The left can go on tut-tutting forever about all the gains the right is making, or it can develop a better all-informing vision than the warmed-over versions of the New Deal it's been making do with for decades. And in developing that vision, it needs to avoid three lethal errors it's been making now for centuries:
8/09/2005 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 8/8 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 -
AITUC call to reduce working hours
Chennai Online, India
Coimbatore - Trade unions should fight for reducing the working hours
to six from the present eight hours, so that more employment opportunitiescan be created, AITUC [All India Trade Union Congress?] national joint general secretary H Mahadevan said
In his inaugural address to the three-day 16th Tamil Nadu AITUC conference,
Mahadevan said the working hours were decided some decades ago, when jobs
and working hours were commensurate with the population.
However, considering the present liberalisation, globalisation and
privatisation trends and the changing economic scenario, it was imperative
to bring down the working hours to six, he said.
By reducing the working hours to six, the number of shifts could be
increased from the present three to four, he said adding this would create
more employment opportunities, and enhance productivity and purchasing power
of the people.
Mahadevan said employees in IT sector, particularly in places like
Bangalore, were working like "bonded labourers" for 10 to 12 hours. This
trend has to be reversed. All trade unions should join together and fight
for bringing down the working hours, he added.
About two lakh workers will be participating in a rally on November 25 as
part of the conference, he said.
S Duraisamy, general secretary, Marumalarchi Labour front, T K Rangarajan,
vice-president, CITU, P L Subbaiah, Tamil Nadu INTUC president and Rajamani,
president, HMS, also spoke on the occasion.
CM asks administration to cultivate exemplary work culture -
'His priority will be creation of infrastructure & assets for state'
Jammu and Kashmir Newsline (press release) via INF, India
JAMMU - "The administration is required to be fully
geared up at all levels in order to provide practical, transparent, honest,
responsive and pro-people governance with a definite aim to usher the state
as a whole in a new era of progress, prosperity and peace", said Chief
Minister Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad while addressing a meeting of Financial
Commissioners, Principal Secretaries and Commissioners/Secretaries at Civil
Secretariat immediately after reopening of durbar move offices here today.
On the occasion, Chief Secretary Mr. Vijay Bakaya was also present.
The Chief Minister stressed upon all the senior officers to cultivate
new work culture, which will be of exemplary nature henceforth. He said that
he was surprised to know that as compared to other states of the country and
other developed and developing places of the world, in Jammu and Kashmir
state the office hours were far less, therefore, he has decided to increase
the working hours so that the people in general are benefited.
[With all the unemployment and poverty in India, here's a guy who thinks he's going to benefit people in general by increasing working hours. But maybe he just means office hours - which you can increase with increasing workhours by having more shifts.]
He advised that full concentration on official work should be given from 9 a.m. to 3
p.m. on official disposals, meetings and mutual discussions while as after 3
p.m. all concerned should be available for meeting the general public till
closure of the Secretariat....
The Transcultural Trance in France
The Progress Report
by Fred E. Foldvary, Senior Editor
When a person is in a trance, he is detached from his surroundings. He is
in a dazed, semi-conscious state. The English term trance comes from the
French word transir meaning to be numbed by fear, derived from the Latin
transire, to pass or pass away or swoon. A person in a trance can be as if
under a spell, like when one is hypnotized.
French citizens have been non-acting as if they were in a trance, detached
and unconscious of the millions of Muslim immigrants who fester in big
housing projects in isolation, without employment, without chance of progress, without
"liberty, equality or fraternity" [the national motto of France].
Out of work, lacking opportunity, clustered in slummy dwellings,unassimilated, feeling unwanted by the majority, angry and alienated, the
rioting and car burning by Muslim youth gangs in Paris and other cities
should come as no surprise. Their condition does not excuse the destruction,
but the French people have foolishly created a great disorder that can
only grow worse unless quite radical changes are made.
The American economist Henry George, writing about how civilization
declines, accurately predicated that where social justice is lacking, there
will arise new barbarians. France had the hubris to create a great empire,
occupying half of Africa. She sought to Frenchify the peoples of northern
Africa, so being designated as "French," many came to live in France. Many
others have come more recently to escape from the economic paralysis of the
newly independent states of Africa. But once in France, they had neither
fraternity nor equality nor economic liberty.
France was the home of an enlightened school of economics, the Physiocrats,
who expounded a policy of free trade, a free market, and the financing of
public goods and public works from the economic surplus that comes from the
land. But France turned away from liberty and created a centralized
bureaucratic state that continues to stifle enterprise. Unemployment for
French men under the age of 25 is over 20%. High taxes and
restrictions make labor too costly to hire. The French response was more
regulation: laws enacted to limit hours of labor in a futile attempt to
spread the work.
[Hardly "futile" when it reduced French unemployment by 1% for each of the 4 hours France cut from its workweek, from 12.6% unemployment in 1997 when the French voted-in the workweek cut on the heels of voluntary cuts offered by the political right (the "Robien Law") that were only working slowly, to 8.6% in 2001 before the US-led recession finally began to take a toll on France, almost last among the EU economies. France's implementation of workweek reduction was primitive but it still worked, just as it did when the USA went from 44 hrs/wk to 40 between 1938 and 1940. And enterprise has hardly been stifled in France - the shorter workweek created a boom for leisure industries, such as bookstores, health clubs and travel agencies, which are still benefiting from the greater levels of free time, as is French family life and family values, and spiritual life and values, and civic life and values.... - see 6/20/2001, "The French miracle: a shorter week, more jobs, and men doing the ironing - Official study finds that France's 35-hour week has boosted the economy and proved a hit with both employees and their bosses," and 4/07/2001, "Analysis - Layoff outcry masks better French business climate" which includes the subhead, "France lures investors." Moreover, Americans and Brits are hardly in a position to criticize other nations' "liberty, equality and fraternity," now that both their governments are ignoring public opinion about vital questions such as war and free trade.]
The French have now woken from their trance. They can now see the problem
they created - a vast cultural minority of alienated North-African Muslims
in the midst of their proud European Christian heritage that goes back to
Roman and Celtic eras. The only way out is to go back to their revolutionary
calls for liberty, equality, and fraternity. Adopt the French Physiocratic
program for economic development, which has never been improved on in over
200 years of economic thought.
Half-measures will not do. Treating the symptoms would be like foolishly
mandating a 35-hour work week.
[If the advanced economies had not mandated the 40-hour workweek, they'd all still be working 80-84 hrs/wk as they were in the 1820s, and in the context of automation and robotization, employment and wages would be so concentrated among so few people they'd all be third-world economies instead of advanced economies. Plus they'd be much more riddled with public- and private-sector makework than they are now, and the only thing advanced about them would be their environmental deterioration due to desperate overproduction of non-necessities.]
The French need a new economic revolution.
[Don't we all!]
Sweep away the stifling taxes and restrictions.
[The lower unemployment of the 35-hour workweek did allow the reduction of unemployment taxes.]
Implement laissez faire.
[Ain't it wonderful how these guys think we can all just go back to the wild west and have an economy left. It comes down to, cut taxes on the rich, cut restrictions on the "haves" so they can grab even more, and basically wind up with nothing to invest in. Recreate 1929 - this is their program. Brilliant - not.]
Let entrepreneurs hire and fire employees at will, with no restrictions or
taxes on honest and peaceful enterprise.
[Funny how these guys serve CEOs of huge bureaucratic corporations by talking about little entrepreneurs. What phony romantics!]
Implement a unique tax, the unique non-punitive source of public revenue, the surplus that is the rent
[Oh oh, this guy is a Georgist, a believer in Henry George's panacea of the single tax on land - which might have worked fine in the agricultural age, but today would ignore the tremendous amount of value added in high-rise office and residential buildings. Notice how taxes are OK if they're "non-punitive," defined as "not on me or my circle of friends."]
Unfortunately, the European Union has imposed fiscal rigidity on its
members, imposing restrictions and value-added taxes on all its members, and
with a European Central bank that controls the trans-European currency, the
euro. The EU would have to be reformed to liberate French labor and
enterprise. But it does not matter, since the French governing chief doesn't
wish to enact such 'reforms' anyway.
[Our quotes - destructive policy are always pursued in the name of liberation and reform.]
Instead, the French will first crack down, and then subsidize some jobs, and
then pay some movie producers to create some very artistic films about the
Muslim experience. Nothing fundamental will change, as France falls into a
new trance of helplessly watching the increasing Islamicization of their
cherished nation, encroaching ever more on French traditions and social
freedoms, while suffering the sporadic violence that destroys social peace.
Too bad. France is a beautiful country. It still has splendid museums and
architecture, magnificent castles, and beaches which, for the time being,
men and women can enjoy together. The growing Muslim influence will first
require women to cover themselves more fully, then create segregated beach
and recreational areas for men and women. Eventually, French wine will
become increasingly non-alcoholic.
Meanwhile, the troubles now plaguing France will spread to other countries
in western Europe. In past centuries, Muslims invaded Europe, holding power
in Spain and in the Balkans. Now it is Muslim immigrants who are creating a
new Islamic presence. Europe can integrate Muslims into its culture while
preserving the religion and culture of both Christians and Muslims, but only
if there is economic opportunity for all. The riots in France present all
Europe with a warning to integrate now or face disaster later.
Paristan Is Burning
Men's News Daily, CA
by Joe Mariani
The Paris riots, well into their second week at this point, are the
inevitable result of Socialism and multiculturalism run amuck. What else can
one expect when Leftist policies prevail, racial division replaces political
debate, and angry, largely unemployed subcultures are created in the name of
"fairness?" French Socialism and reluctance to assimilate the growing Muslim
population are the underlying causes of the spreading violence. A society
with enclaves of resentful, culturally-segregated groups of people who are
not held responsible for their own lives is a recipe for disaster. The
recent events in Paris should serve as a warning to all Americans: stop the
drift towards multiculturalism and Socialism before it's too late....
[What "drift toward Socialism"? America looks to us more like a flood toward fascism. This guy is 50 years too late.]
Socialism is the government taking over responsibility for feeding, housing
and clothing you, managing your health care and retirement, telling you
where to live and how, even raising your children. Socialist governments
turn productive, responsible citizens into helpless infants. In order to pay
for all of that care, the government increases the tax burden on its most
productive citizens and corporations, reducing economic growth and forcing
businesses to reduce the workforce. This, of course, increases the number of
citizens dependant on government assistance, which increases the cost of
caring for them. The purpose of a Socialist government is to perpetuate the
government and increase its control.
For years France has had the sort of Socialist government the Left in
America would love to emulate. Socialist policies drove their unemployment
rate to 10%...
[Wrong. "Conservative," rightist policies drove their unemployment rate to 12.6% in 1997, so the nation voted-in people who were willing to try worksharing policies that would allow the government to get out of the socialist job-creation business that, paradoxically, the conservatives had pushed them into.]
...though the Chirac government has recently been cutting taxes in
order to spur economic growth and reduce unemployment.
(Can we please stop
pretending it hasn't worked in America now?)
[Not until we stop pretending that American unemployment is only 5% regardless of the developed world's biggest per-capita welfare, homeless and prison population. And not until we stop pretending that pouring mega government-borrowing down the toilet of the Pentagon is "economic growth."]
Nevertheless, French workers
are guaranteed 35-hour work weeks and a minimum of five weeks of vacation by law.
[Delightful how these tremendous symbols of French economic superiority really bug the American right!]
Between that sort of productivity drain and high taxes, private
enterprise is not doing well in France.
[Except for the fact that France has higher productivity per employee hour than the USA. And by what measure is private enterprise "not doing well"? France has considerably higher consumption per capita than the U.S., and considerably fewer Walmart-bankrupted private enterprises and entrepreneurs.]
There are no jobs for a
rapidly-growing, self-segregated minority segment of the country - Muslims,
who comprise between 7 and 10% of the population.
[Gee, same as America - for the blacks, Latinos, and native Americans.]
We should not seek to emulate Socialist policies that - combined with rampant
multiculturalism - would lead to the same situation in America.
[Evidently this guy doesn't follow his own American economic news too closely.]
When people are taught to revel in being cultural outsiders, they are bound
to feel inferior and resentful towards the majority.
[Huh? How can feel inferior and resentful when they're reveling? They'd be much more likely to be ]
That's what the Left
wants. When responsibility for their own lives and decisions is removed,
people also tend to feel inferior and resentful. That's what the Left wants.
When a critical mass of isolated, resentful people is reached, the resulting
explosion might tear the entire society apart. That's what the Left wants.
We must take steps to avoid the impending dual train wreck of
multiculturalism and Socialism, before it's too late.
[Ooh noo, Mr. Bill!]
[Meanwhile, more backward motion in suicidally labor-surplussed USA -]
Chronicle sees circulation plunge
San Francisco Business Times, CA
The San Francisco Chronicle lost 80,000 weekday subscribers over the past
year. At the end of September, the Bay Area's largest newspaper went to
400,000 subscribers, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
The 17% drop is huge, even compared with widespread declines in the
newspaper industry as a whole. Other newspapers reporting declines include
the the San Jose Mercury News, down 4% to 249,000 copies, the Los
Angeles Times, down 7% to 843,000 copies and the Wall Street Journal,
down one% to 2,084,000.
The numbers come from the bureau's quarterly FAS-FAX report. The report,
the newspaper industry's chief benchmark for circulation, is not released
directly to the public. It was reported Monday in the newspaper trade
journal Editor and Publisher.
The Chronicle's circulation decline come despite what is widely regarded as
an overstaffed newsroom left over from the merger of Chronicle and Examiner
staffs five years ago. The paper lost $62 million last year, the
Communications Workers of America's auditor has reported.
Over the summer, Chronicle workers represented by the Northern California
Media Guild union agreed to a five-year contract that cuts 120 jobs through
buyouts, cuts pay immediately for 40% of members and eliminates one
week of vacation and one week of sick time. Employees will receive an 11
percent pay hike over the life of the contract. Under the contract, they are
not permitted to strike.
Compounding the Chronicle's woes, the paper disclosed in an editor's note
on Saturday that the first installment in a series on Golden Gate Bridge
suicides lifted quotations from a similar story in the Oct. 13, 2003, New
Yorker magazine and contained some identical language.
From Roosevelt to Rove - The destruction of the American Dream
American Chronicle, CA
By Guy T. Sturino
I grew up during the time that our elected leaders were promising things
like two cars in every garage and a chicken in every pot. Our high school
Civics lessons included grand visions of the future for the vast middle
class. We were being prepared for a life of an honest day's pay for an
honest day's work. Future wages of the middle class were expected to cover
all the necessities of life - and then some. Leisure time and a few frills
were expected as a reasonable reward for labor. Things didn't work out that
way for nearly as many of us as was promised. One of our presidents, President Franklin D. Roosevelt [FDR], saw the broken promise coming, and tried to alert us to the danger.
[But FDR was also the president who could have avoided the danger and made sure the promise was kept, because he was in power when the Black 30-hour workweek bill passed the U.S. Senate in 1933. This bill gave him the option to lead the country toward worksharing (sharework) instead of job creation (makework). But stymying the bill in the House derailed government into trying to offset every technological worksaving so net employment wouldn't shrink. FDR realized his mistake in 1935 after a couple of years of seeing how tough and pointless that was he finally got around to setting a national workweek (44 hrs in 1938) and cutting it two hours a year until 1940 (the 40-hr week on Oct.24, 1940). It was too high too late but it still worked to cut unemployment by 1% for each of the four hours cut from the workweek (from 19% in 1938 to 9.9% in 1941, with added help from the Lend Lease Act that started in March.]
President Roosevelt, in his last State of the Union address more
than sixty-one years ago [1944?], said,
"We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual
freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.
Necessitous men are not free men. People who are hungry and out of a job
are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.
In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We
have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis
of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station,
race, or creed.
Among these are:
The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or
farms or mines of the nation;
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and
The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return
which will give him and his family a decent living;
The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an
atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies
at home or abroad;
The right of every family to a decent home;
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and
enjoy good health;
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age,
sickness, accident, and unemployment;
The right to a good education.
All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be
prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new
goals of human happiness and well-being.
America's own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how
fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our
Since the time of FDR's presidency, there has been an open, unabashed effort
to derail his vision of American society. The New York Times reports today
that, "A $54 billion proposal headed for a floor vote this week amounts to
budget cuts for the poor and environmental licentiousness." Who would lead
such an effort? And, why? The only group that has a reason to oppose the
implementation of these rights is the group with most to lose, the richest
Americans. These are the people who own the means of production [and presumably need to sell what they produce...].
President Bush called these rich Americans the "Have More's" as he was
asking for their money to help him win the election in 2000. Those whocomprise the oft-denied American Aristocracy happily opened their
wallets, and you can be sure they expected them to be replenished and more.
But all of this is nothing new. The purchasing of political favors by the rich has been
going on since the first coins changed hands. The assault on President
Roosevelt's second Bill of Rights began as soon as he died.
It was apparent to the "Have More's" of that time that the United States was
headed in a direction which would put a drain on profits. In this new
country, with its constitution written purposefully to root out all of the
ills of other governments, President Roosevelt was leading the 'lower class'
toward a richer existence. What is it about the second Bill of Rights that
so bothered this 'aristocracy'?
1) Money is not self propagating. No matter how long it sits, money neverduplicates itself. Until such time as all manufacturing and agriculture can
be mechanized, no amount of money will ever increase without the addition of
manual or intellectual labor.
[And then it won't increase because there'll be nobody with wages to buy what manufacturing and agriculture produce.]
By simple deductive reasoning, this is true
even for the insurance and financial industries.
2) People who don't have to worry about the basic necessities of life have
the time and the incentive to educate themselves.
3) Educated people understand that money is not self propagating, and willdemand a fair price for their labor.
[Error - wages do not vary fundamentally with people's education but with the surplus or shortage of people's skills, however much or little they may be educated. And now that people in India have high-tech educations, high-tech workers in the US are getting laid off and getting their wages cut.]
4) Subsequent worker demands for wages and benefits would lead to
diminishing the wealth of the 'aristocracy.'
[- wealth, by the way, that is wasted for any useful purpose after the concentration of income and wealth passes a certain point, because the wealthy certainly can't or don't spend all their extra and they've vacuumed up so much of the spending power of the nation that there's nothing sustainable for them to invest in.]
Simplistic? Maybe - but true none-the-less.
Since 1945 [or at least since 1970 when the babyboomers entered the job market and restored the pre-1941 labor surplus of the pre-World War II period!], through the careful doling out of money and favors, this
'aristocracy' appears to have subjugated the leadership of the Republican
Party, and spent the last sixty years working to ensure that the second Bill
of Rights never sees the light of day. When President Regan refused to
bargain in good faith with air traffic controllers, essentially making them
slaves of the federal government, a major blow was struck in the fight
against unionization. Since that time, the National Labor Relations Boardhas not been favorable to union growth.
There can be no question that every penny available in the U.S. today was
harvested from the physical labor or intellect of those who work for wages.
All the means of production in the world are simply inert objects without
labor. It is only the workers who can make capital gains a reality. It seems
rather greedy, selfish, and arrogant for the wealthy owners of production to
expect labor to work for subsistence wages while they flaunt their excess
However, government actions over the past five years have demonstrated an
all-out effort to create a rich-poor class structure. Everything that the
Republican triumvirate of Senate, House and Presidency has done with regard
to trade, labor practices, and their own spending spree has generously
spread the fruits of labor on the table of the rich while setting up those
who do the work to pay the tab. But credit must be given where credit is
All of this has been accomplished with the consummate skill of a magician.
Being fooled by a Harry Houdini is a lot of fun. Being
fooled by a con artist prompts a much different response. Either those taken
in are angry enough to do significant bodily harm, or too embarrassed to
admit they were taken. But when the con goes really well the mark never
realizes it, and passes his loss off to some other cause.
How well the (neo)con artist gets the job done is entirely dependent on
making up a believable lie and providing sufficient distraction so that the
lie never gets questioned. The team pulling off the present (neo)con are
very skillful. When the president signs legislation that appears to favor the
people he does it with great fanfare. When he ís handing out the gifts to
corporations and wealthy individuals, he often does it at 40,000 feet in the
seclusion of Air Force One. Then, about the time someone might be paying
attention, the triumvirate begins talking loudly about abortion, changing
the constitution to tighten the definition of marriage, or teaching
intelligent design, aka creationism. Everyone gets riled up and that's
when they put yet another hand in the pocket of the lower class.
The budget that the congress is working on today was predicted in 2001. An
analysis of the final tax-cut package in 2001 released by Citizens for Tax
Justice states that: The typical tax cut for the median income taxpayer
will be $600 a year. For the 78 million taxpayers in the lowest 60%
of the income scale, the tax cut will average $347 a year. In contrast, at
the top of the income scale the average tax cut will be $53,000 annually.
Robert S. McIntyre, director of Citizens for Tax Justice reports that, "As a
result, over the upcoming years, average taxpayers will pay dearly for this
tax cut plan in reduced public services, a return to budget deficits or,
most likely, both." One of the more stark comparisons is that the bottom 1%
of individuals share in 0.9% of the overall tax breaks, and the top 1% share
37.6%. The entire analysis can be viewed online at www.ctj.org/html/gwbfinal.htm.
This raid on the national treasury in the first months of 2001 should have
told us something. To cover up what was really happening, President Bush
told us he was giving us a rebate. People on the streets were so happy to
receive a few crumbs that they didn't even see that cake and caviar wasbeing served in the penthouses. Since then, additional tax legislation has
continued to enrich the already wealthy,
while significantly lowering disposable income for the vast majority of
[- and therefore lowering spending and markets and investment returns and the wealth of the already wealthy, making the policies they have pushed on the nation injurious to themselves.]
How long will we let it go on? How long will it be before those who have
been led into poverty with a dangling carrot of favor for their religious
leanings wake up to what has been taken from them. How long will it bebefore those who are so consumed with passionate feelings against welfare,
national healthcare, and any other so-called socialist idea, wake up to
what has been taken from them? How long will it be before small business
owners realize that they are not considered part of the aristocracy, and
wake up to what has been taken from them? The list goes on. There ís a lot of
waking up to do.
Finally, there is the question of pride. Even if everyone wakes up to what
is happening, how many will really accept the idea that they were taken in
by temporary heros who took advantage of their own greed for money or power?
Hopefully both the waking up, and the humility that comes with acceptance,
occurs before we are forced to deal with the truth, in FDR's words -
"Necessitous [ie: desperate] men are not free men. People who are hungry and out of a job
are the stuff of which dictatorships are made."
[Too late. The neo-cons own the three largest voting-machine companies, these machines aren't just "vulnerable to fraud" = the most that the tightly controlled mainstream US media report, so the US already amounts to a military dictatorship.]
History has clearly demonstrated that when a greedy, miserly and arrogant
aristocracy gains unchallenged dictatorial power, it rarely falls by any
means other than by succumbing to an armed insurgency.
The foreseeable economic future of our children and grandchildren is much
less than it was for us. Something must be done soon. The framers of our
constitution provided us with a sane alternative to insurrection, but it
will only work if we use it. Hopefully we will not waste the opportunity.
[The alternative they provided (elections) has already been short-circuited by the neo-cons under their unscrupulous strategist, Karl Rove.]
We must avoid the future which is being written for our heirs, a futurethat is now much less promising than the one we had. Those
who work for wages must work together to support and elect a president,
senators and congresspersons who will see to it that we do not revert
to a mediaeval society.
[Too late. America is gone.]
Our fate, and the fate of our children, is in our hands.
[No, it's already been seized by the neo-cons and their radically suicidal policies, and is out of our hands - unless the Democrats try a boycott of elections until the Republicans make them auditable, or unless you put guns in "our hands."]
Guy T. Sturino was born in Kenosha, WI in 1940, He spent the first four years after
high school with the Marines, mostly in the far east. In '71 he attained a
B.S. in Applied Science and Technology from the University of Wisconsin. He
is retired after careers in the automotive industry, and teaching highschool. Along with C. Edward Burge, Guy is co-founder of Mutualist Alliance,
a gathering place on the web for those interested in promoting humane
coexistance and world unity.
Workers hungry for more free time - How do you spend your lunch hour?
Evansville Courier & Press , IN
By ARIELLE BRUSTEIN, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via Scripps-Howard News Service
Ah, the lunch hour. For many of us, it's that essential break in the day
relieving us of cramped cubicles, annoying co-workers and staring at
unfriendly computer screens.
But apparently, not many of us are taking full advantage of the lunch hour,
at least not in the tradition sense, that is.
A recent survey conducted by office furniture designer Steelcase Inc. found
that 55% of American office workers take 30 minutes or less for lunch
each day. An earlier survey by the same firm found that 14% opt not
to take a lunch break at all, while more than half do almost anything but
eat during their lunch break.
So what are office workers doing other than eating during lunch breaks?
Well, I for one gave up my lunch hour to write this article. And I'm not
alone - other office workers are busy catching up on work, running to the
bank, going to the post office and even tying up their tennis shoes to burn
a few extra calories. It seems the majority of us rather give up lunch to
complete errands, work and other activities during the day in exchange for
more time to spend at home with our families.
Renu Zaretsky of Mount Lebanon, Pa., grabs a fruit smoothie and Power Bar
for lunch to keep her going as she completes errands she would otherwise
have to do in the evening. "Running errands at rush-hour traffic when you're
going home is no fun," said Zaretsky, who works at the Jewish Healthcare
Foundation in Pittsburgh. "I try to avoid that so I can go straight home."
35% of those surveyed blame the disappearing lunch hour on
a changing work environment, 22% each cited increased pressure to
perform or a desire to get home earlier by taking a pass on their midday
meals, and 21% say they use the time to catch up on individual work.
"The traditional structure of the lunch hour has transformed as the natureof work has evolved," explained Chris Congdon, market development manager
for Steelcase. "Efficiency has become a core aspect to our day-to-day lives,
at work and at home. Most employees still feel entitled to their lunch hour,
but many times choose to use their time efficiently - to catch up on work,
run errands or grab a quick bite to eat."
Lunchtime shopper Debbie Francis, a compliance consultant at Highmark Inc.,
said "Life is so busy" when asked to explain why she skipped lunch to buy
gifts. Francis sympathizes especially with working moms who go straight home
to pick up kids from day care and make dinner. "The lunch hour is probably
the only uninterrupted time that they have to do the things they need to
do," she said.
At Pittsburgh's Point State Park, where office workers stroll in full
business attire and sneakers during lunch, Robert Patton of Monroeville,
Pa., took a breather from his lunch-time workout to comment on the growing
trend of the shorter lunch "hour" and why he thinks office workers are using
it for tasks unrelated to eating.
Patton, a project manager with the U.S. Department of Energy and a previous
worker in the mills, says that Pittsburgh's shift from a steel town to a
more "service-oriented town" allows workers more flexibility with when they
eat and the ability to free up their lunch break for other activities.
"When you're back in the steel mill doing labor-type activities, you're so
busy laboring that come lunch time, you're ready to eat," he said. "People
can now eat lunch at their desk while they work."
In today's fast-paced business world, it seems it isn't exactly food that
American office workers find themselves desiring at lunch - it's time.
"We're hungry for minutes," Zaretsky said.
[The French HAVE more free time and STILL find reasons to complain -]
French no longer bon vivants
The Guardian via Guardian Unlimited, UK
Jon Henley in Paris
The French now have so much free time that they cannot afford to enjoy it,
tourism professionals said yesterday, blaming a sharp fall in summer hotel
and restaurant revenues on the average Gallic tourist's newfound parsimony.
With many employees entitled to up to 11 weeks annual leave, thanks to the
35-hour-week laws introduced four years ago, the French are taking more
breaks. However, they tend to be shorter, and holidaymakers have less cash to
spend when they are away.
[Only one remedy for that - cut the workweek further, choke off the labor surplus further, and intensify the action of market forces in raising general wage and income levels. At 35 hours a week, the French may have the shortest national workweek in the world, but that level was obsolete back in 1933 when the U.S. Senate passed the Black-Perkins Thirty Hour Work Week Bill. The danger of any jumpdown like France's from 39 to 35 hours a week recently is that it will be regarded as permanent. But no level is permanent while waves of automation and robotics are incessantly rolling into advanced economies.]
The Union of Hotel and Restaurant Owners said its members have complained
that holidaymakers now rarely take aperitifs, that they drink water rather
than wine, eat sandwiches at lunchtime, order just one course at dinner and
refuse even a post-prandial coffee. Overall, it estimates that takings this
summer are down by 15-20%.
"One of the effects of so much more time off is that people are spending so
much more through the year on planes and trains that that they have to
economise when they are actually away," said Brigitte Lenfant of the tourist
office at Meditterranean resort of La Grande Motte.
Official statistics appear to confirm the trend away from the traditional
month-long summer vacation. A French government agency said last week that
the average summer break now lasted a fortnight.
France's faltering economy and unemployment rate is not helping either. A
recent survey by Ipsos polling group found that 52% of French people planned
to spend less than ?1,500 (£1,038) of their budget on holidays this year.
The proportion taking at least one break away from home is also falling.
Nearly 16% of the population have never been away and half of all French
holidaymakers now stay with friends or family.
The trend is being particularly keenly felt along the Mediterranean and
south-western Atlantic coast, where most of the year's income is earned in
July and August.
"It's really getting problematic," said one Nice hotelier and restaurateur.
"People are having a snack at lunchtime and avoiding anything that resembles
"Often they'll go out for a full three-course meal in a decent establishment
just once in their whole holiday. We're no longer a nation of bon vivants,
[At one airline, employees are actively fighting for more free time -]
Government intervenes in Asiana strike - Move to control economic impact
Korea Herald , South Korea
By Kim So-young (email@example.com)
The government said yesterday that it will intervene in the Asiana Airlines
strike this week and impose emergency arbitration to prevent the 23-day
walkout from crippling the national economy further.
The decision came after Asiana management and its pilots union failed to
conclude contract negotiations until Sunday, a government-set deadline for
ending the dispute at the country's second-largest airline.
"Even though emergency arbitration is feared to exasperate the labor sector,
it is inevitable we will pursue the measure as economic losses are
snowballing from the strike," Construction Minister Choo Byung-jik said at a
news briefing yesterday after a meeting with Labor Minister and other
"If the strike drags on further, it would seriously undermine the nation's
exports and credibility and deal a severe blow to our plan to develop
Incheon International Airport into a Northeast Asian hub," Choo said. "Also,
concerns are growing over flight safety due to the lack of working pilots."
His comments came as the government said overseas shipments worth $150
million were affected last month due to the suspension of Asiana cargo
flights, and that the nation could see a delay of an additional $690 million
worth of exports in August if the walkout continues.
If the government imposes emergency arbitration, the pilots will have to end
the strike immediately. They will also be banned from resuming collective
action for 30 days.
If two sides fail to reach an agreement during the cooling-off period, the
Ministry of Labor will turn over the dispute to the state-run National Labor
Relations Commission for a binding arbitration ruling.
The government has resorted to emergency arbitration only twice: during a
1969 strike at Korea Shipbuilding Corp. and a 1998 walkout at Hyundai Motor
Binding arbitration is often imposed when the government feels strikes in
state-designated "essential public service businesses" are inflicting
excessive damage on the national economy and the public.
Hospitals, gas or electricity supply businesses, railroads, city bus lines
belong to the essential service category, while the airline sector is
designated as a "public service business."
During yesterday's briefing, the construction minister also said that the
government will consider incorporating the airline industry into the
essential public service business category, a move that would strictly limit
"We will actively push for the designation in view of the airline industry's
impact on the national economy and government efforts to make the nation a
regional logistics hub," Choo said.
Asiana estimates that it has had over 200 billion won in lost sales so far
while related tourism agencies and exporters have suffered a loss of 153
billion won, since its unionized pilots began a general strike on July 17
demanding better working conditions and greater participation in management.
In particular, the strike has been inflicting heavy damage on exports as the
carrier was forced to halt all its cargo flights to give priority to
international passenger operations amid the summer holiday season.
The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy said that Korea may see only a
one-digit growth in exports in July and August, following double-digit
growth in the previous two months, bogged down by the strike.
Asiana has a 21.4% share of Korea's air cargo market, while its
bigger rival, Korean Air Co., controls 50% and foreign carriers 28.5%.
Air freight amounted to $83.2 billion in 2004, accounting for about 33%
of the nation's export deliveries. High-value items such as
semiconductors, mobile phones, liquid crystal displays and computers make up
the bulk of air cargo.
Since the strike, Asiana has canceled more than half of its domestic
flights, all of its cargo flights and about 10% of international
flights, affecting some 450,000 passengers.
Among the pilots' demands are the extension of the retirement age to 58, the
reduction of annual flying hours by 17%, the right to participate in
personnel shake-up decisions and more days off.
But the management remains firm that it can negotiate on issues regarding
greater welfare benefits but that any demands regarding personnel and
managerial issues are unacceptable.
[Less free time = more absenteeism...]
Sharon Kaleta: Employee absence rises to business issue
Providence Journal , RI
SAN DIEGO - Employee absence is a large and growing problem in Corporate America.
According to meetings across America we've held with call-center employers,
absence in some industries is increasing by 10% a year.
This number is even larger than those found by other firms in the field. It
includes "total" absence, measuring such things as "mental-health" days and
other forms of discretionary employee withdrawal. Employee absence is
expensive. Absence inflicts numerous costs, direct and indirect.
Direct costs include increased overtime and lost productivity. Indirect
costs include negatively affected customer service, scheduling and delivery
disruptions, and increased management resource expenditure. Using a narrow
measure to estimate direct costs, we estimate that a 10% increase in
unscheduled absence at a 25,000-employee company translates into $4,375,000
in direct costs.
Extrapolate these figures across the entire economy and one sees the
magnitude of the costs involved.
Employee absence is a massive if largely hidden drag on the economy. There
are many reasons for the growth in employee absence. The still weak labor
market is a major factor. Growing absence in a weak labor market might be
counterintuitive, as one would think that employees who want to hold onto
their jobs would be at work as often as possible to demonstrate their worth
to the company.
But absence is the flipside of employee commitment. The less commitment that
employees feel toward executive and corporate goals, the more likely they
are to call in sick when they're feeling a bit under the weather, or turning
a regular weekend into a three- of four-day mini-vacation.
Employee commitment has been undermined by relatively small wage and salary
increases, benefit-cost shifting and high-profile corporate scandals. As
real as absence is in a weak labor market, it would likely be far worse in a
vibrant one. Recent surveys indicate 50% of employees would switch
jobs if they could.
How many more "mental-health" days would employees take if they knew their
employers were really competing for their skills? Once the labor market hits
full swing, lack of commitment could result in even higher levels of
employee absence, as well as the exodus of dramatic numbers of skilled
Absence and turnover is not a recipe for customer satisfaction, productivityand sustained profitability.
For a long time, employers have viewed absence as an individual employee
issue. An individual had discrete problems, and they could be "fixed"
through carrots and sticks -- mostly sticks. But such an approach doesn't
begin to explain the measurable differences in absence rates among similar
demographic populations. These differences lead one to conclude management
processes and procedures play a significant role in employee absence.
Real solutions need to address absence's root causes, those practices and
processes that drive employee disengagement and lack of commitment.
When management fixes them, it creates and sustains a workplace that rewards
employee presence. The more employees are present and engaged, the higher
their productivity and the company's profitability. This is especially
critical in call-center and related customer-service operations. A single
unsatisfactory exchange with a customer-service representative can
permanently end a customer's relationship with a company.
High employee absence can stress those employees who are at work, generating
just such an unsatisfactory exchange. Increased employee absence is a
"canary in the coal mine," a sign of operational dysfunctions with possibly
wide-ranging negative productivity impacts.
Reducing absence is an opportunity to wring out other inefficiencies and
prepare a company for sustained growth. Those who seize this opportunity
have a leg up in an economy that shows every indication that competition
will only intensify. Before a company can have a productive workforce, they
need a present and committed workforce. Employees have to actually be at
work, both in body and in mind.
As the labor market strengthens, it's essential that employees are engaged,
and that management does what it takes to keep them engaged. This is notonly important for individual employers. It's essential for the overall
economy. At the end of day, an economy like ours, built as it is on
services, needs more than "hired hands." We need fully engaged persons who
advance as they help their employers meet their goals.
For this reason, absence management has joined the ranks of critical
Sharon Kaleta is chief executive of the Disability Management Employer
Coalition, based in San Diego.
[More dog-in-the-manger U.S.-worshipping propaganda to stop Europeans from having more fun than Americans - what was that old definition of Puritanism? = "the nagging suspicion that SOMEbody, SOMEwhere, is having a good time."]
Why Europe must embrace reform
International Herald Tribune, France
By Michael Heise
FRANKFURT - Uncertainty about Europe's future has been growing. The French
rejection of the European constitution in late May was followed only a few
weeks later by the failure of Europe's leaders to agree on a budget. Both
events are indicative of the fundamental stakes involved in the debate about
Europe's economic future.
Surveys have shown that more than 50% of citizens voting no in the
French referendum did so for economic and social reasons. They are fearful
of the demise of the "social" Europe that had sheltered them for so long.
And they are apparently not interested in replacing the old, trusted model
with a version that, in their minds, has too many similarities with
Meanwhile, as global competition intensifies, European governments are
finally acknowledging the need for reform. In many countries, labor-market
flexibility is on the rise, benefit levels are being cut back and work hours
[Since when is increasing work hours a "reform" - especially in the context of increasing automation and robotics? Chief economists like Heise still aren't connecting the dots between the success of the first 150 years of gradually automating capitalism and the worksharing involved in the concurrent decrease of work hours by half, from 80-84 to 40/wk.]
These reforms serve the overriding goal of increasing employment in Europe.
This aim was already defined in the European Union's Lisbon agenda in 2000,
which called for an increase in the labor-market participation rate from 63%
to 70% by the year 2010. That goal was set based on the
simple realization that an economic and social model that employs less than
two-thirds of those who are able to work is not sustainable in the long run.
At half time, it appears that these measures are at least having a first
effect. It is an encouraging sign that employment in Europe is up by about
seven million to 163 million over the past five years. However, in order to
reach the self-imposed goals, the rate of job creation must be accelerated
further. Over the past two years, the rate of actual job creation has fallen
below the target path.
Consequently, there is no alternative to an intensification of labor-market
reforms. Fortunately, politicians appear to be moving in this direction. In
Germany, for example, where elections are likely to be held in the autumn,
both major parties are committed to increasing the flexibility of the labor
market as well as to reining in still excessive nonwage costs.
Europe's reform agenda, however, cannot stop at the labor market. Increased
participation rates initially lower labor productivity, which is already
slowing down in Europe. It is thus absolutely necessary to enact measures
that help shrink the productivity growth gap between Europe and other
countries and regions, notably the United States.
EU heads of state took a step in the right direction at their mid-term
review of the Lisbon agenda when they agreed to focus anew on attractive
investment and working conditions, and on spurring knowledge and innovation.
But lasting change will only come about through concrete steps, such as the
further liberalization of the markets for goods and services.
At the national level, improving the quality of education as well as
capital spending are important steps to ramp up productivity. To make Europe
attractive to citizens and investors alike, public spending needs to be
strengthened in areas such as child care, education and training.
But Europe needs more than just the realization that the old ways of doing
business no longer suffice. It also requires a vision of how to merge the
requirements of a globalized and more dynamic world with the accomplishment
in the social sphere that we Europeans are rightly proud of. To be truly
successful, we must embrace the spirit of reform as a positive way forward,
rather than a necessary evil that must be tolerated.
Most likely, the European model of the future will be more selective.
Instead of spending huge sums on programs that achieve little more than
redistribution among the middle classes, this system should set a few clear
priorities. One key focus must be on the provision of work as a means to
escape poverty, with strict conditionality attached to social transfer
payments. More individual responsibility will also be needed in the spheres
of retirement provision and health care. At the same time, transfers must be
provided to those whose income falls below a certain level.
In the end, the evolution of the European economy will not only be
characterized by a greater reliance on free markets and flexible labor
markets, but also by a more focused and streamlined safety net. There willbe some convergence toward the British or American models, but Europe'sbalance between free markets and social cohesion will remain different.
While the ultimate superiority of either model remains to be determined, the
performance record over the past few years indicates that Europe definitely
has the larger need for reform.
(Michael Heise is the chief economist of the Allianz Group.)
NSO analyzes latest trends in the Working Time Arrangements
Maltamedia Daily News, Malta
The National Statistics Office (NSO) has issued an overview of the working
time arrangements in the Labour market focusing on the population and social
The latest issue of such a study gives data on various aspects of the
working time arrangements focusing on the average working hours, the factson overtime and the situation of part time work in Malta.
The study shows how the average number of hours normally worked is 38.1
hours per week, whilst the average hours actually worked is a bit less and
measured 36.5 hours per week. In this regard, actual hours worked takes into
account hours which though paid are not worked such as those of vacation
leave and sick leave.
The NSO report continues by stating that out of all total employed, 10,676
persons or 7.2% worked overtime, of these 9,318 persons or 6.3%
worked paid overtime. Of the person working overtime, the average
number of overtime hours was 9.7 hours per week, which is almost equivalent
to the mean paid overtime hours, 9.8 hours per week.
It is also said that the majority or 75% worked fixed hours, whilst
10.7% worked a number of core hours with variation in the start and
end time. A further 7.7% were estimated to determine their own
The NSO data shows that out of the total employed, 51.1% worked on
Saturdays, whilst a further 28.8 worked on Sundays.
The study shows that part-time working individuals are a growing feature in
the labour market. 12,937 persons or 8.7% worked either part-time or
full-time with reduced hours. Of these, 8,384 persons or 64.8% were
female. The working pattern of the majority or 44.6% of part-timers
worked with less hours per day.
Of the total number of employed persons 17.8% or 26,550 persons
were estimated to be working on a shift basis. The most common shift work
pattern was the continuous shift.
( Here's the current search pattern used by our backup, Ken Ellis - currently he's experimenting with eight search runs:
"work sharing", OR overwork, OR overworking, OR "work-sharing", OR
"job-sharing", OR "job sharing", OR "work week", OR workweeks, OR
"work-week", OR "work-weeks", OR "working week", OR "working weeks", OR
"work-time", OR "worktime", OR "decreases hours", OR "shorter schedule"
"cut hours", OR "cutting hours", OR "reduce hours", OR "reduced hours", OR
"reduces hours", OR "reducing hours", OR "hours reduction", OR "40 hour", OR
"40 hours", OR "forty hour", OR "forty hours"
"decrease hours", OR "decreased hours", OR "decreasing hours", OR "fewer
hours", OR "schedule reduction", OR Nucor, OR "Lincoln Electric"
"days off" OR "day off"
"work hours", OR "working hours", OR "shorter hours", OR "shorten hours", OR
"shortened hours", OR "shortened work"
"free time" labor OR workers OR employees
leisure labor OR workers OR employees
vacation OR vacations labor OR workers OR employees
7/18/2005 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 7/17 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 -
6/6/2005 strategic hope - advanced timesizing & worktime consciousness sent to the news but not selected for publication -
- Sir Edward Heath, former British PM, dead at 89
Sir Edward Heath, Prime Minister of the UK 1970-74, has died at his home in Salisbury just a week after his 89th birthday. Heath
He was offered the post of Ambassador to the U.S. in 1979, but declined.
- led the UK into the European Economic Community,
- initiated a failed power-sharing government in Northern Ireland, and,
- in order to cope with economic unrest, instituted a three-day work week in the UK.
[Here we have another conservative cutting the workweek - compare Herbert Hoover in cutting the Post Office workweek to 40 hours in 1932 and the UDF(?) Party and its Robien Law in France in 1996. How do we get more details on this forgotten factoid? Heath was the political mentor of Margaret Thatcher and like her (and Phil Hyde), grew up in a grocery store.]
He continued to represent the constituency of Old Bexley and Sidcup as a backbench MP until his retirement in 2001.
[Place names worthy of the Harry Potter series.]
He was created a Knight of the Garter in 1992.
Subj: 35-hour day a race to whose "top"?
Date: 6/6/05 11:02:31 PM Eastern Daylight Time
To the editor:
How interesting that Tom Friedman has convinced himself that the 35-hour workDAY in the sacred name of Capitalism is "A Race to the Top" (op ed, June 5), while the 35-hour workweek is "old," never mind the 77plus-hour workweeks of the 19th century. Although he lives in the age of robotization, Mr. Friedman is still talking about working hard, not smart. Is this "misery loves company," or The Future (for everyone else but him)?
With his praise for India's younger population and his scorn for Europe's older population, he also turns shorter life expectancy into a feature, not a bug. Orwell lives!
Mr. Friedman notes the lowest groups in India clamor to learn English to be more like us, but he expects us to give up leisure, good pay and benefits to be more like India. How strange his praise for democracy and freedom next to his scorn for the most basic of freedoms, free time. Like so many today, Mr. Friedman seems to be mistaking busyness for importance.
Philip Hyde III
Timesizing Party of Massachusetts
10 Carver Street
Somerville MA 02143
5/14/2005 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 5/13 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 -
5/13/2005 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 5/12 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #1 which is from 5/12 hardcopy), and with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
- EU backpedals on work week opt-out
Reuters via Times of Malta, Malta
The European Commission appeared yesterday to soften its opposition to a
move by EU lawmakers to scrap Britain's opt-out from the EU's 48-hour
maximum working week, saying it was negotiating a compromise.
On Wednesday, the European Parliament voted to scrap a provision under which
governments can allow firms to ignore the work week limit, rekindling a
long-running ideological battle with Britain. Its plan must now be reviewed
by the Commission.
Commission spokesman Katharina Von Schnurbein said yesterday the Brussels
executive was looking for a deal to present to EU ministers on June 2.
"We are now negotiating a compromise which will take into account the
amendments of the Parliament and at the same time the interests of the
Council," she told a news briefing.
The Commission had said on Wednesday it did not agree with parliament's bid
to scrap the opt-out, and that it would maintain its proposal to allow
individuals to opt voluntarily to work longer where there was no collective
The UK reiterated yesterday that flexible labour laws are vital for economic
efficiency to compete with China and India.
"I have no intention whatever of abolishing our opt-out. The vote is wrong.
It is completely misguided," UK Prime Minister Tony Blair told a news
conference in his Downing Street office.
European Commission President José Manuel Barroso shared that view, Mr Blair
said, but Ms Von Schnurbein said a compromise was being intensively
negotiated, though she was unable to say whether it would keep the opt-out
or phase it out differently.
The Commission and member states want to keep the way on-call time for
doctors is counted because it has an impact on health sector financing, Ms
Von Schnurbein said.
Member states in particular want to ensure that when doctors are on call but
not dealing with patients - such as when they are at home sleeping - it
should not be counted as working time, she added.
The assembly did give some leeway on this point, suggesting that inactive
parts of on-call time could be calculated differently to comply with the 48
hours maximum working week.
"So the Commission is trying to find a compromise again between the position
of the Parliament and the one of the Council (of ministers)," Ms Von
Member governments must approve a final version of the legislation by
qualified majority in the EU Council, and Britain will need to put togethera blocking minority of several countries if it is to preserve its opt-out.
The text adopted by ministers in June will then go back to the Parliament
for a second vote, Ms Von Schnurbein said.
BMW Says New Leipzig Factory to Help Boost Efficiency (Update1)
Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, the world's largest
maker of luxury cars, said the design of a new factory in Leipzig, Germany,
will help boost efficiency and enable the company to build different models
as demand requires.
The factory, being presented today to German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder,
is built with extensions that enable BMW to expand or reduce production more
quickly than in traditional plants, said Norbert Reithofer, management board
member responsible for production, in a prepared speech. Munich-based BMW
wants to make 650 cars a day in Leipzig from about 160 now.
``We laid the plant out from the get-go with enough flexibility and
sustainability to produce almost all current and future BMW models here,''
The Leipzig factory builds the 3-Series, the company's most popular model.
Production of the car was moved from the Regensburg plant in Bavaria to
makes room for the 1-Series, the brand's smallest model. The new factory
will add about 10 percent extra capacity.
``Demand for the new 3-Series is more than we expected and is one of the
reasons why we're so optimistic about this year,'' said Chief Executive
Helmut Panke in an interview. BMW expects vehicle sales to increase to a
record this year, while profit will be little changed.
The carmaker's 105,972 workers built 1.06 million autos last year, or 10
cars per worker. That compares with 11.8 vehicles per worker at Mercedes.
The average Porsche AG employee builds 7 cars a year.
BMW plans to improve productivity by 5 percent annually, said Panke. He
declined to say by how much improved efficiency would reduce costs.
The company four years ago chose to build a new plant in the eastern Germancity, the birth place of Johann Sebastian Bach, over competing bids in
Europe, to be closer to German suppliers and its main factories. A subsidy
of almost a third of the total costs from the German government encouraged
the Munich-based company to expand domestically, where wage costs are about
five times higher than in neighboring Czech Republic.
``Germany still has the prerequisites to be successful in global
competition,'' said Panke. ``Germany requires maximum flexibility in terms
of job and working conditions.''
BMW and the works council, which represents employees, agreed that workers
at the new plant will not be paid extra for weekend shifts or for putting in
more than a 35 hour work week. Workers instead will be able to take
compensation time when shifts exceed 35 hours a week. The plant is able to
operate between 60 hours and 140 hours a week, depending on demand.
German auto workers receive average monthly wages of 2,600 euros plusholiday payments and a vacation bonus, according to the Frankfurt-based IG
Metall union that represents them. BMW makes two-thirds of its cars in
Western German auto workers' compensation is about 37 percent higher on
average than in the U.K., 41 percent more than in France and about five
times higher than in the Czech Republic or Argentina, according to figures
from the Frankfurt-based VDA German carmakers' association.
The central building in Leipzig was designed by Zaha Hadid, a U.K.-based
architect known for her sweeping use of concrete and metal surfaces. The
factory is about 25,000 square meters in size and car bodies are transported
on a line above desks in the administration area to the body shop, paint
area and the assembly line.
The 200-hectare (494 acres) site in the German state of Saxony will employ
about 5,500 workers at full capacity.
BMW shares fell as much as 70 cents, or 2.1 percent, to 33.42 euros and
were down 1.2 percent at 33.71 euros as of 1:25 p.m. in Frankfurt. The stock
has gained 1.7 percent this year, while Germany's benchmark DAX index is
To contact the reporter on this story:
Jeremy van Loon in Leipzig at firstname.lastname@example.org
3/23/2005 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 3/22 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 -
- My kids are too French - They want to work 35 hours a week and enjoy long weekends, owner Hingkeung Kwan of Brasserie Eiffel-Kennedy in Paris, East Vancouver Republic, p.1.
[Here's another workaholic who wants the rich consumer markets of the shortest-workweek economy in the world but hasn't connected the dots between cutting the workweek, squishing the vanishing not-yet-robotized work onto more people, and maintaining lots of consumers with lots of spending money. Hey, Hingkeung, if you don't like the prereqs, don't take the course. Go back to China where you'll feel right at home with the other workaholics and long-hour low-wage serfs; in short, a huge population with no spending money and over 200 million unemployed, de-activated consumers. Put up or shut up.]
Time gap here in our stories will gradually close - we hope.
NLB to extend opening hours for libraries
Channel News Asia, Singapore
By S Ramesh
SINGAPORE - The National Library Board [NLB of Singapore] wants to make libraries in Singapore
the next most frequented place for Singaporeans, after their workplace and home.
So from April 1, it is extending and standardising the operating hours for
all its regional and community libraries.
Regional and stand-alone libraries will operate from 10am to 9pm, while
those libraries located in shopping malls will open their doors from 11am till 9pm.
NLB says close to two million people visited libraries in 2003, a 30
percent increase over 2002.
Between 4,000 and 7,000 people visit the stand-alone libraries on Saturdays
and Sundays, while 10,000 to 12,000 people go to the libraries at the
shopping malls and regional centres during the weekends.
The operating hours have been extended to meet this keen demand for library
services, especially over the weekend as more people are moving into the
five day-work week.
[Presumably from the 5½-day, or longer, workweek, which used up part of the weekend (usually Saturday morning?).]
[Here's a mention of the author and book featured on Terri Gross' Fresh Air yesterday -]
Hardworking parents fight for the right to paid sick days
San Jose Mercury News, CA
By Sue Hutchison
This has been a revealing month about the psyche of the stressed-out
American worker, especially the working parent, who increasingly resembles a
pet hamster running on that little wheel in a mindless frenzy.
First was the much-ballyhooed publication of Judith Warner's book "Perfect
Madness," which details the folly of the round-the-clock Supermom. Next was
the release of a report by the Families and Work Institute, which broke the
very unsurprising news that one-third of American employees feel overworked
and trapped by their jobs.
Now there is a renewed effort to beef up family-leave policies and ensure
that every employee has something many of us already take for granted: paid
The two main groups behind the effort - the National Partnership for Women
and Families and 9 to 5, the National Association of Working Women - have
wasted no time getting the statistics out there: 47% of
private-sector workers have no paid sick days at all, 76% of low-wage
workers have no sick days, and 84% of restaurant workers have no sick
days. A bill is being reintroduced in Congress next month that would
guarantee employees in companies of 15 people or more seven paid sick days a
Even in California, which has the best family-leave benefits of any state in
the country, there are thousands of parents whose jobs are in jeopardy if
they take days off to stay home with a sick child.
Considering that it took the better part of a decade to pass the Family and
Medical Leave Act, it's obvious that the proposed sick-leave law will be a
"Some conservatives will say the government shouldn't be mandating
sick-leave policy," said Jodi Grant, director of work and family programs
at the National Partnership for Women and Families. "But how else are
parents supposed to be able to take care of kids who are too sick to even be
allowed to stay at day care? This is the ultimate family-value bill."
Heading to Sacramento
Next month the Silicon Valley chapter of 9 to 5 will lead a trainload of
working parents up to Sacramento to lobby for a similar law in California.
Cathy Deppe, who lives in Milpitas and is head of the valley's 9 to 5
chapter, has witnessed for herself the family mayhem caused by lack of sick
leave. She teaches adult education and sees many single mothers working
minimum-wage jobs where they can't afford to take a day off if their child
gets the flu.
"I know of high school students who stay home with little brothers and
sisters when they get sick because their parents can't," Deppe said. "The
parents think it's better for their older kids to miss school than for them
to risk being fired. What kind of choice is that?"
Delilah De La Riva, a single mother who is an instructional aide at the San
Jose adult education program where Deppe teaches, made a clear case for why
the family-values crowd should be the first to support a sick-leave law. She
used to have a job with no paid sick days, and when her 10-year-old daughter
caught a bug, De La Riva risked more than just her job security. She felt
she was risking her little girl's sense of security as well.
"When they're really sick, you have to be the one to bring them soup and
lie down with them in bed and rub their head," De La Riva said. "Those are
the times they will always remember - that you were there taking care of
And you can't take care of them when you're tied to that hamster wheel.
Sue Hutchison's column appears Tuesdays in A&E and Sundays in Style. Contact
her at email@example.com
[A bit of black humor -]
New cars modeled on horses of old; Hit the horn and pass out!
The Spoof (satire), UK
by Ilona Ronay
Prototype of the White Arabian - Unconscious Drivers Wanted
Washington, DC, and Detroit, MI - The Big Three automakers today announced
that they have developed a revolutionary car that will drive itself.
Similar to the horses of the Old West, which would carry home drunken
cowboys who fell across the saddle and slapped the horn before sinking into
unconsciousness, these cars will enable stressed-out and overworked
Americans to fall into the front (bench) seat, hit the horn, and be
transported home with their eyes shut. One caveat: there can be no talking,
no music, and no cell phones.
A sophisticated computer tracking system will enable the cars to merge onto
highways, stop at lights, yield or go at stop signs, and remember theiraddresses over 95% of the time without any assistance or even signs of
consciousness or a pulse from the driver. All the cars need to operate is
the initial horn blast and then...silence.
President Bush hailed the news as good for America on many fronts. "These
new cars will immediately rid America of those toxic vermin otherwise known
as trial lawyers," he proclaimed. "Now that drivers are alseep or
unconscious, they are not responsible for their actions. You can't sue a
car, can you? Huh, can you? Can you? Bring it on!"
He added, "Now, Americans can stay later at work and work many more hours
every day because they don't have to worry about being alert on the roads.
They'll get their sleeping down on the roads and can report alert to their
second and third jobs to keep this economy humming and pay for my many
The pharmaceutical industry and Walmart both responded positively to the
"It sort of reminds me of the old days in the Wild Wild West," the President
reminisced. The automakers, responding to his nostalgia, are consideringnaming and painting some of the new cars after horses. Choices under
consideration include the Black Stallion, the Dappled Appaloosa, the White
Arabian, and the Cream Shetland.
Certain state governments expressed cautious optimism, saying that there was
no way the automatic cars could drive any worse than some of the residents
currently on the road. They also look forward to slashing the staffing at
the various departments of motor vehicles.
Shares of the Big Three automakers galloped to new highs on Wall Street,
leaving industry analysts agape, aghast, and in the dust.
NHS staff 'facing abuse threat'
BBC News, UK
Despite unpaid overtime and abuse, staff are fairly satisfied, the survey
NHS [National Health Service] staff regularly face abuse and violence, and work unpaid overtime to
keep services running, a survey shows.
A quarter of staff were abused or harassed by patients in the last year,
with 14% being physically attacked, the Healthcare Commission said.
The numbers subjected to any form of abuse rose to 37% when attacks by
colleagues were included.
More than half of the 217,000 respondents also said they had worked unpaid
Some 12% said the extra unpaid hours accounted for more than six hours on
The most common reason given for working unpaid overtime was to ensure
patients received the best possible care.
However, the staff quizzed, which included doctors, nurses and non-clinical
staff, said they were fairly satisfied with their job, with only 9% wanting
to leave the NHS.
The findings in these areas were broadly similar to the watchdog's survey
But the survey, which was completed by 60% of NHS staff last autumn, also
found more staff were undergoing training and being offered flexible
There has also been a decrease in the numbers suffering work-related stress
from 39% to 36%.
Healthcare Commission chief executive Anna Walker said she was disappointed
no improvements had been made in the danger staff faced.
"It is clear from this survey that NHS staff remain committed to providing
good patient care and helping their colleagues.
"Staff are generally satisfied with their work, and there are welcomedincreases in the number of staff receiving training and appraisals.
27% have faced harassment or abuse from patients, rising to 37% when
attacks from colleagues are included.
55% work unpaid overtime, with 12% clocking up more than six hours a week on average.
93% have received some form of training.
83% said their employer had offered them flexible working, with the most
common being job sharing, reduced hours and flexi time.
"However, it is worrying that little has changed with regards to the
harassment and violence towards NHS staff."
Karen Jennings, head of health at public sector union Unison, said more
action was needed to reduce the attacks against staff.
"Although there are no dramatic changes from last year's survey, it's very
disturbing to see that the levels of violence and harassment.
"We fully support zero tolerance in NHS trusts, but we would like to see
violent offenders prosecuted and facing tougher penalties in the courts. "We
need to make it clear that violence against health workers will not be
tolerated and offenders will have the book thrown at them."
Health Secretary John Reid admitted improvements were needed, but he also
said the positive results should be recognised.
"The Healthcare Commission survey shows that the vast majority of NHS staff
are happy at work.
"The government is committed to helping the NHS become an employer of
choice and improving working conditions in order to recruit the best staff."
NHS staff figures
Meanwhile, figures released by the Department of Health show the number of
staff working in the NHS now tops 1.3m - up 48,000 on last year.
An extra 8,000 doctors, 11,200 more nurses and 3,000 more allied health
professionals were recruited last year, according to the annual NHS
workforce statistics for England.
In total there are now 117,000 doctors and 397,500 nurses working in the
However, less than half the NHS workforce is made up of qualified clinical
staff. Last year the NHS recruited 2,400 new managers, bringing the total to
Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said the number of administrators
had risen at double the rate of doctors and nurses in recent years and three
times the rate since Labour came to power.
"The NHS needs more doctors and nurses - it needs less bureaucracy."
And Liberal Democrat health spokesman Paul Burstow added: "We cannot allow
so many hardworking NHS staff to face violence and harassment while they try
to do their jobs."
Minnesota Labor to Rally at Capitol Today
Public News Service via ILCA Online, DC
ST. PAUL, Minn. - Over a thousand members of Minnesota's largest public
employees' union say they'll rally at the State Capitol this afternoon
(Wednesday)...to draw attention to issues they say are critical to workers \such as\
the need for a strong middle class and [the need] to support working families. ...Jim Niland, spokesman, AFSCME [American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees] Council 5...says they're spending more hours on the job, but falling further behind economically. "Working families in Minnesota...many with two full-time workers..\..are seeing their real income decline, while, at the same time they're having to work more hours a week. So, people definitely sense they're going backwards." ...Niland says policymakers need to raise revenue, rather than
cut public services, to resolve the state's budget problems. He says two possible sources are from the sale of cigarettes and gasoline.
AFSCME has over 52,000 members in Minnesota, working in transportation, at state
universities, veterans and nursing homes, and in public safety.
Niland says...state spending reductions are affecting Minnesota's quality of life.
"Their schools are getting more crowded. Teachers don't have enough
textbooks. The roads are getting in worse shape. We're not snow-plowing as
well as we used to. And, that's why we're saying the real solution is
Minnesota demands a high level of public services, and the Legislature and
the Governor have refused to fix the budget to provide that."
...Niland says...organized labor helps support a solid middle class, strong families and Minnesota's economy. "Unions need to be there, because there needs to be a level playing field between workers and their employers. Right now, we're seeing a situation
where CEOs, even of even failing companies, are bringing home millions of
dollars a year, while the workers, who do the real work for those companies,
are seeing their real income decline. The only way to solve that problem is
for workers to organize and have some bargaining strength. In places
where there's more union members, people are paid better, they have better
more healthcare benefits, as opposed to areas where there are no unions."
[Another front in the global employers' battle against evenly spread, market-demanded employment and the maximum consumer demand and economic growth that it allows -]
Business slams holiday law
TVNZ, New Zealand
The business community is renewing its attack on the Holidays Act, saying
last year's reforms did not go far enough.
Business New Zealand has presented the Minister of Labour with the results
of a survey of 1,500 firms showing the act imposes big costs on companies.
The Holidays Act gave all staff time-and-a-half and a day off in lieu for
working on public holidays and launched a phase-in of four weeks holiday.
It was amended last year to prevent inflated claims for sick pay.
74% of survey respondents said the act had increased cost
for their business, while 38% said it added up to 2% extra payroll cost and
22% said it added 3-5% to payroll.
45% of the businesses surveyed had difficulty explaining the
holidays changes to employees.
Business New Zealand Chief executive Phil O'Reilly says the basis for
setting holiday payments is flawed and the act is complicated, with both
employers and employees finding it difficult to understand and apply.
The "relevant daily pay" formula used by the act sweeps all sorts of
additional payments into holiday and leave payment rates, significantly
inflating leave costs for many employers, O'Reilly says.
"And it has other counterproductive outcomes. It means the employer may not
pay the employee more for working than for not working, employees may earn
more by not being at work, and in several industries it means employees have
less incentive to produce, so productivity diminishes."
Among other things, the formula for calculating holiday pay should be
changed back to something like the "ordinary pay" formula that was in the
previous act, and the act needs to be simplified, he says.
Ah ha! So this is what women want?
FRANKFURT, Germany - What women want is flexible working hours, according to a new European Central Bank study on how to get more women into the
European Union job market.
Part-time jobs, flexible hours and maternity and paternity leave all
increase the number of women in the workforce, the researchers said.
These findings are important for EU politicians who are trying to boost the
region's sluggish growth rate by getting more people into the labor market.
With an aging population and strained public finances, more workers and
higher productivity is essential to create faster growth.
Women's labor market participation is around 60% in European Union
countries, about 10 percentage points below the level in the United States
where growth is twice as fast.
A preference for leisure over work is a popular explanation for why fewer
Europeans work, and why they work shorter hours than Americans.
But the new ECB study, which surveyed EU labor markets from 1980 through
2000 and developed predictive models for factors that influenced decisions
to participate in the workforce, found leisure did not explain why women
stay at home. Neither did high tax rates.
Instead structural barriers, such as strict union regulations and rigid
working hours, were major hurdles to women joining and staying in the work
force, the study said.
"Our results discard any doubt on the influence of institutions on women's
participation in the Europe," the authors said in the ECB study, "European
Women: Why Do They Work?" that was published in March.
Ireland and the Netherlands provide examples of how changes in
institutional structures can attract more women into the workforce. As
part-time jobs in Ireland rose, women's labor market participation increase
by almost 40 percentage points in the 25-54 age group from 1980 to 2000, the
study said. In the Netherlands, the increase in women's participation was
nearly 30 percentage points, it said.
If labor market rules and structures had stayed at 1980s levels, labor
market participation of women aged 25 to 54 would have increased by 20
percent less than actually had occurred by 2000 in the United Kingdom and in
the Netherlands, and by 30% less in the Portugal, they found.
Maternity and paternity leave also seems to have an encouraging impact on
labor market participation, the researchers said. But more than 10 months
leave has a negative impact on whether a parent returns to work, they said.
The full study is available on the ECB's Web Site at
HP accused of labor violations cover-up
By Ed Frauenheim of CNET News.com via ZDNet News via ZDNet
Hewlett-Packard wrongly denied benefits to workers by misclassifying them
as "contractors," deliberately destroyed evidence of the problem and
retaliated against a whistle-blower trying to rectify the situation,
according to two lawsuits.
One of the suits, brought by HP employee Mike McClendon, claims company
managers were directed to shred their notes after an October 2003 meeting in
which it became apparent that HP was violating the law.
In addition, a source close to the matter says, a complaint from McClendon
related to the incident was sent more than a year ago to an HP ethics
committee led by now interim Chief Executive Officer Robert Wayman, but no
action was taken.
HP spokeswoman Monica Sarkar declined to comment on the specifics of the
two suits, which were filed this month in federal court in Idaho. But,
Sarkar said, "we believe they are both without merit." She also declined to
comment on the claim about the ethics committee receiving McClendon's
complaint, or whether it was still looking into the matter. But she said the
committee "takes any issues raised to them very seriously, and they do
The suits against HP come amid a wave of litigation related to work
conditions in the technology industry, mostly focused on overtime pay in the
computer game field. One of the HP suits is more akin to a lawsuit against
Microsoft in 1990s brought by workers who were given labels such as
"temporary" employees, "freelancers" and "independent contractors."
In that case, dubbed Vizcaino v. Microsoft, the workers claimed they were
actually Microsoft employees entitled to various benefits. It ended in a $97
HP is facing a class action suit from 34 workers who claim they were
"incorrectly classified by the company as 'contractors' or 'contingent
workers' or other similar names" when they were actually "common law"
employees according to criteria including a questionnaire used by the
Internal Revenue Service. The suit alleges the workers were deprived of
benefits such as vacation, holidays and leaves of absence.
The suit, which seeks more than $300 million in damages, claims to be on
behalf of more than 3,000 employees throughout the country who have beenmislabeled by HP as contractors.
McClendon's lawsuit against HP also arises from alleged misclassification
of employees by the computer giant. An HP veteran of more than 20 years,
McClendon managed a team of about 19 people, with 11 of them at one point
classified by the company as contractors or also referred to as contingent
workers, according to the suit. McClendon thought their employment
designation was illegal, and alleged in the suit that "the practice of
illegally classifying workers as contractors had become widespread
throughout HP by the year 2003."
The purpose of the Oct. 14, 2003, meeting, according to the suit, was to
learn from an HP attorney how to classify workers as contractors rather than
employees in a legal way. But as the attorney reviewed the Vizcaino case,
"it was apparent to those assembled that HP was violating the law in amanner that was virtually identical to the Microsoft case," the suit says.
The managers told those assembled to shred their notes, according to the
suit. McClendon and others did so, the suit says, but he raised concerns in
the wake of the incident.
"It is difficult to describe how shocked I was at this 'destroy all notes'
order," McClendon said in a memo to HP Senior Vice President George Mulhern,
according to the suit. "There is only one reason that we were being ordered
to destroy our notes: We all knew that we were doing something very wrong,
so we had to hide it. And a dozen people in that room were hiding it,
conspiring as a group to hide it."
According to the suit, HP retaliated against McClendon after he expressed
his concerns, in part by terminating his position as a team leader. The suit
claims HP violated whistle-blower protection provisions of the
Sarbanes-Oxley Corporate and Criminal Accountability Act and the Employee
Retirement Income Act.
Among other things, the suit seeks economic damages as well as the
reinstatement of McClendon to his management position.
McClenden also asks the court to order HP to release him from an alleged
"gag order" keeping him from talking to co-workers about the subject of the
litigation or the illegality of misclassifying HP employees.
"Plaintiff desires to be able to speak out because throughout the early
part of his 22-year career, HP was an exceptionally fine employer, valued
its employees, and contributed to the welfare of the economy and the work
force," the suit says. "Plaintiff believes it is in the public interest and
in the interest of the shareholders and employees of the company that the
illegal practices cease and that the company return to its once-held posture
of being one of the finest employers among the major corporations of
State is home to 850,000 illegal migrants
Orlando Sentinel via Sun-Sentinel.com, FL
by Víctor Manuel Ramos
Florida is home to at least 850,000 undocumented migrants, part of a
national surge in people crossing U.S. borders illegally despite the
tightening of homeland security since 2001, according to a study releasedMonday.
The number of undocumented immigrants in the United States has grown by
nearly half a million a year during the past decade, the report by the Pew
Hispanic Center found.
[Sounds like a wild undercount.]
Florida, a state where many such workers have been reported to find
employment in the agriculture and construction industries, ranks third
behind the border states of California and Texas as one of the top
destinations for undocumented immigrants in the country.
"They make a sizable part of the labor force," said Roberto Suro, director
of the Washington, D.C., center that issued the study. "There are many
people who are willing to employ them because they find them economically
The Pew analysis of government data from various sources shows that the
tide of people crossing the border illegally or overstaying their temporary
visas has risen dramatically between 1980 and 2004. It has created an
unregulated labor force, giving rise to a generation of people who lack
documentation to live and work here.
People who enter the country illegally are not counted as such by any
official means, but the analysis used census data and estimates for the
foreign-born population and subtracted those accounted for as legal
residents to get an estimate of those living in the United States illegally.
The number of undocumented people calculated was estimated at 10.3 million
nationally, including the 850,000 of Florida's 17.4 million population in
Most of those undocumented immigrants, or 57% nationally, are from
Mexico. Another 24% arrived from other Latin American nations.
One-sixth of the undocumented population, or 1.7 million nationally, are
children - showing that those newcomers are growing roots and increasingly
raising families north of the border, the report says.
The revelations sparked more calls for tightening border security and
immigration control throughout the nation.
"There's been a greater amount of lip service, but there hasn't been a
greater amount of attention to border security," said T.J. Bonner, president
of the union representing Border Patrol agents. "It's a shell game, and the
American public are losers in this game."
The union has sharply criticized the Bush administration's proposed 2006
budget, which would provide $37 million to hire 210 Border Patrol agents.
The intelligence reorganization bill President Bush signed last year called
for hiring 2,000 more agents a year over five years.
Currently, there are fewer than 11,000 agents to patrol more than 6,000
miles of the nation's perimeter around the clock, Bonner said.
The president also is expected to meet with Mexican President Vicente Fox
on Wednesday, a talk in which the immigration issue probably will surface.
Fox has been pushing for legalization of his country's emigrants, and Bush
has supported a program of temporary visas for workers.
In an effort to provide some form of identity for their undocumented
workers, Mexican consulates have been issuing identity cards to their
nationals that may be accepted as valid IDs by some private institutions.
The Mexican consulate in Orlando has issued about 20,000 such cards a year
since it implemented a tamper-proof version of the cards in 2002.
But Deputy Consul Gilberto Velarde said the undocumented Mexican presence
here is not a matter of national security, as some say.
"Fundamentally, Mexicans come here to work. That's not a secret to anyone,"
Velarde said. "Undocumented Mexicans are not a security threat. Contrary to
that, they come here to offer their work to help the economy grow, because
no American citizen wants many of the jobs they have."
[Nonsense. If they weren't here, wages would rise to levels acceptable to many Americans. As it is, they are disemploying minorities who are already here and depressing the wages of many who are still employed. Wages go by labor supply and demand. The notion that wages are determined by productivity is disinformation carefully crafted and promulgated by short-sighted employers, eager to extract more output from their already often-overworked employees and obscure the real secret of rising wages.]
The majority of Mexicans who call Central Florida home are in Polk County,
where they work the citrus groves and do other service jobs.
The job picture, however, is getting complicated as the pool of workers
increases, causing many of the undocumented to work for less than they would
have before, said Catalina Mondragón, a farmworkers-rights activist and
formerly an undocumented worker herself.
"Those who are working have lost salary, benefits, days off and any job
assurances," Mondragón said, "because there are more workers around."
But as long as poverty in Mexico is worse, Mondragón added, they will keep
Wire services were used in this report. Víctor Manuel Ramos can be reached
at 407-420-6186 or firstname.lastname@example.org
France moves closer to a longer workweek
Associated Press via Houston Chronicle
By LAURENCE FROST
PARIS - France took a big step toward liberalizing its rigid labor laws
Tuesday as lawmakers voted to effectively dismantle the 35-hour workweek,
cherished by workers but despised by many employers and potential investors.
The conservative-dominated National Assembly, France's lower house, voted
overwhelmingly to adopt a government-backed bill that opens the door for
companies to increase employees' working time in exchange for better pay.
The new law will give employers more latitude to strike labor agreements
that call for more than a 35-hour workweek, a flagship policy of the former
Socialist-led government that gave many people more leisure time but that
also fueled anxiety about France's competitiveness.
President Jacques Chirac's government has tried to sell the change to voters
as an opportunity to "Work More to Earn More," but many remain unconvinced.
Almost a million people joined strikes and demonstrations earlier this month
to defend the 35-hour workweek.
The new law endorses an increase in the extra hours employees can work to
220 every year from the previous limit of 180. It also allows them to go
further with "optional overtime" in return for extra pay. It lets them sell
part of their holiday entitlement back to their employers or put it toward
early retirement, training or sabbatical leave.
But trade unions doubt that the extra time will be quite as optional as
France adopts changes to 35-hour work week
Reuters via Arab Times, Middle East
PARIS - The French parliament adopted changes to the 35-hour
working week on Tuesday that will allow employees to work longer, despite
opposition by trade unions who say the reform spells the end of the shorter
The National Assembly, or lower house, approved the changes by 350 votes to
135 in a second reading, clearing the final hurdle to a government plan to
make the rules on the working work more flexible.
The upper house has already approved the reforms of the 1998 law, introduced
by a Socialist-led government, which will allow workers to increase overtime
and work if they want up to 48 hours a week, the maximum allowed under
European Union law.
President Jacques Chirac's conservative government hopes the changes will
boost the competitiveness of French industry.
But the reform could provoke new protests by trade unions who say workers
will be forced to work longer hours for no extra pay and that the changes
will in effect dismantle the 35-hour working week.
Unions have already staged widespread protest against the changes but the
government has pressed on with its plans, even though it fears voters could
show their discontent by voting against the European constitution in a
referendum on May 29.
The Socialists cut the working week from 39 hours in 1998 to try to reduce
high unemployment. But employers' groups, the main driver behind the reform,
complained that without an equivalent cut in pay, companies simply became
The government says the increased flexibility will be good for companies,
pay packets, jobs and the economy.
France sidesteps 35-hour week
Australian Financial Review, Australia
French lawmakers effectively dismantled the country's 35-hour working week
by voting on Tuesday to allow employers to increase working hours.
In a final vote, the National Assembly approved a government-backed bill
permitting employers to negotiate deals with staff to increase working time
by 220 hours a year in return for better pay.
The bill effectively clears the way for the gradual erosion of the 35-hour
week, a flagship policy of the former Socialist-led government that gave
many people more time off but added to concerns about France's declining
The shorter week was introduced on a voluntary basis in 1998 and made
compulsory two years later in a bid to force employers to hire more people.
But France's current 10% jobless rate is testament to its failure to
generate the promised millions of new jobs.
The National Assembly, controlled by French President Jacques Chirac's
conservatives, approved the new law by 350 votes to 135.
It does not formally abolish the 35-hour work-week but sidesteps it,
allowing employers to offer staff extra working hours at a higher rate of
It also enables workers to sell part of their holiday entitlement back to
their employers, or to put it toward training or early retirement.
In order to apply the changes, however, companies will have to break away
from their broad sector-wide agreements with unions - unchanged by the new
law - and negotiate deals with their own staff representatives. This means
that the effects of the reform will take time to make themselves felt.
Any such initiatives could also be unpopular in France's present climate.
Almost a million people took part in nationwide strikes and demonstrations
earlier this month to protest the change to working time, as well as other
threats to workers' benefits and public sector pay.
Many French workers have become accustomed to taking longer holidays and
regular weekdays off under the 35-hour law, and a recent survey by polling
agency CSA showed that 56% of salaried employees oppose the bill,
although jobseekers, retirees and unskilled workers approve.
France relaxes 35-hour week rule
BBC News, UK
Unions say the move effectively dismantles the 35-hour week
French MPs have effectively voted to relax the Socialist-era 35-hour limit
on the working week, allowing private firms to increase working hours.
The National Assembly, dominated by the centre-right, voted by more than
two to one to allow up to 13 hours' overtime.
Private sector workers will also be able to convert extra days off into
wage rises or pension contributions.
Employers said the 35-hour week, introduced in 1998, had failed to create
jobs and was uncompetitive.
The new law does not scrap the 35-hour week - it still applies in France's
large public sector and it will remain the standard working week in the
But the changes will allow workers to work up to 48 hours a week - the maximum allowed by the European Union.
Labour Relations Minister Gerard Larcher hailed the reform as a "pragmatic
and realistic" move, but Socialist deputies dismissed it as a backward step,
the Associated Press news agency reports.
"This text in fact just shows the blind refusal of a ruling party that is
heading for trouble and toughening its line on ideological principles that
date from another century and penalise jobs and workers," Socialist deputy
Alain Vidalies said.
Those in favour of changes, such as lorry drivers, were a minority
A poll earlier this year showed that the majority of French workers did not
want to work longer hours, with only 18% saying they did.
Public sector trade unions mobilised against the reforms, bringing hundreds
of thousands of protesters on to the streets in a series of protests across
But many blue collar unions said members wanted more pay, not more time
The 35-hour week was introduced by a Socialist government, in the
expectation that it would help reduce unemployment.
However, unemployment remains stubbornly high at 10%.
Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said the changes were aimed at
restoring the work ethic in France and improving its sluggish economic
performance by encouraging people to earn more by working more.
He said the change was vital to keep the French economy competitive and to
create more jobs.
French parliament adopts reform of 35-hour labour law
AFP via Servihoo, Mauritius
PARIS - The French parliament definitively approved a reform of the controversial
35-hour working week - a Socialist measure introduced to cut unemployment
but which is blamed by the current government for doing the reverse.
After its final reading before the right-dominated lower house, the National
Assembly, the measure was voted through by 350 votes to 135. It will become
law once the bill is published in the official gazette.
Under the reform, the standard working week will remain 35 hours, but staff
in the private sector will be able to strike deals with management to work
up to 13 hours of overtime.
Employees will also be encouraged to "sell back" the compensatory days off
that they earn if they work more than 35 hours a week. Known as RTT days,
these will be more easily convertible for salary or improved pension rights.
The centre-right government of President Jacques Chirac says the aim is to
restore the work ethic in France and give people the right to "earn more by
It points out that the change is not compulsory and does not apply at all to
the large public sector.
However the Socialists - whose former labour minister Martine Aubry brought
in the 35-hour week in 1998 - describe the reform as a "fool's bargain" and
say it will in practice be impossible for employees to refuse if management
asks for extra hours.
Last month more than 350,000 people demonstrated in cities across France
against the government's changes. Polls showed that 69% of the public
support the 35-hour week, which has allowed many in the public sector and
large companies to enjoy more time with their families or in recreation.
Opposition to the reform has fed into the climate of discontent which is a
major factor behind the rise in the projected "no" vote in the May 29
referendum on the EU constitution. Two polls in recent days showed the
constitution being voted down.
For the left, the reduced working week was a mechanism for sharing out the
nation's available labour among more people and thus bringing down
unemployment - which did indeed fall during a period of strong economic
growth until 2002.
But the government has the backing of business when it argues that the
change has put up the cost of hiring staff, scared off international
investors and is in fact helping sustain France's stubborn jobless rate of
more than 10%.
France eases law restricting workweek to 35 hours
Washington Post, March 23, 2005; Page A12
By Erika Lorentzsen
PARIS - The French Parliament voted Tuesday [3/22] to relax the
country's controversial 35-hour workweek law, a move that supporters say
will make French companies more competitive but that labor unions call an
attack on employee rights.
The legislation, passed on a vote of 350 to 135 after lively debate, gives
businesses more flexibility to negotiate overtime pay, vacation times and
workweeks that exceed 35 hours.
Labor Minister Jean-Louis Borloo, left, answers questions from lawmakers as
Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin looks on. Shortly afterward, the
workweek proposal was approved. (Jacques Brinon - AP)
Some analysts said the measure would have little immediate impact on
France's economic problems. "This law isn't out of economic or social
necessity, but more of an ideology of the center-right in favor ofbusinesses," Stephane Rozes of the CSA polling firm said in an interview.
The 35-hour rule was proposed in 1995 by the Socialist Party to combat
unemployment rates of 12.6%. Under a socialist government, it became
compulsory in 2000, with supporters calling it a model of enlightened worker
rights for modern Europe.
Today, France has a 10% unemployment rate and its economy has
stagnated. The government is now in the hands of the Union for a Popular
Movement, which contends that the workweek limit has been part of the
problem and has lobbied for the past three years for changes.
Business groups argued that the law has been responsible for excessive
labor costs and has discouraged foreign investors from setting up in France.
But the Socialists and other supporters contend that of 2 million net jobs
created in France from 1999 to 2001, 350,000 were the result of the 35-hour
workweek. Providing for longer vacations and, in many cases, regular
weekdays off, the limit remains very popular with the public. Polls show a
70% support rate.
More than 300,000 people turned out across France on Saturday to march
against the bill.
Jean-Claude Mailly, secretary general of the national Force Ouvriere union,
vehemently opposed the legislation, saying it would favor employers. But
strikes and the power of unions in French society have declined in recent
years, and unions faltered in efforts to mobilize workers to block the
Elie Cohen, an economist, said many French workers will feel a pinch from
the new law. "Most workers get a certain amount of vacation time, and by
tomorrow, those workers will have less," Cohen said.
On the other side, Cohen said, changing the law "was really popular with big
firms like the carmakers Renault and Peugeot, and at the end of the day,
these companies can better manage" their operations.
The government did not seek to abolish the limit outright because of
concern that such a step would sacrifice public support for a vote in May to
ratify the European Union's first constitution, some analysts suggested.
"The French political establishment don't want to rock the boat before the
vote," Pepper Culpepper, associate professor of public policy at Harvard
University, said in an interview.
Q&A: French working hours
BBC News, UK
The changes to the 35-hour working week have angered many workers France's National Assembly has passed a bill that all but brings to an end
the country's greatly cherished and much envied 35-hour working week.
What will the changes mean?
The 35-hour week will not be abolished, but employers will be allowed to offer extra hours at a higher rate of pay.
France's workers will now be able to clock on for a maximum of 48-hours a
week, should they so wish.
They also will be able to sell holiday back to employers, or put it towards
training and early retirement.
Was the 35-hour week popular?
Very much so.
Many people had got used to working fewer hours a week, and often only working four out of five days.
Despite [or because of!] the shorter hours, French workers were some of Europe's most productive.
And they were reckoned to be some of the region's least stressed and
So why the change?
Critics of the 35-hour week said it was a barrier to greater prosperity,
faster economic growth and fuller employment.
[Note Trivers' theory about the disfunctional evolutionary byproduct, self-deception. 3/27/2005 Boston Globe K4.]
Originally brought in on a voluntary basis in 1998, it was made compulsory
by the former Socialist-led government two years later in the hope that it
would prompt employers to take on more workers.
[And it did. Unemployment declined to 8.6% by 2001 before the US-led recession started affecting France.]
However, with unemployment stubbornly stuck at 10% [before the shorter week was brought in, unemployment was stuck at 12.6% and the only reason it's stuck now is that the workweek is stuck at 35 when automation and robotization require its further reduction] and economic growth sputtering, the calls for change have grown increasingly and persuasively loud.
Is there likely to be opposition?
Despite the overwhelming vote in parliament, where the bill was passed by
350 votes to 135, trade unions and many voters have said they will fight any
There could be more protests ahead
Already there have been protests with critics seeing the bill as the thin
end of the wedge and forecasting even greater erosion of worker rights and
Tensions have been building since the centre-right government of President
Jacques Chirac unveiled plans to overhaul the country's social security
system and labour market.
Policymakers have already made it less attractive for employees to retire
at 60 and increased the importance and availability of private pension schemes.
[All schemes to reconcentrate employment and income, re-overload investors with surplus cash, restarve the consumer base, and redepress the French economy.]
They also intend to limit the amount of money people can claim for healthtreatments and medicines.
On top of that, public sector pay has stagnated over recent years, leaving
many workers feeling that economic growth is leaving them behind, analysts say.
Why push through such unpopular changes?
The package of 'reforms' [our quotes] is aimed at cutting state spending [and favoring the wealthy].
France has an ageing population that is putting increased pressure on its
healthcare and pensions system [so the wealthy say - but otherwise, increased 'pressure' on their overstuffed pockets].
The country's budget deficit has been running at more than European Union
limits for a number of years despite assurances that it will bring the
shortfall back under 3% of gross domestic product (GDP).
Economic growth is sluggish and a lack of reform has often been cited as a
key reason for Europe lagging behind the US and its bustling economy.
There also is pressure from the private sector with companies complaining
that the limits on overtime and the working week make them uncompetitive.
[They're so eager to rejoin the race to the bottom.]
The government, meanwhile, insists that it wants the labour market to be
more flexible, letting people work more and earn more if they want to.
[Yeah, gotta strengthen that 'right' to commit economic suicide and weaken the right to commit physical suicide - 'misery loves company.']
France, bastion of productivity
Historically and especially recently, the French have been the
butt of jokes portraying them as wine drinking, cheese-eating, cowardly
snobs and layabouts. This week, the French parliament is seeking to
undermine at least part of the stereotype by ending its 35-hour workweek
legislation known as "les heures."
The idea was that by reducing the hours of each worker, there would be more
jobs to spread around. But now unemployment in France is at 10% and there is
a widespread perception that the law has cut salaries and living standards.
France will now allow a 39-hour workweek.
"The intention was to spread work around, but the effect was to spread our
salaries around," Thierry Breton, France's new finance minister, said last
week, as quoted by the Associated Press.
[Funny how economists don't notice that spreading salaries around instead of concentrating them at the top results in stronger consumer markets and dynamizes the economy. Apparently the law of marginalism applies to everything but wages and spending power. Their blindspot here is reminiscent of the insistence of medieval scholars that the Sun goes round the Earth and not vice versa.]
The new 39-hour workweek legislation is expected to pass, despite the much-to-be-expected public protests earlier this month and denunciations by
the Socialists, who passed "les heures" but are now out of power.
Allowing workers to work more, and specifically to clock more overtime, hasbeen said to be especially beneficial to poorer workers who need more hours
the most. It is especially helpful for companies in industries where long
workweeks are the norm, such as restaurants and trucking. Ending the
much-mocked law may also help fix France's negative image in countries like
the United States - France's biggest source of international investment.
But just how pathetic are the French? The numbers tell a mixed tale.
[Gee, those unstressed French are sooo 'pathetic,' aren't they!]
According to a 2003 survey of 25 industrialized countries conducted by the
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the French do
work less than most others. They clocked an average 1,431 hours per year.
Even allowing six weeks vacation, this works out to just 31 hours per week,
less than even "les heures" would dictate. But Norwegian and Dutch employees
worked even less. German workers, who traditionally have been viewed as
paragons of industrial effort, put in 1,446 hours, barely more than the
French. British (1,673 hours), Americans (1,792 hours) and Koreans (2,390 hours) worked substantially more.
[Now check out this contradictory spin -]
Ranked by "competitiveness," France fares poorly, as ranked by a World
Economic Forum survey. France places 27th, behind Chile, Spain, Belgium,
Portugal and Luxembourg. But the even lazier Norwegians and Dutch rank 6th
and 12th respectively. Korea places two rungs below France.
[This must be on the basis of the irrelevant "output per worker" measure, regardless of hours per worker, rather than the meaningful "output per workhour" measure.]
Still [or therefore], French workers remain among the most productive in the world, ahead of Britain, Germany, the United States and Japan, according to the European statistics agency Eurostat, the AP reports.
In terms of gross national income per capita (GNI) as measured by the World
Bank, France ranks 23rd with a GNI of $24,770.
[plus say $5328 ($444/mon.) universal healthcare = $30,098, plus say ($785x24mons=18840 for ages 60-61 social security checks unavailable in US, divided by 40 years of work=) $471/yr = $30,569.]
The U.S. is well-ahead in 5th place at $37,610.
[Minus say $5328 healthcare = $32241, minus say $471/yr 60-61 social security = $31,770, minus the huge correction you need to make because this is an average which obscures the fact that US income is astronomically concentrated in the top income brackets.]
But again, Norway, which works less, makes more, more even than the U.S. Germany is about $500 ahead of France.
Another interesting fact is that between 1995 and 2003, France actually
increased its work hours, albeit slightly, despite the 35-hour law, according to the OECD.
[From what to what? Remember that the average US workweek is still hovering around 34 hours a week, because part-timers who can't find fulltime jobs are included in that average and they misleadingly pull it down. Similarly, more hours for French part-timers due to more jobs and re-activated consumers may have pushed their national average up.]
In the last two years of that span, however, its work hours declined. In recent years, France's GDP growth rate has slowed. The same is true of Germany. But growth in Korea and the U.S., which each work more hours, has increased.
[He must be carefully selecting his data, because this period covers a US-led recession when US growth slowed, and the only reason US growth can be said to increase recently is because GDP includes such destructive stuff as weapons manufactures and government war expenditures, regardless of unnecessary the war (the same economic bump could have been achieved sustainably by cutting the U.S. workweek), regardless of how many Americans (and Iraqis) get killed in that war, and regardless of how narrow the 'benefits' of that war are distributed.]
As a nation, France boasts 33 entries in the Forbes 2000 list of the world's largest companies, including Total, BNP, AXA Group, Societe Generale Group, and Renault in the top 100.
All told, the French worker is a fairly productive sort, even with all that
cheese. But there is some evidence of slippage, and adding a few hours, or
at least letting those so inclined work a bit more, is likely to help.
[Not really. Juliet Schor has documented productivity increments when hours decrement (Overworked American, p. 154), and demoralized employees can be expected to reverse that.]
Au revoir to 35-hour week - Unique work law failed to generate hiring expansion
Associated Press via South Bend Tribune, IN
by LAURENCE FROST
[Watch again as another yet another US-worshipping journalist ignores the 12.6% unemployment rate in 1997 France that motivated the 35-hour workweek, and the 8.6% unemployment rate in 2001 before the US-led recession and the workweek's further downward rigidity nudged it back up to 9-10%. Plus France has nowhere near the huge US rates of welfare, disability, homelessness and incarceration.]
Thousands of people demonstrate in Bayonne, southwestern France, earlier
this month to defend the 35-hour workweek. Despite such protests, a government-backed bill to restore the previous 39-hour workweek is expected to win final approval this week. AP Photo/BOB EDME
PARIS - Sophie Guilbaud not only holds a full-time job, she also helps run
her son's nursery and treats herself to regular weekdays of shopping, movies
and art shows.
The secret to her balancing act is a remarkable piece of social engineering
- France's 35-hour workweek. Introduced under the Socialists but headed for
effective abolition by lawmakers Tuesday, "les 35 heures" have been a boon
for some but, critics argue, a big drain on the economy.
Heated debate over dismantling the working time law has fed into wider
political and literary soul-searching in France, on themes ranging from the
country's economic frailty and bureaucratic office culture to whether
quality of life should be measured in time or money.
For Guilbaud, a Parisian who works as a loan company manager, that last
question is a no-brainer.
"Work is not the only thing in my life," she said, suggesting she might quit
rather than work more hours.
But with unemployment at 10%, politicians of all stripes acknowledge
that the country's unique 35-hour law has failed in its original ambition:
to force employers to hire massively. What's more, there are strong signs
that it hurt living standards as employers froze salaries to make up for
"The intention was to spread work around, but the effect was to spread our
salaries around," Thierry Breton, France's new finance minister, said last
A government-backed bill that effectively restores the previous 39-hour
workweek is expected to win final approval this week, despite massive public
protests earlier this month and denunciations by the now out-of-power
Amid soaring unemployment and stagnating wages, the reform is supported by
jobseekers and even by factory workers, according to a survey that pollsters
CSA published last month - and by 46% of the overall population,
with 43% opposed.
There are other signs that the vision expounded by former Prime Minister
Lionel Jospin's Socialists now rings hollow in some surprisingly left-wing
Often touted as the working mother's godsend, the 35-hour week actually made
life harder for poorer women and single parents, according to women's
"The women that suffered were the lowest paid, who needed all the overtime
they could get to make ends meet," said CLEF president Monique Halpern. "I
think this is one of the reasons that Lionel Jospin lost the elections."
Clara Gaymard, the globe-trotting head of the French International
Investment Agency, contends the 35-hour week has damaged investment in
France, mainly because of its negative image in countries like the United
States - France's biggest source of investment.
"The perception was that the French didn't want to work any more," she said,
whereas French workers remain among the most productive in the world, ahead
of Britain, Germany, the United States and Japan, according to the European
statistics agency Eurostat.
Gaymard is the wife of former finance minister Herve Gaymard, who resigned
last month in a scandal over his lavish publicly funded apartment.
Marc Touati, chief economist at Paris-based Natexis Banques Populaires,
conceded the law initially created some jobs and gave large employers an
incentive to offer more flexible schedules because there were tax breaks andbusiness was good.
In today's uncertain economic environment, though, the shorter workweek is
"destroying jobs because companies wonder whether it's worth taking people
on for just 35 hours a week," Touati said.
Other governments regulate work hours, but France's law came under
particular scrutiny because it applied to a broad cross section of workers,
rather than to specific professions.
According to a 2003 OECD survey of 25 industrialized countries, only
Norwegian and Dutch employees worked less time each year than the French,
who worked an average 1,431 hours. German workers put in 1,446 hours,
British 1,673 hours, Americans 1,792 hours and Koreans 2,390 hours.
Last year, a parliamentary committee reported that the 35-hour week cost
France more than $13 billion a year, casting doubt on a labor ministry study
that suggested it had created 350,000 jobs between 1998 and 2002.
Still, many French workers are loath to give up their shorter hours, even
for more cash. Some 56% of salaried employees oppose the government's
plan, according to the CSA survey, while 36% approve.
On March 10, almost a million people took part in strikes and protests over
the working time reform - as well as other threats to workers' benefits and
public sector pay.
But Nicolas Sarkozy, who pushed hard for the law to be loosened while
serving as finance minister last year and is expected to one day run for
president, has no regrets.
"It's wonderful to see so many people marching to defend the jobs they
already have, pushing aside so many others who would also like the chance to
have a job," he said.
Associated Press writers John Leicester and Mary MacCarthy in Paris
contributed to this report.
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