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Timesizing News, December 2010 + 1/1/11
[Commentary] ©2011 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 117, Harvard Sq PO, Cambridge MA 02238 USA 617-623-8080

12/31/2010-1/1/11 – bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments, despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Greene Co. moves some to 4-day work week, by Maggie Borman, 1/1 Jacksonville Journal Courier via myjournalcourier.com
    CARROLLTON, Greene County, Illin. — When some governmental offices open Monday in Greene County, it will be for one less day each week.
    After months of discussions and no action, the Greene County board approved a four-day work week for the offices of county clerk, supervisor of assessments and county treasurer.
    State's Attorney Matthew Goetten reiterated that the county board statutorily only has the authority to set working hours for those three specific departments. For all other offices — the court system, which includes probation, circuit clerk and state's attorney, the sheriff’s department, and the highway department — the board authorized Goetten to draft a memorandum to be sent reminding each department of the 20 percent reduction in each department's payroll and the no part-time employee provision approved to help offset a $150,000 to $200,000 shortfall the county is anticipating as reflected in the fiscal-year budget approved this week.
    “As I stated last week, the memo is actually redundant as the budget reflects the 20 percent reduction, but the memos can serve as a reminder to remain within that budget and that the board will hold their feet to the fire if they go over the 80 percent 2011 budget,” Goetten said.
    Effective immediately, the offices of county clerk and recorder, supervisor of assessments and treasurer will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and closed Fridays.
    While all county courthouse employees are covered by union contracts, the contracts allow the board to make such decisions under their managerial rights clause.
    For the sheriff’s department, in lieu of having to cut two deputies from the force, newly elected Sheriff Rob McMillen had approached the board requesting he be allowed to find other revenue sources and areas where money could be saved.
    “Basically, the ballpark figure for the sheriff to cut 20 percent of his payroll by letting two deputies go would have been about $87,883,” board member Doug Wagner said. “Sheriff McMillen was able to come up with about $84,000 by increasing fees, serving outstanding warrants, providing inmate meals rather than outsourcing the service.”
    Circuit Judge James Day also offered to use $8,000 from his court security fund to help retain deputies.
    Wagner said he does not like approving a budget that is “showing red,” but the board and various department heads have done the best they can.
    “I hope everyone continues to work together as the Fiscal Year 2011 budget is based on anticipating the state will pay us what they owe us and continue paying what they are supposed to, but there is no guarantee,” Wagner said. “We are looking at a possible shortfall of $150,000 to $200,000 when we had been facing $300,000 to $400,000 shortfall without the measures that have been taken.”
    He said if the state continues delaying payments owed to the counties, “things could get worse.”

  2. Korea endorses 40-hour workweek, by Lee Ji-yoon (jylee@heraldm.com), 12/31 KoreaHerald.com
    SEOUL, South Korea - The government has decided to ratify an additional four conventions of the International Labor Organization, including the adoption of the 40-hour workweek, the Ministry of Employment and Labor said Thursday.
    Korea, since becoming an ILO member country in 1991, has endorsed a total of 24 conventions.
    [out of a total of how many??]
    When it comes to the number of ratifications, Korea ranks 27th among the 30 OECD countries and 128th out of 183 ILO member nations. Currently, the OECD average is 63.
    [So there are at least 63 conventions available for ratification.]
    The four conventions that are to be newly adopted by the Korean government are: the Unemployment Convention, which obliges the establishment of free public offices for job consultations; the 40-Hour Work Convention; the Weekly Rest Convention, which allows weekly rest for all employees, including apprentices; and the Occupational Cancer Convention, which aims to strengthen control and prevention of occupational hazards.
    After undergoing the inspection by the government legislation and getting approval at the Cabinet meeting, the ratifications are to be reported to the ILO. Taking effect in one year, they have the same force as domestic law.
    “Other than the four conventions, the ministry is also considering endorsing the Radiation Protection Convention. We will extend the work in the coming years by adopting the ILO labor standards more actively,” said a ministry official.
    The nation’s labor-management relationship has long been criticized in and out of the country for making less progress in recent years.
    Especially, the government has maintained its passive attitude toward adopting the ILO conventions.
    Despite a strong demand from labor groups and activists, the key conventions such as the Abolition of Force Labor Convention and the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention were excluded again from the latest ratification plan.

  3. Emiratis need career exploration - Negative attitudes towards private sector employment are due to lack of education about options, 1/1 GulfNews.com
    UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - The Emirati youth's main reason for not seeking employment in the private sector is due to ignorance about their career options away from the public sector.
    UAE University (UAEU) academics found education at all levels about career options outside the public sector will increase Emirati youth's willingness to migrate to private sector jobs.
    "Some of them don't know about the private sector, not even in theory," said Professor Ingo Forstenlechner, Assistant Professor at the faculty of Business and Economics at UAEU. "There are Emirati families where the entire family works in the public sector."
    He added that when a youth is surrounded by a family entirely employed in public sector jobs such as in the municipalities, the police force and the military, as far as they are concerned that is their world of work because they do not know any better.
    These findings were revealed in a recent research study conducted by Professor Forstenlechner, Professor Mohammad Madi and Dr Hassan Selim from UAEU. The academics have conducted the largest recorded representative sample of almost 2,300 young Emiratis enrolled in higher education for their year-long research sponsored by the Emirates Foundation.
    Education about career options
    "Just knowing about alternative options will increase their willingness to work in the private sector," said Professor Forstenlechner. 
    These findings were documented in academic paper: Career Theory in an Emerging Arab Gulf Economy: the Impact of Expectations and Self-Efficacy, which investigated the Emirati youth's attitudes towards public and private sector employment.
    The findings are to be presented to a private panel this week, a step viewed as one closer to levelling out the demographics of the private sector workforce.
    The paper states that in modern, yet still tribally organised and influenced societies of the Arab Gulf states, motivating indigenous youths to actively explore career options in the private sector poses challenges for years to come.
    However, the challenges can be overcome through behavioural modification and the creation of sufficient opportunities for the Emirati youth's migration to employment in the private sector.
    "The government needs to tell people there will not be public sector jobs for everybody for eternity," said Professor Forstenlechner. "To really support career exploration initiatives, bringing knowledge about careers to all educational levels should be much stronger than they are right now."
    Easy life
    For Abdul Salalm Jasem Mohammad Al Hosani, 24, a reform of the youth's entire mentality is essential to increasing Emirati presence in the private sector.
    "The mentality of Emirati males and youth in general is that they want an easy ride," said the recent graduate, now employed as an engineer at the National Petroleum Construction Company (NPCC). NPCC is a semi-private public joint stock company established in 1973 to facilitate the fabrication of steel structures required by the onshore and offshore oil and gas production industry.
    "Logically, if someone is used to an easy life surrounded with friends who take it easy, you can't expect them to willingly take up hard work," added Al Hosani.
    Al Hosani is a self-professed hard worker who works up to 13-hour days and weekends on oil and gas rigs under the blistering sun, simply because of his love of learning.
    [Masochism 101?]
    "I personally believe that I need to work hard while I'm young to learn as much as possible and gain experience," he said. "The place to gain this knowledge is through hard work."
    [Never mind working smart, not hard. But his peers are smarter -]
    However, for his peers, Al Hosani believes shorter working hours and longer holidays are a priority.
    "The problem is they think that they can rest now and in a few years when they've gained experience start to work harder," said Al Hosani.
    Yet, according the UAEU study it is the youth's confidence in their own abilities to successfully compete with expatriates in the private sector that also hinders them.
    "Even if they are unhappy with their current public sector job and want to change they are scared they won't find another job," said Al Hosani. The research paper touches on many issues pertaining to Emirati private sector work attitudes, such as stereotypes and structural systems. However, it states another major factor deterring the Emirati youth from employment in the private sector is security.
    "Job security is non-existent in the private sector, something nationals are looking for," said Professor Forstenlechner. "Another thing is their built-in expectation of being provided a comfortable public sector job, which is an expectation that might not be possible to fulfil for every Emirati person reaching working age right now."
    [- unless they realize that full employment, however short a workweek it takes, is an economic necessity and a forever-frozen 40plus-hour workweek is not an economic necessity - in fact, it's economic suicide as technological productivity rises.]

12/29-30/2010 – bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments, despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Everett employer feels the sting of past layoffs - State hikes premiums for unemployment insurance, by John Wolcott, 12/30 Snohomish County Business via snohomishcountybusinessjournal.com
    Longtime civil engineer Ted Trepanier, owner of Trapanier Engineering in Everett, discusses a project drawing with part-time employee John Peterson. Trepanier said steep increases in unemployment insurance premiums and other tax increases may force him to end Peterson's position even though he needs Peterson's help. (photo caption) EVERETT, Wash. — Most Snohomish County businesses are facing steep increases in unemployment insurance payments in 2011, even if they haven't been laying off employees, thanks to the “social cost” taxes needed to fund the state's shrinking resources for supporting the jobless.
    Years of weak economic growth have set new records for the amount of unemployment benefits paid to a growing number of state residents who can't find jobs. That, in turn, has forced the state to find ways to replenish the shrinking fund that pays for unemployment benefits.
    In late 2010, the state's Employment Security Department mailed tax-rate notices to more than 170,000 Washington businesses, with rates increasing to an average of 3.26 percent for 2011, up from an average rate of 2.39 percent in 2010*, but spanning a variety of rates ranging from 1.33 percent to 6 percent on the first $37,300 of each worker's earnings.
    Employers pay the tax, not employees.
    “No one likes announcing that tax rates are going up, especially when the economy is still moving very slowly,” Employment Security Commissioner Paul Trause said in a news release in early December. “In recent years we have worked with the Legislature to improve fairness and equity in the unemployment tax system and we hope to make additional progress while maintaining a stable benefits fund.”
    Yet unemployment tax rates continue to rise, with the 2011 rates being the highest since 1988.
    [So despite the moaning and groaning, this is not new.]
    Payments to the unemployed in 2010 reached around $2 billion but only $1.2 billion was paid into the fund, Trause said.
    The first employer to alert the Snohomish County Business Journal to the issue of rate increases came from Trepanier Engineering in north Everett. Owner Ted Trepanier said his unemployment insurance premiums increased from 2.5 percent last year to 6 percent for 2011, a 240 percent increase.
    He said he has paid tens of thousands of dollars into the unemployment insurance fund over the past 25 years, peaking at 25 employees in the 1990s. After voluntarily downsizing his business in the early 2000s, Trepanier kept a steady work force of three to five employees for most of the past decade. As his engineering contracts have dwindled with the shrinking economy in recent years, he now has only one part-time employee, far less work and far less revenue.
    “Four years ago, I had to lay off three or four people but they went to other jobs, then got laid off or were fired,” Trepanier said. “I have been told this is one of the reasons for my dramatic increase. I really don't want to be paying for their unemployment long after they've left here when for the past 25 years I have paid tens of thousands of dollars into the fund, which was over and above what the employees received in benefits. Today I only have myself and one part-time employee who works under the state's Shared Work Program, yet I'm getting hit with the maximum rate.
    “With the increase in premiums for the unemployment insurance fund, I have to decide whether I can keep him or if I'll have to let him go,” said Trepanier, who also faces increases in his Business and Occupation and Labor and Industry taxes in 2011.
    Under the Shared Work Program, employee John Peterson is paid about half of what he would receive in an unemployment check. Together with the wages that Trepanier pays him, Peterson is able to earn enough for his house payment and other financial needs. If he has to let Peterson go, Trepanier said, he will lose a valued employee, life will become significantly harder financially for Peterson and the state will be paying out full unemployment benefits instead of the lower payments from the Shared Work Program. In addition, Peterson's job loss will add him to the number of unemployed in Washington state, a number that state government is trying to shrink.
    “I told the Employment Security guy my problem and the staff person did a bang-up job explaining that I really don't have many options,” he said.
    Trepanier also wrote about his problems to state Reps. Kirk Pearson, R-Monroe, Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, Mike Sells, D-Everett, and John McCoy, D-Tulalip; Sens. Val Stevens, R-Arlington, and Jean Berkey, D-Everett; and Gov. Chris Gregoire.
    “I explained that the Work Share Program was a win-win situation for the employer, employee and the state,” Trepanier told the officials. “Now, the increased tax rate means I will have to be letting my employee go even when I would be willing to continue in the situation we have now.”
    Trepanier suggested perhaps the state could be more flexible in their time frames that they use for calculating the amount of money an employer has already contributed to the unemployment insurance fund.
    “Instead of a four- or five-year threshold, the state could use a 10- or 15-year record when setting these new rates,” he said.
    Sells' staff responded with a reply from Erin Lopez, manager of the state's office that deals with unemployment insurance tax rates, noting that his 2.58 percent rate increased to 6 percent in part because he had laid off employees within the past four years. That affected his “employment experience” rating as a company.
    However, a second part of the increase is due to the “social cost” tax paid by nearly all employers, according to state news releases, to help make up the shortage of funds to pay unemployment claims during a prolonged recession.
    “I definitely think we are going to have to look at how we can deal with this in the budget,” Sells wrote to Trepanier. “I would like to do something more quickly and will share your e-mail with staff to see if there aren't some other offsets to keep people working.”
    When Trepanier checked with the Shared Work Program staff, he was told he could go up to six weeks without giving his employee any work, compared to his agreement to provide a minimum of 20 hours a week.
    “But I made an agreement and my employee made his own personal financial expenditures based on that agreement,” he said. “I have difficulty in not living up to that agreement. … To me a deal's a deal. That's just me.”
    Appeal your case
    Employment Security Department manager Erin Lopez said the agency has no authority to set rates, which are established by a formula approved by state law but “employers who believe their tax rate was calculated in error” can write to the Experience Rating Unit, P.O. Box 9046, Olympia, WA 98507, to request a review and recalculation. If they receive a letter of denial, that decision can be appealed to the Office of Administrative Hearings.
    Also, local offices can help employers who are having difficulty paying their unemployment insurance taxes by setting up deferred payment contracts. For information, call the Lynnwood District tax office at 425-774-2380.
    * This story has been corrected to show that unemployment insurance rates increased from an average of 2.39 percent in 2010 to 3.26 percent in 2011.

  2. Facts or Fallacies? Part II: In which Paul Krugman takes his lumps and eats them too while Jamie Galbraith runs afoul of the notorious lump-of-labor fallacy-fallacy, by Tom *"The Sandwichman" Walker, 12/29 Benzinga.com
    VANCOUVER, B.C., Canada - In comments in response to Part I at Angry Bear, it was suggested that Paul Krugman has also made the lump of labor fallacy claim and that perhaps I should be talking about his arguments (or those of Paul Samuelson) instead of those of conservative think-tankers. Both of those liberal Keynesian economists have indeed advanced the fallacy claim. I would love to discuss the matter with Professor Krugman and sent him an invitation.
    Meanwhile, indulge me while I rehearse my debating points on some archival material. I'd also like to bring in a few big names on my side: James K. Galbraith, Dean Baker and… Paul Krugman! Just to even things out, the pre-recession Krugman gets Bruce Bartlett and Larry Summers on his tag team.
    Here's what Krugman wrote in his 2003 column, titled Lumps of Labor .
    Economists call it the lump of labor fallacy. It's the idea that there is a fixed amount of work to be done in the world, so any increase in the amount each worker can produce reduces the number of available jobs. (A famous example: those dire warnings in the 1950's that automation would lead to mass unemployment.) As the derisive name suggests, it's an idea economists view with contempt, yet the fallacy makes a comeback whenever the economy is sluggish.
    Sure enough, the lump-of-labor fallacy has resurfaced in the United States -- but with a twist. Traditionally, it is a fallacy of the economically naïve left -- for example, four years ago France's Socialist government tried to create more jobs by reducing the length of the workweek. But in America today you're more likely to hear lump-of-labor arguments from the right, as an excuse for the Bush administration's policy failures.
    Do I think "any increase in the amount each worker can produce reduces the number of available jobs"? Certainly not. But clearly large gains in productivity require some kind of adjustment. The adjustment process can be slow or fast, smooth or rough, complete or incomplete. Reducing the length of the workweek can be an important part of the adjustment process. So what motivates the "derision" and "contempt" of economists?

    Personally, I prefer a piece Krugman wrote six years earlier, The Accidental Theorist in which he chided William Greider for being a "dull boy" and employed a playful hot dogs and buns economy to show why Greider's alarmism in One World, Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism was unwarranted. In that column, Krugman didn't call it a "lump of labor fallacy" but the intent was clearly the same. Thirteen years later, the following comment appeared in reply to Krugman's column:
    Wow. Reading this after recently rereading the chapter entitled "The Alchemists" on the follies of big finance, written by Greider 13 years ago confirmed what I was recently becoming aware of: It turns out that Greider was articulating with shocking prescience what would happen 10 years later while economists like Krugman were mocking him for not consulting them. Well, Greider was right!
    To be fair, when the facts change, Krugman changes his mind, as he did in November, 2009 when he endorsed Dean Baker's proposal for a work-sharing subsidy:
    Just to be clear, I believe that a large enough conventional stimulus would do the trick. But since that doesn't seem to be in the cards, we need to talk about cheaper alternatives that address the job problem directly. Should we introduce an employment tax credit, like the one proposed by the Economic Policy Institute? Should we introduce the German-style job-sharing subsidy proposed by the Center for Economic Policy Research? Both are worthy of consideration.
    So much for the non-accidental hot dogs and buns theory… But what about the specific question of older workers and the lump of labor? Couldn't it be that some lumps are lumpier than others?
    In contrast to the delayed retirement age prescriptions of Jason Kuzicki, Francois Melese or Andrew Biggs (see Part I, Jamie Galbraith has been advocating a temporary suspension of the early retirement penalty as a way to open up more jobs for the young. Let Old Folks Retire Early and Make Way for the Young was Galbraith's contribution to Dan Froomkin's Huffington Post series on job creation ideas. One comment in response to Jamie's suggestion declared Galbraith is a victim of the "lump of labor fallacy.
    Unfortunately, the commenter, "bgladish", did not elaborate on his declaration. However, in a Forbes column published last February, Bruce Bartlett explained why "early retirement, work sharing and tax credits won't boost employment." To his credit, Bartlett cited not only the ubiquitous lump-of-labor fallacy as the reason why not but also a pair of studies: one from the Social Security Administration and the other by economists at the International Monetary Fund.
    The problem is, the IMF study (which I had critiqued two years earlier on EconoSpeak misrepresented the standard rationale in Europe for early retirement -- which was not so much to open up jobs for the young as to divert workforce reduction away from the low-seniority, younger workers. The IMF study did helpfully point out, however, with regard to the alleged lump-of-labor fallacy, that "Those who make the fallacy claim fail to offer specific evidence of the supposed belief in a fixed amount of work."
    The main conclusion of the SSA study was, to put it bluntly, utterly irrelevant to the case Bartlett was trying to make. Larry DeWitt, the SSA historian, rejected the hypothesis that the retirement earnings test of social security was designed to open up jobs for the young on the grounds that "the aged had already been forced out of the workforce" so they were "not a major factor in blocking opportunities for the young…" Other points raised by DeWitt were the "ineffectiveness of the supposed incentives," the gradualness of implementation of the program and, finally, the limited coverage of the original Social Security program. None of these points spoke to the issue of whether or not in today's circumstances early retirement might be effective in boosting employment among the young.
    In his column, Bartlett described work-sharing (which Krugman had endorsed a few months earlier) as "another bad idea making the rounds" and cited the lump of labor fallacy as his rationale for why work-sharing wouldn't boost employment.
    The problem is that the amount of income being produced would still be the same. While some unemployed workers would gain jobs and income, current full-time workers would become underemployed and see a reduction in their incomes.
    True to form for lump-of-labor claims, Bartlett failed to cite specific evidence of the supposed belief in a fixed amount of work.
    So I made a point of asking Dean Baker whether or not his work-sharing proposal assumed a fixed amount of work.
    Here is Dean Baker whether or not his work-sharing proposal assumed a fixed amount of work. Here is his reply:
    Actually, I don't assume a fixed amount of labor, but in the context of an economic downturn, we definitely are in a situation where there is deficiency of labor demand. In this context any reasonable person would ask whether it is better to have more workers employed at fewer hours per workers or fewer workers (more unemployed people) employed 40 hours a week.
    In a more general context, I think we should definitely be trying to have the U.S. follow the rest of the world in promoting shorter workweeks, longer vacations, paid time off for family leave, sick days etc. There is nothing natural about the current workweek. In fact, one of the main reasons that we have not followed the rest of the world in moving toward shorter workweeks is because of the high overhead costs (most importantly health care) associated with hiring workers. Firms would often rather pay a worker time and a half for overtime hours, or even double-time, rather than incur these overhead costs by hiring another worker.

    Since this is a rehearsal for a debate with Paul Krugman, I'll leave the last word to the good Professor:
    Should America be trying anything along these lines? In a recent interview in The Washington Post, Lawrence Summers, the Obama administration's highest-ranking economist, was dismissive: "It may be desirable to have a given amount of work shared among more people. But that's not as desirable as expanding the total amount of work." True. But we are not, in fact, expanding the total amount of work — and Congress doesn't seem willing to spend enough on stimulus to change that unfortunate fact. So shouldn't we be considering other measures, if only as a stopgap?

  3. Bad banking, public pay and lofty speeches -- so what's new? 12/30 Irish Independent via independent.ie
    DUBLIN, Ireland - Charles J Haughey was elected Taoiseach in December 1979 following the retirement of Jack Lynch. He took over a country deep in debt and plagued by disastrous industrial relations.
    In just six months of 1979, 1.3 million man-days had been lost through strikes. The most damaging was a postal strike that lasted 19 weeks. During this period, the Revenue Commissioners could not collect taxes. Electricity and gas bills went unpaid. Exports, investments and tourist numbers all fell.
    When Haughey became Taoiseach, many in the Fianna Fail Party and outside it viewed him as a potential saviour. They derived enormous encouragement from a television address which he made to the nation on January 9, 1980.
    The text of the speech occupies a special place in the state papers for 1980, now made public under the 30-year rule. It is famous for several reasons.
    The new Taoiseach began by telling the populace that "we are living away beyond our means". Current and capital borrowing stood at over €1bn a year, one-seventh of our entire national output. The trade deficit was €760m. We had to cut government spending.
    He asked for industrial peace, saying that strikes had too often been a feature of life in 1979. And he said, truthfully, that he had had countless messages from people asking him to "do something".
    Among those who corresponded with him in the hope that he would "do something" was one of the country's leading businessmen, Noel Griffin of Waterford Glass.
    In a letter to Haughey, he said that his main concern was high interest rates. Haughey wrote back saying that the government had "introduced a subsidy to avoid an increase in mortgage rates and provided capital for small industries and farmers through the ACC and ICC" (small state-owned banks).
    Griffin is not recorded as directly answering these points, but it would seem unlikely that he found them impressive.
    He had another concern, ideas put forward by Professor Martin O'Donoghue, whom Lynch had appointed Minister for Economic Planning and Development.
    O'Donoghue had advocated work-sharing and reductions in working hours. Griffin said that work-sharing increased business costs.
    He complained of excessively high incomes and "vast borrowings by virtually all sections of the community". He said that private banks and the Central Bank were hanging on to old-fashioned theories that no longer worked.
    By the end of 1980, the bad financial situation had provoked what bureaucrats would have regarded as severe measures. On December 22, Dermot Nally, the then-government secretary who is acknowledged as one of Ireland's best public servants, wrote to the secretary of the Department of Finance to say that money allocated for specific spending items "should be regarded as maxima and subject to reduction".
    These files do not record whether this ever actually happened, or whether another Nally injunction was obeyed: "Creation of further posts in the public service should be deferred except where the Minister for Finance or the Minister for the Public Service is satisfied that the creation of such posts is essential."
    The history of the last 30 years suggests otherwise.
    Meanwhile, there had been new departures (of a sort) in industrial relations.
    Haughey's television speech was quickly followed by a massive demonstration in Dublin, organised by the trade unions in protest at the perceived unfairness of the income tax system.
    It attracted notice as far away as China, then recovering from the chaos of the Cultural Revolution. The Xinhua news agency reported that Ireland's commerce and industry had been paralysed, and mentioned (apparently without irony) that "tighten our belts" address.
    In August 1980, the government made a new pay agreement with the unions. It provided for a pay increase of 8pc in the first eight months.
    On November 16, the 'New York Times' reported an Irish unemployment rate of 9pc, "near the peak reached in the recession years of 1974-76".
    Consumer prices were forecast to rise 18pc; disposable incomes 16pc. The headline had a strangely familiar ring about it: "Ireland's Economic Woes".

12/26-28/2010 – bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments, despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Principles of Kwanzaa, 12/27 Omaha World-Herald via omaha.com
    OMAHA, Neb. - Dr. Maulana Karenga, a professor at California State University at Long Beach, created Kwanzaa in 1966. The seven principles of Kwanzaa, designated by Swahili words:
    • Umoja (unity), shared sense of being related in history, culture, identity and destiny.
    • Kujichagulia (self-determination), a shared right and responsibility to determine and live shared lives as persons and a people.
    • Ujima (collective work and responsibility), shared efforts and obligation to conceive and build the world we want and deserve to live in.
    • Ujamaa (cooperative economics), shared work and wealth based on kinship with one another and the world, and on our right to share equitably and responsibly in the natural and created good of the world.
    • Nia (purpose), shared meaning and mission of human life to create and increase good in the world and not let any good be lost.
    • Kuumba (creativity), shared obligation to constantly heal and repair the world, making it more beautiful and beneficial.
    • Imani (faith), shared belief and confidence in the good and a steadfast commitment to increase the good in the world, preserving it and passing it on to future generations.
    Source: Dr. Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa’s founder

  2. Worker Injured on the Job Claims He Was Fired for Seeking Accommodation, 12/28 HR.BLR.com
    SAN ONOFRE, Calif. - An injured ironworker alleges that his employer retaliated against him for seeking accommodation by forcing him to perform work that was not compatible with his disability, laying him off, and then refusing to rehire him.
    What happened. In May 2004, “Willis” was hired as an ironworker for Bechtel at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. He injured his left hand on the job during the winter in 2006.
    [Oh no, Bechtel of infamous Cheney-Halliburton- fame is running nuclear power plants? We're DOOMED.]
    After putting his hand in a splint, a company doctor released him to work without restrictions. However, Willis complained that he was still unable to perform his normal duties. The company arranged for Willis to see an orthopedist, who put his hand in a cast and cleared him for light duty with no use of that hand.
    Willis maintains that the company put him on light duty for only 2 days, beginning on February 14, 2006, and required him to use both hands after that.
    Bechtel laid off Willis on March 3, 2006—5 weeks after he was injured—in a “medical reduction in force” that would enable the company to save money under its workers’ compensation insurance plan.
    Willis filed suit, claiming that Bechtel had discriminated against him because of his work-related injury and failed to accommodate the disability (i.e., pre-termination claims), and then laid him off in retaliation for seeking accommodation (i.e., termination claims). He also charges that the company discriminated and retaliated against him again by refusing to rehire him and accommodate his disability (i.e., post-termination claims).
    The district court granted a motion to dismiss the pre-termination and termination claims and granted summary judgment in favor of the company on Willis’ post-termination claims. Willis appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which covers Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.
    What the court said. The appeals court reversed the order dismissing the pre-termination and termination claims. The district court had concluded that Willis had failed to file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 30 days after receiving a right-to-sue letter from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).
    However, the appeals court said his claims should not have been dismissed on those grounds due to “work-sharing agreements” between the DFEH and EEOC that were in effect when Willis filed his state charges. Under the work sharing agreements, Willis’ DFEH charge was deemed filed with the EEOC.
    The appeals court affirmed the order granting summary judgment on Willis’ post-termination claims, agreeing that Willis did not take the steps necessary to give Bechtel a chance to rehire him.
    Under the company’s collective bargaining unit with the union, ironworkers were generally hired based on referrals from the union. However, Willis missed union roll calls for several months after being laid off. “Because he remained at the bottom of the out-of-work list, he was never referred to Bechtel through the normal union referral process and Bechtel never had a chance to hire him.”
    Willis’ argument that it would have been futile for him to attend the roll calls failed, because he testified that personal obligations and schedule conflicts kept him away from the roll calls—not a belief that attending would have been futile. The court also noted that Bechtel accommodated the disabilities of other employees. Stiefel v. Bechtel Corporation, No. 09-55764, U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Cir., 11/1/10
    The Law
    The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from discriminating against a qualified individual with a disability in all aspects of the employment process, including recruitment, hiring, rates of pay, upgrading, and selection for training. The ADA also requires a covered employer (i.e., employers with 15 or more employees) to reasonably accommodate a qualified individual unless it can show that by doing so it would suffer an undue hardship.
    To be protected by the ADA, an individual must have a disability, and the individual must be qualified to perform the essential functions of the job in question, with or without a reasonable accommodation.
    Even if an employee does not have a valid claim under the ADA, he or she may still be able to claim that the employer unlawfully retaliated against him or her after a reasonable accommodation was requested or after a claim of disability discrimination was made.
    What to Remember
    Accommodate disabilities when necessary and feasible. Although employers are not required to comply with every request for accommodation, they must provide reasonable accommodation for the known disability of a qualified individual—as long as doing so will not impose an undue hardship on the business.
    Follow established procedures. In this case, Bechtel successfully argued that it did not have a chance to rehire Willis, because he missed many union roll call meetings and, as a result, his name was at the bottom of the out-of-work list.

  3. Korean Parents with Less Working Hours Are More Likely to Have Second Children, 12/26 (12/27 across dateline) Arirang News via arirang.co.kr
    WONJU, South Korea - A woman's working hours could be related her desire to have a second child.
    According to a recent survey conducted by Korea's Sahmyook University, moms who worked less hours were more willing to have their second child than those who worked longer.
    The survey also showed that women with husbands who help out more with household chores tend to have bigger intentions to have a second baby.
    Higher household income was also a factor in couples' willingness to raise another child.
    And in terms of timing, couples were found to most likely have their second baby when their first child reaches the age of 2.

12/24-25/2010 – bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments, despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Six Neighborhood Service Centers close; others cut hours and seek volunteers, by Anne-Marije Rook, 11/25 BallardNewsTribune.com
    Ballard Neighborhood Service Center remains open but had to cut hours and is looking for volunteers. (photo caption)
    SEATTLE, Wash. - Due to citywide budget cuts, six Seattle Neighborhood Service Centers will close at end of year, including the Fremont and Greenwood Service Centers.
    In addition to supplying visitors with neighborhood and city information, Neighborhood Service Centers assist community members in paying City utility bills, obtaining pet licences, paying traffic tickets, and applying for U.S. Passports, along with other services.
    The remaining seven Neighborhood Service Centers will remain open to service community members but with reduced drop-in hours.
    Seattle Parks and Recreation is currently seeking volunteers to re-think how community centers are operated under these restraints.
    The Seattle Parks and Recreation has put out a call for community members to serve on an Advisory Team which will explore innovative ideas for operating the City’s centers.
    The Advisory Team will meet twice a month from January to May. In these meetings, members are to consider the way the centers currently operate, review what other cities are doing, consider alternative operating models, evaluate public input, and assess options for partnerships.
    Ultimately the Advisory Team will review and provide advice on the report that Parks will submit to City Council by June 1, 2010. 
    Those interested in serving on the Community Center Advisory Team are invited to apply by submitting a statement of 1,000 words or less addressing the following questions:
    · How and where have you been involved with a community center?
    · Please give an example of your most recent involvement.
    · What will you bring to the table?
    Please submit your statement via e-mail to Susan Golub: susan.golub@seattle.gov. The deadline is Monday, January 10 at 5 p.m.

  2. Reviving America's Animal Spirits - Recent Nobel Prize winner Dale Mortensen discusses the outlook for U.S. employment, 12/24 Barron's via online.barrons.com
    NEW YORK, N.Y.[?] - It has been a magical month for economist Dale Mortensen, though he's a practitioner of the dismal science. On Dec. 10, he and two fellow academics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and London School of Economics were awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics for their collaboration on mathematical models that gauge the "frictional" costs of the employment process for both job applicants and companies. Frictional costs refer to the total value of a transaction, ranging from resume preparation to opportunity costs. The model can likewise be applied to other markets characterized by heterogeneity, such as housing and the search for marriage partners.
    The model explains why even in good times with ample job openings and applicants, many jobs go unfilled for a surprising period of time. Of course, today the pool of job seekers is materially larger than the number of positions available. Mortensen's model tells him that because of frictions and changes in the labor market, it will be some time before the unemployment rate in the U.S. and Europe drops noticeably. To learn more, read on.
    Barron's: How does it feel to be back in the U.S. and dreary winter weather after being the toast of Stockholm?
    Mortensen: It was really great. Eight days solid of dinners, luncheons and receptions. Photographers everywhere. Limos to whisk us around. A State Department attaché assigned to each one of us. We got to know various members of the royal family during all the hoopla. But perhaps best, the Nobel is all about intellectual content and exchange of ideas. Among other things I was able to give an academic lecture to an audience that included a number of students on the models the three of us were being honored for. We brought over and paid for our three children and our grandchildren—15 people in total—so at least some of our 500,000-euro share of the prize money will stay in Sweden.
    Your models are about the costs of buyer and seller, job applicant and employer, searching for each other to get an acceptable match. Is this a valid description?
    Yes. We try to establish the frictional costs the job search entails based on observations we've made of the length of time it takes for workers to find employment and employers to fill vacancies. Among the important variables, obviously, is the relationship between the size of the pool of people looking for work and the number of jobs available. Matching occurs only when employee applicant and employer close the deal.
    Expectations play a big part in the model in determining how long the match takes. Both sides of the trade have to decide whether the future wage stream promised in the match is acceptable and promises a surplus, or excess return, for both sides over what they might garner if they continued their search. Certainly expectations of future income streams or the proper discount rate to calculate their present value are variables fraught with uncertainty. That process really depends on matters that John M. Keynes talked about, such as confidence or animal spirits.
    Do your models work on other markets?
    Sure they do. Over the years I've applied the same logic to the marriage market. Today there are colleagues in Denmark and Israel who are using our approach to analyze the structure of marriage—who marries whom, for example. They've found that both parties often have the same educational attainment.
    Housing also is a similar market where our search and matching theories work, since each house is unique in type and location. They can't be standardized and defined as, say, wheat or corn can be on a commodity-futures exchange.
    What are the models' practical value?
    For one thing, the models help one analyze the impact of different policies on jobs once all the proper data are entered. That way, policies can be tweaked to achieve the right mix for better job growth. Our model has been used more by European nations than the U.S. over the past three decades.
    Aren't European labor markets far more sclerotic and poorly functioning than that of the U.S.?
    That is true in the sense that the flows in and out of the labor pool in the U.S. are both larger and move with greater speed than in Europe. This has been true since World War II. Jobs might not have lasted as long in the U.S. as in Europe, but a worker's unemployed period was also shorter.
    The explanation is that in Europe, employment protections to existing workforces are much stronger than in the U.S. These European programs are primarily designed to protect workers against job loss, so layoffs become prohibitively expensive and difficult, sharply reducing the incentive to hire.
    Is our labor system healthier as a result?
    It's healthier for the purpose of properly and quickly allocated resources. The modern economy in whatever country is very dynamic. New products are constantly coming on stream with older products being killed off as a result. The faster you can reallocate labor the better.
    On the other hand, the U.S. pays a price for having more flexible labor markets. In times of heavy unemployment as today, we have a higher unemployment rate than we might otherwise if we were to follow the labor policies of European countries like Germany. Germany allows for job sharing or work sharing, which in times like these may be a better way to go.
    ["Job" sharing implies splitting a 40- or 35-hour job. Germany is work sharing, meaning redefining full time downward and splitting up the diminishing total amount of natural market-demanded employment in the economy as a whole.]
    Work sharing, I assume, means cutting layoffs by having workers collectively work shorter hours to share the pain?
    Exactly. By cutting everybody's hours, you spread underemployment across the population.

    Over the last three recessions since 1991, total employment has bounced back to pre-recession levels over a far more protracted period than previously. Why?
    This question should certainly be on the research agenda. I don't know that we have a definite answer, but I have a couple of theories.
    One is that as U.S. employment has shifted from manufacturing to service, the economy has become less cyclically sensitive both on the upside and the downside. Traditional manufacturing jobs would disappear faster but also recover more quickly than service-industry jobs when the recession was over.
    But there's something else that worries me some as far as the U.S. is concerned that isn't being discussed much. In recent decades, anti-discrimination provisions in the U.S. make it much harder for employers to lay off people in certain job categories.
    These are just hypotheses, though, since neither of these phenomena has been linked to changed behavior in unemployment.
    Could the laggard current recovery in employment also be attributable to the multiple extensions in unemployment-insurance benefits nationally? This might have reduced the incentive for out-of-work employees to seek new jobs.
    That certainly may be an issue. Economics is rife with situations in which two goods are in conflict. Unemployment insurance is supposed to protect those workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. And it has the side effect of stabilizing demand in the economy when unemployment rises.
    But unemployment insurance, like any insurance program, can also cause damaging behavior. Like the homeowner with fire insurance who is less vigilant than he should be over fire protection, the worker may feel less incentive to go look for a job after a layoff with the safety net of unemployment insurance. A little less urgency over the need for a job can be a good thing when times are good and jobs plentiful. The unemployed worker then has the luxury of time to make a better job match. Also today, many of us believe that with jobs difficult to find in the first place, the disincentive effect is pretty minor.
    Some observers claim that the structural or natural unemployment rate in the U.S. economy has ballooned out to, say, 7% from around 5% because our educational system is no longer producing employees with the skills needed in an increasingly high-tech world. Do you agree?
    Nope. Look at the facts. One is that U.S. unemployment jumped from 5% to 10% in just one year during the financial crisis. That had nothing to do with a sudden change in the educational system. The biggest problem arises, though, when workers are on layoff for a long period, such as they are today. They lose networking connections, skills can atrophy, and technology moves beyond them.
    Shouldn't the Internet lower the frictional costs of today's employment market?
    That seems to be the case. Otherwise you wouldn't have as many job seekers and employees employing the Net. Still, it is hard to see that the Internet has had much of an impact on unemployment duration. Its efficiency has, perhaps, made people more choosy in their job matches. And are the job matches made as stable as those made by traditional measures like Help Wanted Ads?
    What policy responses would be helpful in bringing down unemployment?
    The recent extension of the Bush tax cuts— although we can argue about their fairness—in addition to the extension of unemployment benefits will help on the demand side. But government actions aren't nearly as important as private-sector expectations and confidence. There will only be a recovery when private businessmen and others decide future demand is looking up, and the financial markets have straightened out. Or, to put it another way, that hiring now makes sense because it will be profitable in the future.
    The lack of confidence has deterred banks from making simple working-capital loans to small businesses, has caused households to dramatically cut back spending on durables and the like, and caused employers to pull in their horns.
    Any prediction on when U.S. job growth will pick up steam and make a material dent in the unemployment rate?
    The honest answer is that no one knows. People like to talk about the period as being a year or two. But unemployment could start trending down nicely in six months. Who knows? This was a global recession perhaps caused, and certainly accompanied, by a financial meltdown. And you can't have a strong labor market without a strong financial recovery. In the undeveloped world, we've already seen a rebound in markets including labor because of confidence in future growth prospects. The same hasn't happened here yet, but it will.
    On that positive note, let's close. Thanks Dale.

12/22-23/2010 – bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments, despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Appeals Court: Walker Overstepped Authority by Imposing Shorter Work Week, 12/22 WTAQ via WHBL Sheboygan via whbl.com
    MILWAUKEE, Wisc. - A state appeals court said Governor-elect Scott Walker overstepped his authority as Milwaukee County executive, when he imposed a 35-hour work week.
    It was never implemented, and instead Walker ordered unpaid furlough days to reduce labor costs and cover a county budget shortfall.
    An arbitrator had agreed with the county’s largest employee union that Walker had no business shortening the work week. A circuit judge threw out the arbitrator’s decision in June of last year, but the 1st District Appellate Court said Tuesday that the ruling should be restored.
    District Council 48 of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees filed the suit that led to the new court ruling. Union director Richard Ableson said the furloughs were not implemented properly, either. But the court did not address that issue.
    According to Walker, the union was saying it was better to lay people off than use a 35-hour work week to deal with budget problems.
    [Another suicidal worse-than-useless union, betraying its members, the workforce, the consumer base, the economy and the future. Only half the labor movement ever understood that shorter hours and labor shortage was their power lever - while higher pay was their suicide pill. If you could only get one goal and it was shorter hours, you wound up getting both goals because shorter hours creates a shortage of labor time, harnesses market forces on your side, gets employers bidding against one another for good help, and raises pay by market forces. If you could only get one goal and it was higher pay, you wound up with neither goal because you were just tacking an artificially high price on a surplus commodity, you, and market forces would flow around you like water to weaken your position and leave you with less.]
    Ableson hopes the ruling will at least re-open negotiations on his union’s overdue contracts for both 2009 and 2010. The two sides had reached a stalemate in both instances.

  2. UPDATE 1 - Pilots facing dismissal to sue JAL - Nikkei, 12/22 (12/23 across dateline) Reuters.com
    TOKYO, Japan - Japan Airlines Corp (JALFQ.PK) pilots who have received dismissal notices are preparing to sue the company, claiming it is unlawful to forcibly terminate employment contracts, the Nikkei business daily reported.
    JAL decided to sack about 90 members of a pilots' union on Dec. 31 after its voluntary retirement program failed to achieve the targeted reductions, the daily said.
    The pilots are expected to file a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court early next year, the daily said.
    Nikkei said the union has been negotiating with management, proposing a work-sharing scheme to avoid the layoffs, but after talks broke down on Tuesday, it decided to take the case to court.
    Meanwhile, JAL's flight attendant union is preparing to go on strike on Friday and Saturday and may file a separate suit if they are let go, the newspaper said.
    (Reporting by Megha Mandavia in Bangalore)

  3. South Korea's 40-hour workweek will take effect at small businesses in July 2011, 12/23 China Post via chinapost.com.tw
    SEOUL, South Korea --The 40-hour workweek will be implemented at all workplaces with more than five workers from July, South Korea's employment and labor ministry announced. Aimed at reducing the nation's notoriously long working hours [not to mention increasing employment and domestic consumer spending], the government has introduced the system in several phases, starting with larger companies in 2004.
    With the latest revision taking effect at companies with five to 20 employees, the system is to be implemented at all workplaces here that are subject to the Labor Standard Law.
    The ministry expects an additional 2 million workers at 300,000 companies to benefit from next July.
    [Here's some news - they're going to leave companies with less than five employees unregulated.]

12/19-20-21/2010 – bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments, despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. 40-hour workweek takes effect in July at small businesses, by Lee Ji-yoon (jylee@heraldm.com), 1/21 KoreaHerald.com
    SEOUL, South Korea - The 40-hour workweek will be implemented at all workplaces with more than five workers from July, the Ministry of Employment and Labor announced Tuesday.
    Aimed at reducing the nation’s notoriously long working hours, the government has introduced the system in several phases, starting with larger companies in 2004.
    With the latest revision taking effect at companies with five to 20 employees, the system is to be implemented at all workplaces here that are subject to the Labor Standard Law.
    The ministry expects an additional 2 million workers at 300,000 companies to benefit from next July.
    Under the 40-hour workweek, individual companies are allowed to adopt the five day workweek or other working system, considering their individual business situation.
    As part of the revision, measures related to holidays such as the abolishment of paid monthly leave will also be adjusted at smaller businesses in order to relieve their potential increased labor cost.
    The ministry will offer education on the revision for smaller workplaces that are not familiar with the revised labor law and other details.
    “Korea still has the longest work hours among OECD countries. When the adoption of the 40-hour workweek is completed at all workplaces, we expect, labor productivity and the quality of life will improve greatly,” said Jeong Hyun-ok, director general of labor standard policy at the ministry.
    According to the latest data from OECD Employment Outlook 2010, the average Korean laborer worked 2,074 hours in 2009.
    That figure was over 300 hours longer than Japan, the next longest-working country, while the U.S. and Germany reported 1,776 and 1,309 hours, respectively.
    Until the legislation in 2004 that virtually abolished the six-day workweek in large corporations, Korea was the only country in the OECD that worked Saturdays as a norm.
    “Critics say that the 40-hour workweek could put financial pressure on smaller businesses. However, their actual burden would not increase dramatically, considering the future effect of protective measures such as the decrease in the payment for extra work and abolishment of paid monthly leaves,” Jeong explained.

  2. 40-hr Workweek to be Applied to Businesses with Less Than 20 Employees, by Eoh Jin-joo jjeoh@arirang.co.kr, 12/21 Arirang News via arirang.co.kr
    SEOUL, South Korea - Starting from July, people working at smaller businesses in Korea are expected to see their workweek shortened to 40 hours.
    This is according to the Ministry of Employment and Labor, which announced that a revised version of the country's Labor Standards Act was passed during a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
    As soon as the bill takes effect at least 2-million workers at some 300-thousand companies that hire less than 20 employees, but more than five, will be able to benefit from the legislation.
    The revised law does not force employees to work eight hours for five days a week.
    Working hours can be divided into, for example, four or six days unless [ie: as long as] it does not exceed 40 hours.
    However, monthly paid holidays will be repealed and the rate of extra payment for overtime work will be reduced from 50 percent to 30 percent for three years after the legislation comes into effect.
    And employees will be able to work overtime up to 16 hours a week for the first three years and up to 12 hours a week starting in the fourth year.
    The 40-hour workweek was first applied back in July 2004 to companies with more than 1-thousand employees and expanded to smaller workplaces to cover businesses hiring more than 20 people in 2008.
    [We believe this sentence is misleading. There were seven stages covering the seven years since 2004: companies with over 1000 employees cut from 44 to 40 hours first in 2004. Then companies with over 800, 600, 400, 200, 100, 50 and 20 - or something like that. We picked up a story in 2004 with the exact steps (see 7/10-12/2004 #2) but this may have been modified since then. At any rate, South Korea did a four-hour cut a lot smarter than France's from 39 to 35 hours between 1997 and 2001, where there were only two steps: companies over 20 employees first and then companies under 20 last, WITH GOVERNMENT GOING WITH THE SMALL COMPANIES?!! How dumb was that?! But they STILL achieved the same 1% less unemployment for each hourcut that the USA achieved between 1938 and 1940 when we cut from 44 to 40 at a rate of two hours per year.]
    Ministry officials stressed that although working hours in Korea are still at the highest level among OECD member nations, the revised law is expected to eventually improve employees' quality of life and also enhance productivity at businesses in the country.

  3. Appeals court says Walker overstepped authority with shorter work weeks, by Steve Schultze, 1/21 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via jsonline.com
    MILWAUKEE, Wisc. - The state Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that County Executive and Governor-elect Scott Walker's imposition of a 35-hour work week in 2009 as an emergency budget measure overstepped his authority.
    Though the 35-hour week was never implemented, Walker instead imposed furloughs using his emergency authority as justification. That means the county might be held be liable for millions of dollars in back pay, said Richard Abelson, executive director of District Council 48 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
    The council is the county's largest union and initiated the lawsuit last year that led to the latest ruling.
    The Appeals Court ruling, however, is silent on the furlough issue. County officials in the past have disputed Abelson's stance that the emergency furloughs were improperly implemented.
    Walker couldn't be immediately reached for comment.
    Abelson said he hoped that the Appeals Court decision might help at least leverage the county into reopening discussions on the stalemate over union contracts covering 2009 and this year.
    "Hopefully this decision will compel" county officials to get back to the bargaining table, Abelson said.
    The appeals ruling said that an arbitrator's decision favoring the union stance against the 35-hour week should be restored. It reversed Circuit Judge Dennis Flynn's June 2009 ruling against a arbitrator and siding with Walker.
    The collective bargaining agreement in place between the county and District Council 48 gives an arbitrator the authority to decide whether "Walker's order may seek to lessen a budget shortfall by reducing the work week hours of the union's members," Tuesday's ruling said.
    "It thus makes no difference if courts disagree with the arbitrator's analysis or even if that analysis is 'wrong,' " the appeals panel said.
    The ruling was writing by Appeals Court Judge Ralph Adam Fine.

  4. Appointing judges works just fine for Pasco, officials say, by Kristi Pihl, 12/19 TheNewsTribune.com
    PASCO, Wash. - Pasco officials oppose a state courts proposal to require all municipal court judges to run for election.
    State Supreme Court Chief Justice Barbara Madsen and the state Board for Judicial Administration hope state legislators will approve the change during the 2011 legislative session that starts in January.
    Pasco is the second-largest city in the state to have an appointed part-time municipal court judge. It's among almost 100 cities and towns in the state that have an appointed judge.
    This will be the third attempt to get the Legislature to require all municipal court judges to run for election. State law already requires the election of full-time municipal court judges.
    City Manager Gary Crutchfield said he believes having an appointed municipal court judge makes the administration of the court more efficient. Going to an elected judge position could increase overall operation costs, he said.
    Pasco Municipal Court Judge Mary Ramirez has held her position for more than 20 years and works 32 hours a week. State law defines a full-time judge as one who works 35 hours or more.
    Pasco's court efficiently handles a large caseload with its current staff, Crutchfield said, which benefits the city's taxpayers.
    Pasco Municipal Court handled 8,610 cases between January and October, according to the Washington Courts website.
    Crutchfield said another advantage to an appointed judge is if there are issues with an appointed judge the city council can address them immediately.
    With an elected judge, that has to wait until the next election.
    State Courts Administrator Jeff Hall said the issue boils down to concern over who should have the decision to retain a municipal court judge -- city officials or voters.
    The executive or legislative branch of a city has the hiring and firing power when a judge is appointed, said Hall, a former court administrator for Benton-Franklin Superior Court.
    He said that's been an issue in some cities where elected officials have pressured an appointed judge.
    Hall said a judge may feel his or her job is threatened if he or she doesn't do what is asked, which threatens the independence of the court, while an elected judge can be more independent.
    But Crutchfield said he hasn't seen any evidence of the appointed judge's independence being affected.
    He said the city doesn't tell the judge how to make decisions.
    Even elected judges could have their independence influenced by an upcoming election, Crutchfield pointed out. And appointment seems to work just fine with the federal courts, he said.
    The Association of Washington Cities opposes changing part-time judges to mandatory elected positions.
    It has argued appointed judges are more cost-effective and provide a flexible option for cities.
    Crutchfield said he opposed changing full-time municipal court judges to elected positions when that change was made a decade ago.
    Omitting part-time judges from the election requirement was a compromise.
    At some point, Pasco will need to have a full-time judge, Crutchfield said, and an election then will be required.
    Hall said the state's estimate of judicial needs already puts Pasco at needing at least a full-time judge.
    Crutchfield said he feels the proposal is part of a state move to encourage municipal courts to join district courts because it would give the state fewer courts to manage.
    Cities that have their municipal court handled by a district court have found it to eventually be more costly than if they had stayed separate, Crutchfield said. That's why Pasco operates its own court.
    Pasco doesn't make money on municipal court, Crutchfield said.
    In fact, the court costs Pasco about $200,000 more a year than it brings in.
    Kennewick, Richland, West Richland and Prosser have their municipal court cases heard in Benton County District Court.

  5. Work hours, weight status, and weight-related behaviors: a study of metro transit workers, 12/20  7thSpace Interactive (press release) via 7thspace.com
    MINNEAPOLIS[?], Minn. - Associations between hours worked per week and Body Mass Index (BMI), food intake, physical activity, and perceptions of eating healthy at work were examined in a sample of transit workers.
    Methods: Survey data were collected from 1086 transit workers. Participants reported hours worked per week, food choices, leisure-time physical activity and perceptions of the work environment with regard to healthy eating.
    Height and weight were measured for each participant. Multivariate linear and logistic regressions were conducted to examine associations between work hours and behavioral variables.
    Associations were examined in the full sample and stratified by gender.
    Results: Transit workers working in the highest work hour categories had higher BMI and poorer dietary habits, with results differing by gender. Working 50 or more hours per week was associated with higher BMI among men but not women.
    Additionally, working 50 or more hours per week was significantly associated with higher frequency of accessing cold beverage, cold food, and snack vending machines among men. Working 40 or more hours per week was associated with higher frequency of accessing cold food vending machines among women.
    Reported frequency of fruit and vegetable intake was highest among women working 50 or more hours per week. Intake of sweets, sugar sweetened beverages, and fast food did not vary with work hours in men or women.
    Physical activity and perception of ease of eating healthy at work were not associated with work hours in men or women.
    Conclusions: Long work hours were associated with more frequent use of garage vending machines and higher BMI in transit workers, with associations found primarily among men. Long work hours may increase dependence upon food availability at the worksite, which highlights the importance of availability of healthy food choices.
    Authors: Kamisha Escoto, Simone French, Lisa Harnack, Traci Toomey, Peter Hannan, Nathan Mitchell
    Credits/Source: International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2010, 7:91

  6. Declining wages hurt our society, letter to editor by Shirley Schludecker of Las Vegas, 1/21 LasVegasSun.com
    LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Regarding Jack Oliver’s Saturday letter to the editor, headlined “Rising salaries costing American jobs”:
    To sell a product, buyers are necessary. If Americans earn less than what is the minimum wage, how will they be able to buy anything but the basic necessities? The wages of middle-class workers have been declining. New hires in the automobile industry make about $14 an hour compared with $24 an hour before. They will not be able to buy one of the cars they help produce.
    Unions and the threat of unionization have helped create the working conditions we have enjoyed — the eight-hour day, the five-day workweek, two-week vacations every year, medical insurance, lunch and break periods, a safe working environment, child labor laws and more.
    I worked for a salary for 45 years as did my husband. We never got rich, but we bought a car, a house and educated our kids. We couldn’t have done that on minimum wage.
    The countries that are manufacturing goods can only sell those goods if someone can buy them. We must educate and innovate to keep from declining as a society by lowering our wages and standards of living. The race to the bottom must stop.

  7. German Consumer Sentiment Drops, by Emese Bartha, 12/21 Wall Street Journal via online.wsj.com
    [The ordinary German has no idea how well-off s/he is or how unusual that is today.]
    FRANKFURT—German market research group GfK's [Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung = Company for Consumption-research] forward-looking consumer climate index for January declined from the previous month, reflecting expectations of slower growth dynamics, GfK said in a statement Tuesday.
    However, the research group said consumers still expect the German economy, Europe's largest, to remain on an upward trend.
    "Today's consumer-confidence indicator confirms that the broadening of the recovery will continue in 2011," said Carsten Brzeski, an economist at ING Bank. "Driven by the strong labor market, private consumption should pick up further."
    GfK said earlier in the day that "although the economic expectations at year-end show some losses, consumers continue to see the German economy clearly on a growth path."
    The January index came in at 5.4 points, down from 5.5 in December. Economists surveyed forecast a rise to 5.7 points. "Although the economic expectations at year-end show some losses, consumers continue to see the German economy clearly on a growth path," GfK said in a statement.
    GfK's overall consumer index refers to the next month but its subindexes—economic expectations, income expectations and buying propensity—refer to the current month. In December all three subindexes fell.
    The economic expectations index fell to 58.8 points in December from 65.8 points in November, reversing a rise of six consecutive months. "This level signals that consumers continue to see the German economy clearly recovering," GfK said, "even though the unusually strong dynamic of the past few months can't really be sustained."
    GfK said the pronounced optimism about the economy is well founded, as it has also been reflected by the current increase in the Ifo business climate index. The Ifo index hit a record high of 109.9 in December, the highest level since Germany's reunification.
    GfK also said employment is expected to continue to rise in 2011, and the number of unemployed will be below three million people on average. The shorter-hours work regime, introduced during the economic crisis, will practically disappear, GfK said, adding that in summer 2009, about 1.5 million people worked shorter hours.
    Income expectations fell to 40.3 points in December from 44.9 points in November, while the buying propensity declined to 33.8 points from 39.3 points.
    "Employees hope that the good economic situation means that there will be more room to maneuver for higher wages in coming wage negotiations," GfK said. It added that several companies have announced plans to bring forward by two months wage increases originally planned for April, or give employees a one-off payment.
    The buying-propensity index declined after what GfK called an "unusually strong" increase in November. In November, buying propensity surged to 39.3 points from 22.5 points.
    The decline in buying propensity is due to the slightly higher price expectations and the lower income expectations, GfK said, adding that petrol and heating oil price rises have raised inflationary fears.

12/17-18/2010 – bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments, despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. One Out Of Four Civil Servants Willing To Work Part-Time: Survey, 12/17 Bernama.com
    SEOUL, So.Korea -- One out of every four civil servants is willing to work part-time despite an expected loss in wages, South Korea's Yonhap news agency cited a government survey as saying on Friday.
    The government introduced the so-called "flexible work system" in early 2010 to allow its employees to adjust their work hours at their discretion.
    The new programme came as part of government efforts to bolster the nation's declining birthrate by helping married women continue their careers.
    According to the survey by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, 27 percent of respondents said they are willing to shift to part-time work.
    The survey was conducted on 1,066 full-time civil servants at administrative bodies where the flexible work system was introduced in August as a pilot project.
    Under the new programme, civil servants can work 15 to 35 hours a week, compared to 40 hours for regular workers, and negotiate their work schedule.
    Asked to give reasons why they would switch to part-time employment, the respondents mostly cited child rearing (39 percent) and personal development (32 percent), while 15 percent said they wanted to spend more time with their families.
    However, among those who already switched to part-time work, only 15 percent said their choice was for personal development, while the other 85 percent cited child rearing.

  2. AI withdraws advisory extending pilots' work hours, 12/18 Times of India
    MUMBAI, India: Air India had issued a company advisory to its flight crew informing them that the DGCA had allowed the airline to make its pilots work for any number of hours during a flight diversion. But on Saturday, within three days, the carrier retracted the advisory. What's even more puzzling is that the DGCA told TOI that it had issued no such dispensation to AI.
    The AI advisory, a copy of which is with TOI, said: "In the event of any diversion, the DGCA has granted dispensation for the crew to:
    1) Extend flight and duty time to the extent required in order to complete the flight.
    2) Perform one additional landing in order to complete the flight.
    3) Carry out a transit check, if required. This advisory serves as an official authority and the crew must not ask for any other written confirmation of dispensation.
    When TOI contacted director general of civil aviation Bharat Bhushan, he said that he had not given any such permission to AI. "We have not given any such dispensation. I learnt about the development this afternoon and I ordered the airline to withdraw it within 15 minutes."
    The carrier's spokesperson said the airline had withdrawn the advisory around 4pm on Saturday, on orders from DGCA.
    If the DGCA had granted no such dispensation, why did the airline claim it had? "In the last couple of months we had two diversions due to medical emergencies and these diversions took place during odd hours," said an airline spokesperson trying to explain the issue. "Since we have to approach the DGCA during odd hours to allow pilots to work extra hours, it was decided that in such instances the airline would extend the duty hour of the pilot to get him to complete the flight and then inform the DGCA post facto," the official added.

12/15-16/2010 – bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments, despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. [What happens, you may ask, when we go the other way and lengthen the workweek? State Street Bank of Boston has sacrificially agreed to perform this exercise in self-mutilation and customer & consumer-base bashing -]
    State Street extends work week, 12/15 Boston Business Journal via Bizjournals.com
    BOSTON, Mass. - State Street Corp. (NYSE: STT), which recently announced it would cut about 5 percent of its work force, said remaining U.S. employees will have to work longer hours as the Boston-based company moves to a standard 40-hour work week.
    Annual compensation for affected employees, however, will not be adjusted, effectively cutting their hourly pay rate.
    [Where are the protests? Americans have become mutually suicidal sado-masochists. Ordinary employees are patsies, absorbing punishment after punishment. Top managers are suicidal monsters (until its their turn) - 'suicide' in the sense of Everyone Else First - but it's still their own markets and their own foundations that they're downsizing. It's Jonestown America - here, have some of this nice Koolaid, laced with tincture of pink slip. Reserve your spot early under a nearby bridge...]
    As of Dec. 27, all exempt and non-exempt U.S. employees who work a full-time schedule of 35 hours to 37.5 hours, will have their schedule changed to 40 hours, according to an internal memo obtained by the Boston Business Journal.
    A State Street spokeswoman confirmed the change was announced last week.
    “For many years we have managed our work force in the U.S. with different full-time standard work week schedules, which has led to inconsistent policy interpretation and workforce management practices,” State Street’s global human resources chief Alison Quirk wrote in a message to employees.
    ["Quirk" is right, but at least they haven't been freezing their corporate workweek. It's just that their latest change is in the direction of 1940, not 2040, and they're accelerating the concentration of employment, the deepening of labor surplus, the weakening of wages and spending, and the vanishing of marketable productivity and sustainable investment - all the variables that we should be running in the opposite direction by just adjusting the standard workweek to lower levels more sustainable in the Age of Robotics.]
    State Street’s management committee, however, has established special funding to be used to mitigate the impact of the work week change for some affected non-exempt employees at manager discretion.
    [The return of feudalism.]
    “These special adjustments will be separate transactions from bonuses and merit increases and will be done through the Total Compensation Planning (TCP) process, with an effective date of March 21,” the memo said.
    [This is Schumacher's Tragedy of the Commons at work = individually, everyone has an incentive to do the wrong thing although all together, they have an incentive to do the right thing. That's the incentive for regulation. The "invisible hand" that supposedly refuted this was actually regulation from the political sphere (the extension of the vote) leaking its balance across the mental partition into the economic sphere.]

  2. Abuse Uncovered In Sheriff's Office Off-Duty Work Program, 12/16 South Florida Times via SFTimes.com
    FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — An internal audit of a Broward Sheriff’s Office program that allows off-duty deputies to earn extra money has uncovered cronyism, lax oversight and possibly theft.
    “During our work, we noted that nine District Chiefs/Captains worked Special Details. While six of them worked less than 200 hours/year, there was one that worked slightly more than 300 hours and two that worked over 600 hours (billing over $25,000 each),” Maria L. Fernandez, director of the Office of Internal Audit, wrote in a summary of the findings.
    “One District Chief consistently works a 4:00 pm Friday detail. This same Chief worked 8.5 hour and one 9 hour detail on two different Thursdays, starting at 2 pm, although he did not take any type of personal leave on those days,” Fernandez wrote.
    The report does not identify the deputies involved in the alleged abuse by name, only their job titles.
    Receiving pay while absent from the job without authorization can lead to criminal theft of pay charges. The practice is known as “double dipping” -- when an employee is absent without leave in order to work a second job.
    Sheriff Al Lamberti did not respond to phone calls and e-mails seeking comment or to interview requests made through the department’s media relations office.
    Some observers, however, are calling for a criminal investigation.
    “BSO has proven over the years that they are incapable of policing themselves and this demands an investigation by the state attorney’s office,” said Scott Israel, who ran for sheriff in 2008 and lost to Lamberti.
    “I don’t have personal knowledge of this matter but if there is any indication of wrongdoing, the public has a right to know and we should not be playing favorites just because of their ranks,” Israel said.
    Officials at the Broward State Attorney’s Office say they have no knowledge of the audit and no cases have been referred to the office for review.
    “Everyone is afraid to ask questions but the rumors are all over the department,” said one deputy, who asked to remain anonymous. “Some high-ranking people are caught and they are keeping it hush-hush.”
    Besides their regular jobs, the Broward Sheriff’s Office special detail program allows deputies to work up to 30 extra hours a week at $37 to $43 per hour for private companies and governmental agencies, depending on the deputy’s rank. Those using the service also pay the department a fee to cover administrative costs.
    Deputies assigned to special detail provide security, direct traffic, escort funeral processions or a law-enforcement presence.
    The internal audit also found instances of some deputies and supervisors working off-duty detail when they were on sick and bereavement leave and even while receiving worker’s compensation pay.
    “There were 85 employees, accounting for 135 instances for a total of 973 personal sick time hours paid by BSO while they were working Special Details,” the audit states.
    Violations of the department’s 30-hour per week limit on secondary employment and special detail were equally rampant and routinely disregarded, the audit found, with no clear penalties or consequences for doing so.
    “Of those in violation of the 30 hours/week cap, 59 were Deputies, 5 were Sergeants, 3 were Lieutenants and 1 was a reservist,” Fernandez wrote, while pointing out that the reserve deputy exceeded the cap 14 times in 2009.
    [Overtime police in America, not just France?!]
    “Additionally, those individuals exceeding the 30 hours/week cap also received an additional $424,159 in overtime compensation,” she wrote.

    Fernandez also found the program fraught with other problems, such as cronyism, little or no oversight and jobs being assigned based on supervisors’ “experience with certain individuals.”
    The internal audit followed a February investigation of the same program that was conducted by Broward County. Unlike BSO’s internal audit, the county audit did not closely scrutinize operational issues and instead largely focused on the program’s budgetary and financial matters.
    Among other items, the county’s audit found that BSO had $1.4 million in outstanding fees it was owed that were more than 30 days past due for off-duty work. Of that amount, $1.2 million, or 92 percent, was owed by Broward County.
    “We recommend the Board of County Commissioners request that the County Administrator ensure payment for services are timely and pursuant to Broward County’s Prompt Payment Act,” wrote John Curry, BSO director of administration, in a response memo to county auditor Evan Lukic.
    It is unclear if Curry has responded to the 12-page internal audit and BSO has not explained what steps are being taken to address problems it has identified.
    Elgin Jones may be contacted at EJones@SFLTimes.com

  3. Germany tops world for shrinking wages, 12/15 TheLocal.de
    [But didn't Germany have close to the highest monthly wage level in the world before the crisis?]
    GENEVA, Switzerland - Worker's pay packets over the past decade have shrunk more in Germany than any other industrialised country, a report released Wednesday has found.
    The Global Wage Report by the International Labor Organization – a United Nations agency in which workers, employers and governments are represented – found that gross wages fell 4.5 percent when adjusted for inflation, according to news magazine Der Spiegel.
    Low wage growth has been widely credited for the competitiveness that has allowed Europe’s biggest economy to recover swiftly from the global downturn.
    But the ILO challenged this idea, pointing out that the slump results from the increasing number of part-time jobs in Germany.

    [So even in Germany, shorter hours are happening anyway but not the best way.]
    No other industrialised country experienced such a backslide, the report said. Of all the industrialised nations, Norway, Cyprus and Finland enjoyed the strongest wage growth, with Norway posting an increase of 25.1 percent.
    After the worst economic slump since World War II, Germany has recovered strongly and is expected to grow by at least 3.5 percent this year. Wage restraint is widely thought to have helped with that growth by keeping costs down for Germany’s many export-oriented manufacturers.
    During wage negotiations, unions have generally traded away big wage rises in return for job security for workers.
    But according to the ILO, the 4.5 percent gross wage contraction is also attributable to an expansion of low-wage sectors along with the growth of flexible employment such as part-time and so called “€400 jobs,” Der Spiegel reported.
    People in such jobs earn on average about one third less per hour than traditional, full-time workers.
    If one counted only workers in full-time jobs, wage growth in Germany was 6.7 percent adjusted for inflation compared with 10 years ago.
    Indeed, wages had not kept pace with economic growth, the ILO found. Their share of the national income fell from 72.2 percent a decade ago to 65.1 percent last year. The share fell particularly sharply between 2003 and 2007, the report said.
    The ILO was complimentary, however, about the German crisis management during the downturn, praising for instance the Kurzarbeit (short work) scheme through which the government subsidised workers to go onto shorter hours rather than having their firm’s lay them off. This was highly successful at keeping the unemployment rate down. but also contributed to the sinking monthly wage.
    Through “intelligent labour market instruments” and a “good dialogue with social partners,” employment had remained stable and wages had fallen only a little. Kurzarbeit had been a “good investment,” according to the ILO.
    However, declining wages during the crisis was only part of a longer-term trend. Wages were no longer keeping pace with productivity “and income gaps are getting wider,” the report concluded.
    [So, Germany needs to federalize the workweek and regularly adjust it downward nationwide to make income gaps narrower and make wages keep pace with productivity.]
    Furthermore, low wage growth dampened domestic demand, which hurt the recovery prospects in other countries, the report said.
    “Stagnating or falling wages are hindering the economic rebound in many countries,” said ILO director-general Juan Somavia.
    Governments should “focus their activity on employment and appropriate remuneration,” he said.
    Some German economists say, however, that wages are starting to grow and domestic demand in Germany is climbing along with them. The robust growth in 2010 has encouraged trade unions to push for better wage deals.
    State government public sector workers demanded on Tuesday a three percent wage rise, while union Verdi called for a 6.5 percent rise for telecommunications employees. The union IG BCE also recently vowed to pursue a rise of at least six percent for Germany’s 550,000 chemical industry workers.
    “This is our rebound too,” a workers’ representative said. “We want to benefit from it as well.”

  4. Mende ends production after assets sold, 12/15 EUWID Wood Products and Panels via euwid-wood-products.com
    Mende ceased production when insolvency proceedings opened on 1 December. At the same time, its production machinery, buildings and land were sold to Modul Systeme.
    Machinery at the Gittelde site is due to be dismantled over the next four to five months.
    The 217 people last employed by the firm were laid off on 2 December 2010.
    Back in August, Mende announced short-time work arrangements for roughly 40% of its workforce. Some 30 workers have since left the company.

  5. “We have built up a lot of know-how during the crisis“, 12/16 Global SMT & Packaging via globalsmt.net
    Switzerland - Essemtec, the Swiss manufacturer of production machines, has well overcome the industry crises. CEO Martin Ziehbrunner had been forward-looking. He remembers: “We began implementing cost-reducing measures earlier than others.”Some of these measures were minimizing and optimizing material stock as well as using the possibilities of short-time working, a speciality of Switzerland. Thanks to these measures, Essemtec has not lost know-how during the crisis, but actually gained it. The company was always ready to return to full power whenever needed. The Swiss social infrastructure has demonstrated its strength.
    New products ready for growth
    R&D has continued at full power throughout the past months because Ziehbrunner always has believed in the market's recovery. His countercyclical strategy is the reason that Essemtec has introduced four completely new machines and overhauled four others in only one year. Today, Essemtec can offer the most modern machines for a market that is growing rapidly and is hungry for new solutions.
    Florian Schildein, Essemtec's Sales and Marketing Manager, highlights the positive market development of Paraquda and Cobra, the two SMD pick-and-place machines that recently have been introduced. In the second half of 2010, the sales figures soared. Both machines feature ePlace, the new user interface software developed by Essemtec that makes machine operation “a real pleasure.” ePlace also reduces the time that operators spend training and programming because it avoids input errors.
    A further highlight of the past months is Tucano. This automatic stencil printer is a new development implementing many concepts, experiences and features gained in high-precision solar cell printing. Thus, Tucano turned into a best seller in just a few months’ time.
    Turnover higher than expected
    In 2010, revenues were significantly higher than expected. According to Schildein, the budget had been made very carefully. By August 2010, Essemtec had announced record sales and the following months developed far beyond expectations. Since summer, the production department has been working in two to three shifts and sometimes even over the weekends.
    “Our new products had a great impact,” said Schildein. “Another key factor for the success is our improved sales structures. In several countries, Essemtec replaced external representatives with its own subsidiary companies, which lead to a better market presence and market identification. Subsidiaries are expensive and increase risk in the beginning.” But the risk pays off, says Schildein, because the end customers profit from a closer contact to the manufacturer, improved know-how transfer and clear responsibilities.
    Investing in new markets
    Ziehbrunner calls the 2010 acquisition of Vermes, the dispensing valve manufacturer, “a move with great potential.” Together with a second partner, Essemtec now has direct access and influence to this key technology. Vermes dispensing valves are used in electronics production as well as numerous other industries. They are known for their precision, speed and flexibility.
    Also in 2010, Essemtec has invested into the development of new market regions such as Brazil as well as in new industries such as solar technology, LED lamp manufacturing and 3-D SMD assembly. In these markets, Essemtec expects an increased growth rate in 2011.
    20 Years Jubilee
    Although 2010 developed so positively, Martin Ziehbrunner sees no reason to relax. In 2011 Essemtec will continue to introduce new products and to improve existing ones. Another important task, however, will be analyzing and optimizing the internally grown structures and production processes. Ziehbrunner says, “For me, machine manufacturing time is still too long.”
    Also, Schildein announces structural changes in the sales organization. Beginning in 2011, France and Germany will be reorganized. Essemtec France will replace the current distributor Prodelectronic. Essemtec Germany will move from Zorneding to Starnberg and will promote Sandra Paggen as its new business manager.
    And the 20 Year Essemtec jubilee? “Yes, of course we are happy about that,” said Ziehbrunner. A celebration event is planned for mid-2011. But of more importance, says Ziehbrunner, is to understand why after 20 years and several crises, Essemtec is in the leading position and to continue working on it. Ziehbrunner proves once more that he is worthy of being awarded the “Entrepreneur of the Year 2009”: He is an entrepreneur and his thoughts are always far into the future.

12/12-13-14/2010 – bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments, despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. No, really - we can! — How our foul national mood threatens a fragile economic recovery, op ed by Heather Boushey, 12/13 Boston Globe, A11.
    WASHINGTON, D.C. - ‘YES, WE CAN.’ That was Barack Obama’s mantra as he took the helm of the nation nearly two years ago. Even though the economy looked scary, he — and we — had a sense of optimism that we could fix it. Not only would we avoid a second Great Depression, but we’d make things better.
    Since then, we’ve successfully pulled back from the precipice. Private employers have added jobs for 10 straight months. In September, the National Bureau of Economic Research declared that the recession ended in June 2009.
    And yet despite these improvements, we seem to have lost our can-do conviction that the economy can indeed improve, that we can again create good jobs for all who need them. There appears to be a growing acceptance that slow job creation is “just the way things are.’’ A growing fatalism convinces us that the economy will be stuck at the bottom for quite some time.
    These diminished expectations aren’t merely evidence of a national funk; they also pose a real threat to our economy — not just by making businesses and consumers less willing to invest in the future, but also by letting elected officials off the hook. Bringing down unemployment means more stimulus programs, but the widespread idea that we are doomed to austerity gives policy makers an excuse not to tackle the problem.
    Americans are talking as though 2008’s direst economic predictions had come to pass. “Recovery means lower expectations,’’ MSNBC recently pronounced, reflecting the tone. Three out of every four millennial workers — those age 18 to 27 — report feeling threatened by the possibility of a layoff or job loss in the near future, and this is dimming their career hopes, according to a recent study by Lumin Collaborative. Older workers are delaying retirement because of falling assets and many are accepting jobs far beneath their experience and education.
    We are sending a new Congress to Washington, but we lack any faith that our representatives actually can address the most pressing issue on our minds: jobs. According to a recent poll from CBS, barely 4 in 10 Americans think that congressional Republicans have a clear plan for creating jobs. Obama’s numbers on this issue are only slightly better.
    When nearly 1 in 10 are struggling to find work, and after 2.5 million foreclosures and counting, this sense of despondency is understandable. But this reaction, even among those who are working, is one of the most insidious outcomes of the Great Recession. Even though you or I cannot create the 15 million jobs necessary to get all those unemployed back to work, believing that no one can do so can hurt us all. A lack of “can do’’ thinking on the part of those in power — and those who advise them — will be just as disastrous for the American economy as was recession.
    Consider what’s happened in Japan. That economy continues to struggle to recover from the bursting of its housing bubble in the 1990s. Japan has been stuck in a deflationary spiral, eerily similar to the path the United States is headed down. The fundamental problem has been a lack of willingness to spend and the political will to take the necessary steps to push Japan back on a path of stronger economic growth.
    A more encouraging example, from Germany, suggests that we don’t have to accept that high unemployment is “the way things are.’’ German policy makers, for example, take unemployment seriously. And while their nation saw a larger decline in output during the Great Recession than did the United States, their unemployment rate did not rise. Policy makers had put in place measures to encourage employers to keep on workers by temporarily cutting hours. In this way, they avoided the kind of high unemployment we’re now seeing, and Germany is now set to experience its fastest year of growth since 1991.
    The federal stimulus bill saved or created more than 3 million jobs, and states received some relief to help them cope with falling tax revenues. But federal dollars are fading long before we’ve solved the unemployment problem.
    But now much of the conversation in Washington is turning to paring back spending, rather than focusing on job creation. Washing our hands of the problem of high unemployment won’t make it go away. We need to demand that our elected leaders continue to focus on job creation — and not accept the notion that they can’t solve the problem.
    Heather Boushey is a senior economist at the Center for American Progress.

  2. Reduced Working Hours - Project against Neoliberalism and Mass Unemployment, by Mohssen Massarat , 12/13 Bay Area Indymedia via indybay.org
    OSNABRUECK, Germany - The neoliberal growth strategy of reducing the price of labor led to a system change from Keynesianism to neoliberal capitalism.. Neoliberals never sought full employment. Rather their policy aimed at the permanent division of society into unemployed and still employed, in brave wage- and salary-dependent persons ready for all possible concessions and lazy persons unwilling to work.
    The middle class parties are now in an identity- and trust crisis, not only in Germany. They pull no one from their chairs with their policy of growth, growth and more growth as the answer to the financial crisis, mass unemployment, falling mass income and increasing poverty. They all praised growth even in hegemonial consensus and relieved the rich in the last 40 years and in the neoliberalized social democracy for almost 15 years. Mass unemployment multiplied and was not removed. The second worldwide economic- and financial crisis is conjured. German social democracy has somewhat more voter approval by pulling itself from the swamp of neoliberalism in which it had miscalculated or gone over the top. Whether a modern future-friendly reform party will emerge is open.
    What is the answer of the left including the German Die Linke party to the present challenges that the neoliberal project worldwide left in the social and ecological scrap heaps? Much is obviously in a state of flux. The Greens favor the “Green New Deal” as their strategic project and seem to have lost sight of the social question, particularly the problem of mass unemployment. Efforts for a comprehensive social-ecological program are clear within the Die Linke party. However doubts are raised whether the discussed initiatives for political action can go far beyond the whole leftist spectrum.
    In an article, Ralf Kramer, member of the program commission of Die Linke, tries in delimitation from the growth-critics within the left to develop the elements of a program “for realizing chances of leftist policy and a social-ecological reorganization.” “Unions and the majority of dependent employees should be won for such a policy. According to Kramer, the social-ecological reorganization must be joined “with reduction of unemployment, securing the income of employees and creation of good new work for those whose jobs will be lost in the course of an ecological conversion […]. Such a leftist economic- and employment policy represents GDP growth. It would be frivolous and wrong to deny or conceal this.” This argumentation exists in the tradition of the union-oriented left and should be taken seriously because it integrates the ecological conversion in a social-political alternative beyond the classical fiscal-Keynesian approach. However this approach raises new question before it provides convincing answers to the present challenges of mass unemployment and the ecological crisis.
    Firstly, a plausible explanation is needed how the Red-Green coalition won the 1998 election with Kramer’s future-friendly strategy but then fell into the suction of neoliberalism with trust at their backs and intensified mass unemployment and the ecological crisis and carried out the greatest social dismantling in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany with their agenda policy. What justifies the certainty that a Red-Red-Green coalition with a social-ecological problematic proposed by Kramer could free itself from the neoliberal context and bring about a qualitative political change? Secondly, why does a policy that relies on growth to overcome mass unemployment conceal where 4-5% annual growth should come from?
    Kramer does not only leave these questions open. He also feeds leftist growth-critics with hopes as to a genuine nature-friendly economy for the time after “overcoming capitalist relations of property, production and distribution.” Under the new non-capitalist conditions, Kramer also regards “the general reduction of working hours” as a “central element” since development of the gross domestic product (GDP) will “not play an important role any more because increased income will no longer be the main motive and condition of greater prosperity.” This focus on a reform-perspective adjourns the historical answers to the great challenges of mass unemployment and the ecological crisis to the post-capitalist era. Nevertheless the perspective for a political change is necessary now since neoliberalism has broken down. The time is ripe to dis-empower neoliberalism politically. A social-political project capable of hegemony and able to bundle the social forces to replace neoliberalism is vital. The following analytical steps are part of such a perspective:
    Firstly, reflection on the historically-changed framing conditions that led to the replacement of Keynesianism by neoliberalism, secondly, analysis of the characteristics of the hegemonial project of neoliberalism and thirdly, substantiation of a social-ecological counter-project to overcome mass unemployment and reshuffle growth.
    The three decades between 1950 and 1980 were indisputably the “golden growth years” in nearly all capitalist states. Average annual growth rates of the gross domestic product in this period were over 5% and even over 10% in Japan. [1] Several factors were responsible for this development: firstly, considerable growth resources, secondly Keynesian economic policy proved very effective for mobilizing growth potentials, thirdly a considerable demand to satisfy basic needs after decades of privations as a consequence of the two world wars, fourthly development of democracy and above all strengthened union negotiating power and fifthly a modern social- and welfare policy that raised mass purchasing power.
    The pivot of classical Keynesian economic policy is a governmental spending policy based on indebtedness that functions as long as refinancing debts is guaranteed by growth. However the growth reserves came to an end and a relative satiation of consumption occurred at the end of the 1970s in highly developed capitalism. [2] The model came to a standstill. Attempts to create jobs through additional state spending led to inflation. The golden growth years actually reached their zenith long ago.
    In the middle of the 1970s, the phase of full employment (in Germany, France and Japan) and low rates of unemployment (in Italy, Great Britain and the US) was over. With the sole exception of the US, unemployment skyrocketed by leaps and bounds and remained at a high level between 6 and 12% for several decades. Two additional factors were important for this development outside the historical fact of shriveling growth reserves and increased satiation of consumption: (a) continuously higher productivity as a consequence of the third technological revolution and (b) increasing employment demand above all by women since the end of the 1960s. [3] In Germany, there were already 1 million unemployed at the start of the 1980s – a first high-water mark after decades of full employment.
    If the social democrats ignored the fact of growth reserves coming to an end and overlooked that classical Keynesian instruments like an expansive spending policy lead to more inflation and not more jobs under these conditions, the neoliberals ideologically blamed Keynesianism and state intervention for the failure of social democratic economic policy, not the declining growth reserves. Neoliberals promised to overcome mass unemployment through growth and – entirely in the sense of neoliberal ideology – through less state and more market. Neoliberalism offered itself as an alternative to social democracy and to Keynesianism and as a replacement of both at little expense because it could seamlessly join the general consensus of the fetish growth as a cure-all for all social problems… [4]
    The Keynesian growth model was based on value-creation and substantial value-enhancement. But how would the neoliberals generate growth and fulfill their promise of more jobs? From a retrospective view, the answer was firstly through reducing the price of labor and secondly through reducing the price of nature. Flexibility of labor markets, liberalization of trade and privatization of public goods aimed at this growth strategy. Since neoliberals were not tired of making growth and jobs, more prosperity, more freedom, more happiness and everything dependent on these miracle instruments, they succeeded in establishing the neoliberal spirit worldwide with parties and governments far beyond their own traditional political camp and subjugating the whole elite and the mass media…
    This strategy is not based on a growth through value-creation but on redistribution in a twofold sense: through redistribution from bottom to top within a national economy with the consequence of a declining mass purchasing power and through predatory competition and growth redistribution – a zero-sum game – at the expense of other states. Some countries, like the Netherlands, Austria and above all Germany, realized export- and currency-surpluses. On the other hand, loser states like France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece had to post import-surpluses, balance of payments deficits and increasing indebtedness. This policy was especially drastic for Greece and according to critical economists – was the main reason for the threatening bankruptcy of this country with consequences for other southern European states. [5] To avoid bankruptcies in southern Europe, the EU was forced to intervene with a gigantic bailout-package of over 700 billion Euros. However this bailout-package did not contain anything but new debts for the taxpayers of those EU-states that had to bleed wage-earners to finance the absurd policy of growth through redistribution and predatory competition. Strictly speaking, winners and losers at the end of this chain of redistribution are not the national economies of Germany or Greece. Rather the winners are the rich elites and the losers wage- and salary-dependent workers in the two states… [7] [8]
    The neoliberal policies also aimed at growth through reducing the price of nature. The liberalization of raw material markets and intensified exploitation of the energy- and raw material-reserves served that goal notwithstanding all the ecological consequences and forced geo-politics – including wars in the last 30 years, above all in the Middle East.
    With a retrospective view and starting from the result, the neoliberal growth strategy of reducing the price of labor led to a system-change from Keynesianism to neoliberal capitalism. Conversely this strategy could not have possibly been carried out without this system-change. This change presupposed the undermining of the wage-policy balance of power and the shattering of the social foundation between unions and businessmen. The negotiating power of unions in Keynesian capitalism should be ended once and for all. A power-gradient in favor of the corporate side and a capital-friendly distribution should be established as a permanent state instead of a power equilibrium and a well-balance distribution of profits. The capital side should be able to push around unions, take away their action logic – their most important asset in capitalism – dictate its goals in wage negotiations and make unions prisoners of their tactics instead of carrying out wage negotiations at eye level. In this way, no other possibility was left to the unions than to persevere in the structural defensive and sit back and watch how social achievements were dismantled one after the other. If the unions gained their fighting strength in Keynesian capitalism through full employment, mass unemployment was the Achilles’ heel of union disempowerment and of the neoliberal growth model. As mass unemployment is the worst social ground for weakening unions, those still employed are permanently frightened with losing their jobs. The readiness arises to accept all possible concessions on the wage side with social benefits and with working hours in order not to fall into unemployment and Hartz IV (drastic German welfare “reform” that combined unemployment benefits and income support and cut the duration of benefits). Under these conditions, a severe power shift could be carried ou9t that appeared – and unfortunately still appears – to wage- and salary-dependent as a quasi-natural, inevitable process without alternative – supposedly brought about by the “markets” to create more jobs.
    Neoliberals justified all their “reforms” on the labor market with the pretext of reducing unemployment and achieved the opposite. Neoliberals never seriously sought full employment. Rather their policy consciously aimed at the permanent division of society in unemployed and still employed, in brave wage- and salary dependent persons ready for all possible concessions and “lazy persons unwilling to work” who are responsible themselves for their fate. How else can it be explained that a measure like extending working hours was made the political-economic pivot for more jobs at the climax of the triumphant neoliberal advance? This measure was carried out in all areas including the public sector although it led directly to even more unemployment.
    Unemployment rose drastically in nearly all industrial states after the neoliberal turn at the end of the 1970s. In Germany, unemployment reached a record high since the neoliberal turn in 2004 with almost 5 million unemployed. According to official statistics, it fell to 3.24 million in 2010 because 1.4 million unemployed were removed from official data through definitional changes, not because new jobs were created. Without including this manipulation, unemployment remains at a record high of 4.8 million. [10] The million-fold change from full-time jobs to part-time or mini-jobs – affecting women above all – is not included in this number. This is also true for 4.9 million “marginally employed” who cannot survive without Hartz IV. The 3 million Hartz IV recipients are unemployed sifted out of society in neoliberal capitalism and left to themselves. They also belong to the system. Their disgraceful situation acts as a very effective bugbear that presses all job-owners to unrestricted concessions.
    The result of this system-produced state of constant insecurity and anxiety is well known: the creation of a low wage sector, the forced subcontracted work system, the praxis of limited employment even in the state sector, the misuse of limited posts with starvation wages for permanent work which all served to structurally sanction wage dumping and maintain redistribution from bottom to top. At the World Economic Forum in Davos 1/28/2005, ex-German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, the SPD politician mainly responsible for the neoliberal project Agenda 2010 even openly boasted of his success as a trailblazer in creating the low-wage sector in Europe. “We have liberalized our labor market. We had to do this. We have built one of the best low-wage sectors in Europe… We have constructed a functioning low-wage sector. With relief payments, we have put incentives to accept work in the foreground. There are considerable conflicts with strong interest-groups in our society. But we withstood these conflicts. We are certain the changed system on the labor market will be successful…”
    In this system of neoliberal capitalism, unions were weakened, forced to the defensive, degraded to a hostage of neoliberalism and ultimately robbed of the possibility of an active and offensive union and social policy.
    The balance of the neoliberal accumulation model is disastrous. Instead of overcoming unemployment, neoliberalism produced worldwide mass unemployment, falling wages, a gigantic redistribution from bottom to top and from South to North, the second worldwide economic and financial crisis and a general indebtedness of unimaginable extent at the expense of wage- and salary dependent, the middle class and future generations. In addition a deep division of society occurred, the weakening of unions, de-solidarity between regular employees and subcontracted workers, job owners, unemployed and social security recipients and pathogenic disease-producing anxieties about losing jobs, status and social relations. Instead of growth and more prosperity, the neoliberal policy presented humanity with a growing chasm between poor and rich, a growth of indebtedness and CO2, a nuclear waste growth and a growth of global conflicts over market shares and resources. Not accidentally, phenomena like the clash of cultures and fundamentalist movements at the extreme poles of world society coincide with the upswing of new conservatism and neoliberalism since the beginning of the 1980s.
    Neoliberalism presented itself as a pseudo-alternative to classical Keynesianism and bundled social forces for its own hegemonial project by joining economic goals like growth and jobs with socio-cultural values like more individual freedom, less state and reduction of bureaucracy etc. The neoliberal spirit was enforced across the board and deep into the pores of society through a long-lasting mass unemployment and the shift of power relations through the weakening or actual disempowerment of unions. For that reason, mass unemployment can no longer be accepted as a kind of natural law constant. Only through its overcoming will it be possible to take the ground away from neoliberalism on which it thrived for 30 years. Overcoming neoliberalism now stands on the political agenda after its failures have become more obvious than ever. 30 years of neoliberal logic are more than enough. The victims of this logic should begin to reflect on the logic of their existential interests and the production of dignified living conditions for all. Unions should be strengthened in the postwar time and society given the necessary foundation for social reforms.
    A full employment through growth according to the classic Keynesian model is unrealistic under the conditions of shriveling growth reserves, relative consumption satiation and higher productivity. Growth rates of 1-2% realized annually in the last two decades occurred through redistribution at the expense of other national economies, not through value-creation. Gazing at growth through increased exports or at short-term measures like short-time work are like respirators or artificial respiration of neoliberalism and only extend its life. The only possibility left is a new type of full employment through shortening working hours and simultaneous redistribution of existing jobs to all job-seekers.
    Across-the-board reduced working hours must be declared the heart of a strategic counter-project to neoliberalism and made the starting point of an aggregate social project going far beyond wage negotiations. To win political and cultural hegemony in this perspective, the bundling of all social-civil forces that could ultimately profit from this is needed. Except for neoliberal ideologues, financial speculators and a thin class of property owners, these are almost all social classes and those who want to alight from gainful work. Then the exodus from gainful work and the option for self-determined activities – certainly a legitimate desire of many people - would first have a realistic chance of broad approval when unions and all reform forces regain their full creative power lost in neoliberalism.
    Through reduced working hours, society altogether would not only have more time for the family, bringing up children, health care and all kinds of creative activities. Society would also be supplied with a new social foundation reversing the redistribution from bottom to top in the interest of increasing mass purchasing power. The bundling of forces assumes the subordination of all other social-political goals and distribution forces under the strategic project of reducing working hours since otherwise the spirit of discord would spread and the strategic project of reducing working hours in the sense of the continuance of neoliberalism would fall. The last egoist not ready to exchange his own possible short-term advantage for solidarity with others must be convinced he will gain even more work and not be one of the losers in the long run under the conditions of mass unemployment and low wages. A responsibility that cannot be underrated comes to union leadership.
    Reduction of working hours and redistribution of work and income is also the historical answer to the limits of growth because society can first make up for chances missed after the crisis of Keynesianism in post-neoliberalism after precariousness, lack of perspectives, anxieties of loss and many other shortcomings are overcome and social-ecological reforms are carried out through a solid growth reshuffling: [11] away from export expansion to strengthening domestic potentials; away from the nuclear-fossil energy path to massive dev elopement of renewable energy; away from individual transportation and to development of the public transportation sector and modern mobility systems and building the public sector in education, health care, sports, culture, care of the elderly and all areas of social necessities.
    According to the above reflections, reduced working hours and a new type of full employment is a strategic hegemonial project for a comprehensive social-ecological reorganization of society. Reduction of the paid work volumes and conventional monetary growth are possible with simultaneous growth of qualitative, monetary and immeasurable values in the social and cultural areas of society. Thus increased time prosperity is the source of a novel social wealth that can be opened up independent of overcoming capitalist property- and production relations. There is no political or moral justification for postponing this challenge.
    1 Krämer, Ralf (2010): Wachstumskritik oder sozialistische Politik?, in: Supplement der Zeitschrift Sozialismus 7-8/2010, S. 22.
    2 Vgl. dazu Reuter, Norbert (2009): Stagnation im Trend, in: Wissenschaft & Umwelt Interdisziplinär 13/2009.
    3 Vgl. Bontrup, Heinz-J./Niggemeyer, Lars/Melz, Jörg (2007): Arbeit fair teilen. Massenarbeitslosigkeit überwinden!, Hamburg, S. 45ff.
    4 Lambsdorff, Otto Graf (1982): Sparkonzept, in: Dokumentation Nr. 9/82 des Bundesministeriums für Wirtschaft. 5 Vgl. dazu u.a. Krugman, Paul, in: Frankfurter Rundschau vom 19. Februar 2010; Flassbeck, Heiner, in: Freitag vom 18 Februar 2010.
    6 Vgl. Massarrat, Mohssen (2009): Reiche aller Länder, bereichert Euch, in: Krull, Stephan/Massarrat, Mohssen/Steinrücke, Margareta, Schritte aus der Krise, Hamburg.
    7 Ausführlicher siehe Schäfer, Claus (2009): WSI-Verteilungsbericht, in WSI Mitteilungen 12/2009. 8 Riexinger, Bernd (2009): Perspektiven des Protests, in: Sozialismus, Heft 7-8/2009
    9 Ausführlicher dazu vgl. Massarrat, Mohssen (2006): Kapitalismus – Machtungleichheit – Nachhaltigkeit, Hamburg, vor allem Kapitel 3.
    10 Ausführlicher dazu Lunapark, Heft 10, Sommer 2010, S. 2f.
    11 Vgl. Massarrat, Mohssen (2009): Weniger wachsen – weniger arbeiten. Eine realistische Alternative, in: Wissenschaft & Umwelt Interdisziplinär 13/2009.
    This article published in: Sozialismus 11/22/2010 is translated from the German on the Internet, http://www.linksnet.de/de/artikel/26139. Mohssen Massarat is a professor at the University of Osnabruck.

  3. Opinion Column: Paycuts are Coming, by Larry Burchall, 12/14 Bernews.com
    HAMILTON, Bermuda - If, as promised, the Minister for Finance cuts $150,000,000 from next year’s Budget, the Minister will be slashing some Government services and operations, as well as cutting Civil Service and BIU employee pay. Or the Minister may try an accounting sleight-of-hand and say that only ‘capital spending’ will be cut.
    Out of a total 2010/11 spending Budget of $1,202,000,000, about $497,000,000 is earmarked as pay for non-Quango Government workers. That leaves about $705,000,000 for Government operations and services and capital spending. Cutting $150,000,000 from $705,000,000 means cutting 21 percent – or 21c out of every $1.
    A 21 percent slash in funding can hit every service and operation. But with guns going off, services like Police and Prisons won’t get slashed 21 percent. With the need to revive Tourism, spending on Tourism might even go up. So cutting 21 percent off services and operations will be selective. But if the cut is confined to just services and operations, what will newly under-employed Civil Servants and BIU employees do?
    The Minister must, in fact, cut Civil Service salaries and BIU employees pay as well as cut services and operations.
    For 2011/12, the Minister will not cut employees. Just for this first round, no person employed as a Civil Servant or BIU worker is likely to lose their ‘government job’. But their agreed hours of work will be cut.
    Civil Servants will likely have their 35 hour workweek cut to a 30 hour workweek – equivalent to a 14 percent pay cut. BIU workers will get the same 14 percent cut and drop to a 32 hour workweek from their current 37.5 hour workweek. Existing overtime bans will continue and will have to be rigorously enforced. Cuts like this will result in an overall 15 percent saving in Government’s pay budget. That works out to an annual saving of about $75,000,000 in one year. With a 15 percent pay cut saving $75,000,000 a year, services and operations need only be cut by $75,000,000 a year – that’s about an 11 percent cut. Combined, the two cuts save $150,000,000 a year – which is the target figure that the Minister has announced. Pay cuts rather than letting people go will be preferred. That way Government people stay employed. Keeping Government people employed will be preferable to kicking out some 800 – 900 Government employees and shoving them into Bermuda’s still shrinking private sector job market. Besides, all 800 – 900 can vote. So next year, in the 2011/12 Budget, the Minister will begin acknowledging and paying for past Ministerial mistakes. The Minister will announce at least $150,000,000 cuts in Civil Service and BIU pay and in Government services and operations. However, there is something else. That $150,000,000 in Budget cuts is not enough to create the financial conditions that will allow Debt Service costs to stop increasing and thereby eroding the spending power of every Government dollar. That is why a mere cut in ‘capital spending’ will not and cannot work.
    For real results, the Minister must cut much more than $150,000,000. The biggest mistake of the past was rapidly and successively spending far more than came in as revenue. That rapid accumulation of past mistakes has to be corrected and cannot be put right with just the one $150 million cut currently planned. Nor with just one budget cut in just one year.
    Government revenue will be down at least nine percent in 2010. It is on target to be around $90 – $100 million short. This means that there should have been big spending cutbacks in 2010. This is not happening. So even bigger cuts – much, much, bigger than $150,000,000 – will have to be made in 2011 and beyond; or, the Minister must go borrowing and thus push annual Debt Service costs well over the $100 million a year mark.
    Race and personal politics has nothing to do with any of this. This is all about the arithmetic of Income, Spending, Debt, and the continually rising cost of servicing Debt.
    Pay cuts are coming. Service reductions are coming. That proposed $150,000,000 will not be enough. The consequences of seven years of overspending will prove costly to correct. Bermuda’s rough ride is only just beginning.
    Primary resolution lies in getting International Business’s Bermuda footprint to stop shrinking and start re-expanding.
    Secondary answer? Get Tourism AIR ARRIVALS back up above the 350,000 level and national TOURIST INCOME back above $500,000,000 a year.
    However, neither of these two basic solutions is completely within the control of Government.
    What is completely within the control of Government is Government spending. Government must drive its own spending DOWN until Government spending matches Government revenue and Debt Service costs stop rising. This must happen even while Government re-invests in re-growing Tourism and investing in re-expanding International Business’s footprint in Bermuda. There are no other practical real-life answers.
    However, for those who – childlike – still believe in magic, a private sector or government entrepreneurial magician can magically appear, magically create a big new foreign exchange earning business that employs people, operates out of Bermuda, and will magically generate at least $500 million a year in new foreign exchange earnings! And all this will happen tomorrow!

12/10-11/2010 – bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments, despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. 10 Hanover NJ employees lose their jobs Friday, by Jake Remaly, 12/10 Dailyrecord.com
    HANOVER — Today is the last day of work for 10 township employees whose positions are being eliminated to address a projected $1.5 million deficit in the 2011 budget, Township Administrator Joseph Giorgio said.
    The employees were going to be laid off at the end of November, but the Township Committee pushed back the date of in light of proposed concessions from the police union. Hanover responded with a counter-proposal asking union members to pay 25 percent of their health insurance premiums, which PBA Local 128 rejected, Giorgio said.
    The town wasn't able to bargain with the public works union IBT Local 97 because some employees sent a petition to the state to have the union de-certified.
    In addition to the 10 layoffs, seven other employees are having their hours reduced from 35 hours a week to 30 hours. Giorgio notified the affected employees Tuesday morning. The Township Committee approved the layoffs and "reclassifications" at its Nov. 11 meeting.
    "In view of the fact that we couldn't get PBA to agree to meaningful concessions, and are not able to negotiate with IBT Local 97, we had no alternative but to invoke the Nov. 11 resolution," Giorgio said.
    The township's counter-proposal to the PBA, which has been working without a contract, included no wage increase in 2009 and 2 percent increases each year for 2010 through 2012. Employees would have been asked to pay 25 percent of their health insurance premiums.
    If the unions agreed to pay more toward their premiums, town officials said, they would have implemented the same change for non-union employees, which could have saved the town $300,000 a year, potentially saving some of the jobs. Employees currently pay 1.5 percent of their salaries toward the premiums, which range from $617 to $2,359 a month.
    The town anticipates refunding millions of dollars to Alcatel-Lucent, the town's largest taxpayer, when it settles property tax appeals that were filed by the company when it closed operations at its Whippany research campus. The financial problems are compounded by decreased state aid and a new, state-mandated, 2 percent tax levy cap, Hanover officials said.
    Two police officers are affected by the plan, as are employees in the health, engineering, recreation, public works and other departments. Hanover had 134 full-time employees in 2009. Giorgio said the layoff plan was prompted by officials at a state meeting saying municipalities should expect less state aid in 2011 and implement any layoffs before the end of the year.
    Dorothy Zufall, the town's health educator who will lose her job as a result of the cuts, said she wished employees could have been furloughed instead.
    "The tension in this township hall is so thick you could cut it with a knife," she said at the Nov. 11 meeting. Both Mayor John Sheridan and Giorgio said it was a stressful process.
    "We did not start this process with layoffs," Sheridan said then. "Layoffs are always the last resort."
    Jake Remaly: 973-428-6621; jremaly1@gannett.com

  2. TC post office to cut hours, BY ART BUKOWSKI abukowski@record-eagle.com, 12/10 Traverse City Record Eagle via record-eagle.com
    TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. - Traverse City's post office will trim its hours shortly after Christmas.
    The main branch, located on Union Street, now is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Saturday. Effective Dec. 27, it will be open from 8:15 a.m. until 5:15 p.m. during the week and will close an hour earlier on Saturday.
    Acting Traverse City Postmaster Judy Zimmerman said the changes were made to save money, though she couldn't estimate how much will be saved by the switch.
    The Barlow branch, located off Barlow Road in Garfield Township, will maintain the hours the Traverse City branch has now. Lobbies in both branches feature automated kiosks and will remain open 24 hours a day.
    The move could impact people who stop into the post office before or after work, but Zimmerman said hour changes have to be approved by higher-ups at the United States Postal Service. She contends postal officials analyze office traffic and won't allow offices to close during peak hours.
    "If we're busy, they're not going to let us close," she said.
    If locals need the post office between 5:15 and 6 p.m., they still will be able to use the Barlow branch, Zimmerman said.
    Laurie Stricker works at a Traverse City law firm. The shorter hours will make it tougher for someone from her firm to get over near the end of the day for mailings and other post office business.
    "It's fine now, but if they change it, it would make it a lot more difficult for us," she said.
    But it won't be difficult for everyone.
    "It doesn't bother me," Traverse City resident Bill Cruse said. "I'm retired."

  3. Long work hours, scant sleep linked to heart attack: report, 12/11 The Nation PAKISTAN via nation.com.pk
    FUKUOKA, Japan - Men who frequently work long hours or get little sleep are at twice the risk of suffering a non-fatal heart attack, Japanese researchers report.
    Since the 1980s, Japanese society has been concerned with a high incidence of sudden deaths occurring amidst a culture of extended work hours
    , noted Dr. David Snashall, a specialist in occupational medicine at Guy" and St. Thomas's NHS Hospital Trust in London, UK, and an editorial board member of the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
    The researchers, led by Ying Liu, a research fellow at the National Cancer Center in Tokyo and a graduate student at Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan, conducted a study to investigate whether a link exists between lack of sleep, overtime work and heart attack. The findings of the study, supported by Sankyo, a Japanese pharmaceutical company, are published in the July issue of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
    The researchers evaluated the cases of 260 men aged 40 to 79 who had suffered non-fatal heart attacks between 1996 and 1998. The men were matched to a "control" group of 445 men similar in age and residence who had not had heart attacks.
    The researchers compared the number of work hours all the men had put in during the previous year, as well as their average amount of sleep on both days off and work days. They also took into account other possible heart attack risk factors, such as cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, body weight and disease history. Men who worked 61 hours a week or more, on average, during the past year were twice as likely to have a heart attack as the men who worked 40 hours a week or less, the investigators found.

  4. Community working scheme deemed a success, to be extended, 12/10 DI-VE.com
    ISLAND OF MALTA, Brit.Cmnwlth - The community working scheme introduced in Budget 2010 for those who have been unemployed for more than six months is deemed to have helped government putting people back to work, Employment Minister Dolores Cristina said on Friday.
    The scheme offered to unemployed people the possibility to work for 30 hours a week with NGOs, local councils or government entities and in return get an unemployment benefit that reaches 75 per cent of the minimum wage.
    Speaking at the 2010 European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion National Closing conference Ms Cristina said that the government’s plans are to entice all unemployed people- for more than six months - to this scheme by 2015.

12/8-9/2010 – bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments, despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Tough housing industry squeezes Marvin profits, posted by Dan Gunderson,12/08 Minnesota Public Radio via minnesota.publicradio.org
    WARROAD, Minn. - The bad news for the 3,000 employees at Warroad-based Marvin Windows is they won't get a profit sharing bonus in time for the holidays. The good news is they still have jobs.
    For the second year in a row Marvin won't have profit sharing with it's employees. Spokesman John Kirchner says the company is still feeling the effects of the recession and the housing market bust.
    In 2009 Marvin cut workers back to 32 hours a week instead of laying off some workers.
    Kirchner says for about the past six months most workers have been back to 40 hour weeks.
    He attributes the increase in work partially to a normal seasonal uptick in construction orders, and to the federal tax credit for energy efficient doors and windows.
    That credit could expire at the end of the year so a lot of people have been ordering doors and windows to beat the deadline.
    Kirchner says he expects the workers to go back to 32-hour work weeks sometime early next year. He says Marvin is the only major door and window manufacturer that hasn't laid off employees or closed a plant during the current recession.
    He says keeping those skilled employees working helps position the company for a time when the construction industry takes off again.

    When might that be? Kirchner says Marvin is cautiously optimistic about 2011 but still expects a "very challenging" year ahead.

  2. Capitol Improvement? Cantor Proposes Longer Work Week, by Patrick O'Connor, 12/08 Wall Street Journal (blog)
    WASHINGTON, U.S.A. - The most frequently asked question on Capitol Hill most weeks has nothing to do with politics or policy. It’s: “When can we leave?”
    In the House, incoming Majority Whip Eric Cantor hopes to answer that question once and for all. The Virginia Republican has proposed a schedule that would limit voting on the floor to the hours between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. and no later than 3 p.m. on the last day of the week.
    For most voters, this may seem like a silly change that shows Congress isn’t working hard enough. But for lawmakers, aides and support staff, it will generally be greeted as welcome news – even among Democrats, albeit quietly – because it will be easier to schedule meetings and fund-raisers and arrange flights out of town.
    The bad news (for lawmakers, at least) is that the workweek will likely be longer, moving to four and five days from the three-day week.
    [Hey, they can run (or ruin) the whole country on three- or four-day workweeks? What's good enough for lawmakers is good enough for the rest of Americans!]
    On the flip side, lawmakers will get one week a month to remain in their home districts and won’t have to come back to Washington for votes — time intended to help them meet with constituents.
    “Over the past decade, the House’s schedule has fluctuated on a week-to-week basis,” Mr. Cantor wrote colleagues in a letter that went out Wednesday. “Rarely do members know when last votes will be scheduled for the day or week.”
    Another change: no more resolutions naming post offices or congratulating the local sports team, a staple of late-night votes to make sure lawmakers are in Washington.
    “The goal for this Congress is to stress quality over quantity,” Mr. Cantor wrote.
    Democrats sought similar procedural changes when they retook the majority back in 2007, but after time, the schedule lapsed into the standard rhythm that dominated the Capitol during the GOP’s last run in power.

  3. Time for Reserve Bank to get off the rate cycle, by NEALE MUSTON, 12/09 (1210 across dateline) Brisbane Times via brisbanetimes.com.au
    CANBERRA, Australia - There was a time when Reserve Bank monetary policy was determined by a familiar process of statistical analysis, private sector consultation and some old-fashioned crystal ball gazing by the board in order to best fulfil its charter.
    That is, to ensure currency stability, maintain full employment and promote economic prosperity and welfare for Australians. As the worst of the global financial crisis descended in 2008-09, the Reserve Bank acted responsibly to preserve the integrity of the country's financial system.
    It aggressively eased policy and provided its full resources for advising government and analysing the effect of the credit crunch throughout the monetary system.
    As this writer also urged at the time, the bank resisted the advice of many economists to further cut official rates below 3 per cent, especially after the government had initiated significant fiscal easing.
    Since those dark days, Australia has emerged with enviable prosperity, thanks in part to a booming mining industry that has led to unemployment moving back down towards levels that prevailed before the crisis.
    The banking sector was also spared the fate of many foreign competitors due to more conservative business practices and a solvent consumer. Accordingly, the Reserve Bank acted to remove monetary stimulus and has taken the official rate back to 4.75 per cent, which, considering where retail rates have settled, is more or less neutral by traditional standards.
    However, we are not in traditional times, and the global economy continues to be adversely aligned towards sustained recovery. Apart from China, which is actively attempting to slow its economy, elsewhere exhibits desperation.
    The US, Europe and Japan have taken official rates close to zero and are unlikely to raise them until the middle of 2012. Several central banks are still embarking on aggressive quantitative easing, a full two years since Lehman Brothers fell. The European Central Bank is fighting off the collapse of the euro as several member countries require massive aid packages to remain solvent.
    The Australian retail sector has performed poorly during this period, mired in perpetual discounting. Housing affordability is near all-time lows as higher borrowing rates and stable house prices create a tremendous barrier to entry.
    Business and retail borrowers have borne the brunt of banks seeking to beef up margins to pre-crisis levels. Underlying inflation has moved back to the midpoint of the Reserve Bank's desired 2-3 per cent band, and GDP has most recently floundered, with a surprising negative contribution from net exports.
    Most economists expect further official rate increases next year, and the Reserve Bank seems to be treating this cycle no differently to any other over the past decade. Why the urgency and concern given the balance of risks?
    With unemployment relatively low at 5.2 per cent compared with about 10 per cent in Europe and the US, the Reserve Bank has been concerned that the mining boom has created a multi-speed economy and that there is only one blunt instrument to deal with inflation expectations.
    Bill Mitchell is a professor of economics at the University of Newcastle, where he heads the Centre of Full Employment and Equity. He has dedicated over 20 years of his career to promoting a better understanding within government and business of the workforce and how it can be best utilised for all concerned.
    Mitchell says that on closer inspection of Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force data, 7.2 per cent of Australians were underemployed (as of August). These are full or part-time workers who have the desire or capacity to work longer hours.
    Underemployment rose just two percentage points during the financial crisis as employers preferred to cut working hours rather than lose skilled staff. Fewer than half of these have been restored to their original hours in the ensuing boom.

    In all, about 12.4 per cent are underutilised (unemployed or underemployed), and this represents a wasted national resource.
    Ironically, journalists and bank economists regularly cite tight labour conditions as a key need for the Reserve Bank to raise rates; but Mitchell notes that the underemployed on average are available for about 15 hours a week. Available data therefore indicate that Australians would work more if given the chance.
    Whatever happened to the bit in the charter about the Reserve Bank maintaining full employment and prosperity for all? With much of the world experiencing hardship ranging from austerity measures to high unemployment, there is a unique opportunity for Australia to get ahead and raise the standard of living for all.
    High commodity prices and a mining sector that is expanding capacity should be a cue for the government to realign fiscal policy with measures such as a fair and transparent resource rent tax that will share prosperity.
    At the same time it needs to embark on providing affordable housing rather than simply gifting first-home buyer grants that inflate lower tier house prices and do nothing to increase supply.
    The Reserve Bank needs to recognise that times have changed and perhaps in this environment a slightly higher inflation outcome closer to 3 per cent is a small price to pay in order to cut the underutilisation of labour and provide a level of economic growth that will buffer Australia against a continued gloomy global backdrop where many other central banks are seeking some inflation.
    It is time for the bank and government to use our unique situation as an opportunity to return Australia to full employment, and a good first step is to consider this rate cycle complete.
    Neale Muston is the former managing director of fixed income at Morgan Stanley Australia. He runs a global markets trading business in Sydney.

12/5-6-7/2010 – bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments, despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Virginia localities to 'play defense' on more cuts, by Bob Lewis, 12/06 CNBC.com
    RICHMOND, Va. - Funding cuts from the 2010 General Assembly, paired with declining local revenues, forced cities and counties to cut services, raise taxes or fees and, usually, both this past year.
    When the 2011 legislature convenes in a little over a month, there's no hope for recouping any of the more than $1 billion in total cuts or new spending obligations placed on localities last year, say advocates for city and town councils and county boards of supervisors.
    It's all about avoiding even more losses.
    "We're going to end up playing defense this session," said Dean A. Lynch, the chief lobbyist for the Virginia Association of Counties.
    Faced with the sharpest revenue drop-off in Virginia history the past three years, state government in 2010 was forced to reconcile a $4 billion state budget shortfall.
    Part of that included staggering and unprecedented cuts in state support to public education, reduced general aid to localities and shifting expenses historically born by state government to localities.
    "The question is how much will the General Assembly and the governor cut in the upcoming session and where are those cuts going to come from," said Neal Menkes, director of fiscal policy for the Virginia Municipal League.
    Besides cuts by both Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell and his Democratic predecessor, Tim Kaine, the General Assembly made use of federal stimulus cash, the state's "Rainy Day" reserve fund and a record use of debt to reconcile the budget that ended June 30. McDonnell even claimed a $400 million surplus.
    But stimulus support is about to run out. The Rainy Day fund is running on empty and, according to the Senate Finance Committee, state government can't borrow more without increasing its debt capacity, an action that could harm the state's perfect and never-blemished AAA bond rating.
    The state must also start repaying $600 million in deferred contributions to the state and local government employees' pension fund.
    McDonnell and the General Assembly agreed to repay the Virginia Retirement System over 10 years, and the governor has said he will make the first installment on that debt a priority in the budget recommendations he presents Dec. 17.
    Among the dangers awaiting local budgets already stretched thin are perennial efforts by legislative conservatives to repeal business taxes that now benefit localities.
    Lawmakers will probably see more efforts to eliminate the Business, Professional and Occupational License tax, the tax on machines and tools used by manufacturers. The state's business and manufacturing lobbies and advocacy groups also put their money and considerable influence behind their repeal each year.
    Republican Speaker William J. Howell, while sympathetic to rolling back both taxes, said it won't happen until the economy rebounds.
    Sen. Charles J. Colgan, D-Prince William and chairman of the budget-writing Senate Finance Committee, said the two repeal measures would not survive the Democratic-controlled Senate should they win House passage.
    "The BPOL and machine-and-tool taxes, I don't think they will repealed," he said. "That would put too big a dent in things."
    Colgan also said he wants the state to retain the considerable cost of care for emergency and law-enforcement personnel injured in the line of duty. Under the current budget, localities could assume that expense in July 2011.
    "That's a state responsibility. That should not be put on the backs of localities. I'd be willing to make a move to put it back where it belongs," Colgan said.
    The cuts came as primary revenues for local governments — taxes on the value of real estate and personal property — are declining, or are, at best, flat. Local governments have cut hours for offices, libraries and recreation centers. Some have closed school buildings. Employees have lost jobs.
    The state also cut millions in support for local offices that Virginia's Constitution mandates — sheriffs, commissioners of the revenue, treasurers — and left local taxpayers to pick up the difference.
    If local revenues erode further, cuts will be even more painful and conspicuous, crippling core services, Menkes said. The alternative, he said, will be higher local taxes.
    About 30 Virginia localities increased their tax rates this year in response to the fiscal crisis, he said.
    "There will be more pressure on the revenue side," Menkes said. "The options on the spending side will be for really significant reductions in staffing, and for most localities, that staffing is in public safety and education."
    Still, with spiraling costs for Medicaid and other mandated expenses, more cuts are likely, said Howell, R-Stafford.
    "It's going to be another tough year," Howell said. "The state, we had to cut back to 2006 (spending) levels, and maybe that's what the localities need to do. It's going to be an austere time."
    Bob Lewis has covered Virginia government and politics since 2000.

  2. Kingston school lunch program eyed, BY Kyle Wind, 12/07 Kingston Daily Freeman via dailyfreeman.com
    KINGSTON, N.Y. - An external auditor studying the Kingston school district’s finances has suggested the district consider changing how its school lunch program is run.
    The district should study whether the current “quasi-private” model to run the school lunch operation would be best in the long run, the auditor suggested. Under the current arrangement, a private company manages employees on the district’s public payroll.
    The Kingston school lunch program’s reserves were depleted to $57,535 at the end of the 2009-10 school year, during which the operation ran a $104,093 deficit even with a $94,891 loan from the general fund, according to an audit report by Raymond Preusser’s Claverack-based accounting firm.
    “It is imperative that the school lunch fund operation be maintained on a ‘breakeven’ or profitable basis,” wrote Preusser.
    Preusser told the school board last week that if members do not want to raise school lunch prices, continued losses could force the district to subsidize the program with the general fund, a longtime practice school officials hoped to discontinue when they hired Aramark to run the lunch program.
    Even if raising prices was on the table, “you can’t really charge a student $5 for lunch,” said Preusser.
    The Board of Education voted in May 2009 to award a $1.13 million contract to Aramark to oversee the district’s 2009-10 lunch operation, which served an estimated 1,017,545 meals. At the time, the lunch operation had been running in the red for years, with the deficit progressively growing to $275,000 a year due to rising food costs as well as decreased financial aid and student participation.
    When the school board first learned of the $104,000 shortfall in September, Trustee David Fletcher was among members who expressed frustration. He said administration had guaranteed the school lunch operation would be financially independent and no longer need assistance from the general fund under Aramark’s management. School officials have said Aramark withdrew its guarantee to break even after learning of restrictions in a Civil Service Employees Association contract.
    District Superintendent Gerard Gretzinger has said the district cut two employees and cut hours for several others on the school lunch staff when it first learned of the shortfall this summer. The superintendent also assigned Treasurer Gary Tomczyk and Joseph Previll, the assistant superintendent for personnel who is retiring at the end of January, to oversee the program.
    Members of the school board recently expressed a desire to rebid the contract with Aramark to other food management companies for 2011-12, also in part because of some complaints about the quality of lunches. School board member Christopher Farrell has described meat in school lunches as “Boar’s Head-like” rather than being Boar’s Head meat the company had said would be in school lunches.
    An Aramark spokesman could not be reached for comment.

  3. Two more hope to get seat on Langley council, By ROY JACOBSON, 12/05 (12/04) SOUTH WHIDBEY RECORD via Seattle Post Intelligencer via seattlepi.com
    LANGLEY, Whidbey Is., Wash. - The field is getting crowded.
    Two more applicants for the vacant position on the Langley City Council have turned in their paperwork to city hall.
    They are Thomas Gill, a young Langley native making his third attempt to join the council, and Kathleen Waters, a property owner in the city since 1976 who has been a consistent critic of city government.
    They join Hal Seligson, a retired government hospital administrator, and Robin Adams, an international management consultant, in seeking to fill the unexpired Position 2 term of Russell Sparkman, who resigned from the five-member council in early October. The term runs through 2013, but an election will be held next November for the remainder of Sparkman’s term.
    Those interested in the position have until Monday, Dec. 13 to submit an application form, résumé and a letter to city hall. The council is expected to interview candidates at its Dec. 20 regular meeting.
    The council will then vote to select the new member in an open session, and the new council member will be sworn in later that same evening.
    Thomas Gill
    Gill grew up in Langley and graduated from South Whidbey High School in 2001. He currently lives at his parents’ home in Langley while finishing a degree in computer engineering at Kettering University in Michigan. He works in technical support at Whidbey Telecom.
    Gill has spent the past 18 months attending city council meetings and steeping himself in issues facing the city.
    In 2009, his election bid against Sparkman fell short, as did his bid to be appointed to the council position vacated by Jim Recupero earlier this year, a position that went to Fran Abel.
    Gill hopes the third time will be the charm.
    “I’m just hoping to get a fair shake from the council,” he said Thursday. “I’m up to speed on all the goings-on of the council and the city in general.
    “This is just a continuation of what I’ve been trying to do for the past year,” he said, “to get on the council and bring another voice to the proceedings.”
    Gill has definite views on controversial issues.
    He said he would have approved Langley Passage, the 20-lot subdivision in the Edgecliff neighborhood that was rejected by the council this past month, only to be hung up by legal scrutiny.
    Gill said Langley Passage meets all the criteria for a development in the city and should have been approved.
    “I live in the same neighborhood, and see no logical reason to deny it,” he said of the proposed development. He said updates to the area to include sewers, storm drains, sidewalks curbs and gutters “should have been done years ago.”
    “If we don’t do the right thing with that development, we’ll be up to our ears in debt from a lawsuit,” Gill said. “The best idea is to work with the developer to get this finished.”
    As for general development, he said the past few decisions of the largely appointed council have demonstrated a no-growth attitude that doesn’t benefit the city.
    “The city staff and the council seem to be on diametrically opposite ends of the spectrum,” Gill said. “We need to be bringing more people into the city, however it can be done.”
    He said tourism should be more heavily promoted, and that perhaps breaks in taxes and utility fees offered “to encourage people to move here.”
    And he said he would work to provide sewers and sidewalks to everyone in the city.
    “No sidewalks means no respect,” Gill said.
    As for dealing with the city’s budget woes, Gill said he would look to make more cuts in the planning, public works and perhaps the police departments, rather than in the finance department, “which is already overworked.”
    He said that in any case, he would prefer to cut work hours than to lay off more employees.
    “Cutting people makes it difficult to get business done,” he said.

    Regarding the ongoing controversy over Mayor Paul Samuelson’s salary, Gill said that while he may not have structured the office the way it is, the mayor “should be paid for the job he’s doing.”
    “He’s a full-time mayor and deserves full-time compensation,” he added. “It makes perfect sense.”
    Despite its shortcomings, the current mayor-council system of government still works better for Langley than a city manager form, Gill said.
    “I’ve never liked that form of government,” he said. “Right now, the mayor can be a dissenting voice against the council, while a city manager is just a hired employee.”
    In his application letter, Gill said the city “is at a crossroads,” but that it’s not too late for it to develop into a community “that meets the needs of residents for housing, employment and recreation.”
    “I know what it takes to meet these goals,” he said.
    Kathleen Waters
    Waters has an extensive background in management, consulting, teaching and lecturing in the healthcare field, and has co-authored three books on the subject.
    She has owned property on Wharf Street at the Langley Marina, and currently lives in a cabin there, the front half of which serves as the harbormaster’s office.
    Her bid for the city council seat is only her second attempt to serve in city government in any capacity. Earlier this year, she applied for the position of alternate on the Planning Advisory Board which ultimately went to Gail Fleming.
    Waters said she has kept abreast of city issues, and she has been combative at times in debates regarding the business community and planning issues, especially involving the Wharf Street Overlay Plan that was adopted in 2009.
    Waters said she feels her outsider status, combined with her knowledge of the issues, would serve the city well.
    “I think the city council needs a new voice from somebody who hasn’t been an insider in the social or political scene in Langley,” she said Thursday.
    “I’m not steeped in environmentalism or in seeing my constituents as neighbors, and therefore wouldn’t worry about offending them with decisions that they don’t agree with,” she added.
    She said one of her primary goals on the council would be to increase transparency in local government by any means possible, including online and radio coverage of meetings.
    “I’m fully aware that our views on many issues ... are widely disparate,” Waters wrote in her application letter. “My interest in serving on the council is precisely because of our many differences.”
    Waters is in favor of the Langley Passage development, and she said it would be foolish to jeopardize federal funds by delaying the construction of a new public parking lot at the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church at Sixth Street and Camano Avenue.
    She said the city should be allowed to grow in accordance with the Growth Management Act, and that officials should spend more resources on promoting tourism and economic vitality.
    “Let Langley grow as it should, under the law,” Waters said.
    “It’s not good for Langley to have a no-growth attitude,” she added. “We should put more money in that area, and maybe less in parks, until we get stabilized and get Langley back where it belongs.”
    Waters said she would use her talent for research to look for ways to revitalize the city. She said she would put more emphasis on Main Street, a federal program to enhance local signage and image.
    “I want to see the city succeed and return to the kind of economic climate we had in the 1990s and early 2000s,” she said. “I believe its possible to do that with the right people working toward the same goals.”
    Waters said the exact nature of the mayor position should be nailed down before the next election, so that everyone knows what to expect.
    “You can’t ask somebody to run when you don’t know what the position is,” she said. “In fact, we need to take a real look at the whole structure of the city.”
    Waters said that adding her to the table would change what she perceives as a clubbish nature of the current council.
    “They have a big track record of unified voting on every decision they make,” she said. “There’s seldom ever a dissenting comment, if they even hold a discussion. They always seem to vote as a block.”
    “I believe there’s a strong need for a different voice,” Waters wrote in her application letter. “I have a passion for Langley that abides in spite of current and recurring setbacks to the city.”
    Roy Jacobson can be reached at rjacobson@southwhidbeyrecord.com.

  4. New call to cut hours as junior medic collapses, by Serinah Ho, 12/05 (12/06 across dateline) TheStandard.com.hk
    HONG KONG, China - A trainee doctor who remains critical after fainting on the job is being seen as a warning to improve the long working hours of medics.
    The female intern in the orthopedics and traumatology department of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital collapsed while on overnight duty at the call room late Saturday.
    She was sent to the accident and emergency department for resuscitation, and was transferred to the intensive care unit.
    She had epileptic symptoms, and preliminary findings show she has encephalitis due to viral infection.
    Her family recently traveled abroad.
    "We have conducted clinical tests and examinations and are waiting for the results," a hospital spokeswoman said.
    "It is possible the [intern] has been infected by her family who traveled abroad, but we don't have information on her family's current health conditions."
    The trainee takes on overnight duties once every four days.
    "In general, the shift pattern is set according to the established human resources policies with due consideration to the staff's rest and operational needs," the hospital said.
    Ho Pak-leung, former president of the Public Doctors' Association, said the Hospital Authority should address the long working hours.
    "Most doctors, in particular the trainees, have no choice but to work more than 13 hours a day," Ho said.
    Most doctors work consecutively for more than 24 hours at least once a week, he added.
    "This will badly affect doctors' health, and worsen the health of those already suffering from illness," Ho said.
    "They may be infected much more easily in virus-filled hospitals. They may in turn transmit the virus to patients."
    Leung Ka-lau, legislator for the medical sector, said similar incidents may happen if the authority does not regulate working hours.
    "Doctors' health is not protected at all," Leung said.

    A spokesman said the authority is concerned about the issue.
    Acting Secretary for Food and Health Gabriel Leung Cheuk-wai expressed sympathy for the doctor and believes she is receiving the most suitable treatment at the hospital.
    Leung Pak-yin, the authority chief executive since November 8, has vowed to tackle the long working hours of frontline staff through better communication. He stressed the authority has already eased their working time to 65 hours a week.
    The Legislative Council, however, passed a non-binding motion in 2008 urging the government to limit working hours to not more than 44 hours a week.

  5. Illegal immigrant families 'delight' at temporary extension of HGV working hours, 12/05 (12/04) TheSpoof.com (satire)
    CALAIS, France - A traveling family of illegal immigrants awaiting transportation from France to England on a heavy goods vehicle [HGB] are said to be 'delighted' at the government's announcement that it has temporarily relaxed the legal restrictions on the length of time lorry drivers can work.
    The government says hauliers are to be allowed to drive for an extra hour for the next four days to help ease the backlog in delivering 'vital supplies' around the country.
    Family 'spokesperson' 'Tatya' said, 'Amazing! This is great news for us! We were scheduled to be parked up in a freezing cold motorway services car park on an enforced rest half an hour away from our destination.'
    'So rather than waiting for our lorry driver to return from his pursuit of conviction evading sex in a secluded area, we will now have arrived at our Harlesdon whore, sorry, warehouse where we will spend the next ten years working off our transfer fee as a family.'
    Transport Secretary Phillip Hammond warned the traveling immigrants to bring sustenance so that they wouldn't be feasting on the 'vital supplies' of the British people.
    'We would expect them, or anyone else considering the arduous trip, to bring provisions to cover the course of their journey.'
    'There is enough time for them to suckle at the teat of mother Britain, without robbing from us before they have had the decency to show us their grubby little faces.'
    'I recommend peanuts as they are easily packed and are particularly good for energy supply.'
    French 'Immigration Officials' in Calais said the governments announcement saw a significant rise in the number of illegal immigrants they were ignoring as they boarded lorries bound for Britain.
    'All we can say, is this. There has been a vast increase in the amount of things we have not seen.' ...
    The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

12/3-4/2010 – bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments, despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. TWC honors local companies, 12/03 (12/02) Odessa American via oaoa.com
    MIDLAND, Tex. - Basic Energy Services Inc. of Midland was selected as one of five finalists for the 2010 Texas Workforce Employer of the Year award by the Texas Workforce Commission at its annual conference in Dallas.
    The award honors an employer that supports the Texas workforce system’s goal of ensuring that both employers and workers have the resources and skills Texas needs to remain competitive in the 21st century, according to a workforce commission news release.
    Basic joined forces with Workforce Solutions Permian Basin to implement a shared work plan to supplement employee income and reduce the impact of company downsizing.
    [And indeed, Texas has a shared work program - scan down to Texas in our list.]
    The company also participated in the Subsidized Summer Youth Employment Program and collaborated with another oil service company to conduct human resource workshops.
    Meanwhile, Lowes Home Improvement was selected as the local Employer of Excellence. With the assistance of the workforce development board, it hired 150 new employees through the Work in Texas website. Many of the workers had recently lost jobs in the oil industry.
    Workforce Solutions also won two $50,000 awards for its performance. The money will be used to enhance board service programs.
    Workforce Solutions Permian Basin is one of 28 local workforce boards across the state. It serves a 17-county area.

  2. So Much for Momentum, by David Leonhardt, 12/03 New York Times (blog) via economix.blogs.nytimes.com
    NEW YORK, N.Y. - For more than a month now, you could have made a case that the recovery was gaining momentum. Stocks were generally rising. Retail sales over the Thanksgiving weekend were strong. Job gains had been accelerating.
    But you can’t make that case very well any more.
    This morning’s jobs report – the first broad look at the economy’s performance in November — was disappointing and weak.
    Overall employment growth fell to 39,000, from 172,000. Private-sector hiring fell to 50,000 — which isn’t nearly enough to keep up with normal population — from more than 100,000 in each of the previous four months. Average hourly pay rose just 1 cent, to $22.75, the smallest gain in five months. The average length of the workweek remained stuck at 34.3 hours.
    What’s causing this? No one knows, to be honest.

    [This isn't being honest. It's not seeing the nose in front of his face. Companies in profit are stil downsizing and outsourcing. They're still overworking and under-reporting the hours of existing employees. And with the resulting rise of economic insecurity, consumer markets and spending are spiraling downward.]
    But the most likely suspect is the same one that has been hurting the economy for much of this year. Financial crises do terrible damage, and the economic aftershocks from them tend to last longer and be worse than people initially expect.
    [There was and is a financial crisis but Leonhardt has no idea of its true nature. It's a crisis of severe over-concentration of the money supply, otherwise described as a huge overproportion of investment money and underproportion of spending money. It cannot possibly be solved by "helping" the financial sector - helping them only increases their overproportion of the national revenue and income and worsens the crisis. It must be solved by harnessing market forces to curb the financial (saving) sector and grow the consumer (spending) sector. So the rest of Leonhardt's article ("solution") is impotent and irrelevant to the real problem, which is only corrected by harnessing market forces with a shortage of labor, occasioned by war (hence "wartime prosperity") or, much smarter and safer, by workweek reduction with automatic OT-to-jobs conversion.]
    Today’s report is another argument in favor of the Federal Reserve’s attempts to reduce long-term interest rates, through its so-called quantitative easing program. It’s also an argument for making sure that any extension of the Bush tax cuts includes measures that are more likely to create jobs, like business tax cuts, a payroll tax cut and an extension of unemployment benefits.
    [Job creation during the age of robotics? This is nothing but luddism and makework by another name. Far better to share the real, natural, market-demanded but vanishing human work than try to dream up and finance vast amounts of artificial and eco-bashing makework, enough to keep a huge population spinning their wheels for at least 40 hours a week FOREVER.]

  3. More Job Details, by Dave Kansas, 12/03 Wall Street Journal (blog) via blogs.wsj.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C. - Not much positive news in the jobs report, except for one thing: October jobs were revised up to 172,000 from 151,000. Still, more than 15 million people looking for work can’t find any jobs. That dovetails with the Conference Board survey this week that suggested high levels of frustration among job seekers.
    Among other datapoints:
    * Overall work-week was unchanged at 34.3 hours, which is nearly French-like.
    [Except that in France, the 35-hour workweek defines full-time employment and carries with it all full-time benefits.]
    * Hourly earnings inched up one cent to $22.75, which is curious given the rising unemployment rate.
    * About 42% of unemployed Americans (6.3 million people) were out of work for more than six months in November.
    * The broader measure of unemployment, which captures people who have stopped looking for work, remained at 17% in November.

  4. Morning Watch, by Jody Osborne, 12/03 Optionetics.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C. - Futures tumble following disappointing November employment report. Futures were higher ahead of the jobs data with most preliminary reports pointing to a strong report. The major market indices had risen substantially on Wednesday and Thursday, but we could see some selling heading into the weekend.
    Nonfarm payrolls did see gains in November, but with only 39,000 jobs added, results were far below expectations. The ADP Employment report this week showed that private payrolls rose by 93,000, lifting hopes for the employment data. The private payrolls component of this report showed a gain of 50,000, which is also disappointing. The only positive in the release was a 21,000 upward revision to October’s figure to 172,000.
    Economists look at the average workweek for signs that businesses are preparing to hire. This is because a rise in the average workweek shows that businesses are getting all they can out of current employers [sic].
    [Oops, she's got to mean "out of current employees" here, not "current employers." Scary when a "Senior Writer & Options Strategist" doesn't catch this and neither does an editor, if any.]
    Unfortunately, the average workweek remained at 34.3 hours in November with average hours earnings flat when estimates were for a gain of 0.2 percent. The unemployment rate also disappointed, rising 2-tenths to 9.8 percent. This isn’t always a bad thing, since the unemployment rate does tend to rise ahead of payrolls growth thanks to an influx of job hunters.
    The major market indices are still likely to close with gains this week after rallying sharply the past two sessions. The Dow (DJI) has used the 11,000 level as support and is likely to continue to do so. However, the bulls don’t want the Dow to move back to this level after making gains to 11,362 as of Thursday’s close.
    Former Fed President Alan Greenspan had interesting things to say about the economy. Mr. Greenspan told CNBC that monetary policy was working because it pushed stock prices higher. The general idea is that rising stock prices provide an optimistic atmosphere that result in spending by consumers and businesses alike. Unfortunately, this momentum is not flowing into hiring and this is a serious concern for the economy.
    Retail stocks could see some profit taking Friday following strong gains the past few sessions. Retailers benefited from initial strength in holiday shopping, which pushed the Retail HOLDRs (RTH) to $105.56 Thursday. However, thanks to the jobs data, we could see the largest gainers in the sector see profit taking Friday.
    Jody Osborne
    Senior Writer & Options Strategist

  5. Conservation District Office Will Go To 4-Day Work Week, 12/03 NorthCentralOhio.com
    ASHLAND, Oh. - The Ashland County Soil and Water Conservation District Office will go to a four-day work week beginning in January.
    At Thursday's Ashland County Commissioners meeting, Soil and Water Conservation District program administrator Cathy Berg said the office would probably be closed on Fridays at the county's service center on Ohio 60 to reflect slower days in other departments located there and because of budget constraints.

    [If it's for slower days and budget constraints, it's probably not four 10-hour days like Utah, but four 8-hour days, giving us another example of workweek reduction "happening anyway, but not the best way."]
    In other business, the commissioners also authorized a notice for proposals from area auctioneers to conduct a land auction for the county's farmland on Ohio 60 on a selected date in January or February to be held at the Ashland County Service Center.

  6. States [= Jersey parliament] urged: ‘Be careful on the jobs front’. by Harry McRandle, 12/03 ThisIsJersey.com
    BAILIWICK OF JERSEY, Brit.Cmnwlth - More Island businesses expect to make people redundant and cut working hours in 2011 than they did when asked the same questions earlier in the year.
    But they are also finding it easier to get credit now than they have done at any point since the recession started.
    Those are two key findings of a business confidence report published by the Jersey Chamber of Commerce.
    And the Chamber’s president, Ray Shead, said that the figures were further evidence that the States must be careful not to make decisions that could lead to further job losses.
    Chamber members were surveyed on one day in November and their confidence levels in the future have slipped a little since they were last questioned in February. [So let's see. The Isle of Wight is UK but not (separately) Commonwealth. The Isle of Jersey is not UK but is Commonwealth. And the Isle of Man is neither U.K. nor Commonwealth. Hooboy. Why'd they bother switching off pounds, shillings and pence?]

  7. Spaniards shocked by strike of "privileged" controllers, 12/04 (12/05 across dateline) MSN Philippines News via news.ph.msn.com
    MADRID, Spain - Spaniards reacted with shock to a wildcat strike by air traffic controllers who grounded flights during a holiday weekend despite earning an average 200,000 euros a year.
    The strike hit an estimated 300,000 passengers at the start of a long weekend and ended only when Madrid placed controllers under military command and threatened them with jail.
    At the core was a power struggle between controllers and a Socialist government determined to end their "intolerable privileges" during an economic crisis that has pushed the jobless rate to 20 percent.
    At the start of the year Transport Minister Jose Blanco said he wanted to end the air traffic controllers' "incomprehensible advantages".
    According to ministry figures at the time there were 2,300 controllers of whom 135 earned more than 600,000 euros a year ($795000 as of 11/05) and 713 between 360,000 and 540,000 euros because of generous overtime arrangements.
    "It is intolerable that a public enterprise should give millionaire salaries to its employees," Blanco said.
    In a decree in February he took aim at their salaries by limiting total overtime and the hourly overtime rate, which had been up to triple normal pay rates.
    On Friday, the government approved a further reduction in overtime hours and ended early retirement for controllers at the age of 52 as it outlined plans to partially privatise airport operator AENA.
    As a result, controllers saw their annual salaries decline abruptly from 334,000 euros to 200,000 euros.
    Their situation won little sympathy, though, in a country hard hit by the economic crisis.
    "It is not right they should be demanding wage increases when there are so many people out of work. They are privileged," said 31-year-old Nouria Sanchez, whose flight from Madrid to Tenerife was cancelled.
    "I think most Spaniards are not with them now," Sanchez said.
    Another stranded passenger, 49-year-old Consuelo Sayd, agreed.
    "They earn more than the head of government, more than the ministers! A lot of people have no salary, or no work, and they allow themselves the luxury of ruining people's dreams," she said.
    Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who reduced his own salary by 15 percent this year as part of an austerity plan to cut the public deficit, had a salary of 78,000 euros in 2010.
    The average gross annual salary in Spain is 21,000 euros, half of that in Britain, the Netherlands or Germany, according to a study by Aedco and the IESE Business school.
    Controllers also chose a difficult moment for their strike: with Monday and Wednesday public holidays many people take off Tuesday too and enjoy a five-day break.
    "We cannot allow this blackmail in which citizens are used as hostages," Blanco fumed Friday evening.
    The press, too, reacted angrily.
    By their attitude the controllers "are losing the argument and the battle for public opinion," said the leading centre-left daily El Pais. 
    The centre-right paper La Vanguardia spoke of "intolerable extorsion," and the right-wing ABC mocked the controllers' "imaginary illnesses", alluding to the fact that the strikers had called in sick en masse.
    On the Internet, radio Cadena Ser showed a photo of several air traffic controllers dining in a restaurant with the caption: "Those responsible for the chaos have a glass in Madrid."
    Facebook groups with 10,000 members called for the air traffic controllers' removal.
    Air traffic controllers interviewed by El Pais on condition of anonymity defended the action.
    "We wanted to defend our rights," said one controller.
    "We are victims too," said another.
    [Ah, the age-old scramble for victimhood, and sympathy.]
    "Now we are being shown as the baddies in the film but the fault is the government's."
    A third asked for a "thousand pardons" from affected passengers.
    Air traffic controllers were unavailable for direct comment late on Saturday.
    The government stipulated Friday that the maximum time worked by air traffic controllers was 1,670 hours a year -- just over 32 hours a week -- but said that this total did not include non-aeronautical work.
    A spokesman for the air traffic controllers' union said in a telephone interview on Friday that the rules meant time taken for paternity or sick leave would not count within the maximum working hours.
    Controllers had to work in the right conditions to ensure the safety of planes, he warned.

12/1-2/2010 – bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments, despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Va. government reform commission issues recommendations, 12/01 AP via Tasley Eastern Shore News via DelMarVaNow.com
    RICHMOND, Va. — The Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring submitted 133 recommendations to Gov. Bob McDonnell on how he can improve state government operations in Virginia. McDonnell’s office released the recommendations Wednesday. Among the recommendations were:
    —End Virginia’s 76-year monopoly on retail liquor sales. The recommendation says the state would invest “over half a billion dollars into transportation” projects.
    —Require state agencies to review mandates placed on localities to eliminate or suspend those considered obsolete or can’t be implemented.
    —Implement a four-day, 10-hour work week for several agencies. The recommendation expands an existing pilot program in the Virginia Department of Forestry.
    —Promote the use of telecommuting and alternative work schedules for public employees. The recommendation said 48% of public employees would qualify for an alternative work schedule.
    —Encourage agencies to offer health and retirement benefits to public employees who work a minimum of 32 hours a week. The recommendation says agencies could reduce salaries while maintaining employee work experience.
    —Make high-deductible health plans more attractive to public employees as a way to reduce health care costs.
    —Develop strategies to implement the 79 recommendations from the Operational Review Task Force that looked at ways to trim expenses ranging from travel to the use of copiers and fax machines.
    [And the Washington Post version -]
    McDonnell's reform commission recommends 133 proposals, by Anita Kumar, 12/02 WashingtonPost.com
    RICHMOND, Va. — Gov. Bob McDonnell's reform commission sent its final report to him Wednesday, recommending 133 proposals to shave money from the state budget while making government more user-friendly and efficient.
    Proposals include: privatizing the state's liquor stores; encouraging the use of high-deductible health insurance plans; telecommuting; allowing employees to work 10-hour days four times a week; and encouraging Q-status, which provides an option for state employees to receive health benefits and retirement if they work a minimum of 32 hours a week.
    The full report can be *found here.
    The commission did not release estimated financial savings for the recommendations.
    McDonnell's staff previously released estimated savings for his proposal to privatize the state's liquor system, but has since abandoned that plan and will revise it. His staff also previously announced that the state could save $3.19 million by moving 25 agencies to four-day work weeks and closing hundreds of state-owned buildings.
    On Wednesday, the only new estimate the staff released was an estimated $115.2 million in savings to reduce the overall budget by 2 percent.
    McDonnell will review the recommendations in the coming weeks to determine which ones he will implement himself and which ones will require legislative action. "In this tough economy, it is essential to find ways to save time and money,'' he said.

  2. LCQ3: Standard working hours, 12/02  7thSpace Interactive (press release) via 7thspace.com
    HONG KONG, China - Hong Kong (HKSAR) - Following is a question by the Hon Ip Wai-ming and a reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, in the Legislative Council today (December 1):
    Question :
    Some members of the labour sector have pointed out that, at present, it is very common for employees in Hong Kong to undertake overtime work without compensation, and this situation has even spread to various sectors and industries; and with the implementation of the Minimum Wage Ordinance, it is believed that this problem will aggravate.As it is stated in the 2010-2011 Policy Address that the Government will embark on a policy study on standard working hours, various sectors of the community have expressed concern about and attached importance to the matter.In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a) whether the authorities have conducted any investigation, statistical survey or study on the working hours of local employees in the past three years to find out the average daily working hours of employees in various industries and hours of overtime work without compensation, etc; if they have, of a breakdown of the average daily working hours and hoursof overtime work performed without compensation in various industries by industry section according to the results of the investigation, statistical survey or study; if not, whether the authorities will expeditiously carry out such investigation, statistical survey or study so as to obtain more data as soon as possible;
    (b) given that the Secretary for Labour and Welfare had mentioned at the meeting of the Legislative Council on October 29 this year that its policy study on standard working hours would be conducted at three levels: first, to find out more about overseas experience; second, to collect data on the labour force distribution in Hong Kong and the hours of work in different industries and trades; third, to communicate with stakeholders, of the timetable, specific arrangements and details of the study to be conducted by the authorities at these three levels; and
    (c) of the estimated number of people required to be specifically tasked to handle the study on standard working hours; whether the Government will consider setting up a task force, inviting the participation of academics and the stakeholders concerned, and conducting public consultation on the introduction of legislation for standard working hours; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and whether the authorities will regularly report to this Council and the Labour Advisory Board on the progress in the course of the study, so that the public and the labour sector can be kept informed of the progress of the study and give their views?
    It is the Administration's established policy to progressively improve employees' rights and benefits in a way that strikes a reasonable balance between employers' and employees' interests and which is commensurate with the pace of Hong Kong's socio-economic development.
    Standard working hours is a complex issue. At present, employers, employees and various sectors of the community have divergent views on whether standard working hours should be introduced in Hong Kong. As the issue would have far-reaching implications for Hong Kong's society and economy, we must be prudent. The Chief Executive has already undertaken in his Policy Address that the Administration would embark on a policy study on the issue.
    My reply to the three parts of the question raised by the Hon Ip Wai-ming is set out below:
    (a) The Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) conducted a special enquiry on "Patterns of hours of work of employees" through the General Household Survey during April to June 2006 and January to June 2008 respectively.The enquiry collected information on the contractual hours of work in respect of employees working in the non-government sector, and the average hours of work as well as the average hours of overtime work performed by these employees during the seven days before enumeration.The findings from the two enquiries showed that the overall average hours of work had decreased slightly.The average hours of work and the average hours of paid and unpaid overtime work of employees in the non-government sector during the seven days before enumeration are at Table 1 and Table 2.
    The above surveys conducted by C&SD provide us with a brief understanding of the working hours situation of employees in Hong Kong.Nevertheless, as the surveys were not conducted for the purpose of studying standard working hours, some statistics necessary for the study [eg. actual hours of work analysed by employees' monthly income, detailed information on hours of work of individual industries (in particular small and medium enterprises) and occupations, change in employees' pattern of hours of work after the implementation of statutory minimum wage, etc] were not available.As such, we need to discuss with C&SD and the Economic Analysis and Business Facilitation Unit on how to further collect necessary statistics to better support the basis of the study.
    (b) The study will proceed on multiple fronts.First, we will study the experience of other places in implementing standard working hours or regulating working hours.Second, as stated in part (a) of the reply, we need to conduct in-depth analyses of, and collect statistics on, the current situation in Hong Kong, so as to get a good grasp of the details of hours of work of the working population and in different industries.Since the implementation of statutory minimum wage should have an impact on the labour market and working hours arrangement, we need to collect, understand and analyse these important statistics fully.Third, we will engage stakeholders, including the relevant Panel of the Legislative Council, the Labour Advisory Board, chambers of commerce, trade unions, employers' associations, labour groups and community members, etc.
    As we are currently mapping out the framework of the study, we will not be able to set out the exact timetable at this stage. We understand the concerns over the issue of standard working hours and have already started the ball rolling.
    (c) We will re-deploy manpower internally for the study on standard working hours. We will closely monitor the progress of the study and its workload and will re-deploy or seek additional manpower resources as appropriate.
    We will maintain dialogue with stakeholders in the process of the study, consult the relevant Panel of the Legislative Council and the Labour Advisory Board, and report on the progress of the study at an appropriate time. Following is a question by the Hon Ip Wai-ming and a reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, in the Legislative Council today (December 1):
    Question :
    Some members of the labour sector have pointed out that, at present, it is very common for employees in Hong Kong to undertake overtime work without compensation, and this situation has even spread to various sectors and industries; and with the implementation of the Minimum Wage Ordinance, it is believed that this problem will aggravate. As it is stated in the 2010-2011 Policy Address that the Government will embark on a policy study on standard working hours, various sectors of the community have expressed concern about and attached importance to the matter. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a) whether the authorities have conducted any investigation, statistical survey or study on the working hours of local employees in the past three years to find out the average daily working hours of employees in various industries and hours of overtime work without compensation, etc; if they have, of a breakdown of the average daily working hours and hours of overtime work performed without compensation in various industries by industry section according to the results of the investigation, statistical survey or study; if not, whether the authorities will expeditiously carry out such investigation, statistical survey or study so as to obtain more data as soon as possible;
    (b) given that the Secretary for Labour and Welfare had mentioned at the meeting of the Legislative Council on October 29 this year that its policy study on standard working hours would be conducted at three levels: first, to find out more about overseas experience; second, to collect data on the labour force distribution in Hong Kong and the hours of work in different industries and trades; third, to communicate with stakeholders, of the timetable, specific arrangements and details of the study to be conducted by the authorities at these three levels; and
    (c) of the estimated number of people required to be specifically tasked to handle the study on standard working hours; whether the Government will consider setting up a task force, inviting the participation of academics and the stakeholders concerned, and conducting public consultation on the introduction of legislation for standard working hours; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and whether the authorities will regularly report to this Council and the Labour Advisory Board on the progress in the course of the study, so that the public and the labour sector can be kept informed of the progress of the study and give their views?
    It is the Administration's established policy to progressively improve employees' rights and benefits in a way that strikes a reasonable balance between employers' and employees' interests and which is commensurate with the pace of Hong Kong's socio-economic development.
    Standard working hours is a complex issue.At present, employers, employees and various sectors of the community have divergent views on whether standard working hours should be introduced in Hong Kong.As the issue would have far-reaching implications for Hong Kong's society and economy, we must be prudent.The Chief Executive has already undertaken in his Policy Address that the Administration would embark on a policy study on the issue.
    My reply to the three parts of the question raised by the Hon Ip Wai-ming is set out below:
    (a) The Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) conducted a special enquiry on "Patterns of hours of work of employees" through the General Household Survey during April to June 2006 and January to June 2008 respectively.The enquiry collected information on the contractual hours of work in respect of employees working in the non-government sector, and the average hours of work as well as the average hours of overtime work performed by these employees during the seven days before enumeration.The findings from the two enquiries showed that the overall average hours of work had decreased slightly.The average hours of work and the average hours of paid and unpaid overtime work of employees in the non-government sector during the seven days before enumeration are at Table 1 and Table 2.
    The above surveys conducted by C&SD provide us with a brief understanding of the working hours situation of employees in Hong Kong.Nevertheless, as the surveys were not conducted for the purpose of studying standard working hours, some statistics necessary for the study [eg. actual hours of work analysed by employees' monthly income, detailed information on hours of work of individual industries (in particular small and medium enterprises) and occupations, change in employees' pattern of hours of work after the implementation of statutory minimum wage, etc] were not available.As such, we need to discuss with C&SD and the Economic Analysis and Business Facilitation Unit on how to further collect necessary statistics to better support the basis of the study.
    (b) The study will proceed on multiple fronts.First, we will study the experience of other places in implementing standard working hours or regulating working hours.Second, as stated in part (a) of the reply, we need to conduct in-depth analyses of, and collect statistics on, the current situation in Hong Kong, so as to get a good grasp of the details of hours of work of the working population and in different industries.Since the implementation of statutory minimum wage should have an impact on the labour market and working hours arrangement, we need to collect, understand and analyse these important statistics fully.Third, we will engage stakeholders, including the relevant Panel of the Legislative Council, the Labour Advisory Board, chambers of commerce, trade unions, employers' associations, labour groups and community members, etc.
    As we are currently mapping out the framework of the study, we will not be able to set out the exact timetable at this stage.We understand the concerns over the issue of standard working hours and have already started the ball rolling.
    (c) We will re-deploy manpower internally for the study on standard working hours. We will closely monitor the progress of the study and its workload and will re-deploy or seek additional manpower resources as appropriate.
    We will maintain dialogue with stakeholders in the process of the study, consult the relevant Panel of the Legislative Council and the Labour Advisory Board, and report on the progress of the study at an appropriate time.
    Source: HKSAR Government

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April 2-30/2010 +May 1
March 3-31/2010 +Apr.1
February 2-28/2010 +Mar.1-2
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Oct.27-31/2004 + Nov.1
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July 20-30/2004
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July 13-16/2004
July 1-12/2004
June 16-30/2004
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