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


8/20/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 8/19 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #2 which is from 8/20 hardcopy), and excerpting and [commenting] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Presidential candidate claims he's an average Joe, by Lori McNelly, Chillicothe Gazette, Ohio.
    Summertime driving in two sweltering conversion vans is hard on a family of five. It's even harder when the dad makes campaign stops. Joe Schriner is average in every way except one. He's running for president of the United States.
    Schriner, from Bluffton OH, made stops in Ross County Thursday, including the Gazette office, as part of his "Buckeye Blitz."
    Asked who he was, his response was simple: "I'm an average American citizen who's decided to run for office."
    Schriner, who also ran in 2000 as a write-in candidate, is a trained journalist who does freelance work and is a sometimes-handyman "to make ends meet." It's part of the "average" persona. But, it's also a base part of the man who thinks he can influence Ohio's independent voters come Nov. 2. He calls it "the Nader factor."
    There was no epiphany, no switch flipping that had him deciding to run for the America's highest office. It was his kids - Sarah, 8, Joseph, 6, and Jonathan, 14 months. "We're running as concerned parents," Schriner said.
    His top issues were tackled after an extensive nationwide research trip in the 1990s. Schriner says he has no airy philosophies, he's just spreading the word about what works in communities. The top issues coming out of that trip were the environment and social justice.
    1. Environmentally, America should be pursuing alternate energies, he said. Take for instance a man Schriner said he met who, when gas reached $2 per gallon, decided to buy a new electric car. Schriner said it cost $11 a month to drive and was cheaper and less polluting of the environment than most gasoline-fueled cars.
    2. As president, Schriner said he would also ask the wealthiest of Americans to cut back in their lifestyles and use the savings to help those less fortunate. As part of the research trip, the Schriner family went to Atwood, Kan., population estimated at 1,500. Schriner said a benevolent program there started with a small core group of people who kicked in $10,000 each to a community fund. Word got around and soon others were donating to help their neighbors. Does a neighbor need help buying medicine? Does the family down the street need help? Does a city street need work but the budget doesn't allow it? The fund would come through. Now, Schriner said, the town provides for each other through the interest off the fund - $72,000 per year. It all comes down to a grassroots sense of civic pride. "We've lost some of that sense of community," Schriner said....
    The economy is a big issue which can be addressed by helping the nuclear family. Schriner endorses cutting unemployment by moving to job-sharing which, he said, would have employees working 25 to 30 hours a week and guarantee at least one other person would have a part-time job.
    But Ohio's own "Average Joe" still needs 5,000 certified signatures to get on the ballot. So far, he says he has 50 signatures and is, obviously, going to be a write-in candidate. But, because he and his family have been working so hard in Ohio, Schriner said he has faith. "Even write-in, we actually think a lot of people are going to vote for us," Schriner said.
    [How'd it go in 2000?   Phil Hyde had to get 10,000 signatures to get on the ballot to run against Ted Kennedy in 2000. That little project took 6 months of 80 signatures a day every day to get the minimum number of good signatures.]

  2. South Korea sees jobless rate and prices climb, Dow Jones via WSJ, A10.
    SEOUL - The seasonally adjusted rate in South Korea hit 3.6% in July, a level not seen since November, as jobs in construction and the service sector were slashed amid a slowdown in domestic demand....
    [South Korea needs more timesizing to bring back domestic demand - rather than the current U.S. technique of consumer debt -]
    Ahead of the tape - South Korean lessons, by Craig Karmin, WSJ, C1.
    American consumers, despite some recent wobbles, haven't lost their urge to buy [ - yet]. But a look at what is going on in South Korea offers a cautionary tale for plastic-happy US shoppers....
    After the Asian financial crisis of 1997 and 1998, Seoul looked to boost local consumption and wean its economy from a dependence on export-led growth. The government viewed ramping up credit-card purchases as a quick fix and rushed through a number of laws to make the country more plastic-friendly.... By 2000, the number of credit cards circulating in South Korea had surged to 50m...double the number in 1994.... Sure enough, the country borrowed and consumed and nursed its economy back to health.
    Yet personal bankruptcies were rampant, and by 2002, total household debt, relative to South Korea's GDP, had jumped to 64% (still less than the 83% for the US today). So worried have Mr. and Mrs. Kim become over their growing liabilities that South Korean consumption is again declining....

  3. Firm sparks debate over longer working hours, Business Day, South Africa.
    BRUSSELS - A Belgium firm's call for its staff to work longer hours for the same pay triggered debate Thursday over boosting competitivity, following similar moves in other EU countries struggling to kickstart growth. Steel company Marichal Ketin, a subsidiary of Germany group Gontermann Peiper, announced Wednesday plans for its employees to work 40 hours per week against 36 currently, but without a pay rise. "Increasing working hours is just about the only thing we can do to get the firm through a difficult time and keep it in the market," said the firm's boss Vincent Lecomte. The firm, based in the eastern city of Liege, posted losses of 1.7 million euros last year following steep rises in raw materials. Calls for longer hours have already gripped a number of other European countries, including France, whose last Socialist government reduced the working week to 35 hours, as well as Germany and the Netherlands. The debate comes as Europe battles to accelerate a tentative recovery from a prolonged economic slowdown, with latest figures showing it still lagging behind other key economies including the United States. In Belgium the law sets the maximum working week at 38 hours, and industry leaders agree that this is a brake on productivity and thus competitiveness. "Belgian firms face a salary handicap of between 8-10% compared to neighbouring countries," said Pieter Timmermans, head of the Federation of Belgian Businesses (FEB). In particular growing competition from low-cost new EU countries is focussing people's minds in western Europe. "These countries have salary costs which are much higher than those in central Europe, and so they are opening the debate on extending working hours for the same pay," said Timmermans. The Netherlands, which was a pioneer of cutting working hours at the start of the 1980s, has also broached the 40-hour week issue in recent months, in the teeth of union opposition. In Germany the number of firms seeking to extend working time continues to grow, with travel agent Thomas Cook the latest to re-introduce the 40-hour week while key department store chain Karstadt is seeking 42 hours as the norm. France's rightwing Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin wants an "easing" of the 35-hour week introduced by his Socialist predecessor Lionel Jospin. In July, staff at a Bosch factory in eastern France agreed to work more for the same pay after management warned that the plant would otherwise be replaced elsewhere. In Belgium there has been no such threat to the Marichal Ketin factory, and politicians hope that "exemplary" dialogue with unions will avoid the plans leading to unrest. "It is quite legitimate for management to make proposals ... and that union representatives discuss them, reject them or negotiate," said Jean-Claude Marcourt, economy minister of Belgium's French-speaking Wallonia region. The CSC union says it won't be "dogmatic" on the question, but insists on guarantees for employees if the working week was extended. Socialist union FGTB says it cannot accept an about-turn of the "the general tendency to cut working hours." But union official Jean-Claude Vandermeire conceded that: "If a firm is facing difficulties, our delegates will be free to negotiate. We can't kick someone when they're down."

  4. Federal overtime rules change next week, by Julia Bauer, Grand Rapids Press via MLive.com, MI.
    When Warren DeHaan checked out details of new federal overtime rules online this week, he heaved a sigh of relief. On Monday, when the federal Fair Pay regulations take effect for salaried employees, DeHaan figures his six Russ's Restaurants will be ready. Restaurants, convenience stores and retail shops are among those most likely to start paying overtime to more workers. Receiving the extra wages likely will be people such as assistant managers who put in long hours at a relatively low salary. At Russ's, the top two managers at each site are longtime employees whose salaries are above the level of what the new law would dictate, and the other two managers are paid hourly, DeHaan said. "I read over those rules. They won't have any effect on our business, but they will have a lot of effect on the chains," DeHaan said. He criticized the national chain restaurants that "just slap a label on a couple of people, give them a title," then work them long hours without overtime. "They play that game, but they've been taken to court on class-action suits," DeHaan said. Slowing the onslaught of labor lawsuits is one aim of the slimmer set of regulations. The Department of Labor's new regulations set two extremes: Anyone earning less than $23,660 - $455 a week - gets overtime whether they're managers or day laborers. People paid more than $100,000 almost never qualify for overtime. Between those pay rates, however, are 65 million white-collar jobs, both hourly and salaried. Broader definitions of executives, administrators and professionals could sweep more hourly jobs out of overtime range and into the exempt world of salaries. The job descriptions replace standards set 50 years ago, although most of the regulations are substantially the same. The changes largely have been ones of focus - fine-tuning the descriptions of creativity and learning in professional, salaried jobs. Executives are those who supervise two or more employees and have the power to hire and fire. And in the administrative ranks, nearly any office job that requires discretion and independent judgment in a major way could be exempt. One of the biggest changes is a boost to the minimum salary from the $155 a week set in the 1970s. Starting next week, anyone making up to $455 a week is eligible for overtime pay. Some jobs are deliberately set aside for overtime eligibility - veterans and police, fire and ambulance workers. Other professionals, such as nurses, could be shifted to salary status and lose the right to overtime. But with the dire need for nurses, hospitals are unlikely to make that move. "It's an option that's open but we're not going to take it," said Dan Oglesby, vice president of human resources for Spectrum Health. Human resources professionals have been scurrying to check their payroll plans. At Wolverine World Wide, Amy Shellenbarger said the new regulations prompted an audit of the company's jobs. "We didn't find the changes to be significant. We went to a couple of seminars with our attorneys to make sure we were reading the regulations correctly," she said. Union contracts that define overtime rules supersede the federal standard, but the new regulations will put extra pressure for change at negotiation time, said Robert Potter, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 951. "If an employer can get overtime work done more cheaply by using this method, it will put competitive pressure on us at the bargaining table," Potter said. The Employers' Association is putting on a fee-based morning seminar Aug. 31, said Dave Smith, association president. Some new provisions affect employer-employee disciplinary issues. "There's more targeted relief" if a company errs in overtime issues, Smith said. "An employer can pay for that mistake and move on" by paying the overtime dollars owed. "This is a good opportunity for people to look at their pay practices and get their act together," said Ronald Miller, senior labor analyst with CCH Inc. "A lot of people don't feel a push for compliance" until a disgruntled employee files a lawsuit, he said.

  5. Workers to get more pay for long days, by Tom Ramstack, Washington Times, DC.
    Federal overtime rules that take effect Monday could mean bigger paychecks for the nation's lowest-paid employees. But critics say the rules may give employers a loophole to avoid paying to millions of middle-income earners. Meanwhile, the Bush administration's stated goal of clarifying the rules is caught up in a whirlwind of partisan politics and differing interpretations. Employers are "going to need to pay more workers overtime, not less," Steven J. Law, the Labor Department's deputy secretary, said during a press conference this week to explain the new rules. About 1.3 million more low-wage workers would qualify immediately to receive overtime, Mr. Law said. Another 5 million ‹ such as police officers and nurses ‹ might qualify, depending on how their jobs fit into new definitions of exempt employees. The main differences between the current rules and the new "Fair Pay" regulations are the pay scales that determine when overtime must be paid. Time-and-a-half pay beyond 40 hours of work per week will be required for nearly anyone earning less than $23,660 a year, regardless of whether they are classified as salaried or hourly employees. Since 1975, the threshold for mandatory overtime was $8,660. The confusion centers on exemptions for middle-income workers. Employers can withhold overtime pay if employees earn more than $23,660 per year and have "professional, administrative or executive" responsibilities or are "team leaders." Professional and administrative employees earning at least $100,000 a year are exempt from overtime pay, even if they are paid on an hourly basis. Labor unions and Democratic opponents of the Bush administration policy say the exemptions are too easily abused by employers. Employers could redefine many blue-collar workers as supervisors to avoid paying them overtime, according to the AFL-CIO national labor federation. "Now all those people flipping burgers who supervise other people would be exempt so they wouldn't get overtime," said Lane Windham, AFL-CIO spokeswoman. "There's a lot of ambiguous language in the regulations, so there's going to be a flood of lawsuits." The AFL-CIO estimates that 6 million workers could lose their rights to overtime. The Labor Department downplays the criticism as misguided. "The misinformation directed against the rule has in fact created confusion and that confusion could hurt workers' rights," Mr. Law said. The regulations will be enforced by government agencies such as the D.C. Office of Wages and Hours. Pam Banks, the office's associate director, said her review of the new regulations indicates it would be hard for employers to evade their obligations to pay overtime. "I don't see that happening," Mrs. Banks said. "I think the definitions became more stringent." However, there is nearly universal support among government officials and labor unions on the new earnings cap used to qualify low-wage workers. Regardless of whether they are managers, full-time employees earning less than $23,660 a year, or $455 a week, qualify for overtime. The previous limit was $155 a week. A Labor Department analysis of the new rules estimated the cost to employers at $1.1 billion in the first year and $375 million each subsequent year. Although the Labor Department announced the regulations in April, a study by Hewitt Associates, a human resources consulting firm, showed 20 percent of more than 150 companies surveyed said they would not be able to comply with the regulations by Monday's deadline. Confusion over how to implement the rules was a primary reason. President Bush is proposing other changes to the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act. He said he would ask Congress to modify the federal law so employers could offer compensatory time instead of overtime pay. "Government ought to allow employers to say to an employee, 'If you take some time off and work different hours, you're allowed to do so if you want to accumulate time to spend with your families,' " Mr. Bush said this month during a campaign stop in Ohio. "It would help American families better juggle the demands of work and home." Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, his Democratic opponent, said Mr. Bush's comp-time plan would "do more harm than good" to families caught in a "middle-class squeeze." The liberal Economic Policy Institute also endorsed the new limits. "From the standpoint of employees, this is the only positive change of any significance in the final rule," institute policy director Ross Eisenbrey wrote in a report last month.

  6. Wealth alert for working mothers, BBC News, UK.
    Wealthier mothers are likely to take high-stress, long-hours jobs Most mothers who go out to work do no harm to their children's development, a US economic study* has found. Unless they are rich, that is: the University of North Carolina research found "large negative effects" on children from wealthier families. These included a substantial drop in educational attainment, and a greater risk of obesity. "It may be a mistake to exclusively focus on work during the earliest years," the report concluded.
    Reasons to be cheerful
    The North Carolina study analysed children aged about 10 on a set of variables, including three assessments of cognitive skill, two indicators of "socioemotional development", and two measures of excess body weight. For the most part, it saw little cause for concern among working mothers. Although there was some slight negative trends in the children of working mothers, most were negligible, and mainly occurred only among mothers who worked extremely long hours. As the study pointed out, although some 90% of mothers work during their child's first nine years, only 15% put in more than 35 hours per week.
    Further to fall
    The situation was far more grave among the wealthiest working mothers, however. According to its calculations, an extra 20 hours worked a week among the top income quartile did significant damage to a child's academic performance On average, such children were knocked down from the 66th educational percentile to below the 60th. And the percentage of overweight children rose to 20% among the wealthiest quartile, from less than 15% in families where the mother stayed at home.
    Time troubles
    There are a number of possible explanations for the sharp divergence on grounds of wealth. First, wealthier women are more likely to opt for stressful jobs with long hours. Second, lower-income mothers can benefit their families by working and bringing in extra income; for the rich, the woman's pay does not necessarily translate into an increase in already-high living standards. Third, the report suggests that lower-income mothers are likely to be "time-constrained" whether or not they work, meaning that the decision to take a job does not alter the fundamental situation much. A wealthy mother, who can spend lots of time with her children because she pays others to do domestic chores, will find the new schedule more of a wrench. *Maternal Employment and Adolescent Development, NBER working paper, Christopher Ruhm, University of North Carolina, Greensboro.
8/19/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 8/18 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #4 which is from 8/19 hardcopy), and excerpting and [commenting] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Legislative Assembly to vote on working hours, ABC Online, Australia.
    The ACT's [meaning?] Legislative Assembly has voted to consider shorter sitting hours. Government MLA [Member of Legislative Assembly] Karin McDonald put forward the idea for the House to rise [ie: adjourn?] by 8:00pm AEST each night.
    Ms McDonald says the long sitting hours cloud judgement and place extra stress on staff. She says there is also a need for more family-friendly hours to help members and those who work in the Assembly.
    Ms McDonald says the idea has been taken up in other countries. "There are places around the world that do have a restriction on their hours," she said.
    Opposition Leader Brendan Smyth says Ms McDonald needs to take a look at the real world. "I think we've got a 9-to-5 Government and if you want to be sooky [ie: 'fussy'?] about working long hours, then I think you can pass these motions," he said.
    The motion will now be considered by a committee of the Assembly.

  2. Same-day doc service may be catching on - Quicker appointments keep patients healthier, reasoning goes, Boston Channel.com, MA.
    BOSTON - If Steve Lunt, aka the "Handyman of Rochester NY," made his clients wait weeks for an appointment, he'd be out of business before long. But that's how Lunt's healthcare worked, and it's the same for millions of other Americans. "You're just a number," [he] said. "You go sit in the waiting room for an hour after waiting two weeks to get an appointment."
    Life changed for Lunt and his wife when they called Dr. Gordon Moore, who is among a growing number of doctors nationwide who have adopted same-day service. The idea, which experts say is gaining steam, is that scheduling patients immediately for even routine physicals will keep them healthier and happier, while saving money in the long run. If people know they'll get quick appointments, the reasoning goes, they're less likely to ignore their health problems, which will reduce costly emergency-room visits.
    "We've seen it work in every kind of clinic imaginable," said Marie Schall, a training director at the Boston-based Institute for Healthcare Improvement, an organization pushing for same-day service, known in the industry as "open access." The American Academy of Family Physicians and the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs also adopted "open access" as their goal.
    Moore...who treats the Lunt family at his Ideal Medical Care of Brighton NY, made the transition three years ago. Tired of working long hours with patients double- and triple-booked into time slots, Moore left the physicians' group he was with and started his own family medicine practice. "People used to be shocked when they'd call up - and half the time I answered the phone - and we'd say 'come in at 3 p.m.," said Moore.
    "I don't have cranky patients. I don't get the no-show thing I used to have," he said, adding that his life has changed as well. "My schedule is much more reliable. Doctors make a fine income, that's not the problem. The problem is imbalance and burnout. I have three small children. I want to be there for them."
    The majority of patients, however, still wait for their care. A recent survey in 15 cities found that the average wait for a cardiology exam was 19 days. The average wait was 24 days for a dermatology appointment, and 23 days for an obstetrics-gynecology exam, according to the survey by Merritt Hawkins & Assocs [MH&A], a national firm that recruits staff for hospitals and doctors' offices. Boston, despite a worldwide reputation for medical care, had the longest waits in three of the categories surveyed.
    Kurt Mosley, vice president of business development for Dallas-based MH&A, said the biggest hurdle for open access is persuading doctors to rethink their scheduling practices. "You have to get rid of the backlog first. You have to stop (long-term scheduling) cold turkey," Mosley said. "Doctors aren't used to that. You have to have an office manager who takes control and says, 'You're not going to fill up your schedule on this day."
    Schall said doctors also worry their incomes will drop dramatically if they leave slots open. But past experience has shown that if doctors study the volume of callers seeking appointments at different times of the week, then adjust staffing accordingly, appointment slots will fill up, and practices will become more efficient and can take more patients, she said. "It's all very data-driven and based on predictions and having a clear understanding of your supply and demand," Schall said. "The evidence shows that really they can make out better."
    Moore said the model allows him to address several needs of patients all at once, rather than refer them to a specialist or schedule a later appointment. The result is a more valuable visit and fewer expensive referrals, he said.
    It may seem counterintuitive, Moore said, but he's making more money now that he's cleared his appointment book.
    The movement is growing slowly but steadily, said Mosley, whose own doctor in Texas has adopted the practice. It came in handy last month when he noticed a bruise on his leg shortly before he was to leave town on a business trip. He called his doctor, got a same-day appointment, and discovered that the bruise was the result of a spider bite. "He got me on antibiotics right away," Mosley said. "I would have been on the road and my leg would have ballooned like a sausage."
    Moore said in his region the move toward same-day service has resulted in a drop in emergency-room visits. In the past, many patients needing immediate attention would visit emergency rooms, even for minor problems, an expensive solution for both patients and insurers.
    Lunt, who has diabetes and high blood pressure, said the personal touch improved his health. Moore sent him to a specialist who changed his medication to treat the blood pressure. "It's been down ever since," he said, "and I'm taking a third less medicine than I was."
    Lunt's wife, Mary Lou...sees open access as a return to basics. She and her husband were so pleased about their care that they dropped their pediatrician and brought their two children to Moore. "I don't understand why more doctors aren't doing this," said Mary Lou Lunt, an artist and marketing consultant. "It's very empowering to the patients. It's changed our lives, really, at the risk of sounding dramatic."

  3. Comment: Law steals overtime pay from Americans, by VP/Policy Ross Eisenbrey of Economic Policy Institute (1660 L St.NW, Ste.1200, Washington DC 20036), Detriot Free Press.
    On Monday, the Bush administration will take away the right to receive overtime pay from millions of employees in a broad range of occupations, from office workers in financial services to embalmers, nursery school teachers and restaurant chefs and assistant managers. Despite four disapproving votes in Congress, the Bush administration is using its power and authority to accomplish the biggest rollback in employee rights in more than half a century. The administration denies it is weakening overtime rights and claims to be taking overtime pay from workers earning $100,000 a year or more. But the new regulations have their biggest impact on employees earning far less. Salaried employees earning as little as $24,000 a year are subject to the new rules, which make it far easier for employers to deny overtime pay. It might shock people to think the government would lie to them, but there is no nice way to describe the administration's campaign of disinformation around the new overtime regulations. Secretary Elaine Chao's spin - that she is only interested in clarity and helping low-wage workers - is belied by the regulations themselves. According to three top experts on the Fair Labor Standards, virtually every change in the new regulations will weaken or eliminate the right to overtime pay. These nonpartisan experts, first appointed in the Reagan administration, include the Dept.'s top two Fair Labor Standards lawyers for most of the last 20 years and the top career official responsible for enforcing the law during that same period. They also conclude the new regulations are so confusing and self-contradictory that they will provoke additional court litigation. Looking only at 10 of the dozens of changes in the law, six million employees will lose the right to overtime pay. Those hit hardest will be low-level supervisors, who will be classified as executives by the new rules, even if they spend 90 percent of their time doing the same kind of labor as the two employees they supervise. Team leaders in factories, construction and office settings will lose overtime rights, and hundreds of thousands of employees without a college education will be called professionals and denied overtime pay. This is a corruption of the Fair Labor Standards Act and its exemptions, by which Congress intended to ensure that all but a narrow class of well-paid top officials and professional employees would get time-and-a-half pay when they work long hours. The Bush administration has sided with employer groups, who oppose regulation and resent having to pay extra for overtime work. They want the flexibility to work employees 50 or 60 hours a week without paying any more than they would for 40. One restaurant chain worked low-paid assistant managers 85 or 90 hours a week without any additional pay. The new rules will make that kind of abuse legal. As we approach Labor Day, founded as part of the original campaign for an 8-hour workday and a 40-hour work week, it is critical to speak out against these new regulations. Unless Congress can block these regulations this fall, millions will lose overtime pay and find themselves working longer hours. It took 100 years of struggle to pass the Fair Labor Standards Act and create a 40-hour work week. It has taken the Bush administration less than four years to turn back the clock.

  4. 9-to-5, R.I.P. - Flex time is good for the economy, editorial, WSJ, A12.
    ...We're happy to see included \in\ the Bush campaign['s] second-term economic agenda...a proposal that can help both the economy and hard-pressed parents: flex time. The idea is that workers and their employers ought to be able to enter voluntarily into work schedules that benefit both sides - for example, allowing employees to work 80 hours in any combination over a two-week period. A busy mom might work 60 hours the week her husband can pick up the kids from school, but only 20 hours the next when she takes over child duty.
    [Note that these kinds of extreme and erratic swings are unlikely to be implemented in many well-run businesses. And such an "hours shellgame" based on an arbitrary 2-week base instead of an arbitrary 1-week base is irrelevant to work sharing and spreading to achieve full employment. But the entry of any worktime manipulation into the mainstream national debate in the U.S. is a step forward in a time-blind work-worshipping society that will try anything and everything before doing the obvious to achieve full employment and a fully activated consumer base.]
    Such flexibility should be welcome in today's complex social world,
    [never mind actual worksharing in today's high-tech automated world!]
    yet it's still illegal under federal law. In 1938, Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act, designed to protect workers from abusive employers;
    [and do some work spreading via a 44-hour workweek cap in 1938, moving down to 40 in 1940]
    it mandated that a working schedule of more than 40 hours in any one week had to count as overtime....

  5. More US troops implicated in Abu Ghraib abuse, by Charles Aldinger, Reuters.
    WASHINGTON - A new U.S. Army report clears top U.S. military brass in Iraq of abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison but implicates 20 or more intelligence troops in the scandal, defense officials said on Wednesday. The investigation report, expected to be sent to Congress next week, recommends discipline against the military intelligence troops ranging from administrative reduction in rank and loss of pay to further investigation that could lead to military trials, one of the officials told Reuters. The officials, who asked not to be identified, gave no further details, but said most of the troops implicated in the intelligence probe, launched by Army Maj. Gen. George Fay in April, were from the U.S. 205th Military Intelligence Brigade that was assigned to Abu Ghraib when the abuses occurred. "I think it will find that military police weren't the only ones doing anything wrong," said one defense official of the Abu Ghraib abuse and sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners which sparked fury in the Arab world and international condemnation.
    Military policy already charged
    Seven U.S. military police reservists from the 372nd Military Police Company were earlier accused of humiliating and in some cases beating and photographing Iraqi detainees at the infamous prison near Baghdad, once used as a torture chamber by former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Some of those military police guards allege that they were simply acting under orders from military intelligence to "soften up" detainees for interrogation. Col. Thomas Pappas, who was commander of the 205th Intelligence Brigade, has already received a letter of reprimand for failing to ensure that his troops protected rights for prisoners guaranteed by the Geneva Conventions. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other top defense officials have promised to leave no stone unturned in several investigations into the U.S. abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan. Gen. John Abizaid, head of the U.S. Central Command, and Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, who was the top U.S. military officer in Iraq at the time of the abuse, told Congress earlier that they did not find out about the abuse until this year when a military policeman revealed the problem at the prison. Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who commanded the 800th Military Police Brigade in Iraq late last year, has also received a letter of reprimand and beensuspended from her post. She is protesting that suspension. Lawyers defending military police suspects in the Abu Ghraib scandal have argued that the courts should take into account the psychological impact on suspects of working long hours in grim conditions at the big prison.

  6. US Secretary of Labor visits with local Ohio FOP, press release by Chris Granberg (202-547-8189) of Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), U.S. Newswire, DC.
    WASHINGTON - Today U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao visited with members of the Ohio State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police to discuss the final overtime regulations issued by the Dept. of Labor (DOL) in April 2004. At an event hosted by the Western Lake County Lodge No. 116, Secretary Chao thanked the officers for their courageous service, and highlighted the new overtime protections for America's public safety officers in the rules scheduled to take effect on 23 August. "You are often called upon to work long hours and take double shifts," Chao said. "So, when the Dept. began updating the nation's overtime rules, your needs were a priority. Thanks to the constructive engagement of the Fraternal Order of Police in the rulemaking process, the right to overtime for police is clearly protected and strengthened in the new overtime rules." The F.O.P. strongly supports the final regulations because they will guarantee overtime compensation to an expanded majority of the nation's police officers, firefighters, and paramedics. Specifically, the final rule provides that neither the exemptions contained in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) nor the regulations apply to public safety officers - regardless of their rank or pay level - who perform public safety work. The regulations go on to clarify why these employees cannot be classified as executive, administrative or professional employees, and thus be exempted from receiving overtime pay. In addition, DOL has acknowledged that the right to overtime compensation may be extended to some public safety employees who are currently classified as exempt because of other changes to the regulations. National President Chuck Canterbury expressed the organization's appreciation for the efforts of Secretary Chao and the Dept. to develop a final rule which recognizes the unique nature of public safety work. "The F.O.P. sees these new regulations as an historic opportunity to correct the application of the overtime provisions of the FLSA to public safety officers," Canterbury said. "Since the beginning, we were alone in our confidence in this Administration's commitment to our nation's first responders, and their intention to resolve this issue to the benefit of these vital public servants-a confidence which has been confirmed in the final rules." "It is important for our members and for law enforcement officers around the country to hear the facts about the positive impact of these regulations," Canterbury continued. "And we are grateful for Secretary Chao's willingness to visit with F.O.P. members across the country to counter the stream of misinformation which continues to be put out by those who are more interested in the politics of this issue than with its substance." The Fraternal Order of Police is the nation's largest law enforcement labor organization, with more than 318,000 members.

  7. Highest numbers of jobless in Africa and Middle East, by Cole Mallard, Voice of America, DC.
    The International Labor Organization says unemployment worldwide has increased dramatically over the past decade. The U-N agency has released a study called "Global Employment Trends for Youth 2004." It says young people aged 15 to 24 now represent almost half the world's jobless, with the highest numbers being in Africa and the Middle East. The ILO says the Middle East and North Africa have a youth unemployment rate of 25%, and sub-Saharan Africa a rate of 21%. Dr. Dorethea Schmidt is an economist with the I-L-O's Employment Strategy Dept. in Geneva. She says even in the rich countries of these areas, young people can find it hard to get a job. She says, "What we find everywhere in the world is that unemployment for all people goes parallel to youth unemployment, so where you have high unemployment rates, you also have high youth unemployment rates. But the ratio differs very much, and in those regions where they specifically focus on young people, we see that the unemployment rates are lower." The study says in general the population of young people is growing faster than the ability to provide them jobs - even though many young people are staying out of the labor market to get their education. But the I-L-O economics expert says getting an education does not guarantee a job. She says, "If young people really stay in education, that's a very good thing ­ I mean that's what we really should focus on ­ but as a matter of fact, we have to look precisely in each case, whether it's the kind of education the labor market wants." Dr. Schmidt also says employers usually want older people with experience and skills rather than younger people who may be easier to train and less expensive to hire. But she says employers need to realize that many young people not only have education but are - generally speaking - more flexible and more open to new ideas. The employment strategist says unemployment is not the only factor during the last ten years. She says despite high unemployment numbers in Africa and the Middle East, the ratio of working young people to older people is basically the same. She says, "The problem is what kind of jobs do young people in these two regions get. And what we find is that very often they [jobs] actually are not enough to help the very poor young people to work themselves and their families out of poverty." Dr. Schmidt says the quality of a young person's first job is very important and should help them begin to meet their career goals. Otherwise, she says, it may never be possible for them to work toward satisfactory jobs. "They might even work, very hard, long hours under very bad conditions, precarious contracts, and no social security. And this is why they don't earn more than a dollar a day, and that certainly is not enough to lift them out of poverty," she says. Another factor is discrimination. Although more young women find work inAfrica and the Middle East than men, the quality of jobs those women have is slightly lower than that of young men. Dr. Schmidt also says the income group a young person can also make a difference. She says, "When you come from a richer income group, you're more likely to have a good job, of course because you have education, but also because you have [a] network in place and it's easier for you to find a job." The I-L-O specialist advises any young person who's looking for gainful employment to find out "what the market really needs." She says it's important that "the first job opportunity is a marketable one." She says, "What we actually found is when you start off well into your work life, the likelihood of having good conditions for the rest of your life are much higher." She says that may be easier said than done, but it's important to invest in education that's really needed. She says the I-L-O supports any opportunity for young people to combine work with their education. She says it's best not "to look for the quick money," but to look at the long term, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. The doctor adds that if one has to work to survive, it's still important to get some education. Otherwise, she says, with "limited jobs available and with no education, one cannot expect to find decent employment." Dr. Schmidt also says if governments focus on their youth, it will enhance the limited chances young people have to do something for themselves. Governments, she says, must provide "targeted policies which specifically concentrate on young people."

  8. Rights-Africa: Helping the continent to grow old gracefully, by Moyiga Nduru, Inter Press Service.
    JOHANNESBURG - "If only I can stop sewing for a month, my cough will come down. I spend the money from my sewing for buying food and making sandwiches for my grandchildren to take to school," says an old South African woman captured on video while working at an archaic sewing machine. A 57-year old Ugandan man, who lost four of his children to AIDS, tells of how he is looking after 14 grandchildren ­ seven of whom need to have school fees paid. The video was screened at a three-day conference on ageing in Africa, which opened in the South African commercial hub of Johannesburg Wednesday, Aug. 18. "In parts of Africa, the burden placed on grandparents ­ especially grandmothers ­ is overwhelming. Reports indicate that it's not unusual for grandmothers to have lost several of their own children to HIV/AIDS, and then to gather their various orphaned grandchildren," said Robert Huber of the United Nations Division for Social Policy and Development. "Increased loneliness, isolation, ostracism and the strain created by the burden of caring for homes and grandchildren left behind exact a heavy cost on older persons." Huber told over 200 delegates that many developing countries are unable to collect enough tax revenues to fund social and health care services that cater for older persons, who have few other resources to draw on. "Older women are particularly affected. They lack resources and opportunities, suffer higher incidences of disability and abuse ­ and carry the main responsibility for care in the family," he said. The UN defines "older persons" as those of 60 years and more. Worldwide, there are about 600 million older persons; this number is expected to double by 2025, and to rise to nearly two billion by 2050. The vast majority of these people will reside in the developing world ­ many of them in Africa, according to the UN. At present, just one out of every 20 Africans is an older person. Although ageing will not be as swift in Africa as in other developing regions, in the coming decades the percentage of older persons is expected to increase from 6% to 12% of the population, Huber said. "The African continent is the youngest in the world," noted Joseph Troisi, deputy director of the UN International Institute on Ageing, which is based in Malta. "But Africa is also at a critical turning point," he added. "The African family is changing, and more and more people are spending a lot of time at work, leaving the burden of looking after their children on grandparents." This, combined with the responsibilities imposed by the AIDS pandemic, has made setting the threshold for old age at 60 appear somewhat arbitrary in Africa. "Although we use the threshold of 60 years to describe older persons, for many people in parts of the developing world old age comes earlier. Those worn down by the physical wear and tear pf poverty and disease may face dependency at an earlier age," said Huber. "In parts of Africa, people much older than 60 years continue to work long hours to try to maintain families torn apart by the devastating effects of war, economic deterioration and HIV/AIDS," he added. Vusi Madonsela, director general of South Africa's Dept. of Social Development, urged African governments to take proper account of the aged in their national policies. "Professionals should not try to manage older people; they must...enable older people to manage their own services," he said during the opening address of the conference. He warned that the UN's millennium development goal of halving poverty by 2015 would not be achieved in sub-Saharan Africa unless older people were part and parcel of the policies and programmes intended to accomplish this. Eight millennium development goals (MDGs) were set by world leaders at the UN in New York in 2000, in a bid to improve global living conditions. The MDGs also include pledges to reduce maternal mortality by three-quarters, and to achieve universal primary education by 2015. More than 350 million people, or half of Africa's population, live below the poverty line of less than a dollar a day, according to the World Bank. Adelaide Tambo, wife of the late Oliver Tambo ­ former president of South Africa's ruling African National Congress ­ told of how she had encountered abuse of older persons while doing her thesis on Alzheimer's disease a few years ago. "I found (that) people suffering from Alzheimer's were put in the asylum ward. Others who developed advanced Alzheimer were locked up. I said 'Why?'" Tambo told delegates. She also urged the younger generation to tap into the experience of older people. "Let's learn from the older people ­ let's not push them aside. That's where our riches are," she said. "They have got experience: experience of life, experience of bringing up children." "When we were growing up, we were taught that when you are in the bus and an older person is standing you must offer the seat to him or her. This doesn't happen these days." Added Huber said: "Societies can no longer afford to consider their older citizens unproductive. Nowhere is this truer than in Africa, where many older persons continue to make enormous contributions to the wellbeing of their families and communities."

  9. Child trafficking still widespread in Ghana - NGOs, government agencies and local leaders await new bill, by Patrick Baidoo with Jonathan Ratner, Ghanaian Chronicle (Accra) via AllAfrica.com, Africa.
    Francis Azada wakes up at dawn and works on the Volta Lake until dusk. He looks dirty and tired, has an infected sore on one of his toes and is hesitant to talk. He lives and works against his will at Adakope, under his master Mr. Ojukwu Hadzor. The fifteen-year-old is from Bakpa-Newtown, a village near Sogakope in the Volta Region. Due to his mother's inability to pay his school fees, he was forced to abandon his education at the age of 11. That is when he was trafficked to Adakope, a fishing village along the Volta Lake near Yeji, in the Brong-Ahafo Region. Francis and more than ten thousand other children between the ages of three and 17 are trafficked from all over the country, many through Yeji, to communities like Adakope, Jaklai and others along the Volta Lake. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has located 15 such communities in the Brong-Ahafo Region, and knows of at least 35 more near Yeji. They have also located 20 communities in the Volta Region and 15 in the Central Region. It is estimated that two thirds of boys work as fishermen, while girls often engage in various forms of selling, but are also used to carry and prepare fish. Southern parts of the country are known to be sending areas, where the children come from, and the northern areas are typically receiving areas. In addition to the captivity and forced labour these children encounter, access to basic education, health care, food, clothing and other needs essential for survival and development are rarely met. A study conducted in 2002 by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), showed that the educational background of children surveyed was generally poor. &nbnsp; 62% of interviewees said they had no formal education. After four years of enslavement, Francis is ready to leave the village. "I feel like going home," he said. "I want to go to my mother, I have stayed here too long." Although he is not registered with the IOM yet, he is able to provide IOM field staff with the names of other enslaved children he works and lives with. The rigorous conditions these children encounter on the lake, further adds to the burden they face at home, where maltreatment from their masters is common. Most villages also lack electricity, health care facilities, and clean water. When they are trapping fish on the lake, Francis said that the nets often get tangled at the bottom of the lake. Diving to untangle them is considered the most dangerous task. "I don't like going in to remove it," he said. "It is dangerous and people normally get injured." Many children have reportedly drowned while diving, and others have heard of capsized boats leading to deaths. In addition to being forced to dive, Francis said that the masters beat the children while they are fishing. They are not permitted to say when they are tired, nor are they permitted to stay home when ill. The United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress & Punish Trafficking in Persons especially in Women and Children, defines trafficking as "the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or the use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another." Since masters obtain trafficked children through middlemen (they are sometimes auctioned in markets) as well as from parents themselves, families often have no knowledge of their children's living conditions. Likewise, they often do not know where their children are located. However, the process is reportedly a very organized operation, where hundreds of children arrive in an apparent annual ritual. Children leave their homes with expectations of better treatment and more opportunities, as some are promised education and only fishing part-time. However, the situation is rarely an improvement, and fishing typically takes up all of their waking hours. The children are made to work long hours, with very little food or rest. The fundamental human rights and freedoms enshrined in Chapter 5 of theConstitution require that the state protect citizens from slavery and forced labour. The need to protect the child is further clarified within the same chapter, which states that the child has "the right to equal levels of special care, assistance and maintenance, against exposure to physical and moral hazards, against engaging in work that constitute a threat to his health, education or development, against torture or other cruel inhumane or degrading punishment." A sub-part of the Children's Act 1998, Act 560 on Child Employment and Labour puts the minimum age for people involved in hazardous work at 18. It states "work is hazardous when it poses a danger to the health, safety or morals of a child." Hazardous work includes going to sea, mining, carrying heavy loads and other such forms of employment. The Act also prohibits the engagement of a child in exploitative labour. "Labour is exploitative of a child if it deprives the child of its health, education or development." Reports indicate that children have been trafficked from the Central, Volta, Greater Accra and other regions to villages along the Volta Lake to work as slaves since 1966. In its effort to eliminate child trafficking in 2002, the government joined the International Labour Organization (ILO) and International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) sub-regional programme entitled 'Combating the Trafficking of Children for Labour Exploitation in West and Central Africa.' ILO Convention 182 outlaws child trafficking and the worst forms of child labour. The organization, along with the IOM, several other NGOs and government departments, have contributed to the draft human trafficking bill. Most of those involved expect that it will be passed by parliament sometime next year, although it seems to have been delayed by the upcoming election. Currently, the Attorney General's department is revising the bill. Even when the law is passed, most experts agree that enforcement will require significant financial support, training of law enforcement agencies and education. Mr. Eric Okrah, the ILO National Coordinator for its Action Programme Against Forced Labour and Child Trafficking in West Africa, said that the lack of a specific law that bans child trafficking in the country presents a major challenge. "Because we do not have trafficking in the law, it becomes difficult for people to be prosecuted when they are caught," he said. He added that the sentences associated with child stealing and abduction are minimal in relation to the type of activity. The inhumane treatment that most trafficked children do battle with daily was evident on the shores of the Volta Lake at Adakope. There, after hours of fishing, nine-year-old (according to his master) Godwin Misroame was found eating a bowl of gari and 'pepper.' He does not have enough time to return home to eat or rest before he must return to fish on the lake. Godwin does not know how old he is or where he comes from. He looks traumatized and cannot answer when asked whether or not he likes the situation he is in. He did say that he wakes up at 2 or 3 a.m. every day, and returns from work at 8 p.m. or later. He has asked his master to send him to school, but is continually refused. He is also forced to dive when nets become tangled, and often hears children crying on the lake, due to abuse from masters. Fishermen frequently practice the dragnet method of fishing, which is banned by the government. This method requires many people to pull nets, which explains the need for a large number of working children. Mr. John Adanya, the Vice-Head of the Adakope community, said that adults who are paid to fish frequently engage in stealing, fighting and drinking. Adults also demand pay, so this is another reason fishermen prefer using children. Mr. Adanya said that child slavery cuts across every fishing community along the Volta Lake. The IOM estimates that more than 80 million children in Africa are trafficked into forced labour, slavery or similar situations. Several thousand of these children are located in fishing communities in Ghana. To help these children out of servitude, the IOM has instituted a program called Preventing and Combating Child Trafficking in Fishing Communities in Ghana, with the project's transit camp at Yeji. The project, which began two years ago, is aimed at rescuing all trafficked children in the fishing communities along the Volta Lake. As part of the project, the community is educated about the need to keep children out of hazardous work, while slave masters are advised to release their trafficked children. Initially the IOM provided financial assistance to masters who released their children voluntarily. But due to abuses of the system, they now help fishermen set up other businesses, such as poultry or pig farms. After being released, the children are sheltered at the Yeji camp, before been reunified with their parents. At the camp the children are fed, given medical treatment and counseled to reintegrate them into society. While most of the children were found happily playing with others, others were vomiting repeatedly, as many children arrive at the camp with untreated sicknesses. The staff said it was common for the children to suffer from gastrointestinal disease, bilharzia, ear problems and other ailments due to poor living conditions and improper care. Before the children are transported to their places of origin, they are placed into schools and apprenticeships, depending on their level of education. The IOM monitors their families for two years to ensure that the children are going to school and being properly cared for, as the families also receive money and other forms of assistance. The IOM has reunified 400 children in the past two years. Currently there are 75 children at the camp, which is the maximum capacity. Chiefs and local community leaders are eager for the human trafficking bill to be passed. This will enable them to work with law enforcement agencies to combat child trafficking. Yeji Paramount Chief Nana Yaw Kagbrese V expresses his prayers "that not only Ghana, not only Africa, but the whole world will get a law to end child trafficking and child labour."
8/18/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 8/17 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #11 which is from 8/18 hardcopy), and excerpting and [commenting] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Survey: People willing to take pay cut for more free time, KAIT [AR].
    SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - What's worth more to you, time or money?
    Many people say they are willing to take a pay cut for more flexible work hours. An online survey from San Francisco-based Tickle Inc. finds about half those asked are willing to give up 5% of their pay for a more flexible work schedule. About a quarter are willing to take a 15% pay cut.
    Doctor Courtney Johnson, director of research for the online dating, career and networking company, says people are looking for a better work-life balance....

  2. Revolution on the way? by Kim Ode (kimode@startribune.com; or 425 Portland Av. S, Minneapolis MN 55488; or www.startribune.com/ode), Minneapolis Star Tribune, MN.
    The collision is coming. Maybe not soon, maybe not for several years, perhaps longer. But those who punch the clock and those who sign the checks are heading for a meeting of the minds. Just don't schedule it for a Friday. Across the country, students are lobbying for more universities to provide their education on a Monday-Thursday basis, which many schools have gradually been doing since the 1990s. The theory is that swamped students need a day to catch up, work, or devote themselves to their internships. Skeptics note the popularity of Thursday night specials at college-town bars. Now, though, some previously amenable schools are pushing back. Faced with a rising tide of applications and a growing thirst for the accompanying tuition, they're loath to let classrooms sit empty on Fridays and are trying to schedule more classes on that day. Students, little wonder, are pushing back. That's the first collision, and if they win, it could change the workplace for years as a work force accustomed to a four-day rhythm applies for jobs. Fending off universities' efforts to extend the week will only hone their skills for going up against employers. The four-day workweek has never caught fire here, compared with other first-world countries. Some employment experts blame Americans' warped sense of personal value: We all know people who love to brag about how many hours they worked this week. Plus, the insecurity of today's job market prompts some to put in long hours to show that not only are they crucial, but their devotion to their job trumps any desire to have a life. I'm betting that this new generation of employees is going to push back. More power to them. I suppose it's time to type the obligatory, "While I'm not an economist ...," but this isn't only about economics. Companies that experimented with the four-day workweek reported higher morale and little or no change in productivity, given that in many cases time at work remained at 40 hours; it was just divided over four days instead of five. In Minnesota, about one in five employers offers such "compressed workweeks" to at least some of their workers, mostly in the summer when residents treasure long weekends up north. It's a no-brainer to realize that four days on and three days off would give families more time together - and single people more time to have fun being single. This would translate into more people in more neighborhoods at any given time, more volunteers in the schools, more possibilities to connect in the community. There'd be more flexibility to schedule appointments and run errands. Sure, stockholders might have to be satisfied with dividends described as "steady" instead of "record," but what harm is there in. ... Whoa, sorry, I was just struck by lightning.
    [Not necessarily. Because it would also give people more time to shop, and if workweeks were shortened and not just compressed, it would spread the work to more people - and the wages - read "spending power" - out to the people who spend it immediately and out of the tight black holes of inactive spending power in the top brackets.]
    You can see why there's a collision ahead.
    [Less and less.]
    I don't know who will survive.
    [This is a win-win situation. All we need is some econometrics to prove the point in modern terms. Dahlberg succeeded in doing it in post-World War I terms.]
    Consider one thing, though: This may not be a revolution of slacker college students, but of kids who have seen what American workaholism has done to their families.
    The International Labor Organization says that the average American worked 1,978 hours in 2001, up 36 hours - or almost a week of work - from 1990. That's more hours than anyone else in the industrialized world. Our productivity also is tops, although there is one glitch: Apparently, we don't work as efficiently within those hours as people in European countries. Maybe that's because we're scheduling appointments, checking in with aging parents, keeping track of our kids or grumbling about how the balance between life and work seems out of whack. The students may be onto something. There's a reason they call it higher education.

  3. Our finest hours, (Manchester) Guardian, UK.
    Here is an unsolicited tip for the Conservative party. If you really want to be clever about adopting populist stances to boost your popularity, don't waste time endlessly pitching for the Jeremy Clarkson vote [who he?]. Repeated calls for fewer speed humps and the right to drive in bus lanes may generate approving editorials in the Daily Mail, but people who crave the chance to drive in bus lanes almost certainly vote Tory already. Instead, why not look outside the box? Why not, as a party which likes to consider itself as a party of the family, listen to the very strong message from this week's Guardian-ICM opinion poll which found that nearly two-thirds of British people think they spend too much time at work? Forget Mr Clarkson; go for the Nicola Horlick vote instead [who she?].
    Anecdotal evidence suggests that, when most people are asked what would make most difference to their lives, the answer they most often give centres on the wish for a better work-life balance. Now the harder evidence of the opinion polls and social surveys is confirming the same point too. This week's ICM poll shows a high level of awareness of Labour's latest steps towards creating more "family friendly" hours, including flexible working and shared parental leave for couples. But the demand for more customised working conditions is not confined to couples; single people get stressed too, remember. Nor are parents the only ones whose lives are out of joint; sons and daughters with elderly or chronically sick relatives have unmet needs too. As the letter on this page from the chief executive of the Equal Opportunities Commission and others says, 68% of all adults say their votes could be influenced by policies that support parents and carers. That's more people than voted in the last general election. Work-life balance is not a minority issue; it is a majority preoccupation.
    The big question is what governments can do to help. Most people do not have unrealistic expectations. Yet no party that seeks to enthuse the voters in this area will be credible, as long as Britain continues its opt-out from the European working-time regulations. Labour undermines its own decent instincts on flexible working by a craven insistence on defending the British long-hours culture. A less Europhobe Tory party might capitalise here. No one should doubt that there is electoral gold to be mined by a party that can offer an affordable and unbureaucratic solution to the culture of overwork - not least in re-engaging with young voters, who are the most likely to think existing rights are too meagre.

  4. Barber calls for office hours to be trimmed, ePolitix, UK.
    A leading union chief has called for more to be done to tackle Britain's "long hours culture". Trade Union Congress [TUC] general secretary Brendan Barber was responding to a Guardian/ICM poll that showed a majority of people want more time for their families.
    The survey found that 61% feel they spend too much time at work.... The poll also found that 55% want an end to Britain's opt-out from the working time directive and the introduction of a maximum 48-hour working week.
    Barber said the findings backed the TUC's campaign for more family-friendly working hours. "The findings show a backlash against UK's long hours culture, particularly amongst younger workers," he told ePolitix.com. "Young people entering the job market are simply not prepared to work the way their parents did, and are choosing to work for firms with good records on work/life balance. Firms not offering flexible working options will find themselves losing out as young people opt to work elsewhere.
    "The poll also suggests people want a limit on the hours employees work in the UK, something that is currently being frustrated by the government's insistence that our opt-out to the working time directive must remain.
    "The challenge ahead is for employers, government and unions to work together to organise work more sensibly to meet the changing needs of the UK labour market."
    However the government seized on poll findings that a majority approved of recent reforms and believed that ministers had "got it about right".
    [Huh?]
    "The government recognises how important it is to families to get the right balance between work and home life and it's good to see a positive response policies we have introduced in this area," a spokesman for the Dept. of Trade & Industry said.
    ['What planet...?']

  5. UK poll shows support for more flexibility in parental leave, by Jake Lee in London at jlee127@bloomberg.net), Bloomberg.
    A majority of U.K. adults, 66%, would support the introduction of "Scandinavian-style'' new-parents leave, whereby parents can share or choose which of them takes up to six months paid leave, according to an ICM/Guardian newspaper poll....
    The poll interviewed 1,005 adults aged over 18 between Aug. 13 and 15. No margin of error was given.

  6. Sid Kirchheimer's Workaholism: The 'respectable' addiction - If work consumes you and destroys and personal life, there could be more going on; you could be a workaholic, book review? by Dr. Brunilda Nazario, WebMD.
    In Japan, it's called karoshi - "death by overwork" - and it's estimated to cause 1,000 deaths per year, nearly 5% of that country's stroke and heart attack deaths in employees under age 60. In the Netherlands, it's resulted in a new condition known as "leisure illness," estimated to affect 3% of its entire population, according to one study. Workers actually get physically sick on weekends and vacations as they stop working and try, in vain, to relax. And here in the U.S., workaholism remains what it's always been: the so-called "respectable addiction" that's dangerous as any other and could affect millions of Americans - whether or not they hold jobs. "Yes, workaholism is an addiction, an obsessive-compulsive disorder, and it's not the same as working hard or putting in long hours," says Bryan Robinson, PhD, one of the nation's leading researchers on the disorder and author of Chained to the Desk and other books on workaholism.
    The difference between hard work and workaholism
    "Hard work put us on the moon and discovered vaccinations and built this country," he tells WebMD. "But hard workers generally have some balance in their lives. They sit at their desks and think about skiing. The workaholic is on the ski slopes thinking about work." Their obsession with work is all-occupying, which prevents workaholics from maintaining healthy relationships, outside interests, or even take measures to protect their health. "These are people who may have children, but miss Little League games and school plays when they don't have to, not because they have to be at work but because they feel they need to," says Tuck T. Saul, PhD, a psychotherapist in Columbus, Ohio, who frequently counsels workaholics. "They neglect their health to the point of devastating results and ignore their friends and family. They avoid going on vacation so they don't have to miss work. And even if they do go on vacation, they aren't fully present because their mind is still on work. "As with any other 'aholism,' there is often a lack of understanding as to how their work addiction affects themselves and others," Tuck tells WebMD. "Often, they only realize their problem when something catastrophic happens to them - their health completely fails or their marriage or relationships are destroyed."
    Addicted to adrenaline
    Such was the case with Cheri, a 52-year-old nurse in California. Several years ago, she realized she was a workaholic and has since attended Workaholics Anonymous (WA) meetings once a week - which like Alcoholics Anonymous - has its own 12-step recovery program. Now, she volunteers to help others in the group's Menlo Park headquarters. "I was wildly successful in my career, a very effective worker and my employers loved me," she tells WebMD. "But outside of work ... well, there was no outside of work. I never thought I had a problem until I tried to get into a close relationship, for something like the fifth time. That was my wake-up call, and it probably helped that my partner was in his own 12-step recovery for another addiction at the time. I took the 20-question quiz at the WA web site and 16 [of them] described me to a T. He was getting better and I realized I had my own addiction - to adrenaline." Don't laugh. Workaholics can have a physiologic need for that adrenaline rush, says Robinson, a psychotherapist in Asheville, N.C., and professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. "One thing that we do know is that workaholics tend to seek out jobs that allow them to exercise their addiction," he says. "The workplace itself does not create the addiction any more than the supermarket creates food addiction, but it does enable it. Workaholics tend to seek high-stress jobs to keep the adrenaline rush going." If work consumes you and destroys and personal life, there could be more going on; you could be a workaholic. This is true even if they don't work outside the home. "We're seeing more women workaholics now because women are more visible in the workplace. But it's my belief that even before this trend, workaholics were doing this in the home," says Robinson. "It could be in their parenting to the point where there is nothing else to balance their lives, no hobbies or fun or spirituality, because they spend all their time as the PTA president, running the youth sports league, and being a Scout leader."
    Disorders often stem from childhood
    Research shows that the seeds of workaholism are often planted in childhood, resulting in low self-esteem that carries into adulthood. "Many workaholics are the children of alcoholics or come from some other type of dysfunctional family, and work addiction is an attempt to control a situation that is not controllable," he tells WebMD. "Or they tend to be products of what I call 'looking good families' whose parents tend to be perfectionists and expect unreasonable success from their kids. These children grow up thinking that nothing is ever good enough. Some just throw in the towel, but others say, 'I'm going to show I'm the best in everything so [my] parents approve of me.'" The problem is, perfection is unattainable, whether you're a kid or a successful professional. "Anyone who carries a mandate for perfection is susceptible to workaholism because it creates a situation where the person never gets to cross the finish line, because it keeps moving farther out," says Saul. That is why despite logging in mega hours and sacrificing their health and loved ones for their jobs, workaholics are frequently ineffective employees.
    Workaholic styles
    "Overall, workaholics tend to be less effective than other workers because it's difficult for them to be team players, they have trouble delegating or entrusting co-workers, or they take on so much that they aren't as organized as others," says Robinson. In fact, his research indicates four distinct workaholic "working styles": Getting help
    What can be done? Counseling is often recommended for workaholics, and support groups, such as Workaholics Anonymous, are beneficial, say the experts. "It really comes down to recognizing a need for balance in your life," says Robinson. "Working hard is great, but you need to be able to turn if off and savor the other parts of your life - friends, family, hobbies, and fun." But many companies often confuse workaholics for hard workers, in essence enabling them on their path to self-destruction. "I wouldn't say that corporations cause workaholism, but I think they truly support it," says Diane Fassel, PhD, president of Newsmeasures, Inc., a Boulder, Colo., business consulting firm, and the author of Working Ourselves to Death. "Even though workaholism is the addiction de jour in American corporations, I'm not sure that many companies offer employee-assistance programs for it, as they do for alcohol or drug abuse," she tells WebMD. "Instead they often reward it."

  7. Bosses: 'Don't cut hours', ic.southlondon.co.uk.
    A cut in working hours would be bad for business say bosses.
    [On the contrary, a cut in business hours would be bad for business, and that's different from working hours. In fact, a cut in working hours per person would be good for business because it would spread around the vanishing work and wages, spread out the national income to the middle and lower income brackets who spend it immedately, and increase domestic demand.]
    According to 80% of managers questioned in a recent survey, restricting the average working week to 48 hours would have a negative affect on the British economy Britain is the only state in the European Union where working hours have increased, on average, over the past decade, but the survey says, reversing this trend by limiting the hours could risk losing our competitive edge.
    [They said the same thing about limiting the workweek to 60 hours. American doctors are saying the same thing about limiting interns' workweeks to 80 hours. As they say about rape - this is just about power. It has nothing to do with business.]
    These findings suggest it would be highly unpopular with managers if we were to adopt fully the EU's Working Time Directive. A Conservative government secured an opt-out in 1993, allowing employers to ask staff to work more than 48 hours per week if they were willing to sign an opt-out agreement. The Working Time Directive is intended to help employees achieve a better work/life balance by capping the number of hours they can legally work. But Kimbra Green, an employment law expert, believes it could actually do the opposite by imposing a more rigid structure where employees can no longer choose to work reasonable overtime. Miss Green said: "As a nation we pride ourselves on our competitive economy, even though we often complain about how hard we work. "The survey results are a demand by bosses for freedom of choice when it comes to working hours. "There will always be employers who exploit the system, but it's clear that a blanket ceiling on working hours would have the majority up in arms."
    [Then how come all the rest of Europe's employers aren't up in arms? British employers are just sloppy babies who can't manage time.]
    Some industry sectors have started to move towards ensuring that employees comply with the maximum average weekly limit on hours, but Miss Green thinks some form of opt-out for the UK must be retained. She added: "Our survey reflects a nervousness among employers that, if we completely lose our opt-out to the Working Time Directive, it could adversely affect their business. "Employers need the flexibility to use existing staff rather than incur increased costs of employing additional workers. "Similarly, many employees welcome the option to work reasonable overtime. If the flexibility to do so is removed, many lower-paid employees may be forced to take on additional, separate employment.

  8. Sanders backs VT workers, by Carolyn Lorié (clorie@reformer.com), Brattleboro Reformer, VT.
    PUTNEY, Vt. - U.S. Rep. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., had harsh words for Entergy Corp. Addressing a crowd of more than 100 people at the United Church of Putney on Tuesday, Sanders, who is running for re-election, spoke out on the impending strike at Vermont Yankee. "In my view it is an outrage that a profitable company like Entergy is not showing the kind of respect it should to the work force at Vermont Yankee," he said. "We're standing with the employees."
    148 plant workers, who are members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 300, Unit 8, have been negotiating with Entergy for the past eight weeks. On Aug. 4, they authorized a strike if a contract agreement cannot be reached. Negotiations resume today and workers will vote on a final contract late Thursday afternoon. If the contract is rejected, workers will begin picketing at midnight on Friday. Although Sanders is not supportive of nuclear power, he pointed out that a dedicated, well-trained staff is crucial to the safe running of the plant. Several members of the union attended the event, including Corey Daniels, chairman of Unit 8, who Sanders invited to address the crowd. Daniels said that workers appreciate that health-care costs have risen and that they were prepared to share the increase with the corporation. What they were not prepared for, he said, was an increase of 500% over three years. "It's not about nuclear power. It's about doing what's right," he told the crowd, which responded with applause. Rising health-care costs, loss of good-paying jobs and the "war" against unions were among many of the topics Sanders touched on during the evening. Calling the pharmaceutical companies the "most greedy institutions in this country," Sanders said it was time to abandon the current health-care system and switch to a single-payer model. "There are old people dying because they can't buy prescription drugs," said Sanders, adding that the situation is only going to get worse. The congressman also spent a great deal of time talking about the "collapse of the middle class." Twenty-five years ago, Sanders pointed out, a family could get by on just one income. "Today it takes two breadwinners working incredibly long hours to pay the bills," he said. "People are working incredibly long hours all over Vermont." ["Whether you work by the piece or the day,
    Increasing the hours decreases the pay."]
    Wealth, he argued, continues to be generated, but little of it trickles down from the upper echelons of the class structure. "It's going, by and large, to the wealthiest in the country," said Sanders. The culprits, he added, were many: Disastrous trade agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Act; CEOs who make more than 500 times what employees make; union-busting by companies such as WalMart. Many of Sanders' sentiments were echoed by other elected officials and candidates for office who also spoke, including Cheryl Rivers, who is running to be the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, Sen. Jeanette White, D-Windham, Rep. Steve Darrow, D-Putney, and Elizabeth Ready, state auditor of accounts. Sanders was mayor of Burlington for eight years in the 1980s and was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1990. He has served longer than any independent in history of the House. He is running against Greg Parke, a Republican from Rutland. Tuesday's gathering included questions from the audience, many of which focused on the upcoming presidential election. "Bush is a right-wing extremist," said Sanders. "If you think the last four years were bad, if Bush is re-elected, the next four years will be worse."

  9. Doctors say $1 billion needed to fix health care, Canadian Press via CTV, Canada.
    TORONTO - The association representing Canada's doctors is calling on Ottawa to provide a whopping $1 billion to address the shortage of physicians and develop a strategy to ensure the country has enough health providers to care for patients in the future.
    [$1B to tell them 5 words? = CUT THE MEDICAL MARTYR MYSTIQUE.]
    At its annual meeting in Toronto on Tuesday, the Canadian Medical Association said health-reform experts have identified shortfalls among all types of physicians, nurses and technicians as a major obstacle to reducing long waiting lists for such procedures as joint replacement, heart bypass and cancer care. "Health reform is meaningless unless we ensure an adequate supply of doctors and nurses with the infrastructure and tools that they need to attend to their patients," said Dr. Sunil Patel, president of the 58,000-member association. The CMA wants the federal government to ante up $1 billion over five years for a national Health Human Resources Reinvestment Fund to increase the number of openings for medical students and post-graduate training positions, while fast-tracking residencies for medical graduates from other countries and establishing a program to recruit and retain health-care professionals in the system. The fund would also be used to set up an institute to map out the number of doctors, nurses and other care providers that will be needed in the future -to end "the boom-and-bust planning cycle that we've seen in the last three decades," Patel told reporters outside the meeting. Federal Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh was not available for comment Tuesday, an aide said from Ottawa. However, in a speech Monday to CMA delegates, the minister said "we are currently working on a pan-Canadian health human resources planning framework that will include a strategy to improve our knowledge about current workforce capacity and what we will need in the future." Dosanjh said the resource issue will be a key item on the agenda when provincial premiers meet with Prime Minister Paul Martin on Sept. 13 to discuss health care. The CMA, along with representatives from national organizations representing nurses, pharmacists and hospital workers, discussed their call for a reinvestment fund during a face-to-face meeting with the health minister about a week ago during wide-ranging talks on improving patient access to health-care services. "We need more doctors," Patel told reporters Tuesday, noting that the most acute shortage is among general practitioners, leaving an estimated four million Canadians without a family doctor of their own. And a CMA report analysing the doctor shortfall shows Canada has 2.1 physicians per 1,000 residents, ranking it 25th out of 30 countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. "There is a major shortage at the moment," said Dr. Dana Hanson, co-author of the report. "Projections looking into the future (show that) even with reform of primary care . . . we'll still have an increasing shortfall between the services that will be required in the future and the people there that will be able to provide those services." When it comes to general practitioners, an aging, sicker population is putting more pressure on family doctors already working long hours, added Patel. "Governments have been chastising physicians for seeing too many patients, but the volume is there. What do you do when they come knocking at your door," said Patel, a family practitioner in Gimli, Man., for the last 30 years. "I practise in a small town and they come to my house!" Dr. Rose Anne Goodine, a family doctor and mother of four from Woodstock, N.B., has a large office practice and also provides hospital care that includes delivering babies, assisting in surgeries and doing stints in the emergency room. The 14 doctors looking after patients in the mostly rural area work together so they can provide a full range of service. But if one or more of these physicians were to move, become ill or retire, each doctor's workload would become too much, Goodine said in an interview at the Toronto meeting. "As it is right now, it's sustainable . . . but you always have to be on the lookout to recruit more because if you lose two physicians from the call schedule, then all of a sudden my life goes from busy to untenable." Patel said many younger doctors coming into the system are choosing to work more reasonable hours because they "are placing more of an emphasis on quality of lifestyle, family" and their own physical well-being. And with a growing number of women in medicine - in Quebec, for instance, 7 in 10 new medical students are female -family obligations will mean working fewer hours, "not because they wish to do that, but because that's a reality." "The younger physicians are paying more attention to quality of care rather than quantity of care." As a result, Canada is going to need more doctors -but there is no national strategy in place to fill the gaps, just ad-hoc programs in some provinces, said Hanson. "What the message to government is is that it's foolish to run a system worth $120 billion a year when you don't have a cogent plan whatsoever about how you're going to resource that plan, whether it be physicians, nurses or others."

  10. Pay cut part of claim, by Nigel Adlam, NEWS.com.au, Australia.
    The NT's [Northern Territory's] 15,000 public servants yesterday demanded the right to take a pay cut in exchange for school holidays off.
    And they have asked for a 5% pay rise backdated to last Thursday. The Community & Public Service Union wants another 5% increase next year.
    Union secretary Rod Ellis said school administrative staff already took only 92% of their pay in exchange for school holidays at home.
    He said the scheme should be extended throughout the service. "It's a family-friendly workplace concept," he said.
    Mr Ellis said many parents of young children would welcome the arrangement. "They wouldn't have to worry about what to do with their children during school holidays and wouldn't have to pay for expensive child care," he said.
    Mr Ellis said the Territory public service was "in many ways" overworked. "Public servants work long hours to the detriment of the community as a whole,'' he said. "Many public servants are too tired to take part in, say, a sports club or church groups. We have to take a serious look at the way we work in the Territory.''
    Mr Ellis said the pay demand was not an ambit claim [meaning?]. "The NT Government asked us for a fair-dinkum claim and that's what they've got,'' he said. He said other jurisdictions were paying about 4.3%.
    The Territory's 5% claim was a "catch-up'' because NT public servants had been given r[a]ises of [only] 2 to 3% over the past few years.

  11. More Japanese may rethink loyalty to jobs - & notion of lifetime jobs, by Ginny Parker & Joann Lublin, WSJ, B1.
    [Ah, isn't this "news" 14 years too late?! The toxic combination of worksaving technology, management fixation on face time, and the replacement of lifetime jobs with "downsizing, not timesizing" was what hobbled Japan's consumer base and with it, the whole economy, way back in 1990.]
8/17/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 8/16 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #4 & 7 which are from 8/17 hardcopy), and excerpting and [commenting] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

( Here's the current search pattern used by our backup, Ken Ellis:
"work sharing", OR "work-sharing", OR "long hours", OR "long work", OR "long days", OR "long workdays", OR "long workday", OR "job-sharing", OR "job sharing", OR "work week", OR workweeks, OR "work-week", OR "work-weeks", OR "working week", OR "working weeks", OR "work-time", OR "cut hours", OR "cutting hours", OR "reduce hours", OR "reduced hours", OR "reduces hours", OR "reducing hours", OR "hours reduction", OR "decrease hours", OR "decreased hours", OR "decreasing hours", OR "decreases hours", OR "shorter schedule", OR "schedule reduction", OR overtime, OR overwork, OR overworking, or Nucor, or "Lincoln Electric" -sports )

  1. Slow down, you move too fast, The Age, Australia.
    Carl Honore's epiphany came while he was standing in an airport queue. For Philomena Tan, it was missing her husband's birthday. Geoffrey Craig had no such road-to-Damascus moment, yet he too has felt the urge to scale back, to live life more carefully.
    All three are advocates of "slow living", a philosophy that emphasises quality rather than quantity in every aspect of life, from work, to relationships to food and leisure. It has been given various names - usually "sea change" or "downshifting" - but the latest manifestation can be found in the growing popularity of the Slow Cities movement, an Italian initiative with a logo of a snail poised between an ancient building and a modern one.
    Slow is gradually overcoming its pejorative connotations. Where once it was associated with failure - slow progress, slow decline, a slow student - the current push is to redefine the word so that it inspires people to use their time well, to lead considered lives.
    It all began with food. The Slow Food movement was a reaction to the opening of a McDonald's restaurant on the Spanish Steps in Rome in the late 1980s. At its heart, Slow Food is about taking pleasure in preparing and eating food and drink, and being mindful of the quality of the ingredients used; it is an antidote to the ubiquity of fast food.
    Within a decade, Slow Food gave birth to Slow Cities, which has a charter requiring member cities to preserve their local identities by careful environment and infrastructure planning, encouraging the use of local produce and "supporting production based on cultural traditions in the local area".
    Should this sound somewhat oldfashioned in an age of globalisation and super-fast technology, the Slow Cities movement, whose 70 or so Italian members are being joined each month by towns from around the world, insists it is not opposed to progress. It simply wants to use technology to improve quality of life without succumbing to unnecessary speed or sacrificing a town's unique characteristics.
    What does this mean in practice? "A slow city is more than just a fast city slowed down," says Carl Honore, a Canadian-born journalist living in England, whose recent book, In Praise of Slow - How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed, explores the way people the world over have reacted against an increasingly hectic life.
    It's about an attitude to life, to valuing experiences and people. A Slow city (it always has a proud capital S) will have pedestrian precincts, park benches, decent public transport and cityscapes that invite people to get out of their cars.
    Honore sees the Slow movement as "a bit like a philosophical declaration that we think it's OK to be slow. Slow has been almost a taboo but this is quite jubilant".
    It can take a life-changing trigger to jolt people out of what he calls "that speed tunnel that a lot of us are caught up in" - perhaps a serious illness or the breakdown of a relationship. Honore's awakening was less dramatic. Filling in time in a queue by reading a newspaper, (the fast world frowns on wasted minutes and he never wasted them), the father of two found himself thrilled by a report about "The One-Minute Bedtime Story". Designed to help parents deal with this daily ritual, classic fairytales had been condensed into "60-second sound bites".
    He writes: "At first glance the One- Minute Bedtime series sounds almosttoo good to be true. Rattle off six or seven 'stories' (to a child who always wanted just one more) and still finish inside 10 minutes - what could be better? Then as I begin to wonder how quickly Amazon can ship me the full set, redemption comes in the shape of a counter-question: Have I gone completely insane?"
    This insanity infects large parts of daily life. Road rage, shouting those "I'm on the train" messages into mobile phones as you try to fill otherwise dead minutes, annoyance at the person with an extra item in a supermarket queue, all are more prevalent now. Such stress is the almost inevitable result of long days spent juggling obligations to family, friends and your boss.
    Philomena Tan knows all about this. By her early 30s, she was a successful, highly paid market research consultant for whom a typical day - which sometimes ended at 10pm - consisted of "a lot of meetings and deadlines; we had to win projects so I was writing proposals, making presentations, supervising staff".
    For a long while she loved her job and there were perks, lots of travel for instance, but it was never what she had planned to do with her life. Like so many others she just got caught up in a career that had started accidentally.
    Tan had studied psychology and her fourth-year thesis was on attempted suicide. It was a turning point. There she was at 21 talking to people who had slashed their wrists or taken overdoses or done other acts unimaginable in her world. "I needed to get some life experience. I thought I'd get some work and then go back. Instead I got sidetracked for 15 years."
    She was good with statistics and computers, and in the early 1980s these proved a rare and valuable combination of skills, so Tan was wooed by headhunters and made steady progress up the corporate ladder. But the gloss wore off and the crunch came the year she spent the entire week of her husband's birthday in Brisbane running market research groups while he was home alone in Melbourne.
    It made her really examine her life: Not just the missed dinners and loss of meaningful contact with friends but the purpose of her work. "I did a lot of food research and after a while it's like 'do we need another form of canned whatever?' What am I really contributing to society?"
    Tan planned her escape carefully. She saved money and returned to study. A decade later it has all come together and she is happy. The research she did for a doctorate in psychology not only added to her qualifications as a psychologist and psychotherapist, but gave her the raw material for her first book, Leaving the Rat Race to Get a Life, a handbook for anyone seriously considering changing the pace of their lives.
    These days Tan is in private practice in her local community, does yoga and chooses her own hours so that she rarely works more than four days a week and, because she sees clients in the evening, she keeps her afternoons free to catch up with reading, meet with friends or research her next book. She is happy. "When you are working up to 70 hours a week you don't have time for this," she says.
    Clive Hamilton of the Australia Institute calls those sort of work habits the "deferred happiness syndrome", the tendency to endure long hours in unsatisfying jobs. In a web paper published in May, he outlines research based on a Newspoll that asked people to respond to this statement: "Your work means you currently neglect your relationships with family and friends, but you plan to make up for it in later years."
    His conclusion? Thirty% of Australian full-time workers are deferring happiness. Perhaps most surprising is the spread of people to whom this applies: 31% of 18 to 24-year-olds fall into this category, second only to those 50 and over (35%). And the unhappiest people were on incomes of $60,000 or more.
    Hamilton cites various reasons for this failure to balance work and love, the ingredients that Freud deemed essential to a satisfying life. As a society we have ever-increasing aspirations for more expensive lifestyles and, at the same time, people try to accumulate as much as they can to continue that lifestyle in retirement.
    According to Hamilton, there is an element of fear behind many decisions to keep living unsatisfactory lives, especially when the consequences of changing jobs, for example, are unknown.
    But as Honore points out there is more to life than work and care needs to be taken with "the rest of our lives in which we're rushing and packing things in". Geoffrey Craig and Wendy Parkins of Murdoch University's Centre for Everyday Living agree. They are working on a book to be called Slow Living in an attempt to construct a philosophy about the place of slowness in contemporary life.
    "This is not just an academic exercise for us," Craig says. "It grows out of our own desire to live more balanced, saner lives. For us it's not just a matter of slowness - it's about an increased kind of mindfulness, care and attention to all the practices of everyday life."
    The idea has wide appeal and when people find the time to take stock it can open up new possibilities. As a place to start David Risstrom, a Greens member of Melbourne City Council, is advocating holding a Slow week in Melbourne each year. It would be "a time to celebrate the people, the food, the wonderful things that make the city, without rushing past and failing to notice".
    He asks: "What is all this speed about? We speed to a crazier personal life, a crazier workplace. In the end we miss the things that really matter - having a future for the planet. You wonder what the purpose of life really is. Why are we working harder and harder for less security? It doesn't make sense."
    But the Slow movement isn't calling on people to drop out. It is about doing things well, paying attention to all aspects of life and not getting caught up in the rat race for no good reason. As Honore says: "If someone feels that they want to work 70 hours a week and they are healthy, they've got good relationships and they're happy, then go for it. The problem is when that person becomes the standard to which everyone must aspire and if we aren't all doing 70-hour weeks, then we're slackers."

  2. HR Zeitgeist ­ 'Men and women. It will never work', HR Gateway, UK.
    'Men and women, women and men. It will never work,' wrote novelist Erica Jong. Gender conflict is an age old problem in the realm of human relationships and will doubtless continue. However, in business there isn't the luxury of the relationship not working. As Dianah Worman of the CIPD told HRG: 'Men and women cannot keep going their parallel ways. Something has to give.' And she doesn't mean just the glass ceiling crashing to the ground.
    Before Parliament broke for summer jollies, the Lib-Dem trade and industry spokesman, Malcolm Bruce uncovered through a Parliamentary question that only one in five working fathers had taken the right to paid paternity leave. The DTI had estimated 80% of the 400,000 workers who became fathers every year would sign up. In reality the figure for the first year was 79,000. Bruce warned that paid paternity leave could: 'remain an empty victory for fathers':
    He blames the 'macho culture' in the UK. Dads are worried about looking weak and taking time off in front of their colleagues, he said. He didn't mention the fact that many new fathers are still the main bread winners in a house and around £100 a week for two weeks is hardly a replacement for salary especially with an addition to the family, but he has a good enough point.
    So-called 'macho' desk shackles can equally be applied to women as increasingly they put off having children until their 30s so that they can immerse themselves in the long hours culture before falling victim to pregnancy and other related discrimination. Both sexes can be affected by the widespread belief that long hours in the office, sans flexibility, equals higher productivity leading to success for the person who surrenders a private life. This is having a disproportionate effect on women. Female board members are three times as likely to be divorced as their male counterparts.
    Research from the CIPD this week looking at women in the top-flight of organisations suggests that for women at the top long hours are not necessarily the problem - although only nine were interviewed. It appears to be the perceived masculinity of boardrooms that puts women off. Research by Ryan and Hasam earlier in the year suggested that FTSE firms promoting women to the board were doing so because the organization was failing and they were desperate to try something new; it became known as the 'glass cliff' and Kate Swann of WH Smith was a perfect example. It was a sink or swim situation.
    Such behaviour appalled the women in the CIPD survey, some of which had successfully gone out on their own after experiencing such a 'macho' culture and created their own successful business ­ another problem for UK firms. Male directors focused more on internal politics and less on delivering value for the business, they said, and felt disappointed that there was less recognition for individual high performance, which had driven their career up to that point. Women wanted to see more work-life balance and more diversity in leadership styles: 'It is about developing leadership, communication and cultural change that challenges the status quo,' states the report.
    But how are things going to change if women walk away from the boardroom and do not accept the challenge? Likewise with men and subjects such as paternity leave. Organisations and their cultures are changed from within. In order for them to change men and women need to change. Both need to fight against stereotyping of roles and skills and both need to learn new ways of working by adopting some of the traits of the other. As Worman told HRG: 'Learning by both sexes is needed. Women need to turn their heads around and adopt the behviour they are turning from if they want to sit on the board.'
    To paraphrase Jong, 'men and women, it will work', the sexes just need to learn from each other. Politicking at the top level of an organisation is a necessary evil irrespective of the sector and gender; humans are political animals. Internal politics could be working to improve customer service. Large organizations have complicated structures and only at the top do you really know how things work. Labour were full of ideals before entering Government, however, once there many less pragmatic manifesto promises fell by the wayside, of which pressure groups continually remind them.
    If women want to reach the board and affect change from within they need to learn to play the political game. Likewise with men and childhood. Taking time out to help the mother of your child during the first two weeks of parenthood is infinitely more important than working. It is important for the father in bonding with the child as well as giving the mother a rest. Unless men either learn this or gain the courage to take the time off ­ finances permitting ­ shifting UK working culture will be a slow painful process.
    Men and women are slowly changing their roles in society and the workplace will play a large role in the downfall of the traditional image of the sexes. Let's hope it is a positive learning experience with both sides teaching the other rather than the current divisive battle for equality and rights.

  3. Britain's family revolution - Poll shows parents reject 'workaholic' life, by Alan Travis, The Guardian, UK.
    UK - A "hidden" social revolution in the public's attitudes towards the flexible working needs of parents with young children is uncovered in this month's Guardian/ICM opinion poll.
    The survey shows that a fundamental shift has taken place in the attitudes of the new, younger, workforce towards the balance between work and family life from their parents' generation.
    The ICM survey shows that there is strong sympathy among a clear majority of the public for young families trying to balance their responsibilities - 61% say they spend too much time at work.
    The ICM survey also shows that this social revolution has taken place rapidly with the government's reforms introduced into the workplace only in the last 18 months. The poll shows that a surprisingly large section of the public - 70% - is familiar with the more "family friendly" package which gives employees the right to request flexible working hours, and offers better paid maternity leave and two weeks' paid paternity leave for fathers.
    It shows that the changes have proved popular, with 58% saying the government has "got it about right" and indeed there is a fairly strong appetite for ministers to go further, with 18% saying the changes so far are "too mean".
    The thirst for further reform is strongest among those in their 20s and 30s and weakest among the over-65s. When asked what the government's priorities for further change should be, they overwhelmingly opted to give new fathers a chance to take a greater role in bringing up their children.
    Tony Blair has already said he wants to extend the more "family friendly" work hours to those caring for elderly relatives.
    The poll shows that 66% would like to see families being given a Scandinavian- style choice of deciding whether mothers or fathers should be able to take or share the six months' paid leave currently available only as maternity leave.
    This option was followed by 53% wanting to see fathers given more than the current two weeks' paid paternity leave followed by 51% who want to see mothers given more than six months' paid maternity leave. These results add up to more than 100% because those surveyed were able to select more than one option.
    The change in social attitudes is underpinned by the result to a separate ICM question showing that there is majority support - 55% - to end Britain's opt-out of the EU working time directive and so introduce a maximum 48-hour working week.
    But while the Guardian poll uncovers support for more flexible working for those with family responsibilities it also shows there is a danger that further reform could provoke a political backlash.
    A significant minority - 45% - say that the additional workload on other staff, generated by time off for new parents, is unfair.
    The poll results show that only 24% of the public believe that parents with young children have got their current work/family life balance right, with 61% agreeing they spend too long at work. Slightly more women (64%) than men (58%) believe new parents spend too much time at work.
    Awareness among women (73%) is also higher than among men (66%) of recent changes in maternity and paternity leave and new rights to request flexible working.
    Changes introduced last year include maternity leave of up to a year, with the first six weeks paid at 90% of annual salary, and the next 20 weeks at £102.80 a week, with the rest unpaid. Fathers get two weeks' paid paternity leave at £102.80a week. This was "about right", according to 58%.
    But one in five men thought the changes were "too generous", as did a third of those aged over 65, while 19% of men and 32% of 25- to 34-year-olds thought they were "too mean".
    Labour voters were the most supportive of work pattern changes with Conservatives the least enthusiastic. This was most marked on giving fathers a greater role in parenting. Around 73% of Labour and Liberal Democrat voters endorsed this idea compared with only 55% of Tory voters.
    ICM interviewed a random sample of 1,005 adults aged 18 and over by telephone between August 13 and 15 2004.

  4. Small businesses face deadline for overtime-pay compliance, by Kaja Whitehorse, Dow Jones via WSJ, D2.
    USA - Small-business owners have until Monday to meet new overtime-wage rules established by the Dept. of Labor earlier this year. The new rules are expected to result in overtime wages for an additional 1.3m low-income white-collar workers.
    [thus subsidizing overwork for the poor - and low-end employment concentration - and un- and under-employment. All overtime and overwork should be demotivated by economic design, and automatically converted into targeted hiring &/or on-the-job training.]
    They are also expected to result in 107,000 higher-paid employees losing overtime protection....
    [You may have noticed that others have quite different expectations.]

  5. [Another 'take' on the overtime changes -]
    Ready or not, OT law coming - Some firms may be ill-prepared, by Novelda Sommers, Chicago Tribune via Newport News Daily Press, Va.
    Sweeping changes to federal rules determining who can get overtime will take effect next week, but experts estimate as many as one in five businesses across the nation will be unprepared.
    Most employees probably have not been notified if they'll be affected by the new Fair Labor Standards Act requirements - the first changes in overtime eligibility in nearly 20 years.
    And unless workers are among the lowest-paid salaried in the nation, most employers may not have figured out how they will handle the changes, which will start Aug. 23.
    Lincolnshire-based human resources consulting firm Hewitt Associates surveyed more than 150 major companies and found that 20% don't believe they will meet the deadline.
    "Many companies have a considerable road in front of them, as they need to sort through existing job titles and codes before they can determine what needs to be done" with the new regulations, said Tom Farmer, senior consultant for Hewitt. "Organizations have to ensure that they properly classify positions by employees, examine variations in job duties by department and clarify overly generic job titles. This is a daunting task."
    One reason many companies may not be ready is that company managers did not believe the hotly debated rules would go into effect, said Steve Haner, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce's vice president of public policy.
    "The biggest problem we've had is persuading people this was really going to happen," Haner said.
    The U.S. Department of Labor claims the changes will make more low-paid workers eligible for overtime and guarantee overtime protection to 6.7 million workers. Business trade groups generally say the revised law is less confusing, which could help them avoid getting sued.
    Labor leaders and worker advocates, however, deride the new rules, saying they virtually sound the death knell for the 40-hour workweek and take overtime away from more workers than they give benefits to.
    More employees could be classified as exempt under the new rules, said Ross Eisenbray, vice president and policy director for the Washington-based liberal think tank Economic Policy Institute. He expects changes to take place slowly. There is no rule against paying overtime to workers who could be classified as exempt.
    More than 6 million workers could lose overtime protection, he said.
    "Over a long period of time, it will lead to workers working longer hours," said Eisenbray, who wrote a study on the new rules. "It could have some slight affect on employment. If you have a lot of people working long hours, you don't hire as many people."
    Eisenbray said the changes to the white-collar "duties" tests, which determine whether someone is appropriately classified as an overtime-exempt administrative, professional, or executive worker, will allow employers to put more workers into the exempt category.
    Pay levels aside, workers who are exempt now probably still will be exempt, said Arlene Klinedinst, a partner with Vandeventer Black, a Norfolk, Va., law firm that specializes in labor and employment issues.
    Also, labor contracts negotiated between unions and employers will remain unchanged.
    And the law says any employees who perform manual, "blue-collar" repetitive labor with their hands are always to be classified as non-exempt, said Veronica Chapman, president and owner of HR Solutions of Hampton Roads, a Newport News, Va.-based human resources consulting firm.
    Likewise, the law says police officers, firefighters and other public workers whose jobs are related to rescue or crime cannot be exempt, regardless of their rank with their departments. And if state employment laws are more favorable to workers, they prevail.
    Highlights of the new overtime rules -

  6. Union Pacific overworking train crews - Since the train collision in Carrizozo, N.M. that killed two El Paso men, several Union Pacific employees have claimed they are worked to the point of exhaustion, by Chris Huffman, KXTS-TV, TX.
    Monday, February 23, 2004 - Union Pacific employees have called News Channel 9, wishing to be unidentified, with stories of exhaustion and long hours of work. Federal law requires train workers to work in shifts no longer than 12 hours with a break no less than 10 hours. But the train crews News Channel 9 spoke with say Union Pacific often breaks this law. One worker reported a time where he worked an 18 hour day with as little as three hours off between his next shift. "Union Pacific is forcing people to go to work tired and exhausted putting both the the employees on those trains in jeapordy and the general public in danger as well," said Bill Hannah, Regional Chairman for a local rail union. Hannah says a reason Union Pacific overworks employees is because it is understaffed, especially in El Paso. Union Pacific has not responded to these claims.

  7. Brazil: Top farmer held in slavery case, Reuters via NYT, A8.
    The police have arrested one of the country's top bean growers [Norberto Manica] and accused him of ordering the execution of three Labor Ministry agents investigating reports of slavery on one of his plantations....
    [Slavery has a potentially 168-hour workweek. According to Alan Alda's Scientific American Frontiers episode on Jamestown and Monticello, even house slaves, who were punished less than field slaves, had "endless hours."]

8/14-16/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 8/13-15 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA, and excerpting and [commenting] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. 8/15   Part-time workers padding the growing work force - Latest economic surge sees a loss of full-time jobs, by Bob Fernandez, Knight Ridder Tribune News via Houston Chronicle.
    PHILADELPHIA - Waiting for a job interview in the Accu Staffing office in Cherry Hill, Pa., recently, Seth Rosen was looking to catch one of the biggest waves of this economic expansion — a part-time job. Rosen...is a computer systems administrator who has been without full-time work in his profession since 2001. To earn money this summer, he resorted to digging ditches and other manual labor for a construction company. He's not alone. Even as the unemployment rate has declined in 2004 and economic output is expanding, the growth in the U.S. labor market is coming from part-timers — workers who clock fewer than 35 hours a week and typically aren't offered health benefits. That leads some economists to question the staying power of the 'recovery' [our quotes]. "It's premature to say the economy has recovered," said Andrew Reamer, economist and owner of Andrew Reamer & Associates in Newton, Mass. He said that while indicators such as corporate profits and gross domestic product "look great," there are fewer full-time workers now than three years ago and 12% more part-timers. Using July as a base month, the economy has shed about 100,000 full-time jobs from the depths of the recession in July 2001 through last month, according to the Labor Department household survey data that is not adjusted for seasonal fluctuations. The nation has 114.3 million full-time workers. The economy has added 2.5 million part-timers, an 11.6% gain, to 24.4 million workers in the three years. In July, the nation's unemployment rate fell 0.1 percentage point to 5.5%. About 95% of the gains in July were part-time positions. Economists say several forces are behind the trend. "Businesses are getting better at figuring out how to structure work so it is most beneficial to them," Reamer said. That means, for example, that a company concerned about the soaring cost of health-care benefits might offer overtime to an existing employee and hire a part-time employee to get additional work accomplished.

  2. 8/15   A heavier burden - Even as recovery spreads worldwide, workers are finding themselves working harder for less money, by Rana Foroohar & Tony Emerson, Newsweek International.
    You've heard about the jobless recovery—that strange American paradox of payroll declines in a booming economy. Now, it seems, the Yankee virus has spread to Europe, too. Continental economies are beginning to rebound, but unemployment is as high as ever; in places like Germany, the ranks of the jobless are growing, even as the government pushes 'reform' [our quotes] and trade unions make unprecedented compromises to keep jobs at home. Economists are beginning to call the trend by its true name. A recent report by the European bank UBS titled "Jobless Recovery in Germany" warns: "Unemployment appears to be a feature of this 'recovery' that will persist."
    There is a growing camp of economists who believe today's brutally tough labor market is not a temporary American oddity. Falling wages, reduced benefits and rising job insecurity seem to be increasingly entrenched features of the job scene across most of Western Europe, the United States and other parts of the developed world. The number of insecure freelance positions is rising (as are working hours) while stable jobs with good benefits are being cut. Large numbers of laid-off workers aren't getting their old jobs back—they are having to look for new work, often in entirely new fields. Those who still have jobs are working longer hours with little prospect of meaningful raises.
    The new labor market is shaped by growing global competition, spurred by the rise of cheap manufacturers in China, India and Eastern Europe, and the price-chopping effect of both the Internet and giant retailers led by Wal-Mart. These forces compel Western companies to exercise growing restraint on prices and labor costs. "One thing globalization clearly does is to exert a leveling effect on wages. The question is whether China and India will catch up to the West, or the West begins to fall back," Eckhard Cordes, an economist and head of Daimler's truck division, said in an interview earlier this year.
    [Ooh, tough one! The West has already begun to fall back - as he goes on to point out himself -]
    Indeed, he warned, Europe had little choice but to cut wages or begin losing jobs by the thousands: "I think Germany is heading for a real crisis within the next 10 years. At least you in the United States have some job growth [but illusory doesn't count]. In Germany, there is zero. Nothing."
    The crisis may not take 10 years to unfold. New signs of the upheaval are everywhere, from talk of the end of the 35-hour work week in France, to landmark union deals throughout Europe. Over the past several weeks many big-name companies, including Siemens and DaimlerChrysler, have used the threat of relocating jobs to secure record pay and benefit cuts. Workers aren't happy, that's for sure—in Germany last week, 40,000 people took to the streets in the biggest demonstrations since the end of communism to protest reduced worker benefits and government labor reform.
    But protest won't turn the tanker of the global economy. "Wage share"— the percentage of national income that gets paid out in wages—has been flat or declining across the developed world for most of the past two decades, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development.
    [What a coincidence! That's the same period that labor surplus and downsizing really became big, and consumer markets really began to weaken.]
    "It's incredibly widespread," says OECD economist Paul Swaim, adding that while not all the reasons are clear, global competition is clearly playing a big role. "Globalization is making everyone insecure," says Swaim. "The negotiating climate for labor is simply not as good as it has been in the past."
    The mood in labor markets has shifted dramatically from just four years ago. In the United States, books like "Free Agent Nation" celebrated the prospect that we would all be freelancers one day, constantly hopping from one cool job to a higher-paying one, with no ceiling in sight. The Organization Man was dead. We free agents needed big corporations less than they needed us. But that was 2000, the dizzy end of the Internet boom. Now the zeitgeist has shifted 180 degrees, and freelance is no longer a synonym for freedom. All it evokes is job insecurity and zero benefits.
    Like it or not, that's the kind of job openings that are out there. In the U.S. recession that 'ended' in June 2001, half the job cuts were "structural," meaning permanently eliminated, compared to an average of 25% in previous recessions, according to the U.S. Federal Reserve. In other words, laid-off workers are much less likely to be rehired by their old companies and have to find new jobs or turn to self-employment. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that more than half of the jobs created since the end of the recession are part time, that tenured workers are still losing their jobs at record rates and those that find new ones are taking 57% pay cuts on average.
    The situation is less extreme in other developed nations, in part because signs of recovery have appeared outside the United States only recently. Still, the symptoms are there. In Japan, monthly incomes fell .07% in June, despite gathering signs of recovery. Layoffs are now socially acceptable in the corporate world, and last year there were a record number of suicides attributed to economic causes such as job loss and heavy debt.
    The same holds in Europe. "For the last few years, there's been a move toward less pay, harder work and fewer benefits," says Ray Attrill, head of research at 4Cast, a consulting firm in London. Studies show increasing job stress. Governments are cracking down on excess sick days taken by overworked employees. In Spain, where one third of all jobs are now temp positions, a new socialist government is responding to growing public dissatisfaction by announcing plans to roll back labor-market reforms.
    Of course, the idea of labor reform was to keep pace with the United States, where CEOs are still tightening the reins on labor. In the first 32 months of a typical U.S. recovery, wages rose 10%; this time, wages have risen just 2%. That's $323 billion in personal income that's gone missing, despite blandishments from Alan Greenspan that corporate profits are high enough to support higher wages, too. The savings of big nonfinancial firms have doubled since 1999, now exceeding half a trillion dollars.
    None of that money is going to pad the payroll. The past three years have seen the greatest sustained job loss in the United States since the Great Depression. Or so many say. Those numbers are being hotly debated in the U.S. presidential campaign. Democrats point to the government payroll survey, which tracks big companies and shows startlingly anemic job creation in the Bush years, including a meager 32,000 jobs created in July. Republicans prefer the household survey, which includes the self-employed, and shows relatively strong gains under Bush. Taken together, however, both surveys support the picture of a Darwinian job market in which a comfy corporate post is increasingly hard to find.
    The United States is likely a harbinger of what's to come in Europe, as it widens its own continental market. Already, tens of thousands of big-company manufacturing jobs have migrated to the 10 new member states since they joined the European Union in May. Now, small- and medium-size businesses are also expected to take advantage of cheaper labor in countries like Estonia. "Even if the actual number of job losses aren't high, just the idea that management could move jobs anywhere, at any time, will have an effect on the Western European work force," says Citigroup European equity economist Richard Reid.
    The same basic concerns haunt employers on both sides of the Atlantic. Faced with relentless price pressure from all sides, chief executives can't look at labor costs the same way, says A. D. (Pete) Correll, the CEO of the timber and paper products manufacturer Georgia Pacific. His main customer is Wal-Mart, and he counts Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott as a friend, but says, "If I call Lee and say, 'Lee, I've got to raise prices,' he says, 'You raise prices, and I'm taking my business elsewhere'." In that environment, says Correll, the "implicit social contract" between workers and bosses is changing irrevocably.
    Experts say the global labor market has not changed this dramatically since the height of the Industrial Revolution. During the 19th century many of the same factors, including technological change, improved communications and transport and falling prices, threw millions out of jobs. Then as now, there were nationalistic outcries about the loss of "quality" jobs. Princeton economics historian Harold James says British author E. E. Williams wrote the classic of the genre, "Made in Germany," which began with a rant against his German-made pencil. By the 1920s, restrictions on immigration and trade were making the world poorer and less safe. It took two world wars to bring the global economy back to where it started. And now, some economists fear, the new competitive threats are inspiring another protectionist backlash.
    What's crucially new this time around is what's being globalized—that is, the service sector, which accounts for the bulk of employment in the developed world. The fact that seemingly any job can be exported abroad is creating an unprecedented level of anxiety across all social classes. Though the number of Western jobs "outsourced" to India is far too small to explain the jobless recovery, the trend is only in its infancy. The number of Indian professionals in the IT sector is expected to triple to more than 2 million over the next five years, and Morgan Stanley's Mumbai research center predicts that multinationals will match new jobs in Indian subsidiaries with head-count reductions elsewhere. General Electric's "70-70-70" plan signals the possible extent of these shifts: It plans to outsource 70% of its head count, push 70% of that outsourcing offshore and locate 70% of its workers in India.
    Proponents of globalization tell us not to worry. Developed economies will eventually create new and better jobs, leaving less desirable ones behind. True, the majority of the jobs lost so far in the West have been lower-skilled manufacturing positions, but it's unclear what comes next. And even if the exporting of jobs turns out to be an inconsequential fad, the jobs left in the West are still likely to pay lower salaries with fewer benefits, when they can be found. The forces of global competition led by the rise of China and the Internet are not going away. "This is the first time in a business cycle that these forces have come together in such a powerful way," says Morgan Stanley economist Stephen Roach. "They are acting as a structural depressant on traditional sources of job creation in high-wage developed countries." In Europe, economists say the Continent may be entering a period of increased merger-and-acquisitions activity, in which big companies will be cutting rather than adding jobs.
    Meanwhile the knowledge economies of the major emerging-market nations continue to grow rapidly. Salaries in Shanghai are growing as fast as 15% annually; for IT workers in Bangalore by 8% annually. Most economists believe that at some point in the next 20 to 50 years, India and China will reach wage parity with Germany and the rest of the developed world. How far the West falls to meet them may well depend on whether it can fight back the protective tendencies of the past, and find new ways to justify its place in the global economy.

  3. 8/14   Happiness begins after work, Deutsche Welle, Germany.
    Longer work hours and shorter vacation - or part time work and more flexibility? In Germany, many people are rethinking their relationship between work and free time. But what's the recipe for success? Most people draw positive emotions and self-affirmation from their work. It's also where they place the bulk of their energy. German researchers recently delved into this seeming paradox and came up with some interesting results. Nowadays, more than ever before, having fun with friends, leisure time and free time is more highly valued than ever before. Even professionals in the IT sector, once known as people who burned the midnight oil, have discovered the concept of leisure time.
    Where are the workaholics?
    Munich researchers contracted by the Hans Böckler Foundation recently conducted interviews with software developers, consultants, executives and administrative workers from IT companies. The results? People these days are seeking a greater division between their work and private lives. Spending a long evening or even an entire night in front of the screen has fallen out of vogue. Some people have abandoned entrepreneurship for more stable working hours. Others have long appreciated the art of shutting down their computers and leaving work promptly at the end of the day, like Angelika. After years of burning the candle at both ends, the former entrepreneur gave up her independent job to take up a position as an accountant, where she has fixed office hours. Now, Angelika's work gives her the opportunity to use her time a little better. "My favorite thing is to meet up with nice people and entertain myself," she says. "I think it's great to just be together with other people, but I also need lots of quiet time for myself and like to stay home, too," the 50-year-old said. Angelika is far from alone. Recent studies have pointed to the new trend of a "comfort culture" among Germans. Being c omfortable at home is the top priority for most Germans surveyed. In one study, 68% of those surveyed said they were satisfied at home if they had a television. Forty% said all they needed was a radio to be content. Another 46% said a newspaper and good food was all they needed. Today's modern, almost unavoidable amount of possibilities during one's free time are attracting a lot more people towards leisure - a word that for a long time seemed almost forgotten in Germany. But few will admit that - even today. "For a long time, I thought, I absolutely have to have a hobby," said Angelika. "I thought about it a lot with my friends but still found myself unable to find anything. We were feeling some pretty low self-esteem because we hadn't found a hobby. But then we noticed that we didn't even need one. We're happy just wasting our free time - and that's just fine."
    Hobbies can be expensive, but not stressful
    But some still let the pressure to peform control their free time. Inline skating on Mondays, jogging on Tuesdays and Thursdays and then maybe a dance class and an English brush up course once a week. However, people who lead that kind of lifestyle must also organize their lives exactly as they do their jobs, and that has its own set of limitations. On the scale between idleness and someone who pursues many activities during his free time, 48-year-old dental technician Norbert says he falls somewhere in between. "My free time is really valuable to me and I have to admit that I also work to help finance some of my hobbies," he said. "I get a certain amount of fulfillment out of my job because I feel a lot of responsibility. But I can also experience that in my free time." At times, Norbert says he would like to do more to live out his creative side. He's already in a part-time rock band. But he's also aware that working as a professional musician he would also experience the same kind of work pressure he has as a dental technician.
    The exception: Hobby as career
    Others have gone to the other extreme and turned their hobbies into careers. But with growing labor market crisis, that's mostly the exception. Take cabaret artist Stefan Reusch, for example. In his life, the borders between work and play are completely blurred. "That's not really normal free time," he says. "When I watch television at night, it's also part of my work - at least partly." The evening news often includes items about Chancellor Gerhard Schröder or opposition leader Angela Merkel that Reusch will later comment on in his comedy show. "You're always watching it with one professional ear listening," too. If Reusch is able to work three days and then have a long break, then he's quite happy. To be able to go jogging now and then, ride his bike or play a bit of soccer - there's no lack of free time activity for Reusch on the days he doesn't have any work. "I'm not saying these are the best ways of using my free time or that I recharge my energy this way," he says. "You can also muddle through your spare time."
    Most Germans don't want pressure
    Reusch already knows that most Germans don't ideally like to mix their work and free time is. He also understands the kind of pressure many fall under both before and after work. "Our society isn't ill because of a division of free time and career, rather because both are carried out with such fear. People jog so they won't get too fat or look too old. They don't jog for fun," Reusch said. For example, if someone works too much during the week, then that person is under more pressure to have fun on Saturdays or during free time. Younger people then tend to party through the whole weekend. Fathers tend to do more with their children during that time. "That means that when the weather is bad and people sit at home, he's still under pressure and has no way to burn off the steam," said Reusche. "I think that's unhealthy and not very nice."

  4. 8/15   Japan's part-timers find better conditions elusive, by Yoshinobu Konno, Kyodo News via Japan Times.
    Despite repeated appeals by Kiyoshi Sasamori, chairman of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo), to improve treatment for part-time workers during this year's spring labor offensive, nearly 44% of affiliated unions were found to have no such plan. Labor sources said Sasamori wanted to increase wage levels for all workers by winning wage increases for part-time workers and at the same wanted to refute criticism that unions are satisfied with a wage gap for such workers, and that both labor and management are responsible. Unions, however, have been reluctant to respond to Sasamori's appeals. According to a Rengo survey, 43.7% of affiliated unions said they have no schedule to improve treatment for part-time workers, and 52.5% said they have no schedule to organize such workers. Last year's rate of organization of part-timers was only 3%. Rengo sources said that what unions are really thinking is that increases in wages for part-time workers will lead to decreases in those for regular workers and union members. Sogo Yoshimiya, the chief of Rengo's men-women equality bureau, said, "If poor labor conditions for part-time workers are left unattended, no improvement in labor conditions for regular workers can be expected." The wage gap between part-time workers and regular workers is widening. A survey by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said that if the average per-hour wage for a regular female worker is the base figure of 100, that for a female part-time worker was 68.4 in 1998 and fell to 64.9 in 2002. In 2003, the figure for part-timers improved to 65.7, but the increase was attributed to decreased wages for regular workers. The gap further widens if bonuses are included, the survey showed. Gaps other than wages are also wide. According to a 1999 survey by the then Labor Ministry, 50.1% of nonregular workers, including part-time workers, were covered by employment insurance, 40.3% by health insurance and 38.1% by the employees' pension plan. Only 16.1% benefited from the retirement allowance system, it said. Amid moves to decrease regular workers through restructuring, the number of "quasi-part-time workers," with working hours and duties almost the same as those of regulars, is increasing. Rengo is seeking the same treatment for such part-time workers as regulars under the principle of "same labor, same wage" as in the Netherlands and France. But Takashi Chiriki, an executive of the Japan Business Federation, said, "Wages are determined in accordance with contribution to companies. Since regular workers can have their workplaces changed and go to the office on weekends and holidays, it's a problem to pay the same wages to both kinds of workers." On the other hand, moves are spreading to rectify the wage gap chiefly in the supermarket industry where part-time workers account for 70 to 80% of the total workforce. Aeon Co. has introduced a personnel system in which able part-time workers are given the same treatment as regular workers and are promoted to heads of small and midsize supermarkets. Seiyu Ltd. has begun paying performance-based bonuses to outstanding part-time workers to attract able personnel. The new task for the management side is to create workplaces where both regular and nonregular workers can work with satisfaction. "Social stability and development are determined by improvement in technology and wages of nonregular workers, and in employment rules. Revised working rules and wage distribution for regular and nonregular workers are required," said Nobuko Nagase, an assistant professor at Ochanomizu University. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has decided to present a bill to the Diet obliging enterprises to increase overtime pay to part-timers and temporary staff to help improve their treatment and rectify the wage gap with regular workers.

  5. 8/13   Taking time for baby, by Theresa Edo & Geoff Mosher, Westborough News, MA.
    A younger teaching population creates large need for maternity leave, creative solutions When Westborough teacher Meagan Washington gave birth to her daughter Kailyn this May, she knew returning to her job would be a priority. Although she considered taking some time off to spend with Kailyn, Washington, a Whitinsville resident, knew she had to return this fall to teaching fourth grade at Mill Pond School. Her husband Aaron is self-employed, and it is important to the family to keep Meagan's health benefits. "It's not ideally how I want to do it, but it's what I have to do," said Washington. "Obviously it's not the kind of profession where we can work from home." Washington is like many teachers across the state who are balancing starting and raising young families with continuing their careers in education. MetroWest school districts for the past few years have been grappling with rising numbers of teachers requesting maternity leaves. Officials say they want to meet the needs of their staff members, but still retain talented employees. Westborough Assistant Superintendent Les Olson said he didn't encounter a single request for a maternity leave during his first three years in the district, from 1990 to 1993. Nowadays, however, the district averages between 15 to 20 requests per year. "It has been a dramatic change," Olson said. Requests for maternity-related leave of absences are at an all time high, school officials said. Many reason it is due to a younger wave of educators coming up through the ranks in the state's public schools, while an older contingent of teachers have been retiring. Although teacher retirements in the state dipped to 3,363 this year from 3,896 last year, the Massachusetts Teachers Retirement Board expects 4,800 next year. A third of teachers in the state who are part of the retirement system, or about 30,000, are eligible for retirement based on years of service, according to the retirement board's winter newsletter. "The demographics of our system illustrate what we have expected and have witnessed over the past few years: the Boomers are moving toward and through retirement," the newsletter reads. As the dynamics of the workforce change, many administrators said schools must find creative ways, such as leaves, day care services and job sharing to meet teachers' needs. "Teachers are in this business because they like children," Holliston Superintendent Brad Jackson said. "We should support our teachers as much as we can as they build their own families, but the key here is to not let it happen at the expense of the students and their education." Plans for the renovated Framingham High School include a new day care center, Principal Ralph Olsen said. Although the center is still about two years away from opening, Olsen said he thinks the unique feature will entice staff to come and stay at Framingham High. "It is a perk and an attraction for a number of parents. Keeping their children in the district would be an advantage," he said. During the first year the day care center would be available to the high school's approximately 160 teachers. Olsen said he hopes one day to open it to all of the district's staff. Despite the rising number of maternity-related leaves, Westborough has no plans to introduce a day care center, Olson said. "We've looked into whether there's a need to run our own program as an extension of the Community Education Program, but we determined that there wasn't," he said. Olson pointed out that most of the district's teachers have been priced out of Westborough and commute here from more affordable communities. The town's median home sale price is more than $400,000. "(The teachers) very often will want a child care option closer to home," he said. Westborough teachers still have numerous child care options in town, such as programs offered by the YWCA, local churches and private companies. Job sharing, an option many districts offer whereby teachers alternate shifts in the classroom, is a formal agreement in Westborough, Olson said. School officials and the two teachers who job share hash out responsibilities for everyone involved. The teachers each are paid half of their own salaries, and one person or both receive health benefits, depending on the arrangement. Typically, teachers rotate afternoon and evening sessions and work together to write grades for report cards, organize parent conferences, develop curriculum, and make recommendations for placements for the following year. "The job is shared in every regard, just the core instructional day is split in half," Olson said. Washington wishes she could have taken advantage of a job sharing position at Mill Pond School, but her request was denied. Any job sharing requires a great deal of effort from both teachers, she said. "When job sharing is done well, I think it's a wonderful option," she said. "I don't think it's great for every kid." Olson said the district examines requests for leaves and job sharing on a case-by-case basis. There are currently two or three pairs of teachers who job share, he said. Gibbons Middle School teacher Paige Hannon plans to return in September after two years of maternity leave. Her daughters Heather, 5, and Elizabeth, 7, will be in school, and daughter Kathleen, 2, will be in family day care. Job sharing is not an option to her because she teaches special education, but Hannon said she has witnessed the effort some colleagues have put into job sharing. "There is no easy formula at all," said Hannon. "It's a situation where you really need to be on top of the kids, even if you're not there all the time." Hannon has some nervousness about returning to work, but said she looks forward to catching up on what ever she might have missed out on. She said the district has been good about keeping her up-to-date with information, even though she was not physically in school. Olson said most teachers like Hannon who go on maternity leave will approach school officials about summer curriculum development activities they can attend to stay current. "If we know teachers are scheduled to come back, we may suggest that they take certain programs over the summer," he said. "It's just something that the teacher who's interested in taking time off and also putting the time in to stay current can do so neither she nor the students will be at a disadvantage when they come back to the classroom."

  6. 8/13   Korean Air's 2nd-qtr profit falls, cargo demand gains (update1), by Kyunghee Park (kpark3@bloomberg.net), Bloomberg.
    SEOUL - Korean Air Co., the world's second- largest cargo carrier by volume, earned a profit in the second quarter as Asia's expanding economies increased demand for air freight. Analysts were expecting the carrier to report a loss. The airline's net income was 15.5 billion won ($13 million) in the three months ended June 30, 83% lower than last year's 90.6 billion won, Seoul-based Korean Air said. Eight analysts polled by Bloomberg News expected the airline to report a loss of 19.6 billion won, according to their median forecast. Korean Air, surpassed only by Deutsche Lufthansa AG in cargo volume, carried 500,843 tons of freight in the second quarter, 19% more than last year. The airline carried more chips, cell phones and appliances to the Americas and Europe from Japan, South Korea, China and Taiwan during the period. "Cargo operations are booming for Korean Air and that has been less affected by high fuel costs because they levy a fuel surcharge on customers,'' said Choi Se Jin, who helps manage the equivalent of $430 million at Daehan Investment Trust Management Co. in Seoul. "Customers have to wait to get their cargo on the plane because they're backed up.'' Korean Air's operating profit, or sales minus cost of goods and administrative expenses, was 93.3 billion won, compared with a loss of 25.7 billion won last year. Sales rose 28% to 1.7 trillion won. The carrier, Asia's fifth-largest by sales, also benefitted from carrying more passengers, as business and leisure air travel recovered from last year's SARS outbreak. The airline's revenue per kilometer rose 11% in the first half. On the Korea Stock Exchange, Korean Air's shares rose for a third day this week, gaining 1% to a two-month high of 15,000 won before results were announced. The shares have fallen by a fifth this year, 15.2 percentage points more than the 5.5% drop in South Korea's key Kospi stock index.
    Jet fuel
    Like Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. and other Asian airlines, Korean Air's profit has been eroded by the surging price of jet fuel, which typically accounts for between 15% and a fifth of a carrier's costs. The price of fuel surged to a 14-year high of $52.075 a barrel on Friday and traded at $50.92 yesterday, according to Platts pricing service. Oil prices surged because of rising demand, terrorism concerns and reduced production by refiners. Korean Air's costs rise by about 30 billion won for every dollar increase in jet fuel price, analysts said. The carrier spent 350.7 billion won on buying fuel in the second quarter, 43% more than last year. Its average fuel price rose 23% and it used 13% more fuel in the period. Overall operating expenses, including fuel purchases and landing fees, rose 17% from a year earlier to 1.3 trillion won, Korean Air said. Airlines globally may lose as much as $6 billion this year if fuel prices stay at record highs, said the International Air Transport Association, which represents more than 270 global airlines including Korean Air.
    Outlook
    Net income may improve in the third quarter as more people take to air traveling after the severe acute respiratory syndrome kept them at home last year, Korean Air said. The introduction of a shorter work week this month is also giving South Koreans more opportunity to travel abroad. That may help the airline cover up for rising fuel costs, analysts said. "Third quarter profit will be much better with increasing number of people traveling,'' said Yang You Sik, who manages $430 million at Seoul-based LG Investment Trust Management Co. Korean Air flew 2.5 million passengers in the second quarter, 61% more than a year earlier, according to South Korea's Ministry of Construction and Transportation. Sales from domestic flights dropped 11% to 160.9 billion won, while those from international flights rose 53% to 769 billion won and those from its cargo operations increased 19% to 551.4 billion won. In the first six months, Korean Air posted a net income of 188.9 billion won, compared with a loss of 284.6 billion won a year earlier. Operating profit surged by almost 12-fold to 166.3 billion won and sales increased 19% to 3.36 trillion won. Korean Air in December said it expects operating profit of more than 680 billion won this year and sales of 6.8 trillion won.

  7. 8/13   Motor retail strike may be off after new offer - Numsa still consulting with members, but employer body is confident it has secured an 'in-principle' agreement, by Siseko Njobeni, AllAfrica.com, Africa.
    JOHANNESBURG - A strike in the fuel and motor retail industries may be averted after the Retail Motor Industry and Fuel Retailers Association bowed to pressure from unions yesterday and offered a new wage proposal. The offer comes three days after the National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) announced that its 180000 members in the affected industries planned to go on a strike. If the strike goes ahead on September 1 as planned, it will halt operations at petrol filling stations, vehicle component manufacturers, car dealerships and panel beaters. Numsa spokesman Dumisa Ntuli said yesterday that the union was consulting with its members on the new wage offer. But Retail Motor Industry executive director Jakkie Olivier said the parties had agreed "in principle" to the new package. The parties are scheduled to meet on August 23 to decide whether to formally sign the deal . "This agreement effectively implies that any possibility of an industrial action has been averted," Olivier said. But Ntuli said the planned strike would go ahead unless Numsa's members had made a decision on the new wage offer. He refused to specify details of the agreement , except to say that it dealt with wage increases and Numsa's other demands. Ntuli also declined to comment on the employers' proposal until the union had consulted and discussed the deal with its affected members. Numsa is demanding wage increases of between 10% and 12%, a R10 an hour minimum wage for all workers, a 20% night shift allowance, a 40-hour work week, removal of area wage differentials and a 10% afternoon shift allowance. Meanwhile, there was still no end in sight yesterday for the dispute between steel maker Iscor and labour union Solidarity. Solidarity is demanding a threeyear moratorium on retrenchments in the company, claiming that Iscor's new major shareholder, steel giant LNM, was likely to shed jobs at the company. "Lakshmi Mittal (LNM chairman) does not have a good labour relations track record," Solidarity spokesman Dirk Hermann said. He said the union's members at Iscor were concerned about their job security. "Job security is as important as wage increases," he said. Iscor has offered employees a guaranteed 5% salary increase, and a variable pay component, which could amount to a total 8,5% increase for lower salary grades, and a 6,9% increase for higher grades. Solidarity has not accepted this offer, but has instead demanded a moratorium on retrenchments. Hermann said the union would refer the dispute to the metal and engineering bargaining council for mediation next Wednesday. . "If that (mediation) fails, the council will issue us with a certificate to strike," he said. Iscor spokesman Phaldie Kalam said last week that it would be inappropriate to tie the company to a three-year deal as markets and operational circumstances could change substantially. He said the company had in place a "no forced retrenchment" agreement for this financial year.

  8. 8/13   Labor board sides with firefighters - Officials find that city bargained unfairly, by Dan McGillvray (621-5642 or dmcgillvray@centralmaine.com), Blethen Maine Newspapers via Portland Maine Press Herald, ME.
    AUGUSTA, Maine - Firefighters claimed victory Thursday after a ruling by the Maine Labor Relations Board that found the city bargained unfairly in contract talks late in 2002. The decision stemmed from a complaint filed by the union representing firefighters, the only city employees still working without a contract. The main issue involved discussions about "me too" agreements between the city's negotiating team and other unions that represent other city employees. In a "me too" or "parity" arrangement, the city agrees with a union that if one or more other bargaining units receive a wage or salary increase, the other unit will be awarded the same increases. The state board decided that the city engaged in such activity, which is illegal. City Attorney Stephen Langsdorf said he disagrees with the finding. "This was a very informal agreement. It's our position that there was nothing wrong with it. The board, I think, took the hard line," he said. Langsdorf said the city's bargaining team mentioned in negotiations with other units that pay raises could be larger than agreed upon if the City Council made more money available for salaries. In their complaint, the firefighters said those statements hurt their negotiations. The city's six other unions last year signed contracts that gave employees 3% more than their 2002 wages in a lump-sum payment in 2003. They also agreed to a 11/2% pay raise for this year. Firefighters had been seeking a different wage package. They also wanted a larger stipend for their duties as paramedics and a reduction in their work week, from 48 to 42 hours. The 42 firefighters in the union have been without a contract since Dec. 31, 2002. The decision by the state board does nothing to ease the negotiating differences between the city and the International Association of Fire Fighters local Chapter No. 1650. But Robert MacMaster, an Augusta fireman and the local union's president, said the city's firefighters are pleased with the state decision. "The hope of the union with these findings is that the city of Augusta will bargain in good faith to reach a final resolve to the outstanding contract issues," he said. MacMaster said firefighters have not received a pay raise since Jan 1. 2002. A three-member fact-finding panel has recommended that firefighters get a 2% pay raise for 2003, a 2% pay raise for 2004 and an additional $8.25 stipend for their paramedic work to increase that amount to $66.75 per week. Langsdorf said the city will not appeal the board's finding in Maine Supreme Judicial Court. "We'd rather spend our time more productively to reach an agreement," he said. Langsdorf said the city "is willing to go back to the (negotiating) table" rather than challenge the board's ruling. Ellen Blair, the city's human resources director, said she is disappointed with the board's decision but is willing to resume contract talks with the firefighters union. "We're very disappointed, obviously. We disagree with the findings. The City Council's policy is to treat all workers fairly," she said. If the city and firefighters agree to meet again and those talks break down, an arbitrator could be called in to assist. MacMaster said firefighters likely would stage a demonstration in September to call attention to any stalemate. The labor board also directed the city to post prepared notices in conspicuous workplaces that address the order to "cease and desist" from entering into any "me too" and "pay parity" agreements. Blair said the notices will be posted today on employee bulletin boards in city buildings. The board denied the local union's request that its costs be covered and that punitive damages be awarded. The city's contracts with other employees expire on Dec. 31, 2004. Blair said negotiations will probably begin with those units after the outcome of the tax-capping Palesky referendum is determined Nov. 2.

  9. 8/14   Macho passion for long days 'condemns women to domestic drudgery' - Passion for long hours punishes women - They rush back to the office after giving birth and work 12-hour days - but it's not enough for today's bosses, by Nicholas Pyke, Independent, UK.
    The culture of long working hours in Britain is condemning women to second-class jobs, household drudgery and a poverty-stricken old age, according to the government body responsible for fighting sexism at work. The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) has told The Independent on Sunday that it cannot eradicate discrimination until employers start promoting shorter hours, allowing women to care for children as well as holding down jobs. Britons work the longest hours in Europe and the result, says the EOC, is that mothers and carers are driven to the margins of employment or out of work. Jenny Watson, deputy chair of the EOC, said: "Where you have an economy which expects people to work extremely long hours, you're going to block the rise of women to the top, because women still have primary responsibility for looking after the family. Often we see women end up in poverty when they're elderly, because they have taken time out of the labour market to look after children or sick relatives." Diane Winship, a...City accountant, claimed last week that she was forced to choose between a gruelling working week, despite the fact that she had a young child, or quitting her job. A request to work part-time was refused. She also said that a Jobcentre advised her to remove her 16-month-old daughter from her CV because it could prevent her finding work. Ms Winship's case has struck a chord with thousands of women. One in three mothers have given up or turned down a job because of their children, recent research revealed. The same is true of only one in 10 fathers. Dr Petra Boynton, a member of the British Psychological Society and an expert in women's issues, said government intervention is long overdue. "This is obviously about gender and politics, but it's also about parenting," she said. "We also need proper, affordable childcare facilities, which the Government promised but never delivered." The 1,000 women who take their employers to industrial tribunals each year, alleging discrimination after becoming pregnant, are the tip of the iceberg, says the EOC, whose investigation into the treatment of pregnant women will be published in the autumn. "People's lives have changed enormously since the Fifties. Work hasn't," Ms Watson said. "Women and men have caring roles and roles as economic providers, and these need to be balanced." The Government is attempting to promote women-friendly workplaces by sponsoring a series of masterclasses to show companies how they can dispel macho attitudes. It has also established a Women and Work Commission to look at the gender gap in pay which sees women who work full time paid up to 18 per cent less than men and an astonishing 40% less for those in part-time work. The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Patricia Hewitt, believes a flexible workforce results in a happier, more efficient workforce. "The macho long-hours culture does nothing to promote effective working," she said. "A good work-life balance can deliver happier, more loyal and more productive employees." The EOC remains highly critical, however, of ministers' continued failure to embrace new European rules that limit workers to a 48-hour week. The DTI praises companies such as HSBC, where senior executives have reduced their office hours, and BT, where a large proportion of its staff works flexibly. But Ruth Lea, director of the Centre for Policy Studies and former head of the Institute of Directors' policy unit, said women had to make a choice. "To imply that it is discrimination because more men than women get promoted is a distortion of the word," she said. "I would call it reward. If you want to have a family you have to decide what comes first." 'When I left at 5.45pm to pick up the baby, they said, "Half day?"' Eight years ago, Carol Savage was earning £70,000 a year as a marketing director when she became pregnant with her first child. She returned to her firm, where she had been for four years, after four months' maternity leave, and lasted only another six months. "The company was very good in allowing me to work flexibly," says Carol now...."But every time I left at 5.45pm to pick up my baby, people would say 'Half day again?' - all those snidey comments. I used to work 12 hours a day, but they would say you're not committed any more. "I've an MBA, I'd spent 12 years in marketing. I didn't want to throw it away because I had kids, but I didn't want to hand over my kids to a nanny either. You can have both, but you have to understand that you can't have full amounts of both." Carol, pictured with her three boys, aged eight, six and one, lives inElstree, north London. She quit her job and launched Flexecutive, a recruitment consultancy that finds clients part-time or flexible work - initially taking a £50,000-a-year pay cut. "We have 6,000 teachers on our books who want to job share," she says. "We have to persuade schools that it can work. Part-time workers can add value to any organisation, and flexible workers are highly motivated, because they want to hold on to the job they've got."
    'To have a family of three and a career proved too much'
    Deborah Garrett managed to cope with her senior job as a director with the Blood Transfusion Service and her two children, now aged 10 and 7 - but only just. When her third child came along two years ago, she knew she "couldn't go on". "Both my husband and I worked very long hours, but somebody had to drop the kids off and pick them up and that rested with me. I was doing a nine-to-five job, then picking the kids up, doing tea, homework, putting the kids to bed and then starting work again until 10 or 11." When Deborah, 39, and her husband decided to have a third child they knew something would have to give."The choices were to go for an au pair or nanny. But I would have felt I wasn't enough of a parent. I tried to go back part-time, but then I felt I wasn't enough of an employee. So the solution was for me to stop work." For a while Deborah worked as a self-employed management consultant, but that went out of the window with child number four. Her children are now aged 10, seven, two and six months, and although she can't envisage a return to full-time work, Deborah, who lives in Edinburgh, hopes to go back to management consultancy. "To have a family and a career when working long hours proved too much. It doesn't matter how flexible you are if you are expected to work long hours to succeed. Men get away with it because women feel they have to do it."

  10. 8/14   US Steel employees enjoy profit-sharing, Billings Gazette, MT.
    GARY, Ind. - U.S. Steel Corp.'s union employees are sharing in the company's record-breaking second quarter by receiving record-setting profit sharing checks. Mike Mitchell, president of United Steelworkers of America Local 1014, said Gary Works' 2,300 workers and the 850 represented employees at U.S. Steel's Midwest plant will receive $4.125 an hour profit sharing for a maximum of 480 hours. "It blows away the first quarter when the profit sharing was 54 cents an hour," Mitchell said. "Our first profit sharing was in 1988. For the maximum hours, they got $3,000 for that year. From there it started going downhill. But this time it's $1,980 for one quarter." U.S. Steel Corp. reported record earnings of $211 million for the second quarter 2004, compared to a $58 million profit for the first quarter. Company spokesman John Armstrong said U.S. Steel is very pleased to be making this payment. "We appreciate the hard work of the employees that helped make it happen," he said. Members should be happy, Mitchell said. "Hopefully it will help ease some of the tension around here," he said. "The tension is centered on the on the contract, but the money will help them forget about that for awhile." Many, although not all, workers are frustrated about the massive overtime being scheduled. Since the huge demand for steel began in early 2004, the mill has been working at full capacity. "The normal work week is 40 hours," Mitchell said. "They're scheduling some workers for 12 or 14 hours a day. Some 16 and some are forced over their shifts. They have to stay until they're relieved. The company says it has the right to do it. They're hiring slowly, but it's a long process and then they have to be trained." Gary Works cut its work force by about 1,000 since May 2003 when it signed a new contract with the USWA after buying National Steel Corp. The company currently is adding about 50 new workers who will be members of Local 1014, Mitchell said. But the workers are being hired to maintain level of employment from what has been lost through attrition and retirement, Armstrong said. Mitchell said he's been told the company isn't upping employment levels because of the cyclical industry's uncertain future. "They said if you have too many and business slows down, you'll have to lay people off," he said. But that doesn't help the current workers who want some relief, Mitchell said. "Even if the market stayed the same we still would have been short," he said. "The company cut too deeply." Employment levels were part of the bargaining agreement that the union approved. But in May 2003, the domestic integrated steel industry was struggling and U.S. Steel had a second-quarter loss of $49 million. Beside putting a strain on workers, the downsizing has created a problem for the local because union dues are based on a small% of up to 54 hours worked weekly per member. "In order to run a union hall, or any administration, you need money," Mitchell said. "Overtime doesn't help the union hall too much. The more people you have working, the more dues you get. Overtime doesn't really cover it."

  11. 8/15   Taking a look at just a few recent trends, by Carol Kleiman (ckleiman@tribune.com), Tribune.com via Wilkes Barre Times-Leader, PA.
    Exiting corporate America: "Opting out."
    That's a new expression that defines "the rising trend toward leaving corporate positions for alternative career paths," according to CareerWomen.com, an online career center for employed women. Because "opting out" is becoming such a buzzword, CareerWomen.com surveyed 1,625 employed women online and found that 70% had indeed left corporate work for "greener" pastures. And 62% of the respondents said they're not considering re-entering the corporate world. The high number of dropouts might be due to the fact that the average visitor to the site is a woman who has changed jobs 4.2 times - and may have left and re-entered big business during that time. Their reasons for deserting corporate America, according to the study: "Taking off several years for family, pursuing nonprofit and foundation work or taking a government position." But corporations aren't complete wastelands when it comes to women. "While we're seeing an increase in women opting out of corporate positions, increasingly we're receiving good news from corporations on additional women and diversity programs," said JillXan Donnelly, president of the organization. Parent power: Employed women and men with school-age children represent one-third of all voters, and the problems they have balancing work and family responsibilities might influence the way they vote. According to a poll conducted for the New American Foundation's Work and Family Program, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, "a full 77% of 1,000 likely voters feel that it is difficult to earn enough and still have time to be with their families." And 84% felt "children are being shortchanged when their parents have to work long hours." What are working parents concerned about? The study found their chief worries are about income, expenses, job tenure and benefit coverage. This means there might be a new take on an old homily: Instead of voting only with your pocketbook, you might also vote with your "balance." That old earnings gap: The earnings gap is even greater for women in their so-called prime earning years, according to a new study. In the 15-year period from 1983 to 1998, the typical working woman earned $273,592 and the typical working man earned $722,693 in 1999 dollars. The results make previous conceptions of the long-term wage gap look fairly good: The new gap, of 62%, is much larger than the 23% gap commonly reported, according to the authors of the study, Washington economists Heidi Hartmann, of the Institute for Women's Policy Research, and Stephen Rose, a consultant with ORC Macro. Hartmann says measuring the wage gap by comparing the annual earnings of women and men who are full-time, full-year workers is "misleading. ... The long-term gender earnings gap measures not only earnings losses in a given year but also the cumulative effect on women's earnings of balancing family and work responsibilities." Looking for solace to counter the fact that the gap is even worse than I thought it was, I pointed out to Hartmann that the research was of wages six years ago, and asked if she thought things still are the same. "Absolutely," the economist emphatically said. "It still continues." And the good news is: Despite the negatives of women's pay, "women have made significant inroads into managerial occupations," according to the Monthly Labor Review. In fact, reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, "between 1972 and 2002, the proportion of managerial jobs held by women more than doubled, increasing to 46% from 20%." And hopefully, that, too, still continues. Absolutely.

  12. 8/15   The (over) times, they are a-changin' - Controversial new labor rules go into effect next week, but many employers are unprepared, by Novelda Sommers (247-4767), Hampton Roads Daily Press, VA.
    Sweeping changes to federal rules determining who can get overtime will take effect next week, but many area businesses say they are unaware of the new rules. Your employer probably hasn't told you if you'll be affected by the new Fair Labor Standards Act requirements. And unless you're among the country's lowest-paid salaried workers, your employer may not have figured out yet how it will handle the changes, which start Aug. 23. One reason for the ill-preparedness among companies could be that company managers did not believe the hotly debated rules would go into effect, said Steve Haner, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce's vice president of public policy. The chamber has sponsored several seminars to educate business owners on how to handle the changes, he said. The group supported the changes, saying they simplify the rules governing exemptions. He said he hasn't heard any business owner say whether it would change the amount their employees get paid. "The biggest problem we've had is persuading people this was really going to happen," Haner said. Proponents and opponents of the first comprehensive revisions to the Fair Labor Standards Act in half a century agree that the changes will touch millions of workers. Whether these revisions will help or hurt them depends on whom you ask. The U.S. Department of Labor says the changes will make more low-paid workers eligible for overtime and guarantee overtime protection to 6.7 million workers. Business trade groups generally say the revised act is less confusing, which could help them avoid getting sued. Labor leaders and worker advocates, however, deride the new rules, saying they virtually sound the death knell for the 40-hour workweek and take overtime away from more workers than they give benefits to. More employees could be classified as exempt under the new rules, said Ross Eisenbray, vice president and policy director for the Washington-based liberal think tank Economic Policy Institute. He expects changes to take place slowly. There is no rule against paying overtime to workers who could be classified as exempt. More than 6 million workers could lose overtime protection, he said. "Over a long period of time, it will lead to workers working longer hours," said Eisenbray, who authored a study on the new rules. "It could have some slight effect on employment. If you have a lot of people working long hours, you don't hire as many people." In a nutshell, the new rules: Eisenbray said the changes to the white collar "duties" tests, which determine whether someone is appropriately classified as an overtime exempt administrative, professional or executive worker, will allow employers to put more workers into the exempt category. At least 10 local employers contacted for this story either did not know about the new rules or still were evaluating whether their payrolls would change. A funeral home owner, a state convenience store trade association official and a day-care provider did not know how or whether their workers or constants would be affected. "We're still in the process of reviewing," said Diane Foster, human resources director for the city of Hampton. "We're looking at all of our job positions." Farm Fresh and Dollar Tree company representatives declined to say how their employees' pay, hours or job descriptions would be affected by the new rules, each one offering only that they plan to comply. A lot of businesses simply aren't ready. A study released in June by the Illinois-based human resources consulting firm Hewitt Associates, found 65% of organizations did not know how the new rules would affect their payrolls. Eighty-one% said they did not know what the general administrative costs involved in compliance would come to. Employment attorneys say people on both sides of the debate likely have overstated the impact of the new rules over whether this is good for workers. "The more people read the changes and look at how it might impact their business, the more they are reassured that major changes don't have to occur," said Arlene Klinedinst, a partner with Vandeventer Black, Norfolk law firm that specializes in labor and employment issues. Pay levels aside, workers who are exempt now probably still will be exempt, she said. Also, labor contracts negotiated between unions and employers will remain unchanged. Still, employers should review all of their job descriptions to make sure they are in compliance, said Veronica Chapman, president and owner of HR Solutions of Hampton Roads, a Newport News-based human resources consulting firm. "One of the most prevalent mistakes an employer makes when determining the exempt status of an employees is to use the employee's job title," she said. "An employer should use the actual job responsibilities of a position." They should keep in mind that the law says any employees who perform manual, "blue-collar" repetitive labor with their hands are always to be classified as non-exempt, Chapman said. Likewise, the law says police officers, firefighters and other public workers whose jobs are related to rescue or crime cannot be exempt, regardless of their rank, with their departments. And if state employment laws are more favorable to workers, they prevail.

  13. 8/15   Antitrust Lawsuit Over Medical Residency System Is Dismissed, by Sara Robinson, NYT via Spartanburg Herald Journal, SC.
    A federal district judge in Washington on Thursday dismissed an antitrust lawsuit that contended medical residents are forced to participate in a system that ensures they work long hours for low wages. The ruling, a major setback to the two-year-old challenge to the physician training system, follows passage of a Congressional amendment to antitrust law intended to derail the case. A central issue in the case is the system that pairs graduating medical students to slots in residency programs, commonly known as the Match. Each year, residency program applicants and hospitals rank one another in private lists submitted to the National Resident Matching Program, the private, nonprofit corporation in Washington that operates the Match. A computer then matches students to slots. Mona Signer, director of the matching program, said of the ruling: "It is very gratifying. We are anxious to turn our full attention back to our purpose. As you can imagine, the lawsuit has been a significant diversion." Sherman Marek, a Chicago lawyer representing the plaintiffs, three young doctors, said that they had not decided on a response, but that they were likely to appeal the ruling or file new claims in the case. The suit asserts that the Match, by bypassing a normal job negotiation process, adversely affects wages and working conditions. Medical residents typically earn about $40,000 annually for workweeks of up to 80 hours. The defendants say the Match is intended to help students and performs a valuable service. Ms. Signer said the organization had to raise its fees to meet the $3.5 million in legal costs in the case. The lawsuit originally named a host of medical organizations and teaching hospitals as defendants. In February, the judge, Paul L. Friedman of United States District Court, dismissed six of the defendants but ruled that the lawsuit could proceed against the remaining organizations, including the National Resident Matching Program. Meanwhile, the medical establishment, growing increasingly concerned about the legal fees and the potential liability for hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, turned to Congress for help. They hired lobbyists to request legislation that would exempt the residency program from the accusations. A rider, sponsored by Senators Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Judd Gregg, Republican of New Hampshire, was attached to a pension act, which President Bush signed into law in April. That provision states that the maintenance of or participation in the residency match does not constitute an antitrust violation, as long as there is no outright price fixing. It also says that the Match cannot be used as evidence in an antitrust case, the issue that Judge Friedman cited as the primary factor in his decision. The National Resident Matching Program alone had the legal right to appeal the February ruling because it had asserted that an arbitration clause in its contract with residents made it immune from the accusations. The case against the program is still in the appellate court, and Thursday's ruling applies only to the other defendants, who after the passage of the rider asked the lower court again to dismiss the case. Still, Ms. Signer said the organization was hopeful the appellate court would follow the lower court. "We will ask the appellate court for action in the very near future," she said. Mr. Marek said the plaintiffs would "certainly continue their fight for fair wages and safe work hours."
8/13/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 8/12 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #4 which is from 8/13 hardcopy), and excerpting and [commenting] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Time to keep up [or back] with the Blairs, New Statesman, UK.
    Say what you like about the sybaritic Blairs (and doing so has become a favourite silly-season activity), they do understand the importance of holidays. Not for them the one week somewhere and a couple of city breaks later. They go away for August. Like all good continental European families, the Blairs pack their trunk and relax into that enviable state of becoming different people - the kind who get up with the morning sun streaming through windows, play strange ball games and learn the names of their children's best friends.
    They are not alone. In Italy, little more than a beach umbrella is stirring. Against determined opposition and 10% unemployment, the French are hanging on to their right to abandon the cities for the campsite or holiday home for the entire month. In Germany, the annual average holiday entitlement is a whopping 42 days.
    In Britain, we average 25 days' holiday each year, though workers in the hotel and leisure industry (ironically enough) still average fewer than 22 days. In addition to poor holiday entitlement, we work the longest hours in Europe.
    More than one in six of us works more than the upper limit of 48 hours set by the 1993 EU directive. Bargain-basement Britain secured an opt-out to this socially progressive legislation, with the result that now, more than 1.5 million people here work in excess of 55 hours a week. Yet, despite short holidays and long hours, Britain still has one of the EU's lowest levels of GDP per head of the working population.
    At the beginning of the year, the European Union announced its intention to investigate bringing the UK into line with EU practice. The opt-out, argued Anna Diamantopoulou, the then EU social affairs commissioner, had been abused. It had been conceded on the understanding that workers would have to agree formally to waive their rights to a 48-hour maximum working week. But, according to the European Commission, such agreements are seldom reached properly and workers are routinely coerced by employers into working longer hours. Unsurprisingly, the CBI supports the continuation of the opt-out, while the Trades Union Congress wants the UK to sign up fully to the directive.
    In this context, the increasing clamour for an end to "the 35-hour week" - as if one were on the horizon - seems off-beam. Free-marketeers such as those on the Economist argue with relish that it is proving unworkable in France, which enshrined it in law in 1998, and where unemployment has reached 10%. Others report delightedly of the German unions having to cave in to demands to work longer hours (for the same money) or have their jobs exported to Hungary.
    This month, Denis MacShane, the minister for Europe, entered the fray, arguing that an obsession with the 35-hour week had done France and Germany considerable harm in comparison with lower-unemployment economies such as Britain and Sweden. Focusing on nominal working hours was fatuous, he argued, particularly if people were bringing their hours back up to 40 or more with overtime. There is some logic in that. And to those of us with the privilege of a pleasant job offering challenges that sometimes require 12 or more hours of continuous involvement over several days (for example, producing a play at the Edinburgh Festival), it seems illiberal to demand that tools be downed at the diktat of the clock.
    [Fine, as long as the comp time is taken or the reinvestment of overtime profits and earnings in overtime-targeted training&hiring is made, either by the companies and individuals directly involved, or, less ideally, by the government trying to facsimilate what they w/should have done.]
    However, that is not the reality for most people. Public service workers are reporting sky-rocketing levels of stress through overwork. Indeed, at least 10% of the British workforce suffers from serious stress. Richard Reeves writes on page 19 of the destructive impact of poor work/life balance on men's ability to create rounded lives in which they can be good fathers and partners, as well as fulfilled workers.
    Such ills are well-known in the US, whose workaholic culture British employers seem hell-bent on imitating. Yet US workers, too, are questioning the long-hours culture and making radical changes, according to Putting Work in Its Place: a quiet revolution, a study of work published here later this month. The book's authors, Peter Meiksins and Peter Whalley, professors of sociology at Cleveland State and Loyola Universities, argue that the long-hours culture is a product of social insecurity. They also warn us to beware of US statistics: large numbers of unemployed or casual workers are simply missing. What Americans want, according to Meiksins and Whalley, and what many are gradually securing by opting to work part-time, is to be more European.
    Just like Tony and Cherie. One can only hope that, upon his return from Sardinia, our leader will promptly abandon our anachronistic opt-out from EU practice.

  2. Last chance for overtime - Bush's case for changing overtime rules has been discredited - So why can't the Democrats stop him?, by Bradford Plumer, Mother Jones.
    Conventional wisdom has it that a politician should never pick fights with the middle class, especially with an election j ust around the corner. Yet the Bush administration has done just that, creating new rules, due to come into effect on August 23, that will strip up to six million white-collar employees of their right to overtime pay. Shockingly, the White House may well get away with this. What gives?
    When the administration first proposed its new overtime rules last spring, the Labor Dept. argued that the planned changes would do two things. First, they would raise the salary bar below which employers must pay time and a half, from its archaic, sub-minimum wage level of $8,060 to $23,660 a year. Such a long-overdue change could, in theory, entitle an additional 1.3 million low-wage workers to overtime benefits. Nobody seriously questions this number. So far, so good.
    The trouble lies with the second big change. The rules governing overtime pay have always included a "duties test," determining which workers do and do not qualify for overtime pay. For instance, under the current criteria, in place since 1938, cooks and registered nurses must receive time-and-a-half for overtime work because they do not hold professional degrees. On the other hand, executive chefs and doctors are exempt. The criteria aimed to distinguish independent professionals from "grunt" workers, and compensate the latter for long hours. But the new rules will blur this distinction - many cooks and nurses will now be ineligible for overtime pay, even though they often lack college degrees. The Labor Dept. has downplayed all this by claiming that only 100,000 white-collar workers would be adversely affected by the new classification system.
    That claim was false. In June of 2003, the labor-friendly Economic Policy Institute (EPI) blew open the administration’s numbers with a study indicating that, in truth, up to 8 million workers could lose their right to overtime under the new criteria. (Under the current system, about 80% of the nation's 120 million workers are eligible for overtime.) After union leaders raised havoc, the Labor Dept. tinkered with the regulations, claiming that they had fixed the aberrations. But in July of this year, the EPI released another study arguing that 6 million workers would still lose their rights under the final regulatory changes. A day earlier, an independent study by three former Labor Dept. officials came out, expressing similar concerns. The officials, who had served under both Democratic and Republican administrations, criticized the new regulations for "remov[ing] existing overtime protection for large numbers of employees" and for "fail[ing] to protect and promote the interests of working people."
    Part of the problem is that the Labor Dept.’s new classification system is overly vague, opening the door to potential abuse. For example, in the past, exemption from overtime used to apply primarily to jobs requiring substantial “discretion and independent judgment.” The bosses didn't qualify for overtime, while the workers did. But the new regulations define "supervisory roles" so ambiguously that they could apply to anyone from burger-flipping night managers to electricians who occasionally tell other workers what to do.
    To see how this could work, one need look no farther than Wal-Mart. Let’s say the store promoted some of its workers to supervisory roles, wherein they look after two other workers in a store section. These "supervisors," of course, don't have to be actual supervisors—they could spend most of their time folding clothes and stocking shelves—as long as they do some nominal oversight from time to time. These are not real managers by any stretch of the imagination. And under the current regulations, these workers would receive overtime because they do not spend most of their time supervising. Under the new rules, however, since their "most important duty" is "lead[ing] a team of [at least two] other employees," they would be ineligible for time-and-a-half. Lest one think that Wal-Mart would never do such a thing, note that the store is currently facing some 30 lawsuits from former assistant managers who claimed that the store gave out symbolic promotions to deny workers overtime pay.
    Why was the Labor Dept. so far off in its estimates? EPI arrived at higher numbers because they looked at those workers who would lose their right to overtime, whereas the Labor Dept. has focused largely on those who would lose actual pay. The difference is quite crucial. Currently, many workers are held to strict 40-hour workweeks because employers try to limit overtime. But with the new classification rules, companies can force employees such as paralegals, nurses, technicians and secretaries to work longer hours at no additional cost.
    "Employers will start by asking their workers to stay an extra hour or so," said Ross Eisenbrey, vice-president of EPI, "and then it becomes two hours, then three hours." Competition will ensure that businesses work their employees as hard as legally possible. "At first you'll just see the risk-taking companies take advantage of the new rules," said Karen Dulaney Smith, an independent wage and hour consultant. "But soon even the most conservative will be making changes, in order to maintain parity." The losers will be American families, who already work an average of 22 more hours per week than they did 30 years ago, according to Karen Kornbluh of the New America Foundation. Expect that number to continue rising.
    The administration has offered a weak defense against such complaints. In a hearing before the Senate subcommittee on labor appropriations, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao argued that businesses are currently subject to $2 billion in "needless litigation" because employers have a difficult time understanding the present rules. The proposed changes, Chao argued, will simplify matters and reduce lawsuits.
    To be sure, ambiguities will always arise with any set of labor regulations. (How, for instance, does one calculate overtime on business trips?) Yet in all of 2003, only 102 class-action lawsuits on overtime were filed, out of 7 million businesses nationwide - hardly a crisis. Moreover, employers have been winning more and more of these lawsuits in recent years, according to Camille Hebert, an Ohio State University law professor who was commissioned by the Labor Dept. to study FLSA litigation. Chao has also pointedly refused to say how many lawsuits actually resulted from deliberate violations by employees.
    So will the changes reduce lawsuits? Probably not. "The new regulations clear up some ambiguities, but they will inevitably create a new set of ambiguities and confusion," said Jeffrey Pasek, chairman of the labor and employment group at the Philadelphia-based law firm Cozen O'Connor. If anything, the new rules merely give more discretion and flexibility to employers, making exploitation easier and legitimate litigation harder. Wal-Mart employees, for instance, will have a tougher time contesting their sham promotions. Furthermore, the changes could prove costly to small businesses. "Companies without large legal resources will have to spend a lot of money to make sure they're complying with the new rules," said Michael Harris, a business professor at the University of Missouri in St. Louis.
    Chao’s claim that the regulations are intended to help low-wage workers has proved similarly suspect. While it is true that the salary bar for mandatory overtime has not been raised since 1975, the new level of $22,100 remains about $5,000 short of the 1975 level after adjusting for inflation. "They set the bar at a completely arbitrary level, designed to be as appealing as possible to small businesses," according to EPI Vice-President Ross Eisenbrey. The Labor Dept. has also declined to index the salary bar to future inflation, ensuring that the bar will remain artificially low for years to come. And let's not forget that many of the low-wage workers the Labor Dept. claims it is helping will be exempt under the new rules. Wage investigator Karen Dulaney Smith noted that nursery school teachers will be denied the right to overtime, "regardless of what they teach," meaning that even teachers who spend their days changing diapers and giving snacks - menial day care tasks - will not receive overtime.
    In truth, the Labor Dept. never really had worker welfare in mind, as evinced by a January report advising businesses on how to take advantage of the new rules. Among other things, the report helpfully[?] suggests that companies can convert low-salaried workers to a reduced hourly wage and higher hours, so that employees will have to work more than 40 hours but receive no net increase in pay. The report goes on to reassure businesses that the financial impact of the new regulations will be "near zero."
    All these problems, however, pale next to the fact that a reduction in overtime makes little economic sense during a time of relatively high unemployment. Overtime pay has always offered employers an incentive to hire more workers. (The more workers, the less need to have any single worker put in extra time.) Eliminating that incentive could well slow the job recovery. No one knows what the long-term effects will be; the Labor Dept. didn't even try to find out. In the immediate term, the wage cut will put a dent in consumer spending, which has dropped dramatically of late. Say good-bye to the steady recovery.
    Can anyone put a stop to this? Senate Democrats, led by Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), crafted a measure to block the new rules in the February omnibus spending bill, but lost support from moderate Republicans as soon as Bush threatened to make the already-delayed bill his first veto. Another amendment, blocking the classification changes, finally passed through the Senate in May, but it could likely die in the Republican-dominated House-Senate conference.
    In theory, public outcry could force the Republicans to back down. "The more people that hear about this issue, the more it will resonate," said Maureen Knightly, a spokeswoman for Harkin's office. But a recent Hewitt Associates survey found that most workers are not even aware of the changes. Meanwhile, on the campaign trail, John Kerry and John Edwards have made only desultory mention of the issue, and little noise was made during the recent Democratic convention in Boston. Unless the Democrats give this issue greater exposure, Harkin's efforts will die out all too quietly. No wonder that union leaders like Andrew Stern, of the SEIU, are beginning [just 'beginning'?] to question the party's commitment to labor.
    The trouble for the Democrats may be that the pro-worker case, while reasonable, is also difficult to make. Significant changes in overtime pay and workweek patterns may take years to become fully noticeable. Right now, labor advocates can only talk about overtime rights and potential changes. At the moment, the administration’s hard numbers—1.3 million gaining overtime pay, 100,000 losing—probably sound like nothing to worry about, regardless of how poorly they withstand scrutiny.
    Indeed, when it comes to economic policy, the Bush administration's strategy has often been to put forth reasonable-sounding proposals whose unpleasant effects are difficult to trace and won’t become apparent for a long while. (See Bush's tax cuts.) The White House has gambled that the public will lose interest in this issue, rather than spend months debating the finer points of labor economics.
    It shouldn’t be this way. The overtime fight offers a perfect opportunity for Democrats to make a very loud and very public stand, especially while white-collar voters are fretting over declining wages. Bring up those overworked nursery school teachers who will lose pay while running glorified day care centers. Bring up returning veterans who are considered "professionals," exempt from overtime. Show how the rules will hurt small businesses, while allowing Wal-Mart to create a stable of fake "supervisors". Make it loud and vivid. By backing down without a fight, the Democrats will lose a chance to land a blow against Bush’s economic agenda, and, more crucially, let down the workers they should be protecting.

  3. German economy expands 0.5% in second quarter (update3), John Fraher (jfraher@bloomberg.net) & Sonja Dieckhoefer (sdieckhoefer@bloomberg.net), Bloomberg.
    German economic growth accelerated in the second quarter as exports surged, compensating for stagnating consumer spending in Europe's biggest economy. Gross domestic product, the value of all goods and services in an economy, rose 0.5% from January-March, when it expanded 0.4%, the Federal Statistics Office said. Growth was in line with the median forecast in a Bloomberg survey. From a year ago, the economy expanded 1.5%, adjusted for the number of working days, the fastest pace since 2001. Germany's economic recovery over the past year has been fuelled by stronger global demand, prompting companies such as Deutsche Telekom AG and ThyssenKrupp AG to raise their earnings forecasts. With soaring oil prices curbing worldwide economic prospects and unemployment of more than 10 % crimping household demand, Germany and the 12-nation euro region may expand at a slower pace in the second half. "The euro region has not managed to generate a dynamic, self- sustaining recovery,'' said Thomas Mayer, chief European economist at Deutsche Bank AG in London. "The world economy is entering calmer waters and that means lower growth.'' Deutsche Bank's Mayer said he sees a "considerable'' risk global growth will slow before demand within Germany increases.
    Lagging the region
    Germany accounts for about one-third of the euro region's economy and has lagged the average growth rate for the $8.5 trillion economy every year in the past decade. French GDP grew 0.8% in the second quarter, more than the 0.6% the median forecast of 26 economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected. The economy of the Netherlands unexpectedly shrank 0.2% in the second quarter from the first, the government said today. Economists had expected an increase of 0.3%, according to the median forecast of six economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Unlike the U.S., Europe doesn't provide annualized growth rates. In Germany, domestic demand was "pretty much stagnant'' in the second quarter and the economy's "slight'' pick up was driven by exports, the statistics office said. It will provide a breakdown of GDP components on Aug. 24. Deutsche Telekom, Europe's biggest phone company, said net income this year will at least double amid growth at its U.S. wireless business. ThyssenKrupp, Germany's largest steelmaker, raised its full-year pretax profit forecast and Linde AG, Europe's top maker of forklifts, said second-quarter profit rose 27%. "Over the past few months, we've experienced booming demand in freight,'' said Wilhelm Bender, chief executive officer of Fraport AG, owner of Frankfurt Airport, in an interview. "That's not only important for us, but it's a nice signal for everyone who studies economic development.''
    ECB report
    The growth reports may support the European Central Bank's forecast of a "gradual'' economic recovery this year. The Frankfurt-based ECB, which has left borrowing costs unchanged for more than a year, releases its monthly report at 10 a.m. German exporters including Siemens AG are depending on foreign demand to drive profit as the euro-region's second-highest jobless rate deters increased consumer demand. At 30 billion euros ($36.7 billion) Germany's second-quarter trade surplus was probably the largest since 1991, the DIW economic institute estimates. "It's urgently necessary'' that export growth revive consumer spending, said Thomas Straubhaar, head of the Hamburg-based HWWA economic institute, the only one of six advising the government not to boost its German growth forecast. "But that hasn't happened yet. There is no sign of it and that's why we're more realistic.''
    German consumer gloom
    Beiersdorf AG Chief Executive Rolf Kunisch said in an interview yesterday the German maker of Nivea skin creams doesn't expect a recovery in consumer spending, which accounts for more than half the economy, in the second half. German households haven't increased spending since the first quarter of last year and consumer confidence last month fell to a 12-month low, according to the GfK AG market research institute. The lack of consumer demand means German growth will lag the rest of the world. The International Monetary Fund forecasts growth of 2%, the fastest pace in four years, compared with 3.5% for the U.S. and 3.4 % for Japan. German growth has outstripped the U.S. just once in the past decade. "Germany is limping behind the global recovery,'' said Olaf Wortmann, an economist at the VDMA plant and machinery association, which represents 3,000 companies including Linde and MAN AG, Europe's third-biggest truck maker.
    Energy deterrent
    Soaring oil prices may add another deterrent to consumer demand and cool the pace of export growth in the second half. The U.S. Federal Reserve said Tuesday energy prices have led to "softness'' in the economy and the International Energy Agency, oil adviser to 26 industrialized nations, said fuel costs are "causing economic damage.'' Crude has risen 37% this year. "There's no reason for euphoria after the great performance in the first half,'' said Joachim Scheide, chief economist at the Kiel Institute for World Economics, which also advises Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's government. Schroeder, who last year introduced measures to tighten labor market rules and cut health care services, needs to do more to bolster economic growth, the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said in a report on Germany last week. With his government's popularity slumping and his ability to cut taxes hemmed in by European Union deficit rules, Schroeder has shown few signs of planning further measures. Impatient with the pace of change and the nation's anemic growth rate, companies are seizing on the weakened power of unions to demand longer working hours and smaller pay increases. Siemens AG in June won an extension of the work week at two phone factories to 40 hours from 35 hours at no extra pay, after threatening to cut 2,000 jobs there. DaimlerChrysler AG on July 23 won 500 million euros in cost cuts after threatening to shed 6,000 jobs. Without adjusting for the number of working days, Germany's economy expanded 2% in the second quarter from a year earlier, the statistics office said. The second-quarter growth figures are adjusted for inflation and calendar effects. The period through June had one extra workday compared with a year earlier and three fewer compared with the first quarter.

  4. Economies grow, by Mark Landler, WSJ, W1.
    Europe's recovery gained momentum in Q2, with Germany reporting economic growth of 0.5% and France, 0.8%....
    [So the problem with shorter hours would be...??]
8/12/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 8/11 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #1 & 2 which are from 8/12 hardcopy), and excerpting and [commenting] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Illinois: Trucker guilty of too much driving, AP via NYT, A19.
    John R. Stokes, the truck driver involved in an Amtrak derailment that killed 11 people...on March 15, 1999..\..was convicted of felony charges for violating rules governing hours truckers can be on the road.... Investigators said he had had only 3-5 hours of sleep in the 38 hours before the accident. Federal rules at the time required an 8-hour break after 10 hours of driving..\..
    The crash also injured 122 people aboard Amtrak's City of New Orleans and pushed federal officials to overhaul truckers' hours-of-service rules or the first time since 1939. The National Transportation Safety Board [NTSB] ruled that Mr. Stokes' failure to heed crossing signals and gates caused the accident. [He] faces a possible prison term of 1-3 years.
    [Inadequate. First off, he should never be allowed to drive again.]

  2. Germany to tweak unpopular new labor rules, Reuters via WSJ, A8.
    BERLIN - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and senior ministers agreed on minor changes to the government's unpopular new labor-market rules, but they pledged to push 'ahead' [our quotes] with the overhauls despite street protests....
    [A growing problem in the so-called "democracies" - how fast can we get rid of governments we dislike? The parliamentary systems are usually better at this because instead of a big traumatic presidential impeachment where you're replacing the functional and symbolic head of state simultaneously, you can just have a vote of no confidence and get rid of your prime minister. But this ease of relief has been blocked in Britain and Germany lately by the fact that the prime minister who is going against the will of the people is also going against the will of his party, and like American Democrats, the parties in question don't have the guts to get a leader who really represents them.]
    Mr. Schroeder had summoned top ministers for a meeting yesterday in a bid to quell growing criticism over his handling of the biggest shake-up of welfare rules in decades. Economy Minister Wolfgand Clement - the main proponent of the overhauls - said minor changes would be made to meet some of the points raised by the critics. [Other proponents? -] Many economists say the reduction in benefits is a vital first step to getting Germany's economy up and running after a decade-long slump.
    [The reduction in benefits is only a 'vital first step' in transforming Germany's decade-long slump into a much faster flush down the economic toilet, because it will clobber already-weak domestic demand.]
    Under the plan, benefits for the long-term unemployed will be merged with social-welfare payments, effectively cutting benefits for most people out of work for more than a year....
    [Never mind the unavailability of jobs or training. Germany should have the courage of its worksharing convictions, adjust the workweek further downward to involve everyone as self-supporting participants in the job market and reactivate all the marginalized consumers behind their high unemployment figures, and implement overtime-to-training&hiring conversion to revlutionize their old apprenticeship system and dynamize the availability of marketable skills.]

  3. German economy expanded 0.5% in 2nd quarter on global recovery, edited by Heather Harris (hharris@bloomberg.net) & Chris Kirkham (ckirkham@bloomberg.net), Bloomberg News.
    [So, Deutschland is expanding at 2% a year with generally high-quality GDP (compared to the US) during a global non-recovery. That's not too shabby. So what's the big problem that's supposedly "forcing" German companies like Siemens and DaimlerChrysler to be "more competitive" by relengthening the workweek? As the story unfolds, it is none other than CEO "impatience" - i.e., boredom. "Be careful what you wish for!"]
    German economic growth accelerated in the second quarter as exports surged, compensating for stagnating consumer spending in Europe's biggest economy. Gross domestic product [GDP], the value of all goods and services in an economy, rose 0.5% from January-March, when it expanded 0.4%, the Federal Statistics Office said. Second-quarter growth was in line with the median of 35 forecasts in a Bloomberg survey. From a year ago, the economy expanded 1.5%, the fastest pace since 2001. Germany's economic recovery over the past year has been driven by sales of goods such as BMW AG cars and BASF AG chemicals to faster-growing economies in Asia and the U.S. With soaring oil prices curbing global economic prospects and unemployment of more than 10% crimping household demand, Germany and the 12- nation euro region may expand at a slower pace in the second half. "The euro region has not managed to generate a dynamic, self- sustaining recovery,'' said Thomas Mayer, chief European economist at Deutsche Bank AG in London. "The world economy is entering calmer waters and that means lower growth.'' Deutsche Bank's Mayer said he sees a "considerable'' risk global growth will slow before demand within Germany increases. Germany accounts for about one-third of the euro region's economy and has lagged the average growth rate for the $8.5 trillion economy every year in the past decade. France will release GDP figures at 8:45 a.m. local time and Dutch second-quarter figures will be released 45 minutes later. Unlike the U.S., Europe doesn't provide annualized rates. Domestic demand was "pretty much stagnant'' in the second quarter and the economy's "slight'' pick up was driven by exports, the statistics office said. It will provide a breakdown of GDP components on Aug. 24.
    Booming freight demand
    "Over the past few months, we've experienced booming demand in freight,'' said Wilhelm Bender, chief executive officer of Fraport AG, owner of Frankfurt Airport, in an interview. "That's not only important for us, but it's a nice signal for everyone who studies economic development.'' The growth reports may support the European Central Bank's forecast of a "gradual'' economic recovery this year. The Frankfurt-based ECB, which has left borrowing costs unchanged for more than a year, releases its monthly report at 10 a.m. German exporters including Siemens AG are depending on foreign demand to drive profit as the euro-region's second-highest jobless rate deters increased consumer demand. At 30 billion euros ($36.7 billion) Germany's second-quarter trade surplus was probably the largest since 1991, the DIW economic institute estimates. "It's urgently necessary'' that export growth revive consumer spending, said Thomas Straubhaar, head of the Hamburg-based HWWA economic institute, the only one of six advising the government not to boost its German growth forecast. "But that hasn't happened yet. There is no sign of it and that's why we're more realistic.''
    Consumers hold back
    [HA! The usual failure of the top brackets to understand that the lower brackets they've been skimming for decades just don't have the money any more - it's been vacuumed away from them and funnelled to the top.]
    Beiersdorf AG Chief Executive Rolf Kunisch said in an interview yesterday the German maker of Nivea skin creams doesn't expect a recovery in consumer spending, which accounts for more than half the economy, during the second half. France and Italy were "clearly weaker'' in the three months through June compared with a year earlier. Households haven't raised spending since the first quarter of last year and confidence last month fell to a 12-month low. The lack of consumer demand means German growth will lag the rest of the world. The International Monetary Fund forecasts growth of 2%, the fastest pace in four years, compared with 3.5% for the U.S. and 3.4% for Japan. German growth has outstripped the U.S. just once in the past decade. "Germany is limping behind the global recovery,'' said Olaf Wortmann, an economist at the VDMA plant and machinery association, which represents 3,000 companies including forklift producer Linde AG and MAN AG, Europe's third-biggest maker of trucks.
    Oil deterrent
    Soaring oil prices may add another deterrent to consumer demand and cool the pace of export growth in the second half. The U.S. Federal Reserve said Tuesday energy prices have led to "softness'' in the world's largest economy and the International Energy Agency, oil adviser to 26 industrialized nations, said fuel costs are "causing economic damage.'' Crude in New York has risen 37% this year. "There's no reason for euphoria after the great performance in the first half,'' said Joachim Scheide, chief economist at the Kiel Institute for World Economics, which also advises Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's government. Schroeder, who last year introduced measures to tighten labor market rules and cut health care services, needs to do more to bolster economic growth, the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD) said in a report on Germany last week. With his government's popularity slumping and his ability to cut taxes hemmed in by European Union deficit rules, Schroeder has shown few signs of planning further measures.
    Working longer
    "While some changes are in the pipeline, we can't expect them to change things overnight,'' said Wortmann.  Impatient with the pace of change and the nation's anemic growth rate, companies are seizing on the weakened power of unions to demand longer working hours and smaller pay increases [and actual wage decreases (longer hours with no more money)].
    ["Weakened power of unions"?? In Germany, where at 68% they still have more of the workforce than they ever had in America?? "Weakened brains of unions" is more likely!  And as for CEOs' impatience with the pace of change and the nation's "anemic" growth rate, all they're going to get for their impatience is a rapid switch from growth to contraction as they further starve their own consumer base of spending power and confident financial security! Let's see how they like the pace of that kind of change!]
    Siemens AG in June won an extension of the work week at two phone factories to 40 hours from 35 hours at no extra pay, after threatening to cut 2,000 jobs there. DaimlerChrysler AG on July 23 won 500 million euros in cost cuts after threatening to shed 6,000 jobs. The German statistics office's second-quarter growth figures are adjusted for inflation and calendar effects. The period through June had one extra workday compared with a year earlier and three fewer compared with the first quarter.

  4. [For easier idea-pickup, we translate the following out of leftist and into journalist dialect by search&replacing "boss" with "employer" -]
    Employers are united to squeeze us, by Helen Shooter, Socialist Worker Online [UK].
    [No, it's more that "we" are united to shoot ourselves in the foot and all the way up the leg.]
    Who demanded this week that workers should work longer hours, saying, “An obsession with the 35-hour week is now part of Europe’s economic problem, and not the solution”?
    The employer of a multinational? The Tories?
    No. It was New Labour’s Europe minister Denis MacShane. He claims workers in Germany, France and Britain, who campaigned, demonstrated and went on strike for decent working hours, are to blame for problems like unemployment.
    This is sweet music to the ears of New Labour’s big business friends. But it is an insult to every worker slogging their guts out at work and barely getting time to see their families.
    Working hours is one of the key battlegrounds around the whole debate on Europe. Although there are divisions among the British establishment, they are united in wanting to force more from workers.
    The pro-Europe lobby knows the new European constitution would enshrine attacks on rights at work. Some leading companies are already giving a taste of those attacks to come.
    The car giant DaimlerChrysler in Germany announced last month it wanted workers to work longer hours for the same pay. This sparked a strike by 60,000 car workers, but the longer hours went through. Manufacturing giant Siemens forced through a deal in June at some of its plants in Germany to raise working hours without any extra pay.
    This comes on top of the German government’s wide ranging attack on welfare, including slashing benefits for the long term unemployed.
    In France some 820 workers at the Robert Bosch auto parts factory in Lyons last month were blackmailed into accepting an extra hour’s work a week without compensation. They are the first group to breach France’s 35-hour week.
    Another area where European employers want more “efficiency” is sick pay. They assume most days off sick are the result of skiving [=US: slacking?], and are determined to make people drag themselves into work, however bad they feel.
    Already companies like Tesco are piloting schemes to deny workers sick pay for the first three days they are off work. The government wants to do the same thing to hundreds of thousands of civil service workers.
    Now Royal Mail has announced a plan targeting sickness rates.
    As postal worker Paul Garraway told Socialist Worker, “With great fanfare Royal Mail announced their new incentive scheme. Employees with no sick absences will be entered into a draw and have the chance of winning one of 34 cars.
    “What does Royal Mail actually think will be achieved with this publicity stunt? “Those that are genuinely sick are penalised, and those that are entered are fully aware that they have little or no chance of winning. “What schemes like these do is to encourage the sick to come to work regardless of their own health or those they work with.
    “The publicity, however, has helped give credibility to the idea that the problems of the postal industry are the fault of those who do the work. Postal workers are portrayed yet again in a negative way.
    “If Royal Mail was sincere in addressing the issue of attendance then it might want to consider looking at the long hours and poor pay that its employees endure, which may lead to their sickness.”
    Employers across Europe and their friends in government would like to ram through US-style working practices. The average US worker works 270 hours more a year than the average worker in France, and 371 hours more than workers in Germany, according to International Labour Organisation figures from 2002.
    US workers take fewer holidays, just 16 days a year on average. This is even less than British workers, who get among the fewest holidays in Europe at 28 days.
    Another issue where employers are demanding change is over pensions. At present the vast majority of EU countries pay far more to their pensioners than the British government does. And often workers can retire earlier than in Britain.
    In Italy, France, Germany and elsewhere there are far-reaching schemes to undermine pension provision and move closer to British rates. And at the same time the British government wants to force workers to work for more years before they can get their pension and then to pay far more themselves towards it.
    Blair’s vision of Europe is of workers accepting rotten pay, working more hours, never daring to go off sick or take a holiday, and being forced to pay for their own pensions when they do eventually retire.
    This is the backdrop to the debates at this year’s European Social Forum, which will be held in London on 14-17 October. It brings together unions and campaigners across Europe to discuss alternatives to the neo-liberal nightmare.
    One strand of debate will be the idea of a workers’ Europe, not an employers’ Europe.
    [More baby-tantrum union rhetoric, instead of a balanced realization that it's got to be an employees' AND employers' Europe, and it won't be under either the arbitrary and rigid shorter hours of the employees, or the arbitrary and rigid longer hours of the employers. Working hours in the future will eventually be based on sustainability as molded (but not contradicted!) by market forces - in the sense that workweeks will automatically adjust to maximize the base and foundation of all economic dynamism inherent in consumption (the task of doing more with less in order to make sure that consumption is not ecologically disastrous is a secondary priority made much easier by the downwardly adjustable definition of "full-time employment" delivered by the top priority). How to mold sustainability with market forces but not allow them to contradict it, while maximizing the dynamic activity of consumer markets (c2b=consumer-to-business) and thence all other markets: job markets, b2b markets, and financial markets? By fully activating all your consumers with the maximum consumer confidence and the maximum spending power of which each is capable in the current context of their life cycle and their economic sensitivities and expectations, and the economy's prevailing levels of worksaving technology. How to do that? By a series of value-spreading programs, starting with employment-balancing, then income-balancing, then wealth-balancing, then credit-balancing, then credibility or reputation-balancing, and so on - each program may be thought of schematically as taking 100 years, though of course the earlier ones will take longer because of their unfamiliarity and the later ones will generally accelerate, just as the five great social-science eras in human evolution started very slowly with the Anthropological Age while we were developing our signals into language (c.1,000,000 BC-c.12,000 BC) and then accelerated up to the Economic Age while we were developing our mathematics into a general problem-quantification tool (c.1676 AD-present) - see our Football of Time booklet. Each program defines the "problem" side (eg: un- or under-employment) by public referendum, which is the closest facsimile in the public sector to free-market determination (and we do believe in the absolute dictatorship of the free market wheresoever it is not undermining itself by means of an 'efficient' and 'competitive' race to the bottom) and uses the problem side to determine the solution side (eg: current unemployment determines the currently appropriate length of the workweek = degree of worksharing/spreading). The incidence of overage (eg: overtime) is used to target and trigger and fund and gauge skill transfer and human-capital transfer. It's all very simple and elegant and we can't think why Arthur Dahlberg or William Green or Maynard Keynes or Joan Robinson or somebody didn't put it all together back in the 30s. By 1964 (UAW Convention in Atlantic City), Walter Reuther had almost half of it ("fluctuating adjustment of the workweek against unemployment"). Now we've got to get on with the whole program. It's what intelligent species throughout the universe do at our stage of evolutionary advance.]

  5. City alters work week in response to firefighter lawsuit, by Joe Noga, Pittsburg Morning Sun, KS.
    PITTSBURG, Kans. - The City of Pittsburg has reached a $150,000 settlement with 31 of its firefighters who were suing the city for unpaid overtime wages. According to a statement released by the city, the firefighters will receive a lump sum payment of $150,000 to settle all claims for back pay, attorney fees, costs and expenses. The parties will also implement a 28-day work period to eliminate future problems. "The City of Pittsburg and its firefighters have amicably resolved the lawsuit filed by the firefighters for alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)," the statement said. "While the city and the firefighters disagree whether the former pay system as applied to the firefighters was in compliance with the FLSA, both side agree that it was confusing as it applied to the unique 24-hour shifts worked by firefighters."...
    [How safe is that practice?!]
    The statement went on to say a compromised settlement was reached to stop each side from expanding further resources "to debate the competing claims." \Said\ City Manager Allen..."We are looking forward to a much more open communication with the guys in the Dept. than we've had in the past."...
    Originally, the lawsuit, which was filed in August 2003 under the FLSA... the firefighters alleged the city was not properly paying overtime going back 19 years. At that time, Gill said to the best of his knowledge the city is complying with the requirements of the FLSA. Michael Stapp, who represented the firefighters in the case said he feels the settlement accomplishes the things the firefighters set out to achieve. "It was never the objective of the firefighters to bankrupt the city or win a large judgment," Stapp said. "If we had been successful in all of our claims, we would have received a judgment much greater than the settled amount." Stapp said the purpose of the suit was to correct the payment problem from this time forward, address certain inequities in the treatment of the department and to receive an acknowledgment from the city that they had paid the firefighters incorrectly. The city and the men have also agreed to create a Fire Dept. Labor Management Committee. The committee will serve as a forum for discussion between the city and the firefighters.

  6. Health Employers Association appeals arbitrator ruling on 37.5 hour work week, BCGEU [British Columbia General? Employees? Union?], Canada.
    The Health Employers Association of British Columbia (HEABC) has filed an appeal of arbitrator James Dorsey's decision to delay implementation of the legislated 37.5 hour work week for health care workers. On July 16 , Dorsey ruled that the implementation of the 37.5 hour work week be delayed until the end of October, 2004. On July 27, Dorsey issued a clarification of his original award, defining the implementation period for the new work schedule as the period between September 30 and October 13, 2004. "The decision by HEABC to appeal the arbitration award will cause further uncertainty for health care workers, at a time when they are trying to prepare for the new work schedule," said BCGEU President George Heyman. "We had hoped that the employers would abide by the arbitrator's decision, which allows for an orderly adjustment to the new work schedule. This appeal only increases the stress on our workers at a time of change in the workplace." The employers' appeal asks that both the original award and clarification award be set aside. The Labour Relations Board is reviewing the employer's application and will advise health care unions of the next step in the appeal process.

  7. Strikers concede, ask to return to the job, Joongang Ilbo, South Korea.
    YEOSU, South Jeolla [not in our big old atlas - we're hoping it's not just a jellyword for 'Korea'] - The LG Caltex Oil Corp. labor union has conceded to management demands that striking workers return to their jobs individually rather than as a group. The company had said earlier that it would pick and choose which workers it would allow to work there. The decision ended the remnants of the union's 25-day strike at Korea's number two oil refiner. The strikers had demanded a 10.5% pay increase and a 40-hour work week.
    [Again, put the money on hold till you have the time straightened out! Employers aren't made of plasticene. And remember, if you just get one wish and it's shorter hours, you also soon get higher pay because you've reduced the labor surplus, but if you just get one wish and it's higher pay, you wind up with neither because you've done nothing about the labor surplus. Almost every worker on the planet today, including in Europe, underestimates the importance of shorter hours - and is suffering for it. Shorter hours reframe the field of play for market forces and harness them in labor's - and sustainability's - behalf. Higher pay flouts market forces - and eventually pays the price = power failure. US unions are down below 14% of the workforce and now European unions, even though some of them still have 68% of the workforce, are hemorrhaging power because of their lack of disciplined and insistent top-prioritization of their power issue = shorter hours, and their repeated diffusion and confusion of that issue with higher pay and benefits - in short, their confusion of their birthright with a mess of pottage and their frequent willingness to sell the former for the latter (Gen.25:32).]
    Yesterday morning, about 300 strikers rallied at the company's refinery here, then disbanded and turned in individual applications to go back to work. The company's management welcomed the workers' decision, but reiterated that it was still considering disciplinary action against 71 strikers that it said may have been involved in violence.

  8. MRI survey reveals increase in jobs in the seconds part of 2004, Online Recruitment (www.BrilliantPeople.com), UK.
    Management Recruiters International (MRI), search and recruitment organisation, announced the results of its semi-annual international hiring survey, which found that nearly 57% of the companies surveyed in the UK plan on increasing their staff size during the second half of 2004. The survey polled executives responsible for hiring in more than 100 companies across the UK. While the majority of those surveyed believed that an improving economy was stimulating an increase in recruitment, there was some concern that there is not enough supply to meet demand. Of those surveyed, around 45% anticipated candidate shortages in the next six months. The two sectors nominated with the most candidate shortages were professional/ managerial (43%) and technical (40%). Commenting on the survey's results Allen Salikof, president and CEO of MRI, said: "As businesses prepare for the second part of the year, it is clear that the majority have a positive outlook on both the economy and recruitment. However, business is driven by the middle management layer and this survey clearly demonstrates that there are perceived shortages in this area." The survey also reveals that companies are making greater efforts to retain their employees for the second part of the year. Of those surveyed, 68% anticipated increasing their efforts to keep employees through offering flexitime arrangements (27%), working from home (26%), outsourcing (20%), job sharing (16%) and reducing the number of hours worked (10%). The survey also polled the US, Australia, Germany, Japan and Portugal; following are the findings by region:
    Region increase
    United States 58.0%
    Australia 54.4%
    Germany 50.0%
    Japan 48.1%
    Portugal 26.1%
    This is the 54th in an ongoing series of polls conducted by MRI.

  9. Taking time off is critical for workers' health, by Leslie McDonald (7445 Morgan Road, Liverpool, N.Y. 13090 or careertracking@pathfinderscts.com), Syracuse Post Standard, NY.
    A worker joked, "I don't think I'll take a vacation this year - it's just too difficult." With the demands of the workplace, employees and owners alike desperately need time off for rest and rejuvenation. Yet, the thought of taking a vacation - preparing to leave, anticipating return and sometimes being "on call" in between - almost is more stressful than not taking a vacation. Stressed people who think that they can't afford to take time off are the ones who need it the most. Those running on empty tend to be more reactive, less tolerant and make less-effective judgments. They also can be holding a lot of stress inside, which can later emerge in the form of emotional or physical illness. Taking the traditional two weeks off at one time especially is difficult, for some it is impossible. But find the time. It can be the most effective way to fully re-energize - physically, mentally and emotionally. Sometimes, it can take up to a week just to unwind and stop thinking about work. The demands of today's workplace, real or perceived, require us to look at alternative ways to restore our physical and mental energy and well-being. Think creatively and simplify. Here are some nontraditional ways, with even the most busy and demanding schedule, that you can get some much-needed time for rest and recovery: Consider taking a series of long weekends throughout the year. Mini get-aways are becoming more popular, especially for small-business owners and those who do not have sufficient backup at work. It might be easier to completely disconnect for smaller periods of time. If you want to have a full week off, consider taking it from mid-week to mid-week instead of Monday to Friday. You will get the benefit of 7 or 8 days off, and you will also be available at work for two days of each consecutive business week. This also means having only a mini-work week (albeit intense) on either end of the vacation. Take half or full days off during the week. While you don't get the comprehensive benefit of a longer period of time off, these mini-respites can help you re-energize in smaller doses. There is greater benefit, of course, if you leave the cell phone turned off for the day. Simplify the kind of vacation you are taking and adjust your expectations. More and more people are re-discovering alternatives to the expensive, "busy" vacations, where the adults come home needing a rest from the vacation. Consider low-key options with nature, such as camping or retreat-type experiences, that can be educational or spiritual. Some families are designing their own "home vacations," where they can enjoy the simplicity of just being together and reconnecting as a family. Regardless of how you take your time off, limit your availability to others as much as possible, and try not to take work projects with you. It is as important to be mentally "away" as it is to get physically away from work when you are on vacation.
8/11/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 8/10 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #1 which is from 8/11 hardcopy), and excerpting and [commenting] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Germany may soften its benefit cuts, by Thomas Sims, WSJ, A9.
    FRANKFURT - Germany's efforts to reduce workers benefits to 'stimulate ' [our quotes] Europe's largest economy are being tested by some of the biggest street demonstrations since the fall of communism.... During the past few decades [and, like everyone else, the past two centuries - the global workweek was 80-84 hrs in the early 1800s], German policy makers have tried to create jobs by limiting the hours individuals worked. Germans have among the industrialized world's shortest workweeks, averaging 35.7 hours, compared with 40 in the U.S. [if you don't bother to count all the overtime and overwork]. Moreover, the country's job pool is shrinking, with vacancies down 19% in July from a year earlier....
    [OK c'mon out! All you milk-fed economists who sneer at those "gulls" who believe the Lump of Labor Fallacy - the "silly" idea that there's a fixed amount of employment to go round. In fact, if it's silly at all, it's only because the amount of employment in an automating world isn't merely "fixed," it's actually shrinking, as this article attests. And the only non-war solution to this problem is what Walter Reuther called "flexible adjustment of the workweek against unemployment" = workweek reduction to spread around the vanishing employment and share it among everyone who needs it. And if we make it easier for people to support themselves, we taxpayers will be able to stop supporting them. The most gradual and market-oriented worksharing system we know of is Timesizing.]

  2. Labor and leisure - Should Europe work more, or America less? by Profs. Peter Meiksins & Peter Whalley of Loyola U. Sociology in Chicago, International Herald Tribune.
    [Depends on how much you need a strong consumer base: [Pick one. It ain't rocket science. Back to the article, which never really touches the domestic-consumption imperative, but eventually comes round to a vote in favor of Europe -] Old stereotypes die hard on both sides of the Atlantic, and now they have taken on a new dimension: work time. Last week the International Monetary Fund made headlines by calling on Europeans to work more as a way to combat high unemployment, low job growth and comparatively low income levels.
    [The IMF continues its Typhoid Mary role in the global economy. Calling for longer working hours per person in the Age of Automation. How stupid is that?! And economically suicidal when funnelling fewer hours onto fewer workers means a lot fewer flush consumers and less domestic demand. But you can't expect the clowns in the IMF to think more than one move ahead in chess. They're trapped in-the-box thinkers like Ptolemaic astronomers trying to prop up the idea that the planets go round the Earth, not the Sun, or in economese, that the employment income of the world is an infinite ocean, unaffected by waves of automation or even robotization. Truly these guys are living - and thinking - in the past.]
    The recent attempt by the German company Siemens to roll back the 35-hour week was met by a chorus of "I told you so."
    Meanwhile, a recent report in this newspaper showed that Europeans continue to pride themselves on being less materialistic and more focused on family and community than their American counterparts ("Continent guards its right to leisure," July 19).
    There is, of course, an element of truth in these stereotypes, but as descriptions of two supposedly different cultures, they are far too simplistic.
    Take the percentage of the workforce employed, for example. Widely cited by American commentators as evidence for the excesses of the welfare state, the data are in fact much more ambiguous. An important reason a higher percentage of Americans seem to be in the labor force is that so many are not counted - they are in prison or have disappeared from the statistics, which seem increasingly designed to minimize unemployment rates. Nor are all Americans workaholics; 18% work part-time, most of them voluntarily.
    Some Americans, particularly highly educated, highly paid professionals, do work extraordinarily long hours. But there isn't much evidence that these long hours are a matter of individual choice or of different cultural values. On the contrary, most Americans complain about their stressful daily schedules and their inability to balance work with other activities. Our research shows that most Americans say they would like to work less.
    Why, then, the long hours? Americans are compelled to work as long as they do in part because of the pervasive insecurity of American life. In the absence of the generous pensions, government-subsidized college education, universal health care and other benefits that Europeans take for granted, Americans see long hours of work as the only way to obtain needed benefits and generate savings for college and retirement. The real threat of job loss, even for professional employees, forces workers to maximize their earnings in the present. In the absence of strong labor organizations and laws that protect workers, employees are in no position to protest long hours.
    In addition, employers have both the motivation and the ability to encourage or require long hours of their employees. It is cheaper to pay overtime than to hire a new employee and underwrite their benefits. It is even easier to demand long hours from managers and professionals who have no legal protection and whose own insecurity has grown enormously in recent years. The "culture of overtime" quickly takes root in this soil.
    Fearing that their jobs are in jeopardy, and believing - often correctly - that the only way to achieve economic security is to move up the ladder as fast as possible, Americans find themselves competing with one another to work as much as they can. The American case, then, illustrates not a superior work ethic but a kind of forced overtime unwanted by most.
    Fortunately, there are some signs that things may be changing. As we reported in our recent book on technical professionals, "Putting Work in its Place," the entry of large numbers of women into the American labor force has begun to call into question the inevitability of inflexible, "greedy" work schedules. We met a significant number of people who had chosen to work part-time. We say part-time, but in many cases these were people simply seeking to work schedules that Europeans have increasingly come to see as the norm. They still wanted to work but weren't interested in the treadmill of long work hours. Many had begun to see their part-time schedules not as temporary solutions to a short-term problem - such as caring for a newborn child or an ailing parent - but as an alternative, "normal," desirable way of working.
    In the American context, it is largely middle-class married women who have been able to challenge the culture of long hours. They are economically able to reduce their incomes and benefits because of their spouses' employment. Women also have a generally accepted reason for working less: Americans still view motherhood as a legitimate "excuse" for limiting paid work. The danger, then, is real that challenges to long hours of work will be seen as "proof" that women are different, less committed, inferior workers.
    There are also reasons to believe that this trap may be avoided, however. Big institutional forces with significant corporate support, such as The Sloan Foundation and the Families & Work Institute, have been actively promoting workplace flexibility. And emerging social movements like Take Back Your Time Day have begun to challenge the inevitability of the long working day.
    American society is changing too. Increasing numbers of men say they would like to spend more time with their children. As the workforce ages, more people are seeking jobs that allow them partially to retire. And, perhaps most important, increased job and career mobility is decreasing the rewards available to those who work long hours, like promotions, and increasing the number of occasions on which one is forced to rethink one's attitude toward employment. It is thus quite possible that the "overworked American" may yield to a more complex, variable pattern of work schedules.
    The lesson to be learned from comparing work cultures is not that Europeans should become more like Americans, nor that Americans inhabit a different, more materialistic culture. It is that Europeans have gained politically and socially what many Americans say they want individually but have been unable to achieve politically. Americans, too, would like to have employment security, more flexibility, more leisure, fewer worries about health care and pensions, but the United States still has a long way to go.

  3. Overcoming the time difference: how the UK’s working hours are changing, Online Recruitment [UK].
    Blue and white collar workers are increasingly sharing the same basic working hours and flexible working arrangements, according to research released today (11 August 2004) by IRS Employment Review, published by LexisNexis. Though blue collar workers have traditionally had a longer basic working week, pressure to reduce hours, increase work-life balance and harmonise arrangements across the workforce seem to be having an effect as employment terms converge.
    6 out of 10 organisations surveyed had common hours for all, compared with fewer than half in 2002. And the research found few instances where white collar staff are able to vary their working hours while manual workers are not - all in the public sector. IRS Employment Review surveyed 77 organisations covering 196 employee groups (more than 70,000 people) to establish how UK employers organise working hours, the ways in which they implement the opt-out, and their thoughts on the European Commission’s suggestions for change. The full survey will be available in issue 806 of IRS Employment Review.
    Key points IRS Employment Review managing editor, Mark Crail said: “Working time can be a contentious issue. In 2003/04 alone, Acas dealt with more than 7,500 individual disputes involving working time - more than twice the number of applications in relation to race discrimination or equal pay. And there has been a heated war of words between employer and employee bodies this summer as the European Commission considers the future of the UK opt-out from the 48-hour maximum average working week. “It is interesting to note, however, that although employers are strongly opposed to the abolition of the opt-out, they recognise that its use could be tightened up and would support moves to prevent abuses of the system. This is unlikely to be enough to satisfy trade unions - which want to see the opt-out scrapped altogether - but it could prevent thousands of people feeling forced into signing away their employment rights.”

  4. Unpaid overtime pay totals more than Y27 trillion, by Yoshinobu Konno, Kyodo News via Japan Today.
    TOKYO — Regular company employees are increasingly complaining about being forced to work overtime and receiving little pay for it amid an improving economy, with one estimate saying unpaid overtime...in 2002 totaled more than 27 trillion yen. "I'm working from 8 a.m. to midnight every day. My overtime work is 300 hours each month, and I can take only one holiday in six months. I have blood in my stools because of sickness from overwork," said a 34-year-old bank employee in a telephone call to the Japan Association of Labor Lawyers in June. A 27-year-old supermarket worker told the association, "I'm working from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., but the overtime pay is only for one hour a day. I can take no paid holidays. The rate of divorce among our company employees is 90%." "I'm working more than 60 hours overtime a month, but I'm paid only for 15 hours. When the plant manager reports to the head office, he rewrites the working hours," said a 30-year-old garage worker. The association's 27 offices across the country received 708 calls in early June reporting complaints from regular workers, up from 440 calls in December last year, indicating such workers' worries are becoming more serious despite the burgeoning economic recovery. Ichiro Natsume, a lawyer and deputy secretariat chief at the association, said, "The recent feature about telephone calls is the increase in consultations about excessively long working hours. Calls from young people have been increasing, as have those from parents and wives." Behind such long working hours are decreases in the number of regular employees through restructuring and heavier burdens on the remaining employees, he said. "There are limits to the work and responsibility of part-timers and temporary staff." Natsume and other lawyers told callers about the legal problems involved and asked them to consult first with their unions, but he said, "There are many cases in which labor unions themselves approve of illegal deeds." Business enterprises are trying to encourage workers to shift from being regular employees to nonregular, in order to reduce personnel expenses to maintain and boost their competitiveness, worsening the labor environment for many workers. But Yoshio Higuchi, a professor at Keio University, said, "Increases in the number of nonregular workers are expanding the socio-economic gap, creating classes among them." The deteriorating labor environment is symbolized by the spread of "service overtime work," work with no overtime pay, labor analysts said. Last year, Labor Standards Inspection offices throughout the country instructed 18,511 entrepreneurs to pay overtime pay to their employees, up about 1,500 from the year before and the sixth consecutive year-on-year hike. Papers sent to prosecutors on charges of violation of the Labor Standards Law numbered 84 last year, up from 49 the previous year. Koji Morioka, a professor at Kansai University, estimated from data from 2002 that overtime pay totaling 27,330.1 billion yen was unpaid to regular workers and that if service overtime work was rooted out, there would be new jobs for 8.18 million people. Deaths from overwork and recognized as work-related accidents totaled 157 in fiscal 2003, and workers who killed themselves due to overwork numbered 40, according to labor statistics.

  5. Police cheer Chao over new overtime rules, by Jim McKay, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, PA.
    Union police officers gave U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao a standing ovation yesterday when she said their rights to be paid overtime were specifically protected under new federal rules that go into effect this month. Calling them the "front line troops in the war on terrorism here at home," Chao told the Pennsylvania Fraternal Order of Police state convention at the Pittsburgh Hilton and Towers, Downtown, that overtime also was protected for firefighters, paramedics and other public safety workers. "I don't have to tell you these are challenging times in America," Chao said in a short address. "With these new overtime rules, we want you to be able to go to work, walk your beat, investigate crime and protect the homeland confident that your overtime protection is stronger." The regulations have been hotly debated since last year when the Labor Department first proposed a comprehensive overhaul of rules that were first put in place more than 50 years ago. The new rules, complete with recent revisions that protect the overtime of police, paramedics and other first responders, go into effect on Aug. 23, and Chao said the Labor Department would enforce them. In addition to protecting police overtime, the new version raised the salary cap for eligible workers from $65,000 a year to $100,000, although workers making that much could still be ineligible for overtime depending on their job duties. Workers making less than $23,660 a year are automatically eligible for overtime no matter their job description under the new rules, compared with $22,100 in the administration's initial proposal. The current cap is only $8,060. Without specifically naming the AFL-CIO, Chao criticized organized labor for what she called a "massive disinformation campaign" aimed at derailing the new overtime rules before they took effect. "The uncertainty that is being promoted by critics to this rule will only add confusion, and it will hurt workers," Chao said after her speech. The AFL-CIO charges that the new rules will make it more difficult for many workers in today's workplaces to receive overtime, and gives corporations exemptions that they have been unable to win in the courts. Dennis Slocum, executive vice president of the AFL-CIO affiliated International Union of Police Associations, argues that not all police offers may be protected as Chao implied. He said a so-called "duties test" in the regulations seemed to exempt some 80,000 police sergeants and other officers with supervisory duties. William George, president of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, argues that millions of workers will lose their overtime protection under the new rules since they make it easier for employers to reclasssify workers. He cites occupations such as registered nurses, assistant managers at retail stores and fast-food restaurants, team leaders, restaurant chefs, financial service industry workers and insurance claims adjusters. "With this new rule, President Bush has given his corporate friends the green light to stop paying overtime pay to hardworking Americans," George said. "This is the last thing that working families need right now when we're struggling to find and keep good jobs, and make ends meet." The regulations determining who gets paid for working beyond the standard 40-hour work week were first established under the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act. They were updated in 1949 and again in 1975. Chao said those old rules needed to be overhauled now to avoid confusion and costly litigation. Under the old rules, there were hundreds of lawsuits in which low-wage managers at companies such as Starbucks, Wal-Mart and Radio Shack sued for overtime pay. "We have now made the rules very clear so workers will know their rights, employers will know their responsibilities and the department can more vigorously enforce the law," Chao said after her speech. Raising the minimum salary level to $23,660 will guarantee overtime protection to 6.7 million U.S. workers, according to calculations distributed by the Labor Department. But the liberal Economic Policy Institute estimates that nearly 6 million additional American workers will lose their right to overtime pay under the new regulations that change the basic tests used to determine who is eligible. Pittsburgh attorney John E. Lyncheski, who counsels management clients on labor issues at the Downtown firm Cohen & Grigsby, said he believed that the rhetoric would eventually subside and that most employers and employees would not see significant changes in their status under the new rules. In the short term, Lynchesky said he expected the new rules would lead to litigation over who is exempt and who is not, but in the longer term, he expected the new rules would lessen the number of lawsuits filed over overtime issues. "What was on the books has been there for years and years and years, and the world is different today," he said. (Jim McKay can be reached at jmckay@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1322.)

  6. Landscape changes for hourly workers - Bosses can interpret new rules in different ways, by Diana Stafford (816-234-4359 or stafford@kcstar.com), Kansas City Star [MO].
    Thirteen days from now, the nation's new overtime regulations are scheduled to go into effect. Some workers will be told they're no longer eligible to receive overtime pay for hours worked beyond a 40-hour work week. Others will be told they're newly eligible for overtime even though they hold managerial titles. Still others will have no idea that the Fair Labor Standards Act has undergone sweeping revision, and the transition will pass unremarked in their workplaces. Seventeen months after the Department of Labor proposed updated overtime standards - months filled with rancorous political debate over whether the new rules would help or hurt millions of workers - confusion reigns. Despite hundreds of pages of verbiage, the new rules, like the old ones, promise years of case-by-case interpretation as employers seek clarification of what the rules mean and as workers are expected to file administrative law complaints about job misclassification. How, for example, will an individual workplace decide if a certain administrative assistant is exempt from overtime because her "primary duty includes the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance"? "It's yet another one of those things that different parts of our government throw out, with a lot of vague words and expect businesses to comply 100 percent. It's going to take years to figure it out," said Kelly Lathrop, director of client resources at the Lenexa office of Axiom HR Solutions. And that's a human resource expert talking. Axiom provides training and human resource functions for small-business clients, many of whom simply don't have the time in the course of business to study the rules. On the other hand, some employers have been aggressively studying the proposed revisions since they were first published in the Federal Register in March 2003.
    Ready or not
    Nicole Norian, Johnson County human resource director, and Sally Fields, county compensation specialist, represent the kind of employer that has prepared rigorously for the new rules. They hired Terry Berger, who formerly ran the Labor Department's Wage and Hour office in Kansas City, Kan., to help review the county's job descriptions. They hired Sue Willman, an employment law attorney specializing in overtime law, to speak to county supervisors. "My biggest challenge was trying to understand the terms used," Fields said. "Some of the same kinds of terms that were confusing before continue to be confusing. Some things like "discretion and independent judgment' need more guidelines." The county sent in responses to the proposed rules, and Fields proudly notes that on pages 22,131 and 22,148 of the Federal Register's April printing of the final professional rules, "We're one of only two employers in the metro area that got quoted. It was kind of neat." After intense study and expert advice, Johnson County likely won't change the overtime eligibility status of any workers, they said. Unlike Johnson County, many employers haven't paid much attention to the new regulations, partly because either worker classification or the payment of overtime isn't a big deal in their organizations. Typical was Gene Dooley, executive director of the YMCA in Kansas City. Until called by a reporter, Dooley confessed, he wasn't aware of the new overtime provisions. After checking with his human resource specialist on staff, Dooley said the organization is planning to review all of its job descriptions in October as part of its regular annual budgeting process. Meanwhile, he said, "We don't pay much overtime, so there's probably not much real effect." Other employers have noted the roadblocks that Congress has attempted to throw in the way of the revisions. An amendment known as the Harkin amendment was attached to federal funding bills with the intent of preventing the Labor Department from spending any money on changes that would take away overtime protection from workers who currently have it. At one point last year, both the Senate and the House voted to block the new rules via that financing tactic, but the House later reversed itself under pressure from the Bush administration. Still, it's a hot political issue. A new administration in November and a different Congress could decide to overturn the regulations. A similar action occurred shortly after Bush took office, when legislators used the Congressional Review Act to throw out new ergonomics standards that were introduced in the waning days of the Clinton administration. Some companies, although they won't say so publicly, are moving slowly because they don't want to spend a lot of time and energy on understanding and complying with new rules that might be tossed out in a few months. But, whether or not the new standards cause a political firestorm in Washington, they can create tempests in some workplaces.
    Employer discretion
    Several normally expansive public relations officers, including spokesmen for GE ERC, Hallmark Cards and Applebee's International, said only that they were looking at jobs that might be in question - if they responded about the issue at all. That reticence may reflect reluctance to comment on a work in progress or the fact that overtime eligibility can be both an emotional and financial issue for workers. Some employers intend to ameliorate the effect. "They can change the laws any way they want to, but my employees need overtime and I have no problem paying overtime to anyone who works over 40 hours," said Jamie Smith-Hennessy, owner of Nature's Window, a catering service based in Gladstone. The new rules make it easier for employers like Smith-Hennessy to classify some of her workers as exempt from overtime. But, she said, "We've always paid it to everyone, and nothing will change" because her emphasis is on providing a family-friendly place to work. Kim Doty, human resource director at the Johnson County Nursing Center, deals with another professional category - nursing - that has figured prominently in opponents' criticism of the new rules. The AFL-CIO, perhaps the most public opponent of the revisions, has focused particularly on nurses as workers likely to lose overtime protection under the new rules. (Interestingly, workers covered by collective bargaining agreements - which includes the AFL-CIO membership - are not directly affected by these rules.) But, Doty said, "We consider all of our nursing staff hourly, and we don't plan to change. It's so hard to recruit nurses, that if we didn't offer overtime it'd be impossible. And, when we have open shifts, we getvolunteers to fill them because of the overtime. We have a group of nurses who could be considered exempt, but we think it's better to leave it as it is." Doty epitomizes the employer discretion involved in applying the new rules. For example, while it would be illegal to deny overtime to workers specifically protected by the regulations, there is no prohibition against paying extra money or bonuses to workers who could be labeled exempt. Still, it is clear that "in industries where the language was tinkered with, some positions can be considered exempt that weren't in the past," said Kansas City employment law attorney Tim Davis. Davis believes status changes - from overtime-protected to exempt - are most likely to occur in the financial services areas. But in industries that have trouble recruiting and retaining workers, he doesn't expect many employers to stop paying overtime. Another Kansas City employment law attorney, John Vering, said the most immediate ripple is a worker-friendly one, affecting relatively low-wage managers and supervisors, particularly in the restaurant and retail trades. "The new rules raise the minimum salary under which overtime must be paid," Vering said. "It's been common in restaurants to call shift managers exempt and not pay overtime, but they can't do that now unless they make at least $23,600 a year." Willman, the nationally recognized expert in wage and hour law retained by Johnson County, said a few employers are making salary adjustments voluntarily when they change employees from nonexempt to exempt. "If they change classification in that direction, some employers are taking the employees' annual earnings and giving them a new base salary about equal to what the employees made with taking their past overtime into consideration," Willman said. Vering agreed: "We'd certainly tell our clients that if they reclassify positions and take away overtime rights from someone who has earned it, that they should bump the salary up so that the employee doesn't suffer a pay cut on account of the change of status." But, employment law attorneys and human resource consultants said they're finding that status changes are more likely to be from exempt to nonexempt. Human resource experts noted that it isn't always easy for employers to predict how workers will react to a change in status. "Some workers object to a perceived loss of prestige, the humiliation, of suddenly having to fill out a time sheet if their status is changed from exempt to nonexempt," Vering said. In some workplaces, the freedom from punching a time clock is being emphasized when workers are changed from nonexempt to exempt. "No employer has to give an exempt employee comp time to make up for working long hours. The law is silent on that," Willman said. "But the benefit of exempt status is that an exempt worker can't be docked in pay for going to doctor's appointment, attending a PTA meeting or staying at home for a home repair call. With employers' permission, exempt employees have more freedom to handle personal business without losing pay." Wage and hour rules state that comp time given to overtime-eligible workers should be taken at a time-and-a-half rate within the same seven-day work week. There is no comparable requirement or restriction for exempt workers, employment law attorneys said. Willman said some individual workplaces could design internal time-off policies that would allow exempt workers to take time off, at the employers'discretion, in exchange for long hours worked, but that most employers do not provide comp time for exempt workers.
    Update needed
    When fur isn't flying about whether millions of workers are going to be helped or hurt, even the staunchest critics agree that the rules, some of which dated back to the 1940s, were outdated, making references to jobs that no longer existed, and sorely lacking in guidance for many modern, high-tech jobs. Raising the salary level to ensure overtime rights to more lower-paid workers is generally lauded, but critics note that the new rules fail to index the new $23,600 compensation level for inflation, so that pay raises could soon put low-wage "managers" above the level. And there are critics who believe employers will give raises to some workers to put them above $23,600, which would have the effect of making them once again exempt and required to work overtime hours without extra pay. As chairman of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce's workforce solutions committee, banker George Satterlee has contact with a lot of fellow business operators. Many, he said, are still unaware of the scope of the overtime changes. "The act assumes everybody has job descriptions and goes through job analyses," Satterlee said. "That's pie-in-the-sky stuff. For a lot of small-business operators, they're just consumed with operating their companies on a day-to-day basis. Talk about "duties tests' and their eyes glaze over." For his part, Satterlee, senior vice president of Missouri Bank and Trust, said he intends to look at the bank's administrative positions to make sure workers are classified correctly under the new regulations. But he will do so with a distinction between what the bank is legally required to do "and by what it should do." "We would probably err on the side of what's in the best interest of the employee," Satterlee said. "If the employee didn't want to lose overtime, we'd probably honor that. But since there is some status that comes with the exempt designation, some think that being called "salaried' instead of "hourly' is really something. "Where it gets tough is when you have many people in one classification, and different people want different things. One wants to earn overtime. The other is more interested in a title or status and likes being salaried, not punching a clock. Then, we as a company have to make a decision about the position and the compensation." So, will millions of workers be helped or hurt by the revisions? It's another instance where the currently correct answer is, "It all depends."

  7. Palace nixes 4-day workweek - Bunye says it's counter-productive, JMR via Sun Star (Philippines).
    MALACAÑANG - Tuesday Bunye said the proposal for a four-day-work week for government workers in order to save on power is "counter-productive." Presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye said the Palace has "reservations" on the proposal and that Congress should discuss whether it is feasible. Bunye said the bill of Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers goes against the Palace's efforts to promote more efficiency in government and to improve the work ethic of government workers. "This proposal, to our thinking, might be counter-productive," he said. Barbers had suggested that government employees work from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. for four days a week. The proposal has been implemented in the House and has resulted in savings of P65 million in overhead, electricity and water expenses.

  8. Women stuck in male-shaped career doorways - The ceilings may be glass and the floors sticky for women, but boardroom doorways are also the wrong shape, as new findings suggest - "stereotyping" tops the list of hurdles set for women at work, HR Gateway [UK].
    When not hitting their head against glass ceilings or becoming bogged down in sticky floors, it appears as if many women looking for a way in higher management are finding themselves stuck in male-shaped doorways. Interim findings from a survey of managers across the UK by HRG and the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) suggest that when asked what was the greatest hurdle to their career development the vast majority cited stereotyping of skills Over half of all respondents (52%), four-fifths of which were women, cited "stereotyping of women's roles & skills" as the major hurdle to their career advancement pushing a "lack of support for family commitments" into second (22%). A "lack of role models or mentors" (20%) came close to family commitments while a "lack of business or management skills" was only seen as a hurdle to 6% of the 150 survey respondents. Dee Waite, director of personal development at the ILM believes that the findings reflect some of the problems women have in the workplace in getting their ideas heard: "Occupations such as HR are as seen as the perfect role for women because of their people content. Outside of traditionally female roles they have twice as many hurdles to cross as men in terms of getting their ideas across. "Firms should offer more partnerships for women at a high level including work shadowing and work sharing. There is nothing like seeing someone do a job to realise that they are capable of more than you assumed," she said. Recent figures from BMRB for the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) suggested that stereotyping for both men and women starts in school. The effects then shape their career. Just over half of women (54%) and just under half of men (47%) told the survey that they thought the advice they received on leaving school, and thus the decisions they made about their future career, was influenced by their sex. Waite believes that images of superwomen in the media help sustain these stereotypes, leading to an unattainable image for women putting them off of trying to achieve or giving them an excuse for not striving: "Many women have an entrepreneurial spirit but realising it can be hampered by stories of high achieving women, making reaching the top for ordinary women less obtainable. "This works to further imbed stereotypes in women as they see what these high achieving women had to do to make it," she said.



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