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Timesizing News, August/2012
[Commentary] ©2012 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Harvard Sq PO Box 117, Cambridge MA 02238 USA 617-623-8080

8/31/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Reduced layoffs — that would be worth celebrating, opinion by Jack Hoffman, vtdigger.org
    MONTPELIER, Vt., USA - The Labor Day holiday is intended to celebrate working people. But this Labor Day there are still many Vermont workers who are out of work. Between February 2008 and October 2009, Vermont’s private sector employers eliminated more than 14,000 jobs in response to the recession. Since then, they’ve added back about 10,000 jobs, but are still below pre-recession levels.
    Unemployment is hard on everyone. It’s a loss to employers who have spent time and money to train their employees. Idled workers lose job skills and struggle to provide for their families. Communities suffer when too many people don’t have regular paychecks and can’t support the local economy.
    To lessen the economic costs and the human suffering from unemployment, Vermont could do more to promote alternatives to laying off workers when the economy goes soft. Work-sharing is one such alternative.
    Layoffs ought to be a last resort, not the first response to economic storm clouds. We all benefit when we have a stable work force and Vermonters feel that their labor is valued.
    Instead of using unemployment funds to compensate people who aren’t working, the money is used to help businesses to keep all — or most — of their employees during an economic slowdown. The employees maintain their skills and continue to be productive, and the employers have a stable workforce that’s ready as soon as the economy turns around.
    About half of the states, including Vermont, allow work-sharing, but it’s a practice that should be adopted by more employers. The federal Department of Labor recently announced that grants were available to states to help them promote their work-share programs. Vermont could be eligible for just over $200,000 if it applies for the new federal funds.
    We’re coming up on the fifth anniversary of the start of the Great Recession. Although we clearly have not recovered yet from the last collapse of the economy, it’s not too soon to start planning for the next one.
    Vermont has taken some important steps to rebuild its unemployment insurance fund. The Legislature raised the base salary on which employers’ contributions are calculated, and going forward those contributions will increase with inflation. Having a healthy unemployment fund in the future won’t just benefit those who get laid off through no fault of their own, it also will help other businesses that depend on Vermonters with money in their pockets to buy local goods and services.
    Using some of those unemployment funds to keep Vermonters in their jobs during the next recession would be another big step forward in state labor policy. Layoffs ought to be a last resort, not the first response to economic storm clouds. We all benefit when we have a stable work force and Vermonters feel that their labor is valued. As we enjoy this Labor Day weekend, let’s commit ourselves to having more Vermonters keep their jobs during economic slowdowns, giving them something to celebrate on future Labor Days.
    Jack Hoffman is a senior policy analyst at Public Assets Institute, a non-profit, non-partisan organization focusing on state fiscal issues and based in Montpelier.

  2. Analysis: State shouldn't be too quick to reject or implement work share, by Lesley Weidenbener, Franklin College Journalism Dept. via TheStatehouseFile.com
    INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., USA – Indiana Democrats are calling on Gov. Mitch Daniels to implement an unemployment initiative called “work share,” even though the Republican’s administration already has dismissed the idea.
    Work share is a program meant to save jobs for employees who mightier [sic] otherwise be laid off, although it has plenty of critics. That makes the idea ripe for study – not for knee jerk decisions, whether they are to implement the program or reject it.
    Essentially, work share allows employers facing financial problems to cut the wages and hours of either all employees or a single department. Then the state’s unemployment insurance agency pays a percentage of each worker’s lost income. It’s a sort of partial unemployment program.
    In a letter the House Democratic caucus sent to the Republican governor on Thursday, lawmakers said the “benefits of this program are obvious.”
    “Business owners can temporarily reduce labor costs, but keep the skilled employees that they have already trained without the risk of losing them permanently,” Democrats wrote. “Workers will be able to keep their jobs, and they will be assured of maintaining their current level of benefits to continue supporting their families. In addition, we will be able to lessen the strain on our social services network, and save millions in unemployment insurance funds.”
    The Daniels administration rejects such claims. A spokesman for the Indiana Department of Workforce Development recently told TheStatehouseFile.com that similar programs in other states have attracted few companies and employees.
    And the spokesman, Joe Frank, said work-share doesn’t help companies make more money to sustain salaries in the future [yes it does, because it sustains employment and consumer spending, instead of downsizing both] and won’t help employees get the training they may need to find a better job if they are eventually laid off.
    [But it's a halfway step to Timesizing which converts chronic overtime into on-the-job training, thereby providing laid-off employees with the training they do need to find better jobs that are guaranteed at the completion of the training.]
    “Work sharing in these types of cases simply has the effect of delaying the inevitable job loss,” Frank said.
    [And what's wrong with delaying job loss? Which, btw, certainly is not inevitable if we cut hours even deeper and share around even more of the natural market-demanded employment. Work sharing also delays weakening consumer spending - and all the other kinds of weaker markets which that leads to!]
    “We suspect some of these types of issues are why only about 27,000 folks nationwide are taking part in this program and why less than half of the states are even offering it.”
    [No again. Relatively few folks nationwide are taking advantage of this program and less than half the states "even" offering it because it's breathtakingly underpublicized and because people like Joe Frank who are supposedly in charge of workforce development don't seem to have a clue what workforce development requires in the age of robotics, like Number One, decontrol the "full time" American workweek which has been frozen at the precomputer level of 40 hours since 1940.]
    The conflicting opinions are no surprise. Democrats pushed last year for a law to require the state to implement work-share but Republicans who control the House and Senate rejected the ideas.
    [The Republican Convention speeches indicate that Republican leaders have their heads stuck in 1912. Unfortunately, few Democrats are beyond 1970.]
    Still, the program probably deserves some study.
    [Yeah, gosh, maybe it does, considering Germany just breezed through the last downturn with its version of work-share ("Kurzarbeit"") and with the record low unemployment that resulted, and this continued until southern Europe started to suffer from the crappy mega "investment" instruments that Wall Street and their Deutsche Bank fans pushed onto Greece-Italy-Spain&al. during the Bush regime.]
    Those who support and oppose work share are so far apart in their analyses of the program that the facts are almost certainly some place in between.
    [Ironic. When the GOP still had some gray cells, Republicans supported worksharing.]
    And currently, the federal government is offering Indiana a $2 million grant to launch a work-share initiative. Overall, the U.S. Department of Labor is making $100 million available nationwide for such programs.
    “Establishing or expanding work-sharing programs nationwide will help business owners better weather hard economic times by temporarily reducing their labor costs while still keeping their existing skilled employees,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis in a press release about the grants. “This program is a win-win for businesses and employees alike.”
    Because Indiana didn’t pass enabling legislation, it can’t use the grant without administrative action by Daniels. Frank said the DWD isn’t interested. And that’s what prompted the House Democrats’ letter.
    But Democrats have missed other opportunities to try to push for work share options.
    Just last week, DWD Commissioner Scott Sanders appeared before the Unemployment Insurance Oversight Committee, a group of lawmakers, business and labor leaders who are charged with considering unemployment issues and legislation.
    Democrats peppered Sanders with questions about the fund’s viability and the agency’s timeliness and accuracy in providing benefits to unemployed Hoosiers. But the group didn’t push the commissioner on why the agency opposed work-share.
    Then after Sanders’ presentation ended, the group’s chairman – Sen. Phil Boots, R-Crawfordsville – announced the committee had no additional meetings planned. One Democrat asked if the group would consider work-share issues. Boots said no and no one objected.
    The study committee’s job is to consider just those kinds of questions and yet Democrats didn’t push – at least not publicly – to put work-share on the commission’s agenda.
    That’s unfortunate. At a time when Republicans and Democrats alike say there’s no more important issue than jobs and the economy, public officials from both parties should be willing to objectively consider all the possibilities. Work share is just one of them and officials should at least explore whether it’s a good one.
    Lesley Weidenbener is managing editor of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

  3. Short time work, ARACityRadio.com
    LUXEMBURG - The number of companies working reduced hours is rising. There are now 35 companies which have requested permission to scale back work. Around 4 200 workers are affected.
    Each month 2 or three more companies seek government help to compensate workers on short time.
    Companies involved however say the scheme is preferable to having to make workers redundant, as it allows them to keep skills which could be in short supply if the economy rebounds.

8/30/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. US Labor Secretary highlights RI work share effort, by Erika Niedowski, (8/29 late pickup) AP via Boston.com
    CENTRAL FALLS, R.I.—The Obama administration's top labor official said Wednesday she hopes to expand nationally a work sharing program long used in Rhode Island that is designed to prevent layoffs during tough economic times.
    During a visit to a manufacturer in Central Falls, U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis highlighted the success of the WorkShare program, calling it a "win-win" for both workers and employees.
    The program, which has been used in Rhode Island for 20 years, allows companies to reduce the hours of employees, rather than lay them off. The workers then collect partial unemployment to make up for lost wages.
    Solis said that allows firms to retain their skilled workers, preventing them from spending time and resources retraining once the economy is strong enough to allow rehiring.
    "In tough economic times, it makes a lot of sense to us," Solis said during a tour of the Safety Flag Co. of America, which manufactures reflective apparel, flags, signs and other items. "We're trying to use this as a model to go out to other states."
    Democratic U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, who authored legislation that provides federal support to existing work sharing programs and helps more states develop them, announced Wednesday that Rhode Island is getting $330,000 for the effort. The state will get millions more in federal reimbursements for unemployment insurance costs already paid out by the state, according to Reed's office.
    State officials say WorkShare has helped prevent more than 15,000 layoffs since 2007. Rhode Island has the country's second-highest unemployment rate, 10.8 percent.
    Safety Flag owner Norman Bernson said Wednesday he would have had to let go about six workers but, instead, under the WorkShare program, he cut the hours of all 26 of his employees -- in some cases up to 10 or 15 hours a week.
    "It's a lot better than laying people off," he said.
    Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have similar programs.
    During a separate visit to the Blackstone Valley Community Action Program in Pawtucket on Wednesday, Solis also announced a $1.1 million grant for a workforce development program for young workers, YouthBuild. The grant is among $75 million in national YouthBuild awards announced by Solis.
    Appearing with the secretary in Central Falls, state Department of Labor and Training Director Charles Fogarty also said he is "hopeful" his department will be able to rehire, with the help of federal Labor Department funds, eight of the 67 workers laid off at his agency last month.
    The state already rehired seven. The federal government allowed Rhode Island to redirect about $500,000 in existing federal funds to pay the workers.

  2. UPDATE 1-German jobless rises as euro crisis bites, By Michelle Martin, Reuters.com
    * Seasonally-adjusted jobless rises 9,000 in August
    * Labour Office cites impact of slowing German economy
    * Unemployment still near post-reunification low
    BERLIN, Germany - German joblessness rose for a fifth month running in August, the latest in a string of disappointing data that adds to evidence Europe's largest economy is feeling the effects of the euro zone crisis.
    Unemployment still remains close to a post-reunification low, but the Federal Labour Office acknowledged that slowing growth was beginning to take its toll on what has been one of Europe's most resilient jobs markets.
    [So Merkel needs to open her mind, realize that Kurzarbeit is not temporary but permanent in the Age of Robotics, establish a nationwide workweek max of 40 or 35 - it doesn't matter where you start as long as you're MOVING it DOWN - and start moving it down. No way is there any permanently valid workweek under conditions of constant injection of worksaving technology - without wiping out customers for the massive output of said technology,]
    Gross domestic product (GDP) growth slowed to 0.3 percent in the second quarter as companies, nervous about the debt crisis sweeping southern euro zone states, cut back on investments.
    Many economists are expecting GDP to fall in the third quarter of the year, with Germany possibly even falling into a technical recession - defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction - in the latter half of 2012.
    "The labour market is losing its momentum. That is not surprising given economic developments over the winter as unemployment is a lagging indicator. Currently the worsening sovereign debt crisis is adding to that," said Commerzbank economist Eckart Tuchtfeld.
    The Labour Office said the seasonally-adjusted jobless total had risen by 9,000 in August, broadly in line with expectations, pushing the number of people out of work to 2.901 million, its highest level since November last year.
    Data released in August showed imports, exports and industrial orders all shrinking, while business and investor sentiment surveys dropped and the country's private sector shrank for a fourth straight month.
    Big German companies like Metro, the world's No.4 retailer, Lufthansa and Deutsche Bank are slashing thousands of jobs.
    Others like Opel, the German unit of U.S. automaker General Motors, and steelmaker ThyssenKrupp, are returning to "Kurzarbeit", a government-subsidised short-time work scheme that was used widely by German industry during the global financial crisis in 2009.
    Labour Office head Frank-Juergen Weise said slower economic growth was beginning to show through, with labour market indicators developing "increasingly weakly".
    Rising jobless figures could become a headache for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who faces an election next year, and may reduce the willingness of average Germans to continue to bail out southern euro partners like Greece.
    Still, the vast majority of countries in Europe would be overjoyed to have a labour market like that of Germany.
    In Greece and Spain roughly one in four people is unemployed. In Germany, the unemployment rate held steady at 6.8 percent in August, unchanged from July, and far below a June reading of 11.2 percent for the euro zone as a whole.
    Combined with data on Wednesday which showed German inflation accelerated by 2.0 percent in August, the increase in the number of people out of work puts a dampener on expectations that domestic demand will boost the traditionally export-driven German economy as the euro zone crisis and a global slowdown hurt demand for its high-quality goods.
    The strength of Germany's labour market, a product of structural reforms and years of wage restraint, has been fundamental in fuelling demand.
    "Looking ahead, however, it is doubtful whether private consumption can really take over the baton as main growth driver for the German economy," said Carsten Brzeski, an economist at ING.
    "Today's numbers provide further evidence that the labour market is gradually losing steam and that the positive impact on the economy should peter out towards the end of the year."

  3. ThyssenKrupp Nirosta Shortens Working Hours on Weak Orders, by Tino Andresen, BusinessWeek.com
    [Weak orders? So reactivate and fund more customers with natural market-demanded employment divided into more jobs at even shorter hours. There's nothing sacred about current concepts of "full time" employment. They're nothing but historical accidents, considering that they started at over 80 hours a week prior to 1840. And drop your obsolete ideas about "hard" work in the sense of long hours - there's no way we humans can compete with our own 24-7 robots in the long-hours department, and continued trying will only keep overconcentrating employment and earnings and leaving us and our robots without anyone to buy all the stuff our robots are churning out days, nights and weekends.]
    BOCHUM, Germany - ThyssenKrupp Nirosta GmbH will shorten working hours at its Bochum plant in Germany from September because of weak orders.
    “ThyssenKrupp Nirosta expects short-time working to be used only as a short-term measure” agreed with the works council, the company said today in a statement.
    Monica Soffritti, a spokeswoman for the company, declined to give a more precise period or the amount by which production will be reduced when contacted by phone. About 456 employees, or 11 percent of the unit’s staff, are affected.
    ThyssenKrupp Nirosta is part of ThyssenKrupp’s Inoxum Group which Outokumpu Oyj (OUT1V), a Finish maker of stainless steel, agreed to buy on Jan. 31 in a deal valuing the German unit at about 2.7 billion euros ($3.4 billion). The Espoo, Finland-based company said last week that it received a European Union antitrust complaint, a so-called statement of objections, over the plan to create Europe’s largest maker of the alloy.
    ThyssenKrupp, which would retain a 29.9 percent stake in the business, still expects to close the deal by the end of 2012.
    The group’s ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe AG unit introduced shortened shifts in August due to weak orders. The measure affected production sites in Duisburg-Hamborn, Duisburg- Huettenheim, Bochum, Dortmund and the Siegerland area.
    Reduced shifts for the unit are expected to remain in place until the end of the year, ThyssenKrupp said last month. About 12 percent of 17,500 workers are affected.
    To contact the reporter on this story: Tino Andresen in Dusseldorf at tandresen1@bloomberg.net
    To contact the editor responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at wkennedy3@bloomberg.net

    [Another version -]
    DJ ThyssenKrupp to Start Short-Time Work at German Plant in Sept, Futures and Commodity Market News via futures.tradingcharts.com
    FRANKFURT, Germany - German steel manufacturer ThyssenKrupp AG (TKA.XE) will begin reduced working hours at its Bochum plant in Germany from September, it said Thursday, citing weak demand.
    The ThyssenKrupp Nirosta GmbH plant in Bochum produces stainless steel and about 456 employees will be affected by the measure. Reduced working hours won't be implemented at other stainless-steel plants although the company introduced shorter hours for employees in other European steel plants in early August.
    "From today's viewpoint, ThyssenKrupp Nirosta sees short-time work as a temporary adjustment measure," the company said.
    Short-time work is a German program to avoid job losses, in which the state compensates employees for unworked hours.
    Nirosta belongs to the stainless steel business that will be sold to Finland's Outokumpu Oyj (OUT1V.HE).
    Write to the Frankfurt Bureau at djnews.frankfurt@dowjones.com

8/29/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. New: RI Receives $330000 for Work Program, GoLocalProv.com
    PROVIDENCE, R.I., USA - U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis today joined U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressman Jim Langevin and David Cicilline and Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training Director Charlie Fogarty for a tour of Safety Flag Company of America and a discussion on the latest efforts to energize U.S. manufacturing, prevent layoffs, and help businesses maintain a skilled workforce.
    Thanks to a new law written by Senator Reed, Rhode Island will receive a $330,000 grant to improve its short-time compensation/layoff prevention program, commonly referred to as “WorkShare.”
    Rhode Island will also receive millions more in federal reimbursements for costs that were previously paid by the state. The money was made available through the bipartisan Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which Senator Reed helped write and President Obama signed into law in February.
    Work sharing is designed to help businesses better weather hard economic times by temporarily reducing their labor costs while still keeping their existing skilled employees on the payroll. Eligible workers may receive a portion of Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits to make up for lost wages while their hours are reduced. The program saves taxpayers by reducing unemployment and gives companies the flexibility to reduce hours instead of their workforce, helping them save on rehiring costs while employees keep their jobs.
    Safety Flag Company of America is a family-owned business that has been manufacturing high-visibility and reflective products in Rhode Island since 1953. They have 26 employees and successfully utilized WorkShare to avoid layoffs and have since returned to full staffing levels.
    “Rhode Island’s cost-effective WorkShare program saves jobs and benefits taxpayers, businesses, and workers. This new grant will help promote business-state partnerships to prevent layoffs, help more workers earn a steady paycheck, and allow companies to save when they’re forced to temporarily scale back. This is a bridge to better days and a smart alternative to mass-layoffs,” said Reed, who first proposed work sharing legislation in 2009 as a policy to help protect against future recessions. “This remains a difficult economy and we need to do everything we can to help create jobs, save jobs, and give people an opportunity to earn a living. This voluntary program is a smart investment in preventing future layoffs, making recessions less severe, and helping businesses improve when the economy bounces back.”
    “Because of the Rhode Island WorkShare program, Rhode Island manufacturers like Safety Flag have been able to keep workers on the payroll during tough times. We applaud Senator Reed for bringing this successful layoff aversion program to the national stage,” said Charlie Fogarty, Director of the RI Department of Labor and Training.
    Already Rhode Island and 21 states and the District of Columbia have implemented similar programs, saving over 365,000 jobs since 2009. 
    Under Reed’s law, the federal government will provide an estimated $500 million for business-state partnerships nationwide to help prevent layoffs, including nearly $100 million in grants to implement, improve, and promote work sharing programs that was made available to states this month.
    According to DLT statistics, WorkShare prevented 12,485 layoffs in Rhode Island from 2008 to 2010. Under the new law, during the next three years the state will be relieved of all work sharing payments provided it meets all requirements. If these provisions would have been in place over the previous three years, Rhode Island would have saved an estimated $36 million in state funding. Since the law was enacted in February, Rhode Island has paid out over $2 million in work sharing benefits. Thanks to Reed’s law, the state will be fully reimbursed for those expenditures.
    The 22 states that currently have STC programs include: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, and Washington. Additionally, Michigan’s Republican Governor, Rick Snyder, signed a work sharing law this summer that is scheduled to take effect in 2013.

  2. District Finalizes Furlough Days - Redondo Beach - The Redondo Beach Board of Education finalizes plans for at least four furlough days for all staff - This will be the first time in this budget crisis the district has instituted furloughs, by Nicole Mooradian, CA Patch via redondobeach.patch.com
    REDONDO BEACH, Calif., USA - During its Tuesday meeting, the Redondo Beach Board of Education regretfully approved furlough days for the upcoming school year in Redondo Beach Unified School District—the first the district has experienced in recent memory.
    [But if the wealthy want to continue their "tax revolt," better a few furlough days for all than total jobcuts for a few, and a few more, and a few more... = better timesizing than downsizing, cuz you can't get upsizing (growth) by downsizing.]
    After four public hearings that were opened and closed without public comment, the school board affirmed multiple memoranda of understanding between the district and the Redondo Beach Teachers Association, as well as with the California School Employees Association, calling for furloughs.
    The agreement with the RBTA, which was hammered out earlier this month, calls for five furlough days, while the agreement with the CSEA calls for four furlough days. Additionally, confidential classified employees of the district must take five furlough days, and classified and certificated management in the district must take six furlough days.
    "(The agreements for furlough days) were not easy … I think everyone would agree that this is a catastrophic situation," said Assistant Superintendent Nancy Billinger.
    The district decided it was necessary to implement the furlough days to help close a $2 million budget shortfall caused by cuts at the state level. Measure Q, which the school board last month voted to place on the November ballot, will also help ease the district's financial crunch by paying for new classroom and solar technology, among other capital improvements.
    Bond monies cannot be used to pay for teacher salaries.
    Despite the furlough days and Measure Q, teachers and other district employees could see up to a total of 17 furlough days depending on the outcome of two statewide tax initiatives on the November ballot.
    "We are going to be spending a tremendous amount of time and effort working toward the passage of Prop. 30," RBTA President Monica Joyce told the school board on Tuesday. "Our teachers cannot afford 17 furlough days, and our students cannot afford 17 furlough days."
    If neither proposition passes, "the cuts will be automatic and catastrophic to Redondo Beach," Joyce warned.
    The two measures on the ballot—Proposition 30 and Proposition 38—both call for tax increases to support schools. Proposition 30, introduced by Gov. Jerry Brown, calls for a quarter-cent increase in the state sales tax and raises taxes on the state's top earners. Molly Munger's Proposition 38 increases state income tax rates for most Californians for 12 years.
    "If (Proposition 30) doesn't pass, we will lose $457 per student," said school board President Anita Avrick. "If it does pass, hopefully we won't."
    According to Avrick, Munger's proposal would bring $7.8 million annually for the first several years, and more in later years; however, "that money effectively can't be spent on salaries," she said. Nevertheless, the funds could be used to pay for teacher salaries if they're part of a specific program, such as one to reduce class sizes, Avrick said.
    "it's very important that everyone gets out to vote because we need them both," she said. "We need something."
    [And here's another story like this -]
    Shhhhhh: Library hours cut silently, by Robbie Spencer, The Student Newspaper at Florida Gulf Coast University via EagleNews.com
    A student shows her frustration [flinging up her hands] as she finds out the hard way that the library is now closed on Saturdays. (photo caption)
    FORT MYERS, Fla., USA - Students should not plan any late night cram sessions at the library this year. They should also rule out Saturdays.
    Following the library motto, the university quietly announced that the library would be closing its doors earlier and more often this school year. Almost 40 hours were eliminated from the library schedule. The biggest change is that it is closed Saturdays.
    Eagle News spotted several students attempting to access the library this past Saturday.
    “This really takes a day away from me that I can be productive,” said Brian Storms, a sophomore athletic training major. “They should have sent out an email with at least the new hours listed.”
    [So let's see. The self-contradictory and unsustainable thinking of America's top decision-makers has now pushed universities into the role of makework campaigns, designed to PLEASE keep young people out of the overstuffed 40-hr/wk job market as long as possible! - AND make them pay for it so they graduate with huge debts and no jobs, AND NOW cut their services while they're there pretending they're getting prepared for jobs that will allow them to pay off their students loans. We are turning ourselves into a dysfunctional nation. Keep this up and America is OVER. Alternative: decontrol the frozen pre-automation workweek and let the Market determine the workweek on a fluctuating basis via the unemployment rate, preferably redefined to include the whole problem.]
    Storms isn’t the only student upset by these changes. Of 181 students polled by Eagle News, 54 percent said they thought the library should be open later and on Saturdays. Another 38 percent said they did not care because they don’t use the library, and only 8 percent said they agreed with the changes.
    The library will now be open from 7:30 a.m. until 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and until 6 p.m. on Friday. The library will now be closed on Saturdays and open from 3-8 p.m. on Sundays. This cut, from 108 hours per week to 69½, is the most drastic in FGCU history. Other state schools have not appeared to cut hours in response to budget cuts.
    The libraries at the University of Central Florida and South Florida are each open over 100 hours per week, including 24 hours Monday through Thursday at USF.
    The cut has been met with harsh criticism from students. FGCU did not alert students about these changes before the start of fall semester, depending on faculty and staff to spread the word.
    The Dean of Library Services, Dr. Kathleen Miller, cited budget cuts as the primary reason for the cut in hours. This year’s state budget saw a $300 million dollar cut with regard to higher education.
    Eagle News reported in January that a bill was passed to continue with the library’s extended hours, which were until 1 a.m. Monday through Thursday and on Sundays. The cost of the extension was $12,720 and was split between Student Government and FGCU allocated accounts.
    Dr. Miller said statistical evidence was used for determining the slashed hours.
    “Over 60 percent of our visits occur Monday through Wednesday,” said Dr. Miller. “With only 4 percent of our visits occurring on Saturday (about 570 visits), we decided it was the best day to close down.”
    “Student Government is doing everything we can to ensure that library hours are never cut like this again,” said Student Body President Peter Cuderman.
    Cuderman, a graduate student at FGCU, started a petition online for FGCU students to sign in opposition of the state budget cuts in higher education.
    Students can find this petition on Facebook.com. Students should not plan any late night cram sessions at the library this year. They should also rule out Saturdays.
    Following the library motto, the university quietly announced that the library would be closing its doors earlier and more often this school year. Almost 40 hours were eliminated from the library schedule. The biggest change is that it is closed Saturdays.
    Eagle News spotted several students attempting to access the library this past Saturday.
    “This really takes a day away from me that I can be productive,” said Brian Storms, a sophomore athletic training major. “They should have sent out an email with at least the new hours listed.”
    Storms isn’t the only student upset by these changes. Of 181 students polled by Eagle News, 54 percent said they thought the library should be open later and on Saturdays. Another 38 percent said they did not care because they don’t use the library, and only 8 percent said they agreed with the changes.
    The library will now be open from 7:30 a.m. until 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and until 6 p.m. on Friday. The library will now be closed on Saturdays and open from 3-8 p.m. on Sundays. This cut, from 108 hours per week to 69½, is the most drastic in FGCU history. Other state schools have not appeared to cut hours in response to budget cuts.
    The libraries at the University of Central Florida and South Florida are each open over 100 hours per week, including 24 hours Monday through Thursday at USF.
    The cut has been met with harsh criticism from students. FGCU did not alert students about these changes before the start of fall semester, depending on faculty and staff to spread the word.
    The Dean of Library Services, Dr. Kathleen Miller, cited budget cuts as the primary reason for the cut in hours. This year’s state budget saw a $300 million dollar cut with regard to higher education.
    Eagle News reported in January that a bill was passed to continue with the library’s extended hours, which were until 1 a.m. Monday through Thursday and on Sundays. The cost of the extension was $12,720 and was split between Student Government and FGCU allocated accounts.
    Dr. Miller said statistical evidence was used for determining the slashed hours.
    “Over 60 percent of our visits occur Monday through Wednesday,” said Dr. Miller. “With only 4 percent of our visits occurring on Saturday (about 570 visits), we decided it was the best day to close down.”
    “Student Government is doing everything we can to ensure that library hours are never cut like this again,” said Student Body President Peter Cuderman.
    Cuderman, a graduate student at FGCU, started a petition online for FGCU students to sign in opposition of the state budget cuts in higher education.
    Students can find this petition on Facebook.com.

8/28/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. In visit to RI, US labor secretary to highlight workforce development, work sharing programs, The Associated Press via TheRepublic.com
    CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. — The Obama administration's top labor official is visiting Rhode Island to highlight workforce development and a work sharing program that state officials say has prevented thousands of layoffs.
    Labor Secretary Hilda Solis plans to make two stops in the state on Wednesday afternoon. She's expected to make a "major funding announcement" at the nonprofit Blackstone Valley Community Action program in Pawtucket. She will then travel to Central Falls to tour the Safety Flag Co. of America, which manufactures reflective apparel, flags, signs and other items.
    Officials say the company has used the work share program, a short-term unemployment compensation program, to avoid laying off workers.
    All four members of the state's congressional delegation are expected to be on hand.
    Rhode Island has the country's second-highest unemployment rate.

  2. Jobs lost and hours cut at Terex factory, Herald Scotland via jobsscotland.com
    NEWHOUSE, Scotland - Around 70 jobs are to go and hundreds of workers will have their hours cut at a manufacturing plant in North Lanarkshire.
    [With more hourscuts, less jobcuts now, and more customers and less jobcuts in the future!]
    US truck builder Terex said it regretted reducing staff numbers but a drop in business meant it had been forced to restructure.
    The firm has now launched a consultation, and workers will initially be offered voluntary redundancy, while the majority of the 590 employees will be moved to a part-time rota.
    Paul Douglas, general manager of the plant at Newhouse, said: "It is with regret that we have to make this announcement.
    "We fully understand the important role Terex plays in providing employment in the Lanarkshire community. My management team and I are working hard to limit the effect the downturn is having on our business and our team members but, unfortunately, the orders for trucks are not coming in which means we cannot continue to operate at the level we have been.
    "Reducing team member numbers and a shorter working week is an inevitable part of the actions to provide stability and to help secure the future of the facility in Motherwell."
    A spokesman for Unite said it will try to defend its members' interests.
    Michael McMahon MSP, who began an apprenticeship at Terex Equipment in 1977 and worked there for 15 years, said: "Terex is still a significant employer in Lanarkshire but given the current trading conditions it is unable to sustain the current workforce."

8/26-27/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Cost cuts and job losses pierce Europe's heart, by Chris Bryant & James Wilson & Gerrit Wiesmann, 8/26 Financial Times via ft.com
    FRANKFURT & BERLIN, Germany - Cost cutting and job losses are no longer confined to Europe’s indebted periphery. As the eurozone heads towards another recession, a variety of companies in Germany, the currency bloc’s strongest economy, are also tightening their belts to restore competitiveness.
    Falling European demand and a slowdown in emerging markets such as China are putting pressure on profit margins, forcing businesses to trim discretionary spending, find savings in their supply chains and address low capacity utilisation.
    “The general sentiment is that the eurozone crisis could become tougher in the next couple of months and I would say all large corporates are preparing for tougher times and are trying to reduce their cost base,” says Markus Schweizer, a managing partner at Ernst & Young’s Germany, Switzerland and Austria unit.
    The German jobless rate remains near record lows thanks in part to its companies’ greater ability to export to the US and Asia, where growth remains relatively strong.
    [Wrong. The German jobless rate remains near record lows thanks mainly to Kurzarbeit, sharing the available market-demanded employment and maintaining high levels of domestic consumer spending per capita, instead of downsizing employment and everything else with it. Trade is MINOR compared to domestic consumption. Do the math. In the U.S., consumption is usually estimated at 70% and exports somewhere around 17%, yet we continually sacrifice domestic consumption for this one heavily lobbying industry = a self-destructive economic policy.]
    Much of Germany’s industrial core has therefore continued to report solid profit growth and there has not yet been a slump in investments as happened during the 2008-09 crisis.
    Cost-cutting programmes have instead been concentrated in sectors undergoing profound structural shifts such as Germany’s hard-hit solar industry, utilities and in pharmaceuticals. Here the weak economic environment is exacerbating long-term trends.
    “It’s important to distinguish between cost cutting that happens for structural as opposed to cyclical reasons. In industries where historically we had strong margins, such as pharmaceuticals and power generation, we are seeing structural pressure on costs,” Mr Schweizer says.
    After the government last year decided immediately to close eight of the country’s 17 nuclear reactors after Japan’s Fukushima disaster, German utilities have been at the vanguard of the job cuts wave.
    Only weeks after that decision midyear, Eon said it would shed up to 11,000 of 80,000 jobs worldwide to cut costs.
    RWE [Rheinisch-Westfälische Elektrizitätswerke = Rhine-Westfalen Electricity Works] fell into step this summer when it said it would cut 2,400 posts as plunging European demand for electricity and gas left first-half profits stagnant. This added to some 8,000 posts the company had said it would shed in the midterm through asset sales and natural churn.
    In pharmaceuticals, Merck KGaA [Ltd. = Kommandit Gesellschaft auf Aktien = limited partnership on shares] is set to close the Geneva headquarters of its Serono unit, cutting 500 jobs and transferring another 750.
    This action is part of a cost-cutting plan launched earlier this year designed to address what Merck called “unprecedented market shifts, increasing competition in key product areas and existing inefficiencies in its own organisation”.
    Meanwhile, German retailers are struggling to adapt to an era of growing online sales. Catalogue retailer Neckermann announced plans to cut almost 1,400 jobs before it was forced into insolvency proceedings as it tried to accelerate its move into ecommerce. Karstadt, a department store group that was rescued from insolvency in 2010, is still struggling and plans 2,000 job cuts, citing challenging conditions because of the eurozone crisis.
    “A lot of German companies have become much more proactive in managing costs following their experiences during the 2008 crisis,” says Tobias Mock, a managing director at Standard & Poor’s.
    “In this volatile environment it’s more challenging to managing costs as visibility is not so high. They are looking on an ongoing basis at their cost structure and capacity utilisation and are making adjustments.”
    Voith’s papermaking machines were already challenged by the trend towards growing digitisation but an unexpectedly marked first-half slowdown forced the family-owned industrial conglomerate to announce more than 700 job cuts at the paper unit in May.
    Siemens, Germany’s largest engineering company by sales, plans to cut costs as demand for short-cycle products such as industrial automation and drive technology weakened more than expected and pricing pressure in areas such as power transmission and renewable energy remains high.
    “Cost efficiency and productivity need to be in the forefront of our management approach,” Peter Löscher, chief executive, told investors last month. He declined to reveal what role job cuts would play in Siemens cost-cutting programme. The details are set to be announced in the autumn.
    Volkmar Denner, chief executive of Bosch, the private industrial conglomerate, warned in June of “increasing risks to growth” that would make it harder for the company to achieve its full year sales target.
    A slowdown in China has had an impact on demand at Bosch’s Rexroth drive and control technologies subsidiary and the company is now in talks about the possibility of introducing short-time working at a plant in Schweinfurt.
    Indeed, rather than lay-off workers, some German companies are again making use of short-time working subsidies under the government’s Kurzarbeit programme that was used widely by companies in the 2008-09 crisis.
    General Motors’ Opel unit and Ford have announced production cuts at German plants in response to a sharp downturn in the European car market.
    Meanwhile, ThyssenKrupp has cut the working hours of some employees at its European steel unit the end of the year in order to preserve profitability, as prices for its products have fallen below cost.
    “Others asked why are you doing this instead of filling order books? But it makes no sense to operate at higher capacity and make losses,” says Heinrich Hiesinger, chief executive.

  2. 35 Hours are in Fillon's line of fire [there's a "not" in the original but it must be a headline editor error], by Gilles Bridier, 8/27 slate.fr
    [Translation thanks to Bing-Yahoo-BabelFish, cleanup by Phil "Mr. Timesizing" Hyde of Boston & Gatineau, and fine-tuning by Gilles Pilon of Aylmer, Québec.]
    PARIS, France - By placing the elimination of the 35-hour workweek at the heart of the productivity pact, the former prime minister is mounting an attack on the official workweek.
    This is the beginning of François Fillon's mantra: "The elimination of The 35 Hours is the first item in the productivity agenda" which is at the heart of his campaign for the presidency of the UMP [Union pour un mouvement populaire = Union for a Popular Movement, Sarkozy's right-leaning political party].
    There's no ambiguity about the ultimate goal: if he presents himself for the presidency of the UMP, the ambition of the former prime minister is not limited to presiding over a political party but to "leading a national recovery effort." Objective: the presidential race of 2017. And to set the game afoot, the priority agenda would be the assault on the 35-hour workweek, with the intent to pull out by opening up "the possibility to negotiate work time one company at a time."
    [Which, in an expanding and disempowering labor surplus, will just allow working hours to drift back upward without limit for those still clinging to "full time" jobs, thereby further concentrating employment and worsening under- and un-employment, weakening consumer spending and deepening economic downturn.]
    Politically, of course, the subject is sensitive. The right itself has vacillated during the five years of Nicolas Sarkozy, sometimes affirming that the 35 hours should be dismantled, and sometimes that this social asset should not be touched. François Fillon himself had stated in December 2007 that the repeal of the 35 hours was "impracticable." unfeasable. Nervertheless, today he backtracks.
    A law bypassed and drained of substance
    How come he didn't do it when he was Minister of Social Affairs, Labor & Solidarity of the Raffarin Government, having authority over the hours of labor? But he avoided the subject, introducing legislation to allow employees who wished, on a voluntary basis, to exchange time off for a pay supplement. He introduced to this end the "monetization" of the time savings account.
    But he steered away from questioning the legal workweek: companies which had gained some relief of costs in exchange for worktime reduction would not have appreciated losing the relief.
    On the contrary, François Fillon standardized exemption for wages lower than 1.6 times the minimum wage ["smic"]. So that if, in the period between 1998 and 2011, the exemptions ascribed to the Aubry measures amounted to 32.5 billion euros [how could exemptions be blamed on Aubry?! she wanted the 35 hours enforced, not exempted-from!], those resulting from the Fillon provisions cost 163 billion euros; so concluded a study by the Senate.
    Moreover, much was done to drain the 35-hour law of its substance. The raising of the limit on overtime, introduced by François Fillon in 2003, was in this direction, similarly to the tax exemption for overtime in the 2007 Tepa law.
    Under these conditions, the shorter worktime had little meaning since the official limit could blithely be exceeded without penalty. The law of 2008 on the renewal of social democracy and the "reform" [our quotes] of worktime completed the scheme for the weakening the 35 hours in the economic plan.
    Abolish SWT [réductions du temps de travail = worktime reductions = SWT = shorter worktime]?
    [Note the jaw-droppingly naive assumption that the historical accident of the 40-hour workweek is some kind of eternal God-given standard of Full Time by which anything shorter is judged to be shorter or reduced worktime.]
    Paradoxically, it is employees paid on a monthly basis - for whom shorter worktime translates into additional holidays, "SWT days" - for whom the social benefit of 35 hours remains the strongest.
    So it's the hierarchy and not the workers and employees who benefit most from the effects of the Aubry laws today. This does not facilitate the task of the right. Because the right includes many voters who benefit from the SWT and absolutely do not want it to come back into question. Would this not be because it permits them to take vacations during school holidays all through the year without cutting their quotas of paid holidays?
    And habits are now well rooted in homes where young parents have always known the SWT system in their professional life! Who today dares touch the SWT? And who, in these circumstances, will repeal the 35 hours without which the SWT will no longer exist? By sending it back to business to negotiate, policy kicks the question back in the game.
    Eradicate the idea of a legal limit on work
    Actually, negotiating worktime on a business by business basis is not a new idea to François Fillon.
    [That's for sure. It's ALWAYS been done. It's the Bad Old Days.]
    It was clearly at the heart of the "competitiveness and employment" consensus project pushed by Sarkozy and his prime minister at the social summit of January 2012.
    Under pressure from the electoral calendar, François Fillon had given two months to the social partners to deliver on a proposal that aimed at nothing less than to throw back into question the social contract's employment section in its present form. Impossible.
    Today, the candidate for the UMP presidency revived the project which, beyond a questioning of the 35 hours, aims to introduce more flexibility into the organization of work. And to throw out the principle of a legal worktime. An idea that once excited the most free-thinking UMP activists before the presidential campaign.
    To restore competitiveness
    François Fillon highlighted the decline in competitiveness in France.
    [Again, the Race to the Bottom. Again, the sacrifice of the consumer base (70% of the economy) to the export sector (17%? of the economy).]
    It is undeniable: According to Eurostat, French salary costs have progressed faster than the European average. The favourable differential that existed with Germany has disappeared in one decade and only Belgium, Sweden and Denmark are in a worse position than France, according to the European Statistics Institute Eurostat [Insee].
    OK, let's analyse weekly working time. In reality according to Insee, for salaried workers it settled at 39.5 hours in France, behind Germany (40.7 hours) and the United Kingdom (42.2 hours) but above the workweeks noted for Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Italy and a few others. As for the workweek of non-salaried workers, in France it would be among the highest in the EU.
    [So what's Fillon complaining about?]
    Certainly, annual worktime in France has decreased. But according to whether one refers to the statistics of COE-Rexecode or the OECD, the 2011 differential with Germany for example would be respectively either 224 hours less or 63 hours more. Difficult to draw conclusions.
    Besides, worktime is not the only thing in question. With Germany, deviations are mainly due to the service sector since the introduction of minijobs, and the proliferation of part-time jobs, which represent 45% of the total employment of women beyond the Rhine. That gets us into the debate on the imposition of part time [as if 35-40 hours is still appropriate "full" time in the age of robotics!], and the increase in the number of working poor who are still left poor by a full time job.
    A political symbol
    In these circumstances, why focus on the 35 hours, moreover cheapened to such a degree?
    On the one hand, upon their return to power, the left [Hollande] put an end to the overtime tax exemption on the occasion of the joint budget voted in July.
    [There should only be an overtime tax exemption when 100% of profits attributable to overtime relative to hiring are reinvested in overtime-targeted hiring (and training whenever needed).]
    On the other hand, worktime reduction is a potent political symbol of right-left opposition in France (although in reality since the middle of the 20th century, worktime arrangements have not been the sole province of the left). The UMP, which Fillon wants to conquer, will be aware of this.
    [Actually since at least near the beginning of the 20th century, because Lord Leverhulme of Lever Brothers published his "Six Hour Day and Other Industrial Questions" in 1919!]
    In the area of the organization of work, there is no law that cannot be reexamined. 35 Hours are no exception. But today, François Fillion speaks of much more than their mere repeal. His intent is not just to switch to a different buffer-stop, but to liberate working time from its legal constraint by turning its negotiation over to the enterprise.
    [- which we had in 1840 and which didn't work, because of the imperative, with additional productivity from machines, of finding many more people with the money to buy all the additional, machine-giantized productivity, monied people who were not available unless the machines received a managerial response of worktime reduction instead of workforce reduction.]
    This is a route into which many CEOs and HR directors are reluctant to throw themselves into in the current state of relations between the "social partners" (employers and employees). France, from this point of view, is not Germany.
    [So once again, not even the French know what they're doing right, despite leading the world in the shortest official nationwide workweek in the Robotics Age, and considering that financially secure free time is the most basic freedom, leading the world in real, non-rhetorical freedom and liberty. Compared to France, America is only talking the talk.]
    Gilles Bridier is economic journalist for Api.doc. He has written for Echos, Liberation, Le Monde and the Tribune.
    [Original in French -]
    Les 35 heures ne sont pas dans la ligne de mire de Fillon
    En plaçant la fin des 35 heures au cœur de son pacte de productivité, l’ancien Premier ministre s’attaque à la durée légale du travail.
    C’est, dans Le Point, le début de la partition de François Fillon: «La fin des 35 heures est le premier point du pacte de productivité» qui figure au cœur de sa campagne pour la présidence de l’UMP.
    Aucune ambigüité sur l’objectif final: s’il se présente à la présidence de l’UMP, l’ambition de l’ancien Premier ministre ne se limite pas à présider un parti politique mais à «conduire un effort de redressement national». Objectif: la présidentielle de 2017. Et d’entrée de jeu, le dossier prioritaire serait donc celui des 35 heures, avec le projet d’en sortir en ouvrant «la possibilité de négocier le temps de travail entreprises par entreprise».
    Politiquement, bien sûr, le sujet est sensible. La droite elle-même a tergiversé pendant le quinquennat de Nicolas Sarkozy, affirmant tantôt qu’il fallait démanteler les 35 heures, tantôt qu’il ne fallait plus toucher à cet acquis social. François Fillon lui-même avait déclaré en décembre 2007 que l’abrogation des 35 heures était «impraticable». Pourtant, il y revient aujourd’hui.
    Une loi contournée et vidée de sa substance
    Que ne l’a-t-il fait lorsque, ministre des Affaires sociales, du Travail et de la Solidarité du gouvernement Raffarin, il avait en charge la durée du travail… Il contourna toutefois le sujet, introduisant une loi pour permettre aux salariés qui le désiraient, sur la base du volontariat, d'échanger des temps de repos contre un complément de rémunération. Il introduisit à cet effet la «monétisation» du compte épargne temps.
    Mais il se garda bien de remettre en cause la durée légale du travail: les entreprises qui avaient obtenu des allègements de charges contre une réduction du temps de travail n’auraient pas apprécié de devoir s’en passer.
    Au contraire, François Fillon généralisa les allègements de charges pour les salaires inférieurs à 1,6 smic [= Salaire Minimum Interprofessionnel de Croissance]. De sorte que si, sur la période entre 1998 et 2011, les exonérations imputables aux mesures Aubry ont porté sur 32,5 milliards d’euros, celles qui découlèrent des dispositions Fillon ont coûté 163 milliards d’euros, conclut une étude du Sénat.
    Beaucoup, d’ailleurs, fut fait pour vider la loi sur les 35 heures de sa substance. L’augmentation du contingent d’heures supplémentaires, introduite par François Fillon en 2003, allait dans ce sens, de même que la défiscalisation de ces heures supplémentaires dans la loi Tepa de 2007.
    Dans ces conditions, la réduction du temps de travail n’avait plus guère de signification puisque la durée officielle pouvait allègrement être dépassée sans causer de surcoût. La loi de 2008 sur la rénovation de la démocratie sociale et la réforme du temps de travail a complété le dispositif d’assouplissement des 35 heures au plan économique.
    Abolir les RTT?
    Paradoxalement, ce sont les salariés mensualisés pour lesquels la réduction du temps de travail s’est traduite par des jours de congés supplémentaires –les jours de RTT- que l’acquis social des 35 heures reste le plus fort.
    Ce sont donc les cadres, et non les ouvriers et les employés, qui profitent aujourd’hui le plus des effets des lois Aubry. Ce qui n’est pas fait pour simplifier la tâche de la droite. Car elle compte bien des électeurs parmi les bénéficiaires de ces RTT, qui ne veulent absolument pas les remettre en question. Ne serait-ce que parce qu’elles leur permettent de prendre tout au long de l’année des vacances pendant les congés scolaires sans amputer leurs quotas de congés payés.
    Et les habitudes sont maintenant bien ancrées dans les foyers où les jeunes parents ont toujours connu le système des RTT dans leur vie professionnelle! Qui aujourd’hui, osera toucher aux RTT? Et qui, dans ces conditions, abrogera les 35 heures sans lesquelles les RTT n’existeront plus? En renvoyant à la négociation d’entreprise, le politique botte en touche.
    Faire sauter le principe d’une durée légale du travail
    En réalité, la négociation du temps de travail entreprise par entreprise n’est pas une idée nouvelle pour François Fillon. Elle était clairement au cœur du projet d’accord «compétitivité-emploi» poussé par Nicolas Sarkozy et son Premier ministre à l’occasion du sommet social de janvier 2012.
    Sous la pression du calendrier électoral, François Fillon avait donné deux mois aux partenaires sociaux pour aboutir sur une proposition qui ne visait rien moins qu’à remettre en question le contrat de travail dans sa forme actuelle. Impossible.
    Aujourd’hui, le candidat à la présidence de l’UMP reprend le projet qui, bien au-delà d’une remise en question des 35 heures, vise à introduire une plus grande flexibilité dans l’organisation du travail. Et à faire sauter le principe d’une durée légale du travail. Une idée qui a déjà agité les militants les plus libéraux de l’UMP avant la campagne présidentielle.
    Une compétitivité à restaurer
    François Fillon met en avant la baisse de compétitivité en France. Elle est indéniable: selon Eurostat, les coûts salariaux français ont progressé plus vite que la moyenne européenne. Le différentiel favorable qui existait avec l’Allemagne a disparu en une décennie et seuls la Belgique, la Suède et le Danemark sont aujourd’hui moins bien placés que la France, estime l’institut de statistique européen Eurostat.
    Alors, on analyse le temps de travail hebdomadaire. En réel, il s’établit pour les salariés selon l’Insee à 39,5 heures en France, derrière l’Allemagne (40,7 heures) et le Royaume Uni (42,2 heures) mais au-dessus des durées relevées pour la Belgique, le Danemark, la Finlande, l’Italie et quelques autres. Quant au temps de travail des non salariés, il serait en France parmi les plus élevés des membres de l’Union.
    Certes, le temps de travail annuel en France a reculé. Mais selon que l’on se réfère aux statistiques de COE –Rexecode ou de l’OCDE, le différentiel par exemple avec l’Allemagne serait selon le cas de 224 heures de moins en 2011, ou de 63 heures de plus. Difficile de tirer des conclusions.
    En outre, le temps de travail n’est pas seul en cause. Avec l’Allemagne, les écarts sont surtout dus au secteur des services suite à l’introduction de minijobs, et la multiplication des emplois à temps partiels qui représentent 45% de l’emploi total des femmes outre Rhin. On entre là dans le débat sur le temps partiel subi, et sur l’augmentation du nombre des travailleurs pauvres qui ne peuvent profiter d’un emploi à temps complet.
    Un symbole politique
    Dans ces conditions, pourquoi se focaliser sur des 35 heures par ailleurs à ce point démonétisées?
    D’une part, en revenant au pouvoir, la gauche a mis fin à la défiscalisation des heures supplémentaires à l’occasion du collectif budgétaire voté en juillet.
    D’autre part, la réduction du temps de travail est un symbole politique fort de l’opposition gauche-droite en France (même si, en réalité depuis le milieu du XXe siècle, les aménagements du temps de travail ne sont pas du seul fait de la gauche). L’UMP, que Fillon veut conquérir, y sera sensible.
    En matière d’organisation du travail, il n’est pas de loi qui ne puisse être remise en question. Les 35 heures ne font pas exception. Mais aujourd’hui, François Fillon parle de bien autre chose que de leur abrogation. Son projet ne consiste pas à changer de butoir, mais à libérer le temps de travail de sa contrainte réglementaire en renvoyant la négociation au niveau de l’entreprise.
    Une voie dans laquelle bien chefs d’entreprises et directions de ressources humaines hésitent à s’engouffrer dans l’état actuel des relations entre partenaires sociaux. La France, de ce point de vue, n’est pas l’Allemagne.
    Gilles Bridier est journaliste économique à Api.doc. Il est passé par les rédactions des Echos, de Libération, du Monde et de La Tribune.

8/25/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Spotlight: Kurz-arbeit - Less Work, Lower Pay, Fewer Layoffs; (8/24 late pickup) German Missions [e.g., Embassy] in the United States via Germany.info
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - "Kurzarbeit” (German for “shorter working hours” or “reduced work”) refers to the temporary reduction of normal working hours in a company. It is an agreement reached between company management and employees with the end goal of preserving jobs in times of economic hardship. More specifically, it is designed to bridge temporary contract lulls or economic downturns without laying off employees by implementing reduced work weeks or shorter shifts for less payment if other initial measures, such as reduction of overtime or flexible shift patterns, are no longer effective.
    [Before this got rammed together as one word, it was two words, adjective+noun = "kurz Arbeit" = short work, or in English cognates, curt arbitrage.]
    The introduction of Kurzarbeit plans does not change much for employees – except that they usually have more free time and earn a little less money. The loss of income is in part compensated by short-term payment from the government’s employment authority. Roughly calculated, the Federal Employment Agency reimburses 60 percent of the net loss of earnings, which is raised to 67 percent for workers with children.
    Normally, employee compensation under Kurzarbeit arrangements is limited to six months. The Federal Ministry of Labor has the option of extending this for up to a two-year period. For example, during the 2009 crisis it allowed partial unemployment benefits to be paid for up to 18 months.
    Kurzarbeit arrangements have several advantages. First, for employees, it allows them to keep their jobs and receive a steady paycheck, albeit a reduced one. For companies, it is beneficial in that it allows them to keep experienced workers, preserve specialized knowledge and cohesion between work groups and prevents the loss of skilled workers in terms of unemployment.
    On Thursday, German automaker and General Motors subsidiary Opel announced that it would introduce Kurzarbeit programs in its main factory in the Hessian city of Rüsselsheim. On Friday, the personnel director of German technology giant and auto supplier Bosch, Christoph Kübel, announced that the company would test out a Kurzarbeit plan in its German plants.

  2. Paper: Opel To Cut Each Third Job In Germany. Opel: Nonsense, by Bertel Schmitt, TheTruthAboutCars.com
    BEIJING, China - New panic at GM’s European Opel dependence [ie: subsidiary]: Opel needs to shed 30 percent of its workers. This is the supposed target of a “secret strategy” that has been agreed between Opel and GM, says BILD, Europe’s largest circulation newspaper under the headline “One out of three jobs imperiled!”
    Based on an anonymous inside source, BILD writes about a three-step phased plan:
    1. Shortened hours, or “Kurzarbeit” are the start. This translates into savings for GM, “the German government foots the bill.” 2. Workers are offered a severance package. “If they refuse, they are threatened with a transfer to a lower paying job.” 3. “Next step: The message that shortened hours are not enough to save Opel. People have to go.”
    Firings are contractually verboten through the end of 2014, an extension of the deal through 2016 is being discussed. “Therefore, the specter of insolvency will be used as a threat.”
    Steve Girsky denied to BILD that such a secret strategy exists. Opel’s works council told the Süddeutsche Zeitung: “The report is nonsense, a canard.”
    In a statement to Reuters, Opel says:
    “The claim that Opel wants to cut one in every three jobs in Germany is untrue. It is irresponsible to our customers, our dealers and our approximately 40,000 employees. The Bild article damages our brand and puts our business at risk.”
    In the meantime, “Kurzarbeit” did spread to a third plant in Germany, to Opel’s plant in Eisenach, the Handelsblatt writes.
    [Funny how spoiled auto insiders talk about Kurzarbeit (small hourscuts for all) as if it's some kind of disease, when the alternative is Arbeitslosigkeit = jobloss ... for a few ... then a few more ... then a few more ... and so on till ... no economy left.]

  3. Business News, (8/24 late pickup) Ceský Rozhlas-Radio Praha via Czech Radio-Radio Prague via radio.cz/en
    PRAGUE, Czech Republic - This week in business news: fuel prices skyrocket across the Czech Republic; the Czech government will launch a new scheme to help local business in trouble; the new energy conception seeks to boost nuclear reliance by 2040; Czechs are spending less and saving more; Czech car makers see a rise in production in first half of 2012.
    Fuel prices skyrocket across the country
    Fuel prices in the Czech Republic reached an all-time high this week, with some pumping stations selling petrol for over 40 crowns a liter on Wednesday. According to data released by the Czech company CCS, the average price for the top-selling petrol Natural 95 was 38.04 crowns per liter, up by 4 hellers from the April record price. The price of diesel rose by 42 hellers from last week to a record 37.04 crowns per liter. Some analysts believe that fuel prices are not likely to fall in the near future, and may rise even further.
    EU funds to help businesses in trouble
    A financial support system similar to the German Kurzarbeit will be available to Czech businesses who have taken a hit as a result of the recession, starting in September. The government will pay out full salaries for workers who would otherwise have to be laid off for up to half a year. The money for the scheme will come primarily from EU structural funds. The support is primarily meant for small and medium-sized businesses, which will have to go through a rigorous selection process. The government has made it clear that these measures are not meant for businesses that do not have a sound business plan, and preference will be given to those who can prove that their losses are due to a temporary drop in sales.
    New Energy conception relies on nuclear, cutting support for renewable resources
    The Industry and Trade Minister released the government’s new energy conception on Tuesday, strongly coming out for nuclear energy as the future for the Czech Republic. Currently nuclear energy makes up 16 % of all the energy utilized in the country. According to the ministry, it should make up around 35% by 2040. Solid fuels, like brown coal, should decrease from 40 to 17% in the same period. While renewable energy sources are expected to make up some 22% of the energy mix 30 years from now, up from today’s 6%. But Industry Minister Martin Kuba emphasized on Tuesday that while the government will be supporting the expansion of nuclear plants in Temelin and Dukovany, he expects the renewable energy sector to develop without much financial support from the state.
    Czechs spent less this year, but saved more
    [This is the usual happytalkin' misleading conclusion slapped on the economy-lethal situation of more and more of the money supply funneling to the topmost income-wealth brackets, where it eddies and pools = decirculates and is wasted in a kind of economic black hole.]
    Czechs are making more money, but are spending less this year, the daily Hospodar(ské noviny reported on Thursday. According to the report, households of employed professionals without children, who are the top-earning group, had a 1.6% rise in earnings in the first quarter of 2012, but had spent 11.6% less than during the same time last year. Czechs are also saving more. The same childless households, who are usually the least frugal, saved an average of two and a half thousand crowns per month last year; the figures for the first three months of this year show their savings doubling. Sales and department store revenues took a hit this year, contributing to the overall slowing economy. Czech automotive sector doing well amid fears of setbacks
    Although the prognosis for European automotive industry is not looking good for the near future, the first half of 2012 saw a 3.7% rise year-on-year in Czech automobile production. Czech car makers manufactured over 744,000 vehicles from January to July of this year, the Czech Automotive Industry Association (SAP) announced on Monday. Škoda, the Czech unit of Volkswagen, announced that its deliveries rose in July by 6% compared to a year ago, putting out 72,600 cars. The company’s sales rose by 8.1% in the first half of this year.

  4. Cummins cuts hours for fuel systems workers: Less than 10% of employees affected by decline in second-quarter sales, by Boris Ladwig bladwig@therepublic.com, The Columbus Republic (subsc.) via therepublic.com
    COLUMBUS, Ind., USA - Slowing demand has prompted Cummins Inc. to cut the work week of some employees at the Columbus Fuel Systems Plant to four days.
    The plant, at 1300 N. Marr Road, employs more than 500, and Cummins said in a statement that less than 10 percent of the employees are affected. A union spokesman said the cutbacks are affecting members of the Diesel Workers and Office Committee unions.
    On Aug. 1, Cummins Inc. reported a slight sales decline in the second quarter as the strength of the North American market was more than offset by weakness in overseas markets...

8/24/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Regulators give OK to plan to cut hours at 13000 post offices, FederalTimes.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - The U.S. Postal Service’s proposed service cutbacks at thousands of post offices have gotten a mostly favorable thumbs-up from an independent oversight body.
    In an advisory opinion released late Thursday, the Postal Regulatory Commission said that the Post Office Structure Plan (POStPlan) “should help balance service and cost savings” if implemented properly. While the five-member commission made a number of recommendations — urging the Postal Service, for example, to conduct an internal review to ensure that the endeavor is meeting its goals — the panel praised the effort as a welcome alternative to closing post offices outright.
    Starting Wednesday, affected communities will be formally notified of the possible changes, USPS spokeswoman Sue Brennan said in an email.
    The plan, unveiled in May, will reduce customer service window hours at some 13,000 post offices that serve relatively few customers to as little as two hours a day. At the same time, the Postal Service intends to eliminate about 12,500 of 21,000 full-time postmaster positions. Many of those jobs will become part-time, with predicted labor savings of more than a half-billion dollars annually.
    The POStPlan represents the struggling mail carrier’s latest bid to shrink its vast, largely unprofitable network of some 32,000 post offices. The downsizing will play out over the next two years, but almost 3,800 postmasters have already resigned or retired in response to a $20,000 buyout and early retirement package offered as part of the plan.
    Under federal law, USPS leaders had to request the nonbinding PRC opinion because the looming cutbacks will affect service nationwide. In a statement, Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., who heads a Postal Service oversight panel, welcomed the opinion, but said that only comprehensive congressional reform can address the agency’s underlying financial woes. While the Senate approved its version of a fix in April, the House has yet to take up a competing measure.

  2. Opel cuts working hours at third plant, Agence France-Presse via google.com/hostednews/afp
    BERLIN, Germany — Troubled German carmaker Opel, under pressure from US parent General Motors to drive back to profit, will cut working hours at a third plant, the head of the works' council said Friday.
    A day after Opel announced it would introduce short-time work at its German plants in Ruesselsheim and Kaiserslautern from September, the head of the works' council said Eisenach plant would also be affected.
    "We have given our agreement for several short-time shifts," Harald Lieske told AFP.
    The move will affect 10 morning shifts and 10 afternoon shifts and would run from next month until the end of the year, he added.
    Opel employs 1,800 workers at the Eisenach plant in central Germany where its Corsa model is produced.
    Around half of the 22,100 people who work at Opel's four production plants in Germany are now hit by short-time work schemes.
    Under such plans, employees see their working hours reduced for a limited period, but the state, in the form of the Federal Labour Agency, partially makes up for the corresponding shortfall in pay.
    The measure was used widely by German companies, including Opel, during the crisis of 2008-2009, helped avoid widespread layoffs and allowed companies to ramp their operations up again quickly when demand recovered.
    [More -]
    GM's Opel to Reduce Working Hours Also at Eisenach Plant, by Nico Schmidt, Dow Jones Newswires via FoxBusiness.com
    FRANKFURT, Germany - General Motors Co. (GM) unit Adam Opel AG said Friday it will reduce working hours also at its Eisenach plant, a day after it said it will do so at its largest sites in Ruesselsheim and Kaiserslautern, to stem losses in a slumping European market.
    Details haven't been finalized but short-time work may be applied to up to 10 shifts in September at the plant, a spokesman said.
    Short-time work is a German program designed to avoid job cuts, under which the state compensates employees for unworked hours.
    It isn't clear if shorter hours will be applied in Eisenach in the months after September, the spokesman said. No short-time work is planned for Opel's fourth German manufacturing facility in Bochum, the spokesman said.
    Only the compact car Corsa is being assembled at the Eisenach plant, with 1,600 employees, in the German state of Thuringia. A new model is planned and the shorter working hours should help keep costs lower until production starts. Demand for the Corsa model has dropped, particularly in countries with traditionally robust demand for small cars, such as France, Spain and Greece.
    On Thursday, Opel said it would shorten hours for 20 days throughout the end of the year at Ruesselsheim and Kaiserslautern due to a dramatic decline in the European market.
    The shortened work days will apply only to manufacturing and administrative workers and doesn't include engineering, Opel said Thursday. All of the 2,500 workers at the Kaiserslautern factory will be affected by the shortened work days. Ruesselsheim employs 3,500 workers in manufacturing, 3,300 in administration and 7,000 in engineering. About half of the workers at that plant will be affected.
    Write to Nico Schmidt at nico.schmidt@dowjones.com

  3. [And here's a perverse incentive to cut hours, which still, if done enough, would soak up the surplus of desperate resumes & result in raises -]
    Employers ponder cutting hours to avoid insurance, Denver Business Journal (subscription) via bizjournals.com/denver
    DENVER, Colo., USA - A number of employers in the hotel, restaurant and retail areas may cut part-time workers’ hours to 29 per week to avoid having to cover their health care once the national individual insurance mandate takes effect in 2014, a national survey says.
    A full 67 percent of retail and hospitality employers offering no coverage now to all employees working at least 30 hours a week are inclined to change their workforce strategy in some way so that fewer employees meet the threshold for being insured, the survey found...
    Ed Sealover covers government, health care, tourism, airlines and hospitality for the Denver Business Journal and writes for the "Capitol Business" blog. Phone: 303-803-9229.

8/23/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Opel to reduce working hours at two sites, by Tapan Sharma, MarketWatch.com
    FRANKFURT, Germany -- General Motors Co.'s loss-making European unit Adam Opel GmbH (GM -1.03%) said Thursday it will introduce reduced working hours over 20 days through the end of the year at the Ruesselsheim and Kaiserslautern sites due to a slowdown in the European car market.
    The company said it will switch to short-time work because of a "dramatic" drop in the European car market. Both production and administration at Opel will be affected by this step.
    Opel employs around 16,000 people at the two facilities.
    Short-time work is a German program designed to avoid job cuts, under which the state compensates employees for unworked hours.
    Opel said short-time work will be carried out for 20 days in the September-December period.
    [More -] Opel staff face pay cuts as short-time working kicks in, by Simon Warburton, just-auto.com
    RUSSELSHEIM, Germany - Opel's staff have been told this morning they will face pay cuts as the automaker slashes production and supply manufacturing at its Russelsheim and Kaiserslautern plants by 20 days until the end of the year.
    Although the level of wage reduction is not yet clear, the German manufacturer's decision to implement kurzarbeit or short-time working, will lead to around 9,000 staff at both plants taking a pay hit, although this will be cushioned by grants from the government and Opel itself.
    "There will be [pay] losses, but it will not be such a big percentage as it would be without the support of the company," a General Motors Europe spokesman told just-auto from Germany.
    "There has been discussion with the unions and it is a joint decision - it has been decided in conjunction with the unions. We told the employees today - there are of course many more meetings to give information."
    Kaiserslautern is also affected as it produces engines and body parts for the Astra manufactured at Russelsheim. No specific dates are yet known in September when areas such as stamping and welding will be cut, but plants will implement individual solutions says Opel.
    "The basic understanding of kurzarbeit is part of a law that says if a plant is not running on full capacity and it is clear it is for bridging a certain kind of market weakness, then [the] government will jump in and help out," said the GM spokesman.
    Opel's main union, IG Metall, yesterday (22 August) declined to comment on possible short-time working, but the head of the automaker's Works Council, Wolfgang Schäfer-Klug insisted the move would safeguard jobs.
    "Thanks to the support of short work payment and an additional allowance from the company, the financial burden for the employees will be limited," said Schäfer-Klug.
    "The Works Council and IG Metall have worked to ensure this socially responsible measure can be applied to the Rüsselsheim work force and production area, as well as administration."
    Short work applies to manufacturing as well as to the central and administrative functions. In manufacturing, labour time will be reduced by short work shifts or short work days starting in September.
    In the administrative and service functions, short work days will be applied starting in October. Engineering is not affected by short work.
    [More -]
    GM Cuts Hours at Troubled Opel Unit, by Paul Ausick, "24/7 Wall St." via dailyfinance.com
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA -- The Opel division of General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) has been unprofitable for so long that the U.S. automaker has more than once considered shutting the operations down. Today, however, Opel lives on after the company negotiated a 'short-time work' deal with the German government.
    Under the terms of the deal, GM will introduce short-time work at two of its German plants for the period from September through December of this year. The deal gives GM flexibility in the number of hours that employees work, but maintains workers' salaries by having the state pay workers for the unworked hours.
    Passenger car sales have fallen off a cliff in Europe, and carmakers including Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F), Italy's Fiat SpA, and GM have too many plants, too many workers, too much equipment, and not enough buyers. One analyst has suggested that GM could lose $1.5 billion at its Opel division in 2012.
    Part of GM's trouble stems from its decision to sell Chevrolet-branded cars in Europe to the same low-end market at which Opel cars are aimed. GM has pumped $1 billion into a Chevy plant in Russia in an effort to increase production to 230,000 vehicles annually, more than double current production. Another joint venture plant in Russia can produce 350,000 vehicles annually. Selling more Chevys only cuts into Opel's sales and the cuts are deeper than the gains. At some point - probably not too far into the future - GM will figure out that continuing to support Opel is not worth the price.
    GM's shares are inactive in the pre-market this morning, and closed at $21.73 yesterday in a 52-week range of 18.72-$27.68.
    [More -]
    2 German Opel plants put workers on reduced hours, The Associated Press via google.com/hostednews/ap
    BERLIN, Germany — General Motors Co.'s Opel unit says employees at two of its German plants will work reduced hours over the next few months as the company struggles with a sagging European car market.
    Opel said Thursday it agreed with its employee council and the IG Metall industrial union that workers at the Ruesselsheim plant and the Kaiserslautern components factory will work reduced hours on 20 days through the end of the year.
    Opel board member Holger Kimmes said that the company until recently was able to compensate for decreased production through measures such as accounting for accrued overtime hours.
    The government-subsidized short-time work program, which allows employers to reduce production without cutting their workforce, was credited with keeping down German unemployment during the 2008-9 financial crisis.
    The move to shorter hours "will safeguard jobs," top employee representative Wolfgang Schaefer-Klug said in a statement.
    GM has vowed to turn around its lossmaking European operations, where it lost $747 million last year and $256 million in the first quarter. Yet labor agreements restrict its ability to lay people off or quickly close less efficient plants. Opel CEO Karl-Friedrich Stracke and several other top Opel managers stepped down July 12 shortly after presenting a turnaround plan involving new models and developing sales in emerging markets.
    The short hours plan affects manufacturing and administrative workers but not those in engineering. The Ruesselsheim facility has 13,800 workers, about half of whom will be affected by the short hours. The Kaiserslautern plant has a workforce of 2,500.
    [More -]
    Opel puts cuts shifts to part-time [huh?], by "bk", Agence France-Presse via TheLocal.de
    PARIS and STOCKHOLM - German carmaker Opel, a loss-making unit of US giant General Motors, said Thursday it will reduce working hours at two key plants as demand in the European car market slumps.
    "In consultation with the works council and the IG Metall labour union, Adam Opel AG will introduce short-time work at its plants in Rüsselsheim and Kaiserslautern from September," Opel said in a statement, adding that 20 working days would be cut between then and the end of the year.
    "The European car market is dropping dramatically," the carmaker complained.
    "Falling capacity utilisation can no longer be compensated with measures such as flexitime. Short-time work is now the right way to bridge this weakness in the market," said Opel's personnel chief Holger Kimmes.
    Under short-time work schemes, employees see their working hours reduced for a limited period, but the state, in the form of the Federal Labour Agency, partially makes up for the corresponding shortfall in pay.
    The head of the general works council, Wolfgang Schäfer-Klug, said the measure would "secure jobs" and help limit financial hardship for the employees concerned.
    The measure would be introduced both in the production operations, as well as in administration.
    Opel has a total four production sites in Germany: alongside Rüsselsheim - which is the main site as well as the group's headquarters - and Kaiserslautern, it also has plants in Bochum and Eisenach.
    Rüsselsheim employs a workforce of 13,800, with 3,500 in production, 3,300 in administration and a further 7,000 in engineering, with "around half" of the employees there to be affected, Opel said.
    The Kaiserslautern plant employs a workforce of 2,500.
    GM sustained a loss of $400 million from its European operations in the second quarter of this year, as the unit battles with the eurozone sovereign debt crisis and massive overcapacity issues.
    At the end of June, Opel's supervisory board approved deep restructuring, massive investment in the product range of the Opel and Vauxhall brands, and a new marketing strategy.

  2. Time to cool off on heated issue, by Mary Ma, Hong Kong Standard via thestandard.com.hk
    HONG KONG, China - Frontline firefighters staged a sit-in protest at the SAR government headquarters this week to demand their working hours be cut from 54 hours to 48 per week.
    The government refused, but countered with an offer of 51 hours instead, leaving the door open to the possibility of further cuts.

    The tussle is nothing new. The two sides have been wrangling for the past two years, but are unable to bridge the gap.
    Firemen have always been regarded as heroes, commanding a lot of respect in the community because of their readiness to risk their own lives to save others.
    Every time a courageous fireman is killed in the line of duty, the community grieves along with his relatives. They may have public support, but does it extend to their union's call for their working hours to be reduced to 48 a week? It's doubtful.
    Their working hours - 48, 51 or 54 - can be misleading unless the numbers are read in the context of the unique nature of the roster that governs the service.
    Firemen currently work around the clock for 24 hours, then rest for 48 hours. If their work week was cut to 48 hours, it could mean they only need to work two full days and have the rest of the week off.
    That certainly sounds attractive, but would the public support it? That would be an open question to which the answer can be mixed.
    If the firemen's demand is accepted, it could impact other disciplinary services, whose members - while working fewer hours - are subject to different types of rosters designed to suit the specific requirements of their own responsibilities.
    It's viable for firemen to be on duty continuously for 24 hours because, unless they are responding to emergency calls, most of them are put on standby at the stations.
    I doubt if the police, for example, can adopt a similar mode of operation, as a uniformed constable can't possibly patrol for 24 hours non-stop - except in cases of extreme emergency.
    It's understandable for fire crews to be seeking parity with other disciplinary services in terms of working hours, but the comparison isn't apples to apples.
    Fire services officials have set three criteria for the review of working hours: they must not result in neither extra financial costs nor additional manpower, while present service standards must be unaffected.
    From a management point of view, it makes sense to set the parameters. If a reduction in working hours is made possible, it can only be justified if it enhances efficiency.
    The government says it's possible to lower the number of working hours to 51 a week by cutting the number of firemen attending a first alarm fire from 22 officers currently to 20 - citing overseas experience that found it's feasible to do so without incurring extra safety concerns.
    So is the proposed 51-hour week really unacceptable? As officials made clear to a few hundred firemen, the feedback wasn't lopsidedly opposed.
    Perhaps it would be in the firemen's best interests to accept the government's proposal for now, while keeping the channels of dialogue open.

j 8/22/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Upside Seen To GM's Value with Reduced Working Hours, Lower Pension Risk Plans, Trefis.com
    KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany - General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) is in negotiations with the workers representatives which could see the working hours reduced to 31 from 35 in two of its German plants. Europe is a big concern for GM. The region’s overall vehicle sales are declining, GM continues to lose market share and the high operational costs which remain more or less constant irrespective of the vehicles sales, are hurting the profitability. The two German plants, one each in Ruesselsheim and Kaiserslautern, employ a combined total of 15,500 employees. [1] The stock is down 20% from its highs of $27 earlier in February this year.
    GM is reeling with overcapacity issues but the strong labor unions won’t allow them to shut the plants and therefore the automaker continues to post losses in Europe. It’s second quarter operational losses ballooned to $361 million from $256 million in the first quarter. Other steps taken up by GM to address its European concerns include appointing restructuring consultant Thomas Sedran as the interim CEO of Opel and forming an alliance with French automaker PSA Peugeot Citroen with which the automakers hope to save $2 billion annually.
    Besides reducing its production costs, GM needs to improve the demand of its own cars. Car sales are down 7% in the first half of the year in Europe but GM’s European brands Opel and Vauxhaull have fared even worse with demand being down by 15%. In addition, Opel has been unable to match the technical advancements made by other German car manufacturers. [2] Uncertainty in Europe has made it difficult to ascertain when losses in Europe will bottom out. This has made it difficult for investors to understand the true value of the company.
    Reducing Pension Risks
    Pension obligations is another big concern for the automaker. After transferring the risk of its $26 billion underfunded pension obligations to Prudential Financial earlier in the year, GM is now in the process of converting its defined-benefit pension obligation plans of salaried employees to a defined contribution plan. The automaker is in talks with the workers’ union and if the move materializes, the salaried employees who retire after 2014 will now receive a lump sum instead of the traditional pension plan. Defined contribution plans, in which the the employees receive a lump sum at the time of retirement carry lower risks when compared to defined benefit pension plans. This is because the employer does not have to guarantee a fixed amount and the lump sum is contingent on the investment returns. [3]
    We currently have a Trefis price estimate of $23.60 for General Motors’s stock, which is about 10% higher than the current market price.
    1. Opel in talks to reduce hours at 2 German plants, August 16, businessweek.com
    2. Restructuring specialist to be interim CEO of GM’s Opel, July 17, 2012, reuters.com
    3. GM extends pension, health cuts to salaried employees, August 20, 2012, theglobeandmail.com

  2. Foxconn Finally Agrees To Improve Conditions For Apple Plant Workers By Cutting Hours, by Mary Beth Quirk, The Consumerist via consumerist.com
    [That's good, cuz Foxconn is Karoshi Central!]
    SHENZHEN, China - After a spate of controversial reports on the working conditions at Foxconn's Chinese factories where many of Apple's products are made, the two companies have announced a cut in hours that will benefit workers. An auditing company hired by Apple and Foxconn has been monitoring the process, and says things are on the way toward improving.
    According to the Fair Labor Association, a nonprofit global monitoring group , Chinese labor laws required the companies to cut down on the amount of hours employees work at Foxconn plants by almost a third by 2013, reports the New York Times. Overtime will be cut to less than nine hours per week, way down from the current 20 hours.
    [And, uh, what would we be starting from, to add those 20 or now 9 overtime hours to? Details, details,...]
    That could prove tricky, however, as many workers are attracted to plants by the amount of overtime they're able to work in order to make more money.
    “It is a challenge,” said Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn’s chief executive. “When we reduce overtime, it means we need to hire more people and implement more automation, more investment on robotic engineering. More workers also mean more dormitories and recreational facilities. It takes time.”
    An Apple spokesman chimed in with a statement as well, saying the company has been active in improving working conditions for workers making their iPads and iPhones.
    “We’ve been making steady progress in reducing excessive work hours throughout our supply chain. We track working hours weekly for over 700,000 workers and currently have 97 percent compliance with the 60-hour maximum workweek specified in our code of conduct.”
    Other changes the two companies have pledged to make in addition to the whittled down working hours include better safety, the hiring of new workers and significant improvements to the dormitories where employees live.
    The Fair Labor Association's report confirmed that the steps to improve conditions have taken place, and that Apple is making an effort to hold Foxconn accountable. However another group with an eye on the situation, China Labor Watch, said it's still not enough and that the changes could actually end up harming workers.
    "Workers have to complete the workload of 66 hours before within 60 hours now per week. As a result, the workers get lower wages but have to work much harder.”
    What isn't being said here seems to be that because all of these improvements could cost Apple and Foxconn money — for example, increasing pay to convince workers not to flee to to other factories to get overtime back — that cost could be passed on to the consumer in the form of more expensive products. It remains to be seen, however. Whether or not paying a bit more for your iPad is worth it to ensure workers have better conditions, well, that's up to you.
    [Meanwhile, in once intelligent-looking Europe -]

  3. Long cherished, the shorter workweek loses ground in Europe [or just in the dumb anglophone parts, like Ireland?], by Jason Walsh, with Janelle Dumalon, CSMonitor via AXcessNews.com
    DUBLIN, Ireland & BERLIN, Germany - Stephen O'Brien puts in long hours: he typically shows up by 7:30 a.m. at the convenience store he owns and manages in Dún Laogahire, Ireland, and it's rare that he finishes before 7 p.m. Layoffs have meant that he and others are picking up duties once distributed across a more robust staff.
    "I'm pulling longer hours than ever before," says Mr. O'Brien, whose store is in an upscale suburb of Dublin. "I'm doing seven days a week, rather than five."
    Europeans have long enjoyed laws that reined in the length of their workweek, not to mention provided ample vacation time. But more Europeans, worried about employment, are clocking longer days amid the Continent's deep economic woes. Indeed, since the crisis hit, aggregate working hours for full-time workers have increased across the European Union, according to Eurofound, the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, an EU labor research body based in Dublin.
    [And this plugs in the famed Economy Self-Destruct app = longer hours for those who still have jobs, more concentration of market-demanded employment, fewer people with jobs and earnings to maintain consumer spending, weaker markets, another round of downsizing - which is, we like to point out, the opposite of UPsizing alias Growth dba Recovery or in this context, shallower rather than deeper "economic woes."]
    Europeans now work an average of 39.7 hours per week, up from 39.5 in 2009. While not a huge leap in aggregate, a long-hours culture now prevails in many EU countries. In the UK, employees now face an average working week of 40.5 hours, while in Luxembourg, the average workweek is 40.7 hours.The days of the 35-hour week, with 9-to-5 jobs, appears to be over.
    The trend of increased hours runs across the majority of EU nations, whether they are in recession, like Greece and Ireland, or still expanding, like Germany.
    The only countries seeing a decrease in hours are the so-called "new member states," former Eastern Bloc countries that joined the EU in 2004, whose working practices are slowly coming into line with EU norms. Among these post-2004 members, the average working week is 40.3 hours.
    Eurofound's Måns Mårtensson gives a simple explanation for the rise in hours in the rest of Europe: "We're trying to hang on to the jobs we've got."
    Less credit, tighter wallets
    Outside of Dublin, O'Brien has been hit by a double-whammy: banks have cut back on credit to business, and customers have become more pennywise. Convenience stores like his are caught right in the middle.
    "The banks are pulling back on credit," he says. "Before, they'd give you a call if something was wrong. Now they just bounce things left, right, and center, which creates a problem with suppliers."
    During Ireland's long "Celtic Tiger" boom, convenience stores mushroomed, selling newspapers, cigarettes, candy, and deli lunches, as well as staples such as bread, milk, and toiletries. Today, says O'Brien, "people aren't spending as much. They tend to go to the big supermarkets."
    While the US is not experiencing a boom, it's economy at least is not in recession. Much of Europe, by contrast, is not only in the doldrums, but stuck in a slow-moving crisis.
    Endless working days are a cause of concern for some. An August 2012 study of nearly 11 million insurance holders, released by Germany's largest health insurer, AOK, warned that the increasing overlap of work and personal life has led to a doubling of recorded mental illness incidences in Germany since 1994.
    The report said the stress of demands by employers for flexibility, mobility, and constant availability had led to workers taking an average of 22.5 days off, double the amount for other illnesses.
    Berlin-based computer programmer Marco Schubert says Germans are expected to work hard, but he draws the line at interfering with his personal life.
    "I think in Germany, there's a pressure of immediate delivery - everything has to be done right away," he says. "There's more a higher level of quality supervision in Germany than in other countries. It can get hectic.
    "I'm not reachable all the time - I'm a software developer, so when I'm done, I'm done," he continues. "I don't get business calls in my free time. I think it really depends on the sort of company you work for in Germany. My company has a strict 40-hours-a-week policy, and if we have to do overtime, we can offset it."
    Not recording every hour
    US-born, Irish-based labor economist Michael Taft notes that part-time work and unpaid overtime may account for different work pressures in different sectors.
    "In the business services sector, people will work 50 or more hours per week, but that won't be recorded, whereas in the industrial sector people clock-in and clock-out," he says.
    Taft also says structural differences may account for differences between countries.
    "In the advanced northern European countries, the collective bargaining agreements have negotiated reduced hours. Also, the workers are [often] in capital-intensive sectors rather than labor-intensive, low-tech jobs."
    Eurofound's Mårtensson said there was a discrepancy between agreed working hours and actual working hours, with employees working longer than stated in union agreements or enshrined in legislation.
    He also said informal agreements between employers and employees were predominating over formal "social partnership" agreements between unions, the state, and business sectors, all of which have now been scrapped, other than in Ireland, where it applies only to government workers and is under political pressure.
    "The social collaboration between workers and employers is one of trying to keep people in employment, but it's all informal. Ireland is the last one [with a formal agreement in place], but we see more real collaboration than ever before," he says.
    Some have poured cold water on the statistics. Stephen Kinsella, an economist at Ireland's University of Limerick, says it is difficult to make direct comparisons across the EU.
    "It's almost impossible to compare a worker in a pharmacy in Germany with a worker in a pharmacy in Ireland – they may not be doing the same kind of job," he says, adding that self-reporting of working hours is also problematic, as people may claim to work harder than they actually do.
    And hours worked do not correlate with economic success, according to the study: despite having a healthy and still growing economy, Finns work the fewest hours in the EU, at just 37.8, while Romanians top the list at 41.3. Greeks work 40 hours per week while Germans work slightly more at 40.6. But the two countries' economic performance couldn't be more different: Germany is Europe's powerhouse, post-crash Greece is the poorhouse.
    A similar tale is told by annual leave: Hungarians get 27 days off per year, including public holidays. Greeks get 33, the French 38, and Germans 40. The EU average is 34.2.
    "The Germans seem to take longer holidays and work shorter hours, yet their industrial output is higher than [that of] the rest of us," says Mårtensson.
    [Oh gee, could that possibly be because hours no longer vary directly with output in the Age of Robotics? When the heck will we wake up to the shorter-"fulltime" system requirements of our current ultrahigh-productivity technology levels? And no, there is obviously (or it should be if your head isn't stuck in the 18th century) no permanently valid workweek when you keep injecting "better" worksaving technology. It is a system requirement to keep reducing the workweek as lowdown as it takes to restore and maintain full employment and maximum consumer spending, and if it gets too low to manage, alternate weeks...]

8/21/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Work Sharing as a Potential Policy Tool for Creating More and Better Employment: A Review of the Evidence, by Lonnie Golden & Stuart Glosser, (8/15 late pickup) book blurb (ch.7) via Social Science Research Network via papers.ssrn.com
    PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - Abstract: This chapter has demonstrated the potential power of institutionalizing work sharing, whether temporary or permanent, to protect employment levels in recessions or perhaps feed employment growth during recoveries. From the empirical analyses and simulations generated herein, using a four equation VAR model, variance decompositions and impulse response functions, we may conclude, from the empirical analysis of the US case (a relatively difficult environment given that high fixed costs of employment in the US mitigate against employment creation), that during economic downturns and slumps, a “realistic case” scenario is that some additional employment can be gained, if a reduction in the length of the weekly work hours can be induced in conjunction with declines in output in the durables goods manufacturing sector, not the nondurables sector. Given the evidence that there is some potential substitutability of employment for hours, caution is warranted because the complementarity between hours and employment is strong. Thus, a crucial component for ensuring that crisis work sharing preserves jobs is some sort of provision of partial income replacement, such as STC, to prevent (or lessen) the macroeconomic repercussions of underemployment.
    Institutionalizing built-in stabilizers to absorb a downturn should be put formally in place before a “crisis” starts rather than being installed during or after it. The results suggest such measures would appear to be a powerful tool to lessen the severity of employment reductions during recessions and thus ought to appear on the menu of crisis-response measures, particularly in countries currently lacking formal programs that promote adjustment through hours reductions.
    Number of Pages in PDF File: 36
    Keywords: work-sharing, job creation, working time, hours of work, jobless recovery
    JEL Classification: J23, E24, E32, J38
    Accepted Paper Series
    Date posted: August 15, 2012
    Suggested Citation
    Golden, Lonnie and Glosser, Stuart, Work Sharing as a Potential Policy Tool for Creating More and Better Employment: A Review of the Evidence (April 2012). Chapter 7, in Messenger, J.; Ghosheh, N. (eds.), 2012 Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2129519
    Contact Information
    Lonnie Golden
    Pennsylvania State University - Abington College
    1600 Woodland Rd.
    Abington, PA 19001
    United States
    215-881-7596 (Phone)
    215-881-7333 (Fax)
    Stuart Glosser
    University of Wisconsin at Whitewater
    800 W. Main
    Whitewater, WI 53190
    United States

  2. Relapse into red ink - Tornos' future on the brink, NZZ online via nzz.ch
    [translation of Rückfall in die Verlustzone - Tornos' Zukunft auf der Kippe (see below) by Bing-Yahoo-BabelFish with lotsa fixup]
    MOUTIER, Switzerland - The West Swiss industrial machine manufacturer of Tornos has slid back into crisis after a presumed trendshift this year. Already in the first quarter, the company, which specializes in lathes for high-volume processing, had to report red ink due to currency losses and re-introduce short-time working. But in the second quarter, the situation has fundamentally deteriorated: orders only just barely reached 39 million Swiss francs, or half last year's level, and also sales practically halved. In the first half, sales and orders sank by about a third. Especially in Southern Europe, Tornos' most important new market next to Switzerland, sales stumbled because customers lacked financial wriggle room to buy new machines. Dealings in the United States turned out especially bad (- 68%). The tripling of sales in Asia, the source meanwhile of 28% of the income of the firm, could not plug the gap.
    Tornos financial situation turned out similarly, because weakening business meant that the enterprise could no longer meet the credit requirements of 50 million Swiss francs by midyear. Tornos may continue to use the 40.8 million Swiss francs it claimed only because its lender-bank quit requiring disclosure of loans immediately due. Because when the cashflow resulted in an outflow of 7.3 million Swiss francs, the targeted reduction of high net debt by midyear came to a halt.
    Tornos management no longer believes in a speedy turnaround, because the summer months are traditionally weak. Instead of a result at the same high level, they're now assuming sales of less than 200 million Swiss francs this year (2011: 271 million) and being obliged to show an operating loss (same period 2011: 16.6 million fr.) despite short-time working. Whether it can be done with the desired cost cut of 30-35 million fr. - which is equivalent to 12-14% of the total cost - is questionable. In mid-October, the new strategy will be presented. In the current bind, the continuation of corporate independence seems increasingly unlikely.
    [original German -]
    Rückfall in die Verlustzone - Tornos' Zukunft auf der Kippe, NZZ Online
    Der Westschweizer Werkzeugmaschinenhersteller Tornos ist nach einer vermeintlichen Trendwende in diesem Jahr in die Krise zurückgefallen. Schon im ersten Quartal musste die auf Drehmaschinen zur Verarbeitung hoher Stückzahlen spezialisierte Gesellschaft wegen Währungsverlusten rote Zahlen ausweisen und wieder Kurzarbeit einführen. Im zweiten Quartal hat sich die Lage hingegen grundlegend verschlechtert: Der Auftragseingang erreichte gerade noch knapp 39 Mio. Fr. bzw. die Hälfte des letztjährigen Niveaus, und auch der Umsatz halbierte sich praktisch. Im ersten Semester lagen Umsatz und Auftragseingang um rund einen Drittel tiefer (vgl. Tabelle). Vor allem in Südeuropa, der neben der Schweiz wichtigsten Region von Tornos, stockt der Absatz, weil den Kunden der finanzielle Spielraum fehlt, um neue Maschinen zu kaufen. Besonders schlecht verliefen die Geschäfte in den USA (–68%). Die Verdreifachung des Umsatzes in Asien, wo mittlerweile 28% (i. V. 6%) der Gruppeneinnahmen herstammen, konnte das Loch nicht stopfen.
    Was die Finanzlage betrifft, geht es Tornos ähnlich, denn der schlechte Geschäftsgang führte dazu, dass das Unternehmen die Auflagen eines Rahmenkredits über 50 Mio. Fr. per Mitte Jahr nicht mehr einhalten konnte. Nur weil die kreditgebende Bank darauf verzichtete, den Kredit per sofort für fällig zu erklären, darf Tornos weiterhin die beanspruchten 40,8 Mio. Fr. nutzen. Weil beim Cashflow ein Mittelabfluss von 7,3 Mio. Fr. resultierte, geriet der angestrebte Abbau der hohen Nettoverschuldung gegen Jahresmitte ins Stocken.
    An eine baldige Trendwende glaubt das Tornos-Management nicht mehr, denn die Sommermonate sind traditionell schwach. Statt eines Resultats auf Vorjahreshöhe geht es nun davon aus, in diesem Jahr weniger als 200 Mio. Fr. Umsatz (2011: 271 Mio. Fr.) und trotz Kurzarbeit einen Betriebsverlust (Ebit 2011: 16,6 Mio. Fr.) ausweisen zu müssen. Ob es mit der angestrebten Senkung der Kosten um 30 Mio. bis 35 Mio. Fr. – was 12% bis 14% der Gesamtkosten entspricht – getan ist, ist fraglich. Mitte Oktober soll die neue Strategie vorgestellt werden. In der derzeitigen Verfassung scheint der Fortbestand der Unabhängigkeit zunehmend unwahrscheinlicher.

8/19-20/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Work Sharing: New developments during the Great Recession and beyond, eds. Naj Ghosheh & Jon C. Messenger 8/19 book blurb via International Labour Organization via ilo.org
    GENEVA, Switzerland - Work sharing is a labour market instrument based on the reduction of working time, which is intended to spread a reduced volume of work over the same (or similar) number of workers in order to avoid layoffs. In times of economic crisis, work sharing can also permit businesses to retain their skilled workforces, thus minimizing firing and (re)hiring costs, preserving functioning plants and bolstering staff morale during difficult times. If work-sharing policies are properly designed and implemented, the result can be a “win-win-win” solution for workers, businesses and governments.
    This volume presents the concept and history of work sharing, how it can be used as a strategy for preserving jobs and also its potential for increasing employment - including the complexities and trade-offs involved. Work-sharing programmes used during the Great Recession of 2008-09 are analysed for several European countries (Germany’s Kurzarbeit, and measures in Austria, Belgium, France and the Netherlands) and other countries around the world (Japan, Turkey, the United States and Uruguay). The volume synthesizes the lessons learned from these recent experiences and their implications for policy, and also considers how work sharing might go beyond being solely a crisis response tool to contribute to improved individual well-being, more sustainable economies, and ultimately, more equitable societies.
    Type: Book
    Date of issue: 15 February 2013
    Reference: 978-92-2-124563-6[ISBN]
    Authors: Edited by Naj Ghosheh and Jon C. Messenger
    Format available: 250 pp.
    Prices: For hard (printed) copies: CHF ; USD ; GBP ; EUR
    Support medium: Paperback
    Contact(s): To order hard (printed) copies: pubvente@ilo.org

  2. Treasury considers bid to boost employment with tax-free 'mini-jobs' - Conservative MPs are promoting an idea based on a German model that critics say ties workers to low-wage work, by Juliette Jowit, 8/19 Manchester Guardian via guardian.co.uk
    LONDON, Eng., UK - The creation of "mini-jobs", which allow people to take on work without paying tax or national insurance, is being considered by the Treasury as one of a package of measures to make it easier to create employment.
    The idea – being promoted by some influential Conservative MPs – is modelled on a *scheme in Germany, in which employees can earn up to €400 a month (about £314) without giving up any of their salary, and employers pay only a flat rate to cover pensions, social insurance and wage taxes, making administration simpler.
    People can hold several mini-jobs up to the €400 a month tax-free limit, with the only impact on their income being the reduction of unemployment benefit over a certain threshold. Between €400 and €800, workers pay tax on a sliding scale.
    The initiative, introduced nearly a decade ago, is hailed by some as the key to Germany's "jobs miracle", which has seen the country register one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe at a time when most of the continent is struggling to cope with recession.
    However, critics say mini-jobs have locked part of the workforce into low-wage employment (Germany has no minimum wage), with little prospect of advancement, often in sectors such as catering and hospitality. There are also suggestions that full-time jobs are being split into several mini-jobs, reducing tax income.
    [So much the better, because this is natural market-demanded job creation without artificial government makework and withoutr ecobashing overproduction merely for the sake of frozen-"fulltime" jobs. So-called "mini"-jobs should long ago have been the norm in the age of automation. Here we behold self-styled conservatives spindoctoring their own partitioned minds (because of their own need for markets - details details!) toward worksharing and timesizing by tying them to their own favorite values of low wages and tax cuts. Hey, whatever gets us closer - "you can call me Ray, you can call me Jay..."]
    Despite the potential for controversy, an ally of George Osborne, said: "What I can tell you is that this is being looked at in government. There are lots of ideas that are being looked at as part of the deregulation drive, and this is one of them."
    Another Treasury source said it was too soon to say whether Osborne would adopt the scheme, but did not rule it out: "As the chancellor and Danny Alexander have said, it's a relentless focus on the economy, and the consequence of that is we're looking at lots of things."
    Although Liberal Democrats in the coalition were seen as key in blocking ideas for deregulating the labour market put forward in a report by Sir Adrian Beecroft, a party source said it was not true that there was a dispute with Conservatives over the idea of mini-jobs. "It's definitely something the chancellor is keen on," said the source. "It is not true we are opposing it – we will look at the options."
    However, those close to the Lib Dem business secretary Vince Cable appeared dismissive. In a statement, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: "This proposal is a German solution designed to deal with particular issues in the German labour market, driven by their relatively high taxes on labour. This is quite different to the situation in the UK.
    "The government is already taking action to take more people out of income tax and we are carrying out a root-and-branch reform of labour laws to make business more effective while maintaining protections for employees."
    At present, workers in the UK can earn £8,105 a year before they start paying tax – equivalent to £675 a month. Any new cap in the UK would need to be higher than that currently in place in Germany.
    Tory MPs who have advocated a scheme styled on mini-jobs include Elizabeth Truss, convenor of the Free Enterprise Group, which promotes policy ideas from the right of the party; and one of the 2010 intake of rising stars, Kwasi Kwarteng.
    The government is also under pressure to make other moves to help the ailing economy, including from Tory MPs calling for more deregulation, housebuilding and a renewed commitment to expanding Heathrow airport. A few Lib Dems have broken ranks with the coalition to appeal for the chancellor to relax the debt reduction targets to spend more on infrastructure building and other short-term assistance for jobs and growth.

  3. Work Less, Help the Environment and the Economy - Work-time reductions may be essential to curing not just our unemployment woes but our ecological ones too, by Juliet Schor, 8/20 WBUR via cognoscenti.wbur.org
    The next time your boss asks you to work late, tell her shorter hours of work are an important solution to both climate change and unemployment conundrums. (photo caption)
    NEWTON, Mass., USA - In this summer of 100-plus-degree heat throughout much of the country, the topic of warming and climate destabilization is again heating up. As scientists, a majority of the U.S. public and most of the world have recognized, we need significant action and we need it yesterday. Without action, we face a certain future of climate catastrophe.
    At the same time, the country faces ongoing unemployment and under-employment. The lackluster jobs reports of the last few months provide fresh evidence that the overhang of labor market imbalance from the collapse of 2008 remains. Employment rates plummeted that year and have not recovered. There are still 24 million Americans who are either out of a job altogether, marginally attached to the labor force, or working part-time because they can’t find more hours.
    The standard approach to job creation is to gun the engine of economic growth and hope the jobs trickle down. That’s the solution on both the Democratic and Republican sides of the aisle. Differences lie in how to stimulate growth, not whether it is the path to jobs. But this rare point of bipartisan consensus has itself become a problem. While a policy of indiscriminate growth may have served the nation well for much of the 20th century, it looks less useful in the 21st, for two reasons: Higher growth boosts carbon emissions, and it’s an increasingly inefficient way to generate employment.
    With a globalized economy in which many jobs are created elsewhere, there are now fewer jobs generated in the U.S. for each additional dollar of GDP. Moreover, the information economy continues to raise the productivity of labor throughout the economy, further reducing labor requirements. Those two “leakages” are widely recognized. But there’s a third factor dragging down job growth that is far less known: our unusually high working hours.
    American hours of work have been on a steady upward trajectory for more than 30 years. By 2011, the average U.S. employee was on the job almost 300 more hours per year than many Western Europeans. In that year, Americans worked 296 more hours than Germans, 264 more than the French and 320 more than the Dutch,
    with lower, but still substantial differentials between Sweden (90) and the U.K. (62). That suggests a U.S. employer needs to generate between 4 percent and 24 percent more revenue to justify a new hire than his or her European counterparts. Compared with the countries where the gap is the largest, the U.S. is producing four new jobs for every five created in those short-hour nations.
    As it turns out, work time is also key to curbing carbon emissions. For reasons connected to both macro- and microeconomics, shorter hours of work are associated with lower greenhouse gas emissions. In a study I conducted recently with sociologists from Washington State University using data from 29 high-income countries from 1970 to 2007, we found that when employees worked fewer hours per year, the carbon footprints and emissions of their nations were lower. And the reverse also holds: High-hours countries emit more.
    We believe there are two reasons for this relationship. The first pertains to the scale of the economy. Long-hour nations expand production, staying closer to the fastest possible growth path. By contrast, countries like Germany, France and the Netherlands, while still extremely rich by international standards, aren’t expanding the scale or size of their economies as much as they would be if their laborers spent more time in their factories and offices.
    The second reason is that having more free time changes what people do in their daily lives. Households that are time stressed live in more carbon-intensive ways. Travel mode is the most obvious. Getting places faster requires more carbon (think: walk, bike, public transport, drive, fly). But, even controlling for their higher incomes, households that work long hours also buy more prepared food and live in bigger houses.
    In the 1980s, the Dutch solved their unemployment problems by offering new government hires a four-day workweek at 80 percent pay, a savvy policy that allowed 20 percent more young people to get jobs. It’s a good way to begin, because youth are now bearing the brunt of the unemployment crisis. Today, the Dutch not only have the lowest hours in Europe, high labor productivity and a successful economy, but a carbon footprint that is only 63 percent of the American level.
    Getting back onto a path of work-time reductions, which the U.S. abandoned in the 1970s, may be essential to curing not just our unemployment woes but our ecological ones too.
    The views and opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the writer and do not in any way reflect the views of WBUR management or its employees.
    [Gott forbitt vee schut accuse WBUR management or its employees of such intelligence.]

  4. GM Close to Pact to Cut Working Hours at German Plants - GM and its labor representatives are close to reach an agreement to shorten the workdays at several German facilities, 8/20 INAUTONEWS.com
    RUESSELSHEIM, Germany - Next week GM is expected to announce shorter standard workday or week at two of GM’s Opel plants, part of the company’s plan to stem the financial losses in Europe. Over the past weeks, talks between GM, IG Metall union and the German government have intensified, fueled by the continuous drop of the European auto sales.
    The ‘short-time program’ which is about to be implemented, will allow GM to expand or contract a workday or week based on demand at the two Opel’s factories, which currently have 15,500 workers. Wolfgang Schäfer-Klug, Opel’s labor chief, confirmed the talks between the three parties, and added that shortening the workday or week is definitely a better solution than laying off employees.
    This new program will give the automaker the possibility to run the facilities long one week when there is increased demand and short another when there is less. The government agreed to subsidize part of the workers salaries on the shortened days or weeks. Cutting the number of working hours is an important step forward for GM, compared to other automakers who struggle in the loss-making Europe, such as Fiat and Ford.
    [Another version -]
    GM's Opel, staff close to deal on shorter work week, by Jan Schwartz, Reuters via ChicagoTribune.com
    BERLIN, Germany - Opel, the German unit of U.S. automaker General Motors , is close to signing an accord with workers to cut their hours at two German plants employing a total of 16,500, a spokesman for the carmaker said on Monday.
    GM lost $747 million on its European operations last year as a weak economy hit car sales in the region, forcing carmakers to confront high fixed costs and excess production capacity that GM has said equates to 10 plants.
    As sagging consumer demand curbs Opel deliveries in austerity-strapped southern Europe, management at the Ruesselsheim-based carmaker is making use of a clause in wage contracts to cut employees' standard 35-hour work week to 31 hours.
    If management and labor agree to shorten working hours at the main factory in Ruesselsheim and a component plant in Kaiserslautern, Opel can apply for subsidies under the German government's short-work program, called "Kurzarbeit".
    The talks are due to be concluded on Wednesday, and it remains unclear how many workers would be involved and exactly how their hours would be reduced.
    A pact to shorten the standard workday or work week at the two western German plants could be signed within the week, allowing for implementation on September 1, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter.
    The spokesman declined to confirm whether possible new rules on shorter working hours would take effect on September 1.
    Opel's wage contracts also allow it to increase weekly hours to as high as 38.75 to work off excess orders if demand is strong.
    (Writing By Andreas Cremer; editing by Jane Baird)
    [Guys, can we at least make up our minds if Jan or Andreas wrote this article?!]

8/18/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. GOP Provides Cover for Obama Giveaway, by Lincoln Brown, Town Hall via finance.townhall.com
    VERNAL, Utah, USA - Faced with the prospect of an economy that will still be circling the drain in November, and probably recognizing that the intellectual firepower of such luminaries as Vice President Joe Biden, Harry Reid and certain Super PACs are not necessarily assets to the cause, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis stepped up to the plate on Monday to pinch hit for Team Obama.
    And she hit a home run.
    The Department of Labor announced that it would hand out almost $100 million in grants to states for “work sharing programs.”
    “Work sharing” in this case is government-speak for covering salaries.
    The program will presumably prevent layoffs in the private sector by letting businesses have employees work as part-timers, with the Federal Government picking up some of the slack for the balance of full-time wages.

    The press release from the DOL says in part: “Work sharing allows employees to keep their jobs and helps employers to avoid laying off their trained workforces during economic downturns by reducing the hours of work for an entire group of affected workers. Workers affected by reduced hours can have their wages compensated with a portion of their weekly unemployment compensation payments.”
    The program gives $99,750,000 to 27 states.
    The program was passed in the House in February of this year under House Resolution 3630 which interestingly enough has as one of its miscellaneous provisions: “Prohibits the budgetary effects of this Act from being entered on either PAYGO scorecard maintained pursuant to the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010.”
    Ergo, the effects of these “grants” on the deficit will not be entered on to the Pay-As-You-Go Scorecard.
    How convenient.
    It also passed resoundingly in the Senate 89-10 (with Rand Paul of Kentucky not voting) as Amendment 1465 to the House bill.
    And, believe it or not, this was a Republican effort; the House Bill contains an extension of the payroll tax reduction and was given the title: “Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012”
    It would have been better for Congress to fight tooth and nail for tax cuts and to remain solidly behind business.
    The Republicans in Congress should have made a stand with their majority and protected the business owners and entrepreneurs who create jobs. I’m certain that the Republicans’ hearts were in the right place when they passed the bill in the House.
    It’s just their heads were where their backside ought to be.
    Maybe they didn’t consider that this particular portion of the bill might someday turn around and bite them on the collective backside.
    But bite them it shall.
    This is a brilliant illustration of unforeseen consequences.
    And I have to say that this move is probably the shrewdest so far in the Obama Campaign efforts. It is not as blatant as the amnesty measures, and it is not as insipid as naming Mitt Romney the leading cause of cancer.
    And it is not as poorly orchestrated as the Administration’s move to circumvent the WARN Act, thus keeping federal contractors from issuing pink slips just days before the election which might sour the voters on the concept of “Four More Years.”
    The Senate incidentally voted down Lindsey Graham’s attempt to stop that move, which was also a Department of Labor Production.
    No, this was well played indeed.
    Let’s be clear: No one wants to see anyone laid off, no matter the current unemployment rate.
    And to have American workers suffer layoffs or cutbacks in hours and wages would be yet another blow to the economy.
    It most certainly would not be a win for the GOP or anyone. But this series of grants will be a useful escape hatch for the Obama Administration whose policies have created such a horrible economy.
    It is a situation which has been augmented by employers’ fears over the many yet-to-be realized effects of Obamacare, impending tax-hikes and increased federal regulation.
    Not only can the Administration side-step responsibility for the mess it has created, but it can now underscore its message that private enterprise cannot sustain itself without the benevolent intervention of the government.
    I can almost hear “Okay, maybe you did build that, but you can’t afford it.”
    And best of all, it was a Republican bill.
    A bill the President can use to hide his role in creating the problem he will now take credit for fixing.
    Lincoln Brown is the Program Director at KVEL Radio in Vernal, Utah. He hosts “The Lincoln Brown Show” Mondays through Fridays from 8-9 AM.

  2. Employers' selection behavior during short-time work, by Theresa Scholz, ideas.repec.org
    NUREMBURG, Germany - Abstract: During the recession of 2008-09, Germany experienced a huge decrease in GDP.
    [Unmarketable GDP is irrelevant anyway.]
    Employment, however, remained surprisingly stable.
    [And employment is always relevant because it funds the markets.]
    The so-called German labor market miracle is often ascribed to the intensive usage of short-time work...
    [Alias worksharing.]
    . Despite the resurgence of this instrument, little is known about the employees affected by it. This paper analyzes whether employers select certain individuals for short-time work, where special focus is given on the effect of human capital. The analysis is based on a unique linked-employer-employee data set on short-time workers in the district of the employment agency of Nuremberg. We use methods of event history analysis to estimate transition rates from regular employment to short-time work. Our results indicate that employers select a broad range of workers for STW, irrespective of their level of human capital. Fears that short-time work is mainly applied to a certain group of workers are not confirmed. - click here for *whole research report.
    Theresa Scholz (Theresa.Scholz2@iab.de) is at the Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany (Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg.

8/17/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Utah Receives Grant Money for Work Sharing Program, by Brianna Bodily [we are not making this up!], UPR Utah via upr.org
    SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, USA - Nearly $100 million in federal grant money has recently been made available to states. How will Utah use this money and how will it help our job market?
    Under the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, states have been attempting programs that will give employers an alternative to lay-offs. The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced a grant that is intended to aid states in the implementation of one of those programs.
    Jason Kuruvilla from the U.S. Department of Labor said they chose work sharing because if its excellent track record:
    "We know that it works in the states that have implemented it. We have examples from other countries like Germany that have used this program successfully to reduce unemployment."
    Instead of laying off workers when times get tough, Kuruvilla said this program provides employers with the option of reducing a group of workers' hours and retaining all employees.
    Currently 1/3 of the grant money will actually go toward the implementation of the grant. The other 2/3 will be used to promote its use to employers

  2. Indiana "work sharing" plan would help workers, employers, (8/16 late pickup) indianahousedemocrats.org
    INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., USA - Moving quickly to establish a work sharing unemployment insurance program in Indiana would benefit both working Hoosiers and their employers, according to State Rep. Mary Ann Sullivan (D-Indianapolis), a leading legislative advocate of the plan.
    Although efforts by Sullivan and State Rep. Greg Steuerwald (R-Danville) to bring work sharing to our state proved unsuccessful in the 2012 session of the Indiana General Assembly, Sullivan said she would continue to advocate passage of the plan, which could help secure more than $2 million in federal funding to assist working Hoosiers.
    “Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that close to $100 million in grants are available to states that choose to implement work sharing programs that help employers avoid laying off trained workers during economic downturns,” Sullivan said. “Indiana would have been eligible to receive more than $2.07 million under this plan.
    “Unfortunately, Indiana cannot take advantage of the program because our state does not have the mechanism in place to enable employers to receive work sharing benefits,” she continued.
    “House Bill 1151, which I co-authored with Rep. Steuerwald, would have put the machinery in place to take advantage of these funds, but the legislation did not gain any traction in the 2012 session,” Sullivan said.
    In a work share plan, employers have the ability to reduce the hours of workers, rather than laying them off. In turn, those workers would have their lost wages supplemented with a portion of the weekly unemployment insurance benefits they would have received if they had been laid off.
    “Business owners can temporarily reduce labor costs, but keep the skilled employees that they have already trained without the risk of losing them permanently,” Sullivan noted. “Workers will be able to keep their jobs, and they will be assured of maintaining their current level of benefits.
    “Through the federal program, Indiana is guaranteed to get this $2 million, which can be used to get work sharing off the ground,” she said. “All we have to do is create the program through legislation and we can get started.”
    Sullivan has talked to Steuerwald and other lawmakers about the proposal, and fully intends to file legislation to put work sharing into place when the General Assembly returns for its 2013 session in January.
    “I cannot see this program as anything but a win-win for our state at a time when we need to do everything in our power to make sure that Hoosiers can get and keep good-paying jobs,” she concluded.

8/16/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Official: Indiana will turn down $2 million grant to implement work-share program,by Timothy Cox, TheStatehouseFile.com
    INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., USA – Federal officials have offered the state more than $2 million to develop a work-sharing program as part of its unemployment system, but an official with the Indiana Department of Workforce Development said Thursday the state won’t participate.
    Work share allows employers facing financial problems to cut the wages and hours of either all employees or a single department. Then the state’s unemployment insurance agency – in this case the DWD [Dept. of Workforce Development] – pays a percentage of each worker’s lost income. It’s a sort of partial unemployment program.
    The U.S. Department of Labor announced Monday that it would encourage work-share programs in the states with $100 million in grants.
    “Establishing or expanding work-sharing programs nationwide will help business owners better weather hard economic times by temporarily reducing their labor costs while still keeping their existing skilled employees,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. “This program is a win-win for businesses and employees alike.”
    But DWD spokesman Joe Frank said work-sharing programs won’t help Indiana and therefore the state will not use the grant. He said businesses in the 24 states that have the program aren’t taking part.
    [Sounds like Indiana has a problem bureaucrat. Don't bother him with reality, his mind's made up.]
    “There are only 26,000 people in the entire country even utilizing this program,” Frank said. “Less than half the states are participating.”
    He said the programs discourage employees from finding new jobs and hurt production in the companies that participate.
    [WHAT "new jobs"? This guy is living in the pre-robotics past. And with robotization, production is not the problem. Marketable production is the problem.]
    The state’s decision not to use the grant comes as Democrats, some Republicans and advocates for workers have been pushing for an Indiana work-share program. Democrats in the Indiana House introduced legislation to incorporate work-share into the state’s unemployment system earlier this year – a proposal meant to replace controversial anti-union proposals from Republicans – but the legislation failed to gain traction.
    Rep. Mary Ann Sullivan, D-Indianapolis, who co-authored the work-share legislation with Rep. Greg Steuerwald, R-Avon, said this week that the session was “not the time” for Hoosiers to consider work sharing.
    “No one was opposed in principle to the work-share legislation,” she said. “They were concerned about opening up the unemployment insurance statute.” That’s in part because Republicans and Democrats have been battling in recent years over unemployment rules and compensation.
    [Fine, Indiana can provide a control sample in the ongoing state-level worksharing experiment.]
    But the grant provides new opportunities, advocates said.
    A report issued last year by the Indiana Institute for Working Families found that work-share programs allow affected employees to find second jobs and will continue to pay workers who find a second source of income. Employees can also choose whether or not to be included in work share.
    Derek Thomas, a policy analyst for the institute, said work sharing helps employers and employees and also saves the states money.
    “Michigan’s legislative service agency did a fiscal impact statement and said that savings to the unemployment competition fund could be realized,” Thomas said. “The state’s actually going to save money on their unemployment fund. It’s a win-win-win.”
    But Frank said the same can’t be said for Indiana and that an economic analysis shows work share “would have a negative impact on our trust fund.”
    [How can using federal dollars to keep people émployed and OFF a state's unemployment trust fund have a negative impact on the fund?]
    Currently, Indiana owes the federal government roughly $1.7 billion it borrowed during the economic downturn to pay benefits to unemployed workers.
    Advocates of work share said the program can be useful for small businesses that can’t afford to permanently lose an employee – and for businesses that invest significantly in employee training.
    “In a time where we have a skills-gap issue, the last thing employers want to do is lose their skilled employees [wishful thinking?], so this just gives them an option to retain that talent,” Thomas said.
    Sullivan said that she believes Indiana will eventually adopt work share “one way or another.”
    “Other states have proven that it is effective,” Sullivan said. “Everyone agrees that this would be a great tool in our toolbox for managing the impact of the recession.”
    And while Indiana isn’t looking at work-sharing options right now, even the DWD’s Frank said “never say never.”
    Timothy Cox is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

  2. German industry group: no risk of widespread short hours, Reuters via in.reuters.com
    BERLIN, Germany - Germany's main industry group said on Thursday it did not believe plans to temporarily reduce working hours at two major German firms would spell the same fate for workers elsewhere as the mood in Europe's largest economy was mostly upbeat.
    Europe's largest economy has remained resilient throughout much of the euro zone crisis But growth slowed in the second quarter and recent indicators suggest the economy could contract going forward, sending unemployment back up.
    "I think those cases are exceptions," said the BDI's* expert on small and medium-sized firms Arndt Kirchhoff. "It is not a general trend."
    U.S. automaker General Motors' German unit Opel said on Thursday it was in talks with workers to cut their hours in response to weakening demand for cars in Europe.
    If management and labour agree to shorten working hours at Ruesselsheim, Opel can apply for subsidies under the German government's short-work programme, called "Kurzarbeit".
    The scheme was used by many struggling companies in the 2008-2009 recession, allowing them to preserve jobs by cutting employees' hours when plant usage was low and having the government compensate workers for part of their lost wages.

    The government pays workers in the programme 60 percent of their net lost wages for up to six months, or 67 percent if they have children.
    The BDI's Kirchhoff said the general mood in industry, and economic growth in Germany, were stable despite the recent slowdown. Data released this week showed that growth slowed to 0.3 percent in the second quarter from 0.5 percent in the first.
    "I don't think we will experience big instances (of Kurzarbeit), let alone compared with what we had in 2009."
    At the height of the global financial crisis, more than 1.4 million workers in Germany received money under the programme.
    That figure stood at only about 80,000 in May, but several companies have had to seek subsidies in recent months.
    ThyssenKrupp, Germany's biggest steelmaker, said last month it would temporarily curb working hours at its five steel-making facilities in Germany in response to a slowdown in demand.
    Also, the number of Germans out of work rose for a fourth month running in July, albeit remaining close to its lowest since Germany reunified more than two decades ago.
    But BDI's Kirchhoff said in the case of Opel and other carmakers, the business downturn was partly due to a one-off measure implemented throughout Europe during the financial crisis in order to stimulate growth then, namely cash-for-clunkers schemes.
    People had not bought extra cars, but brought forward their planned purchases to make use of the car scrapping incentives.
    "The cars that were sold then are not being bought again now," said Kirchhoff, who is also a partner of a car parts supplier with roughly 10,000 employees.
    *The BDI [Bundesverband Deutschen Industrie, www.bdi.eu = Federal Association of German Industry] is the umbrella organization for industrial businesses and industry-related service-providers.
    (Reporting By Klaus Lauer and Sarah Marsh; editing by Ron Askew)

8/15/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Labor Dept. Attempts to Stop Layoffs by Giving $100 Million to States to Subsidize Payrolls, by Penny Starr, CNSNews.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA – The Labor Department announced on Monday that it will be awarding almost $100 million in grant funding to states to prevent layoffs by allowing businesses to pay employees as part-time workers and the federal government will pick up the tab for the cost of a full-time paycheck.
    The “work-sharing” program was passed as part of a Republican-led bill in the House, H.R. 3630, and Senate Amendment 1465 to extend the payroll tax deduction and unemployment benefits. In February 2012, President Barack Obama signed the bill into law, which included the $100 million in funding.

    "Establishing or expanding work-sharing programs nationwide will help business owners better weather hard economic times by temporarily reducing their labor costs while still keeping their existing skilled employees," Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis said in the press release announcing the grants. "This program is a win-win for businesses and employees alike."
    The work-sharing programs “allows employees to keep their jobs and helps employers to avoid laying off their trained workforces during economic downturns by reducing the hours of work for an entire group of affected workers,” according to the Labor Department.
    The grants will be given to states that apply and meet certain requirements, including having short-term compensation programs in place that meet federal guidelines. Workers will have “wages compensated with a portion of their weekly unemployment compensation payments,” according to the Labor Department.
    The Labor Department also released a chart detailing the funding available for all 50 states, U.S territories and the District of Columbia.
    The largest pot is available to California, with $11,593,587 in grant funding listed. New York and Florida can get around $6 million, with Illinois and Pennsylvania eligible for more than $4 million each.

  2. Oregon gets $1.2M for work programs, Portland Business Journal via Bizjournals.com
    PORTLAND, Ore., USA - Oregon has landed a chunk of the $100 million that the U.S. Labor Department has dispatched to states in hopes of averting layoffs.
    Oregon will collect nearly $1.2 million for "work-sharing" programs that seek to boost short-[time] compensation. The money comes from the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, which Congress passed and President Obama signed in February.
    The work sharing program allows employers to avoid layoffs by reducing the hours their workers log. The idea is that it provides a bridge until the company can again afford to bring the employees back full time.
    [And if that never happens, it's time to continue our secular = non-cyclical, 1840-1940 workweek reduction and quit pretending that a pre-automation 40-hour workweek can last forever into the Age of Robotics.]
    Just one-third of the money will go toward providing short-term compensation. The rest will "promote and enroll employers in the program," according to a Labor Department release.

8/14/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Utah offered federal funds for 'work sharing' program, Salt Lake Tribune via sltrib.com
    SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, USA - The U.S. Department of Labor has nearly $100 million available for grants to help states implement "work sharing" programs that can give struggling employers an alternative to laying off workers.
    Utah’s share of the funding is $870,818, but the state has yet to decide whether to take advantage of the grant money.
    "We don’t have a program like that right now, although we are studying the possibility of launching one," said Curt Stewart, spokesman for the Utah Department of Workforce Service.

    Work sharing allows employees to keep their jobs and helps employers avoid laying off trained workers during economic downturns by reducing the hours of work for the affected workers. Those with reduced hours can have their wages supplemented with a portion of their weekly unemployment compensation payments.
    According to the Labor Department, one-third of the grant money for each state will be used to implement or improve a short-time compensation program, and two-thirds will be available to promote and enroll employers.
    "This program is a win-win for businesses and employees alike," Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis said in a statement. "Establishing or expanding work-sharing programs nationwide will help business owners better weather hard economic times by temporarily reducing their labor costs, while still keeping their existing skilled employees."
    Funding for the program was made available through the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 signed by President Obama in February.

  2. Nevada to get about $1 million for work-sharing program, Las Vegas Review-Journal via lvrj.com
    LAS VEGAS, Nev., USA - Nevada will get $1.03 million from a U.S. Labor Department grant to implement or improve existing short-term compensation, commonly referred to as "work sharing" programs.
    [So the Review-Journal didn't even bother to find out if Nevada already HAS a worksharing program?! (The answer, both questions, is no.)]
    Some $100 million is being made available nationwide.
    The grant has been made available through the bipartisan Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which authorizes states to set up programs to give employers an alternative to layoffs, officials said Monday in a statement.
    "Establishing or expanding work-sharing programs nationwide will help business owners better weather hard economic times by temporarily reducing their labor costs while still keeping their existing skilled employees," Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis said in a statement. "This program is a win-win for businesses and employees alike."
    Work sharing allows employees to keep their jobs and helps employers avoid layoffs during economic downturns by reducing the hours of work for an entire group of affected workers. Workers affected by reduced hours can have their wages compensated with a portion of their weekly unemployment compensation payments, the statement noted.

8/12-13/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. US Labor Department announces nearly $100 million in grants available for states to implement, improve short-time compensation or 'work sharing', 8/13 U.S. Dept. of Labor via ETA News Release via dol.gov/media/press/eta
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — The U.S. Department of Labor today announced the availability of nearly $100 million in grants for states to implement or improve existing short-term compensation, commonly referred to as "work sharing," programs. This funding has been made available through the bipartisan Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 signed by President Obama in February, which authorized states to set up programs to give employers an alternative to layoffs.
    "Establishing or expanding work-sharing programs nationwide will help business owners better weather hard economic times by temporarily reducing their labor costs while still keeping their existing skilled employees," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "This program is a win-win for businesses and employees alike."
    Work sharing allows employees to keep their jobs and helps employers to avoid laying off their trained workforces during economic downturns by reducing the hours of work for an entire group of affected workers. Workers affected by reduced hours can have their wages compensated with a portion of their weekly unemployment compensation payments.
    The legislation requires each state to submit a complete application to the Labor Department in order to receive a grant. Any state that currently has an active short-time compensation program is eligible to apply if the state's law on work sharing conforms to Section 3306(v) of the Federal Unemployment Tax Act and its program is not subject to discontinuation.
    Each state has a designated allotment from the total grant funds available. One-third of the allotted grant money for each state will be used to implement or improve a short-time compensation program, and two-thirds will be available to promote and enroll employers in the program.
    The department will provide technical assistance through webinars and other methods to help states achieve the purposes of the grants. The department also will collect and disseminate successful practices based on program implementation as well as outreach tools developed as a result of these grants.
    For more information and an application checklist, read the Unemployment Insurance Program Letter No. 27-12 distributed by the Labor Department's Employment and Training Administration at http://s.dol.gov/UR.
    Editor's Note: A chart with grant amounts available by state and territory follows this news release.

    Contact Name: Jason Kuruvilla or Dave Roberts
    Phone Number: (202) 693-6587 or x5945
    Release Number: 12-1618-NAT
    Short-Time Compensation Grants Amounts Available by State/Territory
    State  Total Share     State  Total Share
    Alaska $240,772     North Carolina $2,899,754
    Alabama $1,414,715     North Dakota $237,096
    Arkansas $879,937     Nebraska $649,799
    Arizona $1,955,074     New Hampshire $451,654
    California $11,593,587     New Jersey $2,937,860
    Colorado $1,819,895     New Mexico $572,119
    Connecticut $1,260,659     Nevada $1,027,665
    District of Columbia $416,291     New York $6,078,428
    Delaware $312,075     Ohio $3,714,908
    Florida $5,913,909     Oklahoma $1,129,637
    Georgia $3,072,385     Oregon $1,189,281
    Hawaii $440,074     Pennsylvania $4,010,338
    Iowa $1,061,207     Puerto Rico $601,269
    Idaho $456,199     Rhode Island $329,158
    Illinois $4,307,659     South Carolina $1,352,143
    Indiana $2,074,861     South Dakota $268,073
    Kansas $1,031,988     Tennessee $1,967,539
    Kentucky $1,330,647     Texas $8,297,415
    Louisiana $1,501,852     Utah $870,818
    Massachusetts $2,366,515     Virginia $2,739,420 [alpha be damned to join the commonwealths?]
    Maryland $1,832,552     Virgin Islands $28,519
    Maine $413,881     Vermont $202,352 [alpha be damned to join New Englanders?]
    Michigan $2,840,535     Washington $2,143,527
    Minnesota $1,879,950     Wisconsin $1,923,648
    Missouri $1,930,233     West Virginia $488,063
    Mississippi $802,670     Wyoming $205,845
    Montana $283,550       Total = $99,750,000

  2. US Labor Department announces grants, Louisiana Eligible for over $1 million, 8/13 press release via KATC Lafayette News via katc.com
    LAFAYETTE, La., USA - The U.S. Department of Labor today announced the availability of nearly $100 million in grants for states to implement or improve existing short-term compensation, commonly referred to as "work sharing," programs. This funding has been made available through the bipartisan Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 signed by President Obama in February, which authorized states to set up programs to give employers an alternative to layoffs. Available funds for the state of Louisiana total $1,501,852.
    "Establishing or expanding work -sharing programs nationwide will help business owners better weather hard economic times by temporarily reducing their labor costs while still keeping their existing skilled employees," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "This program is a win-win for businesses and employees alike."

    Work sharing allows employees to keep their jobs and helps employers to avoid laying off their trained workforces during economic downturns by reducing the hours of work for an entire group of affected workers. Workers affected by reduced hours can have their wages compensated with a portion of their weekly unemployment compensation payments.
    The legislation requires each state to submit a complete application to the Labor Department in order to receive a grant. Any state that currently has an active short-time compensation program is eligible to apply if the state's law on work sharing conforms to Section 3306(v) of the Federal Unemployment Tax Act and its program is not subject to discontinuation.
    Each state has a designated allotment from the total grant funds available. One-third of the allotted grant money for each state will be used to implement or improve a short-time compensation program, and two-thirds will be available to promote and enroll employers in the program.
    The department will provide technical assistance through webinars and other methods to help states achieve the purposes of the grants. The department also will collect and disseminate successful practices based on program implementation as well as outreach tools developed as a result of these grants.
    For more information and an application checklist, read the Unemployment Insurance Program Letter No. 27-12 distributed by the Labor Department's Employment and Training Administration at http://s.dol.gov/UR.

  3. Kentucky courts closed Monday for furlough day, by Kendall Herold kherold@wcpo.com, 8/12 WCPO.com
    CAMPBELL COUNTY, Ky., USA - Courtroom benches will be empty and hallways silent in courthouses across Kentucky Monday.
    For the first time in more than 40 years, the Kentucky Court system is closed to balance its budget.
    Monday marks the first of three furlough days for judicial branch employees. All un-elected personnel in Kentucky are being furloughed for budget-balancing.
    The furloughs are being seen as a lifesaver for many employees. To them, it is unpaid time off to avoid layoffs after state lawmakers approved a $25.2 million budget cut for the judicial branch.
    The closure includes all court pretrial services, drug court, the court designated worker program, the state law library and driver's license branches.
    Here are some things you can't do Monday:
    -Driver's license services are closed. No licenses are being issued.
    -No trials or other court proceedings are scheduled
    -No bonds or release orders are being issued
    -The Kentucky Supreme Court is suspending its rule requiring pretrial officers to interview a defendant within 12 hours of incarceration
    Courts will reopen Tuesday.
    There are two more furlough days scheduled for September 4 and October 15.

  4. Public jobs are shrinking, 8/13 (8/12 late pickup) Copyright 2012 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution via FireEngineering.com
    ATLANTA, Ga., USA - The schools in Georgia are reopening this month, but crimped budgets are forcing many districts to make do with fewer teachers, bus drivers and cafeteria workers.
    And while school systems may be the biggest target, thousands of other positions have been eliminated by state agencies and a range of local governments. Even firefighters and police face hiring freezes, unpaid furloughs, caps on overtime and some job cuts.
    For budgets, it's about balance. For households --- and the economy --- it's about pain.
    Some say that pain was inevitable, arguing that public payrolls were bloated and the alternative was raising taxes, which also would hurt the economy. Others contend the pain was poorly conceived and executed, as well as badly timed.
    During previous recessions, the government rarely retreated. But over the past two years, partly because of the depth of the fallout from the financial and housing crises, the public sector in Georgia --- federal, state and local --- has shed 19,000 jobs. Yet in that same period, the private sector has gained 104,200.
    That hiring has not been enough to help the 430,000 Georgians who are looking for work. And now government cuts are swelling their ranks. Three years after the national recession officially ended, Georgia's jobless rate rose to 9 percent in June. About 15 percent of Georgia's 4.3 million jobs are in the public sector. So cuts worsen the odds for all job-seekers and put stress on families that may already be strapped.
    Not all the damage comes through job cuts.
    Kaci Lane, a first-grade teacher at Taylor Primary School in Butler, is coping with a series of unpaid furlough days. She is a mother of two. Her husband attends nursing school, working just part time.
    "It's tight --- we've had to cut back," she said.
    They ditched their land-line phone. Date night with her husband used to be dinner at an Olive Garden or Red Lobster. But now, that notion usually gets tabled after considering the price of gas, the tab for a sitter and her diminished income.
    Such decisions, when multiplied by millions of similar ones, keep the economy weak and job-seekers on the sidelines.
    Cobb schools are likely to have five furlough days this year, said Connie Jackson, president of the Cobb County Association of Educators and a special needs teacher.
    Meanwhile, health insurance premiums have been rising, up from $150 a month five years ago to more than $300 a month now, she said. "And that is something you have to have."
    Her salary will, in effect, be down $3,000 from last year, she said.
    "My rent doesn't go down. My utilities don't go down. But my paycheck goes down," said Jackson, a single parent of two boys. "Teenagers love name brands, but you have to do consignment stores. You have to clip coupons. We don't go to nice restaurants anymore. Just fast food."
    Cobb is cutting about 350 positions, but using attrition to do it. That leaves the nearly 8,000 others in the county system anxious, but grateful, she said.
    "God knows we are so lucky to have jobs," Jackson said.
    Smaller districts are in a virtual vise. They have fewer resources for government to fall back on, and when layoffs occur, the jobless have fewer options. Schools are often a county's largest employer.
    Even before the recession undercut tax coffers, local schools saw the state slashing its contributions, said Richard McCorkle, superintendent in Marion County.
    "We have cut every year --- every year," he said. "People retire. We just have not replaced them."
    The district has cut teachers, lunchroom staff, maintenance and secretaries, as well as part-timers, he said.
    "In a county like Marion, most of them have nowhere else to go to work," McCorkle said. "It is tougher in rural areas to find a job."
    Faced with a steady plunge in state aid, nearby Stewart County, the state's poorest, has taken even more drastic measures.
    The schools open only four days a week. They have chopped out 10 days of pay in furloughs for teachers and administrators. And they've laid off more than 20 people, said Floyd Fort, the district's superintendent.
    He also has lost two weeks of pay. Fort said he watches the thermostat carefully, combines errands when he has to drive his truck and doesn't travel on weekends the way he used to.
    Yet the public sector is not only a story of shrinkage. As the recession deepened, many Georgians flocked to colleges and universities to gain new skills. The result has been a hiring boom in higher education. The number working for the Board of Regents is up 7.4 percent in four years. The rest of state government employment has fallen by 14.3 percent.
    But except for that, the story is one of austerity --- at nearly all levels and most departments. And the Regents' hiring binge may be over. The governor has asked state agencies to find another $553 million in reductions through June 2014. About one-fifth of that would come from the university system.
    Unlike the federal government, which prints its own currency and can run a deficit indefinitely, state and local governments must match costs and revenue.
    Very few governments are willing to raise taxes, so for most, cutting is the only route back to balance. Because schools are the largest part of local budgets --- and salaries the lion's share of that --- teachers have been the most common targets. But they are not the only targets.
    Kelvin Cochran, Atlanta's fire chief, said his department took a hit of more than $14 million in 2009, losing 145 positions, including many firefighters. Further hiring was frozen and remaining employees endured a 10 percent furlough, he said.
    Since then, Atlanta's finances have rebounded and the department is back to its previous employment, he said.
    But many municipalities are still struggling. Cartersville has lost five positions, said Scott Carter, who's the city's fire chief and president of the Georgia State Firefighters Association.
    For police, there have been relatively few layoffs in Georgia, but departments have used other cost-cutting measures --- like furloughs or caps on overtime --- that crimp employee pay, said Frank Rotondo, executive director of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police.
    For state government itself, the ax started falling in the depths of the recession, after sales tax revenues plunged. Proportionally, the knife has cut deeper in some small agencies, like the Georgia Firefighters Standards and Training Council.
    "Budget cuts started in 2008 and they haven't quit," said Lyn Pardue, executive director of the council, which oversees hundreds of local fire services. "We had 10 people on staff. We are down to eight."
    Georgia's job market is weak, in part because of cutbacks in public schools and other government operations due to tighter budgets. On the plus side, the private sector continues to grow, especially in health care.
    Georgia's Public Sector
    How government jobs in Georgia have fared, from peak employment to now
    Down 4.1%   Total government employment: Down 28,500 jobs
    Up 4.2%   Total federal employment: Up 4,100 jobs
    Down 8.3%   Total state government employment: Down 13,800 jobs
    Down 4.6%   Total local government employment: Down 20,200 jobs
    How Georgia's public sector and private sector compare over past two years
    19,000     Number of public jobs lost
    104,200   Number of private jobs gained
    Comparing recessions
    All government jobs in Georgia, from a recession's start until four-and-a-half years later
    Down 1.7%   Dec. 2007 - June 2012: Down 11,800 jobs
    Up 7.9%   March 2001 --- Sept. 2005: Up 47,900 jobs
    Up 6.4%   June 1990 --- Dec. 1994: Up 34,200 jobs
    Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

  5. Le Figaro lied about the 35-hours, 8/13 Chroniques (politiques) de Juan via sarkofrance.blogspot.ca
    PARIS, France - A few days ago Le Figaro published a big one on the cost of [France's nationwide] 35-hour workweek. At least 22 billion euros a year, claimed the author. The argument was spun from a conclusion: it is very necessary to renounce [35 hours] and work more.
    [As if hard work is still a human virtue when robots do it sooo much better than us!]
    Unfortunately, it was all false.
    An avowed lie...
    The article title is affirmative, definitive, with no ambiguity:
    "The 35-hour [workweek] costs at least 22 billion per year."
    The article then sought evidence to justify the claim.
    Then, near the end of the article, one comes upon this admission, a short paragraph, that it's better to cite verbatim to avoid any accusations of selectivity:
    "Result, France again today finds itself with mass unemployment and an elevated cost of labour (23% higher than that of Germany), despite the 22 billion euros in social exemptions awarded each year to enterprises to 'compensate' the transition from 39 to 35 hours a week without loss of pay." This is the real toxicity of the 35 hours! It represents in a general way the equivalent of the annual budget for research and higher education.
    "The Court of Auditors itself has held that the effectiveness in the use of these exemptions was ' too uncertain to neglect to reconsider their magnitude, and even their sustainability.' Of course, all these taxbreaks cannot be laid directly at the doorstep of the Aubry laws. The first exemptions against low salaries were introduced by the Balladur Government in 1993. But they were considerably inflated with 35 hours: from less than € 7 billion in 1999 to 17 billion five years later, and more than 22 billion in 2010."
    Let us re-read together: "Of course, all these taxbreaks cannot be laid directly at the doorstep of the Aubry laws."
    And yes, the author was admitting his crime in minced words, the 22 billion euros that he threw at us in title were not all the fault of the thirty-five hours.

    ... 9 billion too much
    Moreover, the former government had already delivered a very precise estimate of the different exemptions from social charges from which the enterprises benefit. In June 2011, responding to the question from a Senator, here is what Xavier Bertrand provided, a very exhaustive chart on the exemptions from social charges, a chart that the author of the article should have been been able to consult. ...
    What does it show?
    1. In 2003, François Fillon, Minister of labour, merged all the arrangements around the exemption from charges, by unifying the scales - those concerning low wages and those installed in 1998 tied to the worktime reduction ("Robien", then "Aubry" taxbreaks).
    2. The 22 billion euros definitely relate to all exemptions and not only those relating to the worktime reduction.
    3 In 2002, last year where the 35-hour exemptions were still counted separately, the Aubry ("I" and then "II") subsidies represented a total amount of ... 10.4 billion euros. Le Figaro fooled itself/us by 50%!
    4. To supplement his presentation, the former Minister specified that the conclusion of the reports from the Orientation Council for Employment and from the Court of Auditors "lead one to recognize the positive impact of the policy of taxbreaks from the social-security contributions on employment," and added that "their total repeal today would lead to the loss of about 800,000 jobs in the space of a few years, without returning to the elevated minimum-wage increases decided and voted because of the worktime reduction." What a paradox! Losing this famous 22-billion-euro exemption from charges - a part of which cover the cushioning of the transition from 39 to 35 hours - would cost 800,000 jobs! Catch 22?
    The return of Sophie Roquelle?
    The article published by Le Figaro is signed by Sophie Roquelle, editor-in-chief of Le Figaro.
    This name perhaps means nothing to you.
    In June 2011, she plunged into a lengthy investigation in Le Figaro magazine about "France on welfare." She enlarged on Laurent Wauquiez' salvos against the "welfare cancer." Her article commenced with by a famous paragraph: "One sometimes called them "sofas"." In the milieu of professional employment, one is quite familiar with these job-seekers who don't seek much, just the ability to stay home in front of the television. Work is no more than an old memory. Their universe comes down to a large sofa with a huge flat screen that purrs constantly to occupy their solitude. "Rapidly, a good fraction of the Internet is outraged, until this question from Daniel Schneidermann of Stop the Motion in an article simultaneously published by 89th Street:
    "Can we write about welfare cases and be married to the number-two man in Gaz de France?"
    Can one write - without verifying one's figures - in the economic section of Le Figaro?
    Le Figaro ment sur les 35 heures, (pushed thru Bing-Yahoo-BabelFish + mucho cleanup)
    PARIS, France - Il y a quelques jours, le Figaro a publié un article assassin sur le coût des 35 heures. Au moins 22 milliards d'euros par an, expliquait l'auteur. L'argument était complété d'un constat: il faudra bien y renoncer et travailler plus.
    Malheureusement, tout était faux.
    Mensonge avoué...
    Le titre de l'article est affirmatif, définitif, sans aucune ambiguïté:
    « Les 35 heures coûtent au moins 22 milliards par an »
    On cherche alors la preuve du propos, la justification de l'affirmation.
    Puis, presque à la fin de l'article, on tombe sur cet aveu, un court paragraphe, qu'il vaut mieux citer in extenso pour éviter toute accusation de censure:
    « Résultat, la France se retrouve aujourd'hui avec un chômage de masse et un coût du travail élevé (de 23 % supérieur à celui de l'Allemagne), en dépit des 22 milliards d'euros d'exonérations de charges sociales accordées chaque année aux entreprises pour «compenser» le passage de 39 heures à 35 heures sans perte de salaire. C'est le véritable boulet des 35 heures! Il représente, grosso modo, l'équivalent du budget annuel de l'Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche.
    La Cour des comptes elle-même a jugé que l'efficacité sur l'emploi de ces exonérations était «trop incertaine pour ne pas amener à reconsidérer leur ampleur, voire leur pérennité». Certes, la totalité de ces allégements n'est pas directement imputable aux lois Aubry. Les premières exonérations sur les bas salaires ont même été introduites par le gouvernement Balladur en 1993. Mais elles ont considérablement gonflé avec les 35 heures: passant de moins de 7 milliards d'euros en 1999 à 17 milliards cinq ans plus tard, et à plus de 22 milliards en 2010.»
    Relisons ensemble: « Certes, la totalité de ces allégements n'est pas directement imputable aux lois Aubry. »
    Et oui. L'auteur avouait son forfait à demi-mot, les 22 milliards d'euros qu'il nous jetait en titre n'étaient pas totalement imputable aux trente-cinq heures.
    ... 9 milliards de trop
    D'ailleurs, l'ancien gouvernement avait déjà livré une estimation très précise des différentes exonérations de charges sociales dont bénéficient les entreprises. En juin 2011, répondant à la question d'un sénateur, voici que Xavier Bertrand fournit un tableau très exhaustif sur les exonérations de charges sociales. Un tableau que la journaliste auteur de l'article aurait pu consulté.
    Qu'apprend-t-on ?
    1. En 2003, François Fillon, alors ministre du travail, fusionne tous les dispositifs d'exonération de charges, en unifiant les barèmes - ceux concernant les bas salaires et ceux instaurés en 1998 liés à la réduction du temps de travail (allégements « Robien », puis « Aubry »).
    2. Les 22 milliards d'euros concernent bien toutes les exonérations et pas seulement ceux relatifs à la RTT.
    3. En 2002, dernière année où les exonérations 35 heures étaient encore comptabilisées séparément, les aides Aubry (« I » puis « II ») représentaient un montant total de ... 10,4 milliards d'euros. Le Figaro se/nous trompait de près de 50% !
    4. Pour compléter sa présentation, le ministre d'alors faisait préciser que les conclusions des rapports du Conseil d'orientation pour l'emploi et de la Cour des comptes « tendent à la reconnaissance de l'impact positif de la politique d'allégements de cotisations sociales sur l'emploi », et d'ajouter que « leur suppression totale aujourd'hui conduirait à détruire environ 800 000 emplois en l'espace de quelques années, sauf à revenir sur les fortes augmentations du SMIC horaire décidées et votées du fait de la RTT. »

    Quel paradoxe ! Supprimer ces fameux 22 milliards d'euros d'exonérations de charges - dont une partie couvrent la neutralisation du passage de 39 à 35 heures - coûterait 800.000 emplois ! Arroseur arrosé ?
    Le retour de Sophie Roquelle ?
    L'article, publié par le Figaro, est signé par Sophie Roquelle, rédactrice en chef au Figaro.
    Ce nom ne vous dit peut-être rien.
    En juin 2011, elle s'était fendu d'une longue enquête pour le Figaro magazine sur « la France des assistés ». Elle rebondissait sur les salves de Laurent Wauquiez contre le « cancer de l'assistant ». Son article avait débuté par un paragraphe fameux : « On les surnomme parfois «les canapés». Dans le milieu de l'insertion professionnelle, on connaît bien ces demandeurs d'emploi qui ne demandent plus grand-chose, sinon de rester chez eux devant la télévision. Le travail n'est plus qu'un vieux souvenir. Leur univers se résume à un gros sofa face à un immense écran plat qui ronronne en permanence pour meubler la solitude. » Rapidement, une belle fraction du Net s'indigna, jusqu'à cette interrogation de Daniel Schneidermann, d'Arrêt sur Images, dans un article également publié par Rue89:
    « Peut-on écrire sur les « assistés » et être marié au n°2 de GDF ? »
    Peut-on écrire sans vérifier ses chiffres dans la rubrique économique du Figaro ?

8/11/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. New work hours to threaten Spanish siesta, Olive Press via theolivepress.es
    MADRID, Spain - The Spanish siesta is coming under threat after larger shops were given the right to open for longer hours.
    In a bid to revive the ailing economy, shops larger than 300 square metres will be able to open for 25% more hours each week, increasing the previous 72-hour limit to 90 hours.
    The majority of these extra hours are expected to be during the traditional three-hour Spanish lunch break.
    They will also be allowed to open on 10am rather than 8am Sundays or public holidays a year [sic].
    [No idea what this garble means. Maybe drop the two "am's"?]
    Local officials predict the change will create 20,500 jobs nationwide, which are desperately needed to combat the 25% unemployment rate that currently plagues Spain.
    [Good they sense the solution lies in the time area. Bad they're lengthening per-job hours without shortening per-person hours because that means the only cap on per-person hours defaults to the general EU max of 48 hrs/wk, and that ain't gonna do a thing for Spain's 25% unemployment.]

  2. A Latvian solution to California's budget crisis, by Artjoms Konohovs, KALW.org
    SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., USA - California's state employees received their first “furlough-affected” paycheck, this month, and it provided more than its share of controversy. Many unionized workers have called for layoffs, rather than forced days off, to help balance the state's budget. But Governor Jerry Brown's solution – and suggestion to possibly implement a four-day workweek – is not unheard of. At least in Eastern Europe. In 2009, similar measures were introduced by many state institutions in Latvia.
    At the time, the Baltic nation had just begun to go through a tough recession and received a financial bailout from the International Monetary Fund and European Commission. The budgets of many state institutions were cut by more than 30 percent while functions and responsibilities often remained the same.
    As a result, management of those organizations had to come up with various creative solutions that would allow them to still get their jobs done. One of those institutions, ironically, was the State Revenue Service, responsible for tax collection. In 2009, to save money, it decided to shut its doors on Fridays. A similar approach was taken by the State Employment Agency, regardless of the fact that it had to deal with an increase in the number of unemployed Latvians. Many other institutions decided to lay off some of their employees and cut the salaries of those remaining employed.
    The decisions to introduce four-day workweeks were generally accepted by state workers rather peacefully, as were most of the other harsh cost cutting measures implemented in Latvia. Perhaps the reactions were caused by the fact that the salary of almost every state employee was cut by an average of 10-20% regardless of the amount of hours they had to work.
    Several years later, institutions like the Latvian National Library, still operate just four days a week. Many other agencies that self imposed furloughs have returned to a five-day workweek. It's hard to say, though, that things in Latvia have returned to the way they were before the recession.
    [Latvia with its highest-in-the-EU unemployment rate is not the first place you look to for advice in a crisis, but apparently they have been trying some timesizing. It's just that, like most of Europe, they don't realize how far they have to go with it; namely, as far as it takes to get FULL employment, which maxes domestic consumer spending and currency circulation.]

8/10/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. A New Economic Bill Of Rights To Create National Happiness - If we’re going to remake our economy to increase well-being for all people, we would do well to include these 10 new tenets of economic freedom, by David Batker & John de Graaf, Co.Exist via fastcoexist.com
    Editor’s Note - This is excerpted from "What’s The Economy For, Anyway?"--a book by John De Graaf and David K. Batker that looks at how the economy can create "the greatest good for the greatest number over the long run."
    SEATTLE, Wash., USA - Addressing a nation at war and still recovering from the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt stated the economic goals of his administration and the New Deal on January 11, 1944:
    "It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people--whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth--is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.
    "This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights--among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.
    "As our nation has grown in size and stature, however--as our industrial economy expanded--these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness .
    "We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. 'Necessitous men are not free men.' People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.
    "In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all--regardless of station, race, or creed.
    "Among these [rights] are:
    • The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
    • The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
    • The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
    • The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
    • The right of every family to a decent home;
    • The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
    • The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
    • The right to a good education.
    "All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being (emphases ours)."
    Roosevelt spoke of a standard of living higher than ever before. Of course, 1944 was an earlier time, when greater access to material things was essential for many millions of Americans.
    [And most important and most overlooked, 1944 was a time of America's lowest official unemployment in history (1,2%) and therefore highest labor "shortage" and highest market valuation of, and therefore upward wage pressure on, ALL of its own people, which yielded unprecedented "wartime prosperity," including for the then-at-last-fully-and-profitably-invested superwealthy.]
    Roosevelt did not include “The right to a clean, safe, and accessible natural environment.” We have every reason to believe he would if speaking today. And that he might have spoken of a “quality of life higher than ever before.” But in the end, he spoke, as Jefferson had, of “happiness” and well-being. He did not suggest that our goal was growth or a higher GDP. He said they were new goals of “human happiness and well-being.”
    These are still the right goals, the goals we should be striving for today and tomorrow. To achieve them, we suggest a holistic pattern of policy changes. They are not exhaustive. But we think it’s necessary to propose some first steps in an effort to rethink our economy so it can give all of us what we need in this new era.
    You might think of our ideas as an economy of life, liberty, and [the pursuit of] happiness. Some of what follows includes the very ideas our founding fathers and Roosevelt spoke of, unfinished business that--after massive increases in our national wealth--remains to be completed. But some of them are new and could not have been imagined earlier in our history. So here we go:
    1: Give us time
    [Nice to see timesizing at the top of the list this time.]
    Mandate three weeks of paid vacation time for every working American, prorate for part-timers.
    Implement work-sharing systems, such as Kurzarbeit, to reduce unemployment
    Require hourly pay parity and prorated benefits for part time workers, as in Europe.
    Ensure the right of workers to reduce their hours without losing their jobs, hourly pay, promotion opportunities, or health care, as in the Netherlands. Other benefits would be prorated.
    Ban compulsory overtime and provide double-time pay for overtime, as in Finland.
    Make federal holidays mandatory for all workers, or give greater compensation to those who must work on those holidays.
    Provide tax credits and other incentives to allow small businesses to make these changes without suffering financially.
    2: Improve life possibilities from birth
    Provide prenatal and other care to all parents-to-be.
    Give six months of mandatory paid parental leave when a child is born, at a minimum of half the current salary levels, to be paid for by government, as in Canada, through small graduated payroll deductions rather than directly by the employer.
    3: Build a healthy nation
    Provide basic single-payer health care for all Americans, with private insurance providing additional coverage, as in Canada.
    Offer tax incentives for healthy behavior, while raising taxes on unhealthy foods and activities.
    Carefully shift subsidies to encourage local, organic, and sustainable food production and away from unhealthy food and unsustainable agriculture.
    Ensure physical education classes for students.
    Protect children by banning television advertising aimed at those under twelve, as in Sweden and Quebec.
    4: Enlarge the middle class
    Create a more progressive tax structure with fewer loopholes for the wealthy and corporations.
    Establish a national living wage with variations for cost-of-living in different states and cities.
    Restore limits on usury. Restrict interest charged on loans to a certain percentage above the rate of inflation.
    Provide greater government support to reduce the cost of education and make college tuition easily affordable.
    Give more generous benefits to those losing employment while retaining business flexibility, as in Denmark.
    Strengthen the Social Security system by ending the income limit for taxation and tax breaks for private pension programs, while increasing benefit levels to the Europe an average.
    5: Value natural capital
    Change accounting rules and economic analysis to bring the value of natural capital into government and corporate investment decisions.
    Adopt physical sustainability measures to inform decision making for air, water, land, and climate resources.
    Set aside and restore sufficient natural lands for ecosystem services.
    Use tools to identify, value, map, and model ecosystem services for land use planning and environmental impact statements, and create regional watershed investment districts to more efficiently invest in restoring natural systems and coordinate investment for potable water, flood protection, storm water, biodiversity, ports, navigation, and other water-related investments.
    Reestablish the Civilian Conservation Corps to restore natural capital and our environmental commons and provide a portion of public works jobs.
    6: Fix taxes and subsidies
    Increase the marginal income tax rate to 45% for the highest tax bracket.
    Make work pay by ensuring that money made from money (e.g., capital gains) is taxed at a rate at least as high as that made from employment.
    Use the tax system to correct market distortions, with new taxes on “bads,” which inflict externalized costs on individuals, communities, or the environment, and by removing taxes on “goods” with positive social benefits.
    Remove subsidies for consumers and producers of nonrenewable resources and move these subsidies to renewable and nonpolluting or non-climate-changing industries.
    7: Strengthen the financial system
    Reregulate the financial sector (and enforce those regulations).
    Implement financial and currency transaction taxes to shift money from risky speculation into productive investment.
    Restore the separation between savings and loans, commercial banks, and investment banks.
    Break up the largest banks and investment firms to achieve greater competition and provide public savings institutions at the state or local level--a public banking option.
    8: Build a new energy infrastructure
    Ramp up $1 trillion in public and private investments shifting to local, low-carbon, renewable energy and off fossil fuels, funded by a carbon tax.
    Aggressively promote energy efficiency in policy and low interest financing to improve existing and new infrastructure and products.
    Utilize lower-grade energy (e.g., cooling steam from a data center to warm green houses or provide district heating).
    9: Strengthen community and improve mobility
    Tax sprawl (which requires the extension of public services) and excessive home sizes, while incentivizing green building, small homes, public transportation, and pedestrian/bicycle infrastructure.
    Fund a modern railway system and increase the cost of driving autos to pay for it. Deprioritize road construction.
    Electrify our transportation system with electric buses, trains, and other vehicles.
    10: Improve governance
    Ban corporate campaign contributions through an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Limit television advertising in campaigns.
    Require corporations to include codetermination policies, with at least one third of directors elected by the workers.
    David Batker and John de Graaf - David Batker is well known for his collaborative approach to solving complex, multi-jurisdictional and trans disciplinary challenges. John de Graaf is the coauthor of the national bestseller "Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic," executive director of *Take Back Your Time, and a coordinator of the Seattle Area Happiness Initiative.
    [And an issue that none of these ten new tenets deals with -]

  2. CAPS Launches TV Ad In Bakersfield Urging Congressman McCarthy To Save Jobs For Unemployed Californians By Slowing Mass Immigration, (8/09 late pickup) PR Newswire via U.S. Politics Today via uspolitics.einnews.com
    Despite Nearly 2 Million Jobless, California's Leaders Continue To Stand By And Admit One Million Legal Immigrants A Year To Take Jobs
    [It doesn't matter how good a timesizing design you have for your core economy, it can be undermined by irresponsible policies, fiscal and monetary on one side or population, as dealt with here, on the other. Note that most idealists and reformers, as in the above article, don't touch this subject with a ten-foot pole - but sooner or later they'll have to. The right wants no regulation on imports "because consumers need cheaper prices and if domestic industries are lost, we need 'creative destrucion'." The wealthy want no regulation on money-supply concentration in top brackets because "that money gets right back to work creating jobs," and no regulation on the downsizing response to technology because "technology creates more jobs than it destroys and if jobs are lost one place, they open up somewhere else." The left wants no regulation on immigration because "immigrants founded our country and have enriched it ever since and saying anything else is racist." All these positions are unsustainable, as shown by the shortage of U.S. jobs, the sinking of U.S. real wages, and the growth of U.S. unemployment, welfare, disability, homelessness, and prisons.]
    BAKERSFIELD, Calif., USA -- Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) has launched TV ads in Bakersfield, California asking viewers to contact Congressman Kevin McCarthy and urge him to slow mass immigration and save jobs for unemployed Californians. The ads are launching as Bakersfield experiences one of the highest unemployment rates in the state. California also boasts one of the highest settlement rates in the nation for new legal immigrants who need jobs.
    Marilyn DeYoung, Chairman of the Board of Californians for Population Stabilization commented, "Congressman McCarthy is leading the state of California in unemployment. Maybe he should try leading the state in calling for less legal immigration so he can get Bakersfield working again."
    [Trying to solve unemployment by decreasing the workweek while increasing immigration ain't gonna work. You can't save the world by moving it all here, but you can sure ruin life here.]
    California has recently recorded some of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. Unemployment has already topped 12% this year and nearly two million can't find jobs in the "Golden State." In Bakersfield, the unemployment rate ticked up to nearly 14% in June. About 53,000 can't find jobs. Many more have simply given up looking [and gone on welfare and food stamps?]. Yet despite high unemployment, California politicians like Congressman Kevin McCarthy are standing by and raising no objections as our government continues to admit one million immigrant workers a year to take unemployed Californians' jobs.
    "Low income Californians have been especially hurt in this bad economy. Many immigrant workers who came here last year can't even find jobs. The last thing we need is another million immigrant workers this year," commented DeYoung.
    [Every nation on the planet should be moving as fast as it can to steady-state migration, meaning one-out, one-in.]
    The ad campaign will run in Bakersfield for an undisclosed period.
    For more, visit www.CAPSweb.org.
    SOURCE Californians for Population Stabilization

8/09/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. The State Worker: Would layoffs be better than furloughs for California's employees? by Jon Ortiz jortiz@sacbee.com, Sacramento Bee via sacbee.com
    SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - Given California's serial budget crises, don't be surprised if you start hearing about a push to speed up the state's glacial employee layoff process – from state workers themselves.
    The table was set in May, when Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature told unions to "negotiate" a 5 percent pay reduction or have it imposed on them.
    Brown suggested cutting work hours. That rankled many state workers because 1) their current contracts don't provide for a pay cut, 2) the governor – as a candidate seeking union backing in 2010 – criticized furloughs, and 3) is it really a negotiation when a pay cut is the starting point?
    [There are a LOT of state workers in California, the ninth-biggest world economy by GDP if we admit subnationals. Were NONE of them in the big tax revolt (Cut Taxes And Kill The Beast) that STARTED in California in 1978 with the 1976 "Network" film's "I'm Mad As Hell And I'm Not Going To Take It Any More" movement and Prop. 13? And if none of them indeed were in that simplistic and now regretted tax revolt, where were they in the fight against it as it went viral and "set the table" for Reagan and his union-bashing, tax-cutting and debt-bloating?]
    Still, 19 of 21 bargaining units agreed to one-day-per-month furloughs that started July 1 and will end June 30 next year. Brown imposed the same on the two holdouts. Paychecks issued Aug. 1 reflected the first month's cut.
    Unions that bargained received some considerations, but the new pay reductions feed a growing sense that furloughs have become a quasi-permanent fixture. Most state workers have been under some sort of furlough during three of the past four fiscal years, each time thinking it was the last. They're fed up.
    "I would much rather see layoffs than furloughs," said Charles Ellis, a Caltrans employee with four years of state service. "Even if it's me being laid off."
    [Ah, the reappearance of the suicidal union member whose preference is disunited anti-solidarity.]
    During a telephone interview this week, Ellis said that he got so mad at his union, SEIU Local 1000, that he quit a lower-level office he held in the organization and resigned as his workplace's job steward.
    [There ya go. So mad that ya slash yer wrists.]
    Local 1000 didn't return calls or an email from this column seeking comment.
    Long-time employees have an added reason to despise furloughs. The policy cuts their hours and pay at the same rate as newbies. Layoffs are discriminating – last in, first out.
    [Ah, LIFO = another anti-solidarity beachhead in the "union" movement. Suddenly we prefer discrimination, alias bias, rather than "all in it together" cushioning. Kill the weak. Kill the newbies. Ja, die Meisterklasse muss nicht leiden! For this, you don't need a union. You just go right back to feudalism and hope you're on the tiny island of aristocrats and not the giant continent of serfs = no middle class.]
    Now look ahead. If you're a labor leader next year heading into contract talks, do you lean toward furloughs again that continue a 5 percent pay reduction that makes 100 percent of your members miserable?
    [You do if you're a union leader and not a careless snob just like the 0.01% = suffering the least and complaining the most. The suicidal taxcutting superwealthy have GOT you, and this is NOT "looking ahead." It's divide and conquer. Unions are the enemy. Government is the enemy. Funnel the whole money supply to the top 1% of 1% and damn the torpedoes aka consumer-base collapse!]
    Or do you press for layoffs that chop 5 percent of your members but restore regular pay and hours to the remaining 95 percent?
    [For how long - as 5% of your "members" go into shock and stop spending - what do they have to spend? - oh we forgot: taxpayer-funded unemployment insurance for 30 weeks and then taxpayer-funded welfare for five years and then taxpayer-funded disability or taxpayer-funded prison forever. Real sustainable.]
    Should the unions opt for the latter, they'll have to acknowledge that the layoff process must change.
    [Yeah. Somehow, magically, it's gotta become sustainable, despite splitting the population into workers and drones.]
    The state's termination rules cover 10 pages and obligate departments to a 14-step process with a several notices, employee seniority checks and union consultations.
    We're talking six months, minimum. Senior workers can bump their juniors, who in turn have bumping rights. That can add more time.
    Furloughs? Start them in June, see the results in July. Just ask any of those 214,000 state workers.
    So if the unions want to avoid furloughs continuing next year, they'll have to come up with a viable, speedy alternative. Making it easier to move employees out is an option.
    Many of their members would prefer it.
    [But then, many of their members apparently don't get the concept of "membership" which is sort of like insurance, as in "all sacrifice together" rather than a few human sacrifices this time and everyone else homefree, a few more human sacrifices next time and not quite as many "everyone else's" homefree, a few more human sacrifices the next time and... - you get the picture. California, this is your next big chance to speed us all into the third world. And YOU were the ones whose unthinking tantrum got that process started back in 1978.]

  2. Steelmerchant KlöCo fixes jobs in the crisis without the axe, (8/8 late pickup) Reuters Deutschland via de.reuters.com
    DÜSSELDORF, Germany - Employees in the steel industry are digging in due to weakening demand.
    The Duisburg steel trader Kloeckner & Co on Wednesday announced the near-doubling of ongoing jobcuts to around 1300 positions. That means the company's cutting about every eighth job. In Germany so far only up to 200 of around 2000 employees are affected because additional positions in Spain, France and Eastern Europe are disappearing. In German heavy industry, alarm bells are ringing due to a slowdown of orders as the euro debt crisis runs its course. A few days ago, industry leader ThyssenKrupp was first in consigning over 2000 steel cookers to short-time working by the end of the year.
    "Consumers are uncertain and don't venture far," KlöCo Chief Gisbert Ruehl said during a conference call. "For the current crisis in Europe no solution is emerging."
    [Sure it is but you won't DO it - unzip southern Europe from the euro and quit the nostalgia! And keep up the Kurzarbeit and tranzish to Timesizing.]
    In important consumer industries like car making and machine manufacturing, customers are delaying orders because of the uncertainty about economic growth. In the USA, the situation is indeed better, but here also there could be weaker growth in the third quarter.
    Demand for steel stays below the peak period for a quarter
    The words did not sound good to the stock exchange. KlöCo stock occasionally lost more than three percent and led the losers list in the MDax. Steel-analyst Hermann Reith of the BHF Bank pointed out that the demand in Europe currently lies 25 percent under the level of the high phase from 2005 to 2008. This, KlöCo too may feel.
    Without that, CEO Rühl first acknowledged the already reduced prognosis for 2012 only a few months ago. KlöCo will not reach the previous year's profit of 217 million euros before interest, tax, amortisation (EBITDA) and restructuring. The chief executive did not want to pin himself down, but conceded that the number will probably move in the direction of the analysts' estimates of around 170 million euros. On the bottom line, KlöCo's figures will be in the red. In the first half, the concern had a loss of 48 million euros. Acquisitions are currently unthinkable. "Expansion projects are on ice."
    Will it get worse? Watch Thyssen and Salzgitter
    [cuz I dunno about Salzi, but Thyssen is a worksharer so they're giving themselves the best chance.]
    Ruehl [KlöCo's suicidal axman] will complete the planned jobcuts by mid 2013. Overall, KlöCo will shut eleven locations in Spain and in France ten. The concern is giving up all its East European business. "The situation in Europe is increasingly tense and we're watching further developments skeptically from now on." Ruehl also sees structural problems in the industry.
    [Yeah, he's creating them by downsizing instead of just timesizing.]
    It suffers from overcapacity.
    [These guys clobber demand by laying off their customers' customers - then they start complaining about act-of-god overcapacity, as if it came out of nowhere.]
    "In Europe, a shakeout on the production- as well as the distribution-side is required."
    [And then they start talking as if downsizing, now spun as positive "shakeout", is Good. This turkey needs a whack on the side of the head. Lip service to Growth alias UPsizing. Then walking the walk of shakeout alias DOWNsizing - and excusing himself by rationalizing and "valorizing" it.]
    The load on the manufacturer is at 70 to 75 percent. To achieve reasonable prices on the market, they should be at 80 to 85%, intones Ruehl.
    Some concerns, including world leader ArcelorMittal, have already reined-in their steel ovens. The German Steel Federation is likely to reduce its 2012 forecast soon for raw steel production, which is still in a long-standing stagnation. More details on the industry outlook are expected in the coming days. ThyssenKrupp issues its quarterly figures on Friday; Salzgitter, German steel's number two, on Tuesday of the coming week.
    [German original -]
    Stahlhändler KlöCo setzt in Krise die Axt bei Jobs an (translated by Babel Fish & lotsa fixup)
    Für die Beschäftigten in der Stahlindustrie geht es wegen der schwächelnden Nachfrage ans Eingemachte.
    Der Duisburger Stahlhändler Klöckner & Co kündigte am Mittwoch an, den bereits laufenden Stellenabbau auf rund 1300 Jobs fast zu verdoppeln. Damit streicht das Unternehmen etwa jeden achten Arbeitsplatz. In Deutschland sind davon zwar wie bislang 200 der rund 2000 Beschäftigten betroffen, da die zusätzlichen Stellen in Spanien, Frankreich und Osteuropa wegfallen. In der deutschen Schwerindustrie schrillen jedoch wegen der Auftragsflaute im Zuge der Euro-Schuldenkrise die Alarmglocken. Vor wenigen Tagen hatte erst Branchenprimus ThyssenKrupp über 2000 Stahlkocher bis Ende des Jahres in Kurzarbeit geschickt.
    "Die Konsumenten sind unsicher und fahren nur auf Sicht", sagte KlöCo-Chef Gisbert Rühl während einer Telefonkonferenz. "Für die aktuelle Krise in Europa zeichnet sich keine Lösung ab." In wichtigen Abnehmerbranchen wie der Automobilindustrie oder dem Maschinenbau hielten sich die Kunden wegen der Unsicherheit über die Konjunkturentwicklung mit ihren Bestellungen zurück. In den USA sei die Lage zwar besser, hier könne es im dritten Quartal jedoch auch zu einem schwächeren Wachstum kommen.
    An der Börse kam die Worte nicht gut an. Die KlöCo-Aktie verlor zeitweise mehr als drei Prozent und führte die Verliererliste im MDax an. Stahl-Analyst Hermann Reith von der BHF Bank verwies darauf, dass die Nachfrage in Europa derzeit 25 Prozent unter dem Niveau der Hochphase von 2005 bis 2008 liege. Dies bekomme auch KlöCo zu spüren.
    Konzernchef Rühl kassierte die erst vor wenigen Monaten ohnehin gesenkte Prognose für 2012. KlöCo werde einen Gewinn vor Zinsen, Steuer, Abschreibungen (Ebitda) und Restrukturierungen wie im Vorjahr von 217 Millionen Euro nicht erreichen. Der Manager wollte sich zwar nicht genau festlegen, räumte aber ein, dass der Wert sich wohl in Richtung der Analystenschätzungen von rund 170 Millionen Euro bewegen werde. Unter dem Strich werde KlöCo rote Zahlen schreiben. Im ersten Halbjahr fuhr der Konzern einen Verlust von 48 Millionen Euro ein. An Zukäufe sei derzeit nicht zu denken. "Die Expansionsprojekte liegen auf Eis."
    Den geplanten Stellenabbau will Rühl bis Mitte 2013 abschließen. Insgesamt will KlöCo in Spanien elf Standorte schließen und in Frankreich zehn. Das Osteuropa-Geschäft gibt der Konzern ganz auf. "Die Lage in Europa ist zunehmend angespannt und wir sehen die weiter Entwicklung weiterhin skeptisch." Rühl sieht auch strukturelle Probleme der Branche. Diese leide unter Überkapazitäten. "In Europa ist eine Marktbereinigung sowohl auf der Produzenten- als auch auf der Distributionsseite erforderlich." Die Auslastung der Hersteller liege bei 70 bis 75 Prozent. Um vernünftige Preise am Markt zu erzielen, müsse diese bei 80 bis 85 Prozent liegen, betonte Rühl.
    Einige Konzerne, darunter Weltmarktführer ArcelorMittal, haben ihre Öfen bereits zurückgefahren. Der deutsche Stahlverband dürfte bald seine Prognose für die Rohstahlproduktion 2012 senken, die bislang noch von einer Stagnation ausgeht. Weitere Einzelheiten zur Lage der Branche werden in den kommenden Tagen erwartet. ThyssenKrupp legt am Freitag seine Quartalszahlen vor, der deutsche Branchenzweite Salzgitter am Dienstag kommender Woche.

8/8/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. WSCC Voluntary Furlough; Preparing Decreased Budget, WTAP-TV News via wtap.com
    Washington State Community College's Board of Trustee's approves voluntary furlough program and early retirement incentive.
    MARIETTA, Ohio, USA - Washington State Community College is looking to the future when discussing their upcoming budget.
    [Note extreme example of misleading college nomenclature.]
    "We really do need to be prepared for this so we can react in a way that's 'planful,' doesn't hurt the academic program, and works well with our faculty and staff," explains WSCC President, Dr. Bradley Ebersole.
    That means planning for future budget constraints.
    "So with that we know we're facing challenges along with enrollment and we're not alone, our sister colleges are in the same situation and with that comes a resulting budget. We are watching carefully to see how that affects our finances. They are planning ahead."
    Dr. Ebersole says the decrease stems from the college moving from quarters to semesters and from further financial aid restrictions.
    "As we deal with budget situations I'm trying very hard to initiate strategies that are none invasive to people's lifestyles," says Dr. Ebersole. "And I'm doing everything I can to keep this work force having a good sense of morale and hopefully that's one way to do that."
    The WSCC Board of Trustees has now approved a voluntary furlough program.
    This means each each member is able to take up to five days of unpaid vacation between now and November 17.
    "So if someone feels it fits into their lifestyle and fits in the finances and are able to take a few more days off, they're able to take a furlough which allows us to save some money," continues Dr. Ebersole.
    "I have had some opinions, some people don't like that fact that we have to take them in eight hour increments they would maybe prefer a smaller chunk of time like four hours increments, and we do have one person who has already elected to take the voluntary furlough," says WSCC Human Resources, Martha Lamp.
    Lamp says it's an opportunity for her to give back to the college, on her own terms. She says she understands it's not for everyone.
    "It is a good way for someone like me, who isn't the bread winner of my family, to take some time off and maybe help somebody that is single and working keep a job," continues Lamp.
    The college is also offering a voluntary retirement incentive. This is a one time offer of 10,000 dollars to about 17 eligible faculty members.
    One of those 17 says she will be considering all her options.
    "Nice offer, again having just seen it this morning, in fact I was just reading it before we started this and I have to consider all the details and ramifications," explains director of library service, Georgene Johnson.
    Dr. Ebersole says if these programs don't work, the issue will return to the board of trustees to be readdressed. "You know it's really a pilot and if no body chooses to do so, my feeling, it was an effort we put forward, we tried it and we'll go on to the next strategy after that," he continues.
    Dr. Ebersole says students in no way will be affected or notice a difference.

  2. Furloughs will be recommended by Biloxi's CAO, by Brad Kessie, (8/07 late pickup) WLOX.com
    BILOXI, Miss., USA - The Biloxi City Council has a budget meet this morning. And furloughs for all city workers will be discussed.
    "Six days will be the minimum," Biloxi's Chief Administrative Officer David Staehling told WLOX News just moments before the meeting started. "We're going to have to do some significant cost reductions so we don't have problems next year."
    Staehling will tell the council this preventive maintenance is crucial if Biloxi is going to get through 2013 without cutting staff. His recommendation will include a 50% cut in social agency spending, and a hiring freeze. If people leave the city, Staehling will tell the council they shouldn't be replaced.
    "It's tough all over," said Staehling.
    Doug Walker is covering the Biloxi budget meeting. As soon as council members share their opinions about the upcoming budget talks, we'll post them on WLOX.com.

8/07/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Analysis finds McDowell County stands to suffer from postal cuts, by Steve Adams, StateJournal.com
    MCDOWELL, W.Va., USA - Rural McDowell County will see most of its post offices impacted when cuts happen.
    That's according to a report by USA Today. In a story, titled "Postal cuts hurt outposts the most," reporter Meghan Cooper says the U.S. Postal Service plans to cut hours at 42 percent of the service's more than 31,000 offices.
    According to the report, McDowell County would be most impacted by cuts in hours. Cooper says that 13 post offices in McDowell County would drop to two hours a day, and another 14 would drop to four hours a day.

    The postal cuts would impact states along the Appalachian Trail, including New York, Pennsylvania, Maine, Vermont, and West Virginia.
    "...Cutting back the hours for so many post offices is no small matter, and we need to examine the details of the plan and get a better understanding of its potential impact on mail delivery services and communities," said Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., in a press release in May.
    "We ought not be shy about letting Postal officials know our views and getting our questions answered," he said.

  2. As The German Economy Caves, Eurozone Bailouts Take On New Dimensions, by Wolf Richter, Testosterone Pit via BusinessInsider.com
    SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., USA - Last year, German exports rode to a new record, jobs were being created in massive numbers, real wages rose, housing and real estate boomed, the federal budget was nearly balanced, and consumers felt good and spent money—despite the havoc that the Eurozone debt crisis has been wreaking.
    Whatever was happening, Germany would be able to make up for declining exports to the Eurozone with strong exports to Asia and the US. Internal demand would remain solid.
    And this illusion of durable economic strength and fiscal virtue has tainted the discussion about saving the euro, bailing out debt-sinner countries in return for austerity measures, and keeping the European Central Bank in check.
    But now the crisis has moved from Germany’s front yard to its doorstep and is about to enter its living room.
    Beer sales, for example. That the German Federal Statistical Office tracks them shows just how crucial a staple beer is. Alas, beer sales to customers in Germany dropped 2.3% in the first half over the same period last year, and ominously, exports dropped 2.9% (for the worldwide beer phenomenon, beer consumption per capita, and where the growth really is, read.... Beer, A Reflection Of The World Economy?)
    Auto sales got clobbered in July, dropping by 5% from July last year, and by 16.5% from June, knocking year-to-date sales, which had been holding up well, into the red (-0.1%). Auto sales have been a fiasco in the Eurozone for a while. In Greece, where they’d been plummeting for years, they plummeted again in the first half, by 41.3%! In Italy, by 19.7%, in France by 14.4%, in Belgium by 12.7%. But until July, Germany had been spared. No more. Of the big brands, only Audi (Volkswagen) was up (+14.3%). The others got hammered: Opel (GM) -18.6%, BMW, Mini -17.9 %, Mercedes -14.6 %, and Ford -4.4%. Even VW, market-share leader and on a phenomenal worldwide roll, was down 1.5%.
    Retail sales, which had also been doing very well, stalled. And the closely watched Ifo index for July deteriorated so sharply that Hans-Werner Sinn, President of the Ifo Institute, admitted, “The euro crisis is having an increasingly negative impact on the German economy.”
    Germany’s manufacturing industry is now in a rout. Output and new orders dove in July at a rate not seen since April 2009, the depth of the great recession. It was the 4th month in a row of lower production volumes, and the 13th months in a row (!) of declining new orders—a terror for future production. The overall PMI index crashed to the lowest level since June 2009. Exports were hardest hit, particularly to Western Europe, Asia, and the US, the three largest markets in the world! The decline in exports was steepest since May 2009. And there is talk of “job shedding.”
    These trends are reminiscent of the financial crisis, when export orders fell off a cliff, causing GDP to plunge 2.1% in the fourth quarter of 2008 and a horrid 3.8% in the first quarter of 2009. Annualized, those two quarters amounted to a double-digit decline in GDP—the worst two quarters in the history of the Federal Republic. The German economy lives and dies by its exports.
    [That may be true for citystates like Singapore and Hong Kong but everything else lives or dies by its domestic consumption. And for Germany, that means lives or dies by its Kurzarbeit and should move on to live by its Timesizing regardless.]
    Yet my contacts in Germany remain “relaxed.” There’s no malaise or panic. “In the countryside, everything goes on regardless,” wrote one of them. Restaurants are doing well. People have jobs, wages are going up. Inflation has backed off. The recent feeling of optimism, after years of pessimism, is still hanging in the air. People are bidding up rental properties and plowing their savings into brick and mortar. Well-educated Greeks and Spaniards are heading to Germany in search of work.
    [This population slosh could undermine Kurzarbeit and even Timesizing.]
    For them, it’s nirvana.
    [Even domestic-consumption-based nirvana (=the strongest kind) can be overwhelmed by "population communism" on the left, or free trade = "trade communism" on the right.]
    The German government, through various organizations, is trying to rope in its expats in Silicon Valley and lure them back with special incentives to fill the shortage of qualified talent at home. Clearly, the numbers I mentioned haven’t yet made their way into the perception of day-to-day reality.
    [That's for sure. Where's their famous emphasis on training, apprenticeship and beyond?]
    The public debate about bailing out Spain or Greece, and about Draghi’s plan to go on a bond-buying binge, is taking place to the backdrop [ie: is happening against the backdrop] of a sweetly humming economy. But the ear-piercing screech of the German export machinery as it shifts gears will change the debate—and the political will. German exporters, a super-powerful lobby, will push for all-out “do-whatever-it-takes” flooding of the Eurozone with money.
    [Even the USA where domestic consumption is 70% of the economy and therefore exports are less than 30% (actually around 17%) is sacrificing the majority of its economy (domestic consumption) for a minority (trade) - which is shows up that minority as Suicide, Everyone Else First.]
    On the other hand, if prospects of layoffs or forced part-time work (Kurzarbeit) are hounding consumers, their appetite for bailing out southern countries will fade altogether—and so will Germany’s ability to do so.
    [How bizarre that this commentator doesn't say "forced layoffs or layoff-avoiding part-time work (Kurzarbeit)" - even some Germans, like Richter, don't understand what they're doing right. How stupid to imply you'd prefer consumption-clobbering layoffs to consumption-cushioning Kurzarbeit!]
    Meanwhile, Eurozone heads of state, top politicians, unelected kingpins, and bureaucratic honchos threatened everyone in sight with the demise of the euro.
    [Three words: LET IT GO. Or have two "euros" = north and south. Idea credit to James the traveling Irishman at the Burlington VT hostel on 8/07.]
    And then Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti went on attack. An ‘attack on democracy.’

  3. Opposition CPO proposes cut-down on teachers working hours, Agencia AngolaPress via portalangop.co.ao
    LUANDA, Angola - The coalition Political Council of Opposition (CPO) intends to recommend to the winner of the forthcoming election of August 12 this year a cut-down on the working hours of teachers from 24 to 16 hours.
    This was announced Tuesday in Luanda by the leader of the coalition, Anastacio Finda.
    Anastacio Finda expressed this during a mobilisation and awareness campaign of voters held in Catinton ward, in Luanda.
    During the event, the coalition distributed propaganda materials and presented its election manifesto.
    According to the politician, CPO will give priority to the eradication of poverty, stamp-out of juvenile delinquency, improvement to basic sanitation and construction of houses, schools and hospitals.
    Set up on 15 September, 1995, CPO groups the opposition PADS, PLUN, PDPF, PCN and ADPA parties.

8/05-06/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Work sharing equals more leisure? by Krystofer Penner, 8/05 (8/04 late pickup) GeezMagazine.org/blogs
    ALTONA, Man., Canada - Unemployment is still high the United States due to the most recent recession. One suggestion for dealing with high unemployment is to implement work sharing legislation, which would allow employers to give their employees less hours and hire more employees to do the same work.
    A report for the Center for Economic and Policy Research shows that Germany, which already had work sharing legislation in place, saw virtually no change in its employment levels during the recession.
    Is work sharing perhaps a way to wean ourselves off of the treadmill that is modern society?
    Could we increase our happiness levels and our leisure time, and thus our health if we simply worked less hours a week? The answers seem to point to yes, at least to me.

  2. Rise in demand for free school dinners, 8/06 ThisIsStaffordshire.co.uk
    STOKE-ON-TRENT, Staffs., England - Hundreds more children in Stoke-on-Trent are claiming free school dinners as the recession continues to bite, new figures reveal.
    Some 27,596 children across Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent and South Cheshire now qualify for the free meals – 24 per cent of all pupils.
    Many of these families have been hit by redundancies, salary cuts, and short-time working.
    [Maybe if the English parliament got its tush in gear and copied *Wales in enacting a worksharing (Brit. "short-time working") program to cushion the finances of breadwinners who've kept their jobs but lost some wages.]
    They also include households which used to draw two wages, but now have just one breadwinner.
    To apply for free school meals, claimants must meet certain criteria and be in receipt of benefits such income support, Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) and employment support allowance.
    In Stoke-on-Trent, numbers have risen to 9,321 from last year's total of 9,043 – a rise of 278.
    Across the wider region, however, the figures, released by the Department for Education, show a slight decrease from data available in 2011.
    In total, 28,292 pupils were recorded as being eligible for the free meals in the three areas last year.
    In Staffordshire, 13,465 are now eligible, compared to 14,268 last year, while figures for Cheshire East reveal 4,810 children claim the dinners, down from 4,981 last year.
    It has been suggested the Government's plan to reduce the numbers of people on benefits has resulted in the fall.
    However, some experts believe the figure is still too high, and in some cases, families who are eligible for free school dinners may be losing their entitlement unfairly.
    Simon Harris, chief executive of Stoke-on-Trent Citizens' Advice Bureau, said: "What we could be seeing here is lower numbers of people claiming benefits such as JSA or employment support allowance, which are passport benefits for free school dinners.
    "It might also be that some people are unaware they can claim free school meals for their children or need reminding they are available.
    "It could also be due to the stigma which for some families may make claiming free school dinners unattractive.
    "But I think it's a fact that there are still an awful lot of families in Stoke-on-Trent living on appallingly low incomes."
    A Department for Education spokesman said:"We want all families who are eligible for free school meals to register.
    "We spend roughly £500 million a year on free school meals, with 1.3 million children receiving them."

8/04/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Tentative pact saves top-level jobs at SD schools - Administrators' union defers raises, extends furloughs, by Karen Kucher, U-T San Diego
    SAN DIEGO, Calif., USA - The San Diego Unified School District has reached a contract agreement with the union representing principals and vice principals that includes concessions similar to those given by the district’s teachers, including deferring raises and extending furlough days.
    The tentative pact announced Friday saves the jobs of five administrators who were slated to be laid off and halts a plan to have some vice principals working four-day weeks instead of five.
    The agreement also includes an incentive that could encourage up to 13 principals to retire, which could provide some salary savings. The union represents about 280 administrators.
    Board President John Lee Evans praised the Administrators Association San Diego for “sharing the sacrifice” district teachers already made. The district reached a contract agreement with the teachers union in late June that allowed the layoff of nearly 1,500 teachers and counselors to be rescinded.
    “Some of the other units were facing a lot more layoffs than this particular group was,” Evans said at a news conference. “We can certainly make the class sizes larger, but we couldn’t do away with having a principal at a school. This group has taken the moral challenge to sit down and share the sacrifice as everyone else is doing across the district.”
    The agreement calls for additional furlough days to kick in if a proposed tax-hike ballot measure fails to win voter approval in November. The state has said it would shave 14 days off the 2012-13 academic year if the measure fails.
    Principals now take 10 furlough days while vice principals and other administrators take between three and six.
    Under the previous contract, a 2 percent salary increase was scheduled to go into effect July 1, with a 2 percent raise to follow on Jan. 1 and a 3 percent bump next June.
    “Most principals felt it would be an extremely uncomfortable situation to go in and be getting a pay raise, getting a significant pay raise, while your teachers are having this sacrifice,” said Don Craig, principal at Grant K-8 school in Mission Hills and chair of the bargaining team. “Even though we probably didn’t make a whole lot of difference as far as money value because we are a fairly small unit, the show of solidarity was important for teachers to see.”
    Administrators will be voting on the tentative agreement over the next 10 days. The pact will be considered by the school board at its September meeting.
    “We’ve done everything we can possibly do at the local level to make this next school year a successful year,” Evans said. “Now we need to look to Sacramento, we need to look to the state, we have to look to the voters of California to really approve the funds that we need through the ballot measures and anything else the Legislature can do to make sure our schools are properly funded in the following years.”
    In May, San Diego Unified laid off one in five teachers and made other cuts to help offset a projected $122 million deficit in next year’s $1.1 billion operating budget.
    The San Diego Unified School Police Officers Association already has reached an agreement with the district. That leaves four bargaining units that have not yet reached contract agreements, including three units covered by the California School Employees Association representing office workers and custodians, as well as classified employees represented by the Administrators Association.
    Evans said the agreement ushers in a “new day” for the school district where employee unions are working closely with district leaders.
    “Now we really have a united front,” he said. “We are all working together. We have a new level of cooperation that is going to serve us in the coming years.”

  2. Austerity program: Darwin Air cancels Luxembourg connection, Luxemburger Wort via wort.lu
    LUXEMBURG - It's not going well for the Swiss airline Darwin Air, founded in 2003. As the website Handelszeitung.ch reports, the enterprise is introducing worksharing [Kurzarbeit] with about 30 percent of the employees and is also dropping a few routes. Affected are the Genoa-Geneva and Geneva-Luxembourg connections, which have only been operated since the start of this year.
    More routes that could fall victim to the austerity plan are reportedly Genoa-Zürich and Lugano Rome. A definitive decision on this matter has not yet been made. Presumably at that time, the profitability of the routes would be subjected to analysis. Additional thereto, several internal departments would also become reorganized.
    For the Luxembourg airline, the cancellation of Darwin Air's Luxembourg route should come as a positive; for LuxAir the route to Geneva is a very profitable connection that accounts for about 10 percent of sales in its flight division. Since January of this year, Geneva gets three LuxAir flights a day Monday through Friday.
    [Original article -]
    Sparprogramm: Darwin Airline streicht Luxemburg-Verbindung,
    [Translated above by Bing - Yahoo Babel Fish with lots of fixes.]
    Der Schweizer Fluggesellschaft Darwin Airline, die 2003 gegründet wurde, geht es gar nicht gut. Wie das Onlineportal Handelszeitung.ch meldet, führt das Unternehmen bei rund 30 Prozent der Mitarbeiter Kurzarbeit ein und streicht dazu auch ein paar Fluglinien. Davon betroffen sind die Verbindungen Genua-Genf sowie Genf-Luxemburg, die beide erst seit Anfang dieses Jahres betrieben wurden.
    Weitere Linien, die dem Sparplan zum Opfer fallen könnten sind dem Bericht zufolge Genua-Zürich und Lugano-Rom. Eine definitive Entscheidung sei aber diesbezüglich noch nicht gefallen. Angeblich würden derzeit die Rentabilität der Strecken einer Analyse unterzogen. Zusätzlich dazu würden auch noch mehrere, interne Abteilungen reorganisiert werden.
    Für die Luxair dürfte die Streichung der Luxemburg-Linie von Darwin Airline entgegen kommen: Die Linie nach Genf ist für die Luxemburger Fluggesellschaft eine sehr ertragreiche Verbindung, die rund zehn Prozent des Umsatzes im Fluggeschäft ausmacht. Seit Januar dieses Jahres wird Genf von der Luxair montags bis freitags drei Mal täglich angeflogen.

8/03/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Why the 40-Hour Workweek Needs to Make a Comeback [infographic], by Marissa Brassfield, PayScale.com (blog)
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Most of us are paid according to the standard workweek of 40 hours, but let's face it: for 75 percent of Americans, the actual workweek is far more than that. This infographic marshals forth evidence that it's time to bring back the 40-hour workweek to protect productivity and employees' sanity.
    Despite advances in technology, we're working more than ever before -- and making less for our efforts. In 1970, the average workweek was 35 hours and workers made an average of $59,000 annually when adjusted for inflation. Fast forward to 2012, and workers are putting in an average of 46 hours each week for the privilege of an average $51,000 income.
    The idea of a stay-at-home parent has also largely fallen by the wayside. While 8 in 10 American kids had just one parent who worked in 1960, in 2012, 7 in 10 kids have parents who both work. What's more, 33 percent of the U.S. workforce puts in over 50 hours a week at work.
    Check out more troubling statistics below. Do you think we should return to a 40-hour workweek?

  2. ECB announces that it will...make an announcement, by Kyle G. Brown, FRANCE24.com
    PARIS, France - The papers have the euro crisis’ latest non-event: the European Central Bank has announced that it will be making an announcement. The markets were excited when European Central Bank announced a week ago that the ECB would do ‘whatever it takes’ to save the euro. So Les Echos was underwhelmed when his latest announcement had the echo of a tin being kicked down the road.
    French vacationers in search of sea, sand and sun are about to compete for prized road space as they clog the motorways on one of the busiest weekends of the year. Le Parisien has words of warning.
    In March, Mohamed Merah killed several people outside a Jewish school in Toulouse. He was shot dead in the police raid that eventually followed. Le Parisien has a story about the neighbours who, five months later, are still coping with the damage. They are paying to repair smashed windows, damaged cars and personal property…and wait for compensation.
    Once again, the 35-hour working week makes the headlines in Le Figaro [and Le Monde; see two articles below]. Now that the UMP (l'Union pour un Mouvement Populaire = Union for a Popular Movement, Sarkozy's political party) is out of office, one of their MPs [Members of Parliament] wants to replace it. No word on why it’s still the law after a five-year UMP mandate.
    [that started with "Work More to Get More."]
    Estrosi requests the dropping of the 35 Hours after defending their continuation in 2011, LeMonde.fr
    [Translation of below by Bing - Yahoo Babel Fish plus lotsa fixup.]
    PARIS, France - In an interview with le Figaro on Friday, August 3, Christian Estrosi, potential candidate for the Presidency of the UMP, explains his decision to request dropping the 35 Hours, although in November 2011 he defended the continuation of the legal length by a "change of context."
    The Member of Parliament [MP], Mayor of Nice and former Minister of industry filed Tuesday legislation to drop the legal duration of 35 hours. In November 2011 however, he maintained on LCI [news channel La Chaine Info = The Info Chain} that the question should not be raised at the present time.
    "I am not for the suppression of the 35 Hours", he said at the time, when others in the UMP, like Jean-François Copé, were fighting for their total suppression. "We promised that we would soften the 35 Hours, they certainly lifted with the tax exemption of overtime, both for businesses and for employees," explained Mr. Estrosi at the time.
    "The context has changed. With the retaxing of overtime, the 35-hour limit no longer has reason for existence," explains the aforesaid today, proposing to "leave to the social partners the responsibility of negotiating by industry."
    Guest on RTL [Radio-TV Luxemburg] Friday morning, the UMP MP also confirmed his intention to run for president of his party if his ideas are not represented. Mr. Estrosi indicated he'd collected 3,000 signatures of the 7,924 necessary to run. "The last week of August I will confirm definitely," he said.
    [Original of above -]
    Estrosi demande la suppression des 35 heures après avoir défendu leur maintien en 2011, LeMonde.fr
    PARIS, France - Dans un entretien au Figaro du vendredi 3 août, Christian Estrosi, candidat potentiel à la présidence de l'UMP, explique son choix de demander la suppression des 35 heures, alors qu'il défendait en novembre 2011 le maintien de la durée légale du travail par un "changement de contexte".
    Le député et maire de Nice et ancien ministre de l'industrie a déposé mardi une proposition de loi visant à supprimer la durée légale de 35 heures. En novembre 2011, il expliquait pourtant sur LCI qu'il ne fallait pas remettre en cause cette durée.
    "Je ne suis pas pour la suppression des 35 heures", disait-il à l'époque, alors que d'autres à l'UMP, comme Jean-François Copé, militaient pour leur suppression totale. "Nous avons promis que nous assouplirions les 35 heures, elles ont sauté de fait avec la défiscalisation des heures supplémentaires, tant pour les entreprises que pour les salariés", expliquait alors M. Estrosi.
    "Le contexte a changé. Avec la refiscalisation des heures supplémentaires, la limite des 35 heures n'a plus de raison d'être", explique le même aujourd'hui, en proposant de "laisser aux partenaires sociaux la responsabilité de négocier par branche".
    Invité de RTL vendredi matin, le député UMP a par ailleurs confirmé son intention de briguer la présidence de son parti si ses idées n'y sont pas représentées. M. Estrosi a indiqué avoir recueilli 3 000 parrainages sur les 7 924 nécessaires pour se présenter.
    "La dernière semaine d'août je le confirmerai définitivement", a-t-il dit.
    [Another article -]
    The UMP shoots belatedly at the 35-hours, by Judith Waintraub, LeFigaro.fr
    L'UMP tire à retardement sur les 35 heures
    S'appuyant sur les travaux d'Hervé Novelli, Jean-François Copé a inscrit la sortie des 35 heures il y a plus d'un an au programme de l'UMP. (photo caption)
    PARIS, France - La refiscalisation des heures supplémentaires lève l'interdit édicté par Sarkozy au nom de la paix sociale.
    Tout au long de la campagne présidentielle, la gauche en a fait ses choux gras: si les 35 heures sont aussi délétères pour l'économie et le moral français que la droite le prétend, pourquoi diable Nicolas Sarkozy ne les a-t-il pas abolies quand il en avait le pouvoir? La question est restée sans réponse jusqu'à aujourd'hui. La refiscalisation des heures supplémentaires, qui alourdit encore le coût du travail, a ouvert un créneau aux dirigeants de l'UMP. Ils peuvent désormais tirer à vue sur la RTT sans donner l'impression de se renier, malgré leurs responsabilités passées.
    La proposition de loi déposée par l'ex-ministre de l'Industrie Christian Estrosi fera l'unanimité ou presque au sein de son groupe. Sans avoir aucune chance d'être adoptée. Dommage, car, depuis la défaite du 6 mai, plus personne à l'UMP ne défend le statu quo en matière de temps de travail. La sortie des 35 heures figurera d'ailleurs en bonne place dans les projets des principaux candidats à la présidence du parti, en novembre. François Fillon l'a préconisée dès son premier meeting. Jean-François Copé l'a inscrite il y a plus d'un an au programme de l'UMP, dans le cadre de la préparation des législatives de juin dernier.
    Les occasions d'en finir ont été nombreuses
    Le secrétaire général s'est appuyé sur les travaux de son adjoint Hervé Novelli. Le chef de file des libéraux de l'UMP a commencé sa croisade anti-35 heures en 2004 lorsque, député d'Indre-et-Loire, il a réclamé la constitution d'une commission d'enquête parlementaire sur les conséquences des lois Aubry. Jean-Pierre Raffarin, alors premier ministre, ne lui a accordé qu'une mission, espérant limiter ainsi la portée politique d'un rapport qui s'annonçait explosif. Novelli a réussi sa démonstration malgré les obstacles, tout en jetant les bases d'un dispositif qui allait inspirer en 2012 la proposition du «contrat compétitivité-emploi» du candidat Sarkozy. Mais que de temps perdu…
    Les occasions d'en finir ont pourtant été nombreuses. En 2007, Patrick Devedjian, secrétaire général de l'UMP, réclame le . Le ministre du Travail, Xavier Bertrand, le remet à sa place, avec la bénédiction présidentielle. En 2008, François Fillon élabore une loi visant à contourner la question de la durée légale du travail, sans résultat. En 2011, comble de l'ironie, c'est le socialiste Manuel Valls qui rouvre le dossier en estimant nécessaire de «déverrouiller les 35 heures». «Les 35 heures n'existent plus», riposte Nicolas Sarkozy. Pour le président, il y va de la paix sociale. Les entreprises tiennent à leurs allégements de charges ; les salariés, à leurs heures supplémentaires défiscalisées. Qu'ils viennent de perdre.

8/02/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Fact Sheet - Shared Work Program: Your Layoff Alternative, NYS Dept. of Labor via labor.ny.gov
    PROTECT all Workers - ASSIST the Unemployed - CONNECT Employers and Workers
    ALBANY, N.Y., USA - What does Shared Work mean for me as an employer?
    The Shared Work program gives you an alternative to laying off full-time employees when you have to deal with temporary business downturns. It makes sense for you to keep productive employees. Instead of cutting staff, you can reduce the number of hours of:
    • All employees
    • Just a select group
    Under an approved plan, those employees may collect partial Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits for up to 20 weeks.
    For example: Plant XYZ files a Shared Work plan with the State Labor Department and receives approval to reduce the hours of its sewing department by 20% for ten weeks. These employees can file for UI. They may collect 20% of their weekly benefit (after serving an unpaid waiting period of one week).
    An employee who earns $400 per week might receive a $200 unemployment benefit rate, if totally unemployed. Under the Shared Work Program, he gets $320 per week in wages from his employer (20% of $400 is an $80 reduction), plus $40 in Shared Work Benefits (20% of $200). This totals $360.00 in wages and Shared Work benefits for each week of the plan after an unpaid waiting week. The Shared Work Program helps you avoid some of the problems caused by a layoff. If you keep your employees during a temporary slowdown, you can gear up quickly when business conditions improve. You do not have the expense of recruiting, hiring and training new employees. Also, you spare your employees the hardships of full unemployment.
    Layoffs also can damage employee good will. When you avoid layoffs, employees may understand that you:
    • Appreciate their individual contributions
    • Want to keep them on despite tough times
    Shared Work tells employees you value them as team members.
    What does a Shared Work Plan require?
    Who Can Apply
    Before you apply, you must have:
    • Employed at least five full-time workers (35-40 hours/week)
    • Paid UI tax contributions (yourself or your predecessor) for at least four consecutive calendar quarters
    Submit applications for a Shared Work Plan from two to four weeks before the date you want to start the plan.
    Plan Details
    Your Shared Work plan must:
    • Apply to full-time workers who normally work 35-40 hours a week
    • Reduce work hours and corresponding wages between 20 and 60%
    • Replace the layoff of an equal percentage of your workforce
    • Not reduce or eliminate fringe benefits
    • Not extend beyond 53 weeks
    • Cover all employees in an affected unit and reduce their hours by the same extent (you may reduce different units by different percentages)
    • Have the approval of our Liability & Determination Section before implementation
    You cannot hire more full or part-time employees for the work group covered by the plan while the plan is being implemented. If there is a collective bargaining agreement in effect, the collective bargaining unit must agree to take part in the Shared Work Program.
    Benefit Eligibility
    Employees may take part in the plan if they are normally eligible to receive regular unemployment insurance benefits in New York State. They must serve a waiting week before receiving Shared Work benefit payments, unless they served a waiting period on an existing claim.
    The Shared Work weekly amount is the person’s weekly unemployment benefit rate multiplied by the percentage their hours and wages are reduced under the Shared Work plan.
    Employees covered under the plan:
    • May receive a maximum of 20 weeks of Shared Work benefits during a benefit year
    • May not receive more in a benefit year from Shared Work benefits combined with regular unemployment insurance benefits than they would receive under the regular unemployment insurance program alone (26 times regular benefit rate).
    • l Must be fully available for work for the Shared Work employer, but is not required to look for other work
    • Are not eligible for Shared Work benefits in any week in which they receive supplemental unemployment compensation benefits (SUB Pay)
    • Will reduce the amount of Shared Work benefits that they are eligible for if they work with a different employer or have self-employment
    Q. When will the Shared Work plan begin?
    A. On the date specified on your application form or the first Monday following our approval of the plan, whichever date is later. Submit your application less than one month before the proposed start date but at least two weeks before the desired plan starting date. You cannot apply a Shared Work plan retroactively.
    Q. Once a Shared Work plan has been approved, can I change it?
    A. Yes. You may change the percentage that your employees’ hours are reduced or return them to a full-time work schedule for a week or more and then continue the plan. If you want to add work units to an existing plan, you must submit a modified application for approval.
    Q. Can I lay off some workers who were originally in the plan and still keep the remainder in the plan?
    A. Yes. Shared Work would still prevent the layoff of those who remain, which is the program’s intent. As an alternative, you could increase the percentage that you reduce the employees’ hours and wages to avoid any layoffs.
    Q. Once the Shared Work Plan is in effect, can I hire a replacement for an employee who leaves to work for another employer?
    A. Yes. The law only prohibits you from hiring more full-time or part-time employees to work in an affected unit. You can hire replacements for employees who leave while the plan is in effect.
    Q. If I choose Shared Work, must I use it for the entire business or company?
    A. No, you can use Shared Work in one or more departments, shifts or units. The plan lets you choose the areas involved. You must apply reductions in hours and wages equally to all of the employees in a participating unit or department. You may reduce the hours and wages of employees of different departments or units by different percentages, if you specify that in the plan.
    Q. Can a Shared Work Plan include a unit consisting of one employee?
    A. To share the work, generally you need more than one person in the work unit. The Shared Work Program is not intended to subsidize part-time employment. If you submit an application including a unit that consists of one person, you must include an explanation of the circumstances. For example, whether the individual is affected because another unit is being reduced, or, if he is the only individual in the plan, how work is being shared.
    Q. Can employees who normally work overtime receive Shared Work benefits for a reduction in their overtime hours?
    A. No. Shared Work benefits only are paid for wages lost because of a reduction in the employee’s normal, full-time, regular hours. The Shared Work law defines full-time hours as at least 35 but not more than 40 hours per week.
    Q. What effect does Shared Work benefits have on my unemployment insurance tax rate?
    A. Shared Work benefits are charged against your experience rating account. Whether these charges are the same as would be charged after a layoff depends on each employer’s specific situation. If you have any questions about impacts on your tax rate, call 518-457-2635.
    Q. Can I specify which employees to include in the Shared Work program?
    A. Yes. Your plan must include the names and social security account numbers of all participating employees and their normal full-time hours per week.
    Q. Am I required to file reports while the Shared Work plan is in effect?
    A. Yes. You must complete part of each employee’s bi-weekly request for Shared Work benefit payments. This is to make sure that each employee is paid the proper Shared Work benefit amount. Q. Can employees receive Shared Work benefits if their hours and wages are reduced less than 20% or more than 60%?
    A. No. However, the employees may be eligible to receive partial benefits under the regular unemployment insurance program.
    Q. If my Shared Work plan expires but the employees are still working on a reduced work schedule, can the employees continue to receive Shared Work benefits?
    A. No. Shared Work benefits are paid only while your plan is in effect.
    To prevent interruption of payments, make arrangements before the plan expiration date to either extend the existing plan or to apply for a new plan.
    The Shared Work Program is flexible. You can customize it to cover many work situations. It saves money. It saves jobs.
    File an application online at the department’s website, www.labor.ny.gov. Follow the links for ‘Businesses,’ then under ‘Unemployment Insurance’ select UI Online Services to create an online account. Then go to your Employer Information page.
    The application is due at least two weeks before you wish to start the program. Contact the Liability & Determination Section with any questions about the program, how to fill out the application, or to request an application. Call (518) 457-2635 or write to:
    Unemployment Insurance Division
    Liability and Determination Section
    State Office Campus
    Albany, N.Y. 12240

  2. Shared-Work Compensation: A Research Agenda - Project Report 81-01, by Kerachky, Stuart et al., (1981-02-27 very late pickup) Education Resources Information Center via eric.ed.gov
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA -- Abstract: Shared-work compensation (SWC) can provide a method whereby layoffs and unemployment may be avoided by reducing all workers' time. As compensation, workers receive a comparable percentage of their unemployment insurance benefits.
    Although Western European countries have used work-sharing programs and Canada has implemented an experimental SWC program, the United States has had limited experience with SWC. Each of the groups--labor, business, and government (taxpayers)--that could in some way be affected by SWC have an interest in and concerns about the program.
    Their unresolved questions are of two broad types: those relating to administrative and operational considerations and those relating to program impacts on the various interest groups. To learn about SWC in a real-world context, a demonstration should be planned as a comprehensive, voluntary, entitlement program replicated in several sites. A suggested demonstration design is based on a state model.
    Regulations would be required in three areas--employer eligibility, employee eligibility, and benefit-calculation and payments procedures. A minimum of four sites would be chosen to provide variation. Evaluation should include an analysis of the process of implementation and operations and a quantitative-participation and impact analysis for the respective groups.

8/01/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Work sharing – will it work? (7/31 late pickup) BlogBigTime.com
    UNDISCLOSED CITY, India? - The recent proposal of the IMF to reduce the cost of state payroll should not mean wage cuts and reduction of staff because these cuts create uncertainty in the market, affecting productivity and increase[ing] unemployment, without always achieving the desired results. The decrease in salary may seem “fair” for high paid staff but it may make [other] employees feel they are not valued enough and it may make them shift to pursue better opportunities in other companies.
    [Unfortunately not likely in a "jobless recovery."]
    The reduction in staff may well be inevitable when the company goes through economic difficulties and attempts to reduce the costs to adapt to the needs of the market, but to reduce staff without further changes to the way the company works has minimal chances of economic success if not made as part of a broader restructuring of the business. In various countries, companies including the larger ones have found clever ways to reduce the costs of payroll with the consent of the unions and workers. With recommendations of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in many countries, employers reduce costs of payroll giving the staff the option to take unpaid leave or apply other flexible working hours and simultaneously reduce taxation of employees.
    TRAVAILPolicyBriefNo2 report (Feb 2010) of the International Labor Organization suggests the so-called “Work sharing”, based on the reduction of working hours, in order to split the task [among] the same number of staff avoiding staff redundancies or creating new jobs (the reduction of working hours can recruit unemployed for reduction of unemployment). Germany, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Denmark, Switzerland and some other countries have taken these measures for timely protection of their economy since 2008. Today, other countries have already taken similar measures such as Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Turkey. In Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ireland and Romania, 24% of the workforce have reduced their working hours.
    Key elements of ‘ Work Sharing ‘ or the so-called smaller standard working week or reduced working hours or working flexible or 4 day work week is:
    (a) Reduction in working hours instead of layoffs, and the corresponding reduction in salary.
    (b) Provision for the low-paid, less a reduction of hours of work.
    (c) Specify the time duration of this measure, in order to overcome the economic crisis.
    (d) Staff training so that it can be profitable for the company, and employees. The International Labor Organization encourages countries to implement this program to avoid redundant staff to not increase dangerous unemployment. The programs reduced week/month/day is considered to reduce the worst effects of the financial crisis. At the same time, it reduces the Redundancy Fund requirements and industrial allowances and maintain their labor market and limit social problems and insecurity posed by unemployment.
    For example, in Romania civil servants took unpaid leave days in November and 4 days in December, and the teachers and professors took partial compulsory unpaid leave during the school holidays. In Ireland the working hours fell by ¼ hours 3.3% to a similar reduction in salary, on a proposal of the unions. In the company, Bausch & Lomb, 1400 employees took unpaid leave of one week per month for 6 months. Pella industry the Iowa American introduced 4 week work for about 1/3 of the 3900 employees. The Chilinx Inc reduced by 10% salaries by giving one year license for studies or other reasons. The company United Technologies has given unpaid leaves of one week to managers. China’s Ernest & Young offered to 9,000 employees the opportunity to take one month of unpaid leave. 90% accepted the offer and payroll costs decreased by 17%.
    In several countries, opportunity exists to take timely measures for shielding the economy, but in many cases companies have not done it and were forced to close down, unemployment has soared to very high proportion of the working population and these countries sometimes have problems paying their obligations.
    Today, despite the problems of the financial crisis chain reaction, countries may introduce similar flexible working systems so that the participation of workers can make recommendations for ways to reduce costs in conjunction with other tested measures to achieve economic recovery. For example, during August, which is a vacation month, there is an opportunity for the staff to take one week of unpaid leave after choosing their unpaid leave which will also help the family to have more time together during the summer.

  2. Dublin city schools add 10 furlough days, by Andrea Castilloacastillo@macon.com, Macon Telegraph (blog) via macon.com
    DUBLIN, Ga., USA — The Dublin City school system will have 10 furlough days during the 2012-13 school year to make up for lagging state and local funding in recent years.
    The school board approved the furlough days in a 5-2 vote at a meeting Monday night, said Superintendent Chuck Ledbetter. The move is expected to save the system about $900,000 toward an overall $1.1 million loss in state dollars for fiscal 2013.
    Students will now end the school year on May 24, 2013, a week earlier than planned. In addition, teachers will lose five work days in Jan. 2013.
    The local property tax digest hasn’t been reassessed since 2000, and that has hurt the school system, the superintendent said.
    A 2009 reassessment was thrown out after residents complained about their property values, and a state law prevents a new reassessment for three years, according to Ledbetter.
    The furloughs come after staff cuts over the past three years, and the system cannot afford to lose more teachers, Ledbetter said.
    “You get to the point where there’s no fat to be trimmed,” he said.

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