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


9/30/2012 – 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. Clallam plans furlough day Monday, PeninsulaDailyNews.com
    PORT ANGELES, Clallam Cnty., Wash., USA — Most Clallam County Courthouse offices will be closed Monday for the 12th of 16 furlough days the county implemented this year.
    The only exceptions to the closure are the courts and the jail.
    Offices on the main floor of the Clallam County Courthouse at 223 E. Fourth St. in Port Angeles will be closed.
    The public can conduct court business by entering the south doors and proceeding upstairs.
    Sheriff's deputies will be on regular patrols, but the sheriff's administrative office will be closed.
    The county implemented the unpaid leave days to help balance the budget.
    All of the furlough days are Mondays.
    The remaining furlough dates are Oct. 8, Nov. 19, Dec. 24 and Dec. 31.
    The back-to-back furlough Mondays prompted county Auditor Patty Rosand to encourage the public to purchase their licence tabs and register to vote online.
    “Expect long lines in licensing on Tuesday if you choose to come into the Auditor's Office,” Rosand said.
    “You can buy your license tabs online at www.dol.wa.gov, and we will mail them to you the next business day, or you can pick them up in our office.
    “Voter registration can be done online at www.clallam.net/elections."
    The last day to register to vote by mail is Saturday. The last day to register online is Oct. 8.
    Meanwhile, the three commissioners Tuesday will consider a resolution designating 16 furlough days for 2013. The proposed furlough dates, all Mondays, are Jan. 14, Jan. 28, March 11, March 25, April 1, April 8, June 24, July 1, July 15, July 22, Aug. 26, Sept. 16, Sept. 23, Nov. 18, Dec. 23 and Dec. 30.
    [Less money coming in? Cut hours, not jobs - or the money will come in even slower! Another example -]

  2. Bank of Ireland To Cut Hours in Some Branches, 98FM.com
    DUBLIN, Ireland - Services at more than 40 Bank of Ireland branches are to be dramatically reduced in the coming months.
    According to reports in the Sunday Business Post, plans are afoot for the bank to limit over-the-counter cash services to three days a week, at 40 of its 250 branches across the country.
    It’s expected the change will come into effect before the end of this year – but it’s still unknown which branches may be effected.

  3. Breather for aircraft maintenance staff from long working hours, by Neha Lalchandani, Times of India via http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com
    NEW DELHI, India - Working long unregulated shifts, often more than 12 hours at a stretch, aircraft maintenance personnel (AMP) will now have some respite. The directorate general of civil aviation has found that long work hours is leading to several illnesses among AMPs and has directed airlines to draft duty time limitations for them like those for pilots and cabin crew.
    Officials said they had observed poor health among AMPs including sleep disorders, emotional disorders, and stomach and heart problems. As their work is crucial to airline safety, it was felt that their duty hours should be regulated. The advisory circulated among airlines said: "Often, various incident and accident investigation reports have attributed human error as a weakest link in the safety chain and without attention this can become a safety hazard...therefore, it is advisable that in line with pilot and cabin crew, every organization should frame policy for AMP duty time limitations and adequate rest period."
    Those who will be covered under the new regulations include not only certified personnel but also technicians, inspectors, supervisors, managers and planners associated with the aircraft maintenance.

  4. Fitial signs FY'13 budget, will reduce working hours, By Emmanuel T. Erediano, Marianas Variety via mvariety.com
    SAIPAN, Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands - Gov. Benigno R. Fitial signed the new budget at 5:05 p.m. on Sunday, averting a government shutdown, but admitted that he may have to cut working hours “at some point” in fiscal year 2013, which starts today.
    Surrounded by his House allies and administration officials at the Fiesta Resort, Fitial signed House Bill 17-313, now Public Law 17-85, but vetoed three of its provisions: Rota’s budget, including the $200,000 retroactive pay for its government employees pursuant to the 1991 law P.L. 7-31; the $500,000 in commonwealth worker funds for the Northern Marianas Trade Institute; and the $365,298 in poker revenue for the NMI Retirement Fund’s cost of living allowance.
    The governor said he had several other concerns, adding that he signed the budget with “deep reservations.”
    Fitial said while his administration intends to restore the 80 government working hours, the “callous reductions imposed by the Legislature may trigger an adjustment to government work hours at some point in fiscal year 2013.”
    The governor said the Legislature raised its own budget by $401,704 or 37.8 percent while proportionately cutting most agencies by 1.79 percent. This, he said “crippled critical service agencies.”
    He said the Department of Corrections budget was reduced by 24.18 percent and the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs by 10.29 percent.
    The Legislature also reduced the Department of Commerce’s budget by 9.78 percent, “maybe not realizing or not caring that the department is responsible for rejuvenating our economy,” Fitial said.
    “Frankly, I find it quite troubling that a bloated Legislature deems it absolutely necessary to increase the budget of their support staff, yet does not appreciate DCCAs’ role to provide critical services to our elders, our youth and to the needy,” he added.
    Fitial said the lawmakers’ failure to act promptly on the budget also “impacted my ability to improve upon [their] submission and make any comments.”
    “I should have been given 20 days as provided by our Constitution to review this budget act. However, in order to avoid a repeat of the 2010 shutdown and resulting payless government workdays I have signed the budget bill,” he added.
    In an email, Press Secretary Angel A. Demapan said Fitial and his budget review team conducted an “intense scrutiny” of the budget measure. The team was composed of Demapan, Finance Secretary Larrisa Larson, special assistant for management and budget Vicky Villagomez acting Attorney General Viola Alepuyo and the lt. governor’s legal counsel Teresa Kim-Tenorio.
    After receiving the “11th hour” budget bill from the Legislature, Demapan said Fitial and his review team “went straight to work even into the late evening hours Friday and Saturday racing against time to comb through the appropriations measure hoping to have a budget enacted into law by the Oct. 1 deadline.”
    Fitial said he “submitted my budget proposal ahead of my April 1 deadline in the hopes that the Legislature would have passed the bill with ample time before the deadline. Doing so would have allowed the administration to not just conduct a review of the appropriations, but also make further recommendations to further refine the bill.”
    He said “it is unfair for the executive branch to be given a bill on the eve of a looming government shutdown that would have negatively impacted the lives of over 1,500 government employees and their families. It is for the sake of the people that my key officials, the lt. governor and I spent considerable time in a 48-hour window to review the bill and come up with the final decision to enact a budget and prevent a shutdown.”
    Fitial thanked “the lt. governor and our budget review team for their tireless efforts through a weekend that they spent away from their families and personal obligations.”
    The governor also thanked his executive assistant Lucy C. Castro, Special assistant for programs and legislative review Victoria Guerrero and SAPLR assistant Nace Soalabai for their assistance in processing and transmitting the new budget law.
    Technical amendment
    On Friday, by a vote of 13 to 6, the House of Representatives passed the fiscal year 2013 budget bill.
    The House deliberated on H.B. 17-313 — which was passed by the Senate at 3:25 a.m. — from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
    Before the House session started, the bicameral conference committee tasked to draft the measure had to make a technical amendment to correct the budget for the Board of Education which was inadvertently “zeroed.” The budget panel rectified what it described as an “unintentional” mistake.
    After more than three hours of a closed-door meeting, the joint budget committee restored BOE’s $172,257 allotment. The Senate then held another session to pass the amended bill and transmit it to the House.
    Before the House passed the bill, members of the minority bloc expressed disappointment with the House conferees’ decision to cut funding for critical services just to restore the government employees’ 80 working hours as proposed by Gov. Benigno R. Fitial.
    Rep. Francisco S. Dela Cruz, R-Saipan, criticized the House conferees for insisting on a reduced budget for PSS and the Saipan mayor’s office as well as inadequate allotments for the government employees’ defined benefit contribution plan and the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.
    “It appears the restoration of 80 working hours was placed above everything,” Dela Cruz said. The House budget conferees he added, fought for the 80 working hours because they believed that it was political suicide not to do so.
    Rep. Janet U. Maratita, R-Saipan, said the House conferees’ support for the restoration of the 80 hours was “not only defective but also deceptive.” She asked: How long can the Fitial administration maintain 80 working hours for a cash-strapped government? “Come Jan. 2013, and let see if the governor will not reduce the working hours again.”
    The House conferees are seeking re-election on Fitial’s Republican slate: Speaker Eli D. Cabrera, Vice Speaker Felicidad T. Ogumoro and Rep. Ramon S. Basa. None of the Senate conferees are running this year: Senate Vice President Jude U. Hofschneider, R-Tinian, Sens. Jovita M. Taimanao, Ind.-Rota, and Ralph DLG Torres, R-Saipan.
    Basa described as “garbage” Dela Cruz’s comments. He said politics had nothing to do with the budget panel’s decision. He noted that they actually “raised” the budgets for CHC, PSS, NMC, Medicaid and medical referrals which he described as the conferees’ priority items. Compared with the governor’s original submission, Basa said the budget panel’s proposed budget had higher allotments for the priority agencies and services.
    Ogumoro, for her part, said they had to work with meager financial resources while trying to address the needs of every agencies and services. The limited resources, she added, compelled the budget panel to identify priorities: CHC, PSS, NMC, Medicaid, medical referrals and the restoration of 80 working hours.
    Aside from Cabrera, Basa and Ogumoro, the other House members who voted yes to the passage of the budget bill were House Floor Leader George N. Camacho, R-Saipan; Reps. Fredrick P. Deleon Guerrero, R-Saipan; Joseph M. Palacios, R-Saipan; Sylvestre P. Iguel, R-Saipan; Stanley T. Torres, Ind.-Saipan; Ralph S. Demapan, Covenant-Saipan; Raymond D. Palacios, Covenant-Saipan; and Trenton B. Conner, R-Tinian. House Minority Leader Joseph P. Deleon Guerrero, R-Saipan, and Rep. Teresita A. Santos, Ind.-Rota, voted yes but with “extreme reservations.”
    Those who voted no aside from Dela Cruz and Maratita were Reps. Ray N.Yumul, R-Saipan; Tony P. Sablan, R-Saipan; Ray A. Tebuteb, R-Saipan; and Edmund S. Villagomez, Covenant-Saipan.
    Under the bill, PSS will get $30 million which is $3 million less than what the Senate earlier proposed. CHC’s “subsidy” was reduced from $5 million to $1.95 million, but the House conferees said CHC will also get a $7 million “loan” from the Marianas Public Land Trust,and the collections from a “sweet tax” measure, which has yet to be introduced. Before it was turned into a “public corporation,” CHC received a budget of $38 million.
    NMC will get some $5.3 million including Compact-Impact aid and CW fees; Medicaid, $8 million; medical referrals, $3.5 million; and the government’s defined benefit plan employer contributions, $10 million, which is $1 million less than what was earlier proposed.
    The judiciary will get $3.739 million; the Legislature, $5.236 million; the executive branch,$30.654 million; Rota and Tinian, $4.62 million each; the Saipan mayor’s office, $1.165 million; the Northern Islands mayor’s office, $334,159; the Saipan and Northern Islands Municipal Council, $116,672; and the Marianas Visitors Authority, $2 million.


9/29/2012 – 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. Furloughs at Holland advanced battery plant do not lessen commitment, says LG Chem spokesman, by Jim Harger jharger@mlive.com, (9/28 late pickup) Michigan Business Review via MLive.com
    HOLLAND, Mich. – “Rolling furloughs” that have been extended at LG Chem’s new advanced battery plant should not be seen as a weakened commitment by its Korean parent corporation, a spokesman for the company said Friday.
    “They’re seeing the Holland operation as an integral part of what they are going to be doing globally,” said Randy Boileau of Boileau Communications Management LLC.
    The furloughs will put most of LG Chem’s 200 employees on layoff one week every month, Boileau said. During that time, the company has continued its health care benefits and paid for those benefits during the layoff time, he said.
    When the plant’s employees are on duty, they continue to prepare for and train for production, Boileau said.
    “The company has continued to invest in keeping their team together and keeping them trained so when the market is ready to go, they’re ready to launch.”
    The extended furloughs have caught the attention of politicians who questioned the federal government’s $151 million investment in the plant and the state’s offer of $100 million in tax credits.
    Built at a cost of $303 million, the 600,000-square-foot LG Chem plant was supposed to begin production of batteries for the Chevrolet Volts and the Ford Focus EV by mid-2012.
    When fully operational, the plant is designed to employ 400 and supply batteries for up to 200,000 electric vehicles a year.
    Because of weakened demand for the Volt and shutdowns at its assembly plant in Hamtramck, the Holland plant has not begun production. Batteries installed in Volts currently on the market were made in Korea.
    “This is really a short-term issue with a long-term technology,” said Randy Thelen, president of the Lakeshore Advantage economic development program, which recruited LG Chem and a Johnson Controls advanced battery plant to the Holland area.
    “I think business people would recognize that not every launch goes according to plan.”

  2. SRS considers furloughs, week-long plant closure, by Mike Gellatly mgellatly@aikenstandard.com, AikenStandard.com
    AIKEN, S.C., USA - Savannah River Site [SRS] employees may get a rather unwelcome gift this holiday season as budget shortfalls could see the DOE-owned nuclear weapons complex close for one week in November, December and January.
    Savannah River Nuclear Solutions [SRNS], the management and operations contractor at SRS, is currently considering "a variety of actions to mitigate the impact of an expected FY13 budget shortfall," said Barbara Smoak, director of Business, Technical and Employee Communications for SRNS.
    Rumors of voluntary furloughs and other cost-cutting measures abounded Friday. SRNS confirmed that furlough discussions of this nature were taking place.
    "Employees could choose to utilize their paid vacation benefits or to take time off without pay," Smoak said.

    [Now there's a scary combo = humans and nuclear "solutions"... But again, better little worktime cuts for all (especially if voluntary) than total job cuts for a few, and a few more, and a few more, and...]
    "No decision has been made concerning this option, and this is only a consideration at this time."
    As well as vacation furloughs, all of SRS may close for week-long periods, Smoak said.
    "We are currently discussing the possibility of a plant closing for the weeks during the holidays, beginning with Thanksgiving week, the last week of December and the first week of January," Smoak said. "We are carefully evaluating how this approach would be implemented and its site-wide impact."
    This is just the most recent round of discussions relating to thinning the SRS workforce.
    On Monday, liquid waste contractor Savannah River Remediation announced it is looking to begin a "workforce restructuring program," citing conclusion of projects and reduced budgets.
    Just two weeks ago, SRNS began offering a similar program, which offers a severance package of one week's pay for every eligible year of service.

  3. LabourMin accepts applications for kurzarbeit project, (9/17 very late pickup) CEZ Group via cez.cz/en/cez-group
    PRAGUE, Czech Republic - The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MPSV) has made public the guidelines for persons and entities interested in joining the “Educate Yourself for Stability! or Kurzarbeit (short work)” project, aimed to maintain the employment and boost the expert skills of employees.
    According to the information from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, companies may start submitting applications to the employment offices’ contact locations from Monday September 17.

  4. Race to save jobs in France, (9/28 late pickup) Cbonds. Info
    PARIS, France - French Minister for Industrial Renewal Arnaud Montebourg travelled to the Lorraine region in a last ditch effort to avoid the partial closure of a steel plant.
    This is another blow to the administration of President Francois Hollande which is been battling unemployment of more than three million, the highest levels since 1999.
    Marc Michel of the CFDT union expressed his fears over the future of the workers. “We are very anxious about what lies ahead. We are hoping for a positive outcome despite hearing the opposite in the news,” he said.
    The ArcelorMittal steel plant sits in the heartland of France’s steel industry. In a pre-election visit to the area, Hollande said he would do everything in his power to find a new investor for the company. A government report over the summer deemed the plant in Florange to be economically viable and has offered to buy it for a symbolic euro. Some 550 of the 2,800 workers would lose their jobs if a solution is not found.
    [Nothing easier, if you can get past your current worktime straitjacket = emergency Kurzarbeit transitioning to permanent Timesizing - in short, the "radical" 35-hour workweek is still too long for current levels of worksaving technology. Flex up the workweek again and trim it AS MUCH AS IT TAKES to achieve full employment and maximum consumer spending. The wonder here is that even the Europeans DON'T KNOW what they're doing right. France leads the world with the shortest nationwide workweek, but now assumes it's permanent??? How dumb is that in the age of robotics?!   35-hours is hardly radical in 2012 with the plethora of 35, 32, 30 28 and 20 hour-a-week jobs being offered.]
    Several major French employers have announced layoffs in past weeks including car maker Peugeot, retailer Carrefour and pharmaceutical company Sanofi.


9/28/2012 – 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. Cut hours not careers, (9/29 early pickup) BakewellToday.co.uk
    BAKEWELL, Derbys., UK - 'Cut hours not jobs’ is the message from Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce following the latest unemployment figures.
    The August figures demonstrate that overall employment across Derbyshire has remained around 15,600 for the last two months.
    George Cowcher, Chief Executive of the DNCC, said: “This suggests many firms are delaying decisions about whether to invest in their workforce until the trading environment improves.
    He added that given the fragile state the economy is in – with many firms working below full capacity – the approach of reducing hours rather than jobs is ‘key to being able to meet new demand and grow quickly’ once the economy picks up.

  2. Short-time working scheme, (9/26 late pickup) The Federation of European Employers via fedee.com
    PRAGUE, Czech Republic - A new state short-time working scheme has been launched in the Czech Republic and will run until August 31st 2015.
    The subsidy will apply where a genuine work shortfall of between 20% and 60% occurs and employers must use the available time for training and developing staff.
    Monthly subsidies may not average more than a total of CZK 500,000 (20,000 euros) and CZK 31,000 (1,250 euros) per per individual.

  3. ISTAT - Istituto Nazionale di Statistica: Large firms labour indicators, 4-traders.com
    ROME, Italy - Labour indicators for large firms (enterprises with 500 employees and more) are calculated with reference to the base year 2005 using the Ateco 2007 classification (Italian edition of Nace rev. 2).
    In July 2012 the seasonally adjusted employment index in large firms decreased by 0.1% compared with June 2012 (-0.2% in industry and +0.1% in services); net of workers in cassa integrazione guadagni (Cig = short-time working allowance) it is unchanged (-0.2% in industry and unchanged in services). The percentage change of the average of the last three months compared to the previous three months was -0.4% gross of Cig and -0.5% net of Cig.
    The unadjusted employment index in large firms decreased by 0.9% compared with July 2011 (-1.5% net of Cig); the percentage change in the seven months of the year 2012 with respect to the same period of 2011 was -0.9% (-1.3% net of Cig).
    In July 2012 the seasonally adjusted index of gross average earnings per hours worked decreased by 2.6% with respect to the previous month (-0.8% in industry and -2.1% in services). The percentage change of the average of the last three months compared to the previous three months was -0.8% (+0.2% in industry and -0.9% in services).
    The unadjusted index of gross average earnings per hours worked decreased by 1.8% compared with July 2011 (-1.0% in industry and -2.3% in services). The percentage change in the seven months of the year with respect to the same period of 2011 was +0.3% (+1.5% in industry and -0.3% in services).

  4. Apple's Excessive Work Week Progress Report: tracking 800k, 97% 60-hour work week compliance, by Matthew Panzarino, (9/29 early pickup) TheNextWeb.com
    SHENZHEN, China - Apple has updated its Labor and Human Rights page to detailing its efforts to curtail excessive work weeks in its suppliers factories, like Foxconn in China.
    The updates include the fact that they are now tracking over 800k workers — up from 700K in July — to gather the data, and that their compliance was ‘sustained’ in August — holding fast at 97%. Apple requires that workers never work more than 60 hours in a week, which is in line with Chinese labor law.
    Going deep into our supply chain, we are now tracking weekly supplier data for over 800,000 workers. In August, 97 percent of worker weeks were reported as compliant with the 60-hour maximum work week specified in our code, sustaining the 97 percent that was reported in July.
    It’s a bit disappointing to see that Apple hasn’t made forward progress in this department since July, but I suppose no backwards travel is a good thing.
    Apple factories in China came under scrutiny after a set of articles in The New York Times, including How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work and In China, Human Costs Are Built Into an iPad. Joel Johnson’s 1 Million Workers. 90 Million iPhones. 17 Suicides. Who’s to Blame? article in Wired was also cited by many.
    In January 13 of this year, Apple became the first technology company to join the Fair Labor Association, signing an agreement to let the FLA independently assess the quality of Apple’s supply chain. A report from the FLA in August noted that 284 items on its recommended changes list had been complied with and that some 76 remained.
    This followed the launch of its new Supplier Responsibility website, which included a list of its official suppliers, the first time the company had ever publicly disclosed them.
    At a conference in February, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that “No one is doing more to improve working conditions in China than Apple,” indicating that the company knew it should be doing more.
    Apple’s supplier responsibility page tracks subjects related to the company’s supply chain like labor and human rights, worker health and safety, environmental impact and general ethics.
    About the Author - Matthew Panzarino is the News and Apple Editor of TNW. Matthew brings 20 years of computing experience and mobile tech obsession to delivering the latest and greatest tech news and views. You can follow him on Twitter or email him at matthew@thenextweb.com

  5. Desktop PCs, standard working hours on the verge of extinction: LinkedIn, by Anumeha Chaturvedi, Times of India via articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com
    [And if India does drop standard working hours, its economy will always be in the toilet. Because it will always have a shrinking number of workaholic burnouts, output mega-amplified by technology, a swelling mass of dependents, and a sluggish hyperconcentration in the money supply, resulting in a total inability on the part of Indians to buy their own output - and there are no dependable outside markets to do so.]
    NEW DELHI, India - If responses by around 400 Indian professionals for a LinkedIn study are to be believed, then office tools like tape recorder, desktop computers and standard working hours will soon be on the verge on extinction.
    Online professional networking portal LinkedIn surveyed nearly 7000 global professionals including 400 from India for its 'Office Endangered Species' study, on the office tools and trends that will most likely not be seen around office by the year 2017.


9/27/2012 – 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. German job growth weakens further, euronews.com
    [But less and slower than anyone else's due to Kurzarbeit (worksharing).]
    BERLIN, Germany - German unemployment [Arbeitslosigkeit; literally, worklessness; more lit., work's-losing-hood] rose for a sixth month running in September as exports weakened amid the eurozone debt crisis.
    There was a fall in the jobless total most commonly quoted by the German media, which is not adjusted for seasonal factors.
    But the Federal employment agency pointed out that was due to a routine autumn upswing in the economy, and it noted the pace of German job creation is slowing month by month.
    Joblessness remains near to its lowest level since German reunification more than two decades ago, and the unemployment rate held steady at 6.8 percent of the workforce on a seasonally adjusted basis, 6.5 percent unadjusted.
    That contrasts starkly with the feeble labour market in other large European economies, including France and Spain.
    However signs of weakness are increasing in Germany. Big firms like retailer Metro, Lufthansa and Deutsche Bank are cutting thousands of jobs.
    Others like Opel, the German subsidiary of US carmaker General Motors, and steel manufacturer ThyssenKrupp, are returning to “Kurzarbeit”, a government-subsidised short-time work scheme that was used widely by German industry during the global financial crisis.
    “The debt crisis is taking its toll,” said Andreas Scheuerle at Dekabank. “Companies are holding back on investing.”
    [Then incentivate them to invest the same amount in more people, which will make the same amount of money (and percentage of the money supply) circulate more and faster, because the less concentrated the money supply is, the more and faster it circulates - and the more it's funneled to the fewer people (CEOs, investors), the less and slower money circulates. How incentivate? CUT THE WORKWEEK as much as it takes to FORCE more hiring. Yes, sometimes you have to FORCE people to survive and thrive because their ideas are sooo obsolete and unsuited for an age, say, of robotization. Anybody out there GETTING it?]

  2. General Motors Holden workers forced to cut hours, by Ben Hyde, The Advertiser via HeraldSun.com.au
    ELIZABETH, South Austrailia - General Motors Holden will cut production at its Elizabeth plant, forcing employees to take days off, because of slow car sales.
    Workers were told this week the company planned to implement a number of "market response days" before the end of the year.
    GM Holden SA corporate affairs manager Sean Poppitt said production would be slowed to cater for decreasing demand. "It's quite a common device in terms of trying to align production with demand," Mr Poppitt said.
    "It's no secret that it's been tough. All you need to do is look at the sales figures. It's incredibly competitive out there."
    Holden Commodore sales are around their lowest levels since the car was launched in 1978.
    The Commodore lost its crown as Australia's favourite car to the Mazda3 at the end of 2011 and its sales have fallen steadily since.
    The new VF model Commodore will be launched in the first half of next year.
    Mr Poppitt would not say exactly how many days production would be halted, only saying that it would equate to 4 per cent of volume.
    Affected workers will be entitled to 60 per cent of their wage on days they are not required.
    Mr Poppitt said employees could draw from annual or long service leave to top up their pay.
    He denied reports a week-long halt to production next week was the start of the process.
    "We've had (next week's shutdown) in our production schedule since last year," he said.
    In March, a $1 billion 10-year bailout package, including $275 million from the Australian taxpayer, was announced for General Motors.
    [And if they'd done more worksharing, they would not have needed this huge imposition on the Australian taxpayer! This is another HUGE advantage of emergency worksharing, transitioning quickly to permanent timesizing, that we have not nearly sufficiently emphasized (cuzzov all the corporate-socialist free-loader resistance it would evoke?) - Australians, Americans, Europeans, Japanese, Chinese...would get the ever-looming parasitic part of the private sector OFF the taxpayer's back!!! Because no longer would they have the jobs whine, the jobs threat, the jobs cudgel. So, more unemployment-fund-financed worksharing moving quickly to overtime-tax-funded timesizing, and less corporate-socialist-parasitism on goverrnments and taxpayers!]


9/26/2012 – 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. Unite the Union Public Service Working Hours Survey - A Government/Unions initiative that took fruition under a Joint Public Service Forum in January 2012, editorial, The Gibraltar Independent Vox via Vox Online News via vox.gi
    GIBRALTAR - Unite the Union would like to inform its members on the results of the Public Service Working Hours Survey which is now arriving to its conclusion. This was a Government/Unions initiative that took fruition under a Joint Public Service Forum in January 2012.
    The data facilitated is as follows:
    With 95% of the Survey completed the data shows the following,
    Option 1. 08.00 to 15.30 (Monday to Thursday) 08.00 to 15.00 (Friday) 68%

    Option 2. 08.00 to 16.15 (Monday to Thursday) 08.00 to 16.00 (Friday) 5%
    Option 3. 08.15 to 16.30 (Monday to Thursday) 08.15 to 16.15 (Friday) 5%
    Option 4. 08.45 to 16.30 (Monday to Thursday) 08.45 to 16.15 (Friday) 15%
    Option 5. Remain as at present.
    [Which is what??] 7%
    These percentages clearly show that a vast majority prefer OPTION 1 which is what the majority of Unite the Union members have been also calling for.
    [7.5 hrs M-Th + 7 hrs F = 37 hrs/wk, possibly minus unspecified daily time for lunch.]
    However as a responsible Union we must also consider the highlighted concerns of the 32% who do not want to work those hours.
    Consideration is to be given to the 79% who have ticked a further box contained within the Working Hours Survey Questionnaire who would consider the introduction of Flexible Hour System as an alternative to all other options.
    This system has been proved to work well in the Ministry of Defence for many years, Therefore, It would be worth exploring its possible introduction if accepted by membership as it accommodates all type of personal or family related issues that any members/employee may have as a consequence of changing their working hours. However, Unite membership showed great discontent at the idea of introducing clocking/Monitoring systems, as they feared that this would be the price to pay for a change of hours. Therefore, Unite will need to explore through the joint Government / Unions Forum any other avenues in line with its members’ request.
    The Flexible Hours System would be as follows,
    The core hours for the whole service would be 09.00 to 15.00.
    [So, a core 5days x 6hrs/day= 30-hour workweek.]

  2. Laurent Fabius confronts American-style economic liberalism, by Gaétan Mathieu, (9/24 late pickup) France-Amérique.com
    [Translated by Bing Translator from "Laurent Fabius face au libéralisme à l'américaine" with lotsa fixup by Phil Hyde.]
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - On the sidelines of the General Assembly of the United Nations, Laurent Fabius this Monday met some French entrepreneurs in New York. Culture shock was assured between these French converts to economic liberalism and the Foreign Minister, a great defender of the 35-hour workweek.
    At the same time as [Pres.] François Holland was taking his first steps at the United Nations, Laurent Fabius had decided to meet some French entrepreneurs who are succeeding in New York. On that fresh morning, the Minister of Foreign Affairs [Fabius], surrounded by the French Ambassador, François Delattre, and the new consul in New York, Bertrand Lortholary, paid a visit to the three French founders of OLX, a company specializing in small ads on the Internet.
    After a brief introduction about his company, Fabrice Grinda praised the US entrepreneurial model for allowing a great freedom, criticizing en passant the current French administration. "It is more difficult to penetrate a market in France than it should be," he said. Visibly embarrassed by the economic liberalism advocated by these Frenchmen, Laurent Fabius resorted to reminding them that government aid to SMEs [small and medium enterprises] is getting stronger in France.
    [Forced charity from taxpayers? This puts these "strong, independent, capitalistic" entrepreneurs in the position of pathetic socialist taxpayer-leeching parasites.]
    The discussion then launched into the lack of labour flexibility in "the hexagon" (France, from its rough shape on the map). "Here, if one needs someone, one hires him, and one dismisses him when he is no longer useful," Fabrice Grinda affirmed unequivocally. "France needs that. In the short term, there would be an increase in unemployment, but in the long-term, the results for employment would be very good."
    [Oh yeah? Then where are the "very good" employment results in the U.S. which has been following this economic "liberalism" for decades? Where are the jobs?]
    Without giving its opinion on the matter, Laurent Fabius, circumspectly, contented himself with responding that, politically, these measures of labour flexibility [alias easy firing] would hardly be acceptable in France.
    The lack of labour flexibility does not encourage the founder of OLX, in New York for eleven years, to return to France.
    [Lucky for France! Labor flexibility in the form of easy firing instead of easy hourscuts to maintain and increase employment and consumer spending is a ticket to recession and depression. Entrepreneurs can be notoriously shortsighted, narrowly interested and careless of system requirements.]
    "For holidays, France is great, but not so great for business." It is largely a matter of ambition. "The market in France is very small, I can't create a box that will be worth billions and that will change things."
    [Pretty simple-minded and clichéd ambition, not to say boring.]
    According to Fabrice Grinda, state aid, too limited to SMEs, has a sometimes negative effect on the development of the company.
    [Can't make up his mind if he's going to rip off taxpayers or not?]
    "It is much easier today to be an SME than a big player in France." Making a quick transition from one to the other is very difficult." Laurent Fabius, who had doubtless not foreseen so frank a dialogue with the entrepreneur in front of the media, preferred not to engage in a debate. "I hope in any case that France will know how to jmake you come back so you can bring us your knowhow," the Minister added.
    [God forbid. This "entrepreneur" is just a taxpayer leech.]
    Lay a wreath at Ground Zero
    Earlier in the morning, Laurent Fabius went to Cellfish, a mobile-pone enterprise that develops applications for smartphones. In the majestic offices that overlook the Empire State Building the Frenchman Fabrice Sergeant, co-founder of Cellfish, awaited him. It was an occasion for the Minister to put into practice what he himself calls "economic diplomacy," touting before the media this enterprise that today generates an annual bottom line of $100 million. Equally at ease in French as in English, Laurent Fabius stopped by each member of the team to understand the success of Cellfish and "bring back good ideas to France."
    The Minister for Foreign Affairs then had lunch with other French entrepreneurs in New York, including Ariane Daguin, founder of d'Artagnan; Philippe Sanchez, CEO of "Paul" in the United States; and Philippe Surget, president at Lactalis. His stay in New York will continue Tuesday with meetings at the UN and a meeting with the French community in New York accompanied by François Holland. He will also visit Ground Zero with the president of the Republic to lay a wreath.



9/25/2012 – 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. Work Sharing: The Hidden Secret of Germany's Economic Success, by Dean Baker, Ctr for Econ & Policy Research via cepr.net
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - The New York Times had an article [yesterday, "The Trade-Off That Created Germany’s Job Miracle," 9/24/2012] that reported on Germany's relative economic success and attributed it to the labor market reforms that reduced benefits for unemployed workers and took other steps to weaken workers' bargaining power. While these reforms undoubtedly had the effect of reducing Germany's labor costs and thereby allowing it to accumulate a large trade surplus in the euro zone (which meant that countries like Greece, Spain, and Ireland would have large trade deficits), this is only part of the story of Germany's success in lowering its unemployment rate.
    The fact that Germany has persuaded employers to reduce work hours rather than lay off workers has been at least as important in bringing down Germany's unemployment rate [and would raise domestic spending and export-independence if they did more of it]. Germany's growth rate since the downturn began has been almost identical to the growth rate in the United States. While the unemployment rate in the United States has risen by 3.6 percentage points over this period, from 4.5 percent to 8.1 percent, the unemployment rate in Germany has fallen by more than 2.0 percentage points from the 7.6 percent to 5.5 percent. It would have been worth noting the policy of promoting work sharing in this discussion.
    [OECD chart "Growth since the downturn: Germany & U.S." omitted - available *here]
    The NYT article also wrongly refers to the official Germany unemployment rate of 7.0 percent instead of the OECD harmonized rate. The official German rate counts people who are working part-time but desire full-time employment as being unemployed. It therefore is not directly comparable to the U.S. unemployment rate. The OECD harmonized unemployment rate uses the same methodology as the U.S. Labor Department.
    Comments (9)
    [Then we have a series of comments which demonstrate Dean's title point that humans will talk about almost anything before they will confront the claim that worktime-per-person adjustment is THE economic control variable that we need and discuss IT - and put the nitpicking in its far-secondary place -]
    | [1] Not Quite
    written by fuzzy, September 25, 2012 8:52
    Your comment about the German unemployment figures is not quite correct. While it is true that those "who are working part time, but desire full-time employment are counted as being unemployed", this is only the case if these people are officially resisted [typo for "registered"] with German "Arbeitsamt" (Employment Office). Those not registered are not counted. If the Employment office recommends retraining you will be removed from the statistics for the duration of your retraining.
    For most people the Employment office simply dispenses unemployment checks. This last for a maximum of 52 weeks. Since the Employment office is notoriously ineffective when it comes to actually placing people in positions, there is little incentive for anyone to remain registered once their unemployment benefits run out. In particular, if you have a part time job, but are looking for a full time position, the German Employment office is the last place to look for help.
    For these reasons, I don't think the over counting is a serious as you seem to claim.
    [This depends on what the heck the OECD harmonized unemployment rate is, which Dean unaccountably did not provide.]
    In fact, polls show the problem of underemployment in dead-end positions is at least as great in Germany as in the US.
    [2] Audi's Miracle
    written by John, September 25, 2012 10:12
    Indeed, the real winners of the German economic downturn has been the Audi's, BMWs, and Mercedes of the German industrial policy. The situation with the German worker on the other hand is becoming more or less like their American counterparts, build products they cannot afford to purchase themselves.
    [3] population growth?
    written by bill, September 25, 2012 10:27
    I think that German population has barely grown while US population probably grew 4%-5% over that same period, so the difference in per capita performance is much bigger, in Germany's favor.
    [4] Germany: A False Model
    written by AlanInAZ, September 25, 2012 10:44
    Another view of the German prosperity with a somewhat longer time horizon. The key factor is stagnant wages for a decade.
    [For the sake of vital domestic consumer spending, better stagnant high wages like Germany than stagnant low wages like the U.S.]
    http://blogs.lclark.edu/hart-landsberg/2012/02/15/germany-a-false-model/
    One thing not mentioned but may be important is the integration of East Germany and the addition of a significant number of low wage workers into the labor market. Just a guess.
    [5] [no title]
    written by freebird, September 25, 2012 11:49
    I can imagine how work sharing can do wonders when applied at the high end of the wage scale, but I get the impression it's more prevalent at the other end. In which case perhaps it feels more like 'work rationing'.
    [When availability of labor to employers was "rationed" during World War II so that they all kicked and screamed about labor shortage and hijacked women and the handicapped into the workforce and shouldered training costs (and raised wages to get good, or in some cases, any, help), domestic consumer spending per capita rose and so did a tide of wartime prosperity that raised all ships including "the onepercent." And when the low end of the wage scale accepts work rationing, with or without imposing it on the high end, the same wartime dynamics are engaged in response to an employer-perceived "labor shortage" - and wages and spending and general prosperity and sustainability rise again. So observe AND GET OVER the paradox, the counter-intuitive truth here: work longer and flood the labor market and wages go down, as in China and India - and you can't buy your own output and the whole economy spirals down. Work shorter and starve the labor market and wages go up - as when we created the magic labor "shortage" in the worst way (war - but plague also used to work nicely before medicine got too damn good) - and you CAN buy your own output and the whole economy spirals upward. Wrap your heads around this. Any future lives worth living depend on it.]
    [6] [no title]
    written by urban legend, September 25, 2012 3:56
    To fuzzy --
    Regardless of whether the 7.0% standard German reporting figure captures unemployment correctly or not, the Times report still does not report the only accurate comparative figure determined according to OECD criteria. That is the only way you can make a comparison -- and we look very, very bad compared to stronger safety-net countries by making workers bear all of the consequences of a society wide downturn -- which consequences, by the way, were caused entirely by an elite most of whom have suffered none of the consequences. Should we turn the discussion to "moral hazard"?
    You would think the NYT would get this by now. Are they determined to be economic incompetents?
    [Well said!]
    [7] germany & the united states
    written by mel in oregon, September 25, 2012 4:47
    germans have a lot more vacation time than we do. they also have more benefits. probably the result of being so heavily unionized at about 56% as opposed to our 9%. they live longer by about 3 years than we do & have a lot better medical care. another reason they are happier than we are is they drive smaller cars, whereas a baby boomer here that has his grandchildren living half a continent away still has to have a 9 passenger suv. yeah the germans lost ww2 as did the japanese, but both countries laugh when they think of those stupid americans who are their own worst enemy.
    [Amen!]
    [8] Not Quite
    written by fuzzy, September 26, 2012 1:46
    to urban legend
    The question is where does the OECD get its numbers? The OECD is not doing its own polling, rather they get the numbers from the German government. Then the OECD makes the adjustments they think are needed to get a harmonized statistic.
    My point is that the numbers from the German government are not very trustworthy [you think the American ones are, from "random" telephone polling?!] because they are based upon a flawed methodology. Counting only those who register with a Government office that has fallen into disrepute is not a good way to get accurate employment data.
    [Unless it turns out that disreputable German sources are closer to reality than "reputable" American ones...]
    Whatever adjustments the OECD uses afterwards doesn't help because the base numbers are wrong.
    To get an accurate comparison of the employment situation in each country requires the use of a sound, consistent methodology independent of government influence when the counting is done. We don't have that at the moment, so I fail to see the point of continuing to claim that one flawed statistic is better than another.
    [You use the best, or least worst, that you have, duh. Would "fuzzy" have us continue to fuzz our way down our current deathspiral?]
    [9] I usually think Dean is great - but this is misleading
    written by reason, September 26, 2012 2:59
    The issue is the rate of growth of the workforce is MUCH different between Germany and the US. Germany is now entering a phase where the number of school leavers is falling and the number of retirees rising sharply.
    [No, the issue is, how fast can we stop splitting our citizens into workaholic burnouts and disemployed dependents and redynamize the "70%" of our economy that is domestic consumption (and quit distracting ourselves onto out-of-our-control exports and tax manipulation and makework) and let the unemployment rate (UE) determine the workweek - UE too high? keep trimming the workweek until we maximize consumer spending and markets by maximizing our "fully" employed population, regardless of the squeals of currently spoiled employers who do nothing with their huge cash caches except use them for chest thumping and pecking order - since actually investing them would require marketable productivity - which they're constantly weakening with their whining and downsizing and tax evasion.]

  2. French minister sees Germany as model for labour reform, Reuters.com
    [Apparently Germany's next-door neighbor, France, is not as blind as the New York Times to Germany's worksharing (French: chômage partiel = partial unemployment; German: short work = Kurz-arbeit) -]
    * Montebourg says France to use more partial unemployment
    * Unions, employers weighing proposal in labour talks
    PARIS, France - France should copy Germany's labour model to help its struggling companies regain a competitive edge, notably with more flexibility to cut wage costs during a slump, French Industry Ministry Arnaud Montebourg said on Wednesday.
    With firms from carmaker PSA Peugeot to retailer Carrefour planning mass layoffs, Montebourg is under pressure to back reforms that will slow the pace of job losses and strengthen businesses against shocks.
    Montebourg said France should expand a scheme that lets firms cut worker hours in a downturn, with benefits making up the gap in their salary - a system that is widely credited with limiting job losses in Germany during a 2008-9 economic crisis.
    "When your revenue drops by 80 percent, the typical French reaction has been to kick everyone out the door, losing industrial know-how, skills, and devastating regions," he told journalists in a briefing on the automobile sector.
    "I am in favour of widening, of easing access to partial work rather than shutting factories - which is the German strategy that worked so well for them in the crisis."
    Continuing talks between unions and employers on labour reform include the question of whether to broaden use of the partial unemployment scheme. The government has called on all parties to produce a deal by end-2012.
    Moving toward Germany's so-called "Kurzarbeit", or "short work" system, would respond to French executives' complaints that when orders dry up, their only option is to lay off workers, a lengthy and costly process fraught with legal risks.
    Currently, French firms can resort to so-called "partial unemployment" but financing is tiny, at under one billion euros ($1.30 billion), compared to the 6 billion Germany used for Kurzarbeit. In France the duration is limited to 12 months and applying for it is a lengthy process.

    Among the strongest advocate for reform is struggling carmaker PSA Peugeot, which plans to close its Aulnay assembly plant and cut 8,000 jobs. Unions and management at its Sevelnord factory in northern France have struck a deal that grants Peugeot more flexibility on work hours.
    Labour reform is one facet of a vast economic challenge facing President Francois Hollande, who must address joblessness above 10 percent while reducing the public deficit to 3 percent of economic output by 2013 to meet European targets.
    Piling pressure on the Socialist leader, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Europe's central bank chief earlier urged euro zone states to reform to improve competitiveness.
    France's moderate unions favour changing the labour code, and can strike a deal with employers without support from hardline groups. Tougher unions may still call protests to pressure the government to block or water down a reform.

  3. Campaign against long working hours, The Press Association (UKPA) via google.com/hostednews/ukpress
    LONDON, Eng., UK - Workers have been urged to leave their office on time as part of a drive to highlight the damage caused by the UK's long hours culture.
    Charity group Working Families organised the Go Home On Time Day [Sept.25 (Nov.21 in Australia) ] to encourage people to think about how to balance their work and home lives. [Compare U.S. *Take Back Your Time Day, Oct.24, now fallen into disuse due to promoter John de Graaf's detours onto minimum-vacation legislation for the U.S. and now Pursuit of Happiness Day, Apr.13. Shorter hours has proven to be one of the toughest agendas to stay focused on: Juliet Schor went from The Overworked American to The Overspent American, Arthur Dahlberg went from the 20-hour workweek to depreciating currency...]

    Ideas include a senior member of staff having a "ceremonial switch-off" at going-home time and wishing everyone a pleasant evening.
    A survey of 1,500 people for the charity showed that six out of 10 regularly worked late, with around half blaming their company's culture.
    One in 10 said they never found the time to sit down with their families during the week.
    Sarah Jackson, chief executive of Working Families, said: "We organise Go Home on Time Day to highlight the impact that long hours at work can have on family life, but more importantly to encourage people to make a conscious decision to have at least one day when they will leave work on time during the working week - not just once, but all year round."
    A spokesman for Bisto, which is sponsoring the day, said: "It's encouraging to see that families are still sitting down for dinner together, but it's important that everyone gets the opportunity to share this quality time with each other, especially as our working lives become more stressful and working hours get longer."
    Firms were urged to encourage staff to avoid planning meetings or activities that will start within an hour of their usual finishing time, and to consider banning all business travel for the day.


9/23-24/2012 – 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. Americans Are Literally Being Worked To Death, by Michael Snyder, 9/24 (9/23 late pickup) HawaiiNewsDaily.com
    [SAVE us, Hawaii!]
    HONOLULU, Hwi., USA - Are you constantly tired and do you feel incredibly stressed almost all the time? Well, that means that there is a really good chance that you are a typical American worker. Even though our incomes are going down, Americans are spending more time at work than ever before. In fact, U.S. workers spend more time at work than anyone else in the world. But it was not always this way. Back in 1970, the average work week for an American worker was about 35 hours. Today, it is up to 46 hours. But there are other major economies around the globe that are doing just fine without burning their workers out. For example, the average American worker spends 378 more hours working per year than the average German worker does. Sadly, for many Americans work is not even finished once they leave the office. According to one recent survey, the average American worker spends an extra seven hours per week on work tasks such as checking emails and answering phone calls after normal work hours have finished. Other Americans are juggling two or three jobs in a desperate attempt to make ends meet. Americans are busier than ever and work is often pushing the other areas of our lives on to the back burner. What this also means is that "family vacations" are becoming increasingly rare in the United States. In fact, Americans spend less days on vacation than anyone else in the industrialized world. While some would applaud our "work ethic", the truth is that the fact that we are being overworked is having some very serious consequences. In fact, as you will see below, Americans are literally being worked to death.
    The following is an excerpt from a comment that one reader posted on one of my recent articles. Can you identify with what this family is going through?....
    I always try and remember to be thankful and say prayers of gratitude for the blessings I have, however I can tell you that my wife and I are getting more and more exhausted.
    Straight forward payroll taxes nailed us for $35k last year and the dozens of other taxes are often over-looked but also hitting us harder and harder.
    My wife works 14 hour shifts at her dialysis clinic 3 days a week and every other weekend. On the Tuesdays and thursdays she has off she ends up resting half the day to give her poor feet a break since a nurse on her feet 14 straight hours of continual busyness is exhausting.
    On top of that, her company has had a pay freeze for 3 years, has dropped Holidays down to just 2 per year ( Thanksgiving and Christmas of which she must work 1 of them), has canceled the reimbursement of her CEU’s ( medical professionals are required to continue to take schooling and classes for their entire career in order to renew their licenses) –also they no longer match 401k’s and her company health plan just bumped up $30 per week!!
    I put in so many hours at times that when I get home I am too tired to eat. I come home, change clothes/shower and go straight to bed–this is not living. I try and keep up with my volunteer work and rounds at our local nursing home but something is going to have to give. My caseloads are growing and growing and people are making appts 2-3 weeks in advance. I never had a schedule so filled in advance before. I usually have more long-term pt’s with needs of stroke, Parkinson’s, traumatic brain injuries..but now ortho pt’s are scheduling surgeries as to when I’ll have slots for hip replacement and knee replacement rehab time.
    I’m ground down and in the mean time everything is getting more expensive, they keep taking more of my money I earn and we are having all of our benefits cut or completely stopped.

    All over this country, millions of hard working men and women are slowly being worn down by jobs that are sucking the life out of them. Working way too many hours for an extended period of time can have dramatic consequences for your health, your family and just about every other area of your life.
    But for some Americans, there is simply no other choice. There are millions upon millions of Americans that live on the edge of financial disaster these days. According to one recent survey, 77 percent of all Americans live paycheck to paycheck at least some of the time, and the middle class in the United States has been shrinking at a very steady pace in recent years.
    Many Americans are not working 60 or 70 hours per week because they want to.
    Many are doing it because that is what they must do just to survive.
    For example, a recent article posted on Economy In Crisis profiled a mother of four up in Michigan named Lisa Bosworth who can't make ends meet for her family despite working three jobs....
    Bosworth remarried but her current husband, Ray, was forced onto medical disability when a prescription medication caused health problems. The couple, who had a fourth child together, struggle to support their family on Lisa’s meager income.
    Bosworth’s gross monthly income from working as a classroom aide in Reeths-Puffer schools and doing two Chronicle newspaper routes is $1,900. That amounts to $22,800 annually, nearly $5,000 below the poverty level for a family of six.
    When they run out of money near the end of each month, Lisa and Ray Bosworth line up at one of several food trucks that visit Muskegon each month.
    Earlier this month, the couple and three of their children waited in line at a food truck at Calvin Christian Reformed Church in Norton Shores. Lisa Bosworth had just finished her two newspaper routes and was clearly fatigued after another 70-hour work week. “I’m tired,” she said.

    Today, there are more than 100 million Americans on welfare, and a significant percentage of those people actually do have jobs. In fact, some are working two or three jobs.
    Working class Americans are working harder than ever, but at the same time many of them are making less money than they once did.
    This is putting an incredible amount of stress on working class families.
    In fact, it appears that a lot of Americans are literally working themselves to death.
    And as a recent CBS News article described, this is particularly true for poor Americans that do not have much education....
    Overall life expectancy has dropped for white Americans who have less than a high school diploma to rates similar to those of the 1950s and 1960s, new research finds.
    The study found non-Hispanic white men without a diploma lived on average until 67.5 in 2008, three years less than they did in 1990. The drop in lifespan was even bigger for non-Hispanic white women with low education: They live five years shorter than 1990 rates, from 78 years old to just 73.5.

    This is a sign that our society is going backwards. Working class Americans are actually living significantly shorter lives than they used to.
    Of course the garbage that passes for "food" these days certainly is not helping matters any, but that is a topic for another article.
    Sadly, those that are working themselves to death consider themselves to be the "lucky ones" in our society today.
    There are countless millions of other Americans that are sitting at home right now without a job.
    The mainstream media is trying to convince us that the unemployment rate has been falling, but that is a lie. If the labor force participation rate was the same today as it was back when Barack Obama first took office, the unemployment rate in the United States would be 11.2 percent right now.
    But that doesn't sound nearly as good as 8.1 percent sounds, right?
    And the percentage of working age Americans with a job is actually lower today than when the last recession supposedly ended.
    In this economic environment, most people are scared to death of losing the jobs that they currently have because they don't know if they will be able to get another one.
    During the month of August, the unemployment rate actually increased in 26 different U.S. states, and yet we are supposedly in the midst of "an economic recovery".
    But the truth is that we are not better off than we were back during the last recession. In fact, there are a whole host of statistics that indicate that things are getting worse.
    Unfortunately, much of the time people tend to forget that the horrible economic numbers that we are seeing have very substantial real life consequences.
    People that cannot find work and people that work very long hours for a very long period of time tend to be much more depressed than the population as a whole.
    And depression can often lead to suicide. According to a recent Daily Mail article, more Americans now die from suicide than from car accidents....
    Suicide is the cause of more deaths than car crashes, according to an alarming new study.
    The number of people who commit suicide in the U.S. has drastically increased while deaths from car accidents have dropped, making suicide the leading cause of injury death.
    Suicides via falls or poisoning have risen significantly and experts fear that there could be many more unaccounted for, particularly in cases of overdose.

    That is incredibly tragic, because there is never a reason for anyone to commit suicide. One of the things that I have learned in my own life is that there is always a way for things to be turned around.
    Yes, life can be very hard when you don't have much money, but our lives should not be about chasing material things anyway. Our lives should be about so much more than that.
    If you are currently feeling overly tired and overly stressed because you have been working too much, I encourage you to take a vacation. 
    We are only given one life to live. We shouldn't spend it working ourselves to death.

  2. Rail staff to have hours cut as plan is given go-ahead, 9/24 LedburyReporter.co.uk
    MALVERN, Worcs., UK - Rail commuters will be buying more tickets from machines after a cut in staffing hours was given the Government green light.
    [A cut in staffing hours, not staffing hours = timesizing, not downsizing.]
    Passengers using Malvern Link station will see big reductions in the opening hours at the ticket booth, in the mornings and afternoons.
    Passengers will have to rely more heavily on automatic ticket machines.
    London Midland, which runs Malvern’s two stations, applied to the Department for Transport for permission to ring the changes, receiving the go ahead this week.
    Malvern’s MP Harriett Baldwin said her lobbying of government had “reduced” the cuts being brought in, particularly at Malvern Link.
    She said people “still appreciated the opportunity” to buy a ticket from an informed member of staff, rather than a machine, or on the internet.
    Malvern Link currently has a staffed ticket office from 6.25am until 6.35pm, weekdays, and 7.05am to 2.20pm on Saturdays – the booth is shut on Sundays.
    This will change to 6.30am to 1pm openings on Mondays to Thursdays, 6.30am to 6pm on Fridays, and 8am to 2pm on Saturdays – an overall cut of more than 20 hours through the week.
    At Great Malvern, a 6am opening time marks a change to a slightly earlier time, but the booths will shut at 5pm, an hour earlier than is currently the case.
    Elsewhere, London Midland is to cut Worcester’s Shrub Hill ticket office openings by about 47 hours overall across the week.
    There will be no changes at Worcester Foregate Street station, which is also run by the rail operator.

  3. Update 4 - German business mood worsens for fifth straight month, by Alexandra Hudson & Eva Kuehnen, 9/24 Reuters.com
    * Index falls for fifth straight month
    * Business climate index at lowest since Feb 2010
    * Manufacturers hurting as euro zone demand weak
    * Economists warn of Q3 contraction, Bundesbank more optimistic
    BERLIN, Germany - German business sentiment dropped for a fifth straight month in September, raising fears of recession, as companies struggled with a bleaker economic outlook and the European Central Bank's bond buying plan failed to create much boardroom cheer.
    Germany's relative resilience to the euro zone debt crisis has been steadily fraying as its firms see falling demand for their products from European partners and signs of a slowdown in other markets.
    [Germany is being forced from bandaid worksharing (Kurzarbeit) to sustainable timesizing, but doesn't yet realize it.]
    The European Central Bank's plan for potentially unlimited government bond-buying has raised hopes on financial markets of an end to the most acute phase of the crisis, but that optimism has not spread to the real economy.
    The Munich-based Ifo institute's monthly sentiment index reached its lowest since early 2010 and the outlook component hit its worst level since May 2009.
    "Today's Ifo index shows that German companies remain sceptical about the economic impact of (ECB president) Mario Draghi's magic," ING Bank economist Carsten Brzeski said.
    [Central banks have zero magic. The magic is all in Timesizing, but pols and investors are too convention-bound to "get" it.]
    "Despite fears of a looming Eurozone break-up clearly fading away, German businesses are downscaling their expectations. The German economy could see a contraction in the third quarter."
    Ifo said its business climate index, based on a monthly survey of some 7,000 firms, fell to 101.4 in September from 102.3 in August, defying expectations for a slight rise to 102.5 in a Reuters poll of 45 economists..
    The expectations index dipped to 93.2 from a previous 94.2, and fell well short of a forecast 95.0.
    In its monthly report, the Bundesbank said the domestic economy was robust, but added it saw signs of "weaker dynamics" and "great uncertainty".
    Foreign trade could be hit more strongly than before by developments in the euro area, the central bank added, also pointed to the labour market, where the rise in employment is slowing as companies become less willing to hire.
    Dutch business confidence also fell in September to -6.7 points from -4.6 in August, other data showed on Monday, adding to signs that the euro zone's stronger "core" economies are succumbing to the downturn.
    While they have not been punished by debt markets like much of the euro's southern half, both Germany and the Netherlands have slashed public spending to secure the future of public finances.
    "The drop in Ifo business confidence is a potent reminder that the outlook for the German and Eurozone economies still hangs in the balance," said Holger Schmieding, German economist at investment bank Berenberg.
    "Further policy steps to contain the Euro crisis may be needed for the Eurozone to turn the corner."
    TOUGH CUTS
    While the German economy steamed ahead in the first three months of the year, saving the euro zone from recession by growing 0.5 percent, it lost momentum in the second quarter, with growth slowing to 0.3 percent.
    Dragging on the Ifo index in September was a sharp decline in sentiment among manufacturers, although companies in retailing and wholesaling reported a slightly brighter mood. Last week's ZEW survey also showed German analyst and investor morale picked up in September.
    Industrial group Bosch and steelmaker ThyssenKrupp have announced plans to introduce "Kurzarbeit" or government-subsidised short-time work at German plants.
    The index would have fallen further had it not been for a ruling by Germany's constitutional court on Sept 12 in favour of the ratification of Europe's permanent bailout fund. Half of the responses in the survey came after the ruling.
    The Finance Ministry warned in its monthly report last Friday that data pointed to weaker growth in the remainder of the year. Many economists are now predicting a contraction for the third and possibly the fourth quarters.
    Another forward-looking indicator, the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), last week showed Germany's private sector shrank for a fifth month, and a separate index for the euro zone showed that the ECB's bond-buying plan had so far failed to inspire any major improvement in business at ailing euro zone companies.
    However, economist Gerd Hassel said he believed news of the ECB's bond-buying plan had yet to fully sink in.
    "I'm optimistic that the Ifo climate index will rise again in the coming months," he said.

  4. Toyota may cut ex-retirees' work hours: report, 9/23 MarketWatch.com
    NAGOYA, Japan - Toyota Motor Corp. is considering introducing a system next April to halve the working hours of factory-production employees who have been re-employed after reaching the retirement age of 60, Kyodo News reported Saturday citing company sources.
    The auto maker aims to create a better working environment for its older workers to maintain domestic employment and to reduce labor costs at a time when the company has been hit by poor earnings mainly because of a strong yen, the sources said.

    The envisioned move may prod other companies to take similar measures following the enactment of domestic legislation that requires firms to secure employment for all those who still want to work until age 65.
    There will be two methods to carry out the new measure--one is to retain older workers' regular daily work hours but halve their working days per month, while another method is to halve the work hours per day and have them work five days a week.
    Toyota currently pays rehired employees who are working full-time half of what they received before retirement. Working shorter hours likely will reduce their pay even more.
    By rehiring the retirees under salaries lower than the currently employed staff, Toyota can curb costs. It also aims to use such workers to help educate the younger staff.
    Despite Toyota's declining profitability amid the yen's continued strength, the auto maker maintains its targeted annual domestic output of 3 million units.
    Toyota has about 1,300 re-employed personnel in the production section, or around 4% of the overall technical field employees, and the figure is likely to rise to about 3,100, or around 10%, by 2030.
    [Another version -]
    Toyota may halve hours of retirees it rehires, Kyodo via Japan Times Online via Japantimes.co.jp
    NAGOYA, Japan — Toyota Motor Corp. could introduce a system next April to halve the working hours of factory employees who are rehired after reaching the retirement age, company sources said.
    The automaker is apparently hoping to maintain domestic employment levels and reduce labor costs at a time when earnings are being clobbered by the strong yen, the sources said Saturday.
    The re-employed retirees also would be asked to help train the younger ones, the sources said.
    The system would be implemented either by keeping the rehired retirees' work hours the same while halving the number of days worked each month, or by halving their daily work hours and using them five days a week.
    Toyota's production section has about 1,300 re-employed workers, or around 4 percent of its total employees in the technical field. The figure is projected to rise to about 3,100, or about 10 percent, by 2030.
    The proposal may spur other companies to introduce similar measures following the enactment of legislation that requires businesses to secure employment for anyone who wants to work until age 65. Employees must retire at 60.
    At present, Toyota rehires full-time employees at only half the salary they were earning before retirement.
    Toyota plans to discuss the plan in greater detail with its union.
    At a meeting held by the two sides in August, the company stressed the importance of older employees handing down their skills to younger workers, but the union expressed concerns that halving their working hours would severely disrupt their daily lives and routines.

  5. Extended Working Hours for SHG [St. Helena Government] Employees, 9/23 Saint Helena Herald via South Atlantic Remote Territories Media Assoc. via SARTMA.com
    ST. HELENA, British South Atlantic - SHG is proposing to increase the normal working week from the current 35 hours to 37.5 hours with effect from January 2013.
    This increase is part of the on-going reforms within the public service to increase productivity and improve efficiency
    .
    [The correlation of working week increases, and productivity and efficiency, is debatable. However, as a remote island, St. Helena is not in a position to fire and hire, let alone fire and fire again, so it is evidently resizing the workweek instead of the workforce, a policy that is ahead for all of Spaceship Earth. And note that both of St. Helena's figures are still well under a 40-hour week.]
    When the public service is faced with the challenge of having to do more with less resources the revised working hours will help to ensure continued service delivery in the short to medium term as St Helena goes through a period of change in preparation for air access.
    Longer working hours will also mean longer opening hours thus enhancing the customer experience which is particularly important as the Island prepares for an increase in visitor numbers.
    All SHG employees are now being consulted on the proposed increase.
    A 37.5 hour working week is not new to the public service as up until 31 March 2010, these hours were worked by a large proportion of SHG employees who were then regarded as ‘un established’ staff.

  6. Part 3: Lay-offs [=furloughs (US)] and short-time working, 9/24 Gov.uk (in beta test)
    LONDON, England, U.K. - You can [furlough] an employee (ask them to stay at home or take unpaid leave) when you temporarily can’t give them paid work.
    [Brits call this "laying off," but for US "layoffs" they use the term "redundancies," which is unexampled in North America in this connotation. So we've have replaced every occurrence of "lay-off" in this British article with the "[furlough]" term.]
    Short-time working [=worksharing] is when an employee has no paid hours for a number of working days in a week.
    [This is a non-standard and extreme restriction on the use of either "short-time working" or "worksharing". Either can be just a matter of hours, even fractional hours, per week.]
    This is because:
    • they’re working a reduced number of paid hours
    • their pay is less than half a week’s pay
    [Furloughing] staff or short-time working can help avoid redundancies [=layoffs (US)] - but you have to agree [on] this with staff first.
    This could be in:
    • their employment contract
    • a national agreement for the industry
    • a collective agreement between you and a recognised trade union
    National and collective agreements can only be enforced if they’re in the employee’s employment contract.
    You may also be able to [furlough] an employee or put them on short-time working:
    • where you have clear evidence showing it’s been widely accepted in your organisation over a long period of time
    • if you agree with the employee to change their employment contract to allow them to be [furloughed] or put on short-time working (this won’t automatically give you the power to do this without their consent in the future)
    Statutory guarantee payments
    Employees are entitled to these if you don’t provide them with a full day’s work during the time they’d normally be required to work.
    The maximum payment is £22.20 a day for 5 days in any 3 months (ie £111). If employees usually earn less than £22.20 a day, they’ll get their usual daily rate. For part-time workers, the rate is worked out proportionally.
    Employees can claim a guarantee payment if the [furlough] or short-time working runs for:
    • 4 consecutive weeks or longer
    • a series of 6 or more weeks with not more than 3 consecutive weeks - in a 13-week period
    Under these circumstances they can also also claim a redundancy payment from you.
    They must give you written notice in advance that they want to make a claim.
    If you don’t give guarantee pay to someone who’s entitled to it, they could take you to an employment tribunal.
    Wrongful [furloughs] or short-time working
    You’ll be in breach of contract if you [furlough] an employee or put them on short-time working without pay if there’s no contractual agreement.
    The employee may:
    • accept the breach of contract and claim a guarantee payment
    • sue for damages for breach of contract in a civil court or at an employment tribunal
    • claim unlawful deduction of wages at an employment tribunal
    • claim unfair dismissal at an employment tribunal


9/22/2012 – 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. Republican idea of a grueling work week in Congress is 2 1/2 days, says Chu, Examiner.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Congresswoman Judy Chu of California was given permission to address the U.S. House of Representatives for 1 minute on September 20, 2012. During that time she voiced some frustration with what she calls the “do nothing Congress.”
    Her comments shocked many of the Republican members in attendance who were clearly offended that she would say such a thing.
    “Mr. Speaker, at the end of what Republicans consider to be a grueling work week consisting of 2 1/2 whole days, Republicans are heading home once again to take the next 2 months off.
    [What Judy doesn't realize is that the economy is being killed by the overwork of those who still have full-time jobs - and the marginalization of everyone else. The angle she should be taking here is, the shorter workweeks of Congress are not only good enough for the rest of America, but absolutely necessary during the age of robotics - IF we want enough people with job earnings available to buy the mounting mountains of stuff the robots are churning out, 24-7.]
    The Republican-led ``Do-Nothing Congress'' was in session for a grand total of 8 days this month, and it took 5 weeks off before that. During their time here in Washington, Republicans made sure to vote to end Medicare as we know it, increase costs for seniors, and give tax breaks to millionaires and companies that ship jobs overseas", she said.
    But on addressing the ongoing jobs crisis in this country, they did nothing.
    On providing tax cuts for the middle class and small business, they did nothing. On working towards a bipartisan solution to the looming fiscal cliff, they left the American people hanging by continuing to do nothing”, she said. The hardworking men and women who call this country home deserve so much better. They certainly deserve better than nothing”, Congresswoman Chu speaking before the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday September 20, 2012 (source: Congressional Record http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CREC-2012-09-20/pdf/CREC-2012-09-20.pdf ).
    In the 112th Congress, Rep. Chu serves on the House Judiciary Committee, where she is a member of the Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security and the Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet subcommittees. She is also a member of the House Small Business Committee, where she is leading the Contracting and Workforce Subcommittee as the Ranking Democrat and serves on the Economic Growth, Tax and Capital Access and Agriculture, Energy and Trade Subcommittees. In 2011, she was elected as the Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC). Congresswoman Chu represents the 27th Congressional District in California.

  2. Video: Remembering Furlough Fridays, Three Years Later, (9/21 late pickup) mazieforhawaii.com
    HONOLULU, Hwi., USA – Three years ago this week, the State of Hawaii entered a “dark time” in its history – on September 18, 2009, then-Governor Linda Lingle approved a deal that laid the groundwork for what the people of Hawaii would come to know as “Furlough Fridays.” As a result of Lingle’s decision on and leadership after Sept. 18, 2009, 17 instructional school days were eliminated for students in Hawaii’s public school system and Hawaii became the state with the fewest instructional days in the United States.
    [So you'd prefer that taxcuts for the wealthy cost jobs and consumer spending and completely bring down the state economy instead of costing school days until you elect politicians with the guts to restore taxes on the upper brackets?]
    In a video message, Senator Jill Tokuda, a parent and the Chair of the Senate Education Committee, commented recently that it “was definitely a dark time for us here in Hawaii when Furlough Fridays hit us…It was a very tough time for our families, for our schools here. I think we hit the new low when Furlough Fridays hit our shores. And, I recall, even as the Senate, we took up a special committee to take a look at how we could quickly try to resolve Furlough Friday’s. I remember asking the question and saying, ‘The only one missing from the table here is Governor Lingle.’”
    Kathy Bryant, a community leader who became involved in trying to end Furlough Fridays after the decision was made, also said in the video message, “As a parent, we were shocked that Furlough Fridays happened; we couldn’t believe that the state was going to close our schools to solve a budget crisis. And, we were looking to our leaders to tell us ‘this is wrong’ and to speak up on behalf of the students. And, what we found was – we looked to our Governor, to Governor Lingle, to say, ‘No we are not going to close our schools, I’ll speak up on behalf of the students.’ And, we were really disappointed when that didn’t happen.”
    Furlough Fridays had a tremendous impact on students, working families, teachers, and school administrator across the Hawaii. It sent parents scrambling to find daycare for their children; forced many mothers and fathers to use vacation days and sick-leave to care for their children. And, most importantly, it hurt children, who lost valuable instruction days and had four days instead of five to learn a given subject matter.
    In remembering Furlough Fridays, both Tokuda and Bryant expressed support for Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Mazie Hirono and her leadership on education issues. (Direct link to video: http://bit.ly/PvsLPy.)
    Hirono, a nationally recognized leader on quality early-education, has long been fighting to improve school education in Hawaii. As Lieutenant Governor, Hirono worked with parents, teachers, business leaders and local communities to create the state's Pre-Plus Program. In Congress, Hirono sits on the House Education and Workforce Committee and has been recognized nationally for her work preparing America’s children for the skills they need both in school and in life. Her accomplishments include winning a provision in the 2007 reauthorization of America's Head Start program that ensures early-education teachers are trained only by individuals with demonstrated expertise in the field and working to establish a federal grant program to aide states in providing high-quality preschool opportunities for America's youngest learners.
    If elected to the U.S. Senate, Hirono is committed to continuing her fight to improve quality education.


9/21/2012 – 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. U.I. Shared-Work Plans - Remove Sunset - S.B. 1267: Committee Summary, Michigan Legislature via legislature.mi.gov
    LANSING, Mich., USA - Senate Bill 1267 (as introduced)
    Sponsor: Senator Bruce Caswell
    Committee: Reforms, Restructuring and Reinvention
    Date Completed: 9-18-12
    CONTENT
    The bill would amend the Michigan Employment Security Act to remove the sunset for approval of shared-work plans.
    The Act prohibits employers from applying for and the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency from approving shared work plans that begin more than five years after the effective date of the public act that created shared-work programs. The bill would strike that language, effectively allowing the application for and approval of shared work plans into perpetuity.

    In addition, applications for a shared-work program are currently required to contain a certification from the employer that the plan would be implemented in lieu of temporary layoffs affecting at least 15% of the employees in the affected unit. The bill would strike the word "temporary", allowing the approval of plans that would avoid any type of layoffs affecting the same percentage of employees.
    MCL 421.28c
    FISCAL IMPACT
    To the extent that shared-work plans prove to save on unemployment insurance (UI) costs, eliminating the sunset for approval of shared-work plans would reduce some indeterminate amount of UI benefit payment costs in the future. These costs are funded through specific State and Federal taxes levied on employers, so generally any decrease in UI spending would not affect State or local finances.
    Fiscal Analyst: Josh Sefton
    This analysis was prepared by nonpartisan Senate staff for use by the Senate in its deliberations and does not constitute an official statement of legislative intent.

  2. Full-time employees feel work-life balance is out of kilter and want to work 8 fewer hours each week, Melbourne Herald Sun via heraldsun.com.au
    Most women who work full-time would prefer to work fewer hours. (photo caption)
    ADELAIDE, South Australia - Full-time working women have the most difficult work-life balance because of increasing pressure at home and work, a report reveals.
    The fifth Australian Work and Life Index paints a picture of a workforce putting in longer hours, under tighter deadlines, dissatisfied with working conditions but rarely requesting relief from employers.
    A majority of all full-time workers want less work - up to eight fewer hours a week.
    Almost a quarter of women employed full-time find work frequently interferes with family or other commitments, while two thirds feel they are always under chronic time pressure and more than half take work home.
    Overall, employees in education, accommodation, food services and retail fare worst, while those in media, mining and transport have the best balance.
    Produced by UniSA's Centre for Work+Life, the 2012 report gives Australian workers a work-life index score of 43 out of 100. The higher the score, the worse the impact.
    [UniSA = University of South Australia]
    Women working full-time scored 50.7, the worst outcome since the first index in 2007.
    Report author and centre director Professor Barbara Pocock said the report showed while women had long been disproportionately affected by the dual demands of work and domestic roles it was "not getting easier".
    "We know this is now an old conversation but we're actually finding this harder and harder," she said. "This survey tells us that there is a significant proportion of Australians who believe they're working really hard, they've got too much work to do and they're under pressure a lot of the time.
    "It raises questions about productivity and how we maintain aworkforce among an ageing population. How do we create workloads which are reasonable (and) which can be conducted within reasonable hours?"
    The report, for which 2887 people were surveyed nationally, also found:
    • 28 per cent of workers work more than 48 hours a week and most are men.
    • 40 per cent feel they are under tight deadlines most of thetime.
    • A third frequently have too much work for one person.
    • The average full-time employee wants 7.2 hours less work per week, while women in full-time jobs want 8.7 hours less.
    Organisational psychologist for PKF [Pannell Kerr Forster] chartered accountants, Scott Way, said longer working hours was "compounded by job intensity" but many workers were reluctant to ask for more flexible working arrangements.
    [Note that in Quebec, PKF also stands for Poulet Kentucky Frite, French for KFC = Kentucky Fried Chicken.]
    "People don't have the confidence to raise it at the current time. They know the economy's a bit tight, maybe they're fearing that the employer will growl at them," he said.
    "(But) most employers we speak to, if you do speak up and don't present it as an ultimatum ... most employers are going to be amenable to that."
    In 2010 the Federal Government gave parents of pre-school-aged children or those aged under 18 with a disability the legal right to request flexible working hours.
    But the 2012 Index found only around a third of eligible workers were aware of this right.
    The director of the SA [South Australia] Office for Women, Vanessa Swan, says a lack of access to flexible working arrangements can hold women back from participating fully in the paid workforce.
    "Sometimes women also work in areas that do not match their skills and experience in order to secure flexible working arrangements," she said.
    "A shift in workplace cultures to encourage and support flexible working arrangements will help to address these barriers."
    Deakin University job stress and wellbeing expert Associate Professor Andrew Noblet said long working hours or high-stress jobs could affect physical and mental health, relationships with family and friends, job performance and workplace safety.
    "If they're always sitting at a computer screen that's certainly going to impact on activity levels," he said. "When people are working longer hours they're less likely to put a lot of time into preparing their meals."

  3. Housing agency mandates five-day work week, by Susan Frick Carlman scarlman@stmedianetwork.com, Elgin Courier News via couriernews.suntimes.com
    CHICAGO, Illin., USA - Employees at the DuPage Housing Authority will soon be putting in a five-day work week.
    At the suggestion of its newly appointed interim executive director, the agency’s board of directors has voted to lengthen the required hours for each full-time staff member at the authority, which helps low-income families arrange housing with help from federal vouchers. 
    Deb Darzinskis — who was named temporary director when the board late last month fired David Hoicka after just eight months on the job — pitched the plan to require everyone to come to work Monday through Friday and put in 37.5 hours over the five days [five seven-and-a-half-hour days]. The agency had been allowing employees to work four nine-hour days weekly [36.0 hours a week], with their supervisors’ approval. Most, Darzinskis said, have chosen that over coming in Monday through Friday.
    [Guess so - 36 is shorter than 37.5! At least they're both under 40.]
    “Right now it’s choice-driven,” she said to the board.
    The problem with most of the staff being gone either Monday or Friday, she said, is that the only days when full productivity can be counted on are Tuesday through Thursday.
    “It, in my opinion, really does not work well for the needs of the agency. ... It’s just very dysfunctional,” she said. “It’s one of the things that since I’ve been at the housing authority, you can just see on any given day.”
    Chairman Tom Good said he polled other housing agencies to see whether they permit the same level of flexibility.
    “I think they’ve heard of it, but it would not be the norm,” Good said.
    The board’s support for the proposal was unanimous. Naperville resident Mike Brosnahan, head of the finance committee, said the option represented the best prospects for providing optimal service to the agency’s clients.
    “I think that you should have a full complement of employees,” he said.
    Board member Kathy McGowan, who also lives in Naperville, wondered whether the change might be an added burden for clients. She pointed out that some of those served by the organization can only come late in the afternoon, after they have finished at their own jobs. Employees are now in the offices until 6 p.m., but after the change takes effect Nov. 5 the desk will close at 5 p.m.
    “Is that of benefit to the clients?” said McGowan, who was Darzinskis’ boss when she headed Catholic Charities in the Joliet Diocese. Darzinskis worked there for 14 years before joining the DHA staff in June, hiring on as a project administration specialist.
    Hoicka, who was earning $125,000 annually, was let go in the wake of numerous complaints from DHA staff about his management practices.


9/20/2012 – 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. 25000 workers to take 7 furlough days at plants in Gaston Co., WSOC Charlotte
    GASTON COUNTY, N.C., USA — Employees at two different plants in Gaston County will be taking seven furlough days this month.
    A Freightliner company will shut its doors temporarily forcing more than 25,000 workers to not be paid for several days.
    These employees have had four furlough days already this year.
    "I can't face another layoff. We just now getting back. We have been back a little over a year," said one of the 1,400 Mount Holly Plant employees.
    [A furlough is not a layoff. With a temporary furlough, you still have a job. With a layoff, you don't.]
    Last year, the plant rolled out its 1,000th hybrid truck. The new model created more jobs.
    Earlier this year, President Barack Obama visited the plant and called Freightliner an example of business done right.
    Union workers blame the tight political race for the slowdown in work orders.
    Demand at the plant dropped in half during the last two months.
    Some union workers told Channel Nine they believe there will be a boom in orders after November and the possibility of adding even more jobs.

  2. Commissioners looking at employee work hours, by Staci Wilson, IndependentWeekender.com
    SUSQUEHANNA, Pa., USA - Although new faces are joining the ranks of the courthouse staff, the county commissioners focused their attention at the Wednesday, Sept. 12 meeting, on the number of hours each week those new employees were hired to work.
    The commissioners acknowledged the hiring of Jonathan Cronk by Prothonotary Susan Eddleston as the Second Deputy Prothonotary; and Ankur Kanti Patel, Esq., by President Judge Kenneth Seamans, as the Judicial Law Clerk.
    The position in the prothonotary’s office is slated to work 37.5 hours per week; and the judicial clerk was hired to work 32.5 hours per week.
    Commissioner MaryAnn Warren called the less than 40 hour per week positions into question.
    “How come we are still filling positions at 37.5 hours?” Warren asked.
    [Maybe because you've got each employee wielding all kinds of productive technology, and your county needs jobs and spending and prosperity?]
    Commissioner Alan Hall said that the County Salary Board had recently created the Second Deputy Prothonotary position with those hours. The three commissioners, as well as the county treasurer, serve on the salary board.
    Commissioner Michael Giangrieco said the hours would have to be reviewed based on the current union contract.
    Warrensaid she would like that to happen and then questioned the 32.5 hours for the judicial law clerk’s position.
    Hall said, “I think this needs to be a continuing discussion.”
    In recent meetings, the commissioners have discussed the need to have courthouse employees working 40-hour work weeks, in an effort to reduce county staffing needs to handle regular, weekly workloads in the departments.
    The commissioners acknowledged the Aug. 24 termination of Sami Bourizk from juvenile probation by President Judge Kenneth Seamans.
    Michael Harlost was hired by Register/Recorder Mary Evans to a part-time clerical position.
    EMACoordinator Robert Stoud was appointed by the commissioners to serve as the applicant agent for Tropical Storm Lee, Hurricane Irene, the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program update and the HMGP Buy Out.
    Prior to accepting public comment, Hall reported on developments regarding theSusquehannaCounty4-H program.
    The commissioners expected to receive an operating budget fromPennStatelast week that included funds for a 4-H Educator forSusquehannaCounty.
    Warrensaid that she had asked that the funds be available to have a 4-H Educator hired by Nov. 1.
    It was also reported that bookkeeping services will be combined to handle the four-county region.
    Hall also said that mandated updates to 911 would cost the county over $400,000 to upgrade the communication center.
    He said that the county is looking into sharing the hardware and software servers withLackawannaandWaynecounties.
    Hall said funding from the federal or state governments for the upgrades would probably be limited and PEMA was working with groups that are combining services.
    Audience member Edna Paskoff asked when the commissioners would begin to work on the 2013 budget and if any public hearings regarding the budget would be held.
    Hall said departments have been sent information to begin working on their parts of the budget.
    He also said that the budget would be discussed in meetings but that no public hearings would be held. Once the preliminary budget is adopted by the commissioners, it will be available for public review in the Chief Clerk’s office.
    Vera Scroggins asked the commissioners to report on any discussions they have had regarding issues related natural gas development with elected representatives.
    Hall said that he has had conversations relating the concerns to State Rep. Sandra Major regarding legislation and state agencies that regulate the industry.


9/19/2012 – 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 reduction for NHL staff preseason games cancelled, The Canadian Press via tsn.ca
    TORONTO, Ont., Canada -- The NHL lockout is only a few days old but its effects are already being felt around the league.
    With a number of big-name players continuing to head for Europe, NHL employees were informed Wednesday that their salaries are scheduled to be cut 20 per cent across the board. That will come into effect on Oct. 1, when full-time staff are reduced to a four-day work week.
    The news was delivered by commissioner Gary Bettman during a Wednesday morning staff meeting.
    The NHL also announced the cancellation of pre-season games through Sept. 30, as well as the postponement of the Kraft Hockeyville pre-season game scheduled for Oct. 3 in Belleville, Ont., to the 2013-14 season.
    Unlike in September 2004, when more than 50 per cent of NHL employees were laid off just days into the lockout, the league is trying to avoid cutting staff. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly told The Canadian Press over the weekend that there were no immediate plans for layoffs, although multiple sources who attended Wednesday's meeting said employees were warned that further cuts could be coming in the future.
    A number of teams, including the Ottawa Senators and Florida Panthers, announced layoffs earlier this week. The Senators also placed their remaining staff on a reduced work schedule.
    "Every full-time, every part-time employee is affected by a work stoppage," team president Cyril Leeder said Monday.
    Bettman and Daly both decided to forgo their salary during the lockout, according to sources. Donald Fehr, the executive director of the NHL Players' Association, hasn't been paid since the beginning of July.
    As the lockout moved into its fourth day, there were still no formal bargaining sessions scheduled between the league and NHLPA. The sides last sat down together on Sept. 12.
    With it becoming clear NHL training camps won't open as scheduled on Friday, players continued to seek work overseas. On Wednesday, Jason Spezza signed a deal with Rapperswil-Jona in Switzerland, Anze Kopitar agreed to join brother Gasper with Mora in Sweden and Russian stars Alex Ovechkin (Moscow Dynamo) and Pavel Datsyuk (CSKA Moscow) each returned home to play in the KHL.
    Rick Nash also arrived in Switzerland, where he'll again play alongside Joe Thornton with HC Davos, and said that he believes the lockout could last the entire season -- just as it did in 2004-05.
    "It doesn't look positive," Nash told newspaper Sudostschweiz. "It could be a season-long break."
    Even though that remains a long way off, frustration is clearly mounting. Buffalo Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth became the latest player to take to Twitter and blame Bettman for another NHL work stoppage, the fourth in two decades.
    "So sick of this lockout. Playing in the NHL (has) been a life long dream and now we can't bc GB (wants) more money from us? .imlosingtime," Enroth wrote Wednesday.
    Meanwhile, Montreal owner Geoff Molson said he remains confident a settlement can be reached quickly.
    "It is our priority and we hope that an agreement will be concluded soon so that fans can enjoy our new team," Molson told reporters Wednesday at the Canadiens' charity golf tournement.
    Molson added that he has unwavering support in Gary Bettman and that the league's owners are firmly behind him.
    NHL owners are subject to a $1-million fine for speaking out of line about the lockout.
    "For the league to be healthy, for the economic system to be good for all teams, there must be adjustments, as Gary mentioned," Molson said. "The 30 owners are standing together and are united and they support Gary's approach."

  2. Discussions under way on shortening Israel's workweek, Jewish Journal via jewishjournal.com
    TEL AVIV, Israel - A proposal to make Sunday a day off from work and school advanced in Israel.
    A political truce in recent weeks between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who opposed the change, and Vice Premier Silvan Shalom, who has been pushing for a shorter workweek for years, has given new life to the proposal, The Jerusalem Post reported.

    Representatives of a committee appointed by Netanyahu discussed ways of testing the initiative with Shalom's advisers on Wednesday and are due to meet again as early as Thursday, according to the paper. The committee is headed by Eugene Kandel, the chief of Israel's National Economic Council.
    A pilot project giving off one Sunday a month might be implemented as a test.
    A source close to Kandel told the Post that the committee would publish its findings immediately after the Jewish High Holidays season ends next month.


9/18/2012 – 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. GM's Opel to end night shift at German plant, MarketWatch.com
    FRANKFURT, Germany -- General Motors Co.'s GM +2.65% European unit Adam Opel said Tuesday that night production at its site in Eisenach, eastern Germany, will be stopped, as falling demand for its Corsa model, particularly from southern Europe, is expected to continue into the mid-term.
    "We are currently talking to the workers' council about turning Eisenach into a two-shift operation," a spokesman told Dow Jones Newswires.
    It is possible there will be no layoffs due to the intended production start of its new model city car, Adam, the spokesman said.
    About 1,600 employees work at the site in Eisenach, which exclusively produces the Corsa model. Since September, about 50% of workers have been subject to reduced working hours, known as 'Kurzarbeit' in German.
    According to the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association, sales of the GM brands Opel and Vauxhall fell 18.9% in August, whereas the European market shrank only 8.9%.

  2. 105 Bord na Móna seasonal staff to lose jobs, RTE.ie
    DUBLIN, Ireland - Bord na Móna has said that 105 seasonal employees are to lose their jobs as a result of this year's poor peat harvest.
    A further 90 staff are to be put onto short-time working, while there will also be redeployment of some full-time staff to generate cost savings.
    Staff were informed of the changes this morning.
    The move follow the summer's record-breaking rainfall, which severely affected Bord na Móna's peat harvesting operations.
    In a statement, the company said the peat harvest is now 37% of the amount expected for 2012, which means it is the worst ever harvest.
    The company said it is unlikely that the shortfall can be recovered in what remains of the harvesting season, which typically lasts from May to September.
    As a consequence and in order to mitigate resultant losses, Bord na Móna said it had prepared a contingency plan that it intends to implement over the coming months.
    The company said the plan includes "measures aimed at managing current peat stocks, revenue increases and cost control initiatives, both pay and non-pay".
    The result will be that 105 seasonal employees will not be employed in the company's feedstock business over the winter months.
    To offset this, the company will redeploy some full-time employees to the feedstock business, predominantly based in the Midlands.
    Bord na Móna said this redeployment has already commenced and will continue until March 2013.
    It is also introducing a short-time working initiative that will affect approximately 90 employees, which is expected to commence at the start of October and continue until end of March 2013.
    The company has assured customers that it will have adequate peat supplies to continue to supply them.


9/16-17/2012 – 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. Senators staff faces layoffs, reduced work week early in NHL lockout, by Lisa Wallace, 9/17 The Canadian Press via Postmedia News via o.canada.com
    OTTAWA, Canada — The Ottawa Senators have already begun to feel the effects of the NHL lockout.
    Senators president Cyril Leeder met with members of the Ottawa media Monday afternoon, saying layoffs have taken place and full-time staff have been placed on a reduced work week.
    “Every full-time, every part-time employee is affected by a work stoppage,” Leeder said. “On the full-time employees they’ve either been laid off temporarily or gone to a four-day work week.”
    Leeder wouldn’t say exactly how many people have been laid off, but that “it was a significant number” and “more than ten.” The Senators have 170 full-time employees.
    “This really is the area that I worry about the most,” Leeder said. “It’s not good for anybody when we have a work stoppage and the people most affected are our staff here.”
    One employee who will continue to earn a paycheque, somewhat ironically, is Milan Michalek. His agent confirmed to The Canadian Press on Monday that the injured forward will continue to be paid and will have access to the team’s facilities until he is cleared to play. Michalek is scheduled to make US$4,750,000 this season.
    Michalek underwent surgery last Tuesday in Philadelphia to repair a torn abdominal muscle he suffered while training in late August. Michalek is expected to be sidelined four-to-six weeks.
    Off the ice, local charities are going to be feeling the side effects of the lockout, but Leeder says the organization is committed to upholding any previous commitments.
    The Senators were forced to cancel the 2012 Bell Sens Charity Golf Classic, which was to take place Monday and Tuesday, and once games are cancelled revenues from the 50/50 draw will be lost.
    Over the past 20 years the Sens Foundation has given back nearly $70 million in support of various community initiatives.
    Leeder knows that many charities rely on funds from the Sens Foundation to implement its programs and has no intention of having them suffer due to the work stoppage.
    While players were often the main draw in charitable endeavours, the organization will now need to be a little more creative with its fundraisers. Coach Paul MacLean may also see an increased role in his participation in events.
    “We’ve got to work harder to raise money,” Leeder said. “The community has come to rely on the Ottawa Senators as an important contributor back to the community. We’re not going to walk away from those responsibilities.”
    One of the Sens Foundations biggest recipients remains Roger’s House, a pediatric respite and palliative care home, that receives nearly one million on a yearly basis and Leeder says Roger’s House has been told “in no uncertain terms that they don’t need to worry, that we will make good on that commitment.”
    Season ticket holders will have the option of a full refund or leaving the money with the organization at a five-per-cent interest rate should games get cancelled.
    Leeder admitted fans have voiced their displeasure and are angry with both sides and want to see a resolution as soon as possible. Despite the labour dispute the team remains pleased with its season ticket sales and “are ahead of where we were last year.”
    Leeder says the organization is working hard to ensure it’s ready to resume operations once the lockout comes to an end.

  2. Kingdom - Local Viewpoint - Nationalization is possible only with specific planning, by Rashid Muhammad Al-Fouzan, 9/17 Al Riyadh via Saudi Gazette via saudigazette.com.sa
    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - Debates and arguments over employing Saudi men and women in the private sector are not going to cease. Now these debates revolve around two issues – fixing [ie: stabilizing] work hours and granting a two-day weekend. A section of people supports it by saying that it is useful and will benefit the private sector. Another section rejects the concept of a two-day weekend or modifying work hours.
    When we debate such an issue and ponder over what is right and what is wrong, we must look into what is in existence in the developed world in this respect.
    People in these countries are more experienced and have long expertise in this field. They have more accurate statistical figures with regard to these issues compared to other countries. We have to examine what is their practice before hurriedly taking any decision.
    Firstly, we can examine the work hours of each employee. In most cases, there are eight hours daily for five days – a total of 40 hours a week. If an employee has to work more hours, then he has to be compensated. As for weekends, it depends on the type of job or how it affects the people directly. For example, there are separate systems for supermarkets and restaurants as they are supposed to serve people constantly. However, there are some activities that are not essentially required by the people during weekend. This is the case of most of the commercial shops. People don’t mind waiting another day to fulfill their needs from such shops.
    Here I am talking about the significance of hiring Saudi citizens, both men and women, in the private sector. For this, it is essential to fix work hours and make them mandatory for all without any exception. It should be applied strictly and comprehensively so as to succeed and realize its goals. It is significant that it will save a lot of electricity consumption and reduce the hustle and bustle of traffic movement in the city.
    Nationalization of jobs is not possible without fixing work hours. As far as some business and foreign workers are concerned, they put their expat staff to work tirelessly for 18 hours a day. How can citizens be expected to put up with such conditions?
    Regarding employment in companies, codifying work hours in a clear way would help save a lot and provide opportunity for others at the workplace, in addition to allowing workers to have available free time for social life.
    As things stand now, I believe that fixing of work hours and two-day weekly off is extremely difficult for numerous reasons. If the Ministry of Labor is firm on it, I will encourage it. But it should be applied in its entirety so as to enforce uniformity in all jobs and trades. When we see the work map changing, replacing of foreigners with Saudis would be faster and allow unlimited job opportunities in all sectors.

  3. Garment workers demand reduction in working hours, posted by Muhammad Iqbal, 9/18 Agence France-Presse (AFP) via Bangladesh Business Recorder (blog) via brecorder.com
    DHAKA, Bangladesh - Bangladesh police on Sunday fired rubber bullets and tear gas at tens of thousands of garment workers as they rioted in a key industrial area outside Dhaka, demanding a reduction in working hours.
    The workers left their factories and joined the protest, torching a police post and four police vehicles at Narayanganj, 20 kilometres (12 miles) south of the capital, authorities said.
    "There were more than 100,000 workers. They were peaceful initially, but suddenly they stormed a police post at Shimrail and set it on fire," Narayanganj police chief Sheikh Nazmul Alam told AFP.
    "We fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the rioters," he said, adding two policemen were critically injured during the clashes. He could not say whether or how many workers were hurt.
    Alam said a rumour over a killing of a worker at a factory at Adamjee Export Processing Zone, where plants sew clothing for leading international chains, sparked the protest, forcing the zone's scores of factories to draw shutters.
    It later became a full-blown riot the worst since June when hundreds of factories closed their shops for more than a week as labourers demanded shorter work hours, workplace security and other benefits, he added.
    Tens of thousands of workers also blocked a major highway, halting transport movement between Dhaka and the port city of Chittagong for more than four hours.
    Bangladesh's three million garment workers typically work 10-hour shifts and some for up to 16 hours a day for the world's lowest textile wages, starting at $37 a month.
    Adamjee employees were demanding guarantees for a 5:00 pm end to the working day.
    The South Asian nation has recently emerged as the world's second-largest clothes exporter with overseas garment sales topping $19 billion last year, or 80 percent of total national exports.
    The sector is the mainstay of the poverty-stricken country's economy, employing 40 percent of its industrial workforce.
    Protests over low wages and poor work conditions are a recurrent feature of the industry. The government very often employs brute force to quell the unrest in an effort to pacify buyers' concern over delayed shipment.
    Early this month, the Swedish fashion giant H&M, the world's second-largest clothing chain, urged the government to raise wages at export factories.


9/15/2012 – 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. Assembly: Fiat to Go On Short Time Working; Looks to Incentives for Low Emission Vehicles, AutoNewsWire.net
    MILAN, Italy - Italy appears to be joining other European nations in promoting the sale of low emission vehicles with plans to introduce financial incentives next year to reward buyers of fuel-efficient, low carbon emission vehicles. The move will likely encourage the nation's largest automaker - Fiat - to develop hybrid and electric vehicles, but will also require the Italian government to move ahead with the infrastructure required to support these vehicles. Italy is said to lag behind Germany and France in creating such an infrastructure. Fiat does not produce an EV [electric vehicle?] at this time and has focused on developing cars that run on alternative fuels.
    The incentive behind the incentive likely comes from a decision by Fiat to place workers on short time working this fall as demand for its vehicles has dropped and inventories are rising. The company has said there are no plans to close any assembly plants in Italy, but instead it will temporarily halt production at plants during the fall months in attempts to deal with overcapacity.
    Forecasters suggest the Italian auto market will close 2012 with sales of 1.37 million vehicles, the lowest figure since 1979. Fiat has capacity to build 800,000 vehicles per year in Italy with the total European market currently pegged at 947,000 units.

  2. Federal Court Holds that FLSA’s “Fluctuating Workweek” Method Violates Pennsylvania Law, National Law Review via natlawreview.com
    HARRISBURG, Pa., USA - A recent decision out of the Western District of Pennsylvania, Foster v. Kraft Foods Global, Inc., Civ. No. 09-453 (W.D.Pa. August 27, 2012), highlights the challenges employers face in simultaneously complying with both local and national wage and hour regulations. In Foster, the court held that the “fluctuating workweek” method of overtime compensation – which is expressly permitted by the FLSA – is not permitted under Pennsylvania law.
    Under the fluctuating workweek method, an employer pays a nonexempt employee a fixed weekly salary, regardless of the number of non-overtime hours worked. This method is generally used in industries in which an employee’s hours change unpredictably from week to week based on factors such as customer demand or seasonal variation – e.g., lawn maintenance companies, golf courses, or the travel industry. In using this method, the employer benefits from significant cost savings over traditional methods of overtime calculation and the employee benefits from the stability of a fixed weekly salary.
    There are five requirements for using the fluctuating workweek method. The employee’s hours must fluctuate from week to week; the employee must receive a fixed salary that does not vary with the number of hours worked (excluding overtime); the salary must be high enough that the employee’s regular rate of pay is at least the minimum wage; the employer and employee must have a clear mutual understanding that the salary is fixed; and the employee must receive overtime compensation equal to at least one-half the regular rate for all hours worked over forty.
    In Foster, the court’s analysis focused on this last requirement. The court held that “the payment of overtime under the FWW method, at any rate less than one and one-half times the ‘regular’ or ‘basic’ rate,” is impermissible under the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Law. We’ll be watching this decision (if appealed) and subsequent cases closely, because if this interpretation of the Minimum Wage Act is upheld, the primary advantage to the employer in utilizing the fluctuating workweek method is eliminated. In the meantime, Pennsylvania employers who use this method to compensate nonexempt employees should reconsider their policies, given that it may no longer result in cost savings. Moreover, this case should serve as a reminder that, although many local wage and hour regulations are modeled after (and in some respects identical to) the FLSA, compliance with the FLSA does not guarantee compliance with local statutes.
    Maria L. H. Lewis is counsel in the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice Group. Her practice areas include labor and employment litigation and commercial litigation. In addition, Maria counsels clients on compliance issues and conducts supervisor and employee training on workplace issues. Maria serves as the Chair for the firm's Philadelphia Regional Hiring Committee, and Co-Chair of the firm's Philadelphia Regional Diversity Committee...
    maria.lewis@dbr.com (215) 988-2538
    Dennis M. Mulgrew, Jr. is an associate in the firm's Labor & Employment Practice Group. Dennis represents employers in disputes in federal and state courts and administrative proceedings. Dennis publishes in the Labor Sphere blog.
    dennis.mulgrew@dbr.com 215-988-2774


9/14/2012 – 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. Job Hours Cut - After 20 percent of the student employment budget was cut last spring, departments and students try to adapt, by Kelsey Thomas thomask15@up.edu, (9/13 late pickup) The UofP Student Beacon via upbeacon.net
    PORTLAND, Ore., USA - The 20 percent decrease in University [of Portland] funding for student employment, announced in May has caused departments to make adjustments this fall.
    Some departments had to cut full positions, and now all students employed on campus are allowed to work a maximum of 20 hours a week.
    Senior Library employee Shanay Heely has not noticed a huge change in her position this year, but acknowledges problems that could arise. Due to the new limit on hours, students who have already worked close to 20 hours will not be able to pick up additional shifts that week.
    [Great! Young people getting used to a baseline necessity and system requirement of the future = a real workweek max. Of course, if you're willing to reinvest your overtime earnings in OT-targeted jobs for others, you can work all 168 hours a week.]
    “I also work the front desk at the gym and I’ve been concerned that it will be hard to find people to cover if we’re all bumping up against that 20 hour limit,” Heely said.
    Sophomore library employee James Oliver is also noticing the impacts of the limit.
    “I have to be more conscious about the number of hours I do take on during the week knowing that the school caps how much you can make,” Oliver said.
    For students whose hours were significantly cut, however, the 20 hour limit is the least of their worries.
    Mail room employee junior Derek Porter says he lost five to seven hours a week and rarely gets to work close to 20 hours.
    Though students are struggling with the hourly limit, departments on campus are making changes too.
    Among the departments most affected by the budget cuts are the athletic program, the mail room, and The Library.
    The athletic department cut both hours and positions from its operations.
    Assistant Athletic Director and Business Manager Glenn Layendecker said students working in game operations now report 45 minutes before a game instead of an hour and a half.
    “We could eliminate 15 to 20 percent of spending just by having students report later,” Layendecker said.
    Also, while some students still work at the Chiles Center ticket office, the ticket manager now runs it the majority of the time.
    The athletics department also no longer employs student receptionists. Instead, a staff member answers phone calls.
    Despite all the changes, Layendecker is satisfied with the current operations of the athletic department.
    “I don’t think we’ve seen a significant impact in terms of what we put on the field or what we are doing in the office,” Layendecker said.
    Like the athletic department, the mail room cut the hours of its student employees. Instead of arriving at work when the mail room opens at 8 a.m., students now report at 9 a.m.
    Director of Mail Services Mary Scroggins said she helps answer the phones in the morning, and performs other duties formerly performed by students.
    “There is a little bit of give and take,” Scroggins said.
    Scroggins said that although the mail room is running smoothly even with a limited budget, problems could arise under some unforeseen circumstances.
    For example, if students in the mail center had already worked their maximum hours for that week, they could not fill in if a large number of packages arrived and the mail center needed extra help for delivery, or if another student was unable to work.
    “If a student calls in sick, that may put us in a little of a bind,” Scroggins said.
    The budget cuts were an opportunity for The Library to examine their operations, something Dean of The Library Drew Harrington said they had already planned to do during this interim year.
    “Yes, there is definitely an impact. Yes, we have really had to rethink this. Yes, we are going to have some hour reductions,” Harrington said. “But it’s not a bad opportunity for us to stop and rethink.”
    Harrington also says that the impact of the budget cuts is lessened because the study space has been spread across campus this year due to the Library remodeling project.
    “Students probably won’t be in The Library on a Saturday evening anyway. They will be studying elsewhere,” Harrington said.
    For the mail center and athletic department especially, an effect of the budget cuts will not be a noticeable difference in the services that departments across campus offer, but students will be a less public face around the University, Scroggins and Layendecker, said.
    In a visit to the mail room or the ticket office, staff and students will likely be greeted by the ticket manager or a mail room staff member instead of a student.
    Layendecker said this is true of much of the athletic departments operations now.
    “We as employees face the public more than we used to rather than having student employees be the first step,” Layendecker said.
    Although many of the departments across campus are running efficiently despite the budget cuts, the loss of student jobs still concerns many members of the University of Portland community.
    “I think student employment is incredibly important to the university in the sense that it teaches students a lot about working in the workplace and professional demeanor,” Porter said. “It’s important that these aspects of the University aren’t cut.”

  2. Firemen work week tussle on - Staff association sets 3 conditions for working hours compromise, by Fan Feifei fanfeifei@chinadailyhk.com, ChinaDaily.com.cn
    HONG KONG, China - The Hong Kong Fire Services Department Staff General Association says firefighters are prepared to accept a cut in their work week to 51 hours, but they are holding to certain conditions.
    Firefighters are demanding that the Fire Service Department agree that the cut would be an interim step toward a 48-hour week; that there be no reduction of manpower under the reduced work week; and that the department set out a time table for realization of the 48-hour week.
    The association met with the Fire Services Department, Security Bureau and Civil Service Bureau on Thursday to discuss the firemen's demands over an issue which has dragged on for 20 years.
    "We accept the 51-hour proposal as a transitional plan, but there must be a timetable and road map about the 48-hour week," said Lee Tak-kei, chairman of the association. "We suggested three years to six years to finally reach the 48-hour (work week) and the department said they will actively consider".
    Lee emphasized that firemen could not accept reducing the number of firefighters on the frontlines as a pre-condition to accepting the reduction in working hours from 54 to 51 hours a week.
    The union and the various departments will meet again, not later than next week. If the department is able to put forward a concrete timeline for a 48-hour week at that time, the firemen's association will consider accepting the plan, to be put to the test by the end of the year, Lee added.
    The association insists on the 48-hour week to give firefighters parity of working hours with the city's other disciplined services. Lee added the staff association will not rule out initiating a three-day sit-in at the government headquarters at the end of this month, if the department fails to offer a timetable.
    Under the new 51-hour proposal put forward by the department in early August, weekly working hours would be reduced from 54 hours. However, the number of firemen responding to a 1 or 2 alarm fire would be cut from 22 to 20, but the number of the fire engines would be unchanged.

    When there were calls for additional support at the scene of a fire, additional apparatus would be called in, with additional manpower support from the rescue team.
    Earlier this month, the firefighters' association members voted to reject the 51-hour proposal, saying reducing manpower as the price for shortening working hours would increase the danger and work load for those who answer an alarm.
    The spokesman from the department responded that the department has promised to consider the requirement from the association that reducing the working hours of each week to 48 hours within six years, but the department also emphasized this timetable would be affected by many factors, such as required procedures in different stages in the future, and the progress of the trial.
    He said there are timetables and roadmaps in the new 51-hour proposal, indicating that if the new proposal was approved by the authority after a trial scheme was implemented and reviewed, and then a working group will be formed to look into the feasibility of further reducing working time to 48 hours.
    The department has considered the following principles when formulating the new proposal, which is cost-neutral, needs no additional manpower, and maintains the same level of service, he reiterated.

  3. US House cancels final work week before election, Agence France-Presse via google.com/hostednews/afp
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — US lawmakers, already under fire for their lackluster performance this year, will leave Washington one week early and return to their home districts to campaign ahead of the November 6 election.
    Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a member of the Republican Party which controls the House of Representatives, said Friday that the October 1 work week has been scrapped, leaving just two congressional work days next week between now and election day.
    [Hey, what's sauce for the ganders is sauce for the public!]
    The House is expected to pass several bills next Wednesday under expedited procedures, as well as the continuing resolution approved Thursday that funds the government's operations through March of 2013.
    "With the Senate's expected passage of the continuing resolution, we no longer anticipate votes in the House during the week of October 1," Cantor said on the House floor as he announced the upcoming seven-week recess.
    That would leave a narrow, four-week post-election work window to resolve several looming issues for Congress including votes on taxes and automatic spending cuts which kick in next January if lawmakers fail to act.
    The Congressional Budget Office said in August that the budget-slashing plan agreed to in a political deal last year -- sharp cuts to spending, as well as tax increases that will hit household finances -- will lead to a so-called "fiscal cliff" and plunge the country back into recession next year.
    Some Republicans have stated their opposition to working out a deal in the lame-duck session between the election and next January, when the new Congress is sworn in, because should their party take the White House and gain full control of Congress they could negotiate a more favorable fiscal deal.
    Democrats have pointed to several elements of unfinished business, including a farm bill and accompanying drought relief, the Violence Against Women Act, postal reform and a middle-class tax cut extension.
    "Democrats are committed to staying in session as long as it takes to ensure certainty for the middle class that we'll avoid that cliff, that we'll have growth in our economy, and the creation of jobs for all Americans," Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Thursday.
    "Unfortunately, the do-nothing Congress wants to go home."
    Congress came back into session on Monday, after a five-week summer recess.


9/13/2012 – 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. Chamber of Commerce urges firms to cut hours not staff numbers to survive recession, by Matt Lloyd, BirminghamMail.net
    BIRMINGHAM, England, UK - Chamber of Commerce bosses have called on manufacturing firms to reduce the hours of working, instead of cutting staff numbers.
    Chris Plant, area manager for the Chase, Lichfield & Tamworth Chamber, said a fall in unemployment announced this week was good news.
    But he said: “Cutting hours and keeping staff are key to being able to meet new demand and grow quickly when the economy picks up.
    “We are in a fragile and unpredictable economy with a great deal of over-capacity and we welcome the foresight of businesses which are retaining skilled staff by cutting hours and offering part-time work.”

  2. Residents React to Sheriff's Cut Hours, by Michael Walton, RioGrandeSun.com
    Abiquiú residents Louie Martinez (left), Tim Seaman and John Nelson sip on coffee at Bode’s [diner] while discussing the Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s new patrol hours. The three men sympathized with Sheriff Tommy Rodella’s claim that he needs more deputies to effectively patrol the County. (photo caption)
    RIO ARRIBA, N.M., USA - With Rio Arriba County highways and roads clear of sheriff’s deputies after 8 p.m. for the foreseeable future, County residents expressed mixed reactions to their Sheriff’s new patrol hours.
    Rio Arriba County Sheriff Tommy Rodella announced his decision to reduce his deputies’ patrol hours Sept. 4 at an E-911 Board meeting. With the changes, which went into effect Sept. 7, deputies now patrol the County for 14 hours daily, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Previously, deputies were on patrol for 18 hours, from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m.
    During the E-911 Board meeting, Rodella explained that his Office’s effectiveness during patrol hours will actually increase under the new schedule by dividing the County into three regions­­—southern, northern and far northern—and by increasing the total number of deputies patrolling each region at any given time before 8 p.m.

    The Office will also take responsibility for all non-city, non-tribal 911 calls received by dispatchers between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m., the 14 hours when dispatchers receive “the lion’s share,” of emergency calls, Rodella said at the meeting.
    When campaigning for his elected post in 2010, Rodella promised to be a “24/7” sheriff and said he would work to provide, “citizens of this County with the 24-hour service that they deserve.”
    But since taking office, Rodella has consistently lobbied for funding to hire more deputies, arguing he cannot effectively police the County with his current manpower.
    Rodella has cited this deputy shortage as a primary factor in his decision to reduce patrol hours.
    When Rio Arriba County Commissioner and E-911 representative Alfredo Montoya strongly criticized Rodella’s new patrol hours, the sheriff blamed the County Commission for his lack of manpower.
    “(Montoya) has made the conscious decision to be part of the problem, not part of the solution,” Rodella said last week.
    Three Abiquiú residents sitting in Bode’s Tuesday voiced agreement with Rodella’s position regarding the Commission.
    Louie Martinez, John Nelson and Tim Seaman said Rodella met with Abiquiú residents last fall and explained his problem with understaffing. Since then, the sheriff has asked the County for more money, but for some reason the Commission and the manager have not put forward any more funds.
    “(Rodella) has conflicts with the manager, so it doesn’t get done,” Nelson said.
    Both Nelson and Martinez said they supported Rodella and his decision to reduce patrol hours.
    “I for one, am very pleased with the job our sheriff is doing,” Martinez said.
    However, Chama resident Mark Fowler expressed more ambivalence about the new patrol hours while pumping gas into his Harley Davidson at Bode’s Tuesday morning.
    On one hand, Rodella’s is justified in his decision to reduce patrol hours, especially if his Office is understaffed, Fowler said,
    “But on the other hand, the safety of citizens comes first,” he said,
    Ideally, Rodella can devise a system to provide around-the-clock patrols with the manpower he has, Fowler said.
    County residents interviewed in Velarde Tuesday were less sympathetic to the sheriff’s manpower problems.
    Velarde resident Catalina Peterson called the reduced hours “asinine.” The woman added that citizens living outside of Española and the Santa Fe area will ultimately suffer because of the decreased patrols.
    “All it takes is one incident (police) can’t cover,” Peterson said. “Then our safety is compromised.”
    Eighty-three-year-old Arsenio Sanchez, of Dixon, said he was fed up with politicians in general, and with the sheriff specifically.
    “We need protection,” he said. “We need men, not an (expletive) politician sheriff.”
    Dueling call counts
    During the E-911 meeting Rodella said dispatchers will be able to reach one of three Office officials, including himself, at all hours in case deputies need to be called to emergencies after 8 p.m.
    Otherwise, Rodella’s decision has left the bulk of nighttime police work outside city and tribal jurisdictions to State Police.
    For months, Rodella has alleged District 7 State Police regularly fails to handle its fair-share of calls, leaving the Sheriff’s Office overwhelmed in a county the size of a small state.
    The Sheriff’s Office handled roughly 14,000 calls through the E-911 Center in 2011, E-911 Director Marti Griego said last week. This figure does not include calls placed directly to the Office.
    State Police officers in District 7, which covers Rio Ariba and Taos counties, and Northern Santa Fe County, fielded about 21,000 calls in the same time frame, State Police Lt. Eric Garcia said last week.
    Rodella, however, challenged that number Sept. 6 and accused Garcia of lying about his district’s call totals.
    In response this week, Garcia produced a print out from State Police’s central call log system breaking down every call handled by District 7 in 2011 by call type, such as car accident, kidnapping and larceny.
    These calls totaled roughly 19,850, but Garcia said District 7 also receives between 10 and 15 walk-in reports each day, bringing the district’s call total to between 23,500 and 25,300 calls in 2011.
    Garcia also said District 7 is on pace to surpass that total this year, with nearly 14,000 calls fielded through Sept. 7, not including walk-in reports. Again, Garcia supported this total with figures compiled from the State Police central call logs.
    Additionally, public entities like North Central Solid Waste Authority and the County Planning and Zoning Department have approached State Police over the last two months seeking help with the enforcement of ordinances related to crimes like illegal dumping and property nuisances. State Police has agreed to help such entities.
    “They are saying, ‘We need help. We are not getting help from our County sheriff,’” Garcia said.
    Garcia added he agrees with Rodella’s claim that the Office needs more manpower.
    “But at the same time we all need more man power,” Garcia said. “On that same note, you don’t see State Police kicking rocks in the parking lot saying, “We can’t do it.”
    Rodella did not return a message left for further comment.

  3. Fiat Tries to Avoid Closing Plants in Italy by Reducing Working Hours, InAutoNews.com
    Fiat plans to avoid closing plants in Europe by reducing working hours through autumn.
    MILAN, Italy - Fiat’s situation in Europe is similar to that of other automakers, struggling with low demand and sales. But Fiat plans to avoid closing its plants and only reduce the working hours at its plan[t]s in the home market. The automaker will focus on other markets such as Brazil and the US, which show signs of recovery. Two months ago Marchionne said he will be forced to close a plant if the automaker doesn’t come up with a plan to diminish excess capacity in Italy and manufacture cars for North America.
    “At the meeting with trade unions on Aug. 1, Marchionne said Fiat already closed the Termini Imerese plant in Italy, so now it’s up to other European countries to make a move,” a union source said. “I think he won’t do anything.”
    PSA [Peugeot Société Anonyme = Peugeot Co. Ltd.] has already announced its plans to cut more than 10,000 jobs in France and close a plant, and GM will most likely close the Opel plant at Bochum, Germany, in 2017. Marchionne plans to avoid plant closure in Italy by reducing production hours throughout the autumn and lay off white collar workers when the country’s economy recovers.


9/12/2012 – 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. Fiat to cut hours rather than shut plant - union sources, di Stefano Rebaudo e Jennifer Clark, Reuters via in.reuters.com
    MILAN, Italy - Italian carmaker Fiat aims to avoid plant closures in its home market by putting factories on short-time working through the autumn as Europe's auto industry struggles with weak demand and excess production, according to union sources.
    Fiat, like other mass-market automakers in Europe, is feeling the squeeze as recession and austerity budgets force consumers to delay new car purchases.
    As a result, it is focusing its investment elsewhere, like in the United States and Brazil, raising concerns it might be planning to announce a plant shutdown this autumn.
    But those fears are unfounded, said people who have spoken with Fiat chief executive Sergio Marchionne this summer.
    "At the meeting with trade unions on Aug. 1, Marchionne said Fiat already closed the Termini Imerese plant in Italy, so now it's up to other European countries to make a move", a first trade unions source said. "I think he won't do anything."
    Other countries are indeed moving. Peugeot plans to cut more than 10,000 French jobs and close its first car plant in two decades, while General Motors is expected to shut the Opel plant at Bochum, Germany, in 2017.
    In Italy, Marchionne intends to avoid a closure by halting production at the carmaker's five plants off and on throughout the autumn, said another trade unions source, and plans to lay off white collar workers when Italy's economy recovers.
    The temporary layoffs will help keep a lid on costs at a time of slack demand. But the decision not to close a plant is based on more than just cost calculations.
    Factory investments made up until now , a possible change in economic conditions in Europe, and hopes of tax breaks on labour costs in Italy also suggest Marchionne will delay any major changes in investment plans in Italy.
    WORLD CLASS
    "It's not true that the company just looks at the cost issue, as many commentators have recently suggested," an industry source said. "In Italy we have skills we cannot lose. Cassino, Melfi and Pomigliano are world class manufacturing plants."
    Fiat declined to comment.
    Fiat spent around 1 billion euros to update its plant at Pomigliano and signed a hard-won new contract with unions allowing for its factories to be used 24 hours a day. That's something which could interest possible partners.
    Marchionne recently said Fiat is open to sharing its plants with other automakers, citing a possible deal with Mazda , its partner for an Alfa Romeo sports-car model.
    Overcapacity in Italy will remain the biggest headache for the group. It is currently estimated at around 800,000 cars - not far from the 947,000 vehicles Fiat sold in the whole of Europe in 2011. The Italian car market is expected to close 2012 with sales at 1.37 million, the lowest level since 1979.
    Plant-sharing with Mazda or Suzuki would not solve the problem, because Mazda sold around 137,000 cars in Europe in 2011, and Fiat's other Asian partner Suzuki, 180,000 vehicles.
    Trade unions think Mirafiori, Fiat's flagship factory in its hometown of Turin, could be the most a t risk, since contruction work to update the plant to host new small SUV (sport utility vehicle) models has been on hold since the end of May.
    But they point out that one billion euros of planned investment at Mirafiori has been frozen, not cancelled.
    "At the Mirafiori plant Fiat is still in time to start production by 2013 as it promised," the industry source said. "It will take around 12 months to set up the new lines and start the production."
    (Editing by Mark Potter)

  2. Canucks staff face 20-per-cent cut in work week, paycheque should NHL lockout kick in, By Elliott Pap epap@vancouversun.com, Vancouver Sun via EdmontonJournal.com
    Notebook: Coaches 'ready to go' for training camp … but will they have players?
    [Staffers? depends how easy they can find other jobs, especially other jobs with hourscut-not-jobcut security.]
    METRO VANCOUVER, B.C., Canada — If the NHL lockout [National Hockey League] is triggered as expected Saturday, the Vancouver Canucks have a plan for their office staff and that involves working less, and making less as well.
    Employees will be reduced to a four-day week and take a corresponding 20-per-cent pay cut.
    “First of all, we've been hopeful that things will get resolved but as we get closer to Sept. 15, we've got a number of contingency plans in place,” Canucks COO [Chief Operating Officer] Victor de Bonis explained Wednesday before teeing off in the team's 29th annual Jake Milford Charity golf tournament in Surrey. “From a staffing perspective, we have really genuine people working for our company and they understand the situation. So if there is a work stoppage, we'll be going to a four-day week starting next week.
    “Everybody is really doing their part to support the situation. Everybody is chipping in through the period here until we get a new agreement. We hope it comes to a conclusion as soon as possible.”
    During the 2004-05 lost season, Canucks employees took a 20-per-cent pay cut until the season was officially cancelled. Then it became a 30-per-cent reduction.
    De Bonis said the team will continue to be “very active” with their charitable endeavours throughout any work stoppage. He also noted the Canucks’ fan base has remained patient, for the most part, throughout all the lockout talk.
    “They understand the process,” de Bonis added. “There have been the odd calls from season-ticket holders but, generally, everyone has been very patient. We'll be communicating with them in the next day or so about what will happen if there is a work stoppage.”
    COACHES CORNERED? The Canucks’ coaches are ready for training camp. Now all they need is players. Camp is scheduled to begin Sept. 21, but the looming lockout might put an end to their beautifully designed practice plans. Or to at least some of their plans.
    Head coach Alain Vigneault didn't want to go there Wednesday.
    “I am optimistic we're going to play hockey so, for me, it's business as usual,” stated Coach Vee. “Everything is ready to go. I haven't given any thought to do what I might do if we don't start on time because I am optimistic we're starting on the 21st.”
    Asked if he felt he was the most optimistic person on planet Earth, Vigneault cheerfully replied: “Yes, I am.”
    Meanwhile, associate coach Rick Bowness does have a plan if the lockout does come down Saturday. So what will he do?
    “Not very much, honestly,” he said. “At this point, I'll probably head back to Phoenix and spend some time there until we get playing. My daughter is living and working there and we have a home down there so we’ll probably just go down there and sit it out.”
    The coaching staff spent five days in August planning a full camp and mapping out the travel schedule. According to Bowness, it will be simple to adjust on the fly.
    “First of all, we'll wait and see what we have,” he said. “We've got the main camp set up so all our drills are ready to go and if we have to shorten it up, then we'll shorten it up. That's easy to do. Let's put it this way, whenever we start, we'll be ready to go.”
    BURR IN SADDLE: Canucks winger Alex Burrows is heading into the final season — assuming there is a season — of his bargain-basement contract and has been eligible to sign an extension since July 1. So far, nothing. He is scheduled to make $2 million in 2012-13.
    “I've always said that I like Vancouver and that I'd love to stay here,” said the 31-year-old from Montreal. “I think we have a really strong team going into this season and this is an organization that wants to win, and that's all they want. So, hopefully, we can maybe get something done (soon). If not, I still have a year left and we'll see what happens, But it would be nice to stay in Vancouver.”
    Based on the going rate for a 25-30 goal scorer, Burrows is in line for a significant bump. He said he will probably head back home if the lockout is triggered.
    “I'll feel it out there for a couple of weeks,” he said. “I am preparing as if camp will start Sept. 21. That's all I'm thinking about now. Hopefully there will be a season and that's what we want. But if we are locked out, there are a lot of people in Quebec and the Montreal area working out and skating, so I'll be fine.”


9/11/2012 – 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. Cut down on the overtime! Working more than eight hours a day raises the risk of heart disease by 80%, by Pat Hagan, DailyMail.co.uk (blog)
    - Researchers found spending too long in the workplace resulted in up to 80% greater chance of heart disease
    - Britain has some of the longest working hours in Europe, averaging out at 42.7 hours a week. Only Austria [so much for their image as laid-back Germans] and Greece have longer

    LONDON, Eng., UK - Doing overtime increases the risk of heart disease by up to 80 per cent, a major study has claimed.
    Researchers say long working hours could be condemning thousands of employees to heart attacks and strokes.
    The warning follows analysis of 12 studies dating back as far as 1958, involving a total of 22,000 people from around the world.
    The analysis, by scientists at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, found that those whose working days that were longer than the traditional eight hours had a 40 to 80 per cent greater chance of heart disease.
    The size of the increase varied depending on how each study was carried out.
    The effects were more pronounced when participants were asked how long they worked for – but when researchers closely monitored working hours, the increased risk of heart disease was closer to 40 per cent.
    Lead researcher Dr Marianna Virtanen said the effects could be due to 'prolonged exposure to stress'. Other triggers could be poor eating habits and lack of exercise due to restricted leisure time.
    In 2009, the same team discovered that long working hours increased the risk of dementia later in life. The effect was similar in magnitude to that of smoking.
    Middle-aged workers putting in 55 hours or more a week had poorer brain function than those clocking up no more than 40 hours, with lower scores on tests to measure intelligence, short-term memory and word recall.
    Britons work some of the longest hours in Europe, with full-time employees averaging 42.7 a week. Those in Germany typically work for 42, while Danes do 39.1.
    It estimated that more than five million people a year in Britain work unpaid extra hours to hang on to their jobs.
    But the long-term toll on workers’ health could be devastating, the new research suggests.
    In a report on the findings Dr Virtanen said: ‘There are several potential mechanisms that may underlie the association between long working hours and heart disease.
    In addition to prolonged exposure to psychological stress she said other triggers could be raised levels of the stress hormone cortisol, poor eating habits and lack of physical activity due to restricted leisure time.

  2. Tax breaks to save jobs 'a dangerous precedent', Radio New Zealand
    WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Prime Minister John Key says it would set a dangerous precedent to give tax breaks to try to get companies to retain jobs in New Zealand.
    Norwegian company Norske Skog on Monday told about 300 employees that it is shutting down of its two printing machines at its mill in Kawerau.
    It is not yet clear how many jobs will be axed, but the Pulp and Paper Workers' Union says 120 jobs were cut the last time a machine was shut down in 2006.
    Mr Key is rejecting any possibility of tax breaks to try to encourage Norske Skog to keep workers on.
    "It would be a dangerous precedent for us to start saying we are going to support a particular industry over another when there's change.
    "If you want to roll that all the way back, we'd still be producing cars in New Zealand, and that probably wouldn't be in New Zealand's best interests."
    [It's a lot easier to do worksharing to save jobs rather than forcing taxpayers to subsidize an obsolete frozen workweek forever.]


9/09-10/2012 – 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. Italian Workers Fighting to Save Jobs and Lower Taxes - A Bleak Autumn for Monti, 9/9 (9/04 v.late pickup) Der Spiegel via spiegel.de
    The miner protest in Sardinia may have resulted in a stay of execution for a doomed coal production facility, but Italy's economy remains in freefall. The country is shedding jobs, production rates are abysmal and the infrastructure is appalling. Prime Minister Monti has vowed to turn things around. But how? (photo1 caption)
    [How? Nothing simpler. Just do more of what Europe is already so good at: sharing the vanishing work that's not yet taken over by technology by cutting the workweek, lengthening vacation and generally rationing employers access to labor so that wages rise flexibly by market forces and consumer spending along with them. Where will the money come from? It will get leached out of the huge coagulation of the money supply in the topmost brackets, of course. Production without marketability is meaningless; marketability is impossible without markets; and markets don't exist without a maximum of people with spending money - from job earnings however short a workweek "job" involves.]
    ROME, Italy - The images shocked the entire country. Over 1,200 feet (370 meters) below the ground, in front of television cameras and a dozen journalists, Stefano Meletti grabbed a knife and cut into his own arm. "It was a gesture of desperation," said Meletti's mining colleagues before bringing the 48-year-old family man up to the surface and taking him to the hospital.
    The dramatic scene took place deep in the shafts of the Carbosulcis coal mine on the Italian island of Sardinia, where miners had staged an occupation. During their underground press conference, the miners said they were "prepared for anything." Their goal was to prevent the closure of the mine at the end of the year as planned and to save the jobs of 500 people. Only on Monday did they end their protest after the government in Rome agreed to continue subsidizing the mine for the time being. But, they said, they are determined to continue their fight should it become necessary.
    Their resolve is not difficult to understand given the complete lack of other jobs available to them. Sardinia has an unemployment rate of 16 percent, with some 1,800 jobs are lost on average each month. Among Sardinians between the ages of 18 and 24, the jobless rate will soon rise above 40 percent.
    Apart from a few regions in Italy's far north, the situation is similar across much of the rest of the country. Some 1.5 million jobs have disappeared in the last five years, with younger job seekers bearing much of the burden. Fully 35 percent of those under the age of 24 in Italy don't have work. And the trend remains negative.
    Catastrophic Situation
    Even those who have jobs aren't free of worry, given that short-term, limited contracts have long since become more numerous than traditional permanent positions. And full-time jobs are disappearing, with 400,000 of them having been axed since 2008. The part-time positions that have replaced them often don't pay enough to live on, particularly given that inflation in Italy stands at 3 percent and purchasing power is dropping by the month as a result.
    [As in America, worktime per person is reducing ANYWAY, but in the worst way, not the best = bandaid worksharing and permanent timesizing.]
    Even the European Commission, long the staunchest proponent of strict austerity programs for seriously indebted countries such as Italy, has begun to worry about the catastrophic situation on the Italian labor market. Laszlo Andor, the European commissioner responsible for employment, warned recently of an "economic and social disaster" if Italy and other countries in Southern Europe don't find a solution to youth unemployment.
    The political consequences could be grim as well. Across Europe, young voters are turning their backs on traditional centrist parties in favor of populist groups. Whether on the right or the left, whether in Greece or in the Netherlands, euro-skeptical parties are winning over the increasing numbers of people who have become disillusioned following years of crisis. In Italy, it is the well known comedian Beppe Grillo who has taken over the role of collecting support by way of vicious attacks on the EU. According to recent surveys, his Five Star Movement has good chances of becoming the second strongest party following general elections currently scheduled for next April.
    Italy's economic misery becomes apparent from just a few indicators. Twenty years ago, the country's productivity was roughly 5 percent below that of its European partners. Today, it is 12 percent lower than the average EU level. Labor costs, however, have climbed more rapidly than average -- at a rate of over 3 percent each year. The result is that production in the country has become increasingly expensive. Luxury goods companies haven't suffered dramatically, but others have, with many going bankrupt.
    Highest Priority
    There are, however, many other significant problems. Bureaucracy in the country is infamous, a problem which often inhibits investment. The legal situation is atrocious, with courts taking years, sometimes even decades, to reach a verdict. Italy's infrastructure is likewise in a sorry state. And recent austerity measures, which have included significant tax hikes, mean that the tax burden can be as high as 45 percent. Foreign investment, not surprisingly, has suffered.
    Now that the situation on the financial markets would appear to have calmed temporarily -- with yields on 10-year government bonds having dropped below 6 percent -- Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti has declared improving the country's economy to be his highest priority. He recently held a nine-hour cabinet meeting focused on coming up with ideas for stimulating growth and increasing productivity and competitiveness. He also intends to sound out Brussels on Sept. 6 for possible support from EU funds and to negotiate a "pact for productivity" with employers and labor unions in the country. Coming days will see him meeting separately with the two sides as a first step toward joint negotiations.
    Just how productive such talks might ultimately be remains to be seen, given how far apart the two sides are. Employers would like to see further liberalization of the labor market in addition to tax cuts and massive investment in the country's infrastructure. Unions, however, are radically opposed to labor market reform -- and the Italian budget would seem to have little room for infrastructure improvements.
    Many in Italy are now under the impression that the country's problems are to be solved entirely at the expense of ordinary people. Reforms instituted by the Monti administration have meant higher taxes, greater healthcare contributions, an increase in the retirement age and reduced purchasing power.
    Continuing Job Losses
    Labor unions too have been calling for lower taxes, but for workers rather than for companies, particularly for low-wage earners. They are also demanding that the government focus on protecting endangered jobs and creating new ones. Otherwise, they have threatened to launch a wave of protest. Indeed, the first general strike of public servants has already been scheduled for Sept. 28.
    But reversing the negative trend on the labor market will not be easy for Monti. His government is concerned first and foremost with increasing productivity and thereby improving his country's competitiveness. In the long term, it is the right focus. But in the short term, that means that the same amount of goods and services must be produced by fewer people. In the absence of growth, increased productivity necessarily means job losses.
    Growth, however, is not currently in the cards for Italy. On the contrary, whereas the government in Rome originally projected that the economy would contract by 1.2 percent this year, the country's central bank, the Banca d'Italia, now forecasts a 2 percent drop. Next year is also likely to be in the red. Job losses are likely to continue.
    It will be a difficult autumn, says Labor Minister Elsa Fornero. An economics professor by trade, Fornero is not normally known for exaggeration.

  2. An American observer comments on French politics: Kurzarbeit in France's Future, by Art Goldhammer, 9/10 (9/9 late pickup) artgoldhammer.blogspot.com
    CAMBRIDGE, Mass., USA - One little-noticed point in Hollande's interview with Claire Chazal was his mention of la possibilité "de recourir au travail partiel en cas de période difficile." In other words, [the possibility of running back to partial employment in case of a difficult period, or] what the Germans call Kurzarbeit [worksharing], or sharing of available work hours among workers in order to avoid layoffs in hard times.
    There are multiple ironies here: Sarkozy tried to extend overtime hours by exempting employers from taxes on [overtime], a reform that Hollande has canceled. The Right has blamed the 35-hour week for everything wrong with France from the economy to the decline of the baguette, but now even further working-hour reductions may be deemed necessary in an emergency.
    And at this point the implementation details remain vague: who will determine when [work]-sharing is permitted; how will hours and wages be allocated; how might firms adapt?
    [Not who but what: chaumage (unemployment) is the best determinant of worksharing, and how hours and wages are allocated and other detailed adaptations are up to individual firms responding to market forces.]


9/08/2012 – 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. Hotel Association may cut hours, By Steve Vaughan, svaughan@vagazette.com, The Virginia Gazette via vagazette.com
    WILLIAMSBURG, Va., USA — Mounting financial woes may force the Williamsburg Hotel-Motel Association to cut back on its dwindling staff.
    After the Gazette was tipped off, Hotel-Motel Association president Billy Scruggs conceded Friday that "our remaining employees may see reductions in their hours."
    He was hesitant to go into detail. "We are in transition. It's a new paradigm. And I've told my board that we won't be able to fund things like we've funded them in the past."
    The Hotel Association recently closed down its phone reservation center, which it fought for two years to keep alive, and terminated the reservations manager after 11 years on the job. The call center once had 15-20 people working the phones.
    Besides her, executive director Priscilla Caldwell said the office is down to three hourly employees. Scruggs added, "I'm happy to say that, as far as I know, the people who are with us will be staying with us."
    He wouldn't pledge that everyone would retain their full-time status. "Some hours may be cut back. That could happen," he said, adding that such a move is not unusual for the tourism industry at this time of year.
    Scruggs hopes to protect the Williamsburg Tourist Information Center, set up to complement the Visitor Center at Colonial Williamsburg. "My board has made it clear that they want the Tourist Information Center staffed eight hours a day, seven days a week," Scruggs insisted.
    Scruggs denied a plan that the Gazette had learned of that the 56 hours at the Tourist Information Center would be divided among the three remaining employees. "I don't think one person there at a time for eight hours would staff it the way we want," he said. "People have to go to the bathroom; they have to take lunch breaks."
    [That's right - and robots don't. Nor do they buy the stuff they pump out in massive quantities. So the idea that humans should "work hard" in the robot age when they will always lose that race to robots is crazy, because robots don't have to go to the bathroom or take lunch breaks, or sleep. And the idea that we don't need human employees is also crazy, because robots don't buy the stuff they churn out - supposedly for humans, but not with downsizing instead of timesizing, cuz there aren't enough humans with jobs=earnings=purchasing power.]

  2. The Troika and French Theory, by Hilary Barnes, Global Economic Intersection (blog) via econintersect.com
    NEW YORK, N.Y.(?) USA - Readers may recall that the last time the French had a socialist government it shortened the working week from 38 to 35 hours, with no wage cut, which, all other things being equal, put unit wage costs up by about 10%.
    [Uh, that's from 39 to 35, and it also kept domestic consumer spending up to about 100% and saved France for years from the kind of unmarketable productivity and unsustainable investments that U.S. downsizing, not timesizing, has been deepening throughout. Btw, French unemployment was 12.6% in 1997 when they voted in the 35-hour workweek, and 8.6% once "the 35 Hours" was in place in 2001 before the U.S-led recession hit France. It takes very careful selection of the data window to conclude, as many anglophone economists do, that the 35-Hours was a failure rather than that it cut unemployment by one percent for every hour cut from the workweek, the same result as we in the U.S. got when we cut the workweek from 44 to 40, 2hrs/yr: 1938 19.0% unemployment, 1939 17.2%, 1940 14.6%.]
    For some inexplicable reason they thought this would increase employment.
    [Yeah, sooo inexplicable that a little less for people with much could possibly mean more people with some. Like, why would wartime food rationing possibly work? Why would German Kurzarbeit possibly work? Why... - oh nevermind - don't bother her with facts, she's bought the prevailing sooo-notably-successful line about creative destruction and growth by downsizing.]
    Great was their astonishment when Germany's Gerhard Schröder arranged for German wage rates to be virtually frozen for several years at the beginning of this century, explaining to the the [sic] understanding German people that this would be good for employment, which it was.
    [And why wouldn't it be good for employment to maintain it directly, however short a workweek it might take? And why wouldn't Hillary, and Merkel and Sarkozy for that matter, have the perceptiveness to recognize that Kurzarbeit and The 35-Hours are the same idea in different forms?]
    Follow up:
    French Theory proved without a doubt that this [unclear reference] could not be right, even though in this case the late Jacques Derrida, doyen of the French Theorists, was entirely innocent.
    And now this! The Troika, the ladies and gents from the EU Commission, the ECB and the IMF, have recommended (and that's an order!) to the Greeks that they should work six days a week if they want to dig themselves out of the pit of debt into which they have fallen (helped not a little by the Troika imposed policy of "lend and destroy", sometimes known as austerity).
    Consternation in Paris, where the Derrida specialists are now urgently deconstructing the Troika statement.
    They hope to be able to bring comfort to the embattled president, François Hollande, by proving that the statement is a cultural artefact and as such has no real meaning, so “Dutch” and his French supporters can forget about the inevitability of revolution should anyone ask them to work six days a week.
    [If it hasn't happened already, Hill here completely into pedantic obscurity -]
    Besides, Derrida also proved by a careful analysis of the French words “différer” and “différer” [are these supposed to be different words or show slightly different spelling?] that meaning is always deferred by the text, so even if there should be any meaning in the text he needn't worry about it until his second term begins in 2017 (should he win a second term, that is).
    But the Troika better start boning up on their Derrida if they think that their services may be required by the French in the foreseeable future.
    [So clever, but where's the successful working model behind Hill's flourishes? France strengthened domestic consumption by cutting unemployment from 12.6% to 8.6% between 1997 and 2001, by cutting the workweek from 39 to 35 hours, and it would have been the wonder of the world if it had kept fostering wage&spending-raising labor "shortage" by cutting the workweek further and converting even more overtime into training and hiring (instead of the policy of weakening overtime enforcement that blockheaded Sarkozy switched to). The U.S. strengthened domestic consumption by cutting unemployment from 19.0% to 14.6% between 1938 and 1940, and it did become the wonder of the world thereafter by switching to war to get the more of the same wage&spending-raising labor shortage.]

  3. Opinion: Working 35 hours a week, posted by "samvimes", (9/07 late pickup) The Educational Institute of Scotland via community.TES.co.uk
    EDINBURGH(?), Scotland - OK, maybe I'm missing something...
    ... but I don't know what it is.
    I keep hearing from colleagues about how much work they have to do, ruining their weekends and holidays, because of all the paperwork they have to do. All the "extras" that have landed in their laps, and, now that we have CfE [Curriculum for Excellence] - God knows, how can we ever sleep again?
    This is, to me at least, with 25+ years in industry, just meaningless background noise.
    Let's set it out:
    1) You are contracted to work for 35 hours a week.
    2) Do so.
    3) Get paid.
    What is the problem?
    More paperwork? Do less of something else.
    Your boss wants more? Fine, do more of what the boss wants - within your 35 hours. Make sure that if you're asked to do more of one thing, what do you stop doing of another?
    Is this complicated?
    Sam
    [Comments - ...]
    Posted by: "grunwald" 08/09/2012... [ie: 9/08 in our notation]
    It does seem to be inordinately complicated for a vast number of teachers who perhaps lack the experience to prioritise work and resist encroachments. I very much agree with you, sam. If a notional figure of 35 hours per week was thought unmanageable, why on earth would unions and management have agreed on it in the first place?
    Teachers cannot be in front of classes for more than 22.5 hours a week. If we consider this as working with kids from about 9am till say 3.00pm (incl. breaks), this allows up to 5pm for prep and paperwork (how many other professionals get to leave their workplaces mid-afternoon?)
    It's not the hours that are the problem. It's the demands of working with young people and then being expected to be fresh for paperwork and/or new ideas afterwards. However, try working a medical shift of 12 hours on a regular basis, a night in A&E [Accident & Emergency] or seeing psychiatric patients till 6pm then having to write up your case notes and send letters to the patients' GPs [general practitioners] - every day.
    In many respects, teachers are their own worst enemies.


9/07/2012 – 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. Spending cuts likely to trigger furloughs, by Kellie Lunney, GovExec.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Federal agencies will have to consider furloughing employees if Congress and the White House cannot reach a deal before the end of the year to stave off the governmentwide automatic spending cuts scheduled to take effect in January 2013, according to a former top budget aide on Capitol Hill.
    “I’m afraid you are going to have to be looking at furloughs,” Bill Hoagland, a longtime policy and budget adviser to former Republican Sens. Bill Frist of Tennessee and Pete Domenici of New Mexico, told an audience of federal employees during Government Executive’s Excellence in Government conference in Washington on Thursday. Hoagland said if furloughs are to occur at some agencies, managers will have to decide them wisely to avoid triggering reductions-in-force among staff, which could be costly. A furlough of more than 30 calendar days, or of more than 22 discontinuous work days, is considered a RIF, according to the Office of Personnel Management.
    Hoagland, now vice president of public policy at CIGNA Corp., is not optimistic that Congress can cut a deal to avoid the spending cuts, known in budget parlance as sequestration, before the Jan. 2 deadline. Congress returns from August recess next week for a handful of legislative days when lawmakers likely will pass a continuing resolution to keep the government running through March 2013. After that, Congress won’t be back until after the Nov. 6 election, and lawmakers then will have to confront a perfect storm of policy issues, including sequestration, that will have a major effect on the economy. The 2011 Budget Control Act mandated sequestration go into effect starting in January 2013 if the bipartisan congressional super committee failed to devise a deficit reduction plan. The automatic, governmentwide cuts will total about $1.2 trillion, spread evenly from fiscal 2013 through fiscal 2021, and would be divided equally between defense and nondefense spending. The White House is required to release a report this week detailing where the spending cuts will fall across government.
    Sequestration offers some protection to federal benefits, but it also could result in layoffs or furloughs at some agencies. For example, federal employees' pensions and health care are both protected under sequestration, but if a worker is laid off as a result of cuts stemming from sequestration, then the government's contributions to retirement and health care would cease. Also, furloughed workers are not guaranteed back pay; Congress decides whether to give retroactive pay. Massive across-the-board spending cuts also would adversely affect government contractors, many of whom are located in the Washington area.
    “I have to be honest with you, I don’t see a solution [before the deadline],” Hoagland said. “The worst-case scenario is Thelma and Louise, we do go over the cliff.” The government is facing what officials refer to as the “fiscal cliff” at the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 -- a range of expiring tax cuts, sequestration and another round of negotiations over the debt ceiling.
    Jim Hearn, director for federal programs and budget process at the Senate Budget Committee, said most of the energy on Capitol Hill now is focused on getting the stopgap spending measure passed to avoid a government shutdown after Sept. 30. Hearn, who used to work for Hoagland, tried to offer a slightly less bleak assessment of sequestration. “What is best and worst depends on your perspective,” Hearn said. He added automatic spending cuts would be bad for agency managers, but could be good for future generations who would benefit from less government debt and the longer-term growth spawned by fiscal belt-tightening.
    Hoagland agreed with Hearn that sequestration today could help the country tomorrow, but wondered at what price -- especially since Medicare and Medicaid are exempt from the automatic spending cuts. “Will the medicine kill the patient?” he asked, adding that sequestration will be “very tough medicine.”

  2. Short-time working total soars by more than 30%, ThisIsCornwall.co.uk
    PLYMOUTH, Cornwl., U.K. - Almost 300,000 workers in the South West are "under-employed" – an increase of 34% since the start of the recession – according to a union study.
    [Again the naive assumption that FORTY hours per week is permanent eternal everlasting God-given "full employment" - when it's just another arbitrary historical accident.]
    The TUC said around one in eight workers (293,600) in the region are doing part-time jobs because they can't find full-time positions.
    The region has the highest rate of part-time employment at around one in three workers.
    It also has one of the highest rates of self-employment, thought to be part of the reason for a growth in under-employment.
    Nigel Costley, regional secretary of the South West TUC, said: "Unemployment is a major problem across the South West. But this only tells half the story.
    "Nearly 300,000 people are trapped in jobs that don't have enough hours to provide the income they need to get by. Fewer hours mean less pay, and an even bigger struggle to pay the bills.
    "Young people, women and low skilled workers are bearing the brunt of our under-employment crisis. It is alarming just how few young people today are able to find a job working enough hours.
    "This is a criminal waste of the talent and skills they have – all because of a crisis they didn't cause."
    The TUC found that about one in ten workers across the UK are under-employed, though the likelihood of being affected varies considerably by age, gender and job sector.
    Women are more likely to be under-employed than men, with around one in eight employed women finding themselves without enough hours.
    Low-skilled jobs are worst affected, with some one in five workers not getting enough hours. Young people are almost twice as likely to be under-employed as any other age group.
    While the TUC said "any job is better than no job at all, particularly during a recession" it said it was concerned that under-employment is becoming an ever-more permanent feature of the labour market. "Long periods of under-employment can do permanent damage to people's careers," Mr Costley added. "Ministers need to start taking the issue seriously as it's dragging down the economy as well as causing financial hardship.
    "Solving our under-employment crisis is not easy, and it won't be tackled through endless unpaid work initiatives.
    "What the country needs is an economic strategy that puts people's futures ahead of self-defeating austerity.
    "Cuts in infrastructure spending must be reversed and growing industries need more government support. We also need banks to start lending again, so that businesses can grow and create jobs."


9/06/2012 – 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. Kentucky state courts closed for furlough, AP via wpsdlocal6.com
    FRANKFORT, Ky. - State courts will be closed Tuesday as part of an ongoing cost-cutting move by the Kentucky Judicial Branch.
    The entire court system will be shut down, including the Kentucky Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Circuit Court and District Court, and no court services will be available.
    That means, among other things, no drivers licenses or release orders will be issued.
    [But jobs will be preserved.]
    The shutdown is the second of three furlough days scheduled this year as the court system looks to curb expenses. The next one will be Oct. 15.

  2. [And here's some real good overtime to convert into jobs (yes it is a slow news day) -]
    Amtrak probe finds phony overtime claims, work hours spent on web-dating sites, By Jim McElhatton, WashingtonTimes.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - One Amtrak employee spent much of his time in the office sending emails to women he met through a half-dozen online dating sites and claimed overtime pay for hours he spent officiating high school sporting events. Another worker may have received more than $100,000 in bogus overtime, records show.
    In what Amtrak’s watchdog agency is calling a host of “serious abuses,” an undercover surveillance operation during 2010 and last year has found multiple employees in the mid-Atlantic region’s communications and signal department claiming overtime pay for hours they didn’t work.
    Amtrak’s inspector general’s office declined to release its full report Thursday, citing what it called “sensitive information” in its findings of overtime fraud and abuses.
    But officials released a two-page summary this week saying they found that overtime abuses weren’t the only problem in the department.
    “We also identified other serious abuses, including misuse and potential theft of property, misuse of computer resources and a pervasive lack of supervision,” the summary said.
    The names of the employees were not included in the memo, and a spokesman at the inspector general’s office declined to say whether officials had referred the matter for criminal prosecution. It is common for investigations uncovering large amounts of overtime fraud to be referred to federal prosecutors and to agency management.
    Although the summary report details specific findings of fraud against two employees, investigators suggested that others received bogus overtime payments, too.
    “We were not able to conclusively document fraudulent overtime paid to several other employees,” the report stated. “However, it is likely that certain additional employees were paid overtime hours that were not worked as these employees received pay for an average of 72 hours weekly” ranging from 60 to 84 hours per week, including weekends.
    The investigation also prompted a broader audit, now under way, by the inspector general’s office reviewing management controls of overtime costs across Amtrak.
    In response to questions about the fraud investigation’s findings, Amtrak released a statement to The Washington Times on Thursday saying that the “overwhelming number” of its employees perform their jobs properly and pledged “swift and aggressive disciplinary action against the employees involved.”
    Neither the inspector general’s office nor Amtrak would say how many employees were suspected of collecting bogus overtime pay.
    The case summary released by the inspector general’s office stated that the probe was based on “intermittent surveillance, reviews of time records and emails” and other investigative activities. According to the report, one employee “committed extensive fraud by being paid for numerous overtime hours he did not work.”
    The case report said it is impossible to quantify the full amount lost to the employee’s fraud, but officials estimated that it could total hundreds of thousands of dollars.
    Surveillance over several months in 2010 and 2011 showed that the employee routinely received overtime pay for hours he didn’t work, according to the report.
    “For the 84 days we observed him, $16,500 of the $27,000, or 61 percent of the overtime wages he was paid were fraudulent,” the report said.
    If that 61 percent rate was representative of a larger sampling, then the employee could have received up to $143,300 in fraudulent overtime out of the $234,928 that was paid during a 30-month period from July 2009 through December 2001.
    Meanwhile, management and union supervisors paid little attention to the staggering overtime costs, according to the review. In addition to failing to flag fraudulent overtime and misuse of Amtrak property, supervisors also failed to prevent cost overruns and slow progress in finishing two unidentified projects funded through the federal stimulus program, according to the report.


9/05/2012 – 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. Slowing Germany faces more short-time work - employers' group, by Michelle Martin (& Jan Schwartz?), Reuters via XE currency site via XE.com
    BERLIN, Germany - More German companies may introduce shorter working hours in the country as the euro zone's problems escalate and Chinese demand takes a knock, the head of a major employers' association told Reuters.
    Industrial group Bosch, steelmaker ThyssenKrupp and U.S. automaker General Motors' German unit Opel have all announced plans to introduce 'Kurzarbeit' or government-subsidised short-time work schemes at German plants in recent weeks.
    Martin Kannegiesser, president of Gesamtmetall which represents the metals and electronics industries, said the shorter working hours introduced at Opel and Bosch presaged what other companies in their sectors were likely to suffer.
    'They are the writing on the wall - they're warning signs,' he said in an interview released on Wednesday.
    'There is reason to fear that this will become more widespread. Industrial orders have declined in large parts of the industry and that's inevitable given that most of Europe is in difficulty. That has an effect on investment decisions.'
    Industrial orders fell by 1.7 percent on the month in June as domestic and euro zone demand faltered and data due out on Thursday is expected to show new contracts rose by a mere 0.2 percent in July.
    The German economy put in a strong performance in the first three months of this year but economic growth slowed to 0.3 percent in the second quarter as companies concerned about the global economic environment cut back on investment.
    Many firms in the automobile and mechanical engineering sectors have so far been able to compensate for weak demand in Europe with the help of strong appetite from China but even there growth in the second-quarter of 2012 decelerated to its slowest pace since the first quarter of 2009.
    Kannegiesser called on the government to keep Kurzarbeit, which was widely used by German industry during the global financial crisis of 2009, readily available.
    'Politicians would be well advised to do their utmost to ensure that this tool can be reactivated quickly,' he said.
    Kannegiesser, who runs a laundry technology business and will step down as head of Gesamtmetall next week, said the metal and electronics sectors were not yet experiencing a crisis.
    'At the moment it is still hard to tell whether this will become a crisis or just a noticeable slowdown,' he said.
    Kannegiesser echoed growing German scepticism about Greece's prospects in the euro zone as Athens struggles to implement tough austerity measures in return for international loans.
    'Everything that fans uncertainty or suspicions that the euro zone will break up is damaging for us. For this reason it is desirable that the currency union stays together but not at any cost,' he said.
    'At some stage we will reach the point with Greece where we have to say we can't go on like this,' he added.
    'If the troika report shows that hardly anything has changed, we will have reached that point.'
    Inspectors from the so-called 'troika' of the European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank are due in Athens this week and are expected to publish a report on Greece's progress next month.
    (Writing by Michelle Martin; Editing by Gareth Jones and Jon Loades-Carter) ...
    (MichelleHannah.Martin@thomsonreuters.com)(+49 30 2888 5223)

  2. Bosch cuts shifts to weather European car crisis, Deutsche Welle via dw.de
    BAMBERG, Germany - Germany's biggest car components' supplier Bosch has announced shorter working hours in response to dropping parts demand from European carmakers. The stoppages will mainly affect the firm's diesel systems unit.
    At Bosch's Bamberg production site, some 980 of the company's 7,300 employees will have to go on short-time work, the car industry supplier said Wednesday.
    [Better that than job loss and associated consumer spending decline, despite all the lame anglophone economists' attempts to spin this as workforce rigidifying while THEIR workforces disintegrate and consumer bases collapse.]
    The scheme would be introduced for six days respectively in the months of September and October; it followed an agreement reached between management and the works council.
    In a statement, Bosch said that the stoppages were primarily a result of slumping diesel car sales in crisis-hit Southern Europe, and the subsequent introduction of short-time work at some of its auto industry customers.
    In addition, Bosch said that it had no plans for introducing reduced working hours at its remaining plants in Germany.
    Germany's biggest car components manufacturer, which also runs a series of other technology operations, employs about 120,000 people in 80 locations in Germany, and about 300,000 worldwide.
    In September, two of Bosch's main customers, carmakers Opel and Ford, announced short-time work for about 10,000 and 4,000 workers respectively.
    Bosch didn't say if shifts would have to be cut in the following months, too, arguing that this depended on the development of demand in future.
    Martin Kannegiesser, the head of the German metalworking and electrical industry group (Gesamtmetall), described the short-time work schemes at Opel and Bosch as "writings on the wall," heralding a general slowdown of the German economy.
    uhe/msh ( Reuters, dpa)

  3. Germany’s Wanderjahr in the Labor Market, and Lessons for the United States, by James Breedlove, Economer via economer.wordpress.com
    [For some reason, the original writes Wanderjahr for Wunderjahr in title and article; we've changed it back. Einstein and Germany both had a wonder year (annus mirabilis), not a wander year (annus errans).]
    BOSTON(?) USA - Germany endured a large loss of 9 percent of GDP in 2009; however, somehow the country still managed to increase employment in that same year by 22 thousand individuals to the surprise of many. That is a 0.05 percent rise in Germany’s total employment level. What policy brought about this imperious, though seemingly small, violation of Arthur Okun’s law? And, why in Germany? Answer: work sharing, or what German’s refer to as Kurzarbeit.
    The German Wunderjahr in economics (not to be outdone by Albert Einstein’s 1905 Wunderjahr in physics), by all appearances and news coverage, has yet to merit attention and proper focus in the United States. Maybe it should be explored further here. After all, by contrast to Germany’s experience stated above, the United States over that same year’s time endured a relatively smaller loss of 2 percent of GDP only to witness the labor force largely collapse and lose 5.4 million jobs (-3.77 percent).
    Labor disjunction in mind, as John Taylor, the Stanford University economics professor, and Martin Feldstein, the former NBER president, might jointly recommend, why not present a counterfactual exploring the divergences in national outcomes by labor results? Below, a single counterfactual will be explored, but only after reviewing the raw input/output data of a sample of the three largest economies as of 2008, i.e., Germany, Japan and the United States, made available to analyze courtesy of the IMF.
    A Review of Three Nations’ Labor Results
    *Charts 1, 2 and 3..paint a broad picture of the three large economies in question. Firstly, Chart 1 presents a Labor Index with 2008 = 100 and the underlying units representing total employed persons, sourced through the IMF [oh-oh]. Secondly, Chart 2 indexes nominal gross domestic product as provided by the IMF. Lastly, Chart 3, which closely resembles Chart 2, presents information from the two prior charts as a Productivity Index, measured as income divided by labor, i.e., nominal GDP divided by total employed persons. Note: Data provided for 2012 represents IMF estimates. ...
    Chart 1 [comments]: During the prior business cycle, which peaked in 2008, non-German large economies, e.g., Japan and the United States, suffered far greater dis-employment numbers yet benefited [=enjoyed] far lesser reductions in gross domestic product. For example, from 2007 to 2010 United States employment dropped -4.7 percent while Japan dropped -4.6 percent, with corresponding cumulative increases in real[?] GDP over this time measuring 3.5 percent and 34.7 percent, respectively. In stark contrast, Germany boosted its hiring by 1.7 percent over this same time period, adding 713 thousand individuals to the payroll. Gross domestic product in Germany slowed by -1.2 percent at this time. As a result, productivity, measured as income divided by employment, responded according to expectation (see Chart 3). In summary, the United States raised productivity by 12 percent from 2008 to present and Japan raised productivity by 30 percent over this same time period. Germany, on the other hand, has deliberately forced this number down by program design.
    Chart 2 [&] Chart 3 [comments] - As a result of these large productivity gains, employees that have managed to survive lay-offs to date are now likely part of a new overly stressed workplace. Bertrand Russell, the English philosopher, wrote about the merits of balancing labor/leisure in a past paper (Russell (1932)), one that seems especially relevant. With productivity burdens and benefits in mind, interestingly Chart 3 evidences that the German economy has increased net job hiring in the previous 8 years running.
    Modularization of Fiscal & Monetary Decisions
    Macroeconomic policy in Germany, stepping back for a moment, amounts to an explicit inflation target assigned for monetary policy, administered by the European Central Bank, and a dedicated fiscal policy ordered around implementing work sharing in the labor market. Coupled together with policies aimed at structuring VAT tax financing of the German government budget and retaining diversity of industry within the country (Zakaria (2011)), the total German experiment appears to add up and challenge even the robust Scandinavian economic models, e.g., Norway offering 12 months paid time leave for new parents and retaining a generally high standard of living while still managing to grow GDP per capita consistently. Were it not for the Euro Area debt repayment turbulence of the day, then German GDP, evidenced in Chart 2, may have yet already well recovered from the American sub-prime mortgage recession.
    A summary of the German work sharing program is provided by Moller and Walwei (2009) and Crimmann, Wiebner and Bellmann (2010). In the latter paper, the authors explain, “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 a similar) number of workers in order to avoid layoffs or, alternatively, as a measure intended to create new employment.” Retaining employees in this manner, as they further explain, beneficially preserves human resources within the companies, e.g., not requiring them to maintain expensive, ad-hoc search/hiring resources and re-training programs. “The First Crisis of Globalisation” is analyzed in full within both these papers, so they make for timely reading, with country-to-country comparisons provided in the former IAB paper. For additional reading more specific to employment determinants, Blanchard and Summers (1986) have empirically documented just how persistent unemployment levels are across many countries using ARMA(1,1); and Lord Jacob Mincer and Danninger (2000) have highlighted the root importance of human capital in serving as a proxy for earnings determination. 
    America’s Labor Market: A Work Sharing Counterfactual
    If American industry was to have hypothetically adopted a work sharing program akin to that present in Germany and Austria in 2008, then what may have been the outcome for the labor market? Answer: they could have confidently expected, at minimum, to have saved greater than 6.1 million jobs that otherwise would have been shed between 2008 and 2010 (see Chart 4). By concentrating analysis solely on years when real GDP contracts, and by breaking from Okun’s suggested parity relationship, one can ascertain a counterfactual American work sharing result over these years fairly easily.
    Chart 4 [comments] - For instance, by concentrating on 2008 and 2009 data, i.e., the two years when real GDP growth turned negative in the United States, Moller and Walwei’s numbers suggest productivity re-allocations and working time adjustments more than adequately overcoming job losses associated with the registered GDP declines. In Germany in 2009, specifically, they estimated the job savings resulting from Kurzarbeit to have amounted to “the enormous sum of 3.2 million employed persons (or 8 per cent of persons in employment).” Therefore, counterfactual American job savings to be expected here would have measured greater than 6.1 million, i.e., 8.9 percent of the 2007 jobs level.
    Other worthy options for radically improving American employment numbers are out there. Nobel Prize recommendations come from Edmund Phelps (2010), Columbia University professor, advocating creation of a First National Bank of Innovation, Federal Reserve governors proposing benchmarking monetary policy explicitly to a labor market measure; and Kenneth Arrow (2011), the Stanford University professor of economics, recommending a new approach for regulating banking and finance by viewing the market as inherently uncertain like that of the healthcare market.
    Aside from Nobel Prize opinions, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich (2010) has advocated restructuring the break even analysis of unemployment insurance, i.e., “workers who lose their jobs and have to settle for positions that pay less could qualify for “earnings insurance” that would pay half the salary difference for two years; such a program would probably prove less expensive than extended unemployment benefits.” And, additionally, Jeffrey Sachs (2011), Columbia University professor of health policy and management, advocates human capital investment and non-human capital investment in order to improve the employment outlook for the United States over the long-run.
    Another preventative recommendation may be to establish a stylized Rainy Day Fund for the labor market, i.e., a pre-recession funded counter-cyclical buffer allocated for labor unemployment insurance and job training that may be funded over time during expansion periods in the economy. Creation of such a fund could be structured in such a way to resemble an automatic stabilizer for the economy; thereby, preventing revolving considerations of ad-hoc, widely-heated debates regarding deficit spending programs ex-post recession.


9/04/2012 – 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. The State of Working North Carolina: Policy Options for Addressing the Jobs Crisis, by Allan Freyer, The Progressive Pulse via http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org
    RALEIGH, N.C., USA - As shown in the recent report on the State of Working North Carolina, many families and workers across the state lost ground during the 2000s. During this “lost decade,” workers experienced stagnant or falling wage growth, anemic job growth in the recovery from the 2001 recession, and the catastrophic job losses of the Great Recession of 2007-2009. And in the three years since the formal end of the Great Recession, North Carolina has struggled to make up this lost ground—unemployment remains persistently high, with at least three workers for every available job opening.
    In the face of this challenge, policy makers need to promote solutions that address the immediate crisis in employment and establish long-term path for building a sustainable employment base for the industries of the future.
    Given the immediate need to bring down unemployment in the short term, policy makers can start by simply choosing to not make the problem worse through misguided public sector layoffs. Just like private sector layoffs, government layoffs increase the number of people out of work. And given that there are already nearly three times the number of people looking for work than there are job openings, these public sector layoffs only serve to increase overall unemployment and hold back private sector job growth: those former government workers—now unemployed workers—no longer have paychecks to spend at private businesses, leaving these private businesses with less money to hire new workers.
    Moreover, these misguided policies also hurt private businesses by reducing key public investments in education, roads, and research and development—investments that improve business productivity, grow profits, and create jobs and the conditions for long-term job growth.
    A second important short-term solution geared specifically for the private sector involves promoting work-sharing policies among employers. In work-sharing arrangements, employers who would otherwise be forced to lay off workers due to macroeconomic circumstances beyond their control (like a recession), could instead reduce full-time workers to part-time status, allowing companies to reduce labor costs without sacrificing productivity or incurring the cost of retraining when the economy turns around and they look to rehire. These part-time workers are then eligible for reduced unemployment insurance benefits to make up the difference between their former full-time salary and their new part-time salary.
    Such a proposal helps businesses keep skilled workers, and contributes to a strong consumer demand for the goods and services produced by other private businesses. Work-sharing programs currently exist with strong employer support in 26 states, including Florida, Texas, and Arizona.

    Along with meeting the immediate challenge, policy makers must prepare for the long-term economic demands of the future by targeting the right kind of firms—those that pay good wages, provide benefits, and are in industries likely to experience significant growth over the next decade—for attraction, retention, and small business development.
    These are the jobs of the future, but in order to create these jobs, the state needs to prepare the workforce to take advantage of them. One key policy involves the creation of career pathways—programs that facilitate workers movement from low-wage work into higher-skill, higher-wage employment through multi-tiered training and certification standards tied to formal career mobility ladders in targeted private-sector industries.
    One example of a formalized career pathway is the “work keys” program common in automotive manufacturing industries in the U.S. South. Work keys provide workers a series of widely recognized certifications demonstrating mastery of an increasingly difficult set of skills pegged to positions with increasing responsibilities within automotive manufacturing companies. This allows workers to integrate skill development with upward mobility within their industries, creating pathways to better training, higher wages, and ultimately more successful careers.
    In the face of the jobs crisis facing North Carolina, these long-term and short-term policies can play a critical role in putting people back to work and ensuring widely shared prosperity for all of the state’s residents.

  2. Labor Day Message: How a Shortened Workweek Could Create Jobs and Stimulate the Economy, by Lawrence J. Hanley, HuffingtonPost.com
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - The majority of Americans think of Labor Day as a day off of work and their last chance to go to the beach or pool, or to attend a cookout with friends to celebrate the end of summer. Too often we overlook its original purpose - to celebrate the economic and social contributions of workers, and to remember the extraordinary sacrifices made by union members in their fight for the weekend, paid vacation, sick time and the 40-hour workweek. Though they may seem commonplace today, men and women gave their lives in the struggle for work standards that improved the lives of so many who followed.
    However, we seem to have taken a step backward in the workplace, because to most Americans, the 40-hour workweek seems like a thing of the past. Many people must work extra hours or find a second job just to make ends meet. And employers are seeking to squeeze ever more out of an exhausted workforce.
    So Americans are working harder than ever before, and for less, while unemployment stubbornly remains above 8 percent.
    What if I told you our nation could create jobs, achieve better work-life-balance, and improve worker productivity for businesses by shortening the workweek? It's not as farfetched as you might think.
    France instituted a 35-hour workweek in 2000, which experts say brought unemployment down and improved worker productivity. Many other advanced economies likewise have workweeks of 35 hours or less.

    Furthermore, study after study reveals that in both blue- and white-collar jobs, long hours kill profits, hurt worker productivity and jeopardize safety on the job. These undisputed facts have been largely forgotten as the actual American workweek steadily increases.
    By better enforcing the 40-hour workweek at a more livable wage, employers would have to hire unemployed Americans to work the overtime hours, which they force their current employees to work. Furthermore, the productivity of all workers would go up, benefiting employers. Increasing employment also means more money would be spent at local businesses. It's a win-win proposition for all.
    A look at its history shows there is real science behind the practice, and for many years corporate America embraced it. Most people think that the eight-hour day and the 40-hour workweek were created simply to give people time every week to live their own lives. In fact, this is not the case.
    In 1914 Henry Ford famously took the radical step of doubling his workers' pay and cutting shifts in his auto plants from nine hours to eight. Although he was criticized, many of his competitors later climbed on board when they saw how Ford's business boomed as a result.
    When the Great Depression hit, President Herbert Hoover proposed a bill that would reduce the workweek to 30 hours in an attempt to avoid mass layoffs. It passed in Senate; however, it didn't make it through the House.
    Not surprisingly, FDR also tried to push for shorter hours to lower unemployment, but was overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court. Instead, the Walsh-Healy Public Contracts Act of 1936 required the federal government to pay its contractors overtime wages after eight hours of work in a day. And then the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 established the five-day, 40-hour workweek for everyone, a standard we observe today.
    By the 1960s, the benefits of the 40-hour week were accepted almost beyond question in corporate America. In 1962, the Chamber of Commerce even published a pamphlet extolling the productivity gains of reduced hours.
    But today, many employers do not want to invest in additional staff, believing they can cut corners by keeping the workforce small, paying them lower wages and forcing overtime on their workers. Thus over the past few decades, 50- or even 60-hour workweeks have become the norm, expected by employers and needed by workers to make ends meet. Unfortunately, what they are really doing is robbing Peter to pay Paul. Those extra hours cost them more than they're worth in terms of productivity loss. And for the workers, there is a price to be paid for these long days that many of us accept without complaint. Our families, our health, and sometimes our safety all suffer.
    Americans are not only working more hours per week, but our compensation has either flat-lined or fallen behind where it was just a few years ago. The toll this takes on morale also affects productivity in an era when so many are struggling to get ahead and find success.
    The overall economy suffers, too, because the growing workload of those who are employed limits job growth and increases unemployment. Consumers buy less as a result, and the tax base shrinks.
    There was a time in this country when individual workers could earn enough to support a family from a job in which they worked just 40 hours per week - a job that also provided paid sick days, vacations, health insurance, and a pension. But that kind of employment is a thing of the past for too many U.S. workers.
    However, this Labor Day, let's look back at the hard fought 40-hour workweek and start a national discussion on how shortening the workweek could help our nation dig out of this recession by putting more people to work, improving the productivity of workers, and improving the lives of all Americans.
    Lawrence J. Hanley [is] International President, Amalgamated Transit Union in DC; Member of the AFL-CIO's Executive Council

  3. [Now some good news happening in a bad way -]
    Yeovil hospital midwives get 'hours cut' text message, BBC News Somerset via bbc.co.uk
    YEOVIL, Somerset, UK - Midwives at a hospital in Somerset have received a text message to tell them their hours are being cut.
    The group of bank [fill-in] midwives at Yeovil District Hospital each received the message saying their day shifts were being cut by just over two hours.
    It is believed the message was sent by a ward clerk at the hospital.
    The hospital confirmed it had changed the hours of its bank midwives and said it was "unfortunate" they had received the news via a text.
    Bank midwives are often paid to fill in where there is a staffing shortage over such things as work pressures, sickness or holiday.
    'Treated this way'
    One midwife, who wanted to remain anonymous, told BBC Somerset the text message said bank hours were being cut with immediate effect.
    "There are about 10 or 12 of us at the hospital who just work bank shifts, and then there are also some midwives who work part time and then top up their pay with bank hours.
    "This will have an impact on all of us," she said.
    "We've had no other information about this apart from the text message, which will have been sent by the ward clerk.
    "[I am] cross that myself and my colleagues have been treated this way and puzzled why anybody would consider this an appropriate way to communicate with staff, who are supposedly valuable members of the team."
    The hours for bank staff have been changed to 07:15-13:00 for an early shift and 15:00-20:45 for a late shift.
    According to the midwife, the early shift previously finished at 15:15 and the late shift started at 12:45. 'Doubling up'
    In response, a hospital spokesperson said: "Yeovil District Hospital can confirm that we have reorganised the hours that our bank midwives work.
    "To ensure we continue providing high-quality patient care we need to make the best use of our finances.
    "We were aware that bank staff were being employed on longer shifts than were necessary as they were doubling up with our permanent staff for up to one-and-a-half hours on each shift, which was not best use of our resources.
    "It was unfortunate that a member of staff at the meeting decided to text colleagues before management had an opportunity to meet with the midwives and explain the situation to them."

  4. [Now some bad-ominous but relevant-wakeup news -]
    BYOD Adds 20 Hours to the Traditional Workweek, added by David Tom, MidsizeInsider.com
    ARMONK, N.Y., USA - The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend has been at the forefront of the business industry. Its popularity has grown due to the mass production of mobile devices, the allure of flexible hours, and the perceived increase in productivity. That being said, few analysts expected the movement to produce a new generation of workaholics [but it did]. According to a Mobile Workforce Report released by iPass, smartphone-wielding employees are working an additional 20 hours per week--completely unpaid. These results seem very appealing to IT experts, who undeniably want to take advantage of harder working personnel. It also begs the question, "Does working longer mean an increase in productivity?"
    Work Harder and Happier
    According to an article by Techvibes,Group of smartphones iPass surveyed 1,200 business users from around the globe. The study showed that enterprise workers remain attached to their devices and must check them periodically. Approximately one-third of employees never disconnect from their phones during personal time, while only eight percent can avoid work-related activities while on vacation.
    These statistics indicate how difficult it is for employees to separate their home life from their work life, especially when mobile technology makes both of them very accessible. It also demonstrates their sheer dedication to the company itself. The report stated, "Mobile workers want to help their companies stay competitive in a fast-paced and challenging business environment and for this reason nearly half of all businesses are now actively encouraging flexible working."
    Some people might think that longer hours would lead to unhappy employees. However, this does not seem to be the case. The iPass study found that 92 percent of BYOD users "enjoy their job flexibility" and are more than happy to work longer hours. In fact, an astounding 42 percent believe that BYOD isn't enough, and that they want "even greater flexibility for their working practices". Rene Hendrikse, vice president of EMEA at iPass, explained, "BYOD is effectively turning us into a generation of productive workaholics, with many workers seemingly happy to work during their downtime in exchange for flexibility in how and where they work."
    Hidden Consequences
    Despite the advantages of a BYOD program, there still exist several downfalls. The biggest concern is a lack of security on mobile devices; negligence that could lead to the theft of private corporate data. The poll revealed that nearly one-fifth (19 percent) of all mobile workers were not required to use any security software on their tablets or smartphones.
    Considering the public awareness of the dangers associated with unprotected devices, it is clear that some IT professionals are failing to do their jobs. Mobile-device-management (MDM) is a very important role and IT should have protocol that forces employees to be password protected, install antivirus software, and abide by a list of corporate approved apps.
    Furthermore, several BYOD programs require employees to pay their own mobile data bills. In fact, 18 percent of mobile users had to absorb these costs themselves; a six percent increase from last year. Although this figure will probably make IT think that they are paying less, it might actually cause them to pay more. For the 72 percent of businesses that reimburse their employees for mobile bills, they must often pay for nonwork related data charges. IT also loses the opportunity to negotiate a deal with mobile carriers, since employees are making individual purchases rather than buying in bulk.
    Finally, there is a lot of skepticism about whether longer working hours will result in better productivity. According to OnlineMBA, new studies have shown that productivity declines as employees overexert themselves with extended working hours. Longer hours can also take a toll on health and happiness. This would explain why six of the top 10 economies have laws that prevent people from working more than 48 hours in a week. These include: Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Norway, and the Netherlands. With the exception of Germany, these countries are also the top five happiest countries in the world.
    As a result, IT might want to place some restrictions on their BYOD policies. IT should ensure that all mobile devices are protected by some security software, and they should also place a cap on employee reimbursements. Most importantly, midsize firms need to encourage employees to have some time to themselves; work should not control their lives.
    This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.


9/03/2012 – 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. Labor Day: Canadian Origins, American Traditions and the 40-Hour Workweek - The holiday was first observed by our neighbors up north, by Marie Cunningham, SouthGatePatch Latino via southgate.patch.com.com
    SOUTH GATE, Calif., USA - abor Day is celebrated in the United States on the first Monday in September. Though often commemorated with picnics, barbecues and parties, the federal holiday is meant to pay tribute to the country's workforce.
    How much do you know about Labor Day? Here are some facts about the holiday that may surprise you:
    • Labor Day actually started in Canada. Its origins can be traced back to April 15, 1872, when the Toronto Trades Assembly organized Canada's first significant demonstration for worker's rights. Canadians also celebrate the holiday on the first Monday of September, but to them it's "Labour Day."
    • Americans first celebrated Labor Day Tuesday, Sept. 5, 1882, in New York City. A parade with 10,000 workers marched from City Hall to Union Square.
    • On June 28, 1894, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year Labor Day.
    • The Adamson Act, enacted in 1916, was the first United States federal legislation regulating the hours of workers in private companies. It established an eight-hour workday, with additional pay for overtime work, for railroad workers.
    • Passed in 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act protects workers by setting standards for minimum wage, overtime pay, record keeping and youth labor. At the time, it set the minimum hourly wage at 25 cents and the maximum workweek at 44 hours.
    • Today, the standard American workweek is 40 hours—eight hours a day, five days a week.
    • In the U.S., 85.8 percent of males and 66.5 percent of females work more than 40 hours per week.
    • According to the International Labour Organization, Americans work 137 more hours a year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours a year than British workers and 499 more hours a year than French workers.
      [Since it hasn't been adjusted for technological productivity leaps in over 70 years, disempowering massive hidden un- and under-employment is constantly undermining enforcement and raising the workweek further in America.]
    • The idea that you can't wear white after Labor Day may be because wearing white in the summer was, for many centuries, a way to stay cool and avoid attracting the sun's warm rays. Many students heading back to class after Labor Day, a holiday marking the end of summer, begin wearing heavier and darker fall clothing. ...
    Have a fun and safe Labor Day!

  2. ISTAT - Istituto Nazionale di Statistica: Large firms labour indicators, 4-traders.com
    ROME, Italy - Labour indicators for large firms (enterprises with 500 employees and more) are calculated with reference to the base year 2005 using the Ateco 2007 classification (Italian edition of Nace rev. 2).
    In June 2012 the seasonally adjusted employment index in large firms decreased by 0.2% compared with May 2012 (-0.2% in industry and -0.1% in services); net of workers in cassa integrazione guadagni (Cig = short-time working allowance) it decreased by 0.6% (-0.8% in industry and -0.2% in services). The percentage change of the average of the last three months compared to the previous three months was -0.3% gross of Cig and -0.5% net of Cig.
    The unadjusted employment index in large firms decreased by 1.0% compared with June 2011 (-1.8% net of Cig); the percentage change in the first half of the year 2012 with respect to the same period of 2011 was -0.8% (-1.4% net of Cig).
    In June 2012 the seasonally adjusted index of gross average earnings per hours worked increased by 1.0% with respect to the previous month (+0.6% in industry and +1.4% in services). The percentage change of the average of the last three months compared to the previous three months was +1.8% (+1.0% in industry and +2.1% in services).
    The unadjusted index of gross average earnings per hours worked increased by 1.1% compared with June 2011 (+2.4% in industry and +0.5% in services). The percentage change in the first half of the year with respect to the same period of 2011 was +0.6% (+2.0% in industry and unchanged in services).

  3. [Now for some bad, but very relevant news -]
    Troika Wants Six-Day Work Week for Greeks, Greek Reporter/Greece via greece.greekreporter.com
    ATHENS, Greece - A confidential email to the Greek Ministries of Finance and Labor from international lenders putting up $325 billion in two bailouts to keep the economy from failing states that Greek private sector workers should work six days a week and longer hours.
    The Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB), already pushing the uneasy coalition government led by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to make another $14.16 billion in cuts, is insisting on even harsher measures for civil servants.
    [It's hard to believe that the Troika is this stupid-destructive-selfdestructive. But hey, at least they're seeking a solution in something so "simplistic" and "silly" as mere workweek re-sizing - though upsizing the workweek and coagulating employment concentrates the money supply in a smaller population, which depresses consumer spending and all the rest of the economy, because the wealthy spend, donate, in short, circulate, a smaller percentage of their money than any other bracket. You could say that the wealthy create recession - by coagulating the money supply beyond the point where there is enough marketable productivity to provide stable investments on the scale their wealth demands. Note that this explains why economic downturns are so easy and recoveries are so hard (the decision-making wealthy themselves are the problem but they own the media so you're never going to find out - and they themselves seldom realize it cuz they've got it all rationalized as an Act of God - hey, they're victims just like the rest of us, right, RIGHT?).]
    The financial newspaper Imerisia reported that the Troika’s email was sent on Aug. 31, ahead of meetings Samaras had with his coalition partners, the PASOK Socialists of Evangelos Venizelos and the Democratic Left of Fotis Kouvelis, as the government prepared for the return of Troika envoys on Sept. 5.
    The Troika wants greater flexibility in work hours, although Greeks already are near the top in Europe, and wants to let private companies set work rules for hiring and firing and other conditions, according to their needs.
    Following the Troika’s orders, the Labor Ministry is expected to put forth measures aimed at the most vulnerable sectors in Greece, including:
    • A six-day work week [bad] with changes in shift times
    • Reducing notice before firing a worker from as much as six months [contract breaking?] and reducing their severance, and pensions [contract breaking?]
    • Cutting by 50 percent certain [if CEOs', good] severance packages by giving employers the right to reduce their time in service [contract breaking?] and warning period [contract breaking?]
    • To change working hours and make them longer [bad]
    • Restrictions on overtime [good] and furloughs [bad]
      [All but one of these changes further depress the consumer base and the rest of the economy, and guarantee that the lenders will never be repaid.]
    The changes seem certain to ramp up tension between the government and labor unions who have already warned they will take their workers to the streets to protest the onset of more austerity measures. In the midst of a deep, five-year recession, with nearly two million people out of work [18.5% unemployed out of 2011 Greek population 10,787,690], the closing of 68,000 businesses so far, and the economy shrinking 7 percent, the Troika wants cuts of 5 percent in employer contributions to the national health insurance agency IKA-ETAM. The Troika wants regular briefings on the "progress" of the "reforms."
    [More like progress of the coups de grâce! This amounts to economic genocide. Does the Troika really hate Greeks so much? Of course, the IMF has a lot of experience in its role as Typhoid Mary, ostensibly healing while infecting with worse... The Troika basically has their heads stuck in the 18th century before the industrial revolution. And the Greeks have yet to find those among them with the guts to stand up to these financier-assassins, these "economic hitmen," to adapt the phrase from the title of John Perkins' 2005 book. Well, Greeks today, the American 99% tomorrow... - no one is safe from these economic madmen and they are certainly a much bigger threat to every nation's homeland security than 19 Saudis with boxcutters.]


9/02/2012 – 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. Sequestration may yield employee furloughs, by Andy Medici and Sarah Chacko, Army News via armytimes.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Automatic, governmentwide budget cuts slated for Jan. 2 could force agencies to furlough or lay off employees, cut back on contracting and curtail construction, leasing and consolidation activities, experts say.
    The cuts — formally known as sequestration — are required by last year’s Budget Control Act unless Congress and the Obama administration agree on a path to reducing budget deficits by $1.2 trillion through 2021. ...

  2. Payroll News & Advice - Kurzarbeit for the UK? Payroll-Help.com
    LONDON, Eng., U.K. - HM Treasury Ministers are reported to be considering introducing European-style 'mini-jobs' as part of labour reforms, designed to create employment and boost the economy.
    [Hello, hello, this is the age of robotics. "Mini"-jobs is ALL THERE ARE for people today. The whole point of robots is that THEY will be doing the MAXI jobs, NOT US. Wake up and smell the coffee! In 1840 when workweeks were routinely over 80 hours a week, our current 40-hour jobs were "mini"-jobs.]
    This system allows employees to have flexible mini contracts, allowing them to earn up to €400 per month free of tax (about £315.00). The employer pays reduced employment taxes (National Insurance) and pension contributions. The employee may have multiple mini-jobs;
    [this option is sustainable only if it is capped at a grand-total workweek maximum per person (and preferably that maximum varies inversely with and is controlled automatically by the unemployment rate]
    though start to pay tax when cumulative earnings exceed €400 a month.
    Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, was quoted in The Financial Times as saying ‘Flexible employment, lower taxes and less burdensome regulation are all essential drivers for jobs and growth.
    [The most burdensome regulation on all modern highly automated economies is the rigidly regulated workweek, which has not been adjusted lower for higher technological productivity in over two generations.]
    The German mini system is at least worthy of investigation’
    [The German "mini system" is worthy of immediate imitation by any economy that has any notion of surviving the next 20 years.]
    Comment
    Introduced in Germany 10 or so years ago, Kurzarbeit (‘short work’ or ‘reduced hours work’) jobs could be an initiative not only for job creation but also job retention, as employers may seek to reduce the working hours of an employee rather than making the role redundant.
    [Job creation starts, begins, commences, initiates...with job retention. Saint Schumpeter's so-called "Creative Destruction" is proceeding today a lot faster on the Destruction side than the Creation side.]
    However, it does seem a precarious move to artificially create employment and a way to reduce employment rights for employees. Whilst it appears to have reduced unemployment levels in Germany, my research indicates that this is at the expense of decent hourly rate and a living wage for many –Germany does not, currently, have a National minimum wage. I envisage full time employments being spilt into several mini-jobs, reducing employer costs and creating many part-time employees.
    Therefore, we await any further announcements with interest.


9/01/2012 – 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. WVCBP: Serious challenges ahead for WV economy, by Taylor Kuykendall, StateJournal.com
    CHARLESTON, W.Va., USA - A new report points out troubling trends and figures on the state's economy — trends that could be even further perpetuated by policy inaction.
    The West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy [WVCBP] released its State of Working West Virginia 2012 in honor of Labor Day weekend. The report highlights a number of deficiencies in the West Virginia economy and looks at potential solutions.
    "We hear so much about the business climate for West Virginia," said Rick Wilson, director of the American Friends Service Committee. "We think it's time in this report to ask about the climate for working people. They are the engines that drive the economy and keep the state going. Without them, nothing moves."
    Wilson wrote the introduction of the report.
    The publication cautions that improving the well-being of working families — a vital piece of a thriving economy — "will not be easy nor happen without effort."
    "As the effects of the recession on West Virginia continue to fade, many challenges persist for the state, now and into the future," explained Sean O'Leary, a policy analyst with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy and co-author of the report. "High unemployment, an aging and unhealthy work force and a changing economy all need to be addressed in order to secure future prosperity for the people of West Virginia."
    The problem with the economy
    The state faces a number of challenges outlined by the report. While jobs briefly topped pre-recession levels, the majority of jobs are found in the public, service and transportation sectors.
    The recent recession, the authors of the report state, is a driver of current strife, but is also compounded by longer-term trends. About 27,000 jobs would need to be added to return to pre-recession levels.
    "Workers in West Virginia are certainly struggling because of the recession, but a lot of their struggles are also a part of longer term trends," O'Leary said. "Just because the recession is over and we see the recovery, doesn't mean these long term trends are going away and they certainly need to be addressed in the future."
    More than industry or natural resources, the report states, the state's people is the most important resource available.
    "By virtue of their labor and spending, they are arguably our real wealth and job creators," the report states. "And, unlike the gas, oil and coal that lie beneath our soil, they can and do move all by themselves, often heading for better opportunities elsewhere when these are not to be found in the Mountain State."
    Wages appear to be falling while disparity between high and low earners is increasing. The gender gap in pay equality in West Virginia is still significant, the report states and lower wages are stretching across a number of industries.
    The report found that unemployment rates remain elevated, young workers are increasingly facing high unemployment and long-term employment is rising.
    "Younger workers between the ages of 16 and 24 are especially hard hit by unemployment," the report states. "Although they make up less than 15 percent of the work force, they comprise a third of the unemployed. Unemployment rates are also higher than average for men, African-Americans of both sexes, and for those with low levels of educational attainment."
    West Virginia has one of the oldest and least educated work forces in the nation.
    "Unless we can attract and retain working families, we are headed for an economic disaster," the report warns. The population as a whole is increasingly aging and younger workers struggle to get work.
    "That's a part of the population that has a lot of needs. They need health care, they aren't working, they aren't contributing to the economy the way the rest of the demographic of the economy is," O'Leary said.
    In addition to fewer jobs being available, the quality of the jobs to be found also seems to be lowered.
    "When viewed over several decades, job quality has declined in terms of work-related benefits," the report states. "Less than half of state workers are covered by employer-provided pensions and only slightly over half receive employer-provided health insurance. Meanwhile, inflation-adjusted median wages declined between 2010 and 2011 and were over a dollar an hour below the national average, even though low-wage West Virginia workers are better educated than in the past."
    That loss of quality, O'Leary said, is at least as troubling as the number of jobs available.
    "It makes it harder for families to adjust for costs, to buy health care or save for retirement," O'Leary said. "It's one thing to get the jobs number back to pre-recession levels. It's another to get those jobs back to the quality of what they were in the past."
    Resource-driven demographic shift
    One of the major concerns about the West Virginia economy is a sharp decline in the coal market. At the same time, the state is seeing a boom in natural gas production.
    "The state's coal economy is diminishing because of market competition from cheap and abundant natural gas and Western coal, and from the exhaustion of many of the state's thicker coal seams," the report states. "Future federal regulations of greenhouse gases and mercury could also play a role in reducing demand for Central Appalachian coal."
    The report emphasizes that the decline in coal is inevitable — greenhouse gas regulations aside.
    "There's just a structural decline southern West Virginia and Appalachia," Boettner said. "You're not going to reverse it. The productivity has just dropped so much."
    The jobs that do exist in coal mining, are by wage, benefits and other factors among the best in the state. The WVCBP warns that it is imperative to continue seeking alternatives to the coal-based, and thus boom and bust cycle associated with a mono-economy.
    "How we're going to help workers transition is a big question that we have, and we're simply not facing it," Boettner said. "We could cushion the impact. It's not all or nothing, and it's not one thing that can solve the problem. We can start having a frank conversation because if we don't things are going to start getting a whole lot worse."
    With the current conversation about coal focusing mostly on reducing the burden of federal regulations and fighting the so-called "War on Coal," Boettner is wringing his hands over a lack of urgency to seek coal's economic replacement in southern West Virginia.
    "We're looking at a huge decline in coal production in Appalachia," Boettner said. "It's got us a little nervous that nobody is talking about the future. … If this is a coming crisis, why aren't we planning for it?"
    Policy solutions
    In the report, a number of policy-based solutions are presented. The reforms proffered were expanding Medicaid, a severance tax future fund, work-sharing reform, increasing minimum wage, issuing infrastructure bonds, restoring childcare cuts and creating a task force to analyze economic transition in the coalfields.
    "The single biggest step we can take to improve our work force is to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act," said Ted Boettner, executive director of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy and co-author of the report. "Not only will doing this provide health coverage to over 120,000 low-income workers, but it can help improve our state's low labor force participation rate."
    No one solution, Boettner said is going to solve any of the economic troubles of West Virginia, he warned.
    "I don't think there is a silver bullet for any of these problems," Boettner said. "People are going to vote with their feet."
    Of particular interest to O'Leary is the idea of a work-sharing program that allows workers to reduce hours during an economic downturn instead of laying them off. Then, the lost hours can be made up by states from unemployment funds.
    "Work-sharing can mitigate the threat of long-term unemployment and keep workers attached to the work force, while also allowing employers to keep their skilled employees while reducing turnover costs," the report states.
    A severance tax future fund would take money from production of the Marcellus Shale and tuck it into a fund that could fuel future projects.
    The full report is available online at the WVCBP website at http://www.wvpolicy.org/

  2. LG Chem: Demand low, employees on rolling furloughs, by Stephen Kloosterman, HollandSentinel.com
    HOLLAND, Mich., USA — LG Chem Michigan Inc. has had employees stay home from work on "rolling furloughs" since June and plans to continue doing so until there's more demand for their product.
    "The furloughs are the result of a re-timing of the start of battery cell production as the electric vehicle market develops," the company said in a statement sent to The Sentinel.
    LG Chem said it had notified its Holland employees on Thursday that the furloughs, which began April 30, would continue. Production engineers, operators and office staff at the company will work three-fourths of their regular schedule.
    The company in July said about 200 people were employed at the plant.
    Employees' health care benefits programs will remain intact, and employees will be eligible for unemployment benefits while they are not working, according to LG Chem.
    LG Chem didn't know when employees would resume to being full time.
    [When are we going to wake up to the fact that "full time" is a lot less in the age of robotics because it has not been adjusted since before computers (1940).]
    "As market conditions shift, LG Chem will begin production when demand increases and will operate the plant on a full time schedule as soon as possible," the company said. "That will ultimately depend on market conditions and consumer demand."
    LG's statement comes on the heels of a General Motors announcement this week that it will will close the Chevy Volt electric car factory in Detroit next month to control inventory and retool the plant to build the new Chevrolet Impala.
    The Holland plant has been slated to produce lithium-ion cells for the Volt, which has seen lackluster, though improving, sales.
    General Motors says sales of its Chevrolet Volt electric car will break a monthly record in August.
    The company says it already has sold more than 2,500 Volts this month with two days left. The old record was 2,000 in March. So far this year GM has sold more than 13,000 Volts.
    At a January luncheon in Holland, industry analyst Dave Hurst of the Boulder, Colo.-based Pike Research firm predicted 2012 would be a hard year for advanced battery manufacturers like LG.
    — Follow this reporter on Facebook and on Twitter, @BizHolland.
    — The Associated Press contributed to this report

  3. Dalton State enrollment decline leads to budget cuts, CatWalkChatt.com via walkermessenger.com
    Dr. John Schwenn, president of Dalton State College, addresses faculty and and staff on current budget situation (photo caption)
    DALTON, Ga., USA - Dalton State College has scheduled two faculty and staff furlough days for this semester to neutralize shortfalls resulting from a decline in enrollment and cuts in state funding, according to a media release from the college.
    “An unfortunate convergence of circumstances has led us to this action,” said Dr. John Schwenn, president, adding that three vacant staff positions will not be filled.
    “We projected a five percent decline in enrollment due to a change in our admission standards, but our actual enrollment for fall is down eight percent,” he said. “On top of that, we’ve been ordered to reduce our state allocation by three percent and to hold back an additional two percent that may have to be returned.”
    This reduction is in addition to two percent already held back from the appropriation at the beginning of the fiscal year.
    “The state allocation is down for a variety of reasons, including a decreased tax digest and increased costs for health care, retirement programs and unemployment,” he said. “The total university system budget has been amended to cut $54.4 million; three percent of our allocation is $411,000. If we are called upon to return an additional two percent to the state, that would cut our allocation by more than $685,000.
    “Our decrease in enrollment has resulted in a $455,000 loss in operating funds; we hope to add a few more students for half-semester classes that start in October,” he said. “The state has directed that budget cuts are to have minimal impact on students and that we should expect the cuts to be permanent.”
    One furlough day a month has been scheduled for October and November. A third may be added in January, if needed.
    “We are pleased that we can achieve needed cuts through furlough days and that we don’t have to resort to a reduction in force at this time,” he said.
    Dalton State administrators estimate that as many as 200 students were denied admission this year that would have been admissible a year ago.
    “We have implemented new higher admission standards ,” said Dr. Jodi Johnson, vice president for enrollment and student services.
    The changes prevent prospective students requiring remediation in all three areas of reading, writing and math from enrolling at Dalton State.
    “As a result, we have a smaller, but better-prepared class this fall,” Dr. Johnson said. “The students admitted face better prospects for success in college and graduation, and that’s a good thing, even though it does mean that we suffer a loss of operating funds.”
    “The budget news isn’t all bad,” Dr. Schwenn said. “Included in the university system’s FY2014 budget is $2.1 million to equip our science building, ground for which will be broken this fall.”




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