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Timesizing News, December 2-31, 2014
[Commentary] ©2014 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Harvard Sq PO Box 117, Cambridge MA 02238 USA 617-623-8080


12/31/2014 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Job saving alternative to Havering library cuts submitted by workers, by Sam Gelder, RomfordRecorder.co.uk
    HAVERING, East London, U.K. - A last-ditch attempt to save Havering’s library service from huge cuts has been submitted to the council by its workers.
    Management and staff members came up with alternative proposals at the 11th hour ahead of the consultation deadline, which was due to be Monday but was extended until today (Fri).
    The plans, which were emailed to all councillors, claim to achieve the hefty £1.14million savings, keep libraries open for more hours than originally proposed while saving 16 jobs, the local studies team and the Summer Reading Challenge.
    [So, longer opening hours per business but shorter shifts per employee, in pursuit of a more basic less staff reduction via less worktime per employee? Workers have invented and reinvented this alternative in myriads of forms for the entire Industrial Revolution, and probably before whenever the pressure was on to cut budget.]
    This is achieved by changing contracts of managers from full time to however many hours the library is open,
    and reducing policy officer posts.
    Cllr Melvin Wallace, cabinet member for culture, said the proposal will be considered at the cabinet meeting later this month, along with all other responses received.
    The proposed cuts to the libraries have led to protests. In September, a worker used the council-run Havering Libraries Twitter account to vent their anger, while 120 protestors turned out at an Upminster Library meeting two weeks ago.
    The 21-page document has received community support after being posted on the libraries campaign page on Facebook.
    Ruth Norton, who runs the page, said: “Libraries shouldn’t have been made to make that percentage of cuts.”
    Ex-councillor Andrew Curtin, champion of the library service, added: “What we need now is for the administration to stop punishing the service by taking out 45 per cent of controllable spend, while the figure is only 33pc across the Council as a whole.”
    Current plans would bring the opening hours down from 533 to 350, but the new proposals reduce that to 403.
    The new plans would see 29 job losses rather than 45, and there would be less impact on community services and groups.

  2. Yikes: American Apparel to Cut Hours for LA Factory Workers, by Danielle Directo-Meston, Racked via la.racked.com
    [Racked drops the hourscut wording of the headline in favor of the confusing "slowdown" wording, so we'll take our quote from the Business Insider story below. The term "slowdown" is usually reserved for a protest action initiated by employees, not a company-saving strategy initiated by employers.]
    LOS ANGELES, Calif., USA - American Apparel's very public toils and troubles continue. While the Downtown-based company's store employees are backing up their officially ousted leader, the basics brand may not find the same support from its factory workers, who'll see a workload cut in the next few weeks, reports the New York Post [first, see Business Insider story immediately below, then NY Post story thereafter].
    Per the NY pub, the LA-based label's ledgers are seeing red thanks to "a holiday discounting strategy that fizzled," resulting in "a slowdown at its Los Angeles factory to conserve funds." Post reporter James Covert goes on to reveal that American Apparel's manufacturing facilities in DTLA, Southgate, and Garden Grove will be affected by the move, which comes on the heels of major bills racked up by that recent legal battle with former CEO Dov Charney.
    At this point, we can hardly keep track of the complicated ménage à trois among American Apparel, Charney, and Standard General, the NY hedge fund that allegedly "betrayed" the brand's the controversial creator, but you can read the full story [from the NY Post below].
    [First, here's the Business Insider's version of the story, which avoids the misused "slowdown" term -]
    American Apparel Cuts Hours For Factory Workers, by Ashley Lutz, (12/29 late pickup) BusinessInsider.com
    LOS ANGELES, Calif., USA - American Apparel is cutting hours for its Los Angeles factory workers, reports James Covert at The New York Post [see below].
    Thousands of workers will see reduced hours — or no hours at all — in the coming weeks, Covert writes.
    The reduced labor could mean a shortage of clothing in the retailer's stores, according to Covert.
    "The unsuccessful holiday promotion — called a 'dot sale,' which kicked off on Black Friday weekend — not only failed to meet their revenue targets but made the stores look like chaotic discount chains throughout the crucial holiday season," according to Covert.
    American Apparel maintains that it is cutting hours simply because the busy holiday season is over.
    "Our employees have been working overtime to meet the holiday demand, and now that the holiday season is over, we plan to adjust shift schedules as we do every January," the company told Business Insider in a statement
    [and this is also at the end of the NY Post story below].
    [Telescoping the workweek, not the workforce = timesizing not downsizing!]
    "Our stores are fully stocked. We've had a successful holiday season," the company said.
    American Apparel recently parted ways with founder and former CEO Dov Charney.
    Charney abruptly lost his job as CEO in June because of "concerns about his trustworthiness," The Wall Street Journal reported at the time. He continued working as a consultant for the company.
    But American Apparel investigated Charney and eventually cut ties.
    "Based on this investigation, the special committee determined that it would not be appropriate for Mr. Charney to be reinstated as CEO or an officer or employee," the company said in a release. "While under suspension as CEO, Mr. Charney had been serving as a consultant to the Company. This relationship has now been terminated."
    Retail veteran Paula Schneider was recently appointed CEO.
    Charney told Bloomberg TV that he is down to his last $100,000 and living on a friend's couch.
    He says he was betrayed by Standard General, a hedge fund that gave him a loan in July so he could boost his ownership of American Apparel.
    Standard General controls his shares as collateral and put several members on American Apparel's board.
    [And here's the NY Post version -]
    Cash-strapped American Apparel plans ‘slowdown’ at LA factory, by James Covert, (12/29 late pickup)
    LOS ANGELES, Calif., USA - American Apparel, its cash situation worsened by a holiday discounting strategy that fizzled, is planning a slowdown at its Los Angeles factory to conserve funds, The Post has learned.
    The slowdown could result in “sharply reduced hours and weeks off” for thousands of the company’s garment workers in the coming weeks — and threatens a diminished supply of go-to fashions for the spring season, according to a source briefed on the situation.
    Facilities that will likely be affected include the company’s factory in downtown LA — as well as its facilities in nearby Southgate and Garden Grove, sources said.
    The likely slowdowns will be another black eye for the company that recently ran up hefty legal bills to oust its founder, CEO Dov Charney.
    Ironically, it was Charney who used US manufacturing as a key pillar of the company’s business strategy and brand.
    Charney was fired this month after being suspended as chief executive in June on allegations of misconduct that included his allowing a blogger in 2011 to post nude photos of a former employee who was suing the company.
    But Standard General, a New York hedge fund that partnered with Charney in July to take control of the company, only to back his ouster in the end, has been vocal about keeping the company’s factory open.
    “This is a disaster for a brand that has prided itself as an example of the possibilities of manufacturing in the US,” said one investor close to the company.
    Officials at American Apparel and Standard General declined to comment.
    While the slowdowns at the factories will save cash, the moves aren’t related to the retailer’s liquidity problems, one source close to the company insisted.
    “There might be some reductions in shifts as the company seeks to reduce inventory,” the source said, calling the slowdown “part of a proactive prudent plan to reshape the inventory and ultimately better the in-store selection.”
    That theory didn’t fly with others familiar with American Apparel. They said the stores are facing shortages of top-selling styles.
    The unsuccessful holiday promotion — called a “dot sale,” which kicked off on Black Friday weekend — not only failed to meet their revenue targets but made the stores look like chaotic discount chains throughout the crucial holiday season, critics noted.
    In November, liquidator Great American Group had projected it could generate more than $100 million in incremental sales from the color-coded sale over three months, based on sales of old inventory as well as new.
    To date, however, it has sold less than one-tenth of the older inventory earmarked for sale, sources said.
    “It looks like a Kmart, not an American Apparel store,” carped one employee. “It looks a bit desperate, like we’re in need of liquidation.”
    In a written statement late Monday, American Apparel said its factory was operating in the “ordinary course of business” and that it had a “successful” holiday season.
    “Our employees have been working overtime to meet the holiday demand, and now that the holiday season is over, we plan to adjust shift schedules as we do every January,” the company said.


12/30/2014 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Health care regulations continue to evolve for staffing, by John Hilton johnh@cpbj.com, Proquest LLC via InsuranceNewsNet.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - The Affordable Care Act mandates haven't always fit perfectly when applied to the traditional American system of obtaining health insurance through the workplace.
    Nowhere is that more evident than in the staffing industry, where workers are transitory and jobs/hours rarely consistent for long. Health care regulations continue to evolve to cover the unique aspects of the staffing industry, said Jim Carchidi, executive vice president of JFC Staffing Cos.
    Complying with the ACA mandates is costing JFC $150,000 this year, he added. One of the top employers in the region, JFC has about 1,000 to 1,500 employees.
    "It's a challenge for every company, but it's really perplexing for our industry, because our workforce is so fluid," Carchidi said. "Just when you think you have it wrapped up, something changes. That's been stressful and time consuming for us."
    The main difficulty is the 30-hour rule. Any employee who averages 30 hours per week is considered full time by the federal government and must receive health care benefits after 90 days, as long as the business has 50 or more employees.
    [This isn't a difficulty. This is the future. And it's something we should have done back in 1933 when we passed it through the U.S. Senate, only to sandbag it in the House. And it's something that if we did systemically today, we'd start using all our excess capacity in terms of "under"employment - what a joke that CEOs think it's efficient to make the economy at large INefficient! - AND in terms of unmarketable overproduction. But it certainly helps to start with an energetic program that converts chronic overtime into OT-targeted&funded training&JOBS.]
    To come up with the average hours worked, the government takes a "12-month lookback," Carchidi explained. Many staffing employees may skim that 30-hour line and, depending on when the 12-month average is computed, wind up above it.
    "From an administrative perspective, this is an ongoing continual thing, because people are becoming eligible on an ongoing basis," said Cathy Reichelderfer, chief financial officer for JFC.
    Options
    Once employees hit that 30-hour threshold, employers have a few options. One is to do nothing and pay an annual $2,000 penalty per employee.
    "That can be costly when you have thousands of employees out working." Carchidi said.
    Another option is to provide a "minimum essential coverage" plan, which is basically a preventive plan that does not cover hospitalization. Employers are still subject to a $3,000 fine if they offer a MEC plan and the employee qualifies for an ACA subsidy, Carchidi said. And because that fine is considered an excise tax, it's not allowed as a deductible, whereas the insurance premiums are.
    The third option is to offer a "minimum value plan," which covers at least 60 percent of costs and includes hospitalization. MVP plans are "most efficient and cost effective" for agencies and employees, Carchidi said. Advertisement
    At Tristarr Staffing in Lancaster, Joan Paxton, president, has spent two years studying the new law. Tristarr employs about 180 workers and will offer health insurance for the first time beginning Jan. 1.
    "In the past, the insurance industry did not like us a lot due to our turnover rates and our employee mobility," Paxton said. "Now with the employer mandate, they are finding us attractive because we tend to have a lot of healthier younger people among our employees."
    With employees who are treading the 30-hour line, staffing companies must set aside money to pay for health coverage in the event the employees become eligible. It gets even more complicated when an employee works for various staffing agencies during the year. In that case, the agencies divide up the cost.
    "It's very chaotic," Carchidi said. "Someone who may not initially qualify may end up qualifying by the end of the year. ... You have to have a very intricate software system."
    He suspects that some staffing agencies might go offthe grid for a fourth course of action.
    "Unfortunately, in our industry ... there's certain parties that may ignore the law and take their chances and try to cheat the system," Carchidi said. "Ethically, that's not an option, because it will result in significant and unavoidable exposure under the law."
    The Internal Revenue Service will begin audits no later than 2016 , Reichelderfer said. The agency budgeted $50 billion in revenue over 10 years from fines it expects to hand out, she added.
    Passing on costs
    JFC is relying on a consulting firm to make sure the company is in compliance. The time and effort spent tracking employee hours is proving very costly, Carchidi said.
    "We passed a fraction of the cost on" to clients, he said. "We're actually absorbing some of the cost. ... But everybody, so far, is passing through some portion of the costs."
    JFC will not deny work to employees near the 30-hour average in an effort to avoid providing health coverage, Carchidi said.
    "When the IRS does start to audit companies, they are going to look for red flags, and one of the things they are going to be looking for is companies holding down hours," he said.
    Many changes are likely to come as the ACA mandates are felt across the staffing industry, said Ed Lenz, senior counsel with the American Staffing Association. How many employees qualify for subsidies will be a key.
    Likewise, the Republican takeover of Congress may lead to "horsetrading" on certain aspects of the law. Some think removal of the employer mandate could be on the table, he said, or the 30-hour rule could be increased.
    "I think that a year from now, the Affordable Care Act is not going to be much of a story at all because we're going to have worked out the kinks and it'll just be another cost of doing business," Paxton said.
    YOUR TAKE
    Have an opinion about this issue?
    Email us at editorial@cpbj.com.
    "It's a challenge for every company, but it's really perplexing for our industry, because our workforce is so fluid."
    Jim Carchidi, JFC Staffing Cos.
    "I think that a year from now, the Affordable Care Act is not going to be much of a story at all because we're going to have worked out the kinks and it'll just be another cost of doing business."
    Joan Paxton, Tristarr Staffing

  2. Congress puts sleepy truckers on US roads - Lame duck session revoked sleepy trucker rule that annually prevents 19 deaths, 560 injuries and 1,400 crashes, Sun Sentinel via sun-sentinel.com
    [A plutocratic Congress, disguised as democratic or republican, makes more and more special-interest laws that attack its own demos and public. Folks, we have front-row seats for the decline of empire.]
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - For all the criticism Congress earns, Washington rarely passes legislation that clearly will kill and injure innocent Americans. But that's exactly what the lame duck Congress just did.
    No, "our" senators and "representatives in Washington didn't approve drone strikes on citizens [yet - our quotes] or order surreptitious assassinations within U.S. borders [how would we know?]. Yet they unleashed a menace on U.S. highways by rolling back a safety regulation designed to keep exhausted commercial truckers off the road. The suspended regulation required drivers to take a two-night weekend rest between each work week — with the work week defined as a hefty 70 hours of work.
    Now, Congress has allowed a truckers' work week to expand to 82 hours.

    The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimates that the rule, in effect since 2013, prevents 1,400 accidents annually, 560 injuries and 19 deaths. Of course it will be difficult or impossible to attribute any particular death to the relaxed regulations. But that doesn't mean Congress is blameless.
    This also doesn't mean that every trucker on the road will be barreling along while fighting to keep from nodding off. Most will continue to behave responsibly, since they value their own lives and their own rigs. But for too many, the pressures to earn money and to beat the competition will lead to tragic consequences.
    How did such a bad piece of legislation get through Congress? Like the substance of the measure, the method of its passage stinks. The rule rescission, pushed by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, was grafted onto the so-called "CRomnibus" bill. That's the $1.1 trillion Continuing Resolution-Omnibus bill that Congress approved in its waning days to keep the government from shutting down. The trucking measure had little chance of passing on its own, particularly since Democrats still controlled the Senate.
    Previous attempts to reverse the rule failed to pass either house of Congress. An accident in June that injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed another person in the car — hit by a Walmart truck — ended the first push to get it passed. The trucker in that accident was at the end of a long day of work.
    Safety groups and Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx had begged Congress not to kill the new rule, but to no avail. It's examples like this that make people think a Congress that does nothing isn't so bad.
    This was not by any means the only awful ornament to be hung on the "Christmas tree" legislation. Congress, for the first time, also told some already-retired pensioners their benefits can be cut. About 10 million people are potentially affected. And Congress seized the opportunity of must-pass legislation to raise tenfold the amount of money special interests can contribute to federal candidates. What are the chances those contributions will go to politicians all too happy to continue sneaking special-interest favors into essential bills?
    There is something particularly abhorrent, of course, about killing rules that save innocent lives. We'll note that Congress did not hesitate to hold hearings seeking to expose General Motors' failure to alert the public to the hazards of faulty ignition switches that, among other things, disabled air bags. Those switches, according to a count released in mid-December, have killed 48 people and injured 58 in more than a decade. It won't take that long for the toll from the eased trucking rules to catch up.
    Congress also was quick to hold hearings when many automakers — including Toyota, Ford and Honda — that used Takata air bags reported massive problems with the devices.
    It's hard to take seriously congressional concern for highway safety when members are so heedless of driver safety that they revoked the rule requiring truckers to get adequate rest.
    In any case, because of what Congress did, automakers have one more big reason to make sure those air bags work.

  3. Gallup's Top 10 US Well-Being Discoveries of 2014, by Alyssa Brown, Gallup.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Throughout the past year, Gallup has published nearly 90 articles about Americans' health and well-being. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index uncovers new insights with its daily surveys, providing the most up-to-date data available on Americans' sense of purpose, social relationships, financial security, connection to community and physical health.
    The following list represents Gallup editors' picks for the top 10 most important findings in 2014:
    1. Uninsured rate drops nearly four percentage points since late 2013: Gallup was among the first to report the decline in the U.S. uninsured rate, which coincided with the new requirement that Americans carry health insurance. The percentage of U.S. adults without health insurance was 13.4% in both the second and third quarters of 2014, down from 17.1% in the fourth quarter of 2013. This is the lowest quarterly uninsured rate measured since Gallup and Healthways began tracking it in 2008.
    2. Uninsured rate drops more in states embracing ACA: The uninsured rate among adults in the states that have chosen to expand Medicaid and set up their own exchanges in the health insurance marketplace has declined significantly more this year than among those in the remaining states that have taken one or neither of these actions. This finding suggests that adopting these components is critical to lowering the uninsured rate within states.
    3. Using mobile technology for work linked to more stress: Nearly half of workers who "frequently" use email for work outside of normal working hours (48%) report experiencing stress "a lot of the day yesterday," compared with 36% among those who "never" check work email outside of working hours. However, workers who email outside of normal working hours also rate their lives better than their counterparts who do not. The same patterns hold true for working remotely outside of working hours.
    4. Depression rates higher for long-term unemployed: About one in five Americans who have been unemployed for a year or more say they currently have or are being treated for depression -- almost double the rate among those who have been unemployed for five weeks or less. The long-term unemployed also spend less time with family and friends than other Americans. Gallup also found that Americans who have been out of work for a year or more are much more likely to be obese than those unemployed for a shorter time.
    5. U.S. veterans report less stress, worry than civilians: Although many veterans face very serious and unique mental health challenges, Gallup finds that among employed Americans, active-duty and veteran populations are more emotionally resilient than their civilian counterparts.
    6. In U.S., 14% of those aged 24 to 34 report living with parents: Young adults who live at home are significantly less likely to be married, to be employed full time and to have a college education than those who are the same age but don't live at home. Those aged 24 to 34 who live at home are also less likely to be "thriving" and have lower overall well-being than their peers who don't live with their parents.
    7. Obesity linked to lower social well-being: In terms of social well-being, obese Americans are the least likely of all weight groups to be thriving, while underweight individuals are the most likely to be suffering. This pattern underscores the risk of being at either extreme of the weight spectrum when it comes to social relationships.
    8. Older Americans feel best about their physical appearance: Two-thirds (66%) of Americans aged 65 and older agree that they always feel good about their physical appearance, compared with 61% of 18- to 34-year-olds. Middle-aged Americans (54%) are the least likely to report feeling good about their appearance. Blacks and Hispanics are much more likely than whites and, to a lesser extent, Asians to say they always feel good about their appearance.
    9. LGBT Americans report lower well-being: Americans who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) trail their non-LGBT counterparts in all five elements of well-being: purpose, social, financial, community and physical. The disadvantage in overall well-being is starker for LGBT women than for LGBT men.
    10. Baby boomers are not maximizing their strengths at work: Although U.S. baby boomers have been in the workforce for many years, they are no more likely than younger generations to say that they are able to use their strengths to do what they do best throughout the day. About one in two baby boomers plan to delay their retirement, meaning they will remain an influential part of the workforce. Therefore, employers have an opportunity to help baby boomers identify and use their strengths to achieve higher performance outcomes.
    Stay with Gallup.com for more discoveries in 2015.


12/28-29/2014 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Working hours restored for council workers, 12/28 EuroWeeklyNews.com
    ALBOX, Spain - Members of the Federation of Public Services (FSP) of the UGT union and Albox town hall have signed an agreement to end the reduction of council workers’ reduced hours.
    The agreement comes into effect on January 1 2015 and affects 32 employees whose hours had been reduced since September 2013. The initial reduction, which was a voluntary move by the appropriate workers, had taken place to safeguard the jobs of the 32 employees by reducing costs. However, with the financial situation now easing, the council is in a position to end the wage reduction.
    According to the UGT union: “The government team has expressed its full agreement to accept the proposal on the replenishment of the working conditions of staff who once asked for reductions. Given the effort and contributions made by these workers, the municipal coffers are improved. Thanks to the sacrifices of these workers, the council could afford to pay the salaries of municipal workers which otherwise would have been very difficult.”
    Published in Costa de Almería

  2. In France, new review of 35-hour workweek - Tensions rose after Der Spiegel, the German news weekly, reported that an action plan had called for an overhaul, by Liz Alderman, 12/29 DeccanHerald.com
    PARIS, France - On a recent weekday, Saifi Ahlem caught a 5 am Metro 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 pm. “France has a reputation for having lazy workers,” said Ahlem, 26.
    [Lazy workers, or actually using modern technology for what it's designed for = giving human beings more freedom? France still leads the world with the shortest official nationwide workweek, which is kind of an indictment of the backwardness and stupidity of the human species in the age of robotics.]
    “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.
    [And that is enviable, if true.]
    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 per cent higher than the eurozone average.
    [And what has that done to French unemployment, and luddism (resistance to technology), and covert unemployment such as welfare, disability, begging, homelessness, prison, suicide...?]
    And a welter of loopholes lets many French employers outmanoeuvre 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 Organisation 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 that a German-French action plan, prepared for Macron and his German counterpart, Sigmar Gabriel, would call for overhauling the 35-hour week.
    [Ooh, another neat and effective move by the Germans to deflect potentially critical anglophone attention from themselves to France, the favourite punching bag of anglophone neanderthals.]
    After a storm of protest, French officials this week sought to calm fears that a major change was underway.
    Macron, an economic centrist [ha], 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 [=precious, hypersensitive nonsense]. Given France’s economic challenges, 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 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 per cent, hovers near a high. [Au contraire, the law was implemented between 1997 and 2001 and improved an unemployment rate of 12.6% in 1997 to 8.6% in 2001 before the US-led recession hit France in the summer. That's one percent less unemployment (French "chaumage") for every hour cut from the 39-hour workweek - same result as the U.S. got when it tried systemwide workweek reduction from 44 to 40 hours, two hours a year 1938-40, from 19.0% in 1938 to 17.2% in 1939 to 14.6% in 1940 - in spite of a poor reduction design involving only two phases by company size, with a split at only 20 employees, with the huge French government going with the small companies in phase two, and with no anticipatory or coordinated conversion of chronic overtime into OT-targeted and funded training and hiring. Chief designer Martine Aubry evidently didn't have the imagination for complete follow-through and chief implementer Lionel Jospin clearly didn't have the guts to hang in there and keep fighting when progressive French voters didn't have the strategic sense in the presidential primary to make him second of only two choices in 2002 against gentleman-gangsta Chirac (cf. gentleman-burglar Lupin) so rightwingnut LePen got in for the final face-off. We pause for un peu de poetic pining:
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst | Are full of passionate intensity. (Yeats' Second Coming)
    And then the attack on the 35-hours began, chiefly via weakening overtime enforcement let alone overtime conversion-to-jobs. And 12 years later, it's ridiculous to blame the weakened 35-hour workweek for a supposedly high unemployment rate and, come to think of it, it's completely ludicrous and ignorant to claim that
    an unemployment rate...at 10.2 per cent, hovers near a high"! The high in 1997 was 12.6%. This article is a disgraceful piece of misinformation, but so is much else currently sloshing around about the 35-hour workweek. Is 35-hours radical? Hardly! Some of our most conservative industries in the USA had 35-hour workweek in the 1960s, witness insurance and academe. And even Wall Street had a 37.5-hour workweek for clerks at that time FIFTY years ago. And there are thousands of current 35-hour job listings in the anglophone economies this very day as a quick google will tell. And the effect of Obamacare has been to push the workweek for benefits in the US down to 30, which is the workweek level that passed the conservative US Senate back in 1933, yes folks, that's NINETEEN THIRTY-THREE, 81 years ago. The fact that we still have nincompoops wasting technology by advocating for longer hours merely makes us an embarrassment to intelligent life in this quadrant of the galaxy. Why do I, Phil Hyde, ecdesignr@yahoo.ca, keep repeating all this? Because the crap just won't die - it is repeated and repeated again and again and again by ignorant guilt-laden luddites who turn the blessing of worksaving technology into a curse by not insisting on a response of timesizing instead of downsizing, so the whole benefit creates labor surplus, lower wages, and an ever-enlarging percentage of the national income funneling to an ever-diminishing percentate of the population in the topmost brackets who cannot possibly spend it and wind up using it merely for bubbling the financial markets.]
    Nor does it address a deeper challenge in the French workplace: the rising use of part-time contracts, which employers increasingly use to avoid paying costly overtime.
    [And the frozen 35, which needed further lowering to avoid wage-depressing and employee-disempowering labor surplus, has played a key role in this rising use of part-time contracts. In France, as everywhere else, workweek reduction is happening anyway, piecemeal and consumer-pauperizingly, but not the best way = systemically and consumer-fundingly.]
    “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.
    [Not at all. It was an advance that all too many humans even today cannot understand or accept let alone upgrade to adjustability to homeostasis against comprehensive underemployment. All too many brains are stuck in the Puritan work ethic, the pre-technology world prior to the Industrial Revolution of the last 200 years, when productivity was a matter of labor hours instead of technology level. That nattering throwbacks like Dominique Moïsi are actually senior advisers at French institutes ['course if you start it yourself...] is yet another depressing piece of evidence that even many Europeans have absolutely no clue what they are doing right in lengthening vacations and shortening workweeks, or why they are doing it, for maximum consumer spending- monetary circulation- mulitplier engagement- investment solidity/sustainability. For them, the Industrial Revolution, the mechanization of agriculture, the automation of manufacturing and the robotization of services never happened. So they are hyperconcentrating natural market-demanded employment and creating evermore insecurity and powerlessness for those who still have "full time" jobs by the frozen 1940 definition of 40 hours a week.]
    “For Macron to say that he can touch that Holy Grail is very antagonistic to the French left [and to anyone in the French right who can think two moves ahead in chess]. But it is a way of telling the outside world and the rest of Europe, we should reform France.”
    [This weak-egoed Moïsi is more worried about what outside idiots think about France than the smooth functioning and happiness of his own fellow citizens, and totally unconscious of the hope that the 35-hours gave the rest of the world, for putting worksaving technology to meaningful use for everyone for a change instead of merely for the wasteful and dangerous super-enrichment of a shrinking and self-insulating and -isolating percentage of the population in the tiniest topmost brackets, who become evermore unreachable by system feedback of the important kind, negative, which indicates direction and speed of necessary adaptation-for-survival. We take the excess in terms of wasteful and dangerous super-enrichment of the a vanishing few instead of more of the most basic kind of freedom, financially secure free time, for everyone.]
    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 per cent of a worker’s hourly salary for time worked beyond 35 hours.
    [Still an inefficient and self-defeating overtime design which fails to disincentivate employers from using overtime in the age of full-time benefit loading, and actually incentivates employees to want more than their share of our most precious vanishing resource in the age of robotics and the kneejerk downsizing response = natural market-demanded human employment. Better overtime design? Automatic conversion of chronic overtime into OT-targeted training and hiring. Why is this so hard for people to "get"? Why was it so hard for me to get back in 1976 as I walked diagonally across the parking lot beside the Food Shak from Mass. Ave. to Green St. in Cambridge, Mass.?]
    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 [and rightly] shouted down.
    Negotiating wages
    Instead, 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 [all-powerful] employers associations and [labor-surplus disempowered] unions.
    Companies were expected to recruit more employees to compensate for the reduced hours for any one worker.
    [And many did between 1997 and early 2001 as the reduction was implemented.]
    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.
    [Neither was the pace of hours reduction. Instead, hours were refrozen at 35, while worksaving technology continued to be injected into the economy and some employers continued to find ways of downsizing their workforces instead of their workweeks and France continued to intake immigrants with no coordination to the job market...]
    And critics say the rule is a reason that France’s unemployment rate is more than double Germany’s rate of 5 per cent.
    [A likelier reason Germany's rate is half France's is that Germans actually work shorter hours than the French (see article on 12/19/2014 #1 below, "Let's stop demonizing the 35-hour workweek"), but have been better at hiding that fact and diverting all the atavistic anglophone attacks onto France anstatt Deutschland! It could also be that after getting a real contest from Germany in two world wars, the English-speaking economies are more chicken about using Germany as a punching bag, however justified, than the other side of our traditional love-hate relationship, good ol' France, however unjustified. (So stuff it, Davie Cameron, puhleeeeeeeeez!)]
    Abolishing the law would require a wholesale review of the exemptions and subsidies now in place, said Jean-François Roubaud [recalls the French right's workweek reduction via the Robien Law], the president of the CPGME, 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 Macron follows through on his promise to provide employers with more flexibility.
    “Only in France,” he said, “would you find something this complicated.”
    [Not true. And France's exceptionalism, and its future, lies first and foremost in its workweek reduction, however currently weakened, as does the future of the world in the age of robotics.]

  3. 2014 tumultuous year for Paine College - Accreditation issues, shootings plague institution, by Tracey McManus, 12/28 (12/27 late pickup) The Augusta Chronicle via chronicle.augusta.com
    AUGUSTA, Ga., USA - Over the course of one year, Paine College experienced a campus shooting, administrative upheaval, received its third accreditation sanction in three years and heard from hundreds of students demanding change.
    Despite these setbacks, interim President Samuel Sullivan said leadership is committed to make 2015 about rebuilding trust in the community and lifting the probation sanction that threatens its accreditation.
    “Everybody is working to try and do what they can to provide adequate resources to move forward,” Sullivan said. “Paine College is absolutely necessary here, our survival is important to this region. So we’re just trying to cultivate those relationships again.”
    Sullivan said working toward having the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on College remove the probation sanction is the first priority, which will include resolving past failures in bookkeeping and management. The next goals are to increase fundraising and build better relationships with its students and the community, he said.
    Two days of shootings in May, which left one student critically injured, started what became a tumultous year. On May 4 shots were fired inside and outside of Gray Hall dormitory, and one student was struck with bullet fragments. The next day, Paine student JaJuan Lawayne Baker was shot in the left side of his head while on the third floor of Haygood-Holsey Hall.
    Paine student Xavier Deanthony Cooper was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and possession of a firearm on school grounds in that incident.
    The next month, then-President George C. Bradley announced 10 furlough days to be implemented during the summer as a way to offset shortages incurred from cuts to federal student aid programs.
    [Here's yet another reason for furloughs - instead of firings.]
    In June, SACSCOC placed Paine on probation, the most severe sanction possible, for failing to correct the same financial and administrative issues after two years on the less-severe warning status.
    A U.S. Department of Education review in 2013 also showed Paine had violated a dozen areas of federal student financial aid regulations, ranging from withholding refund checks from students to inadequate bookkeeping. As of March, Paine was still in noncompliance in three areas.
    The probation sanction prompted the release of an anonymously managed Web site, thepaineproject.net, which posted documented examples of mismanagement of student financial aid and fiscal instability, as well as allegations of ethical wrongdoing by Paine officials.
    The fall semester brought more furlough days, salary reductions and layoffs to save $2.4 million over the next fiscal year.
    In September, Bradley resigned after six years as president, which a strong segment of the Paine community had been seeking. An online petition calling for his resignation launched in June and garnered more than 400 signatures.
    Following Bradley’s resignation, Sullivan, acting as interim president, fired senior vice president of institutional advancement Brandon Brown in October, who filed a wrongful termination lawsuit days later.
    Bradley’s wife, Tina Marshall-Bradley, who worked as associate vice president of academic affairs, also left the school in October, but Paine officials never confirmed if she resigned or was fired.
    After Brown and Marshall-Bradley left the administration, Board of Trustees Chairman Silas Norman orchestrated the firing of Sullivan through a vote taken by an executive committee in October.
    About 300 students, faculty and alumni protested Sullivan’s firing by boycotting the Founder’s Day Convocation ceremony Oct. 17, where they peacefully stood outside the chapel with signs and chants and demanded the school’s leadership rectify its problems before accreditation is lost.
    The Board of Trustees reinstated Sullivan at a meeting that day.
    Sullivan said going forward, everything Paine officials do has to be in the best interest of removing its accreditation sanction.
    “Before we can really effectively pursue a number of new things, we’ve got to get our house in order,” Sullivan said. “That doesn’t mean we stop growing, but we have to keep in perspective that removing probation is our first priority.”


12/27/2014 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Could a 3-Day Work Week Really Help Save Life on Earth? by Steve Williams, care2.com
    [Could more free time and money for 7 billion worldians, or at least 300 million Americans, time and money to look ahead instead of running from McJob to McJob or from soup kitchen to homeless shelter? Sure!]
    REDWOOD CITY, Calif., USA - The idea of a three-day work week isn’t new, but while the idea was once easily dismissed by worker’s rights groups, are there legitimate environmental concerns to reduce the hours we work?
    If you think the idea sounds familiar, that’s probably because we heard about it earlier this year when one of the world’s richest men, telecoms billionaire Carlos Slim, proposed that in order to ensure we get the maximum amount of joy out of our lives, we should move to a three-day work week. That would in theory mean more leisure time and time spent with loved ones, but the trade-off would be longer working hours on the days we are at work, and continuing at work for much longer — well into our 70s.
    [Don't despair. Underlying this idea is the need for more jobs&consumers, and with ongoing waves of worksaving technology and the kneejerk downsizing response of today's myopic CEOs, we'll need a two-day workweek almost immediately, just to keep buying as much stuff as we're buying thanks to the extra jobs created by the three-day workweek! Maybe it'll be a shift from three 11-hour days to two 12-hour days so sadists like Slim can get their rocks off, but three elevens is still less than a 35 or 40 hour workweek, and two twelves is still less than three elevens.]
    While some have rushed to dismiss the idea outright, top business analysts have been more measured. They say that in many industries, and particularly those dealing with the arts and creativity, a shorter work week with flexible hours is already being trialed, and to some success. However, they caution that Slim’s idea is built on one key premise: that we can make efficiency savings by spending our time better when we are at work, and therefore plug any gaps in production that would arise from a shorter work week. Analysts, however, say that no matter how efficient we are, a 33-hour work week or less will not be satisfactory for some sectors, and particularly the manufacturing sector which relies on near constant production in order to keep prices low and meet demand.
    Worker’s unions have also criticized the three-day work week idea because, while it may suit entrepreneurs, the average worker needs the salary from a full 45-hour and more work week just to make ends meet. While Slim does offer some solutions to this, worker’s unions believe we could reduce stress and improve the amount of quality time we spend with loved ones by offering what’s known as a living wage, that is a wage that actually meets the costs of a thrifty household.
    But what if we need to shift to a three-day work week in order to ensure we can keep living on this planet? That might sound a little extreme, but it’s precisely what Naomi Klein, the big-thinker behind the hit book “No Logo,” is arguing.
    Klein believes that climate change denial is a product of a few things, but one is the realization that few have dared talk about: the current free market economy is the root cause of man-made climate change, and if we really want to tackle climate change, we have to admit that and look for alternative set-ups. Most big businesses, of course, won’t want to, but Klein argues in her new book “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate,” that our obsession with continual growth has to end or, essentially, we will.
    In a recent interview with “The Big Issue,” she said:
    It’s exciting that people are talking about [shifting focus from GDP and constant growth]. We know chasing endless growth doesn’t deliver well-being or economic stability and is leading to widening inequality. So it’s much easier to challenge now. It’s really about having a strategic economy, focusing on parts of the economy we want to expand or extract. [...] I think people know they’re overworked. And overworking is intimately tied to a particularly wasteful model of consumption – you have no time after work to do anything other than grab a takeaway, and less time for low-consumption activities like cooking.
    Of course, this can only be achieved if we begin to pay people for the quality of their work and not based on arbitrary pay scales. It also would mean we’d have to agree a minimum wage that fits the living wage so we can guarantee every worker the opportunity to live within their means. Klein argues that this would literally give people more time to think about their climate impact and make better choices — after all, she doesn’t believe that most people choose fossil fuels simply because they like them better. If they could afford alternatives, they would use them.
    Klein is not alone in believing that a work week as low as 21 hours is something we should strive for. One of the key shifts in attitude that we’d have to make, though, is to stop our consumerism mind-set and really look at what we need verses what we just want. Of course, the digital age provides a platform for negotiation there — it takes a lot fewer resources to create a digital book and distribute it around the world, for instance. We can close some of those gaps through the sheer efficiency of technology, but there will inevitably be some hard choices.
    As such, we have to ask whether dramatically reducing our working week and how many products we consume might be the only way that we can reasonably meet the challenges of slowing harmful climate change, as well as tackling other problems like income inequality, our mental health problems and our general lack of fulfillment in life.
    A three or four day work week might not be the ultimate solution, at least not on its own, but it’s this kind of radical thinking we need if we’re going to really lift people from poverty — in terms of both money and quality of life — and pave for ourselves a future that isn’t work-obsessed but living-focused.

  2. Is your boss really a jerk? by Bill Newton, World Magazine via worldmag.com
    [Yes, and so is your pastor.]
    ASHEVILLE, N.C., USA - In my continuing examination of how we as Christians ["we as fundamentalists" might be a more accurate characterization - few Christians in general share these neanderthal views] should handle authority in the workplace, I give you a second conversation between a disgruntled employee named James and his pastor:
    Pastor: James, last time you told me that your boss was a jerk. You said, “He expects me to work more than 40 hours a week, never says a kind or encouraging word, and his demands are unrealistic.”
    James: Yeah, I remember. And I wasn’t too happy you showed me that God wants us to submit and work well for a jerk. But I looked at 1 Peter 2 and it was hard to argue with what it said.
    [Presumably referring to I Peter 2:18, "Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear." Nevermind the facile equation of a first-century proselytizer's advice with what the Creator of millions of galaxies "wants"; nevermind the 2000 years of modifications in the relative roles of servants&masters and employees&employers; nevermind the central Principle for Management of the most successful management consultant of all time (Ed Deming, savior of postwar Japan), "Banish fear from the workplace"; or for that matter, nevermind I Peter 2:13-14a, "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors..." in the context of a certain ordinance in the overtime section of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, of which a certain over-reaching pastoral adviser is evidently ignorant, the ordinance that requires "time and a half" payment for any hours worked above 40 per week.]
    Pastor: This time I have a new challenge to your thinking. Are you up for it?
    James: That wasn’t first on my list, but I’m here to learn [not the right source on this topic!], so let’s give it a go.
    Pastor: OK. Here’s the question: Have you thought about whether your expectations as a salaried supervisor [nevermind many unscrupulous employers are classifying employees as salaried managers exempt from overtime considerations when their duties have little to do with management] are realistic and biblical? For instance, what makes you think your job should only take 40 hours a week?
    James: I’m not sure. I guess I just don’t want to be taken advantage of and I want my priorities to be proper—work is not my No. 1 priority. Forty hours a week is the standard workweek and that is what I signed up for. Is that so bad?
    [James should be asking a labor lawyer, not a pastor who is evidently over-reaching for relevance.]
    Pastor: No, it’s not, but it’s also not complete. When the Bible speaks of a workweek, what does it refer to?
    James: I suppose the answer is six days of work and one day of rest.
    Pastor: That’s right, and for the agricultural society of Bible times what were their work hours?
    [Six days of daylight work, longer in summer and shorter in winter - an average of 12 hours a day gives us an estimate of 72 work hours.]
    James: I don’t know; I’ve never been on a farm.
    Pastor: I worked for my uncle on a wheat farm in western Kansas as a boy. The hours were from sunup to sundown, at least 12 hours a day [but with plenty of downtime during the winter, here completely unmentioned], and we worked every day except Sunday. I suspect the biblical Jew did the same, because he needed the time to eke out a living. How does that sit with you?
    James: I don’t like it one bit, and I’m not sure how it applies to me.
    [It doesn't. Cut this short and find yourself a labor lawyer for such questions, not a self-glorifying former Kansas farmboy cum self-appointed spokesman for God Almighty.]
    Pastor: It applies in this way: Expectations are important. If they are idealistic or naïve they can negatively affect how you perform in your job and how you reflect on Christ in your workplace. If you feel injured, you cannot help but reflect that in some negative way. Forty hours a week is a cultural norm [embodied now in an ordinance, as in "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake"], not a biblical norm [except for "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake"]. No entrepreneur succeeds working only 40 hours a week [nevermind the slight difference between a salaried supervisor and an entrepreneur], and few organizations function well with salaried associates meticulously counting hours [supporting evidence?]. Professional athletes, doctors, lawyers, and numerous other occupations would testify that expecting 40 hours of work a week is naïve [a large part of athletics is play, not work; American doctors have become notoriously patient-endangering, salary-inflating, skill-monopolizing workaholics; and lawyers and "numerous other" professions are paid a lot better than "salaried supervisors" in general]. Judging from the gospels, Jesus’ day never began at 8 a.m., ended at 5 p.m. with exactly one hour for lunch.
    [Note the stretch to make the gospels serve as something they were never intended as, a 2014 AD manual of labor standards in the context of 200 years of industrial revolution and wave after wave after wave of worksaving machines, automation and now robotics. It is now a System Requirement to share and spread the shrinking market-demanded still-unautomated human employment just in order to have sufficient consumers to BUY all the stuff the automation is churning out! As Walter Reuther retorted to Henry Ford's "Let's see you unionize these robots" - "Let's see you sell them cars!"]
    Think about Paul, the apostles, and other biblical fathers and consider what their work schedules tell you.
    [Absolutely nothing relevant to this employee's questions. They were more similar to entrepreneurs in charge of their own hours, as possibly this pastor, than salaried employees at the beck and call of increasingly labor-surplus-spoiled and abusive managers of 2014.]
    James: I’d like to say thanks, but that would be dishonest. But I can say I’ll keep thinking about this.
    [Your thinking is going to go nowhere until thou dost get thee to a labor lawyer.]


12/25-26/2014 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Christmas on the job, by Alexander Deedy, Helena Independent Record via helenair.com
    HELENA, Mont., USA - Ron Carlson went home at 7:30 on Christmas Eve and he was back at work at 8 a.m. Christmas morning with a full day of work ahead of him.
    Carlson is the manager, mechanic and “everything” at Montana Muffler and Radiator. So when the snow started falling Christmas Eve, he knew he’d be back working on Christmas day to finish putting the engine in his plow truck.
    He had five customers he needed to plow for, and Carlson knew if he didn’t get it done on Christmas he would be up at 4 a.m. on Friday plowing.
    “Oh well, it’s fun,” he said.
    If he wasn’t working, Carlson said he would be “watching football games, but that ain’t going to happen.”
    While Christmas is a time to spend with family and friends for many people, it’s just another work day for some.
    For Highway Patrol Troopers Cherie Lofton and Joe Fowler, it was just part of the work week. Troopers work four, 10-hour days each week regardless of holidays. To get Christmas off, either one of them would have to put in a request for vacation.
    [The good news: a 4-day workweek. The bad news: not 4 eight-hour days.]
    “Obviously there’s nothing I’d rather be doing than being a trooper,” Fowler joked when prompted if he was dreaming of a more relaxing Christmas.
    “I don’t feel like I’m really missing out on Christmas,” he added.
    Thursday was the start of Fowler’s work week, so he was able to spend Christmas eve with his family in Butte and had Christmas dinner plans with his girlfriend. It was the end of Lofton’s work week, so she was hoping to finish in time to spend Christmas dinner with family.
    Loften said this will be her first year working close enough to family to have a chance of spending the holidays with them. In the past, she’s spent it with coworkers who were also on duty.
    “You see that a lot with different law enforcement agencies,” she said.
    The two troopers were working to keep the roads safe, which is something that Neal Hoelscher’s job relies on. As a utility driver for Schneider, Hoelscher picks up shifts driving wherever he’s needed.
    Though Hoelscher lives in New Mexico, his current route is delivering auto parts in a 635 mile loop from Billings, through Butte, Great Falls, Livingston and back to Billings.
    He said because of the road conditions, he'd be driving the maximum 11 hours out of 14 hours on Christmas.
    “We want to make sure our customers have their parts first thing tomorrow morning when they come to work,” Hoelscher said.
    An Air Force veteran, Hoelscher equated driving trucks to being in the military: You have to give up time so other people go about their lives normally.
    Rayna Brown, a front desk agent at Best Western, has worked on Christmas six times.
    “Once you open presents and before you have dinner there’s downtime and you get paid time and a half for working, so it’s kind of a good way to fill downtime,” Brown said.
    It was an extra slow day at the front desk, Brown said. Even compared with other holidays that she’s worked, and Brown said she’s worked them all. But Christmas is her least favorite to work.
    “I would say it’s worse, it’s like the biggest holiday,” she said.
    Alexander Deedy can be reached at 447-4081 or alexander.deedy@helenair.com

  2. Flexibility for women 'could boost economy', 12/25 Yorkshire Post via yorkshirepost.co.uk
    LONDON, England - Employers are missing out on a huge pool of talent because of their refusal to make minor changes to working hours to make them more family-friendly, according to a new report.
    Research by the IPPR thinktank [Institute for Public Policy Research] suggests there is a lack of part-time work available in highly skilled jobs.

    [Here are a couple of obvious fixes:   jobsharing = splitting 40-hour jobs in half (still not flexible), or better, redefine part-time as full-time...how? one good way is timesizing, = trimming the workweek till full employment & maximum consumer spending is achieved, while converting chronic overtime into training & hiring all along the way.]
    Two-thirds of working women are unable to vary the time they start and finish work while a quarter say they cannot easily take one or two hours away from work to deal with family emergencies.
    It describes women being stuck on a “mummy track”, working part-time in jobs that are below their skill level.
    The failure to provide a better working environment for women is also shown to be a drain on the taxpayer.
    The IPPR calculates that a five percentage point increase in the number of working mums in full-time employment would benefit the Treasury to the tune of £700 million through higher tax revenues and lower spending on benefits.
    Dalia Ben-Galim, IPPR associate director, said: “Employers are missing out on top talent and highly qualified women are working in low-skilled jobs. That’s a missed opportunity for both employers and employees.
    “How work is arranged, and employees’ level of autonomy over working hours, can have a big impact on how well people reconcile paid work with other commitments.
    “An important indicator for flexibility is how employees’ hours are set, and who has control over this.
    “For example, fixed starting times set by an employer may conflict with the varying and changing needs of families.
    “Flexible working in its current, reduced-hours form, simply isn’t flexible enough.
    “The prevalence of rigid scheduling, especially in low-income jobs, often means that even reduced-hours work is not sufficient for meeting the more spontaneous demands of care-giving.”
    The report shows that while a similar share of female workers in the UK are able to determine their own hours compared with other European economies, half as many UK working women are able to adapt their hours, compared to women working in Sweden and the Netherlands.
    Four in 10 women working part-time in the UK do so because they have caring responsibilities compared to just six per cent of men.
    The report also suggests that more than a third of women in part-time jobs are not happy with the number of hours they are working. A quarter of those in part-time work want to work fewer hours while more than 10 per cent would like additional hours.
    More than half of working women in the UK are in jobs where their company sets their hours and they have no opportunity to alter them.
    This compares to 35 per cent in Sweden and fewer than a third in the Netherlands. Far more women working in those two countries have the flexibility to adapt their working hours within limits set by their employer.
    The IPPR report says: “The key argument of this report is that flexible work practices can result in higher rates of employment, and better matches between qualifications and job skill-level, for women and mothers.
    “As women and mothers represent a group who are underrepresented in workplaces across Europe, improving the scale and quality of their representation in the labour market promises significant net gains for the economy."


12/24/2014 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Girls schools for three-day work week being identified, by Abdullah Al-Dhibyani, Okaz/Saudi Gazette via saudigazette.com
    MAKKAH [=Mecca], Saudi Arabia — The Department of Education in Makkah has started identifying girls schools in remote locations that would be able to provide the option of a three-day working week to its teachers following a recent directive issued by Education Minister Prince Khaled Al-Faisal.
    The decision, to be applied from next semester, is aimed at reducing road accidents that have claimed the lives of many female teachers and students.

    [The right deed for a novel reason!]
    Director of the department, Mohammed Bin Mahdi Al-Harithy, expected the directive to be a success and recalled that it was successfully executed before on a trial basis about five years ago by the departments of education in Al-Laith and Jazan.
    He said the difference this time was that the new directive would be implemented according to clear-cut mechanisms set by the ministry.
    He said the schools would be chosen according to certain criteria that would take into account remoteness, the difficulty of terrain, the number of students and the number of transfer requests made by teachers or students.
    The ministry's spokesman Fahd Al-Harithy said on Monday that, if successful, the decision would also cover male teachers in remote areas.

  2. Need City Hall? Sorry, some are closed, by Teri Figueroa (12/22 late pickup) Union-Tribune San Diego via utsandiego,com
    SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif., USA - Need to get a business license or building plans approved before the new year? In some cities around the county [San Diego County], act fast or wait until January.
    Imperial Beach and El Cajon city halls will be closed from Christmas Eve until Jan. 5, and San Marcos will close Christmas Day through the first Monday in January. Others have even longer closures — city offices in National City shut down Dec. 19 and won’t reopen until after New Year’s, and Lemon Grove is starting its extended break today.
    The long-term closures came into fashion a few years ago, hailed as a cost-saving measure when the economy soured. Depending on the city, the time off is a combination of mandated vacation, paid holidays or unpaid furlough days, as well as regularly scheduled Fridays off. National City has been closing its doors over the holidays since 2009, when the city first asked employees to take a few days off without pay.
    “It started when we were looking for ways to manage the fiscal crisis,” said Stacey Stevenson, the city’s director of administrative services.
    So far, it has stuck. In July, National City employees agreed to five unpaid furlough days for another two years. Roughly 155 employees take the hit. The lost wages are parsed out [she's presumably groping for "parcelled out"] over a year’s worth of paychecks “so that people aren’t hit hard at the time of the holidays with that loss” of income, Stevenson said.
    She said some of the employees prefer the time off, especially working parents with kids out of school during the same stretch.
    “This is a win-win,” she said.

    [Furloughs not firings = timesizing not downsizing!]
    In all the cities, emergency services such police and fire are still in place. There are also crews in place for essential services, such as a broken water pipe or streetlight.
    In San Marcos, closed from Dec. 25 to Jan. 5, city officials said the dark offices translate into nearly $200,000 savings in energy and labor costs.
    John Bowman, president of the San Marcos Classified Miscellaneous Employees Association, said when the city decided four years ago to close for Christmas week, not everyone embraced the idea. But it didn’t take long for workers to see the benefits.
    The closures there happened in 2011 and 2012, but not in 2013. This year, employees requested the holiday time off, Bowman said.
    He pointed out essential personnel are still on duty.
    “We still have critical city services covered,” he said. “It’s not like everybody goes away. Things still need to be done and our citizens are still protected and taken care of in every way that’s necessary.”
    A number of cities work the extended time-off into their employee labor contracts.
    In El Cajon, this year’s closure means employees must use vacation time or floating holidays to cover mandatory days off.
    As for complaints from the public, a number of officials in cities with long-term closures said they had not heard of any push back.
    Michael McSweeney, senior public policy adviser with the Building Industry Association of San Diego, said builders are well aware of the closures in the various cities, and plan for it. Some even go on hiatus themselves during the holidays.
    [And a similar article from another county -]
    Palmdale City Hall to close for Christmas, furlough and New Year's holidays, The Antelope Valley Times via theavtimes.com
    PALMDALE, Antelope Valley, Los Angeles County, Calif., USA – The City of Palmdale’s administrative and business offices will be closed Wednesday, Dec. 24 through Monday, Jan. 5 in observance of the Christmas and New Year’s holiday, as well as part of a cost-saving unpaid furlough. Emergency and maintenance services will still be available to residents.
    City offices will reopen for regular business hours, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., on Monday, Jan. 5, 2015.
    The Palmdale Playhouse will be closed from Monday, Dec. 22 through Mon. Jan. 5. It will open Jan. 6 for scheduled programs and classes. The Playhouse also will be closed for rentals/performances during January and February to allow for new audio and lighting installation, which was part of a Warnack Foundation donation. Only previously scheduled programs and classes will take place during these months. Patrons may contact the Recreation & Culture office at 661-267-5611 or the Playhouse directly at 661-267-5684.
    The Chimbole Cultural Center will be closed from Wednesday, Dec. 24 through Friday, Jan. 16 for the holidays and scheduled facility maintenance. Patrons may contact Recreation & Culture at 661-267-5611 for assistance while the Center is closed.
    The Palmdale City Library will only be closed Wednesday, Dec. 24, Thursday, Dec. 25, Wednesday, Dec. 31 and Thursday, Jan. 1.
    South Antelope Valley Emergency Services (SAVES) will be closed from Friday, Dec. 19 through Monday, Jan. 5. Residents who require temporary services from SAVES during the furlough are encouraged to contact Grace Resources Center, located at 45134 N. Sierra Hwy. in Lancaster. The phone number for Grace Resources is 661-940-5272, and their hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    The Palmdale Transportation Center will remain open providing Metrolink and Greyhound service on its regular schedule, except on Christmas Day, Dec. 25 and New Year’s Day, Jan. 1, when the facility will be open on a modified weekend schedule.
    The Volunteer Program at the City Maintenance Center will be closed during the furlough week and will reopen on Monday, Jan. 5 at 6 a.m.
    Legacy Commons for Active Seniors will be closed Wednesday, Dec. 24, Thursday, Dec. 25 and Thursday, Jan. 1. It will be open for senior lunch only, from 10 a.m. to noon. Lunches during the furlough may be ordered a day in advance by calling YWCA Senior Service at 661-948-2320 between 10 a.m. and 12. No programs will take place at Legacy Commons during the furlough.
    The Joe Davies Heritage Airpark at Palmdale Plant 42 will be open during the furlough: Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., weather permitting. Guided tours will not be available.
    Emergency and maintenance services still available
    Public works crews will be working through the furlough to handle any emergencies that may arise. Emergencies include sewer overflows, roadway/right of way hazards including downed tree limbs, downed signs and potholes, or broken sprinkler lines in City parks and landscaped areas.
    To report emergencies after hours, weekends or on holidays, residents may call 661-267-5338 or download the MyWaste App at www.cityofpalmdale.org/Businesses/Public-Works/Environmental.
    “Maintenance functions such as street sweeping and park maintenance will continue during the furlough,” said Director of Public Works Mike Mischel. “In the event of emergencies residents may call our emergency number at 661-267-5338 and staff will respond.”
    The City’s furlough does not affect local Los Angeles County Sheriff’s or Fire services.
    Although the City’s Culture and Recreation offices will be closed, residents may view upcoming programs and register for them online at www.cityofpalmdale.org/playpalmdale.
    Parking and administrative citations may be paid online at www.cityofpalmdale.org/Residents/Neighborhood-Services/Parking-Enforcement/Pay-Citation during the furlough, 24 hours 7 days a week. Citations also may be paid or disputed by phone by calling 866-420-2894, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    During the furlough, tow releases may be paid at the Palmdale Sheriff’s Station at 750 East Avenue Q in Palmdale.
    Information from the city of Palmdale press release.
    [And a similar article from Santa Clara County -]
    City of Saratoga Holiday and Furlough Closure, City of Saratoga via saratoga.ca.us
    SARATOGA [New York? no...]California[!], USA - Saratoga City Offices, including the Joan Pisani Community Center, will be closed from December 24, 2014 to January 4, 2015 for the holidays and the City's annual furlough. Other local organizations' calendars are as follows:
    Saratoga Senior Center: Closed December 24, 2014 January 4, 2015
    Saratoga Library: Closed December 24, 25 and 31, 2014 and January 1, 2015
    Santa Clara County Office of the Sheriff: Public safety services in Saratoga are provided by the Sheriff's Office.
    The Sheriff's Office West Valley Patrol Substation will be closed Thursday, December 25, 2014 and Thursday, January 1, 2015. However, patrols will still be active. For emergencies, call 911. For non-emergencies, call (408) 299-3233.
    West Valley Collection and Recycling: There will be no garbage or recycling collection on Christmas or New Year's Day. Customers who normally receive service on Thursdays will have their trash picked up on Fridays, December 26 and January 2. For those who normally receive service on Fridays, pickups will be on Saturdays, December 27 and January 3.
    Residents may report fallen trees, landslides and flooding, on roads and public property, by calling County Communications at (408) 299-2507.


12/23/2014 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Doctors strike partially lifted, The Connexion via connexionfrance.com
    PARIS, France - Emergency room doctors are set to lift their strike threat today following what unions called a "historic" agreement on working hours.
    But the doctors' holiday walkout is not completely resolved. GPs across France have gone on strike today as planned.
    Doctors in emergency rooms had demanded a cut in working hours to 48 hours per week – down from the current 60 – and for overtime to be granted to anyone working more than 39 hours a week, and are also concerned about a raft of health reforms set to be debated by the National Assembly early in the new year.
    At a press conference this morning, unions representing medical staff in A&E departments across France said they would call off their dispute.
    As reported, Ms Touraine yesterday said that she had signed a working-hours agreement that she had signed a statement regarding the organisation of their work time that - she added - would allow doctors to lift their strike notice.
    General practitioners, who are set to strike until December 31, want to see an increase the average fee for a consultation from €23 to €25.
    Their other grievances include:
    • The planned roll-out of le tiers payant a system whereby patients have nothing to pay upfront and doctors must be refunded by local health bodies and by one of several hundred different top-up mutuelles. Unof-CSMY said the change of payment system, “will cost the state nothing but will mean an unavoidable extra time spent on administration, and will put surgeries at risk due to the inevitable payment delays”.
    • A proposal that pharmacists could give vaccine jabs. Unof president Luc Duquesnel has previously called this a move towards “low-cost” medicine which was “pulling our profession apart”. Vaccinations should be doctor-prescribed so they can check on any incompatibility with the patient’s conditions and medications, he said.
    Patients of surgeries that close over Christmas needing urgent care will have to make use of out-of-hours services as at evenings and weekends, or consult their local pharmacy.
    Meanwhile, health minister Ms Touraine has said she is “confident” that patients will receive necessary care during the strike, and said that any person who requires treatment should seek it. “Hospitals will welcome anyone who needs to be treated,” she said.
    Hospitals in and around Paris have been ordered to activate a crisis management plan to help deal with patients who would normally have visited to their GP but will head to hospital instead for treatment.
    Anyone who does have to go to hospital for treatment is warned that waiting times are likely to be longer, as medics deal with the influx of GPs’ patients.

  2. Wage hike forces Parks & Rec to cut hours, by Tony Brown, MaryvilleDailyForum.com
    [So shorter hours is happening anyway in the piecemeal worst way, instead of a systematic best way.]
    MARYVILLE, Mo., USA - On Jan. 1 the Missouri minimum wage will increase from $7.50 to $7.65 an hour and from $3.75 to $3.825 an hour for tipped employees.
    While the increase will obviously affect a number of local employers, it is also having an impact on Maryville Parks & Recreation, which has already cut back on part-time staff hours in order to keep payroll costs within budget.
    Under Missouri law, the minimum wage rate is calculated once a year and increases or decreases based on the cost of living as measured by the previous year’s Consumer Price Index.
    Parks & Rec Director Rod Auxier said in anticipation of the minimum wage hike, the quasi-independent municipal agency cut 3,858 part-time hours for a savings of $29,513. Anticipated Social Security and Medicare contributions raised the total reduction to $31,783.
    Auxier said the biggest impact involves the Maryville Community Center, where part-time front desk staffing was reduced by 1,040 hours. Moving the Coffee and Shake Shop to the front counter cut another 1,612 hours, he said.
    “Full-time staff are manning the front desk for a portion of the day, and moving the Coffee and Shake Shop eliminated all of the hours for the concessionaire positions,” Auxier said.
    Other part-time reductions included eliminating a scorekeeper position at all adult and youth basketball games and fewer hours for maintenance, the swimming pool and field supervisors.
    The 2014-’15 Budget still contains 30,615 hours for part-time employees, a workforce that totals about 200 people during the peak of the warm-weather recreation season.
    Parks & Rec, along with the Maryville Public Library, will receive significant additional revenue following the anticipated annexation this week of the Kawasaki Motors manufacturing plant into the city limits, but not soon enough to help with the current municipal budget year, which began in October.
    City estimates show the increase in revenue for Parks & Rec should come to around $30,000 a year, but most of that will be in the form of real and personal property tax receipts that won’t be available until 2016.
    Sales tax revenue generated by Kawasaki purchases could bring in approximately $5,000 during the 2014-’15 year, but Auxier said that won’t be enough to offset a higher minimum wage.
    The mandated pay increase adds to fiscal pressure that Parks & Rec has been dealing with since 2009 following passage of a state law commonly referred to as Senate Bill 711.
    SB-711 requires all taxing jurisdictions in Missouri, regardless of whether they are operating at or below their voter-approved tax rate ceilings, to roll back tax rates to offset reassessment increases. The measure has effectively limited the Parks & Rec levy to 30 cents per $100 of assessed valuation since the 2009-2010 budget year.
    Since that time, Auxier said, the restriction has cost local parks about $45,000 annually in lost revenue and prevented the funding of capital improvements except for those paid for through private donations, grants and reserve funds.
    In order to strengthen its revenue stream, the agency plans to ask voters to approve a levy increase in the April municipal elections. Originally the Parks & Rec Board of Directors had planned to request a 40-cent-per-$100 cap, but Auxier said the rate might be rolled back somewhat due to anticipated revenue from Kawasaki.
    As for other local government operations, the minimum wage increase will apparently have little or no effect.
    City Manager Greg McDanel said the lowest wage for paid part-time workers at Mozingo Lake Recreation Park is already $7.85 an hour. Nodaway County has no minimum wage employees.
    In addition to the 15-cent raise for Missouri’s minimum-wage earners, required pay will increase from $3.75 to $3.825 per hour for tipped employees who must also earn at least $7.65 per hour when tips are calculated.
    Missouri’s minimum-wage rate is higher than the federal standard of $7.25, but when state and federal minimum wages conflict, employers are required to pay the higher rate. The law governs all Missouri businesses except retail and service concerns whose annual gross sales are less than $500,000.


12/21-22/2014 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Working Less: Maintaining Productivity and Saving the World, by Preeti Kaur , 12/22 teleSUR English via telesurtv.net/english
    Until now, Brazilian domestic workers were denied their basic rights (photo caption)
    CARACAS, Venezuela - While technological advancement has led to increases in productivity, since the 1970s, wages have stagnated and we are still working harder than we need to.
    “You are cogs in a machine,” I and my fellow junior lawyers were told on our first day of “induction” at a London based commercial law firm. “Thousands of people applied for your position. You have it, but you have it by a margin. If you’re not willing to work 80 hour weeks, we can easily replace you. The UK is not a party to the European Working Time Directive.”
    This emphatic opening was followed by a discussion with the head of secretarial services. She delicately, but firmly, advised us to keep spare shirts, a stash of toothbrushes and (looking at the women) "feminine products" for our inevitable upcoming straight-36 hour shift in the office. Her advice proved invaluable.
    Bertrand Russell, British philosopher, social critic and political activist, was not a fan of work. In his 1932 essay, “In Praise of Idleness”, he thought that if our societies were better managed, the average person would only need to work four hours a day. Such a working day would “entitle a man (or woman) to the necessities and elementary comforts of life.” The rest of the day could be devoted to the pursuit of science, painting and writing.
    This sounds pretty good to me. Bertrand Russell correctly anticipated that technological advancement would increase productivity. However, he thought that this technological advancement would free people from long work hours. Similarly, John Maynard Keynes estimated that we would be working 15 hours per week by 2030.
    However, while technological advancement has led to increases in productivity, since the 1970s [CEOs have downsized workforce instead of workweeks and created job insecurity so that] wages have stagnated and we are still working harder – much harder – than we need to. Ordinary people are not reaping the rewards of increased productivity and are instead needing credit loans to meet basic needs, while working long hours in uninspiring jobs.
    The protestant work-ethic is celebrated [and] long hours of hard work are spiritualized. Workaholics Anonymous groups are taking off. Loneliness is increasing. In the summer of 2013, Bank of America faced intense criticism after an intern died.
    In "Essays in Sociology," Max Weber argued that in the midst of a culture that is organized for long workdays, for most there is hardly any room for forming social bonds with others. This is reserved for the top 1 percent of capitalists who are "economically carefree." With society organized to spend so much time at work, pursuing real spirituality in the line of Buddha, Jesus, or [Saint or Pope?] Francis is condemned to failure.
    An April 2014 paper, by John Pencavel of Stanford University, shows that reducing working hours can be good for economic productivity. While working shorter work weeks may be better for productivity, Naomi Klein, author of the new book “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate,” goes further.
    Klein says we must revolutionize our working lives if we are to combat climate change. Klein advocates a three day work week – a 21-hour working week – as the solution to the 21st Century’s most pressing problem. People are overworked and this overwork “is intimately tied” to a particularly wasteful model of consumption – “you have no time after work to do anything other than grab a takeaway, and less time for low-consumption activities like cooking.”
    [There's gotta be a more convincing connection between overlong hours and unecological overconsumption. Colleague Kate suggests long hours mean insufficient time for rewarding experiences like quality time with your kids or hiking/biking/cafeing/getting a massage...- so we go for qik rewarding purchases instead and thereby go into debt and/or need more money, meaning even more workhours in today's hostile job market, and so, a vicious circle. Probably Anders Hayden has some convincing connections in his book "Sharing the Work, Sparing the Planet."]
    The largest corporations invest millions in "human resources management" each year. Research informs employer decisions to periodically praise employers for their efforts, so as to make them feel "empowered" and "appreciated" and reduce the likelihood that they will ask for a material raise in wages. With such a heavy emphasis on "human resources" and millions spent each year on researching people management, employers must know that longer work hours do nothing for productivity.
    Work has another function. Work keeps us from organizing for a society that is better managed – for a more equitable redistribution of political power, and wealth – and also of time. Time to spend with loved ones, to build our communities, and on the real pursuit of happiness. A wholly different society pursuing equity rather than economic growth. A society which – as Bertrand Russell envisaged – would enable us to spend days in pursuit of science and the arts. After 12 hours at work – or 36 hours straight in the office – no one has the energy to attend a meeting or action, organizing or agitating for a revolutionary alternative management of society, and human and natural resources.
    Individual decisions to move towards shorter working weeks may lead to healthier lifestyles for the few that are able to make such changes. However, individual changes are not sufficient to make the necessary impact on climate change, or for a more equitable distribution of political power and wealth. Today, many working class people have to work numerous jobs and overtime to help make ends meet. Moving towards a 21 working week is just not feasible. Bills would not be paid.
    The need for collective organizing is clear. In his new book “Time on Our Side”, published by the radical think-tank, New Economics Foundation, economist Robert Skidelsky writes, “If we get off this treadmill to consume, we might reconsider what we mean by the good life. We could then work out how to structure our institutions to make it easier to live such a life… The political means of achieving this goal include job-sharing, a reduction in working hours, wealth distribution, changes in taxation and basic income.”
    We could structure work differently. This would involve people coming together to understand each other’s realities, and acknowledging the ways in which the current management of society is not working for the majority of us. While this may seem a distant hope, forming social relationships in spite of our busy lifestyles, forming connections, re-discovering what we would do with our time – if it was in our hands (and not the hands of our employers) – is crucial. Such social relationships form the foundation upon which we can create stepping stones for a much needed new society. In an age of obsessive work, fuelling pain and loneliness, movements towards efficient, productive, healthy, balanced lifestyles are necessary to combat climate change and move towards a more egalitarian society.

  2. Museum's winter hours cut to balance 2015 budget, by Ted Booker, 12/21 (12/19 late pickup) WatertownDailyTimes.com WATERTOWN, N.Y., USA — Starting in January, the Jefferson County Historical Society Museum will reduce its hours of operation from five days a week to four — a move included in the 2015 budget unanimously approved by the nonprofit’s board Thursday.
    Now open from Tuesday through Saturday, the museum on Washington Street will be closed Tuesdays through March under the plan, which includes several cost-cutting measures made to balance the budget. The museum’s three full-time employees will be paid for 30 hours a week — down from 35 — from January through March, saving the society $3,375 in payroll expenses over the period. The museum previously has averaged only about one visitor a day over the three-month period, which factored into the board’s decision to cut hours.
    The society’s contribution toward the health insurance plan for its three employees was reduced slightly under the budget. Its contribution to the plan was shaved from 90 to 80 percent, dropping the annual expense by $1,260, from $15,200 to $13,940. Though board members agreed with the move, some said Thursday they thought the nonprofit’s contribution should have been reduced more.
    On the revenue side of the budget, the board increased the amount of revenue it expects to take in from special events next year, up from an earlier prediction that was proposed at its Dec. 2 meeting. That figure was increased by $4,000, from $11,000 to $15,000, due to extra proceeds the society plans to collect from its History Links Us golf outing in September and History on the Water event in October.
    Board members floated the idea of further decreasing the nonprofit’s contribution to cover health insurance for the society’s three employees as a way to avoid reducing winter hours at the museum. Trustee Kenneth J. Eysaman said the board should take the time to consider whether it could be advantageous to reduce the employer contribution to 70 or 60 percent.
    “What organization today is spending this much for employees’ health care? If we’re putting everything on the table, I think this should be on the table and discussed by someone who knows more about it than me,” Mr. Eysaman said. “If you increased the contribution by employees for health care to 40 percent, not 20, then we might not have to compress the work week for these three months. Let’s bring in an expert that has that knowledge to talk to us about it.”
    Trustee Jill Van Hoesen suggested the board invite someone from the Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce to one of its meetings to discuss different health care options for employees.
    “Maybe a 70-30 split is something that next year we can do, but I think we need to invite someone from the chamber here to educate us about what our options are as a nonprofit,” she said. “I think we need to find out what other nonprofits have done in these situations.”
    Trustee Francee A. Calarco said that while the board could consider tweaking the health care plan next year, no immediate action should be taken to adjust the budget.
    “I think that with what we’ve prepared here, everything is already shaved,” she said. “I think this discussion should be in June so that we can see where we are. We could find out that it won’t work, but I think this plan is the most conservative way to go.”
    [Hourscuts not jobcuts = timesizing not downsizing = definitely the most conservative way to go.]
    Board members reached a consensus that they would revisit the issue next year.
    Director Jessica M. Phinney had good news to report during the meeting. She said she is meeting with an event organizer in January to discuss plans to launch the Mayor’s Ball next fall, which could be a major fundraiser for the society. The Mayor’s Ball was discontinued in 2012 by Jefferson Community College and replaced with the JCC Gala, but a group of donors is seeking to revive it next year.
    “We’re interested in participating in the Mayor’s Ball, and I was told the Historical Society would receive one-third of the proceeds from that,” Mrs. Phinney said.
    In addition to Mrs. Phinney, museum employees are Business Manager Donna C. Koniz and David T. Coleman, the caretaker.


12/20/2014 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Somerset school board OKs superintendent's plan to avoid layoffs, classroom closures, by Michael Holtzman, (12/16 late pickup) Fall River Herald News via heraldnews.com
    [Another version of a story a couple of days ago, this time featuring the heart-warming contribution of the children.]
    Somerset students receive a standing ovation after Somerset Teachers Association President David Ashley praises them for starting petitions to help save their teachers' jobs and for attending Tuesday night's Somerset School Committee meeting to show their support. (photo caption)
    SOMERSET, Mass., USA — With a standing room-only, passionate crowd in attendance, the Somerset School Committee voted unanimously to accept a proposal by Superintendent Jeffrey Schoonover that closed the $229,00 budget gap and avoided the layoffs and classroom closures outlined by Schoonover last week.
    Schoonover’s proposal, which was introduced at the beginning of Tuesday night’s meeting, immediately took the kindergarten and Grade 2 classroom reductions and layoffs off the table.
    Two circumstantial changes accounted for about $130,000 of the needed spending cuts, Schoonover said.
    One was the return of two out-of-district special education students returning to the district (for a savings of $55,125) and their related transportation ($18,480). He credited Special Education Director Melissa Deyo-Silvia, hired six weeks ago, for helping make that transition.
    The other was the Somerset Teachers Association, on “a very close” vote, according to its president, approving a one-day teacher furlough, saving $57,712 and nearly $5,000 more with administrators accepting a furlough.
    The health, music, and gifted and talented Spectrum pull-out programs were among the few areas taking specific hits to reduce the remaining $100,000, with some revamped scheduling that will actually add a few programs under the proposal.
    While outlining a new set of proposals before parents, teachers and dozens of students from the middle school and other grades, Schoonover said, “It’s great to see so many of our students … You’re doing the right thing.”
    It drew the first of many rounds of ringing applause.
    Eighth-grader Thalia Bulhoes, who joined friends passing petitions and Instagrams saying “saaave Mr. Overy,” referring to highly regarded health teacher Nicholas Overy, did not hide her concern or tears.
    “The teachers mean so much to me and Mr. O. has been such a big influence on my life,” Bulhoes said. “I know you haven’t decided. I’d like to just put in that.”
    Schoonover proposed a revamped elementary schedule that will reduce one health teacher but would also allow the district to add a technology teacher, a role that this particular teacher could assume.
    The Spectrum teacher would fill a third-grade vacancy at North Elementary School. Smaller modifications would partially decrease a physical education position by reassigning duties, while a reduction of 15 minutes a day in recess time for each class would save supervisory time (saving $15,101).
    The reduction of nearly a full-time music teacher’s job would save $24,026, bumping of the health teacher would save $31,500, which would be offset by the technology teacher addition.
    Schoonover said the projected deficit of his proposal was $1,926.
    To close that gap, the Somerset School Committee also voted unanimously to forgo their stipends for two months, which would account for $2,800 in savings.

  2. Livestock board cuts jobs, approves furloughs, (12/19 late pickup) AP via GreatFallsTribune.com
    BILLINGS, Mont., USA – The state Board of Livestock has voted to cut five jobs and furlough other workers at the Montana Livestock Department to cope with a substantial budget shortfall.
    Vacant positions will remain unfilled, and five others will be eliminated. Furloughs down to a 36-hour work week through the end of June also were approved to deal with a six-figure imbalance.
    “If we continue at this rate, we could be $225,000 over where we were last year,” said Christian Mackay, the department’s chief executive officer.
    The Billings Gazette reports that the department is struggling with several long-term revenue issues. It has struggled to fund its brucellosis testing program through fees collected from ranchers. State general fund support for its diagnostic lab also has declined. Income from brand inspections also is down due to rising labor costs.
    Board members approved the cuts Thursday but were skeptical about whether the reductions were deep enough. An information technology post needs to be filled, and at some point some of the jobs left vacant will need to be filled.
    A few employees said they would rather take a cut in hours than lose their job entirely.
    Employees losing their job this month would be off the payroll by the day after Christmas, though some have already been given two weeks’ notice. No severance pay was offered.
    The department has a $10 million annual budget and about 140 workers.


12/19/2014 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Let's stop demonizing the 35-hour workweek - It has been beneficial, (12/09 very late pickup) Liberation Economy via liberation.fr/economie
    By: Denis Clerc, editorial consultant of Economic Alternatives & Prof. Jean Gadrey of Lille Economics & Prof. Dominique Méda of Paris-Dauphine Sociology & Eric Heyer, Deputy Director at the French Observatory of Eonomic Conditions [translation by Bing, cleanup by Phil]
    PARIS, France - Do the "35 hours," or to speak more precisely the Aubry laws, deserve the regular and massive criticism to which they have been subjected for more than ten years now? Have the deleterious effects tirelessly credited to them really been demonstrated ("they have definitively sunk the competitiveness of France," "led to massive job losses," "significantly degraded the value of work") or was it rather the case, above all, of a macabre comedy where a kind of ideological machine has been brandished as a bogeyman to serve as a rebuttal for any serious attempt to reduce unemployment?
    Let's go back to the facts, which are the subject of a report published Tuesday (see *page 16), and directed by a Board of Inquiry of the National Assembly charged with conducting numerous hearings and making - finally - a serenely balanced assessment of the Aubry laws. And let us recall what academic studies have told us for a long time.
    First, the reduction of worktime (RWT) has created jobs. Of the 2 million jobs created during the period 1998-2002 (a period seldom considered!), 350,000 are attributed to the RWT by the DARES (Direction de l’animation de la recherche, des études et des statistiques = the Directorate of the Orchestration of Research, Study & Statistics, of the Ministry of Employment) and Insee. Moreover, these jobs (lasting!) do not figure, and as far from it as necessary, among the heaviest burdens for public finances; their annual cost is estimated at 3 billion euros, if one takes into account all their positive returns (social contributions, less spending on unemployment compensation, stronger tax revenues). It is interesting to compare their annual cost to the net spending which the federal budget is coming to accept in exchange for job creation, which seems, at least for the moment, very weak. Because, insofar as the first Aubry law is concerned, federal aid to companies was conditional on achieving firm goals for creating jobs; companies could get federal aid only if they had created these jobs, or if, in a difficult period, they had managed to maintain them.
    This first Aubry legislation, so maligned, also had the advantage of establishing a net framework (reaching the 35-hour workweek before such and such date) and then let the participants enter into agreements to reorganize work, obliging them nonetheless to whatever made the hours reduction good and effective (thanks to the obligation to calculate the hours-reduction in a constant mode of trimming worktime). The social dialogue, far from being exploited as it is today, could contribute in full measure. And we know that a large number of companies have realized self-interest from it, notably from deep reorganization of workload thanks to a great employee flexibility tied, among other things, to the annualization of their worktime. This is what permitted, at one and the same time, job creation and, whenever unions were powerful enough, a guarantee to employees of obtaining real blocks of time that might be available for other uses than work.
    It is also known by surveys done that, at least during the application of the first Aubry law, employees who experienced a well negotiated worktime reduction were able to devote more time to what is customarily generally called «leisure», which covers some very important activities, notably family, conjugal and friendship activities. Laurent Lesnard demonstrated clearly in The Disjointed Family (Puf, 2009), that family sociability is rooted at the core of leisure. All those who cherish family and find that we devote too little time to family should, therefore, rejoice; the RWT has resulted in a transfer of time principally to the family, mothers but also fathers having spent more time with their children. Due to this fact, the RWT constituted a real tool for rebalancing the professional and family contributions of men and women, and thus, potentially, constituted a fantastic instrument at the service of male-female equality. Who knows what would have happened if the process had been able to go to completion? If instead of weakening it, in 2000 (in changing the mode of trimming worktime and therefore authorizing much feebler reductions than foreseen) and then in 2003 stopping it dead, it we had pursued this vast enterprise of redistributing work and worktime around a shorter norm? Perhaps all or part of the 700,000 jobs foreseen by the OFCE [Observatoire français des conjonctures économiques], the Bank of France and the DARES would have seen the light of day.
    Besides, the RWT did nothing to threaten the value of work. Since the European Values Study was published, the French are among the Europeans most committed to work; in 2008, 67% of them still declared it 'very important.' The RWT was accompanied by not only by a wave of job creation that cannot exclusively be attributed to growth but also by a babyboom about which some people are still wondering if it was not a little corelated to this time recovered for and mobilized for the couple and the family. Well and good, the RWT has contributed to intensifying work, they say. This is not so simple. Yes in particular enterprises where the worktime-reduction process was not carefully negotiated. No in the general case: the last Working Conditions survey highlights a continuing deterioration of work pacing since the end of the 1980s, with a pause between 1998 and 2005.
    Certainly, the process of worktime reduction was not perfect; things did not go so well in the federal public sector (where no reorganization of work was engaged in) nor in hospitals where jobs were not created in sufficient numbers. But if one wants to thoroughly compare situations, while all European countries have seen their worktime reduced for 60 years (as shown in a recent publication of the Insee), national situations have remained very different.
    In Germany, alongside long full-time jobs, occupied mainly by men, there have developed myriads of short part-time jobs, poorly paid and occupied mainly by women. Standard employment is certainly also fragmented in France, but much less, and less by reason of reduction of the standard full-time workweek: exemptions were restricted. It bears repeating: we work more, on a weekly basis, in France than in Germany. To maintain the contrary, one must bend over backwards to avoid the consideration that full-time jobs [in Germany are mainly done by men]. And then quite simply, not to recognise the work done by women [is mainly part-time]...
    [So by exaggerating German women's employment to full-time on par with German men's employment, you wind up with an exaggerated figure for total German working hours?]
    Let us hope that the report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Effects of the reduced worktime will enable us finally to discuss the real problems.
    [YES!]

  2. When raising the minimum wage isn't enough, (12/17 late pickup) by Alana Semuels, CNNMoney via money.cnn.com
    [Minimum wage is never enough and never a useful regulation - maximum workweek and overtime-to-jobs conversion should replace it everywhere.]
    BURLINGTON, Ver., USA - Johann Kulsic arrived in this city with an optimistic feeling that he'd finally begun his ascendancy to the middle class. He'd been accepted into the University on Vermont with a partial scholarship, and he looked forward to leaving behind the poverty of his upbringing in Rhode Island and making something of himself, perhaps studying computer science.
    But as the freezing cold of a Vermont fall turned into winter, it slowly dawned on Kulsic that he might need to make a detour. He'd taken out a loan of $16,000 to cover the remainder of his expenses, and couldn't earn enough to make the requisite payments on it -- so he dropped out of college and started working at a local grocery store for $8.75 an hour, pennies above the state's minimum wage.
    After six months, he received a raise, to $8.85 an hour, and in January he'll get another, when the state's minimum wage climbs to $9.15 -- but those kinds of raises don't do much good.
    Kulsic only gets 33 to 35 hours of work each week, and struggles to pay for heat, food, and transportation. He typically rides a bike the three miles to work, but his bike broke, so these days, he walks or takes the bus. He's asked for more hours -- or more consistent hours, at least -- but his employer, whose name he asked me not to use, doesn't want to give any worker more than 35 hours because then they'll be classified as full-time, he said.
    "A minimum-wage job is a bit of a hellhole in terms of employee treatment and not making a living wage," says Kulsic, 19. "I come from a low-income family, and I thought I could pull myself up by my bootstraps. I used to believe in class mobility, but it's a myth."
    When he moved to Vermont for school, Kulsic landed in one of the most progressive states in the country in terms of employee wage-and-hour laws. Vermont's current minimum wage, at $8.73 an hour, is one of the highest in the country, nearly $1.50 above the federal minimum wage. It will rise to $9.60 in 2016, $10 in 2017, and $10.50 in 2018. The state approved these increases this summer, well before voters in states across the country, including Arkansas and South Dakota, passed minimum-wage increases at the ballot box.
    Vermont was also the first state in the country to pass a "Right to Request" law, which allows any worker to ask for scheduling changes for any reason without fear of employer retaliation. The law requires an employer to consider such requests at least twice a year. In 2013, Vermont strengthened a law that requires men and women be paid equally for equal work. The state also allows workers to disclose their own wages and inquire about others' wages without their employers' permission.
    Though these laws surely helped some Vermonters, interviews with Kulsic and other low-wage workers in the state indicate that minimum-wage and scheduling laws barely begin to solve the problems that poverty creates in states across the country. That's because the nature of low-wage work has changed dramatically in the last decade, as companies shift to more part-time workers who have little control over their schedules, and because the cost of living has been growing much faster than wages have.
    Kulsic would love more control over his schedule, so he can take a few classes or get a second job. But he'd never heard of the "Right to Request" law, and says people at his workplace get let go if they ask for anything at work -- whether it be more hours or day shifts.
    His bosses "have been known to ignore time-off requests, and usually folks are too afraid of severance to request anything," Kulsic says.
    A study released this summer by researchers at the University of Chicago indicates that the problems that Kulsic faces are widespread. Looking at the schedules of adults 26 to 32 in the labor market, the study found that 75% of workers in hourly jobs reported fluctuations in the number of hours they worked per week, sometimes by more than eight hours. In the food-service industry, 90% of workers said their hours fluctuated, on average, by 68%. Only one-third of hourly workers were allowed any input into their work schedule, according to the report.
    "There's been a real shift in what proportion of workers are full-time versus part time," says Susan Lambert, a University of Chicago professor and one of the authors of the study. "Some workers get full or stable hours, but everyone else is fighting for more hours, scrambling for more hours."
    It's the nature of the post-recession economy: Fewer workers are getting as many hours as they need. Last month, there were 7 million Americans working part-time for economic reasons -- either because they could only find part-time work, or because business was slow -- up from 4.3 million in October 2007. Often, low-wage workers need to be employed for a few months or years before their bosses give them full-time work. So workers know that quitting a low-paying, part-time job to find another will rarely yield a better situation.
    Although they have a job, many workers are left unable to pay the bills, and unable to better their situation.
    On a recent weekday, I spoke with two such workers outside a Dunkin' Donuts in a town in a rural, eastern part of Vermont. They were on a short break, sitting in a car in the bitter cold, and agreed to talk to me if I didn't use their real names, since both badly need the work. One, let's call her Jessie, is 26 and pregnant. She makes $9 an hour, $1.50 less than she made when she worked for the chain between 2008 and 2011.
    Jessie was working 40 hours a week all summer, but as tourist season ended, business slowed and she now gets only 30 hours a week. She found a second job babysitting, but it's made her employer give her even fewer hours, she said, since she isn't available at all times.
    "They give you a bunch of crap because you're not working with the schedule and you should be flexible to the needs of the company," she said.
    She still gets calls at odd hours telling her that the schedule has changed, that she is opening on Friday rather than closing, for example. But she puts up with it, because she lives in a rural town, and "unless I want to be a professional gas station attendant, there's nothing."
    Neither Jessie nor her fellow Dunkin' Donuts employee, who I'll call Leslie, had heard of Vermont's Right to Request law.
    "I definitely would have made a big stink about it all summer if I had known," Jessie said about the law.
    Vermont was one of the first places in the country to try to get a handle on inconsistent scheduling. But more cities and states are looking into passing laws as well.
    The San Francisco Board of Supervisors last week unanimously passed the Retail Workers Bill of Rights, which would require retailers to offer extra hours to current, part-time employees before hiring additional employees, and would give workers extra pay if their schedule is changed at the last minute.
    And a Michigan state senator introduced a bill last month that would require employers to pay workers for extra hours when they change schedules without notice. A federal "Schedules that Work Act," introduced in Congress this summer, seeks to solve some of the same problems.
    "Here's the thing: If we raise wages but don't stabilize people's schedules, what does it do for them?" says Liz Watson, senior counsel at the National Women's Law Center, which has been pushing for laws that would require more predictable schedules. "This is something that folks are really conscious of right now; this is something we are going to be hearing more and more about." 
    Protections for scheduling changes in places like Vermont and San Francisco are sending employers the message, she says, that they can't continue to operate with such unpredictability in hours.
    But the experience of Vermont indicates employers might not be getting the message. Even if wage and hour laws change, companies still operate on the same profit margins. And store managers are even more pressured to keep a lid on labor costs while dealing with the ups and downs of consumer demand, said Jennifer Swanberg, a professor of social work at the University of Maryland. They get data every week about sales for the previous week and how many hours they might need to staff for the upcoming week, and they need to be cautious about committing to too many hours.
    "The supervisor is often the person being squeezed between what senior management wants and what they have to do day-to-day," she says.
    I caught up with Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin at a rally for striking workers from FairPoint, a telecommunications company, on the steps of the state capitol in Montpelier. Despite the state's record for passing wage increases during his tenure, he'd nearly lost the governor's race just a few weeks before. When I asked him about concerns that Vermont's worker-friendly policies weren't really helping workers, he referenced the national economy.
    "Low-income Americans are even worse off than they were in the depths of the recession," he said. "The folks at the top who were doing well during the recession are doing even better now."
    The increases to the minimum wage helped Vermonters, but there's a lot more that needs to be done to lower health care costs and keep wages high enough so that Vermonters can make ends meet, he said. Vermont's single-payer health care system, one of Shumlin's signature programs, will help keep some of these costs down, he said.
    "We're up against an economic tide that's unusual, since this recovery is lifting the boats of those who already had their boats lifted. This is our challenge."
    But increasing wages can also create a whole new set of problems, as Vermonters are realizing as they see their pay go up by a few cents or a dollar an hour. There's a "benefits cliff" that workers face, as they earn too much money to be eligible for state benefits -- but not enough to pay all their bills.
    [Convert enough overtime into training and hiring and cut the state workweek to provide enough convertible overtime to provide full employment, as we should have been doing for the last 200 years since the start of the Industrial Revolution, and you DON'T NEED STATE BENEFITS! We can safely dismantle the whole municipal, state and federal mass of bureaucracies dedicated to making up for our rigid overlong workweek and the resulting marginalization of evermore of the workforce. And we don't need more or *younger "uber rich" - we need more human freedom for all. What do we do when the first young billionaire joins ISIS? Will we finally smarten up?]
    Jessica Atwood, 27, started working in June as a housekeeper at an inn in Quechee, in the eastern side of the state, near the New Hampshire border. At first, she was doing well, at $11 an hour and enough hours in the height of the summer tourist season to support herself and her 6-year-old son. But her higher earnings bumped her all but off of Vermont's state assistance programs -- she now barely receives any food stamps or heating assistance. Now that fall foliage season is over and fewer tourists are visiting Vermont, she only gets a few days of work a week. She just picked up another part-time job -- at a cheese factory -- to pay the bills.
    "I still make 'too much' to receive anything, but it's not enough," she told me, as she stood in line at a community nonprofit in White River Junction, waiting for a free turkey and Thanksgiving fixings alongside hundreds of other low-income Vermont and New Hampshire residents.
    Vermont's only congressman, Peter Welch, was helping to hand out food. When I asked him about why so many working families in Vermont -- the bluest of blue states -- were still struggling, he, too, blamed national economic trends that permeate state lines.
    "The minimum wage is important to raise, but it's not an economic policy," he said, as families trickled by, awaiting their turkey, wrapped in green and white. "You've got the divergence between really high corporate profits but stagnant wages, and when you have stagnant incomes with costs continuing to increase, people are going to suffer immensely."
    Neither state nor federal government is equipped to close the gap between the wages families earn and the income they need: The expiration of some stimulus funding has reduced the number of people who qualify for food stamps. Meanwhile, federal funding for heating assistance programs is lower than it was last year.
    "What's happening more and more is that a lot more of the people we have contacting us for help are the working poor -- and they're starting to lose benefits that they'd gotten while earning less," says Steve Geller, director of Southeast Vermont Community Action in Westminster.
    Vermont's unemployment rate, at 4.4%, is one of the lowest in the nation. But when people get jobs -- even low-wage, part-time jobs -- they lose access to subsidized housing and food stamps. They get less heating assistance and have to pay more for health insurance, Geller says.
    A single worker can earn up to 185% of the federal poverty level, or $1,810, and still receive food stamps in Vermont, says Faye Conte, with Hunger Free Vermont. That means a person who works 40 hours a week can earn up to $10.50 an hour and still receive benefits, making Vermont one of the more generous states for public assistance.
    Still, there were 87,525 individuals receiving food stamps in September of this year, down from 100,087 in September of last year, Conte says. The unemployment rate in September of this year, 4.4%, is just one-tenth of a percentage point lower than it was a year ago. That indicates that Vermonters' job situations haven't changed much, but their incomes have increased enough so that they no longer receive benefits.
    That doesn't mean they have enough money for all their expenses, she said. Hunger Free Vermont calculated that a family of four on two minimum-wage salaries can get around $1,000 in public benefits and tax credits, but they don't earn enough money to pay for all the things they need, including transportation, housing, and food.
    "People are making a dollar or two more and losing their child care and housing subsidies," says James Haslam, the director of the Vermont Workers' Center, which organizes low-wage workers. "It doesn't encourage anyone to make more money under the current system."
    This summer, Vermont passed a law that allows working parents to earn a little bit more money before their state assistance through the "Reach Up" program -- Vermont's version of the federal Temporary Aid to Needy Families -- disappears. But other benefits have federally-mandated income limits, and workers are left with the choice of taking a wage increase, or more hours -- and losing assistance -- or turning down offers of a raise.
    Shela Linton, 36, of Brattleboro, spent years as a single parent making $20,000 or less a year. Then she got a job as a field organizer with the Vermont Workers' Center, and doubled her salary.
    But with that increase, she lost her monthly housing subsidy, worth around $320, her $160 worth of food stamps, and her fuel assistance. The amount of money she has to pay for health care has skyrocketed, to $530 a month from $133 a month, and her deductible is now $1,200. She sometimes wonders if she should have turned down the new job.
    "I'm technically not in poverty anymore, but I'm living a life of poverty still," she says. "I almost doubled my salary, but I'm almost worse off than I was before. I have no services and I'm struggling."
    This article originally appeared on The Next Economy, a joint project of The Atlantic and National Journal.


12/18/2014 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Over 50s wind down by cutting hours but will work into their 70s - Poll shows that many have 'no idea' when they will retire but will cut back their hours for their pre-retirement, by Dan Hyde [no relation but keep up the good work, Dan!], Telegraph.co.uk
    LONDON, U.K. - Most middle-aged people expect to retire over many years, gradually scaling back their hours before finally giving up work in their seventies, research found.
    In a poll, nine in 10 people in their early fifties said they had "no idea" when they would retire but planned to reduce the amount of time they spent in the office.
    One in three had already begun to slow the pace of their careers, devoting more time to volunteering, childcare, studying or exercise.

    The study, by research company Consumer Intelligence, concluded that something called “pre-tirement” - gaining a better balance of work and other activities as pensionable age approached - had become normal in Britain.
    It found the trend extended to those already in retirement. Almost half of the over-65s polled were still in employment, with almost a third earning money for their labours.
    Typically respondents had stayed in work out of choice, rather than financial necessity; just 17 per cent said a lack of money had motivated their decision. Instead, most had sought employment to keep their mind and bodies active, the respondents said.
    Giles Andrews, chief executive of Zopa, a financial firm which commissioned the research, said: "Retirement in Britain is no longer an event that involves clearing your desk at 65.
    "Having a more fluid retirement process is a result of many of us being fitter and healthier later into our lives, not wanting to simply down tools at age 65 or being unable to afford to stop working completely.
    He said there was strong evidence that people were choosing to improve their work-life balance.
    "The 'pre-tirement' trend is a seismic shift in the way Britons think about retirement,” he said, adding that it would require careful financial planning to get the best of both worlds.

  2. Koreans take more time off, women contribute more to household income, Yonhap via KoreaHerald.com
    SEOUL, S.Korea - South Koreans are enjoying more leisure time away from jobs as 40-hour work weeks take root, with women contributing more to household earnings than ever before, nationwide data showed Thursday.
    According to the 2014 Korean Social Trend report by Statistics Korea, an average employee put in 43.1 hours of work per week last year, down a sharp 12 hours from 55 hours tallied in 1985.
    The country adopted the 44-hour work week in 1989 and 40 hour week in 2004, with 66.4 percent of the workforce coming under the shorter working hour regime as of last year from just 30.2 percent in 2005.
    Despite the drop in working hours, the statistics agency said South Korea still had the second longest work week in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development with the exception of Mexico.
    South Koreans worked 2,163 hours per year, much higher than the OECD average of 1,770 hours.
    The agency said businesses that have a small number of staff, small-scale operations run by families and jobs in the hospitality sectors were less likely to adhere to the 40-hour work week guideline.
    The same data showed income contribution by women family members moving up 1.8 percentage points to 15.2 percent of the total in 2013, from 13.4 percent in 2006.
    The figures, in particular, showed that women with the highest-paying jobs accounted for 18.9 percent of an average household’s income last year vis-a-vis 16.2 percent in 2006.
    Other data regarding women showed 50.7 percent saying they want a job regardless of marital status and family, compared to 29 percent in 1998. Despite this dedication, only 41.7 percent said they placed work above family, which is far lower than 64.3 percent tallied for men.
    The latest numbers showed 68.8 percent of all South Koreans over the age of 13 used smartphones. Locals, on the whole, still used more antibiotics than recommended by the World Health Organization, although there has been a conscientious effort to cut back.
    In 2004, 35.2 percent of prescriptions contained some form of antibiotics, yet this dropped to 24.5 percent in 2013. The WHO’s recommendation stands at 23 percent.
    In other health related matters, 44.9 percent of South Korean men smoked as of 2012, down 22.9 percentage points from 67.8 percent in 1999. On the other hand, the percentage of female smokers in their 20s reached 5.1 percent of the total two years ago from 3.1 percent in 1999.
    The latest findings showed divorced men and women smoked more compared to those that had spouses.
    Statistics Korea added that with more South Koreans marrying foreigners, there were some 56,000 students that came from multi-ethnic families as of 2013, up roughly twofold from 26,000 in 2009.
    The findings showed household debt rising steadily from 2010 onwards, with 66.9 percent of families incurring some sort of debt as of last year compared to 59.8 percent in 2010.
    The latest tally also showed there was a net outflow of people from the capital city of Seoul and the surrounding Gyeonggi region.
    Last year, such net outflow reached 4,000, with 100,000 having left the area from 2000.
    This is in contrast to the steady increase in population for these regions that started from 1970, when people living in rural areas moved to find work in South Korea’s largest city and sprawling urban neighborhoods around the capital.


12/17/2014 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Korea's labor system needs change: KDI, by Shin Ji-hye (shinjh@heraldcorp.com), KoreaHerald.com
    SEOUL, S.Korea - The Korea Development Institute has called for more flexibility in Korea’s labor structure in terms of its wage system and working hours.
    “With unemployment and the working poor becoming serious social issues in Korea, companies should no longer stick to their old-fashioned labor system,” said KDI researcher Yoon Hee-sook at the state-run think tank’s seminar on labor market changes on Wednesday.
    Pointing to Korea’s rigid wage and promotion system, she noted that Korean companies have long favored the seniority-based wage system, in which an employee is promoted in order of his or her proximity to retirement.
    This helped companies to secure talented employees and their loyalty during a period of national rapid economic development.
    “Now the system is becoming a huge burden to companies, so they either avoid hiring new employees or fire employees in their early 50s even before retirement,” Yoon said. “Companies should now consider turning to a performance-based wage system.”
    In Korea, she noted, seniors working for up to 20 years are paid 2.7 times more than entry-level employees, the highest figure among the OECD nations. In Sweden, the difference is only 1.1 times.
    Yoon also pointed to Koreans’ long working hours. Last year, Korean employees each worked an average of 2,071 hours, 400 hours more than the OECD average. Still, Korea’s working productivity was ranked at No. 24 among the 34 member nations.
    “Long working hours also hinder the entrance of the female and youth workforce. Korea’s working-hour system should be more diversified to include part-time hours, working from home and flexible working hours,” the researcher said.

    For starters, the government should propose relevant laws and make the public sector take the lead in structural changes in the labor system, she said.
    “The government should make the best practices by adopting the flexible working system in the public sector first and share the results with private companies.”

  2. Somerset teachers accept furlough ahead of budget cuts, by Michael Holtzman, Fall River Herald News via heraldnews.com
    SOMERSET, Mass., USA — Facing $415,000 in mid-year budget cuts at tonight’s School Committee meeting, the Somerset Teachers Association Monday afternoon voted by the slimmest of margins — one vote – to accept a one-day furlough to save funds.
    “The vote to accept the furlough passed,” STA President David Ashley told The Herald News.
    He said there were two votes to consider the furlough and to accept the day without pay, which Superintendent Jeffrey Schoonover estimated would save the K-8 district about $65,000 when all other personnel did likewise.
    [Furloughs, not firings - timesizing, not downsizing!]
    A School Committee meeting expected to draw wide interest will discuss the issue for the second time in eight days and likely vote changes that include proposed teacher and staff reductions.
    It will be held at tonight 6:30 p.m., North Elementary School mini-auditorium, 580 Whetstone Hill Road.
    While Ashley declined to give specifics of the vote by his approximately 150-member body, a knowledgeable school source said two-thirds of the teachers attended and the margin was “one vote."
    The person, who was not present, also said after some teachers left an effort to reconsider the close vote failed with Ashley overseeing the process.
    Ashley said he would be working with Schoonover to provide an outline of the furlough vote and impacts for tonight’s meeting.


12/16/2014 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. It takes a whole village to raise a child, by Delita Sartika, TheJakartaPost.com
    JAKARTA, Indonesia - Even though women’s issues were not a top feature of the presidential campaigns in this year’s election, they have risen to be some of the most dynamic discourses around the performance of the new government.
    The announcement of the Working Cabinet by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on Oct. 26, which features eight women ministers, has drawn domestic and global praise. Not only did the announcement show the highest appointment of females in our Cabinet history but it also allowed women to take charge of some ministerial posts that were previously considered “masculine”, such as the Foreign Ministry.
    Yet, within only one month, this optimistic gender discourse has been distorted. The first case is loud judgment over Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti. Her background as a high-school dropout and being seen smoking on the day of her inauguration at the Presidential Palace, and the phoenix tattoo on her right leg, have antagonized people’s impressions of her exceptional achievements in the fisheries and airline business, fields still alien to Indonesian women entrepreneurs.
    Her unusual profile is subjectively discussed from social and religious perspectives: tattoos and cigarettes are confronted with not only social etiquette but the wholesome attributes of “women’s properness”. Some even compare her with other successful women professionals who don the hijab.
    While controversy around Susi has not faded, the idea to reduce women’s working hours, proposed by Vice President Jusuf Kalla, has started to occupy the public. Although the plan has not been officially introduced, it has triggered wide controversy.
    Those who support the idea agree that reducing women’s working hours is an essential investment in Indonesia’s future generation as it will allow women more time to do their duties as the children’s main caretakers
    . On the other hand, the opposing parties believe this plan could carry more problems than potential benefits. The reason behind this idea is obviously partial and, thus, technically discriminative. The implementation addresses only the needs of women workers who are married and raising a family.
    Secondly, cutting women’s working hours may lead to a broader discrimination against women in the workplace. Women workers, or women waiting for employment, may not be given fair room to compete with men in the first place.
    Assuming fewer working hours, women workers will likely be perceived as less productive than their male colleagues.
    [or on the positive side, less resistant to worksaving technology, i.e., less luddite?]
    This simply means a greater burden on the employers. Yet, if women accept the same workload to allow them a fair chance at work, it will create a greater pressure on women as they need to finish the same work in much less time.
    Thirdly, yet most important, is the anticipated compensation for this two-hour cut. A widely quoted African proverb, “It takes a whole village to raise a child” is probably what the Vice President should first reflect on before inviting the public to assess his idea. While a significant gap in domestic responsibility between men and women is already evident, the reduction of women’s working hours might lead to them being charged more with caretaking duties, particularly in educating children at home. Meanwhile, men’s traditional status as the breadwinner of the family, which gives them the privilege of having less responsibility at home, will be reconfirmed.
    While the role of women to mind their children is undeniably important for the sake of Indonesia’s future, the government should adopt more substantial moves. Providing a scheme for employers to provide affordable day care would have better prospects of ensuring that children are being taken care of properly while their parents are at work earning a proper living.
    Some other urgent, yet never settled, matters are the need for sufficient maternity leave and offices that are breastfeeding-friendly for women workers. These facilities will essentially maximize women’s roles in providing the earliest foundation to build our country’s future generation.
    The whole discourse of women-related issues in the barely two-month old Jokowi government clearly shows that women’s roles are still being defined more by other parties than women themselves.
    The writer is researching Islamic feminism in Indonesian pop culture for her PhD at Monash University.

  2. Official 2015 Holiday Schedule Released, Only One Heinous Six-Day Work Week All Year, by Kipp Whittaker(?), TheBeijinger.com
    Slackers and Hedonists Rejoice! The Ministry of Controlling Your Life and Letting You Know Things at the Last Minute has released the official holiday schedule for 2015, and it contains only one horrendous six-day work week.
    BEIJING, China - The dingy meeting room in which a panel of elderly bureaucrats who haven’t worked a regular job for years set forth next year's calendar today, and they saw fit to preserve most of our two-day weekends and even toss in a few three-day weekends as well.
    This is not as simple a task as one might think: China keeps fiddling with its holiday schedule in a century-long effort to cram constantly fluctuating lunar holidays into the staid framework of the Gregorian calendar.
    The schedule has been revised twice since 2007, and more revisions are likely due in the future.
    China seems to have taken a page from Western countries in giving the populace a Monday off when a holiday falls on a weekend -- that's happening twice this year, and when you add the May Day holiday we are looking at three 3-day weekends this year.
    However there is no extra day off for Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on Sunday, Sept 27, and just four days short of the start of the Oct 1 holiday. I guess the Powers that Be thought that if they gave Monday the 28th off, then the whole damn population would just take that Tuesday and Wednesday off and have themselves a nice 12-day break, which would be the end of modern civilization as we know it.
    Be it the luck of the lunar draw or by design, we're looking at a great year for normalcy and regular work weeks, and only once will be forced to work six days in a row -- and we'll be getting that one out of the way in January [Jan.4-9].
    Consult the..text below:
    New Year: Thursday Jan 1 through Saturday Jan 3. Makeup work day on Sunday Jan 4.
    Chinese New Year: Wednesday Feb 18 through Tuesday Feb 24. Makeup work days on Sunday Feb 15 and Saturday Feb 28.
    Tomb Sweeping Festival: Sunday Apr 5. Since it falls on a weekend, Monday Apr 6 is a holiday.
    May Day Holiday: Friday May 1.
    Dragon Boat Festival: Saturday June 20. Since it falls on a weekend, Monday Jun 22 is a holiday.
    Moon Festival: Sunday Sept 27. No compensation day off.
    National Day: Thursday Oct 1 through Wednesday Oct 7. Makeup work day on Saturday Oct 10.

  3. 27% of employees prefer flexible working hours over pay rises, by Jade Burke, PCR via pcr-online.biz
    LONDON, U.K. — Research has revealed that 27 per cent of employees would rather give up a pay rise in favour of flexible working hours.
    The study carried out by Samsung looked at 2,000 office workers and 200 business owners, which found 27 per cent of workers would opt for flexible working hours over a pay rise.
    [Does that include shorter working hours?]
    Although, the research found that 31 per cent of business owners do not think they are responsible for equipping employees with the tools for flexible working.
    Graham Long, VP of the enterprise business team at Samsung, said: “There is clearly a huge appetite for flexible working, and during winter, it makes business sense for employees to be not only equipped with the tools to work wherever they may be, but also feel that their employers trust them to do so.“
    Samsung also found that 28 per cent of businesses surveyed said that they do not trust employees to work flexibly, however, 51 per cent believe it could improve productivity.
    Long added: “With the winter weather now upon us, it's essential that UK businesses overcome the ‘trust gap’ to allow enterprises and employees to reap the benefits of a well-regulated flexible working model.”
    This news comes after Samsung donated a $50,000 grant to a school, to help inspire more girls to work in tech.


12/14-15/2014 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. The 35-hours: the most effective and least costly policy since the 1970s - This is the conclusion of the report from a parliamentary committee of inquiry that AlterEcoPlus obtained, posted by Cécile Chalancon, 12/15 AlterEcoPlus via Slate.fr
    [At last, the shorter hoursers strike back! Translation by Bing, cleanup by Phil.]
    PARIS, France - Forget what you might have read or hear on the 35 hours. AlterEcoPlus has obtained the draft report of the parliamentary commission on the economic impact, social and societal 35 hours which must be made public Tuesday, December 16. And the balance sheet ("the true balance" article available on subscription) goes against most conventional "wisdom."
    [= our quotes - this "wisdom" was not at all conventional from 1840 to 1940 when the workweek in the USA and many other countries was being cut in half as worksaving technology was being introduced and is still far far from common sense.]
    In an interview with the economic site, the rapporteur of the Committee, the Socialist MEP (Member of the European Parliament) Barbara Romagnan, summarized:
    [- though this is by no means a particularly socialist policy, since many corporations (Lever Bros., Kellogg's, Filene's, Lincoln Electric, Nucor, SAS, Treehouse,...) have adopted shorter hours over the decades, several billionaires are currently advocating it (Slim Helu, Larry Page, Richard Branson...), it was a major plank in the GOP platform for their first 75 years, and ... it's happening anyway, piecemeal, though not the best way = systemically.]
    "Between 1997 and 2001, there have never been as many workhours shared by all in France. Two million salaried jobs in the commercial sector have been created in this period. No policy has proved itself more effective throughout the past."
    39 personalities from the political, labor union, university, government and business worlds have been interviewed. According to the report, "almost none of the people interviewed called for a reconsideration of the 35 Hours".
    In introductory remarks, the Chairman of the Committee, MP UDI Thierry Benoit [Member of (French) Parliament, Union of Democrats and Independents party], stresses, "The work done by our rapporteur Mrs Barbara Romagnan needs to be taken seriously, even if I do not share the conclusions of her report. Everyone will be able to forge their own opinion."
    The conclusions in question are these (the full report is available on AlterEcoPlus, the broad story is from Slate):
    • The reduction of working time decided by Act of 1998 has contributed to the French economy's creation of more jobs than it would have created without this law over the same period. The 350,000 figure is more commonly accepted. Between 1997 and 2001, Insee estimated 2 million employees in the market sector job creation. It is now not possible to say how many additional jobs might be created if the process of reduction of working time had not been interrupted in 2002.
      This reduction has not coincided with a deterioration of the competitiveness of our country notably because it has been accompanied by an acceleration in productivity gains.
      [They might also have mentioned the activation of the multiplier effect effected by offsetting American-style funneling of the national income to the least-percentage spenders cum money circulators in the topmost brackets and instead, keeping in the highest-percentage spenders cum money circulators in the lower brackets.]
      France thus remains attractive and regularly places in the top trio for FDI (foreign direct investments).
    • The reduction of working time, compared to other public policies put in place to stimulate employment, notably those that rest on unconditional lowerings of social contributions, appeared less costly for public finances, with regard to the number of jobs that it allowed to be created.
    • It allowed a reorganization of worktime in companies with more than 20 employees thanks to the stimulus and the dynamism of the social dialogue for concluding the agreements.
    • The reduction of working time translated, for the majority of employees who benefited, into an improvement in the adjustment between time spent at work and time devoted to personal, family, or social activities. It has also permitted a rebalancing, limited but real, of house-spouse chores in the family core.
      The available studies suggest that this process, if it had been completed, could serve as a powerful factor in the rearrangement of time spent in aid of male-female equality.
    By the measure of these hearings and of the documents at our disposal, it appears that the reduction of worktime constituted a pertinent and effective tool in the fight against unemployment, a tool for transforming society and improving quality of life.
    Fifteen years after, it's convenient to draw lucid lessons from past experience with worktime reduction, its conditionalities and positive effects but also some negative effects that may explain the criticism.
    Confronting these negative effects is one of the major achievements of this report, and could also be the area of a broad consensus within the commission.
    We can suggest this outline:
    • the intensification of work spotted in several sectors, and sometimes accompanied by suffering for employees;
    • strong tensions in the public hospital service due to a mismatch between the implementation of the Act and the timing of important recruiting, spread from 2000 to 2002. The tensions were indisputable but the difficulties arose not solely from the RTT [reduced time of travail (work) = worktime reduction];
    • difficulties that could be associated with the application of the law to companies of less than 20 employees.
    These negative effects, though they must certainly be taken into account and corrected, do not invalidate the basic principle underlying this policy. To be continued, it will have to adjust to an environment that is no longer that of the Aubry laws. It is up to us today, across the range of social negotiation, to accelerate the improvement of quality of life at work, in the private sector and in the public sector, to enable young people to build their careers and to return the many unemployed to employment.
    Letting mass unemployment persist would be to run the risk for our country of another social explosion. This report will certainly please Martine Aubry [the main designer of the 35-hour workweek].
    [They could also have mentioned the great improvability of the overtime design. Our suggestion. If you don't have a good overtime design that effectively converts chronic overtime into training and hiring, it really doesn't matter how low you set the workweek - it won't create jobs at maximum efficiency, though US experience 1938-40 and French experience 1997-2001 shows a 1% drop in unemployment for every hour cut from the workweek in spite of a less than ideal overtime design. And saboteur Sarkozy repeatedly weakened the overtime design once he got into power soon after the 35-hour workweek was finally fully implemented. Another version -]
    Le rapport qui réhabilite les 35 heures, 12/15 France Inter via franceinter.fr
    Un rapport réhabilite les 35 heures, 15 ans après leur entrée en vigueur (photo caption)
    C'était il y a tout juste 15 ans. Martine Aubry et Lionel Jospin faisaient définitivement adopter la loi sur la réduction du temps de travail à 35 heures par semaine. La date aniversaire coincide avec la publication d'un rapport parlementaire sur leur impact. Conclusion ? Le passage aux 35 heures a été la politique la plus efficace et la moins coûteuse dans la lutte contre le chômage.
    PARIS, France - Selon la rapporteure socialiste de la commission d'enquête sur le sujet, Barbara Romagnan, 350.000 emplois ont été créés pendant cette période bénie :
    "C'est la première fois que le chômage baissait autant : on est passé de presque 11% de chômage à moins de 8 % ! C'était aussi la première fois depuis longtemps que les comptes sociaux étaient équilibrés et la dette réduite, sans pour autant dégrader la compétitivité des entreprises, notamment parce que, contrairement à ce qu'on entend, le coût du travail n'a pas augmenté à ce moment-là."
    Barbara Romagnan préconise donc d'aller plus loin aujourd'hui en limitant les heures supplémentaires et en laissant la possibilité aux salariés d'épargner davantage de RTT sur leur compte épargne temps.
    "Une folie", pour Stanislas de Bentzmann, fondateur de Devoteam et auteur des "35 heures, une loi maudite". Il se souvient de l'impact de la réduction du temps de travail sur le terrain :
    "Le coût du travail a augmenté de 11 %, ce qui est considérable. Le CICE apporte aujourd'hui entre 2 et 3 % de baisse du coût du travail. Le choc a été terrifiant, les 35 heures ont désorganisé les entreprises, les cadres sont partis en moyenne entre huit et neuf semaines de congés par an, quand tous les autres cadres européens partent entre quatre et cinq semaines !"
    [This genius doesn't "get" that the "cost" of labor is funding and financing and fueling the consumer base - to do its economy-anchoring consumer spending, upon which depend all the other markets - the co-dependent employment markets, the business markets and the only markets that this technology-wasting luddite probably respects, the financial markets. It's depressing to learn that there are still Europeans so ignorant and naive about the work sharing and spreading area in which Europe is so far ahead of the US and UK.]
    Stanislas de Bentzmann propose de passer aux 38 heures : une heure rendue par les salariés, une heure payée par l'État et l'autre par l'entreprise!
    [Deport these Neanderthals to the third world where there are no effective limits on working hours and where they can enslave themselves to other people's wage-cutting and moneysupply-coagulating agendas to their hearts' content.]

  2. State program [worksharing] gives some businesses an alternative to layoffs, by Rafael Guerrero rguerrero@yakimaherald.com, 12/15 Yakima Herald-Republic via YakimaHerald.com
    YAKIMA, Wash.State, USA — The mild winter months early in 2014 slowed business for TJ’s Refrigeration Heating & Air. The small Sunnyside company debated what to do — it didn’t want to fire anyone, but also needed to reduce labor.
    In February, TJ’s found the solution: the state’s Shared Work program. Work hours could be cut, but the state would assist in partially compensating those who lost time on the job.

    [Shared work alias worksharing on basis of assumed real recovery. Better than no work or makework. And a temporary halfway step to permanent timesizing. Two added features required: (1) finance shift from temporary (public-sector unemployment insurance fund) to permanent (private-sector technology-wasting luddites wedded to long hours despite leaping technological productivity), and (2) shift from frozen workweek levels to regular, whole-system-homeostatic workweek adjustment, unemployment up? workweek down, and vice versa (UE down, wkwk up) once full employment is achieved.]
    “The Shared Work was able to supplement some of those hours,” said marketing and sales director Brittan Moore.
    Shared Work, a service offered for many years by the Employment Security Department, provides relief for small businesses that may be suffering from an unexpected downtick in their need for labor, for whatever reason. Employers don’t lose valuable, skilled employees, and workers may not have to worry about finding new jobs.
    Here’s how it works: A public or private business can reduce up to half the hours worked by its employees. However, those affected can receive partial unemployment benefits for the lost wages. The federal government, through June of next year, covers more than 92 percent of said benefits. Companies must file paperwork with the state for the start and end dates of the Shared Work services.
    Of course, employers need to apply for consideration and meet certain requirements. According to Employment Security, they must be offering participating employees the same benefits like vacation and sick leave or health insurance. Employers must be current with their unemployment taxes and payment contracts. The employees must be full time as well and eligible for unemployment.
    Moore said the company put a secretary and someone in the field under Shared Work. The employees were relieved they chose Shared Work over laying off employees, she said, and understood why the move was taken.
    “If you bring someone new that doesn’t know the profession, we would have to spend time and money for training,” said Moore. It makes sense to (keep) an experienced employee rather than hire someone new.”
    At Carey Motors in Yakima, owners have used the state’s services twice. Employer representative Leanne Liddicoat said workers at the dealer were initially concerned and feared layoffs. But as they became familiar with the program and heard of the unemployment compensation they would receive, they realized the upside of Shared Work.
    “It’s been helpful for us to know we have this in the back of our pocket,” Liddicoat said.
    Employment Security surveyed participants and results have been overwhelmingly positive. When asked whether Shared Work helped employers survive the economic downturn, 75 percent said yes. About 97 percent said they would apply for the program again and recommend other eligible businesses participate,

  3. Short-time working [worksharing] initiative to tackle impact of Russian sanctions, 12/15 eurofound.europa.eu
    PRAGUE, Czech Republic - Social partners have agreed to introduce short-time working to tackle problems caused by Russia’s decision to ban imports from the European Union.
    At a meeting on 18 August 2014, the Czech government announced that it had agreed with social partners on introducing so-called ‘kurzarbeit’ to deal with the impact of the Russian sanctions which have hit trade.
    Kurzarbeit or short-time working could be introduced from 1 January 2015.
    Employees would not be expected to work, but would still receive 90% of their normal salary. Only 60% would come from their employer with the additional 30% coming from the government.
    The proposal is supported by both employers and trade unions.
    Experts agree that a properly crafted short-time working proposal would benefit the economy. They say it is better for employers not to have to dismiss employees and then be faced with having to hire and train new ones when prospects improve.

  4. Penn Medicine Study: U.S. Workers Sacrifice Sleep for Work Hours and Long Commutes - Time at Work is a "Sleep Thief" Across All Socioeconomic Groups, 12/14 HealthCanal.com
    PHILADELPHIA, Penn., USA — An increasing number of studies show that chronically restricted sleep to less than seven hours per day impairs performance, increases the risk for errors and accidents, and is associated with negative health consequences like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Yet nearly 40 percent of adults in the United States report sleeping less than seven hours on weekday nights, and 15 percent report getting less than six hours. Little is known about the factors that put individuals at risk for being among this group of “short sleepers,” nor about which waking activities are most apt to be "traded" for less sleep.
    Now, research from the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine published in the December issue of the journal Sleep identifies characteristics and behaviors associated with short sleep that could be targeted to reduce the negative health consequences linked to short sleep. The Penn Medicine team analyzed data from a representative sample of 124,517 Americans 15 years and older who participated in the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) between 2003 and 2011.
    “Intervention programs and educational campaigns can only be successful if they target the right behavior, at the right time of day, and in the right population. Time use surveys provide these crucial insights that cannot be derived from experimental or epidemiological studies,” said lead author Mathias Basner, MD, PhD, MSc, assistant professor of sleep and chronobiology in Psychiatry. "The evidence that time spent working was the most prominent sleep thief was overwhelming," Basner said. "It was evident across all sociodemographic strata and no matter how we approached the question."
    Individual characteristics associated with paid work, including long commute times, were consistently associated with short sleep. Short sleepers started working earlier in the morning and stopped working later at night. With every hour that work or educational activities started later in the morning, sleep time increased by approximately 20 minutes. Those working multiple jobs were 61 percent more likely to be short sleepers. Moreover, self-employed respondents with more flexible work times were less likely to be short sleepers on weekdays, and average sleep time was higher during the economic crisis years with lower employment rates.
    The research offers potential avenues for policy makers to help increase sleep time and improve public health, such as postponing work and class start times, or incentivizing more flexible scheduling. The findings also point to behaviors unrelated to work that are associated with short sleep and could be addressed by the individual to increase sleep time. Common culprits appeared to include watching TV late at night or spending prolonged periods of time in the bathroom grooming each morning. In these areas, the researchers say, raising awareness about the importance of sufficient sleep for health and safety may be necessary to reduce the prevalence of short sleep.
    The other Penn authors are Andrea Spaeth, PhD, and David F. Dinges, PhD.
    The ATUS is a federally administered, continuous survey on time use in the United States sponsored by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. The work of the Penn Medicine researchers was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH NR004281) and the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (through NASA NCC 9-58).
    Disclosure: Dinges is compensated for service on the scientific advisory council for Mars, Inc., compensated by the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, LLC, for serving as Editor and Chief of Sleep. Basner is a deputy editor for Sleep. Both researchers excuse themselves from all decisions regarding Sleep manuscripts in which they have a conflict of interest.
    For more information, visit the American Academy of Sleep Medicine release.
    Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $4.3 billion enterprise.
    [Another version -]
    A scientific case for starting the work day at 10am, 12/14 news.com.au
    Sleep deprivation has become an ever-increasing problem.
    Long work hours and lengthy commutes may be partially to blame for that, new research from the University of Pennsylvania has found.
    Scientists have pointed towards a potential solution — but it would require a drastic change to the typical work day. Pushing back work start times could help combat chronic sleep loss, according to the study, published in the December issue of the journal SLEEP.
    The researchers analysed the sleep habits of nearly 125,000 Americans over the age of 15, using eight years’ worth of data from the American Time Use Surveys.
    They found that work is more responsible than any other activity for people shortening their sleep.
    Respondents who got less than seven hours of sleep per night also had longer commutes, began their commutes earlier in the morning, and ended their commutes later in the evening than normal sleepers.
    “The evidence that time spent working was the most prominent sleep thief was overwhelming,” the study’s lead author, sleep researcher Dr. Mathias Basner, said.
    “Potential intervention strategies to decrease the prevalence of chronic sleep loss in the population include greater flexibility in morning work and class start times, reducing the prevalence of multiple jobs, and shortening morning and evening commute times.”
    The findings showed that for every hour later that work or education started in the morning, sleep time increased by roughly 20 minutes. Workers who started the day at or before 6am slept only six hours on average, while those who started between 9am and 10am slept an average of 7.3 hours. Self-employed workers, who presumably had more flexible schedules, were 17 per cent less likely to get insufficient sleep.
    The idea of pushing the workday back an hour or two might seem radical to some employers, but the benefits for both employee wellbeing and the bottom line could be significant. Plenty of research shows that sleep deprivation can have a detrimental impact in the workplace.
    Sleep deprivation is linked to reduced productivity, difficulty focusing, lower job satisfaction and impairments to innovative thinking.
    This article originally appeared in The Huffington Post and was republished with permission.

  5. 10-hour shift hits women['s] employment, 12/14 ArabNews.com
    Jeddah, Saudi Arabia - Despite government efforts to support women’s employment in the private sector, their participation in the labor force is not up to the desired level owing to the obstacles in implementing the decision including the 10-hour working day that tops the list.
    Women employees have said that working for long hours is negatively impacting women psychologically and socially and particularly their families, which has led to their resignations.
    Fatima Qaroub, a social activist and consultant said women’s working hours had initially been set at eight but the decision was changed because these hours did not include the prayer times.
    According to Qaroub, the six-hour system should have been applied giving employees two hours for a break and prayers.
    She pointed out that some employers had resorted to an 11-hour working day, which means that they only have to pay one employee but this is not acceptable because women have family commitments.
    She added that some women are forced to choose between work and family, which is illogical since some of them need to work to help support their families.
    “Some companies gave women fewer holidays because they said that they give them a two-hour break,” she said. She stressed that companies should be obliged to follow the eight-hour working day to retain women in the workforce and protect companies from being left in the lurch by their employees who decide to abandon them for better prospects.
    Amani Al-Qarni, a human resource official in a company said most women employees agree that the 10-day working shift is too long because it has negative effects on women in general and married women in particular. “This decision is in the interest of neither party; the employee or the employer,” she said.
    She added that she left her last job because of the long working hours.
    Al-Qarni also said that transportation should be taken into consideration because women employees often live at a distance from the workplace, which adds to the number of hours they stay away from home.
    Lama’ Matar, a training specialist said the 10-hour working day is too long and that no one will allow his wife, sister or daughter to stay that long outside the house.
    She said this decision has pushed many women to quit jobs. “This decision is the responsibility of the Ministry of Labor and companies can’t ignore it, because the ministry might conduct inspections on these facilities asking employees about their working hours,” she said.
    The 10-hour working day has been in effect for some time now, said a saleswoman in a shopping center, but “the hours are too long and the work is exhausting.”
    Deputy Chairman of the human resource committee in the Jeddah chamber, Abdullah Atiyah Al-Zahrani, said the eight-hour shift would increase women’s productivity. “Companies should appreciate the circumstances of working women especially with regard to the transportation issue. I don’t expect owners of establishments to employ one woman to save on salaries, especially in light of the implementation of true Saudization."


12/13/2014 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Victims' families fight for stricter work hour limits for truck drivers, by Jacqueline Fell-Cox, WSB-TV 2 Atlanta via wsbtv.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Families who lost loved ones in crashes involving tired truck drivers were in Washington Tuesday protesting how long truck drivers are on the road.
    Jackie Novak gripped a picture of her son, Chuck, who was killed by a truck driver who fell asleep on a North Carolina highway.
    “The truck driver ran over the SUV my son and his girlfriend were in. And hit 14 more cars,” said Novak. “And then went through the guardrail with them.”
    They were killed instantly. Three others died and more than a dozen were injured.
    “His son turned 2 five days after the crash,” said Novak. “He will never know his father. Never. He was my only son.”
    Novak and other families who have similar stories were in Washington protesting lawmakers who want to allow truck drivers to be on the road longer with fewer breaks.
    Congress is considering rolling back safety rules that limit drivers to working 70 hours in a week. The new rule would increase the limit to 82 hours a week.
    “No one can drive 80 hours a week and survive,” said Joan Claybrook of Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways. “Emotionally, physically they're going to have crashes and crashes are going to increase.”
    The trucking industry says the current rules lead to more trucks on the road during busy traffic times and trips are taking longer to complete.
    Sen. Susan Collins of Maine has pushed to have the looser trucking rules included in a last-minute deal to fund the government.
    Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is against longer hours for truck drivers. He says since the safety-regulations were issued evidence shows drivers are better rested and more alert after two nights sleep.
    Truck crashes caused 3,912 deaths in 2012.
    Jacqueline Fell is our DC Correspondent. She is a Baltimore native. She's worked in New York, Michigan, and most recently Orlando, FL before moving to the nation's capital.

  2. Notaries Public to the Barricades - At last economic reform in France, but watch out for the protests, editorial, Wall Street Journal, A12 [subhead from wsj.com].
    PARIS, France - French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron once warned that France would turn into “Cuba without the sunshine” if the government didn’t change its tax-and-spend-and-regulate ways. Mr. Macron on Wednesday unveiled a package of reforms designed to avert just that.
    The Bill for Growth and Activity—already known as the “Macron Law"—would demolish longstanding barriers to entry for the legal and notary professions [& throw out the baby with the bathwater?], open up domestic rail lines to competition from private bus companies [& get crappy service on both, as in the US?], fast-track the adjudication of some labor disputes [& flush well-paying jobs and consumers with money to spend down the tank, as in the US?], and lower some of the environmental hurdles developers need to jump to gain approval for new projects [& "pave over paradise and turn it into a parkting lot," as in USA?]. The bill also would require the government to dispose of upto 10 billion euros ($12B) in state-owned assets, primarily in airports and utilities.
    [In short, get the same kind of coagulated black hole in the money supply as in the Deteriorated States of America.]
    The item that seems to have exercised the French political class the most is a proposal to increase the number of Sundays that Paris department stores can stay open - to 12 a year from the current five. The law would also allow stores located in "international tourist zones" to stay open until midnight. Martine Aubrey, the parliamentarian behind the country's productivity-killing 35-hour workweek,
    [Productivity-killing shorter workweek? Hardly! France has higher hourly productivity than the increasingly luddite and feather-bedding USA: "artisan" breweries, "boutique" farms, grotesque overcharges for military supplies - unless the WSJ is going to count all the work that's been turned over to unpaid consumers, who now have to pump their own gas, teller their own banking, check out their own groceries, agent their own travel, edit&print/kindle their own books...]
    has called for a Socialist war on the Sunday reform, since it "casts doubt over all the historical battles of the left."
    [Who knows, maybe it does. But the Wall Street Journal is on another planet from such cultural 'trivia.' Its tedious quantitative view of the world is just moneymoneymoney.]
    The protests against these "common-sense" "reforms" [our quotes] have already started.
    [Clearly the WSJ wants every economy to be a failed economy like the USA - no standouts! - for everyone in the USA except for the financial sector = their robopathic selves.]
    First up were the attorneys, notaries and bailiffs [& American lawyers set such a fine example?], who last week flooded Parisian streets, robes and all, to object to Mr. Macron's plan to make it easier for recently minted lawyers to start their own practices and to reduce the tariffs and legal privileges currently enjoyed by these "protected professions."
    [Like Wall Street isn't a "protected profession"?]
    The plan will undoubtedly dent the profits of notaries who currently face minimal competition and can charge maximal fees to process routine paperwork.
    [The banksters on Wall Street hate it when anyone else gets big fees.]
    But this is the kind of "reform" [ours] France needs to reduce the cost of doing business for everyone else.
    [That's worked sooo well for xenophobic and xeno-ignorant America - where electronic spying is everywhere and even air travelers get treated like criminals.]
    Expect more protests from other vested interests as Mr. Macron and Prime Minister Manuel Valls try to push "forward" with "reforms" [our quotes]. But the status quo - with zero growth [US growth is negative without military and security and prison factors], 10.4% unemployment [US unemployment is 18% or more if you stop counting part-time as full-time and include welfare, disability, incarceration, homelessness, begging...], and a rising xenophobic right [US in NO position to "throw stones"!] feeding off popular frustration with stagnation [exakitally the same in the US!] - can't persist. As Mr. Macron said last week, quoting Nobel-winning French economist Jean Tirole, "by overprotecting, we end up protecting nothing."
    [and by underprotecting, we end up with nothing to protect.]


12/12/2014 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Understand the 35 hour working week, (update of Sept. article) The Connexion via connexionfrance.com
    PARIS, France - France is famous for its short working week - les 35-heures - but the rules are not as simple as they sound and most people do not, in fact, work just 35 hours...
    France’s 35-hour working week raises heated debate both for and against the idea – even if statistics show that most people do not in fact work just 35 hours.
    Brought in by the Socialist Jospin government in laws in 1998 and 2000, raising the limit again is controversial. On the one hand it could be seen as good for productivity, on the other it risks being seen as socially regressive and potentially likely to dissuade firms from taking on more staff.
    Some history
    A working week of 40 hours was fixed in 1936 then tweaked to 39 in 1982. It officially dropped to 35 in 2002 [no, 2001]. This was presented as good for workers’ rights and also job creation by sharing work around more people. The reduction to 35 hours was first proposed in a 1997 Socialist Party manifesto.
    [No, 1982. The plan was to cut the 40-hour workweek one hour every year for five years and wind up with a 35-hour workweek in 1987, but the Socialists got voted out after just a one-hour cut, so France got stuck with a weird 39-hour workweek for 18 years, whereupon large businesses were supposed to cut to 35 in 2000 and small businesses (including government?!!) in 2001.]
    What the law says
    The basic legal length of the working week is 35 hours a week, or 1,607 hours a year.
    There can be overtime (heures supplémentaires) but there are legal maximums to that, so that a working day may not be more than 10 hours and a working week 48 (or 60 in “exceptional circumstances”).
    This is also subject to a limit of 44 hours a week on average over a 12-week period (or 46 under certain conditions).
    Legally, there must also be breaks of at least 20 minutes at least every six hours and 11 hours of consecutive daily rest plus 24 hours’ rest per week.
    Lesser periods apply to people under 18, who may not usually, without special permission, work more than the basic working week.
    These rules apply to private sector workers and some public sector ones (nonetheless a 35-hour week rule is the norm in both sectors). Certain sectors have slightly longer periods deemed equivalent, taking into account a certain amount of down time with little to do (eg. working as a greengrocer).
    Exemptions
    Certain groups are exempt from the working hours limits, including childminders and people who work in the home, as well as, notably, cadres dirigeants, that is top-level management. The latter are defined as people with a lot of freedom in organising their work time and in decision-making and who are among the highest-paid people in a firm.
    They may be entitled to paid holiday, like other staff, but have no maximum work times, minimum rest periods, or even requirement to take off bank holidays.
    Working conditions agreements
    Businesses may choose that all staff will simply work 35 hours a week. Otherwise, working beyond the maximum legal hours generally gives rise to overtime at a higher pay or time off in lieu called RTT (réduction du temps de travail), depending on agreed practices in the workplace (the accord collectif).
    Again, depending on the workplace rules, the RTT or overtime rights may accrue simply on a week by week basis each time hours worked exceed 35 hours, or they may be based on how many hours were worked a week (averaged out) over longer periods. In certain agreements there can also be set maximum hours per week after which hours worked are automatically consider to be overtime.
    Overtime
    Overtime is subject to an annual cap, called the contingent annuel, either stipulated in the working conditions agreement or at a set 220 hours a year. Hours worked over and above the contingent give rise to both extra pay and to time off in lieu which should be equal to half the extra time worked in small firms and all of it in ones with 20 employees or more.
    The Code du Travail fixes overtime pay at 25% more for the first eight hours and 50% more after that, though this can vary slightly depending on the accord collectif.
    Overtime can imply hours worked at the express wish of the employer or even with their “implied agreement”.
    Time off in lieu
    There are two kinds – compensatory time off in lieu of overtime pay (called RTT – réduction du temps de travail) and “complimentary” time off given for work beyond the “annual contingent”.
    Extra working days for which there is compensatory time off are no longer considered “overtime” ones for purposes of the annual contingent calculation.
    These compensatory RTT days (or half days) are equivalent to paid holiday, eg. an hour of overtime pay that would have been at 150% of the ordinary pay can be replaced by one and a half hours of time off.
    If the employer wants staff to work more than 35 hours a week on a regular basis there may be a set regime in terms of when RTT days are taken (such as, for example, a certain day every week). Sometimes a superviser may ask an employee to take a certain day as RTT, if the accord collectif allows this. A situation where an employee asks for a specific day off due to RTT rights accrued, is known as poser un RTT (to claim an RTT).
    RTT days may be calculated according to different methods. “Real” methods take account of actual hours built up beyond 35 a week; “fixed amount” (forfait) ones involve a set number of days to be “claimed” per year.
    In general, if an employee “claims” a day, the employer replies within a week, and will agree unless the suggested day is impractical.
    Employees on a forfait annuel
    Certain employees, instead of having a contract based on a set number of hours per week, have one based on a fixed number of hours or days per year, called a forfait annuel (en heures or en jours), which factor in the fact they will almost inevitably work more than 35 hours a week.
    This is notably the case for certain senior cadres (managers), whose roles require a lot of flexibility. They are not concerned by the contingent annuel and are not systematically compensated by overtime or RTT in the same way as other workers are meant to be. Ones on a forfait en jours, notably, have no limits to hours per day they can work (apart from the laws on rest periods) and do not earn overtime pay.
    A fixed allowance of RTT days is factored into their year (on top of paid holidays, weekends, bank holidays etc) as partial compensation, and they have higher salaries.
    How many hours do people really work?
    Figures from Eurostat (a service of the European Commission) for 2013 show the average number of weekly hours worked in France in 2013 was 40.7, compared to, for example, 42.8 in the UK or 41.7 in Germany. The EU average was 41.5.
    A study by a Work Ministry statistics body DARES, found that in 2011 manual workers did on average 38 hours a week, other “workers” 38.3 and managers 44.1.
    Does it harm France’s productivity?
    Apparently not - Eurostat puts worker productivity at €45.60/worker (GDP produced per hour) in 2013 – the EU’s fifth highest (the higher the figure, the more productive the country is deemed to be) . This compares to an EU average of €32.10. Germany was €42.80 and the UK, €39.20.
    Will it change?
    Removing the 35-hours is brought up from time to time, but there are no specific plans. Nonetheless, a recent Figaro reader poll found that (out of 26,000 participants), 86% were in favour of scrapping it.
    A left-wing party Nouvelle Donne (New Deal) recommends an even shorter week - 32 hours, or four eight-hour days - as “the best way to fight unemployment and inequalities”.
    [- though the left has never had a monopoly on this approach - the Republican Party in the USA shortened workweeks repeatedly in its first 75 years of existence,and CEOs with half a brain have always realized it's a system requirement; Edward Filene, for instance: ""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"...]
    Taking an opposite view, the director of the economics think-tank CREST, Francis Kramarz, recently said going back to a 39-hour week - paid the same as the current 35 - would be “a real shot in the arm to productivity which would give a new lease of life to many businesses that are struggling today”.
    Another think-tank, Institut Montaigne, suggests allowing firms to raise the level to 40 hours, but advises workers be compensated by making hours worked above 35 tax-free.
    The Front National’s Marine Le Pen [right-wing] has stated she backs a gradual end to the policy, but said it should not be done too “brutally” because “we can’t do it while we have mass unemployment”.
    • 35 Hours for us, says Agnes B.
    Fashion designer Agnès B. bucked the trend by leaping to the defence of the 35 heures in 2011 when changes to the rules were proposed.
    She said all her staff including managers worked to the 35-hour rules and had done since 1999, a year before they became obligatory.
    They helped employees’ wellbeing and therefore productivity and a change would cause “frustration and demotivation,” she said, saying the rules were flexible enough to suit the fashion business.

  2. Parties must come up with concrete steps to buoy nonregular employees, The Yomiuri Shimbun via The Japan News via the-japan-news.com
    TOKYO, Japan - Improving working conditions for the steadily growing number of nonregular employees, and rectifying long work hours to create pleasant job environments for all — these are major challenges in the field of employment.
    [Nevermind "pleasant job environments" - work hours must be shortened to include more people in earning and purchasing situations for economic-system survival.]
    Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been emphasizing that the number of people on payrolls has risen by 1 million since the change of government in December 2012. Opposition parties have been criticizing this, arguing that the job growth is solely due to an increase in the number of nonregular workers. The prime minister has drawn up additional data for a rebuttal, stating “the number of regular employees has in fact increased.”
    The ruling and opposition camps are waging a fierce war of words over the current state of employment in the ongoing election campaign for the House of Representatives. Both blocs, however, agree on the importance of improving labor conditions for nonregular employees.
    The percentage of nonregular workers among the nation’s employees has risen markedly since the 1990s, reaching as high as 37 percent in 2013.
    There are, of course, people who prefer flexible work arrangements. On the other hand, that nonregular employment has resulted in people working in unstable jobs for low wages, making it difficult for them to rise in their careers, is also a reality. Many people must abandon their hopes of getting married or having children for financial reasons, which is a major factor in the country’s low birth rate.
    These are all problems that cannot be overlooked.
    The Liberal Democratic Party and its ruling coalition partner Komeito have pledged in their election platform to expedite measures to help nonregular workers who wish to make a transition to regular employment. The ruling parties are also promising to boost government support for young people’s job search activities and for businesses that offer friendly working environments for young employees. These policies should continue to be put into force.
    Status boost for temporary staff
    Opposition parties including the Democratic Party of Japan, the Japan Innovation Party and the Party for Future Generations have taken a stand calling for improvement in the working conditions of nonregular workers, by introducing the principle of “equal pay for work of same kind,” to eliminate wage differentials based on type of employment.
    It is extremely hard to achieve working conditions for nonregular employees who get paid by the hour that are equal to those of regular workers, who have been under a seniority-based wage system that presumes lifetime employment. The opposition parties must come up with specific processes to realize the same-job-same-wage principle.
    Another issue in the election battle is what would be best for workers from temporary job placement agencies, which provide a type of nonregular employment. The government and the ruling parties still aim to revise the Temporary Staffing Services Law.
    The revision bill that was aborted due to the lower chamber’s dissolution for the general election contained measures to abolish restrictions on how long temporary staff can be used, while creating arrangements to provide stable employment for such workers and enhance their job skills.
    The DPJ, the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party have opposed the proposed law revision on the grounds that it would lead to an increase in the number of people working as temps for life.
    The current state of affairs involving temporary employees can probably not be resolved merely by viewing such work from a negative viewpoint. Boosting the job status of temp workers should be given top priority.
    Regarding regulations on working hours, the government is poised to introduce a system in which it will not be necessary for companies to pay overtime. The system is designed to encourage working with high efficiency during shorter hours, but the DPJ and others have raised objections, arguing that the government plan would further aggravate the issue of long working hours.
    It is also essential to address the challenge of rectifying long working hours from the standpoint of empowering women, which is being called for by all parties.


12/11/2014 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Morning Coffee: Citi’s new higher pay, accelerated promotions for junior bankers. Optimal working hours per week, by Sarah Butcher, news.efinancialcareers.com
    LONDON, England - When future historians catalogue the rise and fall in the fortunes of that elite class of students who make it onto elite banks’ front office graduate training programmes, 2014 will be written as a wondrous time. This is the year that pay has been hiked, that hours have been slashed (theoretically) and that now – at Citi at least – promotions have been brought forwards.
    Dealbreaker reports that Citi has belatedly followed banks like Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Bank of America in hiking first year analyst pay to $85k a year. Its US rivals made their analyst pay increases in the heat of the summer, when junior hiring was particularly feverish. As if to compensate for its tardiness, Citi is also said to be truncating the analyst programme in IBD. – It’s offering to promote first year analysts to second year analysts after just six months (with an attendant increase in pay, to $90k). And then it’s automatically making its analysts into associates after just two years instead of the standard three. Good news all round – except for the Citi analysts who miss out on the all-important financial modelling experience which will provides the foundation to an illustrious banking career.
    Separately, if you work more than 50 hours a week, you’re wasting your time. The Economist reports on research from Stanford University which indicates that marginal productivity plummets beyond the 50 hour mark. It observes that, ‘output at 70 hours of work differed little from output at 56 hours. That extra 14 hours was a waste of time.’ ...

  2. Rethinking “9 to 5”: Varying Work Hours in NC, by Andrew Berger-Gross, The LEAD Feed via NCcommerce.com
    RALEIGH, N.C., USA - The working world of the future is unlikely to resemble that of previous generations. Shifting technologies and social norms may introduce unexpected changes in how, where, and when workers’ talents are utilized in the production of goods and services.
    One highly-visible change to emerge over the past few decades has been the upward trend in contract and temporary employment. Another notable trend has been the increased prevalence of nonstandard work schedules. Both developments have the potential to hinder — or bolster— the earnings prospects and life satisfaction of workers and the productivity of the overall economy.
    [But then, productivity without marketability is pointless, and inconveniently enough, as Edward Filene pointed out, mass production requires mass markets, which require massive employment earnings to provide the purchasing power...]
    Either way, they each demonstrate a new employment landscape where conventional concepts like “part time,” “full time,” and even “employee” might carry very different meanings than they once did.
    Data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) reveal a significant increase in the proportion of North Carolina’s employed labor force whose work hours vary week to week. The CPS asks respondents how many hours they typically work per week at their primary job, and allows respondents to indicate that their usual hours vary. North Carolina workers reporting a varying number of work hours increased several percentage points during the 2000s, and then declined during the Recession.i Although this proportion has fallen from its recessionary highs, it remains elevated above levels seen throughout the 1990s.
    Although this is a noteworthy trend, it is difficult to say for sure what is behind it. The increase during the 2000s — and subsequent decline during the Great Recession — suggests that it might be driven, in part, by temporary hires who are typically brought on during periods of growth and dismissed during lean times. The trend might also reflect increases in ”just-in-time scheduling”— a practice that was the subject of several journalistic accounts earlier this year focusing on its impact on low-income working families.
    However, not everyone who works a varying schedule does so involuntarily, nor are they necessarily at the bottom of the pay scale. The trend illustrated by the above graph could be capturing increased adoption of flexible work hours, with some of these workers choosing varying (but consensual) schedules in order to accommodate their personal needs. Others might be business owners or highly skilled consultants whose work hours vary according to customer demand, but who may be able to reap strong income gains during good times.
    Although we cannot say for sure what forces are driving the overall trend — or whether these forces are “good” or “bad” — one way to shine light on this issue is to examine the trends within population subgroups.ii
    First, we should note that varying work hours are more common among those who worked part time (less than 35 hours) at their main job the week before the survey. The percentage of part-time workers with varying hours also increased significantly over the past 20 years, while the rate for full-time workers has held relatively steady. Part-time workers, as a whole, have been increasing as a proportion of overall employment since 2000 (although the trend in this particular data set is volatile.)
    Looking at varying hours by age group can reveal whether workers are encountering irregular schedules in their early, mid, or late careers. Younger workers (age 16-24) and older workers (55+) in North Carolina are typically more likely to work varying hours than the prime-working age group (25-54). The largest change over time has occurred among young people, who are working varying hours at much higher rates than they did 20 years ago. The younger age group declined as a proportion of overall employment during this time; however, the older population (who are also more likely to work varying hours) grew by an even larger amount.
    It is also possible to break this trend out by the industry of employment, which may reveal industry-specific patterns in work scheduling. Construction workers and leisure and hospitality workers have typically been more likely to encounter varying hours, while manufacturing workers have had more stable schedules. Manufacturing has seen its share of overall employment decline significantly in North Carolina over the past decade.
    To sum up: varying work hours in North Carolina are more common among part-time workers, persons under 25 or over 54, and workers in the construction or leisure and hospitality industries. The statewide increase in workers with varying hours appears to have been driven, in part, by increases in part-time employment, older workers, and a decline in manufacturing employment.
    For better or for worse, the rise of varying work hours (along with increasing utilization of temps and contract workers) reflects the emergence of new labor market institutions that call our conventional understanding of the working world into question. LEAD will continue to follow these emerging stories in the months to come and explore their implications for the economic and workforce development fields.
    General Disclaimers:
    The Current Population Survey (CPS) estimates are based on a survey and are subject to sampling and nonsampling error. Note that the state-level CPS estimates are not directly comparable to state-level labor force estimates from the Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) program due to differences in methodology. Any mistakes in data management, analysis, or presentation are the author’s.
    Footnotes:
    i This trend was largely the same when I looked at those whose work hours vary for their secondary job.
    ii Note that data availability differs for some of the below comparisons; as a result, the start dates differ.


12/10/2014 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. The German Way: Few Hours, Great Productivity, by Shi Wen? HRinAsia.com
    SINGAPORE - Most Asians think of Germany as the “Japan of Europe”. Polite people, great technology and excellent beer. But there’s more to Germany that that. The industrial powerhouse of Europe, and is a leading manufacturer of goods for export to developing Asian nations, Germany has a reputation for engineering and technology.
    The EU’s economic engine, 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 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?
    Intense Focus + Goal-Oriented Communication
    In German business culture, when an employee is at work, they shouldn’t be doing anything other than their work. Facebook, office gossip with co-workers and pulling up a fake spreadsheet when your boss walks by are socially unacceptable. In Germany, there’s 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 surprised by the casual nature of British workers. Facebook isn’t allowed in the [German?] office whatsoever, with no private email permitted.
    German business culture is also one of intense focus and direct communication. Where Americans tend to value small talk and maintaining an upbeat atmosphere, Germans rarely beat around the bush, speaking directly to managers about performance reviews, launching into a business meeting without any ‘icebreakers’ and using 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. Social niceties aren’t part of the culture, as it can be inefficient.
    Work-Life Harmony
    Germans work hard and play hard. The working day is focused on delivering efficient productivity, with off-time being off-time.The focused atmosphere and formal environment of German businesses result in employees not necessarily socialising 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.
    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 socialise 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 (German 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) results in 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 Elterngeldor 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.
    German Working Culture
    German work culture is very different to the average Asian office, with lessons and best practices to be learnt from our German counterparts. The diligent focus Germans bring to their working life is to be admired. Separating work from play can allows for more balanced lives. Putting the phone down after hours gives people a mental break from work, allowing a return to the office refreshed in the morning.
    When it’s time to get tasks executed, closing Facebook and turning off push notifications keeps minds quiet and the work flow steady. Direct conversation can lead to increased efficiency and greater clarity of communication among team members.
    Asians 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!
    Credit: E.Paul, Why Germans Work Fewer Hours But Produce More: A Study In Culture, 11/10/2014 #1
    Shi Wen is an entrepreneur, content strategist/content specialist and company builder for HR in Asia with a keen interest in science, technology and organisational development
    .

  2. Abe takes aim at labor regulations, editorial, JapanTimes.co.jp
    TOKYO, Japan - The Abe administration has targeted some labor regulations that it views as obstacles to economic growth.
    [The biggest labor regulation that's blocking economic growth is the upward-ratcheted workweek that employs fewer and fewer people to do the consumer spending, and they have less time to do it, and the people who have been marginalized or downsized are cutting back like crazy. Result? Markets are weakening - except the financial markets where huge amounts of money going clunk clunk simply can't compare with the warpspeed circulation in the other markets (consumer, employment, and business) where monetary circulation is going whizwhizwhiz.]
    The revision to the law on temporary dispatch workers, which was aborted in the last Diet session when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dissolved the Lower House, will likely be tabled again if he survives the Dec. 14 general election, even though his Liberal Democratic Party’s campaign promise does not directly mention the bill. Also under discussion by a government panel is a proposal to exempt some corporate employees from work-hour regulations and compensate them on the basis of job performance rather than the hours they work. Voters should scrutinize where each party stands on these labor issues from the viewpoint of improving the overall well-being of workers.
    The 1986 law on the dispatch of temporary workers bans the use of such workers for the same job for more than three years with the exception of 26 types of occupations that require special skills, such as interpretation and secretarial work. The bill proposed by the Abe administration to amend the law was aimed at abolishing the three-year limit by allowing companies to use temporary staff in the same job indefinitely as long as they replace individual workers every three years. Although the bill requires management to listen to the opinions of their labor unions when they want to use temporary staff for longer than three years, the unions are not empowered to override management decisions.
    The business community, which has relied increasingly on an irregular workforce while cutting back on the employment of full-time workers, has been pushing for easing regulations on the use of temporary workers. But opposition parties sharply criticized the bill, charging that the amendment would prompt businesses to permanently replace full-time employees with temporary workers. The bill was eventually scrapped after deliberations on it in the Diet stalled over erroneous explanations by labor minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki.
    Meanwhile, the so-called white collar exemption, which Abe reportedly insisted on including in his growth strategy, is being discussed at the labor ministry’s Labor Policy Council. The system will exempt some workers — defined in the government plan as those with highly specialized skills who earn more than ¥10 million a year — from work-hour regulations that oblige employers to pay overtime. The workers who choose to do so will be compensated according to their job performance regardless of the hours they work.
    Proponents say the system of paying employees for the hours they work is irrelevant for office workers, whose productivity cannot be gauged by the time they spend at the company, and that the proposed system will improve their efficiency. Labor circles argue that it would exacerbate the already serious problem of many corporate employees working overtime without compensation.
    In its campaign promise, the Democratic Party of Japan opposes revising the law on the dispatch of temporary workers as well as the white collar exemption scheme, and calls for the enactment of a law that guarantees the same pay for the same job irrespective of the status of workers. Ishin no To (Japan Innovation Party) also calls for the enactment of such a law as part of its effort to harmonize its campaign platform with the DPJ to challenge the LDP’s domination in the Diet.
    The introduction of dispatch workers was once touted as enabling people to work in diverse ways. But such workers are typically paid less than full-time employees and lack job security. While the proposed revision could expand the number of such workers, it falls short on measures to improve their labor conditions. The bottom line should be to establish a “same work, same pay” principle. In addition, both the government and businesses should also make serious efforts to shorten the working hours of corporate employees.
    [Only problem here is, this is not an "in addition" idea. It's the first idea that should come to mind: spread the unautomated work OR there will simply be fewer and fewer people with earnings to purchase all the stuff that the robots can churn out.]

  3. Holiday pay and overtime: employers can breath a little more easily, by PhilipMcCabe, BathChronicle.co.uk
    BATH, England, U.K. - Last month the Employment Appeal Tribunal [E.A.T.] ruled that an employee's holiday pay calculations must include non-guaranteed overtime payments - potentially inflating someone's pay and making holiday pay more expensive. However, despite media reports to the contrary, this isn't as bad as it sounds. Why not?
    On 4 November 2014 the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) handed down a long-awaited ruling in the case of Bear Scotland v Fulton 2014. The employee in this case had claimed that his employer's holiday pay calculations should include overtime, but they didn't. It's fair to say that delivery of the judgment sent the media into a frenzy and numerous legal experts subsequently came out of the woodwork to give us their views.
    "This is a real blow to UK businesses now facing the prospect of punitive costs potentially running into billions of pounds – and not all will survive, which could mean significant job losses." John Cridland, CBI Director-General
    The vast majority (like the CBI) painted a bleak picture for employers and, as often happens with important rulings, there were many myths attributed to this particular judgment - one being that it allows employees to make claims for unpaid holiday pay right back to 1998 when the Working Time Regulations became law (don't worry, it doesn't). I thought it best to the set record straight. So how does the law now stand on the issue of overtime and holiday pay?
    Holiday pay is, of course, calculated on the basis of an employee's normal working hours. For example, if the employee works a 35 hour week, their holiday pay calculation will be based on 35 hours. However, if you guarantee them, say, five hours overtime each week and they are obliged to work it, then their holiday pay must be calculated on the basis that their normal working hours are 40 per week, not 35.
    [This is the type of chronic overtime that system sustainability REQUIRES converting into jobs (starting with training if needed).]
    Whilst that's straightforward, what wasn't clear was how holiday pay should be calculated where an employee works overtime each week but it's not guaranteed. Non-guaranteed overtime is when the business is not obliged to offer overtime to its employees but when it does, it has to be worked.
    Nearly all employees are entitled to the statutory minimum 5.6 weeks' paid holiday each year. For most this will be 4 weeks (20 days) under the EU's Working Time Directive ("the Directive") plus 1.6 weeks (8 days) for public holidays under the Working Time Regulations 1998 ("The WTR")
    To cut a long story short, the EAT has decided that non-guaranteed overtime payments must be included when calculatng holiday pay but, for the reasons that follow, this isn't as bad as it sounds:
    • the EAT's ruling only applies to the four weeks' annual holiday as required under the Directive. It does not apply to the additional 1.6 weeks' we receive under the WTR.
    • the ruling doesn't apply to any extra contractual holiday you may offer over and above the statutory minimum
    • an employee can't issue a claim for underpaid holiday pay if there has been a break of more than three months between any successive underpayments; and
    • employees can't choose which days of holiday relate to the Directive and which to their WTR derived rights.
    What's more, the EAT hasn't given employers any guidance here either.
    So even if the employee can satisfy the three-month test, they are still going to face an uphill struggle establishing whether a period of holiday they have taken is from the Directive-derived right. This point requires legal clarification.
    The EAT has granted permission for an appeal. It's unclear whether this will happen but the government has, in any event, set up a task force to fully assess and, where necessary, limit the impact of this ruling on employers. You may want to wait for the conclusions of this task force before acting on the judgment.
    Philip McCabe is Senior Associate Solicitor with Renney and Co Employment Solicitors, 1 Manvers Street, Bath.


12/09/2014 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Hocking College announces holiday break closure, (12/08 late pickup) Athens Messenger via AthensOhioToday.com
    ATHENS, Ohio, USA - Hocking College will close all three of its campuses for an extended holiday break as a result of the furloughs put in place last month as part of the plan to balance a budget projected at a $4.4 million deficit. The college will remain open one week after the close of autumn semester classes and open one week before the start of spring semester classes.
    The campuses in Nelsonville, Logan and Perry will be closed for holiday break beginning Monday, Dec. 22 through Friday, Jan. 2, 2015. All campuses will officially reopen Monday, Jan. 5, 2015.
    During this time, all college buildings and offices will be closed. There will be no on-campus, in-person or telephone student services available. Online registration and payment will remain available over break via WebAdvisor but students are encouraged to register before leaving campus at the end of fall semester.
    Residence halls will close on Saturday, Dec. 13 at noon. Housing will not be available over break. Move in for spring semester will open on Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015, between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.
    The holiday break furlough is just one of the furloughs to be imposed on Hocking College employees as part of the budget cuts.
    A total of 181 employees are impacted by the holiday break furlough, while 154 are impacted by the spring break furlough. Of those impacted by the holiday and spring break furloughs, 52 will also be required six additional furlough days from January to June 2015.
    With the exception of the support staff bargaining unit and faculty, college employees making less than $55,000 will have 12.25 furlough days and those making more than $55,000 will have 18.25 furlough days. For the support staff bargaining unit, those making less than $30,000 will have 7.25 furlough days and those making more than $30,000 will have 12.25 furlough days.
    [This is the most thorough and explicit modulating of furlough impact that we have seen, and is very similar to the idea of graduated income taxes.]
    Spring term will begin on Monday, Jan. 12, 2015. For any other questions regarding holiday break closure information, visit the Hocking College website at http://www.hocking.edu/holidaybreak.

  2. Can doctors be trained in a 48-hour working week? ScienceCodex.com
    [Any profession can be trained in any workweek for any skills when not straining to spin their skills as Very Difficult (and worthy of Very High Compensation) - a tactic that medicos have become particularly good at. Everyone in "downsizing capitalism" is trying to look indispensible and will continue to do so until there's an end to the kind of job insecurity bred by cutting jobs (and consumer spending) in the age of exponentiatingly worksaving technology. This is the new Malthusianism (which underlies the old): exponentiatingly increasing productivity with arithmetically increasing markets, due to downsizing instead of timesizing.]
    LONDON, U.K. - Since August 2009, all UK trainee doctors have been restricted to a 48 hour week, but some say this has had negative effects on the quantity and quality of medical training. Is there any evidence to substantiate these fears? Doctors discuss the issue in The BMJ [British Medical Journal] this week.
    Andrew Hartle and Sarah Gibb of the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland find no evidence that implementation of the European Working Time Directive has led to a decline in the quality of training.
    They point out that several reviews on the impact of restricting working time have concluded that high quality training can be delivered in a 48 hour working week, and that trainees for all grades and specialties are increasingly satisfied with training. The BMA could also find no evidence that fewer doctors have reached the specialist register grade since the working time regulations were implemented.

    What is concerning [Brit. for "worrying"], they say, is the government's acceptance of the recommendation to encourage more widespread use of the voluntary opt-out from the restrictions on working hours. This would allow (or even require) trainees to choose to work more than the average 48 hours (but no more than 56).
    "To recommend opt-out as a solution risks patient safety from tired doctors and stifles attempts to reconfigure services and delivery of training," they argue. "Far better to do fewer procedures well, under supervision, than be left to get on with more, without."
    They point out that consultant delivered care is seen as imperative for many reasons. "By doing this we will continue to train doctors who provide excellent patient care within the confines of a 48 hour week," they conclude.
    But Andrew Goddard of the Royal College of Physicians, London argues that not all doctors can be trained in a 48 hour working week.
    "It may well be that we can train many types of doctor within the current system but for hospital medicine this is not the case," he says.
    He points to evidence collected by the Royal College of Physicians over the past decade that supports this. For example, more than 50% of consultants and trainees are clear that the 48 hour working week has reduced the quality of training, while 44% of doctors completing core medical training report that they are not sufficiently trained to be a higher specialist trainee.
    The situation for medical registrars is better and has improved in the past five years, writes Goddard. However, 18% described themselves as "adequately" trained and 30% as "fairly well" trained - not exactly a ringing endorsement.
    Much evidence indicates that service pressures currently affect the ability of trainees to attend formal training, gain feedback (a crucial and under-championed part of clinical training), and feel part of a team, says Goddard. Furthermore, there are no plans to increase the total numbers of doctors on the ground to release more time for training.
    "It seems unlikely that the working week will increase from 48 hours or that service pressures will relent. Given the evidence, hospital doctors will need a lot of convincing that shorter training time will produce better doctors," he concludes.
    A linked article published by BMJ Careers today, says doctors in Norway have shorter working hours than many of their counterparts in Europe - and asks could the UK follow suit?
    Johan Torgersen, who chairs Norway's junior doctors' association, says there is a general view that doctors in technical specialties "work more than others, often motivated by the need to develop their technical skills." He believes that making national agreements on extended working hours "would make working hours more transparent, easier to control and plan working time better."
    Source: BMJ-British Medical Journal

  3. Working hours: Proof that you should get a life, by C.W., The Economist of London (blog) via economist.com
    LONDON, England - Do you work too much? Last year we wrote a jolly piece [Working hours: Get a life, 9/24/2013 #1] that found an interesting correlation between working hours and output. With higher working hours, labour output per hour fell. Here’s that graph again:
    *Relationship between hours worked and productivity (OECD countries, 1990-2012)
    That graph, though, is just a correlation: that's not good enough for many economists. But a new paper [The productivity of working hours], by John Pencavel of Stanford University, also shows that reducing working hours can be good for productivity.
    Economists have suspected for some time that longer work hours could eat into productivity. John Hicks, a British economist, reckoned that “probably it has never entered the heads of most employers…that hours could be shortened and output maintained.” Hicks reasoned that with longer hours, output per hour would fall. As workers slaved away for longer and longer, they would lose energy, which would make them less productive.
    Mr Pencavel looks at an unusual data set: research undertaken by investigators of the British “Health of Munition Workers Committee” (HMWC) during the first world war. Britain was desperate to maximise productivity, given the almost insatiable demand for weapons and ammunition. HMWC had to provide the government with advice regarding the health and efficiency of workers in munitions plants: how could productivity be maximised? As part of its investigations, the Committee commissioned studies within munitions factories into the link between work hours and work performance.
    It concluded, after much investigation, that British munitions workers needed shorter hours. Mr Pencavel analyses at the data collected by the committee and sees if their calculations were up-to-scratch.
    The researchers collected a huge amount of data (most of it on women, who dominated the munitions industries). It was easy to measure hours worked. It was also pretty straightforward to measure output, since lots of the workers were paid on a piece-rate basis. Mr Pencavel crunches the data and concludes that there was a “non-linear” relationship between working hours and output. Below 49 weekly hours, variations in output are proportional to variations in hours. But when people worked more than about 50 hours, output rose at a decreasing rate. In other words, output per hour started to fall (in the jargon, “the marginal product of hours is a constant until the knot at [about 50] hours after which it declines”). To get an idea, look at the raw data in the graph here:
    *Weekly output and weekly hours: 82 observations on women turning fuze bodies and milling screw threads on fuze bodies
    Reducing hours, say, from 55 to 50 hours a week, would have had only small effects on output. The results are even starker when we are talking about very long working hours. Output at 70 hours of work differed little from output at 56 hours. That extra 14 hours was a waste of time.
    [British and American doctors take notice. Note also that all this hair-splitting about productivity is now beside the point, whichi is: We have a dramatic choice to make between continuing to split our population into burnouts and dependents, with cumulative weakening of consumer spending and all the rest of the economy that depends on it, or continuing to try to get enough markets and enough forced government spending by waging little wars all over the place and fostering fear-driven security spending, or spreading unautomated employment more widely by workweek reduction to get more markets. Obsessing about niggling more unmarketable productivity - or more products and services whose prices must repeatedly be cut to find markets - is pointless.]
    The crucial point that emerges from Mr Percavel's analysis is that reductions in working hours do not always result in higher output per hour (which is what our initial correlation seemed to suggest). Rather, the initial level of working hours has to be so high. This graph is based on his regression analysis:
    *Marginal product of hours and average product of hours (as suggested by Mr Percavel's analysis)
    The HMWC also reckoned that the absence of a rest day (like Sunday) damaged hourly output. Mr Pencavel’s regression analysis confirms it. He estimates that output is slightly higher on the 48-hour working week (with no work on Sunday) than on the seven-day work schedule.
    Of course, these results say nothing about output in service-sector professions, where most people in advanced economies are employed today. I would bet, though, that the results are even more pronounced. For work that is largely self-directed, and which requires intellectual engagement, you may achieve more in an hour of hard work than in a day’s worth of procrastination. Mr Pencavel solemnly intones that the “profit-maximising employer will not be indifferent to the length of…working hours over a day or week.” Try telling that to your boss the next time you attempt to leave the office at half past two.

  4. Part-time workers' earnings the lowest on record: Ministry of Labor, by John Liu, ChinaPost.com.tw
    TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Part-time workers' earnings and working hours dropped to the lowest level since 2004, the Ministry of Labor (MOL) said yesterday.
    [The only way to prevent earnings from lowering with hours is to lower hours systemwide, convert chronic overtime into jobs, thus reducing general labor surplus and harnessing market forces in maintaining earnings despite shorter hours.]
    There are about 397,000 part-time workers in Taiwan, making up 3.6 percent of the work force. They work on average 22.2 hours per week, while earnings average NT$12,385 per month. Both figures were the lowest on record, according to the MOL's survey.
    Monthly earnings dropped NT$56 compared to those in 2011, when the survey was previously conducted. The MOL said that a reduction in the legally allowed work hours has caused the overall lower earnings.
    In fact, the number of work hours has declined over the years. Part-time workers worked on average 28 hours in 2007, and 24.2 hours in 2011, and 22.2 hours in 2014. Full-time workers work on average 42.4 hours per week.
    As the government steps up its protection over local laborers, fewer work hours is the new norm, said Liu Tian-syh (???) of the MOL's statistics department.
    Besides the working hour cap, local workers' growing participation in leisure activities has also contributed to less working hours. This directly impacts workers' pay, the MOL said.
    A Look at Part-time Jobs
    Studies show that the highest paying part-time jobs in sequence are personal caretakers (including home care), sales and nursing personnel (including dental assistant). The monthly earnings are pegged at NT$16,457, NT$14,320 and NT$14,105, respectively.
    With regard to the number of work hours, the highest three in sequence are gas pump staff, personal caretakers and kitchen workers. They work on average 27.8 hours, 27.6 hours and 26.7 hours, respectively.
    Hourly pay grew NT$11, from NT$128.5 in 2011 to NT$139.5 in 2014. Part-time teachers earn on average NT$329 per hour, the highest of all part-time workers. Nursing personnel ranks the second, earning NT$182 per hour. Personal caretakers ranks third, earning NT$150 per hour.
    Studies show that at the lowest end of the pay spectrum, security personnel earn NT$115 per hour, which is in fact the legal minimum wage. Gas pump staff earn NT$118 per hour. Post deliverymen and cashiers earn NT$119 per hour.
    Most Part-time Workers Are Students, Housewives
    The MOL conduct a study on part-time laborer's working conditions every three years. The ministry recently finished the survey between June and July.
    A total of 3,005 valid samples were retrieved from those with part-time labor insurance. The sample consists of 40 percent students and 22 percent housewives, the two major part-time worker groups.
    Studies indicate that part-time work has become a norm for many. Those surveyed have worked part-time for an average 2.3 years. Up to 11.8 percent of the surveyed, or 41,000 in total, have worked part-time for five years.


12/07-08/2014 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Germany Examines Ban on Employees Checking Work Emails at Home, by Andy Eckardt, 12/07 NBCNews.com
    MAINZ, Germany - Imagine life without the buzz of a smartphone signaling yet another business email after leaving the office.
    German employees could soon have legal protection preventing them from dealing with work-related phone calls and email traffic after hours and on weekends.
    Labor Minister Andrea Nahles is contemplating introducing "anti-stress" regulations in Europe's economic powerhouse.
    She told the Rheinische Post newspaper that it is "indisputable that there is a connection between permanent availability and psychological diseases." Government officials are collecting data as part of a push to draft a proposal for lawmakers next year.
    Some German companies have already taken voluntary measures.
    Volkswagen has capped after-work email for some employees who have been issued company-owned smartphones. For workers under wage agreements, the company's email server is programmed to stop delivering messages between 6:15 p.m. and 7 a.m. the following morning. Weekends are also off-limits.
    "Supervisors and employees regard the regulation as a signal to respect recreation times and to interrupt after-work hours only in emergencies," Volkswagen spokesman Markus Schlesag told NBC News.
    German union officials say that the discussion about after-work emails illustrates a broader problem.
    "We see a strong increase of time pressure, multi-tasking requirements and high performance standards," said Ingo Nuernberger of Germany's DGB confederation of unions. "And more and more people take work home."
    A recent poll by Germany's Forsa institute — commissioned by health insurer DAK — found that 52 percent of those polled backed "anti-stress" laws. And seven-in-ten agreed that pressure from emails and calls outside work hours had increased significantly.
    Other senior members of Nahles' Social Democrat party — which are partners in German leader Angela Merkel's coalition government — highlighted threats in today's work environment, which come along with the use of modern means of communication. "We need to supplement the work protection regulations with special measures to minimize stress," said Guntram Schneider, the labor minister of Germany's Northrhein-Westphalia state.
    German workers already enjoy a social model which is often praised by other nations, but also criticized for its high costs.
    [So what - they're spending it on themselves, on ALL of themselves instead of a few thousand megalomaniacs in the waaay unspendably megamoola'd brackets while millions go without meals. The once-great USA is filling itself up with violently angry people (including angry police!), while Germany is investing in its human employees, not its abstract financial instruments (especially after the recent disciplining of Deutsche Bank for imitating Wall Streeters' billions-obsessed policy of $uicide, Everyone Else First. Note two different ways of cutting hours: the suicidal American way (next story) or the sustainable German way -]
    By law, every worker in Germany gets at least four weeks of paid vacation. Employees on average enjoy a 35-hour work week and women are entitled to 14 weeks of paid maternity leave.

    Nuernberger argued that Germany's booming economy proves that broad legal protections enjoyed by the workforce do not lead to a decline in competitiveness.
    "We clearly have a higher work protection standards compared to the United States, but in regard to competitiveness we are at least on a face-to-face level with the Americans," Nuernberger said. "Good and healthy work that can be maintained for a long time is a competitive advantage."
    [And we Americans, in burnout mode, have lost our staying power so...NCFL (not competitive for long). Our insane model is China and watch the weakening that's happening to them these days!]
    [And we Americans, in burnout mode, have lost our staying power so...NCFL (not competitive for long). Our insane model is China and watch the weakening that's happening to them these days!]
    Andy Eckardt is a producer based in Mainz, Germany, covering news for all of NBC News' platforms.

  2. Advocate: Okla. COs 'freaking out' about cutting hours - Oklahoma Corrections Professionals Executive Director Sean Wallace said the cutbacks are happening at almost every state facility, by Dale Denwalt, Enid News & Eagle via 12/08 CorrectionsOne.com
    ENID, Okla. — Administrators from at least one area prison sent officers home last week to save money, according to an organization that represents corrections employees.
    The decision at Alva Okla.'s Bill Johnson Correctional Center was an effort to cut overtime costs, which this year have topped more than $100,000 per month for some state prisons. The figures at BJCC, according to an overtime report obtained by the Enid News & Eagle, were nearly $62,000 in August alone.
    Oklahoma Corrections Professionals Executive Director Sean Wallace said the cutbacks are happening at almost every state facility, and the people he represents at BJCC are "basically freaking out" because fewer prison guards on duty could make situations there more dangerous.
    [So hire part-timers to make up for the well-justified loss of chronic overtime - it's cheaper than the overtime!]
    "They're saying the bottom line is more important to the agency than their (safety)," Wallace said.
    [Or maybe just that chronic overtime in the context of high unemployment is crazy, costly and crime-increasing. This looks like another case of the right deed, in the wrong way (non-replacive and piecemeal rather than job-creating and systemically) - and for the wrong reason - to accomodate taxcuts for the rich so they can blow another stock bubble.]
    Jerry Massie, public information officer for the DOC, said he wouldn't respond to Wallace's "alarmist" comments. He did say, however, the agency doesn't have a lot of money to spend and makes the best use of available resources.
    He could not immediately confirm specific staffing figures about BJCC, or public prisons in Helena and Fort Supply.
    Spread thin
    A former correctional officer who worked at an area prison said that sometime this year, administration at the prison put a cap of no more than 13 officers per 12-hour shift. That policy means that just one officer can be responsible for watching more than 200 prisoners.
    If there's a lack of uniformed officers on a particular shift, he said, qualified case managers and other nine-to-fivers could be called up to help.
    "It's a morale-killer for them because they don't want to do it. It takes them away from their primary duty of making sure the offenders' files are being taken care of and all the other issues they deal with," the former guard said.
    Massie confirmed that it's not unusual for white-collar prison employees to help out with security.
    "Everybody at a prison does security," he said, which can include simply watching out for illegal activity.
    Aside from saving overtime costs, he said the cutbacks have changed how prisoners and officers behave.
    "The inmates, they know they can get away from stuff. They can run from us more often than when I started," said the former guard, who asked to remain anonymous because he may want to work for the agency again.
    With fewer guards on duty, there are fewer guards who can help quell a fight or search an inmate suspected of carrying contraband.
    "If you put yourself in our shoes, knowing that there's maybe one person who can respond if you're not tied up somewhere else, are you going to go out searching for the crimes and rule violations that the inmates are committing?" he said.
    Labor pool drained
    The guard left DOC for a better-paying job, but the main reason he quit was because of the situation.
    "It's getting extremely dangerous there and I don't see the administration locally or down in (Oklahoma City) doing anything to mitigate the risks," he said. "We don't get compensated enough to be put in that much danger and risk."
    That's an argument DOC knows all too well. In a speech to Enid Noon AMBUCS in January 2014, James Crabtree Correctional Center Warden Janet Dowling said it's hard to find people to work at a prison.
    At that time, the Oklahoma Legislature authorized her to employ 212 full-time workers. Because of budget restraints, however, she could only have 145 staff members.
    Dowling told AMBUCS that her correctional officers were working 20 hours of mandatory overtime per week.
    "I can tell you my staffing level on the best days is 15 on the day shift and 12 on the night shift to watch 1,010 inmates. Recruitment and retention are a very large challenge for us," she said.
    Massie said that even if the agency had the funds to hire more officers, it's hard to find them.
    "It's not as easy as just saying we need 100 more officers and going out to hire them tomorrow. That's not a particularly reasonable expectation," he said.
    DOC has struggled with recruiting, hiring and retaining in an already high-turnover profession.
    "We have done a number of things to enhance recruiting. Some people just can't get past the idea of working in a prison," Massie said.
    On top of that, he added, high-paying oilfield jobs have drained the labor pool in small rural towns where the prisons are located.
    In October, the Board of Corrections decided to request an increase of $14.5 million to retain and recruit staff. The request includes a 7-percent salary increase for all levels of correctional officers, with a 5-percent raise for other staff. They also will ask the Legislature to fully fund all 857 corrections officer positions.
    The board did not consider asking for supplemental, which could kick in before the end of the fiscal year and ease the strain of overtime costs.
    "I think we're trying hard not to ask for one. That's why we're trying to control as much cost as we can," Massie said.
    McClatchy-Tribune News Service


12/06/2014 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Bid to cut mineworkers' monthly working hours, by Loyiso Sidimba, SowetanLive.co.za WESTONARIA, Gau., RSA - Thousands of Sibanye Gold mineworkers will start working for less than a month at a time and take four days off to visit their rural homes.
    The alternative shift arrangement will see some of the company's 43000 employees work between 16 and 18 days and get four days off to visit their homes as part of the company's battle against the negative effects of migrant labour.
    Shadwick Bessit, Sibanye Gold's senior vice-president responsible for underground operations at the Kloof and Driefontein mines in Carletonville, said the "bus-in, bus-out" plan would be piloted in the first quarter of 2015.
    Bessit said Sibanye Gold was working on the financial implications of the move and whether such a move would add value.
    "We have identified two shafts for the pilot phase," Bessit said.
    The "bus-in, bus-out" will start at the company's Driefontein One and Kloof Two shafts.
    Sibanye Gold's human capital senior vice-president Adam Mutshinya said the company had already sensitised unions about its plans.
    Mutshinya said the unions' leaders were informed at the joint labour and company leadership forums. More than half of Sibanye Gold's employees are from Eastern Cape and SA Development Community member states such as Lesotho, Botswana, Swaziland, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
    Yesterday, Eastern Cape premier Phumulo Masualle and several members of his executive visited Sibanye Gold's Carletonville mine to discuss the possibility of the mining sector prioritising the province for corporate social investments - an ideal platform for trade and industry.
    Mining companies describe Eastern Cape as a significant "labour-sending area", but generations of mineworkers have returned to the province in body bags because of occupational diseases and accidents as well as illnesses such as silicosis and tuberculosis.
    Bessit said Sibanye Gold and the mining industry were facing a number of difficulties, including unrealistic wage demands.
    According to Bessit, although miners work under difficult conditions and deserve to be paid more, the dilemma was whether the industry can afford this.
    "We can pay more but we must employ less," he said.
    Chamber of Mines chief executive Roger Baxter complained that the mining industry was not getting credit for the impact it made.

  2. Lost hours sink national family income, by Kevin Hassett?, (12/05 late pickup) American Enterprise Institute via Oregon Business News (press release) via oregonbusinessreport.com
    [So the solution is to reraise hours per person per week? to what? back to 40 when many are already working more than 40 and not getting paid for it? when the American medical establishment thinks it's absolutely necessary to have interns' oncall workweeks at 80? when employers think nothing of emailing you at home after "hours" or on weekends/offshift days? Quit equivocating and let's DO it. Let's redefine "fulltime" upward and upward and watch what that does to unemployment, labor surplus, wages and consumer spending - and already "slow" "recovery." I dare you!]
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - In a recent CD post (“Have changing household composition and retirement caused the decline in median household income?“), I [name?? we're assuming it's Kevin cuz he's into this topic] suggested that the decline in US median household income since around the turn of the century [Y2000] can be largely explained by demographic factors including: a) the significant increase in retired Americans as a share of the US adult population, and b) the changing composition of US households that increasingly includes more no-earner and single-earner households and fewer married and two-or-more-earner households. It’s an important point that most of the discussions and hand-wringing about declining US median household incomes completely ignore the demographic realities that the composition of American households is not static. US households in 2013 are significantly different from US households in 2000 in important ways (size, age, number of earners, hours worked, etc.) that affect household income, so we can’t accurately compare the $51,939 in median household income in 2013 to the much higher peak of $56,895 in median household income in 1999 (both median incomes are expressed in 2013 dollars).
    In a recent Real Clear Markets op-ed (“The Obvious Reason for the Decline In Median Income”), economist Jeffrey Dorfman points out another very important demographic change that has significantly contributed to the decline in real median household income in the US over the last decade: the average number of hours worked per US household has been declining.
    [If it was declining faster, by design, it would cut the massive hidden, wage-depressing but officially denied labor surplus and harness market forces in maintaining and raising individual (and household) income. This is what we DID for 100 years, from 1840 to 1940, when we cut the workweek in half! It's a perfect illustration of Buckminister ("Bucky") Fuller's distinction between two levels in systems, the parts and the whole. He defined "synergy" as more than or different from the sum of the parts, and observed that you could not predict the behavior of the whole from the behavior of the parts or even the sum of the parts. (Compare Keynes' Multiplier Effect!) In individual spot reductions, individual employers can and are creating depression, certainly be cutting jobs but also by cutting hours with no muscle in creating overtime into training and hiring, no particular attention to overtime at all, and this sloppiness has, at the whole system level, the disastrous effect of inducing and deepening depression. However if this parts-level practice is taken in hand and done at the whole-system level, a synergy occurs, the sum of the parts (destruction) cannot predict it (sustainabilty) and it becomes a solution to continued or deepened depression dressed up as "slow recovery." Note our now thoroughly partitioned thinking on this. We're subjected to One Percenters' view of the US economy as post-Great Recession and having now "steady" job growth and success, while everywhere except Wall Street and the gated communities and private islands we see spreading disaster, including bankrupt cities, debt-to-the-hilt states, world's record prison population, record-breaking disability and homelessness, graduates with mountains of student debt and no jobs, retirement crumbling because people can't afford it - it goes on and on, while big corporations have huge cash caches and every year we get a few more billionaires and hundreds more millionaires, nevermind the millions more impoverished and dependent and vulnerable and deactivated consumers.]
    So we would naturally and logically expect median and mean household incomes to decrease when average household work hours are falling.
    [But by Bucky's reasoning about "synergy," we cannot predict the behavior of the whole system from what we would naturally and logically expect from the behavior of its parts. And let us not forget that we did not have to use the household-income measure in the 1950s because overwhelmingly, ONE wage-earner aka breadwinner could and did support the entire household aka family. There was a balance between good wages (no labor surplus) and affordable commodities that this was possible, probable, prevalent and prevailing. The invisibly gradual deterioration has been so intense that all this has changed, to our loss, in an age of unprecedented worksaving technology - mainly due to the workforce-downsizing response to that now-ubiquitous technology. We have betrayed the blessing of technology and turned it into a curse.]
    Here’s the opening of Jeffrey’s article:
    Much has been made recently of the fact that real median household income has been stagnant over the past twenty years and falling for the past seven. While there are many problems with using median household income as a measure of the economic health of the middle class, it is still important to examine what is causing this middle-income stall. A major, and overlooked, part of the answer appears to be quite simple: Americans are working less.
    [So, shorter hours are happening anyway but not in a whole-system good way with vigorous overtime-to-jobs conversion backup.] 
    As I pointed out previously (and as Jeff points out in his article), there’s been a significant demographic shift (along with the economic effects of the Great Recession) that has resulted in both smaller average households over time and a smaller percentage of Americans working in recent years, so that the average number of work hours per US household has naturally declined. And therefore, the very obvious, but overlooked conclusion reached by Dorfman is that: “When people and families work fewer hours, they earn less money.”
    [except on the synergistic level when hours and labor surplus are reduced system-wide, and employees start disciplining employers by walking out - to higher-paying jobs, of which there ARE some in an employer-perceived labor "shortage" - but certainly not now in a labor surplus so intense that employers no longer have to train and frequently complain about a shortage of ready-to-use skills under the misleading name of "labor" shortage.]
    Following a procedure outlined by Dorfman in his article but using a slightly different dataset, the *top chart shows the relationship over time between annual US median household income (adjusted for inflation) and the average weekly work hours per US household in each year from 1980 to 2013. To calculate the average works per household, I used: a) the BLS series “Average Weekly Hours at Work in All Industries” (from Table 21 in this BLS report), b) the BLS series “Civilian Employment,” and c) the number of US households in each year from the US Census. Using the average weekly work hours and the number of Americans employed, the total number of hours worked annually were calculated and divided by the number of US households in each year to determine the average number of weekly work hours per household in each year from 1980 to 2013, and those values are represented by the red line in both charts.
    As can be seen in the *top chart, the 8.7% decline in real US median household income between the 1999 peak ($56,895) and 2013 ($51,939) was accompanied by an even greater 9.25% decline in average household hours worked. As Dorfman points out, household work hours are calculated here and in his analysis as an average (mean) and not a median, “so it is not the perfect match to median household income, yet the insight revealed is still rather remarkable.” In fact, a simple linear regression reveals that almost 89% of the decline in median household income between 1999 and 2013 can be explained by the decline in average household work hours, so there is a very strong statistical relationship between median household income and average household hours worked, as expected.
    The *bottom chart addresses the mis-match between median household income and average weekly household work hours by comparing average annual household income from 1980 to 2013 to the average number of work hours per US household. That chart shows that average household income has declined by 6% from the 2000 peak of $77,287 to $72,641 last year. During that same period, average weekly work hours per household declined by more than 10% from 48.3 to 43.3 hours. Like before, the results of a linear regression model show that 88% of the decline in average household income between 2000 and 2013 can be explained by the decline in average household work hours.
    Further, about one-third of the 10.25% decline in average household work hours between 2000 and 2013 can be explained by the 3.1% decline in average household size during that time period from 2.62 to 2.54 persons. The remaining 7% of the decline in average household work hours since 2000 would be explained by other demographic changes including an aging US population with more Americans in retirement as a share of the population, and the shift towards more (fewer) single-earner (multiple earner) households. And there could also certainly be economic effects from the Great Recession that put downward pressure on average hours worked especially in 2008, 2009 and 2010, although that trend has reversed slightly in the last few years. There could also be a downward “Obamacare effect” on average hours worked that started in 2013 when many companies reduced workers’ hours below the 30-hour-per-week threshold to avoid the employer mandate to provide health insurance for full-time employees.
    Here’s Jeffrey’s conclusion:
    Middle class incomes are not growing as fast as most people would like because middle class families are working fewer hours. Possible policy prescriptions could include pro-business moves to increase hiring or pro-work moves such as making the social safety net somewhat less comfortable than it has become over the past five to ten years. Either way, it seems clear that the major problem restricting faster growth in household incomes is not income inequality, nor corporate greed, but a basic lack of people working.
    And to that I would add that in addition to the economic factors that have contributed to a decline in average hours worked in recent years, e.g. involuntary part-time employment because workers can’t find full-time employment due in part to Obamacare, there are other important long-term demographic trends that can also explain declining household work hours and therefore declining household income. Specifically, the composition of US households is changing over time due to the natural consequences of an aging population and an increasing share of household with retirees, along with more (fewer) single-earner (multiple earner) households that reflects an ongoing trend of smaller US households dating back to at least WWII – and those factors can’t be ignored when discussing trends in US household income.


12/05/2014 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. How To Hack A Four-Day Workweek, by Ryan Carson, Forbes.com
    ORLANDO, Fla., USA - Like many of you, I’m always looking for new ways to improve how our company works. I’ve found that one of the biggest inefficiencies business leaders struggle to hack is preventing employees from overworking.
    Many company leaders forget that success isn’t solely determined by the hours logged at the office. As a matter of fact, working long hours is the cause of so much burnout at young, growing companies. Nowhere is this more true than at a tech startup.
    While longer workweeks are the norm at hot Silicon Valley companies, research has shown time and time again that they negate employee retention, stifle talent recruitment, cripple workplace morale and are one of the biggest killers of company innovation and productivity.
    To stop killing our companies, more business leaders, like myself, are doing something radical. We’re shortening the five-day workweek.

    The 9-to-5, five-day workweek was a byproduct of the Industrial Revolution. While it’s better than the six-day workweek our farming ancestors had (and many farmers still do!), it no longer makes sense for today’s information economy. Instead of working five days, my company works a four-day week because we know that work done in the information economy is nothing like manufacturing work. While another hour in the factory might allow you to produce more widgets, one more hour at the MacBook won’t yield $1,000 more in profit. We believe that smart folks can get five days of work done in four. Simple as that. In addition, four days of work allows just enough extra time off for employees to return to work refreshed and excited to get down to business. No matter your company’s size, working shorter weeks can bring about tremendous success. Here’s a blueprint for how you too can successfully implement the four-day workweek. Lead by Example Implementing a four-day workweek starts at the executive level. It’s critical that executive leaders not only support this initiative but also practice it. If your employees aren’t supposed to be working on Friday, that strictly means you don’t work on Friday either. No exceptions.
    Start by deciding what day will be your company’s “non-work” day and keep it the same each week. We’ve found that Friday is the easiest day to eliminate because naturally employees consider this a signal toward the end of the week and customers typically need less support on Friday. Another important thing to get right from the start is setting expectations around hours worked. If you’re truly committed to giving your employees a four-day workweek, don’t cheat and disguise the week with 10 hour days. Push your employees to smartly prioritize their week, meet their deadlines and clock out after delivering 32 hours of high-quality work. Build in Efficient Systems In the beginning, it will be difficult for employees who are used to working 40-plus hours a week to push themselves to get all their work done in 32 hours. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to do everything you can to set your employees up for success and get their work done in four days. Give your employees every advantage to succeed by creating a system that significantly reduces distraction. Three ways to streamline workflow and keep employees focused on their work is to:
    • Eliminate internal email. Employees spend more than 25 percent of their day reading and answering email, which is essentially doing things that are important to other people instead of completing their own top priorities. It’s a huge distraction that pushes information to your employees instead of encouraging them to efficiently pull the information they need, when they need it. Instead of using email to communicate about work, use a project-based tool, like Asana (or hack your own tool), that encourages employees to autonomously manage, track, monitor, report on and participate in projects that best fit within their work priorities. In addition, offer chatter tools like Convoy, to employees who wish to post ideas, celebrate wins, say happy birthday, post funny videos, etc. If someone has time and chooses to consume these things throughout workweek, they just go to this application instead.
    • Eliminate managers. This may sound insane. But it can be done, and of course, leaders start this movement by recruiting and hiring self-motivated employees who prefer to work autonomously. If you’ve got the right employees in place and encourage them to set their own priorities and communicate with when it’s most convenient for them, you’ll see a significant increase in company productivity and employee morale.
    • Eliminate internal meetings. According to Atlassian, most employees spend 31 hours in unproductive meetings, and attending 62 meetings a month. Last year alone, unnecessary meetings among U.S. businesses resulted in $37 billion of salary costs. Keep communication needs in written form to replace inefficient meetings, instead using your workflow and chatter tools to source project needs or new ideas. If you do need to host a meeting, make it optional for employees to attend based on how they’ve prioritized their week or offer employees remote conferencing ability, like Google Hangout.
    Set Client Expectations Not only should you set your employees up for success, but also make sure your clients understand the new game plan and that your company’s quality of work will not be affected in any way. Show clients that a four-day workweek is possible because your company:
    • Takes a project-based approach to work. To make your case, show clients how you breakdown the end output into smaller individual projects across multiple team members. For example, developing an application for a client might be broken into four different projects or phases, each with coordinating deadlines and different team members working on each phase. This style of work holds team members accountable for consistently meeting and exceeding deadlines because other team members depend on their efficiency and commitment to complete the overall project.
    • Ensures that team members working on project are 100% passionate about what they’re doing. Explain how allowing employees to select and only work on the individual projects they’re passionate about will increase overall productivity of reaching the final goal.
    Transparency also helps in communicating the four-day workweek to clients. Since your team is working on a project basis, give clients the option of using tracking tools like Asana or Basecamp to monitor the progress of each individual project. This allows them to check in throughout the week (and even on your day off) to monitor the progress and flag any concerns along the way. It also provides a nice way for you to solicit feedback from clients and monitor the performance of your team members. In addition, it’s important to set a clear understanding of when you will and won’t be available. To ease clients into your new four-day workweek, start by sending them out of office reminders for the first month. Soon, they’ll see their deadlines being met and will come to trust in your ability to deliver top notch results in an abbreviated workweek. The overall theme to successfully working a four-day week is to treat your employees like the responsible adults they are. It takes concentration, dedication and a zero-tolerance approach to distractions. The reward is an extra 52 days off a year, and that’s hacking your way to a priceless benefit.
    Ryan Carson is CEO and cofounder of Treehouse, an online coding school.

  2. Conyers lauds Department of Labor Grant to Implement New Work-sharing Program in Michigan - The Congressman [John Conyers Jr.] Urges Michigan Businesses To Learn More, (12/04 late pickup) press release, Noodls.com
    DETROIT, Mich., USA [or what's left of it] - The U.S. Department of Labor has granted the state of Michigan $2,840,535 in federal funding to support implementation and promotion of the new short-time compensation (STC) program.
    The STC program, commonly known as "work-sharing," prevents layoffs by allowing employers to reduce employees' hours as an alternative to layoffs during an economic downturn. Under the STC program, workers affected by reduced hours have their wages supplemented by a percentage of the weekly unemployment compensation that they would have received had they been laid off. The program gives businesses the crucial ability to retain skilled employees at reduced hours during tough economic times, allowing them to simply restore employee hours when demand improves which significantly reduces the high cost to employers of conducting layoffs and re-hiring.
    "As an early supporter of work-sharing here in the United States, I am very pleased that Michigan has received federal resources to bolster this important program," said Rep. John Conyers, who is a founder and chair of the Congressional Full Employment Caucus. "Work-sharing is win for all invested parties: workers remain employed [and spending!] and get to keep their health and retirement benefits, while employers can retain skilled workers that are integral to the success of their businesses. Entire communities benefit when lives are not disrupted unnecessarily by the scourge of unemployment."
    The federal funding resources were made available through the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which included language taken directly from the Layoff Prevention Act (H.R. 2421) that was co-sponsored by Rep. Conyers and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) in July 2011,


12/04/2014 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Global Newsstand: ...Regulating working hours in Japan.., Christian Science Monitor via csmonitor.com
    This week's round-up of commentaries covers the constant cycle of violence between Israel and Palestine, protecting workers from long hours in Japan, the rise of cell phones in Bangledesh, Kenya coming together after terrorist attacks, and the need for cultural change after politician says he is gay.
    TOKYO, Japan - ... Keeping workers healthy by regulating work hours, The Japan Times
    “A law aimed at preventing karoshi, or death from overwork, took effect [in November] as the first legislative action of its kind...,” states an editorial. In 2013 alone, 133 people in Japan died from suicide or health-related issues attributed to being overworked. “The law ... requires the government to implement public-enlightenment programs about the risks of overwork, establish counseling systems and provide support for nongovernmental organizations dealing with the issue.... The business community, which has called for deregulation of the work-hour rules, is opposed to the introduction of a uniform cap on the maximum work hours including overtime. But the key to eliminating death from overwork will be efforts to curb the long working hours of many corporate workers.” ...

  2. Munich's MAN factory: 3500 employees go on kurz-arbeit [short(time) work =worksharing], by dp, (12/03 late pickup) Handelsblatt.com
    [Translation by Bing, cleanup by Phil.]
    Kurzarbeit has been underway for the 4,000 employees in the MAN works in Salzgitter and the Austrian Steyr for several weeks. Now, the Munich plant is being affected. (photo caption)
    The poor job situation is more deeply hurting the truck manufacturer MAN: the company has now introduced kurzarbeit also at its Munich plant. 3500 employees in production will be affected.
    MUNICH, Germany - Weak order entry is now drawing the truck maker MAN into kurzarbeit at its factory in Munich. About 3,500 employees in production there are affected, said company spokesman Andreas Lampersbach on Wednesday evening. In December, production in Munich will pause for two days, but the exact number of kurzarbeit days after the Christmas holidays has not yet been set. As a precautionary measure, short-time working was requested at the federal employment agency in the entire first halfyear of 2015. The Austrian online portal "nachrichten.at" (news.austria) was the first to report it.
    For several weeks, kurzarbeit has already been underway for the 4,000 employees in the MAN works in Salzgitter and the Austrian Steyr. With kurzarbeit, employees really do earn extra wage and salary from the employer, but only for actual worktime spent. Their wage loss is only partially offset by the federal employment agency.
    [The original of the above article was in German, but here's a short article originating in English on the same topic -]
    VW's MAN cuts working hours at Munich plant on weak truck demand, Reuters.com
    MUNICH, Germany - German truck maker MAN is shortening the working hours of 3,500 workers at its main factory in Munich in response to sluggish demand, a company spokesman said on Thursday.
    When Volkswagen-controlled MAN will return to normal working hours will depend on how orders develop, he said.
    Production at the plant, which has about 9,000 employees, will be shut down from Christmas until Jan. 12 for the holidays.
    MAN has already cut the hours of about 2,000 workers each at plants in Salzgitter and Steyr, Austria.
    (Reporting by Irene Preisinger; Writing by Maria Sheahan; editing by Jason Neely)
    [Compare this additional article about Germany, but originating in English from the Greek side of Cyprus! -]
    Min wage: Germans plan price hikes, staff and work hour cuts, FinancialMirror.com
    NICOSIA, Cyprus - German companies that will be affected by the minimum wage as of 1 January 2015 are planning to increase their prices (26%), reduce bonuses (23%), reduce their payrolls (22%), reduce working hours (18%), and scale back their investment activity (16%), research showed on Thursday.
    A survey of 6,300 businesses conducted by the Ifo Institute showed that most companies are planning to implement a combination of these measures, and only 43% of the firms plan no changes at all.According to the Ifo survey, firms in the catering and hotel industry (72%) will be mostly affected by the minimum wage, followed by retailers (43%), service providers (31%), and manufacturers (21%). The survey also found that east German companies will be far more deeply affected than their counterparts in the west of country by a ratio of 43% to 24%. In retailing, the figure was as high as 61%.
    Service providers, especially those in the catering and hotel industry, mainly intend to respond by increasing prices (31%). In retailing, responses to the minimum wage were primarily cited as staff cuts (29%) and shorter working hours (33%). In manufacturing, staff cuts (26%) ranked just above reductions in bonuses (23%) and raising prices (23%).
    One reason service providers tend to respond to the minimum wage with price increases rather than staff cuts is that they are less frequently exposed to international price competition. Service providers are therefore more likely to be in a position to implement price increases.
    info@financialmirror.com - FinancialMirror.com is the leading English-language business news site in and about Cyprus, with website traffic reaching more than 5,000 unique visitors a day.
    [The next article, on German limit-setting, deserves its own 'periscope' to our homepage -]

  3. Work/life balance: Germany considers prohibiting employers contacting employees outside of agreed work hours, by Martyn Warwick, telecomTV.com
    [This article is an excellent rebuttal to the robopathic views of the Heritage Foundation in 11/30-12/01/2014 #2 below.]
    BURFORD, Oxon., UK - The ubiquitous availability of computing, broadband, the Internet and mobile comms was supposed to foster and provide the world's working population with a life of increased leisure. In reality, it has done nothing of the sort, hence all the brou-ha-ha about 'work/life balance'.
    For many the see-saw is more out of kilter now than ever, weighed down as it is with the common and entrenched expectation that employees must always be available when an employer requires it. But a backlash is beginning and Germany, the powerhouse economy of the European Union, is considering imposing regulations that would prohibit employers contacting employees outside agreed working hours. If it goes ahead, Germans will do work in the hours allocated to that core time and will not be available either to be contacted or to work outside it.
    Are you nostalgic for those dear, dim, dead, distant days before emails and mobile phones and the relentless work and time pressures now associated with them? Remember when people actually finished work of an evening when they finished work of an evening? And guess what? Yes, the work was still there the next morning and the global economy hadn't collapsed overnight just because, for a few hours, staff were out of contact. We got through millennia like that and things were still done.
    And even when email did start to dominate the working day, at least was only the day. People went home at night with no computer or mobile device about their person or in the home, always-on and primed to interrupt them and spoil the evening meal and family life. Back then, weekends were actually weekends, a time of R&R and a two-day break from the workaday world.
    Now though, the relentless demands of 24/7 globalised business has spread its tentacles around the world and gone are the days of guaranteed downtime and a real break from work.
    Today the common expectation of employers is that staff will be permanently available whenever the organisation has a perceived need for them to be. Most working in and at a 'career' and in the employment of even a small- or medium-size enterprise are now expected to be, (and worse still have come to be expected to be), at the beck and call of business demands and exigencies at any time at all - highdays and holidays included.
    The endless requirement to be present and respond on demand, combined with the assault on and reduction of our private and family lives outside what used to be called "normal working hours" is causing massive social stress and both physical and mental health problems all over the world.
    The ability literally and metaphorically to "turn off" is now routinely denied to millions and millions of people - sometimes, and all too often it must be said, because people do it to themselves. There are many info junkies who leave their emails and smartphones overnight at the bedside or even under the pillow and wake up each time that bleep or ping reassures them that they are alive, in-the-loop and 'needed'.
    However, resentment overall is growing and before anyone reading this gets all het-up and indignant at the thought that this can only be yet another bit of loony socialist dogma conjured up by the French, it should be reiterated that this a German initiative through-and-through, and the Germans are noted for their moderation and pragmatism.
    Labour laws in Germany already dictate what by UK and (particularly by) US standards are very generous worker benefits including well-paid maternity and paternity leave, sickness benefits, national insurance and a minimum of 24 days holiday a year.
    What's more, under the German economic model there is little of the massive disparity in salaries and perks between higher management and the rest that so distorts the UK and US workplace. In Germany it is still highly unusual for a CEO to be paid more than six times the earnings of an average worker and time off in the evenings and weekends for all within a company or organisation is prized though out the country.
    So now the German Minister of Labour, Andrea Nahles, is calling for the imposition of “anti-stress regulation" that will ensure people get time off from email etc. each and every day.
    Unsurprisingly, her stance is applauded by Hanns Pauli, the head of health and safety at work for the Federation of German Trade Unions. He says, "Contacting workers after hours crosses a sacrosanct line in Germany between work and leisure and that line must be maintained and re-inforced."
    There is, of course opposition to the initiative within Germany itself and elsewhere in the EU and the wider world, with some economists, politicians and pundits saying the proposed legislation will cause employees and the economy harm in the long run. They say that the provision of "too many benefits and the regulations that go with them" will result in employers taking on fewer full-time staff and so foster part-time, inherently less secure and potentially exploitative contracts.
    Other critics of the proposal point out that flexible working hours will unduly effect parents who, currently can take an hour of so off in the afternoon to pick up the kids from school or to attend a school-based sporting event and then make up the time taken off later in the evening. However, those supporting Andrea Nahles say that all too often such flexibility, while welcome, actually results in people working even longer hours that they would do otherwise.
    There is increasing empirical evidence that either through fear of losing a job, a culture of presenteeism or addiction to email and messaging, many people around the world are now working longer unpaid hours and days - often at unsocial times and during weekends and holidays - than was the case even a few years ago and society itself is suffering as a result. When the balance wheel goes, the watch tells the wrong hour the spring breaks and the timepiece eventually requires repair.
    Not for nothing does Volkswagen turn off its email servers when the day's work is done.
    [As Robert Frost said, "Good fences make good neighbors." And certainly good fences make good industrial relations and, we'd argue, better productivity and creativity! And if you fail to set limits, your whole 168-hour workweek effectively becomes on-call worktime, and your true productivity, your hourly productivity figures (like today's interest rates!), plunge toward zero -]
    About Martyn Warwick - A founding member of Decisive Media, Martyn has been a telecoms journalist for more than 20 years. Currently the Editor-in-Chief of TelecomTV, he writes about global telecoms and IT related issues and conducts Web-broadcast TV interviews with senior telecoms executives all over the world. Previous roles included launch editor for Euronet magazine, editor-in-chief of Communications International and Editor-in- Chief of Middle East Communications, Asian Communications and Broadcast and Satellite magazines. Whilst editor of Communications International at EMAP in 1995, the magazine won the prestigious ‘Best International Business Magazine’ award from the publishing industry’s PPA association. Martyn is a well-known figure in the international telecoms industry, having interviewed a wide range of people ranging from Bill Gates to William Hague, and is regularly asked to speak at industry conferences. Martyn is the most recognisable ‘face’ of TelecomTV, with an invaluable black book of industry contacts.

  4. ACA Ups Number Of Kansas State Workers Eligible For Full-Time Benefits, by Andy Marso, Kansas City Public Media via KCUR 89.3fm via kcur.org
    TOPEKA, Kans., USA - Beginning in January, more than 80 percent of workers currently eligible for part-time benefits in the Kansas state employee health plan will be eligible for full-time benefits under changes mandated by the federal Affordable Care Act.
    The ACA, also known as Obamacare, establishes 30 hours as the threshold for full-time employment. Starting next year, large employers – those with 50 or more employees – will be required to offer health coverage to all full-time workers. The threshold for state employees to be considered “full-time” for health insurance purposes in Kansas previously was 36 hours per week.
    The 30-hour threshold is one of the facets of the ACA that Republicans have targeted for repeal after gaining control of both houses of Congress in the midterm election. President Obama has said he will veto any GOP-backed legislation that undermines core elements of the reform law. But the Republican proposal has the backing of powerful business groups.
    Kansas state employees who average between 19 and 35 hours a week are currently eligible to buy into the state health plan as part-time employees but at higher rates than full-time workers. Most of them will now qualify as full-time employees, representatives of the State Employees Health Commission told a legislative committee on Tuesday, making them eligible for lower premiums in the plan.
    Mike Michael, director of the state plan, said that will cost state agencies about $1.5 million annually in increased employer contributions. The change will cost local governments that participate in the state plan about $170,000 and school districts that participate about $130,000. Only about 30 of the state's 286 school districts use the state employee plan.
    Michael said employee premiums did not increase in the 2015 state health plan.
    “Rates for employees remain flat,” Michael said. “The members are doing a great job utilizing the services and making some good choices and health care decisions.”
    Student employees and adjunct professors who work for the state's public universities also will be eligible to join the plan starting next year, if they meet the 30-hour-per-week threshold. Actuaries estimate that might cost the universities an additional $3.5 million.
    A public comment hearing on the proposed changes to the state health plan is set for 9 a.m. Dec. 8 on the ninth floor of the Landon State Office Building.
    Commission staff reviewed the changes Tuesday with state legislators on the Administrative Rules and Regulations Committee, saying they are necessary to comply with the ACA. The legislators had little to say about them but briefly turned their attention to the lower threshold for buying into the health plan as a part-time employee, which is a state regulation.
    Rep. Mark Kahrs, a Republican from Wichita, asked for more information about how long the threshold has been set at 1,000 hours of work per year, which averages out to 19.23 per week.
    “That’s less than half-time,” Kahrs said.
    Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, a Democrat from Wichita, asked about other health coverage options available for public employees who work less than the 1,000 hours a year.
    “Most employees do meet that requirement,” said Cory Sheedy, an attorney for the commission. “For those who don’t, there’s the private market, the (ACA online) exchange.”
    At the request of state employees, Sheedy said the commission also is proposing to allow married couples who both work in jobs eligible for the state employee health plan to enroll in the plan as one family unit or as two individuals.
    Such couples currently are required to enroll as two individuals. Sheedy said that would remain the most cost-effective option for nearly all employees, but a select few might want to enroll as a family if they are combining a high-deductible plan with a health savings account.
    “It's a rare instance in which it’s actually beneficial,” he said. “But some employees had asked about it, and there was no harm to the plan (in doing it)."

  5. Monitoring Business Performance before the onset of Desktop PCs – 1 Basic Efficiency, by Terence Park, https://tparchie.wordpress.com
    [A nostalgia trip with some early worksharing mentioned at the end -]
    ?BURNLEY, Lancs., England - When I started work, I began as a Work Study Assistant. My first task was the computation of machine efficiencies. I worked in a textile factory and the machines that I measured were known as looms.
    That measurement was accomplished with the help of a calculator that now, would be considered antediluvian. It occupied the desk space of a scanner and in addition had staggered levels, which accommodated a keypad and an electronic display. At its highest point, it was little lower than a coffee mug. It was the only calculator in the office and so was shared.
    In those times, the electronic calculator was still to begin to come down in price and cost around £100 for very basic functionality. This one was little smaller than an adding machine. Talking of adding machines, the Company Secretary still enjoyed the use of one – it was noisy and required a significant amount of concentration to use effectively; he often locked his office door when budgets and forecasts were pressing – it rarely saw the light of day otherwise.
    Given that I was fresh from college, I took to the calculator like a duck to water. Soon the monstrosity was semi-permanently on my desk – my boss, who was the other main user, sensibly delegated number crunching to me, while he concentrated his energies on thinking which often required the well-known therapeutic properties of preparing and smoking his pipe (smoking was not then banned in offices).
    Going back to calculating machine efficiencies, this work was important as it tied in to the works bonus. The Managing Director of ten years standing was sales and marketing led, yet he knew a thing or two about other aspects of business. The limiting factor in this particular business was loom time; virtually every other function was flexible and could be ramped up or tuned down at will. If a loom was stood idle, the time was lost… looms ran three shifts, twenty-four hours per day, five days per week.
    A stopped loom meant either a bottleneck i.e. a hold up to orders in progress, or no work available. Remedies for the former involved a call to the relevant department head, to shake things up. Instances of the latter were rare; however if I reported it, pressure was directed to the salesmen, who were of course commission driven. The system was efficient. As my role developed, I modified the process in order to code loom stoppages by cause… however, this is jumping ahead.
    The business was stable and there was some flexibility in my department – the Work Study Department. It had a remit to examine working practises throughout the business and recommend improvements to the Managing Director. My first assignment crept up on me unawares; not Work Study but the re-education of managers on how to interpret facts – as the office junior.
    In the course of my duties, it soon became apparent that, in order to understand the business better, a distinction needed to be made between the statistic used to determine bonus entitlement and the figure that showed the level of capacity utilised. For the purposes of comparing efficiencies, allowances for loom stoppages outside the control of the operative were often made. This was a standard practise adopted from Work Study (there was an approval regime for this). This not only ensured the continued motivation of weavers (weaving operatives) but also a fair and reasonable computation of efficiency under the prevailing circumstances.
    In summary, the application of such allowances is demonstrated as:
    Production term used   example   formula
    Efficiency from capacity utilised   78%   C
    Allowances made   5%   A
    Enhanced efficiency   83%   E
    As can be seen, the application of these allowances results in an enhancement to the reported efficiency in accordance with the formula: C + A = E. In practise, the considerations involved in the process were a good deal more involved than the above computation suggests.
    The figure at E was important as it had the joint purpose of determining the company wide bonus scheme and was the basis of incentivising weaving staff. As a rule the figures at C and E remained pretty much in step but these figures were unlikely to ever be identical. In practise, C wasn’t calculated. My investigations showed that it had never actually been calculated. However, as demand for goods was high and production administration was efficient, C and E tended to map closely to one another, a situation that would hold while demand for goods was high….
    The distinction was meaningless to the key participants: Weavers, Production Manager, Production Director and Managing Director; their understanding was that there weren’t two measures, only one. According to their thinking, the enhanced efficiency at E was identical with the utilisation of capacity. This was plainly wrong and evolved to become my first challenge; education of the users.
    My first channel of attack was to point out that custom and practise had conflated the two measures; the only reason this didn’t seriously distort the view they held of the business was that the level of allowances awarded was low. For this purpose, low meant no greater than that planned level; i.e in accordance with planned maintenance, including the loom refurbish programme. A spate of mechanical breakdowns of looms gave me the opportunity to demonstrate this. There were hold-outs; the Production Manager, for example, preferred a the conflated view as it seemed simpler.
    My other argument was that should the demand for goods drop, the looms would become idle. Yet according to the rules, a bonus could well be payable… even if sales dropped through the floor – because the enhanced figure, E would camouflage the facts. My arguments won out and I redesigned the daily production reports to reflect this. The recession of 1980 – 1981 was to prove the testing ground for this education. Directors and Managers had by then become attuned to my thinking.
    Form design wasn’t taught in Work Study, so I learned in accordance with need. In an age before desktop PCs and laser printers, I re-mastered the production forms via a spirit duplicator. These were filled in by hand, each day. New columns were inserted to accommodate this Efficiency from Capacity Utilised; however the title didn’t fit easily onto the form. Using algebra on a report was a big no-no. In a fit of inventiveness, it was named ‘Basic Efficiency’. The recession saw Basic Efficiency stumble from 75% to 55%. In such straightened circumstances, the company could clearly pay little or no bonus. This proved to be the case; it was suspended.
    The direct relationship between Basic Efficiency and Sales was already proven, suddenly the Basic Efficiency became an important topic of company conversation. It was predictive of sales and thus receipts. I maintained an A0 chart in the Managing Directors’ Office that showed daily and weekly Basic Efficiency and Enhanced Efficiency.
    I had a daily regime of validating stopped times which involved me touring the shop floor and talking to weavers, foremen, engineers and other, more specialised personnel. I was repeatedly asked outright: When will the company reinstate the bonus scheme? Could it afford one now?
    The Company Secretary made his assessment. Staff were laid off and the business became a beneficiary of the Temporary Short Time Working Compensation Scheme – a scheme which I also monitored, along with other duties. Plainly no bonus would be forthcoming, but would the company survive?
    * This article first appeared in Linkedin under my profile as "Monitoring Business Performance before the onset of Desktop PCs – 1 Basic Efficiency"
    About Terence Park - I blog about current events and things that interest me. My hobbies include archiving vinyl records, playing around on Photoshop Elements and spreadsheet modelling. I like history, philosophy and some fiction. My favourite authors range from Robert Heinlein, Philip K Dick and Roger Zelazny to Franz Kafka, Plato and Idries Shah. I write fiction, science fiction and fantasy. Uh yeah, writing isn't a hobby, it consumes me.

  6. Working hours campaign launched by nurses’ union, NursingInPractice.com (subscription)
    LONDON, England - Nurses will be asked to log their hours as part of a campaign launched by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).
    From January the RCN will ask members to record their actual hours which will help ensure that staff are correctly paid for all of their working time.
    Dr Peter Carter, RCN Chief Executive and General Secretary, said: “The Government regularly says how much it values NHS staff [National Health Service] but the failure to give nurses a cost of living increase coupled with the failure to pay them for the extra work they do sends out a very different message.” ...


12/03/2014 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Taking the Pulse: Past APRO Prez turned Missouri Sen. Gary Romine is Missouri freshman legislator of the year, APRO RTO (Assoc. of Progressive Rental Organizations Rent-To-Own) Headquarters via RTOhq.org
    JEFFERSON CITY, Mo., USA - Past APRO President turned Missouri Sen. Gary Romine was named freshman legislator of the year by The Missouri Chamber of Commerce Nov. 20, in an event honoring the state’s leading lawmakers during the chamber’s Annual Meeting and Awards Banquet held on in St. Louis.
    Emerging leaders — Sen. Romine and Rep. Miller are the legislative Freshmen of the Year
    Romine and Miller were recognized for "Getting to know their way around the state capitol" and the bill-passing process is how many freshmen lawmakers spend their first term in office. Our two Freshmen of the Year Award Winners proved to be quick learners, not only learning the system, but stepping up to successfully pass important pro-jobs legislation in their first terms.
    Sen. Gary Romine, a Republican from Farmington, showed the finesse of a long-time lawmaker in his handling of Senate Bill 844, legislation to extend the well-used shared work program. The measure was intended to keep Missouri in compliance with new federal requirements for the well-used shared work program.
    Without passage of the bill, the program, which is used by 335 employers and more than 21,000 people, would have ended. It allows businesses to split working hours among a group of employees as an alternative to laying some of them off. In exchange, the employees’ incomes are supplemented with reduced amounts of unemployment benefits.
    During the legislative process, Romine effectively removed unnecessary cost drivers that had been proposed by the administration, while preserving the core program.
    As an entrepreneur who started a rental company that has grown to multiple locations across Missouri, Sen. Romine understands the challenges employers face. His support for pro-jobs legislation is reflected in his 100 percent vote rating with the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Sen. Romine will be a legislator to watch in the coming years. Watch him receive his award. Watch Romine receive his award.
    Celebrating our 100 percent club for 2014
    During each legislative session, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry closely tracks votes to determine which lawmakers are the state’s strongest supporters of pro-jobs legislation.
    This year, eighteen lawmakers, including Romine, earned perfect scores for their flawless support of economic growth and quality jobs for Missourians. These lawmakers were honored during the Missouri Chamber’s Annual Meeting and Awards Banquet on Nov. 20.
    Lawmakers who earned a 100 percent rating in 2014 include: Rep. Mike Bernskoetter, Rep. Charlie Davis, Sen. Tom Dempsey, Rep. Denny Hoskins, Rep. Jay Houghton, Sen. Mike Kehoe, Rep. Mike Lair, Rep. Bill Lant, Rep. Steve Lynch, Sen. Brian Munzlinger, Sen. David Pearce, Rep. Don Phillips, Sen. Ron Richard, Sen. Gary Romine, Rep. Noel Shull, Rep. Kathy Swan, Rep. Nate Walker, Sen. Wayne Wallingord.

  2. Cutting women's work hours: Profit or loss? by Cyti Daniela Aruan, TheJakartaPost.com
    JAKARTA, Indonesia - Vice President Jusuf Kalla has suggested cutting work hours for women, to enable working mothers to allot more quality time to their children.
    This is like an oasis in the desert for working women. This should not just be seen as simply reducing working hours, which probably impacts on organizations’ profits — but as a strategy to increase women’s productivity.
    It seems a contradiction but cutting women’s work hours certainly can be seen as a way to reduce conflicts for women as they can balance their work and personal lives. Harmonization between work and personal life can potentially increase life and job satisfaction and this can by all means increase work productivity.
    In strategic human resources management theory, this policy is similar to the work-life balance (WLB) policy widely adopted in developed countries such as the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand.
    In these countries, WLB aims to increase employees’ productivity and to reduce staff turnover. WLB is based on the reality that an employee always has multiple roles including work, family and other major responsibilities.
    While roles can drain resources (e.g. time), role balance can provide additional benefits (e.g. self-esteem) through the ability to balance multiple roles and commitments. WLB view’s that the more employees can balance their lives, the more companies can benefit from them. WLB assumes that having multiple roles is not really an issue but what matters is how those multiple roles can be balanced in harmony.
    For countries adopting this policy, WLB has been capable of boosting working productivity. A study in New Zealand involving 609 parents and 708 non-parents found that employees reporting greater WLB had higher satisfaction and lower levels of psychological issues compared to those with lower WLB. The study, published in The International Journal of Human Resource Management in 2013, indicated that both organizations and employees benefited from the policy.
    Besides cutting work hours, flexitime policies could also be another alternative to help working women balance their roles as mothers and as employees. Flexitime aims to provide work flexibility without cutting work hours. For example, a working mother is permitted to arrive at work at 10 a.m. and go home late in accordance with work-time regulations.
    Or, working mothers could choose when to spend quality time with their families, especially with their children. Such a policy is already familiar to some workplaces including government agencies in Indonesia.
    If work hours are cut or flexitime is put in place, there are issues that need to be taken into consideration. For example, variations in employment status need to be considered, such as full-time or part-time positions. These employment classifications are important to ensure fairness among employees.
    As in developed countries, WLB or flexitime is only given to full-time and part-time positions and is not applicable to casual positions. Hopefully, this would refresh the working environment and the employment system in Indonesia, especially in the public sector, which has been labeled as slow, unresponsive and ineffective.
    As communication technology develops more, many tasks can be resolved outside the physical workplace. In the long run, discretion surrounding working hours should not only be aimed at women but also applied to all employees, as balance in work and personal lives is needed by all individuals.
    In the end, what organizations need is certainly not how much time an employee physically stays in the office, but for them to be productive in their job.
    The writer is researching strategic human resources management in the Indonesian public service for her doctorate thesis in business administration at the University of Canberra,Australia.
    [And here's a similar article from a romantic place that turns out to be part of Indonesia -]
    Civil servants with infants to have less working hours: Minister, by Kamis, (12/04 early pickup) AntaraNews.com
    Denpasar, BALI, Indonesia - Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Minister Yuddy Chrisnandi has hinted that female civil servants with infants will be given less working hours to enable them to take care of their children.
    "The reduction of working hours is intended to give them (female civil servants) more time to take care of their children," the minister told journalists on the sidelines of his visit to Graha Sewaka Dharma here Thursday.
    Chrisnandi noted that the government has been considerate of female employees who have infants.
    "We will begin by seeking the opinion of all government agencies, from ministries to sub-district offices, about the move," he remarked.
    In response to the central governments initiative, the Denpasar city government will have to provide childcare centers to help female employees nurture and play with their infants, he explained.
    "So no employee will have any excuse to skip work for months saying they have to take care of their children," he observed.
    Chrisnandi further noted that the idea was part of the governments efforts to improve the welfare of civil servants as it could cut their expenses on baby-sitters.
    In fact, not all civil servants have the ability to pay baby-sitters, he emphasized.
    The government will create new rules to make workplaces comfortable for female civil servants who have babies and to ensure the effectiveness and productivity of work, he stated.
    This idea was first raised by Vice-President Jusuf Kalla who suggested that only female civil servants who have children below six years of age be made eligible for reduced working hours.
    Currently, Indonesian civil servants have to work eight hours a day, and those eligible for reduced hours are expected to work only six hours a day.


12/02/2014 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Romine Receives Honor From Missouri Chamber Of Commerce, Ste.Genevieve Herald via stegenherald.com
    STE. GENEVIEVE, Mo., USA - The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry awarded State Senator Gary Romine with the 2014 Freshman of the Year Award on November 20 at a reception in St. Louis.
    Romine, who represents Ste. Genevieve County as part of District 3, received the award for his commitment to growing Missouri businesses and supporting job creation, according to a news release.
    “As a business owner, I understand the unique challenges that come with owning and running a successful company,” Romine said. “I also realize how many companies do not succeed. As a lawmaker, creating and supporting legislation that allows Missouri’s business community to flourish has always been a top priority of mine, and I am honored to be recognized by the Chamber for that commitment.”
    Romine, who was elected to office in 2012, during the 2014 session helped pass Senate Bill 844 to extend the federal Shared-Work Program. The program allows employers to reduce permanent employees’ hours during periods of economic hardship rather than implementing layoffs. Employees are then able to collect partial unemployment benefits to supplement their lost income. The Shared-Work Program, which was used by more than 21,000 workers and 335 employers last year, would have ended in Missouri without action by the General Assembly.
    In addition to the Freshman of the Year Award, Romine was recognized as part of the Missouri Chamber 100 Percent Club, which is a group of legislators who maintained a 100 percent voting record on priority business issues in 2014.
    Romine is a member of numerous committees, including the Jobs, Economic Development & Local Government Committee; the Missouri Works Job Training Joint Legislative Oversight Committee; and the Missouri Lead Industry Employment, Economic Development and Environmental Remediation Task Force (chair), among others.

  2. Kurzarbeit worth considering, letter to editor by Joe Polito of Toronto, Toronto Star via thestar.com
    [Way to go, Joe! Keep up the good letters!]
    TORONTO, Ont., Canada - Re: Ontario needs major shift to get economy on track, Opinion Nov. 25
    The Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity could include in its recommendation of “smarter regulation ... and amending tax policy to incentivize growth,” proposals of top Canadian economists.
    Professor William Scarth advocates a “revenue-neutral fiscal package ... of lower payroll taxes (to lower the costs of domestic producers) and higher sales taxes (to finance the payroll tax cut and to raise the relative price of imports).” This is why we replaced the manufacturer’s sales tax with the GST in 1991.
    [Still stupid. Do we want sales any less than we want payroll to buy stuff? No. So switch taxes back from the non-rich to the rich (while waiting for timesizing to absorb enough of the labor surplus to leach money back out of the emboli$m in the topmost brackets) because the one thing we want less of is a huge coagulation of the money supply in the richest tiny population who can't possibly spend it and thus slow the economy by basically taking money out of circulation.]
    His policy would also contribute to professor Frank Reid’s approach, which is similar to the German strategy — Kurzarbeit. It sets a pattern of a reduction in work hours in bad times, rather than layoffs. It has been praised by the Economist Magazine in 2010, “Germany’s gross domestic product fell by 4 per cent ... twice as much as in America. Yet its employment rose by 0.7 per cent while America’s plunged by 5.5 per cent.”
    This strategy improves productivity by retaining expensively trained skilled workers. Governments benefit too. German deficits did not rise as fast as most other nations, reducing stress on their budget, and permitting more fiscal stimulus in badly needed infrastructure.




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For more details, see our laypersons' guide Timesizing, Not Downsizing on Amazon.com.

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