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Timesizing News, January/2013
[Commentary] ©2013 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Harvard Sq PO Box 117, Cambridge MA 02238 USA 617-623-8080


1/31/2013 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. A Liberal Agenda Without Full Employment? (1/22 late posting) Beat the Press via Ctr for Economic Policy & Research via cepr.net
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - There were numerous news stories and columns touting the liberal agenda that President Obama put forward in his second inaugural address yesterday (e.g. here and here). While the speech certainly hit on several issues that have historically been important to liberals, the failure to mention full employment was a major omission.
    The fact that the economy is still more than 9 million jobs below its trend growth path implies enormous suffering. Not only are millions of people unnecessarily unemployed or underemployed, high levels of unemployment mean that most workers lack bargaining power. As a result they are unable to raise their wages and get their share of productivity growth. This means that income is likely to continue to be redistributed upward.
    There are not easy political paths to full employment at this point. Government stimulus (i.e. larger deficits) is the most obvious path, but that seems out of the question in a context where deficit reduction is dominating the policy debate. If the dollar dropped, it would make U.S. goods more competitive, thereby increasing net exports, but Obama has made little committment in this direction and the process would take time in any case.
    The best prospect is probably increased use of worksharing. Germany has used worksharing to lower its unemployment rate by more than 2 percentage points below its pre-recession level, even though its growth has been no better than growth in the United States. Worksharing does enjoy bipartisan support in the United States and is an option in the unemployment insurance systems in 25 states, but the takeup rate has been extremely low. It's possible that a major presidential push could substantially increase the use of worksharing.

    Anyhow, it is striking that a speech that touched on many liberal themes did not make a commitment to full employment. This should have been noted in the coverage.

  2. Some Sewickley workers to see hours cut as borough aligns with new healthcare laws, by Bobby Cherry, Tribune-Review via triblive.com
    SEWICKLEY, Penn., USA - Some Sewickley Borough employees will see their hours cut to help the community save money under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
    The borough's only parking enforcement officer, Margie Wakefield, will see her hours reduced from 40-plus hours a week to a 30-hour work week starting Monday, borough Manager Kevin Flannery said.
    Employees who work, on average, more than 30 hours a week must be offered health insurance under the new federal law. The borough can't afford to pay the costs associated with insuring those employees, Flannery said.
    Wakefield, who also serves as a crossing guard near Osborne Elementary School in Glen Osborne, now averages about 41 hours a week in Sewickley, Flannery said.

    [So maybe this mixed-blessing healthcare law will occasionally spread some over-40 overtime from overworkers to the un(der)employed.]
    Beginning Monday, Wakefield could be contracted to work additional hours through Glen Osborne.
    The remaining hours will be a “private contract between (Wakefield) and (Glen Osborne Borough),” Flannery said.
    Wakefield said she has health care through her husband's employer; she directed questions to Sewickley police Chief Jim Ersher. He directed questions to Flannery.
    As the town's only meter reader, Wakefield is a familiar face around the village as she checks meters from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    In 2012, Sewickley collected $175,900 in parking meter revenue and $74,500 in parking fines, borough records show.
    In addition to Wakefield, some Sewickley public-works employees also will see hours cut, and 16 part-time police officers could see hours adjusted, Flannery said. Sewickley Borough employs two to six non-uniformed part-time employees per year, he said.
    Leaders in other small towns could find themselves in similar situations as some employ a lot of part-time employees, said employment lawyer Emily Town, an associate attorney with Downtown Pittsburgh-based law firm Stember Feinstein Doyle Payne & Kravec.
    “Even though on its face it looks like a good way to get around (offering healthcare benefits), something like this could make its way to the courts,” Town said.
    “Sometimes there are situations where maybe (a new regulation) has these unintended consequences where maybe it has new laws passed or a court decision or a loophole nobody likes.
    “It's not new to see employers figure out ways to structure their workforce. A lot of employers try to classify employees as independent contractors to avoid paying benefits.”
    Any change in laws regulating healthcare and employee rights result in a lot of questions and problems, Town said.
    “These are big changes, so this is something that's going to take awhile to work out all of the issues.”
    Bobby Cherry is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or rcherry@tribweb.com.

  3. State Job Aid Takes Pressure Off Germany, by Nina Koeppen, Wall Street Journal via wsj.com
    FRANKFURT, Germany — A surge in demand from German companies for a federal subsidy to keep workers on the job during downturns is fueling a debate over whether Germany is keeping ailing firms afloat—and avoiding the painful structural changes it demands of other countries.
    [Damn, there's just GOT to be something wrong with Germany - they just CAN'T be smarter than us!]
    Many economists are doubtful that an extension of the program, known as Kurzarbeit, is the right tool to combat rising joblessness in Europe’s largest economy.
    The idea behind Kurzarbeit is that firms hold on to workers at reduced hours after a sharp, sudden drop in demand, with the government making up for some of those employees’ lost wages. It worked well during the 2009 recession... (subscription)


1/30/2013 – 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. Add health benefits or cut hours? Ft. Wayne News Sentinel via news-sentinel.com
    INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., USA – The federal health care overhaul is causing many Indiana employers to wrestle with decisions on whether to provide health benefits to workers who aren't typically eligible for most company plans or trim their hours to avoid extra costs.
    The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires companies to begin offering health insurance to employees working at least 30 hours a week beginning next year. Employers with more than 50 workers that fail to offer health benefits for qualifying staff can face steep fines.
    The law also creates online health insurance exchanges to offer workers coverage instead of their having to rely on employers. But it could bring big expenses to some companies, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported.
    “This is a very, very big challenge for the company, and for most other companies,” said Charlie Young, chief human resources officer for Indianapolis-based electronics and home products chain HHGregg.
    “There's a lot of ambiguity out there as we approach 2014, and we're only 11 months away. It's pretty intimidating.”
    HHGregg has 6,600 employees, 90 percent of whom work full time and are eligible for the company's insurance plan. The company expects that expanding coverage under the law could add up to seven figures to its costs.
    Some of that expense will be offset by tax benefits HHGregg expects to receive by offering the insurance, Young said.
    “We're pretty emphatic about keeping our program as we move forward,” he said.
    The decision isn't as easy for some other employers, especially those in the retail, restaurant and hospitality sectors.
    Many employees in those industries work less than 40 hours a week and typically receive no health benefits.
    Those benefits that are offered are usually limited and would fail to meet the minimum coverage requirements under the health care law.
    John Schnatter, CEO of the Papa John's pizza chain, drew criticism when he said his Louisville-based company might cut employee hours rather than pay for the insurance. The statement sparked threats of boycotts and prompted Schnatter to say the chain would continue offering insurance to its employees.
    Scott Wise, who operates Scotty's Brewhouses and other restaurants throughout Indiana, says he has about 130 salaried employees who will be affected by the law and is weighing his options in hopes he can avoid cutting their hours so he doesn't have to pay for health insurance.
    “Full-time staff are some of your best employees,” he said. “Those are some of your most loyal, hardest-working people.”
    But costs are a consideration, he acknowledged.
    “I don't know what the right answer is,” Wise said. “I understand that we want the world to have affordable health care; I just don't know that you have the ability to do it in a perfect world.”
    Jay Ricker, president of Anderson-based Ricker Oil Co., a chain of 49 gas stations operating locally under the BP brand, said he expects to expand coverage to his 650 employees, many of whom work part time, and pay the additional cost from profits.
    But he says some companies won't be able to afford that option.
    “Some people could go out of business or go to all part time,” he said. “I think it's going to be a huge issue.”

  2. Open Question: 30 hour work-week Obamacare question? by sam s, Yahoo! Answers via answers.yahoo.com
    NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J., USA - Ok so I work at Jimmy Johns as a delivery driver and since the beginning of the year the management has started this rule where no one can work more than 30 hours a week supposedly due to the Healthcare reform. Now it is very difficult to get shifts covered and/ or get more hours when I need them.
    I have trouble believing that the administration wouldn't see this kind of thing coming and I am suspicious that they are just overreacting.
    I read something that says there must be 50 full timers (30 hours /week) averaged out over a 3-12 month period before they would have to pay into the program.
    Would this number include all the different employees at all the location in town (5 stores I think)?
    If so with all the managers I could imagine why they would be cautious but if not then they are surely being irrational.
    Please help clarify this. A lot of struggling college students could gain a lot if I could set this straight.

  3. PHL Embassy in Singapore bares new workweek schedule starting March 17, by VVP, GMA News via gmanetwork.com
    SINGAPORE - tarting March 17, the Philippine Embassy in Singapore will adopt a new workweek schedule where it will cease Sunday operations and revert to its Monday-to-Friday setup.
    In an announcement on its website, the embassy said this is part of its efforts to upgrade its services and to facilitate the conduct of the Overseas Absentee Voting in April and May this year.
    “Consular service hours have been revised so that applicants can submit and collect documents throughout office hours, without lunch break. The Embassy has instituted online appointment systems for key services, particularly for the issuance of passports and Overseas Employment Certificates (OEC), in which the applicant can choose a specific date and time that is most convenient to him or her,” it said.
    The embassy added that it is ready to devote Sundays to more initiatives that will promote the welfare of Filipinos in Singapore.
    It plans to focus its weekend operations to livelihood and entrepreneurial skills training and supporting the usual Filipino community social and cultural events.
    This is in line with the start this year of the Singaporean government’s policy of requiring a weekly day-off for household service workers.
    Meanwhile, the embassy advised applicants to apply for their passport renewal in advance, such as around nine to 12 months before expiration of validity or earlier, if a longer validity is required for work pass renewal or when their passports only have a few remaining blank pages.
    “We also encourage our OFWs to avail of multiple-entry OECs in order to avoid having to make repeated visits to the Embassy,” it said.

  4. New post to handle work hours, by Eddie Luc, (1/31 dateline issue) Hong Kong Standard via thestandard.com.hk
    HONG KONG, China - The government has proposed to create a directorate post to coordinate works related to the city's standard working hours issue.
    This was revealed in the Legislative Council's establishment subcommittee of finance yesterday.
    The post, which pays HK$1.4 million a year, will have a three-year tenure.
    The government has recommended one supernumerary post of chief labor officer in the Labour Department to provide support at the directorate level.
    This will undertake all duties related to standard working hours, including spearheading in-depth policy researches, and formulating and organizing consultations on the matter.
    At the meeting, Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker Tang Ka-piu, who represents the labor functional constituency, criticized the government for creating the post to simply conduct public consultations.
    "It appears that the work of the new chief labor officer just favors the interests of the business sector," Tang said.
    "Part of the officer's job is to study how local small and medium-sized enterprises will be affected by the standard working hours."
    In reply, Commissioner for Labour Cheuk Wing-hing said it is necessary to study how the standard working hours affect these firms because of their sheer number.
    Employers will need to pay up to HK$55.2 billion more a year in wages if standard working hours are introduced in Hong Kong, according to a government report.
    If standard working hours are set at 48 to 40 hours a week, 1.32 million to 2.38 million workers will be affected.


1/29/2013 – 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. Milwaukee Mayor's office announces 1500 cop furloughs for 2013, WTAQ.com
    MILWAUKEE, Wisc., USA - The Milwaukee mayor’s office says people will not notice any reduction in police service, when 1,500 officers go on three-day furloughs later this year.
    Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke mentioned the furloughs on national TV Monday, as a reason that people should learn how to protect themselves – and not just call 911 and wait for officers to save the day.
    Pat Curley, the chief of staff to Mayor Tom Barrett, said the Milwaukee Police furloughs were necessary to avoid layoffs – and to give those officers a 4 percent pay raise this year. And Curley says they’re scheduled in a way that avoids any reduction in officers on the street.
    Meanwhile, Dodge County Sheriff Todd Nehls says 911 should be people’s first option when crime hits. He also agreed that folks can reduce their chances of being victims by installing dead-bolt locks, alarms, and better lighting.
    Nehls also said his officers have more experience than Clarke’s in dealing with violent crimes. That’s because the vast majority of Milwaukee County’s land area is served by municipal police.
    As a result, Nehls said Milwaukee County deputies handled just 17 violent crimes in 2009 and 2010, while Dodge County had 59.
    Nehls says he has nothing against Clarke – but he just wanted to point out that his office has more experience in handling violent crime.

  2. Global employment briefing: European Union, January 2013 - Court decides case on short-time working and paid annual leave, by Constanze Moorhouse, (1/25 late pickup) Eversheds LLP via Lexology.com (registration)
    LUXEMBOURG, E.U. - In the case of Heimann v Kaiser GmbH, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) confirmed that, where a worker is absent from work as a result of an agreement to go on short-time working, paid annual leave can be calculated on a pro rata basis, as if the worker was a part-time worker.
    The case concerned two workers, who were to be dismissed by their employer, who had their employment contracts extended for one year from the date of their proposed dismissal.
    The extended employment contract was a zero hours, short-time working contract during which the workers were paid an allowance granted by the Federal Employment Agency [of Luxembourg or Germany or where??]. This arrangement was entered into as a result of a Social Plan between the employer and its work council.

    [Zero hours is now "short" time???]
    The two workers claimed payment for untaken annual leave during their short-time working contract.
    [They're getting paid for zero hours and now they want payment for untaken annual leave??? Unless we're missing something here, this is getting outrageous.]
    The CJEU distinguished their cases from those of workers who were sick as they were not subject to physical or psychological restraints caused by an illness.
    The Court found that the workers were comparable to part-time workers,
    [ZERO hours is "part" time too???]
    and, as such, holiday pay in these circumstances should be calculated pro rata to the work done in the holiday year.
    [In zero hours, that would be ZERO work done.]
    The judgment confirms that the Court will distinguish between cases of illness, in which a worker is unable to take leave due, and other cases in which a worker is not subject to the restraints of illness.

  3. Why Hong Kong needs working hours law, by Martin Brinkley & Ma Wan, (1/30 dateline issue) South China Morning Post via scmp.com
    HONG KONG, China - Legislator James Tien Pei-chun, in RTHK's Letter to Hong Kong, on January 20, urged our chief executive to look at "using imported labour specifically to build government public housing". As chairman of [developer] Manhattan Holdings, cynics in the community might ask if this proposal is to ensure that a large pool of experienced local workers is available to work on his company's projects for reduced wages?
    Importation of labour is a sensitive issue as it is not only a matter of competition for jobs but also for affordable housing. Where would these imported workers live? Certainly not in a Manhattan development.
    Any project requiring a large-scale infusion of manual workers would have to provide dormitory accommodation in order to avoid further pressure on low-cost housing in an already saturated market. So wily developers will push for public-funded projects to shoulder the additional costs.
    Mr Tien then mentioned that a pressing concern of small and medium-sized enterprises, high rents, was not mentioned in the policy address.
    As a property developer himself, how come Mr Tien has not called on his fellow tycoons to restrain their penchant for ever- increasing rental returns?
    He also expressed concern about the shortage of shops and office premises. What about the vast land banks in the hands of the large developers?
    He proceeded to whinge that the move towards standard working hours seriously undermined the freedom and flexibility that has made Hong Kong businesses among the world's most successful.
    He added that we cannot place ourselves in the straightjacket of a single fit-all format (9am to 6pm) of standard working hours for every employee.
    This is a complete distortion of the demand for reasonable working hours. The proposed legislation is not intended to stop those workers who want to earn more from working additional hours but rather to ensure that they are paid for hours over and above those stipulated in their employment contract. There has been no mention of restricting hours to 9am to 6pm.
    The Labour Department report, that standardising working hours could cost bosses up to an additional HK$55 billion a year, indicates the extent to which workers are currently being ripped off.

    Mr Tien forgets that he is an elected legislator and, as such, should represent the interests of the general public rather than the narrow vested focus of the functional constituencies.

  4. Special Committee On Standard Working Hours To Be Established, by Duncan A.W. Abate & Hong Tran & Anita Lam, (1/25 late posting) Mayer Brown Practices via inShare via Mondaq News Alerts (registration) via Mondaq.com
    HONG KONG, China - The new Chief Executive, CY Leung, has followed through with his election manifesto promise to "establish a special taskforce to undertake a study on improving protection for workers in high-risk occupations in relation to insurance, compensation for work injuries, therapy and rehabilitation".
    In his 2013 Policy Address, he announced that a Special Committee on Standard Working Hours (SWH) will be set up in the first quarter of 2013, comprising government officials, representatives of labour unions and employers' associations, academics and community leaders.
    The role of the Special Committee will be to study the issues related to SWH and put forward policy recommendations that could best suit the overall interests of Hong Kong. The Special Committee also aims to provide a platform to various sectors of the community to "carry out an informed and in-depth discussion on working hours, build consensus and identify the way forward".
    The establishment of this Special Committee follows the publication by the Labour Department of a Policy Study on Standard Working Hours in June 2012. The Policy Study examined:
    • the essential components of an SWH regime, including the definition of "working hours", the objectives of the working hours policy, overtime limit, overtime pay and exemptions from the regime;
    • the global implementation experience and challenges faced by 12 other countries in regulating working hours;
    • the latest working hours situation of employees in various sectors of Hong Kong;
    • the possible economic implication of introducing an SWH regime in Hong Kong; and
    • the key issues that required further discussion.
    The Policy Study concludes that with an SWH threshold of 40 hours per week, the number of impacted employees would be 2.38 million (91.1% of the 2.61 million full-time employees).
    If the weekly threshold is increased to 44 or 48 hours, 1.86 million or 1.32 million employees would be affected respectively.
    Under the three hypothetical scenarios (40, 44 and 44 hours), the corresponding estimated increase in total wage bill for Hong Kong employers would range from $55.2 billion to $8.0 billion per annum. This equates to between 1.7% and 11.4% of the current total wage bill.

    [This is not about the wage bill for employers. This is about Hong Kong's sustainable, predictable domestic consumer spending, which is carried by the millions of employees, not the thousands of employers, and which anchors and sustains ALL other domestic markets: business, financial, government and all combinations.]
    To view the full Policy Study, see http://www.labour.gov.hk/eng/plan/pdf/swh/swh_report.pdf.
    This article provides information and comments on legal issues and developments of interest. The foregoing is not a comprehensive treatment of the subject matter covered and is not intended to provide legal advice. Readers should seek specific legal advice before taking any action with respect to the matters discussed herein. Please also read the JSM legal publications Disclaimer. Specific Questions relating to this article should be addressed directly to the author..\..
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1/27-28/2013 – 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. States use work sharing to limit layoffs, by Lorraine Woellert, 1/27 (1/10 very late pickup) San Francisco Chronicle via StreamingNews via RedlionTrader.com
    [Thought we got this story on 1/10/2013 #1 (below) but apparently we missed the last half, so here's the whole thing.]
    SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., USA - Some states are adding a new twist to the old concept of unemployment insurance: paying to keep Americans in their jobs rather than giving them cash when they lose them.
    Washington state has subsidized incomes for dental technicians and plumbers, while Rhode Island paid factory and health care workers when their employers couldn’t. Almost 460,000 jobs have been saved through such arrangements since 2008, the Labor Department estimates, and federal funding approved last year has more states signing on.
    Instead of dismissal notices, employees get a shortened workweek, with unemployment benefits partially compensating for lost wages. Popularly known as work sharing, the program holds out the promise of fewer layoffs and less painful economic downturns. For businesses, which get to retain experienced workers, it could mean the difference between success and failure.
    “It’s been a godsend,” said Belinda Roberts, co-owner of Blue Crown Dental Arts in Kennewick, Wash., which credits the state’s program with saving the jobs of seven trained technicians. The dental lab signed on to work share in 2010 after orders dropped and now has seven employees on the program. “It’s kept the doors open.”
    Work share, also known as layoff aversion or short-time compensation, is part of a broad rethinking of the U.S. safety net for the unemployed. It borrows from decades-old efforts in Japan and Europe, notably Germany’s Kurzarbeit, which dates from the 1920s. In 2009, about 3 percent of all German workers were on the program, which saved around 235,000 full-time jobs that year, according to a 2011 report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
    Work sharing
    California pioneered the modern work-sharing concept in the U.S. in 1978. Along with Rhode Island, it is among 17 states that have had work-share programs in place for years. Before the recession began in December 2007, they weren’t used widely, in part because states did little to publicize their availability. Even at the program’s peak usage in 2009, work share accounted for only 2 percent of unemployment insurance benefits, according to the Congressional Research Service.
    Now chronic long-term unemployment and a pot of federal funding approved by Congress last year have prompted more states to adopt work sharing. Twenty-five states and Washington, D.C., now have versions of the programs. Eleven jurisdictions have collected $92.3 million in U.S. aid so far. West Virginia and Ohio are among states considering plans.
    In December, 4.8 million Americans were out of work for six months or more, according to figures from the Labor Department. While down from a record 6.7 million in April 2010, the level still surpasses any peak reached in the aftermath of previous recessions. More than a million people have abandoned the job hunt altogether, a development that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke has called a “national crisis.”
    ‘Enormous waste’
    “The conditions now prevailing in the job market represent an enormous waste of human and economic potential,” Bernanke said in December. That month, the percentage of the jobless who were without work 27 weeks or longer fell below 40 percent for the first time since November 2009.
    All sides bear some of the cost. State unemployment trust funds, with aid from the U.S. Labor Department, finance the work sharing. Affected employees get only a portion of their lost wages. Participating businesses must agree to pay workers a minimum number of hours a week and run the risk of higher unemployment insurance taxes if they use the program long term.
    This month, Michigan will be the first state to give businesses a free trial: Companies can use work sharing with no risk of tax penalty as long as federal money is available. As with traditional unemployment, states cap the benefits workers can receive.
    No panacea
    “It’s a good way in the short run to reduce the number of layoffs in the economy,” said Wayne Vroman, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, a Washington policy group. “It’s not a complete panacea,” he said. “Very often when people are put on shortened hours, the expectation of the employer at the time is they’ll go back to full production. Sometimes that doesn’t happen.”
    [Worksharing is just a temporary imposition on the jobseekers' fund. The permanent version aka complete panacea is timesizing, which forces employers to quit draining their enterprises for the wasteful symbolism of mega executive salaries, and reinvest in wages and markets at a sustainable level,
    Traditional unemployment insurance stabilizes households and communities during short-term downturns, said Charles Fogarty, director of Rhode Island’s department of labor training in Cranston. Keeping workers on the job, especially in a new era of chronic long-term unemployment, also has broader societal and economic benefits of maintaining connections to the work force, he said.
    “It’s an economic tool,” Fogarty said. “Training an employee is a very expensive and time-consuming proposition. If you can minimize that, and keep that trained workforce you already have, it puts you in a much more competitive position economically.”
    Use caution
    While work share can be useful, policymakers and businesses need to proceed with caution, said Douglas Holmes, president of UWC-Strategic Services on Unemployment & Workers’ Compensation, a Washington business group that lobbies on unemployment insurance issues. The programs could drain already stressed unemployment insurance funds and, if used inappropriately, could delay inevitable economic disruptions, he said.
    “If an individual continues to do the same job because this policy permits them to, when they would be better off spending time improving their skills doing the next job, that’s a factor that has to be taken into consideration,” Holmes said. “That turns the program from being a temporary measure to address a fluctuation in demand into one that becomes a long-term wage subsidy.”
    Lorraine Woellert is a Bloomberg writer. E-mail: lwoellert@bloomberg.net

  2. 30-Hour Work Week Is a Critical Threshold for More Than Just Health Care, 1/28 (1/25 late pickup) National Assoc. of Student Financial Aid Administrators via nasfaa.org
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - "The way colleges count adjuncts' workloads is important not only for determining whether they are eligible for health insurance under the new health-care law but also for their participation in some other federal programs. A federal student-loan-forgiveness program uses the same 30-hour benchmark as the health-care law for determining full-time employment, a key requirement for eligibility," The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.
    "And at least one adjunct is having trouble qualifying because the colleges she teaches for are reluctant to certify how many hours an adjunct like her works. Heidi Petersen, an adjunct based in Colorado who teaches online courses in ethics for two institutions, has struggled to get administrators to complete paperwork in which they must calculate and certify the average number of hours she works each week. She needs that paperwork to get confirmation from the U.S. Department of Education that she qualifies for a loan-forgiveness program for people who work for public-service organizations. Most nonprofit colleges count as public-service employers under the rules for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program."


1/26/2013 – 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. Jonesboro Nestle plant lays off 70, cuts hours, Jonesboro Sun via AP via Today's THV via todaysthv.com
    JONESBORO, Ark., USA - The Nestle USA plant in Jonesboro is laying off 70 workers and cutting production from six to four days per week.
    The company announced Friday that the reductions will start Feb. 11.
    Nestle officials say increased prices for meat, dairy and grains are behind the cuts. But company officials say the plant will still have 600 workers and there are no plans to close the facility.
    The plant produces Stouffer's and Lean Cuisine frozen meals.
    [So presumably there'd be (6-4)/6 x (600+70) = 1/3 of 670 = 223 more layoffs without the 2/6 hourscuts. Btw, was that six-day workweek all one shift with, e.g., five 7-hour days plus 5 hours on Sat.? Or was it five 8-hour days plus a sixth day of chronic overtime? Or more than one shift?]
    When construction was announced in 2001, Nestle said it expected to have 1,000 workers at the plant. The Jonesboro Sun reports the company says that the long recession that followed, along with increased prices for food and fuel, have kept the plant from growing.

  2. Pentagon furloughs could start in mid-April, by Leigh Munsil, (1/25 late pickup) Politico.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - The Pentagon could begin furloughing civilian employees one day a week starting in mid-April if sequestration takes effect on its new March 1 deadline, POLITICO has learned.
    The Defense Department plans to submit a request to Congress in mid-February for approval to furlough civilian employees, according to multiple sources inside the Pentagon with knowledge of the preparations. If sequestration indeed happened and Congress approved the DOD’s request, notification letters would go out to the employees affected.
    Civilian employees would take one day of unpaid leave per week until the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30, according to the sources. Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter confirmed to reporters Friday that one-day-a-week furloughs would continue for the remainder of the budget year. The furloughs would save the Pentagon $5 billion — a small piece of the 2013 cuts from sequestration, Carter’s senior adviser James Swartout said.
    “There’s no way that we can continue to function under sequestration without enacting furloughs,” said one Pentagon official, who asked not to be identified. “It equates to approximately a 20 percent pay cut for five months. I mean, you would notice that.”
    A spokeswoman asked to confirm the account acknowledged that officials have been preparing for sequester under the instructions of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, but said no final decisions have been made.
    “We are intensifying planning for longer-term budgetary uncertainty, to include assessing the number, duration and nature of unpaid civilian furloughs that would be required if an additional $45 billion in cuts are made due to sequestration on March 2, 2013,” Lt. Col. Elizabeth Robbins told POLITICO. “Enacting civilian unpaid furloughs would be a measure of last resort. At this point, none of the relevant details have been finalized.”
    Time is an issue — the period from mid-April to the end of September is about 24 weeks, which may not cross the threshold of the 30 total days the Pentagon needs by law for congressional approval, meaning the department could potentially begin furloughs even without action by Congress.
    Sequestration would restrict $500 billion in defense budget growth over the next 10 years, and defense officials have warned that the sudden drop in funding might force them to furlough workers.
    Earlier this month, budget expert Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments told reporters that DOD would be forced to implement rotating monthly furloughs for “virtually all” of its 791,000 [rounded 800,000] civilian workers in the event of sequestration.
    The Pentagon has already announced layoffs of up to 46,000 temporary civilian workers. Military commanders have until Feb. 10 to identify which of those need to be exempted for “mission-critical activities,” Swartout said.
    The defense official added that Pentagon officials are worried about how the furloughs will affect morale for civilian employees — who already haven’t received pay raises in years.
    “We’re deeply concerned, not only because the work that our civilians do provides significant value and it’s essential to the functioning of the Department of Defense,” the official said. “The work that our civilians do is not optional — we have civilian workers because they provide value.”
    Kate Brannen contributed to this report.
    This article first appeared on POLITICO Pro at 12:28 p.m. on January 25, 2013
    .

  3. Advice: Bring back the 40-hour work week, by Jessica Lawrence, Press-Enterprise via pe.com
    RIVERSIDE, Calif., USA - On a recent Saturday night, as I sat next to someone in a restaurant who had pulled out a Blackberry to check work email at 9 p.m., I could not help but have my heart sink a little bit. It was a Saturday night. What could possibly be so urgent with work? I also found myself thinking something that I would have never expected:
    “Can we please go back to a 40-hour workweek?”
    I have been an advocate for years of moving away from the 40-hour workweek because it is an old-fashioned construct, one that was put in place at a time when working conditions were less humane and pay was not commensurate with the hours worked. It was put in place when we were working in more of an industrial economy than the current knowledge-based economy, and it usually forced people to be creative, productive, and focused on work during the hours that their employer dictated.
    We are running into a new challenge, though. For a significant percentage of the working American population, work is not confining itself to just 40 hours a week, or even 60 hours a week. With cellphones in our pockets and laptops in our bags, it bleeds into our time at the gym, our time with our kids, our time at night when we should be resting and rejuvenating.
    Before we were tethered to work with technology, even if people had to show up at work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, at least they knew that when they left the office in the evening and on Friday afternoon, they did not have to keep working. There was a much clearer distinction between work time and personal time. Now, many managers seem to think that because someone works for them and because they have the technology necessary to communicate from anywhere, that communicating (and therefore working) at any time is fair game.
    The problem is that when people agree to take a job, they are most often still thinking about the cost-benefit ratio of that work through the lens of a 40-hour work week. If you are being offered a $60,000 salary, and you work 2,000 hours a year, that works out to $30 per hour. If however, you end up working 3,000 hours per year, or about 60 hours a week, your hourly wage drops down to $20 per hour. As more and more of your time is given over to your employer, on an hourly basis, you are getting paid less and less.
    So, if we are in a time when employees and their time are being taken advantage of by employers, should we be advocating to go back to a more strict, 9 to 5, clock-in, clock-out environment even for salaried employees? Before jumping to that conclusion, it is important to look at a few nuances of the 40-hour workweek.
    First, the 40-hour workweek makes the assumption that for any job, the ideal amount of work time in a week is 40 hours. When paired, as it traditionally is, with a 9-to-5 work day, it also assumes that people do their best work, are most creative, and have no other competing life or family obligations during those hours. Both of these are false assumptions, and are in large part responsible for a movement away from strict work hours.
    On the other hand, when we move away from set work hours we run into the issues with boundaries between work and life that are having a significantly negative impact on employees — in many cases leading to higher levels of stress and burnout, leading to decreases in productivity and employee engagement.
    So, what can we do? We can advocate for setting daily and weekly time boundaries.
    [That's exackitally what the Timesizing program advocates and requires.]
    We do not necessarily have to focus on the total number of hours per week, but what if companies could begin to make it a practice that before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m. no one is expected to respond to any emails, and that the weekends are a time held sacred for things other than work? We would make tremendous progress and companies would probably find that they get higher-quality work. This shift will take considerable behavior change, but because employees are not robots with an infinite capacity for work, we are running out of other options.
    Jessica H. Lawrence is a former CEO of Girl Scouts of San Gorgonio Council. She is a respected speaker, writer and frequent consultant on business, nonprofit management, social media, and the technology sector. Jessica can be reached at jessicahlawrence@gmail.com.


1/25/2013 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Work-sharing program put back on Statehouse agenda, by Jeff Bell, Business First of Columbus via bizjournals.com/columbus
    COLUMBUS, Ohio - State Rep. Mike Duffey is ready to make another play to create a work-sharing program that could help Ohioans keep their jobs and employers hang onto valued employees even during downturns.
    The SharedWork Ohio program would let employers cut workers’ hours 10 percent to 50 percent instead of dismissing them during troubled times. The workers could collect federally funded unemployment benefits to cover part of the drop in pay and keep health insurance and retirement benefits.
    “I think it can have a smoothing effect on unemployment,” said Duffey, R-Worthington...
    Jeff Bell covers public policy, utilities, energy and the business of sports for Business First.

  2. Part-time trend cuts average work hours, by Glenda Kwek, (1/26 dateline issue) Sydney Morning Herald via smh.com.au
    SYDNEY, N.S.W., Australia - Australians are working at an average of 32 hours a week, the lowest in over 30 years, as employers turn to part-time jobs, flexible working hours and casualisation in a softening economy.
    [Ironically, the economy would stop softening if employers would smarten up and (1) quit trying to get growth-UPsizing by downsizing and (2) replace their economy-softening goal of wealth = slow-circulating concentrated moneysupply = fewer people working longer hours, more on the dole, with the economy-strengthening goal of prosperity = fast-circulating centrifuged moneysupply = more people working fewer hours, fewer on the dole. How? One change: replace the standard frozen 35-40 hour workweek with an automatic reinvestment threshold (ART) where companies and individuals either quit work for the week or reinvest overtime earnings in OT-targeted training and hiring, and slowly adjust the ART downward as far as it takes to achieve full employment and consumer spending.]
    Detailed labour force data released by the Bureau of Statistics this week shows a fall in the average number of actual hours worked, while the proportion of employees who work full-time has also fallen since the 1980s.

    "We know that over the last 12 to 18 months, conditions have been very tough on the economy and activity has been sluggish, especially for the retail sector," a Commonwealth Securities economist, Savanth Sebastian, said.
    "As a result, while businesses are planning for a future turnaround and holding on to key staff, they are trying to maintain a lower cost base and that means cutting hours back, even for some of those full-time workers."
    Stephen Bali, of the Australian Workers' Union Greater NSW branch, said some members of his union had found themselves under pressure to work additional hours without pay, while others had been placed on flexible work contracts.
    "Flexibility is usually one way - it's what the employer needs and what the employer wants," Mr Bali said.
    "It's from the employer's point of view and just they want to turn on and off workers. But workers are humans and not machines."
    Ben Perry, who runs an events and branding business, said he had to resign from his previous job so he could reduce the number of hours he worked to spend more time with his children.
    "For one year, I tried to cut back down to four days a week [in my previous job], but what I found is that you keep getting brought back to work," Mr Perry said.
    "I kept getting frustrated that I was getting paid four days a week when in my mind I wasn't shutting down on the five days."
    A shifting workforce has also seen a record number of older people in the job market.
    While the participation rate - the percentage of people either in work or looking for work - for the workforce was at five-year lows just above 65 per cent by the end of last year, a record number of people aged above 65 were entering the job market, the Bureau of Statistics data showed.
    [Pensions looted?]


1/24/2013 – 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. Legislature to end work week Thursday, (1/23 late pickup) ArkansasNews.com
    LITTLE ROCK, Ark., USA — The House and Senate will complete another short work week with early sessions Thursday then adjourn until Monday.
    Leaders of the two chambers announced Wednesday that neither would meet Friday.
    Legislators also took last Friday off and did not meet Monday because of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

    [What's good for the ganders is good for us geese! Them ol' boys shore know how to live! It's just that they don't know how to include anyone else...]
    House Speaker Davy Carter, R-Cabot, told reporters Wednesday after the House session that not enough bills have passed out of committee in the session’s first two weeks to make a Friday meeting worthwhile.
    “I think this happened last session too,” he said. “It just takes time for the bills to start funneling through. I’d rather the members be able to be back with constituents than for them to have one bill on the House floor.”
    Sen. Paul Bookout, D-Jonesboro, who was Senate pro tem in the 88th General Assembly, noted there are 43 freshmen in the House and 15 new senators that are all still getting to know their surroundings.
    “The session is like watching a train leaving the station,” he said. “It just always starts out slower than you think it should and it ends picking up speed.”

  2. Pilots, cabin crew protest in Europe over excessive in-flight work hours - Protests staged over draft law crews fear could force them to fly for too long, threatening safety, AP via South China Morning Post via scmp.com
    Pilots and cabin crew of several airlines demonstrate at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam with a banner urging, “Safety first”. (photo caption)
    BRUSSELS, E.U. - Pilots and cabin crew have staged demonstrations in several European airports against planned EU legislation they say could force them to fly excessive hours and threaten the safety of passengers, but critics accused them of scaremongering.
    Protesters handed over petitions to authorities in Britain and staged actions at airports in Germany, Spain, Italy and other countries, calling for better safeguards for in-flight fatigue. Plans to standardise EU legislation are still being negotiated, but the pilots say they fear they could be asked to fly for over 12 hours throughout the night even though scientists claim safety is significantly endangered because of fatigue after 10 hours.
    "We see that a tired pilot is a dangerous pilot and a tired cabin crew will endanger passengers' safety in any case of emergency," said Francois Nardy, vice-president of the European Cockpit Association (ECA). "This is what the EU's decision-makers have not yet understood."
    The Association of European Airlines counters that the current recommendation of the European Aviation and Safety Agency (EASA) asks for 11 hours, which would make sure the EU has one of the strictest rules in the world. The European Commission, the executive body responsible for proposing legislation, is to make an official proposal later in the spring.
    Supporters of shorter working days have been pressing for years for tighter regulation and enforcement of working hours and rest periods, driven by concerns about exhausted pilots working taxing schedules. They say the current proposal would be reduced to the lowest common denominator among EU nations to please commercial airlines seeking to survive in a tough competitive environment.
    The new rules would harmonise working hours for pilots across Europe. In Britain, for example, pilots are not allowed to be on duty for longer than nine hours a day. Elsewhere in Europe, especially in the east, that limit is much higher. The ECA would like to see the toughest safety standards survive.
    The ECA, which represents 39,000 European pilots, claims that up to 20 per cent of fatal accidents can be linked to aircrew fatigue.
    They have been accused of being alarmist. "If pilots use arguments that are [barely] credible and evoke images of crashing planes to play on the emotions of the public, then it seems wiser to adopt the expertise of the EASA," Said El Khadraoui, of the European Parliament's transport panel, wrote in Belgium's De Standaard newspaper.
    In the United States, regulations limit the maximum time a pilot can be scheduled to be on duty - including wait time before flights and administrative duties - to between nine and 14 hours.
    The maximum amount of time pilots in the US can be scheduled to fly is eight or nine hours, with a minimum of 10 hours' rest between duty periods.


1/23/2013 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Detroit City Council to vote Friday on furloughs equivalent to 10% pay cut, by Matt Helms, Detroit Free Press via freep.com
    DETROIT, Mich., USA - The Detroit City Council is expected to vote Friday morning on a plan to push through furloughs equivalent to a 10% pay cut for nonunion employees of Detroit's executive and legislative branches.
    [Time sizIng, not down sizing.]
    The furloughs would save the financially-strapped city about $250,000 a month,
    city officials said. Mayor Dave Bing's administration expects to negotiate an identical cut later with the rest of the city's work force.
    Bing had sought the option of furloughs equating to up to a 20% pay cut, but council members say they want to authorize 10% cuts instead, urging Bing to come back later to make a case for deeper cuts if needed.
    The furloughs are part of a package of cuts Bing sought from the council, including a one-year freeze on pension credits for city workers to save Detroit $25 million.
    The council approved the pension freeze as well as a reduction in health care benefits from an 80-20 plan to 70-30 for nonunion employees of the mayoral and council staffs. The city said it will negotiate with unions to spread the reduced health benefits to other city workers later this year.
    The hearing on furloughs starts at 9 a.m.

  2. SolarWorld introduces short-time working at German production site, Photon.Info
    FREIBERG, Germany - German solar manufacturer SolarWorld AG has temporarily introduced short-time working at its largest production site in Freiberg, Eastern Germany.
    A SolarWorld spokesman told Photon that the local employment agency has approved short-time working for two subsidiaries – wafer maker Deutsche Solar GmbH and cell producer Deutsche Cell GmbH - until April 30, 2013. In total, 350 employees are affected by the measure.

    According to the spokesperson, the reasons for the measures are the »massive price dumping in China and the resulting distortion of the European and world market.«
    The company aims to maintain the German production site and will stop short-time working after April, 30, the spokesperson said.
    For the second quarter of 2013 a growth in demand is expected, as well as a »recovery of the market.«
    SolarWorld recorded an operating loss of almost €46 million in the period from July to September 2012. Revenues dropped nearly 41 percent to €129 million compared to the same quarter of the previous year. Last year, SolarWorld had reduced hundreds of jobs in the German facility.


1/22/2013 – 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. Fulton budget might mean furloughs, library cuts, AP via MyFox Atlanta via myfoxatlanta.com
    ATLANTA, Ga., USA - Fulton County commissioners on Wednesday are set to consider a proposed 2013 budget that might lead to furloughs for public defenders and prosecutors.
    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (http://bit.ly/VV3bZ5) that the proposed budget could also trim spending on libraries and other programs in the county that's home to the city of Atlanta.
    Local governments across metro Atlanta have struggled to balance budgets after the recession took a toll on property taxes and other revenues. That's led to tax increases and spending cuts in Cobb, DeKalb and Gwinnett counties.
    Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, http://www.ajc.com

  2. Bakery shops in Northampton “not in danger” as some staff have hours cut, by Nick Spoors, (1/21 late pickup) Northampton Chronicle & Echo via northamptonchron.co.uk
    NORTHAMPTON, U.K. - Oliver Adams shops in Northampton are safe despite the firm asking some staff to reduce their hours, the company’s boss has told the Chronicle & Echo.
    Family members of Oliver Adams staff called the Chron with worries about the popular business, which has been in the town since 1856.
    They said the amount of money staff earned has been cut by about 25 per cent in some cases.
    But managing director, Thomas Adams, said the action was not unusual and happened most years.
    He said: “We get less busy just after Christmas and we have asked some staff to work a few less hours.
    “It’s so cold outside there’s nobody about in the high streets.
    “When things pick up we will be able to offer more again.
    In Febraury [editor!] we should get busy again.
    “Come Easter we will be selling all the hot cross buns we can as usual.”
    Mr Adams said no shops in Northampton were in any danger of closing, but admitted “three or four” shops in Birmingham belonging to the Firkins associated company had closed.
    He said: “They were in poor areas and were trading badly.”

  3. French teachers strike over having to work five-day work week, The Lebanon Daily Star via dailystar.com.lb via Reason.com (blog)
    [This is probably just another progress-irrelevant rearrangement of an existing hours-per-week total rather than an employment-spreading hourscut, but we include it to raise questions about Hollande -]
    PARIS, France - Most primary schools in Paris shut down Tuesday as teachers went on strike over the Socialist government's plans to make children attend classes five days a week, instead of the current four.
    [This is probably just another rearrangement of the workweek, in this case presumably the 35-hour workweek, but in the case of teachers, who knows how many hours are spent outside the classroom? Maybe this move is really motivated by needing childcare on the off-day, but below they say that's been taken care of, and this four-day system has been in place since the 19th century. Is Hollande really claiming that French education has been suffering from shorter weeks and longer days for over a hundred years? We might be into a case here of vote for Obama and get Romney's policies anyway, or vote for Hollande and get Sarkozy's policies anyway. As Yeats said, The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of a passionate intensity.]
    President Francois Hollande promised as part of his election campaign last year to add a half day of classes on Wednesday -- currently a day off -- and shorten the school day for the rest of the week.
    [Was this a promise or a threat, a feature or a bug?]
    His argument was that French kids' education was suffering because they had one of the shortest school years in Europe but the longest school day.
    [according to whom?]
    But teachers are worried that the extra half day -- due to be introduced as from September this year -- will add to what they see as their already heavy workload without any financial gain.
    Jerome Lambert of the teachers' union SNUipp-FSU noted that teachers, a majority of whom are Socialist supporters, were "disappointed" by what he said was a reform that in reality was no more than window-dressing.
    "We need to reopen the debate," he said.
    Nicolas Wallet, a teacher from a central Paris school, said the government's promise to provide sporting or cultural activities to make up for the shortened school day was not credible.
    The education ministry has proposed a range of activities to fill the extra time children would have after school if the reform goes ahead.
    But that could require extra staff and more funding from budgets already strained by the economic crisis gripping France.
    [Oh please. What's the matter with extra staff in a context of high unemployment? Isn't it better to pay them for working than for unemployment? And isn't it better to pay EVERYbody for working "a little," than to pay a shrinking majority for working a frozen pre-automation workweek while paying an expanding minority for doing nothing? Get real! Unfreeze the 35-hour workweek and let market forces determine it via unemployment (aka French chômage), meaning as long as unemployment is too high, the workweek is too high for current levels of worksaving technology. Don't like government regulation? Then quit rigidly regulating the workweek at pre-automation levels and bring it down as low as required for full employment and maximum consumer spending & money-supply circulation. Move government and taxpayers OUT OF making up for all the work savings of technology and force, yes FORCE the private sector to fund its own markets via full (shorter hour) employment instead of expecting government to fund their markets while they have the nerve to complain about taxes - or expecting other (troubled) economies to buy all your stuff. (Scared of inflation? This approach offers a much smarter inflation control than today's growth-clobbering interest hikes.)]
    The striking teachers planned to hold a protest march later Tuesday.
    French primary schools have had a mid-week break since the 19th century.
    But the state provides low-cost "leisure centres" -- which are usually in schools -- where working parents can send their children on Wednesdays.

    Following his election in May, Hollande vowed to make education a key focus of his five-year term.
    He proposed reducing the number of students forced to repeat grades, increasing teacher levels, schooling children at younger ages in disadvantaged areas and boosting measures to fight absenteeism.
    [And merely rearranging the same hours in an overlong workweek does all this how? Why not cut the workweek further to spread the market-demanded employment and convert the additional overtime into training&jobs for the parents of the kids in the disadvantaged areas so they're no longer disadvantaged, and give every kid realistic expectation of a job if s/he does attend school?]


1/20-21/2013 – 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. Marlboro Post Office cuts hours, by Howard Weiss-Tisman, Brattleboro VT Reformer via reformer.com
    MARLBORO, N.H., USA -- Walter Rowland, Postmaster of the Manchester, N.H. post office, did not have very good news to deliver when he met with a crowd of residents this week to talk about the future of the Marlboro post office.
    The U.S. Postal Service is losing money at an alarming rate, about $25 million every day, he said, and about 90 percent of the post offices in the country do not bring in enough revenue to meet expenses.
    The Marlboro post office is one of about 13,000 across the country that is going to have its hours cut this year and Rowland has been holding meetings like the one in Marlboro all across New England over the past few weeks.
    He said the turnout in Marlboro was the highest of any of the many meetings he had been to since the U.S. Postal Service announced the cuts, but he said there probably is not very much town residents will be able to do to help the situation.
    "Only 4,000 post offices bring in enough revenue. It's not a good situation right now," he told the group of people crowded into the town office, which is next door to the small post office. "Nobody wants to do this but we don't know what else to do."
    About a year ago the U.S. Postal Service announced that it would be closing small post offices around the country to save money.
    The Cambridgeport post office was on that list.
    That idea proved so unpopular, Rowland told the crowd in Marlboro, that the U.S. Postal Service had to change its plan and was going to instead reduce the hours at post offices across the U.S.
    In Marlboro the post office daily hours will be cut from eight to six.
    In Windham County, post offices in Grafton, Jamaica, and Williamsville will also be cut by two hours. At East Dover, Wardsboro, Westminster Station, West Dummerston, West Halifax, West Wardsboro and Whitingham daily service will be reduced from eight hours to four.
    The Cambrigeport VT post office will only be open for two hours a day.
    The U.S. Postal Service conducted a survey across the country asking customers if they would rather have their post office hours reduced, completely eliminated, or if they wanted to have it moved to another location or office.
    Rowland told the crowd that the decision to cut the hours was made in response to the survey and he said the change will go into effect before 2014.
    He said the U.S. Postal Service was holding meetings to announce the change and to collect feedback but a lot of people at the meeting wanted to know what they could do help save their post office.
    They wanted to know if their post office was really losing money.
    They wanted to know if the mail that goes through Marlboro College could somehow make a difference.
    He explained that the U.S. Postal Service was hoping to save about $500,000 annually by reducing the hours.
    In an interview after the Marlboro meeting Tom Rizzo, the spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service Northern New England District, said small rural offices like the one in Marlboro do not make enough money to even meet expenses.
    He said business is expected to continue to decline with the number of mail items estimated to fall from 177 billion in 2009 to 150 billion in 2020.
    So not only will the reduced hours not do very much to help stop the steep losses, but the U.S. Postal Service will be forced to make more tough choices in the future.
    "There is not enough business. There is not enough work there to justify being there eight hours a day," Rizzo said about Marlboro, and about thousands of other post offices across the country. "We have huge financial problems and the trend is clearly downward. It is only going to get worse."
    Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 279, or hwtisman@reformer.com.

  2. Elkhart city officials confident in furlough 'transfer' dispute, by Dan Spalding dspalding@etruth.com, Elkhart Truth via etruth.com
    ELKHART, Ind., USA — Mayor Dick Moore’s administration is standing by its interpretation of a local ordinance that has been called into dispute by some Republican city council members.
    And instead of waiting on an opinion from the Indiana Attorney General’s office, a spokesman for Moore said he would like to see council appropriate funds that would officially negate the need for furloughs.
    Two Republicans contend that leftover funds from 2012 should have been moved to the city’s rainy day fund despite the fact the administration has chosen for years to move the money to the general fund for future use.
    The issue arose this month after city department heads turned over enough money leftover from 2012 to pay city employees their full 2013 salary and forgo the need to carry out planned furloughs for all city workers.
    [At least Elkhart is debating no furloughs or furloughs rather than furloughs or jobcuts.]
    The administration asked council last week to approve funding of city salaries.
    Nobody has spoke [sic - editor!] against fully funding city employees.
    But Mary Olson and David Henke both objected to the process, saying the money should have been deposited into the rainy day fund and argue that a local 2004 ordinance that established the rainy day fund outlines the procedure. They also announced last Monday during a city council meeting that they expressed their concerns to state officials and are seeking an opinion.
    At the time, Moore told the council that he believed the ordinance was being misinterpreted, but had little else to say about the matter.
    The mayor’s assistant, Arvis Dawson, afterward, said the administration had anticipated Republicans would make the argument and that the administration had researched and discussed the issue prior to the meeting.
    He expressed confidence that the policy is proper.
    In the meantime, the ordinance needed to fully fund city worker salaries was sent to the council’s finance committee, which will discuss the issue Feb. 4.
    Republicans said they would like to see action on the ordinance delayed until they see a ruling from the attorney general.
    The administration, though, feels confident about their position, which was outlined in a letter from city controller Stephen Malone to Moore on Jan. 8.
    The letter opens by remarking that Henke may not have read the statue “very closely.”
    Malone agrees that the statue specifies that money raised by the property tax levy that is unused must be sent to the rainy day fund.
    Elkhart’s tax levy totaled $27 million, but because of circuit breaker, only about $19 million was collected.
    “Since the city spent $32,578,412 out of the General Fund, obviously no part of the property tax levy remains unspent and since no part of the property tax levy is unspent at the end of the year, there is no money from the property tax levy in the General Fund to transfer to the Rainy Day Fund,” Malone’s letter read.
    Dawson said the administration would also like to see the finance committee take action on the ordinance Feb. 4 rather than wait on the Attorney General.
    Henke disagrees, saying the city should seek and abide by an opinion from the state.
    Henke said he’s been looking into the issue for months.
    Henke told a representative of the state Department of Local Government Finance that the city has failed to move money totalling about $16 million over to the rainy day fund during Moore’s entire five years in office.
    Henke said moving leftover monies directly to the general fund could hurt the city’s position when preparing for the following year’s tax levy.
    “Why can’t we ask a higher opinion and be right?” Henke said.

  3. Gambia public sector has 4-day work week, Reuters via The News International via thenews.com.pk
    [This is only a rearrangement of 40 hours from 5x8 to 4x10, but this is the first article that Google News Search has turned up on workhours in Gambia, so we include it...]
    BANJUL, Gambia - Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has decreed a four-day working week for public officials, making Friday a day of rest to allow residents in the small West African state more time for prayer and agriculture.
    Jammeh said in statement the decision was made in light of demand from the general public. The shorter working week will take effect from February 1.
    The new public sector working times in Gambia, a sliver of land stretching inland from the West African coast along the river Gambia, will be Mondays to Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
    "This new arrangement will allow Gambians to devote more time to prayers, social activities and agriculture - going back to the land to grow what we eat and eat what we grow for a healthy and wealthy nation," the presidential statement said.
    Though it has a secular state, Gambia's population is overwhelmingly Muslim. Jammeh seized power in the popular European tourist destination in a bloodless military coup in 1994.
    He has since been accused by activists of human rights abuses during his rule. In August, his government drew international condemnation for executing nine death-row inmates by firing squad, prompting it to suspend 38 other planned executions.
    The government warned, however, that the executions would go ahead if the crime rate increases.
    One of Africa's more controversial rulers, Jammeh said in 2007 he had found a remedy of boiled herbs to cure AIDS, stirring anger among Western medical experts who claimed he was giving false hope to the sick.
    [Here's another version of this story that gives the workhour arrangement before the change -]
    Gambia: President Yahya Jammeh declares new work hours, days, Pan-African News Agency via Afrique en Ligue via AfriqueJet Actualité Afrique via afriquejet.com
    BANJUL, Gambia - Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has declared new work hours and days for the West African country's work force, starting 1 Feb, a statement from the presidency said. The statement, received by PANA here Monday, announced that the new work days will run from Mondays to Thursdays, against the current one from Mondays to Fridays.
    Also, work hours will run from 8.00am to 6.00pm, against the old time of 8.00am to 4.00pm.
    Friday has now been declared a rest day in addition to Sundays, to enable Gambians have 'more time for prayers'.
    The statement also indicated that institutions like banks, educational centres, among others, are allowed to operate on Saturdays if they so wish.
    The new development is said to be inline with government's efforts to give more time to Gambians to engage in social activities as well as agriculture.

  4. Setting the Work Week, Google Product Forums via productforums.google.com
    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - 1 post by 1 author in Google Calendar: kidsFIRST Medical Center
    I am trying to minimize the amount of calendar data on [ie: bare-necessity space taken by] our shared calendars.
    [Presumably on Google Calendar software.]
    Our company's work week is Sunday-Thursday, as are most companies in this region (United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, etc...).
    1) The "Hide Weekend" option described in the help section does not show in my general settings. How to enable?
    2) It would be great if the "hide weekend" option allows you to select which days actually count as the "weekend" since this may vary by location and company.
    Thanks!


1/19/2013 – 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. Could 'Work Sharing' Help The Wind Energy Industry Reduce Layoffs? by Laura DiMugno, (1/11 late pickup) North American Windpower via naWindpower.com
    WINDSOR, Colo., USA - The wind energy production tax credit (PTC) may have been extended, but companies across the wind power supply chain are still suffering from the uncertainty resulting from the incentive's near lapse.
    Nonetheless, many firms are doing their best to mitigate the effects of the precarious market situation. For instance, wind turbine manufacturer Vestas - which was forced to lay off thousands of employees as well as shutter all three of its U.S. research and development facilities last year - has developed a work-share program that reduces employees' hours but preserves their jobs, company spokesperson Andrew Longeteig tells NAW.
    Like many other wind energy companies, Vestas has been affected by the market slowdown and reduction in orders resulting from last year’s policy uncertainty. However, under the new work-share program, which was recently approved by Colorado’s Department of Labor and Employment, employees receive wages for the lost hours on a pro-rated basis from the unemployment insurance trust fund.
    The benefits of this program are available for up to 18 weeks, compared to 26 weeks for laid-off workers, Longeteig explains. Hourly employees at Vestas’ Brighton and Windsor blade manufacturing facilities are working 32-hour work weeks and participating in the work-share program, while a recently approved program for the company’s tower factory in Pueblo will allow for 24-hour work weeks.

    Longeteig says the work-share plan not only helps the employees keep their jobs, but also allows the company to retain these experienced industry professionals. Another benefit of the program is that if wind turbine demand were to pick up again this year - especially now that the PTC has been extended - Vestas would avoid the costs associated with rehiring and training new workers, Longeteig notes.
    Some industry analysts warned earlier this year that widespread layoffs could hurt not only wind energy companies, but the industry as a whole, by stalling research and development efforts. If more companies throughout the industry were to adopt similar programs, these ramifications could potentially be avoided, says Pedro Guillen, a partner at clean energy advisory firm Kinetik Partners.
    According to Dan Shreve, director and partner at MAKE Consulting, work-share programs are especially beneficial to companies with highly skilled workers.
    "A work-share program is a costly approach but can increase the competitiveness of [a manufacturer] by allowing retention of key employees and demonstrating loyalty to those employees," he explains. "The cost of hiring and firing those types of specialized resources must be taken into account as well. Work-share arrangements are more critical to companies with highly skilled workers, such as tower welders and heavy-haul drivers."
    However, work sharing may not be the right approach for every company, Shreve adds.
    "In terms of the usefulness of the program, companies need to take an honest look at what their manpower needs may be in the next up-cycle and what their long-term demand is likely to be following that upturn," he advises. "Maintaining an inflated payroll, even under a workshare plan, that is fundamentally out of sync with regional-market demand can doom a company, especially smaller companies with limited financial resources."
    The work-share model has been used widely in Europe, Guillen notes. But despite a provision enacted in February 2012 as part of the Middle Class Relief and Job Creation Act that requires the federal government to pay for the benefits of work sharing, not all U.S. states have these programs in place.
    According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), 25 states and the District of Columbia currently have some type of work-sharing program established: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont and Washington.
    Notably, this list includes several important wind energy states, such as Iowa and Texas. More states are likely to follow: In August, the DOL awarded a total of $100 million to states to develop or improve their work-share programs, so wind energy employers in other states eventually may be able to take advantage of these programs and, potentially, reduce painful layoffs.

  2. Guam Shipyard cuts hours: CEO, report say Navy sends work to foreign ports, by Dance Aoki, Pacific Daily News via guamPDN.com
    APRA HARBOR, Guam - The Guam Shipyard is reducing hours for some of its employees because of the minimal workload available for them every week.
    Mathews Pothen, chief executive officer of the Guam Shipyard, said the facility's workload isn't sufficient to provide full-time hours for its approximately 350 employees.
    "Due to the lack of Navy ship work, we have reduced working hours for some tradesmen," Pothen said. "Some work is being done elsewhere, including foreign shipyards."
    According to a military report to Congress on the repair of naval ships in foreign shipyards, the Navy spent more than $2.4 million during fiscal year 2011 for repairs at shipyards in Western Pacific countries.
    The federal law allows for Navy ships to receive [only] emergency repairs -- called voyage repairs -- in foreign countries if the ship is based at a U.S. port. If ships are foreign deployed [ie: not based at a U.S. port] -- for example, those ships based in Sasebo, Japan -- they are allowed to receive any repairs in foreign countries [and not just emergency repairs].
    However, the military report to Congress shows that the Navy is choosing to send some of its ships twice as far to receive repairs in Singapore, Thailand and Australia than if they were to send their ships to Guam.
    [because Guam is getting into expensive chronic overtime?]
    The Guam Shipyard conducts a weekly evaluation to determine workload. Pothen is able to meet a minimum of 40 hours every two weeks for his employees.
    [does he mean 80 hours? does he mean "only" a minimum of 40hrs/2wks after the workload shrinkage? This article is poorly written - there are too many non-sesquiturs, too few clarifying connectoids. Maybe Dance Aoki should stick to dancing.]
    There are nearly 300 local hires and 50 foreign hires at the shipyard. Pothen said he has hired foreign tradesmen such as welders and shipfitters because those skilled tradesmen are not available on Guam [then why don't you TRAIN a few, Pothen? you're on an island, fer gawdsake - get a little self-sufficient!]. Most shipyard employees are paid on an hourly basis [why mentioned here?].
    "When we receive ["receive"?? what is this, a mysterious gift? an act of God?] a reduction in workforce [he probably means workload], no one receives overtime," Pothen added.
    [There's a lot of inarticulateness in this article but ... no employer owes employees overtime, especially regular predictable overtime, especially in a context of high unemployment. The seldom-mentioned (cuz it's so obvious) first step in the timesizing program when workload shrinks is CUT OVERTIME. And when workload expands, make sure any overtime is converted into (training if needed and) JOBS fast and smooth.]
    Once the shipyard determines whether it has sufficient workload, employees will be returned to full-time status. Pothen said he will not be able to return all employees to full time for at least the next four weeks.
    Currently, there are no major Navy contracts at the shipyard. One of the current small jobs is the overhaul and repair of a pump for one Navy ship.
    Press Secretary Kelly Toves of Congressional Delegate Madeleine Bordallo's Office said that since the Navy sends its ships abroad for repairs, it wasn't negotiating in good faith with the Guam Shipyard for its lease.
    Guam Industrial Services, which operates as the Guam Shipyard, and the Navy started to negotiate a possible 40-year lease in May, to include the repair and maintenance of military ships. Guam Industrial Services was the only company to bid on it.
    But the Navy announced that those negotiations were terminated after the parties were unable to reach an agreement on specific terms and conditions for the 49-acre site.
    The original lease with the Navy expired in September, and the shipyard has been leasing the site on a month-to-month basis, according to Naval Facilities Engineering Command.
    The Navy is looking for an organization to take over the former Guam Ship Repair Facility after it failed to reach an agreement with Guam Industrial Services, according to Naval Facilities Engineering Command.


1/18/2013 – 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. Public Sector Roundup: Agencies Told to Prepare for Cuts Through Furloughs, Early Outs, Hiring Freezes, by Louis C. LaBrecque, (1/17 late pickup) Bloomberg BNA via bna.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - In case federal employees did not have enough to worry about already, a Jan. 14 memorandum from the Office of Management and Budget calls on federal agency heads to prepare for possible budget cuts due to sequestration or the expiration of the six-month continuing resolution currently funding the government by considering hiring freezes, early retirement incentives, and furloughs.
    "In the coming months, executive departments and agencies . . . will confront significant uncertainty regarding the amount of budgetary resources available for the remainder of the fiscal year," OMB Deputy Director for Management Jeffrey D. Zients wrote in the memo.
    "In particular, unless Congress acts to amend current law, the President is required to issue a sequestration order on March 1, 2013, canceling approximately $85 billion in budgetary resources across the Federal Government. Further uncertainty is created by the expiration of the Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2013 (CR) on March 27, 2013," Zients said.
    Agency heads in the memo were directed to consider "imposing hiring freezes, releasing temporary employees or not renewing term or contract hires, authorizing voluntary separation incentives and voluntary early retirements, or implementing administrative furloughs."
    In the event that Congress fails to act to avoid sequestration, the memo said, "Federal agencies will likely need to furlough hundreds of thousands of employees and reduce essential services such as food inspections, air travel safety, prison security, border patrols, and other mission-critical activities."
    OMB will provide agencies with additional guidance as appropriate, Zients wrote. Let's hope that Congress and the president can work together during the next few months to make such guidance unnecessary.case federal employees did not have enough to worry about already, a Jan. 14 memorandum from the Office of Management and Budget calls on federal agency heads to prepare for possible budget cuts due to sequestration or the expiration of the six-month continuing resolution currently funding the government by considering hiring freezes, early retirement incentives, and furloughs.
    "In the coming months, executive departments and agencies . . . will confront significant uncertainty regarding the amount of budgetary resources available for the remainder of the fiscal year," OMB Deputy Director for Management Jeffrey D. Zients wrote in the memo.
    "In particular, unless Congress acts to amend current law, the President is required to issue a sequestration order on March 1, 2013, canceling approximately $85 billion in budgetary resources across the Federal Government. Further uncertainty is created by the expiration of the Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2013 (CR) on March 27, 2013," Zients said.
    Agency heads in the memo were directed to consider "imposing hiring freezes, releasing temporary employees or not renewing term or contract hires, authorizing voluntary separation incentives and voluntary early retirements, or implementing administrative furloughs."
    In the event that Congress fails to act to avoid sequestration, the memo said, "Federal agencies will likely need to furlough hundreds of thousands of employees and reduce essential services such as food inspections, air travel safety, prison security, border patrols, and other mission-critical activities."
    OMB will provide agencies with additional guidance as appropriate, Zients wrote. Let's hope that Congress and the president can work together during the next few months to make such guidance unnecessary.

  2. Standard working hours legislation under consideration, by Joseph Li joseph@chinadailyhk.com, China Daily (HK Edition) via chinadaily.com.cn
    HONG KONG, China - The government will begin in March, through a special committee, to study the feasibility of legislation on standard working hours for Hong Kong's workers as a follow-up to the 2013 Policy Address, Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung said on Friday.
    It's the first time the word "legislation" has been used, though Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying promised a committee to study standard working hours and build a consensus.

    Meeting the press on Friday, the secretary said the special committee will examine the question from all directions and that legislation remains a possibility.
    "Given that legislation has far-reaching, extensive effects, we will study the viability of legislation," he said. "If we make law for standard working hours, how should the law be written? How would the impacts be minimized and how can we benefit the most number of people?"
    Cheung also said he will submit a proposal to the Legislative Council Panel on Manpower the next Friday on the subject of paid paternity leave.
    The Labour Advisory Board has reached common ground but there remain a few legal arguments. "The coverage of children born out of the wedlock, out of Hong Kong involves human rights and discrimination on family status. If these types of children are excluded, some people may argue that the government infringes the law," he explained. He added if lawmakers have no queries at the meeting, he will ask the Department of Justice to proceed with drafting the law immediately.
    Meanwhile, Secretary for Health and Food Ko Wing-man said a healthcare insurance scheme is the most important task facing his bureau. Ko said he hopes to roll out a concrete proposal this year and remains upbeat that the scheme will be implemented during the term of the current government.
    He stressed it is important to push forward balanced, healthy and sustainable development along the dual track of public and private healthcare systems in Hong Kong. Healthcare insurance is a voluntary scheme, but the government will provide incentives, possibly including tax rebates, to encourage more people, especially the middle class, to participate. There will be a HK$50 billion input so as to lessen the burden on public healthcare system.
    Ko noted that although some people have purchased medical insurance, they find the coverage inadequate. Some are excluded from insurance coverage because they have certain illnesses, while some have two or three medical insurance policies. "So we need to set minimum standards for insurance companies. This will protect the consumers because the new healthcare insurance products can help them without having them go back to public hospitals for services."
    Insurance constituency lawmaker Chan Kin-po revealed some details of the plan have already been worked out between the insurance industry and the government.
    One of the remaining differences is that the insurance sector wants the healthcare insurance scheme to be genuinely voluntary. This means insurance companies should not be forced to join the scheme in order not to affect their other insurance products.
    "As long as our fee-charging scheme is transparent, there should not be too much government regulation," Chan said. "And if the top five to six insurance companies take part, there will be a big enough market because they together account for more than half of the local insurance market."


1/17/2013 – 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. Working hours being cut at mine, Radio New Zealand via radionz.co.nz
    STOCKTON, New Zealand - At a meeting in Westport on Thursday, Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union members voted by 118 to 91 to cut their shifts from 12 to 10 hours for the next three months.
    Solid Energy is seeking save $32 million.
    But the company can't guarantee that empoyees will return to their original hours.
    A proposal to make the change permanent was rejected by union members last month.
    Solid Energy said the international price for coal is at rock-bottom and Stockton is barely making ends meet.
    But a spokesman said the company can't make any guarantees that they will return to the original hours.
    The EPMU said its members had no option but to accept cuts to their hours.
    The cuts are for three month, as a trial which is due to end in April.
    Shifts will continue as seven days on and seven days off. But the two hour cut to each shift means a reduction of 17% in wages.
    Buller District Mayor Pat McManus said the company needs to do whatever it takes to make a profit.

  2. Govt ignores UN recommendation of work-hour limit, APNZ via New Zealand Herald via nzherald.co.nz
    WELLINGTON, New Zealand - The Government has ignored a recommendation by the United Nations for legislation to dictate a maximum number of work hours to reduce the risk to workplace health and safety.
    Today, Acting Labour Minister Christopher Finlayson would not comment on introducing the statutory work-hour limit, despite the call from the United Nations more than eight months ago.

    Instead, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said the Government was intent on improving workplace health and safety with a review of regulations already underway.
    In May last year The UN's Economic and Social Council cited significant impacts on health and safety for the motivation behind the recommendation for new legislation.
    New Zealand is one of the worst-ranking OECD nations in terms of the percentage of the population that works "very long hours".
    An OECD report found 13 per cent of New Zealanders (20 per cent of men and 7 per cent of women) worked more than 50 hours a week compared with an average of 9 per cent for all other countries.
    "Evidence suggests that long work hours may impair personal health, jeopardise safety and increase stress," the OECD report says.
    Mr Finlayson's office referred questions on work hours to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, which reiterated the Government's policy that "employment legislation provides flexibility".
    A ministry spokesman said work hours were regulated by health and safety provisions for employers to ensure workplaces were safe.
    The spokesman said the Government had "set an ambitious target of at least a 25 per cent reduction in fatalities and serious harm injuries by 2020".
    An independent taskforce reviewing workplace health and safety is due to report back to the Government in April 2013.
    Opposition labour spokeswoman Darien Fenton said the Labour Party supported statutory working hours limits only for dangerous industries.
    Ms Fenton said the "by agreement" clause of the 40-hour week under the Minimum Wage Act made it "effectively meaningless".
    "Labour is concerned about weak regulation when it comes to health and safety and working hours," she said.
    Truck drivers and forestry workers were two industries where Ms Fenton said "long and dangerous hours contribute to deaths and injuries".
    "Labour's policy at the last election was to introduce industry bargaining where issues like working hours could be agreed across an industry or, if not agreed, arbitrated based on the standards in collective agreements already existing," she said.
    "My view ... is that unless the Health and Safety Taskforce, which the Government has set up to look at our appalling health and safety record, comes to grips with the need for more, not fewer workers' rights ... all their good work will be wasted."
    ***
    Hours we work
    13 per cent of New Zealanders work "very long hours", more than 50 per week
    9 per cent is the OECD average of those who work more than 50 hours per week
    20 per cent of New Zealand men work "very long hours"
    7 per cent of New Zealand women work "very long hours"
    1758 hours a year are worked by New Zealanders
    1749 hours a year are worked on average by those in OECD countries
    Source: OECD.org


1/16/2013 – 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. Miami Herald issuing more furloughs, Romenesko says, South Florida Business Journal via bizjournals.com/southflorida
    MIAMI, Fla., USA - Media blogger Jim Romenesko is reporting that The Miami Herald will be issuing more furloughs for full-time employees, managers and executives.
    The furlough program requires staff to take one week of unpaid furlough by June 30, according to a memo from Herald publisher David Landsberg that is posted on Romenesko’s blog.

    “Nationwide, as well as in our business, recovery from the recession continues to be choppy, so must strive to manage our expenses accordingly,” Landsberg wrote.
    In March 2009, the Herald announced that would cut 19 percent of its workforce, reduce the salaries of those who remained and issued a one-week unpaid furlough program.
    In December, the Herald became the latest McClatchy Co. (NYSE: MNI) publication to begin digital subscriptions for unlimited website access.

  2. Post Office hours cut at Franklin, by Fritz Busch, NUjournal.com
    FRANKLIN, Minn., USA - About two dozen people filled the Franklin Fire Hall Tuesday afternoon to learn about the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) plans to reduce retail hours at the local post office to four hours a day.
    Trivonda Ray, USPS Operations Manager in Minneapolis, said the Post Plan to cut retail window hours to 8 to 10 a.m. and 2 to 4 p.m. weekdays and 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. on Saturday gives communities the chance to keep their post offices instead of closing them.

    "A year ago, we were having meetings about closing post offices," Ray said. "We learned that post offices are important meeting places in small towns and that people want them to remain open."
    Ray said post offices are facing severe financial challenges and are not tax supported as some people may believe.
    "We're facing cuts in personnel, maintenance and transportation costs," Ray said. "Executive salaries are frozen. Smaller post offices are getting seeing two, four and six hours of retail service a day as a way to save money."
    Ray said postal customers are encouraged to do business online by visiting usps.com where they can buy stamps and deliver packages at lower rates than at a post office retail counters.
    She said a recent post office survey mailed to 356 customers showed 133 (94 percent) of respondents favored (retail service) hour realignment, eight (6 percent) favored different delivery options and nobody favored a Village Post Office (retail window at another business), or a nearby post office option.
    Saturday window service hours and delivery receptacle access will not change due to the hour realignment notice, expected to be posted online and at the Franklin Post Office within a week. The change is expected to take effect within 30 to 60 days after the notice is publicized.
    Among those at the meeting was Rollie McGraw, who served as Franklin Postmaster from 1974 to 1999.
    "Our post office still does a lot of business," McGraw said, after the meeting. "We've still got a telephone company, elementary school, insurance firm and nursing home here that generate lots of mail."
    (Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at fbusch@nujournal.com).


1/15/2013 – 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. Invitation to a Dialogue: Flexible Work Hours, letter (1/14) to editor by Robert Waring of Redwood City CA, New York Times via nytimes.com
    NWE, USA - To the Editor:
    The United States lags behind most of the world’s developed nations in rankings of the best places for mothers, especially working mothers. One reason is that the careers of many Americans demand schedules incompatible with the requirements of parenthood. Having no available middle ground, some primary caregivers (mostly mothers) leave their careers. If they do later return, they nearly always do so at salaries and positions well behind peers who did not interrupt their careers.
    This problem can’t be remedied simply by extending maternity and paternity leaves. Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and France have shown us a solution. By law, employers there cannot unreasonably refuse an employee’s request for a part-time or nonstandard schedule. Employers in Britain must “seriously consider” such requests, and not discriminate against those who ask. As their needs change, employees can also seek to return to full time.
    Legislation modeled after the modest British law and introduced six years ago by Representative Carolyn Maloney, with co-sponsorship by Senators Barack Obama, Edward M. Kennedy and Hillary Rodham Clinton, is stalled in Congress. By increasing access to part-time schedules, the Working Families Flexibility Act would end or diminish the practice of assigning less important work to part-time workers and lessen their career stigma. Full-time workers taking reduced schedules might create jobs for those unemployed.
    Workplace flexibility is not just for the benefit of parents. Significant numbers of men and women would gladly reduce their hours and pay to have more time for other pursuits. (Improving the circumstances of unskilled workers involuntarily on unpredictable part-time schedules is an important but different concern.)
    More than a century ago, the labor movement introduced the then radical 40-hour workweek and the vacation to improve Americans’ lives.
    [Well, to zip thru the actual history of the American workweek, labor began to demand the 9-hour day once they won the 10-hour day around the Civil War. Teddy Roosevelt's arbitrators got the 9-hour day in the mining industry around 1903, and Teddy began backing the 8-hour day, 40-hour week for women and continuous-production industries in his Bull Moose presidential campaign in 1912. The 40-hour workweek, however, was not won until 1940, after FDR introduced the 44-hour workweek in the overtime section of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and cut it 2 hours a year for 2 years - that was less, not "more than a century ago."] Passage of the Working Families Flexibility Act by Congress would be another important step.
    The writer is the author of “Upside Down: The Paradoxes of Gender in the Twenty-First Century.”
    Editors’ Note: We invite readers to respond by Thursday for the Sunday Dialogue. We plan to publish responses and Mr. Waring’s rejoinder in the Sunday Review. E-mail: letters@nytimes.com

  2. Hemlock furloughs 400 workers, by Richard A. Kessler, RechargeNews.com
    CLARKSVILLE, Tenn., USA - Hemlock Semiconductor will stand down 400 workers in Michigan and Tennessee in response to significant polysilicon oversupply and the threat of Chinese tariffs.
    The company says the temporary move will affect 300 workers at its Tennessee complex and 100 in Michigan in the coming weeks.
    ["Temporary" = timesizing not downsizing, or "indefinite" = jobcuts?]
    The lay-offs could become permanent should market conditions persist.
    "This is a difficult but necessary decision to enable Hemlock Semiconductor to navigate the volatility in the polysilicon and solar industries,” says president Andrew Tometich.
    He notes that unresolved trade disputes between the US, China and Europe are a major factor in Hemlock's actions. “The threat of tariffs on US polysilicon imported into China has significantly decreased orders from China, which is home to one of the largest markets for our products,” Tometich says.
    US polysilicon exports to China have skyrocketed in the past seven years. In 2011, exports were worth $715.6m, down slightly from a peak of $929.4m the previous year, but still nearly ten times the level in 2005.
    As a result of the company’s moves, the Michigan site will continue to reduce production in alignment with current demand.
    The Tennessee facility in Clarksville, which is nearly fully built, will maintain a minimum workforce focused on safely maintaining the site for eventual production. Several factors will affect the exact timing of the start-up of the plant, including customer demand and resolution of the trade disputes.
    Hemlock Semiconductor has been in business for 52 years. "As one of the industry leaders, we will manage through this period of extreme volatility and uncertainty and will emerge as a group of companies that will remain viable for the long term,” says Tometich.
    Hemlock consists of several joint venture companies owned by Dow Corning, Shin-Etsu Handotai and Mitsubishi Materials.

  3. Palisades' Newspaper Owner Says Staff Working on Furloughs - Once the publication turns a profit in 2013, it will be returned to the Palisadian-Post staff, by Matthew Sanderson, Patch.com
    PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif., USA - Among the many changes happening at Pacific Palisades' 84-year-old newspaper the Palisadian-Post, new owner Alan Smolinisky told the community council the staff is working under a furlough.
    "What I promised the staff, the minute we turn a profit this year, we're returning it to the staff," he said at the council's last meeting in the Palisades Branch Library.

    [This is another questionable timesizing, but it is preserving jobs, for the moment.]
    As has been a national trend with smaller newspapers reinventing their business models with the continued growth of online news and readership, the Post reported on Dec. 7 the Small Newspaper Group (SNG) of Kankakee, IL sold its office building at 839 Via de la Paz and its commerical printing space.
    "The paper's been losing money," Smolinisky said, noting they will look to cut various business expenses and grow circulation revenue. "We’re going to deliver a product that no one can deliver."
    He said the Post has 3,963 subscribers out of a potential 9,500 household circulation.
    "That's decent penetration, but that's not good," Smolinisky said.
    Council President Barbara Kohn said she's known for years that circulation is not what it should be at the Post.
    "And wondered why it's not at the level it's at," she said. "Are people just cutting back? We've got to get new people to subscribe."
    Since early December, the Post closed its printing department and now contracts with Southwest Offset Printing, located in Gardena, to print their weekly hard copy.
    "This paper is safe forever," he told the council. "We will keep printing it."
    Handing out the latest weekly issue to council members and the audience, Smolinisky said, unlike major news publications decreasing the size of their hard copies, they will provide more pages for local readers, including a minumum of eight color pages each issue.
    In addition, Smolinisky said they are working with a vendor for online breaking news email alerts, and are working to get all 85 years of the paper's archives uploaded online, with unlimited access.


1/13-14/2013 – 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. Change retirement plans, work week to stretch funds, by Steve Wearne, Rio via 1/13 Wisconsin State Journal via host.madison.com/wsj
    MADISON, Wisc., USA - An easy and less harmful change than those we have gone through would be to "Roth-erize" all retirement plans. All retirement plans, pensions and IRAs would be taxed the same as Roth IRAs. Plans could be designated as tax withholding so recipients would not have to come up with the money. Current spendable income would remain the same.
    Also, reduce the standard work week to 36 hours to share the pain. Shorter work weeks give overtime pay sooner. For some it will be an increase in pay of four hours at overtime rates.
    Allow an annuity payment from retirement plans and IRAs for mortgage payments without a penalty at any age, thus allowing people to bail themselves out of a difficult time. What good is it to save for retirement if you are homeless along the way?
    Make the earned income credit payable in equal monthly installments to help budgeting for low income individuals and so fraud could be reduced by allowing the IRS more time to check on dependents claimed.

  2. End the 7 Day Work Weeks - Stop Working Longer, Start Working Better, posted by Joshua Chu, 1/13 (1/11 late pickup) Tibbr.com
    PALO ALTO, Calif., USA - It’s 7:00am and your alarm goes off. What do you do first? Brush your teeth? Take a shower? Eat breakfast? Believe it or not, the first thing half of the population in the US does is check their work email, according to a survey by Good Technology. Not surprisingly, 80% of these Americans work “after hours,” equating to an entire extra day of work per week.
    Now, some may look at these statistics and think “Wow, what a great work ethic!” Others may complain they are being overworked. Whether you’re putting in extra man hours because you’re enthusiastic about your job or being hounded by your boss, one thing is certain: a lot of your time “working” is being wasted with inefficient communication.
    The average employee wastes 25% of their workweek due to poor communication and collaboration processes, according to a recent study from McKinsey Global Institute. That’s a whopping 11 hours of your week wasted fumbling through emails, playing phone tag, and sitting through endless meetings. But according to the study, all of this time wasted can be time saved by implementing an enterprise social network. Enterprise social networking improves inefficient business processes by reducing email clutter, speeding up the decision making process, streamlining communications, finding expertise faster and giving employees the opportunity to work from anywhere on their mobile device.
    Truth is, even if you’re fulfilling all the expectations of a full-time job, without an enterprise social network, you’re only producing about 75% of what you should be. Until communications and business processes are streamlined in your organization, it’s almost impossible to work less than 50 hours a week. So where is the line drawn? How can your business maximize your employees potential, without having them work a 7-day week? Let’s look at a quick example of how Cordelta, a professional services firm, used tibbr, enterprise social networking, to shorten their workflow and get more done in a shorter amount of time.
    After implementing tibbr, Cordelta calculated a 30% improvement in communication overall, with employees spending less time in email, meetings and searching for information. Plus, with employees discovering the information they need via tibbr’s collaborative subjects, Cordelta’s IT team is spending less time managing portals and maintaing email groups.
    Imagine, 48 hours of “work” completed in just 40 hours. There’s no need to fantasize about it, enterprise social networking is very real and leads the way to the bright future of a more efficient, fully productive workforce. As Ram Menon, President of Social Computing at TIBCO states, with a private social network, “work simply gets done faster” so you have extra time for other things whether it be work or play. What would you do with your extra hours?...

  3. SolarWorld puts a third of its staff on short-time work, by Sandra Enkhardt, 1/14 PV-magazine.com
    SolarWorld maintains that the Freiberg, Saxony, location remains its largest operation. (photo caption)
    FREIBURG, Germany - According to media reports, the photovoltaics company will put 350 of its 1,330 staff at the Freiberg location on short-time work. The reason is the poor orders situation.
    According to a report in the Saturday issue of the "Freien Presse" (Free Press), SolarWorld AG will temporarily put 350 staff in its wafer and solar cell manufacturing division on short-time work. The measure also affects the recycling and logistics divisions at the subsidiaries of the photovoltaic companies Deutsche Solar GmbH and Deutsche Cell GmbH.
    Mario Behrendt, managing director of Deutsche Solar, told the newspaper that the competent employment office has already approved the request. SolarWorld employs a total workforce of 1,330 at the company’s site in Freiberg, Saxony as well as sixty subcontracted employees. The manufacturer was forced to cut approximately 250 jobs only last year.
    SolarWorld indicated the "winter slump" – that is, the current low demand for photovoltaic systems – as the reason for the short-time work. "We decided on short-time work in order to secure jobs at our Freiberg location. This reduction in production quantities is limited to the first quarter," explained SolarWorld in response to inquiries.
    The short-time work period will begin this Monday and is initially limited to April 30th.
    Affected staff will work 30% less. SolarWorld expects to see the photovoltaic market pick up again at the beginning of the second quarter.
    According to the report, Behrendt sought to quell rumors that SolarWorld might completely abandon the company’s business location in Saxony. On the contrary, Freiberg is and remains the largest SolarWorld location. Well-trained staff are employed in highly efficient production facilities, he explained. However, Solarworld will also have to do its homework and develop new products and technologies. In addition, efforts are being made to optimize the company’s production processes even further as well as to increase the quality.
    Translation by Alan Faulcon.


1/12/2013 – 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. Small-town post office spared closure, gets cut hours, by Tom Lutey, BillingsGazette.com
    Post Office operations manager Ken Bates, right, outlines the Edgar Post Office hours as residents fill the tiny building Friday. (photo caption)
    EDGAR, Montana, USA — When Karen Ulrickson called on her neighbors to rally and save the post office, this tiny farm town delivered.
    Edgar residents packed into their tiny post office Friday to learn whether their fight to save the tiny facility was successful. It was.
    Postmaster Ken Bates, a Montana operations manager, announced that the USPS was moving ahead with plans to limit hours but not close postal facilities at towns across the state. Less than a year ago, the USPS proposed shuttering 85 small post offices in Montana as it scrambled to avoid bankruptcy.
    The USPS will instead cut hours at 186 post offices statewide. The announcement drew applause.
    The new hours will be 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., Monday through Friday. Saturday will stay the same, with four hours, Bates said.
    A cut in hours sure beat the alternative, residents said. The closures, which also included more than 40 in Wyoming, were seen as the quickest way to cut costs as the USPS fell behind on a congressional requirement to prefund health care benefits for future retirees. The Postal Service has operated at a loss every year since Congress crafted the mandate in 2006.
    Last year, the USPS twice defaulted on federal loans totaling $11 billion. And according to a recently released financial report by mid-March, the USPS will have roughly $1 billion in cash on hand, enough to operate for four days.
    However, there are more than benefits ailing the Postal Service. Speaking to the Washington press corps in November, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said that 25,000 of the service's 32,000 post offices operate at a loss, and first-class mail volume has fallen 23 percent. Donahoe said another 20 percent drop in first-class mail volume is expected in years to come.
    Still, closing rural post offices was seen as drastic and counterproductive, both in Congress and the rural countryside where the distance between post offices can be 30 miles or more. Shuttering post offices was only going to hurt mail volume more, said Allan Wetstein.
    “You would have just seen some people just give up on post offices,” Wetstein said, as he leaned against a wall of bronzed postal boxes in the Edgar Post Office lobby. “They’d give up and then nobody would have used it.”
    The next closest post office to Edgar is in Joliet, a 10-mile drive. For the trouble, many might make the 17-mile drive to Laurel instead and use United Parcel Service. Neither option appeals to Edgar native Robert Wilson. A disabled military veteran, Wilson gets his medication through the USPS. He also runs a small woodworking business and relies on the post office for shipping. When the postal service proposed shuttering its Edgar facility, its most likely replacement was a large metal collection box, which wouldn’t have worked for Wilson’s prescriptions.
    "I'm in here every day and not just to check my mail, but to check on my medications," Wilson said. "If this were to close, it would cause me a lot of grief.”
    The reduced hours for the Edgar Post Office are workable, Wilson said. He and his neighbors had turned the post office announcement into a standing-room-only affair. At one point, close to 30 people clad in insulated boots and canvas jackets were packed into the tiny cinder block building. The town dogs, Star and Buttercup, waited outside tied to a blue postal drop box in the single-digit cold.
    Ulrickson and Wetstein alerted everyone they could think of by sending out yellow index card announcements through the mail. In Edgar, where the Internet is as reliable as two cans strung together with string, mail matters.
    “A lot of people in bigger towns don’t understand what the post office means to us,” Wilson said.

  2. Humane Society cuts hours; stolen bike returned with note.., The Oregonian via OregonLive.com
    CLARK COUNTY, Wash., USA - The Humane Society for Southwest Washington recently announced that, beginning Jan. 21, it will no longer be open on Mondays. Vancouver-area residents can't bring in or adopt animals on Mondays, but the shelter will continue to take in animals brought in by animal control officers. The staff will also decrease from about 60 employees to 50, through attrition and layoffs.
    Other highlights of this week's Clark County news from The Oregonian and OregonLive.com:
    • A stolen tandem bicycle was returned to its owners Wednesday along with an apologetic note, the Vancouver Police Department said. "I am trying to do the right thing," the note said. It was signed simply "Guilty." ...

  3. Silverton Hospital institutes bi-weekly furloughs - Mandatory unpaid days, set to end on April 8, apply to managers, by Christopher Miller, StatesmanJournal.com
    SILVERTON, Ore., USA - Managers at Silverton Hospital are taking bi-weekly furlough days in order to shore up hospital finances.
    For every 80-hour pay period, managers must take one 8-hour day off. The mandatory furloughs account to about a 10-percent pay cut for managers.
    The plan, which hospital administrators are calling a 90-day austerity program, took effect on Jan. 8 and will conclude on April 8.
    Silverton Hospital President and CEO Rick Cagan said the austerity program was an alternative to extensive layoffs, which he hopes to avoid.
    “Everyone is tightening their belts. We need to do the same,” he said.
    Cagan spoke with the Statesman Journal while taking a break from a meeting in San Francisco about what hospitals can do to cope with reduced reimbursement, one of the biggest problems facing hospitals.
    “Our reimbursements from the Medicare program and the state program have decreased and hospitals are being paid less,” he said. “But we’re also getting fewer patients. People are staying healthier.” The hospital also has enacted a freeze on hiring and capital expenditures for the duration of the program. Lori Yambra, clinic business office manager for Silverton Hospital, who oversees a staff of about 19, has faith in hospital administration and believes implementing the austerity plan was a good idea. “I think that if we can give back, I think that’s what we can do,” Yambra said. She admitted that financially, it’s been difficult for her and her husband, who is a Realtor. “The market hasn’t been too kind lately, but we’re making it work,” she said.
    On mandatory furlough days, managers are strongly encouraged not to check emails and not to work.
    Emphasizing the camaraderie that exists among staffers at the hospital, Yambra said those she manages have offered to take unpaid days off from work.
    “They’re not the highest paid team in the organization, and they have volunteered to take furlough days to help.”
    Right now, the business offices’ workload won’t permit her staff to take time off, but Yambra said she’d be open to that if it came to it.
    Cagan said he hopes he won’t have to extend the austerity program past the April 8 end date.
    “If I thought it was going to last longer, I would have set it for 6 months,” he said. “But I’m hoping we can improve our financial situation by April.”

  4. CM Bahuguna draws flak for curbing women’s work hours, (1/13 early pickup) DailyPioneer.com
    DELHI, India - In a bizarre move ostensibly aimed at curbing crimes against women, the Congress-led Uttarakhand Government passed an order prohibiting women from going out or working after 6 pm in private and Government jobs.
    This Talibanistic order by the State Government was severely criticised and Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna drew flak for this regressive approach that prohibits women from working beyond 6 pm in private and Government jobs.
    It is being seen as too extreme a step to curb crimes against women in the wake of the gang-rape and subsequent death of a 23-year-old woman in New Delhi late last month.
    Under fire from Opposition parties and the Congress alike, Bahuguna took a u-turn on the issue and categorically denied issuance of any such order.
    Reacting to the State’s decision here on Saturday, the BJP said the Government is unable to provide security to women hence it is curbing the freedom of women.
    Taking a jibe at the State Government, BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain advised Chief Minister Bahuguna not to go out after 6 pm if he feels so scared.
    “Instead of improving the law and order situation in the State, they are putting out a ‘Talibani’ diktat that women should not go out of their houses after 6 p.m. Congress chairperson Sonia Gandhi should take cognizance of this matter and she should ask the CM what he means by making such remarks,” said Hussain.
    Another BJP leader, party vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, said that such dictatorship by governments or by the police will make women feel more unsafe and insecure.
    BJP leader Balbir Punj asked Bahuguna to resign as his Government was unable to provide better security for women in the State.
    “By making such statements, the Chief Minister has admitted his inability to run the Government and establish law and order in the State. He actually feels that the Government may not be able to provide security to women. He must resign from office,” said Punj.
    Bahuguna drew flak from the Congress also, and the party distanced itself from the controversial order immediately.
    Union Water Resources Minister and senior Congress leader from Uttarakhand Harish Rawat said: “Issuing such guidelines that dictate when women should go out and till what time they should work, is not fair. It is not going to work.
    “It is the responsibility of the management of the organisation where they work, to take care of women employees and they should drop them home if they get late.”
    However, after coming under fire for the strange order the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) issued a Press note and claimed that no such order had been issued by the Government.
    “Instead of this we have urged employers to make arrangements for vehicles to ferry women employees to their homes in case they are working till late in the evening,” the note said.
    Explaining his position, Bahuguna said: “There is no restriction on women and children, but the organisation they are working at should drop them at their doorsteps if they get late while coming home. We will provide every possible security, but it is not our responsibility to drop them home.”
    The Delhi gang-rape has prompted several state governments and the Central Government to fine-tune the laws of the country regarding rape and other sexual crimes against women.
    Several commissions, headed by retired judges, have also been set up to discuss the problem threadbare and to come out with recommendations for change. The police are also under pressure to improve its responses to the general public on issues of law and order as well as crimes.
    “I think stringent laws should be made and enforcement agencies should be held accountable to ensure swift and harsh punishment for the culprits. We will have to change the mentality. We will have to come up with a broader social campaign to change the mentality of society to stop such crimes,” Rawat said.
    BJP national vice-president, Bhagat Singh Koshiyari said: “It seems that the State Government is incapable of providing security to women that is why the Government is prohibiting women. Tomorrow, the Government will stop them from going out of their homes.
    “Instead of passing such laws, criminals should be scared of committing crimes. If the Government machinery works with great accountability then such incidents would not happen so there is a need to make deterrent laws to deal with such maniacs. We will have to spread awareness and teach ethics and values to young people.”

  5. Leung Chun-ying cautious on pensions, working hours - Chief executive will make only scant reference to universal pensions and standard working hours, says New People's Party vice-president, Gary Cheung gary.cheung@scmp.com, South China Morning Post via scmp.com
    HONG KONG, China - In his policy address this week, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying is expected to make only passing mention of two issues that have loomed large in the community this year: standard working hours and universal retirement protection. Both are issues on which consensus has proved elusive.
    Leung does not support universal retirement protection and points to the financial debt some Western countries were saddled with after introducing such schemes, said legislator Michael Tien Puk-sun, who joined the chief executive for a breakfast meeting on Wednesday.
    Unions have long demanded that the government set standard working hours at about 44 hours a week and require overtime pay for hours worked beyond that.
    Tien, who is vice-chairman of the New People's Party, quoted the chief executive as saying that the community could not handle the "shock" if standard working hours were introduced.
    "Leung told us it would be more difficult to reach consensus on standard working hours than on a minimum wage," Tien said.
    "He said it was very hard to set standard working hours that would apply to all industries and he also mentioned the difficulties of granting exemptions."
    In his election platform, Leung pledged to set up a committee comprising government officials, representatives of labour unions and employers' associations, as well as community leaders, to study a standard work week.
    Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said in November the committee should meet in the first quarter of this year.
    According to a study carried out by the Labour Department and released in November, employers would need to pay HK$55.2 billion more a year in wages if a standard working hours were introduced in Hong Kong.
    In November, seven of the city's biggest business chambers sent a rare joint letter to the government, warning that capping weekly working hours would hurt the commercial environment.
    Tien believes Leung established the committee as a gesture to the labour sector.
    Labour Party chairman Lee Cheuk-yan criticised Leung for lacking sincerity.
    "The government should show some leadership in the matter. There was no community-wide consensus on a minimum wage before the government decided to legislate on it in 2008," Lee said.
    "The business sector supported the move after the government made the decision."


1/11/2013 – 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. Minarets makes furlough days beneficial, (1/10 late pickup) SierraStar.com
    Minarets staff members recently visited the Design Lab at the Nueva School in Hillsborough as part of their Furlough Schmurlough Tour dedicated to advancing their understanding of project-based education at some of the better and more well-known private schools in the bay area. (photo caption)
    SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., USA - Instead of sitting around and wasting mandatory furlough days, a group of Minarets High School staff members decided to continue to advance their professional knowledge recently. On day one of a five-day furlough week, a group of Minarets educators toured innovative bay area schools in order to advance their pedagogy related to project-based education.
    The group visited the Nueva School in Hillsborough and the Bay School at the Presidio in San Francisco, as well as the Shmoop Office in Mt. View. Although the Nueva School and the Bay School are both private schools, both are project-based and one-to-one laptop programs like Minarets. Additionally, both schools are continually looking for new and better resources and opportunities for their students in the 21st century.
    Minarets felt they could identify with these schools in terms of their mission and vision. The Nueva school, which charges $37,000 annually to attend, is opening up a high school in the fall after 40 years of being a K-8 program. Leaders and teachers at Nueva have asked Minarets if they could visit the Minarets campus this spring in hopes of better helping them plan for their incoming 9th grade class.
    The Minarets group included Director of Minarets Charter Jon Corippo, English and Communications teacher Ryan Finfrock, Ag Science teacher Amanda Hendrickson, Social Science teacher Bob Kelly, Math teacher John Martin, Social Science teacher Chelsea Milliorn, Principal Michael Niehoff, Counselor Claudia vanDenbergh, and Special Education Teacher and Athletic Director Don Watkins.
    The Minarets staff agreed that the bay area tour and trip were indeed educational and worthwhile.
    "It was an honor to see first-hand top notch academic programs that are advancing both project-based education and 21st century student needs," said Minarets English and Communications Teacher Ryan Finfrock. "To travel with a group of forward thinking and innovative educators like I work with, while also learning from the best of the best, made for a very productive, professional and personally enriching experience."

  2. Transition team considers shortening working hours, Yonhap News via english.yonhapnews.co.kr
    SEOUL, S.Korea -- The presidential transition team will consider shortening working hours by stretching the weekly limit across all seven days of the week, not five, an official said Friday.
    Working hours in South Korea are notoriously long, despite a legal limit of eight hours per day and 40 hours per week. A government report published last September showed that the country's average weekly working hours ranked the highest among the member states of the rich nations' club -- the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development -- at 44.6 hours per week.
    "We plan to review ways to include weekends and holidays in calculating overtime work in order to change the practice of working long hours," a transition committee official said, asking that he not be identified.
    President-elect Park Geun-hye has made it one of her top 10 campaign pledges to improve the quality of life for workers.
    Under current laws, an employer can get away with making employees work up to 68 hours a week, including eight hours per day on the weekend and 12 hours in overtime work.

    hague@yna.co.kr

  3. A Theoretical Review of Work Sharing: An Analysis of the Nigerian Economy, by P.O. Oladele & N.I. Akeke, *Vol. 29, No. 4 International Journal of Management via Questia.com
    ABUJA, Nigeria - Following economic recessions which increase the rate of unemployment among nations of the world, with Nigeria having an increase from 5.8 per cent in 2008 to 19.7 percent in 2010, several measures are put in place to check such an economic menace.
    Among these, work sharing has received significant attention in the literature especially in the developed world.

    This paper reviews the concept of work-sharing and how it is applied to reduce unemployment during economic downturn with a view to assessing work-sharing as a possible solution to unemployment during economic recessions...


1/10/2013 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Work sharing pushes back US layoff tide - Workers get shortened work week with benefits for lost wages, (1/11 early pickup) BTpremium via BusinessTimes.com.sg
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Some US states are adding a new twist to the old concept of unemployment insurance: Paying to keep Americans in their jobs rather than giving them cash when they lose them.
    Washington state has subsidised incomes for dental technicians and plumbers while Rhode Island paid factory and healthcare workers when their employers could not. Almost 460,000 jobs have been saved through such arrangements since 2008, the Labor Department estimated, and federal funding approved last year has more states signing on.
    Instead of dismissal notices, employees get a shortened work week, with unemployment benefits partially compensating for lost wages. Popularly known as work sharing, the programme holds out the promise of fewer layoffs and less painful economic downturns. For businesses, which get to retain experienced workers, it could mean the difference between success and failure.
    "It's been a godsend," said Belinda Roberts, co-owner of Blue Crown Dental Arts in Kennewick, Washington, which credits the state's programme with saving the jobs of seven trained technicians. The dental lab signed on to work share in 2010 after orders dropped, and now has seven employees on the programme. "It's kept the doors open."

  2. Sequestration 2.0 would mean furloughs for DoD's entire civilian workforce, by Jared Serbu, FederalNewsRadio.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - When Congress pushed the pause button on sequestration last week, it also made some changes to how the automatic budget cuts would take place. And a new analysis suggests almost every civilian employee in the Defense Department would be forced to take a month of unpaid leave if the new version of sequestration isn't undone.
    The projections come via the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. Todd Harrison, the think tank's senior fellow for defense budget studies already has warned that the previous version of sequestration, which Congress canceled just after the start of the new year, would have had a disproportionate impact on civilian workers.
    But under the new version of sequestration, things are even worse for the 791,000 civil servants in DoD. While the overall dollar amount the new version of sequestration would cut is smaller — $45 billion instead of $62 billion — the cuts now would be crammed into just seven months in fiscal 2013, a year in which DoD has already been burning through cash at a rate that assumes no cuts would be made.
    "That cut comes off of the total level of funding for the year," Harrison said. "By March, DoD already will have spent five months worth of the money in those accounts, so they have to make up that 8.8 percent reduction in the remaining seven months of the year."
    That means DoD would have to cut its payroll expenses from March through the end of September by 15 percent.
    "If you're going to reduce your payroll expenses by 15 percent for the remainder of the year, that means you have to furlough virtually every single DoD civilian for the maximum amount of time you can under the law, which is one month," Harrison said.
    Few other options
    Pentagon officials also have warned about the prospect of civilian furloughs under sequestration, but without as much specificity, and department spokesman George Little told reporters this week that DoD has no immediate plans to start issuing furlough notices.
    But Harrison said with regard to the operations and maintenance accounts that cover civilian payrolls, DoD would have no other option besides hiring freezes and furloughs. Since the department deliberately chose to delay its planning for sequestration until the last minute, the dire effects on the civilian workforce may have caught Pentagon planners somewhat by surprise, he said.
    "I think it would be a good public service for DoD to continue that detailed planning, but also to go public with it," he said. "If everyone has to be furloughed by one month, it's not all going to happen at the same time, so go ahead and tell people who's going to be furloughed in the first month, who's going to be furloughed in the second month. I think that would help inform the public debate so we can make a good decision as a nation about what we want to do."
    The civilian workforce cuts would be among the first effects the department would experience if sequestration happens, Harrison said. While the consequences for acquisition and defense contractors would be real, they wouldn't be immediate.
    "Because on March 1, if you walk into a factory where they're working on a weapons system, all the work they're doing at that point is based on money that's been obligated already," he said.
    Contracts would have to be renegotiated
    Harrison assessed it's highly unlikely that any programs would be outright canceled. That's because under sequestration, DoD would not zero out any specific budget line item, it is just being reduced by around 9 percent across the board.
    What he does expect to see a lot of are contract renegotiations because of the reduced quantities of goods and services the Pentagon will be able to buy. And when quantities go down, prices generally go up.
    "I'll give you a great example: the KC-46A refueling tanker. We had a contract we signed with Boeing, and a rate at which we would buy those tankers. It's been reported that Boeing bid very competitively to win that contract and that they're losing money on the early phases of the contract," Harrison said. "When we have to go and renegotiate that contract, do you really think we're in a good position to maintain such a good price, or is Boeing going to walk out of that contract and be in a position where they're no longer losing money? There are some areas where it really is going to be bad for DoD if they have to sequester these accounts."
    Regardless of how bad sequestration will be, Harrison thinks it's more likely to happen this time around than it was during the New Year's Eve negotiations. That's because the deadline to undo sequestration 2.0 now coincides with other elements of the second fiscal cliff — a potential debt default and a government shutdown — that many policy experts argue would be even more devastating than sequestration.
    "We could face all these crises within the space of about a month. That's unique in American history, and it's what I hope we can avoid," Harrison said.
    But that avoidance is especially unlikely if congressional negotiators maintain their insistence that increases in the federal debt ceiling be matched dollar-for-dollar with spending reductions, he said.
    "If you want to increase the debt ceiling enough to give the federal government a year of operating time, that would be about $1 trillion. If you want to completely offset sequestration with other deficit reduction, that's another $1 trillion. Putting those two things on the same timeline doubles the problem," Harrison said. "I'm not confident that Congress can come up with $2 trillion in deficit reduction by that deadline. Let's keep in mind that with the fiscal cliff, what they ended up passing reduced the deficit by less than $1 trillion, and look how hard that was. I think that both parties may end up looking at sequestration and say, 'You know what, this is bad, this is not what we want, but it's probably better than anything we could negotiate with the other side.'"

  3. Hawker Beechcraft announces furloughs, KSN-TV via ksn.com
    WICHITA, Kansas -- Hawker Beechcraft officials announced plans Wednesday to start a rolling furlough for some employees.
    The workers build the T-6 and AT-6 trainers for the United States government.
    The company is currently in negotiations with federal officials as part of the Joint Primary Aircraft Training Systems contract to supply more planes.
    Company officials say the decision was made to synchronize output to customer demand.
    Approximately 240 are affected by the rolling furloughs, meaning not all will be out of work at the same time.

    It's expected to last throughout 2013.


1/09/2013 – 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. Wendy’s franchise cuts hours to avoid Obamacare - The action is the latest in a series of challenges against next year's implementation of the Affordable Care Act, MSN Money via money.msn.com
    OMAHA, Neb., USA - The small-business backlash against Obamacare continues. A Wendy’s fast-food franchise in Nebraska is cutting the hours of non-management employees so its owners won't be required to pay health benefits.
    The local franchise vice president in Omaha tells WOWT-TV the cuts are coming in several weeks’ time because he cannot afford to pay health insurance for all his employees.
    Starting next year the U.S. Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, will require employers with 50 or more full-time employees to offer full-time workers "minimum essential" healthcare coverage. The Act defines a full-time employee as someone who works at least 30 hours a week.
    As a result, about 100 Wendy’s workers in Omaha have been told their hours are being cut.

    [So now we've got three definitions of "full time": 40 hours for the start of overtime per the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, 35 hours per a lot of companies, and now 30 hours per Obamacare. In 1933, the Senate passed a 30-hour workweek. The economy is going to get weaker and weaker until we tighten in on one nationwide workweek (which can be diversified only with comp time or annualization) and trim it as much as it takes to restore World War II levels of full employment (executese: "labor shortage") > higher wages > more consumer spending > more & faster monetary circulation > more marketable productivity > more sustainable investment.]
    "It has a huge effect on me and pretty much everybody that I work with," T.J. Growbeck, who currently works 36 to 37 hours a week at the restaurant, told WOWT. "I'm hoping that I can get some sort of promotion because then I would get my hours, but everybody is shooting for that because of the hours being cut."
    Wendy's spokesman Denny Lynch told the Huffington Post the decision was being made at the franchise level.
    "Our franchisees are independent businesspeople, and they make the decisions regarding their restaurant teams," he said. "As small-business employers, our franchisees are facing rising food and operating costs and many new government regulations."
    While Wendy’s says the hours-cutting action by its Omaha franchise is not "a company decision," several major restaurant chains have been very vocal in their criticism of Obamacare.
    A case in point: Papa John's CEO John Schnatter said the Affordable Care Act would cost his company up to $8 million a year, which would force him to increase product costs and cut workers’ hours.
    Other restaurant franchises, meanwhile, are also looking at options ahead of Obamacare. John Rigos, owner of a Five Guys franchise in New York City, told CBS News the new regulations will affect hiring policies at his restaurants.
    "It'll probably have to reduce the staff to some degree," he said, "and again, focus on building [a] smaller stronger team rather than being as aggressive in opening up new stores and creating new jobs."
    Rigos said while he "absolutely" supports Obamacare, he still finds it challenging.
    "There's 25,000 restaurants within the New York City market we're competing against," he notes, "so it's not like we have surplus profits that we could just earmark a portion of them to go toward these types of initiatives."

  2. Furloughs, job cuts coming to Fort Worth Star-Telegram, by Andrew Beaujon, (1/08 late pickup) Poynter.org
    FORT WORTH, Tex., USA - A memo to employees sent on behalf of Publisher Gary Wortel lays out the bad news:
    "Some single incumbent positions will be eliminated and several positions that are currently open will not be replaced. Work groups in several operations and circulation departments will be offered a voluntary separation package today. If enough employees do not take the voluntary option, the positions will be eliminated through the least-tenured employees in those work groups."
    Employees will be required to take a one-week unpaid furlough between Feb. 11 and July 31, the memo says.
    The Star-Telegram was one of five McClatchy-owned newspapers to introduce a paywall last fall. In an otherwise unhappy third quarter earnings report, McClatchy President and CEO Pat Talamantes said revenues from the paywalls “will begin to make a more significant impact in the fourth quarter.” In December, the company announced it received more than $38 million from equity investments in 2012.
    Here’s the memo:
    "To All Employees
    "While we are seeing local economic conditions improve, some of our business sectors continue to grow at a slower than anticipated rate.
    "This challenge means we must look at additional cost-cutting measures, including a reduction in our workforce. Some single incumbent positions will be eliminated and several positions that are currently open will not be replaced. Work groups in several operations and circulation departments will be offered a voluntary separation package today. If enough employees do not take the voluntary option, the positions will be eliminated through the least-tenured employees in those work groups.
    "We are also announcing a furlough program to begin February 11 and end July 31. Employees required to take this one week of unpaid furlough will receive the furlough form today. Please complete your form as soon as possible and give to your supervisor for approval.
    "Any questions regarding the voluntary/involuntary or the furlough program may be directed to your department manager, Darla Sullenger or Matt Byars in Human Resources.
    "We know these staffing reductions are difficult and unsettling. I’m optimistic that 2013 will bring the improvement we need in our business sectors to gain positive momentum. The executive team and I appreciate your strong commitment to the Star-Telegram."
    [Is commitment based only on job desperation and insecurity really "strong"?]

  3. Tri-County CAP lays off three, furloughs eight, by Mark Hayward mhayward@unionleader.com, UnionLeader.com
    BERLIN, N.H., USA - Three workers at the Community Action Program that services the North Country were laid off last week, another eight were placed on a furlough and most workers can expect pay and benefit cuts, as the agency seeks to restore its financial footing, its special trustee said Tuesday.
    [And with more furloughs, layoffs could have been completely avoided. Usually remote and insular little places like Berlin NH (pronounced BER-lin: God forbid it should be confused with the one in Germany during the World Wars!) have more natural solidarity and common sense than to add to the joblessness and depression of their local economy.]
    The layoffs at the the Berlin-based Tri-County Community Action Program included the elimination of the economic and community development office and its one-person staff, said the trustee appointed last month to run the organization, Concord lawyer Todd Fahey.
    And clients in a long-term drug-and-alcohol transitional housing program at Friendship House in Bethlehem were warned Monday that it will probably not be viable in the future, Fahey said. Two of the seven clients left on their own accord, and the staff will assist others find other housing, he said.
    The announcement is the first since mid-December, when the Coos County Probate Court stripped the Tri-County Community Action Program board of directors of its powers and appointed Fahey its trustee.
    The New Hampshire Attorney General took the action after learing of financial difficulties involving debt, misuse of dedicated funding and other financial troubles. The $18 million organization provides government benefits such as fuel assistance, weatherization, Head Start, transportation, and drug/alcohol treatment in Coos, Grafton and Carroll counties.
    Fahey said the steps taken since mid-December include:
    -- The permanent layoff of three people in the organization, which employs about 275 workers.
    -- A four-week furlough of eight workers in the weatherization program. They are eligible for unemployment, and their benefits will remain while on furlough.
    -- Pay cuts for everyone in the organization whose hourly rate exceeds $10. Fahey said people with higher salaries will receive larger percentage pay cuts. He said the cuts do not affect chief operating officer Peter Higbee, whose salary was reduced 20 percent shortly before the trustee appointment.
    . Employer contributions to retirement programs and a dental plan will be suspended as of Feb. 1. Vision coverage will lapse some time in the future. Health care will continue.
    The statement also said that Tri-County CAP is meeting its payroll obligations and payments to vendors and lendors. Fahey credited that to "Herculean efforts" by state agencies and private donors to expedite payments to the CAP.
    "To date, service disruptions have been minimal, thanks to the dedication and cooperation of staff and government agencies who fund and/or monitor (agency) programs," the statement reads.
    With finances stabilized, Fahey said all programs are under review. He said he lacks information at this point to make any final recommendations.
    If cuts must take place, TriCAP will avoid programs that provide food, shelter and heat to people enrolled in the programs, the statement said. Fahey said any recommendations he makes will be done in consultation with funding agencies, TriCAP managers, the Coos County Probate Court and the charitable trusts division of the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office.


1/08/2013 – 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. Campus Recreation cuts hours, some student jobs - Missionary age change may be reason, by Lis Stewart la.stewart@aggiemail.usu.edu, Utah [State University] Statesman via usustatesman.com
    The campus recreation budget is expected to be cut by $10,000-$30,000 in the coming semester, which will affect how many student employees it can support... (photo caption)
    LOGAN, Utah, USA - Campus Recreation shortened hours at the Fieldhouse, cut lap swim times at the HPER and decreased the number of student employees this semester to prepare for a potential budget cut caused by a drop in USU’s student enrollment.
    [More hours cuts, less job cuts. (But more volunteerism, more job cuts.) ]
    The department’s budget is expected to drop by $10,000-$30,000, caused in part by the missionary age change announced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in October [2nd mention, no specifics], according to Kevin Kobe, director of Campus Recreation.
    “We have to do something,” Kobe said. “We can’t just wait and then hope that we don’t have this drop.”
    The missionary announcement [3rd mention, no deets] was a good time to decide how efficiently the programs under Campus Recreation are run, Kobe said. After assessing the number of students who participated and when, it was decided to cut early morning lap swim at the HPER as well as early morning hours at the Fieldhouse, he said. The service desk by the locker rooms will also open later and close earlier. 
    Kobe said the reduction in hours brought about a reduction in employees. The number of student employees before the cut was around 70, not counting officials and scorekeepers employed during intramurals.
    Kobe said while the changes caused contention from community members who come to the HPER pool for early morning lap swim as well as Campus Recreation employees, it was important to stay ahead of things to ensure the department does not go in the red.
    “First, we have to save money,” Kobe said. “Secondly, we have to minimize the impact on students.”
    Campus Recreation is one of the divisions of Student Services hit by the budget cut because it is entirely funded by students, Kobe said. Campus Recreation is in charge of commonly used facilities like the Fieldhouse and the HPER pool. The department also runs intramurals, club sports, the Fun-Fit-Forever program, the Outdoor Recreation Program and staffs the desk by the locker rooms in the HPER building.
    The effects of the sudden loss in student fees to the entire campus won’t be apparent until the end of January, when the final drop deadline solidifies the number of students actually enrolled at USU, said James Morales, vice president of Student Services.
    “Based on our initial projections for spring semester, we think we’ll be down about 250 students,” Morales said.
    The numbers are not nearly as dramatic as university officials initially projected last fall, Morales said. The missionary age change [from what to what? 4th mention and still no specifics - bad journalism, Lis!] announced by the LDS church caused a stir on Utah campuses as more students than usual chose to leave college to serve missions.
    [OK, here's our guess about the age change after minimal googling around and finding *this church newspage. It used to be 19 to 25 for men, 20 no limit for women. Now it's 18 to 25 for men and 19 no limit for women. A little sexism there mayhap?]
    Originally they thought the university could lose 1,350 students to missions this semester, he said.
    However, losing 250 students would still mean a drop in roughly $112,000 in student fees, Morales said.
    Now the situation to consider is the long-term effects of losing students over the course of the next two years, until the first batch of sudden missionaries returns. Morales said he estimates the university will lose 1,900 students over the next two years. The university is considering ways to compensate for that, including looking for ways to be efficient with student funds.
    “We don’t know the impact of that yet, so we might as well prepare for it,” Kobe said.

  2. Austrian Industry Against Short-Time Work, Austrian Business & Financial News (registration) via FriedlNews.com
    VIENNA, Austria - According to IV (Federation of Austrian Industries [=Industrie Verein] ), short-time work is too expensive.
    Due to the economic slowdown, the issue of short-time work is more often in the focus of discussions. For 20% of the Austrian industrial firms, short-time work is an issue again. This is the result of a survey carried out by IV.
    In 2009, costs for short-time work totaled € 450m, IV´s secretary general Christoph Neumayer says. Four years ago, 500 companies have introduced short time work. More than 65,000 workers have been affected. Neumayer argues that short-time work is too expensive for 75% of the Austrian industrial firms.
    [Of course, they'd rather someone else supported their markets...]
    By contrast, Martin Engelmann, chairman of the WKO´s (Chamber of Austrian Commerce) industrial sector, argued that short-time work regulation is a “step in the right direction”. A few weeks ago, he explained that “businesses must be able to reduce their costs in the short term”.
    “The economic development of the Austrian industries is covered by the growing uncertainty. This causes a decrease in exports and the propensity to invest.” Engelmann said and referred to a slowdown in industrial production, shrinking employment figures and declining order intake figures (in real terms).
    The Austrian Federation of Trade Unions (ÖGB) supports the idea of short-time work. However, employees must be able to participate in the decision-making process, a representative of ÖGB said in an interview with the Austrian news magazine “Standard.”


1/06-07/2013 – 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. WV lawmakers weigh pros, cons of work-sharing program for employers, by Ann Ali, 1/07 StateJournal.com
    CHARLESTON, W.Va., USA - West Virginia lawmakers are not quite in favor of creating a voluntary work sharing program.
    Lawmakers during an interim subcommittee meeting Jan. 7 voted to advance draft legislation to create the program, but it was defeated by a slim margin
    .
    [So here's a poor state being stupid and not taking advantage of the opportunities offered to it by the federal jobs bill. But at least they're talking about it.]
    Legislative counsel Brian Skinner told lawmakers the program would allow an employer to opt into this plan rather than lay off several employees when business is bad. WorkForce West Virginia would first have to approve the plan, but then the business could decrease the hours of its workers and supplement their pay with unemployment benefits.
    Skinner said the numbers could work out to be nearly identical, but some businesses could benefit from keeping those skilled workers on their staff because if and when the business bounces back, those staff members are still available.
    Skinner said the program is for private businesses, and he said he anticipated it being used rarely, but it would be best suited for high-paid employees, such as steelworkers.
    He said 24 states currently have some variation of the program, and none of them have seen any significant or harmful effects on their unemployment compensation funds.
    However, Brenda Nichols Harper with the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, said her organization is against the proposed legislation. She said the state's unemployment compensation fund was nearly empty, and the state has worked hard to bring it up to its current $130 million,
    She said the state already has a similar program in place, she called it Low Benefits Earning, and she said the new proposal would just create an extra governmental cost because of the necessary program approval and all the paperwork that will come from more people being allocated the benefits.

  2. Comments about 'Fixing the economy: Work-sharing, more state funding is what nation needs’, 1/06 DeseretNews.com
    DESERET, Utah, USA - KDave Moab, UT 8:09 a.m. Dec. 30, 2012
    You are saying we should have elected Obama. We did, however these policies have not worked so far.
    [The worksharing of last Feb.'s jobs bill is only being taken up gradually by the states, as the previous article testifies.]
    The only way interest on our national debt can stay at 1% is if the economey continues to flounder and unemployment stays high, so I suppose we are OK for the next four years.
    Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut 10:31 a.m. Dec. 30, 2012
    This letter is wrong on many levels. First, more government is not the answer. Just look at the past 100 years and the recessions that have occurred. Most are over within 18 months to 2 years, except the Great Depression and the current fiasco.
    Now, ask yourself, what is the difference? In 1920 we experienced a recession that was equal to the recession that sparked the Depression. Why did the 1920 recession last 18 months, and the depression last 11 years? What was the difference? The answer is simple, and is hated by all liberals. The government did nothing except cut tax rates and cut spending.
    [Meaning this commentator is more interested in whacking an opposing view than getting/giving some insights.]
    So why did the depression last so long? According to historians and economists [no names?], the depression was prolonged as a direct result of government intervention.
    [No names, no cred.]
    History has taught us that more government spending is not the answer, unless you are looking to destroy an economy. [This commentator ignores not only the money-spreading labor shortage of the 1938-40 workweek establishment and reduction, but the MASSIVE government spending of World War II, financed not only by war bonds but highly graduated income and wealth taxes.]
    Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT 3:11 p.m. Dec. 30, 2012
    More federal spending is not really the answer, nor is more low-paying jobs. The only real solution to our growing inequality, which lies at the heart of our economic woes, is for more of the profit to go to those who actually create it--the people who produce, ship, and sell the products--and less of it to go into the bank accounts of executives and investors who are drastically overpaid. We have an increasing imbalance between those who control capital and those who don't. The results are inevitable.
    Worker ownership of businesses makes sense on many levels. It creates greater incentives for workers to work hard and create quality products. It discourages companies from shipping jobs off to low-wage countries. And, most importantly, it puts more disposable income in the wallets of the consumer class, so that demand increases and spurs job creation. Our current system of supply-side, trickle-down economics creates all the wrong incentives and leaves too many people out of the economic equation. The result is that the consumer of last resort, the government, has to pick up the slack.
    Screwdriver Casa Grande, AZ 1:38 a.m. Dec. 31, 2012
    The reward for capital is at all time highs [uh, with interest rates in the tank??] and even those rewards are going to the wrong people.
    ["Even" in addition to what other rewards? And why would you expect the reward for capital to go to anyone other than capitalists?]
    The capital they, the "capitalists," are using is nothing other than socialism, capital from the Fed given to them so cheaply as to be considered free.
    [This argument should be based on manipulated bailouts from taxpayers via a banker-spooked Congress. As it stands ("given to them so cheaply," who knows what's being referred to? In general it is true that risk is being spread across the nation and in that sense, nationalized/socialized, while profit is being funneled and privatized, even if it belongs to taxpayers via the government. So this is definite support for the charges of corporate socialism and welfare for the rich. But it is an unsustainable violation of system requirements for maximum monetary circulation.]
    Why then, if the capital is coming from the people's governmental debt and the devaluation of our hard earned dollars are the middlemen getting all the rewards for the risk they haven't actually taken?
    [Because we let them - so far...]
    The fed is comprised of the nation's largest banks - they are the benefited middle men.
    The fed has become a scheme for the wealthy to use the poor's money, labor and good-will to make themselves rich for having never lifted a guilded finger. No, let THEM eat cake!
    [It's the 99% who are, or should be "guilded" = in guilds = old word for unions. The rich are "gilded," or gold-plated. Bottom line: these are not particularly intelligent comments to Mark's intelligent article on 12/30-31/2012 #1. Mormans can sing (Mormon Tabernacle Choir) a lot better than they can think (angel Moroni..., persistent bigamous Polygynous Principle..., Mitt Romney...).]


1/05/2013 – 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. Corning city employees: New year in, furloughs out, by Julie R. Johnson, Corning-Observer.com
    CORNING, Calif., USA - The new year brought good tidings to Corning employees.
    After 39 months of employee "furlough Fridays" to help balance the city budget, the practice has come to an end.
    The furloughs, which occurred every other Friday, were equal to a 10 percent pay cut.
    "The economic downturn resulted in a substantial reduction to the city's revenues beginning about the third quarter of 2008," said City Manager John Brewer. "The employee furloughs were implemented as a cost-cutting measure in October 2009 and affected all city departments and employees."

    According to Brewer, city employees voluntarily accepted the furloughs in lieu of staff layoffs.
    "We are glad the furloughs are over," said Troy Grootveld, Public Works employee. "Now we can get our 10 percent pay back."
    Grootveld said some in the public works department felt they were shorted pay during the period of furloughs compared to employees in other departments.
    "Some of the other city employees were allowed to make up their furlough time and we weren't," he stated.
    Brewer explained that there are always some challenges in reducing employee hours, especially when dealing with the police department which has to be manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
    "The police department did as good as could be expected in dealing with the furlough pr gram," he stated. "Was some overtime paid in that department, yes there was, but you have to remember they (police officers) always had to be ready to respond to any call at anytime and have officers on the street to do so."
    Although the city hasn't conducted a precise accounting on the fiscal amount the furloughs saved the city, Brewer believes it exceeded $1.07 million over the course of the 39 month period.
    "During that time, additional savings resulted from the retirements and part-time re-employment of former City Manager Steve Kimbrough and former police Chief Tony Cardenas and City Planner John Stoufer and some other cost saving measures," said the city manager.
    The city was able to end employee furloughs because sales tax revenues have increased-approaching pre-downturn amounts, Brewer said.
    "This positive trend was noted in the City Council 2012-13 budget actions in that included an end to the furloughs this month," he stated.
    Brewer was pleased to report the city received in December the reimbursement of some sales tax revenue that was previously mis-directed to another jurisdiction.
    He said the city is "cautiously optimistic" the upward financial trend will continue.
    "However, as we stated in the Nov. 13 City Council meeting, we're concerned that fuel sales for the fourth quarter of 2012 may be reduced since several retailers have closed fuel aisles while installing new diesel fuel additive equipment," explained the city manager.
    Sales tax from fuel sales make up about 61 percent of the city's total sales tax revenue, but a summary of the fourth quarter sales tax figures won't be available until March.
    "Beyond the sales tax issue, city staff is also concerned about the economy that remains quite weak. Unemployment is high, and there's very little development activity to provide encouragement that construction activity will improve," Brewer stated. "That being said, city council and staff are hopeful that the worst of the recession is behind us and that we'll not have to seek additional employee furloughs or more severe cost reduction strategies in the future."

  2. Coda Automotive furloughs more employees to bolster finances, by David Herron, TorqueNews.com
    LOS ANGELES, Calif., USA - Struggling electric car maker, Coda Automotive, is going through a second round of releasing employees as the company seeks to firm up their financial position.
    On Friday, a Coda Automotive spokesperson announced a "furlough" (not technically a "layoff") of employees as the company is attempting to bolster financing to keep the business going forward. This followed a layoff of 50 employees in December, which in turn followed a disappointing crash test safety result and reportedly small sales of the Coda electric car.
    Details are scant at the moment as to the number of people affected, and managements plans to fix the company's financial position. The official statement reads as follows:-
    "On Friday, January 4th, CODA furloughed a number of employees as the Company takes necessary action to bolster its financing and better position the business going forward. The Company has kept in place a sufficient number of staff to keep the Company operational and remains committed to the continued development and distribution of its products. During this period, CODA will continue to provide service to its dealers and customers. While unfortunate, we are confident this temporary action will allow the Company to strategically direct resources towards critical operations and put the Company on a more sustainable path."
    Reading between this lines this appears to be a large scale [furlough] meant to preserve funds while the company reconfigures its product or strategies.
    [The original had "layoff" here but we think an editor should have caught this because -]
    The difference between a furlough and layoff is that the employees can be brought back to work.
    ["from a furlough more easily" seems to be needed for clarity. Again, Herron needs an editor. Basically, furloughs are temporary, layoffs are permanent. Regardless of Herron's estimate of management's realism, management is calling this a temporary furlough and if Herron is trying to dispute this, he should be doing it with more clarity and less innuendo or slips of the tongue oops keyboard.]
    The parent company, Coda Holdings, has not had a round of fundraising (selling shares) for almost a year. That round was for $150 million, and according to an SEC filing in early Feb. 2012 they'd sold $22 million of that round. A previous fundraising round, disclosed in an Aug. 2011 SEC filing, targeted $237 million and raised $116 million.
    The company never received federal support despite having applied for Dept of Energy Loans in the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program that would have helped the company build a battery pack manufacturing facility in Ohio.
    Coda has signed an agreement with Great Wall Motors to develop future electric cars expected to begin delivery in mid-2014. Coda Automotive also has a deal with Better Place to provide electric cars for an electric taxi operation for the SF [San Francisco] Bay Area slated to go into service next summer.


1/04/2013 – 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 cuts work week at 3 plants, by Howard Pankratz, Denver Post via Farmington NM Daily Times via daily-times.com
    DENVER, Colo., USA - Vestas Wind Systems, which has four plants in Colorado, is cutting the workweek to 32 hours for employees at its Brighton and Windsor blade factories and to 24 hours at its Pueblo wind-tower factory.
    Andrew Longeteig, spokesman for Vestas North America, said the reduced hours, which are part of a work-share plan, will begin Jan. 14.
    Vestas' nacelle factory in Brighton is not part of the work-share program.
    "The work-share plan gives Vestas manufacturing flexibility to help retain our valuable and experienced employees. And it saves costs in recruiting and training new staff (should) market demand for wind turbines increase in 2013," said Longeteig. "It reduces the chances of layoffs."
    Colorado employment at Vestas has dropped to 1,100 employees from 1,700 at the start of 2012 .
    Vestas and other companies in the U.S. wind-power industry were affected by the uncertainty over whether the production-tax credit for the industry would be extended for 2013. The credit has been key in financing turbines.
    The extension came Tuesday night.
    Analysts were not surprised by the Vestas action given that the extension came at the last minute, stalling orders, and that the natural-gas industry is now a strong competitor of the wind-power industry.
    Amy Grace, a North American wind analyst for Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said Vestas doesn't want to lay off more employees because it knows after a lag in early 2013, orders will pick up.
    "Ideally, they are trying to avoid laying off employees and then having to find or retrain new employees if they get more orders toward the second half of this year," said Grace. "You know you are going to get orders maybe starting in second quarter. You don't want to fire and retrain them."
    Longeteig said the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment approved the work-share program that Vestas is implementing.
    The work-share plan approved by the department pays employees' wages for the lost hours on a pro-rated basis from the unemployment-insurance trust fund.
    Under the program, the benefits are available for up to 18 weeks, rather than the 26 weeks laid-off workers can receive.
    Howard Pankratz: 303-954-1939, hpankratz@denverpost.com or twitter.com/howardpankratz

  2. Hill still faces possible furloughs, Standard-Examiner via StandardNet.com
    HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah, USA — Congress may have avoided the fiscal cliff by passing a last-minute tax deal, but Hill Air Force Base’s civilian workforce hasn’t escaped the possibility of facing furloughs.
    With Tuesday’s passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act, lawmakers postponed Department of Defense budget reductions, known as sequestration, until March.

    The bill allows for a temporary postponement of the $500 billion in defense cuts during the next decade that were set to start this week. Those automatic cuts were to come on top of another $487 billion in defense reductions already planned for the next 10 years.
    The across-the-board cuts would slice into military weapons programs and research funds.
    The Pentagon reductions may total as much as $62.3 billion in its 2013 fiscal year, or 12 percent of its base budget, which excludes war funding.
    In a statement, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that while Congress prevented the worst possible outcome by delaying the ordeal for two months, the cloud of sequestration still remains.
    “Sequestration would have a devastating impact on the Department,” Panetta said. “The responsibility now is to eliminate it as a threat by enacting balanced deficit reduction.”
    Panetta has said if sequestration isn’t avoided, and the DoD has to operate under reduced funding levels, dramatic steps that will severely impact civilian personnel will have to be taken.
    Furloughs are among the actions that will be considered, Panetta said.
    With nearly 20,000 civilian employees, it’s unlikely Hill would not be affected if furloughs were instituted.
    Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah said his biggest problem with the taxpayer relief bill was that it didn’t adequately address the sequestration.
    “(The bill) did nothing on sequestration,” he said. “They just kicked it down the road for two months.”
    Col. Sarah Zabel, commander of Hill’s 75th Air Base Wing, said at this point, it’s too early to tell exactly what a sequestration would mean for Hill.
    “We are taking some preparatory steps here (at Hill),” she said. “But we just don’t know what will have to execute in the end.”


1/03/2013 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Surprise: Obamacare-wary employers [hiring part-timers,] not hiring [full-timers], cutting hours, HotAir.com
    [Here's the original headline, which misses some finer points in the article being cited -]
    Surprise: Obamacare-wary employers not hiring, cutting hours
    [Obamacare was not designed to increase hiring, and cutting hours is a good thing, not bad. That it holds up a major benefit is merely proof that the labor movement made a major strategic mistake in putting (pay and) benefits before hours, which amounted to putting a market-bucking higher price on a labor surplus instead of cutting the labor surplus by continuing or resuming the 1840-1940 reduction of the workweek as worksaving technology was introduced. Smarten up, you guys!]
    MINNEAPOLIS, Minn., USA - The real knife twist in this USA Today piece is the money quote from Mark Zandi, The One’s go-to “independent” economist:
    "Many businesses plan to bring on more part-time workers next year, trim the hours of full-time employees or curtail hiring because of the new health care law, human resource firms say. Their actions could further dampen job growth, which already is threatened by possible federal budget cutbacks resulting from the tax increases and spending cuts known as the fiscal cliff. ”It will have a negative impact on job creation” in 2013, says Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics…The so-called employer mandate to offer health coverage doesn’t take effect until Jan. 1, 2014. But to determine whether employees work enough hours on average to receive benefits, employers must track their schedules for three to 12 months prior to 2014 — meaning many are restructuring payrolls now or will do so early next year."
    How widespread will the fallout be? Very:
    "About a quarter of businesses surveyed by consulting firm Mercer don’t offer health coverage to employees who work at least 30 hours a week. Half of them plan to make changes so fewer employees work that many hours. The health care law will particularly affect companies with 40 to 45 workers that plan to expand and hire. Many are holding off so they don’t cross the 50-employee threshold, says Christine Ippolito, principal at Compass Workforce Solutions, a human resource consulting firm in Melville, N.Y. Ernie Canadeo, president of EGC Group, a Melville-based advertising and marketing agency with 45 employees, planned to add 10 next year but now says he may add fewer so he’s not subject to the mandate…Others already over the 50-employee threshold plan to add more part-time workers or cut the hours of full-timers, says Rob Wilson, head of Employco, a human resource outsourcing firm. Many, he says, will hire more temporary workers, whom they won’t have to cover.
    "Nearly half of retailers, restaurants and hotels will be affected by the law, according to Mercer. They employ large numbers of part-time and seasonal employees, including many who work about 30 hours a week. Since such low-wage workers are widely available, it often hasn’t been cost-effective or necessary for employers to offer them coverage. Providing them benefits could be costly because employees must pay no more than 9.5% of their wages in insurance premiums, forcing employers to contribute significantly more than they do for higher-wage workers. ”I think you may see employees with fewer hours as a consequence,” says Neil Trautwein, vice president of the National Retail Federation."
    So the law sets an arbitrary cap on the percentage of wages workers are permitted to contribute to their health benefits
    [The overall good news here is that hours per person are shrinking, but not the best way. Obamacare essentially sets a lower but rigid and arbitrary cap on the workweek, when in the best design, the cap is a flexibly self-adjusting and market-determined response to rising worksaving technologies via the unemployment rate (UE) - UE too high, workweek lowered till referendum-defined full employment achieved, and after that, equilibrium maintained by UE up, workweek down, and v.v. - a thermostat to prevent the economy from overcooling or overheating so we can get beyond the boom-bust rollercoaster with each "boom" being more and more restricted (1%>0.1%>0.01%) and unsustainable. The other thing in the best design, of course, is the ART, the automatic reinvestment threshold, which smoothes the conversion of overtime into jobs, and OJT whenever needed (on-the-job training).]
    — the initial intent of which, presumably, was to compel employers to shell out to help cover more employees.
    [This is a lethal flaw in the original Massachusetts version of "universal health insurance" passed when duh Mitten was governor - it was based on the model of Massachusetts car insurance, instead of Hawaiian health insurance ca.1990, which everyone liked. Do we call car insurance "universal" just because it's mandatory? No. Yet we're supposed to think of this as Europe-comparable universal, business-independent health insurance.]
    But instead of complying with the mandate and spending money they either (a) don’t have or (b) need for other purposes, cash-strapped small business owners are planning to shave hours and provide less work for their employees. That’s not greed; it’s business reality in a stagnant economy. The clumsy and meddlesome heavy hand of Big Government strikes again, hurting many of very the people it set out to “help.” None of this should surprise anyone, of course. Obamacare opponents have long argued that this project would spike spending and debt, deprive Americans of liberty, and destroy jobs. These predictions are being vindicated with each passing day, hence the law’s enduring unpopularity. And as the article notes, many of the most onerous mandates don’t cycle in until 2014, so the pain is just beginning. For what it’s worth, the CBO has estimated that the president’s signature legislative accomplishment will kill 800,000 jobs.
    [Long-term worksharing and workspreading via shorter hours creates jobs, because that's what happened from 1840 to 1940 worldwide, and especially 1938-1940, and 1997-2001, and here we're only talking about short-term.]

  2. Delhi gangrape effect: 1 in 3 women quit or reduce working hours, Firstpost.com
    [Above story. shorter hours but not the best way. This story, shorter hours the worst way (compare wage&spending-boosting labor shortage via war) -]
    DELHI, India - The gangrape of the 23-year old girl in a moving bus has not only left women jittery but also impacted work productivity during the last fortnight as one in three female workers have either reduced working hours after sunset or quit jobs after the incident, reported the Economic Times today.
    The report has quoted a random survey by industry body Assocham’s Social Development Foundation (ASDF), which said that IT and BPO companies in Delhi-NCR have been affected to the extent of 40 percent ever since the Delhi rape incident.
    The industry body surveyed 2,500 women and said the decline in productivity was due to long hours and shift jobs. It highlighted that around 82 percent of the women respondents from Delhi, Noida, Faridabad and Gurgaon said they have started leaving early after the sunset. The anxiety is more among those women who travel by buses, chartered buses, three-wheelers and metro.
    However, none of the women who were surveyed had lodged a formal complaint to any kind of authority. Crime statistics only reflect those crimes that are reported to the police. “Therefore, violence experienced by women on public transport never enters the crime statistics, even though it is serious and rampant,” D S Rawat, Assocham secretary-general said in a statement.
    The incident has also impacted the productivity of the women workforce in major cities like Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Jaipur and Dehradun.
    In a nation of 1.2 billion people, where official crime statistics say a woman is raped every 28 minutes, law enforcement and prosecution measures are abysmal.
    According to an earlier Assocham survey of about 2,500 women and men in various cities just after the Delhi incident, 92 percent of working women said they felt insecure, especially during the night, in all major economic hubs across the country. Most of the respondents felt that it’s high time the quality of governance should be improved and the obsession of the police “bandobast” for the VVIPs should be changed.
    The survey had said majority of respondents felt that the deployment of more police personnels would be there for few days and after that everything will be back to usual.
    Meanwhile, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) and FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO) have decided to set up an Industry Task Force on Safety of Women, which would look at developing a National Safety Policy for women.


1/01-02/2013 – 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. Tag Archives: shortend work week - Extended Holiday, by drheights48127, (12/26 late pickup) city council via Dearborn Heights Truth Page via dearbornheights.wordpress.com
    DEARBORN HEIGHTS, Mich., USA - Had a very interesting conversation with a City Council member this past week. we got to talking about the city being closed one day a week and this council member pointed out that because of the City closing one day a week, workers will only be working 4 days in a two week period of time [over the holidays]. Normally the 24th and 25th of December would have been off. this year those days fell on Monday and Tuesday, but with the City closing on Fridays, this year that fell on the 21st of December so City workers had from the 21st of December until the 26th off. Today [Wed.26th] being the first day back, they work today and tomorrow [Thu.27th] and then off Friday the 28th until January 2nd 2013.
    The City would need to find 300,000.00 dollars to open the City back up on Fridays, money that isn’t available and doesn’t look like there will be, any time soon.
    [So to save that much, Dearborn Heights is on four 8-hour days (32hrs/wk) rather than four 10-hour days (40hrs/wk)?]
    The council member I talked with and at least one other are not in favor of the Friday closer [=noun rhyming with bulldozer]. some are even asking if this is really saving the city any money? There are many over at City hall that say work is falling behind because of the shortened work week and departments dealing with less staff. For all the worries employees had when the shortened work week was first put forth, most employees are very happy with the shortened work week and hope that it stays this way.
    Some in the City would like the day of the closer moved to mid-week while others say that this would interrupt work flow. The whole reason Friday was the day chosen was to give employes that might need it a chance to get another job Friday-Sunday.
    [which would kybosh the shorter workweek as an unemployment reducer.]
    How do you feel about the City being closed on Friday? Has the Friday closer interfered with you doing business with the City?
    5 Comments
    #1 December 26, 2012 at 1:45 pm Linda says:
    Has the shortened week saved any money in salaries or benefits?? It’s time to see the NUMBERS.
    Full-time employees with “full time” city-provided benefits should work a full week [definition?], with no overtime if that is necessary to save money (since we end up paying for it anyway).
    Part-time employees with limited or no city-provided benefits can work any schedule they and the city agree to.
    Keep in mind that Obamacare defines FULL TIME as 30 hours per week. I sure hope that someone is paying attention to that. ..
    #2 December 26, 2012 at 2:46 pm Lisa Hicks-Clayton says:
    savings is $300,000/year AFSME [American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees] and Non-Union. ..
    #3 December 26, 2012 at 7:36 pm bitsy08 says:
    I’m sure I already know the answer to this question but has anyone done a study (ha!) on staggering people and their hours so that the city isn’t really closed down for a day? Would the costs of running the building be prohibitive? These are things that “should” have been done but I’d bet with our mayor were never done. ..
    #4 December 27, 2012 at 1:24 pm drheights48127 says:
    That is very true. ..
    #5 December 27, 2012 at 11:49 am Marie says:
    $300,000 a year in savings is a good amount of money. However, I am concerned that this amount will be spent unwise because the decision makers know it is there. Once example is last fall when some leaders wanted to spend $60,000 to hire a firm when there was another firm just as competent for half the price. If Councilwoman Badalow hadn’t questioned and dogged the issue the additional $30,000. would have been spent in the blinking of an eye.
    My question is where is the above $300,000. going to. ..

  2. Customer service hours cut in Leighton, [1/02 hardcopy pub.date?] Leighton Buzzard Today via leightonbuzzardonline.co.uk
    [Do they really have buzzards in Britain? We thought they needed a supply of dead Wyoming cowboys for sustenance.]
    LEIGHTON BUZZARD, Bedfordshire (Beds.), U.K. - Leighton residents will have to start embracing new technology and take part in a video conference if they want help with solving problems from Central Beds. Council.
    Sitting down for a chat with a friendly face is being sidelined in a bid by the authority to save £25,000 a year at the Customer Services Centre it runs from Bossard House in West Street.
    The centre currently sees around six customers an hour. From January the current opening hours will be reduced to its three busiest days (44 staffing hours).
    [meaning 44/wk for staff too or how many shifts of how many hours?]
    The closed two days [of how many hours each?] will be replaced with a computer terminal at the town’s library. You will be able to go at any time, log on, and talk to a person in Bedford [how many miles from Leighton Buzzard?] about a variety of issues. Any documents can be scanned into the computer and transmitted to Bedford for perusal.
    [Tell us again about how "technology creates more jobs than it destroys"?]
    Leighton-Linslade Town Council leader, Councillor David Bowater, said town and district members had argued for the retention of the five-day-a-week service but “no-one was listening”.
    He added: “We worked really hard to get them to change their minds and I’m very disappointed that no-one appeared to listen to our side of the argument.
    “Obviously there are going to be a lot of people who are not technologically minded who will have difficulties with the new system. It’s video-conferencing and some people can’t even cope with basic computing.
    “We hope that this isn’t the shape of things to come. We have been assured that there won’t be any further cutback in opening hours.”
    Is the reduction in hours a concern for you? Let us know your views via news@lbobserver.co.uk

  3. Want to cut overtime pay? OK to alter workweek–as long as change is permanent, 1/2 BusinessManagementDaily.com
    [And speaking of long workweeks, how about 7 TWELVE-hour days on and 7 days off? Sound like a recipe for accidents in dangerous worksites? But isn't Arkansas still back in the 1800s? = Neanderthals ever in need of proving their macho, if only by karoshi-ing one another? So what's the good news here? Overtime should always and only be used for emergencies (TEMPORARY emergencies), and not be abused for business as usual. Redlands sounds like a case of grotesque abuse, but at LEAST its business-as-usual employee abuse is no longer confusing the definition of "overtime."]
    FORT SMITH, Ark., USA - Good news for cost-conscious employers: The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that an employer is free to change how it designates the workweek as long as it does so “permanently”—even if the sole reason is to reduce overtime pay.
    Recent case: Roy and four others worked for Redland Energy Services, which drills natural gas wells. They operated drilling rigs, working 12-hour shifts for seven consecutive days, followed by seven days off.
    At first, the company designated their workweek as running from Tuesday to Monday, which meant that Roy and his co-workers earned overtime for some of the hours during their long weeks.
    Redland then designated their workweek as running from Sunday to Saturday.
    Their actual schedule didn’t change, but now their hours were split over two workweeks, resulting in less overtime pay.
    The employees sued, alleging that Redland had manipulated the workweek to deprive them of overtime pay.
    The court said nothing in the Fair Labor Standards Act makes it illegal to change the workweek, even if the result is the reduction of overtime pay. If the change is permanent, it is legal. (Abshire, et al., v. Redland Energy Services, No. 11-3380, 8th Cir., 2012)
    Final note: Don’t take this as permission to regularly change your workweek to avoid overtime. The change has to be “permanent,” which is subject to interpretation. Frequent changes aren’t likely to meet the permanency requirement.




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