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

11/29-30/2012 – 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. Iowa Cities Cutting Hours to Prepare for ObamaCare, by Nicole Fulmer, 11/29 IowaCityOwl.com
    IOWA CITY, Ia., USA - The new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will have a not-so-good impact on some of the workers in various areas in Iowa as employers are cutting hours for part-time [workers] in anticipation of President Obama's health care reforms.
    The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, set to go into effect in January of 2014 will include a 12-month "look back period" where businesses will have to pay for the health care of their employees that have worked for them from January 2013 onward.
    In order to qualify for your employer to pay for your healthcare, you have to work at least 30 hours a week.
    As a result of this, city businesses are taking action to avoid offering employees healthcare through the laws. Employees affected by this [requirement] work for city businesses such as the public library.
    Part time workers for Cedar Falls, Iowa, for example, are facing hour cuts so that they will not work an average of 30 hours per week and their employees will not have to insure them.
    Many other Cedar Falls [employers] are doing this as well as the city. For example, Papa John's Pizza and Red Lobster are also cutting the[ir] hours. HyVee is planning cuts on a national level to avoid the coverage.
    Other [Iowa] cities are acting on the upcoming law as well by cutting hours of city employees. Altoona, Ankeny, Ames, and Pleasant Hill are all reducing hours or monitoring them in order to avoid needing to insure part-time employees.
    Des Moines does not plan to reduce workers hours because it has already taken all of the necessary preparations to extend benefits to employees, and public schools in Des Moines are doing the same thing as well.
    [Here's the more detailed original version of the above story -]
    Iowa's part-time workers face cut in hours - Cedar Falls is paring time for 50 workers to avoid paying for health care, DesMoinesRegister.com
    DES MOINES, Iowa, USA - More than 50 uninsured part-time workers for the city of Cedar Falls will see their hours cut this week so the city can avoid paying for their health insurance under President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.
    The move comes as a 12-month “look back” period begins under the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. During the 12 months leading up to 2014, employees working more than an average of 30 hours a week must be offered health care insurance in January 2014.
    “At this point this is the action we’re taking to make sure nobody qualifies,” said Cedar Falls City Attorney Tom Meyer.
    Under the law, businesses and government entities with 50 or more workers must provide health insurance coverage to their full-time employees or face penalties. Coverage doesn’t have to be provided to workers who log less than an average of 30 hours per week.
    Cedar Falls’ move to reduce part-time employees’ hours comes in the wake of representatives from national food chains like Papa John’s Pizza, Red Lobster and Olive Garden saying they would likely see employee hours cut to avoid the additional costs of providing health care insurance.
    In addition, a spokeswoman for Hy-Vee, Iowa’s largest grocery store chain, said college students employed at its 230 stores in the U.S. would likely face a cut in hours. That decision will be made by managers on a store-to-store basis, spokeswoman Ruth Comer said.
    “Employees will have less flexibility under (the law) to work different schedules,” she said. Most of Hy-Vee’s 63,000 employees are part time, though only a small percentage would be affected, she said.
    City officials in other Iowa cities may also reduce employee hours or pay a fine for not insuring those who do qualify, spot checks by The Des Moines Register found. Some cities already provide health care coverage to employees working 30 or more hours a week, and will make no such changes.
    In Cedar Falls, a Nov. 15 memo from department leaders to other managers said the city will scale back the weekly hours of part-time employees to “no more than an average of 29 hours per work week” beginning this Saturday.
    “The City of Cedar Falls, like many employers around the country, have to make difficult decisions that impact our employees due to the changes in the new health care laws,” the memo reads.
    Cedar Falls’ Meyer said the reduction in hours affects 59 year-round employees. “Let’s say they all took out family coverage: The cost to the city would be approximately $850,000,” Meyer said. “That alone, we’d probably looking at a 5 percent increase to property taxes just to fund that.”
    A cost of $850,000 would amount to about 3.7 percent of Cedar Falls’ general fund for the fiscal year that began on July 1. Meyer said the decision wouldn’t require City Council approval until the city’s next budgeting process.
    “At the end of the day, yes, if the council chose to budget for that, that would be up to them,” he said.
    Most of the affected employees work with the city’s parks and public works departments and library, Meyer said. The city of Cedar Falls is, like other city governments in Iowa, mostly self-insured. Seasonal employees are not affected, Meyer said. “At this point it’s probably the most prudent decision we can make, but it does affect people and we’re very cognizant of that,” said Meyer, calling the situation “unfortunate.”
    Gretchen Tegeler, director of the Taxpayers’ Association of Central Iowa, commended Cedar Falls for its decision to cut hours. She said it should inspire budget-crunched cities in Iowa to take control of their destinies amid other forced costs like police and fire retirement plans.
    “There’s only so far they can go. You can’t do everything for everyone,” she said. “This is the real world. That’s my comment.”
    The anticipated response to the Affordable Care Act by other Iowa cities varies:
    ALTOONA — City Administrator Jeff Mark said the city already tries to keep part-time employees under an average of 30 hours per week to avoid paying state retirement benefits. All but two of Altoona’s 29 part-time employees average less than 25 hours per week, he said.
    AMES — Human Resources Director Julie Huisman said the city will begin tracking part-time employees’ hours and may reduce them to avoid unbudgeted health care costs. Yet that decision may change as staff learns more. “At this point, our efforts are focused on becoming educated on the new law, determining the ramifications, and developing a compliance plan,” she said.
    ANKENY — Fifteen part-time city of Ankeny employees averaged more than 30 hours a week in the past year, City Manager Jim Spradling said. Ankeny officials talked with their insurance broker two weeks ago, but remain unclear on some details. “On a preliminary basis we have determined for us it would be less expensive for us to pay the fine,” he said.
    CEDAR RAPIDS — Iowa’s second-largest city won’t cut hours for part-time workers because Cedar Rapids provides health benefits for employees that work 20 hours or more per week, well below the 30-hour cutoff required by the new law. “That’s been our policy for a long time, so that’s why that aspect of the (health care) act does not change our policies,” said Cassie Willis, a city spokeswoman.
    DES MOINES — Like Cedar Rapids, the city of Des Moines doesn’t anticipate reducing workers’ hours because it currently extends benefits to employees that would be affected by the health care law.
    “Our collective bargaining agreements provide for that employees that work at least 30 hours — year-round employees — a week are offered health insurance,” said James Wells, director of human resources. “And we only have six of those in the city.”
    PLEASANT HILL — City Manager Don Sandor said the staff actively works to prevent the city’s 10 regular part-time employees from working more 30 hours a week. “We were making sure we would stay at that 30 hours a week so we didn’t run into issues with insurance,” Sandor said. “If you have an unusual week where maybe people are gone or you have a storm, then you try and offset that down the road with a shorter week.”
    WEST DES MOINES — “We’re looking at that along with our insurance broker to see what employees would fall in and out of that,” Human Resources Director Jane Pauba Dodge said. “It looks like there are 10 employees that as of today, when we average the yearly hours they work, may need to be added onto our plan. We’ll take a closer look in 2013.”
    PUBLIC SCHOOLS — Des Moines public schools spokesman Phil Roeder said the district extends health insurance coverage to employees working 32 hours or more per week, with employees working less paying for part or all of their insurance. “We don’t have plans to make any changes as a result of the federal health care reform law,” Roeder said.
    The Ankeny school district employs 500 people on a part-time basis who must work more than 30 hours regularly to qualify for health benefits. Those employees’ hours are tracked closely, said human resources director Jenifer Owenson. Providing insurance to one employee for a year costs about $17,000, she said: “Right now, we feel positioned well to weather those changes.”
    — Reporters Timothy Meinch, Emily Schettler and Sara Sleyster contributed to this story.

  2. Courts may cut workweek, by Brett Kelman, 11/29 (11/30 over dateline) Pacific Daily News via guampdn.com
    HAGATNA, Guam (U.S) - Unless the Judiciary receives more money from the General fund, the courthouses in Hagåtña and Dededo will cut back to a 36-hour workweek in May.
    Yesterday, the Judicial Council unanimously approved a contingency plan to cut four hours from the courthouse workweek to cover an $800,000 budget shortfall.
    As of now, the plan is in place, but the cuts could be avoided if the Judiciary receives more funding in coming months, said Chief Justice F. Phillip Carbullido, who leads the Supreme Court of Guam.
    "Without additional cash infusion from outside the judiciary, it was determined that the best way to address that shortfall was -- for all of the employees, from the chief justice to our other employees -- we will institute a shortened work week," Carbullido said.
    The Judiciary has not yet decided how to cut the hours. Proposals have been made to cut an hour from several workdays or to close the court for a half day on a single day. Avoiding cuts
    Earlier this year, the Judiciary faced a shortfall of $1.7 million, but the council found ways -- for example, leaving vacancies unfilled -- to cover about half of the gap without cutting hours. The judiciary also is counting on additional revenue to from increase fines and fees, which go into affect in January and are expected to generate about $300,000.
    The Judiciary has ongoing discussions with the Legislature, and plans to talk with the governor's office, to cover the shortfall and avoid the cuts, Carbullido said.
    "We believe, with the cuts we've made, and the revenue that we have increased ... that's the most we can do on our end," Carbullido said. "We need assistance from the other branches of government. Otherwise we will implement this 36-hour workweek."

  3. Long work hours, stress take toll on resident physicians, 11/30 Canadian Safety Reporter via safety-reporter.com
    TORONTO, Ont., Canada - More than three-quarters (76.2 per cent) of resident physicians responding to a survey said they had made errors at work due to the consecutive number of hours they are required to work, and two in 10 (18.5 per cent) said they made errors that negatively impacted patient care.
    The Canadian respondents worked an average of 63.7 hours in a week during their last rotation and felt they were able to provide 19.2 consecutive hours of safe patient care. The optimal number of consecutive work hours cited by respondents was slightly lower, at 16.6, found the survey by the Canadian Association of Internes and Residents (CAIR) in Ottawa.
    When residents were asked if they had ever experienced an incident and felt that work-related fatigue was a factor, falling asleep while driving accounted for 34 per cent of responses. A further 24.9 per cent mentioned they narrowly avoided a motor vehicle collision while 3.9 per cent of responses pointed toward being in a motor vehicle collision, found the survey of 2,305 CAIR members.
    More than seven in 10 (72.9 per cent) respondents said they had experienced inappropriate behaviour from others that made them feel diminished during their residency. One-half said they had experienced this behaviour from staff physicians or nursing staff. The most commonly cited type of behaviour was yelling, shaming or condescension by colleagues (26.6 per cent).
    Nearly four in 10 (37.8 per cent) cited their program director as a resource to help deal with inappropriate behaviour, while 54.9 per cent said the resources available to them were effective or somewhat effective, found the 2012 National Resident Survey.
    Employment prospects
    One-fifth of resident physicians are still looking for employment for after graduation, according to the survey, with the majority (87 per cent) in specialty-training programs,
    Confidence in future job prospects among family medicine residents was high (97 per cent confident or somewhat confident). By contrast, residents in surgical specialties were the least likely to feel confident (48 per cent confident or somewhat confident),
    "This survey points to the employment challenges that residents in some specialties are having and that the level of concern is widespread,” said CAIR president Simon Moore. “Patients depend on access to specialists in their communities. We need better health human resources planning to ensure such access is not further jeopardized.” ore than three-quarters (76.2 per cent) of resident physicians responding to a survey said they had made errors at work due to the consecutive number of hours they are required to work, and two in 10 (18.5 per cent) said they made errors that negatively impacted patient care.
    The Canadian respondents worked an average of 63.7 hours in a week during their last rotation and felt they were able to provide 19.2 consecutive hours of safe patient care. The optimal number of consecutive work hours cited by respondents was slightly lower, at 16.6, found the survey by the Canadian Association of Internes and Residents (CAIR) in Ottawa.
    When residents were asked if they had ever experienced an incident and felt that work-related fatigue was a factor, falling asleep while driving accounted for 34 per cent of responses. A further 24.9 per cent mentioned they narrowly avoided a motor vehicle collision while 3.9 per cent of responses pointed toward being in a motor vehicle collision, found the survey of 2,305 CAIR members.
    More than seven in 10 (72.9 per cent) respondents said they had experienced inappropriate behaviour from others that made them feel diminished during their residency. One-half said they had experienced this behaviour from staff physicians or nursing staff. The most commonly cited type of behaviour was yelling, shaming or condescension by colleagues (26.6 per cent).
    Nearly four in 10 (37.8 per cent) cited their program director as a resource to help deal with inappropriate behaviour, while 54.9 per cent said the resources available to them were effective or somewhat effective, found the 2012 National Resident Survey.
    Employment prospects
    One-fifth of resident physicians are still looking for employment for after graduation, according to the survey, with the majority (87 per cent) in specialty-training programs,
    Confidence in future job prospects among family medicine residents was high (97 per cent confident or somewhat confident). By contrast, residents in surgical specialties were the least likely to feel confident (48 per cent confident or somewhat confident),
    "This survey points to the employment challenges that residents in some specialties are having and that the level of concern is widespread,” said CAIR president Simon Moore. “Patients depend on access to specialists in their communities. We need better health human resources planning to ensure such access is not further jeopardized.”
    [Revolution brewing among masochistic martyr-complex megahour medical masters? About time! "Physicians, heal yourselves!"]

11/28/2012 – 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. 36-Hour Work Week on the Table at Thursday's Judicial Council Meeting, PacificNewsCenter.com
    HAGATNA, Guam - The Guam Judiciary’s Judicial Council will be meeting Thursday to vote on a plan of action that includes reducing court operation hours, among other budget cutting measures.
    Court Spokesman Josh Tenorio tells PNC that the Judiciary is facing a $1.7 million dollar shortfall.
    So far they have identified reducing that shortfall by about $900-thousand dollars. Though not much of a solution, it includes reducing work hours by having the courts close an hour early from Tuesday to Friday every week.
    If adopted, the 36-hour work week [9 hrs x 4 days] will go into effect in May next year,
    unless, Tenorio says, the Administration or the Guam Legislature steps in.
    Tenorio says the Judiciary is also planning to introduce a court interpreter registry program. Tenorio says this will help Judges obtain and retain interpreters, something the court is struggling to do right now under the current system.
    The Council meeting will be held at the Supreme Court of Guam at 12 noon.

  2. 4 Day Work Week, by MForger18, (11/24 late pickup) BeginnerTriathlete.com
    CARMEL, Calif., USA - I'm having trouble finding a training program to adapt to my work schedule. My work week is 4 days on, 2 days off so the standard 7 day per week programs don't really work well. The hours are also crazy but ill figure that out (first two days are 4pm-1am, last two days are 8am-4pm)
    [9hrs x 2 + 8x2 = 18+16 = 34-hour workweek.]
    I'm doing training for a half (or possibly 2 halfs) this coming season and going for another ironman in 2014.
    Can anyone recommend a program they have used with a similar schedule? Or, would the BT Gold custom stuff work out? It's not as easy as just leaving a off bc the number of training weeks get thrown off.

11/27/2012 – 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. Wild employees taking paycuts, going to 4-day work weeks, posted by: Michael Russo, Russo's rants via Minneapolis Star Tribune (blog) via startribune.com
    [But if the whole city cut the workweek, it would create an employer-perceived labor shortage and pay would be maintained or raised - and so would consumer spending on a citywide basis, and so would citywide prosperity.]
    MINNEAPOLIS, Minn., USA - All Wild [=Minnesota Wild Hockey Club = we're guessing this is Minneapolis's hockey team] employees will now feel the effects of an NHL lockout that is 73 days old.
    During an all-staff meeting at 2 p.m. CT [Central Time], the Wild announced that the roughly 200-person staff will be put on four-day, 32-hour work weeks, Chief Operating Officer Matt Majka told the Star Tribune.
    That will mean a 20% paycut for almost all employees.

    [But if the whole city cut the workweek, it would create an employer-perceived labor shortage and pay would be maintained or raised - and so would consumer spending on a citywide basis, and so would citywide prosperity. Proof by experience? W.K. Kellogg of Kellogg Cereals did it in the tougher business environment of the Great Depression (1930-31) to provide jobs for 800 more heads of household in his hometown of Battle Creek, Mich. and by 1935 had everyone back up to 40 hours pay - for a 30-hour workweek! (=five 6-hour days rather than the four 8-hour days mentioned here). See Ben Hunnicutt's book, Kellogg's Six-Hour Day.]
    In an attempt to lessen the hurt with the holidays coming up, employees won’t see an initial reduction in pay until their first paycheck after Christmas.
    “Our whole philosophy is we’re all in this together,” Majka said. “We want to keep the staff intact because we still think we can play hockey this year. That’s why we’re announcing no layoffs. It’s an all-for-one thing, and that’s why we’re going to do it this way with everyone feeling it a little bit.”
    If the lockout continues or eventually results in the cancelation of the 2012-13 season, Majka wouldn't speculate if layoffs could be the next step.
    “Our philosophy at the moment is we want to keep the staff intact as long as possible,” Majka said. “Some teams have had layoffs. Honestly, we have not had any developed discussions about what we do next. We’re taking this step for today and we’ll have to see what will happen over the next couple months.”
    Previously, the only Wild employees receiving paycuts were employees making over $70,000 a year. That included mostly executives and higher-compensated employees on the business side and mostly coaches and management on the hockey ops side.
    Those employees either received a 30% or 35% reduction of their compensation over that $70,000 threshold, sources say.
    That appears to be changing. All employees will receive at least 20% paycuts across the board, but Majka indicated higher-paid employees are losing a bigger chunk.
    Just poking around a little bit with other beat writers, Ottawa and Montreal are also on four-day work weeks. All full-time employees of the NHL have been on four-day work weeks since Oct. 1.
    The Ottawa Sun reported that the Senators laid off 40 employees in September. Florida and Phoenix have laid off employees, and Calgary Flames employees over a certain threshold are taking paycuts. There are others, but in response to a query I sent out, beat writers from Anaheim, Los Angeles, Detroit, Buffalo, Tampa Bay, Chicago, New Jersey responded that they've been told the teams they cover have laid nobody off and not reduced any salaries as of yet.
    The 2012-13 season was supposed to consist of 44 Wild home games, which includes three preseason games. With games canceled until at least Dec. 15, at the very least, several of those won’t be played. At the very worse, all won’t.
    Every game not played at Xcel Energy Center means a 500-plus-person staff of ushers, security personnel, concierges, concession workers and others don’t get paid.
    Every lost home game costs the Wild roughly a $1.1 million gate.
    Since things went south with negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA, Majka admits there has been an uptick in season-ticket holders calling and asking for immediate refunds. The majority are taking advantage of the 10% interest the Wild is offering season-ticket holders to keep their money in their accounts.
    Clarification and update: Majka's report was that approximately 10% of season-ticket holders have requested refund options. He said sponsorships have not been greatly affected. Games are being refunded to ticket holders as they are missed.
    The NHL and NHLPA have agreed to meet with federal mediators beginning Wednesday. The NHL has a Board of Governors meeting scheduled for Dec. 5, and the players have begun the process of at least kicking around the decertification of the NHLPA.
    Wild owner Craig Leipold is one of four NHL owners (Boston, Calgary and Washington) on the league negotiating committee. On July 4, the Wild signed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to identical 13-year, $98 million deals.
    The Wild spent to just below the salary cap ceiling in 2009-10 and 2010-11 and before the lockout ranked second from the salary-cap ceiling heading into the 2012-13 season.

  2. State Looks at WorkSharing to Ease Layoffs, by Dan Heyman, PublicNewsService.org
    CHARLESTON, W.Va., USA - During interim legislative meetings this week, state lawmakers will look at voluntary work-sharing. Instead of laying off employees when they need to cut costs, employers could collaborate with the unemployment-insurance system to keep people working at reduced hours.
    Sean O'Leary, a policy analyst with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, says that right now, a worker loses his job and collects unemployment. But he says under work-sharing, companies could cut back hours instead of workers, with unemployment making up part of the lost pay.
    "They've got ten workers, they can lay off two. Or they can have all their employees work four days a week, and they'd collect unemployment benefits on the fifth day."
    A draft bill was put on the agenda for a committee meeting today.
    O'Leary says some lawmakers have asked if work-sharing adds a new burden, for employers or the unemployment system, but the program is voluntary and only kicks in if an employer asks for it. He adds the states that now use work-sharing say it costs the same, because it's just using the same money in a different way.
    "If you're paying a tenth of a benefit to ten employees or a full benefit to one employee, it's the same amount that's being paid out. So then, the same amount's being charged back to the employer."
    By making the system more flexible, O'Leary says, work-sharing has been proven to help employers and the economy as a whole.
    "It allows employers to keep their work force intact. It allows them to keep employees that they value: they don't risk losing them. They're ready to ramp production right back up once the economy's going. And that allows for shorter recessions and quicker recoveries."
    He says it's also good for workers, because they don't lose their skills, work habits or motivation after long stretches of unemployment.
    "They're typically on work-sharing for a shorter amount of time than they are on unemployment benefits. They don't lose their job; they don't become detached from the work force."
    About half the states have voluntary work-sharing programs now.
    More information is at 7/18/2012 #2.
    Joint House/Senate Committee meets at 10 a.m. Mon. in the House Judiciary Committee Room (410-m) at State Capitol Bldg., 1900 Kanawha Blvd. E., Charleston.

  3. OCIMF makes recommendations on seafarer work hours, MarineLog.com
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA — "Safety and environmental protection is our greatest priority and OCIMF members see fatigue as a significant contributory factor to many incidents that occur within the shipping industry," says Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF), Director, Captain David Cotterell.
    OCIMF, whose members charter tankers and OSVs, has just published new "Recommendations Relating to Requirements Governing Seafarers' Hours of Work and Rest."
    "These recommendations set out our minimum expectations, which we hope that shipping companies will take into account to achieve compliance with IMO and ILO rules, prevent fatigue and reduce fatigue related incidents," says Captain Cotterell. "We also hope that our recommendations will be of benefit to the wider industry as well."
    The recommendations have been developed in cooperation with the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Shipping Federation (ISF), who represent maritime employers during the negotiations at IMO and ILO on seafarers' work and rest hours.
    OCIMF acknowledges that international legislation on working hours has been in place for some time, but says that its provisions have been interpreted differently by individual administrations, resulting in differing requirements for vessels operating under different flags.
    OCIMF believes that the new IMO and ILO regimes can make a difference, but that to be effective, interpretations need to be replaced by clear, standardized requirements to ensure consistent enforcement to drive compliance.
    The OCIMF recommendations highlight potential ambiguities and differing interpretations of the requirements of applicable international Conventions, including the 2010 Manila amendments to the IMO STCW Convention, which entered into force this year, and the 2006 ILO Maritime Labour Convention applicable from August 2013.
    As a consequence of the new international work/rest hour record regimes adopted by IMO and ILO, OCIMF expects that Port State Control procedures will pay increasing attention to ensuring compliance with the requirements.
    Given the importance attached to ensuring the proper management and recording of seafarers' hours of work and rest, OCIMF recommends that purpose-developed computer software is used to manage seafarers' work and rest hours on board ships, in order to demonstrate compliance with both IMO and ILO regulations and its own recommendations.
    The OCIMF paper refers to the ISF Watchkeeper Version 3.3 computer software as being suitable for this purpose, incorporating calculations and the ability to generate reports that are consistent with the oil companies' recommendations.
    "The recommendations show that charterers, as well as governments, take the prevention of fatigue very seriously," says CS/ISF Secretary General, Peter Hinchliffe."We are pleased that OCIMF acknowledges the benefits of the ISF Watchkeeper program as a means of maintaining records that can demonstrate compliance with both international regulations and oil company requirements" added Mr Hinchliffe.

  4. Hanover tables work hours decision on retirement, by Nicole Gugino ngugino@observertoday.com, Dunkirk Evening Observer via observertoday.com
    HANOVER, N.Y., USA - The Hanover Town Board decided it did not have enough information to move forward in declaring standardized workdays for employees for the purpose of retirement at its meeting Monday.
    The town, in trying to comply with a 2009 state law for reporting retirement hours, is moving forward with determining standardized work hours for its employees enrolled in the retirement system. However, having just instituted recording actual hours worked on Nov. 19, the board was unable to move forward with any decisions.
    Budget Officer Elmar Kiefer explained it is important to determine whether a standardized workday is eight, seven or six hours depending on the department. He explained an employee may be at work for eight hours but if they get a one hour unpaid lunch then for the purpose of retirement they only worked seven hours.
    The Hanover town board tabled the matter of declaring standard workdays for employees due to a lack of information at its meeting Monday. Pictured are Councilman Kenneth Cross, Supervisor Todd Johnson and Councilman Fritz Seegert.
    Silver Creek Village Trustee Nick Piccolo tried to explain the recording simply.
    "They get credit for retirement for the hours they are paid," he said. "So if they get vacation time they get paid for the eight hours of vacation that day. If they get a paid lunch they get credit for it."
    [So here's a new (to us) reason for defined (if not shorter) worktime per person.]
    Piccolo said the village's situation is slightly different because it has unionized workers and the town does not but the principle is the same.
    Kiefer said the board needs to be careful in setting standardized workdays because if it sets it at eight and the worker normally works seven, then in the long run the worker will lose a significant number of retirement days.
    Town Justice Walter Klyczek said employees are looking to the town to see what it is they have to do to get full retirement. He also praised the town's employees for their hard work and dedication to the town.
    In the end Supervisor Todd Johnson said the board needs more information before setting the standard work days.
    The next town board meeting will be held Dec. 10.
    In other business:
    Assessor Darlene Fox encouraged seniors (turning 65 before 2013) seeking the Senior STAR exemption to sign up before the March 1 deadline. All exemptions including aged, low-income disability, ag building, business, non-profit and veterans are due March 1. Any questions can be directed to the assessor's office at 934-2552 or by visiting the office in the town hall.
    The board approved a contract with New York state for plowing Buffalo Road within the Seneca Nation limits with a compensation of $5,767 or 118 tons of salt.

  5. Hong Kong needs standard working hours, editorial, (11/28 over dateline) South China Morning Post via scmp.com
    HONG KONG, China - The long-awaited Labour Department report on standard working hours is a hefty 344 pages. It provides a wealth of information about the experience of a dozen countries and offers 27 scenarios for the impact on Hong Kong's economy and workforce of their introduction here. It seems impressive for the depth and breadth of its coverage of a topic sensitive to the business community. Inevitably, it concludes that such a law would have a big financial impact, adding between HK$8 billion and HK$55.2 billion a year to labour costs. For all the research, though, an important matter has been neglected: how the lives of Hong Kong people would be affected.
    That is, after all, the purpose of setting a limit on weekly working hours and ensuring paid overtime.

    [Actually, no. The Market does not care about mere people when a context of grotesque overpopulation and gross un(der)employment has been allowed to develop. In this worst-case scenario, which China, at its own great expense, is doing the world the huge favor of demonstrating-by-experience, there is indeed a much more serious purpose for setting a limit on worktime per person per time period. And that would be? - To prevent the unlimited concentration of our most precious vanishing resource on too few potential consumers to even maintain, let alone grow, current levels of MARKETABLE productivity and SUSTAINABLE investment. That resource is: natural market-demanded human employment in the age of robotics. We cannot keep overworking and downsizing our way to Growth, which if and when you ever take the trouble to THINK about it, requires UPsizing - of markets, not fewer&fewer huger&huger more&more crash-prone investment portfolios and financial hoardings. A or B: A. Redistribute upward and you slow your economy. B. Redistribute downward and you speed it up. Why are we still choosing A's method and bemoaning the lack of B's result? But back to the usual apologetic, bleeding-heart arguments, whose ineffectuality is being daily demonstrated by erratic and weakening markets and currencies -]
    Employees need a life outside work [our italics] to devote to family, recreation and rest. These are the fundamentals ["outside work", i.e., apart from JOBS!] of a happy, healthy society - matters that can easily be overlooked in the quest for improved productivity and turning a better profit.
    [They can certainly be overlooked by the profit-focused and marketability-neglecting productivity-minded when they find it so easy to overlook JOBS and even start regarding employees as liabilities instead of assets! How suicidally short-sighted they have become!]
    It is the reason Hong Kong is having such a discussion in the first place.
    Yet the report focuses on economics, harking back to the debate that raged for a decade about a minimum wage. Doom- and-gloom scenarios were painted even up to its introduction in May last year at HK$28 an hour. But the company closures and job losses never came to pass and our city is better off for the law. While the financial well-being of Hong Kong obviously has to be considered in detail where working hours are involved, so, too, do the health and social implications.
    That is not to make light of the concerns of employers. Seven of the biggest business chambers have warned that such a law would be detrimental to Hong Kong's economic growth. The department's report suggests that the law, coupled with the minimum wage, would weaken the ability of companies to ride out difficult times. Consensus among employers, workers and interest groups has to be the basis of decisions.
    Hong Kong is praised in global studies as having one of the world's most productive workforces. Employees are lauded for their professionalism, dedication and quality of work. But research also shows that they are also largely unhappy with their lot, experiencing stress and ill health and having inadequate time for family, friends and recreation. For the sake of continued high productivity and our city's well-being, we need standard working hours. Discussion has to be thorough and fair to assure the best possible outcome for all involved.

  6. 42 questions to ponder before taking next step, ChinaDaily.com.cn
    [Maybe humble Hannover NY's experience (article above) can help the Chinese design their economy into the 21st century.]
    BEIJING, PRC - Cheung said the government was not looking for any particular outcome from the subsequent debate [about standardizing working hours and obsoleting long hours] - the committee could even explore non-statutory approaches to address the problem of long working hours.
    "It is an overall government policy to promote family-friendly measures, but we shall also consider the business operations, which is a matter of practicality," he said, adding it was "too early" to suggest any timetable for the legislative agenda.
    The report showed that older workers with fewer skills and education are often required to work long hours, but they are more likely to get paid for the extra time. White collars and professionals often have shorter working hours in their contracts, but they are less likely to get paid if they work overtime.
    Those who work over 54 hours a week were considered working long hours in the report. Retail, estate management and security, restaurants, land transport, elderly homes and laundry services were thus identified as "long-working-hours sectors", encompassing 688,200 of the 2.6 million of the working population.
    Matthew Cheung said such a comprehensive review was necessary because jurisdictions like the European Union have suffered from disputes due to unintended grey area of legislation, such as calculation of working hours of on-call staffers.
    [So where are the 42 questions? - or are the Mysterious Chinese here talking about a 42-hour workweek? - in which case they've already standardized their working hours ... at least mentally.]

  7. Public asked for ideas on how to cut working hours, by Kelly Ip, (11/28 over dateline) Hong Kong Standard via thestandard.com.hk
    HONG KONG, China - The labor minister yesterday called on the public to contribute new ideas on how to solve the problem of long working hours.
    But Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung insisted that the matter of standardized working hours is a complicated one and the government needs to strike a balance between bosses' and workers' interests and long-term economic competition when improving labor rights.
    "We hope the public will contribute new ideas on how to solve the problem," Cheung said.
    A government report, completed in 18 months and released on Monday, studied how other countries handle standard working hours.
    "For example, Australia stressed work-life balance while the European Union and Japan have legislated on maximum hours for work, using occupational safety as their priority," Cheung said.

    "Based on such information, we need further discussion to avoid negative effects generated by legislation."
    Cheung said the 300-page report - which suggested employers would have to fork out an extra HK$55 billion annually with the prospect of increased unemployment if working hours were standardized - was impartial and honest. It was difficult to set a timetable for discussion, he added.
    A committee comprising academics, employers' representatives and workers will be formed in the first quarter of next year.
    Federation of Hong Kong Industries vice chairman Stanley Lau Chin-ho said legislation on working hours will affect competitiveness and the business environment.
    "Enterprises may experience difficulties in recruiting employees as there will be fewer people out of work," Lau claimed. "It is possible this could affect corporation investment and business expansion."

11/25-26/2012 – 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. Rick Wilson: Work sharing should be considered, 11/25 (11/24 late pickup) Charleston Gazette via wvgazette.com
    CHARLESTON, W.Va., USA -- When the Legislature assembles Monday for interim committee sessions, one measure under consideration could be a winner all the way around. It's about something called work sharing, which is a new -- for us anyhow -- way of dealing with cyclical downturns in the economy while avoiding the negative consequences of layoffs.
    With work sharing, employers would have the option to reduce hours instead of workers.
    They could allow workers to draw partial unemployment benefits for the lost time.
    For example, if a coal mine or factory was having a tough year and was contemplating laying off 40 percent of workers, management could chose to reduce hours by the same percentage and keep everyone working. Those with reduced hours would in the meantime receive partial benefits to make up for some of the lost income.
    This idea makes sense pretty much any way you look at it. When the economy goes temporarily south, as it periodically does, employers have often resorted to layoffs and brought workers back as conditions improved. However, it's a fact that some people who are laid off never return to their old job for a variety of reasons.
    This means that businesses are at risk of losing skilled employees who have amassed a great deal of tacit knowledge about their jobs over the years. It takes a while to get good at something and it takes time and resources to train new workers. Turnover is expensive. Work sharing is a way of keeping people attached to the labor force, which is pretty important in West Virginia since we're lowest in the nation in workforce participation.
    One other positive point for businesses is the fact that it is entirely voluntary. If West Virginia passed a work sharing bill, only employers could decide whether to take advantage of it.
    For workers, layoffs are bad news any way you look at it. Families and communities suffer not just from lost income but from additional stresses that come in the wake of unemployment. Health and longevity can be impacted as well.
    A great deal of research in the field of the social determinants of health has demonstrated that situations that reduce a person's sense of autonomy or control over one's life and limit the ability to fully participate in society activate the body's stress response, which can lead to increased risk of several types of diseases. Losing a job is one such situation. As recently as last week, this newspaper published an Associated Press article about studies linking joblessness to increased risk of heart disease.
    This idea bridges partisan divides. Earlier this year, a bitterly divided Congress passed the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, which included work sharing as one of its provisions. It has been embraced by think tanks as diverse as the conservative American Enterprise Institute and the progressive Center for Economic and Policy Research.
    As of this summer, 24 states and the District of Columbia have adopted work sharing. Some have had it since the 1970s. The new legislation, however, provides incentives for states to adopt the measure. West Virginia could receive around $4 million for startup, administrative and outreach costs if it enacts work sharing legislation by Dec. 31, 2014. Once it's going, work sharing would basically cost no more than traditional unemployment.
    This is no magic bullet, but it could be another tool in the box to help businesses and workers make it through rough patches, of which we've had more than our share. We should take full advantage of it.
    Wilson, director of the American Friends Service Committee's Economic Justice Project, is a Gazette contributing columnist.
    [Let's hear it for Rick Wilson!]

  2. Standard working hours could cost employers HK$55b, 11/26 South China Morning Post via scmp.com
    [And no standard working hours will cost them their domestic markets and spell the start of costly social unrest.]
    Members of the Confederation of Trade Unions petition for standard working hours outside the Labour Department. (photo caption) HONG KONG, China - Employers will need to pay out up to HK$55.2 billion more a year in wages if standard working hours are introduced in Hong Kong, a long-awaited government report says.
    [And all that $55.2 billion INVESTMENT will go into circulation IN HONGKONG and provide markets for said employers, who otherwise will have temporarily bloating bank accounts and permanently shrinking markets.]
    The report, of a study carried out by the Labour Department last year and finished earlier this year, also suggests that such a law, together with a statutory minimum wage, would significantly weaken the flexibility of firms to adjust and rebound during difficult times.
    [Nonsense. When France cut from 39 to 35 hours a week in 1997-2001, it experienced strengthened, not weakened, flexibility.]
    "There will be a huge impact particularly to small- and medium-sized enterprises. This is because there are still underlying worries as far as economic prospects are concerned," Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said.
    But he added that the government did not have a preconceived stance on the matter and it was important to have consensus in society on whether standard hours should be introduced.
    The department generated 27 scenarios of the likely impact by altering three elements: a 40 to 48-hour week, overtime pay of one to 1.5 times regular pay and exemption criteria for staff such as managers and executives.
    Depending on the scenario, it estimates the employers' additional labour costs at HK$8 billion to HK$55.2 billion a year, or 1.7 per cent to 11.4 per cent of total expenditure on wages. This compares with HK$3.3 billion a year resulting from a minimum wage of HK$28 an hour.
    The report says that 1.32 million to 2.38 million workers will be affected if standard working hours are set at 48 or 40 hours a week respectively.
    Standard working hours practised in 12 countries and cities including Britain and Singapore were also analysed.
    "Experience in other places shows that [standard working hours] may eventually bring about fragmentation of work and under-employment, if employees have to involuntarily work fewer hours due to ensuing adjustments in the labour market structure with an increase in part-time or casual jobs," it says.
    [Whaaaaaaaaat? Underemployment is caused by downsizing the workforce instead of adjusting standard hours lower as technology gets higher - in productivity.]
    Cheung said the government could not simply take a country's model and apply it to Hong Kong because the service-oriented city has a unique structure.
    He said a committee would be formed in the first quarter of next year to look further into standardising work hours. It would comprise representatives from employers, employees, academics, commercial interests and the government.
    Assistant Commissioner for Labour (Policy Support) Nicholas Chan said the practice had different impacts in different countries. In South Korea some manufacturers had shifted factories to other countries after standard hours were introduced.
    Meanwhile, the report shows that Hongkongers work 47 hours a week on average. Of the 2.81 million workers in the city, 23.4 per cent have worked overtime but only 51.8 per cent of these have been paid for the extra time.
    [So Hong Kong employers are getting free labor from their employees and STILL they're complaining!? = Pathetic! And btw, how do you even define "extra" time when there are no standard working hours?! Maybe the Chinese employers are wasting too many of their brain cells parsing their 8000-16000 character script.]
    Confederation of Trade Unions chief executive Mung Siu-tat called the report a "serious exaggeration".
    "It did not take into account the general well-being to society brought about by the scheme, like better health of employees, family relationships and less juvenile problems," he said.
    [Cut the arguments from weakness, Mung, and just lay out the economic system requirements for maximum monetary circulation resulting from maximum consumer spending resulting from maximum employment.]

  3. Union has golden opportunity to save jobs with Hostess purchase, forum contribution by Brad J. Morris, 11/26 Journal Star via pjstar.com
    PEORIA, Illin., USA - I think the Hostess situation presents a golden, cream-filled opportunity for unions in the United States. And not just for the bakers union, but for all unions.
    I realize that funds are tight for these guys, but surely they could raise enough dough between all of them to purchase Hostess and save those 18,000 American jobs. Their ownership would also empower them to run the company any way they see fit and leave all the naysayers with egg on their faces.
    So please, all of my union friends, put your money where your mouth is. Save American jobs and an American icon while at the same time proving once and for all that the union way is in fact the best way.
    [And for your own sake, get back on your power issue, shorter hours. Your two historic goals are shorter hours and higher pay, and If you can just get one of them and it's shorter hours, you wind up with both because you're cutting the surplus of, and even creating an employer-perceived shortage of ... YOU, and harnessing market forces which reward shortages with higher prices, in this case, LABOR price = wage. But if you can just get one and it's higher pay, you wind up with neither because you're bucking market forces to pin an artificially high price on a surplus commodity ... YOU, and market forces will eventually prevail, as they have since you allowed management to distract you from your power issue since World War II, and that's why you're less than 13% of the workforce now. Get back On Issue!]

  4. Oregon's Manufacturing Workweek Keeps Growing, by David Cooke, 11/26 AlbanyTribune.com
    ALBANY, Ore., USA - The average workweek of Oregon’s manufacturing production workers shot up to 40.8 hours in September. That was the second highest reading over the past five years. Not since December 2011, when the figure was 41.0, was the workweek longer.
    The growth in hours is a clear indication that manufacturing firms are working their existing employees longer hours, even though these key employers haven’t increased headcounts much over the past year. Seasonally adjusted manufacturing employment is up [only] 2,700 jobs, or 1.6 percent, in the 12 months ending in September.
    [Employment would be up a lot more and a lot faster if Oregon implemented automatic overtime-to-jobs conversion. In fact, this jump to 40.8 hours could be the basis of a real economic recovery for Oregon, and mean massive savings on Oregon's state budget on unemployment, welfare, homelessness, prisons... State legislators and taxpayers would be off the hook as the private sector took over responsibility for recycling its own disposable employees. And there'd be more savings if the point of overtime-to-jobs conversion was adjusted below 40 hours a week.]
    Smoothing out the weekly hours figures shows that the manufacturing workweek continued to ramp upward over the past three years. By September, the 12-month average reached 40.2 for production workers and 39.6 for all employees within manufacturing. Both figures were at or near their post-recession highs. For production workers, the workweek is now back to the pre-recession metric, while for all manufacturing workers, average weekly hours are within a few tenths of an hour from those pre-recession levels.
    David Cooke is an Economist for the Oregon Employment Department.

11/24/2012 – 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. Detroit mayor announces furloughs to avoid bankruptcy - Detroit City Council is balking at next step in a state plan to restore financial stability to the embattled city, delaying a $30 million infusion of state funds, by Mark Guarino, (11/21 late pickup) Christian Science Monitor via csmonitor.com via infowar.com
    Detroit activists hold up protest signs to encourage Detroit City Council members to vote "no" on a contract to hire a law firm that was part of a deal to overhaul the city's finances, during a full council meeting on Nov. 20. The council rejected the measure, 8 to1. (photo caption)
    DETROIT, Mich., USA - In order to make up for a $30 million shortfall expected by year's end, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing announced on Wednesday that city employees will take unpaid furloughs and that he would implement “other cost-savings actions” starting the first of January.
    “We will ensure that revenue-generating departments are not impacted by these cost-cutting measures. Most importantly, I want our citizens to know that public safety will not be jeopardized,” he said in a statement.
    The cutbacks are a response to the latest pushback from the Detroit City Council over demands by state officials to bring long-needed financial stability to the city.
    On Tuesday, the city council voted 8-1 against hiring Miller Canfield, an international law firm with offices in Detroit, tasked to shepherd the city though a fiscal reform plan established by the Michigan Department of Treasury last week. Failing to hire the firm puts the city out of compliance with the plan, which is designed to provide the city with access to $30 million in bonds held in escrow since March. The bond money was part of $137 million that the state has raised on the city’s behalf through a debt sale.
    Had the city agreed to move forward with Miller Canfield, the state would have released $10 million to the city that same day, with an additional $20 million by mid-December. In a state released late Tuesday, Mayor Bing said the vote “is one more example of how city council has stalled our efforts to bring financial stability to the city of Detroit.” He added that the only remaining cash infusion on the city’s horizon was property tax revenue due in January.
    City council members rejected the $300,000 contract with Miller Canfield primarily because it presented a conflict of interest, as the firm was hired by the state to write the agreement that the city is now tasked to follow. Some members also criticized Bing for suggesting the city will go bankrupt by the end of the year and said that they deserved more time to seek other bids.
    During Tuesday’s meeting, council member Kwame Kenyatta described the contract as “a violation of morals,” according to the Detroit News Wednesday. “I don’t see how any member at this table in good conscience on behalf of the people of the city can vote for this,” Mr. Kenyatta said.
    Council President Charles Pugh also blasted the mayor, telling WXYZ-TV, the local ABC television affiliate, that the law firm “was shoved down our throat, and we felt like we were being forced into accepting one particular law firm."
    "The city of Detroit should not go broke due to one law firm," he added. "If that’s the stance he’s taking, then I think he needs to sit down and rethink his position as mayor.”
    Most of the city’s most powerful unions took the city council’s side. A representative for the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees told the council that a criminal inquiry into the selection of Miller Canfield was needed. Late Tuesday, the union released a statement calling for a federal and state investigation.
    Political scientist Vincent Hutchings at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor says that it isn’t shocking that the city and state continue to wrestle over procedural issues over how to regain financial stability in Detroit. Besides an obvious political party split – Detroit has long leaned for Democrats while the state legislative majority is Republican – there is also a racial divide, which is “always a subtext in Detroit-Lansing relations,” Mr. Hutchings says.
    “People are more inclined to acquiesce to intervention if they think the party seizing control has their best interest at heart. It may well be the governor’s office has the best interest of Detroit in mind, but it does seem patently clear the city council doesn’t think that’s the case,” he adds.
    Because both sides represent different interests, it may be unlikely for true harmony down the road “because they don’t have the same worldview and don’t represent the same interest,” Hutchings says. “So the real question is: Why should we expect them to come together?”
    In talking with reporters Wednesday, Bing said the city will not miss debt payments and promised that the savings from the furloughs will only be used to diffuse the city’s financial crisis.
    “Bankruptcy is not an option,” he said.
    Earlier this year, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) avoided appointing an emergency manager to take control of Detroit’s finances following a state commission report that showed the city’s budget deficit reaching $200 million and a looming emptying of cash reserves. At that time, Moody’s Investors Services issued two separate downgrades of the city’s tax credit rating.
    Instead, the governor pushed for a consent agreement that conceded budgetary power to city officials but allowed the state to play a more supervisory role through a chief financial officer tasked to usher the city along to meet fiduciary guidelines outlined in the agreement terms.

  2. New uniform work week at AI, plans afoot for better inflight feel, by Mihir Mishra, (11/23 late pickup) IndianExpress.com
    NEW DELHI, India - Five years after the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines, the employees of both the erstwhile carriers will finally have same working hours and weekly holidays beginning December.
    Hitherto, Indian Airlines employees had to follow a six-day working schedule while their Air India colleagues worked for five days a week, and were off on weekends.

    “Our CMD has approved the report on integrating all operational functioning of the airline and follow the same norms. The airline board, which is likely to meet during November-end, will approve the integration and should be done by December,” said a senior Air India official.
    The official added that one of the key proposals is uniform working schedule for the corresponding category of employees. “All non-operational employees now will have to now work for five days and 44 hours in a week and those involved in operations will have a six day and 44 hours working schedule,” he further said.
    [So instead of 44-hours different-workweeks in different companies, they've now got 44-hours different-workweeks in the same company. This is an improvement??]
    The national carrier has also decided on the merger of cabin crew, after which, they could be deployed on both long- and short-haul flights.
    “There are various court orders on cross utilisation of cabin crew and we are examining them all. After our examination necessary decisions and orders, if any, required will be taken,” said the official.
    The airline is also working on a common announcement system on all its flights.
    Meanwhile, to give its cabin crew a more contemporary and stylish look, Air India is also in the process of bringing in new uniforms from April next year, and has roped in the National Institute of Fashion Technology, New Delhi. “We have asked the institute to come out with new designs for salwar kameez, sarees and western dresses,” said the official.
    Air India is also working on improving food on board. “Our food is our USP and plans are to upgrade it by adding country-specific menu in the international sector,” the official said. Plans are also afoot to introduce a new spread for Dreamliner flights.

11/23/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Surprise: PA College Slashes Instructors' Hours to Avoid Obamacare, by Wynton Hall, (11/21 late pickup) Breitbart TV via breitbart.com
    PITTSBURGH, Pa., USA - Pennsylvania's Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) is slashing the hours of 400 adjunct instructors, support staff, and part-time instructors to dodge paying for Obamacare.
    [= cutting hours, not jobs. Now cut hours deeper and create enough jobs to employ the wage-depressing flood of desperate resumes.]
    "It's kind of a double whammy for us because we are facing a legal requirement [under the new law] to get health care and if the college is reducing our hours, we don't have the money to pay for it," said adjunct biology professor Adam Davis.
    On Tuesday, CCAC employees were notified that Obamacare defines full-time employees as those working 30 hours or more per week and that on Dec. 31 temporary part-time employees will be cut back to 25 hours. The move will save an estimated $6 million.
    "While it is of course the college’s preference to provide coverage to these positions, there simply are not funds available to do so," said CCAC spokesperson David Hoovler. "Several years of cuts or largely flat funding from our government supporters have led to significant cost reductions by CCAC, leaving little room to trim the college’s budget further."
    The solution, says United Steelworkers representative Jeff Cech, is that adjunct professors should unionize in an attempt to thwart schools seeking similar cost-savings efforts from avoiding Obamacare.
    "They may be complying with the letter of the law, but the letter of law and the spirit of the law are two different things," said Mr. Cech. "If they are doing it at CCAC, it can't be long before they do it other places."
    Under the new CCAC policy, adjunct professors will only be allowed to teach 10 credit hours a semester. Adjuncts are paid $730 per credit hour.
    "We all know we are expendable," said Mr. Davis, "and there are plenty of people out there in this economy who would be willing to have our jobs."
    [That's right, and until y'all get organized and get "full time" defined downward far enough to create natural market-demanded jobs for those "plenty of people," they're still going to be out there bidding down your pay.]

  2. More views sought on standard working hours - Welfare minister hopes to get more feedback from union and bosses on working week, by Thomas Chan thomas.chan@scmp.com, (11/24 over dateline) South China Morning Post via scmp.com
    HONG KONG, China - The administration is seeking more feedback from employers and unions on its scheme to create standard working hours, sending its key study report to the Labour Advisory Board next week, the welfare secretary said yesterday.
    Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said he hoped the report would stimulate an "in-depth and informed" discussion. "Regarding the issue of standard working hours, the stance of the government is open."
    The report set out a wealth of information on the issue, including the experience in other countries and jurisdictions, with standardising working hours, he said.
    But at least one labour board member predicted stiff resistance from employers' representatives. Leung Chau-ting, who represents employee unions on the board, said: "I think the [board] meeting on Monday will end in a seesaw struggle - as the employer representatives must oppose it."
    Another board member, Stanley Lau Chin-ho, who represents major employer associations, said the business sector took the report very seriously, and hoped it would explain the scheme's impact on the sector.
    The report will be submitted to the Legislative Council's panel on manpower next month.
    Pan-democrats have called for a 40- to 44-hour working week, with employees getting their usual wage plus 50 per cent more for longer hours.
    On Thursday, seven of the city's biggest business chambers sent a rare joint letter to the government, warning that legislating standard working hours would hurt the city's commercial environment.
    Their letter did not directly say the chambers oppose such a law, but warns it would be detrimental to the city's steady and robust economic growth.
    Cheung said the concerns of the employer unions and business chambers were completely understandable.
    Labour Party lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan said the joint letter had created "tangible pressure" on the government to abandon the policy. He was worried the government may back down in the face of mounting opposition from the business sector.
    [China's still struggling with the basics.]

11/22/2012 – 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. Bing plans furloughs if state pact isn't approved, by D. Nichols, The Detroit News via detroitnews.com
    [Cut hours, not jobs!]
    DETROIT, Mich., USA — The city will institute furloughs for employees beginning Jan. 1 to avert a cash crisis if a deal isn't reached on Detroit's milestone agreement with the state, Mayor Dave Bing said Wednesday.
    The announcement amps up pressure on the Detroit City Council to revisit a legal contract that the state says must be approved if the city is to receive some $30 million in critical bond funding.
    A frustrated Bing told reporters that he has no choice but to identify cuts to keep the city solvent through the end of the year.
    Bing said he will take every step to ensure the city will not run out of cash, and that "bankruptcy is not an option" for Detroit. He stressed the potential cuts will not affect public safety. Furlough days are a way to avoid payless paydays or unpaid debt payments, Bing said.
    The mayor did not release details on how many employees would be affected, saying more information will come next week.
    "These actions are necessary to keep the city from falling into further financial distress," he said.
    Bing's pre-emptive strike is in response to a council vote Tuesday against a proposed three-year, $300,000 contract with the law firm Miller Canfield for legal services related to the city's fiscal restructuring.
    Approving the Miller Canfield contract is key to meeting the "milestone agreement" reached last week between Bing and the state to access bond funds now being held in escrow. Detroit was set to draw down on $10 million Tuesday and another $20 million by mid-December as part of its consent agreement with the state.
    The administration said the furloughs and other cost saving measures are to offset the loss of the bond money.
    "We're planning at this moment to implement additional cuts to ensure the city doesn't run out of money," said Jack Martin, the city chief financial officer. "We believe unpaid furloughs will do it. We've designed a cost reduction program to allow us to meet our objectives with the furlough approach."
    Council members have said Miller Canfield, which helped draft the consent agreement between the city and state, has numerous conflicts of interest and should not work on the city's fiscal restructuring. Corporation counsel Krystal Crittendon said the agreement also violates the city charter.
    Bing on Wednesday said he is open to discussing the contract, but he defended the work Miller Canfield has done for him and the city, adding: "I'm not going to be dictated to by council or anybody else who I use as my legal representative."
    "I'm hopeful this can be worked out, but if (the council doesn't) vote affirmatively, the state is not going to release the money," Bing said.
    William "Kriss" Andrews, the city program manager, said the administration had addressed the council's concerns about the contract. The length of the agreement, the scope of services and the firm's hourly rate were changed at council members' request, he said.
    "If there was any confusion, that's regrettable, but … all that was accomplished before the vote," Andrews said.
    The council is set to come back for a special session on Dec. 11, when the Miller Canfield contract could be revisited. Some council members have indicated they are willing to discuss the matter further, but said the ball is in the Bing administration's court to present a new proposal.
    Tuesday's action was the latest in the squabbles between Bing and the council. They have disagreed over the city's fiscal direction for nearly 2½ years, involving intense budget battles that ended in compromises.
    "I wish I knew what is going on on the 13th floor," Bing said of council members. "I don't want to get into politics at all. I'm interested in one thing and that is to make sure our city is fiscally stable. That's my focus and I'm not going to get away from that."
    Council President Pro Tem Gary Brown said Wednesday he's happy to hear Bing is making moves toward restructuring.
    "We're spending more money than we're bringing in," said Brown, who was the sole council member to support the Miller Canfield contract on Tuesday.
    "You have to cut costs and this is the first time he's said he is going to do it."
    dnichols@detnews.com (313) 222-2073

  2. Towanda Public library cuts hours by 24 percent, by James Loewenstein, Towanda Daily Review via thedailyreview.com
    [Cut hours, not books?]
    TOWANDA, Pa., USA - Due to a lack of available funds, the Towanda Public Library is cutting the hours it is open by 24 percent, the library's treasurer said.
    The cut in hours follows a "drastic" reduction this year in the amount the library is spending on new items for its collection, including books, DVDs, and audio books, said Ruth Tonachel, treasurer of the library.

    The cuts are stemming mostly from the reductions in state funding for the library that have taken place in the last several years and the difficulty in raising funds to pay for the renovation of the library-owned Carriage House, where the Towanda Public Library's children's library opened last year, according to trustees of the library.
    Rising expenses and the lack of financial support provided to the library by most of the municipalities it serves are also bringing financial pressure on the library, the trustees said.
    "The last couple of years, the library has operated at a loss," which is forcing the library to cut its expenses, Tonachel said. "(Cutting library hours) is not something we wanted to do."
    On Nov. 26, the number of hours that the Towanda Public Library's main library is open each week will be reduced from 54 to 41, a 24 percent reduction, Tonachel said.
    Under the library's new schedule, the library will no longer be open on Fridays, she said.
    In addition, the Towanda Public Library's main library will now close at 5 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays, instead of at 8 p.m., said Stephanie Grohol, desk librarian.
    While the main library's hours are being reduced, the number of hours that the Carriage House Children's Library is open each week is being raised from 27 to 32, effective Nov. 26, said Katie Patton, children's librarian.
    "We're trying to get the schedules (of the two libraries) lined up more with each other," Tonachel said, explaining why the hours of the children's library are being increased.
    The main financial problem facing the Towanda Public Library is a cut in state funding for the library, which has declined over the last several years from $47,000 per year to $22,000 per year, said Marshall Dawsey, president of the library's board of trustees.
    Compounding the problem is the fact that the library spent over $150,000 from its endowment fund to pay for the renovations of the carriage house behind the library, so that the children's library could open there, Tonachel said.
    While the library had hoped to restore the endowment fund by raising an equal amount from the community, those fund-raising efforts have raised less than $30,000, she said.
    And to fill funding gaps in the library's $160,000 annual operating budget over the last several years - this year the gap will reach $40,000 or $50,000 - the library has had to tap the principal of its endowment fund even more, she said.
    "The children's library is a beautiful facility," Tonachel said. "Kids love it. It (the renovations that allowed the children's library to open) were well worth doing. But if we continue to (draw money from the principal of the endowment fund), in a few short years it (the endowment fund) won't be there anymore."
    And at that point, there would have to be further cuts made in the library's expenditures, Dawsey said.
    Despite the financial problems facing the library, the library did receive a piece of good financial news recently.
    This year, a Towanda resident died, leaving a large amount of funds in trust for the library and other charitable organizations and agencies, Dawsey said.
    The trust fund has been invested, and the annual income from the investments will be distributed to the library and to the other charitable organizations, he said.
    The amount of investment income that will be distributed to the library from the trust fund is estimated to be approximately $20,000 per year, which will fill roughly half of the annual $40,000 to $50,000 funding gap in the library's operating budget, Dawsey said.
    "The (money left in trust) will help significantly," Dawsey said. "I think it (the revenue from the trust fund) will start coming to the library next year."
    The revenue from the trust fund would allow the hours that the library is open each week to be raised to at least 45, which is the minimum number required by the state, he said. But it would not allow all of the hours to be restored, he said.
    The library will also be launching a fund-raising campaign in December to try to increase the size of its endowment fund, he said.
    If the library could increase its endowment fund to the level it was at in the past, so that it was generating $20,000 a year in investment income for the library, the library would probably be able to restore all of the hours that are being cut at this time, Dawsey said.
    The Towanda Public Library has received a waiver from the state that allows the its main library to be open only 41 hours per week, Tonachel said. However, that waiver only runs through the end of 2013, at which time the library would have to be open at least 45 hours per week, she said.
    "Our donations, gifts and memorials need to increase greatly to take care of this operating deficit," said Nancy Lindstrom, a trustee of the library.
    One of the main reasons why the Towanda Public Library has an operating deficit is that it is not receiving enough funds from the municipalities it serves, Lindstrom said.
    Those municipalities decide on their own how much to contribute to the library, she said.
    Towanda Borough levies a library tax on its residents, which raises $18,000 a year for the library, and Wysox, Towanda and North Towanda townships also make contributions toward the library, according to Lindstrom and Marshall.
    But the contributions of the three townships are "nowhere equal to the amount the borough contributes," she said.
    There are five or six townships in the library's service area that contribute nothing at all to the library, Dawsey said.
    Due to a lack of funding, in 2012 the Towanda Public Library has been spending less than half of what it did the previous year on books and other materials for its collection, Tonachel said.
    The Towanda Public Library's new schedule is:
    - Monday, Wednesday and Saturday: open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    - Tuesday and Thursday: open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
    Closed Friday and Sunday
    The Carriage House Children's Library's new schedule is:
    - Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday: open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    - Tuesday and Thursday: open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
    Closed Friday and Sunday
    (Please note: the Children's Library is closed from 12 noon to 1 p.m. daily for lunch)
    James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: jloewenstein@thedailyreview.com.

  3. Business chambers voice concerns over working hours - Chambers say it will harm the growth of the city as democrats call for 40- to 44-hour work week, South China Morning Post
    [Buuut, that the same as what business chambers have said every step of the way down from 80 hours a week. "The sky will fall! The sky will fall!" But it didn't. Things got better. They're not chambers of commerce, they're chamber pots, full of it, and ignoring their own history of what has worked well-better-best.]
    HONG KONG, China - Seven of the city's biggest business chambers have sent a rare joint letter to the government, warning that legislating standard working hours would hurt the commercial environment.
    The chambers wrote to Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung yesterday, a few days before the government is expected to table a study report to the Labour Advisory Board for discussion.
    The carefully drafted letter does not say directly that the chambers oppose such a law, but warns it would be detrimental to the city's steady and robust economic growth.
    "The far-reaching implications of regulating standard working hours have the potential to rock the fundamentals which have underlined Hong Kong's success," it says.
    Pan-democrats have called for a 40- to 44-hour working week and want people who put in longer hours to be paid 1-1/2 times their usual wage rate. In a poll of retail workers in the summer, most respondents said they worked more than 54 hours a week.
    [So Hong Kong hasn't even made it to 1938-40 yet!]
    Businesses claim a minimum wage law that sets hourly pay at no less than HK$28 has pushed up operation costs since it went into force in May last year.
    The letter was issued by the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, Federation of Hong Kong Industries, Chinese Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong, Chinese General Chamber of Commerce, Real Estate Developers Association of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Retail Management Association and Employers' Federation of Hong Kong.
    Hong Kong is one of the most service-oriented economies in the world and that means other countries' experiences with this law may not work here, it says.
    "Realistically, it is simply too difficult to set 'standard' working hours for different industries in a free economy."
    It also warns that bosses may have to hire temporary or part-time workers to avoid handling excessive overtime claims.
    When asked if the letter was meant to exert pressure on the government, Jonathan Choi Koon-shum, standing committee member of the Chinese General Chamber, said the chambers simply wanted to express their concerns to the administration.

11/21/2012 – 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. Employers Need to Reconsider Working Hours, TopNews New Zealand via topnews.net.nz
    BRISBANE, Qld., Australia - A team of researchers from the Griffith University has revealed that resource workers, who are not allowed fewer hours of work, often become vulnerable to stress, fatigue and different illnesses. The team says that managers need to be aware as well as keep in mind the findings.
    Almost 4,500 mining and energy workers as well as their partners were assessed by the team, and the Australian Coal and Energy Survey found that more hours of work was leading them to be dependent on sleeping tablets.

    Almost 40% wanted to work regularly if they get the same pay as of now. And 58% of all participants reported difficulty in sleeping between successive night shifts. However, many were still not in favour of changing jobs, no matter what the pay and working conditions.
    It was further discovered that workers if were not allowed to choose working hours were tending to suffer psychological problems. Some 61% did not say anything related to the same and were the ones taking sleeping tablets most.
    "These issues are often more important than pay because getting enough sleep and being able to spend quality time with your family affect a worker's life so completely", CFMEU General Secretary Andrew Vickers was quoted as avowing.

  2. Jerry Brown Fights Unions on Furloughs, by Ben Shapiro, breitbart.com
    SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - Even union lackey California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) can’t handle the unions anymore. Brown has appealed a lawsuit that would pay state unions some $12 million because Brown furloughed them thanks to the $16 billion state debt. Last summer, an Alameda Superior Court judge held that 250 union members had to receive two days of back pay thanks to a two-day furlough from March 2011. The only workers who would receive back pay: members of two unions, the Professional Engineers in California Government or California Association of Professional Scientists. The court actually found that managers had to lose the same number of hours as union members under state law, thanks to union contracts.
    When even Jerry Brown can’t handle the folks who put him into power and pay his bills – the unions rammed through the vast tax increase of Proposition 30 while funding the shutdown of the anti-union measure Proposition 32 – you know they’re out of control. And they’re completely out of control.
    [Unions' self-destructiveness rolls on and on - "How much public opinion can we generate against ourselves?" Their focus on money-money-money just for themselves, right NOW nevermindfutureconsequences, however over-available their skills, is strategically suicidal. Meanwhile they ignore their historically vital focus on shorter hours for all workers - to reduce the general surplus of labor and raise everyone's pay by market forces as during the wartime prosperity of World Wars I and II when the labor surplus was reduced by the worst available means: death.]

11/20/2012 – 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. Infineon details shorttime work regime, by Peter Clarke, Electronic Engineering Times via eetimes.com
    LONDON, U.K. – German chip company Infineon Technologies AG has provided more details of the short-time work regime referenced during the presentation of its fourth fiscal quarter financial results.
    Although Infineon (Munich, Germany) had seen slowing economic development generally, the production capacity for high power modules at its Warstein production site in Germany is the only site so far asked to adapt for lower demand.
    In an email response to questions from EE Times, a spokesperson for Infineon said that working hours' cuts of between 10 and 30 percent were being made at that site.
    As of Oct. 1, 2012 short-time work was extended to all production lines at the Warstein site (excluding contract workers) and production-near functions such as purchasing department or logistics department. Today, 720 employees are affected by short-time work, the spokesperson said. This is out of a total of about 1,350 employees of Infineon Technologies AG at the Warstein site, including production, development, sales & marketing, administration.
    Employees in R&D, marketing, sales and administration are not currently affected and the short-time work provision has been introduced for a maximum period of six months, Infineon said.
    The spokesperson explained that although Infineon pays short-time workers' proportionately to the hours they work the German Federal Employment Agency helps to fill the gap and pays the difference up to about 60 percent of the lost pay.
    When asked in email how extensive across Infineon short-time work might become the spokesperson replied: "Warstein is the only site with short-time work. At this point in time, there are no short-time work plans at other Infineon sites." The respondent went on to calculate that with 720 people affected out of a total of close to 26,700 employees (as of Sept. 30, 2012) about 2.7 percent of Infineon employees are on short-time work.

  2. Monitoring Squad For Compliance With Working Hours Should Take Off - Info Ministry Sec-Gen, Malaysian National News Agency via Bernama.com
    KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia -- Secretary-general of the Information, Communications and Culture Ministry Datuk Seri Kamaruddin Siaraf wants the proposed monitoring squad for ensuring compliance with the working hours at all its departments and agencies to start functioning.
    [Hey, this could come in real handy when Malaysia gets enough robotics to need to downsize "full time" employment in order to have any semblance of domestic consumer spending. Compare France's "overtime police."]
    He said the approach was timely and should be supported by all staff of the ministry for the good of all.
    "Although there may be tasks to be done outside without coming to the office, the existing public service regulations require us to be in the office during working hours, so we should adhere to it.
    "I am paying attention to this matter and I ask those concerned to implement it immediately," he said when opening the ministry's human resource managers' conference, here, Tuesday.
    Kamaruddin also wants all department heads and human resource managers to "turun padang" (go down to the ground) to hear their staff's complaints and problems and help solve them.
    [OK, everyone... Turun Padang!]

11/18-19/2012 – 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. Montgomery City Employees Forced to Take Furlough Day by February, by Kristen Fisher, 11/18 WNCF.com
    MONTGOMERY, Ala., USA - Montgomery city employees will have to take an unpaid day off to save the city money.
    Mayor Todd Strange says the furlough should save Montgomery about $450,000 in savings already included in the city's budget for the fiscal year.

    Strange told the Montgomery Advertiser that employees can control when they take off, but have to do it before February and some are choosing New Year's Eve.
    Montgomery city workers are getting Black Friday and Christmas Eve off as paid holidays.

  2. State closures set this week, by Peter Wong, 11/18 Statesman Journal
    SALEM, Ore., USA - State offices will be closed Thursday for Thanksgiving, and Friday for unpaid furloughs for many state workers. State courts, which are housed in county buildings, also will be closed.
    Among the exceptions are prisons and youth detention centers, Oregon State Hospital and Oregon State Police.
    Friday is the last scheduled unpaid-furlough day in 2012, but there are three more such days in 2013: Jan. 18, April 19 and May 24, all Fridays.

  3. Notice Period required after short-time working past 3 years? by junior member Carl Whitos, 11/19 (11/13 late pickup) Employment & Redundancy Forum via redundancyforum.co.uk
    WATFORD, Herts., England - Hello
    I'm hoping someone can offer me some advice. Yesterday I handed in my written notice with my current employer, giving them two weeks notice that I intended to take up a new position on the 26th November.
    " I have been with them for a period of over 10 years, however, I've been working to short term hours (effectively 4 day week) for over 3 years now.
    My Managing Director has now decided to play hardball, and says that contractually I am obliged to give one weeks notice per year i have been with the company. I'm disputing this as a result of the short time working arrangement.
    I also have not signed a contract since 2010, nor has any discussion on the matter been undertaken.
    Am I being perfectly reasonable (as well as legally right) to expect two weeks notice as sufficient when working under short-time arrangement?
    Expert Advisor Sar El, north of Watford
    The short-time working isn't relevant at all.
    But unless your contractual notice is more, the employer read the wrong bit of the law! This is the notice the employer must give. Your notice, unless otherwise specified by contract, is always one week! But any contractual term applies - including whatever you agreed in 2010.

  4. For a European-wide struggle to defend auto jobs, 11/19 World Socialist Web Site via wsws.org
    LONDON, Great Britain - Statement of the Partei für Soziale Gleichheit (Germany) and Socialist Equality Party (Britain) 19 November 2012
    The European auto industry faces total devastation. According to industry analysts, capacity must be reduced by at least 5 million units. This means the closure of up to 20 assembly plants, 10 engine plants, 10 transmission plants and 30 stamping plants, resulting in the destruction of 115,000 jobs, according to the US industry website autoline.tv.
    In the last week alone, the following job cuts were announced: 8,000 at PSA Peugeot Citroën; 6,000 at Ford and 2,600 at Opel. At least the same number will be hit in the supply chain. Even the so-called premium brands BMW and Daimler are planning savings running to billions. In the utility vehicle sector Fiat subsidiary Iveco will close five European plants. MAN has sent 15,000 workers home for four weeks and is planning further short-time working at the end of the year.
    Plant closures, short-time working and wage cuts are being presented as a necessary means to cut back on so-called overcapacity and make the European auto industry competitive once again.
    The trade unions—including IG Metall, ABVV-Metaal, the CGT and TUC—accept this and claim concessions are the only way to “save jobs”.
    In reality, auto workers are being forced to pay for the worst breakdown of the capitalist profit system since the Great Depression and World War II. The car companies—backed by the corporate-controlled governments in every country—insist that workers must be made to pay for this crisis by sacrificing all of the social achievements won by the working class in the post-war period.
    It is impossible to fight this assault on the basis of the nationalist and pro-capitalist program of the trade unions. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, poverty wages paid to workers in Eastern Europe, China and the other Asian countries have been systematically used to depress wages around the world. The global corporations have used the international financial crisis of 2008 to accelerate the tempo of these attacks. In the US, the Obama administration used the forced bankruptcy and restructuring of the auto industry to destroy tens of thousands of jobs, gut health care and pension protections and halve the wages of new hires. Now workers in Europe face the same fate.
    The devastation of the auto industry is inseparably linked to the austerity measures dictated by the European Union, which is carrying out a savage reduction in the living standards of working people in Greece, Spain, Portugal and other countries. In every country the result is the same: workers' incomes are forced down, social benefits destroyed and an army of the unemployed created, while stock markets rise, the bank accounts of the super-rich swell and managers’ incomes explode.
    The EU's austerity diktats have directly contributed to deepening the crisis of the auto industry. The austerity measures mean large sections of the population can no longer afford a car: the number of new registrations in Spain has fallen by 37 percent in one year, in Italy by 26 percent and in France by 18 percent.
    Under these conditions, jobs and wages in the auto industry can only be defended within the context of an international socialist program that sets as its goal the abolition of capitalism and the creation of a United Socialist States of Europe.
    All plant closings and wage cuts must be opposed. The defence of jobs and social rights cannot be subordinated to the “competitiveness” of the plants affected or the company's balance sheet. A well-paid job is an inalienable right that the working class must defend under all circumstances.
    The auto companies—like the other large corporations, banks and large fortunes—must be placed under social ownership and the democratic control of the working class. On this basis, economic life can be reorganized on a higher foundation, which serves the needs of working people and society as a whole, rather than profit-grubbing billionaires, banks and speculators.
    Such a program requires the independent mobilisation of the working class. All of the establishment parties, whether nominally “left” or “right”, categorically reject this. They all defend capitalist private property and social cutbacks. Auto workers face a special responsibility. The defence of their jobs and social rights is a major step towards the mobilisation of the working class as a whole.
    Auto workers must unite across individual plants and national borders. There is hardly another industry that is organised on such a global scale as the auto industry. Multi-national corporations such as General Motors, Volkswagen, Fiat-Chrysler, Ford or Toyota plan and produce across the globe, ruthlessly playing off workers in one country against those in another.
    The biggest obstacles standing in the way of such a struggle are the trade unions and the organisations that support them. The unions are not organisations of the working class, but are a privileged bureaucratic apparatus that collaborates closely with management and strangles all resistance by the working class. When they occasionally call for strikes and protests, it is only to blow off steam and block the development of a struggle against the corporations and the capitalist system.
    In the US, the United Auto Workers union played the key role in Obama's historic attack on auto workers—long the highest paid industrial workers in the US. In return for its collaboration in imposing poverty wages, speed up and sweatshop conditions, the UAW was rewarded with billions in company shares. This has guaranteed the union executives a large income, independent of the membership dues, which rises in proportion to the increasing exploitation of auto workers. UAW chief Bob King has now been brought to Europe, where he is working with IG Metall and the CGT to impose the same conditions.
    The unions and works councils in Europe, and above all Germany, exercise the role of middle management. They sit on company supervisory boards and participate in all the major decisions. In the post-war period, in the framework of the “social market economy”, they were able to negotiate concessions and compromises. In many of the industrial areas now being targeted for plant closings, auto plants were built in the 1960s to prevent explosive struggles against the shutdown of steel mills and mines.
    Under conditions of globalisation and an international crisis of capitalism, the European bourgeoisie is pursuing the same strategy of social counter-revolution as its American counterparts. The European unions act as a labor police force imposing these brutal conditions. Over the last two decades, not a single wage cut, sacking or plant closure in the European auto industry has occurred without the signature of the trade unions. If workers seek to resist, they face intimidation or are the first to be sacked.
    While the unions collaborate closely with the company management on a national, international and European level, at factory level they play off workers at one location against another. Time and again, they claim that a plant can only be preserved if it improves its competitiveness by cutting jobs and making concessions on wages—until it is then closed completely. The workers at Fiat Termini Imerese, at Opel Antwerp, Ford Gent and Opel Bochum—to name just a few—are only the most recent victims of this strategy.
    The unions are rewarded for their services with lavish incomes and numerous privileges. The IG Metall chair Berthold Huber receives a basic income of 160,000 euros, not including bonuses. The leaders of the works councils Wolfgang Schäfer-Klug (Opel) and Bernd Osterloh (VW) enjoy similar returns. For years, Volkswagen has maintained a slush fund running to millions, used to grease the palms of the works council members.
    Breaking with the privileged and corrupt unions and works councils is a precondition for the defence of jobs in the auto industry. To this end, independent Action Committees must be formed.
    Such Action Committees must establish close contact to other plants and workers across the world and coordinate their struggles. The last few years have seen struggles of auto workers in China, India, the USA and many European locations, who are all facing the same attacks by the same companies.
    The Action Committees must ensure that the company books are opened for scrutiny and that the confidential negotiations and secret talks between the unions and management are made public. They must prepare strikes and other combat measures to defend jobs and wages. They must prevent the shutdown of production facilities, upon which whole regions and large sections of the population depend for their existence, by organising the occupation of all plants and departments threatened with closure.
    Such a mobilisation would be the first step in the struggle for a workers' government, which would nationalise the large corporations and banks and place them under democratic control, within the framework of the United Socialist States of Europe.
    The most important condition for the realisation of such a socialist perspective is the building of a new, international and revolutionary party of the working class.
    The establishment parties have long abandoned any defence of the interests of the vast majority of the population. The social democratic and Labour parties compete with the conservatives and liberals in the destruction of social benefits and rights. The German Left Party and similar organisations serve as their fig leaf.
    Should the working class fail to seize the political initiative, the continent is threatened once again by barbarism and war. The crisis and decay of capitalist society are far advanced. Increasingly, the ruling class is resorting to authoritarian methods to impose their attacks on the population. Right-wing, racist and openly fascist organisations such as Jobbik in Hungary, the National Front in France and Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) in Greece are being encouraged by the state and find support among desperate social layers.
    We appeal to all auto workers: Read the World Socialist Web Site, the daily organ of the International Committee of the Fourth International. Make contact with the editorial board. We will support you in the formation of Action Committees and in the making of international contacts. Join the Socialist Equality Party/ Partei für Soziale Gleichheit and help to build a new revolutionary leadership in the working class.

  5. Setting maximum work hours first, by Ho Lok-Sang, 11/19 (11/20 over dateline) ChinaDaily.com.cn
    HONG KONG, China - Workers' unions have been pressing for a statutory, standard work week in terms of hours of work for quite some time. A proposal to regulate working hours however was defeated in the Legislative Council (LegCo) last month. Still, the debate is alive and well and the Special Administrative Region (SAR/HongKong) government is expected to forward the report of a study on standard work hours to the Labour Advisory Board soon. The government then will report back to the LegCo's Panel on Manpower in December.
    There is indeed a need to regulate work hours. The imperative is very clear: since workers are human beings, there is a limit to how much people can work without losing balance of one sort or another. First, excessive work is health-threatening, even life-threatening. Second, excessive work hours may actually be counter-productive, even though this may not be apparent at first. Workers lose concentration and can be expected to make mistakes more often. This not only undermines the quality of work, but may lead to industrial accidents. Third, excessive work hours necessarily translate to fewer hours spent with families, leading to a loss of work-life balance.
    While there is a need to limit working hours, that however is quite a different matter than setting a statutory standard work week. Although many jurisdictions have a standard work week of 40 to 45 hours, imposing similar standards across the board suddenly could lead to serious problems. In particular, there is a likelihood that many small and medium enterprises may not be able to survive. This is unfortunate, but is a fact of life.
    Pressed by extremely high rents, many entrepreneurs, especially those in the restaurant and fast food business, have been struggling to survive by keep their staff working longer hours. Without a chance to renegotiate rents with their landlords, cutting work hours on existing workers or having to hire extra workers to service the extra hours could be devastating. If a large enough number of small and medium enterprises failed, unemployment could jump, and workers could suffer rather than benefit from the legislation.
    Thus, it makes sense first to set maximum working hours. In any case, there is a great diversity in the nature of work and the availability of workforce from industry to industry. In some industries, labor shortages may be quite severe. Setting standard working hours could exacerbate the shortage. On the other hand, if our aim is to protect workers from overwork, setting legal maximum working hours would suffice. More importantly, if setting legal maximum working hours is feasible while setting standard legal normal working is not, trying to press for a non-feasible option would not do workers any good.
    An early International Labour Organization (ILO) report (Working Time Around the World) cited another ILO report by Spurgeon, 2003 to suggest that working hours longer than 48-50 hours per week are likely to expose workers to potential health risks. The same report also indicated that "long working hours are common in the Asian region, especially among the so-called East Asian Dragons (e.g. the Republic of Korea) and Southeast Asian Tigers (e.g. Indonesia and Thailand)." It would seem that to avoid losing competitiveness and to minimize the chance of serious unintended consequences, setting a maximum work-week of 50 hours in the first instance would be prudent. Given the global economic uncertainty, it will be wise to remain somewhat conservative. We have just seen the minimum wage law established in 2011. To follow that with a very binding statutory standard of 40 to 45 work hours per week seems quite risky.
    The real worry, as far as I can see, is not so much that workers may have to work 50 hours per week but that quite a number of workers routinely work in excess of 50 hours per week, or even in excess of 60. Extended working hours such as these not only are inhumane, but also may affect the workers' family members from spouses to children. Even worse, long work hours could lead to serious industrial accidents, and in the case of bus drivers and medical doctors could jeopardize the lives of passengers, medical patients and members of the public at large. The risks are just too big to ignore.
    Employers' fears and objections are of course understandable, but they tend to be overstated. Since a statutory requirement for normal working hours or a statutory ceiling on working hours applies to one's competitors as well, there will not be a loss in competitiveness at all, unless we are talking about an export-oriented industry, in which case the businesses will have to compete with competitors in other countries. Rent cuts are unlikely in the short run, so employers will indeed experience some pain. Over the longer term, however, if the work hour regulation should erode profits, rents would decline, preserving the normal profits that would prevail for the highly competitive retail and restaurant businesses.
    The author is director of the Centre for Public Policy Studies, Lingnan University, Hong Kong.

11/17/2012 – 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. A 35 hour Workweek would create Millions of Jobs - Economics & Finance: Replies, (11/10 late pickup) Peak Oil Forums via peakoil.com
    [A sample of current e-discussions about shorter hours so employers to duck benefit costs -]
    MONROE, Mich., USA - Re: A 35 hour Workweek would create Millions of Jobs
    Postby Tanada, Senior Moderator, West shore Lake Erie MI » Fri Nov 09, 2012 4:37 pm
    So much to my chagrin I just learned that businesses where employees work under 30 hours per week are exempt from the Affordable Health Care Act of 2010 aka Obamacare. Having lost my full time job of fifteen years and being on the lookout I was astounded how few full time positions are being posted compared to the large number of 24 to 28 hour a week jobs being posted, at least in Northern Ohio and Southern Michigan.
    Is anyone else experiencing the same effect where you live/work?
    Always appeal to a man's enlightened self interest, you can trust him to look out for himself honestly, It's when you appeal to his Honor or the Common Good that he stops paying attention.
    Re: A 35 hour Workweek would create Millions of Jobs
    Postby dbruning, Vancouver Island BC » Fri Nov 09, 2012 4:52 pm
    My wife works for Superstore in BC, it's a good job, but even at maximum seniority the limit is 28 hours per week.
    I think a lot of the big companies have decided that with the amount of people looking for any work at all, that they would rather have 2 part timers with no benefits than a single person with benefits.
    Re: A 35 hour Workweek would create Millions of Jobs
    Postby Plantagenet, Alaska » Fri Nov 09, 2012 5:08 pm
    Tanada wrote: ...I was astounded how few full time positions are being posted compared to the large number of 24 to 28 hour a week jobs being posted, at least in Northern Ohio and Southern Michigan. Is anyone else experiencing the same effect where you live/work?
    The Wall Street Journal is reporting this is a national trend.
    SInce companies have to start paying Obamacare taxes for employees working more than 30 hours a week, suddenly companies don't have many full time jobs anymore. Obamacare has created an incentive for companies to only hire part-time workers.
    Re: A 35 hour Workweek would create Millions of Jobs
    Postby AgentR11, East Texas » Fri Nov 09, 2012 5:51 pm
    Working as intended. This creates a very large pool of people outside of company health plans, who have "jobs" and must pay their fine/join a govt plan for not having private insurance. Eventually, this will create enough demand that a government paid health insurance plan gets good traction; the government then feeds in more $$ to the program, and it should eventually morph into an NHS with a parallel private market serving management, union bosses, high end skilled labor, etc. That is the desired result, and as far as I can tell, its going to go down like clockwork.
    Re: A 35 hour Workweek would create Millions of Jobs
    Postby Plantagenet, Alaska » Fri Nov 09, 2012 6:34 pm
    AgentR11 wrote: Eventually, this will create enough demand that a government paid health insurance plan gets good traction; the government then feeds in more $$ to the program, and it should eventually morph into an NHS with a parallel private market serving management, union bosses, high end skilled labor, etc. That is the desired result, and as far as I can tell, its going to go down like clockwork.
    1. Obamacare has nothing to do with "demand." Its the law---people are required to enroll or pay a tax penalty to the IRS.
    2. If the real "plan" is to eventurally ditch Obamacare and create an NHS type program, then why didn't Obama just immediately create an NHS style program?
    Re: A 35 hour Workweek would create Millions of Jobs
    Postby Newfie, US East Coast » Fri Nov 09, 2012 7:17 pm
    Really, can we get off Obama care?
    The whole medical insurance system in the US is just stupid.
    Enacted by stupid politicians voted in by stupid voters.
    There are 2.5 clerks per physician in the US. So if I see my Doctor for 1 hour, it takes 2.5 hours to pay him? Yeah, I don't think so. The whole medical insurance business is just a work fare scam.
    I mean really, what benefit do they provide?
    We already have a single payer system, the wage earner pays taxes and insurance. The Government and Insurance companies pay the Doctor. 
    But you can't have reform, because that would put hundreds of thousands of people out of work.
    [Shorter hours are happening not only so employers can duck benefit costs, but also due to job desperation.]
    Not that they are doing anything valuable. They aren't.
    And that brings up back to the point of this thread. Why do we work so many hours per week? Because we want to think we are doing something valuable with our time and our lives. We are not. We are just churning and burning energy.
    I have no illusions that this will ever change.
    Here is a suggestion. Everybody gets 5 years of unemployment. Lower retirement age to 55. What ever unemployment you don't use, say three years, gets deducted from your retirement, so your retire at 52.
    That makes a lot of room for younger folks to work and helps unemployment.
    And yes, I'll be 62 this month and am still working. But that is a domestic dispute that don't have jack to do with this argument.
    Re: A 35 hour Workweek would create Millions of Jobs
    Postby SeaGypsy » Fri Nov 09, 2012 7:29 pm
    Agent's point is that the legislators could see the writing on the wall and predicted this will amount to a death blow to the stupid system; without enacting something the insurers could fight in court. Perhaps the lawmakers are not so stupid.
    (Very perceptive of you again Agent)
    A move straight from the old complete b/s system straight to a NHS would have been a great thing, if it were legally possible. Fact is big insurance would have spent the next decade stalling such in court and meanwhile, no change.
    Obamacare is a sneaky measure, but perhaps the only workable transition towards NHS. Pity that ordinary workers get screwed in the process, but either/ any way possible, someone was going to cop the short straw.
    Re: A 35 hour Workweek would create Millions of Jobs
    Postby Newfie, US East Coast » Fri Nov 09, 2012 11:11 pm Well, maybe. I just don't think anyone is sufficiently smart to pull that off.
    No conspiracy theories for me, except Kennedy.
    Re: A 35 hour Workweek would create Millions of Jobs
    Postby Keith_McClary » Fri Nov 09, 2012 11:25 pm
    babystrangeloop wrote: really produce things at white collar jobs
    What kind of things do white collar workers produce?
    Re: A 35 hour Workweek would create Millions of Jobs
    Postby ralfy » Fri Nov 09, 2012 11:51 pm
    No amount of adjustments in work requirements will help if the essential problem of the economy involves too much borrowing and spending. Unfortunately, that problem cannot be avoided as the currency is also used worldwide and needs to be propped up by an expensive military.
    We few, we happy few, we band of chipmunks....
    Re: A 35 hour Workweek would create Millions of Jobs
    Postby SeaGypsy » Sat Nov 10, 2012 1:54 am
    Yeah the most powerful nation on earth becomes a nation of bankrupts under a bankrupt government but still wins by default, NHS by bankrupts for bankrupts, extracting the necessary resources by force.
    Re: A 35 hour Workweek would create Millions of Jobs
    Postby cephalotus, Germany » Sat Nov 10, 2012 8:23 am
    I do work 8h/day and around 220-225 days/year which translates to around 34h/week (including holidays). I do not make a single hour of overtime, because I can change this into free time (which in fact increases y holidays from 28 free working days to around 40 working days/year, which is nice for travelling)
    I would sign a 7h/day contract tomorrow and I would of course accept a paycut by -12,5% for this. To me free time is luxury, I do have enough money for my needs.
    In my opinion progress should be used to make lives better and people happier. If someone wants to work 50 hours/week and feels good to do so, let it be.
    My ideal setup would be doing 20h/week of payed work (halftime job) and the rest available to whatever I want to do (can be another type of paid or unpayed work, but based on what makes fun).
    I try to get there, that 1 or 2 half time jobs by me and/or my girlfriend would be enough to feed a small family with 1-2 children in a few years.
    Imho that's doable.
    My personal work-life balance does not have its optimum at 40h/week of payed work. I like my job, but working 20h/week should be enough in my opinion, IF I have the option to decide freely.
    PS: An amazing amount of poeple works at least 1 day a week just for financing the car, they wouldn't need without working and the gas to get to work. I think this should be avoided, because it is stupid.
    PPS: People living in cultures similar to the stone age work at around 10h / week.
    Re: A 35 hour Workweek would create Millions of Jobs
    Postby SeaGypsy » Sat Nov 10, 2012 8:31 am
    My favorite roster is 30/ 12 hour days, 30 off.
    Re: A 35 hour Workweek would create Millions of Jobs
    Postby Newfie, US East Coast » Sat Nov 10, 2012 10:26 am Maybe if you turn the problem on its head it would be easier to see.
    What would you do with your spare time if you worked only 20 hours a week, or 40 hours but only 6 months a year?
    [There's a large number of industries devoted to answering this question: the leisure industry including hospitality, travel agencies, airlines, Amtrak, Greyhound, health spas, gyms, bookstores, paintball, spectator sports, participant sports, TV, radio, movies, plays, concerts, operas... How stupid and unimaginative do you have to be to ask this question? This born-to-be-controlled-by-others "Newfie" needs a good gobsmack.]
    I think the problem I'd not unemployment, but not knowing what to do with you time, and/ or not feeling like a contributor.
    IMHO it is in our genes to feel as though we are doing something to help the tribe. That is what motivates the need to work.
    Re: A 35 hour Workweek would create Millions of Jobs
    Postby AgentR11 » Sat Nov 10, 2012 12:22 pm
    ...AgentR11 wrote: Eventually, this will create enough demand that a government paid health insurance plan gets good traction; the government then feeds in more $$ to the program, and it should eventually morph into an NHS with a parallel private market serving management, union bosses, high end skilled labor, etc. That is the desired result, and as far as I can tell, its going to go down like clockwork.
    1. Obamacare has nothing to do with "demand." Its the law---people are required to enroll or pay a tax penalty to the IRS.
    2. If the real "plan" is to eventurally ditch Obamacare and create an NHS type program, then why didn't Obama just immediately create an NHS style program?
    1.) sure it does. when enough people are dumped from employer provided plans, and paying their fine, they will demand the government provide "real" insurance. Now you and I know that their fine will be puny compared to the full cost of insurance premiums, but that's not important from the government's point of view. They just need the 50 million or so warm bodies DEMANDING insurance in return for their payment. Once those warm bodies are demand, that opens the gate to expanding the money fed into the system, followed by cost controls to keep the expenses realistic, followed by regular patient / practice arrangements, and walla, you got an NHS and never had to call it that, and never had to get the people to agree to it as a whole package.
    2.) which answers this, they didn't create an NHS because it would have been crushed by public outrage at the level of change forced upon them all at once. And even better, this method will leave in place the well functioning high-end insurance / private practice that the lawmakers, their friends, well paid professionals and union thugs, currently enjoy. Thus, at any point in time that I feel it is worth the pain and suffering to have my left knee rebuilt, I'll go to my private orthopod, who'll have extensive imagery scheduled and done in a week, the surgery performed within a month, followed by the sadistic ministrations of cute but evil rehab nurses who note the athletic legs and conveniently decide to ignore all the grey hair. Thus the pain and suffering. Walmart Bob's mom though, she'll be 6 months waiting for a cheap xray, followed by a script for a walker and a knee brace, if she's lucky she'll also get a script for some meloxicam or some other cheap, ancient, nsaid.
    Fair nuff, no? After all, we can't afford to have a congresscritter's financial supporters limping at the dinner party.

  2. NBC to Cut Jobs, GM's Opel Working to Save Jobs: Consumer Business Recap, Wall St. Cheat Sheet via wallstcheatsheet.com
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - Comcast Corporation’s (NASDAQ:CMCSA) NBC Universal slashes some 450 positions at a number of its units, say inside sources close to the move, which comes as broadcast and cable networks suffer from a slump in advertising that spans the industry. The cuts will comprise around 1.5 percent of NBC Universal’s 30,000 employees.
    It is no longer news that the mass market automakers are all anticipating serious losses in Europe during the next few years, but downsizing might be different for each player. For example, General Motors Company’s (NYSE:GM) Opel division does not see the type of sharp pullbacks such as were experienced by Ford Motor Company’s (NYSE:F) closure of three factories and similar pressures facing Peugeot (PEUGY.PK) and Fiat (FIATY.PK). Opel works council Chairman Wolfgang Schaefer-Klug is attempting to make a deal regarding the future magnitude of its workforce in Germany before the year’s end, commenting that, “I don’t expect that it will come to some huge number of job cuts as part of the restructuring, rather the opposite, much fewer than many believe.”
    [And the reason? Worksharing, or in German, Kurz-arbeit! See story below on 11/13/2012 #2.]

  3. Cold shock at Bosch Solar, by Jacob Paulsen, (11/07 very late pickup unless typo for /17) Photovoltaik.eu
    [Machine translation by Bing, cleanup by PH3]
    ARNSTADT, Germany - Bosch Solar Energy has decided on drastic austerity measures. Around 3,500 employees are affected by this decision. A complete phase-out of photovoltaics is no longer out of the question.
    After the departure of Siemens from the solar industry, Bosch too is now consigning its entire photovoltaic operation to "disposition," as it's called in media reports. The group has already ordered short-time working at several locations. At Bosch Solar Energy in Arnstadt, 700 staff are employed; production there should be reduced 20 percent by the end of December. Since October, short-time work has been in effect. In a letter to the board of directors, the works council had requested the non-closure of the site. In the thin-layer field, the decision was already taken: the location in Erfurt will be closed at the end of the year.
    Work is also slipping away from the Aleo subsidiary. Seven hundred employees are already on short-time working. "The situation is significantly weaker than we imagined," reported Aleo. Already in 2011, Aleo recorded a loss of around 31 percent before taxes. In October the sales target for 2012 was cut to EUR 280 million; until March, EUR 440 million in sales were expected. Aleo will bring the Chinese joint venture Avim next into alignment. Also the Spanish location with 92 employees was already closed. To undergird the subsidiary, Bosch Aleo had granted credits in the amount of EUR 60 million, which must be paid back by the end of 2012.
    At this time, Bosch Solar is testing possibilities for counteracting the bad results. There's talk of cooperation with Asian partners, but also a phase-out of photovoltaic component production is not ruled out, as the company admits. A decision is expected at the end of the year.
    Editor's Note: in the article, we obtained information from recent media reports.

  4. Why we need to demand a shorter work week, by Martha Grevatt, (11/16 late pickup) Workers World via workers.org
    DETROIT, Mich., USA - In February, the Detroit Free Press reported that the United Auto Workers union was preparing “arguments over the thirty-hour week, perhaps the most widely discussed union demand of the current labor era.”
    If Detroiters reading this are wondering how they missed the news, there is a reason. The quote is from the Free Press of Feb. 21, 1937.

    With the crisis of mass unemployment during the Great Depression, unions and unemployed organizations were pressing for a shorter workweek. One of the demands of the 44-day sit-down strike of General Motors plants was for a 30-hour week with no cut in pay. Its logic was irrefutable: If four workers can do the work of three workers, 40 million can do the work of 30 million. That creates 10 million jobs. A headline on a 1930s leaflet said it all: Six-hour day, eight hours pay — Keep depression away.
    Even before the sit-downs, the 30-hour week was a demand of the Ford Hunger March in 1932, held in one of the worst years of the Great Depression and in one of the hardest hit cities. Five Detroit workers were killed and dozens wounded by Henry Ford’s notorious Service Department. A year later, however, the 30-hour week almost became law when the U.S. Senate passed the Thirty-Hour Week Act. The Act failed the House by only a few votes, after business leaders put pressure on Roosevelt to withdraw support.
    The shorter workweek was not a new concept. Some of the earliest demands that “wage slaves” made on the capitalist class were to reduce their long hours of toil. In 1791, Philadelphia carpenters struck for a 10-hour day. By 1840, that was the norm; the average seven-day workweek was a full 70 hours.
    May 1, 1886, was a day of huge demonstrations around the country for the eight-hour day. The biggest protests were in Chicago, where eight leaders were framed up for a bomb-throwing. On Nov. 11, 1887, four of them were hanged, with a fifth dying in a jail cell the night before his scheduled execution. May Day commemorates the battle for the eight-hour day and honors these martyrs.
    While it took a century of fierce class struggle to achieve it, by 1937 the average workweek was below 40 hours. However, many workers still worked 50 or more hours a week. They conducted frequent — and often successful — strikes around the most basic demands for the eight-hour day and 40-hour week.
    With the massive wave of unionization that followed the founding of the Congress of Industrial Organizations in 1935, workers gained some say over the grueling speed of production. Right around this time, a capitalist consensus emerged to draw the line at 40 hours: no 30-hour week. Leading the campaign was a secret Special Conference Committee comprised of executives of GM, General Electric, Standard Oil and others, and directed by industrial relations consultant Edward. S. Cowdrick.
    Cowdrick was previously an executive of Rockefeller-owned Colorado Fuel and Iron, the perpetrators of the 1914 Ludlow massacre of striking miners. Cowdrick’s secret capitalist consortium successfully lobbied Washington to block any attempt to pass 30-hour-week legislation.
    In 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act established the 40-hour workweek, after which time-and-a-half must be paid. While the productivity of labor has increased better than fivefold (U.S. Department of Labor; Bureau of Labor Statistics), with the increase highest since the high-tech revolution, not one amendment has been passed to shorten the workweek. And the law provides no protection against mandatory overtime as a condition of employment.
    Today, 75 years after the great sit-downs, at least 30 million workers are unemployed or underemployed. At the same time, the average weekly hours of full-time workers are actually higher than they were in 1945.
    The trend towards longer hours for full-time workers, with a parallel expansion of the use of temporary and part-time workers, was described in Juliet Schor’s 1991 bestseller, “The Overworked American.” More workers were working overtime or working more than one job. For some, overtime was a job requirement; for others, it was needed to maintain their standard of living. For low-wage workers, overtime had become an economic necessity. Yet, while workers were working harder than ever, average paid vacation time was falling.
    Those trends are continuing. In 2006, the average number of hours worked per year was 180 hours more than in 1979. Twenty percent of male full-time workers were putting in at least 50 hours a week. (Juliet Schor, “Less Work, More Living,” Yes Magazine, Fall 2011)
    Overwork continues to have a deleterious effect on health, safety, mental well-being, life expectancy, family and personal relationships, and the ­environment.
    The capitalist class is demanding more output from the working class and at the same time driving wages down, making it harder to get by on a 40-hour paycheck. Even unionized workers are being pressed to relinquish paid days off, take fewer and shorter breaks, and agree to backbreaking work schedules that undermine the eight-hour day.
    The twin crises of overwork and mass unemployment and underemployment can only be seriously addressed by reviving the demand for a shorter workweek. It will be an uphill battle — it took more than a century of hard struggle to win the eight-hour day — but the need is pressing. Six-hour day, eight hours pay! Keep depression away!

  5. Please step away from your keyboard! Step away from the keyboard now!, by Elilzabeth Renzetti erenzetti@globeandmail.com, Toronto Globe, A2.
    TORONTO, Ont., Canada - Okay, quiet down and put away your phones, please. You won’t be needing them any more. I’m glad you could all join me here today. I’ll be your new keyboard companion.
    Now some of you are wondering what that might mean, so I’ll tell you. You’ve heard about sober companions, right? They keep addicts on the straight and narrow, tell ’em that drugs lead to ruin or, even worse, to a VH1 show. They tell drunks there’s no point watching the film Flight, because they’ll never look or smell as nice as Denzel Washington.
    I know you don’t have problems with pills or booze. Your problems are much worse, because you’re a new kind of addict. You can’t step away from the goddamn computer! I’m sorry for the rough language, but this is a battle for your very souls. I’ve prised men’s cold, dead fingers off keyboards after they’ve told me, “One more e-mail, I can handle it,” or “If I can just retweet this, I’ll stop, I promise.”
    Well, you can’t handle it, and you won’t stop. Just look at them fancy folks in Washington – they couldn’t stop, even if they knew it would ruin ’em. The man who’s running the war in Afghanistan, he couldn’t stop. He sent that pretty lady in Florida a whole bunch of e-mails. What in God’s name could they have been talking about? IEDs in Kandahar? The best J.C. Penney in Tampa? I noticed that USA Today called that lady, Jill Kelley, a “party ambassador.” I wish my guidance counsellor had told me about that career path. I wouldn’t be sitting here with you folks, slapping your fingers every time you reach for the send key.
    The woman who started the whole thing, the one who’s said to have had an affair with that General Petraeus, she didn’t learn to step away from the computer. No sir. There she was, in between running her six-minute miles and working in military intelligence and raising children, and she still had time to fire off a bunch of e-mails calling another lady a “seductress.” Listen closely, because this is Lesson No. 1: If you find yourself late at night hunched over a keyboard typing the word “seductress” instead of watching America’s Funniest Home Videos with your kids, you’ve got to give me a call immediately, because you’re in trouble. Also if you find yourself typing “hussy,” “slut,” “flighty baggage” or any variation thereof. You’ll know you have a problem and you need my help.
    I know it’s hard. I know about temptation, and I know that Twitter icon can glow like the world’s most perfect margarita after a day’s hard walk through the desert. “I got one more joke in me!” you think. And then you end up like that football player in Canada – what the hell is Canadian football, anyway? – that Nik Lewis fellow, who sent out a tweet saying: “I just bought OJ’s gloves on eBay. Now all I need is a white girl named Nicole.”
    I could have helped him, if only he’d had the guidance of a keyboard companion. I would have said, “I know it seems funny in your head, Nik, but it ain’t gonna seem so funny out there.” This is Lesson No. 2, so listen up: No jokes about murder victims or genocide. I put that on some Post-it notes. I’ll hand them out at the end of the class.
    I nearly saved Anthony Weiner, by the way. I was just minutes from arriving at his house to tell him, “Nobody wants to see a picture of Little Anthony, not even your ma.” But the congressman sent that picture, then he lost his job, and no one knows where the Anthonys are today. I’ll take that regret to my grave.
    I thought I’d seen it all, but then one of my graduates – four months clean, not one e-mail or tweet sent – showed me the fight between the Israel Defence Forces and Hamas. No, not the one on the streets; I’ve grown used to that. The smackdown on Twitter, where they get all cat fight and one side boasts, “Don’t show your faces around here,” and the other side says something about opening the gates of Hell. What? No, I don’t know which said what. Does it matter? It’s not Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey, for God’s sake. Those boys are tweeting a war! They need my help.
    All right, I think that’s it for today. Tomorrow, we’ll talk about why topless photos never belong on phones, and how to stage a Facebook intervention, for the out-of-control updaters in your life. Remember: If you have to send an e-mail tonight, make it so clean your mom could read it. Recovery starts here.

11/16/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. CCAC cutting hours to avoid health-care mandate, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via post-gazette.com
    [Shorter hours are happening anyway, but not the best way.]
    PITTSBURGH, Pa., USA - Community College of Allegheny County will trim hours for about 400 of its part-time workers to avoid having to provide them with health insurance coverage, the school's president, Alex Johnson, said Thursday.
    Mr. Johnson told members of Allegheny County Council that complying with the requirements of the federal Affordable Care Act, informally known as Obamacare, would have cost CCAC $6 million annually for part-timers who have been working at least 30 hours per week.

    Affected employees include both adjunct faculty and maintenance workers.
    CCAC has an annual operating budget of about $110 million and is facing reductions in county support for 2013 that could be as large as $2.3 million.
    Mr. Johnson advised council of the plan to cut part-timers' hours as part of CCAC efforts to keep its costs under control.

  2. Feeling Resentful? 6 Hard Facts About Shared Work, by Gretchen Rubin, PsychCentral.com (blog)
    [Could be relevant in the age of economywide worksharing or Kurzarbeit?]
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - One obstacle to happiness is feeling resentful when another person won’t do his or her share of the work. In Happier at Home, in my description of the three kinds of “happiness leeches,” this kind of person is a “slacker.”
    Resentment comes when you feel angry that you’ve been treated unfairly. But what is “fair” when deciding who should do what work? As I thought about my own (not infrequent) bouts of resentment, I identified these Six Facts About Shared Work.
    Fact 1: Work done by other people sounds easy.
    How hard can it be to take care of a newborn who sleeps twenty hours a day? How hard can it be to keep track of your billable hours? To travel for one night for business? To get a four-year-old ready for school? To return a few phone calls? To load the dishwasher? To fill out some forms?
    Of course, something like “performing open-heart surgery” sounds difficult, but to a very great degree, daily work by other people sounds easy — certainly easier that what we have to do.
    This fact leads us to under-estimate how onerous a particular task is, when someone else does it, and that makes it easy to assume that we don’t need to help or provide support. Or even be grateful. For that reason, we don’t feel very obligated to share the burden.
    Fact 2: When you’re doing a job that benefits other people, it’s easy to assume that they feel conscious of the fact that you’re doing this work — that they should feel grateful, and that they should and do feel guilty about not helping you.
    But no! Often, the more reliably you perform a task, the less likely it is for someone to notice that you’re doing it, and to feel grateful, and to feel any impulse to help or to take a turn.
    You think, “I’ve been making the first pot of coffee for this office for three months! When is someone going to do it?” In fact, the longer you make that coffee, the less likely it is that someone will do it.
    If one person on a tandem bike is pedaling hard, the other person can take it easy. If you’re reliably doing a task, others will relax. They aren’t silently feeling more and more guilty for letting you shoulder the burden; they probably don’t even think about it. And after all, how hard is it to make a pot of coffee? (see Fact #1).
    Being taken for granted is an unpleasant but sincere form of praise. Ironically, the more reliable you are, and the less you complain, the more likely you are to be taken for granted.
    Fact 3: It’s hard to avoid “unconscious overclaiming.”
    In unconscious overclaiming, we unconsciously overestimate our contributions relative to others. This makes sense, because we’re far more aware of what we do than what other people do. Also, we tend to do the work that we value. I think holiday cards are important; my husband thinks that keeping the air-conditioning working is important.
    Studies showed that when spouses estimated what percentage of housework each performed, the percentages added up to more than 120 percent. When business-school students estimated how much they’d contributed to a team effort, the total was 139 percent.
    It’s easy to think “I’m the only one around here who bothers to…” or “Why do I always have to be the one who…?” but ignore all the tasks you don’t do. And maybe others don’t think that task is as important as you do (See Fact #5).
    Fact 4: Taking turns is easier than sharing.
    I read somewhere that young children have a lot of trouble “sharing” but find it easier to “take turns.” Sharing is pretty ambiguous; taking turns is clearer and serves the value of justice, which is very important to children.
    I think this is just as true for adults. I have to admit, shared tasks often give me the urge to try to shirk. Maybe if I pretend not to notice that the dishwasher is ready to be emptied, my husband will do it! And often he does. Which bring us to…
    Fact 5: The person who cares the most will often end up doing a task.
    If you care more about a task being done, you’re more likely to end up doing it — and don’t expect other people to care as much as you do, just because something is important to you. It’s easy to make this mistake in marriage. You think it’s important to get the basement organized, and you expect your spouse to share the work, but your spouse thinks, “We never use the basement anyway, so why bother?” Just because something’s important to you doesn’t make it important to someone else, and people are less likely to share work they deem unimportant. At least not without a lot of nagging.
    Fact 6: If you want someone else to do a task, don’t do it yourself.
    This sounds so obvious, but think about it. Really. Let it go. If you think you shouldn’t have to do it, don’t do it. Wait. Someone else is a lot more likely to do it if you don’t do it first. Note: this means that a task is most likely to be done by the person who cares most (see Fact #5).
    Of course, this doesn’t always work. Someone must get the kids ready for school. But many tasks are optional.
    I’ve just started thinking about this, and my ideas are still coming together. What did I get wrong, or overlook?

11/15/2012 – 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. Free Safety and Health Consultation / Shared Work Programs, (11/14 late pickup) Brentwood Library's Career Development Center Site via brentwoodcdc.wordpress.com
    BRENTWOOD, N.Y., USA - Free Safety and Health Consultation – The Department of Labor can help businesses in New York City and Long Island with immediate on-site or telephone safety and health consultations. The Department has a team of up to 40 safety and health professionals standing by to help provide information on personal protective equipment; the cleanup of mold, asbestos, lead and other hazards including electrical and mechanical issues; and construction and demolition issues. For an on-site consultation, please call (518) 457-3518 or visit any of the agency’s One-Stop Career Centers.
    Consultación de Salud y Seguridad Gratuita – El Departamento de labor puede ayudar negocios en la Ciudad de NY y Long Island con asistencia inmediata en su domicilio o a través de consultas por teléfono. El departamento tiene un equipo de hasta 40 Agentes de Seguridad y Salud esperando su llamada, ofreciendo información con herramientas protectoras, limpieza de asbestos, molde, plomo y otros peligros incluyendo asuntos de electricidad o mecánica; también asuntos de construcción e demolición. Para una consulta, por favor llame (518)-457-3518 o visite uno de los sitios One-Stop de la agencia de Labor.
    Shared Work – The Department of Labor can help businesses avoid layoffs by allowing employees to continue to work while collecting partial unemployment benefits. This program is particularly helpful for businesses that are still marginally in operation and can help offset the cost of paying for full time employees. For businesses interested in this program, please call the Shared Work program at (518) 457-2635 or visit any of the agency’s One-Stop Career Centers.
    Trabajo Compartido – El Departamento de Labor puede ayudar negocios evitar despidos (por razones de falta de trabajo) dejando empleados continuar a trabajar durante el tiempo que están recibiendo beneficios de desempleo parcial. Este programa es particularmente útil para negocios que operan ligeramente y puede compensar el costo de pagar por empleados de tiempo completo. Para negocios interesados en este programa, por favor llame al programa de Trabajo Compartido (518)-457-2635 o visite cualquiera de las agencias “One-Stop”.

  2. John Metz, Denny's CEO to cut Hours and Charge 5 Percent Obamacare Surcharge, Posted by Seth Horowitz, Huffington Post via Z6Mag.com
    [Shorter hours are happening anyway, but not the best way.]
    SPARTANBURG, S.C., USA - With the CEO of Papa John’s recently going public and saying that he will cut employees hours to avoid paying the high costs of insurance due to Obamacare, other business owners seem to be playing “follow the leader” and saying they plan on doing the same. One CEO is going one step further in hopes of being able to handle the costs and penalties that are associated with the Affordable Care Act.
    John Metz, CEO franchise owner of Denny’s restaurants and five Hurricane Grill and Wings,has decided to add a five percent surcharge to the bills of its’ customers. Knowing he could end up facing a backlash from customers, Metz feels he has no choice and is also sending a message to customers in the hopes that they will contact elected officials and tell them to put a stop to Obamacare.
    While many voters celebrated when Obama won his reelection campaign bid, many business owners were not happy as they saw the writing on the wall. They knew Obamacare was soon to become a reality; a costly reality that they would have to find the money to fund health insurance to their employees working 40 or more hours a week. However, one option was not to provide the health insurance to their employees but to instead reduce employee’s hours or simply laying them off.
    Applebees, for example, has announced they are planning massive layoffs as a result of Obama winning a second term and because of Obamacare. Metz has looked at his options and in order to deal with the impending health care costs that are associated with Obama’s Affordable Care Act, not only must he take away hours from his employees but also add a five percent surcharge to the bills of customers.
    Metz has tried to be open to both his employees and customers saying that he has no other alternative but to pass costs on to his customers. He said that, “because of Obamacare, we are cutting hours to under 30 hours, effective immediately.” He added that, “Everyone’s looking for a way to not have to provide insurance for their employees. It’s essentially a huge tax on all of us business people.”
    Metz went on further by telling the Huffington Post that, “I think it’s a terrible thing. It’s ridiculous that the maximum hours we can give people are twenty-eight hours a week instead of forty. It’s going to force my employees to go out and get a second job.”
    The average check at a Denny’s restaurant is $9, Metz said, meaning if the surcharge was implemented, 45 would be added to the bill. The average bill at a Hurricane Grill & Wings location is $14.50, so the surcharge amount would be 72 cents.
    Starting in December, Metz will hold meetings at all his Denny’s restaurants to talk about the surcharge to his employees and tell them “that because of Obamacare, we are going to be cutting front-of-the-house employees to under 30 hours, effective immediately.” He hopes that the meetings in the future will not alienate his employees but inspire them. He said, “What we’re going to ask them to do is to speak to their elected officials, to try to convey what this means in terms of their jobs and their livelihoods,” Metz said.
    Though he wants to cover his employees with insurance, his current coverage has costs of $5,000 to $6,000 annually for full-time employees. Metz said, “Obviously, I’d love to cover all our employees under that insurance. But to pay $5,000 per employee would cost us $175,000 per restaurant, and unfortunately, most of our restaurants don’t make $175,000 a year. I can’t afford it.”
    Though Metz feels that Obamacare is more harmful than beneficial, he may not realize the positive effects of choosing to have employer-based health care. There have been studies to support that Obamacare ultimately decreases the costs of health care for small businesses. Not only that, by providing insurance coverage for employees generally leads to higher retention rates, a more competitive hiring market and more satisfied employees.
    If Metz follows through with his plan on a five percent surcharge for customers, a simple option is to go to another restaurant; at least for now. With other restaurants contemplating on reducing staff hours to deal with Obamacare, such as the Olive Garden and Red Lobster, it may be only a matter of time before restaurants adopt Metz’s idea for a five percent surcharge that all customers will have to pay.

11/14/2012 – 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. Shared work - An alternative to laying off employees, labor.mo.gov/DES/Forms
    [Missouri Div. of Employment Security has come out with an info pamphlet on the state's shared work program -]
    JEFFERSON CITY, Mo., USA - Shared Work
    The Shared Work Unemployment Compensation Program is an alternative to layoffs for employers faced with a reduction in available work.
    It allows an employer to divide the available work among a specified group of affected employees instead of a layoff.
    These employees receive a portion of their unemployment benefits while working reduced hours.
    To participate, an employer must complete an application for the affected unit within the company and submit it to the Division of Employment Security (DES) for approval.
    [Testimonial -]
    “We were able to keep our business afloat and our employees were able to make ends meet from the money they received through the program. I’m not sure what any of us would have done without it.” --St. Louis Employer
    An Example of How It WORKs for Employers
    [Their four illustrations here may be seen *online.]
    An Example of How It WORKs for Employees
    [The four illustrations here may also be seen *online.]
    Will It WORK for You?
    The DES May Approve a Shared Work Plan if:
    • There is an “affected unit” of three or more employees.
    • The normal 40-hour workweek and corresponding wages for a participating employee are reduced in the plan by no fewer than 20 percent and no more than 40 percent.
    • The plan applies to at least 10 percent of the employees in the affected unit.
    • The plan describes the manner in which the participating employer treats the fringe benefits of each employee in the affected unit.
    • The employer certifies that the implementation of a Shared Work Plan and the resulting reduction in work hours is in lieu of a temporary layoff that would affect at least 10 percent of the employees in the affected unit and that would result in an equivalent reduction in work hours.
    Process Once the Application is Filed
    If the plan is approved, the employer must complete a biweekly certification. The forms will continue to be mailed to the employer for each week the plan is in effect.
    If you have any questions about the Shared Work Program, call: 573-751-WORK (9675). You can apply online or obtain an application to mail by visiting: www.SharedWork.mo.gov
    Missouri Div. of Employment Security

  2. Chipmaker Infineon plans drastic cost-cutting, Agence France-Presse via google.com/hostednews/afp
    BERLIN, Germany — German chip maker Infineon on Wednesday announced a brutal series of cost-cutting measures, including putting some workers on reduced hours, as it unveiled a disappointing set of results.
    "Macroeconomic headwinds are getting stronger and we do not see this changing in the near term. We are therefore forecasting a drop in revenue for the 2013 fiscal year," Infineon boss Reinhard Ploss said in a statement.
    Cost-cutting measures would include "temporarily switching off underutilised equipment, reducing the temporary workforce and the selective use of short-time work," the firm announced.
    In addition, investments for next year would be slashed from 500 million euros ($637 million) to 400 million euros and certain development projects would be shelved.
    Infineon also said it planned to freeze hiring to maintain its staff levels at current levels and to postpone certain salary increases.
    For its fiscal year 2012-2013, Infineon said it expected a drop in earnings by between roughly five and 10 percent.
    Group earnings dropped two percent in the fiscal year 2011-2012 just ended to 3.9 billion euros. Operating profit fell by 42 percent to 432 million euros.
    The firm put the poor figures down to "global economic uncertainties caused by high public-sector debt levels in Europe".
    The eurozone debt crisis "caused customers to be increasingly cautious in their willingness to spend as the 2012 fiscal year took its course," the company complained.
    Despite the poor news, investors appeared buoyed by the announcement of the cost-cutting measures.
    Infineon stock was the top gainer on the DAX market of leading German shares, up more than three percent despite the broader market being marginally in the red.

11/13/2012 – 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. 35 hour week, by Robert Nielsen, (11/12 late pickup) robertnielsen21.wordpress.com
    DUBLIN, Ireland - Back in 1930 Keynes predicted that in the future people would only work 15 hours a week. We would become so productive that we could produce everything we needed while only working a short amount of time. Our lives could then be devoted to things we love and enjoy. Instead we are in a world of extremes. Some are lost in a sea of despair and hopelessness, ashamed that they cannot find work. Others are on the verge of burnout from overwork and stress, with no time for their friends or family. We need to stop and relax and enjoy things that really matter. The solution is to reduce the working week, initially to four days and then after several years to three days. There are 3 main reasons for this, it will reduce unemployment, reduce consumerism and increase leisure time.
    [Actually it would increase consumer spending per person by centrifuging the money supply as the reduced unemployment raises general wage levels, but the increased leisure time would give people a chance to make sure they're spending more but eco-impacting less.]
    The main argument in favour is that it will give us more free time. After all, what is the point of having wealth if you have no time to enjoy it? Surely work should be a means to an end, not the end in itself. We should work to live not live to work. We are far more prosperous generation than our ancestors but are we happier? We are increasingly unsatisfied with modern life (I am referring to the boom times as well as the bust). Stress and overwork is damaging our health and leaving us with little time to spend with our families. Advances in technology means we can easily complete tasks that decades ago would have been enormous challenges. This is an opportunity because it means we can live prosperous lives (especially compared to the Third World) while only working a short time.
    Even if a shorter working week meant less growth is that a bad thing? Growth for its own sake is the logic of a cancer cell, there is no reason why it should be the logic of our society. After all, what is the point of having all this extra money if we don’t have any time to enjoy it? We are far richer than our grandparents but are we happier? Does a healthy bank balance compensate for an unhealthy life? Are we paying for this extra money through ill health, physically and mentally? What is the point of extra money is we don’t have the time to do the things in life we really love? Is extra money really worth less time with our family and friends? Surely we should control our work and use it to improve our lives, not the other way around.
    The second advantage is that a shorter working week is the only sustainable option. Our planet is running out of resources. We cannot continually produce and consume such vast amounts. Global warming will mean the greatest problem of the 21st century and all agree that to combat it we will need to consume less. There isn’t enough oil in the world to allow constantly increasing consumption. Either we continue as we are until we eventually fall off a cliff or we gradually reduce consumption to a sustainable level. If we work less and be content with things other than money, then we will not be driven to constantly live beyond our means. Less work and less money means less pollution. We will not be constantly buying junk we do not need only to throw it away, wasting valuable resources.
    The third advantage is that it shares the work around. There are many people who are suffering from overwork and others suffering from under work (unemployment & poverty). We do not need to constantly work like donkeys; rather we only need a minimum to afford the basics of life. When France introduced a 35 hour week it is estimated that this created between 300,000 and 350,000 new jobs. If you cut hours by 20%, there is two possible results. Either productivity increases by 20% or the number of employees increases by 20%. Most likely there will be a mix of the two, meaning unemployment probably will decline. Demand could drop by 20% but there is no reason why people who want a product on Monday will not want it Tuesday.
    The main criticism is that it is based on the “lump of labour fallacy”. This is the idea that there is a fixed amount of work to be done which can be divided up, so more for you is less for me. Strangely, the same people who mock this proposal turn around and state that an increase in wages (caused by trade unions or a minimum wage) will lead to unemployment. Or that more immigrants means fewer jobs for natives. Or there is no such thing as a free lunch so more for you means less for me. Basically they argue that there is a lump of labour when it suits them, but not when it doesn’t.
    Shorter working week could have beneficial effects on productivity. By reducing the level of stress and exhaustion from overwork, employees can be more productive. Overwork kills any enjoyment people have in their jobs, with a shorter working week. It would reduce absenteeism and turnover. There would be better morale which means staff would work better at their job. There is nothing worse than having to deal with an overworked stressful staff member. People would engage more with their work and be more focused and innovative. Studies on shorter hours have found that they increase job satisfaction, productivity and reduce carbon emissions through less travelling (which also reduces stress).
    Some even argue that it could increase consumption as people while consume more if they have more leisure time (though this does contradict the argument above. The point is that many things can occur, even those in opposite directions). It could ease people into retirement and change the current situation where people are shocked and feeling worthless when they stop working. Most industrial accidents (which kill more people than war) are caused by overworked employees and pressurised staff forced to take short cuts.
    Critics argue that it would increase labour costs and could reduce productivity as not everyone has the same skills and the replacement worker may not be as good as the original. However this misses the point of economies of scale and the division of labour which is the key lesson of the growth of economies since the Industrial Revolution. It should be noted that longer hours do not necessarily make you richer. After all it is the poorest countries in the world that work the longest. The average Greek works some of the longest hours in Europe while the average German works some of the shortest (contrary to the stereotype).
    It must be very interesting for someone from the Third World to come to the First World. They would probably be impressed by the prosperity and wealth. However they would also be shocked by how little we enjoy it and how much we waste. They would be shocked by how everyone is also under pressure, always rushing somewhere, never taking the time to stop and enjoy life. If we gradually reduced how much we work we could devote ourselves to the pleasures and joys of life instead of the mundane drudgery. Work should be the means that allow us to live; it should not control our lives. If we worked three days a week, think of the boundless opportunities we would have.

  2. Opel cuts won't be as severe as Ford's, union says, by Christiaan Hetzner and Jan Schwartz, Reuters.com
    FRANKFURT, Germany - Ford's (F.N) decision to close three factories and cull 5,700 jobs in Europe does not herald more severe downsizing at General Motors' (GM.N) Opel unit, which has already made big cutbacks, Opel's top labour leader said.
    Mass market manufacturers such as Ford, Opel, Peugeot (PEUP.PA) and Fiat (FIA.MI) all expect heavy losses in Europe over the next couple of years as painful economic reforms send demand plummeting to levels not seen since in nearly 20 years.
    But Opel works council Chairman Wolfgang Schaefer-Klug said he aims to reach a deal over the future size of its German workforce with management before Christmas and did not believe the talks would spread into discussions on other major closures.
    "I don't expect that it will come to some huge number of job cuts as part of the restructuring, rather the opposite, much fewer (than many believe)," Schaefer-Klug told Reuters.
    "Only Bochum is up for discussion according to GM, no other Opel plants, whether in Germany or elsewhere in Europe."
    While he reiterated opposition to Opel's plans to close its plant in the western German city of Bochum, he added his top priority was to ensure workers have secure jobs come 2017, when the site could be shuttered, whether at Opel or not.
    The elected workforce official is negotiating with Opel and trade union IG Metall to extend a blanket job guarantee for the company's four German sites by two years to the end of 2016.
    If market conditions worsen, Schaefer-Klug said, Opel could manage by further using "Kurzarbeit", a government-subsidized short-time work scheme that was used widely by German industry during the global financial crisis in 2009.
    One idea would be to bring production of the Opel Mokka to Europe at the cost of jobs in Korea, where it is assembled now.
    "The Mokka would fill an important gap in our Spanish plant, and help to improve utilization there ... This volume was never supposed to go to Korea in the first place," he said.
    The Opel labour leader said he did not believe Ford's move would put pressure on Opel to take more drastic action, dismissing reports that GM is falling behind its U.S. peer in tackling overcapacity in Europe.
    Opel in recent years has shut a factory in Belgium, its commercial van plant in Portugal and car manufacturing in its Luton, England facility, while Ford had not closed any vehicle assembly plants since Dagenham in 2002, he said.
    The GM brand has already cut into its fixed cost base so deeply that Opel employs fewer people in its German market than Ford. The U.S. rival has already given a guarantee not to lay off any German workers through 2016.
    "Opel has taken out 600,000 cars in capacity and cut 12,000 workers since 2006. Additionally, two engine plants were closed and several lines were taken out in European sites, reducing capacity even more," Schaefer-Klug said.
    "There is no manufacturer that took out as much capacity as Opel has."
    (Editing by David Holmes)

11/11-12/2012 – 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. Papa John's pizza cuts employees' hours supposedly due to Obamacare, by Chris in Paris, 11/11 AMERICAblog.com
    LOUISVILLE, Ky., USA - Right.
    As the CEO of Papa Johns, John Schnatter can do what he wants to do with the company. He created it, and built it into a massive enterprise across the US. He’s reportedly worth around $260 million and lives in a mansion with its own golf course.
    Yet, despite living luxuriously, he claims that charging 11 to 14 cents more per pizza (his estimate of what Obamacare will cost his company) is simply too much — so he’s going to cut his employees’ hours, and pay, instead, so the law won’t apply to him.
    At the same time, nobody is forcing anyone to buy his pizza. I always found Papa Johns to be a pretty bad pizza [NOTE FROM JOHN: I'm from Chicago, we are pizza. Papa John's sucks], but next to Dominos Pizza (based in Ann Arbor, Michigan…enough said) it was a mild improvement. Either way, I always avoided the national brands and opted for something local. Now, there’s an even better reason to find better pizza. pizza delivery
    Executives like Schnatter somehow miss the point (much like Romney did during the campaign) that he alone did not create the business. Thousands of employees made his dream house a reality. Yes, it’s fair to give Schnatter credit for building the business, growing it, but nobody builds something like that on their own. He’s typical of the narcissistic CEOs who believe that nobody else was there to help them, and nobody is helping them keep the business afloat.
    While alternative choices for pizza are obviously out there, and certainly tastier, Schnatter should have the full opportunity to see just how well his business does with fewer customers and even more important, fewer employees. If he thinks the company can still keep up with the competition while stretching low wage employees, go for it. Sounds like a stupid business move to me, but Schnatter owns the business and can accept responsibility for it.
    If only we had fewer CEOs like this and more that cared about the “we” instead of “me.”
    The next time you want a pizza, just keep this in mind. CEOs can make choices, but so can consumers.
    Huffington Post:
    Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter said he plans on passing the costs of health care reform to his business onto his workers. Schnatter said he will likely reduce workers’ hours, as a result of President Obama’s reelection, the Naples News reports. Schnatter made headlines over the summer when he told shareholders that the cost of a Papa John’s pizza will increase by between 11 and 14 cents due to Obamacare.
    “I got in a bunch of trouble for this,” he said, referring to the comments he made in August, according to Naples News. “That’s what you do, is you pass on costs. Unfortunately, I don’t think people know what they’re going to pay for this.”

  2. Activist Lilly Ledbetter to speak at Union on Monday, by Nikki Wentling nwentling@kansan.com, 11/12 The University Daily Kansan via kansan.com
    LAWRENCE, Kans., USA - Lilly Ledbetter, who fought for equal pay for women, will speak at the Woodruff Auditorium in the Kansas Union on Monday, Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m.
    Congress passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and President Obama signed it into law in 2009. This act is an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and it addresses the decision of the Supreme Court in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.According to the University Press Release, Ledbetter discovered she was paid less for the same work as her male peers after working for the company for almost 20 years.
    “I think it will be fascinating and very relevant,” said Kathy Rose-Mockry, program director for the Emily Taylor Women’s Resource Center. “When you look at the issues of pay equity, it is just so critical for women. That is the essential component of women’s freedom — being able to support yourself with a livable wage.”
    Ledbetter’s speech, titled “And Justice for All? Why Equal Pay for Women Matters to Everyone” will be followed by a book signing of her memoir, “Grace and Grit,” which was released in February and focuses on her case for equal pay.
    MaleMatters • a day ago
    Here is what Ledbetter won't say:
    "Will the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act Help Women?"
    "The Department of Labor considers full-time employment to be 35 or more hours per week. Men are more likely to work more hours, while women are more likely to work less than 35 hours per week. In 2009, 66.6 percent of American workers working less than 35-hour workweeks were women. In comparison, just 45.1 percent of workers logging more than 35 hours a week were men."
    [These data have been way outdated in the last three years. Scan down to article "A part-time, low-wage epidemic - The jobs gained recently by the U.S. economy are disproportionately low-paying, insecure ones" below on 11/06/2012 #2. This is not about the "battle between the sexes" - BOTH would be much better off with a workweek automatically adjusting to achieve and maintain full employment and the maximum consumer spending that results.]
    Here's just one example of why on average even the most sophisticated, educated women earn less than men even in the exact same profession:
    “In 2011, 22% of male physicians and 44% of female physicians worked less than full time, up from 7% of men and 29% of women from Cejka’s 2005 survey.”

11/10/2012 – 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. Is The 29 Hour Work Week Coming As Employers Seek To Escape The Obamacare Mandate? CNSNews.com
    ALEXANDRIA, Va., USA - Businesses with 50 or more employees who average at least 30 hours of work a week will be subject to the Obamacare insurance coverage mandate.
    Companies are reportedly planning large layoffs due to the implementation of Obamacare.
    But, companies can potentially avoid being subject to Obamacare's insurance requirements by limiting employees’ weekly hours to less than the 30 hour level defined by Obamacare as “full-time.”
    A little-known section in the ObamaCare health reform law defines “full-time” work as averaging only 30 hours per week, a definition that will affect some employers who utilize part-time workers to trim the cost of complying with the ObamaCare rule that says businesses with 50 or more full-time workers must provide health insurance or pay a fine.

    “The term ‘full-time employee’ means, with respect to any month, an employee who is employed on average at least 30 hours of service per week,” section 1513 of the law reads. (Scroll down to section 4, paragraph A.)
    That section, known as the employer mandate, requires any business with 50 or more full-time employees to provide at least the minimum level of government-defined health coverage to those employees. In other words, a business must provide insurance if it has 50 or more employees working an average of just 30 hours per week, which is 10 hours per week fewer than the traditional 40-hour work week.
    Thus, by cutting employees’ hours to ensure they average less than the 30 per week, employers could potentially avoid the cost of providing the minimum insurance levels mandated by Obamacare.
    [Shorter hours are happening anyway but not the best way. Case in point -]
    Papa John's Pizza CEO John Schnatter will cut hours of employees due to Obamacare, by Stephanie Marcell, TheCelebrityCafe.com
    LONG ISLAND, N.Y., USA - In the midst of the controversy surrounding President Obama’s mandate to provide health insurance to workers with thirty or more hours, one of America’s largest pizza chains, Papa John's, has made a formal statement that it will reduce workers hours in response to the expenses of healthcare.
    The Huffington Post reports that, John Schnatter, the CEO of Papa John’s pizza, made it clear that because of the cost of healthcare employees hours would have to be reduced. His critique of Obamacare is clear. Schnatter commented, “That's what you do, is you pass on costs. Unfortunately, I don't think people know what they're going to pay for this.”
    Shnatter told Naples News that other food chains are already reducing hours to avoid the cost of healthcare for its employees. Schnatter continues, "That's probably what's going to happen. It's common sense. That's what I call lose-lose."
    There has been massive feedback on social media about Obamacare. The Drudge Report tweets that “COMPANIES PLAN MASSIVE LAYOFFS AS OBAMACARE BECOMES REALTY...”
    There are many large companies speaking out with a “it’s simply business” attitude on the matter.

  2. Fiat Panda plant gets lean award – but is on short time work, by Andrew Marsh, AutoIndustryInsider.com
    POMIGLIANO D'ARCO, Campania, Italy - iat has built small cars for many decades with style, character which are usually immensely attractive to both European as well as the main export markets of South America. They have struggled to produce convincing competitors for the C segment (Ford Focus / Volkswagen Golf) and really come off second best in the larger D segment (Ford Fusion_Mondeo / Volkswagen Passat).
    Fiat started production of the last Panda in Poland during 2003 and it formed the bedrock of the automotive division income during the turbulent years that saw GM almost buy Fiat (but had a disastrously expensive joint venture instead), Fiat almost buy out Opel and then – the most audacious move of all – Fiat take over Chrysler Group without any cash. Throughout the plant in Poland increased output and sold more Pandas along with 500s.
    As a sling shot off the Fiat 500 programme which is now a truly global car, the Panda was replaced in 2012 – the start up of production was problematic because it was shifted the Pomigliano D’Arco plant in Italy, and the very first deliveries were hampered by a national strike. Since then the demand has softened, to the point that so far this year – given production effectively commenced in April 2012 – the plant has spent a total of 5 weeks out of action so far over and above planned shut-downs.
    With some irony the Pomigliano D’Arco plant was given a lean manufacturing awared on 7th November 2012, at the Leipzig Convention Centre during the 7th International Congress organised by Automobil Produktion and Agamus Consult. One supposes producing nothing amounts to supreme lean.
    The Fiat structural problems remained – over reliance on a shrinking European market and especially the Italian domestic market, along with too many factories producing vehicles with build costs which ate too high. The leadership of Fiat-Chrysler know this well, and have repeatedly warned the Italian Government that unless there is room to make business decisions many more plants will close. For the good workers at Pomigliano D’Arco, the lean manufacturing award is truly double edged.

11/09/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. If you are in danger of laying-off employees due to Hurricane Sandy: Tumblr.com
    ALBANY, N.Y., USA - 1. Enter employees into The Shared Work Program: The Shared Work program gives you an alternative to laying off full-time employees when you have to deal with temporary business downturns. It makes sense for you to keep productive employees. Instead of cutting staff, you can reduce the number of hours of all employees or just a select group, and the employees would receive Shared Work Benefits to help offset the lower wages. Apply today at bit.ly/sharedworkprogram.
    2. Help employees get Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA):Disaster Unemployment Assistance is a Federal program that can provide payments to people who have lost work or income due to Hurricane Sandy. The NYS Department of Labor determines if claims filed under the program are valid, and makes payments to those who qualify. Laid-off employees should apply for DUA by December 3, 2012. To apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance, visit bit.ly/disasterunemploymentassistance or call 1-888-209-8124.
    Please share this information with your network on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, email, etc.

  2. Moscow Zoo shortens working hours for winter, by Alina Lobzina, The Moscow News
    MOSCOW, Russian Federation - The Moscow Zoo is to shorten its working day by three hours starting from Nov. 13 for the winter season, the zoo’s administration announced.
    [Seasonal hours adjustments instead of seasonal layoffs and unemployment = Timesizing not downsizing. The animals need the same amount of care anyway.]
    Closing time is now 5 p.m., while entrances and ticket offices are to close one hour prior to that. The opening time remains without changes and is set at 10 a.m.
    ‘Wandering in the dark’
    “Shorter daylight hours are the only reason for that, wandering in the dark in the zoo is not what people are going to do,” Yelena Mendosa, the zoo’s spokeswoman, told The Moscow News.
    “It has nothing to do with the animals, they sleep a lot anyway,” she added.
    The zoo’s “Exotarium,” which houses the amphibians, reptiles and other creepy-crawlies, is to be open from 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., and winter enclosures are to be operating for animals from warmer climes.
    Enclosures with Indonesian animals, warmth-loving felines and the second floor of the “Birds House” are to be closed due to technical works, according to the zoo’s website.

11/08/2012 – 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. Strapped EU Bosses Can Nix Vacation to Keep Jobs, by William Dotinga, Courthouse News Service via courthousenews.com
    LUXEMBOURG - Europe's highest court on Thursday upheld vacation-reduction agreements between struggling companies and unions.
    The dispute rose after German auto industry subcontractor Kaiser GmbH announced plans to lay off workers because of financial difficulties in 2009. To forestall the layoffs by a year, Kaiser and its union reached a deal that handed workers a "zero hours short-time working" plan, giving them a government unemployment allowance rather than a salary paid by Kaiser.

    Two employees sued after Kaiser claimed that they had not earned paid vacation time since they did not actually do any work under the zero-hours union agreement. A German labor court then asked the EU Court of Justice if Europe's annual paid leave mandate allows agreements that reduce paid vacation proportionally to workers' reduced working time.
    The Luxembourg court concluded Thursday that EU law does not prevent such agreements, noting that the situation of the workers in this case is fundamentally different from that of workers unable to work because of illness.
    Settled EU case law entitles people on sick leave to the same paid vacation time as active workers, while union agreements like the one in this case suspend the obligations of both employer and employee, according to the court.
    "The latter is free to rest or to devote himself to recreational and leisure activities," the decision states. "Accordingly, inasmuch as that worker is not subject to physical or psychological constraints caused by an illness, he is in a situation different from that resulting from an inability to work due to his state of health."
    The court also noted that the point of the agreement between Kaiser and the union was to alleviate financial hardship and avoid layoffs.
    "Linking the benefit of that advantage granted to the worker by national law to the employer's obligation to pay for paid annual leave during the period of the formal extension, for purely social reasons, of the employment contract, would be liable to make the employer reluctant to agree to such a social plan and, consequently, deprive the worker of its positive effects," the decision states.
    Employees who accept a zero-hours agreement essentially become part-time workers and are therefore subject to the EU pro rata temporis rules of determining vacation time, the court concluded, remanding the case back to the German labor court for final judgment.

  2. ECJ: Paid annual leave can be reduced for social plans, by Sophie Petitjean, Europolitics.info
    PASSAU, Germany - An 8 November ruling by the EU Court of Justice (ECJ, joint Cases C-229/11 and C-230/11) concluded that the right to paid annual leave may be reduced proportionally to the reduction in working time agreed under a social plan. Answering a question brought to it by the Arbeitsgericht Passau (Passau Labour Court, Germany), the ECJ said that the situation of an employee on a short-time working scheme (working time reduced as a result of an agreed social plan) is comparable to that of a part-time worker. Conversely, the ECJ stressed that the situation of a worker on short-time working is different from that of a worker who is unable to work as a result of an illness. The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, read in combination with Directive 2003/88/EC concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time, provides that every worker is entitled to paid annual leave of at least four weeks. If the employment relationship is terminated, that minimum period of paid annual leave may be replaced by an allowance in lieu.
    The cases relate to the disputes between Alexander Heimann and Konstantin Toltschin, respectively, and their former employer, Kaiser GmbH, a subcontracting business in the motor industry. The disputes concern an allowance in lieu claimed on the basis of annual paid leave, which those workers were not able to take in 2009 and 2010. Due to financial difficulties, Kaiser had dismissed Heimann and Toltschin with effect from the end of June and August 2009, respectively.
    However, for a year following their dismissal, Heimann and Toltschin received,via Kaiser, an allowance known as ‘Kurzarbeitergeld’ from the Federal Employment Agency – without having to work. Kaiser claims that, during that period of ‘zero hours short-time working’, Heimann and Toltschin did not acquire any rights to paid annual leave.
    In its judgement, the ECJ pointed out that the situation of a worker on short-time working in the context of a social plan is fundamentally different from that of a worker who is unable to work as a result of an illness; the latter being entitled, in accordance with the court’s case law, to paid annual leave in the same way as a worker in active employment. In the context of short-time working, the obligations of both the worker and the employer are, by staff agreement, suspended. Moreover, in contrast to a worker unable to work due to his state of health, who is subject to physical or psychological constraints caused by his illness, the worker on short-time working may use his free time to rest. Furthermore, if the employer was required to pay annual paid leave during the period of short-time working, it would be liable to bring about a reluctance on the part of the employer to agree to a social plan.
    However, the ECJ concluded that the situation of an employee on short-time working is comparable to that of a part-time worker. Accordingly, in accordance with its case law (Case C-486/08), the ECJ pointed out that, for a period of part-time working, paid annual leave may be reduced proportionally to the reduction in working time.

11/07/2012 – 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. Tombstone voters will pick city's mayor, by Dana Cole, (11/06 late pickup) Sierra Vista Herald via svherald.com
    TOMBSTONE, Ariz., USA – When Tombstone voters go to the polls today, they’ll be deciding between current Mayor Steve Schmidt and former Mayor Jack Henderson, as well as Ward 4 City Council candidates, Herb Linn and Deborah Bachman.
    Schmidt won a recall election against Henderson last March, but now faces Henderson in the general election after the former mayor secured enough votes in the primary to run against him.
    Unhappy about some of the decisions Henderson made while serving as mayor, Schmidt said he had concerns about financial issues that have been burdening Tombstone. The town’s current cash flow struggle is the primary reason Schmidt decided to support the recall campaign against Henderson. After taking office, Schmidt said he followed the advice of the town’s financial director and implemented employee work furloughs to help with the city’s cash flow shortfall.
    “The furloughs have allowed the city to continue operations without turning to employee lay-offs,” Schmidt said. “It was a plan that was put in place by the city’s financial director and we expect to continue with the furloughs through Nov. 28. We’re hoping to stop them after that.”
    A Tombstone resident since 1973, Schmidt owns several businesses in town, to include Johnny Ringo’s bar and the Depot restaurant. He has also served on the city council.
    “Serving as mayor definitely has its challenges,” Schmidt said. The ongoing struggle between the City of Tombstone and the U.S. Forest Service over a waterline that runs through protected areas of the Huachuca Mountains has created one of the greatest challenges for the community, Schmidt said. “The city needs to continue obtaining water from the springs in the Huachucas in order to blend water with a well that we’re using. Because of high arsenic levels, we only have one well we can use, so the springs are vital to our city’s water supply.”
    The City of Tombstone’s right to access the water line escalated into a controversy between the city and the forest service when the line sustained damage following monsoon rains after the Monument Fire. At a time when he was still mayor, Henderson took heavy equipment into protected areas of the Huachuca Mountains to repair the damaged line, but was ordered to leave by the forest service. Tombstone has since filed a federal lawsuit against the forest service, a move Schmidt does not feel was wise on the part of the city, but one Henderson supports.
    The controversy between Tombstone and the forest service garnered national attention. In addition, the Goldwater Institute is representing the City of Tombstone in a lawsuit the city filed against the forest service. “We have the strongest water rights claim in the state of Arizona and we’re backed by the documentation to prove it,” said Henderson. “Once the dust settles and the court hearings are over, I’m sure we will be allowed to go back in there with the equipment that we need and make the repairs on that water line.”
    Herb Linn, who is running for a Ward 4 council seat against Deborah Bachman, said, “I decided to run for a council seat because the previous administration has gotten us into a bankruptcy situation where we have to get Tombstone back on solid financial footing.”
    Linn also expressed his displeasure about the lawsuit against the forest service and its potential cost to Tombstone. “We have lawyers that are suing the federal government under the Goldwater Institute,” he said. “They are representing the city at no charge. But in addition to the Goldwater Institute, the previous administration hired other attorneys which have cost the city $100,000. That additional money is the last thing we need to be paying out right now.”
    Originally from Illinois, Linn has been a Tombstone resident for 19 years. He served on the city council from 2000 to 2002, was mayor pro tem, and served on the police commission.
    With a background in construction, commercial and residential property management, real estate sales and more recently, retail sales, Bachman has worked with contractors, negotiated contracts and prepared and maintained a $1.6 million budget. “I have served on several boards as president and as a member. I have also served on a chamber in our small town in Kansas and I am an individual member of our chamber in Tombstone,” she said.
    Since moving to Tombstone in 2008, Bachman has attended all but three regular city council meetings. “I believe I can be an asset to the community and to the residents of Ward 4,” she said. Topping her list of priorities for Tombstone, Bachman said she is most concerned about the water issue. “This needs to be the top of the list for all,” she said. “I support connecting springs to our mountain water system and whatever else we need to do to keep our city’s drinking water fresh and pure. I am for whatever measures need to be taken to protect our water rights. Without water, Tombstone cannot exist.”
    Along with the water issue, Bachman promises to work hard to improve the town’s roads and implement other infrastructure improvements. “We need to utilize those residents that have the talent and ability to write requests for state and federal grants,” she said. “The mayor and council need to make tough decisions with any available funds to decide where they are needed the most.”

  2. Bosch introduces further solar scale backs, by Jacob Paulsen, PV Magazine via pv-magazine.com
    ARNSTADT, Germany - Bosch has announced shorter working hours for around 3,500 of its solar employees. A complete phase out of photovoltaics is no longer excluded, despite the fact the company distanced itself from solar exit rumors last month.
    While rumors were rampant that Bosch would withdraw from the solar industry, it refused to either deny or confirm them in October.
    Now it has been reported in German media, including the Stuttgarter Zeitung and RSP, that Bosch has introduced shorter working hours at several of its production locations. Meanwhile, production in Arnstadt, where 700 workers are employed, will be cut by 20% by the end of December. Shorter working hours have been in place there since October.
    The workers council requested that the site not be closed in a letter to the management. In the area of thin film, however, the decision has already been made, with Bosch Solar Energy AG announcing in August the closure of its 30 MW thin film plant in Erfurt.
    At the time, a spokesperson said that the company would only focus on crystalline photovoltaics in the future, and that it would continue to produce and sell its modules worldwide.
    Bosch subsidiary, aleo solar AG has also introduced shorter working hours for its 700 employees, after having announced on October 8 that it would not extend its temporary worker contracts in a bid to reduce inventory. At the time, it was said that production was expected to again be ramped up in early 2013.
    "The order situation is significantly weaker than we imagined it," aleo recently reported. In 2011, the company recorded losses of around 31% before tax, and the company’s sales target for 2012 has been reduced to €280 million, from €440 million.
    Additionally this year, aleo announced the termination of its avim solar production Co. Ltd joint venture in China and the closure of its photovoltaic module factory in Santa Maria de Palautordera, Spain.
    To support its subsidiary, Bosch provided aleo with loans totaling around €60 million, which must be repaid by the end of this year.
    Currently, Bosch Solar is said to be checking for opportunities to countermeasure the poor results. While a cooperation with Asian partners is said to be under discussion, a complete exit from the solar industry is still on the table, said the company. A decision is expected to be made by the end of 2012.
    Translated by Becky Beetz.

11/06/2012 – 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. ArcelorMittal cuts workweek at SBQ mill, American Metal Market (subscription) via amm.com
    EAST CHICAGO, Ind., USA — Responding to market conditions, ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor has placed about 155 hourly employees on a 32-hour workweek.
    [Timesizing not downsizing.]
    The Eact [sic] Chicago, Ind., mill, which is part of Chicago-based ArcelorMittal USA, produces special bar quality (SBQ) products in 1000, 1100 and 1200 grades.
    "This company anticipates returning to normal operations once market demand can sustain full market operations," a spokeswoman told AMM Tuesday. The company did not respond to requests for comment about how the action will impact production levels. ....

  2. A part-time, low-wage epidemic - The jobs gained recently by the U.S. economy are disproportionately low-paying, insecure ones, opinion by chairman & editor Mortimer Zuckerman of U.S. News & World Report, Wall Street Journal, A15.
    [It's a miracle! A sane article on the WSJ editorial/opinion pages!]
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - As Americans head to the polls, they face a disastrous new normal: For the first time, the U.S. economy has shifted in the direction of a part-time, low-wage workforce. The number of Americans now working part time has soared to 8.3 million—up 313,000 in the past two months alone. With economic growth declining or stagnant for quarter after quarter, many companies feel it is too risky to take on people full time.
    The number of Americans now working part time has soared to 8.3 million—up 313,000 in the past two months alone. With economic growth declining or stagnant for quarter after quarter, many companies feel it is too risky to take on people full time.

    [All together now: "Shorter hours are happening anyway, but not the best way."]
    This has created an army [Marx's word!] of "underutilized labor." America's narrow unemployment rate is 7.9%, but it is 14.6% when accounting for involuntary part-time workers.
    [And RIGHT THERE we have the mechanism by which our money supplies are being concentrated and decelerated and decirculated and deactivated, without limit, in a small population that soon acquires way way more than it spends, way more than it donates and even more than it quickly reinvests and "gets right back to work creating jobs" despite using this constantly as their self-justification = that is, the mechanism by which THE WEALTHY THEMSELVES CREATE RECESSION.]
    The number of Americans working full time has declined by 5.9 million since September 2007, while the number working part time has jumped by 2.6 million.
    Over the same period, according to the National Employment Law Project, low-wage occupations have grown nearly three times as fast as mid-wage and higher-wage ones. Whereas lower-wage jobs were 21% of losses during the recession, they have accounted for 58% of new jobs since—and these have the highest proportion of part-time jobs. By contrast, mid-wage occupations were 60% of recession losses but have been only 22% of recovery growth. Higher-wage occupations were 19% of jobs lost and have been 20% of jobs recovered.
    The lower-wage occupations that have seen the most growth include retail salespersons, food-preparation workers, laborers and freight workers, waiters and waitresses, personal- and home-care aides, office clerks and customer representatives. Over the past two years, the food service, retail and employment-services industries have added a total of 1.7 million low-wage jobs, fully 43% of America's net employment growth.
    Meanwhile, the better-paying manufacturing, finance, insurance and real-estate industries have seen no growth or not enough to make up for recession losses. And steep cuts in state and local government jobs have hit mid-wage and high-wage employees hardest.
    Then there is the matter of wage growth and decline. For those in lower-wage and mid-wage jobs, pay has declined over the past year by 2.1% and 2%, respectively. In higher-wage occupations, pay has increased 4.1%.
    This underscores the difference between job quantity and job quality. When low-wage jobs are growing in number, mid-wage jobs are disappearing and higher-wage jobs are paying more, the result is a hollowed-out middle class.
    Looking ahead, the industries expected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to add the most jobs by 2020—health care, social assistance and retail—are notorious for low-wage and insecure work. Many don't offer even minimum wage or overtime protection.
    Today's part-time workers will have it particularly rough in the future if they don't receive training to boost their skills. America will need to create 1.8 million to three million new jobs every year just to absorb the labor force's new entrants. So competition for scarce jobs will be tough, especially when technology and globalization are wiping out many middle-class jobs in manufacturing and transportation, for example.
    Won't the disequilibrium be corrected when the economy gets out of its rut? Alas, the long-term nature of these trends suggests they are more structural than cyclical. From academia to retail, government to warehouse work, employers are increasingly offering part-time work or nominally full-time jobs with lower wages and fewer benefits. ObamaCare will accelerate this trend starting in 2014, as the costs of insuring full-time workers will get so high that firms will have incentives to limit their weeks to 29 hours or fewer.
    America's challenge is to avoid descending totally into a low-wage, part-time economy with stagnant growth and employers pressed to shorten workers' hours or ask them to take unpaid leave. If not—and if millions of workers feel that they are falling further and further behind—the result will be a stratified society.
    Social mobility in America is already much less than we have long liked to believe. And disparities in income, education and social behavior are reinforcing themselves all the more, so future mobility might be lower still. Thus many Americans' gut feeling that the American dream is fading.
    According to the Pew Research Center, one-third of Americans now identify themselves as lower class or lower middle class, up from one-quarter in 2008. This isn't surprising when 23 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed. They, and everyone else in the economy, want to know: When will America once again be the land of opportunity?

  3. France Braces for Review Urging 'Shock' Reforms, by Catherine Boyle, CNBC.com
    PARIS, France - One of France's most high-profile business figures has released a report which could be the wake-up call many believe France’s economy needs – or could end up gathering dust on an Elysee shelf.
    Employees in the rest of Europe often look on in wonder at France, with its enshrined 35-hour working week, and a recent move to lower the retirement age to 60, for some, as the rest of the continent gloomily eyes an ever-increasing pensionable age.
    [France is leading the world with the shortest official workweek, and give me a break, 35 hours is not that short considering the U.S. Senate passed a 30-hour workweek in 1933 and some of our most conservative industries had 35-hour workweeks back in the 1960s (insurance, academe...). A frozen workweek in the age of robotics is a ticket to floods of desperate resumes, falling wages and consumer spending, transferring the entire money supply to the richest onepercent, and complete economic shutdown. The French are going to complain no matter how good they have it, but their language sounds so nice, who cares?]
    Its social security net is known for how widely it is cast, but this comes at a cost. Its export share has been falling as companies relocate to places with cheaper labor costs.
    [Fine, bar them from the robust French consumer markets. % contribution to national job maintenance & creation = % contribution to national job loss via import disemployment = ecological economics = the economics of loooong-term sustainability.]
    While big businesses such as energy provider EDF and luxury goods giants Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey and PPR have survived the downturn in relative health, France's small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), more dependent on the domestic economy, are in worse shape. Many economists blame this in part on profit margins squeezed by the cost of labor.
    "Locked in survival mode, with an insufficient accumulation policy and a greater sensitivity to economic shocks, SMEs face a considerable risk of disappearing," Axelle Lacan, economist at Credit Agricole, argued. "After five years of crisis, the structure of SMEs is extremely fragile and their financial difficulties are growing."
    [France is leading the world with the shortest official workweek, and give me a break, 35 hours is not that short considering the U.S. Senate passed a 30-hour workweek in 1933 and some of our most conservative industries had 35-hour workweeks back in the 1960s (insurance, academe...). A frozen workweek in the age of robotics is a ticket to floods of desperate resumes, falling wages and consumer spending, transferring the entire money supply to the richest onepercent, and complete economic shutdown. The French are going to complain no matter how good they have it, but their language sounds so nice, who cares? If SMEs can't survive with France's 35-hour-enabled high percapita consumer spending, they should push to reshuffle the nation's natural market-demanded employment into SHORTER workweeks and MORE jobs and employees and consumers, not the reverse.]
    Louis Gallois, the former chief executive of EADS called for 30 billion euros ($38.54 billion) worth of cuts to payroll taxes and job market reforms to kickstart France’s competitiveness in a report released Monday. He has previously spoken of the need for a “competitiveness shock” to the country, which many believe needs structural reforms urgently.
    President Francois Hollande's government is readying a response to the report. Hollande's socialist background and calls for a “competitiveness pact” rather than a “shock” last week suggest that his feelings on the topic may be markedly different to Gallois'.
    The most unpredictable factor around Monday’s announcement is how much notice France’s government will take of it. France has been dubbed “the big laggard” of Europe by Credit Suisse analysts, who argue that its potential is being stifled by the need for structural reforms. Reforms could add around 0.75 percentage points to annual GDP growth, according to International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates. In an economy which is expected to grow by just 0.6 percent this year, this could make a material difference.
    The IMF added its voice to Gallois' on Monday afternoon in calling for greater competitiveness in France, heaping more pressure on the government to act.
    [Competitiveness, shmompetitiveness - this is just sacrificing your entire economy for one industry = exports = overrated & low-priority & out-of-YOUR-control anyway!]
    Hollande’s first budget, which increased the tax burden on businesses at the same time as reducing public sector spending by less than hoped for, failed to alleviate market concerns.
    Werner Perdrizet, economist at Credit Agricole [ACA-FR Loading... () ], singled out the “rigidities” of the French labor market, particularly its notoriously high job protection and tightly regulated bargaining agreements with unions, in recent research into the labor market in the euro zone.
    Reforms suggested for France include: less employment protection; more focus on getting young workers into work; making working hours more flexible and cutting the labor tax for companies.
    France's continued growth despite a lack of reforms indicates that it “has room to grow fast” if reforms are introduced, according to Credit Suisse. Yet without some concerted action from Hollande’s government soon, that time seems far away.

  4. I'm all for switch-off week, by Nuala McKeever, BelfastTelegraph.co.uk
    BELFAST, Northern Ireland - The season of "weeks" is upon us again. National Prune Week (I think that's about promoting the fruit, not highlighting wrinkly faces), Take Your Daughter To Work week, Take The Bus To Work week, Take A Week-Off Work week...
    From now until next summer, when the silly season starts again, we'll be encouraged to do lots of random things on a weekly basis by people who want to sell us something or make us better citizens.
    Well, having just spent the last 10 days stuck in a rehearsal room without access to news or outside gossip, can I recommend to you the benefits of a Disappear Up Your Own Orifice Week?
    Strangely enough, I stuck my head out yesterday and discovered the world was still turning without my having monitored it incessantly via TV, laptop and mobile phone. Wow!
    Of course, some of the big stuff did filter through, even into darkest Rehearsal Land - Superstorm Sandy, Presidential election, Sid Owens leaving Strictly - but for the most part, I've remained blissfully untroubled by outside contact and it's been strangely relaxing.
    I'm not suggesting you all turn thespian, God forbid! With that much self-absorption the whole world would implode.
    But, sometimes, a little less keeping-up can offer a lot more keeping calm. Break a leg!
    [For our non-native-Englishspeaking readers, "Break a leg!" - despite its ominous sound - is the traditional way to say "Good Luck!" to actors about to go onstage. It's got something to do with reverse psychology, as in, prepare for the worst and things can only turn out better.]

11/04-05/2012 – 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. CTA unions trade work-rule changes for no-layoff guarantee, by Fran Spielman, fspielman@suntimes.com,11/05 Chicago Sun-Times via suntimes.com
    CHICAGO, Illin., USA - Mayor Rahm Emanuel cut a five-year deal with CTA construction and maintenance unions Monday that trades cost-cutting work-rule changes for a no-layoff guarantee, setting the stage for a similar agreement with bus drivers and motormen.
    The agreement with a dozen trade unions is expected to reduce skyrocketing CTA health care costs by $5 million a year and impose work-rule changes that shave an additional $1.5 million in annual costs.
    Employees working the afternoon and evening shifts will be paid straight time and a “shift differential” instead of overtime. The CTA will get greater flexibility to schedule starting times.
    Paid holidays recognizing birthdays and hiring anniversaries will be replaced by one personal day and more liberal use of vacation time. And a so-called “work sharing” agreement will allow different trade unions to work together on projects, without regard to union jurisdiction.
    In exchange, members of a dozen trade unions get a five-year job guarantee. There will be no layoffs for the duration of the contract.

    CTA bus drivers and motormen have not yet agreed to the mass transit agency’s demand for cost-cutting work-rule changes needed to avoid a fare increase.
    But Emanuel and CTA President Forrest Claypool made no bones about it. They are hoping to cut a similar deal with the CTA’s largest unions.
    “More workers. More work at a price the taxpayers can afford. And reliability for the commuters who take public transportation,” Emanuel said at a news conference at a CTA maintenance facility at 78th and Vincennes.
    “It’s all part of a consistent strategy that we have applied throughout the city — whether it’s in recycling, tree-trimming, here at the CTA and McCormick Place. Building a partnership with labor, finding unnecessary costs that are cost-prohibitive, and applying those savings to both more workers, as well as a price taxpayers can afford.”
    Claypool said he is in the “final stages” of negotiating a long-awaited agreement with the Amalgamated Transit Workers Union Locals 241 and 308.
    “It’s no secret that the framework of this deal with the trades coalition as well as the Iron Workers is the philosophy and the principles with which we’re trying to negotiate with ATU,” he said.
    “That’s seeking greater flexibility, work-rule reform, health care reform in exchange for job security and job protection as well as having the levels of service that those jobs provide.”
    Robert Kelly, president of the Amalgamated Transit Workers Union Local 308 representing motormen, said he is “encouraged that progress is being made” toward an agreement needed to avert a CTA fare hike.
    But just because a dozen trade unions are willing to swallow work-rule changes needed to minimize overtime, reduce health care costs and give the CTA more flexibility to schedule work crews does not mean bus drivers and motormen will do the same.
    “I do not base what I get for my members on what another union did,” Kelly said.
    “That model was designed for the trade unions. Both agreements are going to be different. How much different, we’ll have to see.”
    Informed that Emanuel and Claypool are hoping to duplicate that model with bus drivers and motormen, Kelly said, “The Bears were hoping to go 16-and-0, but they’re not gonna do it.”
    Javier Perez, head of ATU Local 241 representing bus drivers, could not be reached for comment.
    Last month, the CTA forged an agreement with Iron Workers Union Local 1 that will reduce overtime, give the agency new flexibility to structure shifts and paves the way for “accelerated rehabilitation” of elevated track structures.

  2. Resisting the crisis: short-time work in Germany, 11/05 Emerald International Journal of Manpower Vol.33, Issue 8 via emeraldinsight.com
    NUREMBERG, Germany - Document Information:
    Title: Resisting the crisis: short-time work in Germany
    Author(s): Andreas Crimmann (Establishments and Employment Department, Institute for Employment Research {IAB}, Federal Employment Agency, Nuremberg, Germany, and University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Nuremberg, Germany), Frank Wießner (IAB, Federal Employment Agency, Nuremberg, Germany), Lutz Bellmann (Establishments and Employment Department, IAB, Federal Employment Agency, Nuremberg, Germany, and University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Nuremberg, Germany)
    Citation: Andreas Crimmann, Frank Wießner, Lutz Bellmann, (2012) "Resisting the crisis: short-time work in Germany", International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 33 Iss: 8, pp.877 - 900
    Keywords: Economic and financial crisis, Economic depression, Financial performance, Germany, Hours of work, Panel analysis, Probit regression, Short-time work, Truncated regression
    Article type: Research paper
    DOI: 10.1108/01437721211280362 (Permanent URL)
    Publisher: Emerald Group Publishing Limited
    Purpose – After a brief glance at the global labour market after the financial meltdown, the paper aims to explain some general mechanisms of short-time work in Germany. Furthermore it seeks to present an overview of the costs of short-time work for the establishments with respect to the latest labour market reforms in Germany. In the multivariate analyses with the IAB Establishment Panel, the paper aims to identify the determinants of short-time work and its intensity in Germany. Thus its goal is to contribute to the discussion of the modified and amended legislative framework for short-time work.
    Design/methodology/approach – The microeconometric analysis is based on data from the IAB Establishment Panel, a representative survey of the labour demand in Germany. With data from the survey waves 2008-2010 the probability of the use of short-time work with probit regression models and its intensity with truncated regression models are explained.
    Findings – The manufacturing industry as a German key industry was more affected than other sectors and suffered even harder. Despite the fact that the German labour administration has successfully reduced the bureaucracy of short-time work, the programme is still rather adopted by bigger establishments. German establishments have utilized their flexibility reserves and complementary short-time work to protect their core staff during the crisis. There is also some empirical evidence that the establishments tried to avoid brain drains. With the first signs of a recovery of the economy at the beginning of 2010 the establishments benefitted a lot from that strategy as they were instantly able to satisfy increasing demands in their markets again. Empirical evidence is also found that establishments made more intensive use of short-time work the harder they were suffering from the crisis.
    Originality/value – For the first time the latest data from the survey wave 2010 of the IAB Establishment Panel is used and compared with the 2009 survey wave. The structure of the panel questionnaire allows the implementation of some specific questions concerning the use of short-time work. The IAB Establishment Panel has a sample size of approximately 16,000 cases.

  3. Ambiguity prevails over working hours of teachers, 11/04 IndianExpress.com
    [Or rather, resistance prevails over longer hours for teachers - the French aren't the only ones rightly resisting ludicrous longer hours during the age of robotics = an economy-killing combo.]
    AHMEDABAD, Gujarat State, India - Govt had issued a notification in February 2011 to increase working hours from six to eight.
    Two years have passed since a government notification directed the daily working hours of primary (Class I-VIII) school teachers in the state — both government and private — to be increased from six to eight hours. But teachers are still following the old schedule as ambiguity prevails over the status of the notification.
    The notification was passed by the state government in February 2011 as a mandate for implementation of the Right to Education Act. This was met with strong opposition from the teaching community. Result: The decision supposed to be implemented from the 2011-12 academic session continues to be suspended.
    A few schools in certain districts, including Ahmedabad, tried to increase working hours but after protests from the teaching community, they reverted to the old system.
    Surprisingly, such is the situation at present that even officials are not certain about the current status or the future of this notification.
    One of the reasons for this ambiguity is another circular issued by the Director Secondary Education E P Desai on August 20, 2012. The circular stated: “After recommendation from a committee that held a meeting on June 4, 2012, school buildings in corporation limits, districts and big cities where primary and secondary classes are running in the same building, school timing of 11 am to 5 pm was not feasible. While, this timing can be followed in rural areas where there is availability of space.”
    Taking this circular as an alibi, while a few claimed that the decision of eight working hours under the RTE Act has been withdrawn, others say there was no written communication stating withdrawal of the notification, but it was simply stalled after several representations were made to the government on behalf of teachers’ associations. Thus, the eight-working-hour notification is not followed in primary government and private schools.
    “It was issued only for those schools in cities and corporation areas where primary and secondary classes were running from the same building. However, there is no mention of withdrawal of the notification passed under the RTE Act,” said E P Desai, director, Secondary Education.
    On the other hand, District Education Officer (DEO) R I Patel said, “In July-August this year, there was a communication from the secondary wing of the education department that the existing system of six working hours should be followed in primary schools across the state. Thus, the eight working hours notification was withdrawn by the department itself.”
    Ahmedabad municipal school board chairman Jagdish Bhavsar said that following major protests against increasing the number of teaching hours, “the matter got politicised”. “Amid pressure from teaching community and several other lobbies, it (the notification) was withdrawn hardly within two months. To my knowledge, there was no written communication for this. Only a verbal communication was made by the concerned DEO and DPO to all the schools for continuing the old existing system of five working hours.”
    When contacted, the state primary teachers’ association said there was no response to its representation to the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry made for revoking this decision. “The state government denied to revoke or withdraw this on the pretext that it is in the purview of the central government to do so being a part of RTE Act. Thus, early this year, the All India Primary Teachers’ Federation made a representation to the HRD ministry for revoking the order. There has been no response or action yet taken on the request,” said president of the Gujarat State Primary Teachers’ Association Chandulal Joshi.
    February 2011 notification stipulates...
    Teachers of Class I to V to complete minimum 800 hours in an academic session of minimum 200 teaching days
    Teachers of Class VI to VIII to complete minimum 1,000 hours in an academic session of minimum 220 days
    Primary school teachers to put in minimum 45 hours per week on education related work
    Extra hours to be used by teachers before or after school hours to prepare plan for next day, prepare teaching learning material (TLM), check home work and undertake teaching related tasks
    Teachers to put in eight hours of work from Monday to Friday, and work for five hours on Saturdays
    [Meanwhile in Afghanistan, it's going the opposite way. An intelligent shorter hours law is getting ignored by longer-hours workers, but not by the workers themselves cuz they're just kids -]

  4. Nearly 1900 children doing hard labour in Torkham, by Mahbob Shah Mahbob, 11/04 RAWA News via rawa.org
    TORKHAM, Nangarhar Prov., Afghanistan - Nearly 1,900 children are engaged in hard labour in the border town of Torkham in eastern Nangarhar province, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) said on Saturday.
    Up to 1,883 children, including 331 girls, carry heavy loads 34 others work in 28 hotels, the AIHRC official Ghulam Hussain Bewas said during an exclusive interview with Pajhwok Afghan News.
    Under the labour law, a child should not work more than 35 hours a week, but they toil more than 14 hours a day, he said. “Our minors are doing hard labour, in addition to being insulted and beaten.”
    Director of Labour and Social Affairs Abdul Hakim Sherzad confirmed that hundreds of children were doing rigorous jobs in Torkham. A French organisation, Terre Des Hommes (TDH) -- the land of people -- is working for children’s welfare in the town under their supervision, he added.
    “We have provided education facilities for nearly 450 children and vocational training for another 100,” the director said, lamenting minors were employed in brick kilns in Surkhrod district.
    TDH head in the eastern zone, Hassan Khan, said more than 1,000 children did taxing jobs like carrying loads, working in workshops and hotels to earning a livelihood for their families.
    A cart-pushing child, Khairullah who comes daily from Momand Dara district to Torkham for work, said: “On average I earn 200 to 300 afs a day.” Being an orphan, he has to eke out a living for his mother and sisters.
    A 10-year-old girl, Zamzama, from the Hazar Naw area of the same district, said while her father pushed a handcart, she collected plastic bottles in the area.
    “My father brings me to the town and tasks me with collecting bottles and selling them.” She is keen on going to school but she cannot summon the courage to defy her father’s orders.

11/03/2012 – 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. France - Reform of short-time working procedures, of Jérémie Boublil of Bignon Lebray, Meritas.com
    PARIS, France - Prior to considering making employees redundant, companies in France often envisage the possibility to have recourse to short-time working (chômage partiel). In this regard, it should be noted that subsequent to a new Decree enacted by the French Government on 9th March 2012, companies now have recourse to short-time working in a more flexible way.
    As a reminder, short time working can be used in situations where employees, while maintaining their work relationship with their employer, suffer from a loss in salary resulting from the temporary closure of their company, or from the reduction of working time below the normal working hours (35 hours a week in France).
    Short-time working allowances may be granted in cases where the suspension or reduction in the company's activity is due to one of the following reasons:
    - the temporary difficult economic situation;
    - difficulties in obtaining raw materials or energy supply;
    - weather hazards of an exceptional nature;
    - restructuring or modernisation of the company;
    - any other exceptional circumstances.
    Statutory compensation
    The statutory short-time working allowance (allocation spécifique de chômage partiel) paid by the French state amounts to €3.84 per hour not worked - below 35 hours per week - per employee. This amount is reduced to €3.33 in companies employing more than 250 employees.
    Subject to certain conditions, this short-time working allowance can be increased - with the contribution of the company itself - up to 60% of the gross remuneration with a minimum hourly compensation - that is, for non-worked hours - of €6.84 (including the state allowances).
    In practice, a company would pay employees the allowance directly on the date they normally get their monthly salary and would then be reimbursed a portion (€3.84/€3.33 per hour) by the Government, after submitting documentation proving that the scheme was used and saying how many employees have benefited and to what extent.
    Prior to the 9th March 2012 Decree, a company could apply for state allowances under the short-time working scheme provided that:
    the Works Council (or the staff delegates in the absence of a Works Council) was consulted beforehand;
    a prior application was filed with the labour authorities, which could agree or not to the short-time working based on the legal requirements set out above.
    The new rules in practical terms
    Since the implementation of the new Decree however, companies who wish to have recourse to short-time working must still consult beforehand with their Works Council (or the staff), however they are also now compelled to apply for the state allowances after the short-time working has been effectively implemented. This provision should enable companies to react more quickly and adapt their activity more smoothly, and avoid the need to complete burdensome paperwork or obtain prior administrative approval before being able to implement a short-time working program.
    This being said, companies might also be now placed in an uncomfortable situation in which the French authorities subsequently decide not to grant the state allowances for short-time working because they consider that the legal conditions are not fulfilled. In such an instance, the company would have to pay a full salary to the staff concerned for the relevant period.
    In practice, the French authorities generally give their feedback to companies within three weeks but no legal deadline is set out by French law.
    It is recommended therefore for employers in France to proceed with the application to the French state just after they have put in place the short time working, so that they can obtain a rapid response from the authorities on whether state allowances will be served or not.
    In other words, despite the fact that more flexibility is now offered by the French authorities to companies with regard to the use of short-time working, the system is not exempt of risks.
    Jérémie Boublil
    Bignon Lebray
    E jboublil@bignonlebray.com
    T +33 (0)1 44 17 17 44
    Jérémie Boublil is Of Counsel [ie: a lawyer] with Bignon Lebray. He can be reached via jboublil@bignonlebray.com.

  2. Vallejo teachers demonstrate for Proposition 30 on furlough day, by Lanes Christian Bañes, Vallejo Times-Herald via timesheraldonline.com
    VALLEJO, Calif., USA - Motorists honked and cheered Vallejo teachers on Friday as they demonstrated during the district's second consecutive furlough day.
    "It's encouraging," said Frances Grasso, a first-grade teacher at Elsa Widenmann Elementary School who joined dozens of other teachers and their allies on Redwood Parkway and Admiral Callaghan Lane.
    Vallejo City Unified School District campuses were shut down Thursday and Friday during the first two of five negotiated furlough days this school year. The agreement was part of the district's effort to plug a $5.7 million deficit caused by ever-decreasing state funding.
    Using the Quality Furniture parking lot as a base, teachers fanned out to the corners of Redwood Parkway and Admiral Callaghan Lane.
    Some also took the short walk to the Redwood overpass, causing a cacophony of honking from both the surface streets and Interstate 80.
    The teachers were encouraging the passage of Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown's measure on Tuesday's ballot that would maintain education funding by raising income tax on the wealthiest Californians and the state sales tax for everybody.
    This year's state budget assumes the ballot measure passes, forcing districts like Vallejo to make cuts -- like five days of furloughs -- in case they fail.
    "I don't like it. It hurts my pay, and even if it's not as bad for me, I worry for the single teachers," said Pat Innes, a fifth-grade teacher at Wardlaw Elementary School.
    The furlough days -- often called "paycut days" by teachers -- also reduce the school year and instruction time.
    [But save teaching positions.]
    "I'm thinking about how to make up that time for the kids," Grasso said, noting the critical development stage of her first-graders.
    Teachers and their allies also spent Friday protesting Proposition 32. That measure, if passed, would strip unions of their ability to use paycheck deductions for political purposes.
    Christal Watts, president of the Vallejo Education Association, hoped that all the honking and positive support Friday will translate into favorable votes on Tuesday.
    "This is about our kids," Watts said.
    Contact Lanz Christian Bañes at (707) 553-6833 or lbanes@timesheraldonline.com

11/02/2012 – 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. Stock Market Today: U.S. Economic Calendar Event Update - Nov 2, by Alex Fredricks, Stock Market News via TveNews.com
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - These are the U.S. economic calendar events for Friday, November 02, 2012. All times are EST.
    Nonfarm Payrolls for Oct are scheduled to be released at 8:30 AM. Analysts are estimating a result of 125K. The prior period for Nonfarm Payrolls had a result of 114K. This event has a major effect on US markets.
    Nonfarm Private Payrolls for Oct are scheduled to be released at 8:30 AM. Analysts are estimating a result of 130K. The prior period for Nonfarm Private Payrolls had a result of 104K. This event has a major effect on US markets.
    Unemployment Rate for Oct are scheduled to be released at 8:30 AM. Analysts are estimating a result of 7.9%. The prior period for Unemployment Rate had a result of 7.8%. This event has a major effect on US markets.
    Hourly Earnings for Oct are scheduled to be released at 8:30 AM. Analysts are estimating a result of 0.2%. The prior period for Hourly Earnings had a result of 0.3%. This event has a low effect on US markets.
    Average Workweek for Oct are scheduled to be released at 8:30 AM. Analysts are estimating a result of 34.5. The prior period for Average Workweek had a result of 34.5. This event has a major effect on US markets.
    Factory Orders for Sep are scheduled to be released at 10:00 AM. Analysts are estimating a result of 4.5%. The prior period for Factory Orders had a result of -5.2%. This event has a low effect on US markets.
    At the release of important events, US equity markets (INDEXSP:.INX) can make major moves. Be sure to keep an eye on S&P (NYSEARCA:SPY), Nasdaq (NYSEARCA:QQQ) and Dow Jones (NYSEARCA:DIA) at the time of announcements.
    Here is some more information about the events discussion in this article.
    Nonfarm Payrolls: The nonfarm payrolls released by the US Department of Labor presents the number of people on the payrolls of all non-agricultural businesses. The monthly changes in payrolls can be excessively volatile.
    Nonfarm Private Payrolls: The nonfarm payrolls released by the US Department of Labor presents the number of people on the payrolls of all non-agricultural businesses. The monthly changes in payrolls can be excessively volatile.
    Unemployment Rate: The Unemployment Rate released by the US Department of Labor is the number of unemployed workers divided by the total civilian labor force.
    Hourly Earnings: Each month the Current Employment Statistics (CES) program surveys about 141,000 businesses and government agencies, representing approximately 486,000 individual worksites, in order to provide detailed industry data on employment, hours, and earnings of workers on nonfarm payrolls.
    Average Workweek: The employment report is actually two separate reports which are the results of two separate surveys. The household survey is a survey of roughly 60,000 households. This survey produces the unemployment rate. The establishment survey is a survey of 375,000 businesses. This survey produces the nonfarm payrolls, average workweek, and average hourly earnings figures, to name a few. Both surveys cover the payroll period which includes the 12th of each month. The reports both measure employment levels, just from different angles. Due to the vastly different size of the survey samples (the establishment survey not only surveys more businesses, but each business employs many individuals), the measures of employment may differ markedly from month to month. The household survey is used only for the unemployment measure - the market focusses primarily on the more comprehensive establishment survey. Together, these two surveys make up the employment report, the most timely and broad indicator of economic activity released each month. Total payrolls are broken down into sectors such as manufacturing, mining, construction, services, and government. The markets follows these components closely as indicators of the trends in sectors of the economy; the manufacturing sector is watched the most closely as it often leads the business cycle. The data also include breakdowns of hours worked, overtime, and average hourly earnings. The average workweek (also known as hours worked) is important for two reasons. First, it is a critical determinant of such monthly indicators as industrial production and personal income. Second, it is considered a useful indicator of labor market conditions: a rising workweek early in the business cycle may be the first indication that employers are preparing to boost their payrolls, while late in the cycle a rising workweek may indicate that employers are having difficulty finding qualified applicants for open positions. Average earnings are closel
    Factory Orders: Factory orders consist of the earlier announced durable goods report plus non-durable goods orders. The report is very predictable with nondurables the only new component. Nondurables consist of such items as food and tobacco products which grow at a fairly consistent monthly rate, so that market forecasts for this report are far more accurate than for the durable orders report. In addition to seeing nondurables for the first time, the market also watches for revisions to the durable orders data, which can be significant. At present, durable goods orders sum to about 54% of total orders. The final piece of new information in this report is factory inventories -- the first glimpse at the inventory picture each month (wholesales inventories are typically released a week later, with retail inventories released a few days after wholesale inventories). Though the inventory figure is not a market-mover, economists use this number to help forecast inventories in the quarterly GDP report.

  2. German public services trade union Verdi agrees to wage cuts, by Ernst Wolff, World Socialist Web Site via wsws.org
    DETROIT, Mich., USA - fter just two days of negotiations, the management of the German hardware store chain Praktiker and representatives of the public service trade union Verdi agreed last Friday on a “restructuring contract”.
    The contract is valid for the next three years and involves a wage reduction of 5 percent for 15,000 employees for 2012-2014. The deal saves 51.9 million euros (US$67.1 million) in labour costs for the company.
    Attempting to defend the deal, Verdi representative Rüdiger Wolff declared that the wage reduction essentially consisted of cuts or elimination of Christmas bonuses and to certain premiums for staff. In exchange, workers will receive the “broadest possible job security.”
    Founded in 1978, Praktiker belonged until 2005 to Düsseldorf-based Metro AG. After its floatation on the German stock exchange in 2005, Metro AG reduced its stake to 40.5 percent with the participation of US bank JP Morgan Chase. It then sold off its share in Pratiker for 480 million euros to the real estate investment company, Curzon Global Partners and then completely sold off the rest of its stake.
    In 2007 Praktiker took over its competitor, Max Bahr, and simultaneously expanded into Eastern Europe. When profits failed to live up to shareholder expectations, the company was the first German retail company to introduce short-time working for its staff. It based itself on a legal change made in February 2007, which allows companies facing a drop in sales of more than ten percent to introduce short-time work, with subsidies for the reduced wages provided by the federal labour office.
    The Verdi trade union supported all the measures taken by management to overcome its operational problems at the workers’ expense. Praktiker spokesman Norbert Koesling justified the introduction of short-time working in 2007 with the same argument as the union: “This is obviously much better than layoffs.”
    When restructuring attempts failed to provide the profits expected by shareholders, the company sought to strike further deals with new investors in negotiations led by a succession of highly-paid CEOs. In August 2012, negotiations broke down with the hedge fund Anchorage. Talks then began with the Austrian fund manager Isabell de Krassny, representing the Viennese private bank Semper Constantia and the Cypriot investment fund, Maseltov. Both currently hold 14.97 percent of Praktiker shares.
    These talks then ended in early October with an agreement for a loan of 40 million euros. The interest on this loan will be 12.5 percent plus Euribor interest rates. Should Praktiker fail to achieve its profits targets, the company is contractually obliged to pay back the entire loan plus interest.
    By agreeing to the “restructuring contract,” Verdi has approved wages cuts for staff virtually equivalent to company’s loan plus interest from investors. Repayment is guaranteed, and the entire sum will flow into the pockets of the billionaire investor.
    The real content of the “broadest possible job security” Verdi negotiator Rüdiger Wolff praises as a “trade-off” on the union’s website, is shown by the example of the Karstadt chain store. In 2009 Verdi signed a similar restructuring contract with the Karstadt management involving cuts to holiday and Christmas bonuses. Upon the expiration of the contract, Karstadt management promptly announced the dismissal of 2,000 employees.

11/01/2012 – 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. Ayrault flip-flops over 35-hour week - News Headlines, (10/30 late pickup) The Riviera Reporter via forum.rivierareporter.com
    PARIS, France - French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault stirred up a hornet's nest on Tuesday when he called for the scrapping of the 35-hour week, a landmark economic experiment adopted by a previous socialist government, before [Ayrault] hastily backtracking. The gaffe-prone premier startled the French by saying the once untouchable 35-hour working week may be reconsidered as France battles to boost competitiveness and kickstart its struggling economy. (The Local)
    [Kickstarting your export industry as "competitive" in a downward race to the bottom where China dwells, is the OPPOSITE of kickstarting your whole economy upward toward prosperity, which takes a MAXIMUM of well-employed people and confident consumer-spenders, however short a workweek that may require. Why is this so hard to grasp? (Why did it take me this long to come up with this dropdead obvious articulation that they were opposites?) We have ringside seats for watching a special interest, the export industry, demand that its host economies around the world sacrifice their whole banana to save exports' skin, merely because they've found an attractive rallying cry, Free Trade.]
    Ayrault flip-flops over 35-hour week. (10/30 late pickup) AFP via The Local via thelocal.fr (target article)
    PARIS, France - The gaffe-prone premier startled the French by saying the once untouchable 35-hour working week may be reconsidered as France battles to boost competitiveness and kickstart its struggling economy.
    His comments came after Socialist President François Hollande, facing the heat from France's top companies over his economic policies, met the heads of global financial institutions in Paris to discuss the moribund global economy and ways to spur growth.
    "Why not? There is no taboo," Ayrault said in a chat with readers of Le Parisien newspaper when asked if he would consider reverting to a 39-hour week. "I am not dogmatic."
    "What worries me is that France is stalling and we need to restart the engine, full throttle," he said.
    Some economic experts see a correlation between the rise in the French trade deficit and the 35-hour working week, which was first introduced in 2000.
    According to the Eurostats agency, French hourly manufacturing costs are 20 percent higher than the eurozone average.
    To add to France's woes, there is a €37-billion ($47 billion) hole in public finances, unemployment is past the three million mark at around 10 percent of the working population and there have been thousands of layoffs.
    But just hours after the interview was published, Ayrault backpedalled.
    "There is no question of going back on the 35 hours because it is not the cause of our economic difficulties," he told French radio.
    "A reader of Le Parisien asked me this question. I said there were no taboo subjects," he said in a clumsy defence.
    Ayrault's flipflop came after Labour Minister Michel Sapin said the current working hours should not be scrapped, although Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici has mooted a debate on the issue.
    Leading trade unions also voiced their opposition to any measure touching the 35-hour week and some hinted at action if this were done.
    The right-wing UMP party of Hollande's predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, which had targeted scrapping the 35-hour week when it was in government, pounced on Ayrault's about-turn with glee.
    "It's too good to be true! For some minutes I thought I was dreaming that the prime minister has finally assumed political courage," UMP leader Jean-François Copé told AFP.
    "Alas, that only lasted a few minutes before he was immediately corrected... by his subordinate the labour minister," Copé said.
    Some media outlets last week had hinted that a competitiveness report drafted by former Airbus chairman Louis Gallois would recommend scrapping the 35-hour working week, although this has been denied by his office.
    Critics say the 35-hour week, pushed through under former socialist prime minister Lionel Jospin in 2000, is a major obstacle to any effort by France to improve its poor economic performance.
    During his victorious presidential campaign earlier this year, Hollande vowed to protect the 35-hour week Sarkozy had tried to break apart.
    The architect of the social experiment was former labour minister Martine Aubry, who was Hollande's main rival in the Socialist primary last year and was later snubbed as a possible prime minister.

  2. Attack on the 35-hour week may mean French PM not working at all - Jean-Marc Ayrault plunges government into crisis by challenging Socialist article of faith, by John Lichfield, (10/31 late pickup) One News Page via The London Independent via independent.co.uk
    PARIS, France - To his dismay, President François Hollande has already succeeded in returning French government to "normality".
    The curse which once made the Prime Minister's office the most thankless job in French politics has returned to haunt Mr Hollande's choice for the post, Jean-Marc Ayrault.
    After five accident-prone months, Mr Ayrault plunged into a self-made crisis this week by inadvertently questioning an article of his own Socialist party's faith – the 35-hour working week. In an interview with newspaper readers, designed to repair his reputation for being muddled and out-of-touch, the Prime Minister said a return to a 39-hour week was "not a taboo subject".
    He was corrected by his own ministerial colleagues and forced to put out a statement admitting he had misspoken. Unfortunately, Mr Ayrault, 62, misspoke again, appearing to say the 35-hour week, introduced by a Socialist government 12 years ago, was just one of "the many problems" with the economy.
    Government sources suggest Mr Ayrault had been trying to appear like a reasonable and open-minded man. There was no question of repealing the 35-hour week, which remains broadly popular with both middle- and working-class voters.
    [What's reasonable and open-minded about working longer and harder as automation and robots are rolled into your economy?]
    President Hollande was reported to have reacted to the performance of his old friend with a "certain stupefaction". Opposition politicians were jubilant. Senior figures in the Socialist-Green coalition government said Mr Ayrault would survive but only because a prime minister could not be fired after five months.
    French newspaper commentators suggested that Mr Ayrault might be on the "slippery slope" taken by Edith Cresson, who was dismissed as Prime Minister after 11 months in 1991-2 after a series of mishaps and misjudgements.
    Since the Fifth Republic was created half a century ago, it has been the role of the prime minister to run day-to-day government and to take the blame for everything that goes wrong. President Nicolas Sarkozy reversed that by, in effect, running the government himself. His Prime Minister, François Fillon, remained popular while Mr Sarkozy's ratings plunged.
    Mr Hollande, who promised to be a "normal" president, has gone back to the old pattern of allowing the prime minister to conduct day-to-day business. Mr Ayrault's popularity has plunged from just over 60 per cent in early June to the mid-40s.
    However, President Hollande's ratings have also crashed. French voters are unhappy with what they see as a cumbersome and muddled response to a deepening economic crisis.
    Supporters of Mr Ayrault admit he has taken time to assert his authority. He had previously held no government position. He was Mayor of Nantes in western France and leader of the Socialist opposition in the national assembly.
    Mr Ayrault, who comes from a rural working-class background, did not attend the usual administrative finishing schools of the French elite.
    [Again, the working class screws itself, just like America's labor movement when they let management distract them from their power issue, shorter hours to avoid labor surplus as the automation and robots were rolled in.]
    He is said to blame the divisions within his cabinet on the snobbery of some ministers who regard him as a provincial upstart.
    Speculation is already rife about possible successors. An obvious candidate would be Martine Aubry, the former Socialist party leader and mother of the 35-hour week, who was pointedly overlooked by President Hollande in the spring.
    A more likely candidate would be the Interior Minister, Manuel Valls – one of the few members of the Ayrault cabinet to rise in popularity.

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