slanted toward the right, and cavalier with the facts.]
    The present level of unemployment in France (10%) is similar to the rate before the reform. [Wrong. The unemployment rate in France in 1997 when they passed the 35-hour workweek bill and many companies began anticipating it, was 12.6%. Even before that, unemployment was bad enough to induce the right-of-center coalition in power to try a voluntary worksharing system to create more jobs called the Robien Law (1996-97) but it wasn't working fast enough. Many pundits in the UK, like those in the US, are overworked and "misery loves company." This article is only one American puppydog, Israel, yapping out the same barf as another American puppydog, the UK.]
    It is true that jobs were added, but mostly in the public sector, and at a heavy price.
    [Oh, like the greater flexibility that it gave managers? And the hold it put on wage raises?]
    Factories report a drop in work ethic and productivity;
    [only on the irrelevant output-per-employee basis - output per manhour is higher than the U.S.] and they also find that is more difficult to manage the workforce due to the reduced presence of workers. "It is like working with a permanent team of part-time employees," said one manager.
    [That is the key management skill of the future, unless you want to continue looking at weakening consumer markets due to a downsizing followup to new technology instead of a timesizing one. The best managers of the future will be experts at suturing shorter shifts, including their own.]
    More workers are recruited on personal contracts, and surveys show that the majority supports lengthening work hours if it would guarantee higher wages.
    [A big "if" - since longer hours (and more concentrated employment and higher unemployment or UE) induce lower wages, not higher.]
    In fact, a number of large manufacturers are conducting negotiations to return to the longer work week, and French Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy is initiating a new reform of the previous reform. Other large European economies, and not only the French, have realized that agreements governing their labor markets are too strict.
    [This is not a "realization." This is merely a nearsighted power grap by bored and uncreative CEOs who are going to succeed only in weakening their consumer bases further.]
    The theory that shortening the work week would create more jobs has been disproved;
    [nonsense - it was proved worldwide by 150 years of workweek reduction between 1800 and 1950, when wages and jobs multiplied, and it was proved by the American experience between 1938 (19% unemployment) and 1940 (14.6%), and it was proved again by the French experience between 1997 (12.6%) and 2001 (8.6%).]
    and the sacred right of tenure has led employers to be much more wary in hiring new workers.
    [That has nothing to do with shorter hours. The ability to fire individuals for just cause must always be safeguarded, but this is very different from mass layoffs for management mistakes.]
    The high minimum wage has not led to a higher salary per worker, only to more workers without jobs.
    [This has nothing to do with shorter hours and in fact, is antithetical to shorter hours. To retain or regain a balance of power with management, labor should always and only be fighting for shorter hours, not higher minimum wages. If hours are shortened enough to create a perceived shortage of labor, the resulting bargaining power of labor will take care of wages.]
    The OECD's official publication on labor states that there is empirical evidence of a clear relationship between strong protection for employee rights and the high rate of unemployment.
    [Then make it easier and more rewarding to work and self-support than to remain indefinitely unemployed. And with all the current worksaving technology, it should be much less onerous to work and self-support.]
    Work agreements in Israel are still too strict. Even though this lack of flexibility has been reduced significantly in recent years in the private business sector, in the public sector, and in the banks, for example, little has changed. In the public sector paid for by the government budget, almost nothing has changed.
    [Ha'aretz and this reporter are clearly owned by some nearsighted CEO.]
    The protection provided for employees for their jobs and conditions have created bloated bureaucracies - if not corrupt ones - for decades in large parts of the economy. In order to shrink these bureaucracies, there is a need to fight ferocious battles with the Histadrut labor federation, the unions and employees' committees.
    [The US case where labor has little power yet corruption is rampant among management indicates that corruption is not limited to, or even based in, labor. Management is, after all, in the position of leadership. This reporter is focused on the wrong side. Let management first clean up its own corruption so it can see clearly to clean up that of labor.]
    Even in the case of so-called victory over organized labor, it is necessary to pay huge sums as enhanced severance and full pensions to relatively young workers. The best way to heal the Israeli labor market, given the present straight jacket of labor agreements, is to use "second-generation agreements." These new agreements are not required to meet the conditions of the older pacts in work places. But the unions and employee representatives in factories and other institutions see it as their responsibility to act against these new agreements, too.
    [Ah yes, the old "breaking of the social compact" under ever fancier terminology. Keeping contracts is OK when they're pro-management but not when they're pro-labor. This is covert class warfare in classic style.]
    True, it is irritating to have two different groups of employees working side by side under different conditions in a factory or institution; especially when one groups' employment terms are much worse than the other's.
    [No kidding.]
    But the conclusion should not be that there is no room for second-generation agreements [yes it should]; instead it is necessary to guarantee that these second-generation workers receive reasonable minimum conditions.
    ["Reasonable" by whose definition?]
    It is certainly preferable that they be employed by contractors, instead of not working at all; otherwise these jobs will be exported to Jordan or the Far East. [Aye, there's the rub.]

  16. 7/25   French PM calls for 'reforms' [our quotes] to 35-hour work week, CTV via CTV.ca, Canada.
    PARIS ‹ Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said France's 35-hour workweek stemmed from a "bad law" in need of change, but he vowed in an interview published Sunday that 'reforms' in the French workplace would not create a "social jungle." In the weekly Journal du Dimanche, Raffarin echoed President Jacques Chirac who has called for more flexibility in the 35-hour workweek. Chirac said earlier this month he favored 'reforming' [our quotes] the 35-hour workweek to make it easier for workers wanting to earn more money to work longer hours. The current law requires employees to pay up to 50% more for additional hours. "It's a bad law," Raffarin told the weekly. "We need to increase the total number of hours worked." But Raffarin also warned companies against using threats to win concessions from unions. Last week, workers at a Robert Bosch GMBH plant near Lyon voted to work an extra hour each week for no extra pay in order to prevent the company from moving to the Czech Republic, where labor is cheaper. "In certain cases, I have seen abuses of power," Raffarin said. "Certainly, international competition is fierce, but this cannot legitimize creating a social jungle." Raffarin also said he was "optimistic but prudent" about France's economy, which he forecast would grow at a rate above 2.3% this year. France's government statistics agency INSEE predicted in its latest quarterly economic survey that the French economy would grown by 2.3% this year and above 2% in 2005.

  17. 7/25   European business confidence may have held at three-year high, by John Fraher (jfraher@bloomberg.net), Bloomberg.
    FRANKFURT - Business confidence in the dozen euro nations probably held at a three-year high this month as exports drove economic growth and shoppers in France and Italy increased spending, surveys of economists showed. An index based on a European Commission survey of 25,000 companies will have remained at minus 4 for July, according to the median forecast of 34 economists in a Bloomberg News survey. German and Italian executive optimism probably increased for the first time in three months, separate surveys showed. In Germany, demand for exports is driving economic expansion, making up for stagnant consumer spending and prompting Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's council of economic advisers to raise its growth forecast for Europe's largest economy. In France and Italy, consumers spending spurred growth in the first quarter. ``When Germany industry booms, it boosts growth across Europe,'' said Andreas Scheuerle, an economist at Dekabank in Frankfurt and a former aide to the government's panel of economic advisers. ``We see a rising trend in confidence.'' Optimism among French consumers probably rose to minus 22 in July from minus 23 in June, according to the median of 25 economists in a Bloomberg News survey. French consumer spending in June climbed at the fastest pace in eight years. Even in Germany, where consumer spending has dropped in the past two years, retail sales probably climbed for the second month in seven in June, according to the median of 21 forecasts.
    Companies cut costs
    German business confidence may increase after companies including DaimlerChrysler AG and Siemens AG persuaded staff to work longer hours and settle for limited wage increases, said Dekabank's Scheuerle. Ifo's index of German business confidence may have risen to 95 from 94.6 in June, the median forecast of 41 economists showed. The Ifo economic institute will publish its index, one of Europe's most widely watched indicators, tomorrow at 10 a.m. in Munich. DaimlerChrysler employees at Mercedes factories in Germany on Friday agreed to smaller raises and longer hours after the world's largest luxury carmaker threatened to shed 6,000 jobs. The decision added to pressure for a longer work week nationwide. ``Germany's ability to produce at competitive prices is enhanced'' by the agreement, said Elga Bartsch, an economist at Morgan Stanley in London. ``We're going to see more.'' The euro region's economy may be held back until companies start to accelerate hiring. In Germany, KarstadtQuelle AG said this month it will shed 4,000 jobs at its department-store business by 2006, to respond to falling demand. ``We still have to wait for the magic spark to jump from exports to the domestic economy'' in Germany, said Bartsch.
    Rising unemployment
    [So it's already starting. Falling markets will follow.]
    In France, the number of unemployed workers probably rose by 5,500 in June from a month ago, according to the median of 18 economists in a Bloomberg survey. The French jobless and consumer confidence figures will be released on Friday. European executives and consumers may be unable to rely on the European Central Bank to shore up growth with lower interest rates. Consumer prices across the dozen-nation euro region probably rose 2.4% in July, exceeding the ECB's 2% ceiling for a third month, the median of 37 economists' forecasts showed. ECB Chief Economist Otmar Issing told Boersen-Zeitung in an interview published Thursday he sees ``some indications that inflation expectations have moved up,'' something the ECB must ``watch very carefully.'' Eurostat, the European Union's statistics office, will publish the inflation report on Friday. The yield on the December Euribor interest-rate futures contract on Friday increased five basis points to 2.32% from a week earlier, 32 basis points more than the ECB's benchmark interest rate. The contracts settle to the three-month euro area inter-bank offered rate for the euro, which has averaged 15 basis points more than the ECB's key rate since the euro's launch in 1999.

7/23/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 7/22 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #5 which is from the 7/23 newspaper hardcopy, & backup from recently- & soon-again-to-be-vacationing Alan Applebaum of Brookline MA), and excerpts and [comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
  1. Webco nears completion, by Gary Perilloux, The Orange Leader, TX.
    ORANGE, Tex. - More than a football field's worth of concrete and steel is in place for Webco Industries new $3 million metal fabrication facility in Orange. Orange contractor G&G Enterprises expects construction to wrap up by the end of September on the 135,000-square-foot facility located on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Wednesday, company officials toured the construction site with developer Charlie Wickersham, who's building the facility in conjunction with Tulsa, Okla.-based Webco. "Our company is very pleased with the total team effort put forth by the people and the leadership of Orange," said Lee Beard, Webco's chief engineer and chairman of a site selection committee that chose Orange for the project. Webco is combining four Nederland-area facilities into the new Orange site. The selection was made after company officials initially eyed Port Arthur and Lake Charles sites. The lure for Webco stemmed from 9-year tax waivers granted by the city and county. For Webco, the location also is a natural fit.
    The product
    Webco fabricates and delivers metal tubing for major heat exchanger units at industrial facilities and refineries along the Gulf Coast. From Corpus Christi to New Orleans - the new plant's target market - there are more than 1,500 facilities suited for Webco's tubing and piping. "We hope to serve that market because it's concentrated here," said Beard, whose company also operates a fabrication facility near its Tulsa headquarters. "Our objective is to provide very high-quality, rapid service." About 60% of the new facility will house distribution operations, with the remainder dedicated to fabricating custom tubing for industrial projects. Webco will begin with about two dozen jobs and increase to 50 or more in the coming years. Pay, benefits and overtime packages will average about $42,000 annually. Plant manager John Knowles said 90% of employee training is specialized and completed in-house, with wages dependent on skill levels. "One of the big benefits at Webco is a three-day [36-hour] work week," he said. "They work three 12-hour shifts and then they're off for four days." That schedule...provides an opportune schedule for taking classes, [Beard] said.
    The schedule
    A groundbreaking for the project occurred in December, and city building permits list the construction value at $3 million. Beard said Webco would move in shortly after the late September completion. John Garrett of G&G Enterprises said 150 construction jobs have been created by the Webco work, which slowed during wet weather that ended the last two weeks. "We're working seven days a week out here now trying to catch up," he said. Metal siding already was being installed on the steel frame Wednesday and concrete drives leading to the building are finished. "In about six weeks, we'll have the building dried in," Garrett said.

  2. Fight unemployment! by StandUp NEWS via Sydney Indymedia.
    SYDNEY, Australia - An important demand in the struggle against unemployment is for a shorter working week without loss of pay. It's simple. As workers are laid off, the working week should be reduced so there are enough jobs for all of us.  573,000 unemployed and the government [would be] satisfied. Peter Costello commended this result in his budget speech.
    Even if we were to believe this [unemployment] figure, it still means more than half a million living at a level much lower than...is recognised as poverty. The point is though that the real figure is very much higher.
    [Fine, keep adjusting the working week shorter and shorter and as employees and potential employees are perceived by employers as scarcer and scarcer, wages and spending and business activity will rise higher and higher, just like during and after World War II but without the killing and waste. The more than half a million still living at a level much lower than poverty would be raised into the expanded middle class, and the whole nation could move on to address its second-priority problems.]
    A lot of people simply don't register for the dole. Understandably, they find it too much hassle. To make the figures look better, the government does its utmost to make it as hard as possible. It is not easy satisfying their demands for "mutual obligation" so many say "why bother" that is if they know that their unemployment is seasonal and work is around the corner. But they are still unemployed and their non-registry makes it look as if the government is improving things in relation to unemployment.
    Supposedly there is the same proportion of the work force unemployed today as there was ten years ago But the finance reporter on ABC TV News has pointed out that we actually work 10% less in terms of hours worked. How is this explained? The government has redefined full time work to include many who should only be classified as part time.
    We will be shortly facing another Federal election. Neither party Liberal nor Labor is promising anything which will provide significantly more jobs, let alone fight unemployment. Mark Latham's learn or earn ultimatum will only make [things] miserable for young people who hate education. Half a million unemployed forced to do training only leads to half a million-trained unemployed. It does not create jobs.
    [Unless you've implemented automatic overtime-to-training&hiring conversion, where the training is mostly OJT = on-the-job training.] Turning unemployed into students is also another way of fudging the figures.
    [Correct. Much of 'education' amounts to a makework campaign. See makework realm # 19.]
    Whether studying or not, we are still living in poverty. In fact there is a disincentive to study as those on TEAS [what's TEAS?] receive less than the dole. The Liberals are in fact quite happy with half a million unemployed. Any more, they say, will lead to a rise in interest rates. For them, interest rates come before our survival. They are also quite happy because they can utilize our labour for nothing - work for the dole. Under work for the dole, many unemployed do all sorts of jobs including concreting, painting, land clearing carpentry, nurses and teachers aid work. This is work which previously was carried out by fully paid full time workers. Work for the dole is a job-attacking exercise, not a job-creating one. Yet Labor remains silent. And the ACTU [Australian Congress of Trade Unions?] whilst in policy opposes work for the dole does nothing actively to fight it. They also do nothing to fight unemployment in general.
    An important demand in the struggle against unemployment is for a shorter working week without loss of pay. It's simple. As workers are laid off, the working week should be reduced so there are enough jobs for all of us. The unions understand this in principle. A reduction of the working week is stated policy for every union and for the ACTU. Once upon a time they fought for a 35-hour week. This has fallen by the way side. Now they hope to [push] Labor to adopt better policies. In the pursuit of this futility, they have sold out both their own members and the unemployed. StandUp! believes that [the] way to force others to listen on the issue of unemployment is a strong and militant unemployed organisation. This is what we are committed to build. If you wish to join us or give us your support in any way, contact us now.
    [Didn't get an address or phone with this story so guess you'll have to Google them. Let us know and we'll include here.]

  3. Unionists return to work at GM Daewoo after tentative deal reached, AP via Korea Herald via Canadian Press via Canada.com, Canada.
    SEOUL, South Korea - Operations returned to normal Thursday at South Korea's third largest carmaker, GM Daewoo Auto and Technology, after union and management reached a tentative agreement to end a day-old strike. Unionized workers at GM Daewoo's two plants began a two-day strike Wednesday, after the company rejected their demands for a 16.6% increase in wages and better working conditions. The strikers returned to work after the sides struck an agreement early Thursday, said union and company officials. The deal, subject to approval in a vote next week by rank-and-file union members, called for the company to increase basic salaries by 12.12% and set a firm five-day work week without cutting wages. Employees currently must work on Saturdays every fourth week. Detroit-based General Motors Corp. created GM Daewoo in 2002 after acquiring a majority stake in the now-defunct Daewoo Motor. GM Daewoo controls 10% of the domestic auto market. It sold 600,000 cars last year.

  4. GM Daewoo, union reach tentative agreement, by Kim Tae-gyun (ktg1217@heraldm.com), Korea Herald, South Korea.
    GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co, reached a tentative agreement with its trade union, ending six days of walkouts, the company said yesterday. The contract includes a monthly pay raise of 11%, or 123,000 won and a 2.5 million won performance bonus. The union had demanded a 16.6% raise. The automaker's 2,700 unionized employees canceled a full-scale strike yesterday, and said they will vote on the contract next week. Six days of partial strikes up to yesterday, cost the nation's No. 3 automaker about 3,500 vehicles in lost output, company officials said. The union and management also agreed to implement the five-day work week system without any pay cut. At the same time, the workers withdrew their special demand that the company acquire the main Bupyeong plant as early as next year. "We are pleased to have reached a tentative agreement and are optimistic that the agreement will be ratified shortly by the affected union members," said GM Daewoo President & CEO Nick Reilly. "We continue to share with our employees and their union the desire to work toward building a harmonious relationship and toward building a successful and highly respected Korean automotive company," he said. Kim Kyung-ho, the union's policy director, said the contract fell short of the union's wish list but it was nevertheless reasonable. "Although we are not 100% satisfied, we believe that the agreement is fairly a reasonable deal," said Kim. "We realized that the acquisition depends on General Motor shareholders. But the management here said it will make every effort to materialize the takeover plan promptly. We will fully cooperate with the company." GM Daewoo was formed in 2002 after the world's largest automaker General Motor Corp. purchased key assets of bankrupt Daewoo Motor Co. But the U.S. carmaker did not buy the company's largest plant in Bupyeong, 20 kilometers west of Seoul. It promised to purchase the plant later if the facility meets several conditions covering areas such as productivity and better labor relations. The tentative agreement is the latest of the labor settlements made in the nation's auto industry this year. Hyundai and Kia Motor, the nation's two largest automakers, already ended their contract talks with their workers earlier this month. Currently, Ssangyong Motor Co, the fourth largest automaker here, is the only local car company in disputes with its union. Ssangyong workers began a full-day strike yesterday to demand 10.5% pay rise and greater benefits. The union said it will continue the full-time walkout today. "The management has not showed any sincere attitude in the labor talks. Given the situation, strikes were inevitable," said Lee Young-ho, the Ssangyong union's spokesman. The comany said it will resume the negotiation with the union next Tuesday. Korean carmakers have experienced rising union action every summer when they negotiate with their unions for wage and working conditions for next 12 months. The four auto unions - at Hyundai, Kia, GM Daewoo, and Ssangyong-are known to be among the most militant labor groups in the nation. Of the five Korean car companies, the remaining Renault Samsung Motor Co. does not have a trade union yet.

  5. The struggle to get Europeans to do their duty and spend - On a continent of savers, a push to help bolster the economy, by Nicola Clark, NYT, W1.
    ...longer shopping hours and other consumer incentives introduced by the German government.
    [They'll do anything but address the problem =]
    "When people don't have the euros, they don't go shopping," \said\ Marlene Kaldenbach...a part-time saleswoman from Krefeld, about 30 miles north of Cologne..\..
    Four years of sluggish growth and high unemployment in Germany, \said\ Anna Ficon...preschool teacher \in\ Cologne..., had persuaded her to be more frugal.
    [(A) This is what makes a simplicity movement, or a frugality movement, unnecessary at the moment - it's happening anyway, and insofar as it's not happening as much in America, the difference is temporary because in America it's based on record consumer debt. Timing is everything, and now is the time to be selling the shorter-hours movement on the grounds that it will boost spending and bolster the economy. (B) Big-media quotables mistake the problem as one of too much saving instead of too little security based on too little centrifugation ("sharing") of the national income to those in the middle and lower income brackets who have all the wants and needs but little of the purchasing power. You can't just give them charity or welfare or you create dependency and parasitism. You must maintain the myth of independence and self-support. So the place to start is with the high unemployment. You can't create enough jobs and mock up enough makework for this level of problem (double digit joblessness). You must nudge the private sector into healing itself instead of sliding ever deeper into unsustainability. And the most market-oriented way to guide the private sector into taking care of its own unemployed and turning them into re-activated consumers is to let unemployment set the level of a repeatedly readjusting workweek. We call this approach Timesizing and we've designed it in five easy phases. It's not a rigid and permanent 40 hours a week, nor a rigid and permanent 35 hours a week or any other arbitrary level. But as long as unemployment is too high or rising, the workweek must slowly adjust downward, spreading the vanishing human employment of the Technological Age out to everyone old enough to support him/erself who is able-bodied. And spread the vanishing human employment out even to the un-able-bodied, like Stephen Hawking, who can be enabled to participate in the job market via technological aids. How low will the workweek go? It doesn't matter. If it goes too low to manage conveniently, then alternate weeks. If it goes down too far too fast, slow the rate of adjustment or pause and pass the pressure to the population variables: imports, immigrants, and births. If you're alternating weeks and you've controlled all the population variables you've the stomach for at the moment, pass the pressure over to a new 5-phase program focusing, beyond unemployment, directly on income. The core thread of human progress comes down to better and better technologies of sharing, of becoming more available to one another. After all, what else is there? God? In practice, "God" always gets snipped away from succouring the poor to bolstering and rationalizing the rich, despite Jesus' statement about the needle's eye ("It's easier for a camel to go thru a needle's eye than for a rich man to enter God's kingdom.") ]
    ...People like Ms. Ficon are shaped by a cultural predisposition to save.... European savings rates are among the highest in the world.
    [Same in Japan.]
    In the euro zone, made up of Germany and 11 other countries [didn't 10 more just join?], annual household savings as apercentage of disposable income average about 12%, about double the rate in Britain and Japan [and six times the rate in the U.S. since] Americans save a little more than 2%.
    [And they should be praising this predisposition to save, since some pundit calls for more savings in America at least once a month. But so great is the confusion among mainstream economists and so overdue is the paradigm shift (see Thomas Kuhn's "Structure of Scientific Revolutions") in mainstream economics, that this article proceeds to promote buying on credit and people who don't as risk-averse - then again, it could just be part of the English-speaking press's American chest-thumping -]
    ..\..In the United States, and increasingly in Britain, the average shopper might pull out a Visa or MasterCard to buy [something expensive]. Perhaps the debt would be consolidated under a personal loan, through a mortgage [eg: home equity loan] - far more widespread in Britain or America than on the Continent - or any number of financing techniques that make it easier to spend more money than one has in the bank....
    [Yeah, that's probably why the U.S. has so many (2-3m?) homeless and on-welfare (2m families) and 'disabled' (5.7m) and incarcerated (2.2m) - what a utopia!]
    Ms. Ficon said she had never bought on credit. "I know how much income I have, and it will be the same next month as this month," she said. "If I can't afford something today, I can't see how I will later."
    [As Grampa Hyde used to say, "Neither a borrower nor a lender be." And if you were lucky, he'd launch off into a poem -
    "Oh what a world of sin and sorrow
    For all those who beg and borrow.
    For their debts, though paltry sums
    They promise to repay tomorrow -
    But tomorrow never comes." Then if Grannie was around to tweak, maybe he'd launch into some male chauvinism -
    "God made man and God made woman and God made man the stronger,
    But to give the woman an equal chance, he made her tongue the longer."
    To which Grannie would retort -
    "Patience is a virtue.
    Possess it if you can.
    It's often found in woman,
    But seldom in a man."
    Now back to the nonsense at hand -]
    Norbert Walter, chief economist at Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt, said that in the U.S., "the share of people prepared to take risks is higher."
    [Doesn't he mean "prepared to be stupid" and unsustainable. And here he goes on his own little theory of romanticized racism -]
    "There was a very specific selection of the kind of people who emigrated to America," Mr. Walter said. "All the risk-takers left, and the risk-averse people have stayed."
    [For all his histrionic Yank-fawning, notice where he still is = Frankfurt. By his logic, Australia should be full of convicts. Notice that though Americans think of Europeans as dangerously liberal, by this logic Europe is really the seat of conservativism and what passes for conservativism in America is actually risky adventurism.]
    Prudence arguably breeds stability. But a nation, or nations, full of hesitant spenders neither ignites economies [so who needs 'ignited' economies?] nor spurs the pace of growth [so who need a 'spurred' pace of growth?]....
    [And this culture is preserving Europe's environment much better than America's is preserving, eg, the Everglades, the Colorado, the ozone layer.... Then there's the acid rain on the 'wilds' of Maine and the habit that Joni Mitchell noted 40 years ago, "They cut down the trees and put up a parking lot." But the main part of the European cultural exception (l'exception culturelle europeenne) is their shorter worktime - and some in power there today don't realize that and are trying to roll back that advance. That will be disastrous for European spending, because it will reconcentrate work and wages. Maybe the European advocates of this ticket to suicide are actually American agents. After all, "misery loves company."]

  6. Thomas Cook, German Ver.di Union agree to extend working week, Bloomberg.
    [Another German union drinks hemlock.]
    Thomas Cook AG, Europe's second- largest tour operator, has agreed with Germany's Ver.di union, the country's biggest, to raise employees' weekly working hours, a union official said. The company, based near Germany's financial center of Frankfurt, agreed with Ver.di to extend the workweek for about 2,000 travel agents, tour operators and administrative workers by 1½ hours to 40 hours for 12 months starting Aug.1, the head of Ver.di's wage department, Joerg Wiedemuth, said in Berlin. ``The tourism sector is in great pain,'' Wiedemuth told reporters. ``Everyone is urged to make a contribution.'' Workers at DaimlerChrysler AG are preparing for strikes at the company's German plants tomorrow should talks on cost cuts and longer hours break down today. Companies including Siemens AG and Robert Bosch GmbH have convinced workers to accept wage cuts and longer working hours to prevent jobs going abroad. At Thomas Cook, workers agreed to forgo all overtime supplements and delay payment for the extra 1½ hours until the company, owned by Deutsche Lufthansa AG and KarstadtQuelle AG, returns to profit, Wiedemuth said.
    [So in exchange, did Thomas Cook agree to forgo all overtime assignment? Otherwise, these workers have agreed to a blank check on their lives.]
    Thomas Cook, which in March announced plans to cut its German workforce by 10%, is cutting costs after a three-year slump in travel demand. The company is also in talks with some 2,700 pilots, crew and ground staff to cut costs at its German airline unit, Condor. The accord on longer working hours can be extended following a review after the first year, Wiedemuth said. The company has said it aims to cut costs by 25% this fiscal year after its loss last year doubled.

  7. DaimlerChrysler labour talks face Friday deadline - DaimlerChrysler talks at odds over out-sourcing, DPA via Expatica, Netherlands.
    STUTTGART - Management threats to outsource 6,000 jobs emerged as the key stumbling block Thursday to resolving the biggest industrial action to hit DaimlerChrysler in decades, negotiators said. Negotiators for the IG Metall trade union said they are standing firm on job guarantees for workers at DaimlerChrysler Stuttgart area assembly lines. DaimlerChrysler is threatening to shift 6,000 jobs from the Stuttgart region to elsewhere in Germany or to South Africa. "We want longterm job guarantees," said an IG Metall negotiation source. Negotiators face a Friday deadline for resolving the impasse. Union officials threatened to stage nationwide walkouts unless management budges by Friday on its demands for cutting EUR 500 million in labour costs by trimming benefits and increasing the work week from 35 to 40 hours at no extra pay, it was said. That threat came after negotiators adjourned early Thursday after a marathon, 13-hour bargaining session failed to bridge the gap between the two warring sides. The unions blame DaimlerChrysler's financial woes on management's miscalculated takeover of the ailing Mitsubishi carmaker, which caused shares to nosedive. Corporate executives meanwhile have signalled they were ready to accept a pay freeze if workers agreed to the cost-cutting measures from 2007 in connection with the production of the new C-Class Mercedes-Benz. A wage freeze would be less of a concession than a 10% wage cut for executives which had been mentioned at the weekend by DaimlerChrysler CEO Juergen Schrempp in a bid to win a work week increase to 40 hours from the present 35 - with no extra pay. This would be achieved by cutting wages, bonus payments, vacation time and work-day breaks. Any freeze of executive pay would yield far more modest savings given that the DaimlerChrysler's top managers earned a total of EUR 40.8 million last year, according to the company's 2003 annual report. If the cuts are rejected, DaimlerChrysler is threatening to shift some 6,000 jobs from the Stuttgart region to elsewhere in Germany or to South Africa.

  8. Wage controversy haunts Hyundai union - Union says workers' incomes inflated by heavy overtime work, by Kim Tae-gyun (ktg1217@heradm.com), Korea Herald, South Korea.
    When Kang Sung-ho heard the union at Hyundai Motor Co. staged a strike last month, the 30-year-old office clerk erupted with anger. "I know that Hyundai employees there are paid much higher than average workers here. I do not understand why the union strongly demands a high pay rise every year," said Kang. "I felt that they simply strike out of greed for more money." Since its formation in 1987, the Hyundai Motor Workers Union, the nation's largest and strongest company-level labor organization, has staged strikes every summer except 1994. This year Hyundai workers conducted a five-day work stoppage and cost the nation's top automaker 263.1 billion won in lost output. Workers assemble cars at Hyundai Motor Co.`s largest plant in Ulsan. Due to their high income, Hyundai`s production workers have been called "labor aristocrats" by many critics. [Hyundai Motor] Criticism is particularly reserved for Hyundai's 28,000 production workers who account for 72% of the union and play a leading role in strikes. They have been dubbed "labor aristocrats" because of their comparatively high incomes. "The workers are already well paid. But they seem to abuse strikes to get better pay every year. The union is acting more like a selfish interest group," said an industry expert who requested anonymity. The effects of the Hyundai workers' tactics go beyond the automaker. Their wage levels are used as a benchmark by unions at GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co. and Ssangyong Motor Co., the No. 3 and No. 4 automakers, respectively. After a series of partial walkouts and a full-day strike on Wednesday, GM Daewoo's union agreed to an 11% increase in monthly salary, or 123,000 won, plus a 2.5 million won performance bonus. It had sought a 16.6 percent raise in wages. Ssangyong's union employees launched a general strike yesterday, after nine days of partial disruptions. They are demanding a 10.5% raise. Industry analysts warn that the yearly auto strikes not only squeeze corporate profits they highlight Korea's negative labor image, a widely acknowledged deterrent to foreign investment needed to achieve the government goal of turning Korea into a regional logistics and financial hub. Hyundai workers staged a nearly 50-day strike last year. This year it lasted only five days. Workers accepted a 6.18% pay rise, compared with their demand of 10.5%. In return, they obtained bonuses and incentives equaling four months of pay and an expanded benefit program. But industry watchers are cautious. "The early settlement indeed came as a relief to investors here. But we will have to worry about labor unrest again in next year," said Kang Sang-min, auto analyst of TongYang Investment Bank. The average annual earnings of workers in the auto sector was 24.9 million won in the 2002, the latest available data. The average Hyundai production worker's annual pay now exceeds 50 million won. "It is true that many Hyundai workers make more money than average plant employees. But such a high pay is only the result of long overtime work," said Jo Chang-min, policy director of the Hyundai union. "When you look at our pay package only, you will soon realize that the 50 million won claim is wrong." Hyundai union officials say the combined basic pay, bonuses and incentives of the average Hyundai production worker is 36.6 million and overtime work increases the total to as much as 50 million won. In a union survey, 51% of Hyundai's production employees said they work more than 2,600 hours per year, about 800 more hours than U.S. workers. The large difference stems from the high overtime load. Hyundai Motor implemented a five-day work week last September, but following the scheme is not a simple, Jo said. "Most employees here earn about 40% of their current income through overtime," he said. "Many of them opt for overtime work on Saturday or Sunday. They feel burnout everyday." The survey found that even 16.1% of the workers polled spend an extra 2,800 to 3,000 hours at work for a year. According to the latest 2002 data, the annual working time for average Korean workers is 2,410 hours. Labor experts say the heavy dependency on the overtime pay translates into unstable income. "Overtime work is up to a company's business. If the sales falter, there will be no overtime job," said Lee Jang-kyou, Democratic Labor Party official who has closely worked with the Hyundai union. "And unfortunately, no one can predict how sales would go." He points out that such uncertainty prompts Hyundai workers to seek to make more and more money when they can do so. Subsequently, they pressure for wage increases regardless of their income, said Lee. "The trade union cannot ignore such needs among the members. It is bound to push for high pay rise every year and act aggressively," he said. Hyundai Motor experienced its worst labor dispute last year as the workers and the management clashed over wage rise and paid leave issues. The confrontation ended with 47-day strikes that cost the carmaker more than 1.3 trillion won in lost production. Industry watchers say shaky labor relations are one of major hindrance to Hyundai's goal to join the world's top five automakers by 2010. Some market experts say the frequent strikes help curb the company's stock price. The nation's business circles still attribute labor disputes to the union's "militant" attitude. "A strike should be the last resort in any case. But trade unions at Hyundai Motors and other car companies appear to believe that staging a strike is almost mandatory at any negotiation," said Choi Jae-hwang, policy director of Korea Employers Federation. Some Hyundai officials also agree. They complain the workers always vote to strike in early stage of the labor talks. "When we just begin a negotiation, the union says that it is already beefed up to start a walkout. Such a brinkmanship attitude is a huge pressure to us," said an official who asked not to be identified. But some labor experts take a different approach. Cho Sung-Jae, researcher at Korea Labor Institute, says Hyundai and other Korean automakers could achieve more labor peace by upgrading their benefit packages. "Global car companies such as Toyoda or BMW boast excellent labor relations. But it is not that the unions there are less selfish than Hyundai's. The positive result just came after the companies' huge investment to improve welfare of their employees," he said. Hyundai benefits already include health care and an education fund. Expansion of those benefits was a hot topic during this year's contract talks. Even among Hyundai workers overtime is a sensitive issue. Salaries differ among assembly plants, depending on the vehicle assigned to the sites. "Workers producing popular models such as Tucson have far more overtime jobs than those making other vehicles. That makes a huge difference," said a Hyundai official. The carmaker has seven plants in three locations here - Ulsan, Jeonju, and Asan. These plants produce all different models. For instance, the Asan plant is the only dedicated production site for Hyundai's top-selling Sonata sedan.

  9. Opinion - Be careful what you wish for, by Paul Leone Peters, Manhasset Press, NY.
    MANHASSET, N.Y. - Anyone who thinks the Manhasset school district would benefit by requiring "a 40-hour work week from teachers, instead of the 29, 31 and 35-hour week now in place" (a recurring theme brought up once again at the last meeting), is only demonstrating his or her own ignorance. (And just where do those whimsical numbers come from, anyway?) Both our schools and our children would be shortchanged by such a mandate, since Manhasset teachers regularly put in far more hours each week. Let me explain: To begin, a Manhasset teacher must be in school from about 8 a.m. until about 3:15 p.m., which constitutes a minimum workweek of 36 hours and 15 minutes. If you subtract the five daily 42-minute lunch periods, that comes to 32 hours and 45 minutes of work time per week. (I'm doing the math because it's obvious few of the critics can manage it.) Of course, I do not subtract time when a teacher is not in a specific class or has other classroom-type duty, because those periods are spent preparing materials for class, coordinating lesson plans with others teaching the same course, giving individual student help, correcting tests, etc., or in meetings with other professionals required for the special needs of individual students. (Did anyone really think they spent that time doing things for themselves?) That already compares favorably to the 35 hours of the "standard" 40-hour week that allows a full hour each day for lunch. And, frankly, most teachers don't even get that full lunch period to themselves, spending at least some of it, instead, with students or doing other work. However, anyone familiar with even a single Manhasset teacher knows that they typically arrive in school about a half-hour early (and some even earlier), either to give extra help to their students or to prepare for their first period classes. Moreover, most stay long after that last bell has rung, almost inevitably to give more extra help to their students asking for it. That extends the weekly work hours in school to about 37, already above that covered by the 35 real working hours of the so-called 40-hour week. But there's more. All our teachers spend many additional hours working at home, creating and preparing tests (including different versions for different class sections and different "makeup" tests for absentees), grading tests, papers, and other student work, and preparing other class lessons and materials, writing college recommendation letters, etc. (That, of course, is typical of the profession - at least on Long Island.) In fact, the typical Manhasset teacher puts in more than 45 hours of work each week, at least 10 more hours than the actual 35 covered by that holy 40-hour standard. More significantly, all of these extra hours are incurred voluntarily, because those teachers are dedicated to their students (the children of this community) and to the ideals of quality education Manhasset has always claimed to espouse, not because they are mandated by contract - which they aren't. Requiring them to put in only the 35 hours of a so-called 40-hour workweek will mean their workloads would be reduced, not increased, and only at the loss to our students of things like extra help, special attention, college recommendation letters, challenging class work, and the like. So, all of us had better be careful, or those knee-jerk, short-sighted, uninformed critics pushing for that "40-hour" workweek just might get what they're asking for.

  10. No workers safe from HEU wage cut, by Julia Caranci, Vancouver Westender (www.translink.bc.ca), Canada.
    VICTORIA, B.C. - Unionized hospital workers have lost their bid to exempt some of their members from a government-imposed 11% wage rollback. Victoria's Bill 37 imposed a two-year contract on healthcare workers and contained 15% in concessions, including the wage cut and 4% gained from a longer work week - from 36 to 37.5 hours. The controversial legislation was passed after job action by hospital workers reduced services to essential levels in late April. Since then, the Hospital Employees' Union (HEU) has been pressing to exempt certain workers from the rollback including licensed practical nurses, ECG and cardio technicians, power engineers, and tradespeople such as plumbers, electricians and carpenters. However, this week arbitrator James Dorsey rejected the union's request; health employers will not be compelled to negotiate wage rates for these workers. HEU spokesperson Mike Old said union officials fear a looming recruiting and retention crisis if the workers are forced to accept lower wages. Many may leave their jobs, either for better paid positions in the private sector or health care jobs in other provinces, he added. The HEU plans to continue seeking the exemptions through other legal avenues, Old said.

  11. Trucking firms fight driver shortages - Big-rig pilots in high demand across industry, by Sharon Adams (sharon@businessedge.ca), Business Edge Vol. 1, No. 15, Canada.
    B.C. & ALTA., Canada - A national shortage of qualified drivers has trucking firms in British Columbia and Alberta, turning down work and poaching employees as the industry gropes for innovative strategies to bring new blood to an aging workforce....
    [And how could that possibly be, you may ask?]
    In Canada, drivers' pay has been static since 1997 ­ ranging from $20,000 to $42,000 in B.C. - while the job has become more technologically challenging and the work week longer. Drivers at the top of the income scale routinely work an 80-hour week. That's not much of an incentive, says Pederson, "for the 20-year-old who can make more with his fingers on a keyboard."...

  12. Other views: Sunday still special day for many people, by Chuck Chadwick, The Forum via In-Forum, ND.
    The July 18 Associated Press story "Once a special day, Sunday starting to melt into week" started the memories flowing. The article took me back to February 1991, as I watched the regular Sunday shoppers in Moorhead eagerly turning their attention to the vortex of West Acres. A major retail advantage simply disappeared one winter day. It certainly wasn't a deathblow by any means, but it required a "back to the marketing drawing board." I remember commenting, "Well, we still have no sales tax on apparel in Moorhead." Would it be enough? Old timers predicted that the North Dakota Sunday opening impact would be less than the 1972 West Acres center opening. They told me that all would be well. They, of course, were right: We survived financially. However, you can put Sundays into the work week, but you can't take the Sundays out of the people. Forum reporter Jonathan Knutson did a story on how employees valued flex time (July 5). My experience is that there is more resistance to working Sundays than Fridays or even holidays. There is just something special about Sunday. Even though it has been damaged, the uniqueness has not been extinguished. It was this very uniqueness I was unable to describe when invited in 1990 to several public forums to debate the issue. The discussions focused on the financial aspect of Sunday openings as opposed to the cultural change to which I spoke. However, I was viewed as the token conservative from Minnesota with a business bias. On the contrary, not only did my company have a Fargo store but was also in many locations across North Dakota and certainly gained from the change in the law. The fact that many family-owned businesses and even some downtown merchants were opposed on non-financial grounds did not sway the proponents, nor did the fact that Sunday openings would encourage the acceleration of the negative rural-urban economic shift cause anyone to pause. As I stated at the forums, not everything can be measured in dollars and cents. I agree with author Susan Orlean, "We've erased a lot of the distinctions between night and day, between weekday and weekend. Our notions of time and space are collapsing. I don't know that that gives us anything." Sunday openings have brought about cultural changes, and in hindsight it was just a step towards a 24/7 world, which brings its own challenges. However, Sundays will always remain special, even if it is only in nostalgia. You can put Sundays into the work week, but you can't take the Sundays out of the people. Chadwick is general manager of the Moorhead Kmart and a member of The Forum's Readers' Board.

  13. Indicators give mixed data on US economy, by Andrew Balls, Financial Times, UK.
    D.C. - An index of leading US economic indicators declined in June for the first time in 15 months, disappointing consensus forecasts of a flat reading. Half the components of the Conference Board's leading indicators index dropped last month, with the measures for building permits, factory work-weeks, supply deliveries, the money supply and interest rates all registering declines. Measures of consumer expectations, stock prices, jobless claims and consumer and capital goods orders all increased for the month. "Strong economic performance in May gave way to a weaker June," said Ken Goldstein, an economist at the Conference Board. "The data reflect a strong economic environment, but one with less momentum than last month." Separately, the Chicago Federal Reserve reported that its national activity index dropped sharply in June, reflecting weakness in production and employment categories. Retail sales were weak in June and the manufacturing work-week shrank. The US economy created 112,000 jobs last month - half the level expected - although economists caution that part of the weakness in the June data may have resulted from business closures around the time of President Ronald Reagan's funeral. "It raises the question of how much of this is real and how much is data illusion," said Peter Kretzmer, economist at Bank of America. "By the time of the July employment report it should be clear how much of the slowdown was temporary." Testifying before Congress this week, Alan Greenspan, the Federal Reserve chairman, played down the importance of recent weak economic data, saying that it reflected a temporary impact on consumer spending from higher energy prices. The slowdown is likely to be short lived and will not prevent the Fed from continuing with a measured pace of interest rate rises, Mr Greenspan said. The Conference Board said that the leading indicators index was higher in the second quarter than in the first three months of the year, in spite of June's drop and downward revisions to earlier months. The reading is consistent with gross domestic product growth at a 4-5% annual rate in the near term, the Conference Board said. The weaker-than-expected reading in the leading indicator index was explained by the drop in building permits in June, economists said. A report from the Commerce Dept. on Tuesday showed that US housing starts dropped 8.5% in June, in part because of rising long-term interest rates.

7/22/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 7/21 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #1,2,3 which are from the 7/22 newspaper hardcopy, & backup from recently- & soon-again-to-be-vacationing Alan Applebaum of Brookline MA), and excerpts and [comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
  1. More jobs, worse work - Americans want employment that leads somewhere, by Stephen Roach, NYT, A23.
    [Steve Roach is the Wall Street guy who in the early 90s toured the world preaching downsizing, but then a close relative (his sister) got downsized and took it hard, and Steve 'did the flip.' He suddenly began to see the uncreative destruction in downsizing, especially the costs to consumer markets. He became a contrarian, Wall Street's foremost contrarian. In this article he recognizes that even if new jobs have been created in the last 4 months...]
    ...they have been at the lower end of the economic spectrum....
    [His hope, however, that Americans get employment that leads somewhere doesn't have much chance unless we switch from straining for too little, too late, too costly, too militaristic, too artificial. too arbitrary makework and job creation to merely sharing the technologically vanishing human employment. And the best way to do that is via the Timesizing program's market-determined workweek adjustment, market-determined by having it vary inversely with market-determined comprehensive unemployment, so the arbitrarily frozen workweek doesn't continue gradually unraveling our consumer base.]

  2. Europe sees limits on growth - Structural problems pose a risk of inflationary pressures, by G. Thomas Sims, WSJ, A11.
    FRANKFURT - Deep-seated structural problems are limiting the European economy's ability to grow without stoking inflation, suggesting that the current tepid rate of expansion already has hit its limit.
    [You mean like the U.S. currently? - about which Greenspan "told House Financial Services Committee yesterday that companies were behaving far differently in this 'recovery' [our quotes] than in the past"? - and showing an "unusual reluctance to spend and hire"? - see article "Greenspan says more spending and hiring will help economy," today, NYT, C7. Bottom line: Europe and US have same kind of structural problems with the dysfunctional hyperconcentration of money, but Europe is having them at a higher standard of living with more free time, higher official unemployment and less hidden unemployment (welfare, disability, homelessness, incarceration...) and the U.S. is having them at a lower standard of living with less free time, lower official unemployment, and more hidden unemployment (the 4 categories above plus, forced retirement, forced UNretirement, forced self-'employment', and forced part-time). Any questions? timesizing@aol.com. As for inflation, controlling inflation by fostering unemployment and braking growth has got to be one of the most self-destructive tenets of present-day economic dogma. Much smarter is controlling inflation by nudging the workforce into a better balance between the money motive (inflationary) and job satisfaction (deflationary). This can be done by taxing overtime and subsidizing OT-targeted training&hiring.]
    ...Reasons for slower potential growth rate include low birth rates,
    [why, you may ask, does he find it necessary or useful to explain a mere "potential" that has not happened yet and may be quite mistaken? - the answer has to be in the realm of propaganda - and if we're stressing the biosphere with overpopulation, there are no, repeat, no negatives in low birth rates]
    the region's slowness in embracing technology in business
    [what is the basis of this claim? where's the data? where's the beef? - we have quite the opposite impression - that because of Europe's greater advance in passing along the benefits of technology to the workforce in the form of free time, the European workforce is less resistant to embracing technology than the American workforce and is actually quicker in embracing technology in business than Americans - so again, where are the studies on this? - and the next clause is actually proof that this claim is wrong -]
    and a relatively small working-age population,
    [hey, if the European working-age population is small relative to the U.S., and if a smaller proportion of them are working than in the U.S. (as evidenced by their higher official unemployment), then they must be doing a lot more with fewer workers, and therefore have a much higher level of technology implemented in business aka the private sector - these nearsighted Wall Street propagandists better get their story straight - they're contradicting themselves]
    which all underscore some of the euro-zone economy's greatest troubles.
    [Oh yeah, and what would they be?]
    Most economists [the ones that the Journal talks to anyway] agree that the only way to make Europe more globally competitive is by enacting so-called structural 'reforms' [our quotes] such as making it easier to hire and fire workers and eliminating workweek restrictions.
    [Oh, like we are in the U.S. by restricting medical students hours from 120 to 80 a week, and supposedly restricting truckers' hours, and supposedly extending overtime protections to more people? Again, these confused Wall Street con artists are arguing both sides against the middle. In fact, the easiest way to make it easier to hire and fire workers is to drop the downwardly inflexible 40-hour workweek and introduce market-determined workweek adjustment, where the comprehensive unemployment rate carries the critical market signal = as long as comprehensive unemployment is too high or rising, the workweek gradually adjusts downward - and vice versa. What defines "too high"? Regular public referendums every year or, as in Switzerland, every six months. But back to this self-contradictory article. How bad does it get? Consider a bizarre sentence from above -]
    ..\..A lower potential growth rate also would help explain why inflation has been above the ECB's target for the past three years despite a pronounced economic slump....
    [Huh? Didn't Sims start this article by stating that the European economy's ability to grow without stoking inflation was limited? - yet now he's saying a lower growth rate explains why inflation has been stoked? Buddy, what are you smoking? You can't have it both ways. Or maybe this is all rationalized in your confused 'mind' by introducing the term 'potential' - is that supposed to fling us into Wonderland, where anything is any way you say it is, for any reason?]
    ...In France, a majority of employees at German auto-parts maker Robert Bosch GmbH voted [under the duress of job blackmail] to work 36 hours to save jobs and "remain competitive" [our quotes]. That could undermine France's 35-hour workweek - criticized by many economists [though praised by many others who are here being ignored] as evidence of inflexible labor markets.
    [even though the labor markets were actually flexed up upon the introduction of the 35-hour workweek?! How soon some forget.]
    It followed a similar move last month when German workers at Siemens AG agreed to extend the workweek to 40 hours from 35 without a wage increase....
    [- also under the duress of job blackmail.]

  3. South Korea's labor strife presents challenge to Roh - As strikes idle production, nervous foreign investors wait for Seoul's response - President Roh's 'policies have been inconsistent and hard to figure out', by Hae Won Choi, WSJ, A11.
    [Oh, like Bush's new overtime proposals aren't inconsistent and hard to figure out? Like Bush's proposals for truckers' hours aren't inconsistent and hard to figure out? Roh isn't one of Them, so they're not going to cut him some slack. If S.Korea was Haiti or Chile, they already have the place swarming with agents to bring him down, same as they did to Aristide and Allende. The big corrupt U.S. isn't happy unless everywhere else in the world is working worse than it, so it can overlook it's own flaws instead of addressing them, and just thump its chest and yell, "We're the best!" again and again and again. Bor-ing.]
    ...The pact announced by [GM Daewoo] Thursday morning provides for a 12.12% increase in basic pay and introducing a five-day workweek without reducing salaries....
    [Ah, assuming that GM Daewoo has more than 1000 employees, isn't that 5-day workweek thing something that was introduced back on July 1 all across the economy?!]

  4. Bosch's French labor pact to set precedent, industry lobby says, by Francois de Beaupuy (fdebeaupuy@bloomberg.net) & Florence Labedays (flabedays@bloomberg.net), Bloomberg News via Bloomberg.com.
    PARIS - Robert Bosch GmbH's agreement with workers at a French factory to increase hours at no extra pay, the first such contract since France capped the work week at 35 hours, set a precedent for other companies, the head of the biggest group of French manufacturers said. ``There may be a succession of assaults'' on work-hour limits, Daniel Dewavrin, president of Groupe des Federations Industrielles, said in an interview. His organization says it speaks for 90% of France's 150,000 industrial companies, including Bosch. ``Companies such as Siemens and Motorola may follow.'' Closely held Robert Bosch, based in Stuttgart, Germany, will keep 190 jobs at the plant in Venissieux, near Lyon in central France, instead of shifting them to the Czech Republic after workers agreed Monday to give up eight holidays, Bernard Bonnet, a spokesman for the company said. Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy is pushing to loosen work- week restrictions to reduce companies' costs and boost workers' earnings. The law, enacted six years ago by a Socialist-led government to lift employment, is losing popular support. France's jobless rate of 9.8% equals Germany's as the highest among the Group of Seven industrialized nations. Companies in Germany are also seeking longer hours from staff to reduce costs. Munich-based Siemens AG last month extracted an agreement at two factories for more hours at no additional pay to save 2,000 jobs. DaimlerChrysler AG is in talks with workers at two Mercedes plants in southern Germany about 500 million euros worth of cost cuts.
    Model for employers
    The Bosch ``accord may create a precedent and show employers that they can question the 35-hour working week,'' said Serge Truscello, a representative at the Bosch plant for the Confederation Generale du Travail, the country's second-biggest union. Truscello opposed the agreement that effectively lifts the average work week to 36 hours from 35 hours at no additional pay. A spokesman for the Labor Ministry didn't return two calls seeking comment. A spokesman for Schaumburg, Illinois-based Motorola, which has more than 3,000 employees in France, didn't return a call for comment. Bosch said the agreement will reduce labor costs at the plant by 12%. Nicolas Sobczak, an economist at Goldman, Sachs & Co. in Paris, who previously worked at Insee, the government statistics office, said increasing work hours won't be enough to increase French companies' competitiveness.
    Wage costs
    ``Wage costs in central Europe are three times lower, so one or two extra hours of work won't change the equation,'' Sobczak said. Hourly labor costs average 4.21 euros ($5.15) in the 10 newer European Union members such as Poland, Hungary and Slovakia, compared with 22.70 euros in the older 15 countries, EU statistics show. Bosch, which employs 10,700 people in France, hasn't said whether it intends to push for similar agreements at its other sites. Medef, France's largest employers federation, and the current government opposed legislation enacted in 1998 that aimed to create 700,000 jobs by cutting the legal workweek to 35 hours from 39 hours.
    `First agreement'
    ``This is the first agreement of this kind in France, at least the first which got such a publicity,'' said Jean-Francois Roubaud, president of Confederation Generale des Petites et Moyennes Entreprises, the country's largest federation representing small and medium-sized companies. ``Everything's better than production relocation because it saves jobs.'' In October 2002, the president's governing party eased the work week rules by lowering payroll taxes, raising overtime limits and making extra hours cheaper until the end of next year. The 35-hour work week law obliges companies with 20 or more staff to reduce work times for no loss in pay. Companies got payroll tax reductions if they committed to hiring more employees. Instead, labor costs have climbed by 11%. A parliamentary committee, made up mostly of lawmakers from the governing majority, estimated in April the law has protected or created 350,000 jobs at a cost to the state of 23,000 euros ($28,437) per job, triple the cost of standard subsidies.
    `Minimal impact'
    By scrapping holidays instead of adding to the work week Bosch stayed within the limits of the law, said Gerard Filoche, a government labor inspector, said in a telephone interview. ``The impact on other companies will be minimal,'' said Filoche. ``What matters here is not as much the increase in the working week as the actual pay cut.'' The parliamentary committee in April advised the government to further relax the law. Lowering payroll taxes on overtime and permitting company-level negotiations to fix work hours are among the recommendations from the lower-house committee charged with examining the economic and social consequences of the law. The French are ``open and flexible'' to changing the law to allow people to earn more by choosing to work longer hours, Sarkozy...said at a conference of business executives in Paris earlier this month.
    `Seriously questioned'
    Le Parisien newspaper July 8 published an opinion poll by market research group CSA Opinion surveying 800 people that showed 51% support changing the work week law. A poll by Ipsos SA, funded by a small-business organization, showed 90 percent want the law loosened to give them more choice. Neither poll provided a margin of error. ``The 35-hour week will be seriously questioned,'' said Dewavrin, from the manufacturers' group. ``There will be cracks everywhere.''
    [With a 4-hour a week difference? Quit exaggerating! And consider whether you want stronger consumer demand and lower unemployment taxes,or not. Longer hours and more workload concentration are not going to provide them.]
    Following the agreements by Siemens plants in Germany, the company's French unit has not received any directive from the parent company, Philippe Carli, chairman of Siemens France said in a telephone interview. The 35-hour week ``is not being questioned now,'' Carli said. ``We would look at ways to adapt it if productivity levels were to be less satisfactory.'' Siemens, which employs 417,000 people worldwide, will invest up to 75 million euros in France in the next two fiscal years to step up production, Carli said. The agreement at the Bosch plant in Venissieux will help Bosch finance a new production line for a diesel pump for trains. Bosch, second to Delphi Corp. in the global auto-parts market, said it will invest more than 12 million euros at the French site, which was initially planned in the Eastern European country. ``In the Bosch case, it's a win-win agreement,'' said Roubaud of the small-business group. ``Thirty-six hours isn't the end of the world.''

  5. South Korea strikes spread to subway, Reuters via BBC News via ABC Online, Australia.
    South Korean prosecutors have warned unions that leaders of a subway strike face arrest and they may also detain organisers of a walkout paralysing the nation's second-biggest oil refiner if work does not resume soon. The strikes, this year's instalment of the labour unrest that cripples parts of the country each summer, pose a fresh test for President Roh Moo-hyun, a former labour lawyer who has been criticised by employers for being too soft on the unions. State prosecutors said they would seek warrants to arrest leaders of the strike by 7,000 subway workers that the government has declared illegal. They said strike leaders at LG-Caltex Oil Corp could face similar action if work did not resume soon. The strike that began on Sunday as a walkout showed no sign of ending quickly. Economists criticised unions for making excessive demands. The subway strike in Seoul and in the three other main cities of Inchon, Pusan and Taegu is over wages and union demands to hire more workers tied to a new five-day work week. The subway management brought in thousands of replacement workers to prevent major disruption of the transport system. One of the two operators in Seoul ordered all striking workers to return by 11:00am (local time) on Thursday or face punishment. In Seoul, subway trains were running, although in some cases intervals between trains were longer than normal. "The prosecution plans to seek warrants to arrest leaders of the illegal action," the Supreme Public Prosecutors' Office said in a statement. "It causes serious inconvenience to the citizens and can cause serious damage to the economy." South Korea traditionally sees an upsurge in labour unrest in the summer. The main issue this year is labour demands for sizeable wage increases even as working hours are due to fall with the introduction of the five-day work week. The subway unions want a wage increase of up to 10% and more workers, which they say are needed to ensure trains run safely after work hours are cut. In a separate development on the labour front, police detained on Wednesday two union leaders of South Korea's KorAm Bank, on charges of leading illegal action during the bank's recent 18-day strike, Yonhap news agency said. Union members at the country's sixth-largest bank, recently bought by Citigroup Inc, had been in walkout between late June and early July, demanding job security.
    Oil refiner paralysed
    The central bank, the Bank of Korea, said confrontational labour relations were a key obstacle to lifting depressed business investment in Asia's third-largest economy. Financial markets took the strikes in their stride. The benchmark stock index closed over 2% higher and the won strengthened. Foreign investors frequently cite union action as a hurdle to doing business and a factor contributing to the relatively low value of local shares that is known as the "Korea Discount". Mainstream newspapers and economists were mainly critical of union demands amid growing concerns the economy may face a sharp downturn if consumption fails to take off before exports slow. "All the Korean people cannot but sigh and deplore as they always have to watch and suffer those absurd serial strikes by big unions," the conservative Chosun Ilbo said in an editorial. Hank Morris, director of Industrial Research and Consulting Ltd, agreed: "I think the Korean public ... probably thinks it's not reasonable." Oil refiner LG-Caltex Oil said it had started test operations at one of its main crude distillation units (CDU) and a secondary unit after mobilising substitute workers to restart its refinery. That dispute over wages entered a fourth day with no sign of union and management restarting talks. LG-Caltex, a 50:50 joint venture set up in 1967 between South Korea's LG Group and ChevronTexaco Corp, produces 650,000 barrels per day and accounts for a quarter of domestic refining capacity. It has about the same proportion of the oil market.

  6. Summer protests - S. Korean subway, car workers strike - Metro service was unaffected by the labor action in four cities, while two Daewoo Auto & Technology Co. plants were hit by the union action , AP via Taipei Times, Taiwan.
    Striking subway workers gather at a subway main depot in Seoul yesterday. Subway workers went on strike in South Korea's four biggest cities yesterday. PHOTO: AFP SEOUL - Thousands of subway employees in major cities and unionized workers at South Korea's third-largest carmaker went off the job yesterday in the latest in a rash of summer strikes that has prompted government warnings of a crackdown. Although subway service was unaffected because authorities mobilized non-union workers, the strikes come at a sensitive time because of signs that the domestic economy is struggling despite booming exports. Unionized workers at GM Dae-woo Auto & Technology Co went on strike to press demands that include a 16.6% salary in-crease. And LG Caltex, South Korea's second-largest oil refiner, was preparing to restart its plant after it shut down on Monday because of an illegal strike by unionized workers. State prosecutors said yesterday that they would seek warrants for the arrest of leaders of the subway and LG Caltex strikes, which are illegal. The law bars any strike called during a 15-day mediation period with the government. The government typically promotes a negotiated end to union actions -- even if they are illegal -- to avert further unrest, but has in the past used police to break up strikes. "We have stressed time and time again that we will deal sternly with any illegal action that is not within the boundaries of the law," the government said in a statement on Tuesday. The annual wave of labor actions -- considered a major obstacle to President Roh Moo-hyun's efforts to attract foreign investment -- are concentrated during the summer as most companies and unions begin wage negotiations in the spring. Roh, a former lawyer who defended labor activists, has been accused of being too sympathetic to union demands. Some 9,900 subway and railroad workers in Seoul, Incheon, Busan and Daegu went on strike yester-day, urging authorities to increase hiring with the launch of a five-day work week this month. Sections of the subway system are operated by the national railroad company. "Although the five-day work week went into effect on July 1, the government has not made any effort to hire extra workers as is necessary,"' the subway workers' union said in a statement. In addition to a wage increase, members of the Daewoo Automobile Labor Union are demanding reduced working hours, company officials said. The strike by 2,700 workers affected the company's Changwon and Gunsan plants, and unionists planned to continue the stoppage through today. The strike is not illegal. At LG Caltex, striking workers are demanding a 10.5% wage hike. Strikers temporarily occupied plant control rooms, forcing operations to shut down.

  7. Strike at GM Daewoo ends as one at Ssangyong Motor begins, AFP via Channel News Asia.
    SEOUL - Striking workers at US-owned GM Daewoo Auto and Technology have returned to work after the labour union and management reached a tentative agreement on wage hikes. However, negotiations at another South Korean automaker broke down and workers at Ssangyong Motor went on strike and shut down production, blaming management for failing to agree wage increases. GM Daewoo agreed to raise the base monthly wage by an average 11%, or 123,000 won (106 dollars), and to provide a performance-based bonus payment of 2.5 milion won (2,155 dollars) for each worker. "We are pleased to have reached a tentative agreement and are optimistic that the agreement will be ratified shortly by the affected union members," GM Daewoo president and CEO Nick Reilly said. During a marathon meeting overnight, the company also agreed to officially instate a 40-hour work week, two hours less than before, in-line with the government's introduction of the five-day work week from July 1. Some 2,700 workers at the firm had walked out Wednesday, calling for a 16.6 percent pay rise and better working conditions. The 26-hour-long strike cost the country's third-largest automaker 3,500 cars in missed production, a spokesman of GM Daewoo said. Unionized workers plan to hold a vote on the agreement next week, said the company, owned by US auto giant General Motors Corp. GM Daewoo, based in the western port city of Incheon, has four manufacturing facilities in South Korea as well as an assembly facility in Vietnam. Meanwhile, Ssangyong Motor Co said all of its plants suspended production Thursday as some 620 unionized workers at the fourth-largest automaker in South Korea walked off their jobs after the labour union, which has been staging partial strikes since July 12, launched an all-out strike. The labour strife is feared to adversely affect efforts by creditors of Ssangyong, who are seeking to sell the financially-troubled automaker to either a Chinese automaker or a US pension fund. The creditors, led by Chohung Bank, are to choose between Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. of China and an unidentified US pension fund within the month, according to Yonhap news agency.

  8. More strikes: Subways, oil refining, GM Daewoo, Asia Pulse/Yonhap via Asia Times Online, Hong Kong.
    SEOUL - Labor confrontations are spreading to new areas in South Korea: Subways, oil refining and auto production. The long-running stoke against KorAm ban has been settled, but this is the season for labor duels since by law contracts on last one year. Thousands of subway workers in Seoul, Daegu, Busan and Incheon went on strike early Wednesday, but transit officials mobilized non-union workers to keep the subways running. The labor stoppage comes as the union workers and management failed to work out a compromise mainly over five-day work week system. The walkout prompted Seoul Metropolitan Government and other local authorities to mobilize non-union workers to minimize public inconvenience. The unions are asking for additional employment of some 7,100 workers in order to implement the five-day work week, which took effect at the beginning of the month, without any diminishing of their working conditions, Management is insisting on an "implementation first and negotiation later" policy. Increased effort to restart oil production Strike-hit LG Caltex Oil Corp, South Korea's second-largest oil refiner, stepped up preparations to resume production on Wednesday. LG Caltex Oil halted production on Monday evening as striking workers occupied the control rooms of the company's factory here. Union members then left the plant and have not reported to work. "We started the trial run of two production lines," a company official said. "The successful resumption will be determined Thursday morning after checking products." The two production lines have a daily refining capacity of 400,000 barrels, 60% of the plant's daily capacity of 650,000 barrels. "I expect good results as about 400 office workers, nonunion members and retired workers are doing their best to restart operations successfully," the official said. Earlier on Tuesday, the company ordered unionized workers to return to work by Thursday morning. "Nearly 20 workers have expressed their intention to report to work," he said. "If the two production lines are back in operation, more union members will return." The company said it will be lenient toward unionists who report by the deadline, but that it will file civil and criminal charges against those who refuse. Strike halts production at GM Daewoo In Seoul, Some 2,700 unionized workers at GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co expanded their partial strike to a full-day protest Wednesday, forcing South Korea's third-largest auto maker to grind to a halt. The general strike followed a series of failed negotiations between labor and management over workers' demand for pay hikes and guarantee of job security. However, workers at Daewoo Incheon Motor, a spin-off of defunct Daewoo Motor Co, didn't join the collective action, out of fear it might adversely affect the chances of an earlier acquisition of their company by GM Daewoo, one of the union's demands. Unionized workers at Daewoo Incheon Motor will, instead, take turns to hold sporadic walkouts during the two-day general strike. Daewoo Incheon Motor and GM Daewoo, which is controlled by US auto giant General Motors Corp, are separate entities, but share one union. GM Daewoo estimates the general strike will result in the lost production of 2,000 cars. Unionized workers at another South Korean auto maker, Ssangyong Motor Co, are also gearing up for a general strike, on Thursday, after holding a series of sporadic walkouts since last Monday. Earlier this month, Hyundai Motor Co and Kia Motors Corp, flagship auto makers of Hyundai Motor Group, reached agreements with their unionized workers on wage hikes and hefty bonus packages. The GM Daewoo union, which is demanding a 16.6%, or 185,844 won (US$160), rise in base monthly salary, started its partial strike on July 9, putting down their tools for a few hours each day. The company offers a 115,000 won pay (US$99 )pay hike. The general strike comes despite the management's earlier optimism that unionized workers would refrain from resorting to extreme measures. Sound labor-management relations is a precondition for the integration of Daewoo Incheon Motor into GM Daewoo. Last year, the GM Daewoo union scrapped its plan to launch a series of strikes after coming to a last-minute agreement with the management. GM, the world's No 1 auto maker, and its partners took over a majority stake in most of Daewoo Motor's assets in 2002 to create GM Daewoo. Daewoo Motor's main assembly plant in Bupyeong, about 20 kilometers west of Seoul, was excluded, however, from GM's takeover list and was renamed Daewoo Incheon Motor. GM pledged to absorb Daewoo Incheon Motor by the second half of 2006, if the aging plant improved its productivity and product quality and maintained amicable labor-management relations. The labor union has been calling for the advancement of the schedule to December 2005.

  9. Quickly Asia - S. Korean subway workers on strike, Reuters via Straits Times, Singapore.
    SEOUL - A summer wave of labour unrest in South Korea deepened yesterday as 7,000 subway workers went on strike. State prosecutors said they would seek warrants to arrest leaders of the subway strike, which was declared illegal by the government, while local media criticised unions for making excessive demands. Subway workers in Seoul, Incheon, Busan and Taegu are striking over wages, demands to hire more workers and a five-day work week.

  10. Metro One cuts pay in rare way - Employees complain to the state that the struggling company makes them take multiple unpaid breaks during the day, by Mike Rogoway (503-294-7699, mikerogoway@news.oregonian.com), Oregonian, OR.
    Beaverton-based Metro One Telecommunications has faced mounting pressure for months to make up for the loss of two clients that provided most of its revenue. Now, the directory-assistance company's employees say they're feeling a squeeze. Workers said Metro One is forcing employees at its Beaverton call center to take unpaid, unscheduled breaks several times a day as a result of a sharp downturn in business this month. The employees said the breaks consume as much as half their work week. On Tuesday, one worker filed a complaint with the state Bureau of Labor and Industries questioning the practice. Metro One confirmed that it sometimes puts workers on unpaid breaks but said the practice is rare, and legal. It would not say whether recent instances were tied to business problems. A pioneer in contract directory assistance, the company once wowed Wall Street with sharp growth in sales and profits. In its heyday earlier this decade, it employed as many as 5,600 at 31 call centers around the country, and its stock traded up to $45.75 a share. Since then, Metro One has lost money four straight quarters. On Tuesday, the company employed 3,700 people, including 200 in the Portland area, and its share price closed at $1.40. For several months, analysts have warned that unless the company replaces a big chunk of its lost revenue, it faces drastic choices. Metro One would not comment on its plans ahead of a quarterly earnings announcement on July 30, but analysts said the company has few good options short of a sale or more dramatic downsizing. "I definitely feel bad for them," said Scott Sutherland, who follows Metro One for Wedbush Morgan Securities in Los Angeles. "Right now, it doesn't seem like anything is working for them." Metro One historically relied on big wireless companies for most of its sales. When those companies' customers called directory assistance, they reached Metro One operators who could find phone numbers as well as provide "teleconcierge" services such as looking up driving directions and checking movie times. Metro One lost its biggest clients, however, as first Sprint PCS and then AT&T Wireless dumped the premium service for cheaper alternatives elsewhere that included automated directory assistance and work sent offshore. Together, they once provided close to two-thirds of Metro One's revenue. In response, the Beaverton company launched an ambitious plan to replace the lost business with its own brand of directory assistance, Infone. But a year after its introduction, the service has suffered a painfully slow start, despite Metro One's spending $56 million through March advertising it.
    Leftover AT&T Wireless
    For the past several months, the company relied heavily on leftover business from AT&T Wireless. Though its contract with AT&T Wireless expired Dec. 31, Metro One continued to serve its customers under a transition period. Five employees, who asked not to be identified for fear of losing their jobs, said the last of the AT&T Wireless business ended June 30. Since then, they said, the company has not provided enough work to fully occupy the more than 50 people who work at the Beaverton call center. Supervisors select employees, seemingly at random, to take unpaid breaks of 15 minutes to an hour several times a shift, the workers said. Sometimes, they said, the breaks start at the beginning of their shifts. "They are becoming excessive," one worker said in the anonymous complaint to the state. Employees said unpaid breaks are referred to within Metro One as "e-time," short for "extra time." They said the e-time has reduced a 40-hour work week to as few as 16 hours for some workers. State rules require employers to pay workers for breaks "when the time spent waiting belongs to and is controlled by the employer and the employee is unable to use the time effectively for the employee's own purposes," according to the Bureau of Labor and Industries. Bureau officials declined to speculate whether Metro One's practices conform to the rules.
    1,900 jobs gone in a year
    Most call-center jobs tend to be low-paying, high-turnover positions. But the Metro One employees said several people at the Beaverton center have worked there for three years or more, and they said jobs pay $9 to $15 an hour, depending on experience and incentives. The company would not detail its wages and work schedules. Metro One has shed 1,900 jobs in a little more than a year. Most employees work in call centers, though it's unclear whether Metro One call centers in other parts of the country also are putting workers on unpaid breaks. Metro One introduced the customer-direct Infone service in May 2003. In its first 10 months, it attracted 70,000 users. Metro One had said it eventually would need millions of customers to make Infone pay off. Analysts widely consider Infone a failure and have urged Metro One to dump it. Some have speculated that the company may be sold or liquidated. "At best (Metro One) is currently scaling down to being a moderately profitable but niche business," Paul Coster, a J.P. Morgan Securities analyst, said in an April research note. "At worst, we believe the company could be destined for drawn-out failure."

  11. Labor unrest - Unions should return to dialogue table, Korea Times, South Korea.
    It is both perplexing and irritating to see the labor strife escalating like the mercury in our thermometers these days. One in every four gas stations in Korea is now closed due to LG-Caltex Oil Co., the nation's second largest oil refinery, going on strike. In addition, about 15,000 subway workers in Seoul and Inchon are on a walkout, setting numerous commuters in the metropolitan area on edge. More regretfully, these are all illegal strikes defying the government's order for arbitration. LG-Caltex union calls for, among others, a 10.5-percent pay raise, a 10-percent staff increase and a five-team, three-shift work system. But most wage earners here would shake their heads if they knew the average yearly salary of the company's manufacturing employees approach 70 million won ($60,000). Also, even the union's umbrella organization, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, acknowledged the proposed work system is premature under the domestic circumstances. Subway workers are also demanding a 10.5-percent wage increase but the Seoul Metropolitan Subway Corp. is reeling under accumulated losses of 4.8 trillion won, 269 billion won in 2003 alone. The SMTC union even calls for a hefty 30-percent personnel beef-up under the pretext of ``job sharing.'' But how can a debt-ridden company shoulder an additional labor cost of 150 billion won a year? Job sharing would only be feasible if the existing staff volunteered to cut or freeze their pays. Angered by the compulsory arbitration, which bans strikes by the unions of key public corporations for 15 days, the KCTU has vowed to stage a solidarity walkout. Considering the unions' unreasonable demands as the reason for their collective action, however, the umbrella group should exercise self-restraint. The government has expressed an intention to do away with the system that restricts free union activities, provided the workers allow their firms' basic operation. But the unions refused to do so. With the nation's economy going from bad to worse, this perhaps could be the worst time for labor strife. Even exports, the only bolster for the faltering economy, are showing signs of setback. The government should no longer let the economy be swayed by unionized workers, who represent only 12 percent of the total workforce. Admittedly, labor unions are for raising wages and improving working conditions. But their demands should take overall social balance into account and their actions ought to remain within legal boundaries. The unions should stop the collective action, go back to the negotiation table and wait for the compromise plan by the neutral arbitrators.

  12. Accord elusive in DaimlerChrysler labour talks, DPA vai Expatica, Netherlands.
    STUTTGART - Talks between DaimlerChrysler labour and management negotiators were said to be in a critical phase Wednesday with little chance of imminent agreement on resolving the worst industrial action to hit the German carmaker in decades. Management continued to insist on cutting some EUR 500 million in labour costs, a measure that the union negotiators said cuts personnel staffing to the bone. Going into the last-ditch talks, corporate executives signalled they were ready to accept a pay freeze if workers agreed to measures aimed at saving EUR 500 million. A wage freeze would be less of a concession than a 10% wage cut for executives which had been mentioned at the weekend by DaimlerChrysler CEO Juergen Schrempp in a bid to win a work week increase to 40 hours from the present 35 - with no extra pay. DaimlerChrysler managers want workers to agree to savings of EUR 500 million from 2007 in connection with the production of the new C-Class Mercedes-Benz. This would be achieved by cutting wages, bonus payments, vacation time and work-day breaks, they say. Any freeze of executive pay would yield far more modest savings given that the DaimlerChrysler's top managers earned a total of EUR 40.8 million last year, according to the company's 2003 annual report. If the cuts are rejected, DaimlerChrysler is threatening to shift some 6,000 jobs from the Stuttgart region to elsewhere in Germany or to South Africa. In related developments, the head of the mighty Verdi umbrella trade union, Frank Bsirske, signalled his willingness to trim his EUR 13,000 monthly salary by 10% in return for job guarantees for some 2,600 Verdi union staffers for the next two years at no pay increase. Meanwhile, former Mitsubishi executive Ulrich Walker is to become head of DaimlerChrysler's Smart division, according to Handelsblatt newspaper. He will replace Andreas Renschler, who is taking a seat on the board of directors. DaimlerChrysler declined to comment on the report. A spokesman alsodeclined to comment on a report in Stern magazine linking Schrempp to one of Germany's most wanted fugitives, former domestic intelligence chief and deputy defence minister Ludwig-Holger Pfahls. Pfahls, who was captured in Paris earlier this month, reportedly met behind closed doors with Schrempp in 1989 during a government- industry meeting on development of the Eurofighter project. Pfahls, once the rising star of German security affairs, is accused of taking EUR 1.9 million in bribes in connection with the sale of tanks to Saudi Arabia in 1991.

  13. United States: The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act: New rules or new headaches for the hospitality industry? by Mary Ann B. Oakley, Mondaq News Alerts, World.
    Like most of the business world, the hospitality industry relies heavily on employees ranging from top-level managers to minimum wage hourly workers. It has been said that the hospitality industry has more employees per square foot than any other. Avoiding unnecessary legal problems with those numerous employees is a must. Many such problems result from employees who lose their jobs and complain to the Dept. of Labor that they were incorrectly paid as exempt employees when they were actually non-exempt. On August 23, 2004, the new white collar exemption rules to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) go into effect. While these rules apply only to white collar positions and do not change the way of computing overtime pay, they do clarify the federal exemptions, or those positions that do not require overtime pay. Blue collar employees remain non-exempt. The new rules also provide a "safe harbor" for those employers who implement certain written policies and procedures. Many states have laws even more protective than the FLSA, and must also be followed. What does the hospitality industry need to do between now and August 23 to take advantage of the safe harbor provision? The safe harbor provision adds a new level to the "window of correction" that is already in the FLSA regulations. An employer will not lose an otherwise valid white collar exemption for improper salary deductions if the employer does not violate the regulations repeatedly or willfully, or continue to make deductions after receiving a complaint, and if the employer implements and enforces a written policy prohibiting improper deductions. If there is no such policy, the exemption can be lost during the time period in which improper deductions were made and for all employees in the same job classification who worked for the manager responsible for improper deductions. Thus, loss of an exemption can be an expensive problem. An investigation by the Dept. of Labor isn't necessarily limited to the specific complaint made and can lead to liquidated damages and penalties. What should an employer do when an employee complains and it is not clear whether or not the complaint is valid? The best strategy is to investigate the complaint promptly, review the investigation results with legal counsel and then make a good faith determination about whether or not to continue the challenged practice. The employer's good faith in the evaluation is critical. Employers in the hospitality industry need to take this policy as seriously as they take their anti-harassment policies. It should include an explanation of the salary program for exempt employees. The policy must provide that deductions from the salary of an exempt employee are generally prohibited and describe any exceptions to that rule: € Deductions may be made for one or more full day absences for personal reasons, other than sickness and disability. € Deductions may be made for one or more full day absences because of sickness or disability if such deductions are made under a bona fide plan, practice or policy of providing wage replacement benefits for these types of absences. € Deductions may be made for Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave, including intermittent or partial day leave. € Deductions may be made to offset payment amounts for jury duty, witness fees and military pay (but not for travel and parking). € Deductions may be made for penalties or suspensions made in good faith for violations of written safety rules of "major significance." This provision is new. € Deductions may be made for good faith full day disciplinary suspensions for violations of written work place conduct rules, but not for performance or attendance problems. This provision is also new. € Deductions may be made for whatever day(s) of the first and last weeks of employment the employee does not work. € An exempt employee need not be paid for any work week in which he or she does no work at all. The policy must also define improper deductions: € Deductions are not permitted for partial day absences (except FMLA leave). € Deductions are not permitted for variations in the quality of work. € Deductions are not permitted for variations in the quantity of work. € Deductions are not permitted for absences created or caused by the employer or by the operating requirements of the business. Along with the definitions of proper and improper deductions, the policy must specifically prohibit improper deductions and state that improper deductions are a serious violation of company policy. It must contain a complaint mechanism for employees to report possible violations. Those complaints should, when possible, be made or referred to human resources and should be investigated promptly. The Fair Labor Standards Act, like Title VII, prohibits retaliation against an employee for making a complaint, and the wise employer will so state in the policy. The policy must be clearly communicated to all employees. The best way to do this, and to provide proof of doing so if a Dept. of Labor investigation or a lawsuit should arise, is to distribute two copies to each employee before August 23 and have the employees sign one copy to be placed in their personnel files. It will then be impossible for any employee to claim that he or she is not aware of the policy. Employers with large numbers of workers who do not speak English as their first language or do not read English should have the policy translated into Spanish and any other commonly used language within their work force. The same procedure should be used with each new hire. The policy should be included in the employee handbook or manual and explained during new employee orientation. Each employee should be strongly encouraged, orally and in writing, to report promptly any problems with pay as soon as he or she becomes aware of the problem. Reminders during employee or shift meetings and other appropriate times (newsletters, inserts in pay checks, for example) are helpful tools to communicate the policy clearly. Every employer in the hospitality industry should develop such a policy, implement it and explain it to all employees before August 23, so that the safe harbor provisions will be available when the new rules go into effect. While doing so, it would be wise to review anti-harassment policies to make sure they include prohibitions against harassment because of race, religion, national origin, age and disability as well as because of gender. The courts are now holding that the same affirmative defenses and the same criteria must be applied to these other forms of work place harassment as well as sexual harassment. Having employees sign an extra copy of the anti-harassment policy to go into personnel files is more important than ever. Equally important is having employees sign attendance sheets for all training sessions and meetings when these topics are discussed. Extra paper work now can provide a stronger defense to any claim that arises in the future. In addition to creating and implementing policies, employers must determine if any employees who are now considered exempt are earning less than $455 per week. Those employees must be reclassified as non-exempt or receive sufficient pay increases to qualify as exempt, provided that they meet one of the exemption tests. Every employer must also review the duties of each position classified as exempt to be certain that employees meet one of the exemption tests as those tests have been clarified by the new rules. Although it is permissible to classify an exempt employee as non-exempt (for example, to pay overtime wages as a hiring incentive), it is not permissible to classify a non-exempt employee as exempt. The task is not easy, and it can be expensive, but it is necessary. When the Dept. of Labor agents arrive at your hotel, you can be sure that they are not there to help you! Once again, an ounce of prevention is far superior to that pound of cure. Keep that in mind as August 23 approaches. The content of this article does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on in that way. Specific advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

7/21/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 7/20 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #10 which is from the 7/21 newspaper hardcopy, & backup from recently- & soon-again-to-be-vacationing Alan Applebaum of Brookline MA), and excerpts and [comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
  1. Greens vow to reduce Illawarra unemployment, ABC News [Australia].
    WOLLONGONG, N.S.W. - The Greens Party has sought to underline unemployment as part of its strategy to hold on to the New South Wales seat of Cunningham in the coming federal election. Greens Senator Bob Brown launched the party's employment policy together with Cunningham MP Michael Organ in Wollongong yesterday. The policy calls on the Federal Government to increase business taxes to pay for Mr. Organ says unemployment is being ignored by the major parties, while the Greens will make it a priority.
    "For over two decades now since the downturn in the steel industry back in the mid-80s, the Federal Government really hasn't got behind the Illawarra [is this a geopolitical region or an Aboriginal tribe?] and really worked hard to bring that unemployment level down," he said. "We've got 10% unemployment, we've got youth unemployment around 30%, so I think one of the main issues in the upcoming election is how we're going to deal with unemployment."

  2. One in five bosses lets staff decide the time they start work - Number of employers offering flexi-work scheme doubles in two years; and those offering [compressed] work week triples to 9%, by Azrin Asmani, Straits Times [Singapore].
    SINGAPORE - The number of Singapore employers which have introduced flexible work arrangements has doubled in two years, with one in five now letting its staff choose the time they want to start work. At these companies, employees are also given such choices as working part-time, share their job [with a net gain], work from home or work longer hours each day but have a shorter work week [with no net gain]. Among these arrangements - aimed at giving workers a better work-life balance -

  3. S.Korea strikes spread to subway; Arrests sought, by Park Sung-woo & Yoo Choonsik, Reuters.
    SEOUL - South Korean prosecutors warned unions Wednesday that leaders of a subway strike face arrest and they may also detain organizers of a walkout paralyzing the second-biggest oil refiner if work does not resume soon. The renewed wave of strikes, which cripple sectors of the country each summer, pose a fresh test for President Roh Moo-hyun, a former labor lawyer, previously criticized by employers for being too soft on the unions. State prosecutors said they would seek warrants to arrest leaders of the subway strike by 7,000 workers that has been declared illegal by the government. They said strike leaders at LG-Caltex Oil Corp could face similar action if work did not resume soon. The strike that began Sunday as a walkout showed no sign of ending. The media criticized unions for making excessive demands. The subway strike in Seoul and in the three other biggest cities of Inchon, Pusan and Taegu is over wages and union demands to hire more workers tied to a new five-day work week. The subway management brought in thousands of replacement workers to prevent major disruption of the transport system. In Seoul, subway trains were running, although in some cases intervals between trains were longer than normal. "The prosecution plans to seek warrants to arrest leaders of the illegal action," the Supreme Public Prosecutors' Office said in a statement. "It causes serious inconvenience to the citizens and can cause serious damage to the economy." South Korea traditionally sees an upsurge in labor unrest in the summer. The main issue this year is labor demands for sizeable wage increases even as working hours are due to fall with the introduction of the five-day work week. The subway unions are demanding a wage increase of up to 10% wage and want more workers, which they say are needed to ensure trains run safely after work hours are cut.
    [Hopefully the wage demands are just a starting bargaining position. Unions often tend to sabotage themselves by pushing for too many things at once, when the only sine-qua-non is shorter hours, because shorter hours cuts labor surplus and gives them more bargaining power in the future.]
    EDITORIALS CRITICAL
    The central bank said Wednesday that confrontational labor relations were a key obstacle to lifting depressed business investment in Asia's third-largest economy. Financial markets took the labor unrest in their stride with the benchmark stock index rising about 2% and the won stronger. Foreign investors frequently cite labor unrest as a hurdle to doing business and a factor contributing to the relatively low value of local shares that is known as the "Korea Discount." Mainstream newspapers were mainly critical of union demands. "Looking at the unions' demands, it's hard to find a mature attitude to share the pain with citizens," the JoongAng Ilbo said in an editorial. "To meet the union's demands, the government would need an additional 150 billion won ($129.3 million), which simply is not feasible." Oil refiner LG-Caltex Oil said it was mobilizing substitute workers to restart its refinery. That dispute over wages, following a string of strikes in other key industrial sectors, entered a fourth day with no sign of the union and management restarting talks. LG-Caltex, a 50:50 joint venture set up in 1967 between South Korea's LG Group and ChevronTexaco Corp., accounts for about a quarter of South Korea's refining capacity and has about the same proportion of the domestic oil market. The refiner had secured 400 replacement staff, including unionized workers who refused to strike, to try and resume operations at the refinery, said spokesman Lee Young-won. "We are mobilizing those workers to prepare for the resumption of operations, but it could take up to 20 days for full resumption," Lee said. The closure of the 650,000-barrel-per-day (bpd) refinery late Monday has boosted prices of oil product naphtha in Asia on concerns about supply woes for the feedstock. The refiner held about 15 days of oil products stocks on average, Lee said.

  4. Workers put in more hours just to keep up, by Nathalie Lagerfeld, United Press International.
    WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. families work more hours today to make ends meet, according to a joint report by the Economic Policy Institute and the New America Foundation, which is to be released next week. The report, "Running Faster to Stay In Place: The Growth of Family Work Hours and Incomes," says that stagnant wages and an outdated social-safety net mean that increasing work hours is the only way for people to improve their living standards.
    [But a short-term gain in money while losing free time and long-term bargaining power (because they're further concentrating the new and existing employment of the nation and leaving increasing numbers of under- and un-employed willing to work for less) is not really improving their living standards.]
    "Families are working longer for less," said Jared Bernstein, senior economist at EPI, during a related discussion at NAF last week.
    [This is something the few over-reported unions in Europe that have recently caved to job blackmail seem not to have considered.]
    Bernstein co-authored the report with NAF Work and Family Program Director Karen Kornbluh. Both EPI and NAF are non-partisan think tanks based in Washington, D.C. Without that increase, median-income families would have seen their incomes increase only 5% in that period, instead of the actual 24% increase.
    [Increasing a 2-parent family's total working hours by (50-70%/2=) 25-35% while gaining only a 24% increase in income? Here we have a measure of America's slide toward the Third World.]
    "What's moving families 'ahead' [our quotes] is more wives working more hours," Bernstein said.
    [This has been going on for 25 years, ever since the postwar babyboomers hit the job market around 1970, restored the prewar labor surplus, clobbered raises, and stressed families.]
    According to the Organization of Economic Cooperation & Development [OECD] Employment Outlook, hours of work per capita is higher in America than in Western Europe, the British Commonwealth, and Japan.
    [And therefore free time per capita is lower. And therefore, since free time is the most fundamental freedom, living standards are now lower in America than in Western Europe, the British Commonwealth, and Japan. America is toast.]
    The longer-hours trend is not confined to the United States, however. Workers at a Robert Bosch auto-parts plant in Vénissieux, France agreed Monday to increase their workweek to 36 hours from the 35 hours set by French law. The arrangement will significantly cut labor costs [unlikely, since resentful employees have a thousand ways to frustrate employer blackmail and greed] and save almost 200 jobs at the plant, and some hail it as a much-needed increase in flexibility in Europe's overly rigid labor market.
    If the deal had not gone through, Stuttgart, Germany-based Bosch would have invested in a new production line in the Czech Republic, where labor costs are lower, rather than at the French plant.
    [Here is a once-responsible corporate citizen now using the expansion of the EU to lower living standards in western Europe.]
    Kornbluh said that international competition between employers, and by extension, workers, can give rise to longer hours and other demands on working families. "In the workplace, the 'company man' has been replaced by the 'global free agent' competing with workers around the world for wages and benefits," she said in a statement.
    [= a worldwide race to the bottom - unless we dump the frogmarch to home-market-diminishing "free" trade.]
    These benefits include[d] paid vacations and sick days, both very important for families with children, Kornbluh said. "The 'good' jobs [our quotes] tend [now] to be full-time plus ... long hours and inflexible," Kornbluh told United Press International.
    [So what's good about them? Their mere existence? Even slavery offers that. And NO consumer markets in return.]
    "While there are a lot of benefits for women in the workforce, if they don't have sick leave, if they can't stay home for a snow day, it can cause hardship for their family."
    [Cut the bleeding-heart routine. This is further imbalancing the world's expanding technology-amplified production capacity and its shrinking layoff-diminished consumption capacity. It is unsustainable = a complete dead end. Only sharing the vanishing work by cutting the workweek (= workshare per person) is sustainable and infinitely continuable, per the Timesizing program and its successors.]
    Kornbluh said 54% of wage and salaried workers with children have no time off to care for sick children without losing pay.   43% have no control over when they begin or end working.
    While one parent stayed at home full time in 70% of families in 1960, today both parents work in 70% of families, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
    Longer hours are very difficult for American families to deal with, especially with more mothers working, said Kornbluh. "The big point is that there is a structural gap," she told UPI. "We don't have the support services, like child care and after school." Childcare can cost a family $4,000 to $10,000 a year, said Kornbluh. In 1999, 3.3 million children aged 6 to 12 were in "latchkey care," looking after themselves while parents were at work. But Gary Burtless, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., said that although families are working more, they aren't necessarily being forced into the arrangement.
    [Looks like the Brookings Institution, like so many former progressives, has moved backward and is now whitewashing regression. This is one of the favorite lines: "Employees aren't being forced into lower living standards - they're CHOOSING lower living standards."]
    "Women going to work has not simply been a strategy to deal with the declining wages of men," Burtless told UPI. "If you look at the families that have fared pretty well over the last two decades, those women have been joining the workforce too, and have been making the transition from part-time to more full-time work." Burtless also pointed out that families today generally have fewer children to support than in 1979.
    [Who can afford them?!]
    "If you adjust for how far the family earned income has to go, there aren't quite so many mouths that need to be fed, as many bedrooms to be furnished - that does lessen the burden on households by somewhat."
    But Kornbluh said that policy reform, including health care reform, more after-school care, and more flexible work schedules is necessary for families to keep up in the changing economy. "What's counterintuitive about this data is we think of people working harder to get ahead faster," she told UPI. "[But] this data shows that people have to work harder just to stay in place."

  5. Land of opportunities? KIFI [ID].
    IDAHO?, U.S.A. - Right now thousands of migrant workers are out in the fields working. They come to America seeking a land of opportunities. "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday!" says Imelda Hernimdez. Nearly all these migrant workers are working here in the fields seven days a week. Most of us [Americans] only work five and have some sort of weekend to have fun, take a break, and get ready for another work week. But the [migrants] tell me they don't mind the work because the opportunities here are better than they could ever imagine living in Mexico. "Mexico, low pay; here is a little more, now I have building my house," says Imelda Hernimdez, who's been here nine years. Most of the migrants make $5.15 an hour working in the potato warehouses. "Potatoes warehouse because it many hours, overtime, all day, they sorting potatoes, pay $5.15, it's low," says Hernimdez. "There are easy jobs in the potatoes and there are some that are very difficult working in the potatoes," says Rafael Rodriguez, a migrant who's been here 11 years. Rafael sorts potatoes everyday to support the 12 people living in his home. Life for him is the same every day. "Gets up early, never wants to be late, works his eight hours and he works ever day of the week," says Rodriguez. They tell me that is the hardest part about being here. It's a struggle but they are living a better life. "The hardest part is the work, things like that; he is happy for his hourly wage; he's earning good enough for his family, his children," says Rodriguez. While many of [us] look at life here in the United States as mundane, the migrants look at it as a land of opportunities....

  6. Leading indicator shows healthy increase in June; wholesale sales rise in May, The Canadian Press via Canada.com, Canada.
    OTTAWA - An economic indicator that provides a look at how the economy will perform in the future was up in June. Statistics Canada's leading indicator grew 1.1%. The rise followed a 1.2% advance in May. Together the two months form the largest increases since the spring of 2002. Nine out of the 10 components continued to rise, led by housing and the U.S. leading indicator. The indicator was also driven by a strong showing in the manufacturing components. "New orders posted their second straight increase after a one-month dip," StatsCan noted. "Manufacturers met their growing demand for labour by extending the work week." In another report, the agency said wholesale sales rose slightly in May by 0.3%, led by a strong showing in food products and computers and other electronic equipment. The May's increase followed a rise of one% in April and 5.2% in March. Excluding the automotive sector, sales grew 0.8% in May.

  7. 'Old Europe' unprepared for new battles, by Steven Pearlstein, Washington Post.
    FRANKFURT, Germany - A decade ago, prospects were looking very bright for "old Europe," as Donald Rumsfeld likes to [frame] it.
    [It's actually New Europe - because its shorter working hours are advanced and exemplary throughout the world, while the longer hours everyone else has have been around forever. This is another subtle example of self-destructive rightwing "issue framing" - self-destructive because longer hours concentrate the new and existing employment of the nation on a smaller and smaller portion of the nation's workforce, which increases dependency and shrinks the nation's all-important, economy-anchoring consumer markets.]
    Its companies set the standards for quality and productivity in many industries.
    [But only because their shorter working hours for employees allows better-rested, more focused and more prioritized employees.]
    Economic integration held out the promise that Europe's economy would soon rival that of the United States in terms of scale, wealth and innovation.
    [Possible only if they implement automatic unemployment-countering workweek adjustment coupled with automatic overtime-to-training&hiring conversion. Otherwise, they're just another victim of the Race to the Bottom, uniquely starting within themselves now they've admitted 10 new members straight out of the Third World (or at least the 2½th World).]
    And just as the United States had Mexico and Japan had Southeast Asia, Europe looked to the formerly communist countries to the east as an important new market and source of low-cost production. On top of that, of course, was a lifestyle unmatched anywhere. As things turned out, however, the ensuing years found the economies of western Europe falling even further behind the United States. Growth rates have been about half those in the United States, while its unemployment rate has been running at twice the U.S. rate. Industries that were once global leaders, such as pharmaceuticals and precision engineering, have lost their competitive edge. And the machinery of the European Union, rather than being a source of economic strength, is now widely viewed as a threat to national pride and prosperity. Meanwhile, Eastern Europe has emerged in the collective imagination as more of a threat than an opportunity. It's even gotten to the point that France and Germany have fallen back onto thoroughly discredited strategies such as bailing out failing companies and blocking foreign acquisitions. So gloomy is the economic outlook that two books topping the bestseller list last year were "France in Free Fall" and "The French Disarray." Demographic forces threaten to bankrupt prized pension and health care systems. And while many Americans would chuckle at the modesty of the reforms put forth for curing Europe's economic disease - cutting back on one of Italy's 15 national holidays, lengthening the 35-hour work week in France, requiring Germans who have collected unemployment benefits to seriously consider a job - the politicians who proposed them have the lowest poll ratings in the postwar era. Has the European economic model become hopelessly dysfunctional? As I start out on a little field trip to explore these issues, I'm inclined more to the Euroskeptics such as Lewis than to those, like Blanchard, who have confidence that "old" Europe will once again muddle through with style. In truth, many Europeans have never fully embraced the whole [Schumpeterian] idea of creative destruction that underlies market competition. Nor do they seem to fully understand the competitive challenge that confronts them.
    [Nor do they seem to fully understand the top-priority and absolutely central power of the worktime reduction strategy in which they're leading the world.]
    Or think of it this way: A prosperous society that tolerates 20% unemployment among its young people, year after year, but won't even think about giving up a day of vacation to make its companies more competitive - that's not a society that's suiting up for battle.
    [On the contrary, sharing the vanishing worktime would mean giving up a day of work to make the shrinking employment of the continent more available to unemployed youth, and the wages therefrom, which would thereby strengthen consumer spending and make European companies more independent of the greatly overhyped competition with the Third World. It's truly bizarre to see what passes for capitalism today so whole-heartedly embracing what it always criticized communism for; namely, averaging downward instead of averaging upward in living standards. Today's "capitalism" is now guilty of exactly what it slammed its rival for, thus proving Marx's prediction that unregulated capitalism contains the seed of its own destruction. By constantly downsizing in response to technology instead of timesizing, our current economics, whatever you call it, is creating an ever-widening gap between our producer capacity and our consumer capacity. A smaller and smaller proportion of the adult population has jobs. A smaller and smaller proportion of those with jobs have well-paying jobs. Predictable result? Smaller and smaller economy-anchoring consumer markets. We are in a deepening worldwide depression that consolidated control of the media is constantly straining to spin as a "recovery." More and more of our potential consumers are de-activated in unemployment, welfare, disability, homelessness, prison, forced retirement and unretirement, forced self-"employment" and forced part-time. And with frozen or rising workweeks, there is no way we are ever going to get the promise of our miraculous technology in terms of an easier life for everyone and more FREEDOM - unless we get going on Timesizing.]

  8. Bosch breach of French 35-hour week breeds angst, Agence France Presse via Channel News Asia, Singapore.
    PARIS - The French 35-hour-week, a bold experiment to reduce high unemployment, appeared at a crossroads following a vote by Bosch workers to put in extra time without pay to save their jobs. French politicians and unions were in a state of angst over a vote by workers at a subsidiary of German group Bosch to accept extra unpaid work to avert the re-location of a plant to the Czech Republic. The arrangement outraged several leading trade unions but elicited a cautious reaction from employers who have chafed under France's 35-hour work week. Government officials, who have sought modifications in the 35-hour law, have sent ambiguous signals on the course of events and made no notable comment after the vote. But the deal is nonetheless being seen as something of a watershed in the 35-hour-week experiment. The Bosch workers, who make auto parts at a factory at Venissieux in southern France, voted by 98% to accept working 36 hours instead of 35 hours a week without extra pay in exchange for a new assembly line being built there. The employees also accepted on Monday that pay would be frozen for three years. Fewer than 2.0% of the 820 employees rejected the deal. Opposition from 10% was needed to obstruct an agreement. The head of human resources at Bosch France, a subsidiary of the German Bosch parent, said the vote gave the factory a new lease on life. "We don't plan to apply this measure to other sites in France," Luc Herve told the newspaper Les Echos. "This accord is not a ... reference but a specific response to a particular situation." Other employers were notably discreet in their reaction at a time when the 35-hour week is becoming a red-hot political and social issue. "In business, no one has an interest in breaking the silence. It upsets the reigning calm," one employer - who asked not to be named - told the newspaper Le Figaro. Added another source with ties to employers: "Rather than mount a frontal challenge to the length of the work week, it would make more sense to focus on new flexibilities, which for example would allow companies to have stepped-up work rhythms during certain periods." Taking on the 35-hour week would also deprive companies of reductions in their social charges that accompany the shortened work week. At retailing giant Carrefour an agreement was reached in April allowing staff who want to work more to give up their sixth week of paid holiday in exchange for additional pay but while respecting the 35-hour limit. Several leading French trade union federations meanwhile expressed indignation at the outcome of the Bosch vote, saying that "blackmail" by Bosch had succeeded. Just one union, the CFDT, noted that the vote had occurred in an "exceptional context". At the FO, Jean-Claude Mailly said the agreement was an example of "blackmail using employment" which was "being experienced at company level" and illustrated the "destruction of collective negotiation". For the CGT, Maryse Dumas said that despite statements by French President Jacques Chirac and several ministers condemning such pressure, their "reticence" in the face of such action showed that they were "totally compliant." The vote by the Bosch workers underlined signals by the centre-right government that it wants more flexibility in implementation of the 35-hour-week, introduced by its Socialist predecessor. But the government, which has suffered severe election setbacks recently, is mindful that it must strike the right chord with public anxiety about the effects of global competition and of attempts to deal with government overspending. Chirac insisted in his Bastille Day interview on July 14 that the 35-hour week would remain the legal benchmark but that workers who wanted to work longer hours for pay should not be barred from negotiating with management. However, only hours before Bosch workers agreed to work 36 hours instead of 35, junior French Budget Minister Dominique Bussereau had slammed on Monday a similar agreement by workers at Siemens in Germany as "blackmail" which French officials would not accept. He said that it was unacceptable for management to force longer hours on workers under a take-it-or-leave-it threat to switch activity to locations in eastern Europe where labour costs are far lower.

  9. DaimlerChrysler in "crucial" talks to resolve labour dispute, DPA via Expatica, Netherlands.
    STUTTGART - DaimlerChrysler labour and management negotiators made some progress Tuesday at what were termed crucial talks aimed at resolving the worst industrial action to hit the German carmaker in decades, sources told Deutsche Presse-Agentur. The two sides were "a bit closer" on ways of cutting some EUR 500 million in labour costs, the sources said. However, no details were divulged. Tuesday's negotiating session came after up to 60,000 workers at DaimlerChrysler plants around Germany striked in recent days to voice their anger over company demands for pay and benefit rollbacks. Again overnight, hundreds of nightshift workers at Stuttgart area plants walked off assembly lines to stage a torch-light procession before dawn Tuesday. Going into the last-ditch talks, corporate executives signalled they were ready to accept a pay freeze if workers agreed to measures aimed at saving EUR 500 million. While both sides were optimistic, an agreement was not likely to be reached Tuesday, sources told DPA. A wage freeze would be less of a concession than a 10% wage cut for executives which had been mentioned at the weekend by DaimlerChrysler CEO Juergen Schrempp in a bid to win a work week increase to 40 hours from the present 35 hours - with no extra pay. Nevertheless, the German government and opposition conservatives welcomed the salary freeze offer. "Credibility is gained by starting with yourself," said Christian Social Union premier of Bavaria, Edmund Stoiber. The head of the powerful Federation of German Industry (BDI), Michael Rogowski, also greeted the move as "a symbolic step" in the right direction. DaimlerChrysler managers want workers to agree to savings of EUR 500 million from 2007 in connection with the production of the new C-Class Mercedes-Benz. This would be achieved by cutting wages, bonus payments, vacation time and work-day breaks, they say. Any freeze of executive pay would yield far more modest savings given that the DaimlerChrysler's top managers earned a total of EUR 40.8 million last year, according to the company's 2003 annual report. If the cuts are rejected, DaimlerChrysler is threatening to shift some 6,000 jobs from the Stuttgart region to elsewhere in Germany or to South Africa.

  10. East Germany swallows billions, and still stagnates, by Mark Landler, NYT, A11.
    [So how long are they going to keep working within the same wrong approach. Switch from makework to shared work: Timesizing. Quit straining to fill some arbitrary, frozen workweek, however low a level your in-the-box thinking may consider it has already reached, and just adjust the workweek downward to share the vanished and still vanishing work. The chief management skills of the future, all over the world? Managing continuous retraining and suturing short shifts.]
    ...Nearly 15 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, economic stagnation, chronic unemployment, and a dwindling population have turned many of the eastern neighborhoods into ghost towns. Dresden, the majestic, if faded, capital of the state of Saxony, plans to close 43 schools this summer because of a dearth of children.... Now, with the jobless rate in some cities topping 20% and young people continuing to leave for the west, a national debate has begun over how to heal this limping land. The urgency is being driven in part by the eastward expansion of Europe, which has brought 10 new countries into the EU with...low wage levels....
    ...Having poured $1.5 trillion into the east since reunification in 1990, many Germans now regard this grand [makework] project as a costly failure - one that could drag down the rest of the country.... The reality, [Axel Viehweger, director of Saxony's housing cooperative association] and other experts say, is that eastern Germany does not need more public swimming pools or renovated apartment complexes. It needs more jobs, which would hire back the people who migrated to western Germany in search of work. The population of the five eastern states fell to 15.1m in 2000, from 16.7m in 1990.
    Georg Milbradt, the PM of Saxony, said..."I sometimes compare our situation to a sick man.... He knows he is ill, but he doesn't want to go to the doctor because he fears the cure more than the disease."
    [Timesizing is not fearful. It is the most gradual and market-oriented and continuable and sustainable solution that the mind of man can design. And it is under continuous improvement. We are straining too hard, all over the world, for the Age of Technology that we've created. We must let go of the (self-)importance of busyness, let the machines, robots and cybernetics do the rushing, and become ourselves the calm in the midst of the bustle, stretching out with our imaginations and creativity for the next big challenges in our stewardship of this planet.]

7/20/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 7/19 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #2 which is from the 7/20 newspaper hardcopy, & backup from recently- & soon-again-to-be-vacationing Alan Applebaum of Brookline MA), and excerpts and [comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
  1. Vacation, American-style - While we're still envying Europeans, globalization is forcing more of them to think about emulating us, The Oregonian.
    Vacation visionaries who dream of a day when Americans will enjoy more leisurely lives often invoke the fabled splendors of "The Europeans."
    These golden creatures - it all gets a little muddled in the telling - are said to bask on the beach, enjoying endless summers while Americans toil away. The Europeans clink their glasses and linger over lunch, while Americans bend over their desks in dark cubicles, muttering: Time is money.
    OK, the comparison can get exaggerated. But over the past 30 years it's true that Americans have generally picked money over time. Europeans, in lieu of increasing their wages, have opted to reduce their hours and extend their vacations instead.
    [But funny thing - higher pay has followed Europeans' reduced hours, while flat pay has followed Americans' frozen or increasing hours. It's all a matter of the concentration of employment on fewer employees and the resulting amount of hidden unemployment that's pressuring down wages.]
    As a result, the average American will take 12 days of vacation this year, while the Japanese take 18, the French 25 and the Germans 30.
    Dream vacation, indeed.
    Understandably, some Americans have clutched the European model like a totem, hoping for improvements in their own perks. But now comes a cold blow: Even as we've been envying the Europeans, it seems, more of them have been realizing that they'd better start emulating us.
    [No, just a few rightwingers who came to power by accident, sortof like Bush Jr.]
    "We have created a leisure society, while the Americans have created a work society," Klaus F. Zimmermann, the president of the German Institute for Economic Research, told The New York Times earlier this month. "But our model does not work anymore.
    [What nonsense. It works for families, for leisure industries, for all businesses that need consumer demand, for all businesses that need the resulting b2b demand, for investors who need market-supported investments.... These pre-tech-frozen rightwing workaholic brains are going to set Europe back by setting back their own consumer base.]
    We're in the process of rethinking it."
    [He means, reverse propagandizing it.]
    Globalization, in part, is driving this change, making European workers willing to make some concessions out of fear of losing their jobs to lower-wage countries.
    [This threat has always been present but CEOs were always constrained by their own ability to connect the dots between their own employees and their own best customers - and a complete lack of the modern dogmatism on free trade alias 'globalization.']
    Then, too, the French experiment with a 35-hour workweek, which began in 2000, has not boosted employment as many hoped it would.
    [Ignorant reporting. French unemployment was 12.6% before the 35-hour workweek law was passed. After it had gained traction in the spring and summer of 2001, and before the US-led recession cut in, French unemployment was 8.6%, a 1% drop in unemployment for every hour cut from the workweek, same as the American experience 1938-40 when the workweek was set a 44 hours and then cut 2 hours a year; US unemployment went from 19% in 1938 to 14.6% in 1940.]
    The upshot for Americans, of course, is that without the European model to invoke, hopes look even dimmer for trimming our workweek. Boston College sociologist Juliet Schor, who wrote "The Overworked American," is undaunted, however. Her research has helped to inspire the simplicity movement, showing the connection between buying more, working harder and having less time.
    [Schor has taken a self-defeating tack in marrying longer hours with bigger consumer markets and shorter hours with smaller consumer markets. Automatic unemployment-countering workweek adjustment, once implemented, certainly makes it possible to cut consumption without clobbering the economy, but talking about that up front is abominable timing. It just gives TPTB (the powers that be) one more reason to block this agenda and reverse it. Greedy and shortsighted CEOs ran Schor's confusion in reverse back in the 1920s to trick employees OUT OF continuing their 100-year agenda to reduce and share worktime. They put a positive value on consumption, reframed the game into "having more stuff," and promised employees that if they quit pushing for shorter hours, they could have more money and buy more stuff. But of course, it didn't work that way, because wages do not vary with worktime, they vary with supply and demand of labor relative to supply and demand of employment. And freezing worktime per person at any level (eg: the 40-hour level of 1940) while injecting waves of labor-saving technology, whether in agriculture, manufacturing, low-skill services or high-skill services, results in a surplus of labor and shortage of employment, giving more and more power to employers and less and less power to employees. Ergo, the wage stagnation of the last 30 years. Schor has bought the employers' issue framework and has thereby lost the battle. She has ignored the wage stagnation and INABILITY to buy more of the last 30 years, and written her second big book (after The Overworked American) on The Overspent American. In fact, you have to be overpaid to be overspent, and ordinary Americans are way underpaid, not overpaid. The frozen long 1940-level workweek is delivering Schor's desired lower consumption without any help from her or the simplicity/frugality movement, because the labor surplus caused by the frozen unreduced workweek is allowing the hyperconcentration of the national income in the top income brackets where the 100,000s of people cannot possibly spend it as fast and repeatedly as the 100,000,000s of people in the middle and lower brackets. Ergo, weak domestic demand. Erog, stumbling recovery. Ergo, the DOW is back below 10,000 (7/23).]
    Schor, who visited Portland last year to appear at a conference on sustainability, thinks Portlanders could even lead the way toward creating more livable work schedules. Even with some Europeans acknowledging the economic drawbacks of their schedules,
    [WHAT economic drawbacks?! - they have prevented a far worse labor surplus than they have, and prevented one as bad as ours - THEIR wages are higher than ours - they have NO economic drawbacks of their shorter schedules - shorter schedules are an omnidimensional 'win' - Europeans have lower comprehensive unemployment (counting welfare, disability, homelessness, incarceration, forced retirement, forced unretirement, forced self-employment, forced part-time), higher pay, higher benefits and perks such as health insurance, and higher per-capita domestic demand - Schor should stand back and stop getting suckered-in by the smokescreen of her fellow status-quo-propping economists]
    she points out, as a practical matter it won't be easy to roll back their perks.
    [There she goes, admitting the opposite of what she just implied - that Europeans are somehow suffering economically from their shorter schedules. They aren't, and one indication is their plentiful perks.]
    "It's hard to reverse these things," she says.
    [So she's bought the propaganda that their reversal is inevitable? Juliet, Juliet, Juliet.]
    So let's see if we've got this straight: We're now so far behind the Europeans that the pendulum has shifted, and we've missed out completely. Or to put it the other way around: By hard-nosed standards, we've pulled ahead. We're waiting for them to catch up.
    [Yeah, we in the shorter-hours movement have really got to get our story straight, and hitching it to the simplicity movement right now is just a big huge self-defeating error in timing.]
    And yet, wouldn't it be fun if we could swap places - you know, like one of those vacations you read about where people trade houses and lives.
    They could take on the honor and glory of our grindstone and showcase the soundness of our work ethic, while we trudge in their sandals, so to speak. Imagine: We could offer to wrap up the final decades of their 'failed' [our quotes] experiment in mind-numbing leisure.
    [Or mind-freeing leisure.]
    Race you to the beach.
    [Will people reading and understanding this puhleez get in touch with Juliet Schor and John de Graaf and anyone else who wants to tie the shorter-hours agenda to the demonizing of consumption, and talk them out of it? Consumption is going down ANYWAY, as a direct function of the overlong workweek and the resulting concentration of income and wealth, ie: purchasing power, on the people who spend it slowest and seldomest because they've already got soooooooooooooooooox10x10x10x10x10 etc much. It's the LAW of the diminishing marginal utility of concentrated capital, the neo-classical economic revolution. To interest the powers that be in implementing this agenda, we've got to put it in terms of their own self-interest, and that means demonstrating that shorter hours would dynamize the economy with a phenomenon like wartime prosperity but without the killing. Wartime prosperity works by creating a perceived labor shortage and harnessing market forces to get employers competing with one another for employees and thereby raising wages and benefits, centrifuging the income and wealth of the nation and getting it out of the swollen investment accounts of the relatively few rich and into the wallets and purses of the relatively very very many people who spend it sooner and oftener, thus creating a powerful demand-pulled boom in supply, a mighty consumption-drawn tide of production, and the rising tide floats all ships, especially ships of investors, who then have plenty of great investment choices instead of now where they're moving into cash for lack of even good investment choices.]

  2. Retirement wave creates shortage of air traffic controllers - The FAA tries to gauge how many new hires will be needed, as well as how to train them, by Matthew L. Wald, NYT, A19.
    [Compare our previous story on 7/14/2004 #3.]
    Nearly half of the nation's air traffic controllers will reach the mandatory retirement age in the next decade, according to government estimates, forcing the Federal Aviation Administration [FAA] to triple its current rate of hiring and training at a time when air traffic is expected to grow significantly.
    Of the 15,100 controllers who do the vital work of managing the skies from control towers and in vast, dim rooms with rows of radar scopes, about 7,100 will turn the mandatory retirement age of 56 [mandatory and arbitrary!] by the 2012 fiscal year, and most will have the option of retiring years earlier. The FAA says that means it will have to hire about 790 a year, an increase of 33% from current hiring levels....
    The bulk of retirements are coming in the next few years because of most of the current controllers were hired in 1982 as replacements for the 11,350 fired by Pres. Ronald Reagan for going on strike the previous year, and they are approaching retirement age.
    [Sounds unnecessarily petty and vindictive, doesn't it. The sins (literal meaning of Hebrew work Chata'im= strayings, errings, mistakes) of the fathers are visited upon the children unto the 3rd and 4th generation.... And isn't the Republican Party supposed to be non-interventionist?]
    So far, though, the agency does not even know how many controllers it will need at each tower and radar center [because] the hundreds of air traffic offices use different methods to calculate how many new workers they will need....
    The retirement crunch is coming at a time of sharp growth in air traffic as the economy rebounds, and as commercial airlines are using smaller planes to add more flights and expand schedules, [making] the skies more crowded....
    Union officials...said that because of staffing shortages, excessive overtime is required, more than volunteers will take, so that some of it is assigned involuntarily.
    [= mandatory overtime = forced overtime. Wouldn't it be infinitely safer to ease the arbitrary retirement age of 56 than to run younger people into fatigue? This is getting as stupid as American physicians and truckers.]
    Mr. [Greg] Martin, the FAA spokesman, said the contract allows involuntary assignment of overtime and that this has been limited to asking a controller to work an extra 2 hours. Unions officials said controllers were sometimes ordered to come to work on a 6th day a week.
    [Sounds more like an extra 8 hours, doesn't it.]
    "The rubberband keeps getting stretched tighter and tighter," said Dean Iacopelli, president of the controllers' union [the National Air Traffic Controllers Assoc.] at the NY Terminal Radar Approach Control in Westbury, on Long Island.
    [Compare -]
    A nursing shortage was averted, news blurb, WSJ, front page.
    ...in border states with a one-year extension for Canadian and Mexican healthcare workers to get new credentials.
    [With this kind of deus ex machina, American nurses will never get the power and pay they need to reform American healthcare.]

  3. Blow to France's 35-hour week law, by Jo Johnson & Ralph Atkins, Financial Times, UK.
    French workers at a car components factory owned by Bosch on Monday dealt a blow to the country's law limiting the working week to 35 hours, as they unilaterally accepted demands from the private German automotive group to work longer for the same pay.
    The near-unanimity of the vote at Bosch's Vénissieux plant near Lyon is expected to encourage other companies to seek ways of securing greater flexibility in Europe's rigid labour markets, in the absence of political will for reform. The vote was the first of its kind in France and could set a precedent for a gradual de facto reversal of the 35-hour week.
    Only 2% of Bosch's 820 workers refused to amend their contracts to allow themselves to work 36 hours.
    [Call this chapter, "Workers Screw Themselves Again."]
    Jacques Chirac, the French president, and his centre-right government have been struggling to regain control of a corporate trend that is growing in political importance across continental Europe.
    In Germany, moves to extend working hours could become unstoppable.
    [No suicidal stupidity is unstoppable. As George Lakoff says, just reframe the issue is intelligent terms and keep repeating your soundbyte-frame more often than your opponent repeats his.]
    Siemens had said it would otherwise shift production to Hungary - a threat that Nicolas Sarkozy, French finance minister, described as "a form of extortion that would be unthinkable over here".
    [Except that Sarkozy himself is using that form of extortion.]
    Other big companies seeking longer working hours in Germany include MAN, Linde, Bosch and Opel.
    Mercedes staff plan new demonstrations on Tuesday and on Friday in protest at the car group's plans to cut costs by E500m ($622m) a year at German factories, including the introduction of extended working hours. Talks are expected to resume on Tuesday.
    Bosch's plan, which will cut costs by 12%, will allow it to invest in a new diesel-injection system at Venissieux rather than the Czech Republic, where labour is 40% cheaper. It will save 190 out of 300 jobs Bosch had planned to axe by 2008.
    Mr Chirac last week confused and irritated French business leaders by calling for companies to be allowed greater flexibility in their working patterns, but at the same time ruled out any change in the law itself.
    He also said companies that asked their workers to vote for longer working hours or risk seeing relocation to countries where labour costs are lower were putting France on a "slippery slope".
    [He's right, but he hasn't done much to get it onto firmer footing, such as implementing automatically unemployment-countering workweek adjustment and overtime-to-training&hiring conversion.]
    The CFDT union, which represents a majority of Bosch's workers at the plant and supported the plan, said it was a "one-off solution to a one-off problem" and that it would not accept this type of agreement becoming a "reference-point for employers".
    Meanwhile, the government in Berlin on Monday welcomed a pledge by DaimlerChrysler that its top managers would "make a contribution" to cost savings via their own pay packages.
    "They should be willing to match what they demand from others," said Wolfgang Clement, economics minister.
    Parent group DaimlerChrysler has threatened to shift production of its new C-class car if a deal is not reached.

  4. Professional issues - Resident work-hour limits still a struggle one year into restrictions - General compliance appears to be the norm, but residents see flaws in the system, by Myrle Croasdale, AMNews via Amednews.com.
    *http://www.hourswatch.org/ First-year family medicine resident Julie Silverhart, MD, says that, for the most part, her hours at Greater Lawrence Family Health Center in Lawrence, Mass., fall within the standards set by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. But she also acknowledges that during her first month in internal medicine, she worked more than the average of 80 hours per week allowed under the guidelines.
    Dr. Silverhart's experience is fairly typical as residents and programs adjust to the work-hour limits that went into effect in July 2003. Residents say programs are in compliance for the most part, but sometimes they are not.
    ACGME enforcement of the regulations has garnered mixed reviews. The Committee of Interns and Residents, a staunch critic of the ACGME, is skeptical of programs and resident claims that they are mostly in compliance. All involved, including ACGME officials, acknowledge that the guidelines have had some negative consequences and that there have been intentional violations of the work-hour standards.
    But overall, ACGME Executive Director David Leach, MD, said the response from programs had been amazing.
    "We think the community has risen to the challenge," he said. "They are taking it seriously."
    The new standards require all residents to work no more than 80 hours per week, averaged over a month, with call no more than every third night.
    In-hospital call is limited to 24 hours with an additional six hours for patient transfers and educational activities. One day off out of seven, for an average of four days off a month, also is required.
    Of the 7,964 programs the ACGME accredits, 1,753 were visited in the past 11 months, and 84 were cited for problems related to work-hour violations, the ACGME said.
    A stiff penalty
    "Duty hours are being met," Dr. Leach said. "The financial incentives are too heavy to risk having your accreditation withdrawn."
    Robert Phillips Jr., MD, MSPH, the assistant director of the Robert GrahamCenter, which looks at primary care policy issues, said the penalty's severity is counterproductive to the goal of enforcement.
    "Losing accreditation has lots of repercussions, from [Medicare] payments to the board eligibility of your graduates," he said. "It carries a stigma. To be a top program and lose accreditation is just damaging."
    And that, he said, could keep residents from revealing violations. "Residents are under intense pressure to suck it up," he said. "The ACGME relies on the residents to tell them when there is a problem, and in many cases when residents do it, they bear the cost."
    Dr. Phillips suggested that residents be surveyed after they graduate, whenthey're no longer vulnerable to retaliation.
    Mark Levy, executive director of the Committee of Interns and Residents, agreed that the threat of loss of accreditation keeps residents silent about hours violations.
    "Residents fear retribution from the hospital, from other residents," he said. "They fear losing accreditation and for their futures as physicians."
    Levy would like to see an independent group monitor hospitals with unannounced visits, as in New York, where individual program's citations are made public.
    Anecdotal reports from residents indicated that they, too, would like to see changes in how the work-hour standards are administered.
    Many said programs were implementing the standards but were violating the spirit of the rules.
    Instead of finding ways to free residents from time-consuming clerical duties, some programs were cutting back on time spent at educational activities.
    An informal survey by the Assn. of American Medical Colleges found that the 10-hour rest period after in-hospital call was a challenging requirement to meet, because educational activities often take place when residents who were finishing 30 hours of call should be heading home for a 10-hour break.
    A lack of investment in making patient care more efficient was another common complaint, as was facing tacit or explicit pressure to lie about excessive hours.
    Residents said the real standards they must meet are of the physicians around them, which often don't mesh with ACGME rules.
    One resident, who asked not to be identified, detailed a workweek of more than 100 hours.
    As a chief surgical resident, he makes sure that the residents under him leave after 24 hours of in-house call [what a softie!] and that their weekly schedules comply with the 80-hour average, but he isn't able to follow the same schedule.
    "The bottom line is, all the patients on the service are my responsibility, 24/7," he said. "If something goes wrong, if there are problems with a patient, I can't say my hours are up. There's no one else to sign out to."
    [THEN GET SOMEONE and quit the patient-endangering martyrdom act!]
    The program director and attending physicians are willing to look the other way. "They expect residents will take care of the patients," he said. "In return they train you. That's how it works."
    Indeed, despite the new regulations, residents are expected to keep pace with the workload. Attending physicians worked unending hours as residents, and the new work rules don't fit in with their idea of professionalism.
    "It's not cool to leave, to just sign out," the resident said. "You are seen as irresponsible if you leave."
    No one asks him how long he works, and he fudges the monthly logs he turns in, recording 12-hour days instead of the actual 15, a practice not uncommon among residents.
    The ACGME is aware of these problems, having seen some of these issues on its site visits.
    Dr. Leach said programs following the letter of the law but not its intent could be found in violation of standards for such things as service or education.
    The ACGME also does a computer analysis of a program's information to look for signs of falsified data. And it is in the process of implementing an annual electronic survey of programs and residents to probe hours and education issues.
    Additional information:
    ACGME's next steps
    As of June 15, medical residents had lodged 49 complaints of work-hour violations with the ACGME against residency programs during the first year restrictions were in effect. Here's how they were handled. Accreditation council action
    As of May 31, the ACGME had reviewed 1,753 resident programs since work-hour restrictions went into effect July 1, 2003. It issued 92 citations to 84 programs for duty-hour violations.
    E 46 were for noncompliance with the 80-hour week.
    E 24 were for violating the one-day-off-out-of-7 requirement.
    E 22 were for violating the 30-hour maximum for in-hospital call and patient handoffs.
    Source: ACGME
    ACGME plans yearly survey of residents
    The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education is in the midst of creating a way to more closely monitor compliance with the new work-hour standards.
    The ACGME visits each program an average of once every 3.7 years. Now the council is establishing an electronic survey for program directors, designated institutional officers and residents that would be administered annually.
    A pilot of this survey drew a 98% response rate from all 7,964 programs; 30,000 residents also were surveyed.
    Resident responses are kept anonymous, and questions include the number ofhours they worked, the availability of lab and computer resources and whether they were satisfied with their program's ability to handle complaints.
    Teaching physicians facing longer days
    Attending physicians have seen their workloads increase as residents' hours decrease.
    [Good. No pain, no gain. Maybe now the people with the power and the money will FIX IT and quit the patient-endangering hazing of trainees.]
    There are no regulations preventing attendings from having sleep-robbing schedules, and many find they are back to their former training routines of being up all night, then facing a full day of work.
    Rajam Ramamurthy, MD, a neonatal and perinatal specialist and a clinical professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, said physicians who teach are becoming increasingly frustrated.
    When her department has a conference to discuss a particular patient, it is not uncommon for one or two of the four residents on the service to be absent. The conference hour must then be repeated for them. Morning rounds also have to be done twice for the same reason.
    [= Serious inefficiency and time wasting. No wonder doctors work such long hours. They can't even manage time and meetings.]
    More clinical duties are also falling on teaching physicians. Senior residents no longer handle all of the overnight coverage at Dr. Ramamurthy's hospital, where she has been on the neonatology service since 1972. She used to take call from home, but now, for four to five months a year she spends two nights a week on in-hospital call.
    "Eventually academic physicians will get frustrated," she said. "They make one-third to one-fourth of what a physician in private practice makes, and they make that sacrifice because of wanting to teach and do research. Now they see no difference between the work they are doing and what they could be doing in private practice while making more money."

  5. Bosch Workers in French Plant Agree to Work More to Save Jobs, Bloomberg.
    Robert Bosch GmbH, the world's second- largest auto-parts maker, said workers at a French plant agreed to scrap eight vacation days without a pay increase to save jobs.
    Closely held Robert Bosch, based in Stuttgart, Germany, will keep 190 jobs at the plant in Venissieux, near Lyon in central France, instead shifting them to the Czech Republic, Bernard Bonnet, a spokesman for the French unit, said in an interview.
    French Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy is pushing for looser restrictions on the maximum 35-hour work week mandated six years ago. Last month, Germany's Siemens AG extracted an agreement at two factories for more hours at no additional pay to save 2,000 jobs as European companies seek to cut costs.
    Workers at Bosch plant in France agreed to give up six of 20 extra holidays they had obtained when the 35-hour week legislation was introduced, said Bonnet. They also abandoned two other days off and agreed to a pay freeze as well as a reduction in bonuses paid for overtime, he said.
    ``We solved a specific issue, which was the ageing of the production tools,'' Bonnet said.
    The agreement will reduce hourly labor costs at the Venissieux factory, which employs about 800 workers, by 12%, the company said in a statement on its Web site.
    Bosch, second to Delphi Corp., in the global auto-parts market, said it will invest more than 12 million euros ($14.9 million) at the French site, which was initially planned in the Eastern European country. Some 98% of workers agreed to the change, the company said.

  6. European consumers prefer to keep their hands on their cash, by John Fraher, China Daily [China].
    Italian consumer confidence probably fell this month and French shoppers kept a rein on spending in June as unemployment prevented an economic recovery in the euro region from gaining pace, surveys of economists showed.
    [Ever the silly assumption by the rich that it couldn't possibly be lack of money, that it couldn't possibly be necessary to cut worktime per person even deeper to get fuller employment and centrifuge the income and wealth of the nation further.]
    An index of Italian confidence may have slipped to 99.5 in July from 99.9 a month earlier, according to the median of 19 economists' forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey. French spending probably rose 0.4% in June, the smallest gain in five months, from May and German investors' confidence may have dropped for the seventh month in eight in July, separate surveys showed.
    Euro region growth is being driven by US, Chinese and Eastern European demand as companies including KarstadtQuelle AG, Germany's largest department store operator, cut jobs, keeping unemployment at a five-year high and prompting consumers to save rather than spend. The International Monetary Fund forecasts that the economy will expand at less than half the US rate this year.
    "We need to wait for a recovery in employment to support incomes and consumption," said Lorenzo Codogno, an economist at Bank of America Securities LLC, who expects a "weak" job market rebound in 2005. "We will continue to see an unexciting recovery, but a recovery nonetheless" in the euro region.
    France's statistics office, Insee, will release the spending report on Thursday and the Rome-based Isae institute publishes its Italian consumer confidence release a day earlier. Germany's ZEW Centre for European Economic Research publishes its monthly report on investor confidence today.
    At 9%, unemployment in the euro region is the highest since 1999. KarstadtQuelle said earlier this month it will shed 4,000 jobs by 2006 to respond to falling demand. In France, manufacturers such as Nestle SA have shed 236,300 jobs since the first quarter of 2001 to increase profits.
    Saving more
    Concern about job prospects is causing some consumers to save money, restraining the pace of growth. Between 2000 and 2003, the savings rate rose to 10.7% in Germany, from 9.8%, and to 15.1% from 14.4% in Italy.
    "Consumption has to accelerate if the recovery is to move up another gear," said Michael Dicks, chief European economist at Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc in London. Growth in the euro region will reach 1.7% this year compared with 4.6% in the US and 3.4% in Japan, the IMF forecasts.
    The European Commission, the European Union's executive arm, on Thursday lowered its third-quarter growth forecast for the euro region, suggesting consumer spending has failed to strengthen as much as it anticipated. The European Central Bank has left interest rates unchanged for more than a year to nurture the economic recovery. The US Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the first time in four years on June 30.
    Workweek dispute
    For now, foreign demand is propelling euro-region growth. Exports from Germany, the region's largest economy, gained for the sixth month in seven in May. Royal Philips Electronics NV, Europe's largest consumer-electronics maker, said last week global demand helped its semiconductor unit return to profit in the second quarter. Infineon Technologies AG, Germany's biggest chipmaker, reports fiscal third-quarter earnings today.
    In Germany, the most protracted economic slump since World War II has emboldened companies to seek longer hours from workers without additional pay. Economists including Elga Bartsch at Morgan Stanley and Juergen Michels at Citigroup Inc said in research reports this month that longer working hours will help boost economic growth and close the gap with the US.
    DaimlerChrysler talks
    Siemens AG, Germany's largest electronics and engineering company, last month extracted an agreement from unions at two German phone factories to lengthen the working week without additional pay. DaimlerChrysler AG has told workers at two Mercedes plants in southern Germany that they must agree to cost reductions or face the loss of 6,000 jobs.
    [If this is so good for Europe, why does it require job blackmail to convince employees?]
    DaimlerChrysler executives will meet with the company's works council today and tomorrow and Chief Executive Officer Juergen Schrempp told Die Welt newspaper he expects an agreement "shortly," according to Saturday's edition.
    Schrempp and board members are also prepared to "make a contribution" if workers agree to proposed cost cuts, spokesman Thomas Froehlich said on Sunday. The disagreement has hurt production of some 2,800 cars, the IG Metall union estimates.
    MAN AG, Europe's third-biggest truckmaker, is also seeking a return to the 40-hour work week without extra pay.
    Retail sales
    Germany, Europe's biggest economy, was reliant on exports for growth in the first three months of this year as consumer spending failed to increase for a fourth quarter. Retail sales in May had their biggest drop since November.
    The lack of consumer demand has reduced executive and investor confidence in the prospects of a recovery. The ZEW index probably slipped to 47 in July from 47.4 last month, according to the median of 38 economists in a Bloomberg News survey.
    Consumers and investors won't be able to rely on the ECB to cut rates to help revive their appetite for increased spending, futures trading suggests. While yields on December Euribor interest-rate futures contracts have dropped 19 basis points in the past four weeks to 2.28% in Frankfurt, that compares with the ECB's benchmark lending rate of 2%.
    The contracts settle to the three-month euro area inter-bank offered rate for the euro, which has averaged 15 basis points more than the ECB's key rate since the euro's launch in 1999.

  7. DC [DaimlerChrysler] bosses willing to accept pay freeze, DPA (Deutsche Presse-Agentur) via Expatica, Netherlands.
    [So who copied who? We also have Agence France-Presse.]
    STUTTGART - Executives at DaimlerChrysler are ready to accept a pay freeze if workers agree to savings and halt some of the worst industrial action to hit the German carmaker in decades, a company spokesman said Monday.
    "The board is ready to take this step," said a DaimlerChrysler spokesman in remarks to Deutsche Presse-Agentur.
    But with negotiations between management and unions due to resume Tuesday, the spokesman declined to give any concrete figures or percentages.
    A wage freeze would be less of a concession than a 10% wage cut for executives which had been mentioned at the weekend by DaimlerChrysler CEO Juergen Schrempp in a bid to win [ie: extort] a work week increase to 40 hours from the present 35 hours - with no extra pay.
    Nevertheless, the German government and opposition conservatives welcomed the salary freeze offer.
    "Credibility is gained by starting with oneself," said the Christian Social Union premier of Bavaria, Edmund Stoiber.
    The head of the powerful Federation of German Industry (BDI), Michael Rogowski, also greeted the move, terming it "a symbolic step" in the right direction.
    There is growing optimism a deal can be cut. DaimlerChrysler plants were working normally Monday after 14,500 workers failed to report to work over the weekend at two main factories in suburban Stuttgart, stopping production of 1,000 cars.
    DaimlerChrysler managers are demanding workers agree to savings of EUR 500 million from 2007 in connection with production of the new C-Class Mercedes-Benz.
    This would be achieved by cutting wages, bonus payments, vacation time and work-day breaks.
    Any freeze of executive pay would yield far more modest savings given that the DaimlerChrysler's top managers earned a total of EUR 40.8 million last year, according to the company's 2003 annual report.
    If the cuts are rejected, DaimlerChrysler is threatening to shift some 6,000 jobs from the Stuttgart region to elsewhere in Germany or else to South Africa.
    Last week some 60,000 workers at DaimlerChrysler plants around Germany staged demonstrations and work stoppages to voice their anger over company demands for the pay and benefit rollbacks.

  8. LG-Caltex strikers refuse mediation, by Lim Bong-soo & Choi Ik-jae , with Bloomberg News supplement, Joongang Ilbo [South Korea].
    A government initiative to resolve a labor dispute at LG-Caltex Oil Corp. was rejected yesterday by 930 workers who instead occupied control rooms at the company's main gasoline refinery, bringing production to a halt. The strike is expected to have a major impact on the nation's fuel supply: LG-Caltex, Korea's number two oil refiner, supplies about 30% of the nation's fuel needs and 26% of gas stations nationwide.
    The union members decided to stage a full strike following a decision Saturday by the National Labor Relations Commission to refer the dispute over wages and hours to government mediation. Under labor law, the workers are now in violation of statutes governing mediation. Once the commission recommends mediation, unions are obliged to halt any job action for 15 days. According to the Labor Ministry, 930 union members of LG-Caltex Oil in Yeosu, South Jeolla province, occupied production lines and six of 29 control rooms. They are also controlling entry to the plant, by manning the refinery's nine gates. The union is demanding a five-day work week and the hiring of an additional 110 workers.
    [= Timesizing and fuller employment.]
    It also wants to stop discrimination against non-regular workers and to build a social welfare fund, in addition to a 10.5-percent wage increase. Some 41% of the firm's workers belong to the union.
    "The capacity utilization rate dropped to 30% as of 3 p.m., but then all workers joined the strike," a company official said. The refiner expects to lose 30 billion won per day because of the strike. LG-Caltex is unlisted, but rivals all saw stock market gains yesterday: SK Corp. gained 0.2 percent, while S-Oil climbed 3.5%.
    "[The government] will consider strong measures, such as putting relevant workers on trial if the union keeps striking," a Ministry of Labor official said. LG-Caltex has reported two union heads to police for disrupting work and damaging property.

  9. Subway strikes imminent in four major cities, Donga, South Korea.
    Odds are increasing that the subway unions in Korea¹s four major cities - Seoul, Busan, Incheon and Daegu - will go on strike starting 4 a.m. Wednesday.
    The five subway unions - two in Seoul and one in each of the other three cities - held head-to-head talks yesterday afternoon with management in the dispute settlement committee established by the Regional Labor Committee. Yesterday was also the deadline for arbitration, but the parties¹ respective positions were quite different going into the meeting, with low chances of compromise.
    In the case of Seoul, the Seoul Regional Labor Committee (SRLC) opened a meeting at 2 p.m. with the Seoul Metropolitan Subway Corporation (SMSC), which runs lines 1 through 4, and the Seoul Metropolitan Railway Transit Corporation (SMRTC), which runs lines 5 through 8. However, labor and management failed to reach a compromise on the core issue of the size of the subway workforce.
    The SMSC and SMRTC offered a revised proposal that stipulated a 3% wage increase, deciding the appropriate number of workers based on an outside survey, and changing working shifts without hiring more people, among other conditions. However, the union was determined not to accept a proposal that does not call for hiring additional personnel.
    The labor unions of both corporations are demanding 3,043 and 3,205 additional personnel for the SMSC and SMRTC respectively, and wage increases of 10.5 and 8.1% respectively.
    The Busan Subway union is confronting the Busan Urban Transit Authorityover the request of hiring an additional 2,000 employees, and the Daegu Subway union and management are arguing over the restructuring of that organization. The Incheon Subway union and management have failed to compromise on additional workers and changing work shifts with the advent of a five-day work week.
    Hence, to prevent a strike the SRLC is expected to extend the arbitration deadline until Wednesday morning or force a conditional arbitration on key areas such as engine drivers.
    SRLC Commissioner Kim Sung-joong said, "No one wants an emergency mediation, but the union¹s and management¹s opinions are so different that if there is no settlement, I have no choice."
    Starting yesterday at 5 p.m., the unions of the SMSC and SMRTC have engaged in a "regular schedule operation campaign" - stopping for the scheduled 30 seconds at each subway station - as part of their legal struggle before the planned strike.

  10. Oddball: From Tuesday's New Zealand jobs letter = headline #1
    from New Zealand Herald 6 July 2004, "Short week in Europe faces short shrift as economies suffer" by Catherine Field = headline #2
    French, German 35-hour week on way out = headline #3, a record
    PARIS - France and Germany are quietly dismantling the 35-hour working week. The French government has unveiled plans for a new offensive against its 35-hour law, which has once hailed as the cornerstone achievement of the Socialist-led government (which was voted out in 2002).
    [No, more votes were cast on the progressive side, but there were more splinter parties than on the rightwing, so the two top rightwingers beat the top progressive in the primary. A modern instant run-off voting system would have prevented that.]
    And many major German firms are negotiating with unions to increase their working week back to 40 hours.
    The French regulations require employers to set a maximum working time of 35 hours, in exchange for flexible rostering hours, lower social security charges and a union commitment to restrain wage demands. As few French businesses work a seven-hour, five-day week ... people now work eight- or nine-hour days in a four-day week. This has revolutionised leisure patterns, especially for families. The bed-and-breakfast industry has boomed as families go away for long weekends.
    [And book stores and health spas - in fact, the whole leisure industry.]
    French PM Jean-Pierre Raffarin
    But however popular as the 35-hour week is amongst French families, there is a growing awareness it has gone too far.
    [Or rather, growing rightwing propaganda that it has gone too far.]
    The extra leisure time has helped to deepen France's deficit [there's a stretch!] and has also raised doubts about its economic competitiveness.
    [- if the sweatshops of Bangladesh your ideal of competitiveness.]
    More people are now worried about their jobs, eyeing the threat from the Eastern European countries that joined the European Union on May 1, where labour costs are a fraction of those in the West.
    ["That's why God invented tariffs." And if the EU prevents you from establishing tariffs, then you choose whether EU membership is worth the sacrifice of your quality of life.]
    Unemployment is 9.8% in France and many people, especially in the manufacturing sector, are worried that French companies will shift factories to the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Slovenia.
    [Then send the message, they do and they lose French markets. Either maintain those markets with employment, or lose them - you can't have it both ways, "playing the float" until those markets collapse from your actions.]
    It was Germany during the 1970s and 1980s which led the charge to cut the working week
    [And the USA between 1790 and 1940.]
    ... but now a similar loosening of labour laws is under way. The engineering giant Siemens has struck a deal with unions to raise the 35-hour week to 40 hours at two big sites, in exchange for abandoning plans to move the work to Hungary.
    [And this will be enforced how?]
    Carmaker DaimlerChrysler is negotiating longer hours at its Mercedes division, as are travel operator Thomas Cook and the German railway operator Deutsche Bahn. The Social Democratic-led government hopes to do the same with civil servants.

  11. More companies implementing pro-family policies: government survey, by Julia Ng, Channel NewsAsia [Singapore].
    SINGAPORE - More organisations are implementing pro-family practices, according to a government survey.
    Twice as many firms now offer flexi and part-time work, compared to 2 years ago.
    Many organisations now organise family days, conduct lunch-time talks on parenting and budget for employees' wedding gifts.
    But more significantly, at least twice as many companies now offer flexible work arrangements like job-sharing [ie: a special case of worksharing] and shorter [ie: compressed] work week, where employees work fewer days but longer hours [ie: no net worksharing]....



Click here for spontaneous cases of primitive timesizing in -
July 17-19/2004
July 13-16/2004
July 1-12/2004
June 16-30/2004
June 1-15/2004
May 15-31/2004
May 1-14/2004
Apr.16-30/2004
Apr.1-15/2004
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Mar.2-10/2004
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Feb.11-20/2004
Jan.31 + Feb.1-10/2004
Jan.21-30/2004
Jan.10-20/2004
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2003
2002
2001
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1999
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For more details, see our laypersons' guide Timesizing, Not Downsizing, 'flung' into print as a campaign piece during the 1998 race for Joe Kennedy's empty Congressional seat. The handbook is available online from *Amazon.com.

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