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Timesizing News, February 2015
[Commentary] ©2015 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Harvard Sq PO Box 117, Cambridge MA 02238 USA 617-623-8080

2/28/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Union votes in favor of Tillamook County employee furlough days to bridge budget gap, by LeeAnn Neal, (2/27 late pickup) Tillamook County News via tillamookcountypioneer.net
    TILLAMOOK, Ore., USA – Faced with a General Fund budget shortfall, Tillamook County commissioners voted this morning, Friday, Feb. 27, to implement four staff furlough days over the next four months.
    All General Fund staff, including department heads, elected officials, union and non-union employees, will be subject to the unpaid furlough days, which will occur March 13, April 10, May 8 and June 12.
    “We essentially had only two options before us” said Commissioner Mark Labhart, of this morning’s special meeting vote. “… Layoff of dedicated County employees or furlough days. The AFSME Union voted (last night, Thursday, Feb. 26) with a resounding majority to take furlough days versus laying off less senior employees. This says a lot about our County employees. These General Fund Union employees chose to all take a salary reduction instead of seeing fellow employees laid off. In other words they were willing to take a share of the pain across all General Fund employees in the union versus valued employees losing their jobs.”
    The furlough process required consultation with the AFSME Union as required in the union contract with the County. Commissioners signed a Memorandum of Understanding to reflect the consultation.
    “This sends a clear message that management is also willing to share in the salary reductions (furloughs) as the union employees are”, said Labhart.
    General Fund departments, which will close on the above-mentioned dates, include the Clerk’s, Assessor’s and Treasurer’s offices, as well as the Department of Community Development and the commissioner’s office. Furlough days will not affect the County Library, Public Works, Health or Parks departments, nor the Sheriff’s office, all of which are financed through different funds.
    “We had a tough choice to make this morning, just as the AFSME Union made a tough choice last night,” said Commissioner Bill Baertlein. “Do we lay off employees or do we implement furlough days? Laid off probationary employees would be the easiest and quickest fix for our budget shortfall, but would have been very disruptive to the laid off employees and the County departments where they work. The furlough days means that we all take a cut in pay in order to preserve the jobs for our probationary employees. This is a huge ask of our employees who have families to support, mortgages to pay and food to buy. This morning we made the choice to do furlough days.”
    “As County Commissioners we are tasked with making some very tough choices,” said Baertlein. “The trend lines of our revenue sources are rising at less that our trend lines on wages and benefits. It appears that these lines have now crossed and our reserves are not sufficient to cover the difference. I fear that additional hard decisions will need to be made at budget time.”

  2. Union discloses plans to cut hours at dumps, by Carolyn Archer, NewsMail via news-mail.com.au
    BUNDABERG, Qnsld., Australia - A plan to change the open days and hours of all Bundaberg's waste facilities has been discussed with workers and union representatives across the region this week.
    However when approached for information about the proposed changes, a Bundaberg Regional Council spokeswoman said any comment would be "premature".
    The NewsMail understands proposed changes would result in some facilities open later and close earlier by about an hour, while others would retain the same number of opening hours but with the times changing slightly, a few would even be closed for an extra day.
    Those waste facilities most affected by the proposed changes would be smaller rural facilities including Booyal, Avondale and South Kolan.
    Australian Workers Union representative Keith Ballin said the changes were being considered as part of the council's budgeting discussions and sought to decrease the costs associated with running the facilities.
    He said staff still had a number of questions about how any changes would affect staff entitlements and hours, some of which were addressed this week.
    "Full time equivalent staff have been assured they will work a 76 hour per fortnight," Mr Ballin said.
    "They'll retain entitlements calculated on a 76-hour fortnight.

    [A fortnight is two weeks, so full time has been a double 38-hour workweek = already below 40.]
    "Permanent part-time staff have been told council will honour their 40-hour a fortnight letters of employment."
    He said casual and labour hire would be the first to feel any cuts in hours.
    Mr Ballin said full-time staff were working 84-hour fortnights and the change would bring them in line with an ordinary working week, and staff had been advised they could have further meetings to address any further questions.
    He said should the changes go ahead, the report suggested the new hours would come into effect from December.
    The NewsMail contacted Bundaberg Regional Council to ask if there would be any community consultation about the plan.
    A council spokeswoman said it was still too premature to comment on any proposed changes.
    She said councillors had not seen the proposal and data, and any decision would reflect consumer demand.

2/27/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Worksharing at the tube manufacturer Europipe in Mülheim, by dpa/lnw, Die Welt via welt.de
    [Translation by Bing, cleanup by Phil of article with original German headlne, "Kurzarbeit beim Röhrenbauer Europipe in Mülheim"]
    MÜLHEIM, Germany - The workers of the Mülheim tube plant Europipe must be even more anxious after the suspension of the South Stream gas pipeline project with Russia. On Friday Europipe's parent company Salzgitter hinted in its report about possible "employment deficits" in the factory. According to an IG metal spokesman in Düsseldorf, worksharing for a part of the total of 550 employees has already been agreed upon.
    The joint venture between Salzgitter and Dillinger Hütte is hanging in the air at the moment. It's said the resulting stoppage of the South Stream project has brought losses in the lower double-digit-million range to the steel concern Salzgitter, now stuck deeper in the red figures. Germany's second largest steelmaker Salzgitter had to book a roughly 32-million-euro missing sum below the line, as the MDax Company revealed.
    It is conceivable that the gap that's possibly starting could be filled by other jobs in the factory, said a spokesman for the IG Metal in North Rhine-Westphalia. Possible fluctuations in the workload at the moment could also be evened out with worktime accounts.

  2. Enerpulse moving on from temporary furloughs, by Dan Mayfield, Albuquerque Business First (blog) via bizjournals.com/albuquerque
    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., USA - The CEO of Enerpulse Technologies on Friday said the company is moving beyond a temporary furlough of employees and is ready to move on to the commercial business.
    Joseph Gonnella, who has been the CEO since 2011, said that though the company did furlough eight employees recently, all are now back at work.

    [Furloughs not firings, timesizing not downsizing!]
    "We did curtail operations for a period, and we did reduce the number of people to balance our inventory. That was for a very short time. Operations are back," Gonnella said Friday.
    The company disclosed the furloughs in documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Feb. 19. "We overbuilt in some cases because we were anticipating getting in the marketplace a little earlier. We had to step back for a couple of weeks, and now we're stepping back into it at full force," he said. "We've got all that done now, and we're off to the races."
    The company makes the Pulstar spark plug for cars and industrial markets. The product works especially well in large natural gas-powered industrial engines, Gonnella said, and the company intends to go after that market, as well as the original equipment market for manufacturers.
    "We're really growing our aftermarket business, and we're beginning to generate revenue in the natural gas market. Our technology works well in those machines that run on natural gas," he said.
    In 2013, Enerpulse did a reverse merger and became publicly traded, he said. Though the company tried to sell 5 million shares in a 2014 equity offering, "We didn't raise as much as we'd hoped, and we did another round," Gonnella explained. The company recently closed on a $3 million capital round, in which Sail Venture Partners was a major participant. The company's management also participated, Gonnella said.

2/26/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. County commissioners await employee union vote before moving ahead with temporary furloughs or lay-offs to bridge budget gap, by LeeAnn Neal, (2/25 late pickup) TillamookCountyPioneer.net
    TILLAMOOK, Ore. – Depending on the outcome of an employee union vote tomorrow night, Thursday, Feb. 26, Tillamook County commissioners will either sign an agreement establishing four furlough days between March and June or resolve to lay off up to six county employees during the same period to help offset a nearly $1.3 million General Fund budget shortfall.
    [Seldom has the the choice been so focused or clear: life or death, sharing or hoarding, furloughs or firings, timesizing or downsizing. Why are "intelligent" beings even asking this question on this planet? The choice is between local-economy sustainability and deeper recession. Else, need money? Screw up your courage if any and tax the rich - they've got so much they're wasting it anyway. The concentration and coagulation of the money supply among a tiny population in the topmost brackets is what is slowing the "recovery" in the first place.]
    “We cut close to $900,000 in materials and services, so we cut to the bone,” said Paul Levesque, Tillamook County chief of staff. “So then the only thing left was people. A number of options were looked at, including lay-offs and furlough days.”
    Commissioners recently learned about the shortfall, which occurred as a result of State Forest timber revenues coming in significantly less than projected for the last quarter of the fiscal year, which ends on June 30. “The Oregon Department of Forestry does an estimate each year about how much they think we’ll get the following year,” said Levesque. However, “the problem is, when they do timber sales, (the logging contractors) have up to three years to cut the timber, so it’s hard for them to estimate.”
    To bridge the budget gap, Tillamook County officials decided to propose four furlough days, or days that staff paid out of the County General Fund would not come to work and not be paid, each to be held the second Friday of the month from March through June. However, implementing a furlough “requires a memorandum of understanding between the commissioners and the union,” said Levesque. Furloughs would apply to all General Fund employees, “elected or not, department head or not, union or not,” he added.
    General Fund departments include the Clerk’s, Assessor’s and Treasurer’s offices, as well as the Department of Community Development and the commissioner’s office. Furlough days would not affect the County Library, Public Works, Health or Parks departments, nor the Sheriff’s office, all of which are financed through different funds. “The Courthouse wouldn’t close, because the State Court also occupies the building,” said Levesque.
    One way or another, said Levesque, “We’ve got to cut that money from the budget. We’re not the federal government – we can’t spend into a deficit.”
    Commissioners will hold a special board meeting at 9 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 27 to determine whether to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Local 2734, Oregon AFSCME Union regarding furlough days or to approve an order laying off an undetermined number of county employees.

  2. Assemblyman Jones proposes more flexibility in workplace, RamonaSentinel.com
    RAMONA, Calif., USA - Assemblyman Brian Jones (R-Santee) introduced legislation to allow employees more flexibility in the workplace.
    Assembly Bill 1038, if approved, would permit an individual employee to request an alternative workweek schedule providing for workdays up to 10 hours within a 40-hour workweek.
    “California law currently does not permit an employee the ability to choose a flexible work schedule because of outdated and inefficient workplace and overtime rules [based on five 8-hour days?],” said Jones, who represents Ramona and other communities in the 71st Assembly District. “AB 1038 will allow Californians a better work-life balance for themselves and their families. The benefits to a flexible work schedule are endless, families will save money on childcare and overall will have the opportunity to spend more time together. What’s more, people will be spending less money on gas, which will reduce greenhouse gases to protect the environment.”
    California law prohibits the option for most employers and employees to select alternative work schedules, which includes flextime, part-time, job sharing, telecommuting and compressed work weeks. California is one of only three states [and the other two are?] that do not conform to the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act[!] and although this policy purports to protect employees from overly-zealous employers, it rather serves as a roadblock to a more positive labor environment, said Jones.
    “Employees are consistently seeking greater flexibility over how, where and when they work, whether it is to spend more time with their family or furthering their education, or to spend less time commuting on California's congested highways," said San Diego employment attorney Michael Kalt. "This modest change to one of California's most rigid employment laws would allow hourly employees an increased choice in their schedules to best fit their needs, such that the employee could continue with the same five-day-a-week schedule and daily overtime, or opt to work four days a week with less overtime but more time to spend how they prefer.”
    According to San Diego based Global Workplace Analytics, flexibility is a term for options in the workplace that give organizations and their staff the freedom to better decide when, where and how work will get done. It is something that many people want and/or need, but few people have and although viewed as just a soft perk for employees, the benefits to the employer include financial savings, increased productivity, lower turnover and reduced absences.
    “For years, public and union employees have had this flexibility. It’s time to extend this benefit choice to employees in the private sector,” said human resources executive Deb Horne, representing the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and CalSHRM.
    AB 1038 is co-authored by Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen and others.

2/25/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Swiss Companies Cut Working Hours to Offset Franc's Strength, by Catherine Bosley, Bloomberg.com
    DISENTIS, Graub., Switzerland -- Distec AG, a precision machine toolmaker in the mountains of eastern Switzerland, aims to counter an unfavorable exchange rate by having employees work less.
    Swiss industrial companies have faced tough times in recent weeks since the franc shot up against the euro after the central bank allowed the currency to float freely again. That makes their goods more expensive abroad, a particular challenge if they have a high local cost base. Businesses such as Distec are taking advantage of a reduced-working-hour program under which companies temporarily reduce hours and the state pays for a shortfall in employees’ wages.
    “We need to lower our costs,” said Loris Marsura, director of Distec, based in Disentis in the canton of Graubuenden. Some orders have been postponed 3 months, he said, adding that it’s not yet clear how long the program will be in force. “We’re a supplier of other companies, many of which are export-oriented and have been hit hard” by the strong franc, he said.
    Last month, the government modified the rules under which companies can apply for reduced-working-hour compensation to include exchange-rate fluctuations after the Swiss National Bank stunned markets by giving up its cap on the franc of 1.20 per euro.
    Businesses that cut employees’ regular hours by more than 10 percent can request the lost wages be paid out of local unemployment-office funds. The measure can be in force for 12 months during a two-year period.
    Saving Jobs
    “Companies strongly challenged by the franc’s strong appreciation now have an additional instrument to save jobs,” the Economy Ministry in Bern said on Jan. 27. This measure already “proved its worth in the 2008 financial crisis.”
    Small-and medium-sized businesses with fewer than 250 employees generate two thirds of employment in Switzerland. The export-oriented manufacturing sector constitutes about 19 percent of annual economic output.
    “With the shortened work compensation, the insurance offers employers an alternative to looming layoffs,” the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs says on its website. “The employer thus saves on the cost of fluctuation in personnel.”
    The system of reduced working hours, known as Kurzarbeit in German, is also common in neighboring Austria and Germany to lessen the impact of an economic shock. Rather than firing workers as the German economy contracted in 2009, companies from Siemens AG to Volkswagen AG were subsidized by the government to keep them on reduced working hours, saving almost half a million jobs.
    Swiss Unemployment
    At Distec, 68 employees are on shortened working hours, the municipal bureau of industry, business and employment said. The company has 85 staff, 23 of whom are apprentices, according to the most recent company presentation on Distec’s website.
    Following the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., as many as 5,000 companies and 92,000 workers in Switzerland were participating in reduced-working-hour programs. That compares with just 222 companies and 2,500 employees in November 2014, the most recent data available showed. Kurzarbeit is administered at a cantonal level.
    Even with the unfavorable exchange rate, Swiss joblessness remains low by international standards. The rate stood at 3.5 percent in January. In Graubuenden, where Distec is based, it was 2 percent.
    Economists at UBS Group AG see unemployment rising to 3.6 percent this year, then inching down to 3.5 percent in 2016.
    Back at Distec, Marsura hopes business could turn the corner again in June or July.
    “We are in the high-tech field, and we’ve got skilled workers whom we’ve trained,” he said in a telephone interview. “At some point things will pick up again and we’ll need the specialists and if we’ve dismissed them we’ll have a problem.”
    To contact the reporter on this story: Catherine Bosley in Zurich at cbosley1@bloomberg.net
    To contact the editors responsible for this story: Fergal O’Brien at fobrien@bloomberg.net Zoe Schneeweiss, Paul Gordon

  2. Under Japanese law, breaks are sacred and standby counts as work, by Hifumi Okunuki, The Japan Times via japantimes.co.jp
    TOKYO, Japan - Labor law covers a great deal of territory, from wages, work hours, transfers and performance evaluation to dismissals, selling of business rights and industrial accidents. One subject often overlooked is break time or kyukei. My labor law encyclopedia devotes far fewer pages to this subject than just about any other topic. It is, after all, labor law, not “rest law.”
    I knew one labor law scholar who chose kyukei as the theme for several dissertations. When I asked him why, he said, “Because I like break time better than work time.”
    I understood what he meant completely. Breaks are better than work. Don’t we all think so, deep in our hearts? Let’s not kid ourselves.

    From a productivity perspective, too, a worker’s rested body and mind can accomplish more and is less prone to falling victim to industrial accidents — accidents that may require payment of workers’ compensation. Employees working long hours need time to refresh their bodies and minds if they are to avoid errors and accidents, and for that they need to temporarily reclaim their freedom from toil.
    So what do our labor laws say about kyukei?
    First of all, kyukei must be a period within the work hours of that day. This means that the time after the whistle blows is neither work nor break but simply “after hours.” The second part of the definition of kyukei is that is a guaranteed right for workers to be free from labor of any kind.
    These features were laid out in two directives to prefectural labor standards bureaus, in 1947 and 1964.
    Article 34 of the Labor Standards Act also deals with breaks. It says:
    1. An employer shall provide workers with at least 45 minutes of rest periods during working hours in the event that working hours exceed six hours, and at least one hour in the event that working hours exceed eight hours.
    2. The rest periods set forth in the preceding paragraph shall be provided to all workers at the same time. However, this shall not apply in cases where the employer has entered into a written agreement regarding providing rest periods to employees at different times, either with a labor union organized by a majority of the workers at the workplace (in the case that such a labor union is organized) or with a person representing a majority of the workers (in the case that such a labor union is not organized).
    3. An employer shall permit workers to use the rest periods stipulated in paragraph 1 freely.

    Note that if you work exactly six hours, your employer is not obliged to give you a precious minute of break time. Only when your work hours pass the six-hour mark — by even a second — does your employer need to give you breaks totaling at least 45 minutes. The same goes for the eight-hour mark and the one hour of breaks.
    Let’s look at a court case that cites paragraph 3 of Article 34, i.e., the principle of the worker’s freedom to use the break as he or she sees fit. The Supreme Court on Nov. 13, 1979, ruled against Sumitomo Chemical for making a worker stand watch over a furnace throughout his break. Japanese courts order notoriously puny punitive damages — ¥300,000 in this case — but the text of the verdict is what concerns us here: “It is clear that in order to ensure the principle of free use of break time, the start and end times of breaks must be stipulated and a worker cannot freely take a break free of anxiety if in particular the end time is not stipulated.” Well put, in my opinion.
    The principle of free use, however, is not free free. Rather, free use of breaks comes with the logical constraints based on ensuring smooth management of the work facilities and maintaining workplace order. Such constraints include not interfering with the breaks or work of other workers and making a smooth transition back to work and the end of breaks.
    Our second court case involves a worker who leafleted in the workplace cafeteria of then-state-owned telephone giant NTT Corp. to protest an order by his boss to remove a placard he was wearing that read, “No to the Vietnam War! No to expansion of the U.S. base at Tachikawa!” The employer claimed the action violated the work rules (shugyo kisoku), which stated that any leafleting at the workplace required prior management approval.
    The employee claimed NTT was violating his right to free use of break time. But the Supreme Court ruled on Dec. 13, 1977, that the leafleting “interfered with the right of other employees to use break time freely, reduced work efficiency afterward and disrupted corporate order and the running of the company, regardless of the content (of the fliers).” This ruling reflects a possible constraint to free use when the break is taken on company premises.
    One more thing we must cover before we wrap up is the issue of standby. While on standby, a worker is not technically working, nor technically free to do as he or she pleases. Examples would include when a nighttime building security guard sleeps in an office, ready to be awoken in the event of any trouble, or a clerk waits for a customer to arrive. The law sees such time as labor for which wages must be paid.
    Some particularly stingy employers will try to get their employees to wait on standby for hours on end — for example, for customers that never come — without paying them for their time. Such employers try to claim the time is a “break,” even though the worker is not free to leave the workplace or do as they please.
    Our final court case involves a particularly malicious sushi shop owner who told his chef and dishwasher they could take a break only when there were no customers to attend to or work to do. The shop — Sushidokoro Sugi — didn’t pay them for these hours, claiming it was “break time.” Japan’s highest court ruled on March 24, 1981, that even though they were not engaged in work at the time, they were on standby to resume work immediately when the employer demanded it (i.e., when a customer arrived). Standby means work, and work means wages.
    The Supreme Court ruled that such time could not be treated as a “break” since the workers were not free to use the time in any way they pleased. The time they had spent waiting pushed the workers over the 40-hour-per-week limit, meaning not only did the shop have to pay for the extra time, but the pay was at the higher overtime rate (125 percent).
    If your employer is keeping you waiting long hours on standby without paying you and calling it “break time,” they are breaking the law. If you happen to work for such an employer, it’s important that you insist on your right to remuneration, and to a genuine break. With proper breaks come productive labor.
    Hifumi Okunuki teaches at Sagami Women’s University and serves as executive president of Tozen Union (Zenkoku Ippan Tokyo General Union). She can be reached at tozen.okunuki @gmail.com. On the fourth Thursday of each month, Hifumi looks at cases in Japan’s legal history to illustrate important principles in labor law. Your comments and ideas: community@japantimes.co.jp

2/24/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Annapolis grapples with seven-hour work day for employees - City could address 35-hour work week as budget talks continue, by Jimmy DeButts jdebutts@capgaznews.com, (2/23 late pickup) CapitalGazette.com
    ANNAPOLIS, Mryld., USA - Annapolis' elected officials are watching the clock.
    More than 23 percent of the city's 528 full-time employees have 35-hour work weeks. That anomaly — bound in a union contract — has aldermen and the mayor contemplating ways the city can join the majority of private and public sector employers who follow 40 hour work weeks.
    The city isn't maximizing its workforce if some employees are only working 35 hours per week, said Alderman Ross Arnett, D- Ward 8. Arnett said union contracts must be honored but one potential fix could be outsourcing some operations.
    "You can't get as much done," Arnett said of a seven-hour workday. "The solution is to contract the work out. A private vendor is going to work at least an eight-hour day. That is something that could be negotiated."
    The 35-hour work week is likely to be raised as aldermen and Mayor Mike Pantelides work to craft the fiscal 2016 budget. Next year's budget is expected to see expenditures rise — by millions — above the current $97.3 million spending plan thanks to employee cost-of-living pay raises, additional debt repayment costs, retiree health and pension costs.
    Arnett said every possibility for cost-savings should be explored as he projects the city will need to cut some expenses to pass a balanced budget. The union issue could be sticky because changes to hours would have to be negotiated to amend deals signed in October 2013.
    City officials say most of those employees put in more than 40 hours a week but some aldermen say there is room for more productivity.
    "(A 35-hour work week) is a hard thing for many residents to understand," said Alderman Jared Littmann, D-Ward 5. "The government needs to be run as efficiently as possible. Working 35 hours a week is not the most efficient. The bottom line is we're not there yet."
    The 35-hour work week dates back to at least 1975, according to the city. The state used a 35.5 work week for decades before going to 40 hours in 1991. That city's current 35 hour work week staff employees are clerical-technical members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local and civil service non-union employees. Those members are spread across city departments including police, fire, recreation and parks, finance and transportation.
    The 122 also includes employees who are exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act. These employees are expected to work as many hours as necessary to complete the tasks assigned to them and routinely work well in excess of their scheduled hours, the city said in an email.
    City employees in the 35-hour group are paid for seven hours of work per day and are uncompensated for a one hour lunch break. 
    Picking up the slack
    Alderwoman Sheila Finlayson, D-Ward 4, said city employees demonstrate their efficiency daily while performing their tasks with 28 fewer full-time equivalent positions in 2015 than in 2013.
    [And therefore there may already be some unofficial 40-hour workweeks here...]
    "Did we reduce services because of those losses? Absolutely not," Finlayson said. "Somebody was picking up the slack for all the jobs lost last year."
    Finlayson said city employees don't work within the parameters of a 40-hour week. She said they respond when water lines break, fires erupt and when called upon for evening meetings.
    Instituting a 40-hour week would require union negotiations that go beyond what was achieved in 2013 when the city agreed to raises spread over a two-year period, Finlayson said. Employees agreed to pay more for health care and retirement benefits.
    Employees belonging to four unions received raises of 3 percent on Jan. 1, 2014, 1 percent on July 1, 2014, and 2 percent on Jan. 1, 2015. The city payroll expense will grow again with 1 percent raises set for July 1 and another 2 percent on Jan. 1, 2016.
    Personnel is the largest expenditure line item in the city's budget by far. In 2015, personnel ($51.5 million) comprised 53 percent of expenditures.
    Pantelides said he supports a 40 hour work week. He said finding ways to pay for employee raises will be a challenge while drafting the 2016 budget.
    "You have to look where to make up the difference," Pantelides said.
    Tough sell
    Calls to the unions representing city employees were not returned last week. Asking employees to work about 12 percent more without compensation will be a tough sell, said Dan Nataf, director of Anne Arundel Community College's Center for the study of Local Issues.
    He said it could hurt staff morale and even be counterproductive.
    "I'm sure it won't get a very supportive response from the employee unions," Nataf said. "I suppose there could be a productivity increase. Of course, if there's not an increase in pay and they sit around a water cooler for five hours there's nothing gained. Taxpayers would not see an increase in productivity."
    Alderman Fred Paone, R-Ward 2, said he'd like to see all employees work 40 hours to match private sector norms. He said many of the 35-hour employees work beyond that level but everything is on the table during budget talks.
    "We need to make sure the taxpayers are getting their money's worth," Paone said.
    Arnett said he doesn't want to cut more city jobs but thinks there will be pressure during budget talks to examine outsourcing some city operations. He said there's been no serious discussions about 40 hour work weeks and would expect unions to object.
    Unilaterally changing work schedules isn't a viable option, Arnett said. But the possibility of outsourcing some work could bring unions to the negotiating table if efficiencies can be found with a 40-hour week instead of contracting with a private entity.
    "We can't renege on promises that were made," Arnett said.
    Wage study
    Arnett would like to the city to prepare a wage study to see how Annapolis' salaries compare with private sector firms and other public municipalities.
    A Capital review of similar positions in city and Anne Arundel County governments found Annapolis pays about the same as the county. For example, The city's facility manager made $83,004 as of February 2014. The county had three facility superintendents making $84,558, and four others making $66,208, $59,113, $53,358 and $52,459 as of March 2014.
    The city has four accounting associate III employees earning between $94,549 and $63,733. The county had seven accountant III employees making between $98,067 and $67,828.
    Alderman Joe Budge, D-Ward 1, said the city might be able to decrease some overtime hours if all employees were moved to the 40-hour level. He said increasing hours could also result in additional benefits costs to the city.
    Budge is open to the idea of 40 hour work weeks but wants to see a salary comparison and examine if the 35-hour concept needs to end.
    "There are a lot things in government (that exist) because we've always done it that way," Budge said.

  2. Column: A week solution for schools, by Maddy Bynes, The Daily Wildcat via wildcat.arizona.edu
    TUCSON, Ariz., USA - Most of us have heard the line about Arizona spending more per capita on prisoners than on education. Let’s face it: Our K-12 school system is facing many issues. With massive budget cuts plaguing the state, multiple school districts have either switched to a four-day week or are considering it. They claim it’s better for the budget and providing increased class instructional time.
    Financially, cutting to a four-day week makes sense. Though salaried employees’ pay would not be affected, employees on hourly pay would have their hours cut by one day per week. According to the U.S. News and World Report, Colorado’s Garfield School District saved $480,000 annually by eliminating Friday instruction.
    However, public education is not all about the money. It’s a public good and, by definition, should be there to benefit the public. The question for school boards should be: Is a four-day school week benefitting students? That’s what Camp Verde Unified School District asked last year as they explored becoming a four-day school week district.
    Camp Verde Unified School District, Ash Fork Joint Unified School District and, most recently, Peoria Unified School District are just a few of the Arizona districts to make the switch.
    “I can’t tell you that it’s better, but it’s not hurting the students,” Camp Verde Middle School Principal Danny Howe said. Howe, a proponent of the four-day week, explained that this method of education gives kids more learning opportunities and longer class periods. In addition, he said teachers get more time to prepare for classes and rejuvenate over a long weekend.
    On the flip side, there are community concerns to four-day school weeks. Though most parents working full-time budget for their childcare during summer, winter and spring break, many parents are at a loss with what to do with their children on the fifth day of the week. In the summer, there are institutionalized programs for kids, such as camps and courses, but on a four-day school week, parents have to improvise.
    The U.S. runs on a five-day workweek. When these students get out of school and into college or the real world, will they be prepared? Most professions require five, even six-day workweeks. According to CBS MoneyWatch, statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau show 71 percent of college students hold jobs in addition to going to school. It’s safe to assume many students are taking long workweeks to get through college.
    Howe defends the system’s implementation in Camp Verde so far.
    “At my campus and my high school campus, attendance is up, referrals are down and grades are up,” Howe said. “Most of my teachers are further along in their curriculum.”
    Howe attributes this to longer school hours. From bell to bell, the school is open just over eight hours, giving the students more time of focused, in-class instruction.
    Research on the benefits of a four-day school week is inconclusive at best. Longer class periods may help students acquire more information, but longer days could be detrimental to retention. Given Arizona’s recent decision to eliminate the Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards requirement for graduation, it may not be possible to compare Camp Verde’s instruction this year with last.
    If a community that implements a four-day week for kids doesn’t follow suit with flexible workweeks for parents, the problem is simply being passed along. Schools can’t afford to care for students on Fridays — but neither can parents. An unsupervised middle school student might be an even bigger social problem than an uneducated one.
    While a four-day week seems worth a try, we ought to be skeptical of attempting to deal with budget cuts by making decisions that ultimately disrupt both students’ education and their home lives.
    Maddy Bynes is a junior studying political science and history...

  3. Adjust health law for small businesses - Unfair provisions in the health care act are putting small businesses and their employees at a huge disadvantage, by Jon Hurst, Boston Globe, A11.
    BOSTON, Mass., USA - Congressional Republicans and President Obama continue to wrangle over the future of the nation’s health care law. But they need to focus on fixing the law rather than repealing it or threatening vetoes on any form of improvement.
    It is no surprise to us in Massachusetts that the shortcomings of the basic framework of the Affordable Care Act mean marketplace discrimination for small businesses and their employees. We saw that in our state model of the ACA. Powerful lobbying groups protected certain consumer groups from harm. Big businesses were protected and retained the ability to self-insure, while lower-income individuals qualified for taxpayer-funded premium assistance.
    Left unprotected and arguably disadvantaged were those in the middle — owners and employees of small businesses. Several years of double-digit premium increases here resulted in changes to state law to help empower small businesses. Washington should make changes to the ACA like those made in Massachusetts to make sure health insurance reform works for everyone. Here are four recommendations:
    • Allow existing organizations — associations, professional societies, and chambers of commerce — to form nonprofit, small business cooperatives to enhance purchasing power, provide more choices, and better educate their members and employees on the importance of wellness programs and the use of provider transparency tools. T his is how small businesses want to buy their insurance. Consider that since their start in 2012, the Massachusetts cooperatives have served more small businesses than the state’s Health Care Connector, and they haven’t cost the taxpayer one dime.
    • Allow insurers to give discounts to small businesses as they get bigger. It is a fact that for both actuarial and administrative reasons the more people a business covers, the lower the cost per person. Yet the ACA is phasing out this ability for any employer with fewer than 99 employees, since the law eliminated the size rating factor from the small group market. Those businesses with 100 or more employees are not hurt by this policy, which in turn gives them a huge premium competitive advantage. The phase-out of the size rating factor means artificially higher premiums for growing small businesses. The logical way to avoid unreasonable premiums is to leave the fully insured small group market entirely and to self-insure. Already 55 percent of the Massachusetts market is self-insured. This trend will grow rapidly unless this discriminatory ACA policy is fixed.
    • Change the definition of full-time employee from 30 to 35 hours per week. Massachusetts used the 35-hour threshold without disruption, but the same can’t be said of the 30-hour ACA requirement. Most small employers consider employees working 35 hours or more to be full timers, but few have the same view about 30 hours.
    • Allow small businesses to avoid state mandates — just as big businesses do. Self-insured employers operate under federal law and can avoid state mandates. But small, fully insured employers have no escape. Twenty-four new mandates and/or assessments have been passed in Massachusetts since 2006, making the health insurance marketplace increasingly discriminatory. The ACA needs to address the proliferation of state mandates.
    The ACA can work for everyone, but not under today’s model. Unfair provisions are putting small businesses and their employees at a huge disadvantage, endangering their futures. Washington needs to fix the problems.
    Jon Hurst is president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts.

2/22-23/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Swatch boss: ‘We’re basically operating without a national bank’, 2/22 SWI via swissinfo.ch/eng
    Nick Hayek is not full of confidence when it comes to the Swiss National Bank in its current form (photo caption)
    ZURICH, Switzerland - Nick Hayek, CEO of Switzerland’s Swatch Group, the world’s largest watchmaker, has called for reforms to the Swiss National Bank (SNB), describing uncertainty around the institution as “Switzerland’s Achilles heel”.
    In an interview with the Schweiz am Sonntag newspaper, he dismissed calls for a “deregulation agreement” as made by UBS head Sergio Ermotti and various voices on the political right who are concerned about Switzerland’s weakening position as a business centre.
    These concerns were triggered on January 15, when the SNB unexpectedly removed the cap of 1.20 francs per euro, concluding that it was no longer justified. That ended a three-year policy designed to shield the economy from the euro area’s sovereign debt crisis.
    The Swiss franc surged against the dollar
    and euro and shares in Swatch immediately dropped 17%.
    “Words fail me,” Hayek said at the time. “The SNB action is a tsunami – for the export industry and for tourism, and finally for the entire country.”
    A strong franc is a challenge for exporters like Swatch and small and mid-size companies with factories in Switzerland, where shop-floor workers earn some of the highest wages in Europe. Timepieces make up more than a tenth of the country’s total exports, led by brands including Rolex, Swatch’s Omega and Richemont’s Cartier.
    Pragmatic policy
    On Sunday, Hayek told the Schweiz am Sonntag he had “neither a five-point plan nor a 15-point plan” for improving Switzerland’s situation.
    “What’s crucial for Switzerland is a pragmatic policy that enables companies to be able to solve their problems themselves. We don’t need a master plan from above,” he said.
    [unless it gives them a maximized domestic consumer base? - like Timesizing...]

    “Switzerland’s wealth is also the diversity of its companies: there’s industry, the financial centre, multinationals and – vital for our prosperity – the small and medium-sized enterprises.”
    Switzerland’s strength, he added, was that decisions could be taken quickly and simply, often at a local level, and together with the unions.
    “Every boss must be able, if he has problems, to take flexible measures at very short notice. There’s no general cure for the current situation. For some it could be being paid in euros, for others it could be short-time working.”
    ‘Open flank’
    Despite his immediate talk of tsunamis, five weeks after the SNB’s decision Hayek said he had criticised the scrapping of the euro cap not because the Swatch Group would be hard hit. Swatch, he said, had only 18% exposure to the euro – the dollar and Chinese renminbi were much more important.
    “We’re in a good position and are not considering wage cuts or short-time work.”
    The problem, in his view, was that Switzerland now had an “open flank”. “We’re basically operating without a national bank. Before the eyes of the world the SNB took itself out of the game. It showed weakness and this weakness was communicated further.”
    Asked whether he was calling for a change of direction, he replied that “in a democratic country, one is allowed to ask how a national bank could be constructed that would take important decisions – like that with the franc exchange rate – not simply in private by a three-headed directorate”.
    Not that he was questioning the SNB’s independence. “No! The national bank must remain independent. But it must not reach its conclusions in a ‘thought temple’ out of touch with the real world – it must be forced to deal with reality. As is usual in our country! Unions don’t simply decide to go on strike – it’s a process with clear signals to all parties.”
    As for suggestions and solutions, Hayek admitted to not having an easy answer, “but ideas now need to be exchanged”.
    “Here’s a suggestion: maybe three people on the SNB directorate is too small. Maybe what is needed is five or seven people with diverse backgrounds. Not just professors and theoreticians,” he said.
    [We suggest gradually stripping every central bank of its unconsultative and dictatorial powers in favor of, Switzerland's specialty, binding public referendums, as in Phase 1 of the Timesizing Program along with the definition of every country's top-priority problem: the underemployment that is keeping it from maximum domestic consumer spending and velocity of monetary circulation and engagement of the multiplier effect. If rate-setting and currency-pegging are essentially just dart games, let everyone in on the "fun." Otherwise it's just another form of "taxation without representation."]
    “The debate about the national bank is absolutely central. This Achilles heel is currently the greatest risk for Switzerland [and every other economy with pegged currencies and a still-manageable national debt] as a place of business."
    [Compare Iceland: a small country severely damaged by a few a few of its own people, a few naive, unconsultative, hyperactive bankers (damn bankers again! we may have to make castration a job prerequisite or insist they all be women). There it was giantized megaborrowing. Here it's abrupt one-step de-pegging. Usually when we don't have such a black hole of coagulation of the world's money supplies and consequent tanking of interest rates, it's interest rates. (Right now despite Wall Street's nostalgic obsession with Fed rate-setting, zero-courting rates are irrelevant: there's just way too much earmarked investing power for the amount of spending power left outside the elephantiasisized financial sector to maintain it.]

  2. Senvion wins turbine supply deal for 111MW Nordergründe, 2/23 RechargeNews.com (subscription)
    BERLIN, Germany - Germany-based wind turbine manufacturer Senvion has signed a contract with developer Wpd for the installation and commissioning of 18 of its 6.2M126 offshore turbines at the 111MW Nordergründe offshore wind project in the North Sea.
    The turbines and rotor blades are produced by Senvion and its subsidiary PowerBlades in Bremerhaven, which will come as a relief for the embattled manufacturer, as it had to reduce staff at PowerBlades due to a lack of offshore orders.
    "We are pleased that the new contract means that PowerBlades can return to production," says Martin Günthner, Senator of Economic Affairs, Labour and Ports of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen (the German state of Bremen that includes Bremerhaven).
    "It's an important message to the offshore sector and the region of Bremerhaven. Today, it is clearer than ever that short-time working was the right tool chosen for the transitional period."
    ['Short-time work' is British for German 'Kurzarbeit' and American 'worksharing' = the halfway step to Timesizing.]
    Nordergründe is slated to be completed in the autumn of 2016, Senvion said, when the wind farm about 40km northwest of Bremerhaven will be able to supply more than 70,000 households.
    Each of the 6.2M126 machines has a rated power of 6.15MW, with a rotor blade that is more than 60-metres long and weighs 23 tonnes.
    Wpd said it has closed all supply contracts for Nordergründe, and stressed that work will be exclusively delivered and installed by German companies: Ambau will provide foundations, BVT the wind park's substation, NSW internal cabling, and Bilfinger will carry out the installation.
    "We are extremely pleased that local manufacturers from the region have positioned themselves so clearly in our international process for the award of the contracts," says Achim Berge Olsen, the managing director of Wpd offshore.
    "This highlights the competitive strength of the German offshore industry and the benefit which local added value also brings for the projects."
    Senvion chief executive Andreas Nauen appealed to German politicians to start working on the creation of solid framework conditions for the next decade, when a current support regime favourable to offshore wind will be running out.
    "We are very happy that our turbines and rotor blades from Bremerhaven are being used for the wind farm of Wpd, a Bremen company. This project will create a lot of value locally," he said.
    "Thanks to the clear compensation provisions of the EEG (Renewable Energy Sources Act) our clients will be able to plan reliably, but the German offshore sector will soon need clear indicators for the years after 2019. The preparations for EEG 3.0 are the next step, and must start this year."
    A now-ended lull in offshore orders caused by uncertainty about the current Support regime was among the reasons Senvion had to introduce short-time work, while other companies working in the German offshore wind sector even had to lay off staff.
    India's Suzlon in January agreed the $1.2bn sale of Senvion to US-based private equity firm Centerbridge Partners.

2/21/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Chapter 5: "The French 35-Hour Working Law and the Work-Life Balance of Parents: Friend or Foe?", by Jeanne Fagnani & Marie Thérèse Letablier, (1/27/2006 desperately late web relisting) Edward Elgar Publishing via elgaronline.com
    (Monograph in Gender Divisions and Working Time in the New Economy: Changing Patterns of Work, Care and Public Policy in Europe and North America, edited by Diane Perrons, Colette Fagan, Linda McDowell, Kath Ray & Kevin Ward)
    CHELTENHAM, Gloucs., U.K. - Extract [of chapter = intro summary]
    The reduction of working time [RWT] has long been on the political agenda in France, particularly for left-wing governments.
    Policy aims and objectives have varied over time, but the precipitative factor for change in the 1990s was the increase in the unemployment rate; fighting it became a public priority.
    An additional motive for this policy was to increase flexibility in the work organization, impelling collective bargaining and improving the work and life balance, especially for parents with young children.
    The proposal tabled in 1997, when a socialist government came to power, was more comprehensive than previous legislation in that it set out to ensure that other aspects of time structuring were addressed.
    In comparison to 1936 and the 1980s, the focus was on both RWT and the negotiation of work-time organization at workplace level. Arrangements were to be brought more into line with individual preferences.
    The position of France is unique in Europe because it is an example of working time being reduced by law and applying to all workers.
    Although RWT is no longer on the agenda in France, nor any other EU country [except any of the many that have Kurzarbeit programs to convert threatened layoffs into RWT], this chapter examines the outcome of this policy, especially as it relates to the work and life balance issue.
    Although this issue was not the main priority of the measures, it deserves attention because parents had to deal with more complex childcare arrangements.
    Against the background of the development of flexible work schedules, and an increase in workload, parents are clearly facing growing difficulties in managing their everyday life.
    First, to set these laws in their historical context, we will look at the role of these laws in the creation of working time norms since the 19th century.
    We will then focus on the ways the 'Aubry laws' have been implemented, along with their practicalities.
    In the third section, their impact on the everyday life of working parents with young children is examined. This is partly to answer the following question: does RWT make it easier for parents to balance paid work with family responsibilities when we take into account that, among the majority of dual-earner families in France, both partners work full-time?
    [Hooboy, another pair of academics of unknown funding and "objectivity" questioning the obvious. Like, let's reraise the workweek and see if THAT would make it easier for full-time dual-earner families instead. Truly, academe has become a giant inefficient makework program. See "realm of modern makework" number 4.]
    We then turn our attention to the effect the measures have had on gender relations.

  2. Great Graphic: Unexpected Results Of G7 Comparison Of Work And Productivity, by Marc Chandler, (2/20 late pickup) TalkMarket.com
    HIGHLAND PARK, N.J., USA - Here are two *Great Graphics from the UK's Office of National Statistics. The top chart shows the average hours worked in the G7 countries since the early 1990s. It will surprise many to least that for most of this period, Italy's average work week was longer than the US. Now it is a little below. Japanese workers had the longest work week in 1993. German workers have the shortest work week consistently over the past 20 years followed by France.
    The length of the work week may not be the key metric. What part of the population is working
    , or to say the same the same thing, it is aggregate hours that is more important than than average length of the work week.
    [A good un(der)employment rate would reflect this more important metric and obviate such complex efforts as John Cobb's ISEW to replace the padded GDP as a measure of an economy's sustainability. But the smaller the part of the population that's working, the shorter the workweek should be in order to maximize consumer spending and the multiplier effect by spreading the national income to the maximum number of potential consumers. The alternative is to lengthen the workweek (or freeze it in the context of a standard downsizing response to worksaving technology), thereby concentrating and coagulating the nation's working hours and the national income, thus triggering recession and lengthening it into depression = our current policy.]
    Just as important is output worker. That is a measure of productivity. This is what this lower chart captures: GDP per worker. The UK statistics office produced the charts, and they are understandably from the UK's point of view. The two bars are for 2012 and 2013 respectively. The time series is fairly stable, so one can imagine that the 2014 bar is similar.
    The US has easily the greatest output per worker, almost 40% above the UK's, according to this chart. This gap is the largest since the ONS tracked this series beginning in to 1990. Italy is in actually second in the G7, about 15% above the UK. Japan is the weakest. The UK's productivity is about 10% greater than the Japan's. Germany's does not stand out. That suggests that its ability to keep unit labor costs down is a function of wage restraint.
    Another measure of productivity is GDP per hour worked. Here Germany and France do better, at 27-28% above the UK, but behind the US, where output per hour worked is about 30% above the UK. Italy's output per hour is about 17% above the UK's.
    Policy makers and economists throw around the concept of structural reforms so much that it may have lost of its meaning. In this context though, structural reforms can be thought of as measures that boost productivity, directly and indirectly.

2/20/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Apache Junction school district survey results show parents, school staff not opposed to four-day work week, by Wendy Miller, Independent Newspapers via arizona.newszap.com
    APACHE JUNCTION, Ariz., USA - Could schools in the Apache Junction Unified School District [UJUSD] be changing to a four-day work week as part of a money-saving effort to balance the district’s annual budget?
    More than three-quarters of 588 school staff members and more than half of the 870 parents who participated in an AJUSD-generated survey would be OK if that happened, according to survey results presented at a special meeting of the AJUSD governing board Feb. 19
    at the district office, 1575 W. Southern Ave. in Apache Junction.
    AJUSD serves more than 5,000 students in a 217-square mile area that includes the communities of Apache Junction, Gold Canyon, Peralta Trail, Queen Valley and the unincorporated areas of the Superstition Mountain foothills. It has four elementary schools: Desert Vista, 3701 E. Broadway Ave.; Four Peaks, 1785 N. Idaho Road; Peralta Trail, 10965 E. Peralta Road in Gold Canyon; and Superstition Mountain, 550 S. Ironwood Drive; as well as Cactus Canyon Junior High School, 801 W. Southern Ave., and Apache Junction High School, 2525 S. Ironwood Drive.
    The school district and governing board have been reviewing a number of ways to find ways to trim $2.7 million from the district’s 2015-16 budget. The district had proposed a 15 percent school budget override that would have raised approximately $3.2 million each year, but voters failed to pass it during the Nov. 4 general election.
    The override received 6,065 “yes” votes and 7,946 “no” votes, according to the Pinal County elections website: http://pinalcountyaz.gov/elections/Pages/ElectionResults.aspx.
    Funding by the override would have allowed the district to prevent large class sizes, improve school safety and offer competitive salaries to teachers, Mr. Wilson said in a phone interview prior to the election.
    Among the cut-cutting ideas being reviewed are closing an elementary school — Superstition Mountain and Peralta Trail are the likeliest candidates, according to the governing board during public meetings held Feb. 10-11 at the two schools — and reducing the school week by a day.
    To read an online recap of the meetings, visit http://arizona.newszap.com/eastvalley/138295-114/apache-junction-parents-protest-possible-school-closures-disruption-to-childrens-schedules.
    A public meeting to hear comments and discuss proposed boundary change options that could be necessary if a school closes has been scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 24, in the Apache Junction High School Performing Arts Center, 2525 S. Ironwood Drive. The meeting replaces the governing board’s regular 1 p.m. meeting on the fourth Tuesday of each month.
    The governing board will vote on whether to close a school and go to the shortened work week during a public meeting set for 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 3, in the performing arts center.
    Survey results
    To learn more about how AJUSD parents and staff members felt about a four-day work week, the school district created surveys for each group, according to the district’s website.
    “We wanted to know, is this something our employees see as a benefit? That parents would see as acceptable?” Dr. Chad Wilson, superintendent of the school district, said during the meeting.
    The staff survey was posted on the school district website; parents were notified via voicemail and an e-mail message through the school district’s parent notification system, Dana Hawman, the school district’s spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed response to questions.
    “The message told parents what the survey was for and how to find the link to the anonymous survey. Additionally, the e-mail version included a link to the online survey,” Ms. Hawman said in her e-mail.
    The district received 588 responses to the staff survey, according to a presentation prepared by Dr. Kristina Harshman, a fine arts teacher at the high school. Respondents included both certified and classified employees.
    The former refers to those with teaching certificates or certificates through the Arizona Department of Education as well as paraprofessionals and counselors, Ms. Hawman said. The latter refers to all other employees such as bus drivers, food service and maintenance workers and office staff, she said.
    Of the 588 respondents, 51 percent were from classified employees and 49 percent were from certified. Of those, 36 percent said they had worked for the district for one-three years; 14.8 percent said four-six years; 15.1 percent said seven-10 years; and 34.1 percent said 10 or more years, according to Mr. Harshman’s presentation.
    When asked if they would support a four-day work week, 79.9 percent said yes, 6.9 percent said no and 13.2 percent were undecided. When asked if they preferred a Monday or Friday closure, 40 percent said Monday and 60 percent said Friday.
    The survey also asked employees if a four-day work week would influence their decision to continue working for the district. Of the 588 responses, 61.8 percent said they would stay at the school district, 4.7 percent said they would leave and 33.5 percent said it did not matter.
    Regarding the parent surveys, the school district received 925 responses. However, Dr. Harshman told the district 55 of those were deleted from the results because they all were traced to one computer address and were all identical. She said that could indicate tampering.
    Of the 870 parent responses included in the results, 46.9 percent were from parents with children in kindergarten through sixth grades; 5.5 percent had children in seventh and eighth grades; 17.7 had children in ninth-12th grades; and 30 percent had children in multiple grades, according to Dr. Harshman’s presentation.
    Of those, 55 percent supported a four-day work week, 28.8 percent did not support it and 16.2 percent were undecided.
    The majority of responding parents — 76.6 percent — preferred a Friday closure while the remaining 23.4 percent preferred a Monday closure.
    The parent survey allowed parents to write about any concerns they had about the shortened work week. The results indicated that there were a number of misconceptions about the cost-cutting measures being proposed, Dr. Harshman said during her presentation.
    One misconception was that a four-day week would mean less schooling. However, the four-day school schedule has one cumulative hour less instructional time than the traditional five-day schedule, Ms. Hawman said in her e-mail. “That’s roughly 60 cumulative minutes (varies slightly depending on grade level) over the course of the entire school year,” she wrote.
    Another is that the school district would choose to either close a school or go to a four-day work week. Dr. Wilson said during the meeting that is incorrect. The school district could opt for one, both or neither, he said. Board member Mike Weaver asked if teachers could accept substitute teacher assignments outside the school district during the fifth-day closure. Dr. Wilson said they could as long as it were not on a day they were assigned to work for AJUSD.
    After the presentation, the five board members asked Dr. Wilson to continue researching the shortened work-week option.
    To learn more about the school district’s proposed budget solutions, visit the school district website: www.ajusd.org and click on the Proposed Budget Solutions button on the right-hand side of the home page. Handouts and videos regarding the proposed solutions are posted there.
    Post your comments at arizona.newszap.com. News Editor Wendy Miller can be contacted at 480-982-7799, via e-mail at ajeditor@newszap.com, or on Twitter at WendyNewszap123. Be sure to like us at www.facebook.com/ApacheJunctionGoldCanyonIndependent to read up-to-the-minute coverage of the East Valley even before the paper is printed

  2. Grievances Against Hocking College Going To Arbitration; Two More Filed, by Sarah Hawley, Athens Messenger via WOUB Public Media via woub.org
    ATHENS, Ohio, USA - After filing two grievances against Hocking College in December, the Hocking College Education Association (HCEA) has filed two additional grievances related to the budget cut measures implemented last fall.
    HCEA president Mark Yanko stated via email that two additional grievances have been filed in addition to the initial grievances filed by the union on Dec. 8.
    One of the new grievances concerns an English adjunct professor who is "full-time for day load" according to the union. Yanko stated that given this, the college should have recalled a faculty member who had been cut by the reduction in force.
    "The college reduced two faculty from 12- to 9-month contracts and have replaced the work they normally performed with interns; both violate unit protection language," stated Yanko of the second grievance filed this month by the union.
    The two grievances filed in December are now moving to arbitration. Grievances filed by the union first go to the college’s human resources department and proceed to the provost if not settled at that level. If the parties are not satisfied by a resolution at that time, the matter then proceeds to binding arbitration.
    The first grievance concerns the implementation of furlough days by the college and the board of trustees, while the second alleges that the college violated the collective bargaining agreement through the establishing of administrative positions “that will require the administrator(s) to perform bargaining unit work.”
    Furloughs were implemented for the current fiscal year and future years, The Messenger previously reported. The furloughs outlined through the budget cuts in November included furlough days over winter break and spring break, as well as 10 additional furlough days placed on the faculty.
    According to the professional bargaining unit contract, full-time faculty members are to be on campus no more than 169 days, although the current academic calendar only schedules 159 days on campus. The faculty will therefore be furloughed the 10-day difference, meaning they will now be paid for 159 days instead of 169 days.
    Yanko stated at the time the grievance was filed that for the past few years the faculty have been on campus for 159 days, but the pay has remained constant. Yanko questioned how the furlough and pay cut can be implemented when it is clearly written in the contract that the faculty be paid for up to 169 days.
    In effect, Yanko stated, the 10 days being furloughed are eliminating the 10 paid holidays that are written into the union contract.
    [Better to eliminate holidays than eliminate jobs, better timesizing than downsizing.]
    Regarding the second grievance filed in December, the collective bargaining agreement prohibits the reduction of positions within the bargaining unit as the result of administrative or supervisory positions. This is alleged to have been done through the creation of the department chairperson positions, which are non-bargaining unit positions.
    In a letter dated Nov. 18 to interim President Betty Young, union attorneys Susan Hayest Kozlowski and Lora A. Molnar state that a number of measures detailed in Young’s letter to college employees on Nov. 13 included a number of measures that violate the professional unit agreement between the college and the union.
    “The association plans to grieve all violations of the agreement,” according to the letter, which further states that there are additional claims that may result in grievances if the plans are implemented by the college.
    “We could potentially file more when the time is right,” said Yanko. “The intention is to file a grievance on anything grievable."
    [Interesting words for speakers of English as a second language: "grievable" and grievability.]

2/19/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Hogan's 'tax' on state workers, by Stephanie Gibson & Heather Pfeifer, BaltimoreSun.com
    BALTIMORE, Mryld., USA - Although Gov. Larry Hogan campaigned on no new taxes and, in fact, wants to roll back some of the taxes he thinks were unfairly instituted, his budget proposal actually levies a specific (and punitive) tax, through a contorted fiscal slight of hand, on state employees. The way this is accomplished is by his decision to recast the cost of living adjustment state employees just received this fiscal year into a "bonus." lRelated How much did Democrats dislike Hogan's speech? A lot
    A little history is in order. State employees have only recently emerged from a dismal run of frozen and reduced compensation. For fiscal years 2010, 2011 and 2012, state employees received no increases in compensation of any sort. In fact, during those three years state employees were furloughed every year. That's three years when state employees gave back significant portions of their salaries to help the state through the fiscal crisis. Most of us did this willingly, knowing that furloughs were helping us preserve jobs. Because our salaries were lower for those three years we did not have to say goodbye to colleagues who might have been laid off. Given the choice between furloughs and personnel cuts (and to be clear, none of us were actually given that choice) most of us would choose the temporary [time&]pay reduction. In 2013, a proverbial light appeared at the end of the long tunnel: State employees received their first cost of living adjustment (known as a COLA) in four years — a 2 percent increase. And in 2014, the legislature approved another 3 percent COLA. As everyone knows, COLAs are only part of the pay package. From 2009 until 2013, state employees had also not received any merit increases. It was only just in 2014 when the state allocated 2.5 percent for merit raises.
    But alas, our relief was to be short lived. Once again, in an effort to tighten the state's belt, legislators voted in the 2014 General Assembly session to push back the start of the next fiscal year's COLA for state employees to January of 2015, thus putting off for six months this much anticipated increase. Hence, the COLA was effectively cut in half for this current fiscal year.
    Now our newly elected governor says the state will take back the 2 percent COLA the legislature approved last session by saying that it is no longer a cost of living adjustment but is, instead, a bonus. Thus the governor has accomplished by wordsmithing what he could not accomplish in a real budget. As Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. and others have noted, Governor Hogan has balanced the budget on the backs of state employees. Because of budget cuts and rollbacks, some entities, like the University of Maryland College Park, have already announced that they will be furloughing employees once again this year.
    State employees are often a popular target for political, especially Republican, wrath. Yet let's not forget it is state employees who educate our children, keep the public safe and keep the state operating through all types of impediments. And it was state employees whose furloughs made it possible to keep the state operating through the dismal years following the Great Recession, avoiding tuition increases, for instance, at University System of Maryland schools for all the state's residents.
    So we find it disheartening, and frankly disingenuous, that Governor Hogan's campaign promise of "no new taxes" appears to apply only to those citizens who work in the private sector. Because come July 1, 2015, all state employees will see their paychecks go down by 2 percent , essentially a tax increase for them.
    Stephanie B. Gibson is an associate professor in the Klein Family School of Communications Design in the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Baltimore; her email is sgibson@ubalt.edu. Heather L. Pfeifer is an associate professor in the School of Criminal Justice in the College of Public Affairs at the University of Baltimore; her email is hpfeifer@ubalt.edu.

  2. Fast Retailing vows to stop abuses at garment factories, AP & Bloomberg via JapanTimes.co.jp
    TOKYO, Japan - Clothing empire Fast Retailing Co. says it will expand monitoring of its suppliers following complaints over labor violations and other problems.
    Yukihiro Nitta, in charge of corporate social responsibility at the clothing giant, said Wednesday the company’s oversight will extend to the fabric manufacturers who supply the garment companies that make clothes for Fast Retailing.
    Tadashi Yanai, the founder of Fast Retailing, is reported to be the richest man in Japan, with wealth estimated by business magazine Forbes at $17.8 billion as of April 2014. He has parlayed the men’s clothing store his father started in a western Japanese mining town into a global garment empire employing more than 30,000 workers.
    But the company’s low-cost, high-fashion production model is under pressure due to rising wages in China, obliging it to operate in lower-cost countries such as Cambodia and Bangladesh, where managing conditions at factories can prove more daunting.
    Yanai has set a goal of generating ¥5 trillion in annual sales by 2020, seeking to surpass rivals like Gap Inc. and Spain’s Inditex SA, which owns the Zara brand.
    The company had earlier announced broad plans to tighten controls on working hours and other conditions for workers at factories that are mostly in developing countries such as China, Vietnam, Cambodia and Bangladesh.
    Suppliers Dongguan Tomwell Garment Co. has cut working hours for factory workers. Pacific Textiles Ltd. is giving them one day off per week and will introduce a system to reduce hours while keeping up production volumes next month, Yamaguchi-based Fast Retailing said Thursday in a statement.
    That followed a report by labor rights groups detailing specific problems at two factories in southern China.
    Workers in China have increasingly agitated against their labor conditions, with operations at Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings Ltd., a major supplier to Nike Inc. and Adidas AG, idled temporarily by labor protests last year. IBM Corp., PepsiCo Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. were also affected by labor strife in the country.
    Fast Retailing said it has taken specific measures with suppliers to ensure working hours, air quality, temperatures and other working conditions will meet its standards.
    The company said it also will increase surprise audits of indirect suppliers such as textile-makers and conduct training on labor rights for workers and managers.
    “We believe that respect for human rights and ensuring fair working conditions are top priorities for the entire industry, and not just Fast Retailing,” said Nitta, the corporate social responsibility executive.
    [And here's a version of the story from yesterday -]
    Uniqlo Owner Cuts Hours at China Factories After Criticism, by Daryl Loo, (2/18) BOF via BusinessOfFashion.com
    Fast Retailing Co., Asia’s biggest clothing chain, said two of its China-based suppliers are reducing working hours following a report that criticized the factories making its Uniqlo garments for labor abuses.
    TOKYO, Japan — Fast Retailing Co., Asia’s biggest clothing chain, said two of its China-based suppliers are reducing working hours following a report that criticized the factories making its Uniqlo garments for labor abuses.
    Dongguan Tomwell Garment Co. has cut working hours of factory workers. Pacific Textiles Ltd. gave them one holiday per week and will introduce a system to reduce hours while keeping up production volumes next month, Yamaguchi, Japan-based Fast Retailing said today in a statement.
    The efforts follow investigations taken after the Jan. 11 report from Students & Scholars Against Misbehavior, a Hong Kong-based non-governmental organization. Other steps include the ending of a system of fines, air quality and temperature checks, and training on labor rights for workers who aren’t represented by unions, Fast Retailing said, adding it’s still in a dialogue with SACOM on other issues it found contradicted with the NGO’s report.
    Fast Retailing rose 0.5 percent to 43,705 yen at the close of Tokyo trading, while the benchmark Topix gained 1.4 percent.
    Workers in China have increasingly agitated against their labor conditions, with operations at Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings Ltd., a major supplier to Nike Inc. and Adidas AG, idled temporarily by labor protests last year. International Business Machines Corp., PepsiCo Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. had also been affected by labor strife in the country.
    Uniqlo - The global casualwear chain is the flagship brand of Fast Retailing and has become one of the world's largest clothing retailers.
    Editor: Stephanie Wong

2/18/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. 'déi Jonk Gréng' [=the young Greens] - Young Greens call for 21-hour workweek, by CS, Luxemburger Wort via wort.lu
    LUXEMBOURG - Asking political decision-maker to question neoliberal economic policy, the youth branch of Luxembourg's Green party has called for a gradual reduction of the workweek from 40 to 21 hours.
    The group said that it was part of junior politics to challenge accepted constructs, including labour.
    With the government, labour unions and employers currently debating the flexibilisation of working hours to make Luxembourg businesses more competitive, the Young Greens said that work should not become an “economic screw, that can be adjusted as needed.”
    [Yes it should, but it should be adjusted to maintain employment (and consumer spending!) in the context of increasing worksaving technology as translated by CEOs into un(der)employment and consumer cutbacks.]
    Asking whether we work to live or live or to work in an increasingly achievement-oriented society, “déi Jonk Grénk” propose a very different labour model.
    Through a gradual reduction of working hours to 21 per week, they argue, more jobs would be available. “Additionally, you would have more time for acquaintances, friends and family and substantially more possibilities to volunteer or contribute socially on different levels.”
    A better work-life balance would lead to positive changes in the economic rhythm, a statement by the young politicians reads, also leading to more sustainability in terms of emission levels.
    “Déi Jonk Gréng” based their evaluation on findings by the British think-tank New Economics Foundation, which in 2010 also called for a 21-hour working week.
    In a report, the New Economics Foundation argued that “a ‘normal’ working week of 21 hours could help to address a range of urgent, interlinked problems: overwork, unemployment, over-consumption, high carbon emissions, low well-being, entrenched inequalities, and the lack of time to live sustainably, to care for each other, and simply to enjoy life.”

  2. 'I was sold on the vision of the OBA', by Sarah Lagan, (2/17 late pickup) RoyalGazette.com
    [The One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) is the political party currently in power in Bermuda, three other major parties being the Progressive Labour Party (PLP), the United Bermuda Party and the Bermuda Democratic Alliance.]
    HAMILTON, Bermuda - The OBA’s vision for improving the economy is what attracted lifelong PLP member Vic Ball to join the current Government as senator back in November.
    Speaking to The Royal Gazette Vic Ball, who was principal purchasing and supply officer for the previous Government, said he believed the OBA’s business-friendly outlook was more aligned with his own.
    He said: “I was sold on the vision of the OBA. When I talked to people like Wayne Scott, Shawn Crockwell, Craig Cannonier and the Premier, I understood where they believed the country needed to go, especially economically. That is my primary reason for joining the team.”
    Speaking of Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy’s new work permit policy giving concessions to new businesses owners in Bermuda, Mr Ball said: “In order to attract foreign investment there are certain concessions that are going to need to be given. If someone is coming in and bringing tens of millions of dollars to invest in Bermuda they should be allowed to have their strongest team with them. That is where the policy will assist. Then as their business grows and they need more labour, then certainly they should be hiring Bermudians at that point. No question of a doubt.”
    Mr Ball said he thought that the introduction of term limits by the previous administration was not a good move for business in Bermuda.
    “I believe that, in addition to the global economic crises, the PLP’s policies were not business-friendly and I think that scared off a lot of international companies. I am talking about the term limit policy specifically — I believe that had a serious negative effect. That took jobs away from Bermudians which in turn took away more jobs [as a knock on effect] like in the restaurants and hotels.
    “I was a life member of the PLP and I don’t have anything against the PLP, I just believe in the vision of the OBA especially in getting Bermuda out of the debt crisis.”
    Mr Ball would not offer a concrete opinion on Sir John Swan’s recent suggestion that the 60/40 business ownership rule in favour of Bermudians should be abolished to attract new investment to the Island. He said the idea had merit but only if it didn’t disenfranchise Bermudians.
    While Mr Ball was a lifelong member of the PLP, he said he was only active in the party for a year. He is relatively new to politics and says he has been learning on the job.
    “I have certainly had some good experiences. I have a really good team about me — the Premier is a really good coach and mentor. Minister Crockwell is another very switched on intelligent person I work with closely.”
    Asked whether he has had any negative experiences in the world of politics so far, he added: “One of my really good friends stopped speaking to me.
    “I believe it might have been because of an op-ed I wrote appealing to the Government workers to accept some form of furloughs like one every two months for example.
    “Aside from that, I have had nothing but positive feedback, even from persons on the side of the PLP who know me.”
    Asked whether he believed there was any future in introducing scaled furlough days — imposing more for those with higher incomes, Mr Ball added: “It has merit but we shouldn’t assume that a person making $150,000 doesn’t have $170,000 worth of bills. But I do think the scaled furloughs does have some merit.”
    [Here's a first: scaled furlough days (or graduated furlough days) based on the model of graduated income taxes. Broadening the idea, we would have the concept of graduated worktime reduction in general. This could be a useful transition strategy until enough of a wage-level-raising labor-shortage-via-workweek-reduction is engineered to obviate the need for minimum wage legislation.]
    Speaking on party relations, Mr Ball said he hoped that the America’s Cup could present an opportunity for the two parties to work together.
    “If we can work together to put Bermudians back to work then I think it works better for everyone. I think that the America’s Cup is one of those game-changers where they can get together for the benefit for all Bermudians."

2/17/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Employment & Benefits: Germany - Limits to working hours: Employer risks of non-compliance, (2/18 pub date), by Martin Lützeler, CMS Hasche Sigle via InternationalLawOffice.com (subscription)
    Employer's duties
    Risks and fines

    BERLIN, Germany - Introduction
    Employers must expect an increase in the number of reviews of employees' working hours by the occupational health and safety authorities.
    Such reviews are triggered by employee complaints and are increasingly conducted in offices and the service sector. Consequently, reviewers no longer focus on production companies with fixed shifts, time clocks and break times. Instead, they focus on service companies that easily lose track of the law, relying on trust-based working hours or flexible working hour models. Home office and variable work packages and project work are also affected.

    Employer's duties
    The employer is responsible for ensuring that daily maximum working hours (10 hours) are not exceeded and average working hours (eight hours) are complied with. Work on public holidays and Sundays is permitted only for special work (not including normal office work). Breaks during the working day and rest periods between two working days (11 hours) must also be taken. Deviations are permitted only within strict limits or with explicit official approval. The provisions do not apply to officers, but 'officers' as defined by statute are an exception in reality.
    In addition, the employer must fulfil its documentation duties, including keeping records for two years of time worked exceeding eight working hours per working day. This was augmented at the beginning of 2015 by obligatory records under the new Minimum Wage Act. According to the act, the beginning, end and duration of daily working hours must be recorded for holders of mini-jobs and those in certain sectors, including:
    • construction;
    • restaurants and hotels;
    • passenger transport and logistics;
    • travelling performance;
    • forestry;
    • building cleaning;
    • exhibition-stand construction; and
    • meat.
    This new duty to keep records is likely to cause additional reviews to be conducted by the supervisory authorities in the coming months. During such reviews, compliance with the Working Hours Act will also be checked.
    Driven by the concern that employees could demand remuneration for their exact recorded working hours, many companies have turned a blind eye to the requirements of the Working Hours Act in the past. However, compliance with the act is mandatory.
    In this context, employers may transfer many duties (including the duty to keep records) to employees with the relevant responsibility. The employer must then make random checks as to whether the employees are fulfilling these duties. Otherwise, there is the risk of official consequences.
    Risks and fines
    The supervisory authorities can:
    • demand information from the employer;
    • order measures that the employer must carry out; and
    • impose fines for violations.
    An entry in the Central Trade Register is another imminent consequence. A look at the schedule of fines quickly reveals that violations are not worthwhile. A breach of the duty to keep records will result in a €1,600 fine per breach if committed intentionally. Although only up to half of the maximum fine is imposed in the event of negligence, considerable fines can nevertheless accrue depending on the number of employees. Any party which, for example, employs staff beyond the working hour limits or does not allow rest periods in due time is equally as liable as a repeat offender if these offences are committed intentionally and carry health risks. The consequences in such cases involve:
    • imprisonment of up to one year; or
    • a fine.
    Further, employers which violate the duty to keep records required by the Minimum Wage Act will be fined up to €30,000.
    Compliance officers should review whether employers are complying with Working Hours Act regulations and how statutory rules and assignment of employees can be reconciled.
    For further information on this topic please contact Martin Lützeler at CMS Hasche Sigle by telephone (+49 221 77 16 159), fax (+49 221 77 16 332) or email (martin.luetzeler@cms-hs.com). The CMS Hasche Sigle website can be accessed at www.cms-hs.com.
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  2. PM Cameron wants 30 hours community service from young British dole drawers, by Benjamin Katz, Bloomberg via biznews.com
    [Bet Cameron, despite constantly bashing the "lazy French" for their 35-hour workweek, is mighty glad he can use the 10-hour jobsearch to get him off the hook for finding more than 30 hrs/wk of community service in the robotics age.]
    Now here’s a novel idea from British Prime Minister David Cameron. Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron leaves Number 10 Downing Street to attend Prime Minister's Questions at parliament in London. Instead of just getting to draw unemployment benefits, if the Tory leader is re-elected, young Brits will be forced to give back some of their time back. Like 30 hours of community service (plus 10 hours of active job seeking). Some great ideas have come out of the UK. This could be another one. Imagine the potential impact on South Africa if millions of unemployed youths were given a purpose of some kind? – AH [= webmaster of biznews.com in South Africa?]
    LONDON, England, U.K. — A re-elected Conservative government would require jobless young Britons to make meals for the elderly in exchange for receiving state benefits, Prime Minister David Cameron will say in a speech Tuesday.
    Unemployed 18-to-21-year-olds not enrolled in education or training will have to carry out 30 hours of community service and 10 hours of job searching each week under the proposed Community Work Program, according to a statement from Cameron’s office. So-called NEETs [non-employed early? teenagers] between age 18 and 21 account for 10 percent of all jobless-benefit claims, the statement said.
    With the race for the May 7 general election neck-and-neck, Cameron is trying to win voters by taking a tough approach to welfare, which accounts for about 30 percent of total government spending. The opposition Labour Party announced its own proposals to boost the economy Monday with a plan to guarantee an apprenticeship for every school leaver with the necessary grades.
    “We want to get rid of that well-worn path from the school gate, down to the Job Center, and onto a life on benefits,” Cameron said in the statement. “From day one, they must realize that welfare is not a one-way street. Yes, we will help them, but there is no more something for nothing.”
    An ICM poll Monday put the Tories four points ahead Labour, though other surveys over the past week give Labour the edge. Neither is expected to win an outright parliamentary majority, raising the prospect of a coalition involving two or more parties.
    Cameron said his measures are aimed at tackling long-term youth unemployment. He has already committed a Tory government to a Youth Allowance requiring unemployed young people to undertake an apprenticeship or community work after six months of receiving benefits. His latest plan would apply to those not in work or education for six months before claiming benefits, with activities including making meals for older people and working for local charities.
    [Here's another version ]
    David Cameron wants young people to work 30 hours a week for benefits in new Tory plan, by Lizzie Deardon, The London Independent via independent.co.uk
    The Prime Minister said 'neets' need to learn 'order and discipline' (photo 1 caption)
    David Cameron has already committed the next Conservative government to abolishing the Jobseekers’ Allowance for 18- to 21-year-olds, and replacing it with a ‘youth allowance’ (photo 2 caption)
    Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne pose for a selfie photograph with an apprentice[?] (photo 3 caption)
    LONDON, England, U.K. - David Cameron's plan to force young people to work for benefits would see them working 30 hours a week for a fraction of the minimum wage, it emerged today.
    The proposals would put young adults who have been out of work, education or training for six months (“neets”) into compulsory community work such as making meals for the elderly or joining local charities.
    Under the scheme, Jobseekers’ Allowance would be abolished for 18 to 21-year-olds and replaced with the already announced “Youth Allowance” of the same amount - £57.35 a week, or £1.91 per hour of work.
    The Prime Minister claimed that the programme would “effectively abolish long-term youth unemployment”.
    Speaking ahead of an appearance in Hove today, he said: “(Our reforms) are not just about saving money.
    “They are about changing lives and making this a country that rewards work and gives everyone the chance of a better future.
    “That is why we are taking further steps to help young people make something of their lives. Our goal in the next parliament is effectively to abolish long-term youth unemployment.
    “We want to get rid of that well-worn path from the school gate, down to the jobcentre, and on to a life on benefits.”
    Mr Cameron claimed young people need "work experience and the order and discipline of turning up for work each day” while searching for a full-time job.
    “From day one they must realise that welfare is not a one-way street,” he added.
    “Yes, we will help them, but there is no more something for nothing. They must give back to their community too.”
    The Conservatives said the £20 million policy would be funded by initial savings from the nationwide introduction of Universal Credit.
    After six months on the Youth Allowance, claimants would be required to undertake an apprenticeship or community work for their benefits.
    It is understood that the new plans will not apply to young people who have completed independent work experience in the six months before their benefits claim or the small number of university graduates who could be drawn into the scheme.
    The Community Work Programme policy would apply to the roughly 50,000 new 18 to 21-year-old claimants a year who have been “neet” for six months - around 10 per cent of claims.
    According to Downing Street, there is evidence that community work placements are more effective in moving claimants off benefits than the normal Jobcentre Plus regime.
    But a Liberal Democrat spokesperson criticised the Tory proposals as “all stick, no carrot”, saying they were designed to “punish” rather than to help people into work, the BBC reported.
    The shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Rachel Reeves, said the party had “abandoned thousands of young people”.
    Under Labour plans, young people who have been unemployed for a year would be offered a six-month job, paid for by a tax on bankers’ bonuses.
    The "Compulsory Jobs Guarantee" would also apply to adults aged 25 or over claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance for two years or more.
    Ed Miliband has also warned that young unemployed people who refuse to comply with the scheme could lose benefits under a Labour government.
    Additional reporting by PA.

2/15-16/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Ministry of Labor fines airlines for overworking staff, by Lii Wen, 2/16 (2/17 over dateline) TaipeiTimes.com
    TAIPEI, Taiwan - Nine airlines have been fined for violating labor regulations since early this month after the Ministry of Labor launched a round of inspections directed at protecting the working conditions of flight personnel.
    According to a statement issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, TransAsia and China Airlines were fined for violating labor regulations capping working hours at 12 per day.
    The ministry launched inspections of the nation’s airlines following the crash of TransAsia Airways Flight GE235 on Feb. 4, which prompted questions about the working hours of the flight personnel and whether they were exhausted from overwork.

    Out of a total of 15 airlines in the nation, nine companies offer passenger flights and the remaining six specialize in cargo transport or other services.
    Other airlines were fined for violations such as failing to provide employee attendance records or failure to hold labor-management meetings.
    The companies have been subject to fines between NT$20,000 to NT$300,000 by local labor departments around the nation, the ministry said.
    The ministry announced it would soon conduct further labor inspections of the 34 foreign airline companies with operations in Taiwan.
    Increased labor inspections of transportation and retail industries are set to take place during the Lunar New Year holiday, which begins on Thursday, the administration said.
    The working conditions of flight personnel received significant media attention after China Airlines employees launched a string of protests over the size of their year-end bonuses and accused the company of forcing them to endure long hours and harsh working conditions.
    The issue received heightened media scrutiny after the TransAsia crash, when it was revealed that the flight’s pilot had already flown to Kinmen once on the same day.
    In response, China Airlines said that working hours for the aviation industry often exceed limits as a result of long overseas flights, adding that the company offers its employees NT$1,000 in compensation for hours worked in excess of the 12-hour cap.
    TransAsia airlines said the company complied with standards set by the Civic Aeronautics Administration, adding that the ministry’s inspections employed different calculation methods from those set by the company.
    Additional reporting by CNA [China News Agency]

  2. Apple factories slip in enforcing work hour limits during iPhone blitz, 2/15 (2/16 dateline issue?) The New York Times via TheAge.com.au
    Workers at Apple contractor Foxconn [HQ: Shenzhen]. (photo caption)
    [Lilywhite Apple is still using the company that has had to install an antisuicide safety netting all around the top of its cityblock-sized factory?]
    TAIPEI, Taiwan - Apple sold more iPhones last year than anyone could have imagined. But the company found that a lower percentage of factories assembling its products complied with a policy preventing excessive work hours.
    The company's policy limits factory workers to a 60-hour workweek. Apple said it had found that 92 per cent of the more than 1.1 million workers in its supply chain worked no more than 60 hours a week last year, compared with 95 per cent in 2013.
    Apple sold an enormous number of iPhones last year — last quarter alone, it sold 74.5 million smartphones — so it is not surprising that factories pushed more of their workers over the limits.
    [Oh not surprising at all, la-la-laaa - let's just reinstate slavery so we can show how blasé & sophistiqué we can be about that too.]
    Things also do not appear as grim as they did six years ago, when Apple said 41 per cent of audited factories were compliant with the 60-hour maximum workweek in 2008.
    Apple declined to comment on the decrease in compliance with its 60-hour maximum workweek. Jeff Williams, Apple's head of operations, argued in a letter published online that every violation discovered by the company could lead to improvements.
    "People sometimes point to the discovery of problems as evidence that our process isn't working. Nothing could be further from the truth," Williams wrote.
    On the same day that Apple published the audit results, China Labor Watch, a workers' rights group based in New York, published a report on conditions at some factories that make Apple products. It noted that pay stubs for workers at Pegatron [HQ: Taipei], a supplier that works on iPhones and iPads, revealed they worked an average of 60 hours or more a week, and 52 per cent of workers worked 90 hours of overtime each month. However, its sample size was small — the audit was an inspection of 96 pay stubs of Pegatron workers last month.
    Apple said it had made significant progress eliminating the use of conflict minerals, a term used to describe minerals that come from areas engaged in warfare. Apple said its report had verified 135 conflict-free smelters — machines used for cooking down rock to extract metal — compared with 57 smelters in 2013.

2/14/2015 – News & opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid- & 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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Kingdom News: Work hour rules ‘to make private sector attractive to Saudis’, by Omniah Khudari, Okaz via SaudiGazette.com.sa
    JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — The Ministry of Labor has announced that it will issue new unified and regulated working hours for all workers in the private sector.
    Economist Abdullah Al-Maghlouth praised the Ministry of Labor for its decision to regulate working hours.
    He said: “Expatriates don’t mind working 12 and sometimes 14 hours a day. However, it is very distressful for Saudis to compete with that.
    “Saudis value their social commitments and want to work eight hours a day and have the weekends off.

    “With the new regulated timings, more and more Saudis will definitely be seen working in the private sector.”
    Fellow economist Abdulhakim Al-Saadi predicted more than 400,000 Saudis would join the private workforce by the end of this year due to the ministry’s new working hours regulations.
    He said: “I am surprised it took the ministry so long to impose unified working hours in the private sector. The study for the decision was available and complete a while ago.
    “The Kingdom now has over 300,000 graduates on an annual basis.
    “Once we figure out how to attract Saudis to the private sector, we can safely say that the unemployment crisis will finally rest.”
    Economist Mohammad Hasan Yousef said there are a number of obstacles hindering the Saudi youth from joining the workforce.
    He said: “The Saudi youth need to be given a suitable education so they meet the demands of the private sector.
    “They also need to develop certain skills in order to be able to integrate into the private sector.
    “They need to learn how to be loyal to their organization and they need to learn that job hopping negatively affects their chances of promotion.” He added that the retail industry hires over 2 million expatriates and has the capacity to include more.
    “I don’t know if young Saudis still aim to join the public sector. The public sector has been saturated with applicants, candidates, and workers.
    “Saudis must understand that their future lies in the private sector."

  2. Police in India put up with long working hours without offs', by PTI, (2/14 early pickup) Znews via zeenews.india.com
    NEW DELHI, India - Police in India put up with long and irregular working hours without offs with more than 68 per cent Station House Officers (SHOs) and over 76 per cent supervisory officers and other personnel remaining on duty for 11 hours or more every day, a study has said.
    According to the study sponsored by the Bureau of Police Research and Development, nearly 90 per cent of police station staff across the states and the various types of police stations, currently work for more than eight hours a day.
    "Further, according to more than 68 per cent of SHOs and over 76 per cent of supervisory officers, staff members of their police stations have to remain on duty for 11 hours or more per day.
    "27.7 per cent SHOs and 30.4 per cent supervisory officers even reported that their staff worked for more than 14 hours a day," says the study, 'National Requirement of Manpower for 8-Hour Shifts in Police Stations'.
    More than 73.6 per cent of police station staff indicated that they were not able to avail weekly offs even once a month.
    Though the SHOs were guarded in their responses on this aspect, yet nearly 60 per cent of them confirmed that their staff were either not able to avail weekly offs even once a month or could avail do so, at the most, once or twice a month.
    "What makes the situation even worse is that most (over 80 per cent) of the staff are commonly recalled to duty during their off time to deal with emergencies of law and order, VIP bandobasts or other matters.
    "A majority of SHOs also confirmed this trend. The situation of inordinately long and irregular working hours for police station staff is, thus, quite serious," the study says.
    The BPR&D sponsored study says that long and irregular hours have multiple negative impacts on efficient policing, since weary, over-worked and over-exhausted personnel cannot be expected to put in their best in their work.
    The study establishes the resultant negative effects of the undue physical strain leading to cumulative physical as well as mental fatigue for personnel.
    Nearly three-fourths (74 per cent) of the respondents among police station staff reported that the current working hour regime led to various kinds of health problems for them.
    A large majority (over 76 per cent) of SHOs also felt that the current duty hour arrangement was deleterious to the health of staff.
    Most of the specific health problems enumerated by the staff respondents in this regard fall in the domain of occupational hazards and can be directly attributed to long hours on the job.
    "Given the healthcare systems normally applicable to government employees, it could as well be that government expenses to treat these health consequences, along with the quality of man-hours lost due to their adverse effects, would cost the police organisation much more than operating in shifts," it says.
    The study also brings out that the current duty-hour regime is not found conducive by police station staff for attending to their personal/family needs and social life and commitments.
    That a very large proportion (nearly 80 per cent) of staff has averred so, needs to be taken serious note of, the study adds.
    The responses of staff, cutting across rank, age groups and educational qualification clearly bring out widespread disenchantment with the existing working hour regime. This should ring alarm bells, the study says.
    An equally large number (82 per cent) of SHOs also either specifically agreed with this or preferred to evade the question.
    All this, in turn, takes a toll on the morale, motivation and self-esteem of the staff. The overall frustration manifests itself in the offensive conduct and behaviour with the public by many of them, which leads to erosion of societal image of the police and alienation of the public.
    "The problem of inordinately long working hours of police station personnel is serious. The situation cannot be compared with the requirement of overtime work faced by employees in other government offices and establishments.
    "For them, in most cases, it is an occasional requirement and not an all-365-day affair. Further, they are either paid adequate overtime allowance or allowed compensatory off time in lieu of extra hours put in,"
    it says.

2/13/2015 – News & opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid- & 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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Local company furloughs workers after port strife, by Laura Fosmire, (2/12 late pickup) StatesmanJournal.com
    STAYTON, Ore., USA - As tensions mount over labor issues at the Port of Portland, its effects are beginning to trickle down to businesses in the Willamette Valley.
    Slowdowns at the port have forced one Stayton manufacturer to take drastic measures — including furloughing 180 employees for two weeks in January.
    During SEDCOR's monthly luncheon on Wednesday, Marty Olson of Mastercraft Furniture spoke about local impacts of the Port of Portland negotiations.
    "My materials have been severely impacted, especially since January," Olson said. "I've had numerous containers diverted to other ports. I had a container diverted to the East Coast, and it was lost for three weeks."
    SEDCOR, or the Strategic Economic Development Corp., is a private nonprofit membership group whose mission is to enhance and diversify the economy of the Willamette Valley. The organization holds monthly luncheons to discuss issues affecting area businesses.
    Olson, who regularly sells materials to China and Europe — "IKEA is one of my largest customers" — said the severe disruption in his shipping has serious consequences.
    "For me, what's sad is I had to furlough 180 people for two weeks in January because we're missing supplies," he said to the assembled crowd. "I'm dependent on the ports working. And in a small town like Stayton, the ripple effect of not giving people a paycheck for two weeks ... it hurts."
    [But not as much as job losses. Better furloughs than firings, hourscuts than jobcuts, timesizings than downsizings.]
    Since July, the port's workers, represented by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, and the terminal operators, represented by the Pacific Maritime Association, have been locked in an apparent standoff over negotiating terms of an expired labor contract.
    Productivity at the port has taken an extreme hit as a result of the ongoing antagonism. Earlier this month, shipping companies (which are all foreign-owned) began impressing upon port officials that they would soon refuse to do business at the port entirely.
    And even as SEDCOR was discussing the issue on Wednesday, one of the port's largest shipping lines, Hanjin Shipping Co., informed Portland it would cease service by March 9.
    Shelly Boshart Davis, vice-president of Bossco Trading, was the primary presenter during Wednesday's lunch to provide background information on the slowdown at the Port of Portland and its impact on the Willamette Valley's agriculture.
    Bossco Trading is a trucking and transit company based in Tangent specializing in agriculture transport.
    Overall, she said, the issues at the Port of Portland have had a severe, negative impact on how Oregon industries are viewed by the rest of the world.
    "We look unreliable," Davis said. "We have a black eye to the rest of the world."
    One of the biggest blows has been to the Willamette Valley's agriculture industry. Forty percent of Oregon's agricultural products are exported, which accounts for almost 20 percent of the state's total exports.
    With productivity jammed at the port, desperate exporters are turning to other methods of transportation, including trucking and rail. But those methods are significantly more costly and already backlogged by panicked exporters.
    Which means Oregon's $5.4 billion agriculture industry could soon see a very rapid decline.
    Numbers presented during the SEDCOR lunch showed that U.S. agriculture exports through West Coast ports have already experienced a 50 percent decline from one year to the next.
    In November 2013, the country was exporting more than $3.48 billion in agricultural products. By November of 2014 that number had plummeted to $1.75 billion.
    Now, other Oregon industries are beginning to feel the effects.
    Rod Lucas, president of Turner Lumber, said he learned just Monday that service for one of his biggest customers came "to a complete halt."
    "We have wood sitting at the dock that's been there since November," he said. "It's probably not going to be good once it gets to the customer in India.
    "We're going to lose markets if this doesn't get resolved," he added. "I've had this contract for seven years, and we're probably going to lose it."
    lfosmire@StatesmanJournal.com, (503) 399-6709 or follow on Twitter at @fosmirel

  2. Bill gives SCSU option for 20-day furlough, The Times & Democrat via TheTandD.com
    ORANGEBURG, S.C., USA - A bill that would allow South Carolina State University [SCSU] to implement a furlough of up to 20 days advanced in the state Senate on Thursday.
    S.C. State President Thomas Elzey had asked lawmakers for the ability to make employees take up to seven unpaid days off.
    Those plans have not changed, but the 20-day window gives S.C. State more flexibility should it be needed, according to S.C. State Vice President of External Affairs and Institutional Advancement Sonja A. Bennett-Bellamy.
    The Senate bill was given second reading on Thursday. After it passes the Senate, it still needs approval from the House.
    The Senate version of the bill could save about $2.4 million this fiscal year if S.C. State implements the 20-day furlough, according to a fiscal impact study. A voluntary furlough announced last year has already saved the university $92,823.
    A seven-day furlough would save the university $900,000.
    There is also a separate House version of the furlough bill by Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg. It would make S.C. State’s highest-paid employees take more time off.

    Cobb-Hunter’s bill states that employees with an annual salary of $50,000 or less must take a furlough for five days. The furlough must be for 15 days for employees with an annual salary of more than $50,000 under her bill.
    The Orangeburg Democrat has said she plans to amend the bill so that employees who make $25,000 or less would only take a furlough of two to three days.
    S.C. State’s total annual payroll for full-time employees is $32.6 million.
    Contact the writer: 803-533-5570

  3. Indian employees prefer easy work hours to higher pay, Press Trust of India via Business-Standard.com
    58% want better work-life balance\;\ 8 out of 10 will give up higher pay or career jumps for skill development..
    NEW DELHI, India - Eight out of 10 employees in India are likely to give up higher pay or career advancement for the opportunity to learn new skills, according to a report by global workforce solutions leader, Kelly Services.
    Apart from skill development, work-life balance is one aspect that potential employees are considering while taking up a new job with 58 per cent of Indian employees likely to give up higher pay and/or career growth or advancement for a more flexible work schedule.
    "It is extremely important to ensure a company's compensation and benefits plans are competitive, but retaining workers also involves giving employees opportunities to improve their work-life balance, offering them flexible work arrangements, and providing clear plans for their further training and development," Kelly Services & OCG India Managing Director Kamal Karanth said.
    The study titled 'Workers preference and workplace agility', said that attracting and retaining employees goes beyond offering competitive pay.
    Another important trend that has been observed is the preference to work for a global company rather than a national company as 62 per cent of workers in the APAC region would prefer to work in a global company as compared to 10 per cent of workers surveyed who preferred to work in national companies.
    Additionally, the paper also said there is a relatively high degree of labour mobility inherent in the workforce.
    In the Asia Pacific region, many workers are very willing to relocate for work, with 21 per cent prepared to move to another country, and 19 per cent within the same country/district/province.
    "It is important for organisations to understand the attributes that are attractive to prospective employees. Firms need to be able to assess their relative appeal as an employer to set their recruitment and retention strategies. A culture that is collaborative, creative and team-oriented, and has access to leading edge technologies, may well be a strong point of differentiation," Karanth added.

2/12/2015 – News & opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid- & 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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Guest column: Work share program deserves a legislative shot, by Derek Thomas & posted by Lesley Weidenbener, Indiana Institute for Working Families via Franklin College Journalism via TheStateHouseFile.com
    The estimated number of jobs [in Indiana that would be] saved is based on take up rates from a recent Upjohn Institute report. For a range of take up scenarios, we applied the U.S. average and Rhode Island’s take up rate. We applied Washington State’s distribution of industries to determine our distribution (cited in our report on page 20). *(graph caption) [scan down to graph]
    INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., USA - The best way to stimulate the economy is by keeping workers on the job through work sharing. According to Moody’s Analytics, the return is greater than infrastructure investments or tax cuts.
    [Or "quantitative easing" by central banks like the Fed or the ECB?!]
    A work sharing program – available in 28 states – is a voluntary and cost-equivalent alternative to traditional unemployment insurance [UI] that allows an employer to have the option of reducing the hours and wages instead of laying off a portion of its workforce to match decreased demand. The reduction in wages would be supplemented by a portion of UI benefits—typically equal to half of lost wages.
    The American Enterprise Institute’s Kevin Hasset said it best: “Instead of unemployment benefits that effectively pay people for not working, we would be paying people for working shorter hours.”
    This alternative better reflects the ebb and flow of our closely connected 21st century economy than traditional unemployment benefits – particularly for a state such as Indiana that relies heavily on manufacturing exports. According to Fitch’s Rating Agency “[Indiana’s manufacturing-concentrated] economy… exposes the state to economic downturns.” This means that the one-fourth of manufacturing jobs in Indiana that depend on exports will continue to be impacted by the uncertainty of a global economy.
    The impact of these losses isn’t lost on most Hoosiers; despite a relatively strong rebound, manufacturing employment is still down nearly 25,000 jobs since the recession started and 150,000 jobs since the year 2000.
    While it’s a relatively small dent, our analysis shows that had policymakers had the foresight to implement work sharing prior to the Great Recession, anywhere from 1,862 – 9,984 Hoosier mid- to high-wage jobs – such as manufacturing – could have been saved from 2007 through 2010.
    Because work sharing is a win-win-win, it’s harder to find a program with wider bipartisan support from economists, governors and state legislators. In Indiana, work sharing enjoys support from the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, the Indiana AFL-CIO, employers such as Subaru Indiana and lawmakers from both political parties (federal and state).
    It’s easy to see why:
    The employer wins by reducing the costs of recruitment, hiring, and training workers once normal business resumes. It also affords employers greater control over UI charges by reducing schedules only as required by production demand in any given week. As the state grapples with skilling-up our workforce, retaining skilled workers is why Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder signed work-sharing legislation in July 2012.
    The employee wins by maintaining wages, health benefits and avoiding the ranks of the unemployed. That’s why Wisconsin’s Governor, Scott Walker, signed legislation. “Instead of getting a pink slip during an economic downturn, workers now have an opportunity to stay on the job and receive unemployment benefits for the hours they lose,” Walker said.
    Finally, the state wins by avoiding the secondary job losses – and the accompanying revenue losses – that inevitably result from layoffs.
    During the Great Recession, Hoosier families saw some of the greatest increases in poverty and child poverty, and some of the largest declines in household income than most of the nation, and most of the time, all neighboring states. How we fare during the next recession depends on action today.
    Since World War II, economic expansions have lasted an average of 58 months – the last three have lasted 95 months. After more than three years of debate, including multiple study committees and the lost opportunity that was millions of dollars in federal support, we are now 68 months into our post-recession economic expansion without a plan to protect jobs when the next, inevitable, recession hits.
    Derek Thomas is senior policy analyst for the the Indiana Institute for Working Families, a program of the Indiana Community Action Association that conducts research and promotes public policies to help Hoosier families achieve and maintain economic self-sufficiency.

  2. The cost of a holiday, by Nicola Briggs, Dentons via Lexology.com
    LONDON, U.K. - Under English law, all workers receive 5.6 weeks of paid holiday every year. This is 28 days for a full-time worker working a five-day week—already generous when compared with vacation globally. Four weeks of this holiday comes from European law, while the extra 1.6 weeks is UK specific.
    Traditionally holiday pay has been a worker's basic rate of pay for those with normal working hours (plus guaranteed contractual overtime). However, European cases have already decided that workers must receive their "normal pay" during their holiday. This is not always just a basic pay rate.
    In November 2014, the UK Employment Appeal Tribunal looked specifically at overtime payments, with potentially expensive results. It also decided how far back workers could claim they have been underpaid holiday pay by their employer in the past.
    The decision reiterated that workers with normal working hours must receive holiday pay that is equal to the pay that they "normally receive". This does not mean looking at the normal working hours in an employment contract. Where a person has a settled working pattern that includes compulsory overtime (i.e. overtime that a worker must work if their employer offers it), employers must include these overtime payments when calculating holiday pay. The judge accepted that, for a payment to be "normal", a worker must receive a payment for a sufficient period of time. One new battleground in the future will be how often a worker must work overtime for it to be "normal". One-off or ad hoc overtime arrangements will not be caught, but the dividing line will be fact-specific.
    The judge did not specifically address voluntary overtime (overtime a worker could refuse to work). It is likely that tribunals will deal with this overtime in a similar way (i.e. a settled pattern of voluntary overtime will be treated as normal pay). The ramifications of this case will not end there. Unions in particular eagerly awaited this decision. There will be further cases on what other pay and allowances employers must include when setting holiday pay. Arguments around bonuses are likely to be key.
    Employers should not underestimate the potential effects of the decision. The government has previously estimated that some five million workers may not have been receiving enough holiday pay to meet the new rules. Soon after this decision, the government announced it was setting up a task force to assess the ruling and to discuss how to "limit its impact" on businesses.
    The recent decision also looked at backdated claims. Workers can bring a claim for an unlawful deduction from their wages if they have been underpaid for their holiday, but they must do so within three months of the underpayment (i.e. the holiday). A worker can also claim for a series of deductions for the same kind of underpayment. These claims must be brought within three months of the most recent underpayment. There was concern that these claims could extend back to 1998, the year the rules came into force. Helpfully the judge decided that a break of more than three months between underpayments broke the "series". This significantly reduces the potential liability for historic claims. Although the judge gave permission to appeal, the relevant union has since suggested that it does not currently propose to appeal this point. There is a risk of breach of contract claims but only where an employment contract has incorporated the relevant statutory rules (and this is rare).
    Obviously this presents potentially a significant financial liability for employers with staff who currently work a lot of compulsory (or potentially regular) overtime, but are only paid basic pay while on holiday. Previous cases have decided that pay intrinsically linked to tasks a worker must perform (i.e. commission) and pay linked to professional status should also be included. Strictly, all these decisions only apply to the minimum four weeks' holiday under European law. However, it would likely be difficult to make a distinction for payroll purposes in practice. Employers should assess their current holiday pay arrangements, with a particular focus on employees' overtime patterns, commission, allowances and bonuses. They can then assess what risk and financial liability they face, for both holiday pay in the future and historic claims.

2/11/2015 – News & opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid- & 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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Indiana Group Touts Work Sharing - Uncertain Whether Lawmakers Will Hear Proposal, by Mike Corbin, 93.1FM WIBC via wibc.com
    INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., USA - A Hoosier [=Indiana] family group is trying to create a work sharing program in Indiana.
    Indiana Institute for Working Families Senior Policy Advisor Derek Thomas says they're trying for a third year to get Indiana lawmakers to hear the proposal. Thomas says work sharing is a voluntary, cost equivalent alternative to traditional unemployment insurance.
    Thomas says under work sharing, employers dealing with falling demand and revenue would reduce worker wages and hours instead of laying off workers.
    He says the move would keep workers on the job with their benefits while unemployment insurance would cover much of the wage gap instead of the total cost of laid off workers.
    Thomas says the program would help employers retain talent and save on future recruiting costs. He says it remains unclear whether the proposal will get a reading during the current session.

  2. Pres. Obama Slams Staples, Inc. Over Working Hours Policy - Pres. Obama said “shame on them” to large corporations using ACA as an excuse for cutting back workers’ wages, posted by Marie Cabural, ValueWalk.com
    [So the problem is really their wages&benefits policy. And not even Obama realizes that if we cut hours systemically, the resulting reduction of the current floods of anxious resumes would flexibly raise wages by Market forces. So again, with T.S. Eliot: "The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason." Shorter hours is happening anyway - can't be stopped when kneejerk CEO response to worksaving technology is downsizing (and then they expect GROWTH???) - but not the best way!]
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - President Barack Obama criticized Staples, Inc. (NASDAQ:SPLS) over its working hours policy that prohibits its employees from working more than 25 hours a week to avoid paying benefits under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
    [Let's see if the other party, which has been attacking Obamacare for its 30-hour workweek, now attack Staples for its not 35-hour, not 30-hour, but TWENTY-FIVE-hour workweek! Naw, they'll just blame the O'Balmster same as ever = bo-o-ring.]
    During a recent interview with Buzzfeed, Pres. Barack Obama was asked about his reaction regarding the report that Staples is threatening to fire employees who will more than 25 hours.
    The president was informed that one of the managers of the office supply retailer said to a worker that “Obama’s responsible” for the policy implemented by Staples. Pres. Obama’s comments on Staples policy
    In response to the issue, Pres. Obama said, “I haven’t looked at Staples stock lately or what the compensation of the CEO is, but I suspect that they could well afford to treat their workers favorably and give them some basic financial security.”
    Staples recently announced its agreement to acquire Office Depot Inc (NYSE:ODP) for approximately $6.3 billion.
    Pres. Obama emphasized that if Staples cannot afford, it “should be willing to allow those workers to get the Affordable Care Act without cutting wages.”
    He also pointed out that there is no reason for an employer currently providing healthcare to their workers to discourage them from either getting health insurance on the job or being able to avail themselves of the Affordable Care Act.
    The Affordable Care Act required companies with more than 50 employees to pay for health insurance if they are working 30 hours or more per week.
    Pres. Obama also said “shame on them’ to large corporations generating billions of dollars in profits, and using the interest of his administration in providing health insurance as an excuse for cutting back workers’ wages. Staples says its unfortunate Pres. Obama is attacking a major tax payer
    In a statement to Buzzfeed, Staples spokesperson Mark Cautela said its report regarding the company’s policy limiting the working hours of part-time workers was “misleading.”
    Cautela emphasized that the policy has been implemented for more than a decade. It predates the Affordable Care Act. He said, “Unfortunately, the president appears not to have all the facts.”
    “It’s unfortunate that the president is attacking a company that provides more than 85,000 jobs and is a major tax payer. We are very proud of our associates and offer competitive wages and benefits. Staples is a leader in helping associates build a secure future,” added Cautela.

  3. King targets city's staffing costs, by Gord Young gord.young@sunmedia.ca, The Nugget via nugget.com
    TORONTO, Ont., Canada - Coun. Mark King wants to rein in personnel costs at city hall to help control rising taxes.
    King plans to table a number of suggestions for cutting costs this year including the implementation of a hiring freeze, reduced work weeks, and scheduling changes for city staff.
    “We can't go back to the taxpayer and ask for money,” said King, suggesting residents can no longer afford year-over-year tax hikes.
    He said personnel costs are by far the biggest issue within the city's operating budget and are a major factor in driving up tax bills.
    In addition to an immediate hiring freeze, King said he will propose lieu days each month for city staff or a reduced work week of 38 hours, down from 40 hours, during the next round of deliberations later this month. The move to a 38-hour work week could save as about $1.6 million, he said.
    ["Lieu days"?]
    King will also suggest the city look to its workers for ideas about how to shave about $1 million from overall personnel costs, which represent more than 30% of the city's operating costs.
    The city's personnel costs are expected to total about $38.6 million this year, up from $37.6 million in 2014. And those costs are forecast to reach about $43.4 million in 2018.
    King is calling for 12-hour shifts in the water and sewer department as well as restricting annual holidays to between October and April in order to save on overtime costs.
    And he wants management to look for a wage and benefits freeze during the next round of contract negotiations with unionized workers. The current five-year contract, which includes an annual wage increase of 2.6%, expires Dec. 31 2016.
    King acknowledged some of the suggestions he plans to table regarding staffing may conflict with the current collective agreement that's in place for unionized city workers.
    But he said there may be an opportunity to revisit that agreement, suggesting that may be necessary.
    King said he's been hearing from members of the public on a consistent basis that many are struggling financially and that they can't shoulder more tax increases.
    “It's a steady flow,” he said, of the phone calls, e-mails and one-on-one conversations with city taxpayers.
    In addition to staffing issues, King is supporting a $2.2-million reduction to the capital budget. King will also suggest the city look at drawing another dividend from North Bay Hydro, which he suggested has about $6 million in working capital.
    He said the city should also consider a three-year moratorium on its annual $1-million payment toward the construction costs of the North Bay Regional Health Centre, most of which comes from interest payments from the local hydro utility on a $19.5-million promissory note stemming from its incorporation more than a decade ago.
    Although a moratorium would only delay the payments to the hospital, King suggested the move could assist in the short term while the city find savings elsewhere in its budget.
    He wants a moratorium on any outside consulting services this years. And he wants to find a way to allow local business owners to provide city management with input on keeping costs down and developing efficiencies.

2/10/2015 – News & opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid- & 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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Department of Labor Announces Grants to Support Short-Term Compensation: Work Sharing in 13 States, posted by Guy Suetopka, (2/02 late pickup) Indian & Native American via ina.workforce3one.org
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Losing a job is a difficult experience — fraught with uncertainty, fear and stress. Finding a new job is time-consuming and lost income creates a financial burden. For employers, layoffs can also be costly. Trimming staff when business slows means if new employees are needed when business picks back up, the employer faces the cost of training and lower productivity as workers acclimate.
    With $37,814,386 in new U.S. Department of Labor grants, employers in 13 states will soon have a new tool that may help them avoid layoffs by helping states develop a new, or enhance an existing, Short-Time Compensation program.
    The states of Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas and Wisconsin are the recipients of the grants.
    Commonly known as "work sharing," STC programs allow employers facing economic difficulty to reduce work hours for a group of employees as an alternative to layoffs. Programs allow workers with reduced hours to supplement their lowered wages with a percentage of the weekly unemployment compensation that would have been available to them had they been laid off entirely. STC lets employees keep their jobs — and benefits such as employer-based retirement and health insurance — and helps employers keep skilled workers and avoid the costs of hiring and training new workers when business recovers. The program also eases the strain on local economies, which acutely suffer when layoffs occur.
    Since grants for STC programs enhancements were first authorized by the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, a total of $50,461,663 have been awarded to 17 states. Michigan, Ohio, Oregon, Texas and Washington State were previously funded.
    For more information about starting an STC program, visit http://stc.workforce3one.org

  2. Worksharing provisions: Short-time compensation, ThomasAndThorngren.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Several states have short-time compensation programs that allow the payment of partial benefits to participants in a worksharing program. With an approved worksharing plan in place, an employer can avoid laying employees off during slow business cycles and have the desired staffing available when normal business levels resume. Employees covered by the plan work reduced hours and short-time benefits are payable for the hours lost.
    Partial benefit payments are not normally payable to applicants who have been cut back to working 3 or 4 days per week, as they would still have excess earnings to qualify for these benefits.
    When an employer has an approved workshare plan, an employee covered by the plan would receive one-fifth of their computed weekly benefit amount for each day of work that is missed [assuming a five-day workweek].
    Also, under short-time compensation laws your employees are deemed to be meeting the able, available, and actively seeking work eligibility requirements by being available if necessary for their normal work week.
    Please contact our office [(615) 242-8246] for additional information concerning short-time compensation programs, to determine if your state offers this program, or for assistance in the application process.

  3. Quarter of Business Owners Exceed the EU Working Time Directive, by Claire West, FreshBusinessThinking.com
    , LONDON, U.K. - New research from AXA Business Insurance reveals more than a quarter of small business owners in the UK regularly push past the maximum 48 hour week recommended by the EU Working Time Directive.
    Sixty eight per cent exceed the standard 35 hour working week, 25 per cent put in 51 hours or more and three per cent clock up an exhausting 80 hour week.

    But despite the risks linked with longer working hours, the study also found that most small business owners enjoy what they do and feel overfilling their own diary is more appealing than punching a time clock for someone else. Darrell Sansom, Managing Director at AXA Business Insurance, a leading provider for sole traders, self-employed people and small to medium size enterprises said:
    “Running your own successful business can be a real labour of love so it’s no great surprise that most small business owners work beyond the standard 35 hour week and are happy to do so.
    “What could be a concern is the number of people who frequently put in more late nights and early mornings than experts consider safe or reasonable.
    “Of course hard work is to be applauded, but burnout is bad for business. Research shows that productivity declines after a 50 hour week, while longer hours also bring increased health, safety and reputational risks - so everyone needs some down time, no matter how committed or effective they are.
    “No one is invincible, and if you are regularly struggling to fit everything into your day, it might be time to take a step back, reflect and re-prioritise the key things that will protect your business and help it grow.

2/08-09/2015 – News & opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid- & 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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Chamber, Shared Work program host local business seminar, 2/09 The Columbian via columbian.com
    VANCOUVER, Wash., USA - The state Employment Security Department's Shared Work program and the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce are hosting a Wednesday session on how businesses can prevent layoffs and take advantage of a financial incentive program that keeps more employees on the job.
    The Shared Work program offers businesses an alternative to laying off workers by allowing employers to reduce the work hours for permanent employees, allowing those workers to collect partial unemployment benefits that replace a portion of their lost wages. To see the program described in a YouTube video, click *here.
    The Shared Work presentation will be at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Riverview Center, 17205 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd. The public is welcome, and RSVP is not required. Admission is $5 for chamber members and $10 for nonmembers.

  2. Rethinking The Work Week, by Cord Himelstein, ThinkProgress via 2/08 Business2Community.com
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - If you’re a full-time worker in America, chances are you’re not getting enough sleep. That’s according to the American Time Use Survey, which examined 125,000 responses to calculate how much sleep we’re getting, and what we’re doing instead of it. The simple conclusion the survey came to is we’re working too much.
    The National Sleep Foundation suggests that adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night, but American adults report getting less than 7 hours of sleep on weeknights, with many making up for it on the weekends. Compared to these “normal” sleepers, “short” sleepers (who are getting 6 hours or less on weeknights) worked 1.5 more hours on weekdays and nearly 2 hours more on weekends and holidays.
    Being a nation of workaholics is not good for our health – sleep refreshes our brains and repairs our immune system, so the less of it we get the more susceptible to stress and illness we become.
    Working 9 to 5
    The reason we’re losing so much sleep to the 9 to 5 schedule may be that not everyone fits the 9-to-5 mold. The body clocks of some people make them evening types, and others morning types. Recent research into the behaviors of so-called “night owls” and “early birds” found that night owls reach their mental peak in the evening hours, and vice-versa.
    This means that several of the people you work with, around 32 percent who identify themselves as night owls, are groggy in the morning and just hitting their peak as the whistle blows, the early birds are running out of gas around 2 p.m., and everyone in between is just plain working too much anyway. It’s time to re-think the antiquated 9 to 5, 5 day work week.
    Magic Treehouse
    Treehouse, an online education company, traded work for more sleep in 2006 and it’s paying off big time. After finding himself working 7 day weeks, CEO Ryan Carson had a moment of clarity, enacted a 4-day work week (Mon-Thu) at his company, and never looked back. Treehouse’s revenues increased by 120% in 2014, and the company generates more than $10 million in sales annually with 70,000 customers.
    “The quality of work, I believe, is higher,” Carson told ThinkProgress. “32 hours of higher quality work is better than 40 hours of lower quality work.”
    On Mondays, “everyone’s invigorated and excited.”
    [And happier: a real interested, committed team, with no thought of employee pilferage, let alone sabotage.]
    The four-day work week also carries the added bonus of looking very attractive to job-seekers.
    “We regularly have new employees choose Treehouse over Facebook, Twitter, and other top-tier tech companies,” Carson explains. He thinks that others could follow Treehouse’s example. “Is it possible for everybody? No,” he says. “But I bet some huge percentage of companies can do it that just aren’t.”
    The Product of More Sleep
    Research has found that putting in more than 60 hours a week yields a small productivity boost at first, but it’s only temporary, dropping off after three or four weeks. Other studies have confirmed this to be a short-term bump that actually harms productivity in the long run. When workers put in less time, they tend to be more productive. For example, Greek workers put in 2,000 hours a year on average while German workers put in around 1,400, yet German productivity is around 70 percent higher.
    Dream a Little Dream
    Working less hours and getting more sleep is more than just a nice idea. It could be the difference between health and illness, and the key to boosting productivity in the workplace. As technology makes it easier for us to be more flexible with work schedules, it’s time to ask, does the 9-to-5 work for you?
    Cord Himelstein is the VP of Marketing and Communications at Michael C. Fina, a leading provider of global employee recognition and incentive programs that not only align with core values and business goals, but also inspire people to do great things. Contact him at chimelstein@mcfina.com

2/07/2015 – News & opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid- & 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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Hours cut to safeguard jobs, by Jonny Drury, NewsNorthWales.co.uk
    NEWTOWN, Wales, U.K. - A leading Mid Wales manufacturer says it has been forced to take measures and cut some hours to safeguard jobs.
    Control Techniques in Newtown said challenging market conditions have had an impact on the company.
    Due to this for a limited time they will be operating a limited number of nine day fortnights for production staff.
    However a spokesperson for the company has confirmed there are no plans to close or move the company.
    A spokesperson said: “We are keen to make clear that there are no plans for closing the factory or anything like that.
    “Rumours always fly around when you employ as many people as we do in the area, so we want to put things straight.
    “We can confirm that challenging global market conditions have impacted on Control Techniques and, as a result, the business has been forced to take measures to safeguard jobs at its production facility in Newtown.
    “To this end the business will, for a limited time, be operating a limited number of nine-day fortnights for production staff in Newtown.”

    [Fortnight= Brit: two-week-period. But only counting business days at 5 per week, the usual fortnight would have 10 business days. So here they're talking about one furlough day every two weeks instead of layoffs.]
    The company is one of the largest employers in Mid Wales, and in 2014 work began on a new engineering and design facility at the Newtown base through Welsh Government funding.
    The company is a leading manufacturer of AC and DC variable speed drives, servos and power conversion technologies,
    A spokesperson also confirms they are looking to expand, with a range of products set to launch this year.
    A spokesperson said: “Strategies are in place to grow the business; a range of new products are launching in 2015 which will increase the business’ market offering and allow it to develop into new areas.
    “Considerable focus is being placed on ensuring these new products are communicated to the market, and the business expects sales to improve throughout the year as a result of this activity."

  2. Japan to introduce law to make workers take days off - Officials want to end workaholic culture, by Yuri Kageyama, AP via Boston Globe, B9 & DailyMail.co.uk
    [No escape from deepening depression and worker/drone split of society till they do!]
    TOKYO, Japan — College-educated and gainfully employed 36-year-old Eriko Sekiguchi should be a sought-after friend or date, planning nights on the town and faraway resort vacations. But she works in Japan, a nation where workaholic habits die hard.
    Often toiling 14 hours a day for a major trading company, including early morning meetings and after-hours "settai," or networking with clients, she used just eight of her 20 paid vacation days last year. Six of those days were for being sick.
    "Nobody else uses their vacation days," said Sekiguchi, who was so busy her interview with The Associated Press had to be rescheduled several times before she could pop out of the office.
    The government wants to change all that.
    Legislation that will be submitted during the parliamentary session that began Jan. 26 aims to ensure workers get the rest they need. In a break with past practice, it will become the legal responsibility of employers to ensure workers take their holidays.
    Japan has been studying such legislation for years. There has been more impetus for change since 2012 as a consensus developed that the health, social and productivity costs of Japan's extreme work ethic were too high.
    Part of the problem has been that many people fear resentment from co-workers if they take days off, a real concern in a conformist culture that values harmony.
    After all, in Japan, only wimps use up all their vacation days.
    Most of the affected workers are "salarymen" or "OL" for office ladies like Sekiguchi, so dedicated to their jobs they can't seem to go home. They are the stereotypes of, and the power behind, Japan Inc.
    That has come with its social costs. Sekiguchi worries she will never get married or even find a boyfriend, unless he happens to be in the office. She wishes companies would simply shut down now and then to allow workers to take days off without qualms.
    The workaholic lifestyle and related reluctance of couples to raise children have long been blamed as a factor behind the nose-diving birth rate that's undermining the world's third-biggest economy.
    Working literally to death is a tragedy so common that a term has been coined for it: "karoshi." The government estimates there are 200 karoshi deaths a year from causes such as heart attacks or cerebral hemorrhaging after working long hours. It's aware of many cases of mental depression and suicides from overwork not counted as karoshi.
    About 22 percent of Japanese work more than 49 hours a week, compared with 16 percent of Americans, 11 percent of the French and Germans, according to data compiled by the Japanese government. South Koreans seem even more workaholic, at 35 percent.
    Barely half the vacation days allotted to Japanese workers are ever taken, an average of nine days per individual a year.
    The problem in Japan in some ways parallels the situation of American workers, many of whom don't get guaranteed paid vacations at all. But those who get them usually do take all or most of them.
    Japanese must use their vacations for sick days, although a separate law guarantees two-thirds of their wages if they get seriously ill and take extended days off.
    That means workers save two or three vacation days for fear of catching a cold or some other minor illness so they can stay home, said Yuu Wakebe, the Health and Labor Ministry official overseeing such standards.
    Wakebe himself routinely does 100 hours of overtime a month, and took only five days off last year, one of them for staying home with a cold. He managed to take a vacation to Hawaii with his family.
    "It is actually a worker's right to take paid vacations," he said. "But working in Japan involves quite a lot of a volunteer spirit."
    [- which is condensing the workforce and consumer base and keeping Japan's M1 circulation velocity low and its chance high of staying in an economic slump.]
    Younger workers feel uncomfortable going home before their bosses do.
    [Same in the U.S. Same in every highbuthidden unemployment economy = more or less everywhere on a flabby but frozen, pre-robotics concept of full time.]
    Working overtime for free, called "sah-bee-soo zahn-gyo," or "service overtime," is prevalent.
    [This is slavery by another name, and as the U.S. North said about the South in the Civil War, it ain't good for business cuz, no earnings? no consumers!]
    Job descriptions also tend to be vague, especially in white-collar occupations, meaning a [new] person not coming in translates to more work for others in his or her team.
    [and less earnings going into the consumer base to swell consumer spending and consumer demand, and more wasted trillions funneling to the super-richest tiny slice of the population to massivize and shrink their monetary Black Hole, and less of any hope of getting out of Japan's everlasting "string of recessions."]
    The new law will allow for more flexible work hours, encouraging parents to spend more time with their children during summer months, for instance, when school is closed.
    Although Japan is notorious for hard work, it's equally known for inefficiency and bureaucracy. Workers sit around in the name of team spirit, despite questionable performance and productivity.
    Experts say the law is a start, while acknowledging the roots of the dilemma lie deep.
    When night falls in Tokyo, groups of dark-suited salarymen can be seen, drinking at drab lantern-bobbing pubs under the train tracks, unwinding before heading home. They laugh, guzzle down their beers and pick at charcoal-broiled fish.
    Ask any of them: they haven't taken many days off. One said the 12 days he took off last year were too many.
    Regulating time off might be easier to implement if the economy improves under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's anti-deflationary policies that weakened the yen, a plus for giant exporters such as Toyota Motor Corp.
    The overwork problem intensified during the past two decades of economic stagnation in Japan. The use of cheap labor became common to stay competitive in a rapidly globalizing economy, while the culture of loyalty to the company stayed.
    Abe, not a person noted for taking long vacations, has been stressing the need for change.
    Japan's work ethic, he said, is "a culture that falsely beatifies long hours."

  3. Employees net raises, city hall may reopen on Fridays, posted by Aaron Claverie, (2/06 late pickup) The Press-Enterprise via pe.com
    MURRIETA, Calif., USA - The improving[?] economy has allowed Murrieta employees to secure raises, their first bumps since July of 2008.
    The first raise, a 2 percent hike, kicks in at the start of the 2015-16 fiscal year, July 1. A second 2 percent raise will start showing up on paychecks after Christmas Day.
    Joy Canfield, the city's administrative services director, said the new deal, which was approved in October and November in three separate actions, also includes an end to the furlough that was enacted in June of 2010.
    That furlough forced the city's workers to work 38 hours per week and city hall was closed each Friday.

    Canfield said the city may reopen city hall on some Fridays next year, possibly every other Friday, if a staffing plan can be assembled that provides coverage for the various departments.
    In Temecula, the city operates with a half-staff on Fridays to accomodate employees who work a 9/80 schedule.
    The furlough in Murrieta will officially end on Dec. 27, 2015 and the city's union employees will return to their normal 9/80 schedule.
    The employees covered by the new deal include 87 who are members of the Murrieta General Employees Association, 20 in the Murrieta Supervisor's Association and 32 in the Management and Confidential group.
    Police, police management, fire, fire management and dispatchers -- who are part of the MGEA group -- were not subject to the furlough, Canfield said.
    The Temecula City Council approved a new deal with employees earlier this year and the Temecula Valley Unified School District approved raises for its teachers in October of last year.

  4. Line managers are the main reason Emiratis leave their private sector jobs, by Olivia Olarte-Ulherr olivia@khaleejtimes.com, KhaleejTimes.com
    Being too pushy, bossy and curtailing their growth by not coaching them or developing their skills, were some of the complaints.
    ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates - Line-managers are the main reason why Emiratis leave their jobs in the private sector. Work environment or working condition is another reason, Emiratisation experts said.
    “The main push for Emiratis to leave their job is their line manager (both Emiratis and expats), it’s not the salary. This is what international studies have shown, and when we did our research, it’s the same thing in the private sector,” said Essa Al Mulla, executive director of the Emirates Nationals Development Programme (ENDP).
    Being too pushy, bossy and curtailing their growth (for fear of losing his own job to the Emirati, especially for expat line-manager) by not coaching them or developing their skills, were some of the complaints.
    Work environment
    “I don’t think it has to do with salary, most of the time it has to do with working conditions and that is the main issue,” said Dr Naji Al Mahdi, executive director of the National Institute for Vocational Education.
    According to Al Mulla, private companies can retain Emiratis by simply providing the right work environment. “Once you build-up an excellent work environment for Emiratis, he or she will think twice about leaving,” he stated, adding that opportunities for growth through professional development and mentorship also deter them from job-hopping.
    At the Emiratisation Summit held in the Capital during the Tawdheef Recruitment Show this week, experts and heads of human resources agreed that collaboration is the key to successful Emiratisation, and that the private sector has to change its viewpoint over the placement of nationals in their companies.
    The disparity in salary, working hours and working conditions are some of the reasons youth said are hindering them from joining the private sector.
    Remove disparities gradually
    “One of the problems this part of the world suffer from is (the) duality of labour laws, you don’t have a single labour law governing everybody, you have multiple labour laws,” said Dr Al Mahdi, who is also the chief of qualifications and awards at the Knowledge and Human Development Authority.
    “The duality of labour market gives advantage to one labour market over the other one. The government has the advantage in terms of less working hours, more holidays, security of life and so on. Obviously the advantage is there, driving the Emiratis where it’s greener. One of the ways (out) is to gradually remove these disparities, but it has to be a gradual process,” he said.
    But the change has to be initiated by the government by adjusting their working hours to match that of the private companies, as the other way around will reduce the efficiency and competitiveness of the private sector, said Dr Al Mahdi.
    “So in parity, (adjustment should) happen more in the government but wages will be a little bit higher than the private, so gradually this is how they come to meet together.”
    Quality jobs
    At present, the number of Emiratis needing jobs is just a fraction of the total workforce, thus allocating “quality jobs” and training them for it should not be that difficult, said Dr Al Mahdi.
    “Obviously you should be offering Emiratis to benefit from good jobs and not try to have a very quick plug-gap approach whereby you just offer them any job. If every company in the UAE takes few Emiratis, even if just five per cent in quality jobs, everybody will be happy,” he stated.

2/06/2015 – News & opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid- & 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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Castle Combe solar farm is road to ruin, says publican and shop boss, by Julie Armstrong, County News via SwindonAdvertiser.co.uk
    SWINDON, U.K. - Pub landlord and shop owner Mark Hayward says he will be forced to let four staff go because his businesses have been “crucified” by weeks of roadworks.
    Mr Hayward said the disruption, needed to set up a solar farm in Castle Combe, means he is losing between £6,000 and £8,000 a week in The Bell in Yatton Keynell and his shop.
    [The solar farm OWES him.]
    Village residents had already campaigned to save the store during the threat to rural post offices.
    Now customers are staying away, as 2,700 metres of roads to Chippenham are dug up to connect the racing circuit with an electricity sub-station.
    Mr Hayward said: “We’re having one hell of a time. Roadworks are crucifying my businesses.
    A lot of people come out from Bumper’s Farm for lunch. We were getting 110 for lunch and on Sunday it was 32. People aren’t going to drive over metal plates.
    “I’m going to have to start laying off staff; two full-time in each business. These are people’s livelihoods being destroyed.”
    Julie Eddleston, a shop assistant and Post Office counter clerk, is having her hours cut.

    She said: “I don’t know how many I’ll lose; it’s quite unsettling. You’ve just got to tighten your belt.
    “It’s been so exceptionally quiet. The early morning trade from 7.30 to 9 has cut by half. I’ve worked here five years and it’s the quietest-ever January.
    “Customers have told us, they won’t be back in for a while; there’s so many sets of traffic lights between here and Chippenham they can’t afford the time. They’re going alternative routes.
    “And it’s going to get worse before it gets better. I’m just looking forward to seeing people back here.”
    Sunsave 17 (Castle Combe) Limited had hoped to lay the cable through a farmer’s field rather than Yatton Keynell, but withdrew this planning application.
    Mark Candlish, a Solafields director, on behalf of Sunsave 17, said: “It would have been easier to go across fields. We thought we had agreed terms with all the landowners, but they started having to get reviewed. That was going on for months and we ran out of time.”
    He expects work to have made it through to the Tiddleywink side of the village by February 25. Soon after, the cable will be pulled through the underground duct and work should end in six weeks.
    Mr Candlish said the project had tried to minimise disruption.
    “Two narrow road sections on either side of Yatton Keynell have already been done in advance of the main deliveries to the circuit, so that these are not at the same time as roadworks,” he said.
    “Complex road junctions, like Allington Farm Shop to Bumpers roundabout, have been timed to be done over weekends. We have agreements not to take HGVs through the villages at school drop-off and pick-up times.”
    He said the parish council would get £45,000 from a community fund when the farm starts making electricity in March.
    [And how much of that are harmed businesses and employees going to get? This is extremely poor planning if such a "boon" to the community can't be accomplished without major damage to the community.]
    Parish councillor Samantha Hayward said: “Considering we got an award for the tidiest village a few years ago, the verges are just decimated.”
    The firm promised to reinstate verges to their start condition or better.

  2. Worker overpaid by €200k after HSE failed to record reduced working hours, by Eilish O'Regan, Irish Independent via independent.ie
    DUBLIN, Ireland - A health worker was overpaid nearly €200,000 after the HSE [Health Service Executive] failed to record they were on reduced working hours for as long as eight years, an internal audit has revealed.
    The worker, who was on reduced hours between 2002 until retirement in 2010, received €191,225 in total before the overpayment was eventually discovered.
    It was uncovered in the Dublin mid-Leinster region by investigators from the HSE's own internal audit office as part of its surveillance of financial waste in the health service.
    There were 1,144 overpayments totalling €2.4m, of which 34 ranged from €10,000 to €30,000. Seven ranged from €30,000 to €200,000.
    Another medical scientist was paid €83,865 from October1999 to May 2003 while they were on sick leave and due no salary. This could lead to legal action.
    In another case of poor control of public money, an employee who resigned from a permanent health service job in October 2008 was overpaid €46,373 because notice of her departure was not made to the payroll department until the following June.
    Another overpayment of €33,841 which was made to a staff nurse, who was believed to be on a public health nurse scale, had to be written off after she took the matter to a Rights Commissioner. The payments ranged from 1996 to 2011.
    The auditors discovered that 21pc of the 48 sample files examined did not contain evidence of any correspondence with employees over the overpayments, the report obtained by the Irish Independent under Freedom of Information law revealed.
    A separate audit of the use of agency nurses in hospitals in the HSE South found that three full-time nurses were double-jobbing in breach of rules.
    The nurses were hired on the generous agency rates while also on a full-time salary. Three other nurses were retired, but getting their full pension on top of the agency fees.
    The investigators, from the audit office run by Michael Flynn, found one of the full-time nurses worked in the same hospital in which she was doing agency work.
    Another swapped rosters in the other health facility where she worked to allow her fit in the agency shifts.
    The auditors also warned about the practice of booking specific agency staff - who happen to be existing employees - by the unit.
    A third audit of the laboratory in University Hospital Galway found two of the staff were not working their contracted hours. A deal was made to cut down on on-call spending.
    It led to 68 medical scientists sharing "earnings compensation" of €952,000.
    A review of absenteeism in the same hospital found it was 1.17pc above the target of 3.5pc.
    It cost the hospital €5.17m in a year, but the real cost was not available due to "lack of systems to measure costs". One in seven managers had not attended training on absenteeism, even though it was mandatory.
    Absenteeism was as high as 14pc among management and administrators in the neurology department and reached just over 11pc among nursing staff in St Dominic's ward.
    The damning audit on wastage comes a day after HSE chief Tony O'Brien warned that providing the €430,000-a-year per patient for a drug for patients suffering a rare disease would force cuts in other services.

  3. Occupation, work hours linked to workers' risk for neck pain, HealthDay via MedicalXpress.com
    IRVINE, Calif., USA — Occupation and work hours are associated with increased workers' risk for neck pain, according to a study published in the Feb. 1 issue of Spine.
    Haiou Yan, Ph.D., from the University of California in Irvine, and colleagues examined occupational patterns of neck pain and the correlation between long work hours and neck pain in the United States. Data were included from a cross-section data set from the 2009 to 2012 National Health Interview Survey.
    The researchers found that the top five occupation groups with significantly higher relative prevalence of neck pain included: military specific; arts, design, sports, entertainment, and media; life, physical, and social science; health care support; and installation, maintenance, and repair (odds ratios, 2.50, 1.70, 1.67, 1.55, and 1.54, respectively), compared with workers in the architecture and engineering occupation group, and after controlling for demographic, socioeconomic status, and behavior-related factors. People who worked 46 to 59 hours and 60 or more hours per week were more likely than those who worked 40 hours to report neck pain (odds ratios, 1.20 and 1.35, respectively).
    "This study indicates a need for new research efforts and public policies targeted to workers who are susceptible to neck pain in the United States," the authors write.
    Relevant financial activities outside the submitted work were disclosed: board membership, employment, royalties, stocks.

  4. S. Korea's employees top global list for annual work hours by 300+, AP via The Korea Times US via koreatimesus.com
    TOKYO, Japan — Work rules vary in generosity from nation to nation. Japan’s rules aren’t tough but its situation is almost unique. Workers don’t take off the days they are entitled to because of a mindset that beatifies long hours.
    [True in the U.S. too.]
    Paid Vacation Days a Year
    South Korea: As many as 25 days.
    France: As many as 30 days, on average 25 days.
    Great Britain: As many as 28 days, on average 20 days.
    Germany: 24 days or more for those on jobs for more than six months, on average 20 days.
    Japan: As many as 20 days, but workers tend not to take them off.
    US: None stipulated by overall law and depends on the job contract.
    Average Work Hours a Year
    | South Korea: 2,163
    US: 1,788
    Japan: 1,735
    Great Britain: 1,669
    France: 1,489
    Germany: 1,388
    Workers Clocking More Than 49 Hours a Week
    South Korea: 35.4 percent.
    Japan: 21.7 percent.
    US: 16.4 percent.
    Great Britain: 12.3 percent.
    France: 10.8 percent.
    Germany: 10.5 percent.
    Regulating Rest
    Europe: For every 24 hours of work, entitled to at least 11 straight hours off work.
    Japan: None.
    South Korea: None.
    US: None.
    Sources: Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare; International Labour Organization.

2/05/2015 – News & opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid- & 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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Gearing up [or down?] for pre-tirement: The new trend for over-50s - Many of us are retiring in stages, starting in our 50s, by Deborah Stone, Express.co.uk
    Britons as young as 50 are opting for “pre-tirement” by reducing their working hours then continuing to work well into their 70s. (summary)
    [Shorter hours are happening anyway, in many ways, but no cases yet of the best way, full-fledged Timesizing.]
    LONDON, U..K. - The new trend comes as more than half of 50 to 64-year-olds say changes to the state pension age have made the retirement process confusing.
    It means retirement in the UK has become “a process, not an event”, according to Zopa, the online peer-to-peer lending company that commissioned the survey.
    “Retirement in Britain is no longer an event that involves clearing your desk at 65,” said Zopa co-founder and chief executive Giles Andrews.
    “The pre-tirement trend is a seismic shift in the way Britons think about retirement.
    “It will require many of us to review our fi nancial situations much earlier in regard to how we will support ourselves when we choose to stop working full-time.”
    More than 2,000 people aged between 50 and 80 were surveyed in December by Consumer Intelligence, an online agency that analyses customer information.
    It defined pre-tirees as people in their 50s, 60s and even 70s who gradually ease themselves into retirement by reducing working hours so they can do other things.
    These include travelling (45 per cent), setting up their own business (12 per cent), changing career (9 per cent) and helping out with childcare for grandchildren, studying, taking more exercise and volunteering.
    Despite the pre-tirement trend of reducing the number of hours worked, 28 per cent of those surveyed say they will need to fully retire later than planned.
    That figure rose to 35 per cent of those aged 50 to 54, with 89 per cent saying that they did not know at what age they will be able to retire.
    “Having a more fl uid retirement process is a result of many of us being fi tter and healthier, not wanting to down tools at 65 or being unable to afford to stop working completely,” said Mr Andrews.

  2. Publix Settles Overtime Pay Case - Supermarket chain will pay $30 million to end 2012 lawsuit, by Kyle Kennedy, TheLedger.com
    LAKELAND, Fla., USA - Publix Super Markets Inc. has agreed to pay $30 million to settle a lengthy legal battle about overtime pay. [...presumably over a workweek of 40 hours, initiated on Oct. 24, 1940 per the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act.]
    The settlement was approved this week in Tennessee federal court, bringing an end to a collective lawsuit filed in May 2012.
    Lakeland-based Publix had been accused of failing to pay required amounts of overtime compensation to department and assistant department managers who were paid on a "fluctuating work week" basis.
    Specifically, Publix was accused of failing to include holiday bonuses, holiday pay and other items when calculating overtime pay rates, and not meeting legal requirements in its pay plan.
    Ultimately, about 1,580 employees joined the lawsuit.
    "Publix has vigorously defended this case," the settlement document says. "Publix denies all liability ... and denies that its overtime pay plan did not meet the requirements of the fluctuating work week calculation method. In short, this case has been hotly contested."
    Under a fluctuating work week method, employees are paid a set amount every week even though the number of hours worked may vary.
    The system allows for overtime hours to be paid at half a worker's average hourly rate.
    Legal documents from the case said "Publix has made major changes to its pay policies since this lawsuit began in 2012," and that the policies in question are no longer in effect.
    "Settling the lawsuit at this time was most beneficial to our stockholders, as we no longer have fluctuating work weeks," Publix spokeswoman Maria Brous told The Ledger.
    A lawyer for the plaintiffs declined to comment.
    Kyle Kennedy can be reached at kyle.kennedy@theledger.com or 863-802-7584.

  3. Four hospitals compliant with 48-hr week, Irish Medical Times via imt.ie
    DUBLIN, Ireland - Just four hospitals are compliant with the average 48-hour working week for NCHDs [Non-Consultant Hospital Doctors], latest HSE [Health Service Executive] figures reveal.
    However, there was 94 per cent compliance last November with the requirement for NCHDs not to be rostered or to work shifts longer than 24 hours. There was 56 per cent compliance with the average 48-hour working week requirement.
    A total of 12 hospitals are showing compliance with the requirement for NCHDs not to be rostered or to work shifts longer than 24 hours. Full implementation of the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) poses very significant challenges for the health service, the HSE has reiterated.
    The EWTD requires that NCHDs receive breaks of 30 minutes every six hours and receive 11 hours rest during each 24 hours — or else compensatory rest. NCHDs should receive 35 hours rest once a week, or 35 hours rest twice a fortnight or 59 hours rest once a fortnight or compensatory rest.

2/04/2015 – News & opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid- & 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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Work-Sharing Programs Expanded in 13 States, by Roy Maurer, Society for Human Resource Management via shrm.org
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) awarded nearly $38 million to 13 states on Jan. 29, 2015, to develop or expand work-sharing programs, also known as short-time compensation programs.
    Work-sharing programs enable employers contemplating layoffs to temporarily reduce work hours for a group of employees as an alternative during hard economic times.

    Affected workers have a portion of their lost wages supplemented by a percentage of their available unemployment compensation benefits. The programs allow employees to keep their jobs and companies to maintain their workforces.
    “Layoffs are painful for everyone involved, so having an opportunity to prevent them helps both employers and workers,” said Labor Secretary Thomas Perez in a news release.
    “The purpose of the [work-sharing] program is to save jobs. The program … allows an employer to retain their skilled workers and avoid the expense of recruiting, hiring and training new employees when business demand increases. The program benefits both employers and employees and is a win-win for everyone,” the DOL said.
    Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas and Wisconsin received the DOL grants, which totaled $37,814,386.
    Short-time compensation grants were first authorized in 2012. A total of $50,461,663 has been awarded to 17 states. Michigan, Ohio, Oregon, Texas and Washington state previously received funding.
    In a 2012 Washington state survey, 850 participating employers were asked to rate their satisfaction with the state’s work-sharing program. Approximately 85 percent rated it as “very positive.” Employers were also asked, “Has the shared-work program helped your business survive the current economic recession?” A total of 68 percent of those same employers responded “yes,” and another 20 percent said “probably.”
    Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

  2. Teachers in Oakland negotiate by limiting work hours, by Jill Tucker, SFGate.com
    Valerie Lines teaches her first-grade class at Oakland’s Montclair Elementary School. As part of a labor action, Lines is no longer staying late to visit with students and plan lessons. ... Lines is active in the effort to pressure the Oakland School district to compensate teachers appropriately during ongoing contract negotiations. (photo captions)
    OAKLAND, Calif., USA - Teachers at 15 Oakland schools, hoping for a bigger raise and a better contract, are heading out as soon as the last bell rings, and skipping homework, after-hours grading and extracurricular activities to round up support.
    While students might not mind the extra free time after school, parents have become increasingly frustrated with the labor tactic, which has been going on for more than a month.

    “I totally support the teachers,” said Jenny Berg, a Montera Middle School mother who also believes they have a difficult job and deserve a raise. “I get their point, but I just kind of feel like it’s been made.”
    The so-called work-to-rule strategy means limiting work to the hours required in the contract: 6.75 hours each day for elementary and middle school teachers and seven hours for high school teachers. Teachers at some of the schools have customized the effort, limiting hours just one day a week, for example.
    [Union members' leverage is based on reducing the surplus of themselves by reducing worktime per person. They forgot that to their cost, but now maybe some of them are "getting" it again.]
    District officials have been bombarded with calls and e-mails supporting the teachers but also urging the district to settle the contract so school can get back to normal.
    “I do support them, but I’m a professional and I don’t get paid for all the hours I work,” Berg said. “Work it out. I don’t think you need to do it at the expense of my child.”
    Union encourages efforts
    The labor action, however, is not district-wide and is not being directly coordinated by union leaders.
    “We are encouraging sites to do whatever solidarity efforts they feel they can do,” said Trish Gorham, president of the Oakland Education Association. “The important thing is that the schools come together and show they are together behind a fair contract.”
    As is the case in nearly all labor negotiations, “fair” is open to interpretation.
    The district recently offered a 10 percent raise over the next 18 months, with an additional 1.5 percent if expected increases in state funding come through, and the opportunity to negotiate an additional raise the third year of the contract. The offer also includes reducing class sizes in grades K-3 from a maximum of 30 students to 24 students next year, per the union’s request. That alone will cost the district $2.4 million annually, said Superintendent Antwan Wilson. Oakland teachers have been working under a contract that expired in 2013.
    The union is requesting a 14 to 17 percent raise over the three years of the contract, as well as caps on special education class size.
    “We have found dollars and put dollars on the table,” Wilson said. “We’re ready to settle immediately.”
    “On the actual money part, we’re not that far apart,” Gorham said.
    No settlement in sight
    But settlement anytime soon is unlikely.
    The district wants the union to agree to a couple of key points, including letting each school control its own hiring, which would water down seniority rights, and having the ability to pay teachers more to work extended days or hours at struggling schools.
    Some flexibility might be negotiable, Gorham said, but teachers who have been displaced because of enrollment shifts, for example, should have seniority rights for job openings. The union is expected to respond to the district’s offer Tuesday.
    The offer on the table just isn’t good enough, said Valerie Lines, a first-grade teacher at Monclair Elementary, where teachers are sticking to contract hours. Lines said she would normally be working two to three hours extra each day after school and a few hours a week at home. She’s now leaving within 10 minutes of the last bell.
    “It’s really hard not doing what I want to do,” she said, adding that her classroom is a mess and she doesn’t have the luxury of extra time to spend on lesson plans or to be with students. “Kids from last year or the years before are stopping and wanting to chat. It’s hard to cut that off and leave it behind.”
    But the teachers at her school are committed to the labor action until there’s “significant movement” in negotiations and the issue of seniority is off the table, Lines said.
    Superintendent Wilson, however, said he is frustrated by the work-to-rule action, especially since negotiations with union leaders have not been combative.
    'Open and honest’ talks
    “The talks at the table have been very open and honest and straightforward and collegial,” Wilson said. “To have actions outside the table that don’t align with that and suggest that we aren’t interested in supporting our teachers isn’t accurate.”
    The sides are meeting every two weeks.
    In the meantime, district officials are fielding e-mails and phone calls from parents concerned by the lack of homework and the after-school activities and clubs canceled because teachers have already gone home.
    “The teachers are organizing the parents,” said school board member Jody London. “Parents are somehow under the impression that we haven’t made any kind of an offer, that we’re stonewalling the teachers. That is just not true.
    “I think parents are starting to feel frustrated that this is more about adults than about kids.”
    Jill Tucker is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: jtucker@sfchronicle.com

2/03/2015 – News & opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid- & 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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. State gets $1 million for layoff aid program, by Matthew Patane, mpatane@dmreg.com, DesMoinesRegister.com
    DES MOINES, Iowa, USA - The federal government has given Iowa Workforce Development a grant to streamline a program that helps laid off workers.
    [No, it helps avoid layoffs in the first place. Please don't tell me somebody's started using the concept of "partial layoffs." "Partial unemployment," France's phrase for Québec's travail partagé (shared work), was bad enough!]
    The U.S. Department of Labor gave the state agency more than $1 million to put toward Iowa’s Voluntary Shared Work program. The program is meant to act as a replacement for entire layoffs.
    [Oh nooo. Patane has started using "entire" vs. "partial layoffs"! Aaargh.]
    Under the program, companies that would have laid off employees can keep those workers on the payroll but at reduced hours. The employees earn a portion of unemployment benefits and a portion of their usual wages, as determined by their reduced hours.
    Iowa Workforce Development said it will use the money to create a Web portal for employers to electronically send applications for the shared work program.

    The agency also plans to create new educational materials and talk with companies about the program.
    [And the official source-version -]
    Iowa Workforce Development Receives $1.04 million Unemployment Insurance Grant - Enhances Voluntary Shared Work Program, by Kerry Koonce (515) 281-9646, Iowa Workforce Development News Releases via iowaworkforce.org/news/
    DES MOINES, Iowa, USA - The U.S. Department of Labor awarded Iowa Workforce Development over $1.04 million dollars to enhance the Voluntary Shared Work program for Iowa employers and affected employees.
    The Voluntary Shared Work Program (VSW) is intended for use as an alternative to layoffs and has been an effective tool for Iowa businesses experiencing a decline in regular business activity. Under VSW, work reductions are shared by reducing employees’ work hours and Unemployment Insurance (UI) partially replaces lost earnings.
    “The Voluntary Shared Work program allows companies to avoid layoffs and permits employees to stay connected to their jobs while the employers maintain a skilled workforce for when business improves, stated Iowa Workforce Interim Director, Beth Townsend. “This grant provides an opportunity for Iowa to significantly expand the program and streamline the process for Iowa businesses and workers.”
    The grant funds will be utilized to create a web portal for employers to electronically submit applications for the VSW program and monitor the status of their specific application. IWD will develop a new, customer-friendly initial and continued claim within the portal for the employees participating in the VSW program. Finally, IWD will develop new educational materials and conduct active outreach to employers regarding the benefits of the program.
    The Voluntary Shared Work program provides numerous benefits to both the employer and the affected employees. Employers can maintain productivity and quality levels; sustain the ability to expand operations quickly as the business environment improves; and reduce training costs by keeping a skilled workforce intact. Additionally, the employees will maintain a higher family income than unemployment insurance benefits alone provide; sustain workplace benefits such as health insurance; and maintain job tenure.

  2. WorkZone: Part-time jobs can be a path to long-term security, by Ann Belser, (2/01 late pickup) Pittsburgh Post Gazette via post-gazette.com
    PITTSBURGH, Pa., USA - Sheri Minkoff of Shadyside has been consulting part-time for a nonprofit.
    Though her first choice would be a full-time job with health care benefits, she is taking other work to stay afloat financially. She is even open to working multiple part-time jobs to create a full-time schedule.
    In 2014, nearly 2 million people in the U.S. held multiple part-time jobs instead of having full-time work. Of those, 1.1 million were able to cobble together those jobs into a full-time work week, according to statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is more multiple job holders than at anytime since the bureau started keeping track.
    In 2010, when unemployment from the Great Recession hit its high point, the number of people who were were stringing together multiple part-time jobs fell as even part-time workers lost jobs. However, as a percentage of the total number of people employed, the people who are working two or more jobs has stayed fairly constant.
    People who have multiple part-time jobs make up 1.3 percent of the workforce, which is roughly where it has been, give or take a tenth of a percentage point, since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started keeping track in 1994.
    Those who have managed to work enough hours in their part-time jobs to reach 35 hours, the Bureau Labor Statistics definition of full-time work, has also stayed fairly stable since 1994, fluctuating between 0.6 percent of the workforce and 0.8 percent, which it has been since 2012.
    In 2014, there were 7.1 million multiple job holders in the nation, or 4.9 percent of all workers. The distinction of multiple jobs includes someone who is working four or more jobs, as 84,000 people are, or those who have a full-time job but moonlight even an hour or so a week.
    The total number of people who had more than one job was knocked down by the recession, falling by 10 percent from 7.6 million in 2007 to 6.8 million by 2010, the same year that the annual unemployment rate was 9.6 percent.
    Young workers are the most likely to work multiple jobs, with 5.8 percent of workers between the ages of 20 and 24 holding down more than one job. Of the 404,000 young workers who worked more than one part-time jobs without a single full-time job, 228,000 of them saw their hours add up to 35 hours or more a week.
    Is it a good idea for someone to take a part-time job even if they want full-time work?
    Patrick Ferraro, the employer relations consultant at the Career Development Center of Jewish Family & Children's Service in Squirrel Hill, tells job seekers that it is better to be partially employed than unemployed.
    “I think, for everybody who walks through this door, their first goal is a full-time gig with benefits,” he said. But those jobs are harder to get than part-time jobs, and the part-time job can lead to a 40-hour week.
    “You have a better chance of getting full time there through the bidding process than you do just coming off the street,” he said. “It puts you in an ideal position to prove yourself internally.”
    There are also other benefits to taking more than one part-time job even if it does not lead to a full-time position.
    “It gives you a better story to tell in an interview. It shows initiative,” he said. “And it helps you keep yourself financially afloat.”
    Ann Belser: abelser@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1699.

2/01-02/2015 – News & opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid- & 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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. OJT=UWI's Cepep, by Dylan Kerrigan, 2/01 Trinidad Guardian via ttbusinessforums.com
    ST. AUGUSTINE, Trinidad & Tobago - A common complaint I hear informally from some graduates at the UWI [University of the West Indies] concerns the disconnect between what they know and the jobs they get or are offered. The complaint isn’t they do not have the required skills for the positions. Rather it is often the students are being hired for government data-entry jobs or sales positions when they know and can do much more. In these positions they often feel underutilised and bored.
    In another anecdote, last week I overheard a group of UWI students discussing the local On the Job Training Programme or OJT as “OJT=UWI’s Cepep.” Thinking about Cepep [Community-based Environmental Protection & Enhancement Programme] and listening to some UWI graduates discuss the poor allocation locally of jobs to skill sets reminded of a 2013 essay written by the anthropologist David Graeber on the subjective value people feel about their pointless jobs.
    Graeber noted that in 1930, the British economist John Maynard Keynes “predicted that technology would have advanced sufficiently by century’s end that countries like Great Britain or the United States would achieve a 15-hour work week.” In technological terms we’ve certainly reached a level capable of this transformation in work hours. So Graeber asks why didn’t it happen?
    For Graeber, instead of technology being used to lessen our working hours and free humanity to pursue other purposes, technology was used instead to find “ways to make us all work more.” Graeber then explains for this to be possible, “jobs have had to be created that are, effectively, pointless. Huge swathes of people…spend their entire working lives performing tasks they secretly believe do not really need to be performed.”
    For Graeber, this was not some secret conspiracy, with men in a room thinking up pointless jobs, but rather the trial and error steps of capitalism during the 20th century.
    [According to Ben Hunnicutt in an early chapter on the 1920s in his 1988 eye-opener, Work Without End, there was something akin to a conspiracy among control-freak CEOs in the 20s who decided to fight the shorter-hours movement stimulated by the unemployment and recession of the demobilization after the Great War (WW1), spin it as defeatism or shared unemployment (instead of freedom) and substitute Madison Avenue advertising, the manufacture of artificial wants and economic demand and consumption, and...longer (or at least no shorter) working hours.]
    And it has moral and spiritual consequences for our humanity. In simple terms, Keynes’ prediction never happened because he didn’t foresee the massive rise in consumerism from the 1960s onward.
    [Better wording, massive promotion of overconsumption. Consumerism can be the very positive quality quest of, e.g., Consumer Reports and Ralph Nader.]
    Instead of working fewer hours, society went [or was pushed] in the other direction of needing to work more hours in order to earn the required monies needed to buy the never-ending assortment of more and more toys, goods and consumer items we take for granted today.
    The nuance to remember here is the production of these goods is not where the new jobs appeared. For example, the new make-work jobs have very little to do with the production of a continuous conveyer belt of smart phones, sneakers, mp3 players and much more, always with a newer model coming out right after the old.
    As predicted, these manufacturing jobs were largely automated away.
    [Or rather, to avoid the dismissive charge of "Luddism!" they were eliminated by CEOs' kneejerk downsizing response to worksaving technology instead of timesizing, jobcuts instead of hourscuts.]
    And Graeber’s research points out, “even if you count industrial workers globally, including the toiling masses in India and China, such workers are still not nearly so large a percentage of the world population as they used to be.”
    No, for Graeber, based on employment data from the US between 1910 and 2000, “the number of workers employed as domestic servants, in industry, and in the farm sector has collapsed dramatically. At the same time, professional, managerial, clerical, sales, and service workers tripled, growing from one-quarter to three-quarters of total employment.”
    These new jobs aren’t mostly service sector jobs either. In the US and UK it includes an unheard of expansion of new fields and industries, “including the creation of whole new industries like financial services or telemarketing, or the unprecedented expansion of sectors like corporate law, academic and health administration, human resources, and public relations.”
    Alongside this transformation from jobs that produce things to jobs that do not manufacture things, full employment has been developed ideological as a moral necessity.
    [This should read, "long hours have been developed ideologically as a moral necessity." Full employment is something quite different; namely, everyone having a good livelihood, however short the hours they may work. Full employment actually is a moral necessity if you think morality has any sway, but much more important today, full employment is an economic system requirement.]
    Those who want to work less are seen as bad people ["lazy"] or morally corrupted and deserve nothing.
    Ironically, it was the state capitalism of pseudo-socialist states like the Soviet Union [and don't forget Japan's "lifetime employment" which Japan dropped, to its cost, around 1990!] who believed in full employment for the sake of it.
    [Full employment is necessary for maximum consumer spending and the triggering of Keynes' Multiplier Effect. But full employment from makework is usually too little too late, and unsustainable because it generates overproduction and overconsumption, both running into ecological limits to growth as discussed in the Club of Rome's 1971 book, Limits to Growth.]
    In traditional definitions of capitalism some level of unemployment has always been necessary for competitiveness [via artificially depressed wages, and for control of runaway inflation because few-job-options discourages rising wages spun as wage-push inflation] both as a reserve army of labour and also [this last, unconvincing] so new sectors can emerge to generate employment.
    Furthermore, as some local economists, in comments made publically about make-work jobs have stated, paying somebody to do nothing—full employment for full employment sake, where the State sucks up the unemployed—alongside a bloated and unneeded corporate and state bureaucracy, does not contribute to a sustainable economy.
    [Touché. The make-work path is no more sustainable than the no-work path, so it is surprising in the next paragraph to see the author promoting the no-work path under a different name ("basic income").]
    So what might be some solutions to this phenomenon of make-work jobs and the politics of full-employment [ie: long pointless workhours - if he asked the question correctly, it would contain its own answer] in T&T [Trinidad & Tobago]? Well one forward thinking idea is “basic income,” something I will return to in my next column.
    [Basic guaranteed income untied to contribution is a backward thinking idea that creates an unsustainable society split into workers and drones, like the Morlocks and the Eloi of H.G. Wells' 1895 "Time Machine" - the Eloi are "a society of small, elegant, childlike adults. They live in small communities within large and futuristic yet slowly deteriorating buildings, doing no work and having a frugivorous diet" (Wikipedia). In short, they are parasites or stock that is bred by the hard-working ape-like Morlocks for food. So, basic income = breeding parasites = bad. DROP IT! What would be a real forward-looking idea? Surprise surprise: Timesizing, especially when accompanied by deliberate overtime-to-jobs conversion! It substitutes sharework for makework or no work and with its series of upgrades, is entirely sustainable.]
    Dr Dylan Kerrigan is an anthropologist at UWI, St Augustine.

  2. French 35-Hour Workweek, 15 Years Old Already - Comments?, 2/02 News Economy Market via eirchey3.besaba.com
    PARIS, France - The Atlantico Aubry Act's 35-hour workweek is celebrating its 15th anniversary. This reduction in the working week was supposed to create 350,000 jobs. What about in practice? What has been the impact of this reform on the economy up to today?
    ["Up to today" is invalid since as soon as Sarkozy got the presidency in 2007, he started sucking up to business and attacking the 35-hour workweek by weakening overtime (OT) enforcement, and without a good OT design, preferably along the lines of energetically converting chronic overtime into training and hiring, cutting the workweek will always be meaningless. The impact of the 4-hour cut from 39 to 35 hours at the time was: 12.6% unemployment (UE) in 1997 when it was voted-in in principle, 8.6% UE in spring 2001 when it was fully implemented in practice before France got hit with the US-led recession in the summer and UE went back up into the 10s. But a 4-hour cut in the workweek and a 4% cut in the UE rate? That's 1% less unemployment for every hour cut from the workweek, same result as USA got when it went 44-42-40 hours in 1938-39-40 and unemployment went 19.0-17,2-14.6%. So even a workweek cut with a sloppy OT design yields a worthwhile result.]
    Gilles Saint-Paul: These estimates are fantastic because they are based on Keynesian models that have not been developed to analyze such structural changes, but rather to describe the economic trend of the economy. It’s easy to understand the long term, an employee who works less produces less and therefore must be paid proportionally less for companies to retain their margin.
    The unemployment rate is an equilibrium level which ensures that wages do not grow faster than productivity. To the extent that the RTT [reduced time of travail (work) = shorter worktime (SWT)] implies that greater wage restraint is necessary, we expect it to have an adverse impact on unemployment; Indeed, it must be “pressure” more unemployed to accept the employee’s pay cut involved the reduction of working time. It is therefore expected that the RTT does not create jobs, it is even plausible that it destroys, and in total the economy is impoverished because those who have jobs are working less. These problems are also illustrated by the case of road transport, including the strike made headlines in the news. The French road are the most expensive in Europe, largely because the number of annual hours is below their European competitors, which is why French carriers continue to lose market share. In such conditions, to strike for higher wages is simply suicidal.
    It is true that, aware of the problem he had created (for pure demagogy to I believe), the Jospin government has implemented cost reductions to offset the rising cost of labor caused by the RTT. But they represent a hole for the budget, to be financed in one way or another. Either one increases again the charges on the sly, which obviously cancels the initial reduction or increasing the VAT or income tax. But as the latter type of measure reduces the purchasing power, we only replicate the inevitable drop in salary they forgot to mention in his electoral program. And the unions are trying to get around it by asking for higher wages, unless of course unemployment has risen enough to deter them. This shows that in the long term these offsetting cost reductions are disabled even if they reduce short term pain.
    It is likely that the RTT has created jobs in the informal sector merchant, especially in the hospital. Indeed, it has no constraints of profitability and is financed by taxes. But these additional jobs does not improve the quality of care , they only compensate the reduction of working time. RTT has led, in this context, to impose an additional burden on the taxpayer without compensation. This is one of many irresponsible actions that led to a drift in public spending and thus a general impoverishment as a result of a tax system increasingly confiscatory
    Philippe Crevel: The 35 hours are an economic and political mistake. Economic because the Government considered that the reduction of working time would be a factor in growth and job creation when it is a result of growth through an indirect distribution of productivity gains. Policy mistake since Lionel Jospin was eliminated in the first round of the 2002 presidential election.
    35 hours we celebrate the 15th anniversary of fall of real hoax. Since 1993, France is facing high unemployment and reached a record high of 10.8% in the first quarter of 1997. Since François Mitterrand, then President of the Republic had issued the famously, “in the fight against unemployment, we have tried everything, “the alchemists of all kinds were trying to sell their beverages to contradict the presidential fatalism. This is how Pierre Larrouturou revives the idea of ??the reduction of working time. Share the cake to reduce unemployment seduced green, holding the decay but also the right of officials as Gilles de Robien which even adopt, on 11 June 1996, a law encouraging companies to reduce working time. By cynicism, Lionel Jospin Martine Aubry entrusted with the task of applying this promise even if it there was hardly favorable. However, she found a way to warp his political position.
    Dominique Strauss-Kahn in charge of the Socialist Party program takes up the proposal environmentalists, reduction of working time . Simply, it holds as working time 35 hours instead of 32 hours proposed by its allies in the plural left. It can further highlight that Francois Mitterrand, as part of its 110 proposals in 1981, planned to reduce working time from 40 to 35 hours.
    The implementation of this famous reduction of working time was more qu’épique. Two laws were necessary. If at first, the idea of ??an optional application accompanied by financial incentives was imagined, Martine Aubry changed by imposing walk under his second law an automatic reduction for all companies, SMEs benefiting simply a deadline for compliance. The double set of Martine Aubry led to the resignation of Jean Gandois 1997 CNPF, former MEDEF. Jean Gandois including Martine Aubry had been the associate at Pechiney felt cheated. This episode has deeply influenced and still weighs on MEDEF’s relationship with power. He established a real climate of distrust.
    35 hours increased labor costs 11% additional cost which was only partially offset with the introduction of exemptions from social security contributions. This exemption system costs taxpayers 12 billion euros. The increase in payroll occurred precisely when the international competition has increased, when the Germans decided to improve their competitiveness. While large companies managed to obtain concessions with the implementation of the annualization of working time, SMEs suffered the brunt of increased costs. The economic fabric was weakened. This weakness was revealed after several years with the crisis of 2008/2009 and more sharply since the one we know since 2012.
    Initially, the government of Lionel Jospin said that 35 hours would allow the creation of 700,000 jobs. Today, some reports say they could generate 350,000 jobs. But for a more real vision should be able to evaluate the job destruction, activity they have caused. Indeed, they have contributed to the lower rate margin businesses. Our historical level of bankruptcies is partly attributable to him. Similarly, one should take into account the tax cost of compensation for social security exemptions, the tax cost of public jobs created in government.
    In addition, the 35 hours have led stagnation of purchasing power of French assets. In order to absorb the additional cost of 11%, companies have been forced to reduce wage increases. I must admit that this argument is only partially correct. Governments have, in fact, decided to raise the minimum wage to align the hourly wage of the monthly salary. From 1997 to 2011, the value of the minimum wage rose from 6 at 9 euros an increase of 50%.
    35 hours have accelerated the decline of hospital finances. They have resulted in an unprecedented growth in employment in local communities and in the social authorities.
    35 hours were also fundamentally changed the relationship to work. RTT has become a social phenomenon. There are those who have and others. Middle managers have benefited from the reduction in working time when executives and independent gained nothing. Senior managers met to offset any presence of their employees. The use of independent has become a solution for large companies that can hardly play on internally schedules. Employees and workers have been losers because companies, especially large, with the annualization of working time, have less recourse to overtime.
    35 hours have certainly favored the tourism sector. The long weekends, bridges lead to more trips but it concerns only a small portion of the assets.
    The 35 hours are not for nothing in market losses French companies export and in the decline of the industry If France was still small trade surplus in 2002, the trade balance was in deficit since steadily
    This entry was posted in B2C4 FRENCH on February 1, 2015.

  3. The 35-hour workweek with Python, 2/02 Reddit.com/Python
    LOS ANGELES, Calif., USA - submitted 1 day ago by futureisdata
    all 10 comments sorted by: best
    fishersoap 1 point 18 hours ago
    I may be [ineligible to comment] because I am still a student but I enjoy working, at least on group projects where I can get a lot of help (more efficient) and talk about fun stuff.
    [–]fgriglesnickerseven 3 points 18 hours ago
    As a student your work is part of your education. As a professional work is an obstacle preventing you from spending time with your family/SO [significant otherperson] and doing the things you love (hopefully you also like your work too). But I think you will be hard pressed to find STEM employees [science, technology, engineering, math] working 35 hour weeks in any of these countries - the 35 hour week applies mostly to the labor group that is mostly being outsourced to mechanization/automation.
    [–-]Toshibi 3 points 15 hours ago
    It recently dawned on me that the people you have to work with are super important because you literally spend more time with them than your family for a large portion of your life. It's horrible, isn't it.
    [–--]hyljeDjango guy 2 points 14 hours ago
    It's not horrible. You're being compensated for it. You spend that compensation to elect to spend time with your family. Not all time is equal.
    [–---]Toshibi 7 points 14 hours ago
    I love my job and the compensation is adequate, but if I didn't have bills to pay I would be at home hanging out with my fiancee. Honestly, I've automated so much of my job I'm really only there to make sure nothing 'errors out.' I doubt more than a handful of people have ever said on their deathbed "My only regret was not spending more time at work being compensated for my time. I can't believe I wasted all those possibly compensated hours with my family!"
    [–]algar32 2 points 20 hours ago
    I love the idea of a 35 hour Work week. There is far too much time squandered in a 40+ hour work week.
    [–-]nerdwaller 2 points 19 hours ago
    You say that as if business people would realize the impact they have on a developer's week! This may be a little cynical, but I'd expect more meetings from my work so I could fill in the other person filling the extra time (needed or not, it would likely be scheduled)...
    [–--]algar32 1 point 6 hours ago
    Even with extra time for meetings, I'd still get the same amount of work done. I'd bet most hardworking people can finish their work in 2 hours. The rest of the day is usually fluff.
    [–-]dooatito 6 points 18 hours ago
    As a French guy who mainly works minimum wage jobs, the 35 hour week is a blessing. No one wants to work at macdonald's but at least you have some time to enjoy life on the side, even without much money. Now I'm starting to do MOOCs online [massive open online courses], and I'm not sure I'd have the motivation if I worked say 45 hours a week, and the only thing you want to do after work is go home and relax.
    [–--]algar32 1 point 6 hours ago
    Yeah, I think it's important for people to remember/find the purpose of their life before they waste it working all week. I feel like 35 hours/week is more than enough for me to live comfortably on.

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