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

11/30/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. K+S KALI GmbH - Short-time working [Kurzarbeit=worksharing] ended: Potash production in recommenced, (11/29 late pickup) kali-gmbh.com
    UNTERBREIZBACH, Thuringia, Germany - K+S [Kali und Salz = Potash and Salt] will recommence production at the Unterbreizbach site on 2 December. After an expansion of underground extraction operations to further parts of the mine, in which a gas eruption [ie: blowout] had occurred on 1 October, sufficient quantities of crude salt are again available for the above-ground processing plants to be started up.
    [Here's a novel use for worksharing = reduced production capability due to a workplace disaster. Liquid CO2 trapped in potash rock expands 100-fold into CO2 gas when released and within seconds floods mineshafts up to 11 km away. Three CO2-measuring miners 7 km away were immediately asphixiated.]
    Already on 11 November the extraction of crude salt could again be commenced in part of the mine. In the previous weeks, craftsmen of the mining operation repaired large parts of the energy supply and conveyor technology that had been damaged by the gas eruption, so that now the weather equipment and belt systems can be operated again.
    Officials of the Thuringian state mining authority checked the extraction areas in the middle of this week and approved the recommencement of further parts of the extraction operations. One exception to this remains the immediate surroundings of the gas eruption, in which initially further ventilation measures are necessary.
    It is intended that even more extraction areas will be put into operation in January 2014.

  2. You've got to do more to save jobs, (11/29 late pickup) Scottish Daily Record via dailyrecord.co.uk
    [How about worksharing alias Kurzarbeit, especially where a German firm is involved?!]
    More than 200 staff are facing the axe as the Hawkhead Road site is to be closed down by the end of 2015, with work being transferred to South Korea.
    PAISLEY, Renfrews., Scotland - Pressure is mounting on the Scottish Government to do more to help workers at the doomed BASF chemicals plant in Paisley.
    [Keep government out of it except to referee the worksharing. Don't like company-specific solutions? Nullify the effect of specific-company joblosses with company-general workweek reductions tied to unemployment rate rises and corresponding job mobility facilitated by smooth overtime-to-training&jobs conversion = a risk-sharing one-two punch we call Timesizing.]
    More than 200 staff are facing the axe as the Hawkhead Road site is to be closed down by the end of 2015, with work being transferred to South Korea.
    Yesterday, Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan met with Finance Minister John Swinney at the factory and urged him to act fast to secure the skilled jobs there by helping to find a buyer.
    Councillor Macmillan said: “We have all seen the examples of Grangemouth and Prestwick Airport, where an immediate and integrated response from government can resolve a seemingly hopeless situation.
    “The workers and Paisley deserve no less effort. That’s the message I have again given to John Swinney.
    “There are options that could prove viable. Those could involve a new company taking over manufacturing or finding an alternative use for the plant.
    “That process requires urgent government intervention. As Leader of Renfrewshire Council, I am ready to commit the council to any realistic proposal that would save these jobs and give the workers a future.
    “Everyone has had enough time to assess the situation at the plant. It’s now vital that the Scottish Government makes clear to potential investors that it will deliver the financial and political commitment to finding a solution which can deliver investment and job security.”
    With a history stretching back some 60 years, the BASF factory is one of the longest-established manufacturing plants in Paisley.
    It was formerly operated by Ciba-Geigy and then became Ciba Specialty Chemicals before being taken over by German-owned BASF.

    The pigments produced there are used to colour inks, paints, paper and plastics – but global demand for these products has been in decline.
    The Scottish Government has offered its support to BASF through its initiative for responding to redundancy situations, known as Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE).
    [No worksharing and no market squeezing teeth, no sustainable usefulness.]
    A spokesperson said: “Scottish Ministers and officials have discussed with BASF its proposed closure and Scottish Enterprise continues to work with the company to ensure all possible support is provided to both the company and its employees.
    [Taxpayers do not exist to support special interests, e.g., specific private companies.]
    “Mr Swinney has met with the Leader of Renfrewshire Council. In addition, Scottish Enterprise is working with Renfrewshire Council on options for the site. PACE representatives have also visited the site to outline the services they can offer and a working group of management and staff representatives has been set up.
    “An introductory PACE presentation will be delivered to this group before Christmas and will be followed by presentations to staff in the New Year and commencement of the support programme soon after.
    “We will provide support for employees to minimise the time those individuals affected by redundancy are out of work."

  3. High Blood Pressure Linked to Long Work Hours, by April Clarkson, Toronto NewsFIX via newsfix.ca
    [OK OK, we've had this story before but this time it's by a gal with a very nice name and from my hometown, which has even made it onto Saturday Night Live lately thanks to Rob Ford. Lordy, what's happening to our peripheralitis? We're in danger of flipping into Cool Centrale = Wicked Cool. Twenty years ago Peter Ustinov called Toronto "New York run by the Swiss" but then the Swiss messed up Swissair and now Toronto has Rob Ford. (Well if stylish integritous Pierre Trudeau couldn't put Canada on the map, maybe this chubby controversial mayor can now there are more obese 'Merkins and dysfunctional congressmen to identify with him.) ]
    TORONTO, Ont., Canada - Employees who put in long hours are more likely to suffer from hypertension, or high blood pressure, than those who stick to a more moderate work schedule, according to a study.
    Researchers at the University of California in Irvine evaluated data from a representative sample of 24,305 California adults who worked 11 hours or more each week. Information was obtained through a telephone survey.
    Even after adjusting for other contributing factors such as socioeconomic status and body weight, the researchers found that the likelihood of having hypertension coincided with the number of hours worked.
    The individuals who worked 39 hours or less were least likely to have high blood pressure, with those who worked 40 hours per week 14 percent more likely than to be hypertensive. The risk increased to 17 percent higher for people who worked 41 to 50 hours weekly, and 29 percent higher for those who put in 51 hours or more.
    Clerical and unskilled laborers were more likely to have high blood pressure than professionals, suggesting that mental challenge might protect against hypertension, the article states.
    Researchers pointed out that most of the past research on work hours and hypertension has been conducted among Asian workers. In Japan, the term “Karoshi” means “sudden death from overwork.” Although Japan has a reputation for having a high-pressure working environment, Americans currently work longer hourse, on average, than the Japanese do.
    In fact, the US stands out as one of the few developed countries in the world that does not have laws restricting work hours.

11/29/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. States Could Save $1.7 Billion per Year with Federal Financing of Work Sharing, isn.ethz.ch
    This brief argues that the work-sharing provisions included in the US Middle Class Relief and Job Creation Act could help states reduce their unemployment rates. According to the authors, the provisions could also save unemployment insurance costs for up to three years. It concludes that states could improve their finances by promoting work-sharing but they will need to work to take full advantage of the new law in order to reap these benefits.
    This content has been published under Creative Commons License (Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 Generic).
    [The brief =]
    States Could Save $1.7 Billion per Year with Federal Financing of Work Sharing, by Nicole Wood & Dean Baker, CEPR via isn.ethz.ch
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - The Middle Class Relief and Job Creation Act, signed into law by President Obama in February 2012, includes work-sharing provisions that could help states reduce their unemployment rates and also save unemployment insurance (UI) costs for up to three years, but only if they take advantage of these useful provisions.
    Work-sharing programs, also known as short-time compensation, benefit both employees and employers. Work sharing allows employers to reduce workers¡¦ hours, rather than lay them off. The workers, in turn, receive pro-rated UI benefits for the hours not worked, and are able to remain employed. Employers are able to keep trained employees on staff, and, once demand picks up, to avoid the costs of hiring and training new workers by simply increasing the hours of their existing staff.
    The new law¡¦s work-sharing section ¡V based on bills originally introduced in Congress by Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) ¡V provides federal support for work-sharing programs nationwide, giving states more incentive to promote work sharing. In addition to clarifying and updating work-sharing provisions in federal law, it also provides temporary funding to states that adopt new, or expand existing, work-sharing programs.
    Prior to passage of the law, states paid the actual regular UI benefits provided to workers in work-sharing programs. Under the new law, the federal government provides 100 percent of work-sharing UI benefits for up to three years in states that already have work-sharing programs (currently there are 24, including the District of Columbia), and 50 percent for up to two years in states that enter an agreement with the federal government to provide work sharing.
    At the moment, the take-up rate for work-sharing programs is low. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average number of work-sharing participants in 2011 was about 50,000 nationwide.1 It peaked at about 153,000 participants across the nation in June 2009, and with work-sharing claims averaging a bit over one-quarter of a job, that represented about 40,000 full-time equivalent jobs. Participation has varied widely from state to state, with Rhode Island seeing the highest participation rates. Over 20 percent of UI claims in Rhode Island were from work sharing when the program was at its peak.2
    If states were to take advantage of the federal financing for work sharing in the new law, it would be reasonable to expect that they could reach approximately the same level of participation as Rhode Island did in 2009. At that level, they could save about 5 percent of their UI costs in states that have existing work-sharing programs, and about 2.5 percent in the states that do not. Table 1 shows that this adds up to $1.7 billion dollars per year nationwide.
    TABLE 1
    Potential Annual Savings per State with Federal Financing of Work-Sharing (dollars)
    States with Existing Programs   States without Existing Programs
    Arizona 25,438,200             Alabama 8,418,600
    Arkansas 18,144,800       Alaska 4,278,500
    California 319,377,200   Delaware 3,062,300
    Colorado 30,093,600   Georgia 22,593,300
    Connecticut 38,882,400   Hawaii 6,265,200
    D.C. 8,490,600   Idaho 4,341,000
    Florida 66,671,200   Illinois 53,976,600
    Iowa 18,763,000   Indiana 17,144,800
    Kansas 18,320,600   Kentucky 12,065,500
    Louisiana 16,476,600   Michigan 32,875,200
    Maine 7,359,400   Mississippi 4,792,600
    Maryland 35,688,200   Montana 2,880,100
    Massachusetts 79,806,800   Nebraska 3,486,100
    Minnesota 38,365,000   Nevada 12,795,600
    Missouri 26,517,000   New Jersey 57,359,700
    New Hampshire 5,518,200   New Mexico 6,882,900
    New York 158,581,600   North Carolina 33,256,200
    Oklahoma 13,028,200   North Dakota 996,000
    Oregon 37,413,000   Ohio 35,620,300
    Pennsylvania 136,180,800   South Carolina 10,331,600
    Rhode Island 11,433,000   South Dakota 683,200
    Texas 119,406,200   Tennessee 14,443,600
    Vermont 4,226,800   Utah 5,829,000
    Washington 68,411,800   Virginia 14,506,300
    West Virginia 3,982,800
    Wisconsin 22,881,300
    Wyoming 1,967,700
    Totals 1,302,594,200 397,716,000
    Grand Total 1,700,310,200
    Sources: Authors¡¦ calculations, based upon Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor. "Unemployment Insurance Data Summary: 4th Quarter 2011." http://workforcesecurity.doleta.gov/unemploy/content/data_stats/datasum11/DataSum_2011_4.pdf and 112th Congress. "H.R.3630 -- Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012." http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:H.R.3630:
    Before states can access this funding, the federal government will provide guidance on how the work-sharing provisions of the law will be implemented. 3 In early May, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a Short-Time Compensation (STC) Fact Sheet, which clarified some of the key dates specified in the new law.4 In addition, the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and National Employment Law Project (NELP) have recently co-authored a detailed summary of the work-sharing section of the new law.5
    This new and unprecedented level of federal support for work sharing will give states more incentive to promote the program as an alternative to layoffs. First and foremost, states will have to make employers aware of this alternative to layoffs. At the moment, even in the states with longstanding programs, few employers are aware of this work-sharing option.
    With millions of workers still being laid off every month, the work-sharing provisions could make an important and positive difference in the lives of millions of workers, employers, their families and communities. These provisions mean states can also improve their finances by promoting work-sharing. However, states will need to work to take full advantage of the new law in order to reap these benefits.
    1 See Woo, Nicole, ¡§Drumbeat Continues from Left and Right for Work Sharing,¡¨ CEPR Blog, November 21, 2011. http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/cepr-blog/drumbeat-continues-from-left-and-right-for-work-sharing 2 See Woo, Nicole, ¡§Job Creation that Both Parties Can Agree On,¡¨ CEPR Blog, January 7, 2011. http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/cepr-blog/job-creation-that-both-parties-can-agree-on 3 As of date of publication, the U.S. Department of Labor had not yet released the Short-Time Compensation Programs guidance. See http://www.ows.doleta.gov/unemploy/jobcreact.asp. 4 See Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor. ¡§Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012: Short-Time Compensation (STC) Fact Sheet.¡¨ http://www.ows.doleta.gov/unemploy/pdf/Factsheet_STC.pdf. 5 Ridley, Neil and George Wentworth. 2012. ¡§A Breakthrough for Work Sharing: A Summary of the Layoff Prevention Act of 2012. Washington, DC: CLASP and NELP. http://www.clasp.org/admin/site/publications/files/A-Breakthrough-for-Work-Sharing.pdf.
    Nicole Woo is Director of Domestic Policy at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington D.C. Dean Baker is an economist and Co-director of CEPR. They thank Alan Barber and Kris Warner for helpful comments and edits. Center for Economic and Policy Research
    1611 Connecticut Ave, NW, Suite 400
    Washington, DC 20009
    tel: 202-293-5380 www.cepr.net fax: 202-588-1356

  2. Expedited process to be developed to address 37.5-hour work week grievances, British Columbia Government&service Employees' Union via BCGEU.ca
    VICTORIA, B.C., Canada - All grievances over the implementation of the 37.5 hour work week last year will be dealt with under an arrangement between HSPBA and HEABC. Arbitrator Vince Ready has been given jurisdiction to design a process to expedite the grievances, through an expedited arbitration process or full arbitration hearings, as required.
    We will be consolidating our grievances for a case management meeting to be scheduled early in the new-year, and it is anticipated that hearings will begin shortly thereafter.
    In solidarity
    Steve Pope, Committee Chair
    Sandra Faulkner, Committee Member
    Frank Greenlay, Staff Representative, Negotiations

  3. The Hong Kong Institute of Housing Supports Standard Working Hours Legislation - Implementation Should Be Considered According to Industry, Hong Kong Institute of Housing via PRNewswire via EINnews.com (press release)
    HONG KONG, HKSAR, China -- The Hong Kong Institute of Housing ("HKIH") supports the Standard Working Hours legislation (SWH). Work life balance is crucial in improving the working environment and quality of life for local workforce, which in return, helps to enrich the atmosphere of cohesiveness in the society. From the perspective of property management profession, enforcing SWH will inevitably lead to an increase in the demand for manpower and salary cost.
    [And a corresponding increase in domestic consumer spending and export independence.]
    Hence, HKIH recommends the government thoroughly studying and understanding the feasible SWH in different trades of the market, and also suggests a free autonomy be given to both the management companies (employers) and the practitioners (employees) in compromising the mutually accepted SWH.
    As a professional body of property management, HKIH concerns most about the change of workload and shortage of the frontline manpower. Currently, the majority of frontline security workforce and customer services personnel are operating under a system of two 12-hour shifts round the clock. With the implementation of the SWH, it would be unavoidable to change the system to three shifts, i.e. this would immediately increase 30% of the frontline manpower strength, naturally, there will be an increase in wages, and property management fee will have to rise accordingly to reflect the extra expenses. From the experience learnt under the statutory minimum wage, in order to maintain the same management fee level, some owners had tried to cut the management costs by reduction of property management headcount which the additional workloads would be shared among the remaining reduced manpower; or by reduction of fringe benefits, delay or reduce the repairs and maintenance projects etc. As such, the overall management service standard and building maintenance progress would severely jeopardize the safety of the building or even the environment. HKIH's Corporate Members have always strived to provide top quality service to owners and occupants of buildings. It is therefore recommended that the government should carefully review all possible impacts that may cause to property management industry before the SWH is legislated.
    Other than the quality of service, HKIH also concerns about the net income or take home pay earned by the property management front-line practitioners. In order to meet the SWH as outlined by the legislation, income will inevitably be reduced. Some of the operational practitioners might look for additional part time job or to work over-time trying to compensate for the loss of revenue. The ultimate long hours working will affect the health of the practitioners and is opposing the original desire of providing work life balance for them. The drop in income would slash employment incentives, and will also discourage workforce mobility to commercial areas such as Central and Mid-Levels where serious manpower shortage problem has already existed.
    HKIH would like to stress the support of a work life balance for frontline practitioners. In order to cultivate employees' sense of belonging, HKIH suggests some soft side and positive reinforcement for employees which include attendance bonus, transportation or accommodation allowance, double pay or best/long service staff award etc. However, the ultimate support from owners is the key of the success. On the other hand, HKIH suggests that the government should fully study and explore different industry practices in the market, so that appropriate SWH can be set to suit different needs practically. The government may also consider allowing companies (employers) and employees a flexible autonomy, so that employees who have financial burden can compromise with their employer with a mutually agreed SWH which at the same time will not infringe their work life balance principle.
    Ms Cora YUEN, President of The Hong Kong Institute of Housing said: "Observed from the implementation of prevailing statutory minimum wage, the government should consult all affected trades in the market, and widely solicit comments and views from stakeholders. We all are most unwilling to face an undesirable outcome like pushing up of the inflation rate, decrease of productivity rate or uneven distribution of job opportunities which forms the detrimental hurdle to the stability and financial development of Hong Kong."
    About The Hong Kong Institute of Housing
    The Hong Kong Institute of Housing was incorporated in Hong Kong on 29 November 1988. As at Oct 2013, HKIH has around 2,700 members. Together, HKIH's members are responsible for the management of not less than 70% of all the housing stock in Hong Kong. Members are engaged in the co-ordination and execution of housing services incorporating the design, provision, improvement, rehabilitation, management and administration of all types of housing. Apart from actively expanding local network, HKIH is forging close links with property management associations and academic institutions in Taiwan, Macau and many parts of China. For more information, please visit The Hong Kong Institute of Housing website: http://www.housing.org.hk

11/28/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Could you live with a 30-hour work week? by Harvey Schachter, Toronto Globe and Mail via theglobeandmail.com
    [What is this? Some kind of a burden now for hours-hoarding workaholics who are scared of free time because they don't have a life or any imagination as to what they themselves would like to do if some employer or market niche wasn't telling them? Pathetic!]
    TORONTO, Ont., Canada - In 1930, famed economist John Maynard Keynes predicted that as a result of technology, productivity would rise, and by the start of this century, no one would have to work more than 15 hours a week. Well, scratch that prediction.
    Working hours in most Western countries remain intractable or rising. The 40-hour week is often much more than that – and most people are desperate to maintain those hours, to retain their current standard of living.
    [W]hen a report a couple of years ago from Britain’s New Economics Foundation recommended a 21-hour work week, reaction was often scathing, wondering what planet the analysts were on. Turns out it was planet Earth, the problem is not receding, and the think tank is now back with a book, Time On Our Side, which collects essays from a symposium held after that initial report and pushes for a less fearsome 30-hour week.
    “How ‘natural’ is the 40-hour paid working week? How accurately does it reflect the time we actually need to exchange for money? How much money is enough?” the foundation’s head of policy, Anna Coote, writes in the introduction.
    “And what would happen if we exchanged less of our time for money? Suppose, for example, we did paid work for 30 instead of 40 hours each week? Life would certainly be different. Perhaps it would be better – for people, for the planet, and for our beleaguered post-industrial economy.”
    As Mr. Keynes predicted, productivity is rising. But as Ms. Cootes noted, in the past three decades, the worker’s share of the surplus has not grown, and so we are struggling to keep afloat, working longer hours. As well, we are being encouraged to consume more – and thus need more working hours to find the money.
    Robert Skidelsky, a British economic historian, notes in his essay that an inverse relationship has developed between income and work: The richer you are, the more hours you work. He looks at our “insatiable” need to consume. We want bandwagon goods, like iPods; snob goods, desired because others don’t have them; and Veblen goods, named after theorist of conspicuous consumption Thorstein Veblen – goods that advertise our wealth.
    “Money is for something, so that to mindlessly pursue it – to get more and more of it in order to buy more and more stuff – is rather like saying that the purpose of eating is to get fatter and fatter. One should regard that as a pathological condition,” he writes.
    He is currently co-writing a book that identifies seven basic things which an individual must possess to lead a good life: Health, security, respect or dignity, personality, friendship, harmony with nature, and leisure. To get that good life, he argues, we must politically alter the labour market so people have more choice over how many hours of work to supply. Also, we need to remove the pressures to consume, which distort our decisions about how much we have to work.
    He wants limits on advertising to reduce the thirst to consume. “People often say this is an unacceptable infringement of liberty, but in fact the state already forbids many kinds of advertising, particularly of ‘sin goods’ like tobacco. And a lot of other goods are ‘sin goods,’ but aren’t defined as such,” he declares.
    Long hours affect more than us individually. They affect the planet. Martin Pullinger, an ecological economist at the University of Edinburgh, said that reducing the hours of full-time workers by 20 per cent – essentially cutting back to a four-day week – would reduce the carbon footprint of all working age households by 4.2 per cent in the United Kingdom and 6.4 per cent in the Netherlands, the nations studied. Yet he notes that in all the discussions of working hours and labour policy, environmental goals are rarely mentioned or even considered.
    In her overview, Ms. Coote picked out three strategies she considers plausible and promising. The first is to trade productivity gains for a bit more time away from work each year. Second, we could follow Belgium and the Netherlands by enshrining in law the right to request shorter working hours and the right to fair treatment regardless of hours worked. Essentially, workers could apply for shorter hours within agreed parameters and employers could not unreasonably deny such requests.
    A third strategy would be to initiate the reductions in work hours at both ends of the age scale. As in the Netherlands, young people entering the work force could be offered a four-day week. “That way, each successive cohort adds to the numbers working a shorter week, but no one has to cut their hours. Before long, there would be a critical mass of workers on shorter hours and others may want to do the same,” she writes.
    At the other end of the age scale, those 55 and over could reduce their working week by one hour every year, so that someone working a 40-hour week would be only putting in 30 hours at age 65 (and 20 hours at age 75 if they continue to work).
    We often say that time is money. But she fires back that it is not just money – it’s more precious than that. And we need to address how much of it is spent working.
    Harvey Schachter is a Battersea, Ont.-based writer specializing in management issues. He writes Monday Morning Manager and management book reviews for the print edition of Report on Business and an online work-life column Balance.

  2. Medieval Peasants' Workweek: Much Less Than You Can Imagine, The Progress Report via progress.org
    PORTLAND, Ore., USA - The US Congress seem to be the only people in America getting as much down time as the medieval peasant. They get 239 days off this year.
    This 2013 excerpt of Reuter’s Great Debate, Aug 29, is by Lynn Parramore.

    Plowing and harvesting were backbreaking toil, but the peasant enjoyed anywhere from eight weeks to half the year off. The Church, mindful of how to keep a population from rebelling, enforced frequent mandatory holidays. Weddings, wakes and births might mean a week off quaffing ale to celebrate, and when wandering jugglers or sporting events came to town, the peasant expected time off for entertainment. There were labor-free Sundays, and when the plowing and harvesting seasons were over, the peasant got time to rest, too. During periods of particularly high wages, such as 14th-century England, peasants might put in no more than 150 days a year.
    When workers fought for the eight-hour workday, they weren’t trying to get something radical and new, but rather to restore what their ancestors had enjoyed before industrial capitalists and the electric lightbulb came on the scene. Go back 200, 300 or 400 years and you find that most people did not work very long hours at all. In addition to relaxing during long holidays, the medieval peasant took his sweet time eating meals, and the day often included time for an afternoon snooze. Our ancestors may not have been rich, but they had an abundance of leisure.
    As for the modern American worker? After a year on the job, she gets an average of eight vacation days annually.
    Some blame the American worker for not taking what is her due. But in a period of consistently high unemployment, job insecurity, and weak labor unions, employees may feel no choice but to accept the conditions set by the culture and the individual employer. In a world of “at will” employment, where the work contract can be terminated at any time, it’s not easy to raise objections.
    Ironically, this cult of endless toil doesn’t really help the bottom line. Study after study shows that overworking reduces productivity. On the other hand, performance increases after a vacation, and workers come back with restored energy and focus. The longer the vacation, the more relaxed and energized people feel upon returning to the office.
    Economic crises give austerity-minded politicians excuses to talk of decreasing time off, increasing the retirement age, and cutting into social insurance programs, and safety nets that were supposed to allow us a fate better than working until we drop. But the Greeks, who face a horrible economy, already work more hours than any other Europeans. In Germany, an economic powerhouse, workers rank second to last in number of hours worked. Despite more time off, German workers are the eighth most productive in Europe, while the long-toiling Greeks rank 24 out of 25 in productivity.
    Beyond burnout, vanishing vacations [and expanding workweeks] make our relationships with families and friends suffer. Our health is deteriorating: depression and higher risk of death are among the outcomes for our no-vacation nation. ...
    Ed. Notes: You want a solution to too much (useless) work? You need to get some income that comes from some other source than your work. You need to get paid not for your labor or your capital (your savings / investments). You need an income from your land, or, more precisely, from all the land in your region — sort of like Singapore’s dividend to citizens from its high land values, sort of like Aspen’s assistance to residents for housing from a tiny partial land tax, and sort of like Alaska’s oil dividend to residents. With that extra income, then you could negotiate not just more time off but also higher wages, better conditions, and more say in management. And you’d become more productive too, so then you could take even more time off!
    Progress Report Staff - We are Hanno Beck, Lindy Davies, Fred Foldvary, Mike O'Mara, Jeff Smith, and assorted volunteers, all dedicated to bringing you the news and views that make a difference in our species struggle to win justice, prosperity, and eco-librium.

  3. MEF pushes for flexi-work hours, by Karen Arukesamy newsdesk@thesundaily.com, TheSunDaily.my
    [This is not directly about shorter worktime (SWT) but it raises many of the same issues that SWT raises.]
    PETALING JAYA, Malaysia: The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) has urged the government to amend the Employment Act to allow for annual flexi-work hours to increase women participation in the workforce and benefit retirees and those with disabilities.
    Currently, Malaysia has the lowest women participation in the labour force in Asean at only 49% despite having a higher number of female graduates.
    MEF pointed out that a flexi-work arrangement will not only encourage more women to join the workforce but also accommodate those in retirement.
    "It will improve talent attraction and retention as well as improve employee engagement and job satisfaction, which can be translated to better productivity," MEF executive director Shamsuddin Bardan said in his presentation at the Flexible Work Arrangement Workshop today.
    However, he said it is a challenge in Malaysia due to constraints in the legal environment to allow for flexible working hour arrangements and to change the traditional mindset of the people.
    "This is because the law stipulates working hours per day or per week but if annual flexi-work hours are given to employees, they do not need to work everyday since they can cover the number of working hours over several days.

    "Thus, flexi-work hours will not look at the time of work but the need for each type of work and the end results," Shamsuddin said.
    He pointed out that today anyone whose work exceeds the contracted hours will be entitled to overtime wages but with flexi-hours employees do not need to work overtime.
    MEF had submitted a proposal late last year on the new work arrangements and to amend the Employment Act to give way to it.
    "But the government is not very serious about this. Currently very little is being done. Our Employment Act is based on a 1950s law and does not cater to the current needs of the workforce," Shamsuddin said, adding that the Human Resources Ministry should act on this as soon as possible.

11/27/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Kent County Council cuts hours at Thanet Sure Start children's children's centres to the dismay of local Labour councillors, KentOnline.co.uk
    THANET, Kent, England - Dismay followed news that three Sure Start children’s centres in Thanet will have their hours cut to part-time under the latest round of Kent County Council [KCC] cuts.
    The decision to downgrade centres in Birchington, Callis Grange and Garlinge was announced this morning by Cllr Jenny Whittle, KCC cabinet member for specialist children’s services.
    It was a bitter blow for local Labour councillors who had fought for the centres.
    District councillor Cllr Jenny Matterface, representing Beacon Road, said: “Despite a vigorous campaign by parents, grandparents, carers and Labour Councillors, KCC has not reconsidered its decision to make Callis Grange a part-time centre.
    “It will impact on parents without transport who will find it difficult to access other centres for vital services. It will add more strain on cash strapped families who have to pay for public transport to other centres and it will give children less time at the centre. It will make it increasingly difficult for families who have benefited from the Children’s Centres to continue to attend.”
    The centre was an essential part of the community.
    Councillor Iris Johnston had campaigned for the creation of Sure Starts in Thanet in 2005.
    She said: “Labour Councillors at Thanet District Council and myself, as cabinet member for community development, made it very clear at a KCC ‘consultants’ briefing that we would not tolerate any loss of services to our families or indeed job losses for the many excellent staff. I’m glad that our pressure has meant that not a single centre has closed in Thanet, but we are disappointed by the downgrading of the services to part-time.
    “Those of us who have spent years supporting the need for ‘under- five’s’ provision worry that this is the beginning of KCC working towards even more serious changes.”
    South Thanet Labour Party’s candidate for the 2015 General Election, Cllr Will Scobie, also campaigned against the closures.
    He said: “Sure Starts work, the evidence is there. The benefits are clearly shown in the parents who have gained qualifications, gained employment and gone on to further education.
    “These cuts will affect families that need support to meet their potential, so we won’t give up the fight for local people. The Labour government created Sure Starts in 2005 and we are committed to helping families by giving every child in primary school free breakfast and after school clubs from 8am to 6pm, and extending free nursery places for 3-4 year olds from 15 to 25 hours per week.
    “David Cameron promised before he was elected that Sure Starts were safe. Since 2010 he has closed 590 centres around the country and has cut the funding and hours for many more. It’s clear which party is in support of families and children, and which will only put big businesses first.”
    Kent County Council is keeping open 11 of the 23 children’s centres it had threatened to close as part of a cost-cutting shake-up.
    The shake-up of Kent’s 97 centres has proved controversial and KCC faced protests and campaigns to keep many centres open - often backed by Conservative MPs.
    About 6,000 people responded to a three-month public consultation on the plans, with many criticising what they saw as cuts to a vital service for parents and young children.
    Cllr Whittle acknowledged that the consultation had demonstrated the role the centres played.
    She said: “I have listened to parents and seen first-hand the impact these centres have and, where they are vital to the community, we have found ways to keep them open. This consultation has never been about reducing services and these will continue to be delivered in alternative buildings in areas where a centre closes. I am confident that these changes will result in high-quality, effective children’s centres to support the children and families of Kent into the future.
    She added: “We have had to make tough decisions but we have sought to save centres from closure where it would have had a substantial impact.”
    The re-organisation will be considered by county councillors on December 5.

  2. Cleaners continue fight over planned hours cut, by Koos Couvée, North London Newspapers via northlondon-today.co.uk
    Picket line: Steve Sweeney, Jenny Sutton and George Sharkey protesting outside the college's site in Hertford Road, Enfield (photo caption)
    ENFIELD, London, England - The union representing cleaners at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London is keeping up the fight over proposed cuts to their working hours.
    Representatives from the GMB union picketed a meeting of the governing board at the college’s site in Hertford Road, Enfield, on Thursday, and announced they would hold a further protest at the college’s main campus in High Road, Tottenham, this morning.
    Under current proposals, around 60 cleaners will see their contracts cut from 51 weeks a year to 39 from January, translating into a 23 per cent pay cut for the lowest-paid workers.
    The protests come after talks between the college, the GMB and Ocean, the contractor which employs the staff, broke down on November 15.
    “The college and Ocean are showing their contempt for this group of workers and continue to refuse to talk to them directly about terms and conditions,” said Steve Sweeney, the union’s regional organiser.
    “The college is located in some of the most deprived boroughs in the country and the college should be paying the London living wage, as opposed to the minimum wage and cutting hours.”
    The college said that the new rotas were a necessity as it faced a budget cut of £3.17million and sought to reduce expenditure without affecting teaching. It also said a new meeting with the union was being arranged.
    A spokeswoman added: “The college does believe that the London living wage should be paid and as contracts are renewed companies will be invited to submit tenders on this basis.”
    Mr Sweeney said Tottenham MP David Lammy backed the campaign and would be attending today’s protest.
    Email: koos.couvee@nlhnews.co.uk

  3. Standard Working Hours Committee holds fourth meeting, 7thSpace Interactive (press release) via 7thspace.com
    HONG KONG, HKSAR, China - The following is issued on behalf of the Standard Working Hours Committee:
    The Standard Working Hours Committee (SWHC) held its fourth meeting today (November 27). The Committee considered the progress reports of its two working groups (WGs) on "Working Hours Consultation" and "Working Hours Study".
    The Chairperson of the Committee, Dr Leong Che-hung, said after the meeting, "The Committee supported the Consultation WG's proposed consultation arrangements. To comprehensively collect opinions from various sectors of the community, the Committee will conduct wide consultation in four directions, namely to consult (i) the sectors with relatively long working hours mentioned in the Report of the Policy Study on Standard Working Hours, (ii) specific occupations/professions, (iii) the general public, and (iv) other major industries and organisations.
    Over 30 consultation sessions, including consultation forums, symposia and meetings with individual organisations, are expected to be convened in the first half of 2014.
    "The Committee's dedicated website (www.swhc.org.hk) has been launched earlier this week. We hope members of the public will visit our website to better understand our work and offer views on working hours issues.
    To enhance public understanding of the subject of working hours, the Committee will also pursue other promotional channels, through, for example, TV programmes and roving exhibitions."
    Dr Leong added, "To foster an evidence-based discussion, the Study Group will collect more comprehensive statistics on working hours through the Annual Earnings and Hours Survey conducted by the Census and Statistics Department and the dedicated working hours surveys by a consultant. An array of relevant factors will also be drawn up to analyse the impact of a working hours policy on various aspects of the community and the economy."
    He said, "The Committee is identifying consultancy firms to assist with the public consultation and the dedicated working hours surveys, with a view to commencing the public consultation and the surveys in early 2014. The two WGs strive to complete their work by end-2014, and submit reports to the Committee to assist the Committee to formulate plans for its next stage of work."
    The SWHC comprises a Chairperson and 23 members, including 12 serving members (employer and employee representatives) of the Labour Advisory Board.
    Of the remaining 11 members, one each comes from the labour sector and the business field, and three each from academia, the community and the Government.

11/26/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. County closer to final budget with shorter work week, KONP 1450 via konp.com
    PORT ANGELES, Wash., USA -- Clallam County commissioners vote today on a new labor agreement with its sheriffs deputies.
    But the county is still working on new labor deals for other employee groups. Those agreements will be handled as budget adjustments as it is too late to get them into the draft budget going public this week.
    For the first time ever, the county has had to come up with new contracts for all eight of its labor groups in the same year. Concessions workers gave up two years ago, including furlough days, to balance the budget expire at the end of this year.
    Instead of furloughs next year, the county will reduce the work week to 37 and a half hours in order to cut labor costs.
    The county also will dip in to reserves by about 388-thousand dollars to balance the budget. The county also proposed taking a one percent increase in the tax levies for the general and road funds.
    The county will hold pubic hearings on the proposed budget next Tuesday at 10 am and 6 pm. County commissioners could vote on the final plan as early as next week.

  2. Shaw Media implements 37.5 hour workweek, (11/25 late pickup) JimRomanesko.com
    CALGARY, Alta., Canada - Shaw Media, which owns dailies and weeklies in Illinois and Iowa, is moving all employees to a 37.5 hour workweek.
    “The company continues to battle a challenging revenue environment, and we face increased costs in healthcare,” Shaw Media president John Rung tells employees. “The standardization of the workweek will provide a temporary reduction in expenses as we strive to improve our financial performance. This move will also allow us to save jobs across the company while continuing to find ways to better serve our customers. It is our intention to adjust wages as our performance improves.”
    Read Rung’s memo after the jump:
    November 25, 2013
    To: All Community Group and Corporate Employees
    From: John Rung
    Re: 37.5-hour workweek
    In 2009, the majority of Shaw Media’s full-time employees moved from a 40-hour workweek to a 37.5-hour workweek. Effective January 2014, the standard full-time workweek (hourly and salary) will be adjusted to 37.5 hours for the balance of the company. Any employee working 37.5 hours per week or less will not be affected by the change.
    This move will standardize the workweek across the company and create more consistent policy at all Shaw Media locations. Additionally, if you work over 20 hours per week, you will be eligible to receive a paid day-off annually on the anniversary date of your employment with Shaw. (Your anniversary needs to be scheduled in advance and approved by your supervisor). The anniversary day-off will also serve to standardize policy across the company.
    Employees who are paid on an hourly basis will be assigned new schedules. The change in schedule will vary by department. In most cases, the average workday will be reduced by 30 minutes. Your supervisor will discuss with you the specific change to your schedule.
    The company continues to battle a challenging revenue environment, and we face increased costs in healthcare. The standardization of the workweek will provide a temporary reduction in expenses as we strive to improve our financial performance. This move will also allow us to save jobs across the company while continuing to find ways to better serve our customers. It is our intention to adjust wages as our performance improves.
    Thank you for your determination and resolve. If you have any questions, please feel free to talk to your supervisor, publisher or me.
    John Rung
    [Rung out the old, rung in the new!]

  3. Railway Ministry plans to cut work hours for safety, Deccan Herald News Service via deccanherald.com
    NEW DELHI, India - An increasing number of accidents caused by human error has prompted the Railway Ministry [Rly Ministry] to consider reduction of working hours and improving work environment of train drivers and other running staff.
    “The ministry has constituted a committee of senior officials to take a decision on the issue. The committee is delving into all the aspects and will also study the report of a high-level committee headed by senior and retired bureaucrat D P Tripathi, whose report was submitted in August 2013,” a senior official told Deccan Herald on Tuesday.
    The Tripathi Committee has suggested reduction in running duty hours from 10 hours to 9 hours. It has also recommended that extended duty hours should not exceed 11 hours in any case. This reduction, according to the committee, could be 8 hours for mail and express trains. The committee has said a majority of the cases of Signal Passing at Danger has been found to be committed by loco pilots who have been on extended duty hours.
    Shortage of loco pilots is the biggest reason behind extension of duty hours. Now, there are 17,000 vacancies.
    “The ministry is concerned about repeated derailments and other incidents which have been caused by human error,” the report has added.
    There have been three major incidents of derailment during the last 10 days. On Monday night, a parcel wagons collided with the dead-end while being shunted and broke the boundary wall of the Old Delhi railway station premises, resulting in the death of five men who were sleeping beside the wall.
    [Another take -]
    Shunting accidents mount as Railways refuse to ease drivers’ working hours, by K. Balchand, (11/27 early pickup) TheHindu.com
    Three die after Rajdhani Express wagon derails, bringing wall down on pavement at Old Delhi Station
    NEW DELHI, India - The rail coach derailment during shunting at Old Delhi railway station on Monday night claiming three lives was the third such incident across the country within a span of 10 days. It occurred even as railway locomotive drivers demand, in vain, a reduction in duty hours. Shunning the loco drivers’ problem has resulted in a shunting problem for the railways.
    The first of the recent accidents occurred on November 16 when an empty Kerala Express crashed into the Paschim Express here during shunting. Though the latter’s coaches suffered damage, no injuries were reported.
    On Sunday, the Bangalore-Nizamuddin Rajdhani Express derailed in Bangalore while being shunted into the yard. One of the coaches ripped through the boundary wall and landed on the adjoining road.
    The accidents, having managed to occur in controlled situations, have caused the authorities anxiety. A study has revealed that 91 per cent of surveyed loco drivers suffered from stress due to their working conditions and suffered from multiple medical problems.
    The Railway authorities claim there are more than 17,000 vacancies in the department and have, therefore, held out against loco drivers’ demand for reduced working hours.The High Power Committee (Running and Safety) headed by D.P. Tripathi too recommended a reduction — from 10 hours to nine — in the work timings of loco drivers. The Railways is yet to take a decision on the recommendation and, in a submission to another panel, cited paucity of hands to rule out reduction in working hours.

11/24-25/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. In praise of slowness, in favor of fewer work hours, by Kevin Koranda, 11/25 Iowa City Press Citizen via press-citizen.com
    IOWA CITY, Iowa, USA - I recently completed a book titled “In Praise of Slowness” in which the author, Carl Honoré, addresses the subject of working hours in America. For the majority of the last century, the conventional view was that technology would eventually supplant human labor and allow most Americans to enjoy significantly shortened work hours, and ample leisure time.
    In 1956, Richard Nixon gave a speech where he said he believed that, with the advent of automation, the possibility of a four-day workweek was a fast approaching reality. Working hours have indeed declined in the U.S., but only very slightly, and nowhere near as much as they should have. Although automation and computerization have reduced the effort required for many tasks, the time savings have not been made free for leisure, but rather delegated to new work-related tasks.
    Of course, I don’t mean to imply that work is an intrinsically negative act, or that it should be avoided. Work is an integral part of our livelihood and happiness, and in the current economic climate many people count themselves lucky to even have a job, regardless of the amount of time it consumes. However, the importance of striking a balance between work time and time spent on other pursuits is something which is largely ignored, even scoffed at, by our progress-minded cultural ethos.
    Americans work more hours than any other Western country, with Canadians and Britons trailing close behind. By some estimates, Americans are working more than 300 hours more than the average person in Western Europe. At eight hours per day, this translates to about 37 days of extra time spent on the job, and this estimate is a quite conservative one. Europeans also tend to have higher hourly wages, and more generous overtime, but the situation is complex.
    American working hours, according to 2013 Federal Reserve Economic Data information, are on par with Japan — a country so work-obsessed that a new word, Karoshi, which literally means “death by overwork,” has been adopted into the Japanese lexicon within the last 30 years.
    The University of Iowa recently hosted a lecture by John de Graaf, a journalist and activist who pioneered “Take Back Your Time Day.” The day, Oct. 24, was devoted to raising awareness about the disparity between U.S. working hours and those of other developed nations. De Graaf spoke extensively about work hours and their impact on happiness and health. He also addressed strategies, many of which have been successfully adopted by various corporations and countries, to reduce the dissatisfaction and negative effects associated with overwork.
    So what are the problems with overwork? Working in excess has been linked to a multitude of problems, both personal and health-related, numerous enough to fill a book. I can only list a few here. Those people working more than 60 hours per week are more likely to have a heart attack, and to suffer from other maladies, than their less-burdened counterparts. Busier people are less likely to report being satisfied with their jobs and their salaries, they have less time to spend with their families, and they are more likely to get divorced.
    Hourly productivity also tends to fall when longer hours are required of workers. Far from being an economic death-knell, the reduction of work hours in many other countries has led to higher hourly productivity, with no, or very little, net reduction in overall economic viability.
    I urge everyone to take this topic seriously, and to do some research, especially if they feel that their own job does not allow them the life balance they desire.
    Kevin Koranda is a University of Iowa senior majoring in Environmental Science.

  2. Government shutdown furloughs ordered to end for most Pentagon employees, 11/24 CBS/AP via cbsnews.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - The Pentagon is ordering most of its approximately 400,000 furloughed civilian employees back to work.
    The decision announced Saturday by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is based on a Pentagon legal interpretation of a law called the Pay Our Military Act.
    That measure was passed by Congress and signed by President Obama shortly before the partial government shutdown began Tuesday.
    With much of the federal government shut down for a fifth day, one brief spot of compromise emerged in Congress on Saturday when a broad bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives passed a bill granting back pay to federal employees who have been furloughed during the shutdown.
    In a written statement explaining his action, Hagel said the Department of Justice advised that the law does not permit a blanket recall of all Pentagon civilians.
    But government attorneys concluded that the law does allow the Pentagon to eliminate furloughs for "employees whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members.'
    Hagel said he has told Pentagon officials, including leaders of the military services, to "identify all employees whose activities fall under these categories." He said civilian workers should stand by for further word this weekend.
    Hagel had made clear earlier in the past week that Pentagon lawyers were trying to determine ways for some of the Defense Department's 400,000 furloughed civilians to get back to work.
    He told reporters traveling with him Tuesday in South Korea, "It does have an effect on our relationships around the world and it cuts straight to the obvious question: Can you rely on the United States as a reliable partner to fulfill its commitments to its allies?"
    The Pentagon did not immediately say on Saturday exactly how many workers will return to work. The Defense Department said "most" were being brought back.
    The law ensured that members of the military, who have remained at work throughout the shutdown, would be paid on time. It also left room for the Pentagon to keep on the job those civilians who provide support to the military.
    On Capitol Hill, the bill granting back pay to furloughed workers was approved by a margin of 407 to zero. Twenty-five members did not vote. In a press conference after the vote, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said the House "took another step to try and ease the pain of the federal government shutdown."
    The White House has signaled strong support for the proposal.
    "Federal workers keep the Nation safe and secure and provide vital services that support the economic security of American families," a statement from the White House read. "The Administration appreciates that the Congress is acting promptly to move this bipartisan legislation and looks forward to the bill's swift passage."

11/23/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. End of furloughs puts School District $1.2M in the hole, by Sean Kinney skinney@keynoter.com, Florida Keys Keynoter via keysnet.com
    MONROE COUNTY, Fla., USA - Superintendent Mark Porter's plan to use an infusion of new state money to the Monroe County School District to end unpaid seven-day staff furloughs rather than for staff raises is illegal, state officials say.
    That could leave the district on the hook for $1.2 million, meaning the district would have to find that money somewhere else before the end of the district's fiscal year on June 30.

    In September, the School Board adopted a budget for fiscal year 2012-13 with matching revenues and expenses at $84.5 million and a $6 million unassigned fund balance.
    Porter reluctantly agrees with the state Department of Education's stance but not with School Board member Ed Davidson calling the situation a "financial crisis."
    The furlough program has been in place since 2011 and has saved the district $1.7 million each of the past two years. To pay to kill the program, Porter tapped $1.4 million derived from the Legislature's mandated teacher raise program to pay the lion's share.
    Of that $1.4 million, $200,000 has gone to the Keys' six public charter schools.
    State Department of Education spokeswoman Cheryl Etters said "a furlough buyback is not consistent with the law." She added, "Let me also say that the furlough buyback is not with Gov. [Rick] Scott's commitment to providing all teachers a much-deserved pay raise."
    Porter acknowledged Friday "there is certainly going to be an issue" resulting in the "need to make adjustments to our current budget."
    "Our financial condition is still such that I cannot waiver," he said. "It will not require the use of fund-balance reserves to make it work. Our desire will be not to impact students."
    He didn't say where he'd find the money.
    On Nov. 21, Davidson fired off an e-mail to his board colleagues and board attorney Dirk Smits saying "the administration just plain screwed up and the board must now bear the brunt of taking the lead on fixing it."
    Davidson said trying to use the state's mandated raise money to kill the furlough program is "wishful thinking" that "could have been as easily resolved a long time ago by a few simple phone calls from the superintendent's office" to state education officials.
    The other board members don't seem to share his anger.
    "The district was very anxious to eliminate the furlough days," board member John Dick said, "and so it might have been done a bit premature."
    "What we can do now is use our money for the buyback of the furlough days and use the [state] funding for providing the raise we were trying to negotiate" with the United Teachers of Monroe school personnel union. Contract talks between the district and the union broke down two weeks ago when the two sides couldn't agree on the contract language that allows the board to invoke furloughs.
    UTM President Holly Hummell-Gorman said, "We have always maintained that the district didn't have a [financial] need to start the 2013-14 school year with furlough days, therefore, we are pleased that those unnecessary cuts have been corrected."
    "The teacher salary increase allocation funds are to be distributed for new salary increases as determined by collective bargaining," she said.
    After 24 bargaining sessions, Porter is stepping away from that process and brining in labor attorney Bob Norton from Miami. The next session is Dec. 18.
    Board Chairman Ron Martin said he has "faith" in Porter's ability to figure out how to both give the staff the mandated raises while killing the furlough program.
    "We'll be able to do it without going into our reserves and without going into the classroom. I know we're going to make it," he said.
    "We know two things," board member Andy Griffiths said. "Furlough days ain't coming back and we're not dipping into the fund balance."
    Pressed to assign blame, Griffiths said, "You'd think our people would be in communication with the Department of Education."
    Porter pointed out that because Monroe is considered "property-rich," 90 percent of schools funding is raised locally, with the remaining 10 percent coming from the state. That means of the $1.4 million, the state kicked in about $100,000.
    [Another take (truncated) -]
    Furlough buyback declared illegal - State advises Monroe County School District of oversight that could cost $1.2M, by Terry Schmida tschmida@keysnews.com, Florida Keys News via keysnews.com (subscription)
    MONROE COUNTY, Fla., USA - The Monroe County School District will have to find another way to finance its buyback of seven furlough days from employees. It's an oversight that could end up costing about $1.2 million.
    The news comes after the district was advised by the state Department of Education (DOE) that using money designated for new raises, called the Teacher Salary Allocation, to finance outst[anding debt was illegal]...

  2. ACC cuts hours for some to avoid health care law - Rule limits hours adjunct professors can work, (11/23 late pickup) KXAN.com
    AUSTIN, Tex., USA - Adjunct professors at Austin Community College [ACC] campuses will not be allowed to work more than 28 hours a week and will not be eligible for health insurance benefits from the tax-supported district.
    The professors were notified of the new rule in a memo sent out by the human resources department on Friday. The memo cited rules that take effect under the Affordable Care Act that take effect Jan. 1 requiring employees to provide health coverage to workers who put in 30 or more hours a week.
    "Beginning Spring 2014, adjunct faculty will be able to work a maximum of 28 hours per week for the College (i.e., any combination of instruction and hourly employment)" the memo said. "Hourly employees will comply with the Administrative Rule that hourly employees may not work more than 19 hours per week for the academic year."
    The Adjunct Faculty Association scheduled a meeting for later Friday to discuss the memo. The college district plans meetings next week to provide more information and to answer questions.
    The organization posted a notice on its Facebook page with a link showing members how to apply for discounted health coverage under the federal law.

11/22/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Longtime leader of Headquarters departs; organization cuts hours of suicide prevention line, by Chad Lawhorn, Lawrence Journal World via www2.ljworld.com
    LAWRENCE, Kan., USA - The longtime director of Headquarters Counseling has left as the organization is struggling with major funding cuts and a temporary reduction in the hours of its suicide prevention hotline.
    The president of the board of Headquarters confirmed Friday that Marcia Epstein, the nonprofit's executive director since 1979, has departed the organization, effective immediately.
    Board President David Moore said he could not provide more details of the personnel matter, but he did confirm that the organization has seen its funding decline by about 50 percent since 2011. He also confirmed that over the past couple of years the organization has been in talks with various other local social service agencies, such as the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center and Health Care Access, about merging Headquarters' operations into their organizations.
    Moore said there are no immediate plans for Headquarters — which operates the hotline and provides counseling and bereavement services — to merge with another provider, but he did not rule out the possibility in the future.
    "The priority is to keep Headquarters operating as a separate entity as it is now, but we need to do a complete overhaul and evaluation of our operations," Moore said.
    Attempts to reach Epstein were not successful.
    The decline in funding for the organization is causing an immediate cut back in hours of Headquarters' suicide prevention line. Moore said the once-24-hour line will be staffed only from 8 a.m. to midnight. During the midnight to 8 a.m. hours, people in need will be instructed to call the National Suicide Prevention Line at 800-273-TALK. Moore said he hoped the reduction would be temporary, but he did not have a timeline for when 24-hour local service may resume.
    Moore said the headquarters now has just one full-time employee and one part-time employee, which is down from four full-time employees a year ago. The organization also relies on trained volunteers, but he said overhead and other expenses have made it difficult for the organization.
    "It is kind of bare bones and operating on a shoe string at the moment," Moore said.
    The organization has received funding cuts from the city, from the United Way and from Kansas University in recent years. Its budget now stands at about $120,000, down from about $240,000 in 2011.
    Challenges for the organization started to emerge more than two years ago, said Steve Maceli, a former board member who left the board about a year ago. Maceli said he was part of a group that lobbied for Headquarters to consider affiliating with either Health Care Access or the Bert Nash Center. But he said board members and Epstein were at an impasse on the correct direction for Headquarters.
    Maceli said he and other board members resigned after they reached an impasse with Epstein on the future of the organization.
    "About three years ago the board recognized that Headquarters was not on a sustainable path," Maceli said. "We sought a long term solution to ensure a strong future for our mission. Our mission is what is really important. That is what has to be preserved."
    Headquarters has fielded about 26,000 calls over the last 12 months, Moore said. About 60 percent of them were calls of five minutes or more, indicating they were callers in significant need. The organization also sponsors survivors groups.
    "We're very optimistic that we can continue to keep Headquarters open, and we're doing everything we can to remain viable," said Moore, who lost a son to suicide two years ago. "It is organizations like this that makes Lawrence so unique. I think folks would really miss having us."
    Although Moore said he couldn't go into details of Epstein's departure, he did praise her work at the center, where she began as a volunteer in 1975 and took over as director in 1979.
    "We thank her for her years of service," Moore said. "She has helped thousands of people in crisis in her 34 years answering the phones, training new volunteers and leading our bereavement groups."
    Moore said the Headquarters board hopes to have an interim director in place within the next couple of weeks. A search for a permanent director will begin soon, he said.

  2. Civil servants to get two work-hour options, by Stefanos Evripidou, Cyprus Mail via cyprus-mail.com
    NICOSIA, Cyprus - The cabinet yesterday approved an amendment bill finalising public service hours following various experimentations aimed at reducing overtime pay and modernising the service.
    Speaking after a cabinet meeting, deputy government spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos said the bill, which has already been tabled before parliament, proposes that from January 1, 2014, public sector working hours will either be from 7.30am until 3pm or 8.30am until 4pm.
    This takes the hours back to those introduced at the start of the year when changes were made as part of measures agreed in the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Troika of international lenders.
    Public servants were given a choice of going to work at 7.30am or 8.30am and finishing at 3pm or 4pm, respectively.
    On September 1, starting time shifted half an hour forward as part of a pilot programme, giving public servants the choice of going to work from 8am to 3.30pm or from 9am to 4.30pm.
    Before 2013, all civil servants worked from 7am until 2.30pm from Monday to Friday and until 5pm on Wednesday afternoons.
    Now, the cabinet has decided to stick to the original change made at the start of this year while also approving mandatory public service hours for offices providing services to the public.
    Also from January 1, 2014, all public service offices must remain open from 8am until 3pm, regardless of whether public employees come to work at 7.30am or 8.30am.
    Since the new hours were implemented last January, each department or service chose to open at different hours, giving way to confusion, while not necessarily enhancing the service provided to citizens.
    For example, during this year’s trial period, the road transport department remained open from 8.15am until 3pm, while the migration department would open from 9am until 2pm. Customs offices would open from 8am until 4.30pm with the cashier closing at 3pm. Nicosia District offices, on the other hand, chose to open to the public from 8.30am to 2.30pm.
    Now, all opening hours will be streamlined to start at 8am and close at 3pm.
    Papadopoulos described the new system as “innovative”, adding that it would better serve the public, as well as transactions between the public and the state.
    “Nobody will decide of their own accord when to open and when to close a public service,” he said.
    Cabinet also approved a Communications Strategy on Public Service Reform, which will be developed by a group comprising Press and Information Office (PIO) officials, plus staff from the Office of the Commissioner for Public Service Reform and other ministries.
    Papadopoulos highlighted that reform of the public service is at least two decades late, which as a result had negative consequences for the country.
    Under the current difficult conditions, a flexible, improved and effective public service of quality is a necessity, he said.
    “In addition, reform is an obligation of the Republic as set out in the memorandum (with the troika).”
    In other decisions taken yesterday, cabinet approved the hiring of experts to assist the investigations into the near collapse of the Cypriot economy and to help ascertain whether criminal offences have been committed.
    “For this purpose at least five specialised service providers will be shortlisted based on predetermined criteria with experience in police investigations,” said Papadopoulos.
    The five will be asked to submit tenders, after which a contract will be signed with the chosen company. The cabinet also decided to instruct the Republic’s Audit Office to proceed with an investigation into the failed and costly purchase of a new air traffic control system, LEFCO, dating back to 2003, which may end up costing the state millions of euros. The dispute is currently at the London Court of International Arbitration.

11/21/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Philly Fed Tumbles, Number Of Employees, Employee Workweek Both Plunge; Stocks Surge, submitted by Tyler Durden, zerohedge.com
    PHILADELPHIA, Pa., USA - With the market not sure what bad news would send it soaring higher today, here comes the Philly Fed to save the day by tumbling from October's 19.8 to a paltry 6.5, slamming through expectations of 15.0 - the biggest miss since February - and assuring that ahead of today's POMO there is enough ammunition for a stock ramp to end the three days of declines.
    But while the leading indicators of New Orders, Shipments and Unfilled Orders all plunged (from 27.5 to 11.9; from 20.4 to 5.6 and from 9.1 to -4.2, respectively), it was the jobs number that showed just how bad things really are with the Number of Employees and Average Employee Workweek both sliding from 15.4 to 1.1, and from 8.5 to -8.6.
    This is what the report said: "Labor market indicators showed little improvement this month. The current employment index fell 14 points from its reading in October (which was at a two?year high), to 1.1. Nearly 13 percent of the firms reported increases in employment, which is lower than the 23 percent that reported increased employment last month. Firms, on balance, reported lower work hours, with the average workweek index falling from 8.5 to -8.6 this month."
    Thank you Obamacare for making even more workers into part-timers. ...
    And now, since the economy is once again sliding on every possible banana peel, we can calmly go back to the "market" ramp

  2. Is 35 hours a week considered full time? Dude24 asked 14 hrs ago, answers.yahoo.com
    LOS ANGELES, Calif., USA - Would you consider working 35 hours a week a full time job? Answers (4) answered 14 hrs ago .\. ?
    nope 45+
    answered 14 hrs ago .\. Caren
    technically up to the employer, so ask them.
    they may state 36+ is full time
    answered 14 hrs ago .\. I Like Turtles
    There isn't really a set definition of "full time." The government under the healthcare act has one definition, but there are others. Personally, I think 35 hours would be considered full time. However, throughout my adult life I have usually worked anywhere from 45 to 60 hours a week, whether in one job or two jobs.
    answered 14 hrs ago .\.chatsplas
    Generally, yes
    Some companies say more than 30, some say more than 28, more than 24
    Source(s): Tax pro

  3. 'I keep work to work hours – I never bring my laptop home', by Margot Slattery, Irish Independent via independent.ie
    DUBLIN, Ireland - "We all need a certain amount of stress to accelerate us and keep us going. Every time I get up to give a presentation, I get heart palpitations, but it makes me sharper. If I took it for granted, I'd be lazier. My dad died earlier this year and my mum has Parkinsons and has gone into a home, so it's been a stressful time.
    "In order to cope, I try to keep work to work hours. I never bring my laptop home,
    and while once in the evening I might flick through emails, I'm aware that the message I'm sending out to my team is it's acceptable to be working overnight and I don't want that. Instead, I come home and have dinner with my partner, and then we go out for a walk or meet friends.
    "The thing I find most stressful about work is being dependent on other people to make things happen. When you're trying to sign off on a contract and you need authorisation from other parts of the business, it's hard to balance the pressure from people wanting you to sign but not being able to do it until you get the OK. But having a face to face conversation can speed things along. When you have a good team of people around you, you can delegate and it's important to trust them."
    Margot Slattery [is] managing director of Sodexo Ireland.

  4. Junior doctors in new hope as their working hours row goes to EU court, by Eilish O'Regan, Irish Independent via independent.ie
    DUBLIN, Ireland - Junior doctors hope a decision by the European Commission to refer the issue of their gruelling working hours to the European Court of Justice will keep pressure on hospitals to comply with the law.
    The complaint that Irish hospitals are not complying with the EU directive limiting the working week of junior doctors to 48 hours is to go before the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
    The HSE [Health Service Executive] has already admitted that some doctors can work 70 or even 100 hours a week, and shifts of 36 hours or more.

    It recently reached agreement with the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO), the union representing junior doctors, to impose a timetable on hospitals to comply with the limits and make the 48-hour week fully effective by the end of next year.
    This agreement, worked out at the Labour Relations Commission, was supported in a ballot of the doctors last week.
    However, the complaint to the ECJ will now pile even more pressure on hospitals to meet the deadline, even though they are under severe pressure due to a lack of doctors in several departments. Hospitals outside Dublin are under the most strain.
    The complaint to the commission said that Ireland is failing to ensure that in practice junior doctors work no more than 48 hours per week on average, including any overtime.
    It said that junior doctors are regularly required to work an average of 70-75 hours per week, without adequate breaks for rest or sleep.
    The IMO's director of industrial relations, Steve Tweed, said: "While it's shameful that failure of the HSE and Department of Health on this issue has led to this, we welcome the decision of the EU as we believe it will fundamentally alter the attitude of the HSE on the matter.
    "The HSE has always tried to sweep this issue under the carpet but will now be forced to answer on it by the court.
    "While we have recently agreed a roadmap with the HSE on the ending of the archaic practice of overworking junior doctors, we retain a degree of scepticism about the willingness of the HSE to enforce every aspect of that agreement. Therefore, this EU move will help keep the pressure on the authorities."

  5. Labour laws: For brick kiln workers, wages go down as working hours go up, complains union leader, (11/22 early pickup) Express Tribune via tribune.com.pk
    Speakers agree it is shameful we are talking about slavery in this age. (photo caption)
    KARACHI, Pakistan: A union leader for brick kiln workers, Punho Bheel, was clearly unhappy with the daylong debates on various forms of bonded labour on Wednesday – he wanted to talk about facts. And these facts revealed a dismal picture.
    “A labourer gets only Rs450 per day for making 1,000 bricks and for that he works from 5am to 9pm,” Bheel told a stunned audience at a National Policy Seminar on bonded labour at Regent Plaza. The seminar was organised by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child in collaboration with Actionaid and the European Union. “These rates and working hours are not fixed. The rates usually go down and working hours go up.”
    Bheel went on to share his thoughts on the issue, and made sure he minced no words. We have been hearing for a long time that the CM or the top judge have done this or that for labourers but we have yet to receive any benefits of these announcements. “The prices of tomatoes have reached up to Rs200 and potatoes cost Rs100. How can one feed his family with such meagre earnings and high inflation?”
    The hall erupted in applause as the audience packed with labourers, their families, schoolchildren, lawyers and many others agreed with his views, murmuring ‘wah Bheel wah’ [good job, Bheel]. “Can’t the ministers, whose children study in London, build a school for brick kiln workers at their kilns?” he wondered. “Can’t the ministers build hospitals for us?”
    Bheel recalled his own experiences as a bonded labour and pointed out he knew very well the issues these workers and their families faced. “How can we send our children to schools in such conditions? During illness, we have to get ready to sell even our kidneys to earn money for our families. Can’t authorities do anything for us?”
    The Sindh government has yet to fix minimum wages and working hours for brick kiln workers, he pointed out, adding that these workers have yet to receive some kind of social security cards. Bheel sought answers from other speakers and prominent personalities in the audiences. At the end of his speech, he uttered a simple “thank you for listening” and took his seat among the audience.
    When Barrister Zamir Ghumro took the stage, he admitted that it is unfortunate that we are talking about slavery in the 21st century. Since the government was not providing employment, some people are forcing others to work for them, he said. “If anyone forces another person to work without his will, he can go to jail for two to five years, but this law has never been implemented.”
    The rest of the speakers, including Sindh law minister Dr Sikandar Mandhro, Pakistan Peoples Party’s Sharmila Farooqi, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Dr Seema Zia, Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s Irum Farooque, recommended adopting the Bonded Labour Abolition Act, 1992, with amendments to make it a practical law.
    The speakers suggested forming a provincial steering committee on bonded labour to oversee the implementation of this law. All brick kilns must be registered and all their workers should be given social security cards, they said, adding that labour laws should be extended to the agriculture sector.

11/20/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. EU takes Ireland to court over junior doctors working hours, by Louise Kelly, NewsTalk.ie
    DUBLIN, Ireland - The European Commission (EC) is referring Ireland to the European Court of Justice for not complying with rules on working hours for junior doctors.
    The EU Working Time Directive limits doctors to a 48 hour working week. The Directive was introduced back in 2003.
    However many medics are working in excess of 80 hours without breaks or sleep.
    The EC says whilst Irish law respects the requirements, in practice hospitals are not applying the rules and there has been insufficient progress.
    Junior doctors went on strike earlier this year to highlight the issue.

    The EC says it considers the situation a serious infringement which endangers both the health of the doctors and patients.
    Back in October, the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) accepted proposals put forward to curb working hours.
    It means hospitals could be hit with fines for allowing junior doctors to do shifts longer than 24 hours. The Health Service Executive (HSE) has agreed to eliminate the practice by the end of 2014.
    But Peter Power of the EU Office in Dublin says the Commission has lost patience with the Irish government.

  2. A 30-Hour Workweek Is More Rational and Efficient, Economists Say (And Probably More Pleasant, Too), by Elizabeth Nolan Brown @enbrown, Bustle.com
    BROOKLYN, N.Y., USA - Could a standard 30-hour workweek be healthier for us and the economy? Economist John Maynard Keynes famously predicted that technology would usher in 15-hour workweeks, and we’d all be fretting about too much leisure time by now. But as advances have made more of the old work possible with less effort, we’ve encountered (or created) new ways to fill work hours. Today, many people would tell you they dream of a 40-hour workweek. Cutting back even further seems like a beautiful, laughable idea.
    But it’s our current conception of work that’s silly, according to a new book. In Time on Our Side, published by the New Economics Foundation (NEF), a diverse group of writers examine ”why a 30-hour workweek would be a more rational, efficient, and sustainable approach” to the post-industrial economy. They argue that the current 40+ hour standard drives up stress, pollution and gender-based inequality. “If other economies are just as successful as the American economy and have markedly shorter hours — just look at Germany, for example — isn’t there an argument there that you could do things differently?” co-editor Anna Coote asked Fast Company.
    In our hyper-connected, increasingly productivity-obsessed culture, the idea of a mass cutting back of work expectations seems impossible. But Coote doesn’t think so. In a 2012 TED talk, she made the case for a 21-hour workweek as the norm.
    Even if this seems like a long shot, it’s worth remembering that there’s nothing natural or inevitable about today’s 40, 50 or 60-hour work weeks (or about physically going to an office space). In a great article in Strike! magazine’s summer issue this year, Davide Graeber explored ”the phenomenon of bullshit jobs,” without which he believes we would all be much closer to Keynes 15-hour-week vision. Basically, Graeber says we’ve ratcheted up the administrative hoopla surrounding everything, made most stuff more complicated than it needs to be and created a situation where a large swath of people believe large portions of their jobs are useless or meaningless (and they’re probably right).
    If you’ve ever worked in a meeting-happy office, you can probably attest to this. Heck, if you’ve ever worked in any office you can probably attest to this. And this, my friends, is why I work from home (teleworkers tend to put in more hours but also more productive hours). Between birthday parties, performance reviews and a workplace culture that values seeing people at their desks until some certain arbitrary hour — even if all they’re doing is checking Twitter for the two-billionth time or shuffling paperwork around — many office employees wind up spending way more time at work than the actual work dictates.

  3. Staff fight hours cuts, North London Press via NorthLondon-Today.co.uk LONDON, U.K. - The College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London [CoNEL] is set to be hit by a fresh wave of protests during the next week over proposed cuts to cleaners’ working hours.
    Under current proposals, around 60 cleaners will see their contracts cut from 51 weeks a year to 39 from January 2014, translating into a 23 per cent pay cut for the lowest paid cleaners.
    The protests come after talks held on Friday between the college, the GMB union and Ocean, the contractor which employs the staff, failed to break the deadlock. “The college and Ocean are showing complete and utter contempt with the staff – they refused to allow them in the room to discuss their own terms and conditions,” said Steve Sweeney, the GMB’s regional organiser.
    “To be paying the cleaners the minimum wage in one of the poorest boroughs in London is an absolute disgrace, and there was no consultation.”
    CoNEL has stated that the new cleaning rotas were a necessity as it faced a budget cut of £3.17million and sought to reduce expenditure without affecting teaching.
    A college spokeswoman said: “The meeting on Friday was not productive. However, the college would like to meet the union representative and representatives from the contractor again to try to resolve this conflict,” she added.
    The protests will take place at 6.30pm tomorrow outside the college’s centre in Hertford Road, Ponders End, and at 8.30am next Wednesday outside the campus in Tottenham High Road.

11/19/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Staff set for reduction in hours as part of council cuts - Rhondda Cynon Taf council is facing a £70m budget gap over the next four years and is considering a raft of potential savings, WalesOnline.co.uk
    RHONDDA CYNON TAF, Wales - Working hours for future full-time employees at Wales’ second largest local authority could be reduced as part of drastic cost-cutting measures.
    Rhondda Cynon Taf council is facing a £70m budget gap over the next four years and is considering a raft of potential savings.
    Reductions in full-time nursery education, library and day centre closures and changes to youth provision are currently out for consultation.
    At a meeting in Clydach Vale, Cabinet members approved a report outlining five further cost-cutting options for new and current council employees.
    Option one includes reducing the number of hours for future full-time staff from 37 to 35 per week, changing temporary staff hours to 30 and giving current employees the chance to alter their hours.
    The second option encourages more over 55s to access a “Flexible Retirement Scheme”, giving them the chance to reduce their hours or be downgraded to lower-graded posts.
    In option three, the enhanced redundancy packages – designed to “soften the blow” of losing a job – would be less generous.
    And in option four, staff aged over 55 would be encouraged to apply for voluntary redundancy.
    Finally, employees would be encouraged to join an “early release” scheme, leaving with a severance payment.
    Coun[cilman] Clayton Willis said: “When the scale of the funding gap became clear, Cabinet asked for these measures to be brought forward.
    “And I welcome the constructive approach our colleagues in the trade unions have brought to these matters, despite the tough choices.
    “These changes will ultimately protect jobs because the proposals offer flexibility.
    “Neither I nor my colleagues support the suggestion from the Plaid Cymru councillors that every member of staff should see their hours reduced, as this would be incredibly unfair on our existing employees.
    “But it is appropriate for us to seek to adopt this for new employees in the current financial circumstances.”
    One of these potential options will be considered by the full council at their next meeting on November 27.
    The report states: “The council continues the face significant financial challenges as a result of the UK Government public sector funding cuts.
    “Service reviews are taking place across all service areas to identify possible savings through alternative service delivery methods or reductions in services which will also identify savings in employee costs.
    “However, it is unlikely that the service reviews will provide the full amount of savings needed to make the council’s budget deficit.
    “Whilst employee terms and conditions were reviewed and amended in 2011, this report looks at other employment costs that may provide an opportunity for budget savings."

  2. Anganwadi workers demand four-and-a-half hour work day, (11/20 dateline issue?) TheHindu.com
    BANGALORE, India - Anganwadi [childcare] workers from across the State participated in a protest rally on Tuesday demanding that their working hours be rolled back to four-and-a-half hours.
    K.S. Bhat of the AIUTUC [All India United Trade Union Centre] said that their main demand was that the working hours of anganwadi workers be reverted to what it was before 2011, when a government order was passed changing the working hours from 9 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. [4 1/2] to 9 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. [7 1/2 hours]. At that time a few unions had welcomed the move and petitioned the government to regularise the services of anganwadi workers as they were working for eight hours a day and also sought an increase in the honorarium.
    At present anganwadi workers are being paid an honorarium of Rs. 5,000 of which Rs. 3,000 is being contributed by the Centre.
    “We are opposed to the idea of extending the work hours unless there is an immediate increase in salary. Since that is not happening and given that it is a Central government scheme we feel it is better for workers to revert to the old work hours. This will give them time [to] take up other work,” said Mr. Bhat.

  3. Mum slams 'immoral' 95-hour weeks that led to doctor taking own life, by Gareth Naughton, Irish Herald via herald.ie
    DUBLIN, Ireland – The mother of a junior doctor who took her own life described her daughter's working hours as "immoral" following an inquest into her death.
    Dr Jessica Murphy (26) was found unconscious in her apartment at Exchange Hall in Tallaght, Dublin 24, on December 1 last year.
    She was later pronounced dead at Tallaght Hospital, where she was a junior doctor working in neurology. Dublin Coroner's Court heard that she had taken an "overwhelming" overdose of the anti-depressant amitriptyline.
    Her parents raised the issue of her working hours during the inquest telling coroner Dr Brian Farrell that she worked 95 hours a week.
    After the inquest was completed, Marian Murphy said her daughter had been "put under too much pressure".
    Mrs Murphy welcomed recent moves to reduce junior doctors' working hours.
    She also said that the family was glad to see public figures speaking out about depression because her daughter had been afraid of the stigma attached. "It is an illness like anything else and should be treated properly," she said.
    The inquest heard that Dr Murphy, who was originally from Ovens in Co Cork, had suffered from depression from the age of 17.
    Her father Matt Murphy said she also suffered from "severe insomnia", but resisted seeing a doctor about her difficulties.
    She began working as a junior doctor in Tallaght Hospital in July 2012.
    Mr Murphy said that his daughter was "very immersed" in medicine and enjoyed working at the hospital, however, she worked very long hours and this caused problems for her due to her insomnia.
    "I believe she was self-prescribing sleeping tablets and possibly anti-depressants in the days before her death," he said.
    Her parents travelled up to Dublin to check on her after becoming worried when they could not contact her and found her unconscious in bed.
    She went into cardiac arrest after paramedics arrived and was taken to Tallaght Hospital where she was pronounced dead just over an hour later.
    Gardai at the scene found a number of empty medication boxes as well as a letter of resignation to the hospital.
    The Murphys told the court that their daughter's working hours contributed to her lack of sleep.

  4. Having a relaxing weekend actually makes you feel worse on Monday? by Mark & Monica, KTAR.com
    [That's why we recommend shortening the workweek instead of lengthening vacation time (=shortening the workyear) - how can Europeans go back to work after six weeks of freedom? (OK, maybe the unimaginative are bored = slaves loving their chains.) ]
    SACRAMENTO(?), Calif., USA - After a long work week, many people want to face-plant on the couch for a lazy weekend. Well, don't get too relaxed quite yet.
    According to a new study, having a weekend of doing very little can actually make the weekend seem shorter by more than six hours.
    It is because we measure time by packing in memories - so the more we do, the longer the weekend seems.
    One third of people who packed their weekend with social outings said they felt they had a three-day weekend. On the flip side, 43 percent of people who had a lazy weekend said their time off went by too quickly.
    [Yeah but "time flies when you're having fun," and drags when you're under pressure.]
    TV neuroscientist Dr. Jack Lewis said:
    "If you think back to the weekend and no memories of note spring to mind because you had a restful but dull couple of days, then it can seem like it passed in the blink of an eye."
    [Rating your life by memories sounds a lot like living in the past.]

11/17-18/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Australian kurzarbeit to the rescue? posted by Houses and Holes in Australian Economy, 11/17 (11/18 over dateline) MacroBusiness.com.au (blog)
    SYDNEY(?), Australia - David Uren has a useful emphasis today on a statistic that passed the nation by last week without enough comment. Weak wage growth:
    "The 2.7 per cent rise in the wage index over the past year barely matched the 2.2 per cent rise in consumer prices and was the lowest rate of annual growth since the global downturn in 2000."
    "The 0.5 per cent increase in the September quarter was also the second lowest since the index was first developed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS] in 1997, with the only weaker quarter having been a 0.4 per cent rise in the depths of the global financial crisis.
    The return to earth of the mining industry provides a partial explanation. A year ago, it was still delivering outsized wage rises, with the average increase across the industry reaching 5.2 per cent, but it has now come back down to 3.2 per cent.
    Utilities, led by the gas sector, were also paying big increases a year ago, with an average increase of 4.4 per cent, and that has also fallen sharply to 3.4 per cent.
    However, wage growth has fallen across all 18 industry sectors tracked in the survey. A year ago, 10 sectors had wage growth of 3.5 per cent or more. Now there are none. A year ago there were three industries with average wage increases of less than 3 per cent, while there are now 12. The slowdown is equally evident in both public and private sectors."
    Uren notes that the Phillips Curve indicates we should be seeing wage inflation still at around 3.4%. The Phillips Curve posits a simple relationship between the unemployment rate and the rate of wage increases. As I’ve noted before, the Phillips Curve has been a pretty reliable model for Australia but no longer it seems.
    Uren also highlights that The Reserve Bank has been exploring these issues and lists a number of reasons for the dislocation:
    • elevated job insecurity
    • retiring baby boomers
    • poor job skills matching under structural adjustment conditions and discouraged unemployed
    • low inflation expectations
    These contribute to a lower participation rate, which has fallen as much as it did in the 1993 recession, even if unemployment has not risen anywhere near as far.
    For me, the mystery is solved by looking at the following chart:
    The Roy Morgan measure of unemployment is much higher than the ABS version. This is because Roy Morgan counts underemployment in its measure whereas the ABS considers you employed if you worked one hour per month.
    I apply a little common sense and personal experience at this point. I know a lot of companies that reduce hours rather headcount when times require it. The memory of skills shortages is still fresh for many companies and it as well appeals to Australian values to cut hours rather than people. We are much less cut throat about job losses than the US culture. The old egalitarian streak, not mention spirit of voluntarism, is alive and well.
    It’s a pragmatic system rather than a formal one like Germany’s kurzabeit but it achieves the same end. It also hints at some industrial relations truths that are rarely canvassed: the existing system is flexible in its own way irrespective of varying political narratives; it helps support high asset prices by preventing forced sales and, although it is early days, kurzarbeit has so far proved able to deflate wages growth to improve competitiveness as well.
    [Competitiveness in a race to the bottom is unnecessary with a strong domestic consumer base bolstered by wages growth and deconcentration-decoagulation of the national income and money supply.]
    Of course one could argue as well that it will slow creative destruction and therefore productivity growth and that’s probably true.
    ["Creative destruction" has been more "destruction" than "creative" ever since the babyboomers grew up, entered the job market in the 1970s and replaced the labor surplus of the Great Depression.]
    But it won’t stop it and so may actually offer benefits in a more efficient transition for workers from a dying sector to a thriving one because they have time to adapt skills.
    [Kurzarbeit's fully featured form, Timesizing, with its un(der)employment-responsive workweek and smooth overtime-to-training&jobs conversion, guarantee that any "creative destruction" is more "creation" than "destruction".]
    The RBA [Reserve Bank of Australia] noted something of this nature using economist gobbledygook in the most recent SoMP [speaking of gobbledygook, what the heck does SoMP stand for?):
    "It is difficult to assess the extent to which such structural factors have contributed to the recent rise in unemployment. The rate of long-term unemployment (measured as the share of the labour force that has been unemployed for more than a year) has risen only slightly in recent years. Rather, most of the increase in the unemployment rate has been attributable to individuals that have been unemployed for between 4 and 52 weeks, who are more likely to be unemployed for cyclical reasons. Looking at the reasons reported for unemployment, most of the increase in unemployment can be attributed to unemployed persons that have left their job involuntarily in the past two years, with a large proportion of such job losses likely to occur for cyclical reasons (e.g. retrenchment or business closure). Since mid 2011, persons unemployed for reasons that are most likely to relate to structural unemployment – namely, ‘former workers’ (those whose last full-time job was more than two years ago) and those that have never worked before – have made only modest contributions to the aggregate increase in unemployment. However, as the former worker measure of unemployment largely relies on the last period of employment having been at least two years ago, it would demonstrate a change in structural unemployment only with a lag. Both measures are also likely to capture some share of workers who are unemployed for cyclical rather than structural reasons.
    Changes in the relationship between unemployment and job vacancies, as shown by the Beveridge curve, provide another way of assessing the level of frictional and structural unemployment. Movements along the (downward sloping) Beveridge curve will generally reflect cyclical changes in labour market conditions; for instance, a decline in the demand for labour results in a decrease in the number of vacancies (as a share of the labour force), as firms search for less labour, and so an increase in the unemployment rate. In contrast, changes to the rates of frictional and structural unemployment will show up as outward or inward shifts in the position of the Beveridge curve; that is, for a given vacancy rate the unemployment rate is either higher or lower. The significant decline in the vacancy rate since mid 2011 has coincided with a smaller increase in the unemployment rate than the average historical relationship would have indicated. While this may be a function of the noise that naturally exists in this relationship, it may also be consistent with labour market matching having become slightly more efficient over this period.
    http://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2013/11/australian-kurzarbeit-to-the-rescue/ "
    No, the Beveridge Curve is not a beer goggles index that shows the relationship between the number of drinks consumed to the relative attractiveness of women. It’s a measure of the efficiency of skills matching in the labor market for the unemployed and is some evidence that Australian kurzarbeit may offer efficiency as well as equity.
    I suspect the real test for Australian kurzarbeit lies ahead not behind. If a real depreciation of wages is needed to restore our competitiveness as we head over the mining cliff, as Professor Garnaut suggests, then the heat will be on our friendly little system.
    [No it won't, unless you nitwit "experts" insist on prioritizing unpredictable exports at the expense of your predictable, controllable foundation in domestic consumer spending.]

  2. Papeteries du Léman considering short-time work, 11/18 EUWID Pulp and Paper via euwid-paper.com
    THONON-LES-BAINS, France - Less incoming orders and a resulting weaker capacity utilisation rate have led Papeteries du Léman to consider the introduction of short-time work [alias worksharing, alias Kurzarbeit].
    Papeteries du Léman, a French producer of lightweight paper, is considering implementing short-time work for its employees in France. The company told EUWID that it had made an official application for permission to introduce short-time work, if necessary. However, it was not clear when such a move might be made and the company had not yet planned any specific measures.
    The managing director of Papeteries du Léman explained that the company's order situation had worsened since September. The conditions on the market for printing and writing paper were very difficult, he said. As a result, production had not always been running at full swing since then, he added. Temporary production cutbacks were also likely in the coming months, so the company wanted to keep open the option of short-time work. The managing director expects the situation to ease again in February or March of next year and production to return to normal.
    Papeteries du Léman is based in Publier, in eastern France. The company, which is part of Bolloré Thin Papers, produces lightweight printing paper with a production capacity of 45,000-50,000 tpy. There are 260 employees working in the paper mill, according to the company.

11/16/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Eugene students get extended Thanksgiving holiday, by Josephine Woolington, The Register-Guard via Houston Chronicle via chron.com
    EUGENE, Ore., USA — "No-school November" continues to build a legacy in Eugene.
    Students in the Eugene and Bethel school districts will have the entire week of Thanksgiving off this year because of unpaid furlough days the districts agreed to with the teachers' union earlier this year.
    Since 2004, students in the Eugene district have had, on average, 3.8 no-school days in November. This year's six no-school days — which doesn't count some days that some schools cancel classes to make time for parent-teacher conferences — is the most no-school days in November in the past decade.
    "Between conferences and holidays, and then having furlough days, they're not in school much," said Tara Sloan of her two sons who attend Edgewood Elementary School and Spencer Butte Middle School, respectively.
    Her sons each had two days off for parent-teacher conference days this month, on top of the six district-wide no-school days, she said.
    The Eugene district's 165-day school year is its shortest one yet, and its nine furlough days for teachers are nearly twice as many as last year. The furlough days are part of the district's way of creating a balanced budget.
    For her part, Sloan isn't necessarily complaining. Scheduling three of nine furlough days before Thanksgiving — a move Sloan describes as "making lemonade out of lemons" — is more convenient for families, she said.
    "It's less disruptive," she said, adding that some students don't go to school on the days before Thanksgiving anyway, due to family travel plans.
    In all, students in the Eugene district will go to school just 15 school days this month. Most elementary and middle school students will also miss one or two days of school for parent-teacher conferences, district spokeswoman Kerry Delf said. High school students will not miss any days for conferences, she said.
    Students in the Bethel district have just 14 class days this month.
    Springfield students have a similar schedule, going to class for just 14 full days this month, plus one half-day. Students in the Springfield district will have school on Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week.
    Next month, middle and high school students in the Eugene district will go to class just 13 days before winter break on Dec. 23. Elementary students will have 14 school days in December.
    Eugene School Board Chairwoman Mary Walston said in an email that she has heard from teachers who say lumping three of nine furlough days together during the holiday week is better than having them scattered throughout the school year.
    [And waaaay better than having them on the unemployment line.]
    The extended break, though, is especially difficult for some low-income families, she said.
    "Many parents only have the day of Thanksgiving off, thus creating a need for child care for the other days of the week," Walston said.
    Last year, Sloan and several other parents started organizing no-school-day field trips for students. She said the group took students to museums, libraries and even the state Capitol to lobby legislators for more education funding.
    The group doesn't have anything planned yet for the Thanksgiving break, but may come up with something, she said.
    "There's a scramble," Sloan said of parents trying to organize child care during no-school days. She said she's lucky to have a flexible job that allows her to adjust her hours during Thanksgiving week.
    Plus, her husband, who works as a speech pathologist for the Eugene district, will also be home to care for their kids.
    But he won't get paid for those days off.
    "With it being right before Christmas, it'd be nice to have that money," Sloan said.

  2. Furlough buy-back may be illegal, by citizen staffmember Terry Schmida, tschmida@keysnews.com, KeysNews.com (registration)
    KEY WEST, Fla., USA - The way the school district did away with the "furlough days" so hated by district employees may have been illegal, officials discovered this week.
    [But did they hate furlough days enough to prefer firings?]
    While poking around on the Department of Education (DOE) website, Audit and Finance Committee Vice Chair Stuart Kessler stumbled across a posting that appears to throw cold water on the district's methodology.
    The post appeared in the Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Teacher Salary Allocation announced earlier this year by Gov. Rick Scott.
    The question:
    "Are these funds to be used to cover previously bargained salary increases, or is the increase considered to be in addition to what our district already plans to offer?"
    The answer:
    "Funds are to be distributed for new salary increases as determined by collective bargaining agreement."
    However, amid much fanfare, the district used Teacher Salary Allocation funds to buy back the furloughs in late September. The money has yet to be disbursed, pending state approval of the district's deal with the United Teachers of Monroe (UTM) union; a deal that has now crumbled.
    Since making the discovery, Kessler said that he has been trying to ascertain whether the district will have to redo the buy back.
    "My reading of the statutes that were provided to me by the DOE, as well as the FAQ, seems to clearly indicate that using the Teacher Salary Allocation to restore furlough days is not a qualifying use of the money," Kessler said. "I've requested an opinion from the DOE, to which I am awaiting a response. However, in my phone conversations [DOE employees] informally agreed with my position. I've since emailed my concerns to the school board."
    The Citizen has also requested clarification from the DOE, but hadn't heard back by the end of business on Friday.
    District 3 board member Ed Davidson said he is concerned by the development.
    "If you go by the political campaign guidelines from the governor's office, which allow considerable latitude in how the raise money is spent, we might be able to get away with spending new money to buy back past furlough days," he said. "But if the actual wording of the legislation governs the use of the money, it clearly says it must be for new raises, not old obligations, in which case we'll have to take back more than a million dollars for the furlough day buy-back money from other parts of the budget."
    No matter how the DOE rules, one thing is certain: the furloughs aren't coming back.
    "It's a unique situation," Davidson said. "However, we absolutely cannot bring back the furlough days. There would be drawings and quarterings, and tarrings and featherings, and rightly so."
    Superintendent Mark Porter on Friday confirmed that he's aware of the situation, but cautioned that it's too early to worry about state rejection of the district's deal with the UTM.
    "It's actually something that we've been paying attention to all along," Porter said. "We've referenced the FAQs, and we've also had conversations with the DOE, but I don't think it's going to be an issue until we get our collective bargaining agreement. Until that's done, we won't have a plan for the DOE to approve."
    Porter added that reinstating the furloughs isn't an option for him either.
    "We worked very hard to find a way to get rid of them," he said. "We're not looking to go backwards on this issue."

11/15/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. New online resources to promote the expansion of short-time compensation, or work-sharing, programs nationwide announced by US Labor Department, (11/14 late pickup) ETA News Release, US Labor Dept. via dol.gov
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — The U.S. Department of Labor today announced a new online resource that provides guidance and information to states interested in developing or improving short-time compensation programs, also known as work-sharing. The STC program is designed to avert employee layoffs for businesses faced with a temporary slowdown in business activity. The online resources, which will be available to state workforce agencies, state policymakers and the general public, are located at: *https://stc.workforce3one.org.
    "I encourage every state to consider establishing or expanding a work-sharing program so that business owners have an additional tool they can use to weather hard economic times while still keeping their existing skilled employees," said Eric M. Seleznow, acting assistant secretary of labor for employment and training. "The information the Labor Department has made available online will make it easier for states to develop a program that fits the specific needs of their local workers and employers."
    The STC program is an alternative to layoffs for employers faced with a reduction in available work. Employers can reduce work hours for a group of workers rather than laying off one or more workers. Employees affected by a reduction of hours can collect a percentage of their unemployment benefits to replace a portion of their lost wages. This is a win-win situation both for employers and employees. Employees' jobs — and benefits — are preserved while participating in an STC program, and employers get to maintain their skilled and trained workforce without having to rehire and retrain new workers when business activity increases.
    The new website provides helpful tools that can be used to expand STC education and outreach to states and the public. The website includes guidance and model legislation for states interested in developing an STC program. The site also offers a compendium of state practices, outreach efforts, operational tools and vignettes from STC participants (employers and employees) who have benefitted from the program.
    The department encourages states to take advantage of federal financial incentives for states with active STC programs, available for only a limited time. The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 provided for 100 percent reimbursement of STC benefits for states with conforming STC programs through Aug. 22, 2015. States with conforming STC programs are also eligible for grants to support the implementation or improved administration of the STC program and to promote and enroll employers in the program. Applications for grants must be received by Dec. 31, 2014. Technical assistance is available from the department to help states develop their grant applications.
    For more information about STC and how states can take advantage of the federal financial incentives currently available, please visit https://stc.workforce3one.org.
    Editor's Note: Read the U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez's Short-Time Compensation: A Win for Employees and Employers blog post.
    The captions for the photographs are in the order in which they appear. 1) The Short-Time Compensation website is an online resource for states interested in developing or improving their STC programs, also known as work-sharing. 2) This is a *video message recorded by U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez regarding the benefits to states and employers of implementing STC programs. 3) This is a *video featuring vignettes from STC program participants (employers and employees) who have benefitted from the program.
    ETA News Release: [11/14/2013]
    Contact Name: David Roberts
    Phone Number: (202) 693-5945
    Email: Roberts.David@dol.gov
    Release Number: 13-2126-NAT

  2. Junior doctors back deal on working hours, Irish Independent via independent.ie
    DUBLIN, Ireland - Junior doctors have voted by a majority in favour of settlement proposals aimed at ending their long working hours.
    The doctors who are members of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) voted 76pc in favour and 24pc against the proposals worked out with the HSE at the Labour Relations Commission.
    However, industrial relations director Steve Tweed warned that if the HSE fails to honour its commitment on this issue, the IMO will escalate the campaign to secure the end of dangerously long working hours.
    Under the settlement proposal, the HSE has agreed to a timeline for the elimination of shifts of more than 24 hours and for the full implementation of the European Working Time Directive (EWTD).
    [Another take -]
    IMO hopeful deal will lead to better patient care, RTE News via rte.ie
    Non-Consultant Hospital Doctors will only be able to work shifts of up to 24 hours. (photo caption)
    ["Only" up to 24 hours? Physicians, heal yourselves!]
    DUBLIN, Ireland - The Irish Medical Organisation's [IMO's] Director of Industrial Relations has said he hopes there will be an improvement in patient care as a result of a new agreement on working hours for doctors.
    Steve Tweed said IMO members had put a lot of trust in the Health Service Executive to deliver on the new agreement.
    The agreement includes sanctions for hospitals if they breach rules on working hours.
    Under the proposals, Non-Consultant Hospital Doctors will only be able to work shifts of up to a maximum of 24 hours.
    Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Tweed said the campaign on working hours was all about delivering quality care for patients.
    "If you are dealing with a doctor who has been on his or her feet for 36 hours mistakes can be made."
    Mr Tweed said the sanction system was quite an incentive for hospitals to follow the rules.
    He said that he hoped the hospitals would not be in a situation where they lost money.
    The unique industrial relations agreement was taking money out of doctors' pockets as they will not be working previous levels of overtime, he added.
    However, he said it allowed for a more acceptable work/life balance.
    "This was all about patient care, and the delivery of proper quality care to patients. We hopefully will see an improvement in care to the patients," he said.

  3. Surbiton women's college asks staff to volunteer for fewer working hours, by Ross Logan, Surrey Comet via surreycomet.co.uk
    SURBITON, U.K. - Staff at a troubled women’s college in Surbiton have been asked to voluntarily cut their working hours in a bid to save cash.
    Hillcroft College, which was warned earlier this year its £1.5m funding could be cut unless it improved academic outcomes for students, has written to staff inviting them to reduce the number of hours they work.
    [Hours reductions, not staff reductions = timesizing, not downsizing.]
    The college, led by principal Michael Wheeler, said the programme is part of a package to save cash ahead of a proposed federation partnership with another college, due to be completed next year.
    In a statement released by the college, Mr Wheeler said: “Our financial health remains at the satisfactory Framework for Excellence grade.”
    The Surrey Comet asked the college how much it hoped to save through the programme, but is yet to receive a response.
    The University and College Union (UCU) is also yet to respond to the newspaper's requests for comment.
    But councillor Shiraz Mirza, a patron of the college, said: “Times are changing.
    “A lot of institutions are doing joined up working, such as Kingston College and Carshalton College.
    “It depends which way you want to take this story, but I think whatever is for the benefit of the college is a positive.
    “I’m sure they’re on track.”
    Hillcroft received an inadequate rating in Ofsted in December last year, and in March was issued with an improvement notice by the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) which warned it could cut its annual £1.5m funding to the college unless it improved.
    In September, Hillcroft announced it had agreed a plan with the SFA to become a federation with another London college.
    In 2010, Hillcroft was forced to dip into its building work reserves in order to write off a £443,000 loss following disastrous ticket sales for its ill-fated Sandown Park fundraising concert.

11/14/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Study says health law spurs cut in work hours, by Kellan Howell, (11/13 late pickup) WashingtonTimes.com
    [Good! Our work hours are far too long for the age of robotics.]
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - As President Obama’s new health care law struggles to sign up individual Americans for insurance, the law is facing resistance from small businesses, according to a new report released Wednesday.
    A study done by the International Franchise Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that 31 percent of franchise and 12 percent of non-franchise businesses have already cut worker hours to avoid higher costs of health coverage in anticipation of the impending mandate to provide their workers with health care insurance.
    Many businesses are adjusting their workforce and payrolls to avoid facing even more requirements under the law for larger employers, the poll found.
    “This research clearly confirms what the anecdotal stories have already conveyed,” said Stephen J. Caldeira, president and CEO of IFA. “This research should serve as a major red flag to Congress and the administration that unless there is a statutory change to the definition of a full-time employee in the ACA, there will be fewer full-time jobs, more part-time workers and fewer overall hours available for Americans to work as business owners adjust their workforce to comply with the law.”
    Many business owners said they were already suffering negative effects from Obamacare, a year before the small business insurance mandate goes into effect. Some 29 percent of franchisees and 41 percent of non-franchise businesses are already seeing health care cost increases due to the law. The law will force 28 percent of businesses to drop coverage for their employees. According to projections, the mandate will almost double the percentage of franchise-owned businesses and more than triple the percentage of non-franchise businesses that will not offer health insurance.
    “Instead of providing affordable health care coverage to employees, the law will effectively take hours and wages away from Americans who need and want full-time jobs,” said R. Bruce Josten executive vice president for government affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which opposed the health care law.
    IFA officials said that Congress could help employers by enacting legislation that would redefine full-time work status under the law.
    Sens. Susan M. Collins, Maine Republican, and Joe Donnelly, Indiana Democrat, have introduced legislation called the “Forty Hours is Full-Time Act of 2013,” which would change the definition of “full time” for the health law’s purposes from 30 hours to 40 hours per week and the number of hours counted toward a “full-time equivalent” employee to 17 hours per month. Similar bills have also been introduced in the House.
    The survey polled more than 400 businesses, both franchises and non-franchises, with from 40 to 500 employees.

  2. Junior doctors accept proposals on working hours, RTE News via RTE.ie
    Junior doctors will work no more than an average of 48 hours a week by the end of next year. (photo caption)
    DUBLIN, Ireland - Non-consultant hospital doctors belonging to the Irish Medical Organisation have voted to accept a package of proposals aimed at reducing their working hours.
    In September, 3,000 doctors went on strike over their current work schedules, which can see them working up to 100 hours a week and continuous shifts of up to 36 hours.
    76% of members voted to accept the proposals, which will see all doctors [or just junior doctors per photo caption?] working no more than an average of 48 hours a week by December 2014.

    IMO Director of Industrial Relations Steve Tweed warned that the doctors would take industrial action again if the Health Service Executive failed to honour its commitments on the issue.
    He said there remained significant problems with the HSE in respect of credibility and trust.
    Mr Tweed added that NCHDs remain to be convinced about the HSE's ability to deliver on the ground what they have agreed in the proposals.
    Minister for Health James Reilly welcomed the outcome and reiterated his "firm commitment to achieving full compliance" with the European Working Time Directive.
    In a statement, he said he would continue to "pursue as a priority other issues of concern to NCHDs, in particular the career pathway for doctors".

  3. UAE narrows holiday gaps between private and public sectors to woo Emiratis, by Ramola Talwar Badam rtalwar@thenational.ae, TheNational.ae
    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - The difference in working hours and holidays between the public and private sectors will be reduced as part of a plan to make non-Government jobs more accessible to Emiratis.
    Saqr Ghobash, the Minister of Labour, said today that changes to the law should be in place by the end of the year.
    The move is part of the ministry’s three-year “strategic plan for a policy for national labour” that will prioritise citizens. The plan will be in effect from next year.
    Mr Ghobash was at a workshop organised by the Ministry of Labour for public and private sector companies and the media.
    He said the meeting was in line with the ministry’s aim to partner with government institutions to ensure integration and improve cooperation with the private sector.
    “In this way we will be effective contributors in its advancement since it [the private sector] is the driver of economic development and is the strategic choice to enhance opportunities and challenges of employing nationals in the workforce,” Mr Ghobash said.
    “The strategic vision of the Ministry of Labour is a road map for the regulation of the labour market for the next three years.
    “This is in line with the federal Government plan and the Emirates 2021 plan and especially in terms of creating a diversified knowledge-based economy led by skilled Emiratis.” Humaid bin Dimas Al Suwaidi, assistant undersecretary for labour affairs, said the priority of the 2014-16 plan was to improve flexibility in the market, attract competence and increase productivity.
    Details of the plan, which was devised from numerous workshops over the past few months to analyse the challenges ahead, will be placed on the ministry’s website.
    Suggestions and proposals from the business community are welcomed.
    Mr Ghobash said that in line with directives from Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister, necessary amendments to the law would bridge the gap between the public and private sectors in terms of working hours, working days, annual leave and public holidays.
    He said he hoped the proposed amendments would be prepared by the end of the year.
    Sheikh Mansour said in February during a Government Summit in Dubai that private-sector weekends and public holidays would be brought in line with the public sector.
    The existing law grants a day a week of rest for private-sector workers, while government staff get two days off.
    The ministry estimates that the public sector receives 15 public holidays and 104 weekend days a year – 119 days off – but the private sector has just 10 public holidays and 52 weekend days, amounting to 62 days off.
    Over the past year, the Ministry has called for a national debate on proposals such as a guaranteed two-day weekend and a government supplement for Emirati salaries in the private sector.

    Job security, regulated working hours and higher wages are among the reasons Emiratis prefer the public sector.
    Figures from the National Statistics Bureau show that about 11.8 per cent of Emiratis are unemployed.
    There are only 20,000 Emiratis in the private sector out of more than four million people, compared with 225,000 Emiratis in the public sector.
    “We are always looking to recruit more locals within our company,” said Mohamed Al Shurfa, chairman of a private healthcare company, Health Plus.
    “The problem is nationals expect high salaries so there are not many working in the private sector. It is always very difficult to recruit them, especially in health care.
    “This is an attitude that needs to change. What people should be aware of is that if you have qualifications and experience you can still achieve and progress and earn more.”
    Initiatives such as the Government’s Emiratisation drive, Absher, which offers citizens incentives to work in the private sector and upgrades skills, came in for praise.
    Dr Juma Bilal Fairouz, chairman of the UAE Consumer Protection Society, said the private sector should mentor young Emiratis.
    “You [the private sector] should take care of them, train them, push them forward, trust them and they will produce results,” he said.
    “There is market competition everywhere. Both private and public sectors should not say a young local does not have experience so he cannot be hired, they must be trained.”
    * Additional reporting by Kyle Sinclair

11/13/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Clallam County seeks to eliminate furlough days, lower most workers' hours, PeninsulaDailyNews.com
    PORT ANGELES, Wash., USA — Clallam County officials want to eliminate furlough days and reassign non-emergency service employees to a 37.5-hour workweek effective Jan. 1, commissioners said Tuesday.
    County offices would be open five days a week in 2014 — no more periodic Monday closures — except holidays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
    Two years ago, the county and its unions agreed to 16 unpaid furlough days in 2012 and 16 more in 2013 as part of a concession package that expires at the end of this year.
    By reverting about 220 non-emergency service workers to a 37.5-hour schedule, Clallam County would reduce an anticipated $1.5 million budget shortfall by about $1.1 million, County Administrator Jim Jones said.
    The remainder of the shortfall would be covered by the county’s $10 million general fund reserve.
    Board Chairman Mike Chapman said conversations between the county and its unions are ongoing.
    “This [resolution] is just our intent,” Chapman said.
    “They may propose a different solution that works within our budget.”
    Clallam County first assigned its non-elected, non-24-hour emergency service personnel to 37.5 hours in 2002.
    “We’re just going back to that,” Jones said.
    Chapman said the elimination of furlough days is good for public service.

    Most county offices are closed on furlough days. The next furlough day is Monday.
    The resolution that the three commissioners approved unanimously would affect four unions: Teamsters Local Union 589, Washington State Council of County and City Employees Local 1619-Limited Commission Sheriff’s Employees, Local 1619-Managerial and Professional Employees and the Prosecuting Attorneys Association.
    The shorter workweek would not affect sheriff’s deputies, corrections deputies, juvenile service officers, patrol sergeants, corrections sergeants, elected officials or salaried workers.
    Jones said the decision to revert to a 37.5-hour work week was made by commissioners after they met with department heads and elected officials in a recent series of budget meetings.
    “It was part of the budget direction I was given,” Jones said in a work session Tuesday.
    “It’s really got nothing to do with bargaining. This isn’t a bargaining issue. Bargaining the effects of the decision is a bargaining issue, and that’s ongoing.”
    Jones and budget director Debi Cook are preparing a draft budget that will be available to the public on or about Nov. 20.
    A final budget will be approved after commissioners hold two public hearings at the courthouse on Dec. 3.
    Last week, Jones said the departmental budget meetings “probably went as smoothly, if not more so, this year than we’ve had since 2009 when the big fall in revenue started happening.”
    “I attribute that to the fact that we established a path forward and the board has been consistent within that, doing the best we can to keep levels of service to citizens and still live within our means,” Jones said.
    At the end of the budget meetings, which totaled more than 14 hours, commissioners directed Jones to draft a budget that caps reserve spending at $500,000.
    Commissioners will discuss the policy for the general fund reserve on Nov. 25.
    Chapman said the no-cuts budget maintains a “healthy reserve” for 2014 and beyond.
    “We’re working hard to reach agreement with the unions,” Chapman said last week.
    “We’re looking at restoring a five-day work week — no furloughs — and we’re not looking at new taxes.”
    The 2014 preliminary budget and last six adopted budgets are available at www.clallam.net under the “Budget and Finance” link on the left side of the home page.
    Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.
    [Another take -]
    Clallam County cutting hours for most employees, KONP.com
    PORT ANGELES, Wash., USA – Clallam County employees may soon be working a shift of 37 and a half hours per week.
    The exception would be emergency personnel who need to work a 40-hour week.
    Cutting the hours is one way county administrator Jim Jones says will help balance the county's budget next year.
    “I was directed to build the budget with 37 and a half hour weeks and apply to all employees that are not emergency services personnell,” said Jones.
    Jones says the move is still part of bargaining underway with the county's labor groups. But Jones says the cut in hours would save the county nearly a million dollars.
    “My estimate is it is just about a million to 1: 1 million dollars savings versus having everyone working 40 hours,” said Jones.
    County commissioners yesterday approved the resolution setting the 37 and half hour work week. Jones says he's unsure when the next round of bargaining will begin with the county's labor groups.
    “The resolution has nothing to do with bargaining,” said Jones. “This is saying this is what we are going to do. In bargaining we talk about the impacts of the decision.”
    All eight of the county's labor groups are negotiating new contracts this year. Concessions workers gave to the county two years ago expire at the end of this year.

  2. A 40-Hour Workweek Becomes a Company Perk in Recruiting, by Marissa Brassfield, (11/12 late pickup) ridiculouslyefficient.com
    SEATTLE, Wash., USA - Many of us hear the words “40 hour work week” and laugh, reminiscing about the days when that was a reality. Whether you hold the opinion that working longer days is beneficial or not, it is important to note that certain start-ups are beginning to advertise the perk of guaranteed 40-hour workweeks. These start ups aren’t the only advocates for shorter workweeks.
    Highlighted in a recent article, studies from Denmark have proven that a 25-hour workweek, given that it is executed perfectly, can be as effective as a 40-hour workweek. Not only does this shorter workweek cut company costs, it improves the quality of life for workers. This extra time can be spent with family, exercising, relaxing, and doing other things that you ordinarily wouldn’t have the time for.
    In no way am I saying that I expect any of you to cut back to 25-hour workweeks. But when your time chart for the week is approaching 60 hours, think about the work you have completed after you could have opted to clock out. Is it of the quality you know you are able to produce? There is a fine line between working over and overworking. Make sure you respect this line, and more importantly, respect yourself.

11/10-11-12/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Northwood YMCA cutting hours to save money, by Anthony Clark, 11/12 (11/11 late pickup) Gainesville.com
    GAINESVILLE, Fla., USA - The North Central Florida YMCA is temporarily cutting hours for the rest of the year at its Northwood facility to save money during slow times as the organization struggles with donations while coming out of bankruptcy.
    The new schedule starting today cuts three hours out of the middle of each weekday, shortens Saturday hours and eliminates Sunday hours.
    The new times to run through Dec. 30 are 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4-8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.
    The change removes 27 hours from the schedule, allowing the “Y” to save mostly on payroll, CEO John Bonacci said.
    It comes during a slow time of the year for the organization.
    “We took the hours that would have the least impact on membership,” he said.
    The cuts do not affect the after-school program or other youth programs, group exercise classes or groups that use the pool, he said.
    The Northwood YMCA at 5201 NW 34th Blvd. includes a pool and weight room.
    Bonacci previously warned that the cuts could be coming without more community support. The YMCA provides $193,000 in discounts and scholarships to subsidize services to low-income families, seniors on fixed incomes and at-risk youths. The organization also needs to upgrade facilities.
    The new hours will ensure the longevity of the organization, the YMCA said in a news release.
    [- of the organization and its jobs.]
    The YMCA said some donor help has come from McGriff-Williams Insurance to provide scholarships to at-risk youths, and facilities work from Perry Roofing, Mike Scott Plumbing, Skyfrog Tree Service and Scherer Construction.
    To donate to the YMCA’s facilities and equipment repairs or the Healthy Kids Scholarship Campaign, visit www.ncfymca.org or mail to 5201 NW 34th Blvd., Gainesville, FL 32605.

  2. Will the 35 hour work week ever become standard in the U.S.? by nep321, 11/10 City-Data.com
    NORWALK, Conn., USA - I'm 29 years old and have been in the full time career workforce for 7 years now. As of now, the standard work week is 40 hours (or more) depending on your position, company, industry and profession. But I gotta be honest here. I think even 40 hours a week is slightly pushing it. I think a 35 hour work week would be perfect, and with at least 4 weeks of vacation per year. So, you come into work at 9 AM and have a 1-hour lunch and leave at 5 PM. What's so bad about that? And you get 4 weeks of vacation per year, so that's one week per quarter.
    [Deconcentrating natural market-demanded employment and cutting the concept of "full time" is no longer a lahdeedah lifestyle matter of optional work-life balance - it's a system requirement, because it's the easiest way to engineer an employer-viewed labor "shortage" and get wages rising again, to centrifuge the dysfunctional black hole in the money supply crushed into the bulging pockets of the super-rich, who spend and donate the smallest percentage of their money, and are evidently past the point where they can invest their trillions sustainably let alone usefully job-creation-wise.]
    It's very common in Europe, but over here in America you sound like a lazy slacker if you advocate such things. I don't know...but 8 hours of work per day is when it becomes tiring and unhealthy.
    For me, I personally only work at companies that value work life balance and vacation time. Fortunately, my work week is 40 hours and I get 23 PTO days [paid time off] per year, so I don't really complain. But I think 35 hour weeks would be ideal, with a 1 hour lunch break or combination of breaks.
    I'm a corporate tax accountant.

  3. My head is tired, by Tom Toles, 11/11 WashingtonPost.com (blog)
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Do you ever feel like your head is tired? What can you do? Sleep? But it’s Working Hours! Tasks to be be done.
    [Yes, sacred Working Hours, capitalized and exclamation-marked! and forever frozen since 1940 at the sacrosanct Forty Hour level! Nevermind that forty is an historical accident. Nevermind that was half what it was 100 years earlier. Nevermind we've got more worksaving technology than ever before in history. Nevermind we're tolerating higher levels of official unemployment than ever since we started keeping records. Nevermind we've got more hidden unemployment than ever since we started keeping records, such as welfare, disability, homelessness, incarceration... Nevermind "the surplus of us" that we've allowed to build up to the point of flattening and sinking wage levels, despite employers' protestations of "labor shortage" which would only be proved by rising wages. And nevermind the record excess productive capacity we've allowed to build up because with sinking pay and benefits, we can't possibly buy our own potential productivity.]
    We proceed. But please forgive an even larger deficiency of machine-tooled mental acuity as I try to digest this interesting story I noticed last week. A story which struck me as more significant than it set out to be.
    First of all it features a photo of a guy on a unicycle which has about as little to do with the story as a photo possibly could. And yet! And yet, as it happens, I can ride a unicycle. That is not surprising, I suppose, given my constellation of eccentricities, but let me pause to tell you about it briefly. It’s hard to learn how to do. When learning to ride a bicyle [sic], there are two directions you can tip. Left or right, and your politics are determined by that for the rest of your life. But on a unicycle you can fall in 360 different directions. The trick is to get the wheel travelling in the direction you are falling. It’s fun when you get it, a very bubbly fluid feeling. Now I’ll see if I can start falling in the direction of my point here.
    The linked story leads with a victory over big cable, which is as misleading as the unicycle photo. The story itself is a maddening account of Big Cable’s actual power, which is detailed and considerable. Yet another example of how the US System, if you can call it a system, frustrates progress and rationality.
    But I want to make a still different point, the one I hope you’ll excuse for its tired-head aspect. But big cable seems at this moment in my mind to be symptomatic of a larger problem in the “US System.” That is the current tendency for our much celebrated “competition” to settle into a legal but rigged semi-monopoly pattern where the competition is very circumscribed and very hard to break into, with the benefits flowing to a tiny group of winners-take-all. Can we revive a national discussion of this (new?) kind of quasi-monopoly economy and whether it’s good for us please?
    [It isn't good for anybody, not even the tiny group of winners-take-all, because they have nothing sustainable to invest in, since that requires marketable productivity and by funneling to themselves so much of the money supply, they haven't left enough in warp-speed circulation in their markets, and they have nowhere to stash it all fast except one no-fundamentals investment bubble after another. This is a core system gap = no mechanism to keep enough of the money supply in warp-speed circulation and prevent too much of it from concentrating and coagulating. And we believe the working hours mentioned at the start are the key to the problem and its solution. Our suggestion for such a mechanism? Timesizing. and its successor programs for when Timesizing has done all it can.]
    You can start, I have to go lie down now.
    [No prob. We've just got up from a little lie-down.]
    Tom Toles is the editorial cartoonist for The Washington Post.
    [And before that he was cartooning in Buffalo, right across the lake from the big T-O (Toronto), mah home town.]

  4. Most firms burdened by moves to cut working hours: poll, by Nam Kwang-sik ksnam@yna.co.kr, 11/10 (11/11 dateline issue) Yonhap News Agency via english.yonhapnews.co.kr
    SEOUL, South Korea -- A majority of South Korean companies are under pressure from a bill to cut their employees' working hours, which ranked high among a group of advanced countries, a poll showed Monday.
    According to the survey of 503 companies by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), most companies polled worried that, with the reduced working hours, they will fail to meet the deadline to deliver goods to their clients.
    The South Korean government and the ruling party are seeking to push for a bill aimed at reducing the maximum working hours per week to 52 hours in 2016 from the current 68 hours.
    [What happened to the 44 to 40 shrinkage in the S.Korean workweek by company size in seven steps between 2004 and 2011?]
    The companies said that the government should either delay implementing reduced hours or introduce varied requirements depending on the size of the companies.

    [No matter how excessive and outdated and inappropriate for current levels of technology, working-hour limits will always be complained-about by some employers, namely the incompetent and shortsighted ones who want to freeload on the markets supplied by other employers' less overworked and more remunerated employees.]
    Of those polled, 55 percent said that the bill to reduce the working time should be implemented after 2016, with 22.7 percent saying that it should take effect starting 2016.
    According to a 2013 ranking by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), South Koreans' annual average working time reached 2,090 hours in 2011, the second most among the OECD member countries. Mexicans worked the longest hours per year on average in 2011.
    [And what about China?]
    A report by the Ministry of Strategy and Finance in September last year said South Korea's average weekly working hours of 44.6 hours ranked the highest among the advanced countries, while its average annual income level did not match up to the long hours.
    [Gee, maybe pay doesn't go with hours, yathink? Maybe it goes with supply & demand like everything else, and if there's an oversupply, it goin' down. If pay went with hours, the grotesquely polluted, overpopulated and overworked nation of Chinese pre-karoshi's would be the highest paid workers in the world, instead of the lowest, all reversible in five years with TImesizing and its successor programs. Oh sorry, our power elite wants us to regard China as a glowing future for ourselves instead of a sci-fi nightmare.]

11/09/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Goldman Sachs pushes to end 100 hour Wall Street work week, by Brendan MdDermid, (11/08 late pickup) Reuters via RT.com
    MOSCOW, Russia - A leading Wall Street bank is forcing its staff to take time off, and banning them from the office at the weekend. Goldman Sachs wants its junior employees not to over-work and has set up a task force to break the 100 hour a week stereotype.
    As a part of the general move by the Wall Street firms Goldman Sachs wants to give its workforce more predictable hours, as well as better opportunities and feedback, Bloomberg reports.
    The bank sent a note forbidding staff to work during a weekend creating a 36 hour break saying they must not enter the office between 9PM on Friday and 9AM on Sunday.

    Goldman also said that “work should not shift from office to home,” adding that staff are “strongly encouraged” to take three weeks holiday a year.
    A special group of the executives from all around the world called the junior banker task force will also work on improving career development, said Michael DuVally, a company spokesman.
    “The goal is for our analysts to want to be here for a career,” David Solomon, Goldman’s co-head of investment banking, said in an e-mailed statement. “We want them to be challenged, but also to operate at a pace where they’re going to stay here and learn important skills that are going to stick. This is a marathon, not a sprint.”
    Last year Goldman Sachs decided to make investment banking analysts full-time employees instead of giving them two year contracts. This move is directed to keep working hours more organized and stimulate managers’ feedback.
    Providing better conditions to employees, the bank intends to fight for talented recruits against rival private equity funds.
    The average US banks’ wage is shrinking. Within 9 month Goldman Sachs' salary costs have dropped 5 percent, while revenue has increased by 2 percent. According to Johnson Associates Inc. the average financial analysts' salary fluctuates between $70,000 and $90,000 a year. Powered with bonuses it may escalate up to $140,000.

  2. Dan Ariely Answers Readers on..Federal Furloughs, Wall Street Journal via wsj.com
    DURHAM, N.C., USA - Dear Dan,
    I am the president of a local union that represents many federal workers. We are dealing with an interesting complaint stemming from the days during the government shutdown when employees were furloughed. Staffers who were furloughed are getting back pay for the days they were off, and because of this the employees who were designated as exempted from the furloughs (who originally felt special about their status and contribution) now feel gypped: Some of them expressed feeling like “a fool for working while others got to stay home.” Any advice? —Robert
    The current approach is clearly the wrong way to design paybacks after a furlough. Since we are likely to experience more government shutdowns in years to come, maybe we should have a strategy for such situations.
    I would suggest creating small groups composed of both furloughed and exempt employees and letting each furloughed worker decide how much back pay he or she is willing to contribute to the exempt workers in that group. A lot of research shows that people care to some degree about the welfare of others and about fairness, even when it comes at a cost to their own pocketbooks. This kind of social utility should get the furloughed workers to act fairly, and they are likely to be extra fair if the amount they give is posted publicly and contributes to their good reputation.
    It’s possible that the government will step in and do something to correct the issue. In the meantime, my approach won’t completely fix the problem, but it should make the distribution of income more equitable and, just as important, increase comradeship among employees.
    Dan Ariely is an Israeli American professor of psychology and behavioral economics. He teaches at Duke University and is the founder of The Center for Advanced Hindsight...

11/08/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Administration considers moving to four-day workweek - The college would be open, but classes will [sic] not be offered, by Emily Rodriguez erodriguez734@student.alamo.edu, (11/08 late pickup) San Antonio College Ranger via TheRanger.org
    SAN ANTONIO, Tex., USA - A proposal to eliminate Friday classes by making a four-day workweek was discussed with Student Government Association officers Oct. 29 and is being considered by the college executive team.
    The Student Government Association officers learned of the proposal during a briefing with the college administration. SGA meets with President Robert Zeigler; Robert Vela, vice president for student and academic success; and David Mrizek, vice president of college services, to be briefed on current issues, so they can discuss it during their regular meetings.
    Andrew Hubbard, SGA president and business administration freshman, said in an interview Sunday the association will not decide on a stance on the proposal until it has been discussed at a regular meeting and surveys have been conducted.
    The proposal was discussed at the Nov. 4 meeting of SGA.
    Zeigler said in an interview Nov. 1 the proposal is in its preliminary stages and nothing has been decided.
    “It’s something that we were looking at, but we haven’t even thoroughly discussed it with department chairs,” he said. “If we do, it would be Monday-Wednesday, Tuesday-Thursday schedule.”
    Zeigler said the reason behind the proposal is to give students Fridays off to study and would allow faculty to have meetings and work on professional development.
    “I’m not sure if the (proposed) scheduling is workable. I’m not sure we have the space during the four days to compress stuff. There’s just a lot that we need to work out. It’s just a thought,” he said.
    The idea has been talked about for years, but is now getting a closer look to see if it can be implemented, he said. “It’s just a thing that we had decided after we had talked about it. There was no magic moment. We just decided that it was time to see if we could possibly do it,” he said.
    [- boredom-driven? -]
    The change would not save the college money because the college and services would still be open, but classes would not be offered.

    The proposal will be discussed throughout the spring semester by the college executive team and the department chairs.
    Once a plan is in place, the board of trustees must approve.
    “We do a four-day week in the summer. Some departments have their classes on a four-day schedule because of the nature of the way the classes or the disciplines work. All of those things would come after we make a decision, but we’re not there yet,” Zeigler said.
    English Chair Mike Burton said Thursday the four-day workweek would be detrimental to the English department’s students.
    The department is teaching four-hour courses to accommodate changes in developmental English and reading courses.
    Burton said if the college switches to a four-day workweek, English flex classes will have to meet two days a week for three hours and 20 minutes.
    If the college remains open as it is now, flex classes can still meet three times a week for two hours and 15 minutes a class.
    Burton said although the four-day workweek could give students more flexibility to balance work and school, it would not be a good idea to give students a three-day weekend every weekend.
    Business Chair Val Calvert said in an interview Nov. 7 moving to a four-day week would be a good idea because of the high rate of student absenteeism on Fridays.
    Most classes within the business department are scheduled for Monday-Wednesday, Tuesday-Thursday schedule.
    “Students are our clientele or customers, you have to look at what they’re telling you. What they’re showing you is that they don’t want to be here on Fridays,” Calvert said. “When you’re serving a segment of society we have to base our services and products on their aspirations, not necessarily our own."

  2. State still figuring out federal furlough benefits - Questions linger over how many federal employees in Oregon applied for unemployment benefits during shutdown: Oregon & the Economy, y Molly Young myoung@oregonian.com, OregonLive.com
    SALEM, Ore., USA - The trouble with unemployment data is there's always a wrinkle, some of them [sic] bigger than others.
    Thousands of Oregon workers were furloughed when the federal government pushed pause last month. And a lot of them filed initial claims for unemployment insurance.
    How many?
    Good question. The state is still sorting out an answer.
    It probably won't be 733, the number initially released to the press. Or 4,142, a number compiled from weekly reports. Let me explain.
    This is where things get interesting. (And a bit wonky.)
    When government agencies powered back to life, Oregon shot into the national spotlight. Turns out Oregon federal workers who cashed unemployment checks could keep the money, on top of back wages that Congress eventually promised to pay.
    That deal didn't last long. Federal labor officials ruled Oct. 24 that workers must pay the benefits back.
    A day later, the Oregon Employment Department let everybody know about the reversal.
    [Better to be arguing over more or less money during hourscuts than low or no money during jobcuts.]
    "Approximately 733 federal workers made an initial claim for unemployment insurance in Oregon during the shutdown for a total of $389,739 paid in benefits," the agency's press release said.
    Another 1,153 workers were paid out under existing claims, according to the release. Those payments added up to another $450,000.
    The stats were the agency's best estimates at the time, said David Gerstenfeld, who leads the unemployment insurance division.
    Spokesman Tom Fuller said the data used in the release "wasn’t a measure of what the demand was."
    That number is likely much higher.
    Four weeks' worth of reports show about 4,100 federal workers filed initial claims for unemployment insurance last month. The state is sifting through each of those claims to figure out just how many were tied to the federal shutdown, which lasted from Oct. 1- Oct. 16.
    Some workers never followed up with additional paperwork to actually receive the benefits. Others did, but their claims weren't processed before the Oct. 24 rule change.
    And a lot of federal workers may have actually lost their jobs in October, because of normal seasonal swings.
    Once all those questions are answered, the real number will shake out. Fuller says the agency will be happy to share it.

11/07/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Update: James River Coal issues furloughs at Perry mines, by Amelia Holliday, ClaiborneProgress.net
    HAZARD, Ky., USA—On the same day Gov. Steve Beshear touted the Commonwealth’s rank as ninth best economic climate in the country as being “proof that Kentucky’s economy is heading in the right direction,” according to The Lane Report, the Eastern Kentucky coalfields felt the pain of yet another round of job cuts in the region.
    The James River Coal Company officially announced in a press release on Thursday that “due to continued weakness in the coal market” the company idled two underground and two surface mines, along with a preparation plant, at the Buckeye complex in Jeff, furloughing approximately 200 employees and contractors. The company said it hopes to reopen the mines in early 2014 depending on market conditions.
    James River Coal idled production at three other complexes in September, according to a report in The Floyd County Times, leading to the furlough of approximately 525 full-time employees in Eastern Kentucky. According to the company’s press release, notices for layoffs had begun to be sent out as of Oct. 16 “to a majority of those employees after determining that the date of re-opening these operations was unknown.”
    During a public conference call on Thursday morning concerning the company’s third quarter earnings, Chairman, President and CEO Peter Socha commented on the state of all of the company’s operations.
    “Could not be happier with mine operations right now,” he said. “Obviously in this type of a market it’s hard to stay focused, but these guys have been able to.”
    Socha went on to say that while the situation may seem bad it is not as bad as the company had anticipated.
    “Things are better. Things were terrible. I think they’re better now. It doesn’t mean they’re good, they’re just better,” Socha said.
    Senior Vice President C. K. Lane also spoke during the conference call, explaining that the company’s net loss of $25.5 million for the third quarter of 2013, as well as the cost and production at the mining complexes, was better than expected. He added that the company is looking forward now to what is to come in the next quarter.
    “Our biggest focus is on holding costs on the idled operations,” he said.
    Perry County Clerk Haven King said he had received multiple phone calls from miners in the area who had been furloughed Wednesday morning from the Buckeye complex. He added that job cuts such as these have a ripple effect and will be felt in other areas besides just coal production.
    “They got drivers, they got mechanics on them, they got places where they buy their fuel, tires grease, their antifreeze. They’re got to buy parts, and the list goes on and on,” he said.” It’s tough, and I think we’re going to see more.”
    Rep. Fitz Steele also said he had heard about the furloughs as early as Wednesday morning.
    “Family members did get laid off, that I was notified about this morning. As far as how many, I don’t know. Being a coal miner myself, we’re family, they’re family, and this is a terrible time of the year—it’s a terrible time anytime—to be laid off,” he said. “My heart goes out to all the families and to the coal company also."

  2. Healthcare Debate About What is Considered Full Time, by Phyllis Smith, WDTV.com
    FAIRMONT, W.Va., USA - It may seem like the healthcare debate just keeps going and going, now there's another section of it that has come under fire.
    Some people are fired up about how some lawmakers want to make a 30 hour work week quality as full time. This is so more workers could have access to healthcare.
    While some of you think this is a great idea, others think it'll limit economic growth.
    [So why sacrifice personal freedom for economic "growth" - which seems to be benefitting only the financial sector, if even them?!]
    Senator Joe Manchin is one of those against it. He and several other senators co-sponsored the Forty Hours is Full Time Act. They said that under the Affordable Care Act, effective health care reform should increase access to coverage, but not stop economic growth.
    [How could reductions in the human workweek possibly stop economic growth anyway, when robots today are churning out stuff continuously, so much stuff that we can't possibly sell it all?!]
    Their concern is that working 30 hours a week is too low to be considered full time.
    [That's what they thought about the 40-hour workweek in 1840 when "full time" was over 80 hours a week.]
    They also argued it's out of step with current standards.
    [Whose current standards? Europe's current standards are closer to 35 hrs/wk, and they're generally more productive and less "luddite" = resistant to technology than we are. And some of our most conservative industries, like insurance and academe, have had 35-hour workweeks for decades.]
    One man said he disagrees. He thinks working 30 hours a week is very similar to working full time.
    Upshur County resident Charles Smith said, " I think it'd be a good idea. It'd help people that are only getting so many hours. It would help them a lot. They work hard too."

    Another man agreed with the bill. He said he didn't think it would be fair for those working 30 hours to be considered full time.
    College student Phil Fisher said, "There are other people who can work up to a 14 hour work day and maybe not even get as many benefits as those who would be working the 30 hours."
    Those who support the bill want to define a full-time employee as someone who works 40 hours a week.

  3. Nov. 7, 1932: Five-day work week originator dies, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle via democratandchronicle.com
    ROCHESTER, N.Y., USA - Nov. 7, 1932: Malcolm Gray, the Rochester industrialist credited with paring down Americans' standard work week to 40 hours, died after an illness at age 65.
    Gray, born in Canada and raised in Nebraska and Michigan, started the Rochester Can Company in 1908 after some business successes elsewhere. Business boomed during World War I, when the company provided trench helmets and other military supplies to U.S. troops.
    Gray's several hundred employees worked six days a week, like most factory workers in America. Unions had also gradually whittled work days down to eight hours, although that was not uniform.
    While eating Christmas dinner with his family in 1921, Gray announced he had a gift for his workers - a five-day work week, beginning Jan. 2., 1922.
    "We produce more in five days than we did in six," Gray was quoted as saying at the time.
    "There would be no use in trying to fool myself into ascribing merit to the plan which it does not deserve, for I am the fellow who pays the bills." ... "A five-day work week gives the boys in the shop a little more leisure, such as I like for myself."
    The plan drew national notice and Henry Ford came to inspect Gray's Greenleaf Street plant. He approved and soon introduced the five-day week to his employees at the Ford Motor Company, creating momentum for it to become the national standard.
    The Rochester Can Company was passed through the Gray family, changing names and locations several times. It's now Gray Flex Systems Inc., based in North Carolina. Malcolm Gray was buried in Mount Hope Cemetery.

11/06/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Goldman spells out new rules on working hours for its juniors, by Katie Hope, CITY A.M. via cityam.com
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - Goldman Sachs last night detailed the new rules for its junior employees, aimed at ensuring they work more regular hours.
    In a memo to remind staff that the so-called ‘Saturday rule’ begins this weekend, junior bankers were told they were “required” to be out of the office from 9pm on Friday until 9am on Sunday
    [So, no longer working on the Sabbath but still working on the Lord's Day.]
    If a junior employee is required to work on Saturday then the team is asked to state the “business critical reason” why. “Exceptions will not be the norm and should be used sparingly,” it states in the memo.
    The bank said it would track exceptions to the rule and report them on a quarterly basis.
    It emphasised that juniors should not log in from home and work, but said they should still check their blackberries on “a regular basis” on weekends.
    “We want them to be challenged, but also to operate at a pace where they’re going to stay here and learn important skills that are going to stick. This is a marathon, not a sprint,” David Solomon, co-head of investment banking said on the new rules when they were first revealed.
    The industry came in for criticism after the death of Bank of America Merrill Lynch intern Moritz Erhardt this summer, when it was revealed he had been working long hours.
    [Another take -]
    Saturday Becomes Caturday at Goldman Sachs, by Sean Vitka, Slate.com
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - Junior bankers at Goldman Sachs just got some good news. According to Dealbreaker, a new rule says that “[a]ll analysts and associates are required to be out of the office from 9 p.m. on Friday until 9 a.m. on Sunday,” beginning this weekend.
    The finance world—especially in New York City—isn’t known for short workweeks. Goldman Sachs' new rule reflects that rather stunningly. Analysts and associates must be out not by close of business, but midevening, on Fridays. And ... they can come back on Sunday. To a cynic, it may appear as a perverse endorsement of a six-day workweek.
    Oh, and exceptions are allowed.
    But really, if the rule withstands time, it looks promising, and I’d encourage you to read the whole announcement before judging. Since a lot of the problematic requests from employers come from immediate supervisors, rather than a corporate policy or mandate, the most reassuring parts are the two following items: “Exceptions will not be the norm and should be used sparingly.” “Exceptions will be tracked and reported to Exec Comm on a quarterly basis.”
    That’s code for: We’ll know if you’re abusing your juniors.
    So it appears junior Goldman Sachs employees will be able to rely on at least one day a week off to post pictures of cats to message boards or whatever they choose to do with it. As anyone with friends in the finance industry knows, that’s nothing to scoff at.
    Sean Vitka holds a J.D. from Boston College Law School. He was a legal fellow at the Open Technology Institute and a Google Policy Fellow at Georgetown Law.

  2. ObamaCare Cuts Low-Wage Work Hours; IBD List At 363, by Jed Graham, Investor's Business Daily via news.investors.com
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - The White House is touting a McKinsey & Co. finding that 7 million mostly uninsured, low-wage earners can get free coverage via the health exchanges — once they are more functional.
    But upon closer inspection, even this seemingly upbeat data point has a downside.
    Many of the low-wage workers with so much to gain from free health care also may have the most to lose from ObamaCare.
    Consider the near-minimum-wage caregivers at the Visiting Nurse Association of El Paso, who had their work hours cut from as much as 39 per week to a maximum of 29.
    [The right deed but not in the right way.]
    VNA of El Paso is among 12 new additions to IBD's list of 363 employers cutting work hours to limit the cost of complying with ObamaCare health mandate.
    Back in February, VNA, a provider of home care and hospice services, had 330 employees at or above the 30-hour-per-week threshold at which ObamaCare penalties apply.
    "We began the orderly process of reducing their weekly hours with disastrous consequence for the employees and their patients," ex-El Paso Mayor and CEO Joe Wardy told IBD.
    His industry in Texas pays about $7.50 an hour with no benefits "because there is no margin in the reimbursement (from Medicaid) for any type of benefits."
    ObamaCare meant a big spike in compensation costs with no extra revenue to make ends meet.
    "As a result, the most vulnerable workers are being affected greatly by the law," said Wardy, a Democrat.
    It should be no surprise that there are other home-care providers on IBD's list. Lori's Angels in Pennsylvania cut work hours from as much as 40 per week to 29.5 and the Area Agency on Aging of Western Arkansas capped the workweek for 500 aides and drivers at 28 hours. Reports of additional employers taking similar actions haven't yet been verified.
    Also no surprise, the average workweek for nonsupervisors among providers of home-care and transportation services to the elderly and disabled has sunk to a record low of 27.3 hours a week, down a full hour from a year ago.
    Also added to IBD's list this week is national wedding gown retailer David's Bridal, which is shifting full-time workers to part-time status to get around the Affordable Care Act's employer mandate.
    An $8-per-hour full-time stylist at David's Bridal sent IBD the text of a letter she received in the mail that read, in part: "We regret to inform you that due to the needs of the business we are changing your status from full time to part time effective Sunday, November 24, 2013.

11/05/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. In Part-Time Jobs, Women Outearn Men, by Catherine Rampell, (11/04 late pickup) New York Times (blog) via economix.blogs.nytimes.com
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - The oft-lamented gender wage gap disappears and actually reverses when only part-time workers are considered, according to a new data release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
    Among workers who usually work part time (that is, under 35 hours), the median usual weekly earnings of women were 110 percent of that for men in 2012. For full-timers (35 hours and up), the median female worker made about 81 percent of what the median male worker made.
    Oddly, for the part-timers who worked the fewest hours — that is one to four hours a week — the wage gap still went in men’s favor.
    These numbers, of course, probably reflect which kinds of jobs correlate with certain numbers of hours per week. In other words, the kind of three-hour-per-week position that a woman is more likely to take may happen to be in a lower-paying occupation than the kind of three-hour-per-week position that a man is more likely to take.
    Even within occupations, though, there are differences in pay. That same report also had an extensive table showing the median wage gap by occupation for all full-time workers. Note that these numbers are for median workers logging at least 35 hours in an occupation, and do not control for how many hours are worked beyond that 35-hour threshold....
    The report also reveals that the wage gap is narrower for younger workers, but that’s actually been true for a while.
    Women in their teens have made around 90 percent of what their male counterparts earned since at least 1979, the earliest year of data listed, and the same is true for women in their early 20s since about 1987. Over time, women 25 to 34 have also sharply narrowed the wage gap, perhaps related to the fact that women have delayed childbearing. But once you hit that 35-to-44 age range, a penalty of around 22 to 25 cents on the dollar seems pretty persistent.

  2. Avoid a Halloween horror: use fluctuating workweek to protect your company if exempt employees are misclassified, by Tony McGrath, (10/25 late pickup) Constangy Brooks & Smith LLP via Lexology (registration)
    [Not our usage of fluctuating workweek but good to get the frozen workweek thawed and to undercut any employers' assertion that fluctuating a fluctuating workweek for all (fluctuating against unemployment for instance) is expensive or unimaginable.]
    ATLANTA, Ga., USA - Editor's note: Some state laws, including those in California and Pennsylvania, do not allow the use of the fluctuating workweek method at all. Please be sure to check your state wage and hour laws carefully.
    Just in time for Halloween, a Texas law firm got some scary news in an overtime case brought by a former paralegal. The paralegal was misclassified as exempt from the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act and was owed for 274 hours of overtime. A federal judge in the Northern District of Texas had awarded the paralegal 50 percent of her regular rate for the overtime hours, applying a fluctuating workweek concept. But on October 11, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which hears appeals from federal courts in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, said that she was actually owed 150 percent of her regular rate.
    The Black decision [so the above is "the Black decision"?] serves as a warning that wage-hour policies and practices can come back to haunt employers. On the other hand, proper application of the fluctuating workweek can significantly reduce an employer's damages in the event of a misclassification.
    The Fluctuating Workweek
    The FLSA requires that non-exempt employees receive no less than one-and-a-half times their regular rate of pay for any hours worked in excess of 40 in a given workweek. This general rule applies to hourly employees and to salaried, non-exempt employees, such as clerical employees. Normally, if the employer misclassifies a non-exempt employee as "exempt" and does not pay overtime, the employer would owe the employee back pay at a rate of 150 percent (time and a half) of the employee's regular rate for the overtime hours.
    The fluctuating workweek exception may apply to salaried, non-exempt employees. (It does not apply to hourly employees under any circumstances.) If the employee and employer agree that the employee will be paid a fixed salary each week that is intended to compensate the employee for all hours worked – no matter how many or how few – then the exception would apply. Thus, when when [sic] a "fluctuating workweek" employee works more than 40 hours, he or she has already been compensated at the "straight time" rate for all of the hours worked that week. (The straight time rate would be the employee's regular rate, which would be the weekly salary divided by the number of hours worked during the relevant workweek.) Because the employee has already been paid all of the straight time owed for the week, the employer who failed to pay overtime owes only the additional overtime premium (50 percent of the employee's regular rate, instead of 150 percent).
    Want to explore the use of the fluctuating workweek for your employees? Download Constangy's free iPhone app here. From the home screen, go to Resources > Wage and Hour Calculators > Overtime Due on Salaries. Just fill in your numbers and see the significant impact the fluctuating workweek method has on reducing overtime payments.
    The fluctuating workweek method can clearly be used by an employer prospectively to comply with the overtime requirements for salaried, non-exempt employees, provided that the employer follows the requirements in the regulation. But what if the employer did not contemplate a fluctuating workweek situation until after it found out that it had misclassified its salaried employee as exempt? Can the fluctuating workweek method apply retroactively? This issue has caused tension in the federal courts. The U.S. Courts of Appeal for the First Circuit (Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Puerto Rico) and Tenth Circuit (Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, Wyoming) have allowed the fluctuating workweek method to apply retroactively. However, more recent decisions have held that the regulation is inherently forward-looking and cannot be used to calculate damages in a misclassification case. Thus, those courts have focused on whether there is a way, independent of the regulation, to limit misclassification damages to half time.
    The news appears to be good for employers. Relying on the Supreme Court's opinion in Overnight Motor Transp. Co. v. Missel, rather than the regulation, an increasing number of courts hold that a misclassified employee is entitled only to the overtime premium (50 percent of the regular rate, as opposed to 150 percent) when there is evidence that the weekly salary was intended to compensate the employee for all hours worked. As of the date of publication, the Fourth, Fifth, Seventh, and Eleventh circuits*, as well as district courts across the country, have adopted the Missel-based half-time method of calculating overtime damages in misclassification cases. This has also been the longstanding enforcement position of the U.S. Department of Labor. In summary, although the reasoning may vary, currently six U.S. Courts of Appeal and the DOL hold that half-time is the appropriate remedy in misclassification cases where there is evidence that the salary is intended to cover all hours worked.
    *The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit hears appeals from federal courts in Maryland, the Carolinas, Virginia, and West Virginia. The Seventh Circuit hears appeals from federal courts in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. The Eleventh Circuit hears appeals from federal courts in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia.
    Policies and practices matter
    Although the Fifth Circuit is one of the circuits that generally applies the half time method in calculating overtime in misclassification cases, it did not do so in the Black case, demonstrating that the employer's policies and practices matter. And, if not constructed carefully, those polices and practices can cost the employer in the event of an overtime lawsuit.
    The half-time computation may be applied in a misclassification case only when there is evidence that the fixed weekly salary was paid as compensation for all hours worked each week, however few or many. In making this determination, the court will look at both the parties' initial understanding of the salary arrangement and their course of conduct over the course of the relationship. This, of course, means that when the employee may work less than the full weekly expected number of hours, the salary is not reduced or pro-rated to account for the lesser hours worked.
    In Black, the Fifth Circuit found that the parties initially understood the salary to cover only 37.5 hours of work per week. The firm's Human Resources Director testified that she was unaware of any fluctuating workweek agreement with the paralegal. Both a firm partner and the firm's employee handbook defined "full time" as 37.5 hours per week. Likewise, the firm's payroll records indicated that the paralegal was paid for 37.5 hours each week. Not surprisingly, the Court found no evidence of an agreement that the employee's salary was intended as compensation for all hours worked. The parties' course of conduct led to the same conclusion. Although the evidence showed that the paralegal's hours did, in fact, fluctuate from week to week, it also revealed that the paralegal lodged both verbal and written complaints when she did not receive overtime compensation. The Court found that this strongly indicated that the paralegal did not understand her salary to compensate her for all hours worked each week.
    Based on these findings, the Fifth Circuit held that the district court had no basis for applying the half-time methodology and awarding only an overtime premium (50 percent of the paralegal's regular rate for all overtime hours worked). The Court remanded the case to the district court with instructions to award damages based on a time-and-a-half rate instead (150 percent of the paralegal's regular rate for all overtime hours worked).
    How to get the benefit of "fluctuating workweek" in the event of a misclassification
    No employer wants to find itself on the losing end of a misclassification lawsuit. But if there has been a misclassification, it's a lot less painful to owe 50 percent of the employee's regular rate than 150 percent. Because misclassifications are not uncommon, employers should consider preventively adopting the fluctuating workweek method for compensating their salaried employees. Employers should learn from the mistakes of the law firm in Black and consider the following:
    • Exempt employees paid on a salary basis should be required to sign a document at the beginning of their employment acknowledging that their salary is intended to compensate them for "all hours worked." Alternatively, this information should be included in the employee's offer letter or other documentation disclosing the employee's salary.
    • Employee handbooks and other documents should not define "full-time employee" for wage and hour compliance purposes as an employee working a specific number of hours, such as 37.5. However, exempt employees paid on a salary basis may be told that they are expected to work a specified "minimum" number of hours, or that the company may expect their work hours to reach a specified "average" over the course of their employment.
    • If the company publishes work schedules or has policies regarding "normal" office hours for exempt employees, the employee handbook should have a policy stating that such schedules or hours are not controlling and that the employee may work more or fewer hours in a given week depending on the business necessities.
    • If possible, payroll software should not automatically record exempt employees as working a set number of hours per week. If this is unavoidable, exempt employees should be informed that the hours recorded in the payroll software are required by the software and do not reflect the actual number of hours for which they are being compensated.
    • Finally, management and human resources employees should understand the concept that salaries are intended to compensate employees for all hours worked, and be able to cogently explain that to employees and others.
    These simple steps can significantly mitigate the overtime damages that an employer would owe in the event that an employee is found to have been misclassified -- damages that would surely haunt the employer for years to come.
    Again, California and Pennsylvania, and possibly other states, do not allow the use of the fluctuating workweek method. Be sure to check applicable state wage and hour laws.

11/03-04/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. How the new "SharedWork Ohio" law will affect employers, 11/04 (10/31 late pickup) Fisher & Phillips LLP via Lexology.com (registration)
    COLUMBUS, Ohio, USA - This summer Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed into law “SharedWork Ohio”, an initiative designed to help workers and employers alike by preventing layoffs. The “SharedWork Ohio” program gives Ohio employers new flexibility to keep their workforce intact when experiencing a downturn in business.
    Employers who need to make cuts to reduce the number of hours worked may now do so across an entire workforce rather than laying off a set number of employees. The “SharedWork Ohio” program has been touted as a “win-win” for employers and employees. But it brings with it a new requirement for employers to “promptly and adequately” respond to unemployment information request from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS). Most importantly, as of October 21, 2013, Ohio employers can no longer ignore such requests without adverse consequences[.]
    Under Ohio’s Unemployment Compensation Act, unemployment benefits that have been paid to an employee, which are subsequently found not to be due to the employee, are charged to a “mutualized account” and not charged to the account of the contributing employer. Further, if these improperly paid benefits are not charged to the “mutualized account,” but inadvertently charged to the employer’s account, the law allows for the employer’s account to be credited that are recovered.
    But the recent changes to the law prohibit an employer’s account from being mutualized or credited if the employer failed to respond timely or adequately to a request for information regarding determination of benefit rights or claims for benefits. Further, the law provides that an employer’s account cannot be mutualized or credited when an employer has a previously established pattern of failing to respond timely or adequately to such request. Under the new law, a response is considered “timely” if the response is received within ten working days after the request is sent and considered “adequate” if the employer provides responses to “all” questions raised by ODFJS.
    The prohibition on crediting or mutualizing an employer’s account for improperly paid benefits will result in significant increases in unemployment compensation insurance costs for Ohio employers. As such, it is paramount that Ohio employers examine their current practices or the practices of their third-party administrators with respect to responding to ODJFS’ request for information to avoid the adverse consequences of the new law.

  2. Work weak, Letter to the editor by Kathleen Joyce of Cambridge MA, 11/03 BostonGlobe.com
    BOSTON, Mass., USA - Jim Braude’s piece on implementing a four-day workweek (Perspective, October 13) is an idea that looks inviting on the surface, but I’m not totally convinced that squeezing 40 hours into four days is somehow more liberating than spreading it out over five.
    If I use an electric fence for my dog, instead of her leash, the perimeter of the yard doesn’t change.
    The results-based notion is perhaps a more promising idea for progressively altering the workplace.
    It seems to make the radical assumption that most employees are responsible adults who don’t need someone keeping an eye on them and can actually get their work done without the traditional constraints of schedule, location, and reward/punishment.
    Let’s face it, there are often unproductive hours spent at work just “doing time.”
    Show me a worker with a flexible schedule, and nine times out of 10 I’ll show you someone who is productive and happier with his or her job.

  3. Wages & Compensation: Pay Your People Correctly, by Douglas Wolfberg JD EMT & Steve Wirth, Journal of Emergency Medical Services via JEMS.com
    TULSA, Okla., USA - Since this month’s issue includes the JEMS Salary Survey, it’s fitting that this month’s column addresses some of the basics about proper EMS pay practices. Although compensation issues are also regulated by state law, the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes important ground rules for all employers. Here are a few FLSA landmines to be aware of.
    Overtime: The basic rule is that nonexempt employees (which includes EMS field providers) must be paid overtime at “time and a half” (i.e., 1.5 times) their “regular rate” for hours worked in excess of 40 during a workweek. The employer must have a policy clearly establishing when the workweek begins and ends, and records of hours worked by each employee must be kept. The workweek can begin at any hour on any day. It need only be any seven consecutive periods of 24-hour days; it doesn’t have to coincide with the calendar week, and an employer may have different workweeks for different employees or groups of employees so long as the workweek policy is clearly documented for each.
    Regular Rate: The “regular rate” is an area that can trip up employers, particularly if they have employees who perform different jobs within the same organization. Say, for instance, that Sally Smith works as a paramedic at $20 per hour and as a dispatcher at $15 per hour for ABC Ambulance. In a given workweek, if Sally works 20 hours as a paramedic and 20 as a dispatcher, her “regular rate” would be $17.50, because this is the average hourly rate of pay for all of her hours worked.
    Exemptions and Exceptions: The FLSA has numerous exemptions and exceptions for overtime calculations. Certain employees (administrative, executive, professional and computer employees) are exempt from having to be paid overtime, but the FLSA is also clear that EMTs, paramedics and others whose primary job is work in the field cannot be exempted from overtime. Also note that overtime can’t be “bargained away”—an eligible employee cannot agree to waive overtime and any such agreement is unenforceable under the law. There are also some exceptions to the 40-hour overtime rule, most notably the Section 7(k) exception, which applies to certain public-sector firefighters (and must be applied very carefully within the strict boundaries of the law).
    Sleep Time, Meals & Breaks: The FLSA does, in some circumstances, permit employers to deduct from compensation time spent by employees while sleeping. The sleep time rules permit deductions of up to eight hours for a minimum 24-hour shift where employees have ample sleeping quarters and can get at least five hours of uninterrupted sleep time during designated sleep periods. Meal periods must be paid unless the break is at least 30 minutes and the employee is completely relieved of duty during this time (which, of course, is usually not the case in EMS).
    Training Time: Employees must normally be paid for time spent attending mandatory, job-related training and education sessions held during work hours. Employees aren’t required to be paid for attendance at meetings, lectures, training program and similar activities if they are voluntary, held outside normal hours, are not job related, and are performing no other concurrent work at the time.
    Volunteers: A particularly thorny issue under the FLSA deals with volunteers. The basic rule is that an employee cannot be permitted or required to volunteer to perform the same or similar job functions as he or she is employed to perform for the same agency. Any such “volunteer” time by an employee may be compensable under the FLSA. While a volunteer can be paid reasonable expenses or honorarium without losing their volunteer status, the rules on volunteers are more complex and volunteer EMS agencies (and especially combined paid/volunteer agencies) should ensure their legal counsel reviews their compliance with the FLSA and any applicable state laws.
    EMS agencies need to pay close attention to proper pay practices to ensure compliance with federal and state laws. Engaging the services of a knowledgeable employment law attorney can pay dividends down the road in helping your agency avoid pay practices litigation.

11/02/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Unemployment: Women going on the dole … won’t save jobs for men (Women’s Voice), (1980 very late pickup) Lives; Running via livesrunning.wordpress.com
    LONDON, U.K. - Tory Lord Spens graciously explained to the House of Lords recently that it wasn’t that he thought ‘married women shouldn’t be occupied, just that they shouldn’t compete in the market for paid jobs’.
    [Japan kept its unemployment rate low for years by women leaving the job market when unemployment was rising and only entering it when there was unemployment was low. (And of course, by general lifetime employment.) And sure enough, in the USA, after the postwar babyboomers grew up, entered the job market around 1970 and restored the labor surplus of the Great Depression, men stopped getting the raises they were getting from the 40s tthrough the 60s, and when their wives then entered the job market to help out with the family income, real wages started their secular decline in the 80s - which has continued to this day. The result of these is that generally, unlike up to the 60s when a single parent could support the family, it now takes two working parents to support the family and the kids are brought up by strangers. Because more working hours on offer in the job market worsened the labor surplus restored by the babyboomers and though adding to the family income in the short term, in the longer term depressed wages and wound up gradually sinking the family income, especially when the Democrats' quest for grateful voters jumped U.S. immigration quotas and repeated amnesties for illegals heightened the labor surplus further and the twin downspirals of mergers-overlap-rightsizing and of offshore outsourcing got going. All in the context of a frozen 1940 workweek of 40 hours.]
    In large parts of Britain one man in five will soon be unemployed as basic industries like steel and heavy engineering are dismantled.
    [This all came true.]
    Small wonder that the Tories are coming out with the simple solution of sending women back into the home.
    There are, of course some advantages for the Tories in having women unemployed rather than men: it doesn’t look as bad and it costs rather less. It doesn’t look as bad in that about half of all unemployed women don’t show up in the official figures. If they were to be included, unemployment in July 1980 would have been 2.4 million rather than the 1.9 million announced. Many married women are not registered as unemployed because they don’t get any unemployment pay. Nor are they entitled to supplementary benefit. So it is cheaper in a direct sense fi the unemployed are married women; in addition, there are the savings on nurseries, schools meals, play schemes and so on if the unemployed are mothers.
    However, it would be wrong to take the Tory philosophy at face value. The Tories in general aren’t interested in solutions to unemployment; for them it is a strategy, not a problem to be overcome, and they aren’t directly concerned to pick on women rather than men.
    The danger in the first instance, ironic as it may seem, comes from the trade union response to the general Tory offensive. Even though the unions deplore the threat to women’s jobs which arise from public expenditure cuts and from the new technology, the trade union movement still tends to see unemployment among women as a lesser evil and men’s jobs as the priority. In the thirties the TUC was anxious to see unemployed women pushed into ‘domestic service’ to prevent them competing with men for decent jobs. Today the process is much less explicitly sexist, but the results are much the same. Part-time jobs are sold off to ‘protect’ full-time workers; in white collar employment ‘natural wastage’ is accepted to ‘protect’ existing workers. In both cases it is jobs done by women that get lost in the trade off.
    The result can be seen clearly in engineering and was already apparent under the last Labour government: it was women – particularly part-timers – who first bore the brunt of the crisis. Almost half the part-time jobs in electrical engineering which existed in 1974 had been lost three years later, while men held onto their jobs.
    Though not for long. Having let over half the part-time women go and many of the full-time women, men’s jobs in electrical engineering are now disappearing fast as well.
    The idea that men need their jobs more than women is still strongly held, even, unfortunately amongst militant women trade unionists. When a group of women at W.D & H.O Wills’ cigarette factory in Glasgow were recently asked, ‘If the factory had to pay off workers should women go first?’ over half said yes. Even though many were the main earners in their families, they still thought that men ought to be the ‘breadwinners’. They reckoned unemployment was worse for men because they would get more depressed than women by being forced to stay at home al day with children! May be that is true, but it isn’t surprising since men are constantly told they ought not to want to stay at home with their children and women are constantly told that they ought not to want anything else.
    The myth – and it is a myth – that children suffer enormous damage if they are not looked after by their own mothers 24 hours a day from birth to the age of 3 or 4 is widely publicised at present. Studies which show what we all suspect – that children benefit from good quality nurseries from a young age and that millions of working class housewives stuck at home along with their children are clinically depressed as a result – are much less highlighted by the media. No wonder then that jobs for men and boys are seen to be the priority.
    Allowing women to be made unemployed will not save jobs for men. In Nazi Germany there was a massive drive to throw women out of paid work; but it was rearmament, not the mass of housebound women, that eventually reduced unemployment amongst men. Getting rid of women can’t provide men with jobs at a living wage, for the average full-time manual woman’s wage is only £55 before tax, a bare £6 a week more than the short-term social security benefit for a family with two children.
    Yet, even though women’s earnings are so low their wages are crucial to maintaining the living standard of every second working class family.
    A quarter of the total income of these families comes from married women’s work; without it, one family in three with children would be in poverty. And still there would not be more jobs for men.
    The Tories are attacking everybody’s right to paid work; they don’t necessarily want women out of work and men in. Rather they want to undermine women’s confidence in themselves as workers to ensure that women remain a cheap and flexible labour force, grateful for any work they can get.
    But the strategy is much the same for men; by increasing men’s unemployment, the Tories want to reduce workers t a disorganised, subservient and immensely exploitable labour force. That task will be all the easier, the more men are forced through savage cuts in unemployment benefit and through that lack of work for married women, to accept large-scale wage cuts in order to get any work at all.
    In asserting the right of women to paid work, we are not arguing for equal rights to unemployment but attacking the Tory solution to the economic crisis – unemployment. Women’s unemployment is no more acceptable than men’s.
    The Tories task will all be easier the more they succeed in keeping women as an available second class cheap labour force, the more indeed they can set men against women.
    Irene Bruegel
    Women’s Voice
    September 1980
    Issue 44, pp.12-13

  2. Abstract: Management of Worksharing Systems, by John McClain & Kenneth Schultz & Joseph Thomas, Manufacturing & Service Operations Management Informs via pubsonline.informs.org
    [A clearer than usual explanation of the other major connotation of worksharing - not to be mistaken for our connotation of hourscuts for all to avoid jobcuts for a few, and a few more, and a few more - ]
    ITHACA, N.Y., USA - Worksharing occurs in serial manufacturing when machines are not uniquely assigned to workers. For example, two workers can operate three machines by alternating usage of the middle one. In some other worksharing systems operators move down the line carrying an item (or batch) with them, working on it at each machine until they are met by another worker who is coming back upstream. The work is then handed off even if the operation is underway. “Bucket Brigade” and “TSS” are worksharing systems based on this idea.
    This paper examines worksharing in a variety of situations, including unequal work content across machines, uncertain processing times, unequal workers, handoffs with and without preemption, and a range of machine-to-worker ratios. Some systems restrict workers to “zones” of machines. Work zones must overlap if sharing is to occur. The appropriate size of the overlapis shown to depend on the circumstances. Inventory-based rules to control access to shared machines are demonstrated to increase productivity when processing times vary. Worker sequence is found to be quite important; Slowest-to-Fastest is recommended for some situations, but is shown to perform poorly in others. Finally, the issue of whether or not to allow preemption is shown to have a large impact on productivity if inventory is not allowed, and to strongly affect the choice of designs when inventory is allowed. With and without preemption, proper combinations of worker sequence, zone size, and production control rules are shown to nearly eliminate idle time.

11/01/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. GE, union talks save jobs at Bloomington plant, (10/31 late pickup) AP via Indianapolis Business Journal via ibj.com
    BLOOMINGTON, Ind., USA - Negotiations between GE and union officials have slightly reduced the number of job cuts being made at the company's southern Indiana refrigerator factory.
    About 130 workers at the GE Appliances factory in Bloomington will no longer have jobs effective Friday, although that number is down from about 160 jobs the company announced in early September, The Herald-Times reported.
    Discussions between the sides led to a total of 56 layoffs and 75 early retirements, which saves some of the factory's jobs, said Carven Thomas, president of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2249.
    "The company agreed to keep 25 additional people as a result of the negotiations," Thomas said. "It was probably one of the hardest negotiations I've been through."
    The 75 employees taking early retirement means 57 percent of the job cuts are retirements. GE expected 35 percent of the cuts to come from early retirements when it announced them.
    GE officials blamed the job cuts on a 30-percent decline since 2010 in demand for the side-by-side refrigerators made at the factory,
    which had about 520 workers when the cuts were announced. The company touted plans three years ago for a $161 million investment and 200 more jobs at the Bloomington plant, but it says the sales decline caused it to drop those plans.
    Frank Scheffel, the Bloomington plant operations manager, said the cuts were needed to make the factory more competitive.
    "Our employees have done everything we asked to help counter a declining side-by-side refrigeration industry, but, at the end of the day, reducing our workforce was the best solution for the long-term future of the business," he said.
    The average age of the Bloomington plant's union workers will be 55 after the cuts are completed because of several rounds of seniority-based layoffs over the years, Thomas said.
    "The seniority level of the people affected has never been this high," Thomas said. "Putting 25-year, 26-year people out on the streets, that was one of the toughest things we've had to do."
    [Then quit doing it! Trim a few hours for everyone and maintain employment for everyone. Skills mismatch? Crosstrain!]

  2. House Cuts Hours for 2014 (But Not Salary), by Nina Kate, OpposingViews.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Apparently, lawmakers were wiped out by their rigorous 126-day work year in 2013. The 2014 calendar for the GOP-led House of Representatives has been posted by Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and members will now only need to show up 113 days — less than one-third of the year.
    Meanwhile, the average 40-hour-a-week American employee must work about double that.

    The reason for the lightened 2014 workload? Politicians need to get out there and try to secure their jobs for midterm elections. And for some members of the highly unpopular House, wooing the public will indeed take a grand effort. But how is campaigning more important than running a country — and shouldn’t they be in office actually accomplishing things to brag about on the campaign trail?
    In fact, 2013 has seen the least productive Congress in modern history, according to a Huffington Post analysis of data from GovTrak. Only 15 bills have been signed into law so far this year, the lowest number since the 1940s.
    In a joint Washington Post op-ed by Norm Ornstein of the conservative American Enterprise Institute and Thomas Mann of the more liberal Brookings Institution, the GOP took the lion’s share of the blame for government impotency.
    The piece read: “We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.”
    Of course, if lawmakers can’t accomplish anything in their days in session, it doesn’t much matter how often they show up.

  3. Mine work hours cut, by Casey Junkins, Steubenville Herald Star via hsconnect.com
    BENWOOD, W.V., USA - Due to reaching the "maximum capacity" of raw coal stock, hundreds of employees at Shoemaker Mine will be working fewer hours over the next few weeks, according to Consol Energy spokeswoman Lynn Seay.
    Just days after Consol announced it would sell five West Virginia coal mines - including the Shoemaker and McElroy facilities in Marshall County - to St. Clairsville-based Murray Energy in a $3.5 billion deal, Consol officials are curtailing work at the Shoemaker mine. The change of ownership is not scheduled to take place until the end of this year.
    The Shoemaker Mine is an underground longwall operation that opened in 1966. According to Consol, the current number of employees at the mine is about 740. The facility produced 5.3 million tons of coal in 2012, while it has yielded roughly 4.1 million tons so far in 2013.
    Seay said during the partial curtailment, production at Shoemaker will idle on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Production will resume at 8 a.m. Monday, "in order to efficiently reduce inventory over the next couple of weeks," she said.
    "During these weekend periods, in order to maintain the mine, only a limited number of underground employees will be scheduled to work," Seay said. "However, in order to process the coal and effectively reduce the inventory, all Prep Plant employees will continue to be scheduled to work as normal."
    Prior to the transaction between Murray and Consol, Murray employed 3,300 workers; after the purchase, Murray will employ 7,100 workers.
    Murray's annual coal production, as of June 30 was 30.1 million tons. It now stands to total 58.6 million tons. Total coal reserves prior to the buyout were 859 million tons and are now expected to top 1.1 billion tons.
    When asked if the partial Shoemaker curtailment was related to the deal with Murray, Seay said there was no connection, continuing to emphasize the mine's current overabundance of coal stock.
    Murray spokesman Gary Broadbent said the company would have no comment regarding the situation at Shoemaker.

  4. Most municipalities not applying longer work week - union, by TPN/Lusa, ThePortugalNews.com
    LISBON, Portugal - The main union representing local government workers in Portugal has said that most of the country's municipalities have either not applied, or have suspended, implementation of a law approved by parliament in July, under which government employees' working hours has [sic] been extended to 40 a week from 35 hitherto.
    According to the STAL union, a significant number of municipalities have not applied the new rules, and "the overwhelming majority of the temporary injunctions" lodged by the union to prevent their application "have been well accepted by councils, many of which have decided to restore the 35-hour schedule".
    Only seven councils appealed against the injunctions, citing serious damage to the public interest, the union said in a statement.
    However, there are councils that are applying the court decision "in a restrictive way", by only suspending the implementation of the 40-hour week for members of STAL, while other employees are having to work the longer hours.
    This, the union said, "causes unacceptable situations of egregious inequality and discrimination".

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