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

12/30-31/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Fixing the economy: Work-sharing, more state funding is what nation needs, by Mark Weisbrot, McClatchy-Tribune News Service via DeseretNews.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — For much of America, it still feels like we are in a recession.
    We have recession levels of unemployment, with the headline rate at 7.7 percent. And that jumps to 14.4 percent if we count the underemployed and those who have given up hope.
    Here are five things we can do to get the economy back on track in 2013:
    1) Provide more federal revenue to the states: State governments need money so that they can increase employment, which has been hit very hard since the beginning of the Great Recession. We have lost teachers, firefighters and many other workers whose absence compromises or endangers our future. Since February of 2009, the number of state and local government employees has shrunk by more than 600,000, plus an equal or greater amount that would normally have been added.
    For those who worry that the federal government is too indebted, don't believe the hype. The most important measure of our public debt burden is the net interest paid by the government on the debt. That is currently less than 1 percent of our national income, lower than what it was in the post-World-War II era.
    2) Increase employment through work-sharing: The legislation for this one has already been passed. States are now entitled to federal money to help employers keep workers on the job, who would otherwise be laid off due to weak demand. State unemployment insurance funds are used, with reimbursement from the federal government; pay is reduced but not as much as hours. This is a better deal all around that can save millions of jobs.
    [Mark, why are you still putting makework, as 1) before sharework? We've been doing makework forever and it hasn't led on to a new higher equilibrium, as worksharing does when it leads to timesizing.]
    3) Public investment in energy savings: Why do so many people fly from New York City to Washington, D.C., when other countries — some much poorer than us — have trains that can make such a trip in about the same time and with much less energy consumption?
    Why can't we invest in mass transit, in increasing the energy efficiency of buildings and in renewable energy sources such as solar and wind energy? Or in modernizing our electrical grid? The high income countries of Europe use about half as much energy per person as we do. This is where public investment can create jobs and stimulate the economy while slowing the climate change that threatens the entire planet.
    4) A financial speculation tax: Need some revenue to finance any of the above? How about taxing something that is bad for our economic health, the way we tax cigarettes to raise revenue and reduce lung cancer at the same time. A very small tax on financial transactions — just 0.03 percent as called for by the Harkin-Defazio bill — would raise about $40 billion a year while reducing some of the casino trading that helped crash our economy and still left us with a morbidly obese financial sector.
    5) A more competitive dollar: Some people think it's a great thing to have a "strong dollar," and it's fine if all you care about is your vacations in other countries, or if you are Wall Street and want cheaper assets and labor overseas. But most of the 5 million manufacturing jobs that we have lost in the past 20 years are a result of an overvalued dollar, which makes our imports artificially cheap and prices our exports out of foreign markets. Bringing the dollar down, which our government could easily do, could also add millions of jobs to our economy.
    Of course there is one place where government spending needs to be slashed: our bloated military, with its hundreds of unnecessary bases around the world and the pointless, never-ending war in Afghanistan. But we can make sure that these cuts won't hurt the economy, by re-routing this currently wasted money to our pressing needs at home.
    Mark Weisbrot is the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

  2. Unthinkable cuts almost a reality - Pentagon Readying 800000 for Rolling [Furloughs], by Damian Paletta & Christopher Weaver & Dion Nissenbaum, 12/31 Wall Street Journal, A4.
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Mandatory federal spending cuts designed to be prohibitively drastic will become a reality on Wednesday if negotiators remain unable to reach an agreement to avert the reductions.
    The cuts would hit a broad array of departments and programs, from the military's purchase of mine-resistant vehicles to government food inspections. They would slash funding for Secret Service details and cut rental housing subsidies in rural areas.
    Illustrating the gravity of the cuts, the Pentagon plans to notify 800,000 civilian employees that they could be forced to take several weeks of unpaid leave in 2013 if a deal isn't struck, and other agencies are likely to follow suit.
    The cuts, which members of both parties have referred to as a "meat ax," are the product of a hastily designed 2011 law that required $110 billion in annual spending reductions over nine years to reduce the deficit. Their severity, representing close to 10% of annually appropriated spending, was intended to force Democrats and Republicans to come together on a broader package of deficit-reduction measures, which would replace the cuts. That effort failed, raising the prospect of the cuts' taking place.
    Complicating matters, the White House hasn't informed federal agencies or contractors of precisely how the cuts might be administered, leading to confusion about the potential impact. Several federal agencies referred questions about the cuts to the White House's Office of Management and Budget. OMB didn't respond to questions. Make Your Own Deficit-Reduction Plan
    "The biggest challenge is just the uncertainty," said Steven Glass, chief financial officer at the Cleveland Clinic, a medical center and health-care system that expects to see a $22 million cutback in its Medicare payments in 2013 if the government doesn't reverse the cuts. "It's really hard to plan when you're literally looking a few days out and you don't know what Washington is going to do."
    Facing the sequester and other financial pressures, the Cleveland Clinic may squeeze costs by consolidating services such as inpatient psychiatric units and skilled nursing among its numerous locations.
    With a federal budget close to $3.6 trillion, $110 billion in annual cuts seems like a rounding error. But some of the largest parts of the federal budget are exempt from the cuts, including benefits under Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and interest payments on federal debt.
    Not all health spending would be protected. Sen. Tom Harkin (D., Iowa) has said the cuts would mean reduced testing for HIV, cancer screenings and vaccinations. The law also requires a 2% cut in Medicare payments to hospitals, other health-care providers and some insurance plans, a roughly $11 billion reduction for fiscal 2013, according to an analysis by Avalere Health.
    Half of the cuts would be focused on military programs, a prospect that Aerospace Industries Association President Marion Blakey said would be a "grave dereliction of duty" if it came to pass. The Pentagon has begun planning for the cuts as it would need to reduce spending on many programs by almost 10%. "Everyone wouldn't be furloughed on the same day," one senior defense official said. "There would be some degree of rationality."
    The Pentagon also is considering reductions in flying hours for pilots, cutbacks in training-exercise days for the Navy, and reduced maintenance and repair for planes, ships, tanks and other military hardware, according to administration officials.
    While Congress could reverse the sequester if it is triggered, federal agencies must plan as if they are going to happen, said Alan Chvotkin, executive vice president at the Professional Services Council, a trade group that represents government contractors. "Every week you wait, the deeper the cuts you will have to eventually make," he said.
    —Anna Wilde Mathews contributed to this article.
    Write to Damian Paletta at damian.paletta@wsj.com, Christopher Weaver at christopher.weaver@wsj.com and Dion Nissenbaum at dion.nissenbaum@wsj.com

12/29/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Should the work week be shortened, (12/30 early pickup) Curse MMO Champion Off-Topic Forums via mmo-champion.com
    SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., USA - View Poll Results: What should happen to the workweek
    Voters   70   [voting for one option only]
    Keep work workweek at same length   26   37.14%
    Reduce to 38 hours   6   8.57%
    Reduce to 35 hours   19   27.14%
    Add 4 more federal holidays   2   2.86%
    Add 10 more federal holidays   6   8.57%
    ...* [below] means that you support action once economy is growing again but not with present conditions..\..
    Reduce to 38 hours *   3   4.29%
    Reduce to 35 hours *   6   8.57%
    Add 4 more federal holidays*   0   0%
    Add 10 more federal holidays *   2   2.86%
    [Poll problems: Why should workweek and holiday preferences be mutually exclusive? Did people know from the start that voting in the first, unasterisked section implied either that they supported action even before economy is growing again with or without present conditions, or that they did not support action once economy is growing again but not with present conditions, or that they supported action once economy is growing (or "growing") again even with present conditions? Poll tries to do too much in too few sections?]
    #1 warlocked Yesterday [12/29?], 05:39 AM Join Date Aug 2009 Posts 363
    Back during the depression in the 30's there was a shortage of supplies and
    [no, there was an over-SUPPLY of goods and a shortage of people with money to buy them, because there was]
    a shortage of jobs / money [in circulation = surplus of money in sluggish hoards of the 1%]
    Jumping forward to modern recession, we lost jobs. We lost lots of money but at same time there has not been shortage of supplies. In some cases it's in excess [same as during the 30's, generally]. An idea that I've heard pitched a few times is that consumer demand (without resorting to doing anything like incinerating supplies - thanks to constant improvement in technology and various management techniques [like downsizing] ) is no longer sufficient to have 70% of the population working 40 hours per week (70% of total population is considered to be the high cap of employment once you consider age groups, and housewives/ house husbands).
    As of the present, the main solution has been to fire off employees. This proves counter intuitive to the benefits of Capitalism as in order to support these individuals, tax money is generally needed (you could technically ignore them and wait for people to starve off) and thus as technology improves thanks to innovative minds [it] ends up resulting in either
    1. higher taxes that discourage work
    2. more aggressive fighting for jobs that leaves more people unemployed and broke
    I live in British Columbia (BC), Canada. A few years back ICBC (Insurance Company of BC) which
    . has a monopoly on auto insurance
    . it is legally required to be [car-]insured in BC
    As a result, market is pretty much fully saturated. The employees wanted raises, the labor was already in excess and the government (ICBC is owned by the government, but is privately run) didn't want for them to raise the cost of insurance. ICBC's final agreement was to reduce employee hours to either 38 or 35 with equal pay. As a result, [over-]staffing problem fixed. Employees were happy with the extra time [and higher hourly pay even if same total income]. Consumers did not have to pay more.
    That said, possible disadvantages of reducing the workweek to 38-35 hours are
    . possibly reduces competitiveness [only in a race to the bottom]
    . interferes with free market [not if workweek is determined by market-determined unemployment = as short as it takes to restore full employment and maximize consumer spending and markets]
    . employers are not guaranteeing to keep wages at same level [ worksharing is a transitional government strategy designed to cushion this until hourscut are standardized and resulting labor "shortage" drives up wages - and associated consumer spending - by market forces)
    While it is true it would be harmful to individuals who live paycheck to paycheck [not under worksharing], the same individuals tend to unfortunately be part of lay offs that leave many without work.
    [Under worksharing -> timesizing, market-determined layoffs trigger proportionate general hourscuts and training initiatives and job openings, so that downsizing is always countered by timesizing and never allowed to build into a recession as so easily it does now.]
    A slight balancing act proposed with cutting workweek would be to add in more subsidies to hiring / training
    [Canada does have a *worksharing plan but Harper keeps it quiet and loads it with red tape.]
    Another alternative solution would be to add in more holidays
    40->38 hours over period of year with 4 weeks off = 4 days
    40->35 = 10 days
    I was wondering what others' opinions are on the topic; also wondering what it would be from a management PoV [point of view]
    #2 drwelfare Yesterday, 05:53 AM Join Date Oct 2010 Posts 1,233
    I run my [own] business, I do a lot myself, there are a lot of costs in hiring someone and keeping them on the payroll.
    If I can make do with one person for 40 hours and I need to cut back their week slightly, I'd pick up the slack myself or work around it over hiring someone else.
    Also the cut in pay from people losing hours who are paycheck to paycheck [is a problem]
    #3 Reeve Yesterday, 05:55 AM Join Date Oct 2009 Location Houston, TX USA Posts 6,580
    I'd love it if my office just had work expectations for me instead of time expectations. I could probably get all the stuff done for work that I do now in half the amount of time I have to spend at the office every week. ....
    #5 Tayona Yesterday, 07:02 AM Join Date Nov 2012 Posts 11
    The problem is greed. ICBC has got to be the biggest rip off of anything I have ever witnessed. I have had ONE accident, that was 5 years ago. Why am I still paying $150 dollars a month, when all I drive is a stupid 98 honda civic (Pleasure use, not to be driven to work more than 6? days a month). My yearly payment is probably worth half my car alone. Where I pay my insurance, there are always 4 employees there. Every time I go in there (Which now is monthly), all 4 are doing nothing. Shorten the work week to 4 days. Oh, and we may not "pay more" but I pay more than what I would be paying elsewhere.
    This province [British Columbia, Canada] is horrible.
    #6 Powerogue Yesterday, 07:34 AM Join Date Sep 2009 Posts 7,476
    Add wednesday as a mini-weekend in the middle to break it up further. That would seriously help me.
    I don't know really what we could do with jobs. [We have] lots of people, [but with automation,] less things that need to be done if I read your post correctly. I really doubt we could get the country to rally behind "let all the unemployed starve!", no matter how practical it sounds. Though didn't that happen at one point, implementing "survival of the fittest" mentality into capitalism?
    #7 warlocked Yesterday, 08:25 AM Join Date Aug 2009 Posts 363
    Somewhat. Prior to the depression, most american politicians essentially said to ignore anyone who didn't have work. That said, FDR got elected and since, things have been in slightly different light
    #8 inboundpaper Yesterday, 08:39 AM Join Date Apr 2010 Location Close to San Fransisco, CA Posts 1,650
    I would be happy if my boss learned that you can work 40 hours in 5 days [not 6-7]. Or if where I work actually closed on Holidays.
    #9 Authary Yesterday, 10:07 AM Join Date Feb 2011 Posts 340
    Here, in France, our official work week is 35 hours. It's probably the worst thing that ever happened to the country.
    [So go back to 39 or higher and see what more unemployment does to your economy and your living standards. And smarten up about your own more recent economic history (6/20/2001 #1).]
    #10 Guilu Yesterday, 10:44 AM Join Date Dec 2012 Location France Posts 215
    This [35 hour workweek] sends the wrong message and makes you uncompetitive. For case-specific arrangements, alright, but on a federal level ? Stay the hell away from it.
    [So go back to 39 and higher and higher, and join the race to the bottom. Time must be a pretty confusing dimension when so many Europeans don't even get what they're doing right. Here's a nation leading the world in the maximum of the most basic freedom and liberté, free time, and they're too stupid to glory in it and appreciate it. Instead, they swallow the B.S. that our workaholic anglophone economists spread about France to coverup their own professional incompetence and idea-bankruptcy. Thirty-five hours radical? Hardly. The U.S. Senate passed a 30-hour workweek in 1933 and some of our most conservative industries (insurance, academe, ...) had 35-hour workweeks in the 1960s - Wall Street's was 37 1/2 hours max for clerks, we're talkin' 50 years ago. So speaking of hell, wake the hell up and get behind work spreading if you are worthy of walking the walk of your own big talk about liberté - long hours are history, passé.]
    #11 Lizbeth Yesterday, 11:19 AM Join Date Nov 2012 Posts 188
    I for one never plan on working over 20 hours a week unless I'd get very flexible hours.
    40h workweek sounds like slavery. 1 hour getting to work and back, 1 hour forced lunch, at least 30 minutes of getting dressed, doing hair, makeup if needed. That's already at least 10.5 hours from the day gone. If you add sleep, showering, cooking and other more or less mandatory things that would only leave 3-4 hours of free time per day.
    I'd be ok with 8 hour workdays if it actually meant 8 hours...as in: it starts when you step out of the door (or work at home) and ends 8 hours later without any forced 1 hour lunches.
    #12 Clockworks Yesterday, 12:15 PM Join Date Oct 2009 Location In my own gigantic Castle in the sky, guarded by Dragons ofc[ourse] Posts 385
    Well i think we should not make a cut of work time across everything, but individual companys shortening some work weeks might [create] work for some.
    Tbh [to be honest] i cannot really say anything that's really usefull for your country since i am from Sweden, basic week is 40 hours here.
    I find myself working way more than 50 hours some weeks, pulling some 6 - 7 day weeks and 80+ hours sometimes, most weeks got atleast 50+ hours.
    If i can, i try to work hard 4 days and get my 40 hours and gtfo [get the f*ck out]... depends greatly on my task at hand (Mechanic of heavy machinery and driver of them too when needed)
    Some weeks i am in luck (very rarely) and there is nothing to do and i can stay home with full 40 hour week pay^^
    But mostly i am working like a mad man and also taking on most of the mantaince of the machinery that the basic workers should do themself and many many other small tasks; also my boss thinks i do nothing (he is the old school: live to work, and i am the other way: Work to live). Not fun when you have been out repairing stuff from 5 in the morning untill 2 in the night to get things running again only to hear complaining about time taken when sometimes we havent even taken a dinner break in the whole day. I wonder what he would say if i only worked 8 hours and went home as writen in the law...
    The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place. [Geez, a paradise-dwelling SWEDE saying this?!] It will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me or nobody is going to hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard you hit, it is about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much can you take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done! [Define "forward" - and winning WHAT??]
    #13 GennGreymane Yesterday, 01:34 PM Join Date Apr 2010 Location I will always live in Gilneas [Warcraft] Posts 12,572
    well another benefit one could argue is this
    if it was 35 hours, but u had 1 extra day off. (so maybe a bit more than 8 hrs a day) that would give more people time to be consumers
    #14 HavaanSoup Yesterday, 01:41 PM Join Date Aug 2010 Location Englandshire Posts 426
    most people would love to work less hours but they're not going to have enough money and hence the problem reveals itself. [Sure they are. We had a 76-84 hour workweek in 1840, 40 hours in 1940 and higher pay levels. How? Shorter hours, more jobs, fewer desperate jobless people underbidding one another for scarce jobs.
    #15 breadisfunny Yesterday, 05:24 PM Join Date Dec 2012 Location wisconsin Posts 333
    keep workweek the same length.
    #16 Heathy Yesterday, 05:28 PM Join Date Sep 2008 Posts 478
    mhm i read an article about cutting the work week in the uk to 20hrs and having more job shares. it would be great for unemployment but most ppl wouldn't make ends meet unless they upped £/hr. also fighting against this is: that businesses would prefer to hire less ppl to do more hours than more ppl to do less hours, so long as that's a fact job share is a pipe dream.
    [and so is economic prosperity, because fewer people with more hours and huge money SPEND less of the total money supply than more people with less hours and moderate money, so cut hours to save existing jobs and cut further to restore former jobs - or...no markets for all the less-ppl businesses]
    #17 Grummgug Yesterday, 06:00 PM Join Date Jan 2012 Posts 557
    Obamacare will consider any employee that works at least 30 hours per week a full time employee, and they must be included in their company's health care program. This is having the effect of many companies planning on reducing hours below 30 hours per week to save costs. http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Governm...e-to-Obamacare
    [yep, it's happening anyway but not the best way]
    #18 larrakeyah Yesterday, 06:09 PM Join Date Nov 2012 Location Australian/living in US Posts 128
    Reducing the work week to combat unemployment won't work, it will be bad for the economy. Just take a look at France and its historically high unemployment, instead of attacking the root of the problem (inflexible job market, unions with very very strong political power, high income taxes...etc), the "wise" men on the left decided to cut the hours. Brilliant. France is going down the drain, like most of "Europe" actually.
    [Au contraire, before the 35-hour workweek, France had 12.6% unemployment. After, 8.6% prior to the US-led recession = 4 hours cut, 4% unemployment cut = 1% per hourcut. Gave a boost to France's economy, especially leisure industries = bookshops, healthspas, tourism industry... - see 6/20/2001 #1. Germany's version is "short work" (Germ: Kurzarbeit) = reduced unemployment throughout the 2008-09 downturn to 1992 levels, lowest in Europe. Europe's problems come from irresponsible government borrowing on the part of southern Europe, talked into it by Wall Street, just like all the foreclosed American homeowners who were talked into liar's loans and NINJA loans. If Europe ever realizes what it's doing right in terms of workweeks as short as it takes to restore full employment (and markets!), it will stand shaking its head as USA and Australia join China and India in the Third World. In fact, except for its self-destructive reluctance to shrink the eurozone and kiss off southern Europe, it would be doing it now.]
    #19 chadwix Yesterday, 06:16 PM Join Date Jan 2012 Posts 2,175
    Quote Originally Posted by Grummgug View Post
    Obamacare ... is having the effect of many companies planning on reducing hours below 30 hours per week to save costs. http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Governm...e-to-Obamacare
    Darden foods also did this. The 29.5 hour work week will become the standard soon
    #20 paradox3030 Yesterday, 06:16 PM Join Date Nov 2011 Posts 10
    Quote Originally Posted by Lizbeth View Post
    I for one never plan on working over 20 hours a week unless I'd get very flexible hours.
    And what do you do that you can afford to only work 20 hrs a week?
    #21 Masark Yesterday, 06:28 PM Join Date Oct 2011 Location Canada Posts 973
    Quote Originally Posted by Tayona View Post
    The problem is greed. ICBC has got to be the biggest rip off of anything I have ever witnessed. I have had ONE accident, that was 5 years ago. Why am I still paying $150 dollars a month, when all I drive is a stupid 98 honda civic (Pleasure use, not to be driven to work more than 6? days a month). My yearly payment is probably worth half my car alone. Where I pay my insurance, there are always 4 employees there. Every time I go in there (Which now is monthly), all 4 are doing nothing. Shorten the work week to 4 days. Oh, and we may not "pay more" but I pay more than what I would be paying elsewhere. This province [BC] is horrible.
    Sheesh. I pay about $120/month for insurance/registration on my 2005 cavalier here in Saskatchewan (with SGI) and that's with extra coverage (lower deductible, glass coverage, extra liability). The basic insurance/registration is $104. That's with a 4% discount due to my +2 safety rating. The rating goes up by 1 every year if you don't have an at-fault accident and maxes out at a 20% discount.
    Going by what you said, you'd pay about $87/month for basic plate insurance here.
    Here in Saskatchewan, a BDO system is basically universal in government and the crown corporations. You get an extra day off (usually Monday or Friday, but you can usually move it to whenever) every other week and it averages out to a 35 hour week.
    #22 Lizbeth Yesterday, 06:46 PM Join Date Nov 2012 Posts 188
    Quote Originally Posted by paradox3030 View Post And what do you do that you can afford to only work 20 hrs a week?
    A rich husband? But even if I stay single, and get a minimum wage half-time job, I probably get more than most people working full time on average wage. I don't need to pay rent (I sort of own the place, well, my parents do but theyre in real estate so it's technically mine), only for power, water and other such things.
    But after thinking about it a little. I think they should just dismantle the work hours and/or places entirely where it's not needed. If you're a nanny, shopclerk etc. it does make sense but when you just have to get x amount of work done by y deadline, whats the point? If you get the job done and get it done well, what does it matter how many hours you put into it or if you were at the office 9 am or 12 pm.
    #23 Orby Yesterday, 07:39 PM Join Date Jul 2010 Location Under the stars Posts 923
    Would love to get out my 42.5 hours in four days
    #24 Dragoncurry Yesterday, 07:47 PM Join Date Mar 2011 Posts 563
    Quote Originally Posted by Lizbeth View Post A rich husband? But even if I stay single, and get a minimum wage half-time job, I probably get more than most people working full time on average wage. I don't need to pay rent (I sort of own the place, well, my parents do but theyre in real estate so it's technically mine), only for power, water and other such things. But after thinking about it a little. I think they should just dismantle the work hours and/or places entirely where it's not needed. If you're a nanny, shopclerk etc. it does make sense but when you just have to get x amount of work done by y deadline, whats the point? If you get the job done and get it done well, what does it matter how many hours you put into it or if you were at the office 9 am or 12 pm.
    How is it possible that with a MINIMUM wage job part time, you get more than full time people working with average wages? Are you comparing yourself to workers in China or something? That sentence contradicts itself. Also you not needing to pay rent makes you in the extreme minority of individuals in the Americas/Canada.
    The POINT is that things come up or if you're a proactive worker looking to move up, you'll work more than they assign you and you'll do things better or more efficiently which will let you do MORE things than just finish 5 reports by Friday. If you spend your life thinking about how you can finish 5 reports in three days rather than five, you'll be forever stuck doing fucking reports instead of actually progressing up any social ladder. It also matters because the more professional, timely and punctual you are, the more likely it is that you will be considered for positions where it matters whether you arrive at a meeting at 9 AM or 12 PM. It even works in cases where hours make sense in your post...for example, if you're an exceptional nanny and know a bit about organizing people, perhaps you want to open a daycare center rather than look over individual kids, which would imply you have to put in more hours than normal to get everything together.
    Again, I guess a rich husband is fine...but if looking good is all you got going for you, then you're already behind people who look good and make bank off that. No excuse to be useless really.
    #25 Hardstyler01 Yesterday, 11:51 PM Join Date Mar 2011 Posts 2,945
    Quote Originally Posted by warlocked View Post
    An idea that I've heard pitched a few times is that consumer demand (thanks to constant improvement in technology and various management techniques) is no longer sufficient to have 70% of the population working 40 hours per week. I don't know if this is true for the current age, but it's definitely possible.
    Once nuclear fusion becomes lucrative then we have all the energy we need and a lot of jobs will become redundant.
    So it's possible for the future. But is that the case right now? I'm not sure.
    #26 Kerdozia Today, 01:11 AM Join Date Apr 2011 Location Stockholm, Sweden Posts 1,371
    I think we should stay as it is. Maybe more vacation days. ....
    #28 Lizbeth Today, 10:52 AM Join Date Nov 2012 Posts 188
    Quote Originally Posted by Dragoncurry View Post How is it possible that with a MINIMUM wage job part time, you get more than full time people working with average wages? Are you comparing yourself to workers in China or something? That sentence contradicts itself. Also you not needing to pay rent makes you in the extreme minority of individuals in the Americas/Canada.
    Yea, I'm pretty lucky. It's a decent place too in the suburbs and in a nice neighborhood (with the exception of my neighbor). And no, Im not [comparing myself to workers in China]. I only spend around $100 on food each month (dont eat outside and mostly cook everything myself) and another $100 on power+water+heating.. well, it's twice that during winters but still.. when also counting hygiene products and other essentials, it's never more than $400 a month.
    So even if I worked half time on a minimum wage job, it would leave at least $200-300 each month to spend on other things. Of course single people working full time with average wage get to keep more but I was comparing it to just average people. Most of them aren't single and have to support at least 1 other person and also pay mortgage, for their car, buy gas etc. I could be wrong but I don't think they get to keep much more than that for spending.
    #29 Whitey Today, 11:02 AM Join Date Dec 2010 Location Finland Posts 1,823
    Poll is pretty useless here, since the length of the workweek varies country by country.
    #30 PaladinBash Today, 11:04 AM Join Date Sep 2008 Location Perth, Western Australia Posts 563
    How life in Socialist Australia works:
    I work 36 hours per week, I have a strong union that basically means I can never be fired (and if I am I will just sue my boss), I do almost nothing (I watch cameras and help out if anyone calls in a problem). Government healthcare? I've got that...and my current private healthcare is cheap as hell. I got it because it was subsidised. I'm quitting next year so I can get free money from the government again to study online just because I feel like it. No real reason. It's free, they even pay me to do it so long as I'm unemployed (so naturally just quit work to get it - I'd only make marginally more if I worked part-time so why bother?). When I finish studying I can go to TAFE (like college) or uni[versity] and whatever small fees I have to pay for it I can pay over years. Nothing upfront. Then I'll be pretty much handed a job because I'm white and speak English. I won't work long hours because income taxes are very high once you make more than a small wage so the trick is to work short hours. I dropped out of high school and had no training and I make about $40k/year doing security (after doing a course the government paid me to do). I do almost nothing and have all this future guaranteed to me.
    I just cannot see any failure in any of this. This system works perfectly for my country and myself. I mean if you want to work hard then it's all set against you but I'm lazy and uneducated and consider working 40 hours a week or performing the slightest manual labour (stocking shelves, carrying stuff, walking a lot) slavery. The rich are born without problems. The strong or beautiful get things handed to them. Some people are naturally gifted or work really hard to get somewhere. Me? I want to do the absolute minimum of effort and cruise through all of life enjoying myself without ever working a hard day or applying myself to work or study. Socialism allows and encourages that. It's the perfect system.
    Paladin Bash has spoken.
    #31 Zao
    Today, 11:23 AM Join Date Aug 2008 Location Switzerland Posts 4,295
    The way you worded that sounds more like you're one of the hard working ones and are bitter about the system. ( I'm bad at detecting sarcasm. )
    BTT: I don't think reducing workhours would help anything. France has a 35h week and a minimum retirement age of 60 and it's not doing so great either.
    [But better than with 39h week, and not as well as with 32 or 30h week.]
    Personally I work the standard 42.5h week in Switzerland and have a 2h train ride to my office and 2h back. And I'm doing fine and enjoy myself.
    [Must be a nice train!]
    #32 Khaidu Today, 12:55 PM Join Date Nov 2011 Posts 132
    Quote Originally Posted by PaladinBash View Post How life in Socialist Australia works: snip. You are severely sugarcoating this, Centrelink doesn't just up hand money to anyone, you had a prior stable job with good pay, that was overlooked, and furthermore the amount paid, even to a person studying, is hardly enough to cover weekly rent/food/bills etc. I am interested to see just how far your plan works, but I doubt it will go as easily as you are saying here. I struggled to get a job, and to get paid. If you are not studying, you are forced into mandatory job seeking and meeting a minimum number of [job] applications a week, otherwise you do not get paid.
    If you are planning to sponge off your parents and be a lazy dol bludger, then I feel sorry for your parents to have their child turn into nothing but a dead weight.
    I would love to not work, to be able to do whatever I want, but realistically I am not able to if I want to be able to eat healthily and live in a house and get the stuff I want.
    On Topic: I would rather they add an additional weekday to the calender, have 5 work days and 3 weekend days, but that would go against Christianity and all that blah blah.
    #33 Grantji Today, 02:57 PM Join Date Jul 2010 Location Germany Posts 375
    Well ... Germany
    My contract says 35 hours.
    My contract lies. I usually work for 40 to 45 hours a week, I can "save" the overtime (flexitime) but I can't have more than 40 hours by the beginning of a new month. (Which I usually beat ... at the end of September I had over 70 hours, built up a lot during the summer)
    I have 30 paid vacation days (31 at the age of 50 and +1 for every ten years I work for the company). Once a year I can take a full week on flexitime after that only three consecutive days.
    I have a compulsory health insurance (~350€ a month + some additional insurances) which covers everything (even dental and some alternative medical treatments like acupuncture and such stuff ... )
    It takes 30 minutes to get to work, lunch at the canteen is really cheap (1,30€, 3 different meals to choose from), and I get tax benefits for driving to my workplace with my own car.
    I work as an engineer (process engineer in filtration/particle separation) and I get my hours/salary "dictated" by labor union (IG Metall). I could earn a lot more outside of union contracts, but I'll lose the security and the other benefits.
    ... All times are GMT.
    [Topic of working hours heating up?]

  2. Nurses gripe over new working hours, Cyprus-Mail.com
    NICOSIA, Cyprus - The nurses' union has called on the health ministry and stakeholders to discuss upcoming changes in civil service working hours to see how shift workers can work alongside staff who will be working the new normal government hours, the nurses’ association has said.
    “All those who work in this area need to collaborate and discuss changes to see how they can be implemented, said the chairman of the nurses’ union and deputy secretary of civil servants’ union PASYDY, Giorgos Flourentzos.
    Civil servants – with the exception of shift workers – coming in to work on January 2 will be asked to start work between 7.30am and 8.30am and stay until between 3pm or 4pm in the afternoon, depending on what time they come in.
    [New hours are 37 1/2 per week. Unclear if old hours longer, shorter or just same total rearranged a la flextime. At least Cypriot civil servants are under 40 hours, again making France's official 35 not that radical.]
    As of September 1 [last or next Sept.1?], employees are due to start work between 8am and 9am and stay until between 3.30pm or 4.30pm under a flexitime arrangement.
    Flourentzos said that when the shift system was introduced for nurses in the nineties, they needed to discuss changes across departments and “very many discussions needed to be made” now to find a compromise.
    “The way these working hours have been set without any discussion… you must realise that there will be consequences,” Flourentzos said. “The working schedule as it stands can’t work,” Fourentzos said.
    Health minister Androula Agrotou said that department heads, hospital heads and the permanent secretary have already met to discuss this issue and have decided to temporarily implement a 7.30am to 3pm schedule across the board.
    But department heads have been asked to come back with suggestions for their departments, so that the health ministry can see how they can implement the flexitime, she said.
    [This article has not adequately presented the problem for outsiders.]

12/28/2012 – 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. The Loss of Leisure in a Culture of Overwork, by Linda Marks, (autumn? 2000 very late pickup) Spirit of Change Magazine via OfSpirit.com
    NEWTON, Mass., USA - Having grown up in the 50's and 60's, I got the message from our culture that as we approached the 21st century, we could look forward to more leisure time and a better Iifestyle as the miracle of technology made work easier and shorter. The dull and mundane aspects of work would be replaced by machines, and the humans who formerly did the tasks could then be freed up to do more important and meaningful things with their time both in their personal lives and at work.
    Over the last several decades, it has become clear that this message is a fantasy and a myth. No one I know is living a life in concert with this image. People seem to be working longer and harder. Their jobs are more and more demanding, and the pressure to do more and more seems to be increasing infinitely. At the end of the day people are spent from working hard, so the evening is about grabbing a bite to eat, vegging in front of the television, and going to sleep only to awake the next morning to do it all over again.
    Today I do not know people who work and truly have leisure time—large quantities of focused time for deeper spiritual pursuits, the arts, friends, family and community. When people are not working at jobs, they are working at home, running errands, chauffeuring children to and from activities, finding a way to put dinner on the table, pay bills and keep things together as the demands of their schedules threaten to spin out of control.
    How did this way of life come to be? What happened to the early 20th century dream of the 20-hour work week? When did work change from something we did to meet our physical needs so that our primary focus was on truly human pursuits (raising children, spiritual practice, creative arts and community building) to an all-encompassing, yet unconscious religion?
    In order to gain insight into these questions, I spoke with historian Benjamin Hunnicutt, Professor of Leisure Studies at the University of Iowa, and community activist Barbara Brandt, founder of the Shorter Work-Time Group in Somerville, Massachusetts.
    The Loss of Leisure and the Secularization of Work
    Over the past 100 years a series of political and economic factors have dramatically changed the way we live and work. We actually work more, not less, and no longer experience leisure as it existed 100 years ago.
    In the 19th century, work was part of traditional religions and part and parcel of a larger view of life. Work was important, but had a subservient place in a larger view of the world. People referred to their vocation, which meant their spiritual Calling. Work was something that God called you to do.
    In the 20th century, theology was dispensed with and work became a central focus without a larger vision. Previously, work existed to provide for necessities. Necessities were finite. People thought you could acquire enough, and move on to something better, like what was formerly known as leisure. Overall, work existed to serve larger human purposes outside of work itself, and outside of the marketplace and consumerism.
    Benjamin Hunnicutt notes that the evaluation of our modern concept of work subordinated the former meaning and experience of leisure. "Leisure changed from a place where you experienced your humanity to a time to lose your humanity. Rather than a time to be with family and a time to do things important in and of themselves, like community, spiritual and artistic pursuits, leisure became a time to be fully passive. Now, people watch sporting events and consume. Leisure is seen as down time, a time to cease being human rather than a time to be. fully human. Today, leisure is as foreign to us as is time outside of the marketplace."
    Barbara Brandt cited a series of political and economic factors that have contributed to the change in our quality of life and the way we live. "This change has not necessarily been for the better."
    The decline of the labor movement in the 1960's and 1970's contributed to a decline in the value of wages. With a weakened labor movement and anti-labor legislation, no one was looking out for the best interests of the American worker. Also, the active participation of women in the workplace contributed to the decline in the value of wages. Women were paid less than men for their work.
    Since the 1970's, families have been putting more hours into the paid workplace than in the 50's or 60's to compensate for the drop in the value of wages. Brandt noted that 70% of families have both partners in the paid workplace. If two parents must work to assure the family survives, who has time for the children?
    Finally, without protection for paid workers, the composition of the workforce has changed. The corporate trend of downsizing to increase profits has created two large categories of workers: more workers working longer hours and more contract or temporary workers (known as contingent workers). Contingent workers don't want to be trapped in corporate jobs. They escape this trap, but lack employee benefits and job security. Brandt noted that 30% of the workforce is contingent and that a lot of people are working several part-time jobs adding up to more than 40 hours per week with no benefits. Those left behind after downsizing work more hours for the same pay to make up for the cuts.
    As a result of all of the above, "people are working terrible schedules and going crazy. Those hit hardest are families with both parents in the workplace, lower class families (people of color and immigrants), and white collar professionals (like computer people) who are expected to do more work for the same pay."
    Addicted to Work
    Brandt also acknowledges that it is hard for people to say "no" to work as it is practiced, "if one person tries to work out special arrangements, other employees are resentful and let it be known that these people are slacking. We live in an addictive culture, so it is hard to say 'no.' We have to say 'yes' to be addicted to consumption. There is a feeling that 'I am an American, so I can do anything.' Realistically, people don't know how to set limits and boundaries. This is exacerbated by the New Age belief that you can create your own reality. We've been trained culturally to feel guilty if we say 'no' to our paid work.
    Downsizing has created speed ups (a faster pace of work and life), longer hours or both. Because this country is economically addicted, we think anything that enables people to make money is good. Therefore, if an employer has to overwork you to make a profit, that is considered valid because we look at the money, not at people's quality of life. Brandt notes that this pattern is not limited only to the for-profit sector of the economy. "The pattern holds in a lot of government jobs and non-profits. Non-profits are some of the worst offenders. People trying to save the world have a hard time saying 'no.'"
    Trading "Luxuries" for Leisure
    The advertising industry colludes with organizations to promote work addiction. We are told that because we work twelve-hour days, we should buy the next material possession, imbued with an image or meaning. After all, when we work so hard, we deserve it.
    Our mythology is that we are better off because we have all this material stuff and we don't have to work as much. Not true, says Brandt. "We have a lot of stuff and we have to spend a lot of time creating and taking care of it. A lot of it we don't really need. Our spiritual, creative and imaginative lives are impoverished.
    Hunnicutt traces the origins of how we have traded luxuries for leisure to three different sources:
    1. The emergence of commercialism in the 1920's. In his book Work Without End (Temple Press), Hunnicutt links consumerism with "the threat of leisure." The beginning of consumerism and the practice of advertising designed to generate consumerism is linked directly to this "threat." Henry Ford asked "How can we compete with leisure?" People valued their leisure time and wanted to work only as much as was necessary to enjoy it.
    2. Politics and how Roosevelt responded to the Great Depression. As a political maneuver to get out of the Great Depression, Roosevelt endorsed "the new gospel of consumption." He made it federal policy and came up with the strategy of "jobs, jobs, jobs." Roosevelt defined the government's primary domestic responsibility as finding new work for people to do. Prior to this time, people would have said, "Go away business and government. We'd rather have our time to do the things we are working for."
    3. A change in values and a change in our culture. Hunnicutt feels these changes have to do with the challenges we are facing as humanity in the 20th century. If you have gotten to the place where your needs are being met, then what? The changes ask us essentially religious questions, questions that in a secular society we would rather not think about.
    Work As Our Cultural Religion
    Work in the 20th century comes close to answering the three basic questions that under gird the world's religions: Who am I? (a question of identity); Where am I going? (a question of destiny, meaning or purpose); How do I get out of the mess that I'm in, meaning the human condition? (a question of salvation).
    "A lot of people profess not to have religions, but work fits the criteria for finding these answer in our culture," acknowledges Hunnicutt. "If there is a common morality in this culture, it is work. If you work hard, all your sins are forgiven. Work provides a high moral ground, allowing comments like, I work hard for my money. If people are starving, too bad for them.'"
    Hunnicutt believes it is unconscious in our culture how work has replaced traditional religions. "Some people still go to houses of worship including Catholics and Jews. However, work becomes a drug that replaces the struggles of prior generations around deeper questions: We're born from infinity and we'll go back to infinity—what does it mean? Work is the placebo, the unexamined answer. We don't have to think about the deeper things.
    There is a cultural attitude. If I work hard, I get my meaning. "Work is a passive religion. We don't think about it, but it soothes us into spiritual paralysis where we don't have to worry about these things."
    Saying No To Work
    The gulf between our expectations of what work should provide for us and what we actually find is growing. The popularity of the cartoon "Dilbert" is evidence that this is so. Hunnicutt believes the gulf will continue to grow. "A lot of stress will be put on work and how it eats us. How much of our humanity will we be willing to sacrifice on this altar?"
    Barbara Brandt founded the Shorter Work-Time Group in 1988 to encourage people to say no to overwork, to give people the courage to set boundaries and look at their quality of life.
    "People have a right to push for better quality of life and say no to work. If our values and political structures were different, we could have gone in a direction similar to Europe. There people work 30-35 hour weeks with 5-6 week vacations, and contemplate the idea of redoing work further because of unemployment."
    "In the U.S., when we meet someone at a party we ask them, ' What do you do?' meaning what is their paid work. In Europe this kind of exchange is considered discourteous. People talk about their hobbies."
    Can Leisure Be Restored?
    While it is a common experience, and in some circles a conscious experience that we are working ourselves to death, can we actually change our culture and restore the place of leisure in our lives? While there are subcultures trying to find a way to bring balance into life, including voluntary simplicity, becoming downwardly mobile, self-employment, and at-home-dad parenting, Hunnicutt is concerned that work has such a hold on our culture that it would take a revolution for leisure to be reinstated. "The way we spend our days, the way art and music are practiced, entertainment—these and many other things would have to change in fundamental ways. These kinds of changes in history are rare. To challenge the dominant cultural values would be truly revolutionary."
    While having a healthier cultural backdrop will certainly help tremendously, many decisions about work and quality of life are very personal and can be addressed even in small ways by each of us in our daily lives. We do need to come together with others who share our values and empower one another to say no to excess consumerism, overwork, and treadmill existence. Maybe it's time for a revolution.
    Linda Marks, MSM, has practiced heart-centered, psychospiritual body-centered psychotherapy for sixteen years. She is founder of the Institute for Emotional-Kinesthetic Psychotherapy in Newton, and author of Living with Vision: Reclaiming the power of the heart (Knowledge Systems, 1988). She has taught and spoken nationally and internationally, and has been a leader in the emerging field of somatic psychology. She lives in Newton, MA with her four year old son, Alexander. Linda's new book Embodying the Soul: Dancing into life is due for release in the spring of 2001. You can contact her at (617)965-7846 or lsmheart@aol.com
    This article was originally published in Spirit of Change Magazine—not to be confused with OfSpirit.com Holistic "Internet" Magazine & Resource. We thank Spirit of Change, New England's Premiere Holistic "Print" magazine, for allowing us to give new life to this article and share it with OfSpirit.com visitors for education, entertainment and empowerment.
    You can contact the Shorter Work-Time Group at 617-628-5558.
    Barbara Brandt is author of
    Whole Life Economics (New Society Publishers, 1995).
    Benjamin Hunnicutt teaches at the University of Iowa and can be reached at 319-335-9953.
    He is author of
    World Without End and Kellogg's Six Hour Day, both published by Temple Press.
    Another good source is
    The Overworked American by Juliet Schor.
    ["Coincidentally," we came across the following NYT story web-dated today 12/28 -]
    Currents: Keeping One's Work in Perspective, book review of theologian Timothy Keller's "Every Good Endeavor," by Anand Giridharadas, (12/29) International Herald Tribune via nytimes.com (finder's credit to colleague Kate)
    [This book review covers much the same ground as Hunnicutt covers above - better - because Hunnicutt comes right out and says that work is functioning as a RELIGION for a lot of people. Strangely, theologian Keller never really says the word, at least not in this book review. The main addition that Keller via Giridharadas makes to Hunnicutt's contributions above is his/their description of the current bipartisan split on work -]
    NEW YORK, N.Y. USA — For much of the year now fleeing us, Americans engaged in a noisy, bitter, fervent, thrilling argument about work.
    [REPUBs] There it was when Mitt Romney suggested that 47% of Americans are lazy, shirking dependents mooching on the toil of others.
    [DEMs] There it was when President Barack Obama told entrepreneurs that “you didn’t build that.”
    [DEMs] There it was when one party sought to reinvigorate labor unions and collect more taxes from “millionaires and billionaires,” and
    [REPUBs] the other party pushed back against unions with “right-to-work” laws and pressed to rebrand millionaires and billionaires as America’s “job creators.” [so where are the jobs??]
    And now, as a new year looms and Washington scrambles to avoid jumping off the so-called fiscal cliff, the argument about work is still with us.
    [DEMs] How strong a safety net should workers have? [VERY] How long must an able-bodied person work before retirement? [62, 60, 55...]
    [REPUBs] Should those who have thrived economically pay more taxes [NO], or be rewarded for their superior enterprise? [YES] ...Once in a while, someone wades into the debate and offers hope of new ways of seeing, like the Rev. Timothy Keller, a Christian theologian who recently published a book-length critique of America’s strange relationship with the idea of work.., “Every Good Endeavor”... But Dr. Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York [shows that] one reason Americans may be struggling to reach political accommodation about work is that..they are talking about different things when they talk about work.
    [Here's where he morphs the bipartisanship into very poorly delineated and largely overlapping classism, the "knowledge classes" vs. the working class" - as if the knowledge classes aren't working - presumably because so many Dems are over in the "Repub" camp in terms of workaholism and because there are so many unknowledgeable Tea-Party Repubs over in the "Dem" camp in terms of ignorance -]
    [REPUBs?] Surveying the United States’ privileged “knowledge classes,” Dr. Keller describes a population that is “work obsessed,” holding their jobs to be the fount of “self-fulfillment and self-realization,” seeing leisure as merely “work stoppage for bodily repair” and allowing office principles like “efficiency, value and speed” to infuse and overwhelm their personal lives. ..."Work is the only important human activity and..rest is a necessary evil — something we do strictly to ‘recharge our batteries’ in order to continue to work.” ...There are no excuses — not even the worst childhood — for failing to succeed. ...Self-reliance[!] Social Darwinism[! Survival of] the fittest[!]..\.. In this world, where work becomes the chief source of identity and meaning, families ache [TImesizing.com Party slogan: "More family time for family values!"] and — from Wall Street to elite sports to political office — dishonesty abounds, because professional loss can sink a person’s sense of being... Dr. Keller...is not criticizing industriousness, but rather its elevation to the status of an idol, a false god: “Work is a good thing turned into an ultimate thing,” he said...
    [DEMs?] At the other end of the class spectrum [since when have the "knowledge classes" not been "working"? - needs better terminology], Dr. Keller writes of an equal and opposite pathology: a common perception of work as miserable toil, inherently “frustrating and exhausting,” to be “avoided or simply endured.” “The working-class culture can be infected by that idea that work is a drudgery,” he said in the interview. “The best thing you can possibly do is just win the lottery and just go to a beach and sit there for the rest of your life — that work is a necessary evil”...that “work is a curse and that something else (leisure, family, or even ‘spiritual’ pursuits) is the only way to find meaning in life” [and] wealth creation is somehow tawdry. ...People who have made money through their "hard work" and "ingenuity" [our quotes] are..guilty till proven innocent..\..
    [Keller reveals the limitations of his proximity to the "knowledge classes" in his inability to see that work as drudgery is not an "infection" but a unavoidable conclusion from many of the experiences of the lower and lower-middle economic classes. Maybe a (re)read of Louise Randall Pierson's 1943 "Roughly Speaking" would help him bridge the gulf. Then there's his head-shaking naivete in assuming his own religious job is centrist -]
    Dr. Keller argues for a centrist understanding of work as calling — work that lends life meaning but doesn’t monopolize it, work that is performed not for personal glory but in service of others...
    [A "calling" "in service of others"? This is verbiage from theologeze and reminds us of Alan Applebaum's first two Laws of Political Physics: Everyone thinks they are in the majority, and everyone thinks they are moderate. (See entry for 12/14/2012.) ]
    “I see warrant for both the suspicion of capital and the celebration of work and wealth creation..in the Bible.”
    [So the Bible has a diagnosis of sorts and it's solution is presumably "God" or "Jesus"? But if you don't find the solution in those terms convincing or sufficiently specifically relevant, try the Web's most developed design for a balanced and sustainable economy, the 5-phase Timesizing program - and its successors.]

  2. SPD proposes 30-hour workweek for parents, TheLocal.de
    Germany's biggest opposition party, the SPD [Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands], wants the state to subsidize a 30-hour workweek for young parents to promote a better job-family balance. But the proposal has been met with resistance from within the governing coalition.
    BERLIN, Germany - On the one hand, there are many women who are forced to let go of their careers more than they would like to," Andrea Nahles, general secretary for the centre-left SPD, said on Thursday.
    "And on the other hand, we have fathers who would like to spend more time with their children."

    Faced with a falling birthrate, German politicians have been under increasing pressure to come up with policy solutions.
    [A falling birthrate IS a solution, not a problem!]
    A study released last Monday showed that the country is becoming a less attractive place to have children, due to difficulties reconciling family and work.
    Germany, whose birthrate currently stands at just 1.39 children per woman, has one of the highest number of childless women worldwide.
    The SPD's candidate for chancellor, Peer Steinbrück, is said to back the proposal to cut working time for parents. Nahles said the government could cover some of the costs for a period of two to three years.
    "We want to even out the 'rush hour' of life between the ages of 25 and 40," she said. "It might also help women avoid the career setback that comes with being out of the working world too long."
    But the proposal has come under fire from the pro-business Free Democratic Party, who are in coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives at the federal level.
    Nahles's counterpart in the FDP, General Secretary Patrick Döring, told Berlin's Tagesspiegel daily that the SPD had lost touch with reality in its drive to win over voters.
    "A 30-hour workweek for a large part of the population is something that Germany cannot and does not want to pay for," he said.
    [Presumably this Dummkopf wants to keep robotizing more and more people into dependency and parasitism against permanent 35-40 hour workweeks.]
    DPA/The Local/arp

12/27/2012 – 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. OPM posts guidance for federal furloughs, Posted by Steve Vogel, WashingtonPost.com/blogs
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - With talks on averting the “fiscal cliff” apparently stalled, the Office of Personnel Management posted new guidance to federal workers for administrative furloughs on its Web site Thursday afternoon.
    “We wanted to take some prudent steps to keep federal employees informed in case an order for sequestration,” said Thomas Richards, OPM’s communications director. He added that the guidelines were not issued as “a reaction to any specific action” involving the talks between President Obama and Congressional leaders.
    Nonetheless, after months of the White House expressing confidence that the stand-off would be resolved before a crisis hit and furloughs would be unnecessary, the guidance reflects the reality that little time remains on the calendar to avert the automatic cuts that will be triggered by a failure to reach a deal by the year’s end.
    The guidance notes that “agencies are responsible for identifying the employees affected by administrative furloughs based on budget conditions, funding sources, mission priorities (including the need to perform emergency work involving the safety of human life or protection of property), and other factors.”
    Employees will be given a minimum 60-day notice before any furlough of longer than 22 days takes place, according to the document. A 30-day notice will be given for shorter furloughs.
    The guidance also specifies that employees may not take other forms of paid time off, including annual or sick leave, in lieu of being furloughed.
    [Still, better time cuts than job cuts = timesizing not downsizing.]

  2. Fiscal Furlough? FederalSoup.Federal Daily.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - #1 rocovering Rookie Joined: 16 Oct 2012 Points: 30 Posted: Yesterday at 5:16am
    Topic: Fiscal Furlough?
    .....any thoughts?
    #2 oldschoolguy Groupie Joined: 22 Nov 2011 Location: Texas Points: 63 Posted: 23 hours 22 minutes ago at 6:38am
    I'd not worry. Treasury workers are not useless cog-like apparatchiks, but instead way too important to the system to furlough.
    #3 dhacker56 Senior Member Joined: 09 Dec 2008 Points: 5116 Posted: 23 hours 4 minutes ago at 6:56am
    If they can give them Christmas Eve off with pay and they are not missed they sure can do it five more times next year W/O pay!
    #4 PostalTE2 Senior Member Joined: 23 Nov 2012 Points: 270 Posted: 23 hours 2 minutes ago at 6:58am
    Originally..rocovering wrote: .....any thoughts?
    Hopefully it will just be a furlough and not the other option.... ....
    [= what we said. Meanwhile Congress is missing in action while our la-la-land Republicans grapple with the fact that the only people with the kind of money to solve the "fiscal cliff" are the people that caused it with self-serving tax cuts and loopholes, plus a frozen pre-automation workweek: the onepercenters on Wall Street -]

  3. 5 worst excuses for Speaker Boehner's 0-day work week, by David Schoetz, New York Post via TV.MSNBC.com
    [Timing is everything and some workweeks can get too short too often for some people - but at least tit's about workweek- not job-manipulation.]
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Count the New York Post among those working while the House of Representatives takes a potentially zero-day work week with the fiscal cliff dead ahead. Here are the five worst excuses for Speaker Boehner's 0-day work week:
    1. Nothing would get done.
    Great message there. If there’s one thing the American public is pretty adept at these days, it’s flexing its public opinion muscles. (See 2012 election; Newtown aftermath and now, the Westboro Church). And with great certainty—statistical certainty, in fact—the public spent its collective holiday disapproving upon Congress’ behavior as a legislating body. Now facing time-sensitive decisions of joint responsibility, you stay home in the district rather than Washington, DC, while those grumbling constituents trudge back to work. All you say you want to talk about is jobs and yet you’re not doing yours.
    2. It’s their move.
    Right. The President returns from his Hawaii vacation wanting Boehner to play his card; Boehner puts it on Senate Democrats, who are now in session and putting it right back on House Republicans. Anybody paying attention knows the general play chart. And if you are waiting for the last moment to lock something up, then not showing up (80% of success, according to Woody Allen) to give Americans the slightest sense of urgency rather than an extended vacation doesn’t cut it as action.
    3. Calls are being made.
    Well, we should hope so! Let’s face it, if Speaker Boehner’s staff and his fellow members weren’t working their BlackBerries and iPhones in between their district Christmas parties, constituent events and family time, than we truly would have lost our political way. They know how much is at the stake—but is that enough? The statements from Boehner are increasingly curt and if calls are being made—like the one between the President and Speaker Wednesday— they don’t seem to be breaking through.
    4. Our approval rating can’t get any worse.
    Let’s hope this excuse, if dared uttered by a member of this House—of either party—is made only in the quietest of quiet rooms over a whiff of Bourbon or a wintry Sauvignon blanc—far, far away from that 47%—which, it turned out, Mitt Romney and the Republican party found out was a significant underestimation.
    5. We’re on our way.
    As of this writing—the House is not on its way and Speaker Boehner remains in Ohio, one week after his Plan-B vote went down to an unruly caucus. Unless Boehner heeds to the increasing calls from the President, Senators and most everyday Americans to come up with a deal, this is an excuse we have yet to hear.
    Of course, we will be waiting with our entire team in DC and New York, a team which notably has not had a 0-day work week. See you at 4 pm.
    [And while they suck up to their radical science-denying base, the greater problems of the ecosystem are making do with a 2 1/2-hour workweek twice a month in Puget Sound -]

  4. MRC update: marine work hours, ocean acidification..., SanJuanIslander.com
    FRIDAY HARBOR, Wash. - San Juan County's Marine Resources Committee meets on the first and third Wednesday of each month beginning at 8:30 a.m. in the community room in Islanders Bank Administration Building in Friday Harbor. December 5 topics included asking the state to extend the months in-water work is not allowed; ocean acidification and a pilot mussels program. Here are the minutes of that meeting.
    The Science subcommittee report: Barbara Bentley gave a brief update on the Mussel Watch Program. Three cages have been deployed and they will be checked on December 12 at low tide; they will be out two months and then will be analyzed.
    As a pilot project and part of a national program, Bentley and Linda Lyshall will meet tomorrow with Dan Doty of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) since Doty has to sign off on protocols being followed.
    Bentley attended the recent Stewardship Network that discussed development of a K-12 education program. The Network will first ask member organizations to provide information on what educational programs they now have underway that teachers could possibly access (re field trips, class visits). Bentley would like to offer teacher training workshops in science.
    Daniel Wilk wondered if the 37 million gallons of untreated sewage from Victoria that enters the Salish Seas could affect mussels; he asked if the Mussel Watch program would be monitoring for any such effects.
    Bentley said that if the SJC program is continue beyond being a pilot, this issue could be studied. She said that the three cages are located now off the FH Labs on San Juan Island, in Fisherman Bay on Lopez, and on the north shore of Orcas. The national/state programs include an enormous amount of research on pollution indicators, but not necessarily on sewage; she will look into the matter.
    Bentley noted that the SJC Health Department already monitors for such contamination in a separate program.
    Kit Rawson said that the MRC did a white paper on the Victoria sewage issue several years ago; he will track it down.
    Northwest Straits Commission (NWSC): Steve Revella said that there if $38,000 of state money to help fund coastal MRC’s next year. Senator Kevin Ranker has, therefore, put a marker in next year’s budget discussion to allocate additional funds for the other MRC’s ($20,000 each). The Puget Sound Partnership will not be providing any funding, Revella noted, so that the state may be the only source.
    Letter to WDFW re work windows: Copies of the revised draft letter have been circulated. Currently, in-water work is precluded from March 15th to June 14th to protect juvenile salmon. However, those dates are based on research from mainland estuaries, and likely do not reflect the period of time that juvenile salmon are present in the San Juan Islands.
    Recent local research documents that juvenile salmon are present in our shallow marine habitats of SJC at least from March 15th through October 31st; juvenile Chinook arrive in the San Juan Islands by April and remain relatively high in abundance through October, while juvenile Pinks and Chum remain until August. The current window opening occurs just when the juvenile salmon presence is peaking here.
    [So the salmon have a 7 1/2-month "workyear," while the Chinook have 7 months, and the Pinks and Chum only 5 months.]
    Motion: Rawson moved, and Tina Whitman seconded, that the letter be approved for sending.
    Barbara Marrett reiterated that it is unrealistic to expect that marine-related work be done during harsh winter weather (November – January).
    Michael Durland added that it took him 2.5 years to get a permit for work on Orcas and it will be very difficult in the dark of winter months to do the work and contain sediment.
    There was discussion on the letter’s request for WDFW to set the work window closure at specific dates. After discussion, the MRC amended the letter to include the new data along with a request for WDFW to attend a future MRC meeting for further discussion and to eliminate the request for specific dates.
    Amended motion: It was moved that the letter be approved as amended. The motion passed unanimously.
    Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO) debriefing: Whitman reported that the County Council adopted the four remaining sections on Monday (fish/wildlife and wetlands). She noted that the MRC has provided comments over the seven-year update process but not many of those are reflected in the final.
    Council member Rich Peterson said that it is good to have accomplished this much and some parts are still problematic. There will be appeals, he added. He said that state legislators gave a horrible assignment to such a small county as San Juan, with limited staff and funds. He did not vote for three of the sections, wanting to see more of a product.
    The Best Available Science issue also became a topic of contention here, Peterson noted, contributing to the huge anger in our community between different factions. He said that it is unfortunate when these issues are made personal.
    Rawson said he too has been dismayed by the various personal attacks and that directing them at the Council is wrong! Following further group discussion, Rawson said that he hoped we all learned from this CAO experience and Peterson agreed that all want a positive outcome. 
    Staff report: Lyshall said she brings greetings from Islands Trust. She briefly discussed the recently-released ocean acidification online report from the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Panel She noted that the cause of the drop in pH of the ocean is primarily due to the uptake by the ocean of carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere (22 million tons every day), as well as contamination by nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxide gases, nutrients, and organic carbon.
    The ocean is 30% more acidic since the 1700’s and is expected to increase up to 150% by the end of this century. Our changing ocean is already impacting calcifier marine species, like mussels, as well as copepods at the bottom of the food chain; we are all at risk, Lyshall said. Strong action is called for to slow the pace of ocean acidification (OA), including source reduction, adaptation and remediation.
    [The deterioration ain't waitin'. No wonder pilot whales are beaching themselves.]
    The report’s “Key Early Actions” are:
    reduce emissions of carbon dioxide;
    reduce local land-based contributions to OA
    increase our ability to adapt o and remediate the impacts of OA;
    invest in Washington’s ability to monitor and study effects of OA;
    inform, educate, and engage stakeholders, the public, and decision makers in addressing OA;
    maintain a sustainable and coordinated focus on OA.
    Lyshall said there will be extensive presentations on the topic at the next Marine Managers Workshop.
    Jim said the problem is here and now and is already changing lifestyles. He has regularly harvested oysters here but reports that, as of two years ago, they are all gone from Stuart Island and other areas here.
    Marrett said that it was pointed out a recent Port Commission meeting in Seattle that oysters now take 24 months to grow and the billion dollar shellfish industry is in serious jeopardy.
    There was discussion about acting locally and thinking globally. All communities are asking, “What difference can we make?”
    Lyshall responded that Washington state can lead the call for funding and for mitigation and the MRCs can help spread the message.
    Marine Managers Workshop: There was discussion on the timing, funding, location, and attendance for the workshop; a draft agenda will be presented at the next MRC meeting.
    Peterson suggested that there should not be an appearance of exclusivity; Lyshall noted that there are cost constraints in providing a larger venue and the workshop provides working space for the 19 organizations, with overlapping jurisdictions, that are represented at the workshop.
    Wilk said that the workshop is a wonderful opportunity for the audience and there is a tremendous base of people (including naturalists) who want to help. He offered to help distribute a short presentation on ocean acidification to whalewatch customers next season.
    Peterson said that he appreciated how the committee worked through the letter for WDFW today.

12/25-26/2012 – 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. Walker's Furlough Campaign Stunt To Stick It To Taxpayers. Again. Posted by capper, (12/24 late pickup) Cognitive Dissidence via cognidissidence.blogspot.com
    MILWAUKEE, Wisc., USA - In each of the Milwaukee County budgets for 2010 and 2011, then County Executive [now Gov.] Scott Walker had put in nearly $20 million worth of concessions [eg: furloughs] from the AFSCME and the other unions.
    The problem was that he never sat down at the bargaining table to negotiate those concession. So even if the unions were willing to make those concessions, they were never given the chance. Walker wanted to use this as a campaign talking point as he was running for governor. Walker had made the unions the boogeyman for his [redneck] base to hate and fear and help carry him to being elected.
    To make a long story short, the furloughs were taken to arbitration and found to be illegal
    [Then it's layoffs or taxes.]
    The County took this finding to court to have it overturned, but each time their claims were denied.
    Earlier this year, after racking up $829,000 in interest, the county finally decided to pay the workers the money due to them for the 2010 furloughs. The bill for those day came to $4.5 million.
    But that left the 2011 furlough days to yet be paid. The interest for these days were accruing at about $10,000 a month.
    After dragging their feet for five more months, the County Board has voted 15-3 to pay off the 2011 furlough days:
    Approved, 15-3, a $1.2 million payment to employees for unpaid furloughs in 2011 that were found excessive by the state Employment Relations Commission. The payouts would average $1,100 each to 897 employees. The county previously paid $4.5 million to settle a similar claim for 2010 furloughs.
    Someone really needs to ask Supervisors Joe Sanfelippo, Steve Taylor and Patricia Jursik why they voted to waste more taxpayer dollars by delaying the payout and whether they would have been willing to fund the interest that was accrued.
    Even after this payment is made, presuming that Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele signs off on it, there is still one more bill coming due.
    Because the work did not subside even though workers hours did, the county had to approve overtime to make sure the work got done (which cut deeply into any savings Walker claimed to make from the furloughs). But due to new county rules, any work put in during the week of a furlough was paid as straight time instead of time and a half. The county will owe these workers that did put in overtime the balance due to them since they were wrongly forced off the job.
    As with the backdrop, this is something that might be negotiated down, except that Abele won't come to the negotiating table as he should. So much for his claims of being interested in saving money or wanting more efficiency.
    I am still of the opinion that the county could and should seek recompense from Scott Walker and his campaign since the damage done to the county was the result of one of his campaign stunts. Likewise, the county could and should sue Walker and his campaign for all the hours that Walker and his staff spent doing campaign related activities during work hours as shown in the Walkergate investigation and subsequent trials.
    But don't hold your breath for this. Abele often boasts of his good "working relationship" with Walker and his staff.
    Abele should be much more careful of the company he keeps. But then again, Abele and Walker do seem so much alike already...

  2. Federal workers feel unease over potential layoffs, furloughs unleashed by ‘fiscal cliff’, by Lisa Rein, WashingtonPost.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Federal employees have been skeptical for months that the biggest cuts to government spending in history could really happen. But with the “fiscal cliff” a week away, workers are now growing increasingly alarmed that their jobs and their missions could be on the line.
    President Obama and members of Congress headed out of town late last week for a Christmas break without reaching a deal to avoid $110 billion in automatic across-the-board spending cuts, which would hamstring operations ranging from weather forecasting and air traffic control to the purchase of spare parts for weapons systems. So civil servants are bracing for the blow, wondering whether their work will be upended — and whether they may be forced to take unpaid days off.
    “This could change day by day,” said Antonio Webb, 25, who works in the mail service that handles correspondence for the Department of Homeland Security. “You could come into work and the next day they say, ‘We don’t need you because we have to cut so much.’ ”
    Many federal workers have become jaded after a two-year pay freeze and congressional fights over spending that keep agencies lurching from one stopgap budget to another. Until recently, few employees thought it could come to this: Budget cuts of 8 to 10 percent divided equally between military and domestic agencies. Only a few programs, like Social Security, veterans benefits and some services for the poor, are exempted.
    “Sure, we continue to do our jobs,” said Carl Eichenwald, who works in enforcement at the Environmental Protection Agency. “But all of this uncertainty is disruptive for our mission. A lot of time gets spent spinning wheels. We won’t know whether we can do inspections. Do we have 100 percent of our budget, or 85 percent?”
    Top congressional aides said Monday that discussions of how to avert the fiscal cliff had come to a virtual standstill. Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) had not spoken since Friday.
    Each side in the negotiations urged the other to come up with a way around the impasse. A senior Democratic aide said Boehner needs to return from the holiday with a “cleared head and a readiness to deal.” The aide said that there is no time for Democrats to unilaterally advance a bill in the Senate, adding that they can press forward with legislation only if they are assured by Republican leaders of GOP support.
    A senior Senate Republican aide insisted, however, that it is now up to Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) and his fellow Democrats to figure out what they can pass in the Senate without worrying about the Republican-controlled House.
    As the year-end deadline approaches, federal employees have been told very little by their bosses about how their agencies are preparing to carry out huge spending reductions.
    “It seemed like we were almost immune to thinking that something real was going to come of it,” said Fernando Cutz, an analyst for the U.S. Agency for International Development.
    Then came an e-mailed memo on Thursday from agency heads to employees. The cuts would be “significant and harmful to our collective mission.” Furloughs “or other personnel actions” — layoffs — remain a real possibility.
    [Better time cuts than job cuts = timesizing not downsizing.]

  3. 35 hours mandatory job search, 12/26 SheffieldForum.co.uk
    SHEFFIELD, U.K. - #1 juniee Yesterday, 19:22 Registered User Join Date: Aug 2009 Total Posts: 474 Status: Online
    sorry if this has been raised but cannot see a link to it, if there is one could please direct me to it. just been looking at this idea, and wondering how many laws it breaks if it ever comes into being
    how can someone on the dole afford to use the internet for 35 hours a week?, you can't
    personally I would not want to put all my details on a site and it also looks like they want you to give your bank details over the phone, not a chance. i think this should be called a snoopers charter as any tom,dick and harry would be able to hack into this
    your thoughts please .... ....
    #4 AndyK Yesterday, 19:28 Registered User Join Date: Dec 2003 Location: S8 Area Total Posts: 222
    Don't know but 35 hours sounds absurd Are you on the Work Programme. if so this should help as to what Mandated activity amounts to: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/wp-pg-chapter... .... ....
    #8 Moosey Yesterday, 19:57 Registered User Join Date: Apr 2008 Location: George Wimpey-ville Total Posts: 3,593 Quote: Originally Posted by juniee View Post how can someone on the dole afford to use the internet for 35 hours a week?, you can't
    How is that even an issue since the advent of broadband? Do dial up connections even still exist?
    #9 juniee Yesterday, 20:07 Registered User Join Date: Aug 2009 Total Posts: 474 Status: Online
    Quote: Originally Posted by nick View Post Jobseeker's Allowance claimants will be forced to use the government's new Universal Jobmatch site from early in the new year or face losing their benefits.
    Universal Jobmatch, which launched last month, is the government's online service linking employers and jobseekers together, providing searchable job vacancy lists, a facility to upload CVs, automatic alerts for matching jobs near the unemployed user, and search facilities for employers to help them find workers.
    The most controversial feature, however, is the ability for jobseekers to share job search information with their Jobcentre Plus advisors, with some claiming they have been pressured to do this since the site's launch even though it is not mandatory.
    The site was developed by online job specialist Monster, and will operate across England, Wales and Scotland. 370,000 companies and 690,000 jobseekers have signed up to date, with 425,000 unemployed users giving permission for their Jobcentre advisor to see the jobs they have applied for.
    The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) work services director, Neil Couling, said: "This is the biggest game-changer in the labour market in 27 years. It changes jobseeking from a passive, slow process to one that is dynamic, fast and 24/7."
    The site will support the other key change in job search planned by DWP in 2013, the move to mandatory 35 hours of weekly activity for all jobseekers. Currently it requires only that claimants look for jobs three times per week.
    In its first month of operation, Universal Jobmatch has managed 160 million job searches, and is expected to support 10,500 jobs and one million job searches each day by August 2013.
    Those jobseekers who do not have home computers will be given access in libraries and Jobcentres, although DWP has not released information on how it will support those who have low levels of IT skills to use the system.
    Security has already been an issue with the site, with 6,000 jobs and 27 bogus employers removed in the first month.
    Monster has had difficulties with online security in the past, suffering hacks and having personal details of its users stolen, including through its USAJobs.gov site which has similarities to Universal Jobmatch.
    The site has a dropdown menu which enables jobseekers to provide a reason why they have not applied for a job including, "job does not match my interests; is not in my desired industry; does not match my skills; is below my salary requirements; is too far away from my home; have already applied for the job; does not interest me".
    Duncan Smith said: "Jobseekers will be able to turn down jobs, but if the adviser thinks they are pretty specious reasons, he may call you in and say, 'We think you should be applying for these jobs'." this is from the site below, oh and since when has the internet bee free as i pay 10 pounds a month which equals to one hour a day some days I do not use it so manage to keep my allowance for the month
    UnemployedNet ....
    #11 Yesterday, 20:14 Swami Dhyan Registered User Join Date: Jan 2008 Location: Sheffield Total Posts: 3,073
    Hope this helps. http://www.dwp.gov.uk/adviser/updates/universal-jobmatch/
    And this. telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9757895/Jobless-to-be-remotely-monitored-by-Government.html
    #12 Yesterday, 20:19 agnostica Registered User Join Date: Aug 2009 Location: south sheffield Total Posts: 22
    if this service is available via the jobcentre i dont see where any genuine jobseekers should have a problem with it, if however you are expected to do this on dole money not realistic at all. internet vs food ....
    #14 Yesterday, 21:47 mafya Registered User Join Date: Nov 2009 Location: on one of the 7 hills of sheffield Total Posts: 3,298
    Quote: Originally Posted by andyofborg View Post
    if this benefit card horror actually happens will using it to pay for the internet be one of the things which is allowed?
    Some people see broadband as a luxury so it's an interesting point you make, perhaps a pro benefits card poster can give us their opinion. ..
    #15 Yesterday, 22:02 cgksheff Registered User Join Date: Oct 2004 Total Posts: 18,694
    If you are claiming JSA [UK: job seekers allowance = US: unemployment insurance benefits], you are required to show how you are searching for employment.
    I[t] can be a pain.
    This new internet site will facilitate Job Searching and provide an easy way of verifying your searching to the JobCentre.
    It is not compulsory and will make your life easier.
    What's the problem? ....
    [Listen up: invasion of privacy.]
    #17 Today, 00:18 ECCOnoob Registered User Join Date: Jul 2009 Total Posts: 1,492
    You can get free internet access in a variety of places.
    nobody NEEDS broadband at home.
    #18 Today, 00:34 I1L2T3 Registered User Join Date: Sep 2005 Location: Port Stanley [Falklands??] Total Posts: 4,597
    Where are these places?
    Libraries? Many are now on restricted hours and some are closing.
    Job centres? Limited terminals and always a queue for them.
    Free wi-fi in Pubs, cafes? You have to travel to them and need to purchase a device to use the services, and buy something while there.
    If on JSA you will have to log 35 hours of search time. Do you spend all day in the library and if so are there enough terminals for everybody? Do you spend all day buying coffee so you can sit in a cafe? Try spending the whole day in a job centre - you'll get booted out.
    It's not just for JSA either once Universal Credit comes in. The killer for part-time workers under Universal Credit conditionality is that they too will have to prove 35 hours of activity a week to be entitled to benefits. So if you work 20 hours you got 15 hours of job searching to do as well to prove that you are doing enough to get yourself increased to full-time hours.
    People will need computers and broadband at home, unless the government is committed to an expanded roll-out of free to use internet terminals in thousands of locations nationwide. ..
    #19 Today, 00:54 ECCOnoob Registered User Join Date: Jul 2009Total Posts: 1,492
    Quote: Originally Posted by I1L2T3 View Post If on JSA you will have to log 35 hours of search time. Do you spend all day in the library and if so are there enough terminals for everybody?
    Its not about spending all day in the library. Its about putting the effort in and using ALL resources as often and as thoroughly as they should be. 35 hours a week is hardly excessive. It still leaves 133 hours for anything else.
    Quote: Originally Posted by I1L2T3 View Post It's not just for JSA either once Universal Credit comes in. The killer for part-time workers under Universal Credit conditionality is that they too will have to prove 35 hours of activity a week to be entitled to benefits. So if you work 20 hours you got 15 hours of job searching to do as well to prove that you are doing enough to get yourself increased to full-time hours.
    and so it should be. Unless you have a completely valid reason to only work part time then it too should be nothing more than a stop gap. You get a part time job - fine. But there is nothing to stop you looking, searching and applying for a full time role. ...
    #20 Today, 01:04 harestone Registered User Join Date: Sep 2012 Location: Here, there, who knows. Total Posts: 1,905
    Wouldn't doing 35 hours be classed as full time work. ?
    [Again raising the question, is the French 35-hour workweek really so radical?]
    I think i see the trick here. .... .... ....

12/23-24/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Obamacare and 30 hour work week, 12/24 Yellow Bullet Forums via yellowbullet.com/forum
    RISING SUN, Mrld., USA - #1 Gitdowns, Junior Member ... Location: Wichita Falls, Tx, Posts: 360 Old 12-23-2012, 11:57 PM
    Obamacare and 30 hour work week?
    My wife works for Walmart and was informed that after the first, she would be cutting to 30 hours a week. Is this part of Obama care and what is the purpose of companies going to 30 hour work weeks?
    [Strange are the ways that worktime per person is being driven down when people don't have the sense to make it dynamically offset unemployment because economies require maximum employment-consumerspending-monetarycirculation. This is not optional if you want a smoothly running economy. It's a sys req = a system requirement, period. But this is still the Dark Ages of economic "science," which is still heavily polluted with politics (ie: the colossal insulated suicidal tendencies of onepercenters), as in the old name for it, "political economy."]
    #2 jforrtvalley Member .. Join Date: May 2008 Location: ft.valley ga Posts: 583 Old 12-24-2012, 12:03 AM
    it's part of obamacare and if they work over 30 they have to pay for insurance for her. merry christmas
    #3 stuska1 Senior Member .. Join Date: Jul 2012 Location: Dixie Posts: 1,055 Old 12-24-2012, 12:05 AM
    Anything over 32 hrs a week means employer has to provide health care.
    #4 Gitdowns Junior Member .. Join Date: Oct 2007 Location: Wichita Falls, Tx Posts: 360 Old 12-24-2012, 12:08 AM
    They provide her with health insurance now, wonder if they will stop insurance now?
    #5 Stewed_tomatoes ?member .. Join Date: Feb 2009 Location: NEPA Posts: 2,138 Old 12-24-2012, 12:09 AM
    #6 chriscrna Senior Member .. Join Date: Nov 2008 Location: Jonesboro Arkansas Posts: 2,569 Old 12-24-2012, 12:09 AM
    Quote: Originally Posted by stuska1 View Post Anything over 32 hrs a week means employer has to provide health care.
    32hrs or more????
    #7 Ppm505 Junior Member .. Join Date: May 2012 Posts: 9 Old 12-24-2012, 12:10 AM
    Quote: Originally Posted by Gitdowns View Post They provide her with health insurance now, wonder if they will stop insurance now?
    Yep, wall mart is just like the government
    #8 LIGHTNING Senior Member .. Join Date: Jun 2008 Posts: 1,533 Old 12-24-2012, 12:10 AM
    Yes they will cancel it because she won't work required hours. WALMART F*CKING AMERICA, ONE COMMUNITY @ A TIME!
    #9 IMSHOT ?member .. Join Date: Jun 2008 Posts: 12,684 Old 12-24-2012, 12:11 AM
    Its not just Walmart...stay tuned
    #10 78m2 Member .. Join Date: Sep 2010 Location: wesley chapel,fl Posts: 721 Old 12-24-2012, 12:11 AM
    Thought it was 30 hrs??
    #11 Seattle_Mike Senior Member .. Join Date: Mar 2007 Location: Near Seattle Posts: 5,409 Old 12-24-2012, 12:11 AM
    Quote: Originally Posted by Ppm505 View Post Yep, wall mart is just like the government
    As predicted by most everyone. The Obama administration was told by many big businesses that this was exactly what was going to happen. Just building his legacy...
    #12 stuska1 Senior Member .. Join Date: Jul 2012 Location: Dixie Posts: 1,055 Old 12-24-2012, 12:11 AM
    Quote: Originally Posted by Gitdowns View Post They provide her with health insurance now, wonder if they will stop insurance now?
    If they [have been] doing it voluntarily, I don't see why they would stop.
    [Then why do you think they're cutting hours below the level where they HAVE TO keep providing it?]
    #13 Jeff Taylor ?member .. Join Date: Mar 2005 Location: Sasquatch Country Posts: 9,591 Old 12-24-2012, 12:11 AM
    Odds are they will drop coverage and hand her off to Obama care's state run pool. If there is no state run pool then the fed pool must offer coverage. Word is the federal pool doesn't even exist yet.
    #14 PWRSPD Senior Member .. Posts: 1,627 Old 12-24-2012, 12:12 AM
    My wife's company is dropping insurance and paying the fine....It's much cheaper for the employer that way. Our costs go from $200/month to 800-1000/month for the same coverage.. While the freeloaders get free coverage.

  2. More Wage Cuts And Work Sharing On The Way, 12/23 (12/14 late pickup) CloseQROPS.com
    GUERNSEY, Channel Is., Crown Deps. - Falling wages and a rise in changing working practices around the world were triggered by the global credit crisis and are set to continue as economic revival stutters.
    The International Labour Organisation (ILO) Global Wage Report 2012 found companies are increasingly paying lower wages by cutting working hours and overtime.
    There’s also an increase in ‘work sharing’ which helps prevent staff lay-offs as people opt to reduce their hours or share tasks with colleagues.
    A spokesman for the ILO said: “Not only has the economic crisis led to reduced hours and overtime but there has also been an increase in involuntary part-time work. The number of part-time employees has also increased.
    “This is happening in many countries and it has had a negative effect on wages.”
    Shut downs, layoffs and shorter working weeks
    Many firms have introduced shorter working weeks – some open for as little as three days a week – and others have closed factories or plants for weeks at a time to help save cash.
    Some have also cut the length of their working day and in effect, wages for their staff.
    But these changes shouldn’t always be seen as negative, according to the ILO’s senior research officer Jon Messenger.
    He explained that reducing working hours because of work sharing policies should be viewed positively.
    “By work sharing, employees are reducing the company’s working time to avoid lay-offs which means the company gets a reduction in its wages bill and staff don’t lose their jobs,” said Messenger.
    “This measure helps stabilises the economy.”
    Work sharing to save money
    The ILO points out that when workers chose to work fewer hours, then their drop in wages is often picked up by the government in various welfare benefits. Some may even be offered training schemes to help their long term employment prospects.

    “By looking at the effect reducing hours has on wages, it could be assumed that wages would fall proportionately but for the majority off workers they will have access to income support payments, unemployment insurance or unemployment compensation schemes,” said Messanger.
    “That means that many workers will continue to receive at least half, if not more, of the wages they have lost.”
    The ILO found that work sharing practices have been implemented in more than 24 countries around the world, including Turkey and South Africa.
    Though the ILO stresses that such a move is only a temporary measure, usually lasting between six to 24 months, which gives a company room to manoeuvre during a crisis and wait for economic recovery.
    Mr Messenger added: “It should be understood that such a move is not a ‘silver bullet’ to solve a company’s problems but more of a safety net that is waiting for the economy to pick up.”

  3. Saudi Shura council mulls 40 working hours proposal, 12/23 Xinhua via Philippine Star via philstar.com
    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - Saudi Arabia's Shura (consultative) Council has suggested to reduce the weekly working hours for private sector to 40 to offer employees with two-day weekend, Al Eqtisadiya newspaper reported Sunday.
    [Americans are ready to welcome Saudis to the evolutionary stage we reached in 1940. The world is not so much different geographic zones as different evolutionary time zones, and populations are scattered all along the backward path. Not that Americans are the most advanced today, just the biggest (by padded GDP), for a few more years...]
    To implement the decision, the Shura Council also recommended that employees work eight hours a day with afternoon break, the report quoted Abdulrahman bin Saad Al Absi, member of Management and Human Resources Committee at the council, as saying.
    He said that the proposal would be discussed and voted by council members soon.

12/22/2012 – 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. Goodfellows: With hours cut, help with bills, by Amanda Mischke, [12/23 1am early pickup] Omaha World-Herald via omaha.com
    OMAHA, Neb. - Business can ebb and flow in the fast-food industry. When it ebbs, that can mean fewer work hours for employees.
    [Better fewer hours than no job.]
    That was the case for Jessica Thomas, who says a reduction in work hours means more penny-pinching so she and her 3-year-old daughter, Ava, can get by.
    [Why doesn't Nebraska have a worksharing program to keep people like Jessica and Ava off charity? Any system that relies for vital functions on serendipitous charity is lethally flawed.]
    In early October, when Thomas was scheduled to work 20 to 25 hours, she was being sent home early when business was slow — one day after just two hours.
    Losing those work hours caused her to fall behind on her rent and electric bill.
    Thomas' mother has been serving in the Army in Afghanistan for the past two years; her father passed away when she was young; and Ava's father is in Colorado, so she had nowhere to turn for extra cash to pay her bills.
    [Why does his location matter? Why isn't he paying child support, if not alimony as well?]
    “It's just me here. I don't have any other family in Omaha,” Thomas said.
    But Goodfellows' emergency assistance program was there to help. The World-Herald's charity paid both her rent and her Omaha Public Power District bill, keeping Thomas ahead of her bills a little longer.
    And, Thomas said, it made it easier to keep her “happy face” on for Ava.
    “I try not to let her see that we're struggling.”
    About Goodfellows: Goodfellows provides assistance to thousands of families each year. It has raised and distributed nearly $10 million since 1945. With The Omaha World-Herald paying all administrative costs, every dollar donated to Goodfellows goes directly to disadvantaged families – helping them with one-time urgent needs, providing holiday meals and providing funds for clothing, shoes and coats. Click here to learn more about Goodfellows.

  2. If my contract states that i work 35 hours a week which i do moday to friday, how much notice doineedforextra? (sic), question from greg, uk.answers.yahoo.com
    LONDON(?), U.K. - i work monday to friday 35 hours a week. for the next monday she wants me to work an extra 2 hours overtime witch clashes with family plans how much notice shall she give me to work those extra hours ?
    [Evidenly 'Mercans ain't the only Inglish-talkers that ain't got no grammer er speling - ther's sum left in jolly olde englan two ware it all started!]
    Additional Details: she says, i need you to work them hours that day, with only giving 2 days notice. ...
    [Answer1 from] HiddenMyName: If your contract doesnt say you have to do overtime then just tell your boss you've already made plans.
    [Sockitto'ee, HMN! Nick is more equivocationoidalish -]
    [Answer2 from Nick: Overtime is rarely regulated in contracts, and there is no specific employment law applicable. It is however a reasonable expectation that employees stay late for something important, like balancing the books, or serving an important customer, or handling peak orders (like at Christmas).
    Giving you advance notice is big bonus, frankly, and though 2 hours is a bit more than the odd 30 to 60 minutes, it is not unreasonable. You should do it if humanly possible but if you truly cannot (nor rearrange your own plans slightly) then you will have to hope they understand.
    I hope it works out.
    [Pressure builds for clear and enforced overtime rules.]

  3. How telecommuting increases your work hours, (12/23 early pickup) DeccanChronicle.com
    BANGALORE, Karnataka State, India - While telecommunicating has become an attractive option for busy professionals, it equates to working more hours for most employees who work remotely, researchers say.
    The study, co-authored by Jennifer Glass from Population Research Center, shows that most of the 30 percent of respondents who work from home add five to seven hours to their workweek compared with those who work exclusively at the office.
    They are also significantly less likely to work a standard 40 hour schedule and more likely to work overtime. In fact, most telecommuting hours occur after an employee has already put in 40 hours of work at the office.

    [So, to have more of the most basic and fundamental freedom, Free Time (if there are any of you "prisoners" out there who don't "love their chains"), work at, and only at, the office.]
    Using two nationally representative data sources - the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 panel and special supplements from the U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey - Glass and her colleague, Mary Noonan, associate professor of sociology at the University of Iowa, analyzed trends in the use of telecommuting among employees and employers in the U.S. civilian workforce.
    The results indicate that telecommuting causes work to seep into home life, a problem previously identified in the 2008 Pew Networked Workers survey.
    According to the survey, a majority of tech-savvy workers claim that telecommuting technology has increased their overall work hours and that employees use technology, especially email, to perform work tasks even when sick or on vacation.
    "Careful monitoring of this blurred boundary between work and home time and the erosion of 'normal working hours' in many professions can help us understand the expansion of work hours overall among salaried workers," Glass said.
    The researchers also found the labour demand for work-family accommodation does not seem to propel the distribution of telecommuting hours. In fact, parents with dependent children are no more likely to work from home than the population as a whole.
    According to the findings, employees with authority and status are more likely than others to have the option to work remotely because they have more control of their work schedules.
    The authors concluded that telecommuting has not permeated the American workplace, and where it has become commonly used, it is not very helpful in reducing work-family conflicts. Instead, it appears to have allowed employers to impose longer workdays, facilitating workers' needs to add hours to the standard workweek.

12/21/2012 – 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. White House warns federal workers of furloughs from sequestration, Washington Business Journal via washingtonpost.com/blogs
    [Better to cut worktime, than workforce and everything else in the process!]
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Federal labor leaders say that the Obama administration on Thursday warned federal employees that furloughs could result as a last resort if the White House and Congress don't come to an agreement on spending cuts that would occur on Jan. 1 through the process of sequestration, The Washington Post reported.
    The leaders said federal workers received an email Thursday informing them that sequestration is not the same as a government shutdown and that the government's work would continue.
    [And here's the Washington Post original -]
    Furloughs could result from sequestration as last resort, administration says, posted by Joe Davidson, (12/20 late pickup) The Washington Post Federal Eye via washingtonpost.com via Washington Business Journal FedBiz Daily via bizjournals.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - The Obama administration plans to inform federal employees that furloughs could result as a last resort if the White House and Congress do not come to an agreement to prevent sharp budget cuts on Jan. 1 through the process known as sequestration, according to federal labor leaders.
    Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry and Danny Werfel, controller of the Office of Management and Budget, told federal labor leaders in a conference call last night that federal workers would receive an email today informing them that sequestration is not the same as a government shutdown and that the government’s work would continue.
    They emphasized that if furloughs occur, they would not happen immediately.
    Administration officials did not discuss layoffs with labor leaders, according to an administration source.
    The point of the email, said William R. Dougan, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, is to prevent federal workers from being alarmed about the possibility of sequestration.
    In a separate email to labor leaders and government officials Thursday morning, Werfel outlined the information OMB “provided to agencies to help them communicate with their employees (beginning as early as today).”
    According to Werfel’s email, supplied by a union source:
    • “The Administration and Congress are continuing to work to resolve a series of economic or fiscal events, collectively referred to as the “fiscal cliff,” that are scheduled to occur around the end of the year.
    [The fiscal cliff is nothing compared to the consumer-spending or consumption cliff.]
    • “One of the key issues involves potential across-the-board reductions in Federal spending— also known as “sequestration”—which were put in place by the Budget Control Act of 2011. Under current law, these reductions are scheduled to take effect on January 2, 2013.
    • “First and foremost, it is important to keep in mind that the Administration remains focused on working with Congress to reach agreement on a balanced deficit reduction plan that avoids such cuts. Sequestration was never intended to be implemented, and there is no reason why both sides should not be able to come together and prevent this scenario.
    • “Nevertheless, with only a couple of weeks left before sequestration could occur should a deal not be reached, it is important to clarify the potential implications.
    • “If it occurs, sequestration will reduce our budgetary resources for the remainder of the fiscal year (which runs through September 30).
    • “These cuts, while significant and harmful to our collective mission as an agency, would not necessarily require immediate reductions in spending. Under sequestration, we would still have funds available after January 2, but our overall funding for the remainder of the year would be reduced.
    • “Accordingly, this situation is different from other scenarios we have encountered in recent years, such as threats of government shutdown due to a lapse in appropriations.
    • “For these reasons, I do not expect our day-to-day operations to change dramatically on or immediately after January 2, should sequestration occur.
    • “ This means that we will not be executing any immediate personnel actions, such as furloughs, on that date.
    • “ Should we have to operate under reduced funding levels for an extended period of time, we may have to consider furloughs or other actions in the future.
    • “But let me assure you that we will carefully examine other options to reduce costs within the agency before taking such action, taking into consideration our obligation to execute our core mission.
    • “Moreover, if such action proves to be necessary, we would provide affected employees the requisite advance notice before a furlough or other personnel action would occur.
    • “ We would also immediately cancel any scheduled personnel actions should a deficit reduction agreement be reached that restores our agency funding.
    American Federation of Government Employees president J. David Cox Sr. said: “We’re glad the administration seems to be taking a ‘hope for the best, but prepare for the worst’ approach, because as awful as sequestration would be, some of the items in these ‘grand deals’ are outrageously bad for federal employees. We’re doing our own preparation to make sure that if sequestration does occur, agencies spread the pain to their larger and more costly contractor workforce and don’t put it all on us.”
    The International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers, which reported on the conference call, said in a “sequestration update” email to its members Thursday morning:
    “First and foremost, it is becoming more and more likely that there will be a deal that includes significant revenue increases so that there will be less of a need for cuts. Even if it doesn’t happen by December 31st, it will likely happen by early January at the absolute latest.
    “Second, regardless of the final deal, there will be large cuts to most federal agencies so there will be pain although much less than if the Budget Control Act (sequestration) were allowed to kick in.
    “Third, sequestration or any deal to avoid it is not a shutdown. All federal agencies will be open on January 2nd and all federal employees should report to work as scheduled. Any cuts will be gradually implemented and so there should not be any real disruptions in January (i.e., no furloughs).”
    [And here's a version from some patriots -]
    As fiscal cliff nears, Panetta warns of furloughs, by Leo Shane III, Stars and Stripes via stripes.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA – With the real possibility of massive military budget cuts just days away, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Thursday told defense employees that staffing and program cuts will be considered if Congress can’t agree on alternative budget plans.
    In a department-wide memo, Panetta wrote that he does not expect any immediate disruptions to military operations on Jan. 2 – the day the budget cuts are set to trigger – but warned that “should we have to operate under reduced funding levels for an extended period of time, we may have to consider furloughs or other actions in the future.”
    Military pay and staffing are exempt from the cuts, and Panetta promised to provide “requisite advance notice” before any civilian employee actions.
    “We will carefully examine other options to reduce costs within the agency before taking such action,” he wrote.
    It’s the first formal warning to defense employees that their jobs could be lost to the two-year fight in Congress over the national debt, and a sign of how poorly last-minute negotiations between the White House and Republican leaders have gone.
    On Thursday, the House abruptly adjourned for Christmas after failing to pass viable plans to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff” – tax increases and $1 trillion in automatic spending reductions set to go into effect the first week in January.
    House Speaker John Boehner, who has been sparring with the president behind the scenes over details of a compromise measure, also failed to get his caucus to adopt a “Plan B” which would have allowed tax breaks for millionaires to expire in exchange for cuts in entitlement programs.
    The measure wasn’t expected to advance in the Senate, but was expected to provide some political cover in the event of a financial meltdown. Instead, it prompted questions about how deep the political divisions on Capitol Hill run, and whether any deal can possibly be reached in coming days.
    On Friday, Boehner told reporters that he still believes a solution can be found, but only if Democrats drop their insistence on widespread tax increases and opposition to cuts in entitlement programs.
    “We see a situation where, because of the political divide in the country, trying to bridge these differences has been difficult,” he said. “We have to find a way to address the significant spending problems we have.”
    But Democratic leaders have blamed Republicans for insisting that wealthy Americans should hang on to low tax rates at the expense of needed social programs. White House spokesman Jay Carney said Thursday that the president has offered reasonable plans on tax increases and spending cuts, but conservative ideologues have so far derailed that compromise.
    Lawmakers have been lamenting the possible devastating defense budget cuts for more than a year, after a congressional committee in November 2011 failed to reach any decisions on trims to federal spending mandated as part of debt ceiling extension negotiations months earlier.
    That failure triggered the $1 trillion in automatic “sequestration” funding reductions – half from defense, half from non-defense accounts – to be implemented through across-the board cuts. For the Defense Department, the scenario would mean roughly a 10 percent cut in planned military spending from January to October, except for personnel accounts.
    In raw figures, that means Defense Health programs would lose about $3.3 billion in funding, and the four services’ operations and maintenance accounts would be reduced by more than $18 billion combined.
    Pentagon officials thus far haven’t said how those cuts will be implemented, other than to insist that such a drastic reduction can’t truly be mitigated.
    Panetta, in his memo, called the cuts “significant and harmful to our collective mission” but said the trigger won’t immediately affect cash flow to the agency.
    “This situation is different from other scenarios we have encountered in recent years, such as threat of government shutdown due to a lapse in appropriations,” he wrote. “For these reasons, I do not expect our day-to-day operations to change dramatically on or immediately after Jan. 2.”
    But, he added, that could change if an after-the-fact solution isn’t found quickly.
    House and Senate leaders have promised to work with the White House on a solution up until the end of the year. Both chambers are tentatively scheduled to return to the Capitol for legislative action on Dec. 27, the first significant post-holiday session for Congress in almost two decades.
    Boehner said he is still hopeful that a compromise can be found, although he admitted his main concern is “that time is running short.”
    [And here's some background on sequestration -]
    Legislative Chicken: Sequestration and the Fiscal Cliff Explained, by Betsy Jaffe, (10/17 very late pickup) All Voices via InfoComm International via infocommblog.org
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA – Like a cartoon character followed by a persistent black cloud, the Washington, D.C., area (along with other cities and towns reliant on federal or military spending) is under the threat of sequestration, set to dive off a “fiscal cliff.” [neighboring photo shows attractive gal poised to dive off rock] The terms have been bandied about in presidential debates and editorial pages, but what exactly is sequestration, why is it coming up now, and why does it matter?
    In short, unless Congress can figure out a way to trim $110 billion from defense and non-defense spending in Fiscal Year 2013 by January 2, mandated spending cuts will kick in. Yes, the same 112th Congress that failed to accomplish much of anything over the last two years and adjourned to campaign several weeks ago.
    The question remains, why are we under the threat of sequestration? Simply put, the United States has a massive budget deficit. In order to create some fiscal discipline, Congress, in a rare bipartisan agreement, decided to create an incentive to develop a balanced budget through a “Super Committee.” Sequestration was supposed to be so undesirable that Congress would be forced to make the tough decisions on spending cuts or face cutting an equal amount of military and non-military spending cuts — $1.2 trillion over ten years, with $110 billion in cuts for Fiscal Year 2013.
    Given the anemic legislative prowess of the 112th Congress, does it come as any surprise to you that this doom and gloom tactic didn’t work? That the Super Committee failed? That Congress didn’t come up with a balanced budget? I didn’t think it would. Any legislative body that would erect an artificial fiscal cliff as a way of installing non-existent fiscal discipline is admitting that the system is broken, compromise will never be achieved and the country is at-risk.
    Sequestration is an ultimatum gone awry. It has created uncertainty about government spending, and that has significant implications for the private sector. What if you were trying to sell and install a boardroom audiovisual system to a government agency? The agency is not sure if it will still have authorization to buy it. In fact, the agency was supposed to be moving to offices across town, but it is now unsure if the offices are moving, because it is reluctant to sign a new lease without knowing exactly what is happening at the agency. Will there be a new boardroom? Nobody is sure.
    The company that you work for sells a lot of AV to government agencies. But the market is suddenly paralyzed. Think of it this way: Are you personally going to make a major purchase, such as a new house or car, unless you really need to? In turn, will your local car dealer or realtor be making any major purchases if it’s not sure you and people like you will? The cycle continues until the uncertainty ends.
    Sequestration is all about punting — it is about avoiding making tough spending decisions in an election year and leaving the damage for someone else to sort out. Could you imagine running your own business this way? If faced with difficult choices, would you cut all spending by 25 percent, or would you prioritize programs to eliminate, while preserving others?
    Right now, lawmakers seem more intent on sparring over whether the January 2nd deadline means that defense contractors should be issuing notices warning about potential mass layoffs under the ominously-titled Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, also known as the WARN Act. The Department of Labor states that the situation is too speculative to require the notice. Congressional Republicans say the threat is real and the President is trying to avoid an embarrassing situation before the election. I am staying out of that dispute, but am highlighting it to underscore that as we are heading over the fiscal cliff, our leaders seem more concerned about who should be embarrassed, rather than governing.
    We have about five months before the next budget resolution expires, and it is unknown how this high-stakes game of legislative chicken ultimately ends. Perhaps it is the collective citizenry who should be embarrassed.
    About Betsy Jaffe - Betsy Jaffe is Director of Public and Government Relations for InfoComm International, overseeing the public relations, government affairs and social media activities of the association, the Professional Audio Manufacturers Alliance and the STEP™ Foundation. Prior to joining InfoComm in 2005, Betsy was a director at Powell Tate/Weber Shandwick Worldwide, developing public affairs campaigns for Altria/Philip Morris USA, Cisco, The H.John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment and others.

  2. Saku Tuominen: Redesigning the work week, (12/20 late pickup) 925design.fi via Good News from Finland via goodnewsfinland.com
    [Sounds hopeful, but where's the beef? Lotsa jabber, no substance - unless that strange nonsequitur in the middle is IT, in which case it's Bad News from Finland, going in the wrong direction: "Work more, complain less". That's no different from what da massa say to dee happy slaves! Hardly a "bold idea." Oh well, we cite articles with real hourscuts spun as bad - this is a silk purse made out of a sow's ear.]
    HELSINKI, Finland - A broader concept of design allows us to, say, redesign the work week. The Redesigning 925 project surprised even Saku Tuominen, who is passionate about creative thinking and executing bold ideas.
    It all started when the World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 organisation contacted Idealist Group, a company specialised in the production of ideas.
    — We were asked to provide ideas of how to use Design Thinking and of the changes that would most benefit people today, says Saku Tuominen, the company’s founder and creative director.
    — Because most people spend the majority of their waking hours at work and because everything in working life is not as it should be, we decided to focus on office work and revamping the work week. Our goal was to redesign the work week and to increase the efficiency, pleasantness, creativity and positive atmosphere of working life, continues Tuominen.
    Work more, complain less
    How can design change working life?
    — Design itself can’t change anything, but Design Thinking can help to find solutions to difficult problems through surprising approaches that have been tested in practice. It’s all about a solution-centred, practical way of thinking, stresses Tuominen.
    Design Thinking consists of making observations, summarising the problem, coming up with models for solutions, constructing prototypes and testing them, as well as concluding the measures.
    — The problems are viewed from a new perspective and tested in practice. That makes the approach suitable for solving almost any kind of problem, Tuominen assures us.
    Tuominen uses Design Thinking whenever he is faced with a problem.
    — I think about what the problem is really about and what I could do about it. Instead of endless planning I try out various approaches in fairly quick progression. If they don’t work, I try something else. As a rule, I try to complain less and work more.
    The basics of the office work revolution
    Redesigning 925, which grew out of a World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 project, culminated in a book written by Saku Tuominen and Pekka Pohjankallio called Työkirja — Työelämän vallankumouksen perusteet (Workbook – The Basics of Office Work Revolution), published in October. The book offers, among other things, examples of how to increase the pleasantness, creativity and efficiency of work.
    — The whole project and the book have been quite a success. The media has shown more interest than we could ever have hoped for. Our seminars are packed and the third edition of the book is already out. We attended the Neuroleadership Summit in New York to talk about the observations we made during the project, and the English-language version of the book is set to be released in spring 2013. So we’ve received a lot of attention, Tuominen says with a smile.
    And the work doesn’t stop there. Based on the project, the Idealist Group has established a design agency called 925 Design, which will focus on improving working life.
    — The company’s purpose is to help work communities to create new and better ways of working and to accomplish more, while simultaneously getting less tired, Tuominen says.

  3. Motion for regulated working hours legislation rejected, Baker & McKenzie via Lexology.com
    [This is bad news but at least the Hong Kongolese are talkin' the talk, where most of the world is still clueless.]
    HONG KONG, China - The Legislative Council rejected a motion to introduce a bill within this legislative session on the regulation of working hours including the number of standard weekly working hours and overtime pay.
    The Legislative Council debated the motion for almost six hours but ultimately came to the view that it is too early to discuss the drafting of regulated working hours and its legislative timetable. The view was taken that such a policy will be complex and building consensus is paramount to it being successfully introduced. It was considered that lengthy preparation would be required in addition to an analysis of the various sectors and the economic and social situation in Hong Kong.
    The Labour Department conducted research on the proposal to regulate working hours and the report was submitted to the Executive Council for consideration. The study examines the systems and experiences of other places in regulating working hours, it encompasses a review of statistics on the latest working hours situation of the working population in various sectors of Hong Kong and also assesses the possible cost impact of introducing standard working hours in Hong Kong. The objective is to provide a platform for an informed and in-depth public discussion on the subject of standard working hours. The report identifies a number of key issues that need to be discussed by employees, employers and the wider community to explore a way forward.
    The Chief Executive pledged in his election manifesto to set up a Special Committee comprising government officials, representatives of employers and employees, academics and community leaders to follow up on the policy study. It is expected that the Special Committee will be up and running by the first quarter of next year.
    This momentum suggests that some form of legislation to regulate working hours is on the distant horizon, however we do not anticipate seeing a draft bill until at least 2014.

12/20/2012 – 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. GAPS staff to take second furlough day, (12/19 late pickup) Albany Democrat Herald via democratherald.com
    ALBANY, Ore., USA - Albany students start their Christmas break after classes this Thursday [12/21], as the Albany school district takes its second furlough day of the [school] year.
    Greater Albany Public Schools [GAPS] initially set four class days and one holiday as furloughs this year. Two days have since been restored: April 15 and the May 27 Memorial Day holiday.
    Board members approved an agreement adding back April 15 as part of their Dec. 10 meeting.
    The first furlough day was Nov. 21. The remaining one after Dec. 21 is May 24.
    No furlough days are scheduled at this point for the 2013-14 calendar, but bargaining has not yet concluded.
    [Better a few furloughs for all than total joblessness for a few.]

  2. Lakeport police admin office to close for holidays, furloughs, Lake County Record-Bee
    LAKEPORT, Calif., USA -- The Lakeport Police Department's administrative office will be closed Friday through Jan. 1, but officers will remain available to handle calls for service during that period.
    The closure is the result of the holiday season and employee furloughs.
    On-duty officers can be reached at the department during the timeframe.
    The administrative office will reopen for regular business on Jan. 2.
    For questions or information on sex registrations and the release of towed and stored vehicles, contact the on-duty watch supervisor. For more information, call the department at 263-5491.

12/19/2012 – 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. The Role of Short-Time Working Schemes During the Global Financial Crisis and Early Recovery - A Cross-Country Analysis, by Alexander Hijzen & Sébastien Martin, (12/12/12 late pickup) ioecd-ilibrary.org
    PARIS, France - OECD, France
    Publication Date 12 Dec 2012
    Bibliographic information
    No.: 144
    Pages 39
    DOI 10.1787/5k8x7gvx7247-en
    There has been a strong interest in short-time work (STW) schemes during the global financial crisis. Using data for 23 OECD countries for the period 2004 Q1 to 2010 Q4, this paper analyses the quantitative effects of STW programmes on labour market outcomes by exploiting the country and time variation in STW take-up rates. The analysis takes account of differences in institutional settings across countries that might affect the relationship between labour market outcomes and output and also addresses the endogeneity of STW take-up with respect to labour market conditions. Moreover, special attention is given to the dynamic aspects of the relationship between output and labour market outcomes. The results indicate the STW raises hours flexibility by increasing the output elasticity of working time and helps to preserve jobs in the context of a recession by making employment and unemployment less elastic with respect to output. A key finding is that the timing of STW is crucial. While STW helped preserving a significant number of jobs during the crisis, its continued use during the recovery may have slowed the job-content of the recovery. By the end of 2010, the net effect of STW on employment was negligible or may even have become negative. However, the gross impact of STW on the number of jobs saved per quarter remains large and positive in the majority of countries.
    Keywords: global financial crisis, partial unemployment benefits, work-sharing
    JEL Classification:
    J23: Labor and Demographic Economics / Demand and Supply of Labor / Labor Demand
    J65: Labor and Demographic Economics / Mobility, Unemployment, and Vacancies / Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings
    J68: Labor and Demographic Economics / Mobility, Unemployment, and Vacancies / Public Policy

  2. Reintroduction of administrative authorisation for short-time work, Lexology.com
    PARIS, France - A Decree of 19 November 2012 (n°2012-1271) re-establishes the employer's obligation to ask for an authorization before implementing short-time work. It came into force on November 22, 2012. From March 2012 to November 22, 2012, it was not necessary to obtain authorisation. It has been reintroduced to secure the legal situation of the employer.
    What is new is that after fifteen days from the date the application was received, the authorization is now considered as tacitly approved.
    After receiving express or tacit authorisation, the employer shall ask the DIRECCTE to be awarded a special short-time work allowance "allocation spécifique de chômage partiel".
    A Circular from the Minister of Employment dated November 21, 2012 (n°2012/22) provides forms that can be used to ask for authorization and apply for the related allowance.

12/18/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Times Charities: Group helps LVN nurse finances when hours cut, by Deanna Watson, TimesRecordNews.com
    WICHITA FALLS, Tex., USA - Emily, a single mother of two, works as an LVN while also going to school full time to become a registered nurse.
    She's only months away from graduation, and she will leave her job at a nursing home and seek a higher-paying job at the hospital.
    All these years, Emily has been fiercely independent, receiving no assistance from the children's father. Although that might change, as she's seeking intervention from the Attorney General's Office for unpaid child support.
    Her independence was shattered recently, though, when her nursing home hours were slashed. Upon hearing the news, she immediately sought a second job and will start in a couple of weeks.
    Not soon enough, though, to pay her rent on time.
    Emily contacted Interfaith Ministries Inc. for help.
    After reviewing her case, an intake volunteer and staff member concluded that Emily would be an ideal candidate for a Times Charities grant, and forwarded the request for $750 to the nonprofit associated with this newspaper.
    Times Charities approved the one-time request for $750 toward Emily's rent.
    Times Charities was formed more than 20 years ago by a group of area philanthropists who wanted to find a way to help those who are less fortunate. Now the nonprofit, still affiliated with the Times Record News, is operated through the Wichita Falls Area Community Foundation.
    Donations to Times Charities go to the three partners: Faith Mission, Interfaith Ministries and Grace Ministries in Burkburnett.
    Overhead expenses are not paid from donations. No money is spent from the Times Charities account until the situations of those seeking help are verified by our partners.
    Donations can be made in the form of cash, checks and debit or credit cards. Online donations can be made at www.timesrecordnews.com by clicking on the "Donate" link at the top of our website.
    Make checks payable to Times Charities/WFACF, and mail them to 807 Eighth St., Suite 750, Wichita Falls, TX 76301-3334. For information call Frances Tate at 940-720-3490.

  2. Apple Now Tracking Working Hours for Over One Million Supply-Chain Employees, by Eric Slivka, MacRumors.com
    CUPERTINO, Calif., USA - Apple has updated its supplier-responsibility pages to note that it is now tracking working hours for one million employees in its supply chain, up from 900,000 at its previous update.
    Compliance with Apple's 60-hour work week standard stood at 88% in November, below the peak of 97% reached in July and August. Apple notes, however, that it allows the normal 60-hour standard to be exceeded during period of high demand if workers volunteer for the additional time. That policy seems to have had an impact on overall compliance over the past three months, coinciding with Apple's major product ramps for the iPhone 5, iPad mini, fourth-generation iPad, updated iPods, and a number of new Mac models.
    [SIXTY hour workweeks?! Shame on Apple = high tech with laptops, low tech with employees. But at least it's lower than it was and they've finally got around to trying for compliance.]
    "Going deep into our supply chain, we now follow weekly supplier data for over 1,000,000 workers. In November 88 percent of workweeks were less than the 60-hour maximum specified in Apple’s code of conduct. In limited peak periods, we allow work beyond the 60 hour limit for those employees that volunteer to do so."
    Apple reports that with one million supply chain workers now being tracked through the system, the company has doubled its coverage since early this year when it began a new initiative to more openly address worker rights and safety throughout its supply chain. Apple has also partnered with the Fair Labor Association to provide third-party monitoring of conditions.

12/16-17/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. 2013 Sacramento Public Library Holiday and Furlough Schedule, 12/16 (12/12 late posting) saclibrary.org
    SACRAMENTO, CAlif., USA - View our schedule for upcoming holiday and furlough closure dates.
    All Sacramento Public Library locations will be closed on the following dates during December 2012 to June 2013:
    December 25, Tuesday: Christmas Day
    December 26, Wednesday: Library staff furlough
    January 1, Tuesday: New Year’s Day
    January 19, Saturday: Library staff furlough
    February 16, Saturday: Library staff furlough
    March 30, Saturday: Library staff furlough
    March 31, Sunday: Central Library only is open; Carmichael Library is closed.
    April 19, Friday: Library staff furlough
    May 25, Saturday: Library staff furlough
    May 26, Sunday: Memorial Day
    June 14, Friday: Library staff furlough
    [Basically one furlough day a month like Rae Days in Ontario, Canada in the 1990s.]
    Closure dates for July to December 2013 are forthcoming.

  2. Politics - Universal Credit: 35 hour week question, 12/17 Digital Spy via forums.digitalspy.co.uk
    HEREFORD, U.K. - Forum Member: noise747
    16-12-2012, 10:10
    Join Date: Dec 2007
    Location: Herefordshire
    Services: All Pay broadband. Netfliks and lovefilm, no TV
    Posts: 11,838
    I work 30 hours, i doubt very much if I can get any more, certainly not after Christmas as everything will slow down and we will lose hours.
    The only way I can see my self getting more hours is going to night shift, that then that could cause problems with my health.

    [Shorter hours is happening anyway but not the best way.]
    i would love to do 39 hours, i would be better off than I am now, but not sure if I can get it.
    Oh well we will have to wait and see. this government have to be very careful, if people can't afford to live they get nasty and I fear the next riots will make the last lot look silly.
    i hope it never happens, but even the mayor of Liverpool thinks it could[.]

12/15/2012 – 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. Reduced transfers, furlough days help Poulsbo balance budget, (12/14 late pickup) KitsapSun.com
    POULSBO, Wash., USA — Poulsbo city council members approved the 2013 budget Wednesday, balancing a $511,319 shortfall expected in next year's budget by reducing the amount put into reserve funds and instituting four furlough days, among other cost-saving moves.
    Transfer amounts to reserve funds for such city departments as parks and streets were reduced by 50 percent, based off numbers presented by Poulsbo's finance director Deborah Booher Wednesday night.
    Four furlough days and wage benefit adjustments saved $39,352 in the budget, which ended up at roughly $24.7 million.
    The city's deficit was also partially balanced by an unexpected increased forecast for sales tax revenue, which gave the city an extra $180,000 in sales tax and $88,560 city utility taxes.

  2. Opening hours cut plan for Wymondham TIC, by Adam Gretton, Norfolk Eastern Daily Press via edp24.co.uk
    WYMONDHAM, Norfolk, U.K. - Norfolk tourist information centre [TIC] could see its opening hours reduced next year as a result of a feared cut in district council grant funding.
    The historic Market Cross in Wymondham welcomes thousands of visitors every year as the town’s TIC.
    However, the listed building in the Market Place is set to have its opening hours cut in 2013 over concerns that the Wymondham Town Council-run facility will lose some of its funding from South Norfolk Council.
    Officials at the town council said the reduced opening times were proposed after three of the four staff that work at the TIC decided to retire and South Norfolk Council officers warned that the £8,000 a year grant for the facility could be cut.
    It means that the Market Cross will be open to tourists two days a week during the winter period, instead of three, and the summer openings will be reduced from six days a week to four.

    Trevor Gurney, town clerk, said Wymondham Town Council would be discussing the proposals at a full council meeting on January 3. He added that the retirement of staff at the TIC and the potential loss of funding from the district council had prompted the town council to review opening hours at the Market Cross.
    Mr Gurney said officers from South Norfolk Council were looking to install a 24/7 touch screen information point somewhere in the town for people to access tourist information.
    “It is frustrating to reduce hours, but if these South Norfolk Council plans go through, our grant could be withdrawn. They have been looking at this for quite a long time,” he said.
    South Norfolk Council, which grants £18,000 a year to independently-run TICs in Wymondham, Harleston and Loddon, is looking to introduce new tourist information points in the three towns, which cost £5,000 if placed indoors or £10,000 for a stand alone screen in the street. The investment would result in less funding for TICs, if approved by councillors, said a spokesman.
    South Norfolk Councillor Florence Ellis said: “Visitors want information when they visit at weekends and in the evenings, and we are confident these improvements to our service will be appreciated and attract even more people to this great place.”

12/14/2012 – 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. Companies turn to 'work-sharing' to preserve jobs, ResourceInnovations.co.uk
    LONDON, U.K. - Employees around the world have seen changes in hourly rates and the number of hours in which they work so that companies can prevent redundancies, according to a new report.
    The International Labour Organisation's Global Wage Report has revealed that many organisations have adopted practices such as work-sharing in order to trim the wage bill as the global financial crisis continues.
    Work sharing strategies include three or four-day weeks replacing the traditional five-day week, reducing daily-hours over time.
    Jon Messenger, senior research officer at ILO, says that the findings are a cause for optimism rather than a signal of a universal drop in wages.
    He said: "Work sharing is a reduction in working time to avoid lay-offs. The company temporarily gets a reduction in its wage bill and the employees don’t lose their jobs. It is a measure that helps to stabilise the economy."
    Mr Messenger added that income support payments, unemployment insurance or compensation would ensure the measures would not leave affected workers out of pocket.
    "Workers in many cases receive at least half, if not more of the wages that they have lost," he said.
    He stressed that the measures often last an average of six to 24 months. In some cases, workers could even receive training that will help them strengthen their long-term career ambitions.
    The idea has already been implemented across Europe and the Americas, as well as South Africa. Patrick Belser, the co-author of the ILO report, suggested that average wages have suffered due to the increase in proportions of those working part-time relative to full-time.
    Wages have already dropped steadily over the past 30 years, with a TUC report suggesting that many workers on median incomes are around £7,000 worse off.
    The TUC has attributed the fall to the decline of industries spending a high proportion of turnover on wages, such as manufacturing, and the rise of industries with higher profit margins, such as financial services.
    In a statement released this week, the TUC stated that the government needs to rebalance the economy to allow money from workers' pay packets to be invested into business rather than going to companies' shareholders.

  2. Layoffs and shorttime working, by Sarah Rushton, People Management Magazine Online via peoplemanagement.co.uk
    LONDON, U.K. - Agreeing a variation in working hours can deprive employees of guarantee payments “Layoffs” and “short-time working” used to be common in manufacturing industries (and some employers expressly retain a contractual right to put employees on short-time working or lay them off if there is a dip in trade). With the economic downturn, the practice has become more widespread. It is a way for an employer to save money and may help avoid the need to make redundancies.
    Laying off employees means the employer provides them with no work and no pay for a period while retaining them as employees. Short-time working means providing employees with less work (and reduced pay) for a period while retaining them as employees.
    Guarantee pay
    Section 28(1) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA) provides that, in certain circumstances, when an employer fails to provide work "throughout a day during any part of which an employee would normally be required to work in accordance with his contract of employment, the employee is entitled to a statutory guarantee payment.” In other words, employees should get a guarantee payment in the event of short-time working or layoff.
    There will be a breach of contract where an employer lays off employees or puts them on short-time working without the contractual right to do so. However, the alternative to a layoff or short-time working is usually redundancy. Given the poor state of the jobs market, more employees appear willing to agree at least a short-term variation of their terms of employment in order to avoid the possibility of being let go altogether.
    This was the situation recently in the recent case of Abercrombie & Others v Aga Rangemaster Ltd. In order to avoid redundancies, the employer entered into an agreement with the GMB union, whereby the GMB put a proposal to its members for a temporary reduction in working hours to 34 hours a week, with no working on Friday and an equivalent reduction in pay. The proposal was accepted.
    The short-time working was initially intended to be from 1 January 2009 to 26 June 2009. When trading did not improve, the reduced hours working was extended by agreement until December 2009. The arrangements came to an end with effect from 31 December 2009.
    After the employer refused to confirm that guarantee payments would be paid during the period of reduced hours, a grievance was lodged by the GMB. This was not upheld. A claim for unlawful deduction of wages and non-payment of guarantee payments was then made to the employment tribunal.
    Tribunal decision
    The tribunal found there was a clear temporary variation to the employees’ contracts of employment. As a consequence of that variation, the employees were not “normally required to work” on Fridays and therefore were not entitled to a guarantee payment for the period they were not working. The employees appealed to the EAT.
    EAT judgment
    The Employment Appeal Tribunal dismissed the appeal. It accepted that the fact that an agreed variation of contract is temporary does not prevent there being a change to employees’ “normal working hours” for the purpose of considering an entitlement to guarantee payments under section 28(1) of ERA 1996. The EAT therefore applied a very restrictive interpretation of the entitlement to guarantee payments.
    The purpose of a guarantee payment is to assist employees who are put on short-time working, leaving them with reduced pay, which was precisely the situation here. It now appears that where there is agreement to vary working patterns (as opposed to an employer imposing a contractual right to lay off employees without pay), that varied pattern will become the normal working pattern and the employees will be deprived of any guarantee payment. While this is good news for employers it seems grossly unfair to employees who are, after all, trying to assist the financial viability of the business by sacrificing part of their entitlement to salary.
    Sarah Rushton is head of employment at Payne Hicks Beach.

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

  1. Porsche to cut working hours, maintain pay, AFP via France24 Podcasts via france24.com
    PARIS, France - Luxury sports carmaker Porsche, a unit of the German auto giant Volkswagen, said Thursday it will gradually trim working hours without any cuts in pay to attract highly-skilled workers [sic].
    [Presumably this does not mean they think paycuts would attract workers but rather the lack of paycuts during hourscuts, which actually amounts to an hourly wage increase. Porsche apparently has either a long-term view to be concerned about attracting workers when they're being forced to trim hours, or, if we take them at their word and there is no drop in demand pushing them to cut hours, then they're actually timesizing to create more jobs and markets for their product = also very long term. And very advanced indeed!]
    "Porsche is looking to improve competitiveness and attractiveness as an employer even further," the group said in a statement.
    Porsche's executive board and its works council had "agreed on appropriate measures for increased flexibility and productivity," the statement said.
    The group's more than 17,000 staff would therefore see their working hours cut gradually between now and mid-2013 from 35 hours to 34 hours "with full compensation," it said.
    "It is proving ever-more difficult to find well-educated people on the labour market. The demographic development is exacerbating this problem significantly. This is a major challenge not just for Porsche, but the entire German automotive industry," said Porsche chief executive Matthias Mueller.
    "Overall, higher flexibility and productivity will strengthen our competitiveness considerably," he argued.

  2. Flexi work week to be finalised next year, by Monique Grange editorial@gleanerjm.com, The Gleaner/Power 106 News Centre via Go-Jamaica.com
    KINGSTON, Jamaica - Labour Minister Derrick Kellier says he will be moving to finalise arrangements in the New Year that will make the flexi work week proposal a reality.
    He said discussions will continue with the labour advisory council, unions and employers in an effort to address several issues relating to flexi work week arrangements.
    Those arrangements seek to address the variations in the number of hours worked each day or week, as well as the days of the week when employees work.
    Those arrangements have been under review for more than 18 years.
    However, the labour minister said he has not sensed a great deal of urgency on the part of some unions and employers to get the flexi-work week arrangements on stream, since he took office.
    Nevertheless, Kellier said consultations will resume next year, noting that a lot of laws will have to be adjusted before plans to introduce flexi-work week arrangements are implemented.
    He believes the proposal when implemented will help to create more jobs and increase productivity.

12/12/2012 – 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. Police brotherhood fights for 3-day work week, Posted By: Claude Beaulieu, CJAD.com
    "The police of Montréal privileged? NO" (=sign in photo; original French:"Les policiers de Montréal privilégiés? NON")
    [The good news here is that Montreal police already have a shorter-than-40-hour workweek, but it's actually just a 35-hour workweek that's been repackaged into three-and-a-half 10-hour days rather than the futuristic 24-hour workweek (3x8) that it sounds.]
    is probably advanced but not VERY advanced (as it sounds), because it's a fight against repackaging a 35-hour workweek from police-preferred three-and-a-half 10-hour days to bureaucrat-preferred five 7-hour days.]
    MONTRÉAL, Québec - There are full page ads in all of Montreal's dailies this morning, taken out by the union representing Montreal's police officers.
    The police brotherhood is promising a fight over the city's decision to abolish the three-and-a-half day weekly schedule currently worked by many Montreal cops.
    The city announced it was abolishing the three-and-a-half day work week out of concern the longer days are too tiring.

    But the president of the Montreal Police Brotherhood says that's nonsense. Yves Francoeur says the city is changing the work schedule without any study or analysis. Meantime, he says, his union has studies that show how a shorter work week with ten-hour work days is best for police patrol officers and for citizens because it allows the force to put more cops on the ground during the critical evening hours.
    Francoeur won't say what the brotherhood has planned next to counter the city's move, but promises a fight.

  2. Media General Bonuses Help Make Up for Furloughs - Five days' pay for those who sacrificed income in the lean years, by Michael Malone, Broadcasting & Cable Mobile via broadcastingcable.com
    RICHMOND, Va., USA - Hinting at its new life as a pure-play broadcaster, Media General is giving those who lost income during a 2011 furlough program a cash payment equal to up to five days of pay.
    "To thank you for your loyalty and dedication, we are going to reinvest some of the dollars generated by our strong performance this year back into our employees," said Marshall Morton, president and CEO, in an internal memo.

    [At last, a CEO with some common sense! And an example of how crisis-cushioning timesizing instead of traumatic downsizing often lets companies recover so well they can completely compensate their employees, without government help, for the emergency temporary timesizing (assuming it really was a temporary emergency and not a long-term downward trend).]
    Morton retires at the end of 2012, and VP/COO George Mahoney takes over.
    Employees who were furloughed for five days or more receive the full five-day bonus.
    Media General has used furlough programs to cut costs multiple times in the recent past. In 2009, employees took 15 unpaid days off. In June of 2011, the company mandated employees take 15 more unpaid days before the end of the year.
    "As we approach the midpoint of 2011, the much anticipated economic recovery continues to be unevenly felt across our markets, and, more recently, the economy has faltered," Morton said in a memo at the time.
    Several media companies used furloughs during the recession, including Gannett, Freedom and Newport Television.
    Most employees get their checks Dec. 14.
    Said Morton in the most recent memo:
    "I'm pleased to report that 2012 is going to be a very strong year for Media General. Our stations have done an outstanding job leveraging this year's event-driven revenue opportunities and also have managed our core business very well."
    Morton cited political advertising, both from the election and ongoing fiscal cliff debates, as revenue drivers, along with Olympics on the group's eight NBC affiliates.
    "I am grateful for your steadfastness during the difficult economic times that we have faced, and I thank you for your strong efforts this year," he summed up.

12/11/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Vestas Wind Systems Cuts Hours at Colorado Plants to Save Jobs, by Alex Morales. Bloomberg.com
    WINDSOR & BRIGHTON, Colo., USA - Vestas Wind Systems A/S (VWS), the world’s biggest wind-turbine maker, cut working hours at two Colorado plants to save jobs.
    Employees paid by the hour at blade-manufacturing factories in Windsor and Brighton were told yesterday they’ll have their working week cut to 32 hours from 40 hours, Aarhus, Denmark- based Vestas said today in an e-mailed statement.
    The company didn’t disclose how many workers were affected.
    “The work-share plan gives Vestas manufacturing flexibility, helps to retain our valuable and experienced employees, and saves costs on recruiting or training new staff if market demand for wind turbines increases in 2013,” Vestas said. “This decision helps preserve jobs.”
    Vestas is trying to prepare its operations in the U.S. for a slowdown in production next year as orders have dropped before a tax credit supporting wind projects expires this year. The company predicts global shipments will total 5 gigawatts next year, down from about 6.3 gigawatts in 2012.
    The expiring production tax credit provides an incentive of 2.2 cents a kilowatt-hour for wind power. Vestas is cutting more than 6,000 jobs over two years and has said that the loss of the tax credit puts 1,600 jobs at risk in the U.S.
    The work-share plan was approved by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment and workers will receive payment for the lost hours from an unemployment insurance trust fund, Vestas said. Its statement confirmed an earlier report by the Denver Post.
    To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Morales in London at amorales2@bloomberg.net
    To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net

    [ReCharge News version of the story, slightly longer -]
    Vestas cuts worker hours at US blade plants to preserve jobs, by Richard A. Kessler, Recharge.com
    Vestas in early January will reduce the work week for hourly employees at two US blade factories, a move to preserve jobs amid a wind industry slowdown that has resulted in a significant reduction in 2013 turbine orders, the company says.
    An unspecified number of employees at plants in Brighton and Windsor, Colorado, will move from a 40-hour to a 32-hour work week. They will retain their health and other employee benefits.
    “Vestas is committed to its Colorado factories and treating its employees with respect,” the company says in a statement emailed to Recharge.
    It says the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment has approved a work-share program for Vestas. It pays employees' wages for the lost hours on a pro-rated basis from an unemployment insurance trust fund. The benefits are available for up to 18 weeks, rather than the 26 weeks redundant [=laidoff] workers can receive.
    [Looks like Colorado has its priorities backward here: it should be favoring job preservation, not job destruction. Work sharing is a lot closer to sustainability than layoffs.]
    “The work-share plan gives Vestas manufacturing flexibility, helps to retain our valuable and experienced employees, and saves costs on recruiting or training new staff if market demand for wind turbines increases in 2013,” the statement says.
    The world’s largest wind turbine maker says the facilities, plus those that manufacture nacelles and towers in Brighton [in addition to the blade factory?] and Pueblo, Colorado, will continue to produce components for the US market, Canada and Latin America.
    “Despite market challenges in the near term, Vestas is prepared to succeed in 2013 and intends to be here for the long term,” it says.
    Vestas built the four[?!] plants between 2008 and 2010, which helped it become the number two wind turbine supplier in the US after General Electric.
    US wind turbine orders have declined amid uncertainty over whether Congress will extend the industry’s main tax credit beyond this month. A sluggish economy has depressed electricity demand growth, while intense price competition from natural gas has led some utilities to favor it over coal and wind.

  2. $822000 Worker Shows California Leads US Pay Giveaway, by Mark Niquette & Michael B. Marois & Rodney Yap, Bloomberg.com
    [Nice that some of the pay is getting given away to thousands of workers where it will get spent and circulated instead of just dozens of banksters where it will get hoarded and wasted. "Not getting wasted!* you say, cuz money we funnel to the wealthy "gets right back to work creating jobs"? OK sucker, we been doin' that for at least a decade so WHERE are the jobs?]
    SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - Nine years ago, California Democrat Gray Davis became the first U.S. governor in 82 years to be recalled by voters. The state’s 20 million taxpayers still bear the cost of his four years and 10 months on the job.
    Davis escalated salaries and benefits for 164,000 state workers, including a 34 percent raise for prison guards, the first of a series of steps in which he and successors saddled California with a legacy of dysfunction. Today, the state’s highest-paid employees make far more than comparable workers elsewhere in almost all job and wage categories, from public safety to health care, base pay to overtime.
    Payroll data compiled by Bloomberg on 1.4 million public employees in the 12 most populous states show that California has set a pattern of lax management, inefficient operations and out-of-control costs. From coast to coast, states are cutting funding for schools, public safety and the poor as they struggle with fallout left by politicians who made pay-and-pension promises that taxpayers couldn’t afford.
    “It was completely avoidable,” said David Crane, a public-policy lecturer at Stanford University.
    “All it took was for political leaders to think more about the general population and the future, rather than their political futures,” said Crane, a Democrat who worked as an economic adviser to former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican. “Citizens should be mad as hell, and they shouldn’t take it anymore.”
    Billions Short
    Across the U.S., such compensation policies have contributed to state budget shortfalls of $500 billion in the past four years and prompted some governors, including Republican Scott Walker of Wisconsin, to strip most government employees of collective-bargaining rights and take other steps to limit payroll spending.
    In California, Governor Jerry Brown hasn’t curbed overtime expenses that lead the 12 largest states or limited payments for accumulated vacation time that allowed one employee to collect $609,000 at retirement in 2011. The 74-year-old Democrat has continued requiring workers to take an unpaid day off each month, which could burden the state with new costs in the future.
    Last year, Brown waived a cap on accrued leave for prison guards while granting them additional paid days off. California’s liability for the unused leave of its state workers has more than doubled in eight years, to $3.9 billion in 2011, from $1.4 billion in 2003, according to the state’s annual financial reports.
    ‘It’s Outrageous’
    “It’s outrageous what public employees in California receive in compensation and benefits,” said Lanny Ebenstein, who heads the California Center for Public Policy, a Santa Barbara-based research institution critical of public payrolls.
    [Let's get some perspective here. It may be outrageous but it's spendable chickenfeed compared to the unspendable mountains of money the totally unproductive employees on Wall Street receive. But these tuxedoed ticks own Bloomberg so their reporters are going to hammer the 99% instead of the real problem, themselves.]
    “Until public employee compensation and benefits are brought in line, there will be no answer to the fiscal shortfalls that California governments at every level face,” he said.
    [Sure there will. Steeply graduated income and wealth taxes from back in World War II days when they contributed getting those trillions back into circulation so they provided famed "wartime prosperity."]
    Among the largest states, almost every category of worker has participated in the pay bonanza. Britt Harris, chief investment officer at the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, last year collected $1 million -- including his $480,000 salary and two years of bonuses -- more than four times what Republican Governor Rick Perry received. Pension managers in Ohio and Virginia made up to $678,000 and $660,000, respectively, according to the data, which Bloomberg obtained using public- record requests. In an interview, Harris said public pension pay must be competitive with the private sector to attract top investment talent.
    Psychiatrists Lead
    Psychiatrists were among the highest-paid employees in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and New Jersey, with total compensation $270,000 to $327,000 for top earners. State police officers in Pennsylvania collected checks as big as $190,000 for unused vacation and personal leave as they retired young enough to start second careers, while Virginia paid active officers as much as $109,000 in overtime alone, the data show.
    [Oh now we agree. Those damn headshrinkers are like insider HR people, lavishly taking care of themselves first, feasting on others' misfortunes.]
    The numbers are even larger in California, where a state psychiatrist was paid $822,000, a highway patrol officer collected $484,000 in pay and pension benefits and 17 employees got checks of more than $200,000 for unused vacation and leave. The best-paid staff in other states earned far less for the same work, according to the data.
    Rising employee expenses are crowding out other priorities for state and local governments and draining resources for college tuition, health care, public safety, schools and other services, Schwarzenegger said in an e-mailed response to questions.
    Salaries, Retirement
    " “California spends most of its money on salaries, retirement payments, health care benefits for government workers, and other compensation,” said Schwarzenegger, 65, who replaced Davis as governor. “State revenues are up more than 50 percent over the past 10 years, but still we’ve had to cut spending on services because so much of that revenue increase went to increases in compensation and benefits.”
    Brown, who granted state workers collective-bargaining rights during his first tenure as governor more than three decades ago, has reduced pension costs for new employees while leaving most retirement benefits for current workers intact.
    Last year, to balance the budget, he used a policy set by Schwarzenegger, his predecessor, to save $400 million through the forced monthly day off. He persuaded voters to back a tax increase, imposed a hiring freeze as his predecessors did and told as many as 26,000 prison employees they might lose their jobs as thousands of criminals are shifted to county jails.
    Inherited Problems
    “Governor Brown is busy fixing the many problems that he inherited from past administrations,” said Gareth Lacy, a spokesman for the governor. “California’s $26 billion budget deficit, and the decades-old structural imbalance, was eliminated in large part by cutting waste and slashing costs. The governor also achieved historic reforms to public pensions and workers’ compensation that will save the state billions of dollars.”
    Former governor Davis, in a telephone interview, said he now thinks state employee compensation is too high.
    “I find it offensive that people who work for the state try to turn around and abuse the state through inflated overtime claims and lump-sum payouts,” Davis said. “We have high salaries, they have to come down. There was a time when we could afford them, but we can’t now.”
    Brown, who took office in January 2011, had plenty of incentive to crack down. The per-worker costs of delivering services in California vastly exceed those even in New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Ohio, where unions have the same right to bargain collectively for the best pay packages, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
    Sinking Schools
    The result isn’t only a heavier burden on California taxpayers. As higher expenses competed for fewer dollars, per- pupil funding of the state’s public schools dropped to 35th nationally in 2009-2010 from 22nd in 2001-2002. Californians have endured recurring budget deficits throughout the past decade and now face the country’s highest debt and Standard & Poor’s lowest credit rating for a U.S. state.
    The story of one prison psychiatrist shows how pay largesse has spread.
    Mohammad Safi, graduate of a medical school in Afghanistan, collected $822,302 last year, up from $90,682 when he started in 2006, the data show. Safi was placed on administrative leave in July and is under investigation by the Department of State Hospitals, formerly the Department of Mental Health.
    Long Hours
    The doctor was paid for an average of almost 17 hours each day, including on-call time and Saturdays and Sundays, although he did take time off, said David O’Brien, a spokesman for the department. In a brief interview outside his home in Newark, California, Safi said he’d been placed on leave for working too many hours and declined to comment further. An increase in the number of beds at the facility where Safi worked forced him to cover more shifts, and he was allowed to do some of the work from home, said his lawyer, Ed Caden.
    Safi and other psychiatrists employed by the state benefited from what amounted to a 2007 bidding war between California’s prisons and mental health departments, after a series of federal court orders forced the state to improve its inmate care. Higher pay in the prison system was matched by mental health, and as psychiatrists followed larger salaries, the state’s cost to provide the care soared.
    Last year, 16 psychiatrists on California’s payroll, including Safi, made more than $400,000. Only one did in any other state in the data compiled by Bloomberg, a doctor in Texas. Safi earned more than twice as much as any state psychiatrist elsewhere, the data show. Accumulated Vacation
    The disparity with other states is also evident in payments for accumulated vacation time when employees leave public service. No other state covered by the data compiled by Bloomberg paid a worker more than $200,000 for accrued leave last year, while 17 people got such payments in California. There were 240 employees who received at least $100,000 in California, compared with 42 in the other 11 states, the data show. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie calls such payments “boat checks” because they can be large enough to buy a yacht.
    Topping the list was $608,821 paid to psychiatrist Gertrudis Agcaoili, 79, who retired last year from the Napa state mental hospital after a 30-year career. Agcaoili said in a telephone interview that it was her right to take the payment.
    ‘Against Rules’
    “Those payouts are payouts of accumulated salary that it’s against the rules to allow people to accumulate, and it shouldn’t have been done, and shouldn’t be done,” said Marty Morgenstern, California’s labor secretary, who served as state personnel director under Davis. “They didn’t accumulate that kind of leave time in one year. It’s something that went on and on.”
    Lacy, the governor’s spokesman, said hiring freezes and furloughs, or the unpaid time Schwarzenegger forced employees to take, combined to inflate accruals of vacation and leave. Lacy said the expiration of Brown’s version of the furloughs at the end of June will help reduce the [im-?]balances.
    Employees are told they must take unpaid furlough days before using paid vacation. That has boosted the backlog of unused leave, especially at agencies with round-the-clock operations.

    Other states have taken steps to limit vacation payouts. New Jersey caps checks for departing state employees at $15,000, and New York limits payment of accrued time to 30 vacation days. Most New York employees may accrue 200 sick days, which can be used to offset retiree health-care premiums.
    Overtime Millions
    California also leads in overtime expenses, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Last year, it paid $964 million in overtime to 110,000 workers, an average of $8,741 per employee. That was more than twice the $415 million New York paid in overtime to 80,000 staff members, for an average of $5,199, and almost as much as all the other states in the database combined. In Georgia, total overtime for 8,935 workers last year was $12.3 million, an average $1,378.
    California employees generally make at least 1.5 times their regular pay to work overtime. The state’s overtime costs show mismanagement by the officials who run state departments, said former Georgia Governor Roy E. Barnes, a Democrat.
    “Government is no different from business; you have to have good leaders,” Barnes said in a telephone interview. “When you have somebody having that amount of overtime, then there’s not good management control, there’s not good leadership.”
    Highway Patrol
    The California Highway Patrol, whose brown-and-tan uniforms and weekly adventures in the 1970s and 1980s lit up television screens in the series “CHiPs,” also boasts leading pay and benefits.
    The best-paid among the patrol’s sworn and uniformed employees make far more than those in other states, with overtime and lump-sum payouts that enlarge earnings, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
    Former division chief Jeff Talbott retired last year from the California Highway Patrol as the best-paid trooper in the 12 largest U.S. states, with $483,581 in salary, pension and other compensation. Talbott declined a request to be interviewed.
    While California’s cost of living and relatively high private-sector pay account for some of the disparities in public payrolls, special circumstances in the Golden State combined to drive wages and benefits to levels far beyond other states, data show.
    ‘Arduous Duty’
    Unions pressed for every perk they could squeeze out of governors and their department managers -- including “arduous- duty” pay for office workers and special bonuses for call-center employees “in recognition of the complex workload and level and knowledge required to receive and respond to consumer calls,” state documents show.
    Most public employees aren’t overpaid, and differences in compensation can be tied to regional labor markets, whether some states prefer delivering services at the local level and whether they have adequate staffing, said Steven Kreisberg, director of collective bargaining for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
    “I don’t think there’s this kind of huge disparity as if somehow they’re being overpaid and taking advantage of the systems,” Kreisberg said in a telephone interview from Washington. “This is earned money.”
    California has one of the leanest public workforces in the country in terms of the number of state employees per resident, said Lacy, Brown’s spokesman. Measuring the payroll of its state workers per capita, excluding university employees, California ranks third-highest among the 12 largest states, according to data compiled by Bloomberg and the U.S. Census Bureau.
    The California payroll totals reflected in the Bloomberg data have their roots in wage negotiations carried out during Davis’s time as governor.
    Pension Limits
    One of the first goals of state employee unions when Davis took over in 1999 after 16 years of Republican governors was to unwind curbs on pensions put in place by Governor Pete Wilson in 1991. Workers also wanted broad wage increases.
    Unions persuaded the California Public Employees’ Retirement System to sponsor legislation called Senate Bill 400, which sweetened state and local pensions and gave retroactive increases for tens of thousands of retirees. Highway-patrol officers were granted the right to retire after 30 years of service with 90 percent of their top salaries, a benefit that was copied by police agencies across the state.
    California’s annual payment toward pension obligations ballooned to $3.7 billion in the current fiscal year from $300 million when the bill was enacted. Some cities that adopted the highway-patrol pension plan later cited those costs for contributing to their bankruptcy filings.
    Pay Increases
    Davis and the Legislature also agreed to labor contracts that gave 164,000 state workers pay increases of 4 percent in 1999 and again in 2000. Those contracts cost the state an extra $1.3 billion within a year, according to the state’s independent Legislative Analyst’s Office.
    There were more to come.
    After technology stocks plummeted in 2000, cutting tax revenue, Davis asked state workers to postpone additional raises.
    In lieu of immediate increases, Davis and the California Legislature agreed to link highway patrol pay to an average of the five biggest law enforcement agencies in the state. The result: escalating raises that came due after Davis left office. Officers’ pay rose 2.7 percent in fiscal 2004, 12.1 percent in fiscal 2005 and 5.6 percent and 5.7 percent in the following years, according the Legislative Analyst’s Office.
    Aiding Recruitment
    The pay boosts were needed to help bring more officers to the agency at a time it couldn’t fill all its cadet positions, said Jon Hamm, chief executive officer of the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, the union for CHP officers.
    “At the time we accomplished our biggest gains, I actually felt I was losing the recruitment war,” Hamm said in an e- mailed statement. “I think it is clear that when our biggest gains were negotiated I did not feel they were ‘excessive;’ in fact, almost the opposite was true.”
    The wage increases help explain disparities in the data compiled by Bloomberg in which many California highway patrol officers now earn much more than counterparts in other states. For example, 45 California officers earned at least $200,000 in 2011, compared with nine in other states -- five in Pennsylvania and four in Illinois, according to the data. While more than 5,000 California troopers made $100,000 or more in 2011, only three in North Carolina did, the data show.
    Guards Follow
    The pay deal for the California Highway Patrol got the attention of the state’s politically potent prison guards’ union, which successfully lobbied to have its compensation tied to that of state troopers.
    The result was a pay increase of more than 30 percent for members of the union over the five-year contract. The state’s auditor, Elaine Howle, in July 2002 estimated the contract cost taxpayers an extra $500 million a year.
    The prison guards’ union gave Davis more than $3 million for his various elections, including $250,000 a few weeks after the pay increase was negotiated, campaign records show.
    California had almost 11,000 workers in the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation who made $100,000 or more in 2011, and about 900 prison employees earning more than $200,000 a year, data compiled by Bloomberg show. New York had none. Its top-paid officer is a sergeant at Sing Sing Correctional Facility who made $170,000 last year.
    Deficit Balloons
    Davis had taken office in 1999 with a $12 billion budget surplus. Four years later, he began his second term by reporting a $35 billion budget deficit -- about $1,000 for every man, woman and child in the state.
    Davis was recalled in October 2003 amid criticism of the deficit, his handling of an energy crisis that saw power prices soar and political contributions from public-employee unions, technology companies and others.
    After Davis left, lawsuits over the quality of care for prison inmates and patients of state mental-health hospitals rapidly elevated pay for doctors, dentists, nurses and psychiatrists.
    In 2005 and the years that followed, a federal court took over prison health care and took steps that included reducing the time inmates had to wait for treatment.
    That, combined with a crowded prison population, increased the workload and demand for nurses even as a shortage nationwide left the state with vacancies.
    Union Rules
    Union-negotiated rules required state departments to handle the extra work by offering overtime to California nurses before bringing in contract nurses from private companies. The requirement led to a greater reliance on overtime for nursing in California than in any other state, one that persists to this day.
    Nurses in California last year made $673 million in total pay, including $103 million in overtime, or 15.3 percent. By contrast, those in New York made $561 million in total pay, of which almost $40 million was in overtime, or 7.1 percent.
    Forty-two nurses in California’s prisons and mental hospitals have reaped especially rich overtime payouts. They made an average of $1.3 million each during the seven years, including $674,000 in overtime.
    The highest-paid nurse in the seven years was Lina Manglicmot, who worked at a state prison in Soledad, about 130 miles (209 kilometers) south of San Francisco. She collected $1.7 million from 2005 through 2011, including $1 million in overtime, the data show. Manglicmot declined to comment.
    Wage Concessions
    Curbing the compensation of California employees eluded Schwarzenegger through two terms as he tried to pry wage concessions back from their unions.
    In 2009, he responded to a growing financial crisis by imposing furloughs, or a mandatory unpaid day off each month, for all state workers. The forced time off later grew to three days a month.
    Furloughs depressed regular wages while increasing overtime compensation for employees, such as prison guards, who had to work through them. The first six months of the furloughs, for instance, cost California $52 million in accrued vacation time for prison guards alone, according to findings by the state Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes.
    The furloughs led to backlogs of vacation time for other state workers as well, in violation of state rules. California stipulates that workers shouldn’t accumulate more than 640 hours of vacation or personal leave.
    Forced Furloughs
    “Furloughs were never meant to solve the state’s structural budget problem or save money in the long run,” Schwarzenegger said. “We had to do what was necessary to keep paying the bills and keep the lights on.”
    More than 111,000 government employees working for the 12 most populous states collected $710 million in leave payouts last year, the data show. California workers accounted for almost 40 percent and have collected about $1.4 billion since 2005. The payouts have more than doubled in California in the past seven years.
    “Those kinds of payments, they are absolutely inappropriate and we are doing everything we can to make sure it doesn’t recur,” said Morgenstern, the state’s labor secretary.
    Public employee unions have made some concessions at the bargaining table, such as contributing as much as 5 percent more of their earnings toward pensions, and forgoing overtime pay for some holidays. State worker furloughs under Schwarzenegger amounted to a 15 percent pay cut; under Brown, they’ve been about 5 percent.
    Yet the legacy of California’s collective bargaining, budget battles and court struggles over inmate care continue to elevate its payroll, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
    Allowing that to happen was a mistake, and taxpayers will be dealing with it for years, said Bob Stern, president of the nonpartisan Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles.
    “The labor unions really called in their chits, and Davis went along with it,” Stern said by telephone. “In hindsight, they should not have done it, because they made future generations pay for the benefits they approved.”
    To contact the reporters on this story: Mark Niquette in Columbus at mniquette@bloomberg.net; Michael B. Marois in Sacramento at mmarois@bloomberg.net; Rodney Yap in Los Angeles at ryap@bloomberg.net
    To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeffrey Taylor at jtaylor48@bloomberg.net

  3. Public meetings to resume as USPS proposes cutting hours,by Charles Owens, Bluefield Daily Telegraph via BDTonline.com
    BLUEFIELD, W.Va., USA — The new year could bring more changes to small post offices across southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia.
    Public meetings are continuing on a proposal unveiled earlier this year by Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe that would significantly reduce the operating hours of 27 rural postal facilities located in Mercer, McDowell, Tazewell, Bland, Buchanan and Giles counties.
    The public meetings will continue on Jan. 8 at 4 p.m. with a hearing on the Bandy Post Office at the Bandy Community Center. A second public meeting for the Falls Mills, Va., community will be held on Jan. 14 at 5 p.m. at the Falls Mills United Methodist Church.
    Hearings also were recently completed in the Elbert, Anawalt and Bartley communities.
    All residents in affected communities have received or will receive a letter in the mail and a survey from the postal service, Cathy Yarosky, a communications program specialist for the United States Postal Service, said.
    “The public meeting notice (location, date and time) will also be posted in each post office,” Yarosky said. “These meetings are being held nationwide and will continue until 2014.”
    In addition to reduced window hours, the postal service plan also includes options for the closure of post offices and the addition of retail and delivery service through a rural carrier; the relocation of a post office to an alternate site operated by a contractor, usually a local business; or the consolidation of a post office with a nearby postal facility.
    The consolidation of Bluefield’s Mail Processing and Distribution Center also will begin on Feb. 1. The Bluefield Mail Processing facility is being consolidated with an existing mail processing plant in Charleston.
    A letter mailed to area businesses last week by the postal service urged the businesses that mail in bulk to either have their first-class mail received by 3 p.m. or to consider driving to Charleston for timely first-class delivery after the Bluefield Mail Processing facility is closed in February.
    Local officials are blasting that suggestion — pointing to the fact that driving to Charleston is a four-hour round trip that also requires paying more than $12 in tolls along the West Virginia Turnpike.
    “This is our tax dollars at work,” Bluefield Mayor Linda Whalen said last week. “Everyone in the city of Bluefield needs to contact their legislators about this recommendation for us. That is a ludicrous suggestion that we deposit first-class mail in Charleston. The alternative for us is to quit using the U.S. Postal Service and use other mail carrying services. That is not a viable alternative for people in southern West Virginia. It is ridiculous. Someone obviously that is in control of the mail in West Virginia does not know the location of Bluefield or they wouldn’t make a suggestion like that.”
    As part of the new postal proposal announced earlier this year, many post offices in the region could see reduced window hours of operation.
    According to the original proposal, the Bramwell Post Office would see its hours of operation reduced from eight to four hours a day. The Kellysville Post Office would have its hours reduced from six to two hours a day. The Lashmeet Post Office would be reduced from eight to six hours. The Matoaka Post Office would have its hours reduced from eight to four hours a day. The Montcalm Post Office would have its hours reduced from eight to six hours a day. The Nemours Post Office would have its hours reduced from eight to two hours a day. The Rock Post Office would be reduced from eight hours to four hours a day. The Anawalt Post Office and Avondale Post Office also would be reduced from eight to four hours a day while the Bartley Post Office would be reduced from eight to two hours a day.
    The Berwind Post Office would be reduced from eight hours to four hours a day, and the Big Sandy Post Office would be reduced from six to two hours a day. The Bradshaw Post Office would see its hours of operation reduced from eight to six hours a day, and the Cucumber Post Office would be reduced from four to two hours a day. The Davy Post Office, Elbert Post Office and Gary Post Office would all have their hours of operation reduced from eight hours to four hours a day. The Jenkinjones Post Office would go from six hours to two hours a day and the Jolo Post Office would be reduced from eight hours to six hours a day. The Kimball Post Office would be reduced from eight to four hours a day with the Maybeury Post Office and Pageton Post Office going from eight hours a day to two. The Roderfield Post Office, Squire Post Office and Thorpe Post Office would be reduced from eight hours a day to four and the Wilcoe Post Office would go from eight hours to two hours a day.
    The Lindside Post Office would be reduced from eight to six hours a day and the Amonate Post Office and Bandy Post Office would be reduced from four to two hours.
    The Bishop Post Office, Falls Mills Post Office, Jewell Ridge Post Office and Keen Mountain Post Office would all have their hours reduced from eight to four hours a day. Post offices in Narrows and Rich Creek also would see their hours reduced from eight to six hours a day.
    The reduced hours will be implemented over a period of two years with completion scheduled by September 2014.

    — Contact Charles Owens at cowens@bdtonline.com

12/09-10/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Insight: Making France work again, by Mark John, 12/09 Reuters via News Talk WTAQ Green Bay WI via wtaq.com
    ÉCUEILLÉ, France - Shirt manufacturer Marc Roudeillac was delighted when 48 of the 49 staff in his factory in central France voted to adapt their strict 35-hour week contracts to meet the up-and-down demand of the fashion trade.
    Then the labor inspector stepped in and ruled the contracts must not be changed. So Roudeillac began an overtime system with 25 percent hourly bonuses. Again, the seamstresses were happy - until the government this year scrapped tax breaks on overtime.
    "Now, no one wants to do overtime anymore [and why should they with France's high unemployed population?] - they say it's just not worth their while," Roudeillac said at his Confection du Boischaut Nord (CBN) company in the region of Indre, a two-hour drive south of Paris.
    [Get with training and reactivating the unemployed, Roudeillac, and quit your eternal bellyaching!]
    CBN is a small miracle of manufacturing: it is one of the few firms in Indre's once-buoyant local textiles sector to have withstood the onslaught of foreign competition, first from southern Europe, then North Africa and now Asia.
    [Destructive foreign competition is an indictment of the infallible, unquestionable Free Trade religion, and nothing to do with hours unless you want to sacrifice your quality of life to the nightmare levels of China and go back to Dickens' "dark satanic mills" of the 1830s - with no guarantee of any mass well-employed population to sell to.]
    Yet the overtime episode is a telling insight into a France struggling with itself: the France whose appetite for work sits uneasily with the France whose priority is to sustain one of highest standards of living in the world.
    [They ain't gonna do that with Free Trade and without Timesizing.]
    In just over 30 years after World War Two, France lifted itself from the ignominy of Nazi occupation into a sleek and modern Group of Seven economy with world-beating industrial champions in sectors such as energy and aerospace.
    [And the employer-perceived labor shortage was absolutely central and critical to its self-lifting. This was wartime and postwar prosperity, provided by Timesizing without the waste of war.]
    Its welfare system is among the most generous in the world. A road and rail transport network means its companies are within hours of tens of millions of potential customers.
    [Actuating the potential customers requires full employment and HIGH WAGES, if French employers can only quit complaining and get with the needed training and hiring!]
    It is a leader in luxury goods and is the world's top tourist destination.
    But somehow that Gallic vigour is being lost.
    Unemployment is at 14-year highs as plant closures mount, France's share of export markets is declining, and the fact that no government in three decades has managed a budget surplus has created a public debt pile almost as big as national output.
    Louis Gallois, the industrialist charged by President Francois Hollande to address France's waning competitiveness, even warned in a November report: "French industry has hit a critical threshold below which it risks breaking apart."
    The euro zone's debt crisis too has shone a harsh spotlight on France. The International Monetary Fund believes France could get left behind as Italy and Spain are pushed by the crisis into profound economic reform. Ratings agencies Moody's and Standard and Poor's have stripped French debt of its AAA rating.
    Diagnosing France's ills has created a whole new literary genre - the work of the self-appointed "declinologues" whose tomes compete on bookshelves to explain and fix the problem.
    But the simplest test of France's health is whether a business like CBN can keep selling the world its shirts.
    One hundred years ago, local entrepreneur Marcel Boussac put Indre on the world textiles map when he ended what was known as the "black look" in France by introducing color into the clothes manufacturing process.
    Boussac founded a conglomerate that acted as its own bank and insurance broker and in 1946 bankrolled the first Paris fashion house of an up-and-coming designer called Christian Dior. He had a stable of racehorses, a country chateau and was at one point reputed to be Europe's richest man.
    Boussac, like millions of French, was the beneficiary of France's "Glorious 30" - 30 years of uninterrupted boom in which post-World War Two U.S. aid and heavy state planning wrenched its transport, energy, housing, financial and farming sectors into the second half of the 20th century.
    It was a period of high wages, high consumption, full employment and very little foreign competition. And it all came to a juddering halt when the 1973 oil crisis sent energy costs soaring and capped the Western world's growth rates for good.
    There are no racehorses or country estates for Roudeillac and business partner Richard Boireau, who arrive for work in modest family saloon cars and share a desk in a cramped six-meter-square office.
    If their company survives, it is largely thanks to a 20-year alliance serving a major Japanese fashion brand - whose name they asked should not be published - and a manufacturing model pared right down to the bone.
    A trained engineer, Roudeillac, 45, says 80 percent of CBN's costs are labor - the local mushroom-picker, beautician or school-leaver whom he and Boireau meticulously train to contribute to the CBN production line.
    Because CBN gets the client to purchase the raw materials, and all other overheads are low, CBN's slender gross margin of around six percent depends on optimizing what Roudeillac calls the "productive minute" of the seamstresses.
    "What we do is sell French labor - by the minute," he says of their daily output of 200 shirts and 90 jackets.
    Now CBN wants to strike out and revive an 86-year-old French brand of shirt called "Lordson" which fell prey to the textile sector's decline but which CBN believes has potential in the high-end quality segment of the market.
    The "Lordson" will feature a rich cotton that feels smoother on the back after three years of washes, sleek three-millimeter seams about half the size of normal stitching, and buttons stuck on with a special machine of which only three exist in France.
    There is one snag.
    "Given our costs, it is impossible to retail a "Made in France" quality shirt for less than 140 euros," said Boireau, who entered the trade sweeping factory floors.
    "At 120 euros a shirt it works. But at 140 - not sure."
    If veteran textile entrepreneurs like Boireau fear they cannot hit the price point on their signature shirt, it is a direct result of choices made by France after the oil crisis.
    By 1980, French economic growth had shrunk to two percent compared to its pre-oil crisis rate of above six percent - a rate which France and most rich states have not seen since.
    In the years that followed, governments around the world reacted in their fashion: Britain's Margaret Thatcher faced down Britain's unions in a drive to free up labor markets, while Scandinavian leaders sought to free their economies of debt.
    In France, governments of left and right chose entrenchment: strong rises in public spending which helped ease the social and employment shocks but which sent national debt soaring from 20 percent of output in 1980 to its current record of 91 percent.
    The next three decades are sometimes called the "Pitiful 30"
    Unwilling to switch from a pre-oil crisis policy of boosting consumption with low sales taxes, French politicians used labor to fund the bulk of the welfare spend. The result, 30 years later, is that French labor charges are among the highest in the European Union with those in Sweden and Belgium.
    The high productivity of its workers might have compensated for their rising cost.
    [What compensates for their rising cost is the rising consumer spending they provide. And it's not that big money isn't available, but it needs to be centrifuged out of the massive monetary coagulation in the richest onepercent of the population.]
    But decisions such as the 1997 cut in the working week from 39 to 35 hours meant many French were also starting to work less.
    A 2008 paper on "the Liberation of French growth" by Jacques Attali, ex-adviser to Socialist President Francois Mitterand, calculated that while the French lived 20 years longer than they did in 1936, they worked 15 years less over their lifespan - a shortfall he labeled "35 years of extra inactivity".
    [If he's saying they lived and worked to 70 in 1936 but now they live to 90 and work only to 55, this is indeed a waste of some of the economy's most valuable resources. Its natural solution is to mirv the concept of retirement, meaning no retirement at any fixed arbitrary age; work till you drop. But on shorter, much shorter workweeks appropriate to the age of robotics. How short? As short as it takes, on a never-again-rigid and fluctuating workweek, slowly adjusting against unemployment, comprehensively defined to include ALL UN(DER)EMPLOYED ADULTS REGARDLESS OF AGE or gender or disability. The disability part requires emphasis on job design. In the extreme, think Steven Hawking. The whole thing requires retraining of management for the most critical new skill: smoothly suturing shorter and shorter shifts. And as this article shows, it requires a bit of re-education of conventionally hardwork not smartwork minding entrepreneurs and business owners. It will take time to make the transition, but the managers that "get it" fastest and get onboard first will find themselves riding the most flexible and efficient and competitive and successful economy bar none. And as we also see from this article, the French may be leading the world with the shortest nationwide workweek, but they are far from all understanding what they're doing right or how they need to improve this, e.g., by implementing overtime&overwork-to-OT/OW-targeted jobs conversion, including on-the-job training whenever needed. Much of world management has gone soft, whining constantly for tax breaks and forced taxpayer subsidies - hence the high taxes they all complain about. Timesizing taxes the unsustainable: the coagulation of market-demanded unautomated employment per person that is prelude to the even more mind-boggly coagulation of income and wealth and credit per person.]
    "Even given that each French worker produces five percent more per hour than an American, he produces 35 percent less over his working life," he found in the 245-page report.
    [Then drop mandatory retirement and create the extra needed jobs by cutting the workweek as far as it takes.]
    Even that would not be disastrous if employers simply hired more people - the whole point of the 35-hour week after all was to reduce unemployment by requiring more workers to be taken on to do the same job.

    But small companies like CBN insist it was plain unrealistic to assume they can simply hire more people for the same cost and without disruption to existing work patterns.
    "When they brought in the 35-hour week, I wrote a letter to our clients saying, "Sorry, but as of tomorrow, prices are going up 11 percent," recalls Boireau.
    French laws which make it difficult to lay off workers have created the perverse incentive for employers to stop offering permanent contracts that in many cases equate to a job for life.
    Instead they turn to temporary contracts when they need extra labor, creating for millions of French the very labor insecurity which the law was supposed to prevent.
    While today the majority of French workers still benefit from a permanent contract, three out of four new jobs are on fixed-term contracts, often for no more than a month.
    The split personality of the labor market is, experts agree, a major drag on its economy. At one end there is expensive but inflexible labor and at the other cheap but ill-trained and often demoralized fill-in workers.
    Roudeillac acknowledges that CBN is one of the employers who turn to temporary labor to help with peak production periods - but he would prefer not to. "We could take on six or seven more people. But in France, hiring people is a risk," he said.
    For think tanks such as the OECD, the solution is simple: the first group needs to hand over some of their job security to the second group by accepting more flexible contracts. Surely such a burden-sharing should be easy for a country built on the ideals of "Liberty, equality and fraternity"?
    Not a bit of it. In the past 30 years, France became not one country but two: the France of the "insiders" and the France of the "outsiders". And the reason it is so hard to reform is that the insiders are determined to keep the rest out.
    Those "in" the system include workers on long-term contracts, labor groups protecting their interests, and the mostly large companies who have found an accommodation with the system. Those left "out" are the growing army of temporary contract workers, small firms such as CBN who do not have the economies of scale to allay the high cost of labor, and of course France's three million-plus unemployed.
    "Neither the employers nor the trade unions want real reform - they are both in the insiders' camp," explains Eric Chaney, chief economist for insurer Axa Group. "The employers are scared of strikes and unions don't want to change anything in the system because the people they are protecting are insiders too."
    Hollande has begun his plan to restore France's competitive position with corporate tax credits linked to labor hires. He has also launched a public investment bank aimed to make up for France's lack of venture capital. At his behest, French trade unions and employers have a year-end deadline to negotiate rules offering more flexibility and greater job security.
    Yet it is unclear whether any accord will crack the mould. A dramatic cut in labor charges is not on the table and the 2013 budget stays clear of spending cuts sought by the reform lobby.
    As CBN's managers gear up to bring the world the Lordson shirt next year, they will need Hollande to go a few steps further in helping them sell the product of French labor.
    "We need something better adapted to the world now," said Boireau. "It needn't take very much."
    [We need Timesizing, not rigid or longer workweeks cum downsizing, and employers can make it easy or difficult.]
    (editing by Janet McBride)

  2. Report: Work sharing a positive to come from recession, by Sam Williams, 12/10 Institute of Leadership & Management via i-l-m.com
    LONDON, U.K. - Many professionals have experienced significant changes to their working patterns since the onset of the worldwide financial slump. That is according to the International Labour Organisation's (ILO) Global Wage Report 2012-13, which has revealed that a lot of companies have decided to alter their internal practices in order to make sure they can stay afloat.
    In recent years, an increased number of firms have been forced to implement redundancies or wage cuts in order to survive as the recession has ratcheted up the financial pressure they are under.
    However, the ILO found that many firms are opting for less drastic and more creative measures such as restructuring their workers' shifts and hourly pay rates.
    For instance, some organisations have decided to introduce work sharing programmes as a way of reducing the amount of time employees spend at work, as in many cases, three and four-day weeks have replaced the traditional five-day week.
    Patrick Belser, co-author of the report, explained that firms have also focused more on cutting the amount of overtime available to staff or relying more heavily on involuntary temporary work, while also increasing the proportion of their staff that operate on a part-time basis.
    "This has negatively affected wages," he added.
    However, Jon Messenger, senior research officer at the ILO, said that working hour reductions through the adoption of work sharing policies should be regarded as a positive development in the global employment sector.
    "Work sharing is a reduction in working time to avoid lay-offs. The company temporarily gets a reduction in its wage bill and the employees don't lose their jobs. It is a measure that helps to stabilise the economy," the official noted.
    For instance, government-funded partial unemployment benefits and better training opportunities may be offered to staff members affected by a proportional reduction in wages, Messenger added.

  3. Economic crisis leads to huge changes in working practices, 12/10 KUwait News Agency via KUNA.net.kw
    [This is another take on the same report.]
    GENEVA, Switzerland -- The International Labour Organization's (ILO) Global Wage Report 2012/13 says many companies have adopted new working practices in response to the global economic crisis as a way of staying afloat.
    According to the report, employees have seen changes in their hourly wage rates, as well as in the number of hours they work. Large numbers of employees are getting lower wages because they are working fewer hours and doing less overtime. Many are also 'work sharing' - in order to avoid being laid off.
    "In many countries, the global economic crisis has led to shorter hours of work due to reductions in the amount of overtime or an increase in involuntary part-time work, as well as increases in the proportion of part-time relative to full-time employees.
    This has negatively affected wages," says Patrick Belser, co-author of the report. Reductions in working hours due to work sharing policies should be seen as a positive development." Companies in several countries have reduced employees' working time as part of work sharing programmes. Often, three or four-day weeks have replaced the traditional five-day week, daily hours have been reduced or plants have been shut down for periods of several weeks or even months.
    But rather than being a universally negative aspect of the economic crisis, reductions in working hours due to work sharing policies should be seen as a positive development, says Jon Messenger, ILO Senior Research Officer.
    "Work sharing is a reduction in working time to avoid lay-offs. The company temporarily gets a reduction in its wage bill and the employees don't lose their jobs. It is a measure that helps to stabilize the economy," Messenger explains.
    Although work sharing means a proportional reduction in wages, these are often supplemented by partial unemployment payments funded by governments. In addition, workers may be offered training which helps them in the long term.
    "If you look at the pure effect on wages, you would assume that wages would go down proportionately. But in the majority of cases there are income support payments, unemployment insurance or unemployment compensation, which fund a proportion of the reduced wage. Workers in many cases receive at least half, if not more of the wages that they have lost," Messenger adds.
    Work sharing programmes have been implemented in two dozen countries in the Americas, Europe - including Turkey - as well as South Africa.
    Messenger stresses that work sharing is a temporary measure, to be used in times of crisis, which gives companies breathing space until a recovery begins. On average, it last between six to 24 months. "It's a safety net that operates long enough for the economy to rebound. It is not a silver bullet but an important tool that you need to have available, and you need to have it in place before the downturn comes."

12/08/2012 – 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. Agencies set up plans to manage cuts if Congress, Obama fail to reach deficit deal, by Lisa Rein, (12/07 late pickup) WashingtonPost.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Federal agencies are sharpening their plans to carry out drastic, automatic spending cuts starting Jan. 2 if the Obama administration and Congress cannot agree on a deficit reduction strategy in the coming days.
    Some agencies envision furloughs for federal workers, while others are mapping out a course to slow hiring and outside contracting and put programs on hold if the across-the-board reductions known as a sequester kick in. For millions of Americans, the “fiscal cliff” would mean immediate tax hikes, but for federal employees it also signals big adjustments as their agencies absorb deep spending cuts — set by law at $1 trillion over 10 years.
    The public would quickly feel the effects, from weaker drug interdiction efforts to less energy assistance for low-income families.
    The Office of Management and Budget asked civilian and defense agencies this week for detailed what-if lists of what they would cut. But many managers have been quietly preparing worst-case plans for months, having grown painfully familiar with uncertainty after a near-government shutdown last year and a slew of stopgap budgets.
    The federal courts, for example, would close some district courts one day a week, impose furloughs of up to four weeks and reduce the hours of security guards. The system would face a $555 million loss next year under an 8.2 percent cut to domestic agencies.
    “We’ve all developed this master plan that nobody hopes we’ll have to enact,” said David Sellers, spokesman for the administrative office of the federal courts. A judicial committee began meeting shortly after the Budget Control Act was enacted in 2011 to decide where to cut, balancing furloughs with delayed trials.
    “They’ve taken it very seriously and methodically,” Sellers said.
    The Nuclear Regulatory Commission assured employees in November that no furloughs or layoffs are planned. Instead, to save money, outside contracts would be stretched out or stopped. The National Park Service has slowed some hiring for the tourist season, a strategy that advocates and former park officials said would have to continue in January.
    The Defense Department is likely to impose an immediate hiring freeze on its civilian workforce, said a spokeswoman, Army Lt. Col. Elizabeth Robbins. Some furlough notices, rather than layoffs, would begin within a few weeks, she said.
    [Timesizing, not downsizing!]
    And public employee unions are dusting off their manuals on when to call for bargaining with management over unpaid furloughs, which would probably be forced on thousands of employees.
    “Nobody knows what’s going to happen with the fiscal cliff,” said Danette Woo, special park uses coordinator at the Mojave National Preserve in San Bernardino County, Calif. “What happens is totally out of our control, but it affects our ability to get our job done.”
    Park managers have prepared a “budget constraint” plan that calls for layoffs of seasonal employees and program cuts, Woo said. Like other agencies, the Park Service in recent months has slowed hiring, travel and training.
    At the NRC, “the agency has certainly worked under the assumption that sequestration is a very real possibility,” spokesman Scott Burnell said.
    A sequester was made real in a 394-page report the White House provided to Congress in September, listing more than 1,200 agencies and programs that would lose 8.2 percent (domestic) and 9.4 percent (military) of their budgets. About $2.5 billion would be excised from the National Institutes of Health and $555 million from nutrition-aid programs for low-income women, infants and children, for example.
    Administration officials called this week’s notice “technical” planning given that agencies are living under a temporary budget funded at last year’s levels. They reiterated the White House’s optimism that Democrats and Republicans will reach a deal.
    “This action should not be read . . . as a change in the administration’s commitment to reach an agreement and avoid sequestration,” said Jay Carney, the White House press secretary. The budget office “is simply ensuring that the administration is prepared” to order the spending cuts.
    Under the 2011 law, the federal budget would shrink $108 billion starting in January and continue on that scale — divided between civilian and defense agencies.
    Economists warn that the cuts could push the country back into recession.
    Managers say they have learned from the spending and tax fights that left them lurching from one stopgap budget to the next in the past two years — and a near shutdown of the government in 2011.
    Until this week, agencies had no formal word from the budget office beyond a two-page memo in July. It instructed them to “continue normal spending and operations since more than five months remain for Congress to act.”
    Lt. Gen. Jeffrey W. Talley, chief of the Army Reserve, reflected the this-isn’t-really-going-to- happen strategy when he told reporters in November, “I’m not . . . worrying about sequestration . . . because [Defense] Secretary [Leon E.] Panetta has told the departments, ‘Do not plan for it.’ ”
    But nervous employees say they are in the dark about what might happen, and some are downright cynical.
    “They cry wolf every time,” said Mike Granger, a Navy computer programmer at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station. “It always ends up being resolved. So I just ignore it.”
    The sequester dates to the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings law, passed during the Reagan administration to force a balanced budget as the federal debt ballooned.
    Five of these automatic cuts were triggered from 1986 to 1990. Four were automatically rescinded or substantially reduced by a budget agreement or later law. Only the first, in 1986, resulted in $11.7 billion in cuts.
    Today, federal employees and contractors find themselves confronting the many what-ifs and gaming out the possibilities.
    One line of thinking is optimistic: Congress will agree to tax increases and targeted spending cuts before its Christmas recess, and there will be no sequester. Or there will be, but with only some cuts. Or, if there is no deal by then, there will be soon thereafter. Another act of Congress would be required to undo the trigger.
    “There’s just a lot of waiting and monitoring,” said Gary Somerset, spokesman for the Government Printing Office, where a task force has produced a list of cuts.
    Administration officials point out that a sequester would not look like a government shutdown, which resulted in 1995 and 1996 from failed budget talks and came close to happening again last year.
    Federal employees would still go to work — at least in the beginning. The government would not cease to function. Furloughs would be weeks, if not months, down the road, because the cuts could be delayed until later in the fiscal year. A sequester requires reductions to take effect across the board, but it does not say they must start in the first month or two.
    Still, budget experts note that January is three months into the fiscal year. That means the cuts must be compressed into nine months, which equates to reductions of 10 or 11 percent.
    As the deadline nears, logistical issues loom. Managers face wrenching decisions about which employees they would furlough. A furlough of more than 30 calendar days, or 22 discontinuous work days, is considered a reduction in force. That would require the government to pay severance and allow employees to cash out their unused sick leave and vacation. It also becomes a mandatory subject of bargaining to determine who goes first.
    For rank-and-file employees, uncertainty and a lack of communication from managers is doing its own damage.
    “We have persistently asked the agency, ‘What are the plans? Can you tell us the plans?’ ” said Carolyn Federoff, a Boston-based attorney for the Department of Housing and Urban Development and an official with the American Federation of Government Employees. ay, ‘Don’t worry about this, this is not going to be a problem,’ ” Federoff said. “Truthfully, we have to be concerned.”
    Steve Vogel and Alice Crites contributed to this report.

  2. One in three Limerick home help service users have hours cut, by Mike Dwane, LimerickLeader.ie
    LIMERICK, Ireland - One in three people in Limerick city and county who receive home help had seen their hours reduced by November 23 - and more service users will suffer cuts [of hours but not jobs] between now and Christmas, the HSE has confirmed.
    Bernard Gloster, area manager for non-acute services in the Mid-West, said the HSE was all too well aware of the distress being caused to the elderly, the disabled and their families.
    But he stressed that even as savings of up to €340,000 are being sought from the home help service in Limerick by the end of the year, the HSE locally would still deliver more home help hours than it was budgeted for in January.
    “We’re not saying that this is all fine or that it’s easy for people. It’s not easy. Home help reductions are of their very nature undesirable because people have become used to and rely on them, because people have built up relationships. It’s a very difficult and sensitive area so it’s not surprising the level of coverage there has been about it and level of reaction there has been,” said Mr Gloster.
    Minister for Health James Reilly announced over two months ago that 450,000 home help hours nationally would have to be cut to help the HSE save €8 million. While the non-acute services in the Mid-West - whose budget for this year is €310 million - are within budget, they are part of the national effort to contain costs.
    By November 23, 621 people of the 1800 in Limerick city and county who receive home help had been identified for reductions - totalling 1072 hours per week. Extended out to year end, this would amount to 9,787 of the 18,876 hours the HSE Mid-West was instructed to cut in the final quarter.
    “That (18,876 hours) is the level of reduction I was given to achieve over the three months. We have achieved 9,787 of it but based on figures given to me by Christmas I should have achieved a value of 18,800 hours. I don’t expect to have done that,” Mr Gloster said.
    He said that while it was inevitable more service users would see their hours cut, it was getting more difficult for the HSE to identify those who could afford reductions.
    “You will still see situations where people’s hours will have been reduced. However, what the home help organisers are telling me is that the opportunities to do that within the way we have been doing it are reducing because they have already identified a lot of the people that could be reduced.”
    While he acknowledged it was painful for people who had been assessed by the HSE as being in need of home help - and were now seeing that service cut - the HSE was prioritising according to need.
    “When you have to reduce expenditure for whatever reason, you then move from a position where your assessment moves away from what is desirable to what is essential. Of course it is desirable that people would have time for social interaction and contact and friendship, care and compassion and all the things that exist between a home help worker and their client – but when the resource of that home help becomes more scarce because of cutbacks or increase in demand, you then have to refine it to what is essential,” he explained.
    While cuts were becoming progressively more difficult to stand over, the HSE still had an opportunity to make savings by “recycling” those hours which could be freed up when somebody goes into residential care or, in some cases, passes away.
    Home help organisers and HSE staff tried to exercise as much “compassion” as they could before a decision was made and tried to minimise the impact of the cuts, Mr Gloster stressed.
    “I had a representation on a case yesterday where a person who had been getting 10 hours home help a week and was getting it twice a day because they needed that input twice a day. In applying a reduction to that person, the home help organiser made sure that that person still had a service twice a day and the reduction of one hour was spread over four days at 15 minutes a day. That’s an indication of the extent to which we are obliged to go to and should go to minimise the damage, the risk or hurt that could be caused to somebody by a reduction like this,” Mr Gloster said.
    At the start of the year, Limerick city and county were budgeted for 402,000 hours of home help for 2012. And in spite of the cutbacks in the last quarter, that target is to be exceeded.
    But it would be wrong to therefore assume, Mr Gloster said, that the HSE Mid-West had been overspending on home help earlier in the year.
    “Because we manage our budget so well across the whole profile of services, we could afford to put those extra resources in...and if you were to look at this in the context of the Mid-West non-acute services only, you would say we don’t need to do this at all. But because we are part of a wider (national) financial management system, we have to do it and make a contribution. It’s not a choice, it’s just the way it is,” he said.
    “Even if we were to take out the maximum amount of hours that we could take out during this three-month period, which is about 18,800, we would still finish the year providing more than we were contracted to provide at the start of the year. It is important that the public understands that.”

  3. Volkswagen Gets Over 60000 Orders for New Golf - Report, by Nina Koeppen, Dow Jones Newswires via FoxBusiness.com
    WOLFSBURG, Germany - Volkswagen AG (VLKAY, VOW.XE) received more than 60,000 orders for its new Golf car, beating expectations, Germany's FAS newspaper said in a pre-release of an interview with VW's chief financial officer to be published Sunday.
    "We're doing well. In November, group deliveries were roughly 10% up from the previous year," driven by sales of the new VW Golf, Hans Dieter Poetsch was reported as saying. Apart from VW's German truck and engineering unit MAN SE (MAGOY, MAN.XE), which has announced short-time work for January, "there is, from today's perspective, no threat of short-time work" elsewhere in the group, he was quoted as saying.
    The loss at VW's troubled Spanish Seat brand is expected to narrow "by a two-digit million amount" this year, according to FAS.
    Write to Nina Koeppen at nina.koeppen@wsj.com

12/07/2012 – 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. Collective Bargaining Agreements and Worksharing, posted by Sean O'Leary, (12/06 late pickup) WV Center on Budget and Policy via wvpolicy.org
    CHARLESTON, W.Va., USA - At a recent interim committee meeting regarding creating a work sharing program in West Virginia, concerns were raised over potential conflicts between work sharing and collective bargaining agreements. Fortunately, these concerns are easily addressed, and do not pose a hurdle for the creation of a work sharing program in West Virginia.
    Work sharing allows employers, in lieu of layoffs, to temporarily reduce their employees hours, with unemployment insurance replacing some of the employees’ lost wages due to the reduction in hours. Work sharing allows employers to keep their skilled workers during downturns, and avoid the costs of rehiring and retraining, while employees get to stay on the job, earn their pay, and avoid long spells of unemployment.
    Concerns have been raised that work sharing may be incompatible with workers covered by collective bargaining agreements, or that the use of work sharing may even break a collective bargaining agreement. However, in the thirty-year history of work sharing in various states across the country, and in other countries, there have been no major clashes between unions and employers over work sharing. In fact, unions are often among the big supporters of work sharing, in part because it allows them to keep members.
    Work sharing has avoided conflicts with collective bargaining agreements for two main reasons. First, work sharing is voluntary. If a potential conflict would be created between work sharing and a collective bargaining agreement, the employer could simply not pursue work sharing, avoiding any potential conflict. Many states simply require union consent to work sharing plans if the employees are covered by a collective bargaining agreement. This creates an additional safeguard against potential conflict, but is not required under federal guidelines.
    While requiring union consent defuses any potential conflicts between work sharing and collective bargaining agreements, the requirement isn’t necessarily needed. This is because most collective bargaining agreements already require employers to consult with unions regarding work hours, making a requirement for work sharing redundant. This is what policymakers in Ohio discovered when the Ohio House passed their SharedWork bill with broad bipartisan support, as well as with backing from the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, nonpartisan policy analysts, the National Federation of Independent Business/Ohio, and the Ohio Manufacturers Association.
    Instead of creating conflict, a work sharing program in West Virginia would allow employers and their employees to work together to save jobs and help the economy.

  2. Calls for short-time work scheme for temporary staffing, (11/29 late pickup) Staffing Industry Analysts via staffingindustry.com
    HAMBURG, Germany – Recent market statistics have shown that German unemployment has been on the rise for months and although joblessness remains at one of the lowest levels in over 20 years, weaker economic conditions are impacting the temporary staffing industry in the country.
    To avert further declines, more and more experts are calling for the introduction of a short-time work programme, known as Kurzarbeit, in the German [temporary] staffing industry.
    The scheme has proved successful in the recent recession and helped to save jobs. Under Kurzarbeit, the German state compensates up to 67% of an employee’s net salary if an employer has to cut back on wage cost and working times during an economic slowdown.
    Head of the federal labour agency, Frank-Jürgen Weise, now said in an interview with the news magazine Der Spiegel that he would support the idea of introducing the scheme in the temporary staffing industry.

    “Strictly speaking, this contradicts the purpose of temporary staffing, which should actually be used to mitigate peak orders. In some cases, it [Kurzarbeit] could still be useful for human reasons, and when companies want to keep their temporary workers. One should create a legal framework for this. It is worth thinking about it,” he said.
    Overall, Mr Weise remained optimistic about the German labour market and said that stability will continue into the next year. Unemployment is not expected to worsen much, but could impact particularly the automobile industry and their suppliers, he warned.

12/06/2012 – 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. Unfair overtime criticism – radiographers, by ksansone@timesofmalta.com, TimesOfMalta.com
    VALETTA, Malta - Criticism of radiographers’ reduced working hours in an audit of government finances is “unjust and unfair”, according to the Society of Medical Radiographers.
    [But then, criticism of ANYbody's reduced working hours in the robotics age is unjust, unfair and system-violational.]
    The society was reacting to an observation by the National Audit Office that radiologists are paid overtime for additional hours above their 35-hour week.
    [But then, incentivating people to work long hours is also a bad design.]
    An X-ray of public finances by the NAO was critical of the manner in which overtime and allowances are paid at Mater Dei Hospital, overshooting the allocated budget by some €700,000.
    One of the issues highlighted was the reduced working week of radiographers. The NAO said nobody could provide it with the international guidelines quoted by the hospital administration to justify their 35-hour work week.
    But radiographers have taken umbrage, insisting that they are directly exposed to ionising radiation on a daily basis, putting their own health at risk for the benefit of patients.
    “It is a surprise that the issue of protected hours is being questioned, particularly when this has always been common practice in many countries for years as a means of compensation to radiographers for the potential radiation risks involved in their daily practice,” the organisation said.
    To back up their arguments, radiographers listed in their statement a number of internet links to foreign health service work practices, showing that arrangements for shorter working weeks did exist.
    They said work practices in different countries showed that radiographers worked between 35 hours and 37.5 hours a week and had additional vacation leave.
    Radiographers said they have not been paid overtime for some time now but insisted there were “justifiable situations” whereby overtime could be necessary to ensure continuity of care, patient and occupational safety and better accessibility to the many different medical imaging services provided at hospital.
    In a reaction to the NAO report on Tuesday, the Health Ministry said it was investigating the matter involving radiographers and the lack of guidelines regulating the practice of working reduced hours.

  2. Long working hours cause depression, by Phila Siu, South China Morning Post via scmp.com
    HONG KONG, China - It’s no surprise that working long, inflexible hours can trigger mental distress, but now a Hong Kong survey has put a statistical face on the situation.
    Among people who work more than 50 hours a week, 35 per cent show symptoms of depression, according to a survey commissioned by the Baptist Oi Kwan Social Service and released on Thursday.
    But when the working week drops below 50 hours, the incidence of mental distress declines to 27 per cent, it found.
    Similarly, inflexible work arrangements – such as having no choice about when and where to work – were linked to depression symptoms, anxiety and stress.
    At inflexible workplaces 33 per cent of workers suffer mental distress, versus 25 per cent in more flexible environments, the survey found.
    The service centre’s clinical psychologist, Joanna Poon Wai-fong, said the findings should be of high concern to the community.
    The survey of about 1,000 people, aged 18-60, was carried out in September and October by the University of Hong Kong.

  3. The four-hour work week fantasy, by Brittany Ballenstedt, Nextgov.com
    TRAVIS AIRFORCE BASE, Calif., USA - The Social Media Explorer blog had some interesting thoughts on Tuesday about the future of work and the desires of younger, digital native workers to shift to ideas like the 4-hour workweek.
    “I think there is a whole new workforce that is coming to life that a lot of our ‘corporate’ employers simply aren’t prepared for,” writes Nichole Kelly, president of SME Digital. “This isn’t about whether you are a Gen Xer or Millenial. This trend is rising up as a result of advanced technologies that allow us to work from anywhere, shifting business and personal priorities and books like 'The 4-Hour Work Week' (Crown Archetype, 2009) that tell us we can live differently.”
    [That's another way it's happening "but not the best way": employees are working from home, discovering shortcuts, billing for much longer hours than they're working but still getting the job done - control-freak work-ethic management is being circumvented and less downsizing is happening cuz ... with automation and robotics there just ain't 40hrs/wk for everyone anymore.]
    Kelly writes of a near future where employees are free to work from anywhere, going so far as saying that companies could allow employees to take months-long “workcations” to different countries to learn the cultures and become fluent in different languages. In addition, this culture will allow organizations to hire the best person for the job, regardless of their location.
    Other traditional aspects of work culture -- such as the 9-to-5 schedule and meetings in conference rooms -- also will become relics of the past as organizations embrace a “new corporate America.”
    Still, while these proposals could bring positive changes for employees and organizations alike, there are still challenges, Kelly writes. For example, it will still be important for organizations to figure out how to facilitate those water cooler conversations in an online environment. Another challenge is determining how to effectively manage virtual teams, particularly if an organization or federal agency has hundreds or thousands of employees.
    At the same time, I can’t help but question whether the changes Kelly describes are completely in line with the work culture that Millennials and Gen Xers want. Don’t get me wrong; as a mom and a military wife who has to follow my husband on a PCS move every few years, the ability to continue my work from anywhere and on my own schedule has been a blessing. But I’ll admit that I still miss the office culture and the ability to communicate and collaborate in-person with colleagues.
    A recent visit to companies like Facebook and IDEO in Silicon Valley showed much of the same sentiment among Millennial and Gen X employees. While those employees noted that they wanted the flexibility work where and when they wanted, most still commute into the office every day. What’s more important to them is having the ability to collaborate with other workers.
    Still, a new corporate model is on its way, at least to some extent, and for federal agencies, this will represent a new way of working, collaborating and managing using technology. Is your agency ready?

  4. One in Four Brits Want to Change Their Working Hours, by Francesca James, (12/05 late pickup) FreshBusinessThinking.com
    LONDON, great BRITain, UK - Research has revealed that the increase in technology adoption by organisations over the last decade has heightened UK office workers’ expectations of how work should fit into their lifestyles.
    Over the last decade, the number of home workers has doubled from 21% to 40%, and the number of employers offering flexible working arrangements for parents has increased from 28% to 44%. Despite these positive changes, a quarter of UK office workers would prefer their working hours to better fit around their lifestyle, with the main reasons being to better align with their partners and children, or to avoid commuting.
    Increased technology adoption by organisations is helping to drive this new trend. Employees have changed the way they communicate, with email and social media use significantly increasing and face-to-face meetings and phone calls showing a steady decline. Laptop use has almost tripled amongst office workers over the last ten years to reach 46% in 2012. Mobile phone use has doubled, and one in ten respondents now use a tablet at work. The adoption of video conferencing has increased significantly, with 26% using it ten years ago and 42% doing so now. Interestingly, more men than women use technology in the work context - something that hasn’t changed over the last ten years.
    The survey also revealed that nearly one in five office workers would move away from urban areas if they could work flexibly, suggesting that UK employers could recruit from a greater pool of candidates if more employees were offered the chance to work remotely.
    Gary Rider, President at Polycom EMEA comments:
    ‘Businesses have changed significantly over the past ten years thanks to technological innovation, but our figures show that the majority of employers still don’t provide their staff with enough flexibility. At the same time flexible working arrangements benefit everyone: employees who want a better work/life balance, businesses who would enjoy a more productive workforce and the UK economy that needs to reduce the £8bn annual spend on congestion. With new cloud-based solutions such as Polycom’s RealPresence CloudAxis Suite*, enabling businesses to extend enterprise-grade video collaboration to users of social media, and with collaboration technologies empowering people to work from anywhere and on any device, nothing should stop employers from embracing the new ways of working.”
    Matthew Ball, Director, Enterprise at analyst firm Canalys shared his thoughts on what further changes we might expect in the future:
    ‘Not only has technology transformed the way we work and communicate, it’s also heightened our expectations of how work should fit into our lifestyles. Employees are demanding more flexibility and choice, and this trend will lead to significant changes in work practices over the next ten years.
    ‘Based on current trends and changes in working culture, almost all information workers will have the option of remote working by 2022, with the main means of communication being social media and video conferencing via mobile devices. The majority of knowledge workers will be targeted on delivering results with flexibility to choose days and hours worked. As a result, the concept of a ‘weekend’ and ‘working hours’ will be less mainstream.
    ‘A person’s physical location will stop being an important criterion for employers and this will give people greater choice about where they would like to live based on personal preferences. There will be more opportunities to be employed by more than one organisation, for example acting as independent consultants for companies all over the country.’
    [And to be employed for less than one frozen pre-automation workweek...]

12/05/2012 – 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. Roundup: MAN Corp. starts with short-time working in the new year and sets high-return goals, (12/04 late pickup) dpa-AFX via Burse News via Börsennews.de
    Roundup: MAN startet mit Kurzarbeit ins neue Jahr und setzt hohe Renditeziele [=original header in German/deutsch - note new-to-us borrowings of "roundup" (Germans love cowboys!), and "start" tho' they already have their own "begin-nen"! They must have borrowed "rendition" decades ago cuz it's had time to shift meaning and occur in conjoined words.]
    [Translation by Bing.com, cleanup by Phil (der kloset deutscher) Hyde oder Heide.]
    MÜNCHEN, Germany - MAN Corp. is sending thousands of workers into short-time working due to the weak truck market in the new year. "We will introduce short-time working in two plants by January 14 after the Christmas break," said the head of the truck division, Anders Nielsen, according to Süddeutsche Zeitung (Tuesday). The VW subsidiary suffers from the widespread European crisis the same as Volvo or the VW co-subsidiary Scania in many European countries. "We're trailing through it for sure, but it too will get better again," said Nielsen. The slump was not comparable to 2009, when after a boom period the markets collapsed almost overnight due to the financial crisis.
    The truck business is ever a cyclical business with highs and depths, said Nielsen. "Now it's going straight downward." The concern had already announced consideration of short-time working in presenting the figures for the first nine months. In November, it had already sent employees in Salzgitter and Munich into forced vacation, and production is idling till the new year. Employee must take their vacation days or lose them. The consequent short-time working applies to 1,800 employees in Munich and 3,500 in Salzgitter. How long the measure would last is an open question.
    Job cuts in the core workforce is not the question. MAN uses short-time working to compensate for lulls in demand. "Moreover, in the meantime we've been employing almost no temporary workers," Nielsen said. The concern had booked a profit drop in the third quarter. The recession in many euro-area countries and the uncertainty caused by the euro crisis is currently making life hard for all truck makers. Fewer goods are transported in the crisis, the demand for new trucks is declining, in addition to which shippers are very much holding back with new orders.
    In the long term, the industry hopes for growth, for, in spite of the crisis, freight traffic will probably further expand in coming years. Stricter pollution regulations and climbing fuel costs are likely to further heighten demand for new, more fuel-saving trucks. In addition, Nielsen wants to crank up dealings in growth markets outside Europe. In Brazil, MAN is already somewhat well-positioned thanks to the Latin America truck business once taken over by VW. "But this is only a beginning; such a strategic levelling takes a long time," said Nielsen.
    But MAN should not only sell more trucks, but also the concern wants to earn more on the vehicles. How profitably the business is running can be somewhat gauged from the sales return that lies in the profit-to-sales ratio. In 2011 this return was 6.3 percent in the truck & bus division; in 2010 it was 2.1. This year's return should not turn out much higher. But Nielsen is ambitious: "A good 10-percent return is hovering before me in the long term."

  2. Opel To Start Short-time Work at Bochum Plant in January, by Nico Schimdt, Wall Street Journal via online.wsj.com
    FRANKFURT, Germany -- Adam Opel, the German arm of General Motors Co. (GM), will begin short-time work at its Bochum plant in January due to sluggish auto sales, the head of Opel's works council for Bochum said Wednesday.
    Short-time work is a German government program that subsidizes the wages of those who work reduced hours, aimed at avoiding layoffs and economic hardship. The plant will evaluate on a monthly basis after January whether the work pattern will need to continue.
    The future of Opel's Bochum plant was thrown into doubt earlier this year when management said production could be phased out at the facility after 2016. While talks with the works council and the IG Metall labor union continue, there has yet to be any progress on resolving the plant's future.
    "We need binding statements soon on what the future holds," Rainer Einenkel, the head of the Bochum works council, said.
    Mr. Einenkel said producing the next Zafira tourer van generation and the compact sport-utility vehicle Mokka in Bochum would allow the plant to continue operating beyond 2016. The Bochum plant builds the current Zafira and an Astra model that is scheduled to be phased out.
    The Bochum plant is increasingly feeling the impact of a difficult economic environment, Mr. Einenkel said.
    European demand for new cars has been on the wane for years, and mass-market car manufacturers face losses due to overcapacity and harsh competition. Opel is in an especially bad position since it lacks any significant presence in more dynamic markets outside Europe.
    Write to Nico Schimdt at nico.schmidt@dowjones.com

12/04/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Shared Work Program, VirginiaPublicRadio.org
    RICHMOND, Va. - Members of Virginia’s Unemployment Compensation Commission are weighing whether to endorse creation of a “shared work” program that could potentially benefit both businesses and employees during an economic slowdown.
    As Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the program would allow companies to reduce the work hours of their employees in lieu of layoffs, while allowing the affected employees to receive partial compensation for lost wages.
    [Virginia's worksharing bill is sponsored by state Sen. George Barker. Click *here for access to the program segment.]

  2. Hickman Ferry reduces hours, cuts some service from continued drought, by Robert Bradfield, [12/03 late pickup] WPSDlocal6.com
    HICKMAN, Ky., USA - It isn't business as usual for Captain Ed Floyd.
    "We need a lot of water, that's for sure," Floyd said.
    He's the operator of the Dorena-Hickman Ferry. His patience in waiting for rain is running thin. "We've never seen it this low," he said.
    For the second time this year, the lack of rain is forcing Floyd to turn away semi trucks. The low Mississippi River levels make it difficult for trucks to move on and off the ferry.
    "If you have anything that's very low, they scoot across the deck and they'll start scratching their vehicles up and it's just not safe," he said.
    The ferry continues to serve passenger vehicles, but Floyd said the number of cars using the ferry has been cut in half, partly because he made the choice to end service an hour early because of darkness.
    "In the safety of our crew, and the boat and the public, we just shut down an hour early," he said.
    Full service will be restored once the Cairo gauge reaches 13 feet - it's currently at 8. With a half inch to an inch of rain projected between tomorrow and next weekend, he says every little bit helps, but it may not be enough to lift the current restrictions.
    "If i can walk outside and see a weeks worth of rain, you wouldn't hear one complaint out of me not once," he said with a smile.

  3. Austrian Industry Calls for Flexibilization of Short-Time Work, Austrian Business & Financial News via Friedl News via friedlnews.com
    VIENNA, Austria - Austrian businesses expect that short-time work may return. Three years ago, the [system was extensively used.]
    In the last months, economic forecasts for Austria had to be revised several times. The third quarter even showed negative growth rates. Another recession is not unlikely, economists say. Now, the Austrian industrial sector hopes that short-time work may be implemented quicker than in the past.
    This week, the Austrian Parliament resolved a new Working Hours Law. Georg Kapsch, President of the Federation of Austrian Industries (IV), comments that there is some kind of progress. However, the solution is not enough, he said.
    In 2013, the Austrian Social Security will pay the employer´s contributions from the fifth month. Before, the employer´s contributions were paid from the seventh month. The Austrian Federation of Industries claimed that the introduction of short-time work should be decided at the company level with the work council.
    Kapsch thinks that businesses are not flexible enough if the recession returns. “I hope that we can react quicker this time.” He says. According to Kapsch, short-time work must be implemented within days.
    In 2009, 60,000 workers were affected by short-time work measures in Austria. The Austrian Labor Market Service Agency (AMS) does not expect that the same number of short-time workers will be reached. AMS anticipates that 10,000 workers will reduce their working time. At the end of November, 1,800 persons in 26 companies were short-time workers.

  4. German truck maker MAN cuts working hours: report, Agence France-Presse via google.com/hostednews/afp
    FRANKFURT, Germany — German truck maker MAN is to slash working hours for 5,300 workers in Germany from next month, the head of the group's trucks division Anders Nielsen said in a newspaper interview Tuesday.
    "After Christmas, we'll introduce short-time work at two plants starting from January 14. We've already reached an agreement with the works council," Nielsen told the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
    The two factories concerned are in Munich, where 3,500 workers will be affected, and Salzgitter, where 1,800 employees will see their working hours cut, he said.
    Under short-time work schemes, employees have their working hours reduced for a limited period, but the state, in the form of the Federal Labour Agency, partially makes up for the corresponding shortfall in pay.
    The measure was used widely by German companies during the crisis of 2008-2009, and helped avoid widespread layoffs.

    Nielsen said the exact extent of the scheme has not yet been agreed, "but we want to remain flexible."
    However, MAN has formally notified the labour agency that the measure will initially be in place for the first six months of 2013, he added.
    "We'll see after that. An extension beyond that is not being ruled.
    "It depends how the market develops over the year," Nielsen explained.

--> 12/02-03/2012 – 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. Career Corner: Shared-work program, by Cathy J. Lilly, 12/01 CareerLink® Somerset County via Somerset County Daily American via dailyamerican.com
    SOMERSET, Pa., USA - The following was taken from the Pa. Department of Labor and Industry web site.
    An alternative to layoffs
    A shared-work plan allows an employer to temporarily reduce the work hours of a group of employees as an alternative to a layoff. Employees covered by the plan receive a percentage of their Unemployment Compensation, or UC while they work the reduced schedule, if they are otherwise eligible for UC.
    How work hours are reduced
    The percentage by which each employee’s work hours are reduced is called the “reduction percentage.” The employer determines the reduction percentage. It must be at least 20 percent and cannot exceed 40 percent. The reduction percentage must be the same for all employees participating in a shared-work plan. For example, if an employee normally works 40 hours per week, and the reduction percentage is 20 percent, then the employee’s hours are reduced by 20 percent and he or she would work 80 percent of 40 hours, or 32 hours per week. If an employee in the same unit works 30 hours per week, then he or she would work 80 percent of 30 hours, or 24 hours per week.
    Scope of shared-work plan
    A shared-work plan must apply to one “affected unit.” An affected unit is a department, shift or other organizational unit of the employer. An employer may have more than one shared-work plan. All employees in the affected unit must participate, except an employee who has been employed in the affected unit for less then three months or an employee who would work 40 or more hours a week under the plan and may not participate. There must be at least two participating employees, determined without regard to corporate officers.
    Employers who can participate
    An employer may participate in the Shared-Work Program if the employer meets the following requirements: the employer has filed all reports and paid all amounts due under the UC law; if the employer is contributory, the employer has a positive reserve account balance; the employer has paid wages for the last 12 consecutive calendar quarters. For more information on this program, please contact a PA CareerLink® nearest you or click on the “Employer Services” link on the state’s unemployment compensation website at www.uc.pa.gov. All necessary forms can be obtained through the website.

  2. Suncrest Introduces Short Working Hours, 12/03 The Harare Herald via AllAfrica.com
    HARARE, Zimbabwe - Suncrest Chickens, a division of CFI Holding's Crest Poultry Group (CPG), last Friday introduced short working hours for its employees citing financial challenges. The decision to institute short working hours was communicated to the workers in a notice dated November 23, 2011.
    [But this case may involve a bad policy masqerading as a good policy.]
    CPG managing director Dr Tapera Mpezeni and the production director Mr Langton Mautsa signed the notice.
    "The financial difficulties facing the company is a well known position to all and evidenced by low kills (sic) and resultant delays in payment of wages and salaries.
    "The company has been left with no option but to institute short-time working hours as guided by the Labour Act Section 12D," read the notice.
    He said that employees would be required to work certain days in a month, which would be communicated to them through their supervisors.
    The United Food and Allied Workers Union of Zimbabwe has since expressed concern at the notice in view of the fact that CFI last week indicated that it was increasing its chicken breeding capacity. UFAWUZ secretary-general Mr Alfred Mutero said yesterday they were concerned that the announcement amounted to unfair labour practice.
    "Only last Wednesday the company announced in the press that it was increasing production and two days later it issues a staff notice reducing working hours.
    "We are concerned by such companies that mislead the Government and workers especially after they have benefited from the Distressed and Marginalised Areas Fund," he said.
    Mr Mutero also expressed shock at the notice as it came after the company had just been given an exemption of increasing wages by the NEC [National Employment Council] for food industry.
    "It certainly looks like companies are now conniving with NECs, which have become a platform to legalise the employers' illegal agendas.
    "The NECs are no longer impartial because they are now openly advancing the interest of employers," he said.
    He added that another CFI subsidiary Victoria Foods had also applied for exemption from increasing wages yet it was producing goods around the clock.
    "Victoria Foods has even given a notice that it is going to cut salaries by 25 percent, yet some workers were transferred to Suncrest Chickens because of increased production," said Mr Mutero.
    Earlier this month, CFI commissioned some environmentally controlled broiler houses at its Glenara Estates, which would see its breeding capacity increasing by 35 percent.
    The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange conglomerate invested US$2,6 million through its division -- CPG -- from loans it got from the Government's DIMAF and PTA Bank.
    Dr Mpezeni said that they could now breed about 620 000 broilers at any given time from 460 000 birds, which are slaughtered every six weeks.

12/01/2012 – 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. German Labor Agency Sees Spike in 2013 Shorttime Work: Report, DowJones Newswires via EuroInvestor.com
    FRANKFURT, Germany - Germany's labor agency is earmarking funds to subsidize more short-time labor next year, the weekly WirtschaftsWoche magazine reported Saturday.
    "An increase in short-time labor is expected in 2013," the article cites a parliamentary committee report as saying.
    Short-time work is a government program subsidizing wages of workers with reduced working hours, which helps to avoid layoffs as well as economic hardship for workers.

    The agency has set aside EUR600 million ($774 million) for short-time work in 2013, nearly three times the estimated amount for 2012 of EUR214 million, according to the report.
    The agency estimates an annual average of 189,000 workers affected by short-time work in 2013, the article says, well below the February 2009 record of 720,000 short-time workers.
    Write to the Frankfurt Bureau at djnews.frankfurt@dowjones.com

  2. Thread: What do you think of Germany's Kurzarbeit? posted by EuropeanDream (Europe Über Alles) 12/01 02:41 AM, Bodybuilding.com Forums via forum.bodybuilding.com
    GERMANY - Kurzarbeit = short work
    A lot on here seem to have extreme libertarian views. While I am liberatrian leaning (Fiscally conservative Socially liberal) I consider myself to be pragmatic.
    So I wonder what people on here will think of Kurzarbeit.
    It works like this: When demand goes down in a firm, instead of firing people, they can choose to make these people work for only 3 days a week (just an example) and the state will pay the employees some money during this short time when they are not fully employed.
    Whatever..pontificating about how this will work in theory, lets see what it has done in practice: Germany, even though it is paying for the rest of the EU, still has a budget surplus. Unemployment is 5% and falling. It is the largest net exporter in the world, beating China, Japan, etc.
    Would you support kurzarbeit in your country?

    Response, posted by ICrapBig 12/01 03:56 AM.
    They had something like this in Australia called Workchoices I think.
    Worked quite well I believe, the problem was the unions went nuts and it ended up being an election winner for the opposition party.
    Any Aussie Bros wanna chip in here? ...
    [How about a Canuck bro? In the 90s in Ontario to save the provincial budget, Premier Bob Rae instituted Rae Days, one day off a month without pay for government employees = timesizing instead of downsizing, a kind of Kurz-arbeit. But his own left-of-center party, the NDP, went nuts and stabbed him in the back instead of supporting him and mounting a public education campaign. Result: Rae Days became a bad word and an embarrassment to the NDP, they lost their golden boy to another party soon after, and the left-of-center has been so divided that the radical right has come into minority power posing as "Conservative" but has forged ahead regardless with secret government, proroguing Parliament, militarizing Canada and generally copying the U.S. at its period of fastest self-destruction.]

Click here for spontaneous cases of primitive timesizing in -
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