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Timesizing News, October 27-31, 2004 + Nov.1
[Commentary] ©2004 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 622, Porter Sq, Cambridge MA 02140 USA 617-623-8080


10/30-11/01/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 10/29-31 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA, and with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. 10/31   Ottawa gets set to revamp labour code
    CP via Winnipeg Sun, Canada
    By BRUCE CHEADLE
    OTTAWA - The federal government is set to launch a national round of collective negotiations with the potential to revamp life on the job as we know it.
    Everything from the length of the work week to maternity leave, a national minimum wage and Canada's paltry two-week vacation standard will be on the table when a federal commission begins work next month, says Labour Minister Joe Fontana.
    The four-person panel, to be officially launched in a couple of weeks, will undertake what Fontana is calling a "pretty monumental exercise" studying the social side of working life.
    "I want to engage Canadians in starting to think about: What kind of workplaces? Because it hasn't been done in 50 years," Fontana told The Canadian Press.
    "No one has started to think about and ask the very questions, how much vacation time should we have off? How long should one have to work in a day? Should there be a federal minimum wage in this country?
    "All of those issues are very, very important."
    A commissioner has already been selected by the Liberal government - Fontana won't yet say who - and will begin work in December. There will be public and private hearings across the country, with an interim report expected by next autumn.
    Only 10% of Canadian workers, totalling about 1.5 million people, fall directly under federal jurisdiction.
    But Fontana says Ottawa has to be a leader all the same. Several provinces are currently considering the same set of workplace questions, and the minister expects some of those "will defer to federal guidelines."
    The commission's formal mandate is to overhaul part three of the Canada Labour Code, which has had only piecemeal modifications since it was introduced in 1965. Parts one and two, involving collective bargaining and health and safety, have been modernized over the past five years.
    While part three of the code deals with work hours, vacations and personnel issues such as severance and compassionate leave, Fontana seemed to suggest a much broader mandate for the commission.
    He said he's personally in favour of longer vacation periods, and he wants to examine the option of four-day work weeks.
    He even sees possible changes to the law on replacement workers - or scabs, as the labour movement has always called new workers hired by employers to fill in for those on strike. That issue isn't currently included in the federal code's part three, although some provinces have wrestled with it.
    "We haven't gone the full way - as Quebec has and I believe B.C. - (to) outright banning of replacement workers," said Fontana.
    "I've indicated I'm prepared to look at that."
    Some labour and business groups have already had informal discussions with Fontana's department about the commission.
    "We'll see when the darn thing comes out as to whether it's a review of part three . . . or whether it's bigger," said Mike Murphy of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
    "From our standpoint, these are all issues that are vitally important to employers."
    Murphy supports the commission - "At least there's a crack at some consultation," - but not everyone agrees.
    "I don't know if we really need this big foofaraw," said Catherine Swift of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
    "I'm sure labour is pushing for it to see what they can get."
    Mark Leier, a labour historian at Simon Fraser University, said all such commissions run up against the same reality.
    "For all its innovations and changes, capitalism remains a zero-sum game," said Leier.
    "When workers gain better conditions and wages, profits go down; when profits go up, workers' incomes suffer."
    Leier argues that employers have successfully rolled back worker gains in recent years, and any federal commission must start from that premise.
    "The commission needs to listen not just to employers but to unions, and to those workers who are not represented by unions and who are virtually unprotected in the workplace," he said.
    Fontana said that while all stakeholders will assist the commission, when it comes to reforming labour laws "there is no consensus."
    "Of course, who's going to pay for (reforms) is the very, very big question because you have to work that all into the equation too."
    The commission's job is "most challenging," he said.
    But the tough issues must be dealt with soon because Canada faces a huge labour shortage in the next 10 to 15 years.
    Fontana said that even if Canada can attract up to 500,000 immigrants annually, it won't solve the worker shortfall. Attracting and keeping employees will become a global concern.
    As for the federal labour code itself, legal changes are almost surely in the cards.
    "The ultimate result will have to be legislation," said Fontana.
    "At the end of the day it also becomes a political decision if there is no consensus."

  2. 10/29   North Americans Desperately Overworked and Craving
    American Local News via Onlypunjab.com, India
    Despite predictions in the 1960's that computers and technology would bring an increase in leisure time, the reverse has come true. Americans work more hours compared to any other country in the world exceeding Japan by 137 hours per year and Germany by 260 hours, or twelve and a half weeks per year.
    [This approach may be backfiring and turning into a stupids' boasting match about who works the longest hours in the world.]
    Porch magazine explores this issue with an in-depth interview with John de Graaf, [co-]author of Take Back Your Time: Fighting Overwork and Time Poverty in America in this month's issue of Porch magazine.
    Frightening statistics such as the fact that Americans spend 40% less time with their children than they did in the 1960's; the average American spends 72 minutes of every day behind the wheel of a car; and the typical business executive loses sixty-eight hours a year to being put on hold, compelled de Graaf to act as national coordinator of Take Back Your Time, a major initiative to address issues of overwork, over scheduling and time urgency.
    "Much of our motivation to work longer and harder is that at the end of WWII, we've been driven by a desire to accumulate more material wealth," says de Graaf. "Our pursuit of things is what is stealing our time. We've now reached a point where the balance of our material pursuits and our ability to reflect on what's really important to us is tipped dangerously out of whack."
    Porch is a magazine for people about people and where they live. With its emphasis on laughing, inspiring, and doing, Porch connects people to their communities. To read the complete interview with John de Graaf as well as other thought provoking articles including Spirit Killers, Stress and the Body and Coyote, Living with the Wild Coyote Spirit, pick up the November/December issue of Porch, available by subscription or throughout stores in North America including Chapters, Indigo, Whole Foods, Wild Oats and Capers.
    Porch is a new magazine dedicated to showing how readers can do simple things to re-connect with themselves, friends and family, neighbors, and their communities. For more information, visit Porch online at www.porchmagazine.com

  3. 10/31   Stark County District Library is an irreplaceable resource
    Canton Repository, OH
    letter by JENNIFER NEFF, OSNABURG TOWNSHIP
    I am a...college student who finds my local library irreplaceable. I landed my first "real" job by searching www.cantonrep.com at my local library and getting my résumé and envelope typed and printed out with the librarian's help. I may not remember that librarian's name now, but I do remember appreciating what a priceless resource I was able to tap into that day.
    I am a patron of my local library branch and usually visit about every other week. I have seen the negative influence the defeat of the last levy has had on our Stark County District Library. Operating hours have been cut back, librarians' hours are being shuffled around to prevent layoffs - so far - and the children's summer reading program did not even last through July.
    Another levy defeat will cause the system to close at least two branches, reduce hours even further and cut staff by at least 20%. Some of the patrons benefiting from the library are Our sense of community and neighborhood friendliness is quickly eroding in today's multitasking, stressed-out society. We can't turn back the hands of time, [sure we can - just trim the workweek and spread and share the vanishing work until all those on unemployment, welfare, disability, homelessness, incarceration can support themselves]
    but we can certainly hold on to one valuable fixture from our past that is still as priceless today as it was 20 years ago - our library. Please help keep our libraries open and running by voting yes on Issue 54 in the November election.

  4. 10/29   Business backing more bank holidays
    Online Recruitment, UK
    UK businesses are joining the campaign for more bank holidays, saying more time off could actually increase productivity, according to a new survey released today by Croner Consulting, one of the UK's leading providers of business advice and support.
    82% of HR professionals polled think that standardising the number of bank holidays across the European Union would increase the performance of their employees.
    Britons have eight bank holidays a year, one of the lowest numbers in Europe. And they are not a statutory entitlement, meaning employers may incorporate them into an employee's annual leave. The minimum of twenty days paid annual leave also lags behind most other European countries.
    Italy tops the paid leave league with sixteen bank holidays, followed by Iceland (15) and Spain (14). German enjoys up to fourteen, and France, eleven.
    Peter Etherington, HR expert at Croner Consulting, part of Wolters Kluwer UK, says: "It could be argued that more holiday will make Britain lose it's competitive edge, but our survey shows that employers think the opposite is true.
    "Britain has a tradition of working hard, and is often reported as one of the hardest working nations in Europe. There is evidence to say that too much time at work could be contributing to occupational stress, absenteeism and lower productivity.
    "The discrepancy in the number of bank holidays compared to other European countries can make UK workers feel 'hard done by', which could also be a demotivating factor affecting performance at work.
    "Arguably, more free time to spend with family, relax, pursue leisure activities and go on holiday could improve performance in the workplace, as we generally return rested and refreshed."
    However, Croner Consulting is advising businesses that increasing the number of bank holidays shouldn't be seen as a 'quick fix' solution to improving productivity.
    Peter says: "While we would advise our clients to encourage employees to take their full holiday entitlement, we would not specifically advise increasing paid leave as a tool to boost productivity.
    "Productivity is a complex subject, influenced by numerous factors and there is no simple solution for getting the most out of workers. However, an extra day off here and there may improve morale and encourage employees to feel more motivated in their daily tasks.
    "Presented with the option, I think we'd all vote for one or two extra days off, and given our hard-working reputation, we evidently think we deserve it."

  5. 10/29   They're going it alone at home - 3 who began businesses love their freedom
    Arizona Republic, AZ
    Alison Stanton
    Kas Winters started her own business in 1974 as a way to spend more time with her family. "I wanted to be home," she said. "I got to thinking, we're promoting family values at my job, but when do I get to see mine?" Winters...owns and operates Winmark Communications out of a colorful home office in Glendale. She specializes in editing, Web site design and illustrating, and has independently published 16 books, including her own Fall & Halloween Activity Book for Families, which contains 600 ideas, and Mother Lode - The Ultimate Collection of Ideas for Keeping Kids Busy, which includes thousands of suggestions for activities. "I don't do little things," she said, laughing. Although finances can be challenging - "I operate on a shoestring most of the time" - Winters has never regretted her decision to work from home. "It's the only way to fly," the mother of three and grandmother of three said. "It's mine. You can't please everyone, but I'm pleasing myself, and that's a wonderful feeling." Julie Beaty knows exactly how Winters feels. When her son Nicholas was born 5 years ago, the Waddell resident knew she wanted to stay home with him. "I wanted to get him off to school and be home when he's home from school," Beaty...said. As a way to do this, two years ago Beaty opened Air Fun Party Rentals. Her business, based in Litchfield Park, rents and delivers inflatable bouncers, slides, popcorn and cotton candy machines and other supplies to events like school carnivals, birthday parties and baby showers. Like Winters, Beaty has been very happy with her decision. "It's the best thing I've ever done," she said. "It's better than having a traditional 9 to 5 job by far. It's so stressful commuting." Mary Kitchen had to wait until semiretirement to pursue her dream of owning her own jewelry business, but the west Phoenix resident has found it was worth the wait. Kitchen...has owned Jewelry By Mary for almost two years. In addition to creating and selling original and custom jewelry, including freshwater pearl necklaces accented with mother-of-pearl, she also makes cards, charcoal pencil drawings and other artwork. "Art has always been in my life," the mother of two and grandmother of three said. "It's something I've wanted to do for years now." In addition to spending more time with their families, Winters, Beaty and Kitchen agree that having a flexible schedule is a major bonus to working from home. "You can take a day off, meet a friend for lunch and talk for two hours if you want to," Winters said. "I can take off in the middle of the day. I can go with my kids on school trips." Beaty agreed. "You can go on vacation whenever you want." "I like the independence and also the time - you can allot your time to how you want it," Kitchen said. "You can stay up until midnight if you want." "Or 2 or 3 a.m.," Winters added, laughing. Beaty said she has also enjoyed the community service opportunities that owning her own business have afforded her. "I wanted to give away all these freebies," she said. "You can't do that if you work for another person." In spite of the luxury of flexible work time, all three women stressed that they still put in just as many and sometimes even more hours than they would at a traditional job. "I work very hard at my business. I forget to eat," Winters said. They also emphasized that that the perks of owning your own business have been even sweeter because they all enjoy the type of work that they do. "It's so much fun. Everything I do is fun," Kitchen said.

  6. 10/31   Aussies among hardest workers
    [oh no, not another one! "WE work the hardest." "No, WE work the hardest!" - wudda buncha putzes - as if working hard is anything to boast about in the age of automation and robotics]
    By Natasha Bita and Amanda Hodge
    [News.com.au, Australia]
    AUSTRALIA is a land of workaholics, ranking with the US and rivalling the Japanese as the world's hardest workers. In its first report on excessive working hours in industrialised countries, the International Labour Organisation says 20% of employees in Australia, New Zealand and the US work at least 50 hours a week. Australian employees work twice as hard as Europeans, with just a 10% of European workers putting in such long working hours. Only in Japan, where 28.1% of employees work 49 hours or more a week and New Zealand 21.3%, do people work longer.
    The report has come as little surprise to the ACTU, which says that while Australians do not mind hard work, they are struggling to maintain a balance between family life and growing work demands. National secretary Greg Combet said that in following the US model of a deregulated labour market the federal Government had stripped unions of the right to collectively bargain and handed greater powers to employers. Australia now boasted an "army of low-paid workers, others working exceptionally long hours, people under more pressure and no capacity to balance work and family life". "That's John Howard's nirvana," Mr Combet said yesterday. ACTU surveys showed many workers felt their jobs would be at risk if they did not work longer hours. That pressure was unlikely to abate now the federal Government had control of the Senate and could push through industrial relations reforms that were likely to promote individual employment contracts and further reduce the power of employees in the workplace. By contrast, European countries were shifting in the opposite direction, he said. Recent legislation in France had reduced the working week to 35 hours and the European Union was now looking to impose a 48-hour limit on the average working week. The ILO report's editor and senior researcher, Jon Messenger, said yesterday the share of employees working "excessively long hours" had jumped from 15 to 20% in Australia and the US between 1987 and 2000. The shift towards a 10-hour working day coincided with [no, CAUSED] a jump in part-time jobs. By 2000, a quarter of Australian employees, 13% of Japanese and 17% of Americans were working fewer than 30 hours a week. Mr Messenger said the collapse of the standard 38-hour week coincided with the Howard Government's deregulation of industrial relations.
    [Watch now for a "coincidental" collapse of the Australian consumer base.]
    "This move is quite marked in Australia," he said. "Between 1987 and 2000, what you saw was a substantial deregulation of the labour market in Australia, particularly in the regulation of working time away from industry awards and more and more focus on enterprise-level collective bargaining and individual agreements on working conditions, including working time." Mr Messenger also blamed intense competition, partly driven by globalisation, and technology, for the worldwide rise of the workaholic. [because of the worldwide rise of job insecurity because of the worldwide rise of labor surplus because of the worldwide injection of worksaving technology combined with downsizing instead of timesizing.]

  7. 10/31   20% of Australian workers work more than 50 hours a week
    Ferret, Australia
    A book published by the International Labour Office has found 20% of the Australian workforce works more than 50 hours a week. "Working Time and Workers' Preferences in Industrialized Countries: Finding the Balance" finds a similar proportion of the workforce in the United States, New Zealand and Japan work at least 50 hours a week, compared with fewer than 10% in most European countries. During the late 1990s the number of people working in excess of 50 hours a week in the US and Australia increased from 15% to 20% of the workforce. Of the countries included in the study, only Japan (28.1%) and New Zealand (21.3%) had a higher proportion working more than 50 hours a week. In most EU countries (prior to the 2004 expansion) the number of people working 50 hours or more remains well under 10%, with figures ranging from 1.4% in the Netherlands to 6.2% in Greece and Ireland. The only exception is the United Kingdom, where 15.5% of the workforce spends 50 hours or more at work. According to data from the book, 50% of all US workers would prefer shorter hours while 17% would prefer longer hours. In the EU, 81% of those with at least 50 hours of work a week would reduce the number of hours worked if they could and 46% of those working fewer than 20 hours would prefer to work more.

  8. 10/31   50-hour week alert
    Sydney Morning Herald, Australia
    Around half of all Australians working overtime were not being paid for their efforts, an academic said today after an ILO report showed Australians are spending more time on the job. The International Labour Organisation report showed that 20% of Australian workers spend 50 hours or more a week at work - an increase from 15% over the decade of the 1990s. University of Adelaide associate professor Barbara Pocock, who has researched work trends for the past 20 years, said more people were working longer hours in fear of losing their job. "A very significant proportion of overtime, perhaps around half, was unpaid," Ms Pocock said today. Ms Pocock blamed "It's happening across occupations but mainly amongst full time workers," she said. "It is concentrated around the white collar workers but is also (affecting) low paid workers as well." She said international competitiveness and staff levels also forced people to work harder. The ILO study of working hours in industrialised countries showed workers in Australia, the United States, New Zealand and Japan spent more time at work than their European counterparts. In Europe, fewer than 10% of people worked 50 hours or more a week, with the exception of the United Kingdom where it was about 15.5% of the workforce. Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry's director of workplace policy Peter Anderson said it was mainly white collar workers in middle and senior management, small business owners and contractors who worked more than 50 hours a week. "In the long term, for those individuals, you would question what's healthy for them," Mr Anderson said. "The hours are not what is seen as sensible for most employees." He said most people who worked long hours were not forced into it and instead chose to in order to maximise their incomes. He said there had been a gradual shift in professional sectors towards working fewer hours. "We are starting to see an attitude change," Mr Anderson said. "What we are seeing is a recognition, at that professional level, that there's an impact on productivity if the hours of work are excessive." The comments were criticised by the ACTU which said Australia's services sector was stretched to the limit. "It is a myth that long working hours is only a managerial issue," ACTU president Sharan Burrow said today. Ms Burrow said there were increases particularly in the areas of hospitality, retail, finance and community services. "All those services that prop up our way of life are being stretched and it's not sustainable," she said. "It's not healthy for the working population and it's not good for employers. "The long working hours culture is making Australia sick and the stress on family life is very serious."

  9. 10/31   Australians working long weeks: study
    The World Today via ABC Online, Australia
    Reporter: Peta Donald
    ELEANOR HALL: Rather than being the land of the long weekend, Australia, it seems, is becoming the land of workaholics. A study by the International Labour Organisation has found one in five Australian employees are working at least 50 hours a week. It's a figure that puts this country up [or down] with the United States and New Zealand on the measure of hours worked, well in front of [or behind] Europe, where one in ten employees work 50 hours or more.
    Peta Donald reports
    PETA DONALD: Forget the idea of the Aussie slouch. In a comparison of industrialised countries, the ILO report says Australian employees are some of the hardest working in the world. Twenty% are working at least 50 hours a week, up from 15% in the late '80s.
    The hours worked by Chris Zappala, a medical registrar at a hospital in Brisbane, are not unusual
    CHRIS ZAPPALA: I would work 50 to 60 hours a week.
    PETA DONALD: Do you like working that many hours?
    CHRIS ZAPPALA: Look, I think that that's part of the job. I don't mind that because when you start medicine you understand I think that it's going to be a job that's not going to have standard working hours and so I think that is something which just goes with the territory.
    [Time to change the territory for patient safety.]
    So I don't mind it, but I think at times, I mean, it's variable, sometimes I have worked up to 100 hours a week and obviously that is incredibly wearing and you know I can't remember the last time I ever worked 40 or 45 hours a week.
    PETA DONALD: Doctors and lawyers are typical groups of professionals who work a long week.
    John Buchanan, from Sydney University's Workplace Research Centre says there are two categories of long workers, [No one should rely on being paid for overtime in the age of automation, because it implies the existence of chronic overtime, which should not exist.]
    JOHN BUCHANAN: On the demand side, it's often cheaper for employers to engage their current workforce for longer hours than take on extra labour.
    [Not "often" - ALWAYS, except that way lies lawsuits for overtime errors and accidents, and a constantly weakening consumer base.]
    On the supply side, there's many workers who now have to put in big hours to get the income they need to live at the standard of living they think is acceptable.
    [Gee, just like the Third World = megahours for peanuts.]
    PETA DONALD: The peak union group, the ACTU, says there's another reason many Australians are working longer hours - they feel under pressure to do so.
    Sharan Burrow, the President of the ACTU
    SHARAN BURROW: Workers are working long hours for two reasons.
    1. One, there's too much work to do [for this number of people] and Australians are loyal [and increasingly insecure] and they will always try and get it done. That means we're not employing enough people and
    2. two, fear of the employer.
      [= always the dominant factor in a labor surplus]
    If you're actually frightened about losing your job - and remember John Howard would want more of this - one in two full-time jobs are now casual [US:" temporary"]. If you're in a casual job and the work's there to be done and you know that your employer can dismiss you without notice if the unfair dismissal rules go through, why wouldn't you do the work? But it's not healthy and it's not sustainable.
    PETA DONALD: The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry begs to differ. It argues that while there might be pockets of the workforce working longer, the average has remained constant over a decade, at 41 hours a week.
    [= probably bogus spin in aid of damage control.]
    The group's Peter Anderson
    PETER ANDERSON: I think by and large these issues are resolved in work places and overwhelmingly, according to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission's findings, about 83% of Australia's employees either want to work the same hours or want to work more hours. More than half of Australian employees were quite happy with the hours they were working. So there's no general dissatisfaction with hours.
    [No, everything's perfect. It's the best of all possible worlds, as far as employers are concerned - except for all the consumers their pretechnological policies are de-activating.]
    The challenge is always to try and resolve the balance between work and family and that's not always a matter which the employer can deal with, because for many individuals while we want more leisure time, we also want to maximize our earnings and family incomes are often supplemented by high overtime rates and high overtime components.
    ELEANOR HALL: Peter Anderson from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, ending Peta Donald's report.

  10. 10/31   Buy back the silver and live better, says Peters
    New Zealand Herald, New Zealand
    Winston Peters
    By RUTH BERRY
    Winston Peters has a detailed plan to buy back foreign-owned assets, which he says is the only way to improve falling Kiwi living standards. The New Zealand First leader revealed his intentions at his party's annual conference in Taupo yesterday, saying power companies and transport infrastructure were among the family silver he wanted to buy back. Superannuation Fund money would be used to pay for it. But he warded off any concerns he was promoting a forced takeover of assets already in foreign hands. "Overseas owners need have no fear their assets will be stolen. "But we will put an end to the notion that New Zealand is a soft touch - easy pickings - and a place to loot." Foreign ownership gave control of the country's key assets to the boardrooms of London, New York, Geneva and Tokyo and did nothing for New Zealanders. "We are committed to reversing the loss of existing assets into foreign ownership and we will ensure that New Zealand retains a strategic stake in core assets," he said. Mr Peters refused to elaborate on his plans after giving his speech, despite having accused Helen Clark and Don Brash of hiding from the public and demanding they show the public the "whites of their eyes". Contact Energy is the only major power generating company not run as a state-owned enterprise, but many power line companies are in foreign or part-foreign ownership. The Government has re-bought shares in Air New Zealand and ownership of the national rail tracks, but several airport companies and the rail carriages have been sold. One of the sales - of Wellington Airport - prompted Mr Peters to quit the coalition government his party forged with National in 1996. Mr Peters criticised "Minnie Mouse Labour and Mickey Mouse National" in his speech. Labour was a party of "gender-bending control freaks" with a "we know best" attitude and a lack of common sense. National had so many political dinosaurs, its caucus room resembled Jurassic Park. "The head dinosaur - or 'Donosaur' as we shall call him - is an amateur politician driving around with his 'L' plates on." Its far-right policies and stone-age policies on market economics and Maori meant it would face a humiliating defeat next year, he warned. Both parties had displayed an "alarming complacency" over the economy which was failing ordinary New Zealanders, he said. He took an extra swipe at National for downplaying the likelihood of fighting the election on the economy. In wealth terms, New Zealand ranked 37th in the world compared with Australia's 14th, and the greater increase in foreign investment here was responsible. "Australians now on average get $123 more a week than New Zealanders for doing the same job - and the Aussies work much shorter hours." Apart from the Japanese, New Zealanders worked longer hours than any other people in the OECD, he said. "We are running flat out to stand still and we have become time poor." Mr Peters said aside from the economy, race relations was the other area of critical challenge. Another old favourite, immigration, got a run as he ridiculed the debate over Muslim women wearing the burqa - which sounded more like "burger" when he said it. "If you do not like our laws, there are thousands of Kiwis who will willingly take you to the airport, pay your departure tax, and fly you to the Islamic paradise of your choice."

  11. 10/29   CUNA Mutual union hardens stance
    The Capital Times, WI
    by Mike Ivey
    MIDDLETON, Wisc. - The union representing workers at CUNA Mutual Group is vowing to get tough again. After eight months with no contract, Local 39 of the Office and Professional Employees International is re-starting a nationwide campaign to pressure the Madison-based insurance company to settle. The union represents some 1,200 workers and is one the largest private sector bargaining units in town. The so-called "corporate campaign" is aimed at getting credit unions to pull their business from CUNA Mutual, which provides insurance and other financial products to the nation's credit unions. The campaign, which was orchestrated with help from the national AFL-CIO, was called off in July as part of 30-day cooling off period. But Mike Goodwin, president of the national OPEIU, urged some 300 union supporters Thursday in the performing arts center at Middleton High School to stand firm. He told members of plans to re-start the corporate campaign, which company officials have warned could cost it significant business. "We're starting it back up and putting it into high gear," said Goodwin, who flew in from New York late Thursday afternoon for the meeting. Goodwin's announcement drew a quick response today from CUNA Mutual officials, who said they can't understand why the union thinks that losing business would help members. The union has said it can take 25% of business through an aggressive campaign. "A loss in revenue triggers an increase in expense reductions, which can ultimately mean jobs," said CUNA Mutual spokeswoman Syd Lindner, noting that CUNA Mutual is one of the only unionized insurance providers to the credit union system. The stepped-up tensions come as Local 39 and the company prepare to resume negotiations. Talks are scheduled for next Friday, Nov. 9 and Nov. 12. The union also is fighting its own battle to keep members on the same page. Already, some 200 disgruntled employees in the information technology department signed a petition to break off from Local 39 and form their own bargaining unit. That effort has been hung up before the National Labor Relations Board, which has declined to rule on the petition because of the number of other disputes already outstanding in the CUNA Mutual case. But IT department employee Debra Brookhyser said the vast majority of workers remain committed to the union. She said it was fewer than a quarter of IT people who aren't standing firm. A recent cancer survivor who is worried most about rising health care costs, Brookhyser, 40, said the issue for her comes down to respect. "There are a lot of excellent people working here and I hate to see the company crapping on us," she said. As the dispute drags on, Brookhyser said it's costing workers their pay raises. Any new contract would be retroactive to April, meaning workers have already missed out on some 34 weeks of pay increases. The no retroactivity on wages was identified as the No. 1 "most disagreeable" part of the company's last offer in a new survey of members. That was followed by allowing the company to fill positions after 90 days of a leave of absence; insurance and pensions; management ability to keep unions out of negotiations and moving from a 37 to 40 hour work week with no raise.
    [Never mind a raise, how about just proportional compensation.]
    For Steve Otto, a 17-year employee at CUNA Mutual from Mazomanie, it's all about the money. "They are unfairly distributing the profits of the company," said Otto....
    [No kidding, but if you and your fellow employees retain a 1940-level of the workweek regardless of 64-years of worksaving technology while employers keep tight controls and high prices on management courses, you're a surplus commodity and they're a scarce commodity and market forces give them all the control, power and money.]
    In 2002, CUNA Mutual posted a $9 million loss and employees approved cuts in compensation to boost the company back to profitability. Last year, CUNA Mutual showed a gain of $112.9 million, its best year ever, although the company said profits were helped by record mortgage sales. Lindner said the company stands by its latest offer, however, calling it one of the best wage and benefit packages in the area. "Compare it to any other employer in the area," she said. Lindner notes that the company enhanced its offer on June 30. The membership had defeated the initial offer in April by nearly a 3-1 majority. "This claim of not sharing profits is completely false," she said, noting that union employees received three bonuses in 2003, including a $700 discretionary bonus paid in 2004. But Goodwin said the company's refusal to negotiate in good faith is part of a long-term plan to weaken the union by creating separate tiers and driving a wedge between newer and longer-term employees. "This stalling is just another piece in the puzzle," he said. With 2,600 total employees, CUNA Mutual Group is the second largest private sector employer in the city behind American Family, which has about 3,400 workers based here.
    E-mail: mivey@madison.com

  12. 10/29   Kirksville crash puts light on issue
    Kansas City Star, United States
    By JUDY L. THOMAS
    The crash of a commuter plane near Kirksville that killed 13 persons is again raising questions about "tired pilot" syndrome and the federal government's slowness in addressing the problem. Last week's crash remained under investigation Thursday, and there was no indication whether mechanical failure, the weather or pilot fatigue played a role. Regardless of the final determination, pilots and organizations that represent them say long hours for pilots remain a troublesome issue. The two pilots on Corporate Airlines Flight 5966 - Kim Sasse...of Ramsey, N.J., and Jonathan Palmer...of Cincinnati - had been on duty 14 hours and 41 minutes the day of the crash and had flown six trips, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. While that falls within federal guidelines governing how long pilots can be on duty each day, critics - including the former chairman of the safety board - say those regulations are outdated and need to be changed. The Federal Aviation Administration proposed changes in the rules as long ago as 1995, but it has yet to follow through. "The FAA continues to be a no-show on this issue," said Jim Hall, who served nearly seven years as safety board chairman before stepping down in 2001. "It's probably the No. 1 hazard that we have not effectively addressed in all forms of transportation." Indeed, pilots for the airline whose commuter plane crashed near Kirksville had been trying to join a union for months because of concerns that included long work hours, a Teamsters official confirmed Wednesday. "That is one of the issues," said Don Treichler, airline division manager for the Teamsters. "It has to do with the amount of rest they get, the hours they work, the repetitiveness of the schedule, those sorts of things." A Corporate Airlines spokesman said whether pilot fatigue was involved in the crash was "pure speculation" at this point.
    [Yeah sure. And the Republican Party still stands for small government and fiscal conservatism and a prudent and economical foreign-policy.]
    He also did not want to speculate on why the company's pilots were trying to unionize.
    [They own the media.]
    "Like any company, we work really hard to provide our employees, including our pilots, with competitive benefits and wages. At the same time, we absolutely and fully support the right of the pilots to say 'yes' to unionization or also to say 'no,'?" said spokesman Brannan Atkinson. Atkinson said the Smyrna, Tenn., based airline - which has about 60 pilots and 11 aircraft in operation - complies with all federal regulations on flight time.
    [What do you expect corporate PR to say.]
    Safety board spokesman Keith Holloway said the investigation into the Kirksville crash could take months but would examine whether pilot fatigue was a contributing factor. The plane crashed about 7:45 p.m. Oct. 19 just south of the Kirksville airport as it prepared to land. Both pilots were among the 13 victims. There were two survivors. The issue of pilot fatigue has been on the safety board's "Most Wanted" list of transportation safety improvements for years. Moreover, Hall said, studies have proved the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation, including research showing that the lack of sleep is equivalent to having various levels of alcohol and drugs in the body. "We put in place programs to address alcohol and drugs, yet we leave fatigue hanging out there with nothing done," Hall said. "It's not something that we can say we don't have the information to do something about. The information exists, and lives are being lost because we are failing to take action." FAA officials said the regulations had not been updated, because no one could agree on the changes. "There was never any consensus on it," said FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory. "We asked for comment, and the comments were all over the board. The industry is not giving us much direction, either. So basically, the regulations still stand." The FAA's 1995 proposal would have reduced the amount of time a pilot could be on duty from 16 hours to 14 hours. The FAA received more than 2,000 comments from the aviation community and the public on its proposal. Most of the comments opposed the new rule, the agency said. Pilot unions' spokesmen said they had been trying to get the FAA to change the hours-of-service regulations for more than a decade. "There is no question that pilot fatigue is present in our commercial airline operations," Capt. Duane E. Woerth, the president of the Air Line Pilots Association, told a House subcommittee in 1999. "ALPA receives daily reports of scheduling that causes pilots to be virtual zombies at the end of the day." An FAA study in 2001 found that a tired pilot was two to four times more likely to be involved in an accident. "FAA believes that pilots should have the opportunity for at least seven to eight hours of sleep in a rest period," wrote Jeffrey Goode, who worked for the FAA's policy and regulations branch. "The current regulations do not provide the opportunity for this amount of sleep in most cases." Critics contend the problem will only get worse, because pilots are working more hours as airlines cut costs and try to survive with fewer employees. John Mazor, spokesman for the pilots association, said his group supports a 12-hour maximum workday for pilots. "The effects of a long duty day are real," Mazor said. "15, 16 hours is a very grueling work schedule for anybody. But if you're performing a complex function such as flying an airplane [or medical doctoring], the effects on performance are even more critical." Fatigue is not simply pilots falling asleep at the controls, he noted.
    "It's the subtle effects of fatigue that are worrisome," Mazor said. "If you look at enough accident investigations, very frequently you'll come to a point where you say, why did the pilot do that, or why didn't they do this, when they were supposed to? You can't assume that they were all just so grossly incompetent that they failed to do something that any pilot should have done almost without thinking." The Air Transport Association, which represents the major airlines, said restrictions on a pilot's flight time vary on the length of the flight and other factors. "Many of the carriers do go beyond what the FAA guidelines are in terms of flight-duty times," said Diana Cronan, a spokeswoman for the association. "They've become even more stringent than what the FAA has put in place." That is the case at American Airlines, which restricts a pilot's work hours under its bargaining agreement with the Allied Pilots Association, the union representing American's pilots. Gregg Overman, a union spokesman, said the number of consecutive hours a pilot can be on duty varies at American depending on departure times. "These are policies set on a carrier-by-carrier basis under a collective bargaining agreement" at unionized airlines, Overman said. Jeff Sasse, the older brother of Kim Sasse, one of the pilots killed in the Kirksville crash, said his brother had mentioned that the Corporate Airlines pilots were trying to unionize. Sasse said his brother loved flying. "He left a great computer business that he had - his own - where he made lots of money, to fly. I'm looking at him like, 'why'?" Sasse asked. The family attended a memorial service in New Jersey on Wednesday and buried Kim Sasse on Thursday. "This is just a horror story," Jeff Sasse continued, trying to make sense of what happened. "He's flown that leg so many times. With the airport in sight and you're a mile out, something just does not add up."
    The Star's Randy Heaster contributed to this report.
    To reach Judy L. Thomas, call (816) 234-4334 or send e-mail to jthomas@kcstar.com

  13. 10/29   Brown Co. budget keeps libraries open - All would stay operational under proposal
    Green Bay Press Gazette, WI
    By Mike Hoeft (mhoeft@greenbaypressgazette.com)
    Under the proposed 2005 budget, the Brown County Library will keep all 10 locations open next year. However, the library system plans to lay off two people and reduce hours at some branches to cut about $280,000 from the budget and meet a projected tax levy goal of $5,512,316. The library's 2005 expenditures of $6,138,636 is up a scant 0.15% from 2004's expenditures of $6,129,570. The library budget dominated discussion at a meeting Thursday of the Education & Recreation Committee. Jeff Gilderson-Duwe, who started as the new library director just four days ago, told the committee his staff would "find a way to live with the budget." Gilderson-Duwe replaced longtime director Pat LaViolette, who retired in June. Committee vice chair Kathy Johnson said she had hoped to avoid laying off people and was the sole vote against the library budget. Those who will be laid off are a librarian and delivery driver. There also are 1.5 positions currently vacant that will be kept frozen. Two other departments, the NEW Zoo and Brown County Golf Course, earn revenues to offset expenditures and do not require tax levy funding. The zoo is expected to earn $5.24 per visitor. Zoo expenditures in 2005 will be $1,245,017 and revenues are expected to be $1,948,434. The golf course is expected to return $275,569 to the general fund in 2005, up from last year's $265,187. Brown County parks represent a cost to the tax levy of $1.44 per visit. Parks are expected to generate $704,730 in revenue. That means the tax levy will pick up $1,274,852. Green Bay resident Dave Johnson said he was upset by the Neville Public Museum budget, which is expected to generate $305,688 in revenue from fees and cost the taxpayers $888,438 on the levy. He said that based on about 75,000 expected visitors, the cost is nearly $12 per visitor. "I don't think the taxpayers can afford this, fellas," said Johnson, who regularly attends county meetings. Committee chairman John Vander Leest said he recalled that the museum earlier cost about $20 per visitor. "At least we're moving in the right direction. But I agree that more needs to be done," he said. Committee member Tony Theisen said in a 1980 referendum voters overwhelmingly called for investment in a new museum. "The reason we have a museum is that the public demanded it loud and clear," Theisen said. The full County Board will begin deliberating the budget at 9 a.m. Nov. 8.

  14. 10/29   Crime blotter [Abridged]
    The State, SC
    Decker Boulevard, 2400 block: A male employee caused $3,000 damage Monday at Sonic after learning he was scheduled to work fewer hours than he desired.

  15. 10/29   Fort Lauderdale city workers switch to Teamsters union
    Sun-Sentinel.com, FL
    By BRITTANY WALLMAN
    FORT LAUDERDALE - The city's general employees will be represented by a new union, the Teamsters Local 769 in Miami, after they dumped their second union in three years. The employees voted 339-324 to throw out the Fraternal Order of Police-Associates in favor of the Teamsters. Employees have been disenchanted with FOP-A, after a year of budget cuts, increases in health insurance costs, no raises, and a mandatory six days off without pay.
    [Better timesizing than downsizing.]
    An earlier election on the issue had been too close, so a re-election was held this week. FOP-A had been in place only three years, since employees kicked out AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees), which was seen as to close to management in the city. The election was held on Wednesday. City Employee Relations Director Scott Milinski said FOP-A is still the union in power, until the Public Employees Relations Commission, or PERC, certifies the election. That won't happen until Nov. 12, Milinski said, and only if there are no appeals by either union.

  16. 10/29   Editorial: Work-life balance a personal thing
    New Zealand Herald, New Zealand
    New statistics on working hours from the International Labour Organisation have surfaced at an opportune time. With Labour Day, a celebration of the 8-hour day, just behind us and the Council of Trade Unions soon to release a report on today's reality, we should need little encouragement to examine our work-life balance. The ILO suggests that balance has become skewed. New Zealanders, it says, put in the second-longest hours in the Western world.
    20% work at least 50 hours a week, compared with fewer than 10% in most European countries. New Zealand is reported to trail only Japan. At a first glance, that is sobering, given that death or disability caused by overwork affects tens of thousands of Japanese every year. Also, research points to other devastating outcomes. The way, for example, that conflict at home relates to hours at work. The search for a better balance has led many European countries to regulate working hours. A few years back France introduced a 35-hour week. The CTU report will call for tighter regulation here. That, however, is an overreaction. The ILO has confirmed, in fact, that only a small minority are at risk of overwork. Four out of five New Zealanders have found a reasonable balance for themselves. Equally, it would be wrong to imagine that all those putting in more than 50 hours are working longer than they would prefer. Some want to get ahead, others to earn as much as possible for their family, and some clock up long hours while their service is in demand. They would be aggrieved if the chance were snatched away. Some of these people clearly work too hard for their own good. Long hours affect efficiency, and nobody benefits. Therein lies the nub of the issue. Both worker and employer should aim for a balance that prompts maximum productivity. Finding that should be a matter of individual judgment. Regulation is not a balanced response.

  17. 10/29   Time to work it out
    The Age, Australia
    Does anyone really benefit from the trend of working longer hours, asks Suzy Freeman-Greene. Has there been a creepier boss than The Office's David Brent? A frustrated performer trapped in a pencil pusher'sbody, he tells jokes about minority groups, sings bad rock songs on stafftraining day and quotes Confucius in performance reviews. He's boorish, insecure, patronising, ingratiating and neverseems to do a scrap of work. But then no one does much in The Office, the cult BBC comedy series shot like a fly-on-the-wall documentary. Phones ring, computers beep and the photocopier drones mournfully but evidence of actual labour is hard to find. The Slough headquarters of Wernham-Hogg paper merchantsis a hive of sexual tension, practical jokes and disputes over staplers led by a psychopath whothinks he's a rebel. Not that anyone has much of a personal life either ‹ the office is their world. Above all this dysfunction looms senior management, with its plans for redundancies and a merger. "Sure we're in potentially traumatic times but they're exciting times," says Brent at the start of series two. In the end, he's left grovelling for his own job in the face of a very generous redundancy package imposed from above. Shown here recently on the ABC, The Office has been a surprise success. It won two Golden Globe awards in the US this year and an American version of the show is planned. It has struck a chord, I think, because it so brilliantly debunks the platitudes of management-speak, exposing the feral nature of office politics in all its dark, petty glory. If you've worked in any office, you can relate to the borderline personalities, the battles over desk furniture, the desperate, after-hours drunkenness, the suspicion that real life may be happening somewhere else. But as more Australians work longer hours, there's another view of workplace culture quite different from The Office's bleak satire. This euphoric take on overwork suggests that work is the chief source of meaning in many lives. Indeed, for many people, their work life is "more fulfilling, empowering, consistent and controllable than their sex life", write Helen Trinca and Catherine Fox in Better Than Sex:How a whole generation got hooked on work.The authors, journalists with The Australian Financial Review, admit their focus in writing about work has been on "the big end of town". But this doesn't stop them using the chummy, inclusive "we" throughout their book. "Suddenly it's fine to admit that work means a lot to us," they write. "That we sometimes feel more completeand integrated at work than in our private lives." While this may be true for some, it's uncertain if many clothing outworkers or cleaners or callcentre staff feel the same excitement. But we never hear from them in Better Than Sex. The interviews are drawn chiefly from the ranks ofjournalism, management, academia and the law, There is no one like the anonymous worker quoted in Sharon Beder's Selling the Work Ethic: From Puritan Pulpit to Corporate PR who confides: "At the end of the day you are just buggered, you're just sort of shattered."
    [There's an academic conclusion for you.]
    In Australia, the average working week has increased from 42 hours to 44 since 1982. About 1.7 million people (30% of full-time staff) work over 50 hours a week, twice as many as 20 years ago. Yet almost all the job growth in the1990s was in casual and part-time work. One in four Australian workers is now casual. In our increasingly polarised workforce, 2.5 million people say their working hours are too long, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Another 1.25 million people would like to work more. Trinca and Fox acknowledge their own privileged positions in one paragraph, conceding that for many, work remains "a trial which gave them little more than a wage". Then it's back on the message: running parallel with the exhaustion and long hours they have detected "a sense ofexcitement" about work. Part of the allure of work, they argue, is explained by the way popular culture has embraced the corporate world. People use its language in everyday speech. Ads sell us the corporate "lifestyle" (laptops, flash cars, "executive residences"). The message is that, "to be busy is to be part of the world of serious work - needed and fulfilled". At the same time, more women are in paid work than ever before, and technology is blurring the distinction between office and home. We can be pinned down via email or mobile phone day or night. An ad for Toshiba laptops declares: "Because the working day is so yesterday." Yet most employers still regard long hours in the office [aka 'face time'] as a measure of staff commitment. As the authors note, capitalism continues to require increased productivity and the ever-expanding working week delivers it.
    [Output per worker is not productivity but a ticket to weakening consumer demand and depression. Output per per worker hour is productivity, and generally, the shorter the workweek, the higher the output per worker hour.]
    The growth of consumption and credit card debt is another reason why many are more beholden to their jobs. If you're locked into a cycle of debt, it's harder to say no to extra hours at work. "Today, some form of consumption is a reason for being," assert Trinca and Fox. Even if your job is boring, they suggest, consumption softens the blow.While there may be some truth to this, I find the book's individualistic world-view glib and chilling. Is this what we are reduced to:shopaholics who rank work above love, family,friendship, beliefs, leisure, ideas, politicsand community? After a period of corporate mergers, mass sackings and job outsourcing, the authors describe the 1990s as the decade "when workerswere offered a new deal, one based on their becoming equal partners in the work project".(Gosh, I must have missed it!) An alternative view, proffered by Beder, is that massive lay offs sentemployees a message: "If you want to keep yourjob you have to work harder and make yourself more valuable." Indeed as Trinca and Fox note, a key reason why work is more dominant in many lives is because employers increasingly want staff to bring their heart and soul to the job. It's not enough to perform a task well eight hours a day. Surveys of prospective staff measure personal qualities such as intuition, empathy and selfawareness. Job ads ask for "motivated teamplayers". Critics describe this process as acorporate colonisation of the self. One American anthropologist believes we are now in "the corporate stage of cultural evolution". Virgin Blue talks of a "volunteer mode" of work,where staff display the energy of those doing a job for love. It's a new form of loyalty, note Trinca and Fox, but a one-way street. In the service sector,employees must be "ambassadors" yet workplace surveillance is growing. Call-centre staff may have conversations monitored. The CommonwealthBank sent "mystery shoppers" into branches to check tellers were following the script. Psychometric tests assess employees' personality and motivation, to weed out "non-players". People and their minds are the new capital. This factual material proffered by Trinca and Fox is fascinating but they are repeatedly let down by their fondness for sweeping statements. The weakening of unions, for example, removed "the psychological barriers which held workers back from joining the corporate team". It was thus less easy to "demonise the boss". The authors pay scant attention to anything useful that unions might do, like fight for fairer conditions. Trinca and Fox say most employers still viewpart-time work as shorthand for "casual, low status, work for mothers". Many women put in long hours at work and long (unpaid) hours at home. The practices of the workplace, they observe, are still dictated by men who have wives.Yet the ACTU is campaigning for fairer working hours to help parents of young kids. Measures include a doubling of unpaid maternity leave to 24 months; the right of workers to return part time for up to five years after having a baby and an extra six weeks' paid leave through salary sacrifice. (The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has vowed to fight the demands"tooth and nail".) This campaign is not mentioned in Better Than Sex. Rinca and Fox are predictably upbeatabout the future, envisaging a "backlash"against corporate attempts to colonise us as living, breathing mission statements. But one startling statistic stands out in their book. In the US, the average pay of a CEO compared to a worker's went from a ratio of 40:1 in the 1960s-70sto more than 400:1 in 2003. Surely this is a pretty clear indication that the rhetoric of choice and teamwork is empowering bosses more than their staff. What is the truth about overwork? Is work really the central meaning of many people's lives? Clearly, it depends who you ask. A job may be an incredibly rewarding vocation or a relentless daily grind or something between those extremes. Paid work brings financial independence, socialinteraction and the satisfaction of doing a jobwell. Yet workplace stress is a public health problem and families where two parents workare under incredible time pressure.If you're lucky, your paid job will meld seamlessly with your identity, making long hours a pleasure. In The Bitch in the House, Kristin van Ogtrop writes frankly of her feelings of competence at work, compared to her struggle with the chaos of motherhood. The executive editor of a women's magazine, she has two young sons and a full-time nanny. At work, she is "unflappable, eventempered, with a no-nonsense style". At home, she's always yelling. Her son tells her: "You're too mean to live in this house and I want you to go back to work for the rest of your life." "I work because I have to financially and because I love to," she writes. "Like my dad, I get enormous personal satisfaction from career success. But the smoothness with which my career flows makes life at home even harder to manage." Van Ogtrop comes across as bossy and spoilt. But her honesty is rare. "This, I fear is how it will be," she writes. "I will love my children but my love for them will always be imperfect,damaged by my rigid personality and the demands of my work." As the mother of a toddler I know how it feels to close the door gladly on a house full of dirty clothes and spilt food and head off to an orderly workplace where my skills are valued. But I'm fortunate to have a rewarding, reasonably well paid, part-time job. I don't aspire to van Ogtrop'smanic lifestyle or her "imperfect love". What of other mothers who do not have a secure job that pays well or affirms their identity? What of van Ogtrop's nanny or cleaner? Would they choose to work long hours at often tedious jobs, perhaps at the expense of their own families? Such low-paid service jobs are a growth industry in the "new economy". But we do not hear from these women in The Bitch in the House. However in Global Women: Nannies, Maids and Sex Workers in the New Economy, US writer Barbara Ehrenreich describes the work of a cleaning franchise firm The Merry Maids. Their motto is: "We scrub your floors the old fashioned way - on our hands and knees. "Contract cleaners are bound by an incredible set of rules: there are no breaks, except for 10 minutes at lunch. Cleaners are not even allowed to drink water while in a customer's house. Team members each have an assigned task, such as dusting or vacuuming. There is no chance to display a shred of initiative, let alone become "an equal partner in the work project". For these low paid workers, overwork is a necessity - many juggle two jobs, as they can't survive on one wage. The solution for a fairer, less stressed society is obvious: reduce the length of the working weekand make it easier for people to job share. This would give the overworked time off and the underworked or jobless some financial stability. Secure part-time work gives people time to study,create, volunteer or just hang out and enjoy each other's company. It's often said that no one died wishing they'd spent more time at the office. "The compulsion to work has clearly become pathological in modern industrial societies,"observes Beder. The unemployed have been stigmatised and work is seen as an "essential characteristic of being human". We're locked intoa cycle of creating wealth and consuming, often at the expense of our quality of life. But with so many households now paying off record mortgages, will many feel they can afford to work less? And if the Howard Government's workplace deregulation laws are passed by the Senate some employees may find it even harder to say no to long hours. Under the changes, businesses employing less than 20 workers will be exempt from unfair dismissal laws. According to barrister Peter Holding, this means an employer would have the power to dismiss an employee who refused towork extra unpaid overtime. In 2000, France took the bold step of legislating for a 35-hour week. The move reduced unemployment (and Parisian traffic chaos) and was well received by workers. But the conservative French Government, after authorising an increase in overtime, is now hinting it will scuttle this enlightened experiment in balancing work and family life.Still, it seems fitting that a subversive tract extolling the virtues of workplace slackness was an unexpected bestseller in France this year. Bonjour paresse (Hello, Laziness) subtitled "The Art and the Importance of Doing the Least Possible in the Workplace" was written by Corinne Maier, a part time economist at the state-owned Electricita de France. Chapter titles include "Business Culture: My Arse!" and "The Cretins Who Sit Next To You" (presumably she has seen The Office). A mother of two with a doctorate in psychoanalysis, Maier deplores the cronyism in big French firms that means few get top jobs on merit. She rejects the notion that paid work leads to personal fulfilment. Companies, she says, do not have workers' best interests at heart. Maier's employer has since accused her of attempting "to rot the system from within" and threatened disciplinary action. "It's de rigeur to claim you work because 'it interests you' and even if in reality everyone is only there to pay the bills at the end of the month,it is a complete taboo to say so," she told the Financial Times. "One day I said in the middle of a meeting that I could only be bothered to turn up in order to put food on the table; there was 15 seconds of absolute silence during which everyone looked agonised." I have no idea what Ms Maier's sex life is like,but somehow I imagine she is a satisfied woman.

  18. 10/29   'Learn how to be pro-family from Norway' - Dr Balakrishnan also urges local firms to hire non-working mums
    Today (Singapore), Singapore
    Ng Shing Yi (shingyi@newstoday.com.sg)
    NORWAY may be a small state of 4.5 million people, just like Singapore, but the resemblance ends there. In terms of family-friendly workplaces, it is far ahead of Singapore, noted Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Dr Vivian Balakrishnan. He said: "Work-life harmony has been high on the Norwegian national agenda for many years. (Norway) leads us in this aspect, and we take this opportunity to learn from you." Speaking to 100 CEOs at Friday's Joint Norway-Singapore Seminar on Family-Friendly Workplaces, Dr Balakrishnan called on local firms to do more to implement innovative family-friendly practices. "While the benefits might not be immediately apparent, those who persist will surely reap the rewards," he said. Affirming this was Norway's Ms Arni Hole, the director-general of the Ministry of Family and Children Affairs. Norway, with 1.8 births per woman compared to Singapore's 1.26, has laws legislating family-friendly practices: Including a mandatory six-week paternity leave; child allowance paid to every child and mother; and up to a year's leave of absence for parents while they receive 80% of their pay. These laws protect gender equality and an employee's right to flexible or shorter hours to attend to child care. It also extends benefits of up to US$12,949 ($21,540) for single parents, a fringe group that Singapore's August maternity package only provides for partially. On Norway's hefty 42-week paid-maternity leave, Ms Hole said: "We did have debates. Some industrialists said it would ruin business and that men would ruin their careers when taking paternity leave. However, this has not happened." She added: "(The companies) acknowledge that they are party to an overall goal. To build and maintain a dynamic society demands a reasonably high birth rate as an integral part." Ms Hole also addressed concerns that women's participation in the workforce would be affected adversely by more extensive maternity benefits. A whopping 82% of women with children between three and six years of age are involved in paid work in Norway. With a comparable figure of just 54%, Singapore lags far behind Norway and other developed countries, such as the United States (60 per cent) and Finland (73%). Noting the tendency for women in Singapore to leave work after giving birth is particularly high, Dr Balakrishnan yesterday urged companies to "tap on" this pool of women. A survey by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports showed that 67.8% of mothers in Singapore would like to remain in a full- or part-time job, while 19.3% would like a job after their children are grown. Said Dr Balakrishnan: "For companies which find it hard to recruit workers, this is a potential group of hires they can tap on. For companies which have invested in training and developing their staff, help them to continue working even after they start their families. "For a marginal cost incurred, family-friendly companies get to safeguard their earlier hefty investment."

  19. 10/29   Hello darkness, my old friend... - As the clocks go back, the Guardian travels to Iceland where black winter is celebrated as a season of love, beer and obsessions
    Guardian, UK
    Patrick Barkham
    REYJAVIK, Iceland - Gloom descends when the clocks go back one hour tomorrow morning. Not until February 2005 will the sun shine at 5pm again. Oh unhappy days, weeks, months of winter. But stop your moaning, people of Great Britain. That would be the message from the people of Iceland this weekend, if they ever deigned to be so impolite. Reykjavik is the most northerly capital in Europe. While southern Britons rail at Scottish farmers, whose desire to enjoy a mid-morning tea-break in the daylight condemns them to lurch from the joys of British Summer Time to the despair of Greenwich Mean Time, the people of Iceland must rise, lunch and leave work in a near-perpetual hard day's night. According to the Hávamál, a 1,000-year-old book of ancient Viking wisdom, "a man needs warmth - the warmth of fire, and of the shining sun". In the winter, Icelanders have to make do with fire. While the melancholic Finns take refuge in saunas, and the Swedes collapse on their sun-beds, the Icelandic nation is more upbeat about their months of gloom. "We love winter," said Thorarian Sveinsson, a doctor cocooned in a scarf and puffy coat to repel the freezing drizzle that falls on the streets of Reykjavik. "We have 24 hours of light in the summer and that is enough." Icelanders meet the black eye of winter with a steely gaze and a touch of bravado. "Those who cannot live with it," said Dr Sveinsson, with the chuckle of a James Bond villain, "They will die." Suicide comes later. Right now, Icelanders look forward to the months of darkness. There is so much more to do in the dark. Many rediscover the joys of playing together, and staying together, as a family. Board games are popular, if Icelanders are not obsessing over the movies. "On the west coast almost everyone is an expert in something, whether it is stamp collecting or classic cars," said Valur Gunnarsson, editor of the Reykjavik Grapevine. "We have to have something to do in the winter. Most Icelanders are movie buffs. There are always arguments about whether Anthony Hopkins deserved his Oscar for Silence of the Lambs because he spent so little time on screen." Jigsaw puzzles are also big in Iceland. Some run into thousands of pieces. "A friend of mine did a 5,000-piece jigsaw puzzle," said William Thomas, a window-cleaner. He sups his Viking beer while the barmaid tends to her makeup in the mirror behind the bar. "My friend put the puzzle together and then he painted it white with a red dot in the middle. People thought he had made it like that. 'How did you do it?' they asked. It's funny. That's one thing Icelanders do to each other in winter - play a lot of jokes." When not laughing in the dark, this phlegmatic nation falls asleep. "Compared with other European countries we lie in bed a little longer," Dr Sveinsson conceded. "Maybe that's because of the darkness." Dagbiort Blondal...is a student. Her name means "day bright" in English. "When it comes to autumn we are so tired and we sleep all the time," she said. "When I get home from school I sleep for two hours before I go out." The dark gets harder to deal with when you get older. You stop believing inFather Christmas, and your bones ache. But even mature Icelanders appreciate the benefits of warm clothes and heating."When I was young it was so cold you cannot imagine," said Mr Halldorsson. "There was no heating. You had to work in not so good clothes and the rain got through to your body."
    Darkness. The boys and girls of Iceland know what it leads to. "It has been regarded as romantic," began Mr Thomas cautiously. "You can't see exactly what the babe is like until the next morning but even then it's dark. If the dark does anything, it perks me up. In the darkness I can be doing a lot of things I cannot in the broad daylight." Leering does not come easily to Icelanders, but Mr Thomas does quite a good impression. A frenzy grips Iceland in the autumn. "This is the first winter I haven't had a boyfriend for several years," said Andrea Palmadottir, 19, looking doleful. She believes the dark of winter is much more romantic. "I love to drive around at night and watch the lights from the car and listen to slow music. The summer is more like a playtime. We're just going to play around; we don't want to have boyfriend then." "In late summer, early autumn, desperation sets in," agreed Mr Gunnarsson. "You feel like you have to find someone to snuggle up to for the winter. It goes back to Viking days when there were always two to a bed to keep each other warm." According to doctors, rates of depression are lower than in other north European nations. But just as the arrival of spring should lift hearts, so Icelanders fall down. The really dark side of winter comes with spring. "In the springtime we are like cows let out into the meadow. We go 'whaaaaa'!" said a barmaid, jumping around like a frisky Friesian. But for some, there is no such escape. "Most Icelanders kill themselves in the spring - that's the crazy thing," said Mr Thomas. "They kill themselves when the sun comes up." Sigurbjorg Gudmundsdottir lives near the Hallgrimskirkja, the grand church that towers over Reykjavik. More people go to church in winter, she said, and she can hear the chimes that signal another funeral. "By spring, people are just finished. They are drained. And they are frightened of taking another round."
    Icelandic survival tips
    1. Romance
      For the men of Iceland, it's a fumble in the murk without ever having to see just how beautiful your beau is. For the women, it's a moonlit drive under the northern lights. Either way, darkness is essential.
    2. Hot tubs outdoors
      The UK may lack the requisite levels of geothermal activity, but why not dig a hole in your backyard and fill it with hot water? "It gets all misty in the frost and it's romantic," said one young Icelander.
    3. Football
      Why play in the daylight on grass like a southern European Jessie when you can get the sliding tackles in on a frozen lake under floodlights like teenagers do in Reykjavik? The main Icelandic football season is in summer. In winter, the country survives on a diet of five English Premiership matches every weekend.
    4. Play your cards right
      Older Icelanders recommend whiling away the winter evenings with a game of bridge.
    5. Catch some culture
      "Cultural things lie low in the summertime. People go to the theatre much, much more in the winter," said one Icelandic woman. "Wherever there are two Icelanders together there will be a choir. And a theatre".
    6. Cultivate an obsession
      If it is not jigsaws, movies or practical jokes,collecting old cars or stamps will suffice.
    7. Work
      Work harder. Or work less. The word from Iceland is you should lie in for longer and work shorter hours in winter. Some might call it hibernation. Most taxi drivers work six to eight hours in winter but 15 in summer.
    8. Books
      It's an old one. "I read a lot of books," said William Thomas. "You cannot find any Icelanders who don't read. That's our past-time." Or TV, with a cup of hot cocoa.
    9. Family
      Remember those strangers who live in your house? Even if it is only the winter that brings you together, it is something to be treasured. "Winter puts the family together because what else can you do?".
    10. Diet and drink
      Beer was legalised in 1989 and the transformative power of alcohol is revered. Some still celebrate "beer day". Proper fresh fish is also good for the spirits. Asked to send a message to Guardian readers, one Icelander said: "Don't hide yourselves in fish and chips. Come to Iceland. We'll show you: sex and drugs and rock'n'roll by candlelight".
    Don't forget
    The clocks go back at 2am tomorrow. British summer time ends and clocks should be set back by one hour.

  20. 10/29   Arlington opts for a paid fire chief - Volunteers disappointed
    Poughkeepsie Journal, NY
    By Nik Bonopartis
    Arlington's new fire chief will be a full-time, paid firefighter. The decision was made Wednesday night when the Arlington Fire District's board of fire commissioners voted 3-1 in favor of changing the leadership position from one of a volunteer, elected chief to an appointed, career chief. The decision came after fierce opposition from the district's volunteer firefighters, a shrinking force that fears being phased out after losing power within the district. Arlington follows a nationwide trend of a decline in volunteer firefighters as commutes, longer work hours and two-income families make people less likely to spend their free time volunteering. Betty Bomba, chairwoman of the board of commissioners, said the district needs ''a special person'' to manage the resources, personnel and equipment. Arlington is a combination department of 67 career - or paid - staff and roughly twice as many volunteers. ''From the research that I've done, the successful combination departments or districts all had career chiefs,'' Bomba said. ''In order for us to be successful, this was something we had to do.''
    Search for candidates
    The district will form a search committee to look for a new chief. The deputy chief's position, which is a paid post, will be eliminated, and the current volunteer chief will move into the role of first deputy chief as the district's second-in-command. The new chief's position would command a salary of more than $90,000, Bomba said. She did not have exact figures, though she estimated with benefits the position would be worth more than $100,000. Chief John Richardson said he thinks Wednesday night's decision signals a move ''toward building a bigger paid department. ''With the advent of a paid chief there will be a move toward the driving out of volunteers, which will result in enormous increases of fire taxes for residents of the district,'' he said. Bob Raisch, executive director of the Arlington Business Improvement District, said the position helps the department run more economically and improves response times, he said. Arlington's budget for next year is more than $9.1 million, reflecting the hiring of more paid firefighters, a growing town population and the nearly 4,500 calls the district responded to last year. Deputy Chief Jeff Pells, who could face either a promotion to chief or a step down to lieutenant, said the switch to a career chief is long overdue. ''It's big business, and I think we have to look at it that way,'' he said. ''The fire department needs to operate as a big business, and we need people who are going to be here on a regular basis.'' Journal writer Erikah Haavie contributed to this report. Nik Bonopartis can be reached at nbonopar@pough keepsiejournal.com

  21. 10/29   Part-Timers Fall Victim to Labor Exploitation - 70% of Employers Fail to Pay Due Wages
    Korea Times, South Korea
    By Na Jeong-ju (jj@koreatimes.co.kr)
    Most convenience stores, fast food chains, gas stations and other retailers that chiefly employ part-time workers are exploiting teenagers, refusing to pay overtime and failing to inform them of working conditions before making contracts, according to the Labor Ministry. Despite government crackdowns, most owners of such businesses have paid little attention to improving labor conditions for part-timers due mainly to ignorance of related laws on employment conditions for minors, the ministry said. The ministry said Friday 70.9% of retailers hiring many part-timers, such as convenience stores and fast food chains, are violating labor laws by forcing employees to work overtime without proper payment. This is the result of a survey of 392 companies nationwide conducted by the government during the summer vacation season in July and August this year. About 90% of the companies were hiring those under the age of 17 to handle chores, the ministry said. Fast food chains and convenience stores have often been under fire for exploiting part-timers, but labor conditions at those workplaces had showed little sign of improvement. In July, the People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD), a civic group, and 20 former underage employees of fast food chains sued four major fast food companies - McDonald's, Burger King, Lotteria and Popeyes - for exploiting part-time workers. In most cases, teenage workers at the food chains were forced to work overtime without being paid properly and had no paid time-off in violation of labor laws, according to Kwon Jung-soon, a lawyer for the plaintiffs. ``Besides the fast food chains, thousands of underage workers are working at restaurants, convenience stores and gas stations, but most of them are not protected by laws,'' Kwon said. ``They are one of the main forces supporting the economy, but law enforcement is slack in this area, despite campaigns to improve labor conditions for young people.'' The ministry said such unfair labor practices had been allowed to continue as most teenage workers have little knowledge of labor laws and employers know this. For example, an owner of a restaurant in Kyongju, South Kyongsang Province, forced a teenage employee to work more than 10 hours a day and didn't grant paid holidays, ministry officials said. The government survey shows 25.6% of companies hadn't notified part-timers of contract conditions in advance, although laws state employers who did not keep the rule would be subject to fines of up to 10 million won. Authorities fined 10.7% of companies for having daytime part-timers work at night and 10.4% for failing to properly pay employees. Some 6.5% of employers were fined for not keeping working hours. According to the ministry, around 790,000 middle and high school students, or 22% of the total number of students at that level, had experience of working as part-timers, as of January this year. More than 490,000 had worked at gas stations, fast food chains and other restaurants. Ministry officials say an increasing number of minors have been forced to work as the economy remains sluggish. Most of the teenage workers are from families suffering financial difficulties and depending on government allowances for the poor, they said.

  22. 10/29   Today in the press [Abridged]
    RTE News
    Smaller shops ring the changes - Convenience stores are leading the transformation of the retailing sector, according to a report published yesterday says the Irish Examiner. A survey of lifestyle and shopping habits found convenience stores, which include brands such as Spar, Centra and Mace, had eaten into the retailing market on both sides of the Border and that 80% of shoppers used them regularly to buy food on the way home from work. The survey, carried out by market research agency Mintel, said convenience stores had benefited from longer working hours; longer commuting journeys; less free time and a greater proportion of women in the workforce.

  23. 10/30   Bad ways to attract attention
    San Francisco Chronicle, CA
    Dave Murphy
    The author of such books as "Hey, Idiot!" and "What's the Number for 911?" has found another rich source for true-life tales of humanity and stupidity. That should explain Leland Gregory's latest, "Idiots at Work: Chronicles of Workplace Stupidity" (Andrews McMeel). Some of the stupidity mentioned in the book is fairly predictable, such as the resume that included this sentence: "I was proud to win the Gregg Typting Award." And if you've ever put your foot in your mouth during a job interview, you'll appreciate those candidates who went at least knee deep, such as the one who wore a Walkman so she could listen to music during the interview. Or the one who said she hadn't had time for lunch, so she proceeded to eat a hamburger and fries in the interviewer's office. Or, my favorite, the applicant who phoned her therapist during the interview to ask for advice on how to answer specific questions. But there are other anecdotes that raise stupidity to an almost iconic level. Such as:
  24. "A guard at an armored car company pulled into the company parking lot in a new $53,000 Chevrolet Corvette. Officials for Dunbar Armored in Cinnaminson, N.J., approached the man and asked about the new car. "Were they admiring his new wheels? Nope, they were curious if the guard's purchase of a new car had anything to do with the theft of more than $400,000, just days before. The guard admitted to the theft and was arrested."
  25. An animal sanctuary warden took home a parrot named Oliver one night for some special attention but also spent the night giving her boyfriend some special attention. When she returned to work, the parrot was mimicking such phrases as "God - oh - God" and "How do you like it?" "Oliver's attention to detail left nothing to the imagination," Gregory quotes the woman's boss as saying. Job sharing: After my recent column on the book "Going Back to Work: A Survival Guide for Comeback Moms" mentioned that job sharing is a good alternative, a reader warned that such jobs are scarce, even among companies that are allegedly family friendly. Make no mistake: The jobs are rare. But there are ways to maximize your chances. Most obvious is to be one of your company's best workers. That means great, not merely good. If you're not someone your boss would hate to lose, your job-sharing chances are weak. Draft as specific a proposal as possible. Who would be your teammate? Can you make the boss feel confident that your strengths are complementary and you won't pass the buck to one another? How does your plan help the company more than hiring a single, somewhat-less-talented worker? See if any colleagues have done it or if any other managers are more open to it. Ask for advice. Listen closely to any objections, then point out how your plan helps the company - not just you.
    On the Fringe appears Saturdays. E-mail Dave Murphy at dmurphy@sfchronicle.com

  26. 10/30   Is the wired world any better off? - Opinions differ on whether technology has made life easier - "That's the kind of scary thing about technology for a lot of people - You have to constantly learn new stuff": Bill Wedenoja, anthropology professor, Southwest Missouri State University
    News-Leader.com, MO
    By Nina Rao
    Howard Shayne calls himself a techno-geek. Every patient room at his Springfield dental clinic, Fox Grape Family Dentistry, is outfitted with a computer, where he pulls up digital X-rays and photos of his patients' teeth with a click of his wireless mouse. Just as quickly, he accesses his online planner so he can reschedule an appointment. The technology has made his clinic more efficient. Plus it's neat, says Shayne. But technology also means that when he's on vacation, he still calls the office and checks e-mail and messages. "It used to be you left it behind, and that's not the case anymore," Shayne says. It's the paradox of technology, which promises to make life easier but sometimes complicates it instead. There's the cycle of technology consumption, the need to stay up-to-date and, of course, the need to do more because it's suddenly possible. "The interesting thing is everybody says technology is going to make our lives simpler," Shayne says. "From my perspective, technology makes us busier." Then he quickly adds: "Don't get me wrong. I'm a big believer. I love technology." But one of the goals of modern technology was specifically to reduce or eliminate human labor, says Charles Ess, a philosophy professor at Drury University, in an e-mail from Germany where he's on sabbatical. In the 1950s and 1960s, people expected it to make life so easy by the 1980s that the average U.S. workweek would drop to 14 hours, Ess says.
    ["Average" doesn't matter, because the average workweek is dropping anyway in the worst possible way (labor surplus, leads to labor powerlessness, leads to undisciplined management, leads to short-sightedness, leads to converting everyone off full-time with good pay and benefits to part-time with poor pay and no benefits, leads to weaker markets, leads to downsizing, leads to worse labor surplus and downward spiral).] "It has turned out quite the opposite, of course," he says. "... Americans now have the unenviable record of working more hours per year than even the Japanese."
    Technology treadmill
    Still, Americans are hooked. From 1984 to 2002, the average amount each U.S. household spent on televisions, radios and sound equipment jumped 115% from $322 to $692 per year, reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. During the same period, spending on small appliances grew 49%, from $67 to $100 per household per year. "Americans tend to equate 'new' with 'better,'" says Ess. "... It is also the case that new technologies help - for better and for worse - fuel further consumption." Compact discs meant a market for CD burners and for portable players. They also spelled the virtual obsolescence of tape recorders. It's happened with other devices as well. Kodak has stopped producing slide projectors, says Bill Wedenoja, an anthropology professor at Southwest Missouri State University. And the anthropology department's 5-year-old slide scanner isn't compatible with the latest version of Windows. Even Wedenoja's 1991 Mazda Miata seemed doomed when a mechanic said the garage only keeps records for cars from the past 10 years. Then there's the issue of Wedenoja's own dated-ness. The 57-year-old jokes that he should retire to avoid the new technology the university and its students seem to expect him to use in the classroom. "That's the kind of scary thing about technology for a lot of people," he says. "You have to constantly learn new stuff."
    Simpler is sometimes better, he says, mentioning a 1960s study of an African hunter-gatherer tribe, the !Kung, who spent about 20 hours a week working to meet their basic needs.
    "And the rest of the time, they sat around talking and singing and telling stories, which are luxuries for us," he says.
    For the first time this semester, Wedenoja is using PowerPoint presentations in one of his classes. It lets him incorporate maps and slides more easily than before. "But nobody stops to ask whether it makes for better teaching," he says. "We just assume anything new is an improvement." Wedenoja isn't so sure. At home, he doesn't have DSL or cable television. He uses his cell phone only for emergencies. And in the second class he's teaching this semester, he's using only a text, lectures and discussion - the "old-fashioned method," he says - and in his opinion, it is going much better than the first.
    Keeping up
    Sometimes, the technology tide seems unstoppable. After 17 years in business, Springfield's Korea House added a credit-card machine this year. The restaurant had avoided it because of the expense. "Before we said, 'No. We don't accept,'" says owner Mai Pong. But enough customers asked - and enough customers walked out without eating - that Pong and her husband decided to invest in the equipment. Only about 5% of their customers use it, but Pong says it is worth it. Murfin's Markets grocery stores crossed the credit-card bridge about 10 years ago. Before that, they implemented electronic payroll and accounting, and introduced grocery scanning. All were good decisions, says Chuck Murfin Sr., who owns the three grocery stores in Ozark, Willard and Marionville. Before electronic payroll, it took his wife two days with pencil and paper to finish the task, which the computer now can complete in minutes. They had to hire an accountant. As for bar-code scanning, it was simply more efficient than ringing in the prices by hand. Although the new technologies haven't meant less work, they have meant greater control over their family business. But ask Murfin...about the latest grocery store technology ‹ self-checkout lines - and he answers: "I'm the old man. You need to talk to my son, Chuck Jr. He's been on me like a yard dog about this self-checkout." Ask Chuck Murfin Jr...and he talks about the importance of offering the service, both in terms of pleasing customers and staying competitive. "I sort of compare self-checkout with pay-at-the-pump," he says. "There are a lot of people who will avoid a gas station if it doesn't have pay-at-the-pump for the sheer convenience of it." His father is hesitant, partly because he can't imagine using self-checkout himself. But, the senior Murfin adds, he was skeptical of pay-at-the-pump, too. "Now, I wouldn't do it any other way." The son is sure of the need for self-checkout. But then the younger Murfin, a self-described "techie," likes technology in general. "It speeds things up. You're able to spend less time to accomplish a task," he says. What does he do with all the extra time? He laughs. "Time is something I struggle with," he says. "In a way, I think technology can be a detriment because we do too many things."

  27. 10/30   Rolls-Royce revamps crumbling UK plants - The aero-engine maker is putting its faith in British workers and building sleek new factories
    The Sunday Times, UK
    By Dominic O'Connell
    ROLLS-ROYCE's plant at Hillington, on the outskirts of Glasgow, looks an archetype of Britain's fabled industrial decline. It was opened just before the second world war to build Merlin engines for Spitfire fighters and Lancaster bombers, but its glory days have long passed. Paint peels from the crumbling brick walls, and much of the plant is in darkness. But this is one British manufacturing story with a reasonably happy ending. Four miles down the road at Inchinnan, beside Glasgow airport, Rolls-Royce has opened a shiny new facility that looks more like an Asda supermarket than an engineering plant. In 2002 the company's management thought about shutting Hillington, which makes the turbine blades that spin round inside Rolls-Royce engines, and shifting the work offshore. Glasgow's loss would have been Prague's gain; the move would have been to the Czech Republic. But in the end Inchinnan triumphed. According to Rolls-Royce's chief operating officer, John Cheffins, this was thanks to the skills of its workforce - although a £15m government grant certainly helped. "There are many factors that influence the choice of location," said Cheffins. "The simple assumption that low wages will give you a low-cost product just isn't true." The company invested another £70m of its own money to fund construction of the new factory. Hillington will be closed and put up for sale next year. Inchinnan is the latest fruit of a wide-ranging revamp of all Rolls-Royce's manufacturing operations. Four years ago it began an evaluation of what it needed to make in-house, and what it thought it could safely buy in from subcontractors. Cheffins said that to stay in-house, each process had to qualify under one of three categories: it was either part of the company's lucrative high- volume spares business, involved a unique manufacturing process or was deemed "technologically critical". If not, it was outsourced. Rolls-Royce now buys 71% of its final products from other companies. Several of the older manufacturing plants of a similar vintage to Hillington have been closed, and the company will spend a total of £250m on new facilities or refurbishment at its main UK sites at Inchinnan, Derby, Bristol and Barnoldswick in Lancashire, as well as at its US base in Indianapolis. The new Glasgow factory is smaller and much more productive. It covers 50,000 square metres, compared with Hillington's 75,000, and will employ 1,000, compared with 1,500. Its arrangement and working practices draw heavily from the motor industry. Rolls-Royce has recruited a clutch of senior managers from car manufacturers and the new facility was designed in consultation with Toyota, the Japanese car giant. Manufacturing times have dropped dramatically. Blade forgings will be done in 1 week at Inchinnan that took 12 weeks to be processed at Hillington and the all-important dies, the complex tools used to stamp out carefully shaped compressor blades, can now be made in 2 hours rather than 8.
    [So much for contemporary economists' and analysts' catechism that "technology creates more jobs than it destroys."]
    The key to the blade manufacture is their subtle shape, details of which had to be completed by hand in the past. Engineer Amir Asghar said computer-modelling techniques had allowed this manual finishing to be eliminated in some cases. "We are putting the science into what was an art form," he said. Overall, said Mike Lloyd, director of gas-turbine operations, productivity should be up 30%. Inchinnan is now producing at a rate equivalent to 1m compressor turbine blades a year, but has the capacity to make 1.6m without increasing the workforce. The company's working culture has been turned upside down. The old factory division between blue and white-collar staff - a typical feature of British industrial plants in the decades following the second world war - has been scrapped. Now all employees, whether they work on the shop floor or in an office, have the same status, with no reserved car-parking spaces or separate canteens. overtime has been banned,
    [Sounds good, but...]
    with workers agreeing to a single salary regardless of the number of hours worked.
    [Turns out to be just a blank check on your life.]
    If productivity and production targets are reached, staff receive a one-off annual bonus of £2,000, on an average salary of £28,000. "We wanted to get right away from the old high overtime culture," said Lloyd. "We want to do fewer hours, not more."
    [But is this the reality?]
    There is a drawback to the new working arrangements - there are some 500 fewer jobs at the new plant, and staff have agreed to near-total flexibility on shift changes, which allows Roll-Royce to ramp production up or down quickly in response to demand. Cheffins said Rolls-Royce had achieved unit-cost reduction of 5% in 2003, and was on track to make similar reductions this year.

  28. 10/30   CENSUS: Nearly 117,000 Minnesotans work at home - Reasons include shared parenthood, more money and working in jammies
    Associated Press via Grand Forks Herald, ND
    Nearly 117,000 Minnesotans could measure their morning commute in steps from the bedroom instead of miles in the car in 2000, according to new figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. The bureau reported that the number of Americans who worked in their home grew by 23%, or 800,000, from 1990 to 2000. The 4.2 million at-home workers were generally better educated, paid less and worked fewer hours than the U.S. workforce overall. The trends held in Minnesota, where 61% of Minnesotans who worked in their homes reported annual income less than $24,999. Only 45% overall of the state workforce reported incomes in that range.
    Most self-employed
    Most at-home workers in Minnesota reported being self-employed (58%) while the second largest group were those working for private businesses (38%). The most common industries for at-home workers to work in were education, health and social services (21%) and agriculture (22%), according to census figures. The bureau estimates, which were based on the 2000 Census, represent people who reported that they usually worked at home. "Usually" was defined to mean "most days during the week." People who worked outside the home during the majority of the week were not counted in the report as at-home workers.
    All about the kids
    Among them was game inventor Kurt Kirckof of Brooten. Besides promoting his children's game, Going-Going Crazy, Kirckof operates an auto body and engine repair shop at the family home. It lets him share parenting with his wife, a nurse, for their five children. "To me, it's all about the children," he said. "Yesterday, they got out of school at noon, and I got to pick them up." Technology that makes remote work easier, and employers' gradual acceptance of off-site work, is driving the increase, demographers said. Another factor is the typical migration into self-employment during the recent economic slump, others said. "The numbers don't surprise me," said Terri Lonier, founder of Working Solo Inc. in New Paltz, N.Y. "Those of us involved in this area have seen very active movement for some time," said Lonier, whose company consults on very small businesses. "What's happening now is people are paying more attention, and the data-gathering is becoming more specific."
    Parents scale back
    One factor in the increase in at-home workers is parents scaling back for work-family balance, demographers said. Also, all the home-based startups account for some of the low earnings. Jim Cutchey of Bloomington, for example, left a decadelong career managing auto body shops to try to launch his indoor-hockey training equipment for children. The setup, inspired by his own boyhood hockey play, has taken about two years to get the equipment patented, produced and packaged. Cutchey hopes his business, Blaze Sports, eventually will outgrow his home.
    Break the mold
    Amber Bullock of Burnsville, on the other hand, breaks the mold. Her home office handles the voice and data communication duties of assorted small businesses and associations in the Twin Cities. She is working harder and earning more than she did before she started her business two years ago, after the birth of her third son. Her Buy Your Time company handles the office work of small businesses as well as associations - from the Rotary Club to the Minnesota (Dry) Cleaners Association - that often have no office of their own. "It's by my own choice," Bullock said. "I'm a workaholic."
    [Insecurity and job desperation have become so imbued in America that poor saps like Amber Bullock have internalized the power elite's rhetoric and obediently parrot the line that "it's by my own choice."]
    Still, she plans to keep her business at home, she said. "I like being able to get up and work in my pajamas if I don't have any meetings."

  29. 10/31   Getting enough time for pillow talk is hard work
    Sydney Morning Herald, Australia
    By Anneli Knight
    Work hours dictate our sleep patterns more than any other factor, a survey shows, and most us are not getting anywhere near enough sleep. An ACNielsen survey published today shows 51% of men and 44% of women believe work hours are the main factor determining their sleep schedules. Family and children dominated sleeping times of 10% of men and 24% of women. "The social engineering of the workplace and/or the female having kids has an enormous effect on conditioning the hours which people sleep," said Peter Birrell, a sleep researcher at the University of NSW school of psychology. Recent research suggested that women needed 9 hours of sleep each night and men needed 8, Dr Birrell said. "This survey shows women are obviously still the ones who have to be sensitive to family needs," Dr Birrell said. "Women are trying to keep three balls in the air even more so than 15 years ago. A lot of women would regard 8 hours of sleep a luxury." Amanda Travers...has two sons, aged 7 and 10, and works full-time. She usually goes to bed at 11pm. She has time to herself after 8pm, when the boys go to bed. "Sometimes I'll just crash on the couch. By the time I wind down and it's my time I'm so exhausted." The survey found that more than half the people aged 21 to 59 went to sleep between 10pm and midnight, with more than 18% of those aged 25 to 44 not sleeping until after midnight. But the vast majority of people in these age groups woke before 7am. "People are going to bed much later than they were 40 years ago, but the demands of the workplace mean people are still getting up about the same time," Dr Birrell said. "Australian social researchers used to giggle at the bizarre Japanese patterns of working themselves to death, but I see a very similar phenomenon happening here in Australia." The survey showed that almost half of those aged 18 to 20 went to bed after midnight and woke after 8am, which Dr Birrell attributed to studying, partying and irregular shiftwork hours. And more than 85% of the over-60s got out of bed before 8am, which Dr Birrell said was probably from habit.

  30. 10/31   Moving from unemployed to working unemployed
    Ha'aretz, Israel
    By Ruth Sinai
    Rahel Dadon is one of 92,000 workers who entered the labor force this year. She, seemingly, is a success story. But Dadon, like most of the new workers, is employed for only two hours a day, although she would like to work full-time. A professional caregiver, Dadon stopped working two and a half years ago because of a car accident. At the beginning of 2004 she registered with the government Employment Service, and was referred to a home-care provider, but work is sparse and she sees only one elderly person a day, with her salary adding up to only NIS 600 a month. "I'm fed up," says Dadon, a mother of three from Jerusalem. "I want a real salary, not pocket money. There are a lot of women in my situation in the neighborhood. I say, lift yourself up, because the government wants only to trample people, raise their own salaries and take from the poor." Mali Orfali, another under-employed caregiver says: "No one wants to help us; all they care is that Netanyahu tells the press that we have climbed out of the recession." Dr. Karnit Flug, director of the research division at the Bank of Israel, said that 62,000 of the news jobs created since the middle of 2003 are part-time. She describes Dadon's and other women's situation as "under-employment." Benny Pfefferman head of Industry and Trade Ministry's Planning, Research and Economy Administration, views this as a type of unemployment. In fact, he says, the definition of unemployment does not reflect the true state of unemployment. Official figures place the average unemployment level in 2004 at 273,000. But if the 147,000 who work part-time but would like to work longer are added, the figure reaches 420,000 "who are either fully or partially exposed to unemployment," Pfefferman says. This reflects an unemployment rate of 16.5%, and not 10.3%, the official figure. Some 500,000 employees in the work force work part-time for a variety of reasons. Some 20%, such as healthcare workers or teachers, work less than 35 hours a week, but are considered full-time workers. Others work part-time because they take care of children, study at universities, are sick or prefer to do so for other reasons. But according to the Bureau of Statistics, the only group that has significantly grown in the past few years - from 20% of part-time workers in 2000 to 29% in the first quarter of 2004 - is those who would like to increase their work hours. Professors Haya Stier and Yinon Cohen of the department of Labor Studies at Tel Aviv University have studied part-time employment and claim there is a clear correlation between the rise in unemployment and the increase in number of part-time workers. Their data show that between 1979-1999 the number of involuntary part-time workers rose by 700%, while the number of employees in the work force merely doubled. Most of the losers from this form of employment are women, and especially those who work in what Stier terms "pink collar occupations" - cashiers, retail, caregiving. In the past the number of women who worked part-time, but did not prefer to do so, was low, because many preferred part-time work. But the economic situation and the increase in the number of educated women means fewer prefer part-time work. Pfefferman says that even if employment rises, the number of part-time workers will not significantly decrease, because hidden-unemployment is characteristic of the work-world we live in. Today's employer don't want to risk providing full time employment and prefer maximum flexibility in hiring, where workers no long enjoy the protection of strong unions. "Part-time [low-paid] work, [and] poverty, will become a way of life for many workers. We won't go back to a state where everyone who wants to can work full-time," he said.

  31. 10/31   Hospital doctors hit by severe stresses
    New Zealand Herald, New Zealand
    By MARTIN JOHNSTON
    One in 10 hospital doctors in an Auckland study suffers a severe psychological disturbance. They were among the nearly 30% found to be psychologically distressed in a Massey University study of 172 doctors at the Starship, Green Lane and Auckland hospitals. Ian Powell, executive director of the senior doctors' union, said the figures should alarm the Auckland District Health Board and the Government. "It's very worrying." The findings are similar to those of British, Australian and New Zealand surveys of hospital physicians, surgeons, GPs and pharmacists dating from 1999. The New Zealand studies found that the proportion of health workers who were psychologically distressed was two to three times higher than the rate in the general population. Writing in the latest NZ Medical Journal, where their Auckland hospitals study is published, researchers Dave Clarke and Racquel Singh say it suggests many doctors are "clinically depressed, anxious, or experiencing psychiatric symptoms. The most frequent stressful situations reported were associated with work demands, commonly found in other studies". They also comment that the hospitals' "top-down management system" seems to contribute to additional stress among hospital doctors. "Whatever the sources of stress, doctors who perceive that their productivity and family life are adversely affected by work and non-work-related stresses need help." All registered health workers, clinics and hospitals must by law report colleagues or employees whose work they think is impaired by a physical or mental condition. The Auckland board's acting chief medical officer, Dr Margaret Wilsher, yesterday expressed concern about stress and acknowledged that doctors had "higher levels of stress than the general population". But she said the findings did not mean patients were at risk, since doctors worked in teams. "Generally we can pick up some of the signs and symptoms of stress in a team environment and take the pressure off ... We can reduce their working hours, reduce the intensity of their workload, make sure they take leave."
    Bad diagnosis
    * Study of 172 doctors at Starship, Green Lane and Auckland hospitals.
    * 17 (9.9%) had severe psychological disturbance.
    * They were among 50 (29.1%) who were psychologically distressed.
    * Based on written questionnaires in 2000.
    * The hospital says the findings do not mean patients are at risk.
10/29/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 10/28 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 10/29 hardcopy), and with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. GM plans 10,000 temporary layoffs - A move that reflects the decline in sales of large vehicles, by Danny Hakim, NYT, C4.
    DETROIT - General Motors said Thursday that it would temporarily lay off more than 10,000 workers for one to four week early next year at five plants that mostly produce sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks. The [furloughs], at plants in Mich. [2 in Lansing], Okla. [Oklahoma City], Tex. [Arlington], and Wisc. [Janesville], come on the heels of GM's second quarterly loss in North American automotive operations in a decade, which it reported in its third-quarter earnings results earlier this month....
    [Let's estimate, conservatively, that if GM didn't do these 10,000 furloughs, they'd be "forced to" do 1,000 indefinite or permanent layoffs. So this "timesizing" has saved est. 1000 jobs.]
    [Journal version -]
    Auto retailers say..., pointer blurb (to column 4), WSJ, front page.
    ...they will no longer fill their lots with slow-selling vehicles to help Detroit avoid production cuts, citing higher interest rates and thinner margins. GM and Ford already are planning to cut overtime and temporarily lay off thousands of workers....
    [Indicated article -]
    Big dealers pressure car makers to cut production - Higher costs, thin margins are forcing major sellers to keep inventories lean, by Karen Lundegaard, WSJ, front page.
    ...GM has been offering up to $6,000 rebates on most of its 2004 SUVs.... GM...will cut North American production by about 7% during the fourth quarter; Ford plans an 8% production cut in the fourth quarter.... Ford has selectively been closing plants, one or two a week typically, since the beginning of the month. It just started a four-week shutdown at its focus plant in Wayne, Mich....

  2. It's time to take back time
    by Rev. Paul Sinnott, Hingham Journal, MA
    HINGHAM, Mass. - Vaudeville performer Henny Youngman used to have a sketch dubbed "Doctor, doctor!" Two of the imaginary exchanges seem to frame our discussion this month.
    Patient: Doctor, doctor I think I'm invisible!
    Doctor: Who said that? [cymbal crash]
    And,
    Patient: Doctor, doctor, I think I'm a broken clock!
    Doctor: I think you need a specialist.
    Patient: I don't have the time! [cymbal crash]
    More and more, I meet people who don't seem to have any time, and who have, because of the pressure of daily living, become nearly invisible. Most often, these are folks who fit into a demographic some would call "sandwich people," whose responsibilities include simultaneously the raising of children and the care of elderly parents. As we all age beyond expectations, as we begin the raising of families until later in life, as healthcare pushes the boundaries of what we consider an appropriate level of activity for seniors, as expectations for what it takes to be a well rounded child expand, providers seem to have disappeared. These pressures are not limited to parents or care providers. This kind of behavior seems to begin quite early in life. In November 2003, an open letter from the Hingham/Hull Religious Leaders Association addressed to coaches was published in the Hingham Journal, urging them to allow for time for young sports participants to attend to religious commitments without penalty. In the unlikely event that they are not readers of the Journal, we sent coaches and youth sports organizations a copy of our letter. No formal response was published, and a poll of our religious leaders recently revealed that only one coach responded, citing his own "powerlessness" in the face of so large a "system." We are all part of the system that categorically ignores the need for Sabbath in our lives. It is time to "Take Back Your Time," says the Massachusetts Council of Churches. The project is currently under way. According to the Council: The Council suggests choosing four windows of time each month, during which individuals and families "Take Back Your Time," from excessive work, and other pressured commitments. Such windows will enable rest of mind and body, reconnection with family and community, revive energy and enthusiasm, recreated balance, and best of all, the opportunity to renew your relationship with your spiritual base. During these periods, I urge all of you to refrain from buying or selling, intrusive technology, obligations such as work or organized sports.Time is one of the most undervalued precious resources with which we have been graced. The Book of Genesis describes God's day of rest, and the commandments to which we commit urge us to "remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy." Jesus instructed his disciples to rest and recreate, even after working faithfully. It is time to regain the balance that comes from rest, which God intends for all creation.
    The Rev. Paul Sinnott is pastor of House of Prayer Lutheran Church. This is one in a monthly series of Faith Reflections by members of the Hingham-Hull Religious Leaders Association.

  3. Prince George's Sentinel - Q&A: Candidates for Maryland's Delegation to Congress [Abridged]
    Montgomery County Sentinel, MD
    5th Congressional District:
    Auerbach (Green Party): Ending the war in Iraq is a high priority. I support removing all troops from Iraq, as soon as possible. Force and violence do not solve problems. People in Maryland want a fair economic system. Educational opportunity should extend freely to everyone, K-through-college. Health care and decent housing should be available to all. Our government should not give tax breaks to the rich, to support private corporate enrichment through exploitation. Instead, we should encourage cooperative economics, with roots in local communities. We need to reverse the trend of corporate agribusinesses taking over smaller farms. Democratic society requires democracy in the workplace. End discrimination. A shortened work-week could end unemployment. Unfortunately, inequality of wealth in the United States makes money the dominant political power and undermines equal access to democracy. Money in politics also largely determines which interests our elected officials serve, usually at the expense of the public interest. Green Party candidates offer an alternative to this system of government by money. Green candidates do not simply preach campaign finance reform; instead, we are practicing clean campaigns now. Green candidates do not accept PAC money. In Maryland, Green candidates accept money from individuals only, and we adopt self-imposed limits below the legal contribution limit. (My campaign has adopted a limit of $100 per contributor.) We need to protect natural resources. For Marylanders, this especially includes restoring the health of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. The Bay (and the Patuxent and Potomac Rivers) directly affect the quality of life of people in Prince George's, Charles, Calvert, St. Mary's, and Anne Arundel Counties. A sustainable approach to environmental health would end reliance on fossil fuels, in favor of alternative energy. The frenzy to "develop" (growth for the sake of growth) is dangerous and is not sustainable. Our future should not be sacrificed to the short-term profiteering interests of developers. As voters in Maryland begin to learn more about the values of the Green Party (which include nonviolence, social justice, grassroots democracy, and the environment), voters will not only increasingly vote for Green candidates but will also join the Green Party's all-volunteer efforts to organize a genuine pro-democracy movement. Everyone is invited to visit the Maryland Green Party website, www.mdgreens.org, to find out how to get involved in local Green Party activism.

  4. Head Start falling behind - Programs face funding quandries
    Texarkana Gazette, TX
    By SABRINA MCCORMICK
    Head Start officials contend inadequate funding is threatening to dismantle the program. More than half of local Head Start programs have been forced to cut staff and, or program services over the last two year. Sarah Greene, president and chief executive officer of the National Headstart Association, said the program needs $7.3 billion next fiscal year to effectively keep the association funded and running smoothly. According to information from Head Start, around 9,000 Head Start slots have been trimmed from the program due to funding that has not kept up with inflation and more than 660,000 poor children who are eligible for Head Start today cannot receive services because of a lack of adequate funding. She said in 2000, during the last budget year of the previous administration, Head Start received almost a billion dollar increase. This increase gave opportunities for expansion and opportunities to deal with quality issues and things to help the program function in a quality manner. In 2001, the funding amount dropped to a $340 million increase. "A huge drop. That is barely enough for inflation plus their is quality set aside where you have to spend money in certain categories," she said. She said the next year, it was even less than that. "This year we are talking $123 million, so while there has been a small increase it really equals flat funding when you take away qualities set aside that you have to do X number of things," Greene said. "The money may have changed, but it hasn't kept up with inflation." Greene said some recent changes in the program could undermine the integrity of the Head Start program, such as having religious organizations being able to hire staff. "We have opposed them," she said while pointing out that Head Start centers regionally are having to make cuts in transportation and in staff development. Don Nelson, director of the Texarkana, Ark., Head Start office, said they are not anticipating cutting any slots for students. However, if the need arises, they will manage their resources to maximize their effectiveness. "What we will have to do is some streamlining; managing our funds. We will be looking at some reductions in classroom supplies and things of that particular nature," he said. Nelson added they could look at reducing their educational funding for the staff. "Head Start provides funds for the purpose of educating their teachers," he said. This funding pays for books, tuition, travel and child care. The program would look towards reduction in childcare and travel spending as one way to maximize the funds allocated by the National Head Start Association. Greene said a survey show of Head Start programs showed dwindling funds with 12% being forced to cut the number of students served, 18% laying off teachers, 27% laying off other staff, 40% cutting hours in the calendar year and 52% cutting training. Other Head Start Centers are having to make different cuts during the fiscal year 2005. The program was established to help students with economic needs succeed by placing them in a classroom setting. It also gives parents the instructional capabilities to manage their child's education and life issues more effectively, providing health care resources and a support link. Fran Mueller is executive director of Community Services of Northeast Texas, a community action agency partially funded through Head Start. She said when they look at reducing funds, they get concerned. "Head Start is a nationally recognized child development experience for children and their families. If they start reducing funds then we'll have to bare the brunt of reducing services," she said. This is always a concern for those on a local level. These services, which include health care and parent training, are very comprehensive. Those services are unique to Head Start. The agency operate on a bare bones budget of about $4 million serving four counties in Northeast Texas. "We don't have any fluff in it, with almost no travel," she said. NHSA board chairman Ron Herndon, director of the Head Start Program in Portland, Ore., said local programs are not yet aware of how much the budget cuts will be. "All of us have already begun to make cuts," he said. Already, cutbacks in yearly program length and staff have been methods of coping "in spite of having to manage the program as well as we can," he said.

  5. Late nights may not earn job promotion - Productivity falls beyond 40-hour week, work analysts say
    DetNews.com, MI
    By Elise Oberliesen
    Are long hours at work setting you up for a promotion or just red eyes? Don't be fooled by co-workers pulling all-nighters at the office, observers say. Rafique Foflonker, who was recently named an administrator at ArvinMeritor in Troy, said some employees needlessly turn low priority tasks into high priority drills. At age 30, Foflonker may pull his share of late nights at the auto supplier to complete high priority projects, but he says endless hours are not what got him the promotion. He attributes success with his ability to execute. "I am very passionate about turning ideas into action," Foflonker said. "I've seen people become disillusioned when the grand ideas are not coupled with execution." Robert Pasick, University of Michigan organizational psychologist and executive coach, says the red-eye shift doesn't equate to increased productivity. After 35-40 weekly hours at work, productivity goes down. A fresh mind and body creates productivity, he says. "If people don't take days off or vacations, productivity goes down," Pasick said. Proudfoot Consulting conducted an international survey among nine countries to identify specific problems contributing to diminished employee productivity. The report, titled Managing for Mediocrity, compared 1,668 studies, 100 client projects. Areas that appear inferior in the workplace include management and planning, supervision, communication, employee morale, and integrity of qualified staff, as contributors to decreased productivity. The United States and Germany remained in the lead positions compared with other countries. However, the study suggested no one is immune to poor productivity. Some economists attribute the United States' lead to working additional hours, compared with other countries. Pasick says companies that know about worker productivity and its correlation to long hours know when to call it a day. "Some of the best companies I've seen limit the hours and make sure people take their vacations," he said. Taking advantage of flex time is just what Foflonker does after working a late shift. And he says ArvinMeritor is set up in a way that makes it easy for him to take advantage of such perks. What impacts the bottom line is overall employee productivity. "It's what you produce and the benefits you produce for the company," Pasick said. The key to making the hours count has more to do with value-added work that employees do as a whole. Working long hours may not matter too much if it's strictly "busy work" says Michelle Goad, ArvinMeritor human resources spokeswoman and adjunct professor at Walsh College. "Face time does not equate to accomplishments," Goad said. Goad suggested getting more work done in less time. Working efficiently helps achieve this objective. Avoid the comfort zone and take the proactive approach, says Goad. Don't expect your boss to develop you. "You have to take responsibility for your career development," she said. If growth is not happening, Goad says that could be a sign the organization may not have growth opportunities. She encourages employees to ask their boss how they can develop within the organization. Patrick Callaghan, strategic director at Walsh College, says getting ahead at work may be as simple as creating rapport with your boss. Don't overestimate the simplicity of relationship building, he says. "It creates a bridge," Callaghan says. But not everyone is looking for a promotion, according to Goad, who says employees today are looking for training and development, challenging opportunities, international assignments, or working off site. "They may not want to jump to a VP position, because everyone has different career goals," she said. Goad says career development boils down to employee retention. "You don't want your talent to go work for the competition," she said.
    Elise Oberliesen is a Metro Detroit free-lance writer.

  6. Sleep Study Prompts Hospital To Limit Work hours
    By Liz Kowalczyk, The Boston Globe via TechNewsWorld
    In findings published in today's New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that first-year residents who worked 24 to 34 consecutive hours committed 35% more serious medical errors than when they worked a maximum of 17 hours. To many people, the findings may sound supremely obvious. TARGUSinfo ­ Get critical customer information - via phone, web or point of sale - first time, every time. Accelerate order processing, make better decisions, eliminate missed sales opportunities and increase your return on investment. Click for the power of TARGUSinfo. Dr. David Andorsky, a resident at Brigham and Women's Hospital, woke up from a two-hour nap in the on-call room at 6:30 a.m. las Tuesday. Andorsky had been on duty since 7 a.m. the previous day and still had a few hours to go caring for patients in the intensive care unit. But because of the hospital's ground-breaking research on medical errors, Andorsky...was not allowed to order medication for patients during morning rounds Instead, that task went to Dr. Anne Liu, who was fresh from a full night's sleep at home. The hospital is placing new restrictions on how many hours doctors can work, the result of findings published by Brigham researchers in today's New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers found that first-year residents, or interns, who worked 24 to 34 consecutive hours every three days committed 35 percent more serious medical errors than when they worked a maximum of 17 hours.
    Sleep Causes Mistakes
    While working the longer shifts, interns made 136 serious errors for every 1,000 patient days, compared to 100 errors on the shorter shifts. Patient days are the combined number of days all patients spent in the ICU during the study period. On both shifts, the vast majority of errors involved medications. Usually interns prescribed the wrong dose. Andorsky, who participated in the study, is now a third-year resident. "I feel awake right now," he said Tuesday morning after his short rest. "I don't see why I shouldn't be able to enter a simple order. But that's why we do these studies. Because everyone thinks they can do it. It's easy to put in the wrong medication for a patient when you've been up all night." To many people, the Brigham findings may sound supremely obvious. Anyone who's stayed up all night knows how hard it is to stay alert the next day. But the medical profession has been slow to acknowledge the dangers of sleep deprivation, and scientific studies on the impact of long hours are rare. This is partly because of how medical training evolved. Residents once lived at their hospitals and followed cases from beginning to end as part of their training. Getting to know patients and seeing them through their hospital stays still is considered an essential part of residents' education.
    Weeding Out Weak?
    Some older doctors also believe that the punishing hours weed out young medical school graduates who aren't hardy enough for the profession's demands.
    [No faith in their exams? No comprehension that their profession is caring for the weak, not "weeding them out"?]
    And even physicians who are open to change fear that shorter hours will hurt residents' education, as well as increase "hand-off errors," which occur during the confusion when a doctor arriving at work takes over patients for doctors going home. But the Brigham is trying to take a hard look at medical errors, even if it means opening the institution to public scrutiny. "The hospital is very courageous in allowing us to put the institution under a microscope," said Dr. Charles Czeisler, one of the authors and a nationally known sleep researcher. The results have national implications, as the 100,000 residents now training in US teaching hospitals routinely work more than 24 hours straight. Errors could be even higher at other hospitals, as the Brigham has a sophisticated computer software system that in many cases stops doctors from ordering the wrong doses or drugs for patients. In the study, senior residents, doctors, and nurses intercepted more than half of the interns' errors before they reached patients, suggesting that a strong safety net exists in at least some hospitals. In one instance, an intern prepared to slide a needle into the left side of patient's chest and draw out fluid. But a senior resident walked into the room, saw what was happening, and told the intern the fluid was on the right side.
    Wrong Dose
    But senior doctors did not catch all of the errors, including one in which an intern ordered an antibiotic for a patient - even though he had a known allergy to the drug. The patient received one dose before the mistake was discovered, but he did not have an allergic reaction. Dr. Christopher Landrigan, one of the researchers and director of the hospital's sleep and patient safety program, said all of the errors combined caused harm to a patient in the two ICUs every three days. But researchers defined harm very broadly, and in most cases, harm meant a patient had an allergic reaction, an irregular heart beat, or that treatment was delayed. No intern errors led to a patient's death, he said. In an editorial accompanying the Brigham studies, Dr. Jeffrey Drazen, editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, said the current system is flawed, but he raised concerns about shorter shifts. Drazen, who worked as an attending physician in the Brigham ICU during the study, said that the interns working shorter shifts were "more awake." But he said they "often knew very little about patients admitted the night before they came on duty," indicating that hospitals must find ways to provide residents with more complete information about patients' histories as they move to shorter shifts. The study did not specifically record so-called hand-off errors. While he praised the Brigham for opening the ICUs to public scrutiny, he pointed out the number of errors even when interns worked just 16 consecutive hours, saying that "the overall ICU performance in this trial was not exactly stellar." Given this, he said, additional solutions are needed, such as more rigorous teamwork.
    The Study
    During the study, 24 interns in the hospital's medical and cardiac intensive care units were studied during three weeks of a traditional schedule: from 7 a.m. the first day to 1 p.m. the following day, every three days. For another three weeks, interns worked a modified schedule: researchers added an extra intern to the rotation and divided the overnight shift between two interns. In the end interns on the modified schedule slept an extra six hours per week and worked about 60 hours total. They worked about 80 hours a week on the traditional schedule. Interns who participated in the study from July 2002 to June 2003 allowed researchers to glue 10 electrodes to their heads for long stretches to measure their drowsiness. They wore the contraptions while talking to patients, watching movies, eating in restaurants, and sleeping. Portable monitors attached to the electrodes recorded more than twice as many instances of profound fatigue at night-measured by interns' eyes rolling back in their heads-in first-year residents working the longer shifts. Dr. Aaron Kesselheim, now a third-year resident, said the strangest part of participating in the study was seeing "The Matrix" on opening night with electrodes pasted to his skull. "The data doesn't surprise me," he said. "It's common sense if you're awake 24 to 26 hours you're going to be really tired. But people in medicine don't like to change their practices without good hard data." Kesselheim said he's been so tired he's fallen asleep on morning rounds, while standing up. Before the study began, Andorsky said, he once ordered the wrong antibiotic for a patient after being awake all night. But, he said, he realized the error and corrected it before sending the order to nurses.
    Shorter Shifts
    Landrigan said that the study has limitations. Being done in one hospital, it was too small to really measure patient harm, since such adverse events are rare to begin with. But Landrigan said it was a significant step and taught doctors several lessons. In July 2003, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education adopted new limits on resident work hours, restricting their average week to 80 hours on duty. But the new rules still allow residents to work up to 30 consecutive hours - which Landrigan said appears to be too much. In the past several months, the Brigham began prohibiting all residents on duty 24 hours or longer from ordering medications, said chief medical officer Dr. Andy Whittemore. And while most surgery shifts are now 12 hours because of the new ACGME rules, the hospital plans to reduce shifts for all residents to no more than 16 hours by next summer - a plan that will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to hire additional staff. "On the basis of four data right now, interns in high-intensity settings should not be working shifts longer than 16 hours, and really the number may be lower than that," Landrigan said. "My sense is that five or so years from now, people are going to have to prove that working these extended shifts is actually worth it."

  7. Opinion of The Tribune - Back libraries, back Measure L
    editorial, San Luis Obispo Tribune, CA
    Measure L on Tuesday's ballot will raise the county's 7.25% sales tax by a quarter-cent to 7.50. This locally controlled revenue - slated to sunset out of existence in five years - will make whole our county libraries, institutions that have been decimated by shameless state budget raids on local coffers to balance its spendthrift ways. The county system is operating on a $6.5 million budget - about half of what's adequate - and is expecting another $1 million loss this year. This means the system will spend about $1.75 per person next year for new materials, which places it in the bottom 15% of similar-sized library systems nationwide. It means that county libraries will spend less than $28 per person next year. In comparison, Paso Robles - which isn't part of the countywide system - spends almost $38 per person and Santa Cruz's library system spends close to $53 per person. These hits show up in reduced staff, shortened hours, and fewer youth and literacy programs, plus they seriously impact the system's ability to purchase new materials and books. Public libraries have been losing ground financially since Proposition 13 passed in the late 1970s. The fat - and - muscle were trimmed long ago. For all of the good libraries accomplish, this is an astounding retreat from common sense. Think libraries are passé? Think again. Close to 60% of all county residents own a library card. More than 70% of these folks use the public library more than once a month, totaling over 20,000 weekly visits or more than a million visits annually. Over 1.5 million books are checked out each year. Think libraries don't provide economic value? Not so. Library services yield a return of $7 to $10 to the community for every tax dollar invested. How? By keeping money in your pocket through free use of books, films and tapes. Entrepreneurs can locate databases and job seekers can retool skills or find employment opportunities through periodicals. What value do you place on solving crime? Retired San Luis Obispo police Capt. Bart Topham says the county's libraries have supported him countless times in researching cases, giving him technical help and background information. This temporary tax will help the county library system overcome its immediate problems and set it on a good path now while we wait for the county (and cities) to get money back from the state - as promised in two years - assuming Proposition 1A (which we heartily endorse) passes Tuesday. When that happens, our county Board of Supervisors must ensure that the library system receives its fair share of funds so that it stays in good shape with expanded hours, new materials and staffing for programs. We expect those in charge to ensure that the dollars derived from Measure L are spent wisely on key resources, not on wish-list beautification projects. If public officials do that well, then Measure L's temporary tax will indeed be temporary - as it should be. Ever increasing the tax burden is not a long-term way to solve our problems; we have enough taxes being collected as it stands. What we need are sound fiscal decisions on how our taxes are spent. We look to local government to exercise that wisdom once they can control their revenues - again through changes brought by Proposition 1A. In summary, Measure L should be regarded as a temporary fix with local accountability that, at 7.50%, is still less than the sales tax charged in most neighboring counties. With that in mind, The Tribune endorses Measure L.

  8. There's more to life than money
    Accountancy Age, United Kingdom
    By Rachel Fielding & Brian Moher
    The ultimate winners of the 'war for talent', it would seem, are accountants' bank balances. Accountants will have £2,210 extra in their pockets at the end of the pay year compared with six months ago, after average salaries leapt an inflation-busting 5.3% in just six months, up from £42,030 in April to £44,240. Fewer and fewer respondents took home less than £25,000 ? indeed the proportion fell by over a third in the last six months from 16% to 10%. The number of women in the lowest bracket dropped to 17%, compared to 25% in April, although it is still 10% higher than the number of men in the same salary bracket. The proportion of under-25s in the category dropped from 80% to just over two thirds, perhaps reflecting firms' increasing desperation to lure best young talent. Spare a thought, though, for the quarter of over 65s who are stuck in this bracket while 30% of their peers take home over £60,000. In fact it was a good year to be a partner.
    £44K - AVERAGE SALARY OF AN ACCOUNTANT
    Six months ago a surprising one in five took home less than £30,000 but, this time round, that dropped to just 7%. And partners at the higher end of the pay spectrum were also faring better, almost one third (29%) taking home over £81,000, up from 21% in April. Wages rose across the board this year ? almost. Winners included partners and those in payroll, who took home an extra £7,000 extra and auditors with £4,000 more. The only category that was forced to tighten its collective belt was credit control, which saw an average fall of £1,500 in the last six months. Shockingly, the cause of equality appears to have taken a step backwards over the past year. Women accountants will be discouraged to know that the average gender pay gap actually rose, from £8,800 in April to £10,750. Perhaps bizarrely, given that statistic, a majority of women (51%) declared themselves 'satisfied' with their current salary and benefit package, not far short of men's satisfaction levels (58%). Don't expect the glass ceiling to be shattered by shockwaves of female accountants' wrath at this rate. Women are less likely to appear in the boardroom than any other type of finance function, accounting for less than one in five finance directors (18%), though they fare a bit better at making partner (21%). Men, meanwhile, are scarcest in payroll, where three-quarters of respondents were women. But women account for the majority of young blood entering the profession, comprising 52% of under 25-year-olds. That figure fell to 49% for the 25-35 age bracket before plummeting to 9% of those above 56-years-old. A glass ceiling or a fundamental shift making just glacial progress through the profession? Perhaps only time will tell. Geographically, the Midlands is the most male-dominated part of the country (67%) while Basingstoke is the clear capital of female accountancy ? the only place where the survey found women to be in the majority (55%). Overall, the profession remains a male dominated one, with just under two thirds (63%) men and just over one third (35%) women ? 2% didn't specify.
    £10K - AVERAGE GENDER PAY DIFFERENCE
    The most common benefits remain unchanged. Top of the pile is pensions. There has been much talk of saving for retirement of late, which may help explain why the proportion who counted this as a benefit was actually up from 63% in April to 68%. Next up was healthcare (49% compared to 46% in April) and bonuses (unchanged at 43%). Men scored more heavily on most benefits as well as salaries. For example, 47% received a bonus compared to just 37% of women. The only exceptions were leisure facilities, flexitime, discounts or free products and study support, which women were more likely to receive than men. Only 25% of partners said they received pensions. Perhaps they invest in property instead, as Deloitte's John Connolly recently revealed he does. Partners were also under half as likely to receive a bonus as the average respondent. Despite this year's grim summer weather, few accountants ranked the chance to spend more time sunning themselves on holiday as a the benefit they would most like to receive (4%), though perhaps that was because 16% were pinning their hopes on a sabbatical.
    49 - THE AVERAGE HOURS WORKED EVERY WEEK
    A challenging work environment, a nice little earner, a penchant for pinstriped suits ? there are countless motivations for choosing to work in the accountancy profession. But an easy life is probably not one. If you work in accountancy, whether in practice or in industry, for most people long hours are practically a given. Work/life balance may be the mantra of the noughties, but for most accountants a nine-to-five working day is little more than a pipe dream. Respondents, on average, work a 49 hours a week, although there is huge disparity between different regions, not to mention age groups. That is a significant increase on our last survey, when the average was nearer 41. At that time, one in five accounting professionals said they worked between 46 and 55 hours a week ? Today that figure has increased slightly to 23%. And while overall 5% of respondents say they put in more than 55 hours a week, among women that figure drops to 2% compared to 7% of their male counterparts. Perhaps not surprisingly, there seems to be a direct correlation between seniority and the amount of time our respondents spend behind their desks. Once again it's the finance directors who work the longest hours, clocking in almost 46 hours a week on average, 10 hours more per week than those working in credit control. Interestingly, 58% of those aged 25 or younger say they adhere to the EU working time directive, compared to 21% across ages. At the other end of the scale, more than twice as many staff aged 65+ work at least 55 hours a week compared to the overall average.
    34% - THING ACCOUNTANCY DISCRIMINATES AGAINST WOMAN
    Regionally the differences are less marked. Perhaps contrary to popular belief, those working in the city are no more likely to burn the office candle at both ends than those working in other parts of the country. Could it be that those accountants working in practice are given a harder time about their perceived commitment to the cause than their colleagues working in industry? Across the board, 27% of respondents said they did feel guilty if they didn't put in extra hours. Among partners, the figure is even higher, with one third on a guilt trip about the hours dedicated to the cause. But only 15% of those working in credit control said they were made to feel bad.
    27% FEEL GUILTY IF THEY DON'T PUT IN EXTRA HOURS
    Admittedly, most of this guilt is self imposed. The reality of the situation is that on average only 7% of respondents said anyone had actually complained about them not putting in enough hours. Could it be that work/life balance is no longer a meaningless clich’, but that employers across the profession are starting to put their money where their mouth is and realise that there is no obvious correlation between productivity and the number of hours spent in the office. But as family-friendly working shifts from a nice-to-have to a legal requirement, employers across the profession, it would seem, are struggling to keep pace. The Employment Rights Act, which came into force on 6 April last year, offers parents of children aged under six or disabled children aged under 18 the right to apply to work flexibly. It means that their employers have a duty to consider these requests seriously. But with one in three respondents believing that their workplace is not family friendly, the accountancy profession could be missing a trick. As the economy shows strong signs of an upward turn, and the war for talent picks up pace, being regarded as the employer of choice is no longer a nice-to-have but a question of competitive advantage. And while 'salary' will always rank high in the job wish list of prospective employees, increasingly it's the softer issues, including flexible working hours and the ability to work from home, that staff deem important. And while men are slightly more likely than their female colleagues to deem their working environment 'family unfriendly' (34% compared to 31% for female respondents), the fact is that women, statistically speaking at least, are still more likely than their male counterparts to be the ones that take time out to raise a family. What is more worrying is that a third of all respondents feel that working mothers are discriminated against by the accountancy profession.
    30% OFFER FLEXIBLE WORKING TO ALL STAFF
    But this figure hides a huge mismatch in perception between the genders - almost half of female respondents believe that discrimination against working women is a problem, but only 28% of their male colleagues. Their sentiments are shared by 41% of respondents in the 25 to 35 age group, who think discrimination against working mothers is an issue plaguing the accountancy profession. Those working in tax are also far more likely than those in other roles to highlight the issue; 41%, compared with a national average of 34%. Geographically, there are some interesting variations between the regions, with respondents in the north and the City more likely than others to feel that discrimination against working mothers is an issue. In Ireland, a staggering 50% of respondents expressed concern that working mums were losing out.
    41% SUPPORT LONGER PAID MATERNITY LEAVE
    [The Timesizing position on this is that maternity leave is sexist - it needs to be parental leave or nothing, and since special provision for parental leave penalizes the childless, subsidizes reproduction and reflects a mindset from a time when this planet was underpopulated with humans, it is now an outdated and destructive policy for our species and our planetary biosphere and should be dismissed.]
    Until this issue is tackled at the most senior levels, true equality on the basis of gender will never be a reality. Debates about glass ceilings aside, the male/female divide prevails, particularly at the higher echelons of the profession. At the top end, the finance director job title remains the preserve of men. A gender breakdown of respondents, although not necessarily an accurate snapshot of the industry, paints an all too familiar picture of the profession as a whole - just 35% of respondents are female. Political leaning aside, 41% of respondents support the government's proposed increase in paid maternity leave from six months to a year. But a closer look reveals a huge difference in opinion between the genders - although a third of male respondents support the proposal, a staggering 57% of women would support the increase in paid maternity leave. Partners and finance directors are those most opposed to the suggestion. And younger respondents - those aged 35 or under - are most likely to be in support of the proposed change to the legislation. Those opposed to an increase in paid maternity leave seem to have their companies' interests at heart. The overwhelming objection hinges on the cost to business - 65% said they objected because companies can't afford it. Interestingly more than half of all respondents, and 67% of women, said extending paid maternity leave would actually encourage discrimination against women. A further 59% said a year was too long to be away from the workplace. If the accountancy profession is struggling with the issue of flexibility for working parents, it is perhaps not surprising that company-wide flexible working policies are far from a given across the UK. Although 30% of respondents said their company offered flexible working to everyone, just over a third of respondents (36%) said the opportunity to work flexibly was granted on an ad hoc basis. Despite being high on the list of priorities for staff, 11% of respondents said flexible working was not an option in their company. And 4% of respondents said they did not know. The war for talent is a reality for many businesses - to the extent that almost two in five companies say they are finding it difficult to recruit people with the right skills. That figure rises to 54% among those working in audit, and 42% of tax professionals, although it's difficult to say whether those figures equate to a dearth of skills across those areas. Interestingly, those least likely to bemoan a lack of suitably qualified candidates tend to be in the sub 25 age group ? It seems that the older you are, the more likely you are to see skills issues as a problem for your company. That could of course be because younger staff on the whole are not as heavily involved in the recruitment process. Regionally, the variations continue - for example, although a third of London-based respondents see skills shortages as an issue, colleagues in the southwest or the Midlands appear to have more of a battle on their hands as recruitment activity picks up. Accountants with IT experience, it seems, are the hardest to find, although IAS skills are also hot in demand, according to 15% of respondents. And one in ten companies said finding candidates with relevant skills to deal with Sarbanes-Oxley is no mean feat. But CPD points aside, it's good old personality that makes the biggest difference to employers when they look to take on new staff. Communications skills and attitude also rate highly, highlighted by 10% and 7% respectively as the most important attributes to take into consideration when recruiting. But don't worry too much about being a team player ? only 2% said it mattered to them. But with half of all respondents admitting that they are seeking a job ? 16% actively and 34% passively ? being the employer of choice is no longer simply a nice-to-have. Although only one in ten finance directors have booked an appointment with the headhunter and are actively looking for their next opportunity, half of credit-control staff are actively looking to move jobs. There is little to support the clich’ that younger staff are more likely to move jobs than their older colleagues though. If you want to hang on to them, it's still the two P's' that count ? career potential and a good old-fashion payrise.

  9. Family doctors few, far between - 500,000 Montrealers don't have a physician: Demographic and lifestyle changes causing doctors to say no to new patients
    CP via Montreal Gazette, Quebec
    CHARLIE FIDELMAN
    A major survey of Canadian MDs has revealed what most Canadians already know firsthand - there aren't enough family doctors for everyone. The National Physician Survey of 21,000 MDs, flagged a serious doctor crunch coast to coast. The shortage of family doctors is limiting access to the health-care system because patients can't get in through the "front door," said Alain Pavilanis, head of the board of the College of Family Physicians of Canada. "We're worried that what we're seeing will get worse," said Pavilanis, director of the family medicine centre at Montreal's St. Mary's hospital. Quebec is no different from other provinces, he said. "We're talking about the fact that 800,000 Quebecers can't find a family doctor or can't get an appointment with one - and half a million are in Montreal," he said. More than 60% of GPs don't take new patients or limit the number to a very few, the survey found. That's also true of GPs age 35 or under. Nearly half reported that their practices are closed - partially or completely - to new patients. It's an awful situation, said family doctor Ann Rothman, who is too busy looking after her own patients at two West End clinics and the Jewish General Hospital family medicine centre to take on new patients. "I feel terrible," she said of turning someone away. "We all feel terrible about that." But it's either that or her own patients "will have to wait a year" to get an appointment, she said. Years ago, family physicians like Rothman would refer patients to new medical graduates. "But that hasn't been the case in eight years," she said. The problem isn't restricted to family doctors, where waiting lists of three months are common, the survey said. A third of specialists reported they don't take referrals for nonurgent cases in under three months. The survey flags two important trends: demographics and lifestyle. A large number of doctors are reaching the age of retirement. As many as 3,800 plan to retire in the next two years alone. "We're predicting that with baby boomers aging, we will see the numbers of doctors retiring rise significantly, up to double," Pavilanis said. No only are younger doctors putting in fewer hours than their aging colleagues, but more women are now entering the profession. About 16 per cent of doctors said they reduced their hours in the past two years, and 25 per cent indicated they will cut their hours in the next two years. The average male doctor works a 52-hour week plus on-call duty for up to a total of 80 hours. Women doctors tend to work seven hours less, putting in a 45-hour week plus on-call duty. The profession in Quebec has become "more feminized" more quickly, with women making up 80% of medical graduates, Albert Schumacher, head of the Canadian Medical Association said. Enrolment figures for women in medical schools in Canada are about 58%. But women are working fewer hours per week because of family responsibilities. It's not just childbearing, Schumacher said. "Women are taking on responsibility for their parents and their in-laws, like women in any profession do."

  10. MD shortage to worsen - Soaring rate of retirement to send thousands of doctors out of service
    Cindy E. Harnett, Times Colonist via Alaska Highway News, Canada
    If you don't have a family doctor, you're not alone. A new national poll says Canada's doctor shortage is about to get a lot worse with a record number of physicians set to retire in two years and the remainder cutting back the number of hours they work. "This is the train coming down the track that we've all known," said Dr. William Cavers, a general practitioner in Victoria. The survey, the largest-ever poll of its kind, based on responses from 21,000 physicians from all disciplines, said the rate of retirement is projected to double to an annual rate of 3.1% over the next two years, taking up to 3,800 doctors out of operation. Sixty% of family physicians are either limiting the number of new patients they see or are not taking new patients, according to the poll. "The doctor shortage is a crisis right now and I shudder to think of what the situation will be like in five years if steps are not taken immediately to rectify the situation," said Cavers. As all this unfolds, one in four doctors also plans to reduce their weekly work hours. Only 4% plan to increase the hours they work, according to the survey. "I believe that is a good thing for the sustainability for the health of practitioners and I believe it is extremely problematic for the Canadian public," said Cavers. According to Statistics Canada, 3.6 million Canadians are without a family doctor. Now this Environics survey, sponsored by the country's three main doctors' organizations - College of Family Physicians of Canada, Canadian Medical Association, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada - confirms what many Canadians know from experience. It's what doctors and residents in rural and remote parts of Canada have been saying for 20 years, said Canadian Medical Association president Dr. Albert Schumacher. "But people in the teaching centres, big cities, were unaffected," he said. "Now we're having shortages even in the teaching centres - places that have medical schools that were previously immune to this; places where politicians and leaders and decision-makers are." About 50% of doctors 35 and younger say their practices are full and they are not taking new patients, said Schumacher. "From that point of view, this is a crisis," he said. Headlines are already citing 100,000 orphan patients in B.C. and the numbers are steadily rising, said Cavers. "What I'm seeing here is a lag in the response time of the governments and medical schools in working toward providing an increased number of physicians," said Cavers, a Victoria representative on the board of the B.C. Medical Association. Schumacher said the shortage is a result of "two major shots to the head": Government cutbacks on residency training spots, about 300 spots, in the late 1980s and a government cutback on medical school enrolment to 1,590 positions from just under 2,000. When provinces realized about 1998 that a doctor shortage was coming down the pipe, they started increasing enrolments to the point where in June 2004, about 2,050 doctors are graduating across Canada each year, said Schumacher. In September, 2,250 doctors were enrolled in medical schools to graduate in three to four years, he said. Now the recommendation from all the Canadian medical organizations - the Canadian Medical Forum - is to boost that number to 2,500. "That's a very conservative minimum," said Schumacher. Canada has about 2.1 physicians for every 1,000 population. Other Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries have 2.8 per 1,000 population. "So we're behind big time," said Schumacher. He is not yet counting on a recent federal-provincial health care agreement of $42 billion over 10 years to help alleviate some of the current shortages and problems in the health-care system. "If they don't pass the legislation this fall it's just a piece of paper," said Schumacher. The survey also shows:

  11. [And now, the beginnings of the obvious solution -]
    Surgical training 'cut by half'
    BBC News, UK
    [And of course, this involves cutting through the layers of self-puffing crap with which medicos have surrounded themselves for decades.]
    Training time will be halved. Junior doctors who want to become a surgeon will be fast-tracked through the NHS under a new curriculum. Consultants of the future could be in their early 30s thanks to a halving of the current minimum 12 years that it takes to train after medical school. The Royal College of Surgeons said its scheme, to be introduced in 2007, would recognise excellence rather than reward time-serving. It denied that the move, hoped to boost staff numbers, was a 'dumbing down'.
    Halved
    Mr Hugh Phillips, president of the college said: "Not every surgeon needs to be trained to be a super-specialist doing the most complex surgery in their chosen field. With recent legal cuts in junior doctors' hours, the NHS and the Royal Colleges need to make sure that the best use is made of the limited training time available.
    Simon Eccles of the British Medical Association
    ] "This is not a dumbing down. At present, arrangements for training surgeons are unsatisfactory and we need to make surgical training very much more effective." Currently, doctors who have graduated from medical schools spend one year as a house officer and then a minimum of two years as a senior house officer (SHO). In practice, the average SHO takes five-and-a-half years to reach the next stage in the surgical career, a specialist registrar job, and only 50% of applicants are successful. Mr Phillips said this was too long and meant many talented surgeons-in-training were stuck at the SHO grade. "Not only is it wasteful of human resources, but it makes for an insecure and difficult time at a crucial stage in the surgeon's career," he said. On graduation from medical school, the trainee will in the future undertake a two-year foundation programme after which he or she will enter specialist training. The college anticipates it would take most young surgeons only six years to be trained to nationally agreed standards across nine surgical specialties. THE NINE SPECIALTIES SURGEONS WOULD TRAIN IN
    General surgery
    Cardiothoracic surgery
    Neurosurgery
    Otolaryngology
    Paediatric surgery
    Plastic surgery
    Trauma and orthopaedic surgery
    Urology
    Oral and maxillofacial surgery
    It has placed a maximum of eight years on the training time.
    Restrictions in doctors' working hours as a consequence of the European Working Time Directive means surgical training is seriously compromised, according to the college.
    [Bullroar. Surgeons' egos are seriously deflated, that's all.]
    Mr Phillip said: "There is still a serious shortfall in the number of consultant surgeons in the UK and yet we need these hard-pressed consultants to train their future colleagues and successors. "The new scheme will recognise excellence rather than reward time-serving." A spokesman from the Dept. of Health said: "We are working with the Royal College of Surgeons to modernise medical training. "The purpose is to make it more focused and contemporary. "Patient safety will be at the heart of any changes we make to this training." Mr Simon Eccles, chair of the British Medical Association's Junior Doctors Committee, said: "Seven years may be enough time for a particularly talented doctor to qualify as a consultant surgeon, but only if the quality of their training is exceptionally high. "With recent legal cuts in junior doctors' hours, the NHS and the Royal Colleges need to make sure that the best use is made of the limited training time available. "What matters most is that we produce doctors capable of delivering the highest possible standards of care to patients."
    [A lot of lives have been saved by a lot less than that level of ridiculous self-serving hyperbole.]
10/28/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 10/27 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 10/28 hardcopy), and with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Hospital interns made more errors..., pointer blurb (to D1), WSJ, front page.
    ...if they worked long shifts, two studies found, adding to an emotional debate on shortening hours.
    [Indicated article -]
    Push to reduce doctors' hours gets a boost - As hospitals scramble to meet new workday limits for residents, studies highlight risks of fatigue, by Laura Landro, WSJ, D1.
    After two decades of efforts to reduce medical errors made by sleep-deprived doctors-in-training, the problem persists, and new research [on] interns in intensive-care [ICU] and cardiac-care units..\..is providing compelling evidence of the risks involved. Two studies being published today -
    1. [in] the primary study...researchers compared the error rates of interns working more than 80 hours weekly...to those working on the Harvard study group's reduced [63-hour] schedule....
    2. in the second study...interns wore special electrodes while working to track "attentional failures" -
    .\.show that first-year residents in hospital intensive-care and coronary-care units who worked longer than the mandatory limit of 80 hours a week A "cowboy mentality" in the medical profession regarding the need for punishingly long work hours is the "Achilles heel of the U.S. medical system," says Charles Czeisler, chief of the Division of Sleep Medicine.\. at Boston's Brigham & Women's Hospital from July 2002 to June 2003...who led the studies....

  2. The vacation deficit - Longer hours, less time-off, more stress - What can overworked Americans do to catch a spring break? - Participants in the "Take Back Your Time" initiative run a "rat race" to protest the lack of free time in their lives
    By Erik Olsen, MSNBC.
    John DeGraaf wants you to be free. You work too much, he says, you get too little vacation, and on this election day, you should have the day off to think about who to vote for, rather than worry about your next staff meeting. It is time for things to change, he says. You need to take back your time.
    “Employers really have the upper hand in our society,” De Graaf says.
    DeGraaf is part of a growing movement in America that is seeking to free us from our go-go lifestyles.
    [Go-go is fine. It's rush-rush that's the problem.]
    We are too concerned with making money and consuming things, say these groups, and it is time to slow down a bit, if just for piece of mind.
    To bring attention to their cause, De Graaf and other self-proclaimed leisure teams created Take Back Your Time Day, which took place last Sunday with events around the country orchestrated to bring attention to the notion that we are too consumed by our jobs.
    Travel writer Rick Steves whose travel books on Europe are best sellers spoke at an event in Seattle about the need for people to travel more. In a telephone interview from his office in Edmonds, Washington, Mr. Steves, who has spent a third of his adult life overseas, says Europeans are astonished at how reluctant Americans are to stand up for more vacation time.
    From a European point of view, it’s unbelievable how docilely we accept the shortest vacations in the rich world,” he says. More vacation and travel would literally do Americans a world of good. Steves suggests that as the world’s reigning superpower, it behooves us to know the world better.
    "Regardless of your politics," Steves says, "you need to know the big picture. We’re going to be in an increasingly awkward position if we don’t try to get out there and understand the planet."
    The Overworked American
    Most of us are already aware of the vast disparity between American vacation time and that of other industrialized nations, but the numbers are astonishing. According to the International Labor Organization, we work 100 hours per year more than the famously industrious Japanese.
    We put in up to three months a year more than Europeans when you compare the hours worked and vacation time.
    Where only actual vacation time is measured, on average, Americans get four weeks less than their European counterparts. And as if that’s not little enough, it seems we don’t even use the vacation we get. According to a recent survey by the Internet travel company Expedia, last year Americans handed back more than $21 billion in unused vacation days to their employers. It sure seems like something’s amiss.
    {{ Photo by Ian Paterson - Conrad Schmidt, the organizer of "Take Back Your Day" events in Vancouver, in a costume protesting the scarcity of free time available to workers in North America. }}
    While some economists challenge these numbers, most agree that Americans work significantly harder [or at least longer per week and per year] than the rest of the industrialized world. And that’s where the Take Back Your Time initiative comes in. De Graaf’s group is advocating a six-point plan that includes Of course, De Graaf admits this is an ambitious agenda. The chance that any of these initiatives will gain traction depends on how much Americans truly feel they are overworked. Articles on the subject abound, and several prominent scholars have written books about the overworked American. Indeed, the evidence seems to point to a problem or at the very least an issue worthy of public debate.
    Juliet Schor, a Harvard economist whose book The Overworked American has made her something of a celebrity to leisure groups, argues in her book that the United States “is the world's standout workaholic nation,” and that Americans today find themselves in a “squirrel cage'” of overwork.
    Travel is Good For You
    So what’s all the fuss? Is it really a big deal that we don’t take vacation? John De Graaf says it is a big deal, and that our very lives could be at stake.
    “Studies show that those who don’t take vacation are considerably more likely to have heart attacks, heart problems, and other kinds of physical problems as well,” he says.
    Robert R. Butterworth, a psychologist with International Trauma Associates in Los Angeles who counsels patients with stress-related disorders, says there is a documented link between stress and poor health, and he says it is true that more vacation can mean less stress. People who go on vacation, he says, come back and “they have a new perspective on things. [Taking vacation] makes them think clearer.”
    Indeed, according to the Expedia survey, fully 80% of Americans report having a more positive outlook about their jobs when they take sufficient time away from the workplace.
    The Leisure Movement
    Another advocate of the work less lifestyle is Kristine Enea, the co-author of the book Time Off! The Unemployed Guide to San Francisco, whose company Leisure Team Productions teamed up with De Graaf’s group on the Take Back Your Time campaign, holding events in San Fransisco. “There really is a growing leisure movement in the United States,” she says, and points to organizations like the simplicity movement and the slow food movement that focus on taking time off and slowing down the pace of American life.
    One thing that has helped these groups’ efforts is how much easier it is today to bring people together over a common issue. The Internet provides a forum for groups who advocate longer vacations and working less, and it allows them to easily organize and lobby Congress for change. Meetup.com, a popular site for groups who gather to discuss everything from airplanes to witchcraft, has an entire section of its site dedicated to working less, with 68 individual groups located in major cities in the US and Europe. The groups stated objective is to “reduce annual work hours and create legislative proposals to allow for a better work/life balance.”
    Of course, one question that arises when we consider changing our lifestyle and working less is cost. What is the cost of taking more vacation? How, for example, would a law mandating three weeks of leave affect the US economy? In these tough economic times, a policy that slows economic growth is going to be a tough sell.
    [Only among those who think that continued wealth expansion with no attempt to cap wealth concentration is meaningful. But no matter how much money there is in an economy, if 99% of it is owned by only 1% of the population, that is one poor economy in permanently tough economic times.]
    But some advocates insist that more time off can actually be of benefit to employers.
    Vacation is a time to recharge and be more creative and ultimately more productive,” De Graaf says. As nice as that sounds, it turns out the link between leisure and productivity probably less positive.
    [One authority to the contrary does not make the contrary true.]
    David Autor, an associate professor of economics at MIT, says more vacation time will inevitably lead to a trade off between leisure and economic growth. “If we work less we’re going to produce less goods, fewer services, and as a consequence it follows GDP will fall,” he says. “There’s a basic tradeoff that any individual faces between consumption and leisure.”
    [Autor is evidently another economist with his brain stuck in the pretechnological world. In the Age of Automation & Robotics, [The fact that such backward ideas still dominate the minds of professors in our foremost technological institutes guarantees that America will not stay in the forefront of human evolution for long, if indeed it's still there.]
    Historical Perspective
    Historically speaking, the fact that there is even a discussion about this tradeoff is evidence how far we’ve come. In the book “Working at Play: A History of Vacations in the United States,” author Cindy Aron points out how new the concept of vacation for the common man really is. According to Ms. Aron’s book, prior to 1865, vacations were almost exclusively taken by the wealthy. Even when leisure time became more mainstream, there was often a raw tension between labor and leisure, with religious doctrines warning against the sin of idleness. It really wasn’t until the post World War II era that the notion of middle class vacations became viable.
    [And only after the capped workweek of 1938,39,40 (44,42,40 hrs).]
    De Graaf concedes that we are very fortunate to live in this day and age,
    but the fact is, he says, as the leading economic power in the world,
    [only as measured by the severely flawed GDP and not, e.g., by comprehensive unemployment (13.8%) which includes welfare, disability, homelessness & prison]
    things could improve. “We are certainly better off today than we were a hundred years ago. But we could do much better.”

  3. Cut hours to retain older staff, Statistics Canada suggests
    Ottawa Citizen, Canada
    Eric Beauchesne
    Companies wanting to retain their older employees might consider reducing the number of hours or days they must work, Statistics Canada says.
    More than a quarter of those who retired over the past decade were healthy and would have continued to work if they been able to reduce their work schedule, either by working fewer days or shorter days without their pensions being affected, the agency said in a study released yesterday.
    The study found that 28% would have continued working if they had been offered part-time employment, another 21% would have stayed if their salary had been increased, and 27% might have been tempted to keep working if their health had been better.
    An additional six% said they would have stayed if suitable arrangements for care-giving had been provided.
    Alternative working arrangements might be "an important incentive in encouraging older workers to stay on the job."
    The growing number of people nearing retirement as the leading edge of the baby boom generation approaches age 60 has sparked concerns of a shortage of skilled workers, Statistics Canada said. That in turn has spurred interest in encouraging older workers to stay on the job.
    It has also added to pressure on the federal and provincial governments that have not already done so to scrap mandatory retirement legislation.
    But the report noted that only 12% of retirees said they would have kept working if mandatory retirement policies had not existed, suggesting such a move would not be very effective in increasing the supply of older workers.
    It also warned that the extent to which older workers constitute a potential supply of labour is "undoubtedly overstated," since about one-third retired for health reasons, while another third said they would not have continued working given any of the incentives.
    "The remaining one-third were healthy individuals who would have been willing to remain in the work force, at least on a part-time basis," it said, adding that is that group that offers the best prospect for increasing the overall supply of workers.
    Immigrants, individuals with a university degree, and those who received an early retirement incentive were among the most likely to say that alternative working arrangements would have encouraged them to keep working, the agency said.
    Also, individuals whose financial situation had deteriorated since retirement were much more likely to feel they would have kept working under different conditions.
    In contrast, retirees from health care, social assistance and education were least likely to prefer continued employment, it said, adding that is an important finding given the growing number of employees nearing retirement in those industries.
    The Statistics Canada analysis is based on a sample survey of 4,464 recent retiree conducted in 2002.

  4. Give us a break from stressful times
    Newsday, NY
    BY GAIL EISENBERG
    Spring forward. Fall back. Yada, yada, yada.
    On Oct. 31, Daylight Savings Time reverts to Eastern Standard Time and already depressed New Yorkers shall begin mourning the loss of precious daylight.
    Come that dreaded day and for the five months that follow, darker skies during the...p.m. hours will result in a predictable increase in crime and accidents as we commute...from work and school.
    After all New York's got on its plate this fall, it hardly seems fair that Hawaii, most of Arizona and - get this - just a small portion of Indiana are the places that forgo the time change and its accompanying adjustments. I mean, does Hawaii really need another thing going for it? Furthermore, sunny California has applied for a "year- round" Daylight Savings Time [smart move!]....
    Bring on the two-hour lunch and the four-day work week.
    Gail Eisenberg is a freelance copywriter, humorist and a native New Yorker.

  5. Sleep-deprived doctors-in-training make serious errors more often
    AP via Atlanta Journal Constitution, GA
    By JANET McCONNAUGHEY
    From prescribing overdoses to sticking a tube in the wrong vein, doctors-in-training made one-third more serious mistakes during typically long shifts than they did during "short" 16-hour ones, a Harvard study found. At the same time, those first-year interns were wired up with electrodes to measure how often their sleepy eyes rolled, and they ended up nodding off more than five times a night during long shifts. Together, the findings suggest that recently imposed limits on how many hours new doctors can work do not go far enough, the researchers said. The studies were the first to measure the real-life toll that sleep deprivation takes on interns' medical judgment. The results were reported Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine. "There are currently more than 100,000 physicians-in-training in the United States, most of whom work these kinds of 30-hour shifts on a regular basis," said Dr. Christopher P. Landrigan, who led the study on medical errors. Since July 2003, interns at U.S. hospitals have been limited to a four-week average of 80 hours a week. Also, they cannot work with patients for more than 24 hours straight, though six hours can be tacked on at the end forpaperwork and classes. "These long shifts are perhaps more hazardous than the number of hours in the work week," Landrigan said. The two studies involved 20 interns and were conducted in the cardiac and medical intensive care units at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital in the year before the new limits took effect. Each intern spent three weeks in one unit, working at least 24 hours on every other shift, and three weeks in the other unit, with no more than 16 hours per shift. Doctors were hired from the outside to watch them work and note any mistakes. During the longer shifts, the interns made five times as many diagnostic errors, such as missing the bull's-eye rash that showed that Lyme disease was causing a patient's heart problem. They made 36% more significant medical errors of all kinds. There was no difference in the number of patient deaths and the average length of hospital stays, largely because other staffers often found and corrected the mistakes, the researchers said. "This is testimony to the system of checks and balances we have in place already," said Dr. Anthony Whittemore, the hospital's chief medical officer. Nurses noticed when one intern ordered 10 times the correct dose of a drug to raise blood pressure, and when another miscalculated a patient's fluid intake and missed symptoms of fluid retention. But a tranquilizer overdose was not noticed until it caused dangerously low heartbeat and blood pressure. And one patient's lung collapsed because a tube being inserted into an artery punched a hole in the space around the lung, letting in air. The interns also wore sleep monitors on and off duty, with electrodes attached to their heads. They nodded off about 5.5 times a night on long shifts, compared with 2.6 times overnight during the short ones. They got almost six more hours of sleep a week between short shifts, said Dr. Charles A. Czeisler (pronounced SIZE-ler), who led that study. Because of the findings, Brigham and Women's has cut interns' hours to 12 in surgery and 18 in medicine, and plans more changes, Whittemore said. Changes so far have cost the hospital $500,000, on top of nearly $1.9 million for those ordered by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, which set the new rules. Dr. Jordan Cohen, president of the Association of American Medical Colleges, said the current limits are "very much a work in progress" and further cutbacks in ICUs may be needed. One of the interns who participated in the studies, Dr. Aaron Kesselheim of Cherry Hill, N.J., said he could not remember any specific errors he might have made. "A lot of intern year is a blur because everything is so crazy," he said. Kesselheim said there was a downside to shorter shifts: He could not attend some teaching sessions in the hospital, and he had fewer chances to do procedures he needed to learn. Also, he could not see patients' full response to his treatment. "Those first 24 hours are very important, seeing how patients respond to different management, trying to make a diagnosis," he said.

  6. Doctor shortage on verge of getting much worse, survey suggests
    Canadian Press (CP) via Canada.com, Canada
    Helen Branswell
    TORONTO - Think it's hard to find a doctor now? The shortage of physicians in this country is on the verge of getting much worse, a new survey suggests. A combination of factors - impending retirements of doctors, the planned scaling back of hours for lifestyle reasons [and patient safety reasons?!] and the influx of women into the medical profession - is expected to exacerbate the shortage in the next couple of years, according to an analysis of the survey released Wednesday. "The survey suggested that doctors are saying: we want to slow down. We want to work fewer hours. We want to change some of the things that we do so that we can make this a more sustainable activity," said Dr. Rob Wedel, president of the College of Family Physicians of Canada. The college was one of three medical organizations that conducted the survey; its partners were the Canadian Medical Association and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. They polled nearly 60,000 doctors across the country, getting responses from 36%. The survey is considered accurate to plus or minus 0.7 per cent 19 times out of 20. The findings suggest urgent action is needed to handle the ballooning problem, those organizations said. Increasing the number of medical school placements and finding more efficient ways to work foreign-trained doctors into the system are among their suggestions. The survey found that in the next two years, 3,800 doctors plan to retire and 26% of doctors plan to cut back their hours. Of practising family doctors, 60% reported they are not taking new patients or are limiting the number of new patients they take. "That's a big chunk of people who have full or almost full practices," said Dr. Albert Schumacher, president of the Canadian Medical Association. "And the really interesting part was it's not just the oldest, most established physicians. Half of the doctors 35 years old and younger were reporting the same." The survey confirmed the impact of a trend the medical community has been seeing for awhile. Female doctors are working fewer hours - on average, seven fewer hours a week - than their male counterparts as they try to balance work and home life. With increasing numbers of women entering the profession - women currently make up 52% of doctors under age 35 - the impact of their inability or unwillingness to work 70 or 80 hours a week will continue to grow, the analysis warned. "They are particularly saying that they ... have to create a balance in their work that works for them," Wedel said. Other findings of the survey help to explain a problem the public has been complaining about for some time: waiting times.
    30% of specialists surveyed said they could not fit an urgent referral into their schedule within a week. One-third of specialists said they couldn't see a non-urgent referral in less than three months. Doctors reported high levels of satisfaction with their relationships with their patients, but considerable dissatisfaction with their ability to balance work and family life. "Clearly one of the things that comes out over and over again is that we love the work we do," said Wedel. "It's the workplace that's giving us the problems. The administration and the number of hours is what's wearing us down."

  7. Child labour interventions paying off
    IPPMedia - The Guardian, Tanzania
    By RAYNER NGONJI
    UN agencies have for a week been observing UN week, seven days set aside for them to review the performances of their institutions. Staff Writer RAYNER NGONJI takes a look at the International Labour Organisation (ILO)'s efforts at eradicating child labour.... A study carried out in 2002 established that child domestic workers work between nine and 16 hours a day and they are not granted any days off. They are not given any access to school nor the right to play..\.. Just like children working in domestic chores, children engaged in fishing work for long hours and in hazardous conditions as normally fishing expeditions are carried out at night....
    To arrest the situation, the ILO in collaboration with the government in 1994 launched the International Programme on the elimination of Child Labour (IPEC). The programme aims to contain the situation by withdrawing children from working sites and provide them with alternatives such as enrolling them back to school, taking them to technical colleges (VETA) and provide soft loans to the children's parents and guardians to set small projects so that they can support their children, thus relieving them of working.... The idea is to withdraw and rehabilitate the 30,000 children in commercial sex, domestic work, mining and commercial agriculture by next year in 11 projected districts of Kinondoni, Ilala, and Temeke in Dar es Salaam Region, Iringa Rural and Mufindi in Iringa Region and Urambo in Tabora Region. Other districts incorporated in the programme are Simanjiro in Manyara Region, Arumeru and Arusha Urban in Arusha Region, Iramba in Singida Region and Kondoa in Dodoma Region. The response has been rather impressive. Some 14,432 children have been withdrawn from child labour since the programme took off some four years ago. That is something like 50% of the targeted 30,000 children.
    An ILO study has shown for the first time that economic benefits of eliminating child labour are nearly seven times greater than the costs. This does not include the incalculable social and human benefits of eliminating the practice....

  8. Flexibility in the Workplace: The Benefits Are in the Numbers
    BenefitsNext
    By SUSAN E. SCHOENFELD, J.D.
    Much has been said about creating a flexible workplace, flextime, flexible scheduling, workplace flexibility, and even flexible spending. But new data from a report by the When Work Works initiative show that the overall impact of being in an effective, flexible workplace is dramatic. Although many companies are moving toward a more flexible workplace, flexibility has long been absent in corporate America. Read on and see what we've been missing. Want more information on employee benefits in your state? How about data on what other employers in your state or region offer? Or what your competitors offer? Or what you should be offering? Find out for FREE when you participate in BLR's 2005 Employee Benefits survey. Just download a survey questionnaire now, complete it, and return it to BLR. You'll get the survey results FREE!
    Research highlights
    According to the recent report, When Work Works: A Project on Workplace Effectiveness and Workplace Flexibility, employees who have access to flexibility use it. The statistics show that the majority of men (68%) and the majority of non-parents (70%) use flextime when they have it, and fully 73% of the wage and salaried workforce use the flextime they are allowed to manage work, personal, and family demands. Furthermore, among dual-earner couples with children under 6 years of age, 41% rely entirely or mostly on parental care for their children while they are working, and 64% of these parents have specifically arranged their schedules to make this possible. According to the study conducted by the When Work Works initiative: When Work Works: A Project on Workplace Effectiveness and Workplace Flexibility is part of a larger collaboration with Workplace Flexibility 2010 at Georgetown University Law Center. To learn more about When Work Works, go to familiesandwork.org/3w/about/index.html

  9. Effect of reducing interns' weekly work hours on sleep and attentional failures
    New England Journal of Medicine, MA
    by Steven W. Lockley, Ph.D., John W. Cronin, M.D., Erin E. Evans, B.S., R.P.S.G.T., Brian E. Cade, M.S., Clark J. Lee, A.B., Christopher P. Landrigan, M.D., M.P.H., Jeffrey M. Rothschild, M.D., M.P.H., Joel T. Katz, M.D., Craig M. Lilly, M.D., Peter H. Stone, M.D., Daniel Aeschbach, Ph.D., Charles A. Czeisler, Ph.D., M.D., for the Harvard Work hours, Health and Safety Group
    ABSTRACT
    Background Knowledge of the physiological effects of extended (24 hours or more) work shifts in postgraduate medical training is limited. We aimed to quantify work hours, sleep, and attentional failures among first-year residents (postgraduate year 1) during a traditional rotation schedule that included extended work shifts and during an intervention schedule that limited scheduled work hours to 16 or fewer consecutive hours.
    [Oh how advanced - not!]
    Methods
    Twenty interns were studied during two three-week rotations in intensive care units, each during both the traditional and the intervention schedule. Subjects completed daily sleep logs that were validated with regular weekly episodes (72 to 96 hours) of continuous polysomnography (r=0.94) and work logs that were validated by means of direct observation by study staff (r=0.98).
    Results
    Seventeen of 20 interns worked more than 80 hours per week during the traditional schedule (mean, 84.9; range, 74.2 to 92.1). All interns worked less than 80 hours per week during the intervention schedule (mean, 65.4; range, 57.6 to 76.3). On average, interns worked 19.5 hours per week less (P<0.001), slept 5.8 hours per week more (P<0.001), slept more in the 24 hours preceding each working hour (P<0.001), and had less than half the rate of attentional failures while working during on-call nights (P=0.02) on the intervention schedule as compared with the traditional schedule.
    Conclusions
    Eliminating interns' extended work shifts in an intensive care unit significantly increased sleep and decreased attentional failures during night work hours.

  10. Crunch looms for access to health care: doctors survey
    CBC News, Canada
    TORONTO - A combination of doctor retirements and scaled-back office hours will leave Canadians facing an "alarming" reduction in access to health care, according to a new survey from three of the country's largest medical organizations. The survey of more than 21,000 physicians was conducted by the College of Family Physicians of Canada, the Canadian Medical Association, and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. As many as 60% of family physicians are currently limiting the number of new patients or refusing to take on new patients, suggests the survey. Canadians often use their family doctors as an entry point into more complex health care. The shortage of those doctors is creating a bottleneck, "limiting access to the health-care system at the front door," said Dr. Robert Wedel, president of the College of Family Physicians of Canada. There's also a longer wait to see specialists, as 30% of them say it takes more than three months for them to see a non-urgent referral patient. The shortage could get worse, according to the survey:
    € 16% of physicians polled have reduced their weekly work hours in the past two years.
    € 13% have reduced the scope of their activities.
    € 25% plan to reduce their work hours in the upcoming two years.
    € As many as 3,800 physician retirements are forecast within thenext two years.
    The number of female physicians also plays a role, said Dr. Albert Schumacher, president of the CMA. About 31% of all physicians are women, and in the under 35 age group, female doctors are the majority (52%). On average, women work seven hours less a week than their male counterparts in order to balance their lifestyles and care for their children, he said. Tom McIntosh, of the Canadian Policy Research Network, is examining the physician supply in Canada. He says it could be time to make someone other than physicians the initial point of access. "Maybe for some first contact with the health-care system, you don't go to a doctor, you go to a nurse practitioner or some other health professional," said McIntosh. In total, 21,296 physicians completed the survey, which was conducted by e-mail and mail between February and June 2004. The results are considered accurate within 0.7 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

  11. It's time for a lunchtime pint!
    World News via New Kerala, India
    LONDON - After missing from the tables for a long time thanks to the long working hours culture, the lunchtime pint is back. According to This is London, a survey conducted by employment law firm Peninsula, shows that a third of office workers drank at least three lunchtimes drinks a week and three-quarters said that at some stage they had got drunk at lunchtime. Experts are touting the return of this trend as a determination on the part of the workforce to re-establish a more sociable work-life balance. The study, during which more than 1,300 people were questioned about their drinking habits, revealed that men and women were equally likely to drink at lunchtime and of those who went for a midday drink, almost six in 10 had more than two drinks. "Lunchtime drinking is something we thought we had seen the back of but it appears the lunchtime drink is here to stay," Mike Huss of Peninsula, was quoted by This is London, as saying. However, doctors caution that people operating heavy machines or involved in a driving based job should refrain from this trend as it only takes 20mg of alcohol to impair one's co-ordination.

  12. Code aims to give young actors a fair break
    The Age, Australia
    By Daniella Miletic
    {{ Photo: Rebecca Hallas - Neighbours actor and actors' union state president Alan Fletcher talks to young colleagues Rhiannon Fish, Marisa Siketa and Sally Kingford. }}
    Child actors' long working hours, disrupted schooling and a lack of time with parents and family are to be reviewed by the entertainment industry. Under a code of practice to be developed over the next six months, employers and television studios may face penalties for unsuitable conditions for children. State Industrial Relations Minister Rob Hulls said the code, which will be enforced by the entertainment industry, would cover issues such as access to parents and family while filming away from home. Exposure to adult themes while working, and tutoring and schooling while on location would also be examined, Mr Hulls said while announcing the review that will lead to the code. There are no laws for workers aged under 13. The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance has more than 8000 registered child actors in Australia, including 2500 in Victoria. The alliance's Victorian president, Alan Fletcher, said the code would be vital. "The entire entertainment industry is a pressure industry where money and time clash all the time to get the product made," Mr Fletcher said. AdvertisementAdvertisement "The pressure... is to get that shot done, get the day completed. Without codes the temptation for people to work too long or inappropriately is always there." Marisa Siketa, a 13-year-old-actor who plays Summer Hoyland in Neighbours, yesterday said her working week consisted of three to five days' work with shifts of between two and eight hours. The year 8 student started working in the industry four years ago. "I don't really get that much time to play sport but I like to watch TV. It's mostly on weekends that I have time to myself." She says of homework: "I manage to fit it in." Marisa's chaperone tutor, Rosemary Cullinan, said she believed that children on the sets of some television shows were not given the conditions that they should be. She said that the onus of workplace care was on parents, but often parents would not complain. "I think that sometimes parents don't want to speak up, and that is where someone who isn't a parent needs to step in," she said. "(The responsibility) does need to be taken away from the parents, who perhaps have financial issues that they are thinking about as well." Ms Cullinan will take part in today's child employment consultation forum, which will begin discussions on the code. The forum will involve actors, producers, actors' agents, parents, advertisers, casting agents and employers.

  13. Staff fury at longer shifts
    Evening Mail via ic Birmingham.co.uk, UK
    By Jon Griffin
    Dozens of BT call centre staff in Birmingham have been forced to spend 30 minutes extra a day at work after a union foul up. Disgruntled employees at the Brindleyplace call centre have seen their working day extended by half an hour to help ease the pressure of incoming calls. But no extra money was negotiated by the Communication Work-ers Union for its members, forcing scores of staff at Brindleyplace to remain at their desks unpaid for the additional half hour. CWU national executive member Keith Griffiths was heavily criticised by Brindley-place staff over the controversy during a recent visit to Birmingham to explain the new system. A worker at Brindley-place, who asked not to be named, said: "Our lunch breaks have been increased by up to 30 minutes, adding the time to the end of the day, forcing staff to take an hour for lunch whether they want it or not. "The call centre staff were informed by BT management of the arrangements and were astonished that the union had agreed without a word to its members. "Keith Griffiths, who had negotiated the agreement nationally, met furious staff and local branch officers at meetings hastily arranged in Birmingham. "Mr Griffiths was given a very rough ride but insisted that members who refused to cooperate would be in breach of contract and the union would not stand by them. Staff are being forced to take ridiculous times for their hour-long breaks. Before, I had a half an hour break for lunch and left at 4.30pm. "Now I have to have an hour for lunch and stay on until 5pm. Some of the workers have children and this makes it very difficult." CWU spokesman Chris Procter confirmed that a "framework agreement" over new working hours was in place. "Nationally, we came to a framework agreement on attendance patterns. We under-stand the union locally is seeking negotiations with management."
  14. Would you take the shift change? Send YOUR views to The Editor, Evening Mail, PO Box 78, Weaman Street, Birmingham, B4 6AY, or eveningmail@mrn.co.uk or log on to www.icbirmingham.co.uk

  15. Summertime clues to Insite rise
    ic Teesside.co.uk, UK
    By The Journal
    Landscape and environmental design company Insite Environments has won the Service Network Culture for Success Award. Service Network is a membership organisation dedicated to the support of the professional and business service sector in the North-East. The award, now in its second year, is designed to award the member who has best created a "culture for success" over the last 12 months. The judging criterion was based on six main themes - personnel, customer service, technology, financial performance, winning business and being part of the region. Speaking at the Service Network annual conference, Tracey Urwin, executive director Service Network said: "We were delighted by the enthusiastic response of our members, and by the high standard of applications across all sectors. Insite, highly commended last year, was consistently excellent across all the judging criteria. "We were particularly impressed by the company's culture for successful people initiative, based around an imaginative work-life balance that includes working shorter hours in summer off-set against longer hours in winter." Newcastle-based Insite, formed in 1992, is the largest landscape and urban design consultancy in the North, with a client portfolio including projects in the Middle East and the Far East. Managing director Peter McGuckin said: "We are delighted to receive this major award, particularly as we were competing against very strong opposition. "Last year we were given honourable mentions for many areas in which we demonstrated a culture for success. "This year we returned with the figures to demonstrate that making improvements in each of the criteria for this award really does make a difference to the bottom line. "This year our turnover increased by 23% and our profitability has risen by 35%." Mrs Urwin added: "The Culture for Success award proves beyond doubt that this region can, and does, offer world-class professional services. "Celebrating members' success is central to our aims of developing the professional and business sector and helping members to win more business."

  16. What free movement really means
    Trinidad & Tobago Express, Trinidad and Tobago
    By Andy Johnson
    Dr Stephen McAndrew is a Surinamese professional working for the Caricom Secretariat, based in Barbados at the CSME Unit. This is the body set up to help drive the creation of this entity, and as a result to help prepare the ground for its implementation and establishment. Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica are among those countries which have been committed to kick-start the CSME by the end of 2005. Haiti is a Caricom member state, but its status in the movement has beenput on hold since the controversial second ouster in February of its embattled former president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. At the end of a presentation he delivered here on October 19 on the concept of free movement, and the notions about it held by many people across the regional integration movement, from The Bahamas to Suriname, McAndrew was asked what his unit was doing to sensitise people about the CSME. James Lambert, a Trinidad and Tobago delegate, told him that in his country the majority of the population had no idea about what it meant, how it was to work and what were to be its implications. Another delegate said there was discussion about what she considered to be the macro issues, but there were micro issues on which people wanted answers. These, according to a male delegate from St Lucia, included such matters as the industrial relations environment in one country as opposed to that in another where someone may chose to move. Would a Barbadian worker who had a contract honouring a 35-hour work week be able to hold that up to an employer in Trinidad and Tobago, for instance, where the recognised work week was 40 hours?...
    [Why not? They're better rested and more prioritized and productive.]

  17. Early retirement not an option for most owners
    Birmingham Post via ic Birmingham.co.uk, UK
    For many people early retirement is a much longed for goal - but for the UK's 3.6 million small business entrepreneurs, new research suggests it is a long way off. According to the latest findings from business finance provider, Bibby Financial Services, just 24% of small business owners feel that they will be in a position to retire by the time they are 55. Instead, 52% of entrepreneurs expect that they will have to wait until the age of 65, with a further 12% being forced to work right up until they are 70. Worryingly, 7% of small business owners suspect that they won't be able to retire until they are well over the grand old age of 76. The findings of the Bibby Financial Services survey come at a time when the Government is planning to increase the default retirement age to 70 in a bid to deal with the skills gap and the increased life expectancy of the UK population. More than half of respondents (57%) say they have not taken any professional advice regarding their retirement plans, with a third claiming that they do not need expert advice because they know exactly what they are doing. This could be risky though, says BDO Stoy Hayward, and a lack of good, effective planning is the biggest growth barrier faced by smaller firms. Even after retirement, many entrepreneurs still plan to have an involvement in their business. Some 19% of small business owners and managers plan to keep their hand in their business by retaining a seat on the board. James Anthony, of Bibby Financial Services, said: "The research findings reinforce the long working hours culture that is prevalent in UK society in which entrepreneurs are under increasing pressure to prioritise work ahead of everything in a bid to make their business a success. "It is quite clear that setting up and running your own business is not a firm guarantee of a comfortable pension or early retirement and in fact, there is a price to pay for craving the independence of being your own boss. "Small business owners and managers now need to work harder and longer than ever before to earn enough money to see them into retirement and the current pension fund underperformance in the UK coupled with the volatility of the stock market has aggravated that situation even further." The results are based on a survey of 300 SMEs with turnover between £50,000 and £1 million.

  18. New Deal at stake when voters decide presidency
    The Tomah Journal, WI
    By Steve Rundio
    I've been editing the editorial page at Tomah Newspapers for 14 years, and this is the first time that we've ever devoted separate pages to letters to the editor. Then again, we haven't received this many letters before. It must be the campaign.
    Never in my lifetime has a presidential campaign generated more interest, passion and animosity than this one. If you don't believe it, just check out page 5A. For all the talk about "Bush haters" - and no doubt many such people exist - there is at least an equal phenomenon of Kerry haters. One letter writer to the La Crosse Tribune referred to Kerry as a "vile creature," but I suspect that "vile creature" and "Democratic nominee" are synonymous in his mind. And there's no doubt the MoveOn.org crowd doesn't harbor animosity for Bush that it doesn't have for any other conservative Republican.
    [But Bush is not a conservative Republican, who would want small government, fiscal conservatism, conservation, and peace - he's a "neo-con" - meaning "non-conservative" or radical.]
    What accounts for the no-holds-barred campaign, especially given that voters say they hate negative campaigns? The prospect of complete conservative takeover of government for the first time since 1929. Not since the 1920s have Republicans controlled the presidency, both houses of Congress and the judiciary. Polls show national security tops the agenda of the average voter, but for those who follow politics closely - especially those who bankroll television ads - it's about locking in conservative government for years to come. Republicans can taste it; Democrats fear it. For all the talk about 9/11 and gay marriage, what's really at stake are the reforms of the Progressive Era, New Deal and Great Society. Social Security, Medicare, 40-hour work weeks, the minimum wage, paid holidays, child labor laws, consumer protection, meat inspection, farm subsidies and workplace safety rules - it's all on the table Nov. 2. The 40-hour work week, for example, doesn't exist in the natural order of things; it exists because Congress passed the Wagner Act over conservative opposition in 1935 [July 5, Hunnicutt p.189].
    [Actually it was part of the overtime regulation in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.]
    Very few Republicans call for outright abolition of Social Security or Medicare, but they propose changes that would make Franklin Roosevelt's and Lyndon Johnson's skin crawl. The prescription drug benefit bill passed last year was the first step to a privatized Medicare in which affluent beneficiaries can opt out. One Congressman said it puts Medicare on track to become "a poor person's HMO."
    There's nothing evil about people who want to reduce the scope of the federal government and privatize many of its functions. I'm as opposed to farm subsidies as any think-tank conservative. But voters should know that the social safety net and government regulation of the workplace lie at the heart of this election. Conservatives who detest the New Deal see a chance for sweeping change, and they know that attacking Kerry's character is a better political strategy than a direct attack on the legacy of Franklin Roosevelt. And it's why Democrats bring up phony, last-second issues like flu shots (no, the President isn't to blame for everything that happens during his term).
    So, when you read a letter that's passionate or angry, just remember that it's written by a person who knows there's a lot riding on what happens Nov. 2.
    Steve Rundio is a staff writer for Tomah Newspapers.



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1998 and previous years.

For more details, see our laypersons' guide Amazon.com.

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


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