11/30-12/01/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Holiday pay bonus, 11/30 FenlandCitizen.co.uk
FENLAND, Cambs., U.K. - Employees will be hoping that a ruling on November 4 will bring them a higher wage packet when they take holidays.
An employment tribunal ruled in favour of an employee that holiday pay should reflect overtime pay as well as basic wage.
In the case, the employee worked 35 hours per week plus overtime.
His standard day was seven hours but that regularly became nine to 12 hours depending on how busy they were at work.
The employer maintained the [overtime] work was voluntary and that the holiday pay should only be worked out on a basic week of 35 hours.
The tribunal held that the extra hours worked were intrinsically linked to the performance of his role.
The employment tribunal found the employee was underpaid!
Since the ruling, unions have been rallying their members to push employers to implement these changes.
Employers and businesses could now panic, reach for their calculators or call their professional advisors…..BUT stop, wait and take time to allow this to all be formalised.
This is just one case and, yes, it has been successful but an appeal has been lodged and expected to be heard in February 2015.
Vince Cable has set up a task force to assess the impact of the ruling. The task force will provide a forum to discuss how the impact on the business can be limited. Government will take this matter as urgent.
The tribunal did find that all elements of “normal remuneration” are to be paid during annual leave.
They also found that normal remuneration should be considered over a “sufficient period” of time.
The tribunal did not give guidance on how to calculate “normal remuneration” – does this include bonuses, commissions, and other non standard pay elements.
The tribunal did not give guidance on what is a “sufficient period” of time to look at when assessing the “normal remuneration” prior to a holiday period.
The tribunal did confirm that only the 20 days standard holiday is included and that the eight days bank holidays are not needed to be calculated this way.
Action or no action?
Employers and businesses this is your decision:
1) Start to pay holiday pay at a higher rate now, including overtime, commissions or other elements
2) Or wait until the task force and the future appeal bring the clarification on what to include and when to start this from.
It is hoped that clarity on these unknowns will provide us with a method of calculation by the end of February 2015.
It’s your choice whether to start making changes now.
- Germany Is Considering Outlawing Employers E-mailing Employees Outside Work Hours, by Romina Boccia, 12/01 DailySignal.com
BERLIN, Germany - Germans refer to “Close of Business” as Feierabend, which literally translated means something like party night. Now some in Germany want to impose a work communications blackout during this sacred time.
Germany already mandates a host of labor policies, including a minimum of 24 paid vacation days plus holidays and 14 weeks of paid maternity leave.
The recently proposed no-work-communications-after-hours regulation would forbid employers from contacting their employees via email or phone call past their scheduled working hours.
[So with more of the most basic freedom, free time, without which the other freedoms are either meaningless or inaccessible, Germans have much more freedom than Americans, something that the Heritage Foundation apparently doesn't get.]
Hanns Pauli, health and safety expert for the Federation of German Trade Unions, suggested that contacting workers after hours “crosses a sacrosanct line in Germany between work and leisure,” according to NPR. German Labor Minister Andrea Nahles is reportedly calling for an “anti-stress regulation.”
As is so often the case, nanny state policies like this one being considered in Germany, end up hurting workers the most, in contrast to the policies’ stated intentions.
[Nonsense. This pawn writing in servitude to would-be omni-invasive employers is completely deranged. This slave loves her chains.]
In the same way that the Obamacare employer mandate is hurting Americans’ full-time employment prospects, mandated benefits are pushing many Germans to accept part-time, or contract work—because companies are less likely to hire full-time permanent employees, due to the amount of regulations. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of Germans in part-time employment rose by 43 percent. Among men, the number doubled during this period.
[Well then, duh, redefine "full time" down to a level more suited to the age of robotics and artificial intelligence, the whole point of which is to enhance human freedom, of which the most basic kind is free time, aka financially secure leisure. If workaholic Romina Boccia is so uncreative and unimaginative as to just not know what to do with herself unless some employer is telling her, let her go back to her parental Italy in faster-sliding southern Europe, and thence perchance to China where she can slave 24/7 for peanuts and presumably karoshi off life's stage in ecstasy.]
A no-work-communications-after-hours policy could harm parents in particular.
[Wha-a-at? What a nitwit! Yet another birdbrain fighting common sense and straining to call black 'white' and white 'black'.]
Rigid, inflexible work policies are exactly the wrong medicine for improving work-life balance.
[Robert Frost: "Good fences make good neighbors" - and even better workplace relations.]
Many parents value being able to leave the office some afternoons to see their kid’s soccer game and don’t mind making up for lost work time after dinner, for example. Such arrangements would get harder to come by.
[No they wouldn't because "after dinner" would then be defined as on-the-job compensatory worktime.]
Moreover, it is unclear that a sizable portion of employees are bothered by email after hours.
[...here arguing against herself...]
According to polling by the German health insurance carrier DAK, a mere 4 percent of employees strongly object to reading their work email after hours and on the weekend. Many find it helpful to be able to combine leisure time and work thanks to electronic communication devices. Nevertheless, some companies have chosen to literally pull the plug, like Volkswagen which turns off its email servers after hours.
[Those employees are screwing themselves and are perfectly at liberty to finding a sloppier, more exploitative employer if they're determined to be "slaves who love their chains."]
Instead of a misguided one-size-fits-all solution [sometimes "one size" is a system requirement, as here] to what seems at this point to be a largely imagined problem [if 'twas "largely imagined," it wouldn't have come up], the best policy is one arrived at by mutual consent between employers and their employees.
[Oh sure, with employers on a plateau of greater bargaining power due to jobshortage-laborsurplus - how naive!]
The good news is that Angela Merkel has shown little interest in burdening the German economy with even more labor regulations.
Romina Boccia focuses on federal spending and the national debt as the Grover M. Hermann fellow in federal budgetary affairs in the Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation... Romina Boccia is a native of Germany.
[A chains-loving slavery-preferring Deutscherin who hasn't a clue what Deutschland is doing right and doesn't appreciate or deserve the freetime-based freedom afforded by her citizenship. Employment deconcentration sufficient is a system requirement to allow everyone to be a comfortably self-supporting participant in the workforce, and in the age of unprecedented worksaving technology, that means overtime-to-job conversion and as much workweek reduction as it takes to get enough convertible overtime to deliver full employment and the maximum domestic consumption and moneysupply circulation and solid investment oppportunity which that provides. Workweek sizing is the valve of labor supply, for economy-killing labor surplus or economy-vitalizing labor "shortage" - as seen by employers (everyone else sees labor-employment balance).]
- Will Artificial Intelligence, Robots, Nanotech, Synthetic Biology and Other Forms of Futuristic Technology Replace More Work than They Create? prweb.com (forwarder's credit to Gail Stewart of Ottawa)
[Note this "Millennium Project" is supposedly futuristic but terribly afraid to actually ANSWER THIS QUESTION. Here's our answer: there are two types of technology, life-prolonging (medical-dental-psychological) and work-saving. The work savings can be taken in two forms, fewer jobs (and workers and shoppers...) or fewer workhours per person per week (and same or more workers and shoppers...). Worksaving technology itself does not make this decision. It does not get made by itself. CEOs make the decision in each case and it is deliberate and optional, not automatic and "forced upon us" as CEOs so often claim. So the question resolves itself into, What is the more usual CEO response to worksaving technology? For God's sake, quit equivocating and face it: FEWER JOBS. And the frequently heard assumption that somehow, by some unexplained process, disemployed people here will automatically find highly skilled and differently skilled jobs somewhere else is a piece of mind-boggling naivete and irresponsibility. Here's the Millennium Project's introductory sample of timidity -]
The Millennium Project is launching a new study to explore global long-term structural unemployment, new forms of work, futuristic economics, and strategies for governments, corporations, universities, NGOS, and individuals to pursue for improving global prospects
[These are evidently the kind of people who can spend millions on "new studies" without ever coming to any conclusions.]
WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - "Future artificial intelligence that can autonomously create, re-write, and implement software simultaneously around the world is a unique historical factor in job displacement,” says Jerome Glenn, CEO of The Millennium Project [from which you might suppose he would go on and answer the question with a resounding YES, but God forbid! -], and adds that, “the Internet is also a historical factor in job creation [implying a NO]. Information and means of production are far more open and distributed in the forthcoming biological and artificial intelligence revolutions than they were during the industrial revolution and the information revolution; hence, the frontiers for work may be greater than the information age revolution.”
[More fuzzy leaning toward a NO. Jerry Glenn evidently hasn't the guts to contradict prevailing "wisdom" so we can solve the current now-totally-BORING rash of big old problems and move on to some new ones.]
The Chairs of The Millennium Project’s 50 Nodes around the world were asked to rate 19 potential global futures research studies as to their priority to be performed by the project [hooboy]. The future of work and income gaps was [sic] rated the most important. “Long-term and large-scale strategies are needed locally, nationally, and globally to address the potential scope and spectrum of unemployment and income gaps in the foreseeable future due to the acceleration, globalization, and integration of technological capacities, population growth, and current economic assumptions,” says Elizabeth Florescu, Director of Research of The Millennium Project.
[Everyone's eyes glaze over.]
The Pew Research Center found that leading experts are divided about whether future technology will replace more jobs than they create by 2025.
[That's because they're not all leading experts - some are trailing experts and some are retreating experts. The terrifying fear here is that by admitting to the prevalence of technological displacement you would be blaming technology and thereupon assumed to be resisting technology and begging for immediate exclusion from any serious discussion as a "luddite" (oh horrors!). The obvious solution here is to simply insert a buffering layer between the blame and the technology = CEOs or whoever-all determine the RESPONSE to technology - a layer which is the real blameworthy (oh I can't resist) "node." Btw, Jerry, you should avail yourself of a few mentions of the delightfully impressive term, "paradigm" - you seem unaccountably to have missed that one in your trail of buzzwords.]
“The assumptions behind both of these potential futures should be identified, assessed, and explored in depth for their long-term implications and systematically discussed in workshops around the world,” says Cornelia Daheim, Chair of the Millennium Project’s Node in Germany and Head of International Projects at Z_punkt the Foresight Company.
[That should keep you all ignorably busy for awhile.]
Individuals and institutions interested in being involved in this research are invited to contact the Project.
[Makework alert! - which in itself indicates a work shortage for humans...]
The Millennium Project is a global participatory think tank connecting 50 Nodes around the world that identify important long-range challenges and strategies, and initiate and conduct foresight studies, workshops, symposiums, and advanced training. Its mission is to improve thinking about the future and make it available through a variety of media for feedback to accumulate wisdom about the future for better decisions today. It produces the annual "State of the Future" reports, the "Futures Research Methodology" series, the Global Futures Intelligence System (GFIS), and special studies. Over 4,500 futurists, scholars, business planners, and policy makers who work for international organizations, governments, corporations, NGOs, and universities have participated in The Millennium Project’s research, since its inception, in 1991. The Millennium Project was selected among the top ten think tanks in the world for new ideas and paradigms by the 2013 University of Pennsylvania’s GoTo Think Tank Index, and 2012 Computerworld Honors Laureate for its contributions to collective intelligence systems. The 2013-14 "State of the Future was named November 2014 “Book of the Month” by Global Foresight Books.
[But what good is it all if it hasn't the chutzpa to answer the obvious question with the obvious answer and MOVE ON to the next obvious question = what minimal modification of our current common response to worksaving technology will make it deliver on its promise of making life easier for everyone? Our answer: Timesizing, not downsizing - and not makework. either, or continuing to split the population into workers and drones (dba dependents or 'pets'), Morlocks and Eloi. A quick reread of H.G.Wells' The Time Machine will reacquaint you with the "attractions" of that situation, which we would deem unsustainable.]
11/29/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Police station opening hours reduced to cut costs, LurganMail.co.uk
LURGAN, N.Ireland, U.K. - The enquiry office at Lurgan police station will have its opening hours cut in half in the new year.
It’s part of a district wide change in opening hours for police enquiry offices for the public to take effect from January 1, 2015.
The decision to reduce opening hours at police stations across Northern Ireland was taken as part of PSNI’s efforts [Police Service of Northern Ireland] to deliver on required budget savings.
E District Commander, Chief Superintendent Pauline Shields said: “From 1 January, 2015 police stations in Lurgan, Portadown, Armagh, Banbridge and Newry, will open to the public from 8am to 8pm. We know that our peak period of footfall occurs between these times so we hope this change in opening hours will bring a minimum of inconvenience.
“This reduction in opening hours does not mean a reduction in service. There will be no change to the availability of police officers to respond to calls and the public will still be able to contact police at any time on the 101 number or 999 in an emergency.
“There is no doubt that policing is changing, however, our policing purpose remains the same – keeping people safe is still our priority and we will continue to do this by preventing harm, protecting the vulnerable and detecting offenders.”
In Lurgan the change means opening hours will be cut from 24 hours to 12 hours a day.
[And here are more hourscuts across "the pond" (Atlantic Ocean) in "the colonies" (in this case, British North America (BNA) alias Canada -]
Opening hours cut at Bolton recycling centre - No more late evenings on Thursday, CaledonEnterprise.com
BOLTON, Ont., Canada - Bolton residents now have a shorter window to do their recycling in after the Region of Peel ended a trial of extended hours at the town's recycling centre.
Under a pilot project launched in September last year, the Bolton recycling centre had been open until 8 p.m. on Thursdays.
The Region, however, says that it's not worth keeping the centre open late during the winter months as few people use it in the evenings. From Dec. 2 the centre's hours will be Tuesday to Sunday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Bolton recycling centre is at 109 Industrial Rd.
"During the pilot, staff monitored (centre) usage rates during the extended evening hours and it showed that the update during the winter months was low," said Larry Conrad, manager of waste operations at the Region.
Hours for the Caledon recycling centre (1795 Quarry Drive) were not affected by the trial and remain Monday to Saturday 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
- Share the Season: Mom can’t cover bills after work hours are cut in half, by Amy Renee Leiker, The Wichita Eagle via Kansas.com
WICHITA, Kans., USA - She says she holds a good-paying job, but her work hours and days have been sliced in half in response to company-wide layoffs.
[= in response to the threat of company-wide layoffs, so, instead of layoffs?]
That, coupled with bankruptcy fueled by a divorce last year, left this 42-year-old woman unable to cover all of her bills. She worries that her 12-year-old daughter will feel the stress.
The change at work “could not come at a worse time,” she wrote in her application to Share the Season, asking for financial help. She works one week, is off the next. It’s “very, very unstable,” she said.
[But more stable than layoffs. The more we allow the wealthy, by shifting from income and wealth taxes to sales taxes, increase the money flows to themselves who spend the smallest percentage of it, and reduce the money flows to everyone else who spend larger percentages, the more we slow monetary circulation and worsen the economy for everyone, including the wealthy, who now have a very very unstable financial market.]
“I was just starting to recover from the past year. I do not want my daughter to worry about things this year, too.”
The woman, in a phone interview, said Share the Season paid money toward her electric, natural gas and water bills.
“I just cried. I had no idea that there was a program out there that could help, and I didn’t feel like I was getting a handout. It made all the difference for our Christmas,” the woman said by phone.
She said she hopes to someday repay the program, which is funded through private donations. She heard about it through a friend.
“There are a lot of good people out there in Wichita,” the woman said. “When I’m back on my feet, I hope to be on the other side to be able to donate next year.”
Share the Season is an annual campaign that offers one-time aid to people affected by unforeseen hardships. The people are not identified to protect their privacy. So far, Share the Season has raised more than $60,000. Send contributions to Share the Season at the Wichita Community Foundation, 301 N. Main, Suite 100, Wichita, KS 67202. If you have questions, call 316-264-4880. To donate online, go to www.sharetheseason.org. Donors will be listed in The Eagle; please note if you prefer to remain anonymous. To apply for help, fill out an application at www.sharetheseason.org or pick one up at the Salvation Army, 350 N. Market. The application deadline is midnight Dec. 19. For more information, call 316-263-2769.
Reach Amy Renee Leiker at 316-268-6644 or firstname.lastname@example.org...
11/28/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Police plan to cut hours of opening, by Doug Laing, (11/29 over dateline) Hawke's Bay Today via NZherald.co.nz
HAWKE'S BAY, N.Is., New Zealand - Hawke's Bay police opening hours could be slashed in cost-cutting which includes the loss of four support-staff positions.
The steps were confirmed yesterday by police Eastern District commander Superintendent Sandra Venables, announcing also that a single Hawke's Bay holding-cell block is likely to be created in Hastings as part of rationalisation aimed at meeting budget constraints.
No police officer jobs were affected by the cuts, she said, although a frontline-staff review was under way to see how resources could be used "more efficiently" and some roles might change.
The positions affected are mainly administrative with some jobs changing from full-time to part-time - 9.5 full-time equivalent positions being disestablished and replaced by 5.5.
Loss of some counter service at Napier Police station was reported in August and, yesterday, the prospect of anything other than 24/7 manning of the shop-front was immediately targeted by Hawke's Bay opposition Labour MPs Stuart Nash, Napier, and Meka Whaitiri, Ikaroa Rawhiti.
They said in a joint statement it was a "fundamental erosion of police responsibility to the community".
Mr Nash added: "This decision needs to be rethought before damage is done to the excellent reputation of the good, hard-working police men and women who keep us safe."
The latest announcements are no surprise to New Zealand Police Association vice-president and Hawke's Bay officer Luke Shadbolt, who said that with most public contact with police being by phone and "very few" going to police stations after 9pm, and with the Napier and Hastings police stations and cells now among the oldest in the country it "makes sense" to review the use of the facilities.
"Having the public counter open after 9pm," he said.
"There is now very little need for it."
Non-sworn staff had been involved in some counter services and custodial responsibilities, with some duplication of roles, he said.
Ms Venables said there was a need to "look at how many people visit our public counters, especially at night, and whether it is viable to have them open 24 hours a day".
She said the changes resulted from a directive to meet resource allocation targets (RATs) districts were set each year.
Several positions are being realigned to meet requirements of the Prevention First Strategy.
Billed when introduced in 2011 as changing the way police work with victims so they receive a better service and are less likely to become victims again, it is entering the fourth of its first five years.
Ms Venables said the district had over recent years exceeded its non-sworn staff allocation, through the setting up of new support services.
Prevention First had brought many positive changes in the way police worked with victims and the community.
The MPs worried that cuts were taking place at a time where statistics showed a year-on-year increase in crime recorded in Hawke's Bay.
Ms Whaitiri said: "If it really is about money, then we will stand beside Ms Venables and support any approach to the Police Minister in order to ensure the funds to properly service our region are available."
[And the "pohliss" in Larne, Northern "Areland" are joining the Kiwi cops in Hawke's Bay in cutting hours this newsday -]
Police station closure fears as hours cut, LarneTimes.co.uk
...The facility is currently open from 8am-12am, seven days a week. However, this is set to be reduced by 50 per cent on weekdays to eight hours, opening from 10am-6pm. Meanwhile, Saturday and Sunday opening hours will be slashed by two-thirds, opening from 12pm-4pm...
- Britons seek fewer work hours as longer hours injurious to health, Indo-Asian News Service via FirstPost.com
LONDON, U.K. - With recent research showing that long working hours can make us ill and ineffective, one in 10 Britons would like to work fewer hours, says a new Office for National Statistics (ONS) survey.
The survey showed that full-time employees clock up an average of 36.3 hours per week.
In 1995, Britons put in an average of 38.2 hours per week.
[But this nearly 2 hr/wk drop is probably due to the simple unavailability of longer-hour jobs as our concept of full time gets more and more outdated by our worksaving technology and our corporate masters' penchant for cutting jobs and megahoarding the payroll 'saved' in their own pyramiding stock accounts instead of letting freedom reign with more and more free time and pay for everyone.]
According to a Guardian report, long working hours are associated with a greater risk of heart disease, stroke and even diabetes.
"The evidence suggests that if anything, lack of sleep is underrated, linked as it has been to everything from obesity to premature mortality," it added.
Even the French are now debating whether to leave their 35-hour working week because in practice too few people are sticking to it, the report noted.
Working more than a 40-hour week has already been linked to stress, dissatisfaction and compromised health.
A new research on 8,350 Korean adults has found that long work hours increase one's risk of developing coronary heart disease (CHD) or narrowing of the blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart.
"We found that those working 61-70 hours a week had a 42 percent increased likelihood of developing coronary heart disease," said lead researcher Yun-Chul Hong from the department of preventive medicine at the Seoul National University in South Korea.
Hong and his team found that working hours were significantly related to the risk factors of coronary heart disease such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, diabetes and smoking habits.
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
- Your kids might be bearing the brunt of your long-working hours, by Pallavi Srivastava, Gizmodo India via gizmodo.in
URBANA, Illin., USA - The effect of sleeplessness goes beyond just being tired the next day. Scientific research done in the past indicates that if parents work long hours, children too have to bear the brunt of that, particularly on sleep and weight aspect. A recent study conducted at the University of Illinois throws some light on this.
According to this study, there is a correlation between working hours of mothers and sleep hours and Body Mass Index (BMI) of their preschooler children.
Let's have a look what the new research says
The study authored by Katherine E Speirs, a postdoctoral research associate in human and community development at the University of Illinois, investigated the link between mother's employment and weight of their children over a period of time, trying to assess the impact of intermediaries like the amount of time children's spent watching TV, family mealtime routines, children's sleep, and their eating habits.
Katherine and co-authors Janet M Liechty and Chi-Fang Wu monitored 247 mother-child pairs from the Strong Kids study. The kids, between the age of 3 to 5 years, were weighed at the start of the study. Researchers repeated the same process after one year. They found that 12% of the preschoolers were obese and 17% were overweight. There were 66% mothers out of the 247 pairs, who were full time employees with work hours of 35 or more per week. On the other hand, 18% were part-time employee, having work hours between 20 to 34 hours per week.
Children's of 3-5 years of age group require a sleep of 11-12 hours. Children of mothers having full-time employment clocked lower hours of sleep as compared to children of mothers having part-time employment. On an average the children got only 9.6 hours of sleep at night. Only 18% of the children got the necessary 11-12 hours of sleep.
How mother's long-working hours affects preschoolers sleep and BMI?
The key findings of this study are that preschoolers of working mothers are more prone to being overweight and obese within a year. According to the research, night-time sleep is an important factor of regulating weight. This was the reason why Katherine and team looked at night-time sleep for this study.
Mothers who work for long hours face the challenge of work life balance. Work pressure drains a lot of energy because of which mothers tend to get in bed early. Children in such cases get less time from their mothers. Also, the children have to get up early as mothers need to take them to day care centre on the way to their office.
The study was conducted on mother and children pair[s] who were enrolled in 32 day care centres of Central Illinois. The household earning is also an important factor in children getting required amount of sleep. Out of the group of mothers, 66% had college degree. Mothers with college degree will get a better job than a mother without a degree. The better job entails standard working hours and good pay. The standard work hours will help provide an opportunity to the mother to give more attention to the children. At the same time, good pay will ensure that the mother doesn't have to work elsewhere.
11/27/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- NYT Claims That Ending France 35-Hour Work Week Would Hugely Increase French GDP, (11/26 late pickup) Center for Economic & Policy Research via cepr.net
WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Of course it [see our first story yesterday, 11/26/2014 #1 below] had no evidence, but hey, if you don't like the 35-hour work week, who needs evidence. The comment came in an article discussing the debate over changing the 35-hour work week, which requires that employers pay an overtime premium for additional hours.
The piece told readers:
"The law has not improved an unemployment rate that, at 10.2 percent, hovers near a high."
It would be fascinating to know how the NYT reached this conclusion. If people worked more hours, and the unemployment rate remained the same, the implication is that considerably more goods and services would be produced. (If the average workweek increased by just one hour, and there was no decline in productivity, it would imply a 2.9 percent increase in output.)
Incredibly, this piece only presents assertions from experts who claim that France is suffering from the short workweek, although it did make a passengers' assistant at Orly airport, into an expert, telling readers:
"For wage earners like Ms. Ahlem, political resistance to change seems out of touch with economic reality." It then quotes her as saying that the laws should be encouraging people to work, which of course ignores the fact that France is suffering from a lack of [market-]demand, not a lack of people who want to work. (See, unemployment means people want to work but can't find jobs.) It's not clear that Ms. Ahlem is typical of most wage earners in thinking that people don't want to work -- even if the NYT assures us that she is.
The piece also includes the bizarre complaint that the short work week has made France too productive:
"But in reality, France’s 35-hour week has become largely symbolic, as employees across the country pull longer hours and work more intensely, with productivity per hour about 13 percent higher than the eurozone average."
Economists attach enormous importance to productivity. If the short workweek has helped to make the productivity of French workers 13 percent higher than the euro zone average this would be a strong argument in its favor.
In short, this is a very confused article. The NYT obviously doesn't like to see workers putting in short workweeks. But if it wants to maintain its status as a serious newspaper it should get its argument straight and move it to the opinion page.
Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive.
- Family affair: Furlough Fridays Balances Jobs, Families, Friendships and Music, by Sue Ralston, EnjoyMagazine.net
[So now Furlough Fridays is not only a corporate strategy to save jobs but ... a rock band that "balances jobs"! -]
CHICO, Calif., USA - Earlier this fall, the Chico alt-grunge band *Furlough Fridays released its second CD, Divided, to a packed audience at La Salles Bar in Chico. “We had one of our best shows yet at our album release party," says bassist Meagan Yates. "The sound was great, the other bands were great. People were moshing and the crowd was enthusiastic.” Never heard of Furlough Fridays? The band hopes to change that in the coming year.
[And furlough Fridays along with every other kind of worksharing hopes to change the sick economy in coming year and get us all moving toward full Timesizing instead of downsizing.]
“We seem to be better known in Chico. We have quite a following here, but would like to broaden that,” says Linda Bergmann, lead singer since the band’s inception in 2008. The four-piece group, self described as “gritty alt rock with crunch and female vocals,” consists of two husband-and-wife couples, with Bergmann’s husband, JP, on drums, and Meagan and Adams Yates on bass and guitar, respectively. The band mates, all between the ages of 30 and 33, met while students at Chico State University. JP and Meagan met on the cycling team there. Adam and JP both worked at Sears during college. Back in those days, Linda enjoyed singing karaoke and talked Meagan into doing it with her. Ten years and hundreds of performances later, the two couples have three children between them, and have both just celebrated their 10th wedding anniversaries. “It’s a big balancing act with all of us. We’ve gotten through college degrees, pregnancies, having kids. What we really value is having fun and enjoying life, and the band is part of that,” says Meagan.
JP is a biologist with Lundberg Farms and Linda runs a business doing photography, videography, media and design – skills that have proved valuable to the band in their promotions. Furlough Fridays has been together for more than eight years, with JP joining the lineup about a year ago after their previous drummer moved to Sweden. “We auditioned drummers, and finally realized that JP was the one who could really deliver the sound we wanted,” says Linda. JP had sung and played acoustic guitar in high school. In college, he got interested in composing and programming, and got more into electronics but never had time to be in a band.
Further complicating time together as a group is the fact that Adam and Meagan recently moved from Chico to Redding, ending a commute that Adam, a behavioral specialist, had been making to his job in Redding for nearly three years. Meagan, who holds a degree in kinesiology, has worked in Chico as a personal trainer and is an athlete who participates in downhill bicycling races and mountain bikes cross country. She even found the energy to run a half-marathon in Chico the same weekend as their CD release party. “It’s an added challenge, being a musician and an athlete; there’s a real conflict in lifestyles there,” she acknowledges with a laugh.
Furlough Fridays is now moving into a new era, branching out geographically in its performances, expanding its fan base and raising awareness that the new album is available on CD Baby, iTunes and Spotify. “Recording the second album was a much easier and more rewarding process,” said Linda. “We were just talking about how much better our second album is. It’s just the natural progression of things, learning from your mistakes.”
Divided was recorded and mixed at a Chico nonprofit studio called Energy Plant, started in 2012 by a couple of new graduates from the recording arts program at Chico State. Blag Ivanov, an audio engineer and producer there, felt the band was an easy fit for him. “I personally have a deep love for grunge and alternative music, so working with them was a natural extension of my own tastes,” he says.
Communication was easy between the band and Ivanov. “This has come together in a way that has allowed all of us to produce some of our best work and to develop a strong sense of what we want to do going into the next album. It was a great collaborative effort because of how everyone valued each others’ opinions and helped to make the best decisions,” he says. Says Linda: “We didn’t expect all of this to go very far, but it’s really taken off. We love it. There’s a lot of quirky things about us. What we’d like to stress is that we don’t take ourselves too seriously; we keep things light and fun. And because we’re married couples, we deal with conflict and relationships differently than other band mates might.”
And, she says, “Expect to see more of us.”
[And of the furlough Friday strategy as well!]
11/26/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- In France, New Review Of 35-Hour Workweek, by Liz Alderman, New York Times via nytimes.com
Myriam Bello, 22, is one of nearly 4.5 million workers in France unable to find jobs with at least 35 hours a week. She works 30 hours at a New Look clothing store. (photo 1 caption)
Saifi Ahlem, 26, works nearly 70 hours a week at Orly Airport and at the hypermarket Carrefour. (photo 2 caption)
PARIS, France — On a recent weekday, Saifi Ahlem caught a 5 a.m. Métro to get to her job as a passengers’ assistant at Orly Airport, where she often works 44 hours a week — well over France’s official 35-hour workweek.
That afternoon, she took a quick lunch break then headed to her second job, as a sales manager at the French hypermarket Carrefour, ending her day at 9 p.m.
“France has a reputation for having lazy workers,” said Ms. Ahlem, 26. “But I’ve never worked just 35 hours. That would be like resting on my laurels.”
More than a decade after it was introduced, the 35-hour workweek still projects an image of France as being one of the most laid-back places in the world to work. In most of the rest of the eurozone, the 40-hour workweek is standard.
But in reality, France’s 35-hour week has become largely symbolic, as employees across the country pull longer hours and work more intensely, with productivity per hour about 13 percent higher than the eurozone average. And a welter of loopholes lets many French employers outmaneuver the law.
All told, French workers put in an average of 39.5 hours a week, just under the eurozone average of 40.9 hours a week, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Now, a fight has broken out within President François Hollande’s Socialist government over whether to officially end the nominal 35-hour workweek as a way to overcome France’s economic malaise.
Breaking a taboo, Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron has begun to openly question whether the measure — which was passed in 2000 by a Socialist government to encourage job creation — still serves the country’s needs.
Tensions rose sharply after Der Spiegel, the German news weekly, reported on Sunday that a German-French action plan, prepared for Mr. Macron and his German counterpart, Sigmar Gabriel, would call for overhauling the 35-hour week. After a storm of protest, French officials this week sought to calm fears that a major change was underway.
The report, which is to be made public on Thursday, “does not call into question” the current workweek, they said, although the government does see room for more flexibility within the framework of the law.
Last week, Mr. Macron, an economic centrist, told Parliament that the 35-hour rule had for too long painted France as “a country which no longer wanted to work,” sending a negative signal to foreign companies wanting to invest here. Given France’s economic challenges, Mr. Macron said, the 35 hours “should no longer be put on a pedestal.”
His remarks provoked an immediate backlash within his Socialist Party and among trade union officials, who accused the government of threatening to tear down a totem of the French state that many still cherish.
Any effort to weaken the 35-hour standard “will not be implemented here in France,” warned Bruno Le Roux, the president of the Socialist Party.
For wage earners like Ms. Ahlem, political resistance to change seems out of touch with economic reality. “We should really be encouraging people to work more if they want to — not the opposite,” she said.
The law has not improved an unemployment rate that, at 10.2 percent, hovers near a high.
[You can't blame the law for that because you've just admitted that IT'S NOT ENFORCED. And 10.2% unemployment is hardly "hovering near a high" - its 12.6% level in 1997 was what motivated French voters to move beyond the voluntary and flexible Robien Law to the mandatory Jospin law, which had a sloppy overtime design from the gitgo and was put off several times but STILL reduced unemployment from 12.6% in 1997 to 8.6% in 2001 before the US-led recession hit France and pushed unemployment back up to 10-point-something, where it has remained ever since despite repeated waves of weakening the law by trapped-in-the-box thinkers like ex-prez Sarkozy. Truth is, those who yak most about liberté are the most scared of it - they are control freaks who want to sink back to longer work hours and less free time, which is the most basic freedom of all, without which the other freedoms are either inaccessible or meaningless. The 35-hour workweek has yet to be enforced with #1 the implementation of a good overtime-to-training&hiring conversion process and #2 the further reduction of the workweek as far as it takes to trigger enough convertible overtime to yield full employment and maximum domestic consumer spending, every economies' unused foundation for stability and, via the multiplier effect, platform for growth aka upsizing. They sure aren't getting it from downsizing and relapsing to longer hours in the age of AI and robotics. And right here in the very next sentence is the proof that even shorter hours are needed -]
Nor does it address a deeper challenge in the French workplace: the rising use of part-time contracts, which employers increasingly use to avoid the risk of paying costly overtime.
[So in France as everywhere else that does not have a controlled and anticipatory system for lowering worktime while heightening technology, shorter hours are happening anyway but not the best way that retains jobs & consumer spending & markets - yes folks, it grow your workweek and shrink your economy, while bloating your financial sector which owns the media so you never get the straight story.]
Ms. Ahlem has a pretax base salary of around 13.45 euros, or $17, an hour from Groupe 3S, which provides passenger services at the airport. She gets €10.78 an hour at Carrefour, which is better than France’s €9.53 minimum hourly wage.
Ms. Ahlem would rather work full-time at Carrefour, where she is replacing a worker on leave. But so far she has been able to obtain only a part-time contract. Meanwhile, the 35-hour workweek rules — despite the loopholes — require her airport employer, Groupe 3S, to cap her maximum working time at 44 hours a week, limiting her earnings there.
“The 35 hours was an intellectual and economic mistake,” said Dominique Moïsi, a senior adviser at the French Institute for International Affairs, an influential research group. “For Mr. Macron to say that he can touch that Holy Grail is very antagonistic to the French left. But it is a way of telling the outside world and the rest of Europe, we should reform France.”
Mr. Macron insisted that he did not want to dismantle the law, which requires employers to provide paid rest days and overtime pay of 25 to 50 percent of a worker’s hourly salary for time worked beyond 35 hours. Others who have dared to suggest returning France to the previous official workweek of 39 hours, including former President Nicholas Sarkozy and the current prime minister, Manuel Valls, were promptly shouted down.
Instead, Mr. Macron is pushing for new legislation to let companies negotiate their own wage and work-time agreements with unions internally, rather than relying on sectorwide accords negotiated between employers associations and unions.
As it is, previous governments have already pushed through a raft of measures to weaken the law, which does not apply to white collar workers or senior executives, but caps the official workweek for government employees and workers like Ms. Ahlem.
Various loopholes have increased the amount of extra hours that employees can work before overtime pay kicks in. And the government pays billions of euros a year in subsidies to help companies offset overtime costs. Analysts question whether the 35-hour week has brought economic benefits — or merely bureaucratic burdens.
Companies were expected to recruit more employees to compensate for the reduced hours for any one worker. While the French statistics agency Insee estimates that 300,000 to 350,000 jobs were created shortly after the law was passed, economists said that the pace of jobs creation had not been maintained. And critics say the rule is a reason that France’s unemployment rate is more than double Germany’s rate of 5 percent.
Myriam Bello is one of nearly 4.5 million workers in France unable to find jobs with at least 35 hours a week.
“It’s not nearly enough, especially when you see that people in other countries work more hours than us,” said Ms. Bello, 22, who has a 30-hour-a-week contract at a New Look clothing store just outside Paris. “If you need to rent an apartment, and the agencies ask that you earn three times the monthly rent just to sign a contract, it’s impossible.”
“To this day,” Ms. Bello added, “I cannot find a 35-hour-a-week contract.”
Abolishing the law would require a wholesale review of the exemptions and subsidies now in place, said Jean-François Roubaud, the president of the C.P.G.M.E., France’s main employers’ association for small and medium-size businesses, leading to “major difficulties.”
For the moment, his association is resigned to keeping the 35-hour workweek in place — as long as Mr. Macron follows through on his promise to provide employers with more flexibility.
“Only in France,” he said, “would you find something this complicated.”
[The solution is real simple and obvious - do whatever it takes to convert chronic overtime into training and hiring, then trim the workweek as much as it takes to get enough convertible overtime to provide and maintain, homeostatically, full employment and maximum consumer spending > marketable productivity > solid investment, instead of today's financial house of cards.]
Laure Fourquet and David Jolly contributed reporting.
A version of this article appears in print on November 27, 2014, on page B1 of the New York edition with the headline: In France, New Review of 35-Hour Workweek.
- Indonesian Government Considers Reducing Working Hours for Women, (11/27 across dateline) Kompas.com via GlobalIndonesianVoices.com or GIVnews.com
[Sexist? Well, back in 1912, ex-Pres. Teddy "Call me Theodore!" Roosevelt né-Republican, neo-"Bull Moose" party leader, advocated a shorter workweek for two situations: continuous-production industries and FOR WOMEN.]
JAKARTA, Indonesia – Vice President Jusuf Kalla has suggested that the daily working hours for female employees be reduced by two hours. The work hour reduction is needed in order for women to have more time in preparing their children for the future.
According to the Chairman of Muslims Association, Nurhasan Zaidi, the Vice President has a concern for the condition of the country’s future generation.
“For women who actively work as state employees, the (working hour) portion can be reduced because they have the responsibility to prepare the nation’s children for the future. For this reason, he (Vice President) (wants) to reduce (the working time) by two hours a day in office,” said Nurhasan Zaidi as quoted by Kompas.com (25 November 2014).
On a separate occasion, Minister for Administrative Reform Yuddy Chrisnandi has welcomed the Vice President’s suggestion to reduce the number of working hours for women.
“If the Vice President has spoken, [it can] be implemented, similar to a fatwa (learned interpretation) by Pak Prabowo, which is directly conducted by Pak Fadli Zon,” said Yuddy whilst being accompanied by Parliament (DPR) Vice Chairman Fadli Zon in Bogor on Wednesday (26 Nov 2014).
According to Yuddy, the government is studying the suggestion as part of the consideration that women employee also have the responsibility to take care of their family and children.
“We will study it, but it is a good suggestion with the consideration to take care of family, take care of children, to create a harmonious household,” Yuddy said.
The minister further said that the Vice President’s suggestion has positioned women not as work productivity tool.
Meanwhile, DPR Vice Chair Fadli Zon is also in the opinion the he will study the suggestion, with the relevant parliamentary commission.
“DPR RI will study with the relevant commission, do not let it until the women protested, implying there is a discrimination against women from the males,” asid Fadlin Zon.
About Global Indonesian Voices - Global Indonesian Voices (GIV) is Indonesia’s first independent online media, established for ‘Connecting Indonesia to the World‘ by publishing independent news and stories written by and for Indonesians and Indonesia-philes all around the world.
11/25/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- The question of a relaxation of The 35-Hours resurfaces, LeFigaro.fr
PARIS, France - The relaxation of the 35-hour worweek may not figure in the report on the French and German economies, delivered Thursday to the Economic Ministers of the two countries. The authors spoke of "abridgement" in view of leaks published in the press. For three months nothing has silenced the rising little music about "adapting" The 35 Hours...in quiet notes intoned by the government itself. Once appointed to the Economics Ministry, Emmanuel Macron has not departed from the positions he expressed to The Point in late August prior to his appointment. Where he suggested permitting companies and industries, in the framework of majority agreements with trade unions, to vary from the rules of worktime and remuneration. Thursday, before the commission of inquiry of the Assembly, he has again pushed the envelope.
The Minister of the Economy is not alone. Manuel Valls himself, during his trip to London at the start of October, launched a debate on unemployment benefits but also stated that "it would be necessary to go further" with the relaxation of The 35 Hours. Before backing off... The fact that the Government had to give assurances in Brussels does not alone explain these orchestrated attacks. A number of leaders on the left are convinced that an accommodation on the 35-hour workweek is necessary. In 2011, in the primary, Manuel Valls himself wanted to "unlock" it. As for Jean-Marc Ayrault, the ex-Prime Minister responded in October 2012 with a "why not?" to a question about a return to 39 hours' work for 39 hours' pay. Before he, too, went into the background...
But business leaders should not cradle themselves with illusion. The executive branch has in mind smooth management of the worktime rules, not a big bang. They have reiterated many times, 35 hours will remain the legal duration of work, that triggers the payment (extra) of overtime. The government wishes especially to relax the job retention agreements which were created in 2013, and which permit the modulation of worktime and remuneration, but under strict conditions that are judged overly restrictive by certain ministers and by employers.
So doing, the current Government remains in line with its predecessors. Between 2002 and 2012, the right has softened, but not repealed, the 35 hours.
[But if you don't have an effective overtime-to-jobs conversion mechanism, it don't matter how low you set your workweek, and France still hasn't "got it" in terms of the need to focus energy on converting chronic OT into OT-targeted & funded training & hiring. Quite the contrary -]
The recourse to overtime was expedited, then made less onerous by social and fiscal exemptions (after which the left only reinforced them). Thus a flexibility with which businesses are carried away. Employees and officials on full time worked 1661 hours a year in 2013, according to the Coe-Rexecode Institute. It's more than the 1607 hours that corresponds to 35 hours a week.
[Uh, if we're talking about forty-six 35-hour weeks, shouldn't that figure be an even 1,610?]
It is also on an annual basis that worktime is to be measured, the weekly basis ( of 39.5 hours [huh?] ) failing to take into account the RTT or comptime linked to the worktime reduction [reduction du temps de travail=RTT].
It remains to be said that, despite this overtime, the French work less than Europeans in general, with the exception of the Finns (the Germans work 1847 hours a year). And so, notably because the other rule relaxations have not worked, the vast majority of companies have not renegotiated their 35-hour agreements, in view of the fact that since 2008 they can sign a less advantageous agreement than that of the industrywide one. Fear of reopening Pandora's box has been stronger. By insidiously pushing in this direction today, the government risks the same checkmate.
- Long-term care beds moving from Harriston to Cambridge, CTV News Kitchener via kitchener.ctvnews.ca
KITCHENER, Ont., Canada – Public meetings were held Tuesday in Harriston and Fergus to explain why long-term care beds are being moved from those communities to Cambridge.
Harriston is taking the bigger hit, with nine of its 89 beds on the move.
It’s news that has angered some residents, who voiced concerns that the loss of nine beds may be a prelude to further cuts.
The Caressant Care long-term care facility in Harriston, Ont., is seen on Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014. (David Imrie / CTV Kitchener)
“I’ve got aging grandparents, and aging parents. I don’t want them moved out of the community,” Jessica Hoover told CTV News.
Hoover works at Harriston’s Caressant Care as a PSW. She’s also launched a petition to keep the beds in the community.
Co-worker Joanne McKay supports the petition. In addition to the potential loss of more beds, she’s concerned about what the cuts could mean for staff at the facility.
“You can’t cut nine beds without cutting staff,” she says.
Lee Griffi, the manager of corporate communications at Caressant Care, says the cuts may actually turn out to be a positive for the workers at the facility.
As funding to Caressant Care is based on occupancy levels, the Harriston facility has had to cut hours [but not jobs] at times.
While every bed in Harriston is currently full, Griffi says, 16 of the 89 residents have been moved in from outside the area – and even doing that hasn’t been enough to fill the facility in the past.
“We don’t want to see anybody be laid off or have their hours cut back, but that’s been happening now because we can’t fill the beds,” he says.
“For whatever reason, the demand has not been there for long-term care beds in Harriston.”
The demand may not be there, but Jerome Quenneville thinks it will be before long.
As president of North Wellington Health Care and Groves Memorial Hospital, he points to Harriston’s demographics – seven per cent of its population is aged 80 or older – as a sign that more of the community’s long-term care beds could soon be filled with its own residents.
“When you consider that older population that we have, we really don’t have enough (beds),” he says.
In Fergus, seven beds will be moved to Cambridge, where Caressant Care hopes to build a new wing onto its existing facility.
That plan is still awaiting provincial approval.
11/23-24/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- France's Socialist party chief says 'non' to 35-hour week review, 11/23 Reuters.com
PARIS, France – The head of France's Socialist party rejected any change to the country's 35-hour work week and criticized plans to let shops open more often on Sunday, a sign the government could face an uphill battle to get more labor "reforms" through parliament [our quotes].
Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron, whose planned deregulation bill is meant to show France's commitment to "reform," has said that the 35-hour week should not be sacrosanct and that it could be tweaked to allow firms to strike their own deals with unions.
But for the ruling Socialist Party's secretary-general Jean-Francois Cambadelis, the answer is: "non". "It's not just a question of taboo," he told RTL radio on Sunday. "This is not what we are talking about today."
Macron has said he wants to keep the 35-hour work week, an iconic Socialist reform introduced in 2000. But he told lawmakers earlier this week that the law had given off a "negative signal" and pragmatism meant it should be tweaked.
Cambadelis warned the Socialist government in a joint interview with LCI television and Le Figaro newspaper that it needed to have its own lawmakers on board to pass reforms in parliament. So-called rebel lawmakers have strongly criticized budget bills and labor reforms over the past months and refused to vote for them.
Macron's deregulation bill aims to speed up disputes over firings and open up closed professions to try to help to revive France's flagging economy. It does not include the 35-hour week.
Macron, a youthful ex-banker who became minister in August, also wants to make it easier for businesses to implement short-time work schemes and pay cuts during a downturn to fight rampant unemployment of more than 10 percent.
Cambadelis said he disagreed with Macron's plan to allow shops to open up to 12 Sundays a year from five currently was excessive. "We will discuss this with the minister, it's too much," he said.
(Reporting by Jean-Baptiste Vey and Ingrid Melander; Writing by Ingrid Melander. Editing by Jane Merriman)
- Time to limit working hours for our stressed out doctors? by Chularat Saengpassa
Chularat@nationgroup.com, 11/24 (11/25 timezone issue) The Nation via nationmultimedia.com
BANGKOK, Thailand - Over the past 16 months, patients have filed 200 civil complaints and 35 criminal complaints against doctors in public hospitals in Thailand.
Judging from the statistics, the risk of doctors falling into legal problems has risen dramatically.
Victims of suspected malpractice have loud complaints about doctors and say any wrong move during treatment can change their lives for the worse. In the eyes of many patients, doctors are often seen as aloof, passionless and often too busy to look carefully into each case.
But the truth is that doctors, particularly those at state hospitals, are overwhelmed with their workloads.
Quality problems, incorrect decisions or wrong diagnoses are probably a result of long working hours.
A foreign patient was upset when his doctor at a private hospital appeared reluctant to discuss his ailment. He switched to another private hospital, where the doctor was willing to answer his questions until he felt satisfied.
Indeed, he was lucky to have got the chance for a long chat with a doctor. Most Thais have one to two minutes - particularly those who can't afford pricey service charges at private hospitals - for each medical visit. Many complain that doctors at public hospitals spend too little time with patients. Is it true?
According to the Medical Council of Thailand, doctors at public hospitals have to perform about 180 million outpatient consultations a year. It estimated that in each shift in outpatients department, a doctor has to see 100-200 patients, leaving just a few minutes for each person.
Government data shows there are 47,000 physicians in Thailand, but only 13,500 work at public hospitals. It is estimated that in 2015, 2,000 medical students will graduate. About 2,000 will be assigned to work at over 840 public hospitals nationwide under the Public Health Ministry's care. Of these, some will pursue studies after completing their residency. Meanwhile, physicians' permanent jobs need endorsement from the Civil Servant Commission, which can do that only on a yearly basis.
The World Health Organisation says Qatar has the highest ratio of doctors to patients of any country, at 7.7 per 1,000 population. That is higher than the 2.3 per 1,000 in Japan or 1.9 per 1,000 in Singapore and 1.2 per 1,000 in Malaysia.
In Thailand, there are 0.4 doctors for every 1,000 patients. That's the average rate. The proportion is lower in small provinces, as most doctors are in big cities, which have more private hospitals.
Medical Council secretary-general Ittaporn Khanacharoen says some countries have introduced a Working Time Directive, to limit the service hours each doctor has to perform each week, to ensure quality service. He believes this practice would be good here, particularly at public hospitals in the provinces, which have fewer doctors.
Ideally, each doctor should see only 30 patients a day. This would allow quality time with patients and doctors to work on preventive care, to reduce ailments in areas they treat.
Ittaporn acknowledged this could be done without depriving others' rights to see doctors.
He has a good point. Several doctors at public hospitals that I know often complain about their long work hours.
Meanwhile, patients sent to the wards feel they have to wait too long.
Few people know or want to acknowledge that some doctors have to work for up to 30 hours in a shift. With that long at work, it is difficult for any individual to keep perfect sense, let alone someone who has to take care of another's health condition.
Here is a story from a neurosurgeon working at a public hospital: On one day, he was scheduled to operate on four patients. After he completed his daily assignment, he learnt that another surgeon had taken sick leave.
"I was assigned to take over his cases. What could I do? If I refused, saying I had done enough, what would happen to the four patients? They would have been dead by now," he said.
Another heart surgeon said he had to be on call for seven nights in a row. Each morning in the week, he had to make rounds as usual.
While I admired his dedication, I could not help feeling concerned about the quality of his work. What if a patient died under his care?
What if the diagnosis was wrong? Who would take responsibility?
Doctors are human. When they lack sleep or adequate rest, there is a risk their judgement might not be as sharp as usual. As their service directly affects the health of others, all relevant authorities should give serious attention to this issue.
The National Legislative Assembly should review the law concerning treatment liability. Given the increasing pressure on doctors, many must want to flee to private hospitals, which pay better and offer less work. In the end, without the work time limit, it is the general public who will suffer the consequences.
In the United Kingdom, the Working Time Directive stipulates that a doctor must serve no more than 56 hours a week and the longest shift must not exceed 14 hours. After four hours of work, doctors earn a break of at least 30 minutes.
In the US, there is a similar directive for specialist doctors.
Ittaporn is right to say such a directive would answer the quality issue. It remains to be seen how the council will ensure that the directive does not deprive others' rights to get medical services from doctors.
There have been complaints that the number of doctors is insufficient, leading to poor quality work. For decades, we have never been able to address both issues. If the directive can tackle the quality issue, it should be implemented.
Hopefully, we can deal with the quantity issue later. Public health bosses don't need to focus on producing new doctors alone - they also need to get the public to take better care of their health.
The best scenario is that all people do their best to keep themselves in good health. This way, their need for medical care would be minimised. And when they really need medical help, they will get the full attention of quality doctors.
[Why is it that all over the world, even in the Third World, it's the healers who most need to heal themselves?]
11/22/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Furloughs kept Manteca afloat - Decision soon on whether they will continue after this year, by Dennis Wyatt, MantecaBulletin.com
MANTECA, Calif., USA — Manteca’s municipal offices are closed next week.
It’s partly for the Thanksgiving holiday but the bulk of the days — along with seven days between Dec. 24 and Jan. 2 — are part of the non-paid municipal furloughs put in place in July 2009.
Back then as the city was struggling to deal with declining revenues triggered by the Great Recession, the city’s 385 municipal workers agreed to take a 3.8 percent pay cut in the form of unpaid furloughs to help the city weather the budget crisis.
The pay cut amounted to $1.2 million a year. Employees had their checks reduced year round to avoid having a pay period with a smaller paycheck. The non-paid furlough days were grouped around the holidays when a number of employees would normally schedule time-off as well as because work slows down a bit.
Garbage collection will be continued on its normal day except on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day when it will take place the day after. Only essential personnel are working during furloughs such as police, fire, and the wastewater treatment plant operators. The Manteca Police Department’s front desk will keep its normal hours except on Thanksgiving, Nov. 27, and Friday, Nov. 28. Both days are holidays.
City Manager Karen McLaughlin noted the contracts covering furloughs expire on June 30, 2015. The future of furloughs is part of the contract negotiations.
There are numerous options the employee groups could pursue including keeping the work days scheduled as they are while seeking pay raises based on the hours they have been working.
Furloughs are separate from the 9/80 work plan that has the municipal offices closed every other Friday. That was put in place to allow improved customer service by having municipal officers open earlier and close later to accommodate commuters that need to deal with the city. A city study back in 2009 showed Friday is the lightest day for citizens to access city offices.
The furlough strategy meant every employee lost 80 hours of work or 3.8 percent of their annual pay. It translates into 112 hours a year for firefighters as they have a different work schedule.
The contracts agreed to that included furloughs meant the city isn’t being forced to play catch-up as the economy improves to delivery previously agreed upon pay hikes retroactively. The pay raises were agreed upon prior to 2009 would have brought Manteca municipal workers close to the medium of what comparable cities in the region pay for similar jobs.
The furloughs allowed Manteca to absorb much of the financial hit without impacting services.
Furloughs — coupled with a hiring freeze as employees retired or left to go elsewhere — also avoided massive lay-offs of employees.
[Yaaaay for furloughs not firings, Timesizing not downsizing!]
- Global Economics: Work-Sharing and Working Time Accounts Enhance Labour Market Flexibility - Innovations in labour market arrangements can benefit both labour and business, by Mary Webb & Colin White, (11/21 late pickup) Scotiabank Economics Fiscal Pulse via gbm.scotiabank.com
TORONTO, Ont., Canada - Work-sharing, while often considered a recession defense,
deserves recognition as an ongoing policy tool to help mitigate
economic volatility and industry restructuring. In lieu of laying
workers off, it allows companies to reduce their employees’
working hours and salaries, with government (un)employment
insurance providing a partial offset for lost wages. For employers,
work-sharing avoids the costs of layoffs, re-hiring, and training
new workers; for employees, it helps to sustain skills, incomes
and household spending. During the last recession, similar to
several other nations, Canada expanded the maximum length of
its work-sharing agreements from 26 weeks (plus a 12-week
extension) to one year (plus a 26 week extension).† At the
program’s peak in June 2009, almost 68,000 Canadian workerswere covered by work-sharing agreements
[see chart, *Work-sharing in Canada].
Germany’s work-sharing program ["Kurzarbeit"] stands out for its scale and its
extensive historic use. In 1990, work-sharing was part of the response to the profound challenges posed by German reunification, with over two million workers participating in the program [see chart, *Work-sharing in Germany]. Also used extensively during the recessions of 1993 and 2009, Germany’s work-sharing program relative to population remains substantially larger than Canada’s and consists of three distinct applications:
i. A seasonal tranche, tailored for [summer] outdoor workers during
winter (significant use of this [annual-cycle] program is visible in the middle
chart’s seasonal fluctuations);
ii. A cyclical tranche [a variable-cycle program], designed to respond to [assumed-cyclical] downturns,
running for up to 18 months and extended to 24 months in 2009; and
iii. A [surface-level] re-structuring tranche, [a non-cyclical "secular" (ongoing) program,] sometimes criticized for propping up industries in decline but still a useful tool for the orderly management of company reorganizations, particularly in hard-hit cities or rural areas [and more important, a useful tool for the maintenance of consumer spending and monetary circulation in cities or regions - but this tranche again assumes that permanent declines are only local or regional and not national or global].
[iv. A deep-level re-structuring tranche (also a secular program, permanent by virtue of being sustainably homeostatic and independent of government funding), such as Timesizing, gets government and taxpayers completely out of the role of big-pocket patsy for short-sighted narrowly interested CEOs. It forces the business sector overall to sustainably fund its own markets in terms of its own employee-consumers overall. It forces business to recycle its own discarded employees instead of continuing the fool's errand of trying to get growth alias UPsizing by waves of DOWNsizing. Still in the future, but globally needed more urgently every day, a permanent version of the above tranches, all three of which are based on the assumption that national and global downturn is varied-length but temporary.]
Complementing longer-term work-sharing agreements are
Germany’s working time accounts, introduced in the mid-1980s,
and currently used by almost half of German companies. Under
this arrangement, an employee can work additional hours at the
regular pay rate during busy periods, accumulating credits in their
account to be redeemed during leaner periods while staying on
full salary. By industry, Germany’s exporters and its firms in more
cyclical industries have tended to make greater use of working
time accounts [see chart,
*Working Time Accounts in Major Industries].
As employers largely avoid overtime premiums, the concern that
employees might be exposed to demands for unlimited flexibility has
led to limits on working time accounts, making them primarily suitable
for short- and medium-term demand fluctuations. Companies
applying for longer-term work-sharing must have drawn down their
working time accounts.
Germany’s experience challenges the notion that high unionization
typically leads to labour market rigidities. The willingness of German
business, labour and government to experiment with innovative
labour market arrangements in recent decades has introduced
considerable labour market flexibility, contributing to Germany’s
upward trend in employment relative to population
[see chart, *Employment Trends].
† As of October, 2012, the maximum agreement length reverted to 26 weeks (plus a 12-week extension).
This report has been prepared by Scotiabank Economics as a resource for the clients of Scotiabank.
Opinions, estimates and projections contained herein are our own as of the date hereof and are
subject to change without notice. The information and opinions contained herein have been
compiled or arrived at from sources believed reliable but no representation or warranty, express or
implied, is made as to their accuracy or completeness. Neither Scotiabank nor its affiliates accepts
any liability whatsoever for any loss arising from any use of this report or its contents.
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11/21/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- For Macron, the legal framework of the 35 hours "is not enough", by Laure Equy, Liberation Politique via liberation.fr
[Translation by Bing, cleanup by Phil]
The Minister of the Economy reiterated before the members of Parliament his proposal to circumvent the worktime law in the case of majority agreement.
PARIS, France – Emmanuel Macron invented himself a slogan, Ségolenist in form, Vallsiste in content, "just pragmatism." Casually mentioning this mantra, the Minister of the Economy responded Thursday to questions from the Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry that deals with the impact of the worktime reduction. The UDF (Union des Démocrates et Indépendants) party's Thierry Benoit, president of the commission, did not hide the fact, in his preamble, that he would be delighted to re-expose the very social-liberal hue of the interview that Emmanuel Macron had granted to Le Point at the end of August. He proposed then to "authorize companies and industries, in the framework of majority agreements, to depart from the rules of worktime and remuneration." Was the then-Inspector of Finance just getting carried away? Or did these remarks made shortly before his appointment at Bercy betray his deeper thinking?
First deploring first that "the subject lends itself to posturing," the Minister claimed a "nuanced" position on worktime. Example: "We can defend the 35-hour workweek without putting it on a pedestal." During an hour in the hearing, Macron deftly did this balancing-act dance between defending "social progress" and advocating for adjustments and more flexibility. First reassuring off his camp, he paid homage to the signal law of the Jospin years, which "had a beneficial effect on employment and productivity in France" and "was accepted and well received by the French."
True, he admits, there were "certain errors in its implementation," stating that work could become "more difficult and alienating," notably for hospital staff.
[What a joke - more rest and time of their own would more likely make hospital workers' work easier and engaging.]
Another sour note, quickly sounded: 35 hours have "created a negative signal for foreign companies that wanted to invest in France."
[Or a positive signal, since France is willing to brave the taboo and spread the vanishing unautomated employment and the job earnings and consumer spending by cutting the workweek, despite furious attacks like this particularly sneaky one. Economies need first and foremost their own powerful consumer base driving circulation and engaging the multiplier effect in the positive direction.]
"That's what's wrong on the ground," he eagerly adds.
[Uh, foreign companies are not "on the ground"...of France. They have no qualitative stake - only quantitative/monetary.]
Inasmuch as the gap is finally narrowed between the legal duration and the actual duration of work. And, throughout successive softening measures, 35 hours still represents the threshold above which overtime is triggered.
"True progress would be to give everyone the opportunity to choose."
[What nonsense. Do we give everyone the opportunity to choose whether they obey traffic lights or not?]
But at the end of this performance, Emmanuel Macron finally withdrew none of his remarks to The Point. While visiting London Tuesday, he already affirmed that he wanted to "settle the facts" of the question of worktime. "Do not abandon the legislative framework but adapt it," the Minister put forth this Thursday, taking care to counterbalance his proposals for adjusting the 35-hour workweek while at other times defending this "legal framework." "It seems to me we should stay at 35 hours, but it is not the end of the story because employees just like companies need more flexibility. Who would we be to say to someone who wants to (work more) that it is impossible?
[That's fine. Timesizing does not stop everyone - only those just doing it for the money who should instead be upgrading their skills to get the additional money they need during straight time and not grabbing more of this most central vanishing resource, market-demanded human employment hours during the robotics age, than the amount that would allow everyone to have a piece of it. Otherwise we keep splitting into workers and drones, with workers resentful and drones vulnerable, all in all unsustainable.]
"True progress would be to give everyone the possibility to choose within a framework established by the State and the social partners" and thus be able to circumvent the law through "majority agreements." "The Act sets out a framework to protect the weaker but it interferes in everything, hampers, creates blockages," he adds.
[He is struggling to reinvent the wheel of Timesizing's natural inflation balancer, based on the insight that there are effectively two kinds of economics-relevant incentive, inflationary (money motive, quantitative, exogenous) and deflationary (job satisfaction, qualitative, endogenous). The people with deflationary incentive are safe to work all 168 hours a week if they want to, because they're not working, they're playing, they LOVE their work for whatever reason. All we have to stop at the top of the workweek are the people with inflationary incentive who are just doing it for the money and never have enough, are never satisfied. How do we separate the sheep from the goats? We require reinvestment of 100% of overtime earnings (or overwork earnings = overtime from all sources) in training and hiring. You MUST change gears or stop at the workweek max. You MUST start giving back employment at that point or just leave it there for someone else.]
Macron proposes therefore, without complexities, to make much less constraining the legislative framework but he coats it all in soft wording. Light the fuse with a smile. The debate with the MEPs was curiously received. Lonnie Carrey-Conte and the reporter Barbara Romagnan, two MPs from the left of the Partie Socialiste, objected all the same to the Minister that we are talking about "freedom" to choose one's worktime in a time of crisis and growing insecurity. Macron nods courteously. But continues his thrust. Although an inter-professional national agreement (ANI) on competitiveness and securing employment, translated into a law in June 2013, already allows companies in difficulty to increase working time, it considers that the majority agreements in this case "face obligations" provided by the text, including the limitation to two years maximum. At the end of the hearing when Macron left for the Council of Ministers, Jean-Pierre Gorges, sole Union pour un Movement Populaire [UMP - rightwing] party member in the Commission, seemed not to have gotten over it: "I was outnumbered but the ["socialist"] Minister helped me greatly...."
- No 22-Hour Workweek for Lecturers Yet, (11/22 5:58 AM timezone issue) Express News Service via The New Indian Express via newindianexpress.com
BENGALURU (Bangalore), Kamataka State, India - Teaching staff working in state government and [gov't-?] aided first grade colleges heaved a sigh of relief as the State Higher Education Department has decided to put on hold the recent decision mandating a 22-hour weekly workload in colleges.
Following representations submitted by teachers’ organisations, State Higher Education Minister R V Deshpande had a meeting with department officials where the principal secretary (in-charge) of higher education Bharath Lal Meena and commissioner of collegiate education Nandakumar were present.
In the meeting it was decided to withhold the circular issued by the collegiate department recently and continue with the existing system.
A senior official of the department who was present in the meeting told Express, “Teachers have given representations saying it is unscientific to implement such an order in the middle of the academic year. It was discussed and considered in the meeting and the circular will be withheld temporarily.”
However, he said, it does not mean that the order will be implemented next year. “For the next year, the decision will be taken after consulting the teachers.” an official said. An official announcement will be made on Saturday.
Recently the State Department of Collegiate Education had issued a circular mandating 22 hours of workload for first grade college faculties per week. As per UGC [University Grants Commission current] regulations, it is 16 hours per week.
[Gotcha! Bet y'all thought this was very progressive, right? - like Slim Helu's 33-hour workweek. But turns out it's regressive in this situation. Why still so low-sounding? Who knows. Maybe it's like my elementary school in Toronto went from 9am-12 and 1pm-3:30/4 = (3+3)x5 = 30 hours teaching core in the 1950s, plus prep time for teachers and homework for students, varying individually.]
But, the lecturers opposed it unanimously saying it was inhuman and against UGC norms. Meanwhile, there was a threat of 11,000-plus guest faculties across the state losing their jobs if the circular was implemented.
[Yes folks, this is UNtimesizing = longer hours, more concentrated employment, fewer jobs - but the lecturers are unanimously painting it as inhuman... Can we all just quit threatening jobs and economic activity and tax the rich until we get timesizing going?!]
11/20/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- France's 35-hour week should not be put “on pedestal” – minister, Reuters.com
* Says framework around 35-hour week gave "negative signal"
* Measure seen as France no longer wanting to work, he says
* Labour reform of 2013 ineffective, needs to be revisited
PARIS, France – The 35-hour work week introduced in France by a socialist government in 2000 gave off a "negative signal" and should not be sacrosanct, Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday, breaching a major left-wing taboo.
[Absolutely right. It needs to be further reduced. France needs a more efficient mechanism for converting chronic overtime into training and hiring = formation et embauche, and as much further workweek reduction as required to create enough convertible overtime to achieve full employment = negligible frictional-only unemployment.]
Right-wing politicians, foreign investors and many economists have criticised the labour laws supporting the 35-hour week as hurting business in Europe's No. 2 economy since it was introduced by former socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin.
[These are the same nitwits who keep calling for "bold new ideas" and "out-of-the-box thinking" and "structural solutions" but whose "solutions" oddly do nothing but further coagulate global money supplies among the people who spend (and therefore circulate) the smallest percentages of their huge incomes and thereby perpetuate and deepen economic slowdown - and they never learn from it but just keep preaching and practicing the same failed politicies again and again like a broken record. Any sensible CEO from Lord Leverhulme to W.K.Kellogg to Edward Filene to the Lincoln brothers to the guys at Nucor Steel have always realized that, in Filene's own words, "Mass Production is...large-scale production based upon a clear understanding that increased production demands increased buying.... For selfish business reasons, therefore, genuine mass production industries must make prices lower and lower, and wages higher and higher, while constantly shortening the workday and bringing to the masses not only more money but more time in which to use and enjoy the ever-increasing volume of industrial products."]
But despite persistent unemployment above 10 percent and weak growth, no member of President Francois Hollande's government had yet publicly criticised one of the shortest legal working weeks in the world.
[Uh, didn't Macron criticize it back in August? See article "French socialists urged to consider end of 35-hour week by former WTO chief.." on 8/30/2014 #2.]
"The 35 hours sent a negative signal for French companies, because this reform was perceived as the reform of a country which no longer wanted to work," Macron, a former banker, told a parliamentary hearing.
"It's possible to defend the 35 hours - and for my part, I do defend them - without putting them on a pedestal ... Given our economic reality, we can look at the reality of the 35 hours with pragmatism."
Macron said that he did not wish to dismantle the 35-hour week but to adapt legislation so that companies could strike their own wage and worktime agreements with unions internally.
[And leave taxpayers even more of their discarded employee-consumers to fund? Brilliant-ly stupid and more perniciously socialist than the socialists! Watch French unemployment rise if this genius gets his way.]
Former conservative president Nicolas Sarkozy watered down the 35-hour week by making overtime payments tax free but did not retract the law, arguing that that would create unnecessary backlash. Hollande has since revoked the tax break on overtime.
[Good. Chronic overtime needs to be converted into training and hiring, no if's, and's or but's, and a confiscatory tax on overtime advantage (compared to hiring) with a complete exemption for OT-targeted training and job creation is an obvious way to achieve this.]
Separately, Macron said it should be easier for businesses to implement short-time work schemes and pay cuts during a downturn, urging trade unions and employers to renegotiate last year's labour reform deal.
Senior officials told Reuters this week the government should press ahead with labour reform as it tries to cut unemployment, stuck above 10 percent, by making the job market more flexible.
"I hope that in the coming months, social partners and the legislator will be able to take into account amendments to the 2013 agreement because experience shows, after a bit more than a year, that it is probably a bit too restrictive," Macron said.
Since the agreement was struck in January 2013, only about half a dozen such work-time reduction deals have been struck.
Reporting by Jean-Baptiste Vey; Writing by Nicholas Vinocur; Editing by Louise Ireland
- 5 Hacks That Will Cut Your Workweek in Half, by Zach Ferres, Entrepreneur.com
PHOENIX, Ariz., USA - Two years ago, I moved from Ohio to Arizona when my business was acquired. I immediately became consumed by work, doing the same thing day after day. One morning about five months after I moved, I noticed a park a few blocks from my house. The sight of it confused me. I couldn’t recall ever having seen it before.
As I racked my brain, I realized the park was unfamiliar not because it had sprung up overnight but because I’d never driven by it in daylight.
Work was consuming my life. I had begun skipping runs, losing touch with friends and becoming a stranger to my own neighborhood.
While growing up in a Midwestern farm town, I had been taught that hard work leads to success. Although that belief hasn’t changed, this experience put my priorities in perspective.
I realized that it’s just as important to work smart so you can live a balanced life. Sometimes it takes creativity for an entrepreneur to reach that level of equilibrium. The following hacks have given me my life back.
1. Hire a personal assistant for the home.
My friend Jesse Lear, a fellow Ohioan and CEO of VIP Waste Services, kills it with this hack. His personal assistant irons clothes, cleans his house, washes his car, shops for groceries, prepares lunches and takes care of a variety of other time-consuming tasks.
By relying on a personal assistant, Lear has been able to arrive at the office earlier and focus on his business. In addition to saving 10 hours a week, he now has peace of mind that things at home are being handled.
2. Hire an assistant for the office.
When an entrepreneur is seeking someone to answer phones, order supplies and organize files, she might hire an administrative assistant who would help out staffers in the office. But if it’s work-life balance someone is after, a work assistant (who helps his or her boss) is the way to go.
I started with a virtual assistant and later brought the position in-house. I’d be lost without my sidekick, who schedules my meetings, plans my vacations, arranges my dental appointments and even straightens out errors on my Verizon bills. On average, my assistant saves me about 15 hours a week.
3. Use an email-management system.
When a message comes in, the initial reaction might be to respond. But when an entrepreneur relies on an email management system, he is no longer tethered to the inbox.
One of my choice tools is Boomerang for Gmail. Let’s say three emails come in, but I'm too busy to respond just then. Instead of potentially losing them in the black hole of the inbox, I can “boomerang” the less critical messages to a more appropriate time, such as two hours or even a week later. Boomerang saves me an average of five hours every week.
4. Send a text message from a computer.
I might spend at least an hour a day sending work-related text messages. Being nothing but thumbs, I type way faster on a keyboard, so syncing my phone with my computer has been important. Motorola Connect or Apple's Continuity are both great options. This probably saves me two hours a week.
5. Get caller ID.
It's possible to figure out who’s calling if that person’s name has been entered into the phone. To figure out the identity of other callers, download a caller ID app. I use Current Caller ID & Block for my Android, which connects with LinkedIn and Facebook to identify whether the phone number is associated with a connection. Of course, it also lets me screen my calls, saving me at least 30 minutes a week that would be otherwise spent talking to telemarketers.
These hacks let me to get more work done, but more important, they do two other things: They provide me peace of mind and added clarity because I know things are being handled, and they free up time for me to live my life.
Collectively, these save me 30 to 40 hours each week spent on busywork. Instead, I have the chance to run, catch up with friends and maybe even spend time at the park down the street. I still believe working hard is the key to success for an entrepreneur, but it’s even more important to work smart.
11/19/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Want a four-day work week? Run for Congress, by Jose A. DelReal, WashingtonPost.com
WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday released the 2015 congressional calendar, which sets up the weekly voting agenda for the 114th Congress.
The new session of Congress will convene Jan. 6. And that four-day week sets the pace for the rest of the year: By my count, the calendar has no five-day voting weeks and 18 weeks in which zero voting days are scheduled. (That comes to 132 voting days on the 2015 calendar.) January appears to be the only full month in which Congress will be in session.
["What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander." Or in this case, what's good enough for Congress is good enough for the American public.]
Lawmakers typically use the time off to head back to their home districts.
“Overall, when organizing this year’s legislative calendar, we sought continued certainty for Members and their staffs, while facilitating the most efficient, productive Congress possible for the people we represent,” McCarthy wrote in an e-mailed statement.
Per convention, the House will be on recess for the entire month of August. The August recess this year begins July 31. Lawmakers are scheduled to be back on the Hill on Sept. 8. There are also no votes scheduled for the week leading to the 4th of July, which this year falls on a Saturday.
The 114th Congress will have to grapple with a growing list of contentious issues dividing voters, including immigration reform, the Keystone XL pipeline, health-care reform, surveillance program reform and various national security concerns. But action on those issues is threatened by divided government.
"It is imperative that the House use its voting days in 2015 to work in a bipartisan way toward achieving progress on the major challenges we face," Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer said in a statement.
All 132 of them.
Jose DelReal is a blogger for Post Politics.
- Massachusetts Ballot Measure Passes Requiring Paid Sick Time for Employees, by Wilfred Benoit, Jr. & Jennifer Fay & Robert Hale & Bradford Smith, 11/18 Goodwin Procter LLP via jdSupra.com
BOSTON, Mass., USA - When will the Earned Sick Time Act [ESTA] take effect?
The ESTA will take effect on July 1, 2015.
What employers and employees will be covered by the ESTA?
Employers with 11 or more employees will be required to provide Sick Time. Employers with fewer than 11 employees will also be covered by the ESTA, but will be obligated only to provide unpaid sick time. Unpaid sick time will accrue in the same manner as Sick Time, as described below.
All employees of any employer will be eligible regardless of their hours of work, period of service, and exempt or nonexempt status.
How much Sick Time may employees accrue and use?
Employees will accrue one hour of Sick Time for covered reasons for every 30 hours worked. Employees will not be entitled to accrue or use more than 40 hours of Sick Time in a calendar year (i.e., the equivalent of five working days for full-time employees). Employees will be entitled to carry over up to 40 hours of unused Sick Time into the next calendar year, but they will still remain subject to the 40 hour per calendar year cap on using Sick Time. As with other provisions of the Act, employers may provide greater rights to accrue and use Sick Time than are available to employees under the Act.
In measuring time for accrual and use of Sick Time, an employer must use the smallest increment used by its payroll system (and in any event no larger an increment than an hourly increment).
When will accruals of Sick Time begin?
Accruals of Sick Time will begin on the later of July 1, 2015 or the employee’s date of hire. Note that this means that if an employer relies on its current paid sick leave or paid time off policy to satisfy the ESTA, it will need to ensure that employees who exhaust their paid leave rights earlier in the year will have the right to accrue Sick Time under ESTA.
How soon after hire may an employee begin using accrued Sick Time?
An employee may begin using accrued Sick Time 90 days after the employee’s first day of work.
How will accrual and use of Sick Time be measured for exempt employees?
If an employee is exempt from overtime eligibility under the Fair Labor Standards Act and has a normal workweek of 40 hours or greater, the employee will be assumed to work 40 hours per week for the purpose of Sick Time accrual. If the employee has a normal workweek of fewer than 40 hours, the employee’s normal workweek will be used to measure accrual of Sick Time. Thus, for example, if an exempt employee has a normal workweek of 30 hours, the employee will be presumed to work 30 hours per week for the purpose of measuring accrual of Sick Time.
For what reasons will an employee have the right to use Sick Time?
An employee will have the right to use Sick Time to:
Will employees be required to provide notice before using Sick Time?
- care for his or her child, spouse, parent or spouse’s parent who is suffering from a physical or mental illness, injury or medical condition that requires home care, professional medical diagnosis or care, or preventive medical care; or
- care for his or her own physical or mental illness, injury or medical condition that requires home care, professional medical diagnosis or care, or preventive medical care; or
- attend his or her own routine medical appointments or those of his or her child, spouse, parent or spouse’s parent; or
- address the psychological, physical or legal effects of domestic violence.
If the need for Sick Time is foreseeable, an employee will be required to make a “good faith effort” to provide advance notice to his or her employer of the need to use Sick Time.
When may an employer require an employee to provide documentation to support the use of Sick Time?
An employer may require an employee to provide documentation to support the use of Sick Time only if the period of the Sick Time covers more than 24 consecutively scheduled work hours (i.e., three consecutive workdays for full-time employees).
What documentation may be required?
When the use of Sick Time exceeds the threshold of 24 consecutively scheduled work hours and the use of Sick Time is due to an employee’s or a family member’s health-related reason other than domestic violence, the employee may satisfy a request for documentation by providing any reasonable documentation signed by a health care provider. Diagnostic information may not be required.
When the use of Sick Time exceeds the threshold of 24 consecutively scheduled work hours and the use of Sick Time is due to domestic violence, any of various forms of documentation identified in the domestic violence provision of the Massachusetts Unemployment Insurance Law may be used. That list of documents is similar to the list of acceptable documents under the new Domestic Violence Leave Act. It includes, among other alternative documents, “a sworn statement from the individual attesting to the abuse.” An employer may not require an employee to provide details of the domestic violence.
In the case of any documentation requirement, neither time off nor pay may be delayed while the employer awaits documentation.
May employers require an employee who uses Sick Time to make up the equivalent number of additional hours or shifts or find a replacement employee to cover him or her?
No. An employer may not require an employee who uses Sick Time to make up for hours or shifts missed or to find a replacement employee.
However, the Act permits an employer and an employee to mutually agree that the employee will make up for hours or shifts missed for one of the four covered reasons described above. In the event that such a mutual agreement is reached, the employer may not count an employee’s hours or shifts missed as a use of Sick Time and the employer is not required to pay the employee for such hours or shifts missed. Nothing in the Act, however, limits a non-exempt employee’s right to overtime pay for working more than 40 hours in a week, even if the employee does so to make up for work time missed due to the use of Sick Time.
Will employers be required to pay out accrued but unused Sick Time upon a separation from employment?
No, employers will not be required to pay out accrued but unused Sick Time upon a separation from employment.
If an employer provides vacation or paid time off rights that exceed the Sick Time rights under the ESTA, will that satisfy the ESTA?
Yes. If an employer provides vacation time or paid time off that may be used for the same purposes as Sick Time, the employer is not obligated to provide additional Sick Time under the ESTA. However, employers should note three considerations:
What obligations will employers have to provide notice to employees of their rights under the ESTA?
- The ESTA will apply to all employees. Therefore, vacation or paid time off may satisfy the ESTA requirements only for those employees who have a vacation or paid time off accrual rate that equals or exceeds the ESTA accrual rate.
- If an employer has any restrictions on use of vacation time or paid time off, those may not be applied to the use of Sick Time, except to the extent that they are authorized under the ESTA.
- According to the Massachusetts Attorney General, vacation time (including any paid time off that can be used for any purpose) must be paid to an employee upon termination of employment. Therefore, if an employer expands vacation or paid time off rights to some employees to cover Sick Time rights under the ESTA, the employer will be obligating itself to pay those employees for accrued paid time off to which they would not be entitled under the ESTA.
The ESTA states that the Massachusetts Attorney General is to provide language for a posting, which employers will be required to post in their workplaces. The Massachusetts Attorney General may well be providing other guidance concerning the ESTA as well.
Will employers be subject to any prohibitions related to Sick Time?
Employers may not interfere with an employee’s use of Sick Time, except to encourage advance notice and require documentation as provided in the Act, and may not discriminate or retaliate against an employee for using Sick Time or supporting the exercise of Sick Time rights by others.
What will be the consequences of a violation of the Act?
Current and former employees will be able to sue employers under the Act and obtain the value of any lost wages and benefits due to the employer’s violation of the Act, injunctive relief, and mandatory treble damages, attorneys’ fees and costs. (The Act affords employees these remedies by incorporating the remedial provisions of the Massachusetts Wage Act.) The Attorney General will also have the authority to enforce the Act and in so doing may seek injunctive and equitable relief.
Disclaimer: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.
- Helping to make light work of recent holiday pay case law, by Gary John Freer & Helen Webb, Bryan Cave LLP via (11/18 late pickup) lexology.com
LONDON, U.K., EU - With the furore surrounding the recent holiday pay decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) in Bear Scotland Limited & Others v Fulton & Others, it would be easy to assume that HR and employment law professionals will be unable to take a holiday before 2016!
However, we believe the following 8 points should help make light work of what employers need to know about the current position on calculating holiday pay, and the next steps they should be considering.
1) The UK position on calculating holiday pay
Under the Working Time Regulations 1998, which the UK passed to implement the EU’s Working Time Directive, employees are entitled to a week’s pay in respect of each week of leave. How that week’s pay is calculated depends upon whether the employee has normal working hours or not. A week’s pay for those with normal working hours is what they get paid for working their normal week. A week’s pay for those with no normal working hours is their average weekly pay calculated over a reference period of 12 weeks, to include overtime, bonus and commission.
However, under UK legislation where an employee is entitled to overtime pay when working for more than an agreed fixed number of hours in a week, the employee is treated as having normal working hours equivalent to the fixed hours agreed (and ignoring the overtime hours). The Court of Appeal applied this approach to normal working hours to the calculation of a week’s holiday pay, which has allowed employers to exclude overtime payments and other allowances from holiday pay.
2) The European position on calculating holiday pay
In the years following the Court of Appeal’s decision, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has developed principles for calculating holiday pay under the Working Time Directive (which does not specify how holiday pay should be calculated). These principles are:
The issue was whether the ECJ’s interpretation of the Working Time Directive could equally be applied to an interpretation of the UK’s Working Time Regulations.
- Employees should receive their “normal remuneration” during their holiday. This means payment during holiday should be comparable to payment during periods of work.
- Any work (i) intrinsically or directly linked to tasks which the employee is required to carry out and for which a monetary sum is provided; or (ii) relating to the employee’s personal or professional status; must be taken into account when calculating holiday pay.
The issue was whether the ECJ’s interpretation of the Working Time Directive could equally be applied to an interpretation of the UK’s Working Time Regulations.
3) What has the EAT in Bear Scotland Limited recently decided should be included in holiday pay?
Following the principles of the ECJ, the EAT decided to interpret the Working Time Regulations as requiring the inclusion of non-guaranteed overtime and certain other allowances, such as travel time payments, when calculating holiday pay. (Non-guaranteed overtime is overtime employers are not required to offer, but employees must work when offered.)
However, it was held that the requirement to include overtime pay and allowances only applies to the mandatory 20 days’ holiday required by the Working Time Directive, and not the additional 8 days’ of statutory holiday provided by the Working Time Regulations.
4) What about commission payments?
Bear Scotland Limited did not make a determination on the inclusion of commission payments in holiday pay. Lock v British Gas, a case regarding the inclusion of commission payments in holiday pay was heard by the ECJ earlier this year and has been referred back to the UK. The UK case is scheduled to be heard in February 2015.
The decision of the ECJ clearly stated that commission should be taken into account when calculating “normal pay” for the purposes of holiday pay and a failure to do so would mean the employee is placed at a financial disadvantage when taking holiday. It remains to be seen whether the Tribunal will follow Bear Scotland in determining whether the ECJ’s decision can be interpreted within the confines of UK legislation.
5) What about annual or discretionary bonuses?
It is unclear whether annual or discretionary bonuses count as “normal pay” for the purposes of calculating holiday pay. We believe it can be argued that these payments are not intrinsic to an employee fulfilling their duties and cannot be regarded as “normal” pay.
6) What is the potential liability for under payment of holiday pay to include overtime?
There has been extensive commentary and concern regarding how far back any underpayment of holiday pay claims may extend on the basis that underpayments will be considered to be a “series of deductions” and that Tribunal limitation deadlines have not been missed.
The EAT have provided some comfort for employers, stating that any claim for unpaid holiday pay must be brought within 3 months of the most recent underpayment. As a result where an employee has a period of longer than 3 months between taking holidays (where it is assumed the 20 days’ holiday required under the Working Time Directive will be taken first), there will be a break in the series of underpayments, and prior deductions from holiday pay can not be claimed.
However, the issue as to how far back holiday pay claims can potentially go was not considered by the EAT. Theoretically, if an employee can establish there has been no break of more than 3 months between underpayments we are still uncertain whether the employee can make a claim going back 6 years or even to the introduction of the Working Time Regulations in 1998.
There is also no clear guidance on what the correct reference period should be when calculating a week’s holiday pay in these circumstances, for example whether a 12 week reference period should be used or something longer.
7) Will the Bear Scotland Limited decision be overturned?
Potentially. The EAT judge has given the parties leave to appeal all aspects of its decision to the Court of Appeal so there may be further twists and turns regarding the calculation of holiday pay and how far back any potential liability may reach. The UK government has also announced a task force to analyse the case and consider how to limit the impact on employers. This means we can not rule out the potential for new legislation, although it seems unlikely until after the General Election in May 2015.
8) What are employers doing now?
Many employers have decided to “wait out” the case law developments and government analysis before making any changes to the way in which holiday pay is calculated. It may be some time before there is a fixed UK legal position on whether overtime, commission and other allowances need to be included in holiday pay calculations, not to mention the political uncertainty in an election year.
However, it does appear that some change is inevitable and employers would be well advised to:-
If your potential holiday pay liability is such as to cause grave concern, it may also be worth considering making payments from now on to include overtime, commission and allowances to reduce the risk of extensive historical holiday pay claims.
- Analyse their own workforce in term of overtime / commission / allowance payments and calculate their potential liability of holiday pay underpayment;
- Consider how overtime, commission and other allowance payments are recorded and make changes to ensure it will be possible to calculate holiday pay accurately;
- Consider the use of bank or agency staff to cover any period of increased demand; and
- Ask for indemnities on any historical holiday pay liability when making a business or company purchase
- What Working Long Hours Actually Does to Your Body, by Scott Bixby, News.Mic via mic.com
NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - Get out of that office chair — before it kills you.
The 9-to-5 workweek has been a standard of American labor law for decades: It's the standard by which full employment is measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by most economic indexes, even by Obamacare.
[Wrong. Obamacare makes the cutoff at 30 hours above which you have to start paying premiums to buy your employees health insurance,
Unfortunately for American workers, the average employee's "40-hour workweek" is actually 47 hours, according to Gallup. It's even worse for salaried employees, most of whom aren't eligible for overtime pay. The average non-hourly American worker spends 49 hours per week at the office — with 1 in 4 reporting that they spend more than 60 hours per week at work. That's a 12-hour shift every day, Monday through Friday.
All of that extra work poses a serious risk to your health. Working long hours, even at a desk, can have serious repercussions for your physical and mental health and may even end up hurting productivity in the long run.
It's making you fatter. While seated, you burn 50 fewer calories per hour than while standing, a fact frequently pointed to by fans of the standing desk. Multiply that over a 47-hour workweek, and sitters will have had to run nearly 4 miles to burn off the extra 2,350 calories. Not to mention the 6 pounds gained every year from office snacks.
It's breaking your heart. Research has shown that those who spend four or more hours sitting per day have a 125% increase in heart disease risk, and a 50% increased risk of death from any cause.
"But my girlfriend's getting me into CrossFit and I'm trying these new kale shakes!" Nope. The study was controlled for diet and exercise, which means that even if you can grate cheese on your abs, a sedentary lifestyle will kill any health benefits you get from the gym.
It's giving you diabetes. The Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study, a mammoth study cataloging the health and fitness habits of 12,000 Australians, found that people with the "highest sedentary behavior" had a 112% increase in their relative risk of Type 2 diabetes, and that was only with four hours of watching television per day. A similar study of more than 4,000 civil servants found that those who spend less than 12 hours sitting down a week can decrease their risk of diabetes by 75%, and that those who sit more than 25 hours per week increase the chance developing metabolic risk factors like "bad" cholesterol and insulin resistance.
It's making us depressed. According to researchers at University College in London, stressful work conditions, including long work hours, can double your risk of depression. A Gallup poll of nearly 240,000 full-time workers found that 10.8% of U.S. full-time workers have received a depression diagnosis. For employers, the truly damning result of the study was the calculation of how much depression costs them: roughly $23 billion a year.
It's stressing us out. According to the Attitudes in the American Workplace VII survey, 80% of workers feel stress on the job, and 25% have felt like screaming or shouting because of job stress; 14% even said that they had felt like striking a co-worker in the past year, but didn't. The United States has the highest workplace crime rate of any industrialized nation. According to the Occupational Health & Safety Administration, there are more than 500 workplace homicides every year. And all of that stress is taking a toll on our bodies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Perpetual stress "increases the rate of wear and tear to biological systems," contributing to back and muscle pain, headaches and exhaustion.
What do we blame? The Great Recession, for starters. As Mother Jones noted in its comprehensive defense of the 40-hour workweek, American economic output recovered to near pre-recession levels relatively quickly after the economic collapse of 2008. How? Because the workforce that was left was pulling out all the stops to avoid future layoffs, and that mad panic to stay employed has carried into the recovery. Employers couldn't be happier. After all, for every employee working a 50-hour week instead of a 40-hour week, they getting 25% more work for the same stagnant pay. That's part of the reason unemployment has been so slow to fall as the economy has recovered: For every four Americans working a 50-hour week, there's one who should have a full-time job but doesn't.
Throw in the developed world's only country with unpaid parental leave, no federal laws regarding paid sick time and the fact that 70% of American kids live in homes where both parents now work, and it's no wonder the U.S. workforce is considered the most productive in the world [only by Americans], with a 400% increase in worker productivity since 1950.
[only by meaningless unlimited-hour unlimited-employee total and not by meaningful per-hour per-employee rate]
Defenders of the increasingly interminable workweek point to the low-impact nature of the modern office environment compared with workplaces past. After all, white-collar office workers don't appear anywhere on the list of the nation's deadliest jobs. When's the last time filing a TPS report cost anybody a leg?
So what's the good news? As more studies are produced that conclude current work habits are going to lead America's workforce to an early grave, many workers are taking their health into their own hands, whether they're buying or making standing desks to mitigate 11 daily hours of sitting or negotiating nap-time policies with their bosses. Even just a brisk walk can reduce risk of deep-vein thrombosis.
Since, statistically, you're probably reading this at work, do yourself a favor: Go stretch your legs and grab a coffee. It might just save your life.
Scott Bixby is the Deputy Live News Editor at Mic. Formerly a social media editor at The Daily Beast and Bloomberg News, Scott's writing has appeared in Bloomberg Businessweek, Esquire, GQ, and a secret diary he keeps under his mattress.
11/18/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Ware Town Meeting restores cut hours of municipal office workers, by Jim Russell, (11/17 late pickup) The Republican via MassLive.com
WARE, Mass., USA - Over the objections of the municipality's chief executive, Town Meeting on Monday - by a lopsided margin - voted to restore the working hours of municipal employees that were cut when the new fiscal year began on July 1.
The $26 million fiscal 2015 budget town meeting approved in May cut the hours for 20 full-time employees, including the town manager's.
[Hourscuts but no jobcuts = timesizing not downsizing.]
Town Manager Stuart Beckley said during Monday's special town meeting that he opposed the measure because it represents about $100,000 of annual spending that Ware can not afford.
But voters felt otherwise.
The $43,512 infusion of money into this year's operating budget will also restore hours cut at the library, since staff hours will be returned to normal.
The library's slice of the restoration is $6,405.
The planning and community development office will see $10,083; the treasurer collector, about $6,000. The change will add $3,504 to Beckley's pay for the fiscal year that ends on June 30.
Hours for administrative staff were reduced on July 1 from 35 hours to 32; department heads, from 40 hours to 37.
The restored hours are scheduled to take effect in January.
A total of 177 attended the special town meeting. But there were not enough information packets, such as the warrant, and a capital planning report, to provide to all who attended.
One of the clerks signing people in said only 140 of the documents were printed.
- Health researcher warns of impact of long work hours, as workers urged to Go Home On Time, abc.net.au
Close to one-third of workers in Australia, mostly men, are in their workplace for 50 hours per week, a health researcher says.
ADELAIDE, Australia - Today is Go Home On Time day, the sixth year the awareness day has been organised by the Australia Institute, with support from the Beyond Blue organisation.
The head of public health at the School of Population Health at Adelaide University, Dr Dino Pisaniello, said the little research that had been done on the need to achieve a work-life balance showed long work hours affected not only the individual but their family.
"About 30 per cent of people, in males anyway, are working 50 hours a week [and] that's the statistic that's of concern - the number of people who are working two hours a day extra," he told 891 ABC Adelaide.
[= a return of the 10-hour day? - which was achieved in the USA around 1865, down from the 12-hour day of 1840 - see Roediger & Foner's Our Own Time.]
"That might be because of the demands of the job, it might be because they like their job, but for those people who don't think it's helping them in a career sense it may be introducing all sorts of health-related issues."
Dr Pisaniello said research showed the health dangers extended beyond the individual doing the long hours in the workplace.
"Fathers, for example, who are doing this extra time [find] that cuts into the work-life balance leading to things that are adverse for children," he said.
"We know from research that we've done at the University of Adelaide that unsocial working hours does lead to [people being] overweight and obesity in children - that's an indirect effect, but it's all related to the issue."
The health researcher said workers needed to ensure they dealt with their stress and, for those often desk-bound, that they exercised.
"Those [long] hours may constitute a health problem with regard to stress and [participation] in physical activity," he said.
"If we're sitting in a chair for long periods of time that's a problem in itself. We know that from various pieces of research.
"Work we've done suggests that the culture in an organisation can influence health. Australia ranks pretty highly in terms of long working hours, probably about fourth on OECD criteria, so it's certainly an issue in the culture, if you like."
Dr Pisaniello said workers often perceived a need to stay longer on the job because of "how organisations see long hours in terms of their operations".
"I guess in some respects workers like to think they're helping the team out," he said.
The researchers have found that self-employed and casual workers faced particular stresses from the hours their jobs involve.
Dr Pisaniello said more research needed to be done before conclusions could be drawn about how health was affected by competing demands of work and home life.
"I think in terms of fatigue, if you've got two or three other responsibilities apart from going to work, that can certainly lead to issues and stress," he said.
He urged workers to consider whether current workplace laws could be used to help ease the demands they faced.
"There is an out, if you like, under the current legislation workers can request more flexible working arrangements - that certainly does help but it is a question of whether the employer will then agree to that," he said.
"Both women and men should take up the possibility of asking those questions."
As for the intrusion of work demands into home life, he said technology was not always a bad thing.
For example, dealing quickly with a work issue from home via phone or email might make the next working day smoother, he said.
11/16-17/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Lucy and the 30-hour work week, by Denis Murphy, 11/17 (11/18 dateline issue) Philippine Daily Inquirer via opinion.inquirer.net/
NEW YORK, N.Y., USA — For most New Yorkers and Filipinos, Sunday is a time of reflection, rest and recreation. People are at their best. It may be that in order to build a more just and prosperous world, we need more days off. We may need a 3-day work week. Here’s what happened one Sunday in New York. The account aims to show how we can benefit from free days.
Sunday morning in New York, people walk their dogs, jog, or just sit quietly in the many small parks that dot the city. No one rushes to work. Traffic moves quietly. I was standing outside the CVS pharmacy waiting for my wife and daughter who were inside shopping, when a woman of 30 or so came up to me with two tiny terriers in Kelly green dog sweaters. “Will you mind my dogs?” she said. Why not? I thought and took the leashes. “I have to use the ATM inside. I’ll be right back,” she told me as she disappeared inside the store.
I was now a person of interest. Children came over and asked me the dogs’ names. I told them I didn’t know, and they looked at me strangely. I heard them tell their mother, “He doesn’t even know their names…” The woman who left the dogs didn’t come back right away, and I began to feel as if I were in a “Seinfeld” episode where nothing happens, but life gets very complicated. It was trusting of her to leave the dogs with a stranger; not many women in New York would do that. But then I thought, maybe she has left them for good. Maybe she had fled out the back door of the store. Then I remembered it was Sunday. People don’t abandon their dogs on Sunday.
People are better than that.
Before I became too worried, she was back. “I forgot my ATM card,” she said. “I have to go home.” She took the leashes, thanked me, and went away. The two dogs were happy to see her.
In the afternoon we went to the Museum of Natural History where I saw Lucy in a diorama just inside the doors to the Origins of Human Life Hall. She was striding in the African sunlight across a prairie-like landscape with mountains in the background. There was a male with her, but she didn’t pay any attention to him. She looked to be about 13. The sun turned the hair of her body into a faint red mist. She looked around for safety’s sake; she was confident and happy.
I first read of Lucy in the National Geographic nearly 10 years ago. Her bones, discovered in the Ethopian Highlands, were at that time the only evidence that her tribe of hominids had lived three million years ago. She was estimated to have been three years old when she died. Her simple name was endearing, and even now she had a young girl’s innocence. I read about her in other articles and textbooks over the years, and now here she was in New York. I felt as if she were my niece, or a neighbor’s child I know well. I was able to meet her because it was Sunday and we had the day off.
We visited the dinosaurs on the fourth floor. I found the great head of a Tyrannosaurus Rex that is shown in a separate display. I have visited it for many times over the years. People stare at the vicious 10-inch teeth, but there is something sad also: Its eye sockets are filled with cement. It has been dead for 60 million years. For all the years the dinosaurs ruled the earth, God had seen no need of human beings.
We sat by the lake in Central Park after we left the museum. The sun was in the trees. It came over the tops of the skyscrapers at the southern end of the park. We watched the young men in boats row their wives and girlfriends back and forth. It was clear who the winners were: The men were happy but they were working hard, while the women sat decorously in the back of the boat, enjoying the breeze and the lovely trees.
All this happened on Sunday, our day of rest. There was time to wait outside the pharmacy and mind the dogs. The dogs’ owner probably wouldn’t have entrusted her pets to a stranger if it hadn’t been a tranquil Sunday.
People are nicer to one another on Sunday because, it seems, they are free of the pressures of their jobs. We had time to see Lucy and the Tyrannosaurus Rex. We could have gone to the opera or picked apples in upstate New York or done a hundred different things that would have enriched our lives because it was Sunday. Weekday holidays would serve as well.
A theory offered by some economists is that we should work only three days a week for 10 hours a day. The other days we can spend studying, touring, helping others, playing games, caring for our children and our elderly..
[Is he referring mayhap to billionaire non-economist Carlos Slim Helu's proposed three-day workweek of 10-11 hours a day?]
We should make a wage for the three days of work that can support a family. If a person wants to work longer for more income, he or she can, but a worker doesn’t have to work more than 30 hours. There are limits to how many goods need to be produced at any time, and a 30-hour week with our modern efficiencies may suffice to produce these goods and allow us to spread out this work in a way that cares for everyone
As a result, people will be smarter, healthier, more concerned about others, more sensitive, prayerful and compassionate.
When we got up from our benches by the park lake we realized that New York still hadn’t changed even on Sunday. There were no “C” trams going downtown and there were no taxis going anywhere. We had to take the uptown “C” to 125th Street, then take the “D” downtown to 47-50 Street to catch the train home. Nothing is perfect.
Denis Murphy works with the Urban Poor Associates (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- India Inc allows staff to ‘compress’ work week, helping them balance work and home, by Anumeha Chaturvedi & Prachi Verma, 11/17 (11/18 dateline issue) The Economic Times via economictimes.indiatimes.com
NEW DELHI, India - Somasree Bose heads the marketing for Godrej brands Cinthol and Godrej Air. She joined the company as a management trainee from Xavier Institute of Management Bhubaneswar in 2003, and had her fair share of field sales stints.
But when she became a mother, she found it hard to juggle the number of responsibilities she suddenly had. At this time, her company's flexible work hours policy came as a godsend. Bose comes in at around 10.30 am as she has to send her daughter to school at around 8 am, and stays on till 7 in the evening.
Godrej's flexi work hours programme allows employees to compress their work hours provided they have clocked in 42 hours in a week.
[So this company's workweek isn't going to do anything for India's high unemployment, but at least it seems to be a real maximum (as well as a minimum).]
"They are expected to be in office from 10.30 am to 4 pm but can decide when to come and when to leave," says Sumit Mitra, executive VP, HR at Godrej.
It's not just the women employees at Godrej who are changing their work timings. "My juniors have spouses and children and they too make use of flexible working hours to support their wives," says Bose.
With the nuclear family becoming common, responsibilities increasing by the day and commuting stretching for hours, employers are going easy on the 9-to-6 drill for their staff. From sunshine Wednesdays which allow employees to leave while the sun is still shining to BE HOT (Be home on time), companies are allowing employees to leave as early as 3.30 pm on certain days, enabling them to get some evening down time. Employees, needless to say, are the happiest.
"Since the beginning of this year, the number of registered users for flexi work options has increased by over 30 per cent," says Sarab Preet Singh, head of recruitment, learning and development at Citi India.
Citi's 'compressed work week' allows employees to work less than five days a week through longer working hours per day. 'Part time' or reduced schedules give employees the leeway to work for half the normal working time with adjusted pay and benefits.
Some teams follow the initiative, 'BE HOT' (Be Home on Time!). On specific days, employees leave work early. Relaxed work timings can mean employees leave as early as 3.30 pm. Archana Punjabi works in the research and business analytics team at Citi and uses the Flexi Time policy. As a married woman, she was clear about joining a firm which allowed her flexibility in work arrangements.
She was briefed on various policies at the time of joining Citi three years ago. Punjabi starts her day at 10 am and leaves by 5.30 pm. She says the arrangement allows her to manage her personal and professional life effectively and helps her spend quality time with her family. "This means I can still progress in my career without compromising on my personal life."
At Ernst & Young, 'My Life' permits employees to set their own daily work hours between 8.30 am and 7 pm within the guidelines. Arrival and departure time may vary depending on personal commitments or just beating the traffic at peak hours. The flexi time arrangements have eased the traffic situation for employees, besides helping them adjust their work schedule to their 'biological clock', taking advantage of peak productivity periods. "Employees get the support and peace of mind they need to concentrate at work which is good for their families - and the bottomline as well," says Sandeep Kohli, national director, HR.
Maruti Suzuki has introduced customised office hours wherein employees can choose from seven time slots depending on work commitments. For instance, employees in their engineering and quality assurance teams, who have to regularly interact with counterparts in Japan may opt for a time slot like 8 am to 4.45 pm. The company ensures availability of all employees during core working hours - from 10 am to 4.45 pm.
Vodafone runs Sunshine or Watchful Wednesdays, which though not mandatory, are followed across most of their circles. All employees get to leave while the sun is still shining on the second and third Wednesdays of the month. It's meant to inculcate the habit of leaving work on time, so employees plan their work day better and have enough time in the evening to spend with family and friends. "Employees appreciate the gesture and we have even had family members writing in to praise this special initiative," says a Vodafone spokesperson.
The bottomline, for organisations, is a satisfied and more productive employee.
- Hong Kong employees dissatisfied with long working hours, 11/16 (11/17 dateline issue) HumanResourcesOnline.net
HONG KONG, China — A study earlier this year found the need for “face time” – i.e. being in the office later than senior managers as a mark of devotion to the job – is deeply ingrained in Hong Kong workers.
Latest research adds to that, finding that “long working hours” is the number one cause for dissatisfaction among the local workforce, cited by one in every three employees (31%).
Additional reasons for job dissatisfaction are “low income or slow salary increment” (28%) and “high levels of stress at work” (21%).
The respondents rated their work-life balance a low 5.8 out of 10, saying three out of four of them have to work overtime every week.
As a result, the average working week in Hong Kong stands at 47 hours, “18% more than the international standard in advanced economies, where 40 working hours or less per week is a fairly well-established norm,” cited the study.
On the personal side, the highest number of respondents said their dream was to buy their own home (15%), followed by a healthy life (13%).
Another 12% and 10% said they wanted to travel the world, and have no worries about money, respectively. Just 6% said their dream was to make more money.
The overall confidence level of the respondents in realising their dreams was 5.3 out of 10.
11/15/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Don't Slash Our Salaries, Ekiti Sweepers Beg Fayose, by Yaqoub Popoola, AllAfrica.com
ADO-EKITI, Nigeria — More than 700 street sweepers, under the Ministry of Environment in Ekiti State, have appealed to Governor Ayodele Fayose to retain them in the employment of the state.
Addressing journalists in Ado-Ekiti on Friday, the spokesmen of the group, Ojo Olufemi and Kunle Ayegbusi, urged government to sustain the present N10,000 monthly stipend being paid to them, rather than reducing it to N5,000 as is being insinuated in government circles.
A source in the Ministry of Environment said the state government was looking for ways to settle the various debt incurred by the immediate past administration .
Some of options being considered include reducing the salaries of the sweepers, rather than laying off part of the workforce.
It was learnt that the Fayose government wanted to reduce the sweepers' working hours from six to two hours in order to sustain them.
Ayegbusi, who branded Fayose as a man of the people who cannot contemplate sacking any worker, said relieving them of their jobs would further compound unemployment in the state.
He said the group is not oblivious of the fact that they are ad hoc staff in the state's employment, but members are contributing immensely in stemming the breakout of epidemic diseases in the state.
"We heard that government is planning to reduce the stipend to N5,000 monthly and reduce the working hours from six hours to two to justify the reduction.
"But we are aware that the same work would still be done by our members even within the two hours. We used to allot 200 metres portion of land to each sweeper, which I think they can still do even if the time is reduced.
"If the government wanted to reduce the working hours and the money, it means there should be reduction in the workload. And if this happens, the government would have to hire more hands and the situation will remain the same," he said.
- Joining Other Circuits, Ninth Circuit Requires Specificity In FLSA Pleading, The National Law Review via natlawreview.com
[Good overtime consciousness. Bad design for converting chronic overtime into OT-targeted training & hiring, which was the whole original POINT of the workweek limit and overtime section of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.]
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., USA - Joining sister Circuits, on Wednesday the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that an employee must set forth specific information regarding his or her work hours to properly plead an FLSA claim for unpaid minimum wages or overtime under the Iqbal doctrine. Landers v. Quality Communs., Inc., 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 21440 (9th Cir. Nov. 12, 2014)
Joining the “trilogy of cases” from the Second Circuit, as well as decisions from the First and Third Circuits (and rejecting an unpublished order from the Eleventh Circuit permitting more conclusory pleading), the Court agreed “with our sister circuits that in order to survive a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff asserting a claim to overtime payments must allege that she worked more than forty hours in a given workweek without being compensated for the overtime hours worked during that workweek.” The Court declined to issue a hard and fast pleading rule that would serve as the “sine qua non of plausibility,” but consistent with the prior opinions from other Circuits required factual specificity. Having articulated that standard, the court affirmed dismissal of the complaint at bar because it “presented [only] generalized allegations asserting violations of the minimum wage and overtime provisions.”
Four Circuits have now adopted a variation of the rule originally set forth by the Second Circuit in Lundy. Practitioners must closely review pleadings and avail themselves of this doctrine as appropriate.
Jackson Lewis P.C.
11/14/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Fed Ponders As Part-Time Jobs See Record Growth, Obamacare Role Questioned, StaffordDaily.com
STAFFORD, Ken., USA - The number of people holding part-time jobs in the U.S. in the month of June has risen to its highest point since October while the number of people holding full-time work fell.
[So shorter hours are happening anyway, but not the best way.]
The number of part-time employees rose by 360,000 in June while full-time workers fell by 240,000. Part-time work has been rising for three months straight and has been outpacing full-time job growth since 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Americans who work part-time for economic reasons, meaning they have had their hours cut or cannot find full-time jobs, is 78 percent higher than in December 2007, when the recession began.
Most economists blame this spike in part-time jobs on tough economic situations. Some feel President Barack Obama’s 2010 health-care law is making the situation worse as it requires businesses with 50 or more full-time employees to offer health insurance to employees who work at least 30 hours a week by 2015, or pay a $2,000-per-person fine.
Ben Bernanke, U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman, expressed his disagreement with this view to a House committee on July 17.
“One thing that we hear in the commentary that we get at the FOMC is that some employers are hiring part-time in order to avoid the mandate,” Bernanke said. “The very high level of part-time employment has been around since the beginning of the recovery, and we don’t fully understand it.”
Studies done by Federal Reserve Banks in both Philadelphia ad Minneapolis show only a small amount of business owners said the Affordable Care Act has caused them to change their workforce structure. However, Obama’s signature health care law has been included as a job market concern by businesses in other studies done by the Federal Reserve with several retailers saying the law would lead to more part-time and temporary work.
The Obama administration is quick to point out that the law should have a minimal effect on part-time employment as 96 percent of employers already offer health insurance to full-time employees.
A study conducted by the Minneapolis Federal Reserve in March surveyed 205 companies and found 89 percent of businesses had no plans to shift to more part-time staff to avoid the rule.
Elise Gould, director of health policy research at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, says in a stronger economy employees would have more power and employers would not have the ability to cut hours to avoid the health care mandate.
“If there was more labor demand generally, then there would be a different reaction to these requirements,” Gould said. “Overall, we’re just still in a very weak economy.”
Posted in: Politics, World
- Update: Chattanooga postal workers rally to save jobs and mail services, WRCBtv.com,
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn., USA - Friday is a national day of action for postal workers across the country. The United States Postal Service is planning to cut mail service next year as part of a downsizing plan to save more than $2 billion.
Local postal workers are rallying to save their jobs. They held a "Stop Delaying America's Mail" protest at the processing and distribution center on Shallowford Road.
The United States Postal Service is facing cutbacks, consolidations and closures. And in Chattanooga, the workers union estimates that could mean hundreds of jobs here lost and about $5 million taken from the local economy.
[So far the United States Postal Service has been smart and cut hours to save jobs. Can they stay the course or will they get suicidal and take local economies with them?]
The groups, Chattanooga for Workers and the American Postal Workers Union, are teaming up to fight back.
Leaders of the rally are asking people to write to their state legislators and ask them to support legislation that would allow USPS to use money from pension over-payments to keep their business running to the fullest.
82 distribution centers nationwide are slated to close next year, including the post office on Shallowford Road that employs 270 people.
About 100 protestors were out braving the cold, fighting for their jobs, and speaking against the upcoming Service Standard Change.
A change to how mail is processed will take effect in January. The post office is doing this to cut costs and create a savings, but postal workers say it will slow down the mail and push customers away.
The American Postal Worker Union's President Judy Stoecker says a piece of mail sent in Chattanooga, going to Chattanooga could take up to five days to reach its destination. Currently it only takes mail one day to complete that request.
Postal workers are worried if the Standard Service change takes effect in January, people will be discouraged from using USPS because of slow service.
- Health Ministry asks nation’s nurses to call off strike due to “extraordinary” Legionella outbreak, by Carrie-Marie Bratley, ThePortugalNews.com
Portugal’s Ministry of Health has asked the country’s nurses to put off a national strike planned for this Friday (14 November) and for 21 November, given the “extraordinary” outbreak of Legionella [="legionaires' disease?] which has now infected more than 300 people and could be responsible for up to nine deaths.
LISBON, Portugal - In a letter dated 12 November (Wednesday), the Ministry says it is concerned that the labour action, should it be carried out on the announced dates, will “compromise health care” and “indispensible and urgent health needs” are at stake.
“Without bringing into question the constitutional right to strike, we are asking, bearing public interest and the current extraordinary epidemiologic scenario in mind, that [potential strikers] evaluate the opportunity of the already-enacted labour stoppage and what the consequences will be to the care offered to people and the social perception of the strike and its risks” the letter, signed by State Secretary for Health Manuel Teixiera read.
Portugal’s Health Ministry further argues that the Legionella outbreak “is not yet eliminated and the number of patients requiring health care could yet rise”, as could the need for human resources, namely nurses.
It also said that it is not possible to estimate the evolution of the number of people infected by the bacteria, which causes the pneumonia-like Legionnaire’s disease, nor quantify how many nurses are needed to ensure the levels of health care the situation requires.
Unions representing Portugal’s nurses had planned two national strikes for this month, the first being on Friday (14 November), and again on 21 November.
On Thursday morning it appeared the unions had heeded the Ministry’s appeal after they convened to discuss the request.
Their decision was due to be announced in a press conference scheduled later on Thursday.
The strikes were called in protest against cuts in overtime pay, and demanding the resumption of promotion by seniority and the restoration of the 35-hour week.
[So if 35-hours is full time in Portugal, why are some politicians (Brit PM David Cameron...) and economists so freaked out about the 35-hour workweek in France?]
In a statement published by Lusa News Agency, Guadalupe Simões, director of the SEP union, accused the Ministry of Health of failing to keep promises made in negotiations, where the possibility of removing the existing ban on promotions is concerned.
“The draft State Budget for 2015, contrary to what was written into the Budget Strategy Document that the government published in June, fails to foresee rules that were among the demands of nurses and the SEP, namely career progression, an end to cuts in overtime pay, and restoration of 35 hours,” the union said in a statement.
According to Simões, the union has sent to the various parliamentary parties and the assembly’s health committee a document that includes proposed amendments to the budget bill, and requesting a meeting.
Nurses last took industrial action in September, against what it said is a “serious shortage” of staff in public health units and deteriorating pay and conditions.
According to Simões, the reasons for that strike remain.
Meanwhile, the death toll caused by the Legionella bacteria, which is believed to have originated from the Adubos de Portugal fertiliser factory in Alverca, continues to rise. Other potential sources are also still being investigated
On Thursday the number of fatalities caused by the Legionella outbreak in central Portugal was thought to be as high as nine.
Seven deaths were confirmed as being due to the bacteria and authorities are investigating whether two more deaths have been caused by it.
Cases of infection have also now been reported in northern Portugal as well as in the southern Algarve region, along with two cases abroad (in Angola and Peru), but all of them can be traced back to the Vila Franca de Xira region, from where the outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease is believed to have originated.
Three military personnel and an officer’s family member have also been admitted to an Armed Forces hospital in Lisbon.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said the outbreak constitutes a “major public health emergency”.
Legionnaires’ disease is a form of pneumonia transmitted by inhalation of aerosolised water and/or soil contaminated with the Legionella bacteria. It is not airborne and it is not transmitted from person-to-person.
Symptoms include high fever, muscle pain and a persistent cough.
11/13/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Watchdog: Antioch Council set to give 13% pay raises, more to city staff tonight, by Barbara Zivica, Antioch Herald
ANTIOCH, Calif., USA - Antioch residents, upset regarding continuing high crime statistics which supposedly were to be addressed by Measure C (a half cent sales tax increase) but weren’t, just passed Measure O, a business license tax measure which applies to all rental units and whose revenues, like Measure C, go directly into the General Fund and can be used for multiple purposes. In light of previously negotiated increases for sworn personnel and no sizable increase in the police force, does it sound a bit like the old shill game of paper, rock and scissors?
Thought you might be interested in Council’s resolution approving a Benefit Document between the City and the Management Bargaining Unit (term October 1, 2013 to Sept. 30, 2016) to be voted on at their meeting on Thursday, November 13. Here are some of the highlights:
Effective the first full pay period in January 2015, all classifications shall receive a 3% salary increase, which will match the salary increase provided to Operating Engineers Local 3 and Public Employees Union Local 1 in 2014. Excluded are classifications of Water Treatment Plant Superintendent, Water Treatment Plant Supervisor and Water Quality Analyst who already received the adjustment.
Effective [originally on] January 2011, 2015, the current 36 hour work week/10% salary reduction is eliminated and all employees in the Unit will return to a 40 hour work week. The action was required based on “trigger” language in the 1/11/2011 Tentative Agreement of General Fund revenues (excluding new revenues such as Measure C).
[So, 10% hours and wage cuts instead of 10% job cuts = some calm timesizing instead of traumatic downsizing, just as France practiced in the Robien Law in the mid-1990s.]
Effective upon ratification, the second “trigger”, a component of the January 2011 Tentative Agreement is eliminated, which eliminates the reinstatement of previously negotiated but not implemented COLA salary adjustments.
Effective January 11, 2015 the City’s deferred compensation contribution is reinstated (prospectively).
“Me too” Clause agreement, meaning increases or decreases negotiated with either Local 1 or OE3 will be implemented for this Unit.
During the first full pay period in January 2015, increase the Employees’ contribution to the Employee’s share of the PERS rate by 1% and increase the employees contribution to the Employer’s share of the PERS rate by 1%.
This keeps the total Employee contribution at 8% for Classic/Legacy employees but all on the Employer contribution side. PEPRA covered employees hired on or after 2013 shall be required to pay 50% of Normal Cost as required by statue.
NOTE: The annual fiscal impact of the COLA salary adjustment returning to a 40 hour work week and reinstating the deferred compensation contribution is $631,867. Of this amount, $441,640 is General Fund money for both the Management Bargaining Unit and Confidential Employees Unit.
The City provides two floating holidays per year in addition to the usual 12 holidays off. Twelve Tier I management employees will receive 96 hours of administrative leave, 10 Tier 2 employees ten hours of administrative leave and 15 Tier 3 management employees will receive 40 hours of management leave.
Executive Management employees will also be allowed to cash out up to 80 hours of their annual vacation accrual during each calendar year and Senior and Mid Management Profession employees will be allowed to cash out up to 40 hours of their annual vacation accrual during each calendar year.
Elected Officials and, with the City Manager’s approval, all Executive Management employees, except those positions who are assigned a City vehicle, shall receive a monthly auto allowance, Those who do not receive a car allowance shall receive reimbursement at the rate established by the Administrative Memo which also outlines the process for employee reimbursement for books and tuition up to a maximum of $1,000 a year for approved college classes.
How do you feel about your vote for approval of Measure C and Measure O now?
- Fenner Dunlop's Hull staff could strike for first time in decades, HullDailyMail.co.uk
HULL, Yorks., UK - Staff at Fenner Dunlop are voting on industrial action for the first time in decades in a row over pay.
About 70 members of the GMB union are holding a strike ballot in the next few days and a result will be known by Tuesday next week.
They are making the move in an attempt to increase a 2.25 per cent salary rise on offer.
Staff at the Marfleet Lane factory are also worried about the bonus structure and would like more say on when short-time working hours are introduced.
Full-time GMB officer Dave Oglesby said: "The membership are sick to their back teeth.
"There's a culture beginning to develop on the shop floor which the workers say they're not prepared to put up with."
Staff were on short-time working for several months earlier this year when the mining conveyor manufacturer experienced an order book slowdown.
Mr Oglesby said they were not happy with the process and wanted to change it.
He said: "One of the main parts of the negotiations is the right to be consulted when the company makes a decision to go onto short-time working.
"There's something in place that gives the workers notice. But what we're not happy with is how they applied it, who had to work short-time and the distribution of the work available."
The bonus structure is another point of disagreement.
Mr Oglesby said it was not clear how bonuses were calculated and staff had been waiting for the system to be changed for several years.
Fenner Dunlop HR manager Diane Quigley said GMB has gone straight to a strike ballot without voting on the pay offer first. The rise on offer was calculated by looking at inflation figures and Ms Quigley believes it is fair.
She said: "The union has declined to put our offer to the members.
"We encourage them to have an internal ballot because at this point there's been no official vote on the offer that's on the table.
"Particularly since inflation has declined, it was a good offer at the time and it looks even more generous at this point."
She also stressed short-time working has only happened once in the past decade and the company had to be able to introduce it when necessary.
The bonus scheme is being redeveloped and GMB is involved in discussions around it, she said.
11/12/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Why Are So Many Workers Still Part Time? *Seven Charts, Wall Street Journal (blog) via blogs.wsj.com
NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - Are American businesses going to rely more heavily on part-time workers long after the recession has ended?
The unemployment rate has dropped sharply over the past year, but the share of Americans working part time because they can’t find full-time work remains very high by historical standards.
[If the unemployment rate kept dropping, wages would start rising in response to an employer-perceived "labor surplus" and workers could start making "full" time pay for "part" time work, which is exactly what we should be seeing with unprecedented levels of automation and robotization.]
And while the number of these so-called involuntary part-time workers has been trending down, a few charts show why there’s considerable debate over whether the increased reliance on part-time labor is cyclical, meaning it will improve as the economy gets better, or structural, in which something else has encouraged businesses to rely more on part-time workers than before the recession.
First, data from the Labor Department shows that the decline in the number of those working part-time for economic reasons has resulted from fewer workers who are part time because of slack business conditions. Meanwhile, the level of workers who are part time because they can’t find full-time work is actually higher now than it was before the recession.
Second, the level of involuntary part-timers has declined sharply for workers in goods-producing industries such as manufacturing and construction. Industries that typically rely on a larger part-time workforce, such as the retail and hospitality sectors, have seen little improvement.
Also, the share of part-time workers who are finding full-time work one year later is low historically across both the goods-producing and the service sector, but it has shown more improvement for goods than for services, according to data compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
If this is a structural change, what’s behind it? One potential culprit that comes up often in this discussion is the Affordable Care Act, which requires employers with 50 or more full-time-equivalent workers to offer affordable insurance to employees working 30 or more hours a week or face fines. There have been some anecdotal reports about businesses, such as restaurants, gas stations and convenience stores, cutting their employees’ hours back to avoid those fines.
But empirical data doesn’t yet show a big increase in part-time work that could be attributed to the health care law. An analysis from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute found that while part-time work has increased this year beyond what might normally expected at this point in an economic expansion, that increase isn’t specific to part-time jobs below the 30-hour threshold that is affected by the health care law.
If businesses were cutting workers’ hours to comply with the law’s mandate, it might also result in a shorter average workweek. The data on this front is mixed. While the average workweek has declined since 2012 for the retail sector, the average workweek has increased over the past year in the leisure and hospitality sector.
Finally, if businesses had a preference for part-time workers over full-time workers, that might ultimately be reflected in wages. But wage growth for full-time workers, while weak, has outpaced that of part-time workers over the past few years, according to data from the Atlanta Fed.
- Library conserves funds, cuts hours, by Oliver Good, Hillsboro Star-Journal via starj.com
HILLSBORO, Kan., USA - Hillsboro Public Library used to be open Saturday mornings and one hour longer on Mondays, but hours of operation were recently scaled back because of budget concerns.
“It will last maybe just until January when our funding gets renewed,” library director Cathy Fish said. “We started in September and the change will allow us to make it to the end of the year.”
[Hourscuts, not jobcuts = timesizing, not downsizing.]
She said patrons seemed to adjust to the new schedule without much trouble, but trimming hours of operation cut down on staff salary and building utility costs.
“Our funding is still at four mils — the same it has been for the last 20 years — but operating costs have gone up since then,” Fish said.
Fish and the library board have applied for numerous grants, and have done fundraising activities to help supplement increasing costs.
“Book prices have gone up tremendously,” Fish said.
She noted monthly Internet service access as another costly resource patrons expect as part of their library experience.
“We may not be able to replace the Internet if it goes out,” Fish said.
Current hours of operation are Monday 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Tuesday through Friday 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
11/11/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Michigan awarded $2.8M to improve and expand work-sharing program, by Jennifer Burnett, (11/10 late pickup) Council of State Governments Knowledge Center via knowledgecenter.csg.org
[*Click here and scroll down for their neat map of grant funds available for states' worksharing programs.]
LANSING, Mich., USA - The U.S. Dept. of Labor announced last week that Michigan has been awarded $2.8 million to enhance and expand its short-time compensation program (STC), which is designed to help prevent layoffs through “work-sharing”. STC programs are administered through the federal-state unemployment compensation system and allow employers to reduce employee work hours during tough economic times as an alternative to laying them off. Through the STC program, employees who have had their hours reduced receive some percentage of the weekly unemployment benefits that they would have received if they had been completely laid off.
The Dept. of Labor says the program is a “win-win” for both employees – who keep their jobs and benefits – and employers – who don’t have to hire and train new employees when business picks back up and can maintain continuity. The negative effects layoffs can have on local economies are also avoided.
"Providing employers with tools like short-time compensation to retain their skilled workers during temporary business downturns is good for local communities, the state and the overall national economy," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez in a press release. "Michigan is leading by example by instituting this innovative program, and I encourage all states to take advantage of the federal resources that are available to start or expand programs of their own."
The funds awarded to Michigan are part of a grant-based program with nearly $100 million made available through the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. According to information from the Dept. of Labor, grant funds are available to states for the “implementation or improved administration of an STC program or to promote and enroll employers in an STC program”.
Each state has a designated allotment from the $99.75 million available: 2/3 of the money each state is allotted will be used to promote and enroll employers into the program, while the remaining 1/3 will be used to implement or improve a STC. Michigan will allocate about $950,000 to implement the new short-time compensation program and the remaining funds will be used for public education, promotion and increasing enrollment.
To learn more about STC programs, visit *stc.workforce3one.org
- Shared Work plan helps employers keep great workers, DailySunNews.com
GRANGER, Wash., USA –– Using a Shared Work plan, businesses going through economic downturns can retain valued employees, according to the Washington State Employment Security Department.
The plan allows businesses to cut hours for employees and have a portion of the lost hours made up in unemployment benefits.
The Granger Chamber of Commerce listened to a presentation by Chad Pearson of the Employment Security Department recently on how the state’s Shared Work plan works.
Pearson described the program as something business owners should know about before they need it. He said the program, created in 1983, has been very successful in the state, enough so that the federal government suggested other states base their programs on Washington’s.
“This program allows employers to reduce work hours during hard times,” said Pearson. “If they reduce work hours by 50 percent, the employee ends up with about 75 percent of their normal pay through the program.”
He said the program helps to retain trained employees for when business picks up again. Causes for the downturn might include a bad economy, supplier backlogs, lost customers, road construction diverting customers away from a business or weather related issues.
To be eligible for the program, businesses must be registered in the state for at least six months and paying unemployment taxes. Businesses have to continue paying employees full benefits during the time the shared work plan is in effect.
The plan is flexible. Although employers have to sign up at least two employees, hours for any employee can be reduced anywhere from 10 to 50 percent.
Employees under the plan must be permanent, hourly, eligible for unemployment and available for any hours the employer offers.
Pearson stressed the plan is not designed to handle seasonal downturns, but Karen Robbins, outreach specialist for the program, noted the Employment Security Department will work with businesses that have seasonal downturns to see if they can fit within the program.
Robbins also pointed out the state offers standby unemployment to seasonal workers for up to eight weeks. She said the Shared Work plan could be used in conjunction with the standby program to help agriculture-related businesses retain workers in the off-season.
Pearson said the state has about 880 employers using the plan this year. He said a 2013 survey of employers showed 96 percent were positive about the program, and 75 percent said it helped them survive through 2013.
Pearson suggested business owners call the Employment Security Department at 800-752-2500 or visit the website at esd.wa.gov/shared-work for more information.
11/09-10/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Why Germans Work Fewer Hours But Produce More: A Study In Culture, by E. Paul (?), 11/10 Knote.com
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., USA - When many Americans think of Germany, images of WWII soldiers and Hitler often come to mind. But what many people don’t realize is that Germany is the industrial powerhouse of Europe, and is a leading manufacturer of goods for export to developing Asian nations. We don’t hear about the superiority of German engineering in Volkswagen commercials for nothing!
The economic engine of the EU, Germany single-handedly saved the Eurozone from collapse in 2012. At the same time, German workers enjoy unparalleled worker protections and shorter working hours than most of their global counterparts. How can a country that works an average of 35 hours per week (with an average 24 paid vacation days to boot) maintain such a high level of productivity?
Working Hours Mean Working Hours
In German business culture, when an employee is at work, they should not be doing anything other than their work. Facebook, office gossip with co-workers, trolling Reddit for hours, and pulling up a fake spreadsheet when your boss walks by are socially unacceptable behaviors. Obviously, in the United States these behaviors are frowned up on by management. But in Germany, there is zero tolerance among peers for such frivolous activities.
In the BBC documentary “Make Me A German“, a young German woman explained her culture shock while on a working exchange to the UK.
“I was in England for an exchange… I was in the office and the people are talking all the time about their private things… ‘What’s the plan for tonight?’, and all the time drinking coffee…”
She was quite surprised by the casual nature of British workers. Upon further discussion, the Germans reveal that Facebook is not allowed in the office whatsoever, and no private email is permitted.
Goal-Oriented, Direct Communication Is Valued
German business culture is one of intense focus and direct communication. While Americans tend to value small talk and maintaining an upbeat atmosphere, Germans rarely beat around the bush. German workers will directly speak to a manager about performance reviews, launch into a business meeting without any ‘icebreakers’, and use commanding language without softening the directives with polite phrases.Whereas an American would say, “It would be great if you could get this to me by 3pm,” a German would say, “I need this by 3pm”.
When a German is at work, they are focused and diligent, which in turn leads to higher productivity in a shorter period of time.
Germans Have a Life Outside Work
Germans work hard and play hard. Since the working day is focused on delivering efficient productivity, the off hours are truly off hours. Because of the focused atmosphere and formal environment of German businesses, employees don’t necessarily hang out together after work. Germans generally value a separation between private life and working life.
The German government is currently considering a ban on work-related emails after 6pm, to counter the accessibility that smartphones and constant connectivity give employers to their employees. Can you imagine President Obama enacting such a policy in the United States?
To occupy their plentiful Freizeit, most Germans are involved in Verein (clubs); regularly meeting others with shared interests in their community. Common interests in Germany include Sportvereine (sports clubs), Gesangvereine (choirs or singing clubs), Musikvereine (music clubs), Wandervereine (hiking clubs), Tierzuchtvereine (animal breeding clubs – generally rabbits/pigeons) and collectors’ clubs of all stripes. Even the smallest village in Germany will have several active Vereinen to accommodate residents’ interests. Rather than settling in for a night of TV after work, most Germans socialize with others in their community and cultivate themselves as people.
Germans also enjoy a high number of paid vacation days, with many salaried employees receiving 25-30 paid days (the law requires 20). Extended holidays mean families can enjoy up to a month together, renting an apartment by the seaside or taking a long trip to a new, exciting city.
Business Respects Parenthood
Germany’s system of Elternzeit (“parent time” or parental leave) is the stuff of fantasy for most working Americans. The United States does not currently have laws requiring maternity leave, while Germany has some of the most extensive parental protection policies in the developed world. The downside of these maternity leave benefits is that employers may avoid hiring women (with the fear that they will take advantage of the extensive benefits), and German boardrooms are consistently male-dominated at a higher rate than other developed nations, although the government is working to eradicate this trend. The financial benefits of staying home (from both Elternzeit and Elterngeld or parents’ money programs) are often too good to pass up for German mothers, and can lead to stagnant or non-existent careers.
Since “at will” employment does not exist in Germany, all employees have contracts with their employer. Parents who have been gainfully employed for the previous 12 months are eligible for Elternzeit benefits, which include up to three years of unpaid leave with a “sleeping” contract. The employee is eligible to work part-time up to 30 hours while on leave, and must be offered full-time employment at the conclusion of the parental leave. Parents may also choose to postpone up to one year of their leave until the child’s 8th birthday. Either parent is eligible for parental leave, and many couples make the choice based on financial considerations.
In addition to the preservation of the employee’s contract, the state will pay up 67% of the employee’s salary (with a cap of 1800 Euros per month) for 14 months. Parents may split the 14 months however they choose. These benefits apply equally to same-sex couples.
Have you picked your jaw up off the floor yet?
Put Some German In Your Office
The German work culture is very different from the average American office, but there are certainly lessons to be learned from our German counterparts. The diligent focus Germans bring to their working life is to be admired. Separating work from play can help us lead a more balanced life; putting the phone down after hours gives us a mental break from stressing about work, and we can return to the office refreshed in the morning. When it’s time to get something done, closing Facebook and turning off push notifications helps keep our minds quiet and the flow steady. Direct conversation can lead to increased efficiency, and more clarity of communication among team members.
Americans often equate longer hours with increased production and superior work ethic, but examining the German model makes one wonder: When it comes to time at work, maybe less really is more!
- Health Care Reform Challenges for Educational Institutions, by Brydon DeWitt, 11/09 (11/07 late pickup) JDsupra.com (press release)
RICHMOND, Va., USA - Educational institutions will face some unique challenges as the Affordable Care Act's “employer shared responsibility” requirement becomes effective next year. Beginning January 1, 2015, large employers that do not offer adequate health coverage to “full-time employees” may face penalties. A full-time employee for purposes of the coverage mandate is an employee who works at least 30 hours per week.
[Radical ! Nevermind that the U.S. Senate passed a 30-hour workweek by a vote of 53 to 30 in 1933.]
Identifying “full-time employees” can be complicated for schools employing adjunct faculty members, student employees and resident assistants.
Schools may be required to offer health insurance to certain student employees. Hours of service worked by students employed in positions subsidized by the federal work study program or by similar state programs are not taken into account for purposes of determining if the student is a “full-time employee”. In addition, hours worked by unpaid interns and externs do not count toward the 30-hour threshold. Schools, however, must track hours of service performed by students employed in positions not subsidized by a federal or state work study program. A student who works, on average, at least 30 hours per week in a non-work study position would be entitled to health coverage.
Regulations provide a safe harbor method for calculating the hours of service performed by adjunct faculty. Under the safe harbor, an adjunct faculty member is credited with:
Until further guidance is issued, schools may use any other method of crediting hours to adjunct faculty members that is reasonable based on the facts and circumstances.
2 ¼ hours of service (representing teaching or classroom time, preparation and grading exams and papers) per week for each hour of teaching or classroom time; and
an hour of service per week for each additional hour outside of the classroom that the faculty member spends performing duties he or she is required to perform such as office hours or attending faculty meetings.
Resident assistants (RAs) must be credited with hours of service for their paid on-call hours. Any paid hour for which an RA is (a) required to remain on-call; (b) required to remain on campus; or (c) subject to substantial restrictions that prevent the RA from using the time for his or her own purposes must be counted.
The Williams Mullen Education Industry Team will continue to monitor this and other issues affecting educational institutions.
Topics: Affordable Care Act, Colleges, Educational Institutions, Employer Mandates, Faculty, Full-Time Employees, Students, Universities
Published In: Education Updates, Health Updates, Labor & Employment Updates, Tax Updates
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Disclaimer: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.
- Obamacare and the Workweek, By Yuval Levin, 11/10 National Review Online (blog)
NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - Looking over what some Republicans had to say over the weekend about the early agenda of the new congress next year, I’m struck by the frequent inclusion of a move to change Obamacare’s definition of full-time work from 30 hours a week to 40. John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, in their Wall Street Journal op-ed last week, also committed the new congress to pursue “a proposal to restore the traditional 40-hour definition of full-time employment, removing an arbitrary and destructive government barrier to more hours and better pay created by the Affordable Care Act of 2010.”
[Better pay is more money per hour, not more money for more hours. More hours leads not to better pay, but fewer people working longer hours and more unemployed people taking longer to look for fewer long-hour jobs.]
I’ve never really understood the case for this move, or why Republicans shouldn’t just pass a repeal of the employer mandate in Obamacare rather than start playing around with its definition of the workweek.
Basically, the employer mandate requires all employers with more than 50 workers to provide health coverage to full-time employees or pay a fine. But the law defined a full-time employee as someone working 30 hours or more, rather than the usual 40 hours or more. The idea was in part to encompass more employers and in part to limit the degree to which employers cut worker hours by putting the cut-off well below the number of hours that most workers put in—employers are less likely to reduce a worker’s load by 10 hours than by just 1 or 2 to avoid the mandate.
As Sherry Glied and Claudia Solis-Roman recently found, nearly 29 million employees of large firms work between 40 and 44 hours a week (and about 27 million of them work exactly 40 hours a week), while only about 3 million work between 30 and 34 hours a week and another roughly 4 million work between 35 and 39 hours a week for such firms. Even if you just look at workers not now offered employer coverage, this difference means that putting the cut-off for the employer mandate at 40 hours would likely put far, far more people at risk of having their hours cut than leaving it at 30 hours. That would make for a worse effect on workers and on the economy. So by setting the definition lower, Obamacare’s architects were trying to mitigate the damaging effects of the employer mandate some, and by setting it higher Republicans would be worsening those effects.
Of course, the effects on workers near the 30-hour cut-off are still unacceptable, just as Boehner and McConnell suggested. But the solution to that is not to punish far more workers but to lift the burden off of all of them by eliminating the employer mandate altogether. For these very reasons, the politics of doing so would also be better than the politics of just fiddling around with the law’s definition of full-time work. The administration has already delayed the mandate and held off from applying it to firms with between 50 and 100 workers, and when the House voted last year to put off the implementation of the mandate, 35 Democrats joined Republicans to support the bill. Such a measure could plausibly get the handful of Senate Democrats it would need to survive a filibuster. It might even get signed by the president. Some Democrats might oppose it because it would expose them to the argument that they were relieving employers but not individuals of an Obamacare mandate, but that’s just more reason for Republicans to support it, since they’d want to repeal the individual mandate too and would benefit from a chance to press the Democrats on it.
For reasons of both policy and politics, it seems to me that a repeal of the employer mandate makes much more sense than an adjustment of its definition of full-time work. And that adjustment, quite apart from the appeal of other measures, seems likely to be worse than doing nothing.
11/08/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Creating a 30-hour work week, by Pieter Scholtz, BIZcommunity.com
PRETORIA, Gau., Transvaal, RSA - Knowing how to use your time effectively is a more valuable skill than knowing how to make, manage, invest and spend money. It's essential for entrepreneurs and business owners to master the use of their precious and irreplaceable time. I find it most interesting that people who are able to manage, budget and save time, rather than letting it manage them, will always find it easier to make money.
Learning how to reduce your typical work week by 10 hours without sacrificing income may take practice, but it's easier and faster to accomplish than most people think.
Fire bad customers
Time is money. Eliminate time wasted by customers who tie up your sales people with inconsequential sales, who constantly complain and who make your finance team chase them for payment. You need to either get rid of them or transform them into customers who proactively feed the bottom line. While this approach may sound radical, it makes practical sense to only focus on customers who contribute to profitable transactions.
In addition, concentrate only on products and services that produce the most profit. Eliminate, sell off or upgrade dead weight ones that don't contribute significantly to your profitability.
To gain 10 hours each week without sacrificing profit, it's necessary to reap 40 hours' worth of extra profits per month, or 25 percent of a four-week month.
Get rid of customers who are wasting 25 percent of employee time. Cut out discount coupons and unnecessary giveaways and institute in-house financing to capture extra sales and interest rate revenues.
Double your conversion rate
Gather accounting data and metrics that will give you a clear picture of where your profits come from, how much contact is made with customers and how many customers make actual purchases.
Then, launch a marketing campaign to generate new customer leads, to encourage existing customers to buy more and to promote your most profitable products or services.
Part of this effort should involve a new way of looking at your business model. Most entrepreneurs see the future of their companies in terms of products and services that fill a particular market need or niche. They assume that if they find the right merchandise, customers will come.
For an alternative approach, invest in acquiring the loyalty of the perfect customer.
Instead of reinventing the wheel, find out who's buying wheels and make them your steady customers. Then sell them a premium wheel with a wider profit margin. Then ask your clients to bring their friends so that you can sell them a set of wheels too.
Once an expanding customer base is established, use incentives like executive customer service, in-house financing, exclusive product lines and preferential customer perks to inspire clients to increase their transactions with you.
Run your businesses on auto-pilot
Once you've gained your extra 10 hours a week, you can take time off and settle for making the same amount of money you did before.
However, an alternative is to leverage your newly implemented success. You can maintain the same hours of operation, capture an extra 25 percent in profits and then wisely reinvest those profits in even more time-saving initiatives.
By working smarter - not harder - with organised systems, technology, innovative advertising and dynamic employee training, you can prepare your business to function in the hands of other capable people. Helping you to take another step towards personal freedom.
About Pieter Scholtz - Pieter Scholtz is the Co-Master Franchisor for ActionCOACH in Southern Africa. The fastest growing and largest business coaching company globally. Pieter and his partner Harry Welby-Cooke developed ActionCOACH across South Africa which now boasts 30 franchisees. He is also a certified, leading Business and Executive Coach. He has successfully assisted countless business owners to significantly grow their profits and develop their entrepreneurial skills. www.actioncoachsa.co.za / 0861 226224.
- Shared Work helps employers prevent layoffs in Covington, MapleValleyReporter.com
COVINGTON, Wash., USA - Speakers from the Employment Security Department’s *Shared Work program will join members of the Covington Chamber of Commerce to present information about how the program can prevent layoffs and how employers can take advantage of a special enrollment period to save money over the next year.
WHAT: Shared Work presentation at the Covington Chamber of Commerce
WHEN: 11:30-1 pm on Thursday, November 13, 2014
WHERE: Covington City Hall at 16720 SE 271st Street, Suite 100, Covington, WA 98042
TOPIC: How Shared Work can help you weather tough times, keep good employees
The program is open to the public and the cost is $10 (without lunch; RSVP by Nov 13) or $25 (including lunch; RSVP by Nov 7). Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Shared Work Program offers businesses an alternative to laying off workers. Instead, employers may reduce the work hours for permanent employees, and the workers can collect partial unemployment benefits to replace a portion of their lost wages.
This allows businesses to weather downturns without losing skilled employees. It also gives workers an opportunity to keep their jobs part-time while collecting unemployment benefits for time they are not working.
Watch the shared work video (YouTube Video: http://youtu.be/sK3ZQwRWdo0) to learn more.
A 2014 customer survey showed that the program is helping businesses stay afloat, and nearly 97 percent of participating employers would recommend Shared Work to other struggling businesses.
- Sheriff announces additional layoffs, by Trish Bennett, (11/07 late pickup) Circleville Herald (registration) via circlevilletoday.com
CIRCLEVILLE, Ohio, USA — Sheriff Robert Radcliff announced an additional five full-time deputies will be laid off from the Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office for at least the remainder of the year following a vote by members of the labor unions operating within the PCSO.
The reductions are in addition to cuts announced last week following a budget dispute between the sheriff’s office and the Pickaway County Commissioners.
Radcliff said the unions were approached with the option of all employees taking three mandatory furlough days before the end of the year to help make up about a $141,000 gap between the sheriff’s office budget and projected expenses for the remainder of 2014.
The Fraternal Order of Police, whose members work in road patrol, investigations, and communications, rejected the furlough plan, which leaves the sheriff’s office facing the lay-off of five road patrol deputies effective Nov. 14.
[Another example of the kind of "fraternity" and strategic sense that has killed US unions, and ... an example of how management is stepping up in many cases and trying to pursue some common sense - and maintain their skill set and consumer base - in a global economy that is deteriorating because unions narrowed instead of extending their self-interest. US unions started fighting for only one of their two historic goals (more pay & less hours) and it was higher pay, so most of their 1950s members (they went from 35% of the workforce then to 12% now) have wound up with neither because they chose to fight for arbitrary higher prices on a surplus commodity, themselves. But if they'd chosen to fight for only one goal and it was shorter hours, they'd have wound up with both, because shorter hours would have cut the general surplus of jobseekers that intensified around 1970 when the babyboomers entered the job markets.]
The Teamsters union, whose members work in the corrections division, voted to accept the furlough days, eliminating the need for even more full-time layoffs, Radcliff said.
“We’re not taking deputies off the road,” Radcliff said. “We will just have to backfill from other departments. The public will not be affected as it relates to seeing cruisers on the street.”
What will be affected, he said, is the investigations division of the sheriff’s office. Lt. Dale Parish, a salaried employee, will remain in charge of that division, but the five other detectives employed by the PCSO will be reassigned to road patrol for the duration of the layoffs.
“We will continue to follow up on major crimes, but we will effectively have one detective for the remainder of the year,” Radcliff said.
The plan announced last week called for the layoff of 10 part-time employees in the corrections, court services and administrative divisions effective Nov. 14; a mandatory three-day furlough for non-union employees; and closing down one pod in the county jail.
Negotiation with the two unions was scheduled at that time, but those votes did not happen until this week.
At a meeting with the Pickaway County Commissioners on Oct. 7, Radcliff said he estimated a shortfall of about $286,000, citing uncontrollable expenses like overtime due to criminal activity (drug investigations, accidents and a murder investigation) as well as coverage for sick leave, vacations and training times and a variety of other expenses as reasons for the shortfall.
On Oct. 14, the commissioners appropriated about half that amount to be transferred into the sheriff’s budget, including $25,471 to cover the cost of a 2-percent pay raise granted by the commissioners to county employees this year; $57,700 to cover changes in insurance; and $58,700 to cover spending overruns in the sheriff’s budget.
In a letter to the sheriff dated Oct. 14, the commissioners said they did not intend to cover any additional portion of the shortfall because they felt it was the result of additional administrative personnel in the sheriff’s office for 2014 and not unforeseen expenditures.
Radcliff said he also is currently working with the U.S. Marshal Service for the transfer of about nine remaining federal prisoners from the Pickaway County Jail in order to close down that pod.
11/07/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Republicans to Chip at Obamacare by Redefining Work Hours -
[At least we're breaking the taboo against discussing changing the "full time" workweek and attacking the naive assumption that the 40-hour workweek is a Sacred Unchangeable that came down from Mount Sinai with Moses (which was actually a 12hr/day X 6 days = 72-hour workweek).
- It would make it easier for employers to shift more workers to part-time status, by Michael Dorning, Bloomberg.com
[In other words, it would make it easier for employers to do exactly what we need in an age of downsizing-followed robotics and massive underemployment and hidden/recategorized unemployment - and then we only need to redefine all that new "part time status" as the new "full time status."]
WASHINGTON, D.C., USA -- Newly empowered Republicans say they can’t repeal Obamacare and plan to chip away at the law piece by piece, starting with redefining full-time work in a way that could affect [=erase] health coverage for 1 million people.
House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell yesterday said they want to rewrite the Affordable Care Act so employers could avoid providing health coverage to workers who put in less than 40 hours a week -- up from the law’s current 30-hour threshold.
The move is backed by business groups such as the National Retail Federation and the National Restaurant Association. The measure, which would face a presidential veto, would make it easier for employers to shift more workers to part-time status and avoid buying insurance or paying fines under a provision of the law taking effect at the end of the year.
[No, it would make it easier for employers to call 39 hours a week "part time" to avoid full-time benefits at the 40-hour level instead of having to drop to 29 hours a week "part time" to avoid full-time benefits at the 30-hour level.]
The likely result: A million people would lose employer-paid health care and have to look for subsidized coverage on government insurance exchanges or go on Medicaid, according to the Congressional Budget Office. That’s just the opening round.
McConnell said after his party won control of the Senate in the Nov. 4 midterm election that Republicans wouldn’t able to repeal the health-care law as long as Barack Obama is president and would instead seek to limit its scope.
“Their strategy of choice will be piecemeal attempts to repeal parts of the statute, and it’s clear that the 40-hour rule may very well be part of that litany,” said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, a Washington-based advocacy group that supports the health-care law.
The maneuver taps into public anxiety that the law would create incentives for employers to reduce workers’ hours to avoid paying fines or purchasing insurance. The Republican leaders borrowed language from the labor movement, characterizing the proposal as an effort “to restore the traditional 40-hour definition of full-time employment” in an op-ed article published yesterday in the Wall Street Journal.
McConnell, of Kentucky, and Boehner, of Ohio, are returning to a proposal that the Republican-led House passed in April, with the support of 18 Democrats. The White House threatened a veto and the Democratic-controlled Senate never took up the legislation.
White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said Obama would reject the new effort to change the law.
“The proposal they offered before, it kicked a lot of people off of health care and cost a lot of money,” Pfeiffer told Bloomberg reporters and editors today in an interview. “It was bad policy and bad for the American people.”
Obama is “not going to accept anything that undermines the core elements of the health-care act, that takes health care away from 10 million people who have it,” he said.
The Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate requires companies with at least 100 employees to offer affordable insurance coverage next year to at least 70 percent of those who work 30 or more hours per week.
While raising that threshold “wouldn’t have a meaningful effect on the number of people who have insurance,” it would “essentially wipe out” the employer mandate, said Larry Levitt, a senior vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health-policy research group.
Cutting full-time employees to fewer than 30 hours a week to skirt the current law’s mandate would be disruptive to business operations, but it might be easier for a company to reduce hours to just below 40, Levitt said.
The Congressional Budget Office foresaw just that kind of rejiggering of work hours when it prepared cost estimates on the House legislation earlier this year.
“Without changing the total number of hours worked by its employees, an employer might reassign hours worked so that there are more employees just below the 40-hour threshold than there would otherwise be,” according to the CBO report in February.
As a result, CBO estimated, between 500,000 and 1 million people would be moved into Medicaid or onto health exchanges, and half a million would wind up without insurance.
Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation estimated a 40-hour-per week threshold would increase the federal budget deficit by $73.7 billion over 10 years.
“There is a substantial cost associated with this change,” said Nancy-Ann DeParle, a former White House adviser who worked on the law. “You have to ask yourself how we pay for it.”
The conventional 40-hour-a-week definition of full-time work dates to the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act, which regulates overtime pay. It’s not a universal standard. The Bureau of Labor Statistics defines full-time work as 35 hours a week.
While the number of Americans forced to accept part-time work has been falling as the economy improves, it remains far above historical standards. In October, private-sector workers put in an average 34.6 hours a week, the BLS reported today.
“There’s been a rash of part-timing in the economy for a generation now; it well preceded the ACA,” said Peter Colavito, director of government relations for the Service Employees International Union. “What we don’t want to do is create a new incentive for folks to go under 40 hours a week.”
[Why not, Peter? Do you or do you not want general wage levels to rise, or are you just narrowly, suicidally focused on the welfare of your own union or that of the shrinking union movement, shrinking because it never extended its self-interest to include all workers by continuing the fight for shorter hours instead of sidetracking into more pay and benefits? If you can only get one of those two historic goals and it's higher pay, you wind up with neither because you're just tacking an arbitrary high price on a surplus commodity, YOU. But if you can only get one and it's shorter hours, you wind up with both because you're cutting the surplus of YOU and harnessing market forces on your side to maintain and raise wages. The labor movement sortof "got it" up until 1940 but then dropped the ball and having lost their previously critical role in human progress, are now down to less than 13% of the workforce.]
Some employers, including many small businesses, say that’s exactly what the current law does.
Last month, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said it would stop offering health coverage to employees who work less than 30 hours a week, following similar moves by Target Corp., Home Depot Inc. and Walgreen Co. The move, which affects about 2 percent of the retailer’s 1.3 million employees, could save the company about $50 million in premiums this year.
The Republicans’ proposal could be the starting point for a compromise to address employer concerns, said Ed Pagano, the Obama White House’s former chief Senate lobbyist, now a partner at the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP. Still, it remains to be seen whether Republicans would negotiate or use the proposal simply as a political tool to criticize the law, Pagano said.
To contact the reporters on this story: Mike Dorning in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org; Lorraine Woellert in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at firstname.lastname@example.org, Mark McQuillan, Jodi Schneider
- The origin of work-hour regulations for house officers, by Kenneth M. Ludmerer. Oxford University Press via OUPblog (blog) via blog.oup.com
ST. LOUIS, Mo., USA - Interns and residents have always worked long hours in hospitals, and there has always been much to admire about this. Beyond the educational benefits that accrue from observing the natural history of disease and therapy, long hours help instill a sense of commitment to the patient. House officers learn that becoming a doctor means learning to meet the needs of others. This message has never been lost on them.
However, it has also long been recognized that house officers are routinely overworked. This point was emphasized in the first systematic study of graduate medical education, published in 1940. In the 1950s and 1960s, the hazards of sleep deprivation became known, including mood changes, depression, impaired cognition, diminished psychomotor functioning, difficulty with interpersonal relationships, and an increased risk of driving accidents. In the 1970s, the phenomenon of burnout was recognized. In the mid-1980s, after prospective payment of hospitals was introduced, the workload of house officers became greater still, as there were now many more patients to see, the patients were sicker, the level of care was more complex, and there was less time with which to care for patients. House officers understood they were in a dilemma where their high standards of professionalism were used by others to justify sometimes inhumane levels of work.
Despite their long hours, the public generally believed that house officers provided outstanding medical and surgical care. Through the 1980s, the traditional view that medical education enhanced patient care remained intact. So did the long-standing belief that teaching hospitals provided the best patient care — in large part because they were teaching hospitals.
In 1984, the traditional belief that [long-hours] medical education leads to better patient care received a sharp rebuke after 18-year old Libby Zion died at the New York Hospital. Ms. Zion, a college freshman, had presented to the hospital with several days of a fever and an earache. The next morning she was dead. The case quickly became the center of intense media interest and a cause célèbre for limiting house officer work hours.
The public’s fear about the safety of hospitals increased in the 1990s. In 1995, a seeming epidemic of errors, including wrong-site surgery and medication and medication mistakes, erupted at US hospitals. These high-profile tragedies received an enormous amount of media attention. The most highly publicized incident involved the death of 39 year-old Betsy Lehman, a health columnist at the Boston Globe, from a massive chemotherapy overdose while being treated for breast cancer at the renowned Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Public concern for patient safety reached a crescendo in 1999, following the release of the Institute of Medicine’s highly publicized report To Err Is Human. The report concluded that 48,000 to 98,000 Americans died in US hospitals every year because of preventable medical errors.
The result was that in the early 2000s, a contentious debate concerning resident work hours erupted. Many within the medical profession felt that work-hour regulations need not be imposed. They correctly pointed out that little evidence existed that patients had actually suffered at the hands of overly tired residents [but who onsite had any motivation to collect such evidence?!], and they also claimed that resident education would suffer if held hostage to a time clock [=fighting common sense with rhetoric]. Critics, particularly from outside the profession [and therefore still clinging to common sense], pointed to valid physiological evidence that fatigue causes deterioration of high-level functioning; they also argued that high-quality education cannot occur when residents are too tired to absorb the lessons being taught. As the debate proceeded, the public’s voice could not be ignored [much as the profession kept trying to ignore it?!], for the voices of consumer groups and unions were strong, and Congress threatened legislative action if the profession did not respond on its own
Ultimately, the medical profession acquiesced.
[Tough when you have a megalomaniacal profession of prima donnas with a superman self-image and a grim determination to get Damn Well Paid - which requires engineering a shortage of your skills by bottlenecking access to them, hence looong accredition processes and long hours all the rest of your career because of that pay-puffing shortage of you that you've engineered - which needs to be done by labor in general but by systemwide hours reduction, not gratuitous skill-by-skill complicating and withholding.]
In 2002, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), which oversees and regulates residency programs, established new work-hour standards for residency programs in all specialties. Effective 1 July 2003, residents were not to be scheduled for more than 80 hours of duty per week, averaged over a four-week period. Over-night call was limited to no more frequently than every third night, and residents were required to have one day off per week. House officers were permitted to remain in the hospital for no more than six hours after a night on-call to complete patient care, and a required 10-hour rest period between duty periods was established.
Ironically, as the ACGME passed its new rules, there was little evidence that resident fatigue posed a danger to patients. The Libby Zion case, which fueled the public’s concern with resident work hours, was widely misunderstood. The problems in Ms. Zion’s care resulted from inadequate supervision, not house officer fatigue. At the time the ACGME established its new rules, the pioneering safety expert David Gaba wrote, “Despite many anecdotes about errors that were attributed to fatigue, no study has proved that fatigue on the part of health care personnel causes errs that harm patients.”
On the other hand, the controversy over work hours illustrated a fundamental feature of America’s evolving health care system: Societal forces were more powerful than professional wishes. The bureaucracy in medical education responded slow to the public’s concerns that the long work hours of residents would endanger patient safety. Accordingly, the initiative for reform shifted to forces outside of medicine — consumers, the federal government, labor, and unions. It became clear that a profession that ignored the public’s demand for transparency and accountability did so at its own risk.
Kenneth M. Ludmerer is Professor of Medicine and the Mabel Dorn Reeder Distinguished Professor of the History of Medicine at the Washington University School of Medicine. He is the author of..Let Me Heal: The Opportunity to Preserve Excellence in American Medicine (1 October 2014), Time to Heal: American Medical Education from the Turn of the Century to the Era of Managed Care (1999), and Learning to Heal: The Development of American Medical Education (Basic Books, 1985).
11/06/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Seven Unusual Job Schedules — & Their Pros & Cons, by Taylor Kubota, Refinery29.com
[But several of them not actually job schedules and, big gap/gaff, none of them are simply full-time workweeks redefined to be shorter.]
NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - Where did we get the 40-hour work week, anyway? Was it developed by some super-smart think tank as the “perfect” number of working hours? Is it based on years of meticulous research? Nope. We have the good ol’ Industrial Revolution to thank for our current 9-to-5 grind. Before that [around 1865 - see Roedigger's Our Own Time], people actually used to work about 60 hours each week [and before that around 1840, about 80 hours]. Then, machines came along, making labor more efficient, cutting the price of leisure goods, and allowing for [workweek cuts and] wage increases [fought for by unions - note the naive assumption that this happened by itself, and the careful avoidance of mentioning now-taboo unions]. But now, in the era of the i-Everything, should we be thinking about another big shift in the working world?
“We need our workplaces to evolve a little more,” says Jennifer Sabatini Fraone, employment expert and director of the New England Work and Family Association. “The technology has evolved, our families are changing, and people’s individual needs are changing.”
[Fraone should realize these things didn't just evolve by themselves. They had to be fought for, step by step.]
Learning website Treehouse isn’t shy about its love of the company’s four-day work week. Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin recently discussed the idea that people don’t need to be working as frantically as we do now. So, why not condense the work week — or even split one full-time job into multiple part-time jobs?
[Or redefine the next step-down in "part" time as full time? - as we did repeatedly from 1840 to 1940!]
Just as Henry Ford was one of the early adopters of the 40-hour week [only as a strategy to avoid unionization, as was his above-market $5/day wage in 1912], today’s industry big-wigs might be redefining the way we work yet again.
[It was primarily the labor movement - industry big-wigs were pressured by unions. Unions lost battle after battle but won a gradual cultural shift. In 1922, future-President Herbert Hoover (Republican!) embarrassed Judge Gary and the other magnates of Big Steel down to a 48-hour workweek from 72-hour one saying the latter was unAmerican.]
There are already plenty of innovative ways to shake up the way we work. Here are just seven examples of non-9-to-5 job arrangements and their pros and cons — straight from the people who work them.
Employees who have flex schedules get to set their own hours, usually within a time range. Flex work is often paired with the ability to work remotely.
Pros: Even just a little wiggle room in a schedule can have a hugely positive impact on an employee’s work-life balance, says Sabatini Fraone, because they can fit in errands and important events. Shanti Bond, an outreach coordinator, and her co-workers flex their time around community and school calendars. Some people would be overwhelmed by the chaos, but Bond sees that as a plus: “I enjoy variety in my life,” she explains, “so it’s nice to know that I’m going to get hours and get my work done, but I’m also able to keep things interesting.”
Cons: Bond’s varied schedule can make predicting her future work hours a bit like trying to predict the weather, an added challenge when it comes to advance planning. Sabatini Fraone says that workplaces with variable hours often have difficulty scheduling meetings, a problem that may require the creation of core hours where everyone is present.
2. Shift Work:
Jobs that require 24-hour coverage, like hospitals and hotels, usually operate in shifts — some in 10, 12, or 24-hour blocks with varied time off.
Pros: For employers that need to cover 24 hours, this is the best way to do it. And, workers appreciate that these shifts allow them longer stretches of time off. David Larson, who has worked long shifts as a firefighter and deputy sheriff, says that his schedule allows him to get much of his at-home to-do list checked off on weekdays, which means his weekends are truly free, and he can spend them with his family.
Cons: Larson says that these jobs require workers to sleep during the day — which is no problem, so long as you like your sleep sprinkled with phone calls, visitors, and bright sunlight. Air-traffic controller Dan Ferlito has less trouble with the sleep schedule; some of his shifts have built-in rest breaks. But, his hours can still conflict with his daily life — like when he’s trying to enjoy days off during the rest of the world’s work week. “It’s 4:30 p.m., and all of a sudden you’re stuck in traffic on your weekend,” says Ferlito. The odd timing also means shift workers are better off befriending others who share their off-kilter free time.
A work arrangement where two people share one full-time job.
Pros: Job-shares can be a big benefit for employers, says Sabatini Fraone, because they bring two sets of talent to one job. Katie Maldonado, who shares a clinical social work position, agrees. She and her partner have different strengths, which make for one well-balanced team. The job-share also gives Maldonado more time with her family. “This was the perfect option,” she says.
Cons: Maldonado and her job partner have to be hyper-vigilant about providing consistent care to their shared caseload. They email each other details about each shift, which can add excess time to the workday. Sabatini Fraone also points out that benefits like health care and vacation time may be limited in job-share positions.
This is a schedule where people work the allotted time for their pay period (such as 40 hours per week), but over fewer days, which allows for longer stretches of time off.
Pros: Joyce Aldred is a special-program case manager. She squeezes 80 hours of work into nine days and gets a three-day weekend every other week. Pat Hall, an orthopedic physical therapist, compresses her schedule by working through lunch, so she can leave early each day. “When my children were small, it was just very convenient to do that because it meant that I didn’t have to have them in after-school care as long,” says Hall.
Cons: Taking time off when the rest of the world means you run the risk of delaying pressing tasks. “You really have to be disciplined and have a work ethic around meeting obligations,” says Aldred, who makes sure to have someone cover any urgent requests on her day off. And, Sabatini Fraone points out that for some — whether because of their children, pets, or disposition — these work days are just too long.
Freelance workers are not technically employees of any business. They set their own workload and hours, and they generally get their work through various temporary contracts.
Pros: People who take on freelancing often do so because they value the freedom. “Freelancing has allowed me to pursue creatively rewarding projects and be self-directed,” says Tani Ikeda, co-founder and executive director of the filmmaking nonprofit imMEDIAte Justice. Compared to traditional work environments, Ikeda says freelancing is more stimulating and has allowed her to be more innovative.
Cons: Many freelancers run their entire operations alone, making it difficult to separate life from work. Ikeda’s schedule is often erratic, but she is careful to split her day into administrative and creative portions. Freelancers may also experience anxiety about not having steady work — and the lack of co-workers could feel isolating.
6. Traveling Consultants:
Schedules vary, but consultants often work one or two days at a home office and spend the rest of their work week at a client
Pros: A main perk of these jobs is the good pay— we’re talking $96,000 a year on average — and in recent years they’ve focused more on work-life balance. Many firms have adopted 3-4-5 schedules, where workers spend three nights out of town, four days at a client site, and a fifth day back at the home office — as opposed to traditional consulting schedules, which kept workers away from home for all five business days. Jeff Armstrong, a note investor consultant, says, “When you’re doing what you want to do, and there’s a purpose for it...it makes it easier.” He enjoys his travel schedule and is able to mix in downtime.
Cons: Consultant jobs can feel all-encompassing and overwhelming, and many people who hold such intense travel schedules are prone to burning out. “It makes for a very hectic week,” explains Armstrong. Maryella Gockel, Americas Flexibility Leader for Ernst and Young, says that the time spent at a client site often changes as projects go on, depending on what the client needs. This could mean shorter weeks, but it could mean longer ones, too — and some workers don’t like that the 3-4-5 isn’t guaranteed.
A results-only work environment (ROWE) is one where workers’ schedules are determined by work completed rather than hours worked.
Pros: Employers usually use deadlines and productivity goals to monitor ROWE workers, allowing employees get their work done wherever, whenever, and however they want. Assistant merchandiser Sophia Lufrano is in her office three or four days per week to participate in meetings. The rest of the time, she works from home, fitting in time for errands and appointments as needed.
Cons: There is a lot of temptation to mix work and life — maybe too much. “Sometimes, when you’re at home, there are distractions,” says Lufrano. “I tend to think that I can work, and then also do laundry at the same time. The next thing you know, you’re just doing laundry and not really working.” Sabatini Fraone says these blurred lines also mean that ROWEs require special management. She also says that many ROWE workers may need more than 40 hours per week to complete their workloads.
[Then their workloads should be split among more ROWE workers.]
- Small Business Owner Calls Ongoing Minimum Wage Increases Tough, by Erich Schaffhauser, (11/05 late pickup) KELOland TV via keloland.com
MILBANK, S.D., USA - Some small business owners are saying they'll struggle with the ongoing minimum wage increase voters approved Tuesday.
The measure passed will raise the minimum wage in South Dakota to $8.50 per hour. It'll then increase as cost of living increases.
Sitting in the small community of Milbank, David Forrette's restaurant will likely see some changes in the coming months. That's what Forrette expects, at least.
"I've already warned the staff there's probably going to be hours cut come January 1 because I have to make it up somewhere," Forrette said.
[If hourscuts are the result anyway, far better to raise low wages flexibly and indirectly by directly lowering the workweek and benefiting from the flood of new customers from converting newly defined "overtime" into training and hiring, instead of opening a wider gap at the bottom of the wage ladder against new entrants - which is what higher and higher minimum wages do.]
Between complying with the new minimum wage and giving other workers raises so their pay grade is high enough above new employees’ wages, Forrette expects the increase will cost him about $4,000. He says increased expenses in his business have already caused him to increase prices.
"It's got to come off the payroll because I can't afford to increase the prices anymore," Forrette said.
As voters cast their ballots and supporters of the minimum wage increase watched results come in Tuesday, they said the increase gives a raise to workers who need it.
"I think they'll come to see that it'll put money in people's pockets who spend it in the economy, so it actually helps drive our economic engine rather than dragging it down," Mark Anderson with Yes on 18 said.
Forrette doesn't agree. He says the ongoing component of the increases will make it tough.
"When you have to do it every year for ever and ever, it's only going to make prices go up or I'm going to have to cut hours," Forrette said.
Still, Forrette says he isn't surprised by the election results. He says he's been preparing ever since he heard the measure would be on the ballot.
11/05/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Morris police force, city workers get raises and return to 40-hour work weeks, by Melanie Patterson, The North Jefferson News via njeffersonnews.com
MORRIS, Ala., USA - For the first time in eight years, Morris police officers are getting a raise.
In fact, most full-time workers in Morris are receiving an increase in salary, as reflected in the 2015 fiscal year budget passed Oct. 28 by the Morris City Council.
In addition to raises, employees are being re-instated to 40-hour work weeks. Their work hours had been slashed to 32 hours a week for more than a year.
The changes were effective on Monday.
Mayor Joe Pylant said the raises and increased hours are possible for the new fiscal year because the town made sacrifices in 2014.
“Last year, we cut in all departments to get caught up,” Pylant said. “This year, we’re in the black.”
Also helping generate revenue is the Subway restaurant that opened earlier this year; the city is receiving sales taxes from the business, as well as from the Shell gas station that opened in October 2013.
The city anticipates a 7-percent gain in revenue for the 2015 budget, bringing the total budget to $844,000.
The raises will help morale with city employees as well as their paycheck. There are other benefits, too.
"This will give us more of an edge to be competitive with other departments,” said Police Chief Mike Nazarchyk.
In other business, the council:
• voted to pay $1,309.75 to ClasTran, in quarterly payments
• accepted a $1,593.89 bid by Lacey Paint and Body to repair a police car that was hit by a civilian driver
• approved spending up to $850 for four tires, an oil change and wiper blades for a police vehicle
• approved spending $552 for radio and air pack batteries for the fire department
• gave permission for fire Chief Rocky Bell to apply for FEMA and CAWACO grants
• approved spending up to $150 for a mechanic troubleshoot a problem with a fire department vehicle
• approved spending $489.85 for medical supplies for the fire department
• voted to spend $650 to get the hydraulic pump repaired on a lawn mower
• tabled spending money to repair a lawn mower in order to get more bids; a driver recently collided with the mower. The city employee was not seriously injured
• announced that the city is still searching for a council member to replace Phillip Dillard, who had to step down from the position recently
• read a letter from the Warrior Police Department commending Nazarchyk and Sgt. Larry Bumpers for their help in the recent police-involved shooting in Warrior
• announced that the cities of Morris and Kimberly will combine their Christmas parades this year, with the parade starting in Morris across from the city park and ending at the city park in Kimberly for Kimberly’s annual Christmas tree-lighting ceremony. The parade is scheduled for Dec. 6 at 4:30 p.m.
- Improve working hours to attract more to security sector, from Marcus Tan, (11/06 dateline issue?] TODAYonline.com
SINGAPORE - The turnover rate in the security industry has been relatively high. Many security companies are adopting 12-hour work shifts, which many people would find hard to take. (“Security guards to get better salary, training”; Oct 30)
To attract more to join this industry, an eight-hour shift would be more appropriate. This would enable workers to have more rest and time with their family. They would then be arriving at work feeling as fresh as possible each day.
- Czech press survey - November 5, by ChTK www.ctk.cz, Czech Happenings via ceskenoviny.cz
PRAGUE, Czech Republic - The official visit of Chamber of Deputies deputy chairman Vojtech Filip, Czech Communist (KSCM) leader, to the Russian Duma should not have been permitted, Zbynek Petracek writes in daily Lidove noviny (LN) today.
Filip may go to Moscow, but not as an official representative of Czech parliament. The Chamber´s chairman Jan Hamacek (Social Democrats, CSSD) should not have signed his visit, the Chamber should not have covered the costs of the trip, Petracek writes.
Originally, a parliamentary delegation was to go to see the Duma, but it is Filip alone who is leaving for Moscow today, Petracek writes.
This visit is not standard. It is a visit of a country that violates the borders of the neighbouring countries, that is a threat to the Baltic states that are Czech allies. Czech chief of staff Petr Pavel did not consider Russia an enemy, but he clearly said it is "an opponent, Petracek writes.
The detailed programme of Filip´s visit is not known. However, it is known that Filip´s host, Duma chairman Sergei Zheleznyak, is not black list of the European Union, Petracek says.
It seems that the centre-left government of Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD) is not going to raise taxes, Petr Kambersky writes elsewhere in Lidove noviny.
If there is something that this government managed very well, it is the timing of its inauguration: the economy is growing, people have jobs and there is no need for tax hikes, although the CSSD and their small partner, the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), planned to do so, Kambersky says.
The ANO movement of Finance Minister Andrej Babis only succeeded in postponing the implementation of these promises to raise taxes, while nodding to laws that increase the state expenditures and lower state revenues, Kambersky writes.
But the state will received more money in excise tax and also thanks to decreasing unemployment. Paradoxically, Sobotka´s cabinet may be the only Czech government that did not raise any tax and even lowered some taxes, Kambersky concludes.
The Czech government has again approved the Kurzarbeit subsidy programme after two years, Julie Hrstkova writes in Hospodarske noviny (HN).
The big difference between the previous and present Kurzarbeit programme is that the first one was an educational programme whose costs were covered mostly by the European Union, while the second one offers subsidies to Czech firms that would go from the state budget, Hrstkova writes.
The present programme seems to have one problem: each individual subsidy can be granted only after the government approves it, which means that no subsidy may actually be given to anybody, Hrstkova writes.
The next government may thus introduce a Kurzarbeit programme number three that would remove this problem, she writes with irony.
- Govt mulls two work shifts at some govt offices, (11/04 late pickup) Republica via myrepublica.com
KATHMANDU, Nepal - The government is working to introduce two work shifts at government offices that deal with urgent services.
As per the recommendation of the Administration Reform Implementation and Monitoring Committee, the government will take a decision to this effect as soon as possible, Minister for General Administration Lal Babu Pandit said on Monday.
"Ministries or government offices can take decisions to start two-shift working hours on their own, even without cabinet order. But, we hope it will be more effective if the cabinet made a formal decision in this regard," Pandit added.
Officials said they have proposed to start the first shift from 7:30 am till 1:30 pm and the second from 1:30 pm till 7:30 pm. Such offices will remain open even during public holidays.
The two-shift system will be introduced at the Department of Transport Management and its offices, District Administration Offices, Land Revenue offices, Department of Survey, Nepal Telecom and its offices, municipalities and village development committees in the first phase, according to officials.
People are forced to go through hassles and queue up for several hours for basic services such as; getting their passports, citizenship cards, permit cards for foreign employment, utility bills payment, receiving and renewal of driving licenses, and registration of private firms among other things.
Submitting a quarterly report to Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, the committee headed by former secretary Krishna Hari Banskota, urged the government to introduce a two-shift service delivery system at offices ranging from Kathmandu-based government offices to local-level offices.
The committee suggested to the government to enforce a two-shift working hour system at such offices so that people do not have to go through hassles while seeking services.
The Department of Passport, Department of Foreign Employment and Nepal Electricity Authority were running two-shift working hours even before the committee´s recommendation.
Meanwhile, a team of the administrative reform committee led by chairman Banskota visited the Department of Passport on Monday. "We found that the passport office opens at 7 am and closes at 6:30 pm," Banskota said in a press statement.
[So simply put, what are the "before" and "after" workweeks?]
While apprising the committee, Director General of the Department, Lok Bahadur Thapa, informed that the office is providing services to around 4,000 people every day. According to the office, over 24 million people have received machine-readable passports [MRPs] from the department so far since the MRP was introduced in December 2010.
11/04/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- New conception of short-time work is not motivating, SP (Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic) via World News via Noodls.com
PRAGUE, Czech Republic - The state contribution to the short-time work financement should make up 20 percent of the monthly average pay.
The Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic doesn't consider the decision of the government of the prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka to let the employers pay the short-time work costs as 70 percent of the average monthly pay sufficiently motivating if the state will cover 20 percent of this sum only.
["The devil is in the details" but it's worth working out to save the anchor market of all employers = your domestic consumer base.]
The wage compensation for the part-time employment amounts to 60 percent of the monthly pay now, whereas, according to the governmental proposal, the companies would pay 50 percent of the monthly pay.
The short-time work with a state contribution could be exploited by the companies that would have to shorten the work time, due to the economic crisis or natural catastrophe, by 20 to 40 percent.
One of the proposals suggested that the state contribution would make up 20 percent and the employer's one 60 percent of the average pay. The other one has taken into account a 20-percent-of-the-average-pay state contribution and a 40-percent-of-the-average-pay contribution by the employers. Trade union demanded 90 percent of the average pay - 45 percent paid by the state and 45 percent paid by the government.
For several years now, the Czech companies can introduce a short-time work if they consider it necessary but they don't receive any state contribution. Under the governmental proposal, the Czech companies would receive the state contribution for a six months' time, and repeatedly for another six months' time. The maximum amount of it would make up 10 to 15 percent of the Czech average pay, so 2481 CZK (90 euros) or 3721 CZK (135 euros) per month.
[Another take -]
The Government approved the kurzarbeit, employees have to receive 70 percent of the wages, by
Václav Lang, (11/03 late pickup) Novinky.cz
PRAGUE, Czech Republic - At its meeting Monday, the Government approved the so-called kurzarbeit, a shortened working time in companies in distress. Their employees would receive for the kurzarbeit period 70 percent of wages, with 50 percent paid by the employer and 20 percent by the State.
The measures should avoid excessive layoffs due to external factors, such as the economic crisis or natural disaster, when businesses will have their employees work only three or four days a week.
The Government eventually moved from the original version, when employees within the short-time working (kurzarbeit) period had to receive 60 percent of their salary, with two-thirds paid by the employer and one third by the State. The contributions usually be paid across half a year, but it would be possible to extend them for a further six months. In exceptional cases, said Minister of Labour & Social Affairs Michaela Marksová, another extension would be possible.
"This is a step in the right direction, because if, indeed, there was a big crisis, so it is advantageous for the company to keep their qualified and zauchené [skilled? longterm?] employees, and it is beneficial for those employees as such, because it is much better to go to work and perform at least some work than to be registered as unemployed," said Marksová in view of the practice of kurzarbeit's being advantageous for the State as well due to the cost of unemployment benefits.
The Cabinet insisted on the right of each application to be decided individually. Marksová does not assume that it would have been so many requests that the Government couldn't settle.
[And another take -]
Government gives the nod to kurzarbeit - The State pays a portion of wages up to 70 percent, (11/03/2014 late pickup) ekonomika.idnes.cz
PRAGUE, Czech Republic - Firms that have temporarily reduced the volume of orders, you will be able to retain employees because their wages the State will pay. The Government has approved the introduction of a system of "kurzarbeit". Labor and Social Affairs Minister Michaela Marksová[-Tominová] said that the Government agreed that the company's side will pay a half kurzarbeit salary [and] the State adds 20 percent.
"This is a contribution which should be paid to employers to keep their employees even in the days when as a result of external influences, such as the economic crisis or need for sanctions against Russia, or maybe an unexpected natural disaster of great magnitude do not have enough work for their staff and they would otherwise do layoffs," said the Minister. The kurzarbeit system works in neighboring Germany, whence it and its name come.
Twenty percent of the average salary will be paid by the State, according to Marksové labour offices of the money intended for the active employment policy. Finance Minister Andrej Babiš from movement YES but pushed through the application of each of the individual companies for such contribution will be assessed by the Government. The contribution will pay for half a year, in the worst case, a maximum of another six months.
That would be "kurzarbeit", which will first need to be offered by Government regulation provided that the conditions exist for the company to ask for the money. "In the second step, which was a fundamental requirement for the Minister of Finance, will be the assessment of each application," said Marksová. The principle behind kurzarbeit will motivate the Government to enact in Parliament an amendment of the law on employment, which is already in Parliament.
"It is much better to go to work and perform at least some activity than to be registered as unemployed," said Minister in defense of the principle of Marksová [worksharing?], in which the Government agreed. "It is beneficial for the State. When you compare the cost of how much it would be if a man actually went to the employment office and received unemployment benefits and how much that would cost vs. the State paying 20 percent of his average wages, you see it is actually advantageous for the State," said the Minister of labour & Social Affairs.
Politicians started to speak more about the possibility of introducing kurzarbeit in the Czech Republic after they began to deal with sanctions on Russia because of the situation in the east of Ukraine and the retaliation of the Putin regime. "I believe that kurzarbeit will be passed as quickly as possible," said Union Leader Joseph Stredula said recently.
- Russia: “Europe must address illegal export [to Russia] - Onion harvest [in] Ukraine forced to start [early]”, FreshPlaza.com
[Raw translations by Bing Translator, cleanup by Phil Hyde.]
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - The Russians are asking Europe to look into illegal export to Russia. According to the Russian services, no response has come from Europe, despite reports of violations. Small farmers seem unable to benefit from the boycott. In the Rostov region, small companies are seeing that retail is mostly interested in large volumes, sometimes even relabeling illegally imported products. Prices in the region have increased more than average, but figures show clear differences. For seasonal vegetables, prices went down significantly, while citrus became a lot more expensive. The Dutch government has received twenty requests for short-time working. So far, 12 of the requests have been approved, equivalent to 68 workers. In Ukraine, onion growers [were] waiting to harvest until the last moment. For this reason, part of the harvest was lost due to frost, driving up prices.
Russia: “Europe must address illegal export”
At a meeting between Russia and Europe, the Russian phytosanitary service and customs have discussed illegal import of fruit and vegetables. In the past weeks, several shipments were intercepted. The phytosanitary service says it reports violations in a timely manner, but it gets no response from Europe. The Russians see the banned products arrive at the border with professionally falsified documents. Europe is asked to look into the situation.
Small growers in Rostov worried
Although most small and medium agricultural companies in Rostov would love to supply their products to large retailers, in practice that turns out to be difficult. Retailers prefer working with large batches, but the small farmers are also said to be supplanted by illegal import. Some retailers are reported to import products illegally, replacing the labels. According to the authorities in Rostov, the region has enough potential to deal with the lost import, but for that, Russia would have to invest more in small and medium farmers.
Prices Rostov continue to go up
According to statistics for the first nine months of this year, prices for basic products and services in the Rostov region have gone up by 7.1%. On average, prices in Russia went up by 6.3% during this period. The increase is higher this year than in the same period last year, when prices went up by 4.9%. The price increases aren’t the same for all products, however. The changes vary from a 17.1% decrease for seasonal vegetables, to a 15.9% increase for citrus prices.
Twenty requests short-time working
The Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment has enabled short-time working for companies hit directly by the Russian sanctions, starting November 1. Until the end of October, twenty companies have filed a request for a total number of 113 workers. 12 of the requests have now been approved, for a total of 68 employees. To be eligible for the plan, a minimum of 20% work reduction has to be reported over a period between 2 to 24 weeks.
Ukraine forced to harvest
Ukrainian onion growers [were] waiting until the last moment to harvest their onions. Due to low demand and prices, growers started harvesting at the end of October. The harvest was partially necessary because of the low temperatures, but part of the harvest turned out to be frozen already. The growers who were able to harvest in time, having the onions in storage before the frost, drove up prices by 25%. Prices are fluctuating between 0.09-0.12 euros per kilo.
Melon export important for Russia
An Intesco Research Group study shows that melons take up an important position in the market. In 2013, melons were said to make up 25% of export. Although export didn’t increase as much as in 2012, the export amounted to 18 million tonnes. The traditional and largest cultivation areas are Volgograd, Astrakhan, Stavropol and Krasnodar. The main export markets were Belarus, Lithuania and Latvia.
11/02-03/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Bethel schools, teachers' union reach new deal, by Josephine Woolington, 11/02 The Eugene Register-Guard via registerguard.com
BETHEL, Ore., USA - The Bethel School District and teachers’ union reached a settlement last week that includes wage increases and more class preparation time for elementary school teachers.
The agreement came two days before the groups were scheduled to meet with a state mediator after they failed to reach common ground on wages and benefits in September. Teachers on Wednesday voted unanimously to approve the agreement.
District and Eugene Education Association teachers’ union officials agreed to a cost-of-living increase that totals 2.75 percent for the current school year and gives elementary teachers 30 minutes of additional preparation time per week, which would take effect during the next school year.
Teachers who are not at the top of the wage scale also will receive a 3.5 percent “step” increase, and most teachers also will get a separate 1.75 percent increase.
The increases provided by the agreement will cost the district about $1 million from its general fund, spokesman Pat McGillivray said. The union represents about 300 teachers in the west Eugene district.
“I’m pleased with it,” the union’s bargaining chairman, Curt Nordling, said. “It took a long time, but I think it turned out great in the end.”
The agreement won’t become finalized until the Bethel School Board approves it, which will most likely be on Nov. 17, McGillivray said. Superintendent Colt Gill said in a prepared statement that he looks forward to the board vote so district officials and teachers can focus more on educating students.
The two sides have been bargaining since February and are in the third year of a three-year contract, which allows them to revisit certain parts annually, including wages and benefits. Nordling said union leaders and district officials started meeting privately two weeks ago to come up with a settlement.
The district in September asked a state mediator for help in reaching a settlement with the union. Under state law, districts and unions can request mediation if they can’t reach agreement.
Negotiations dragged on because the district wanted to stick with wage increases outlined in a memorandum that the two sides agreed to in 2012 and have slowly been implementing since. The agreement said that once the district has more money, it incrementally would add back paid school days, hire more teachers, give teachers a cost-of-living increase and increase teachers’ salary “step” increases that are based on levels of education and seniority.
The union, however, wanted additional wage increases not included in the memo because union officials said the district could afford it, and cited the district’s $9 million in reserves, or 17 percent of its general fund, as a potential funding source. The union also was asking for a 3 percent increase to what the district contributes to teachers’ monthly health insurance payments.
Instead, union officials agreed to a one-time $100,000 district contribution to teachers’ insurance fund that could be used to lower monthly health insurance premiums. According to the agreement, eligible teachers also will get a full 3.5 percent step increase. Most teachers get an additional 1.75 percent increase as well, district officials previously said.
Teachers agreed to two unpaid furlough days — as opposed to the 10 furlough days they took several years ago. Students will be in class for 177 days this year.
Follow Josephine on Twitter @j_woolington . Email email@example.com .
Bethel Teachers Agreement
Cost-of-living increase: 2.75 percent
Insurance: The district will give $100,000 to teacher insurance reserve
Salary “step” increase: 3.5 percent
Teacher preparation time: Additional 30 minutes for elementary teachers
- Czech cabinet approves plan for short time to protect jobs, 11/03 Reuters.com
PRAGUE, Czech Republic - The Czech government approved on Monday a measure enabling the state to subsidise wages so companies can keep workers in their jobs [on shorter hours], the latest in a string of measures to aid an economic recovery.
Workers could get 70 percent of their average salary, with the state paying 20 percentage points of that and companies covering the rest, under the terms of the measure.
The centre-left coalition, in power since January, has abandoned the austerity push of previous governments, focusing instead on putting more money in people's pockets, to support recovery after a record-long recession ended last year. Other measures include plans to raise pensions and the minimum wage.
The Czech Republic's unemployment rate was 7.3 percent in September. Gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 2.5 percent in the second quarter this year.
Parliament has already fixed the 2015 central state budget deficit at 100 billion crowns ($4.50 billion), up from the 80 billion-90 billion crowns expected this year.
The debate on the "kurzarbeit" measure of wage subsidies accelerated in the summer when tit-for-tat sanctions between the European Union and Russia came into force, worrying companies.
Policymakers, though, say the impact of the sanctions should be minimal on export-reliant Czech economy. The effects of the struggling euro zone economy remain the biggest risk.
Under the "kurzarbeit" plan, the government would decide whether the economic situation requires the measure to kick in and then it also would assess each request by a company individually.
The scheme must be approved by parliament to take effect.
(1 US dollar = 22.2380 Czech crown)
(Reporting by Robert Muller; Editing by Larry King)
[Another "take" -]
News Cabinet [huh?] agrees on core parametres of kurzarbeit system, by Jan Velinger, 11/03 freenewspos.com
PRAGUE, Czech Republic - The Czech government has outlined the core parametres of its kurzarbeit plan, aimed at helping firms and employees hit hard, for example, by EU-Russian sanctions or by a natural disaster. Under the plan, employees in times of difficulty could receive 70 percent of their regular wages, with 20 percent being paid from the state budget and 50 percent being paid by the employer. Each application by companies would be assessed and approved by the cabinet.
[and some followup reaction? -]
The Government has neživotaschopný kurzarbeit, noodls.com
PRAGUE, Czech Republic - The contribution of the State has only 20% of the average earnings per month, the employer has to provide a total of 70% above 50%.
The Government has neživotaschopný kurzarbeit (SP-Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic)
The Union of industry and transport of the Czech Republic does not consider the decision of the Government on the form of the so-called. kurzarbeitu sufficiently motivating to keep the jobs in companies. The employer should pay for the failure of the production staff to pay wages in the amount of 70% of the average earnings, the amount of the contribution from the State would have amounted to only 20% of the average earnings per month per employee.
Under these conditions, creates the neživotaschopná variant, which the company will probably use. Replacement of wages when the partial unemployment is now 60%, while the current proposal would be borne by the company kurzarbeitu 50%. The difference between the 60% compensation for wages without kurzarbeitu and 50% in the financial and administration with the capping is not an incentive for the employer.
11/01/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- The joined-up [=wholistic] policies of the Green Party, by Ian Sinclair, OpenDemocracy.net
LONDON, U.K. - With two recent national polls on voting intentions showing the Green Party ahead of the Liberal Democrats, it can only be a matter of time before the latter disappear into the oblivion of the “Other parties” category.
These results can only strengthen the Greens’s call to be included in the 2015 televised general election debates, which, if successful, will give the Greens the opportunity to reach millions of voters. And presuming party leader Natalie Bennett does her job what viewers should hear about is the party’s holistic policies that have countless positive, and sometimes surprising, knock-on effects on the rest of society.
Take the Green Party’s manifesto commitment of making 35-hours the standard full-time work week in the UK. Most obviously, as the UK has some of the longest full-time working hours in Europe, this would reduce the amount of hours people spend in paid work. Who could possibly object to this? More seriously, there are many more important spin-offs as well. Ill health and stress from overwork would likely reduce. The New Economics Foundation argues moving towards a shorter working week “would help break the habit of living to work, working to earn, and earning to consume.” This, in turn, would give people an opportunity to focus on friends and family, voluntary work, pastimes and other non-paid activities. From a feminist perspective, less hours at work would make it more likely domestic labour and childcare could be more evenly balanced between women and men. A move away from earning to consume would also help to address the climate chaos that is already engulfing the global. “A number of studies have found that shorter work hours are associated with lower greenhouse gas emissions and therefore less global climate change”, noted a 2013 report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research. “The relationship between these two variables is complex and not clearly understood, but it is understandable that lowering levels of consumption, holding everything else constant, would reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
Another key Green Party concern is to reduce private car use and increase funding for public transport. First, this would lead to a reduction in exhaust pollution that contributes to thousands of deaths a year. Fewer cars would also mean less traffic noise, which can have a negative effect on stress and sleep quality. Fewer cars on the road means a safer road environment which would lead to more people cycling and walking. And more people cycling and walking means more people will be getting more exercise. And people who take regular exercise are less likely to be overweight and depressed. And less overweight and depressed people means a reduction in numerous associated health problems, which will mean less stress on the NHS.
And like the 35-hour week, a reduction in private car use helps to address the Green Party’s core concern – climate change. And addressing climate change itself has many welcome spin offs – from consciously weaning the world off fossil fuels before they run out at a time and place not of our choosing to all the positive social impacts I mention above. Taking a global view, Naomi Klein argues in her incendiary new book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate “Many of the changes that need to be made to dramatically cut emissions would also materially benefit the quality of life for the majority of people on the planet.”
In contrast to the Green Party’s joined-up thinking, arguably the headline policy for all the three main parties is austerity (the Greens are in favour of a Green New Deal). And using the same ‘dropping a pebble in a pond’ logic, we know this (highly ideological, counterproductive) belt-tightening has had, and will continue to have, a never-ending stream of negative consequences for wider society. Rather than being ‘all in this together’, austerity politics have led to increased levels of inequality, which Professor Richard Wilkinson and Professor Kate Pickett have shown has a deleterious effect on a whole range of issues from social mobility to mental health, drug use, obesity and trust of other people.
Austerity means more people living in poverty, more people visiting food banks, more depression and more suicides, as Dr David Stuckler explains in his 2013 book The Body Politic. More broadly, the political elite’s austerity obsession pushes society closer towards social breakdown, leading to both organised, overtly political resistance and more spontaneous, often criminal mass actions like 2011’s nationwide riots.
With the possibility of millions of voters being presented with these radically different political visions of the future, is it any wonder that much of the mainstream media and political elite are attempting to exclude the Green Party from the television election debates?
Ian Sinclair is a freelance writer living in London. He writes regular for a number of progressive publications such as Tribune, Peace News, the Morning Star and Red Pepper.
- Jute spinners cut work hours as yarn piles up, by Md Fazlur Rahman email@example.com, (10/24 late pickup) TheDailyStar.net
DHAKA, Bangladesh - Jute spinners have decided to cut their six-day work week to five days from November 1 to avoid stockpiling of the exportable yarn amid falling international demand.
[...and rising national supply? - see below!]
Bangladesh Jute Spinners Association (BJSA), which represents the spinning sector, took the decision earlier last week.
Due to the closure, production at the nearly 75 active jute spinning mills will go down by 70 percent, sector leaders said. Spinners account for about 65 percent of the receipts from jute exports.
In 2013-14, yarn exports brought home $532.81 million.
In the July-September period, the first quarter of the current fiscal year, their growth came down to 1.22 percent as compared to the same period a year ago, according to Export Promotion Bureau data.
The nearly 100-member association had kept its mills open seven days a week until April and brought down the number of work days to six in the following months, as some big entrants boosted the industry's production capacity sharply, causing supply to outpace demand.
The expectation of making a quick buck enticed some new players into the industry, spinners said.
The latest move to cut working days aims to rationalise production and get fair prices from international buyers, said Mahmudul Huq, managing director of Sadat Jute Industries Ltd, one of the largest yarn exporters of the country.
He said they don't know how long the five-day work schedule would continue. "But our idea is not to make any loss. It is better than continuing on with maximum production and then making loss."
"We think it would be better if we cut the production and still make profit," he told The Daily Star yesterday.
The association has talked to the workers union, which has accepted the proposal.
"The workers will be compensated for the lost wages so that they don't suffer," said Huq.
[So, Bangladesh has worksharing, despite workweek levels being somewhat 19th-century?!]
He said if the mills cut their production they will be able to run the factories smoothly, repay bank loans, pay regular salaries to workers and suffer no backlog.
In a meeting yesterday, the BJSA increased the benchmark price by of yarn by a $100 per tonne to $900, to compensate for losses.
The new move also aims to rein in the soaring prices of raw jute, which have gone up by 25 percent since this August amid a nearly 30 percent fall in production this year.
"If the prices of jute go up further and the international buyers don't raise prices of yarn, exporters will die out," said Huq, also the deputy managing director of Janata Jute Mills Ltd.
Bangladesh exports 5.80 lakh tonnes of yarn to 150 countries, with the trouble-hit Middle East accounting for 60 percent.
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