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


3/31/2015 – 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. Public consultation open on hours-cut proposal for saved Malpas library, by Alistair Corless, Gwent News via SouthWalesArgus.co.uk
    NEWPORT, Wales, UK - Public consultation is open on plans to save a Newport library which would see its opening hours cut [from 9-5= 40/wk?].
    During a Malpas ward meeting last night, residents were informed that Newport City Council’s initial decision to close the Malpas library had been overturned, with the council now proposing to keep the library open for 20 hours per week.

    [Better hourscuts than closures, timesizings than downsizings.]
    Malpas residents now have until April 29 to voice their opinion, with the council running a public consultation on the new proposal.
    More than 100 concerned residents attended a public meeting in January, where the Malpas library faced closure after a £268,000 cut to the Council’s library services budget. During January’s meeting, Newport City Council’s strategic director for place, Shelia Davies, outlined the alternative proposal, where a librarian would be present for 20 hours a week.
    Malpas councillor [cllr], Jane Mudd, who attended the ward meeting with Cllr David Mayer and Cllr Christine Maxfield, said: “A scrutiny review group met with the group which deals with Newport’s libraries and came up with an alternative proposal. This was taken to cabinet on February 9 where it was agreed by cabinet. The proposal was then put to full council who agreed with it. We are now going through a statutory consultation period which ends on April 29.
    “The volunteers have a chance to shape a steering group and decide how their library is run. Volunteers can be trained in electronic issuing while there could be a service available in the evening rather than during [current?] 9-5 while people are at work.”
    Alun Prescott, Operational Manager of Newport City Council, said the public consultation can be filled out online, and there are copies of the public consultation forms in Newport’s libraries.
    Former Malpas councillor Graham Dally, who chaired January’s public meeting, said: “In North Wales they are two years ahead of us.
    “Most of the public in Malpas don’t know about this consultation. Personally, I think there should be another public meeting to tell the people about this.”
    Cllr Jane Mudd said: “I know they are frustrated but it is important for us to remind residents that the original proposal was to close the library. It is also important for the public to know that there aren’t going to be any immediate changes from the first of April with the start of the new financial year.”
    After the meeting, Cllr Mudd told the Argus there would be a second public meeting after the consultation closes.

  2. Samsung Electronics to launch flexible work hour system next month, by mkji@arirang.co.kr, arirang.com
    SEOUL, S.Korea - Employees at Samsung Electronics are set to get a little more freedom with their working hours starting next month.
    Korea's tech giant announced Tuesday that it will launch a flexible work hour system starting April 13th.
    There had been a system already introduced in which Samsung workers could choose when they come to work but under the new plan they will be able to choose when they get off work as well as long as they work at least four hours a day, and meet their mandatory 40-hour a week quota.
    [Hey, it's a start...down from mandatory fixed five 8-hour days to five minimum 4-hour days will hopefully begin to shrink from 40 given all the extra-productive technology that today's employees are wielding with no corresponding rise in markets for the output due to employer fixation on a forever-frozen pre-technology 40-hour workweek.]
    Samsung expects the system will help foster employee creativity.
    The change comes a month after the company proposed flexible working hours as a reward [ie: compensation] for having to freeze all 2015 wages due to sluggish sales.
    The new working hours will gradually spread out to other affiliates, as well as overseas branches.
    [Another version -]
    Samsung Implements Flexible Work Hours to Bolster Employee Creativity and Efficiency, by Cory McNutt, (4/01 early pickup) Android Manufacturer News via AndroidHeadlines.com
    SEOUL, South Korea - Flexible work schedules have always attracted employees as they can allow them to balance their work and home lives from a schedule that they can create. There are four types of flexible work arrangements – job sharing, flextime, compressed workweek and telecommuting. They can work great for single parents, full-time workers that are also trying to go to school or even if an employee has to care for a sick or elderly family member. Love them or hate them, flexible work schedules, are growing around the country and the world.
    We can now add Samsung Electronics to the list of companies launching a flexible work hour environment beginning on April 13. Samsung has such an impact on South Korean culture that Samsung is hoping this will allow employees to be more creative in an efficient organizational surrounding – empowering their employees to create a schedule that best suits their lifestyle. Samsung already allowed a similar option, but only for the company’s design and R&R departments, and it required the employee to work a full eight hours a day…the flexibility extended only to when you began work.
    The new implementation allows much more freedom in coming and going, with a few restrictions, of course – first, the must work at least four hours per day between 6 am and 10 pm – secondly, they must meet a mandatory 40 hours per week. An official PR person from Samsung said, “The new system that allows more independence and flexibility in choosing working hours is part of Samsung’s continued efforts to help each member work more efficiently and creatively under the slogan ‘Work Smart, Think Hard, Build Trust.’”
    Samsung expects gradual expansion of the new flexible work system to other departments and even to its overseas branches. The two divisions in charge of their super AMOLED displays – Samsung SDI and Samsung Display – will also be implementing the new system even as they work to expand production. One of the downsides of flexible hours is the ability to coordinate projects that rely on different departments to work together on a time schedule. Those employees often find that a more standardized work schedule works best. Employers and employees must still work together to avoid possible burnout from trying to cram too many hours in at once to make up for their time off – this can cause errors or moody behavior towards co-workers or interfere with their ability to concentrate on tasks. Samsung and their employees will have to work together to make sure the flexible hours produce the desired results.
    SOURCE: Business Korea


3/29-30/2015 – 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. Doctors not compliant with working hour limits until 2017 - Minister for Health Leo Varadkar: Significant reconfiguration of hospital service required, by Martin Wall, 3/29 (3/30 early pickup) IrishTimes.com
    DUBLIN, Ireland - It will be 2017 at the earliest before most non-consultant hospital doctors see their working hours complying with limits set out in an EU directive, the HSE [Health Service Executive] has told the Government.
    In an updated implementation plan submitted to the Department of Health in February, the HSE said in some instances compliance with the 48-hour week stipulated in the directive could not be be achieved without significant service reconfiguration.
    In an opinion published this month the advocate general at the European Court of Justice maintained that Ireland was in breach of the EU’s working time directive in relation to the working hours of non-consultant doctors.
    If this is upheld by the European Court of Justice in a ruling due later this year, Ireland could face significant fines.
    Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said measures within the HSE report to improve compliance included the recruitment of extra non-consultant hospital doctors and consultants, the transfer of some non-consultant hospital doctor tasks to other grades, the reconfiguration of acute services in conjunction with the implementation of a smaller hospitals framework and the development of the national maternity strategy, and a single national paediatric hospital to replace three existing stand-alone paediatric hospitals.
    Workers’ welfare
    The EU directive sets out a number of measures to protect workers’ welfare and safety. These include:
    • A maximum 48-hour working week, averaged over a reference period;
    • A 20-minute break for every 4½ hours worked or a 30-minute break for every six hours worked;
    • Eleven hours daily rest or equivalent compensatory rest and 35 hours consecutive rest every seven days; or two periods of 35 hours or one period of 59 hours of consecutive rest every 14 days.
    However, the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO), which represents non-consultant hospital doctors, has consistently maintained that these rules are being widely breached.
    Mr Varadkar told the Dáil last week that the Government was committed to achieving compliance with the provisions of the directive.
    Significant progress
    He said the HSE had made “significant progress” in implementing the directive for non-consultant hospital doctors, particularly in the last year.
    He said the HSE was close to achieving full compliance with the directive apart from on the issue of the 48-hour working week.
    He said in this area compliance stood at 68 per cent at the end of January 2015.
    He said this was up from a figure of 40 per cent compliance in the last quarter of 2013, and 30 per cent compliance in 2011.
    In a written answer to a parliamentary question by Paul Murphy of the Socialist Party, the Minster said the HSE had achieved 98 per cent compliance with 30-minute daily rest breaks, 95 per cent compliance with 11- hour daily rest breaks, and 98 per cent compliance with weekly/fortnightly rest breaks in the past two years.

  2. Griffin workers face pay pain, 3/30 The West Australian via au.news.yahoo.com
    PERTH, Australia - Update 1.10pm: Griffin Coal says it has a radical three-pronged strategy which it believes will turn around the fortunes of its loss-making Collie mine before the end of the year.
    David Trench, spokesman for parent company Lanco Infratech, said a program to cut wages, increase the price of its product and improve mine site efficiencies would make Griffin cash-neutral within six months.
    Griffin has haemorrhaged money since Lanco bought it from administrators for $800 million in 2010, following the collapse of former coal magnate Ric Stowe's business empire.
    There had been suggestions the troubled enterprise could be overtaken by Indonesian mining interests represented by former politicians Julian Grill and Norm Marlborough.
    But Mr Trench yesterday said the company was confident of stemming the losses soon.
    He would not reveal details but said wage reductions for the operations and maintenance workforce was vital.
    "Everybody understands that mine operations can't be sustainable at these wages and it doesn't have a choice than to reduce wages," he said.
    "The endeavour is to do it in a manner where the pain is manageable for all of us."
    WestBusiness can reveal Lanco made a submission to the Fair Work Commission on Friday asking it to determine the impact of a 35-hour week across a range of salary bands, down from the current 42-hour roster.
    The new roster, which could remove penalty payments, would result in an average 38 per cent cut to wages - or $47,000 a year for the average worker.
    However, Lanco sources have revealed it would be prepared to accept a pay cut worth half this amount - or a 17 per cent reduction in the wages bill.

    Lanco would sweeten the deal by offering workers a share in any price increases to the cost of its coal.
    The company wants to increase prices for customers, including Bluewaters and Worsley.
    Sources indicate the price rise would be worth an additional $10 a tonne.
    The company benchmarks its product against Newcastle coal, which is priced at $60/t, down from about $130/t three years ago.
    Mr Trench would not comment on the mine site efficiencies program, but WestBusiness understands it started two months ago with measures to fix equipment and hire it on short-term leases to free up its long-term liabilities.
    It is also changing the design of the mine site to allow for faster-moving trucks.
    Mining union secretary Gary Wood has previously threatened strike action over pay cuts worth tens of thousands of dollars per worker each year.


3/28/2015 – 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. CSCU leader asks for contract concessions; faculty unions balk, by Jacqueline Rabe Thomas, (3/27 late pickup) The Connecticut Mirror via CTmirror.org
    HARTFORD, Conn., USA - With plans to cut spending by $22 million, the president of the state's largest public college system is asking union leaders for concessions.
    But the presidents of the two largest unions representing employees at the community colleges and Central, Eastern, Southern and Western Connecticut state universities say they aren't interested.
    "Are we willing to open our contract? No. Right now, I am not willing to do that," said Vijay Nair, the president of the CSU-American Association of University Professors.
    "There is no point in having that chat as long as the system is mismanaged," said Steven Cohen, president of the Congress of Connecticut Community Colleges, which represents most faculty. Cohen pointed to central office costs that are rising as faculty numbers decline.
    "He's wasting his time," said Cohen. "It's a conversation we are not interested in having at the moment."
    With 6,100 full- and part-time faculty, counselors, coaches and librarians in these two unions, the rejection could mean cuts elsewhere or layoffs.
    Gregory W. Gray, president of the regional and community college system, wrote a letter to every union leader on Tuesday asking for concessions.
    "As you know, the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities are facing a dire financial situation," he wrote. "In light of the budget gap, I would like to ascertain your willingness to meet with me to discuss budget issues and explore all options to get us through this fiscal crisis."
    The college system has forecast that its budget would grow by $63.7 million next year — a 5.4 percent increase — if officials don't make any cuts. The system's governing board on Thursday voted to raise tuition and fees by 4.8 to 5.3 percent to help pay for some of that increased spending. (Read why college costs are increasing here.)
    The current contracts with staff at the four regional universities and community colleges only protect employees from layoffs through June 30, but they guarantee 5 percent pay raises next fiscal year. The contract governing college employees' health and retirement benefits — which are negotiated by the governor's staff with the state employees union — don't expire until 2022.
    Members of the Board of Regents said they are considering saving $10 million through staff attrition. Another $10 million may be saved by laying people off.
    Gray told the board Thursday he wrote to six unions because he wants them to consider accepting furloughs as a way to avoid layoffs.
    "I would much rather go through furloughs," he said.

    As officials create a budget for the regents in coming months, Gray said he will try to avoid workforce reductions, but said, "that may be very difficult to do."
    Nair — whose union has had a contentious relationship with Gray — said he hopes state lawmakers decide to provide the needed funding to close the college system's projected deficit.
    "We believe it is premature to begin talking about opening our contract," said Nair. "What should be happening is the president should be lobbying legislators aggressively. I would like him to be a lot more aggressive in getting funding from the state."
    But the state is also facing a deficit. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has proposed cutting state funding to the 16-campus and online college system by $20.5 million next year. The legislature has until June 3 to adopt a budget.
    Funding to support the sprawling network of schools has been on a roller coaster over the last several years. Facing an historic $3.7 billion budget shortfall in 2012, state lawmakers reduced funding to the system by 10 percent. But funding has since rebounded, and last year the state spent $522.7 million on the colleges — more than in any of the five previous yearrs.

  2. Library youth services cutting hours temporarily, by Michael Strand, Salina Journal via salina.com
    SALINA, Kan., USA - Because of an upgrade to the library’s heating and air-conditioning system, the youth services department of the Salina Public Library will be closed from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Monday to Friday.
    The youth department will be open from 4 to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday and from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday.

    [So the youth services dept. is cutting from a 4x(9to9) + 1x(9to6) = 4x12 + 1x9 = 48+9= 57-hour workweek to a 4x(4to9) + 1x(4to6) = 4x5 + 1x2 = 20+2= 22-hour workweek. Hmmm, we hope this doesn't mean they are furloughing one 35-hr/wk employee, because small hourscuts for all are better than a complete furlough for one, but then, furloughs are better than firings, timesizing than downsizing. The real tragedy here is that the Happy Bear and the Brainy Babies Storytime are getting canceled -]
    Because of the closing, the scheduled visit from the Child Advocacy and Parenting Services “Happy Bear” at 10:15 a.m. Thursday, and the Brainy Babies Storytime at 9:30 a.m. Monday and Wednesday have all been canceled.
    Other library services, including the adult fiction and nonfiction areas and the technology lab, will not be affected by the update.


3/27/2015 – 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. ECJ [European Court of Justice] 'lever to cut hours', by Gary Culliton gary.culliton@imt.ie, Irish Medical Times via imt.ie
    [No wonder dee Emerald Oile is hevvin' a hard time wid its medicos - it's acronym-bound!]
    DUBLIN, Ireland - A meeting between the IMO [Irish Medical Organisation] and health service management is due within two weeks under the terms of a Labour Relations Commission (LRC) agreement on NCHD [Non-Consultant Hospital Doctor] working time compliance.
    The meeting is part of the union’s campaign to pressurise management to stick to European Working Time Directive (EWTD) rules on working hours and rest periods.
    IMO Assistant Director of Industrial Relations Eric Young said the union was “aware that health service management understand that penalties will accrue from the recent European Court of Justice (ECJ) opinion”. The union told IMT [Irish Medical Times] it planned to use the ECJ’s conclusions as a lever to press management to implement the Directive. Next month’s meeting is a follow-up to an LRC meeting held in March.
    Intensive negotiations conducted at the LRC in September and October 2013 resulted in agreement on a joint approach — involving hospital management, the IMO and NCHDs — to achieve EWTD compliance, with an immediate focus on eliminating shifts in excess of 24 hours. Data for the fourth quarter of 2014 show 95 per cent compliance with this target. However, compliance with the 48-hour maximum week stood at just 68 per cent at the end of January 2015.
    The IMO said 33 per cent of NCHDs were routinely required to work in excess of the legal 48-hour limit, and it estimated there were still 230 NCHDs in over 21 hospitals working over 24 hours, with some forced to work 32-hour shifts.
    The IMO has been engaged with HSE management and the LRC on this issue over the past number of years, but has also engaged directly with the EU Commission on the issue.
    Agreement was reached with the IMO in the High Court settlement of 2010, that protected training time did not count as working time, said the Minister for Health, Dr Leo Varadkar, who added that the position was now in question “pending the final judgment by the European Court of Justice”.
    Data from the HSE shows that the average number of working hours for NCHDs was 60 hours a week in 2009, 54 hours per week in 2012 and, at the end of 2014, it had reduced to 51 hours per week.
    [Clearly dee Oirish hev learnt a lot frum duh musical, Hair -
    "LBJ took the IRT down to Main Street USA.
    When he got there what did he see?
    The youth of America on LSD!
    LBJ... IRT...
    USA... LSD...
    LSD... LBJ...
    FBI... CIA...]

  2. Japanese Prime Minister Calls Time on Late Evening Working, Agence France-Presse via NDTV.com
    TOKYO, Japan - Japan's famously long working hours will get a shakeup this summer, the government announced today, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pushing early starts and European-style flexibility.
    In a bid to better balance work and play for Japan's harried employees and to encourage them to spend time and money on private life and leisure, Tokyo mandarins want the working day to start - and end - earlier.
    "Prime Minister Abe said we would take on changing the summertime lifestyle so that (people) will start working early in the morning and spend time with families and others in the evening," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters.
    To begin with, central government officials will promote early starts and flexible finishes, Suga quoted the premier as saying.
    "It is often said that long work hours in our country keep people from appreciating its benefits," Suga said.
    "We believe reforming work styles is extremely important in letting people feel the benefits of 'Abenomics' and making our country's growth sustainable,"
    he said, referring to the government's programme of economic reforms.
    According to statistics from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the average Japanese put in 1,735 hours' work in 2013, far more than the 1,489 of France and Germany's tally of 1,388, but fewer than the 1,788 of the United States.
    However, labour experts suspect Japan's true number is higher, with employees under-reporting overtime in a culture where presenteeism prevails.
    Employees are sometimes expected to spend time with their colleagues in the evening, with often-alcohol fuelled bonding sessions practically compulsory.
    The prime minister has told his ministers to talk to private companies about the push for change, in the hope of dragging them along with the initiative, Suga said, adding that summer had been chosen because of its longer daylight hours.
    But, he said, the introduction of daylight saving was not currently on the table because of the huge latitude differences of the Japanese archipelago
    "Considering that, I think we need careful consideration at the moment towards ticking up our country's standard time in a uniform way," he said.
    In summer months the sun rises in Tokyo at around 4:30 am and sets by 7:00 pm.
    Japan has previously mulled an annual time change like that in Europe or North America where the clocks go forward in spring and back in the autumn, but has never tried it.
    Opponents cite reasons ranging from the simple nuisance of changing time and the risk of inviting even longer work hours to the possibility of increasing home air-conditioning demand in the evening,


3/26/2015 – 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. Startup Execution: Time Is Money, by Chase Garbarino, BostInno via bostinno.streetwise.co
    BOSTON, Mass., USA - Time is money, especially in startup world. Every startup is in a race against time, and every second counts.
    In the last post, I covered the first step of designing your minimum viable product, focused on the prioritization of our initial user stories based off of the value for the end user. Next we need to think about who is needed and how long each step will take to execute building the features to address our chosen user stories. Drawing from one of my first posts—in which we defined the startup people, operations and strategy processes—the aim of this post is to begin tying the three processes together when you are in the phases of building your minimum viable product.
    Before I dive in to connecting the three processes in my next post, let's quickly do some math on the amount of time our startup team can put in to building our product.
    • There are 52 weeks in a year.
    • Let's assume each person on your team takes three weeks of sick/vacation time per year. This leaves us with 49 work weeks per year.
    • Let's assume your team works five days per week. This leaves us with [49x5=] 245 work days per year.
    • Let's assume your team puts in an average of nine hours of work per day [oops, 9x5=a 45-hour workweek, annulling sick/vacation time]. This leaves us with [245x9=] 2,205 hours of work per person per year.
    • Let's assume of the 245 work days per year per person, two hours of each day [245x2=490] are not directly productive (i.e. lunch, brainstorming [=discounting creativity?!], etc.). This leaves us with [2205-490=] 1,715 hours of work per person per year.
    • This leaves us with [1715/49=] 35 hours of REAL work time per person per week.
      [Garbarino really has the gift of the gab! He's figured out how, by more than offsetting sick/vacation time with an unreal? 45-hour workweek and discounting creativity-producing detachment/objectification, startups can claim a REAL workweek of 35 hours!]
    Many people reading this will have many thoughts including "my team works 100+ hours per week!" or "Vacation? No such thing as vacation in startup world." While I agree there aren't real vacations in an early-stage startup and my teams most certainly are on the job much longer than what I have outlined above, this exercise is designed to give us a realistic idea of the time our team actually puts in that will results in some meaningful output. In startup world, there is a lot of BS that people can engage in - reading TechCrunch, messing around on Product Hunt, networking, going to events, raising capital, riffing on product/marketing/sales ideas etc. I'm not saying these things aren't important, but they don't amount to tangible progress on your product.Further, the time outline above assumes your people aren't messing around too much on Reddit, YouTube and doing things most normal people behind a computer screen do at work. So it is very important before we begin to set deadlines for our product releases to have a realistic idea of how many hours per week our people put in to real work. I typically assume 35 hours because it is less than what I expect from the team which gives us some wiggle room if we come up short.
    Next up we'll be connecting our user stories with the people process and the operations process.
    Chase Garbarino is Co-Founder & CEO of Streetwise Media.

  2. Volkswagen cuts down jobs and working hours at its Russian facility, by Nikhil Puthran, (3/25 late pickup) CarTrade.com
    KALUGA, Russia - Popular German carmaker has announced its plans to reduce shift timing and lay off about 150 workers at its Russian plant. The company is reportedly undertaking these new measures to cut down cost due to market downturn. Last year Volkswagen reportedly witnessed a sharp drop in car sales in Russia as its economy had been strongly hit by the fall in oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine.
    Speaking more on [=about] the ocassion [sic], Volkswagen said in an email statement to sources, “In the first months of 2015 the Russian auto market continued to feel the impact of a weak economy, significant price increases and high interest rates. We don't expect that to change in coming months. The Russian market still has a significant growth potential long-term.”
    The Kaluga plant located in Russia shall be working four days a week from April to July this year and starting from May the number of shifts would decrease from three to two. To further help the company in adapting to current economic environment, its shall suspend the production activity for about two weeks on May 5-8 and May 12-15.
    [With more hourscuts, VW could have completely avoided jobcuts - and the massive domino-effect ("oh nevermind about that") collateral damage to their own best (employee-linked) customer base.]
    The company also said it would not renew contracts with at least 150 employees and would offer some others the chance to move to its new auto parts warehouse in the Moscow region or an engine plant. Both of which are scheduled to open sometime later this year.
    Source: Reuters

  3. Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying riles allies over working hours, by Jeffie Lam jeffie.lam@scmp.com, South China Morning Post (subscription) via scmp.com
    HONG KONG, HKSAR, China - Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has riled two legislative allies, both unionists, for reneging on his election promise to specify the number of standard working hours by law so that workers will be protected from exploitation and compensated for overtime.
    The Beijing-friendly lawmakers warned Leung would find it hard to seek a second term if he did not change his attitude.

    Chan Yuen-han of the Federation of Trade Unions, which was a core supporter of Leung ahead of the 2012 chief executive poll, delivered the rare but strong caveat a week after government advisers recommended - without mandating a specific figure - that employers must state the number of hours their staff worked in their job contracts.
    Labour activists say bosses can still make their staff work long hours without overtime pay if the employees agree to it.
    "You are deviating from what you promised [in 2012] when you moved the FTU [with your election manifesto] and led me to support you fully in running for chief executive," Chan told Leung yesterday.
    "It would be a very difficult job for you to seek re-election with such a philosophy."
    Chan even brought up Leung's predecessor Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, saying he was poles apart from the former chief executive. "At least Tsang implemented the minimum wage [during his tenure] as promised."
    Leung replied that the relevant legislation was very complicated and should not be undertaken in haste to avoid any counter-effects. He also said writing the minimum wage into law was easier than it was for standard working hours.
    But another FTU lawmaker, Kwok Wai-keung, said Leung should not use consultation as an excuse to drag out the issue as the government had been gauging public opinion for two years already.
    This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as 'CY angers allies over working hours law'


3/25/2015 – 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. Health Overhaul Leads to Shorter Work Hours, by Rachel Feintzeig, Wall Street Journal (blog) via blogs.wsj.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - The Affordable Care Act, signed by President Obama five years ago this week, sparked a host of changes. For some workers, the law’s legacy amounts to fewer hours of paid work.
    [= The right deed for the wrong reason and in the wrong way. If done systemically, a reduced labor surplus raises wages and maintains income despite shorter hours.]
    The law’s requirement that larger employers provide affordable insurance to workers putting in 30-plus hour weeks has led some companies to cap the number of hours employees can log. A new survey out Tuesday from the Society for Human Resource Management finds that 14% of employers have cut back on hours for part-time employees, and an additional 6% plan to do so. The survey, which included more than 740 human resources professionals, found that a small subset of companies were considering reducing hours for full-time employees too.
    [So shorter hours are happening anyway, but not for the people who really need it (over-full timers) nor in the best way (temporary worksharing and permanent timesizing).]
    Firms are playing around with how they classify and schedule workers, but the strategy comes with risk. James Napoli, a partner with Seyfarth Shaw LLP who helps employers comply with the ACA, says he’s seen an uptick in audits focused on compliance with the health care law by the Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service. The audits, which began about three years ago, are starting to become broader, more frequent and more serious, he said.
    A few years ago, the federal agencies “weren’t really seeking to levy heavy fines against employers,” he said. “That tone has changed a bit.”
    He’s noticed universities and colleges are frequent targets of the audits these days, and expects to see more retailers and hospitality companies come under scrutiny too.
    Companies can legally cut a worker’s hours if business conditions warrant such a move but if it turns out an employer trimmed hours just to avoid providing that worker health benefits, the company could face consequences. Companies might end up not just in violation of the ACA but other federal laws too, Mr. Napoli said. For example, a company could be found to have run afoul of an anti-discrimination law, if it happens to have primarily cut work hours for a certain racial or ethnic group. That can open employers up to class-action lawsuits.
    Some companies just aren’t aware of the risks when they start rejiggering hours, Mr. Napoli said. Others think they can maneuver in a way to stay on the right side of the law and decide the potential downside is worth it.
    For “some employers, this is a matter of whether they can keep the doors open or not. It’s that serious,” Mr. Napoli said.
    As of now, it’s not completely clear what strategies companies are legally allowed to employ.
    “This is a very uncomfortable time for employers because they’re asked to make 100% decisions on less than 100% information,” Mr. Napoli said.
    [A version from yesterday -]
    Employers cutting worker hours to avoid PPACA, (3/24 trumped by later WSJ ver.) BenefitsPro.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - About one in five U.S. employers either have reduced hours for workers they consider to be part-time, or will do so, in response to requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
    That’s what a survey of some 740 human resources professionals conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management found.
    The vast majority — nearly three-quarters — of respondents haven’t altered schedules to avoid providing health insurance for part-timers working 30 or more hours a week on average. But 14 percent have, and another 6 percent told SHRM they intend to.
    It's still a significant number as some previous studies have found that most large employers will not circumvent coverage extension by reducing full-time workers' hours. SHRM's survey results come as PPACA marks its 5th anniversary this week.
    PPACA mandates large employers offer health care coverage to employees working 30 hours or more per week or face a penalty.
    When it comes to trying to reduce full-time worker hours or reducing the number of full-time employees to duck under the requirement, SHRM reported that only about 10 percent have considered going down that road.
    “As organizations learned more about the law, they found that their coverage levels were already the same or more than what the law required, minimizing the adjustments that some anticipated employers would need to make when the ACA was created,” said Evren Esen, director of SHRM’s survey programs.
    Among other outcomes:
    • 54 percent of employers require employees to work 30 hours a week to be eligible for coverage, an increase from 44 percent in 2014 and 39 percent in 2013. Another 26 percent require employees to work more than 30 hours a week to be eligible.
    • 66 percent said their organization offered the same level of health care benefits as before PPACA was enacted.
    • 77 percent said that their health care coverage costs increased from 2014 to 2015, and 6 percent saw a decrease.
    • About three out of five organizations have made changes to their health care coverage in the last year.
    • 54 percent offered alternative health care plans such as health savings accounts and health reimbursement accounts this year, compared to 37 percent in 2013. In addition, 13 percent of respondents said they planned to offer alternatives in the future.
    • 20 percent had health plans with grandfathered status in the past but have since dropped the status. Of the organizations that ended their grandfathered status, 19 percent said it would have cost more to keep the status than to change plans
    • 53 percent said they would not be affected by an excise tax on high-cost benefits that takes effect in 2018 or are taking action to avoid the tax.

  2. Saudi Arabia rejects plan to increase public sector working hours, ArabianBusiness.com
    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council has rejected a proposal to increase working hours at government offices, local media reported.
    Two council members had recommended one hour be added to the working day to improve productivity.
    However, opponents argued it would require more staff to be hired in some government institutions such as schools and employees would expect a pay increase.

    Some members stressed the need to improve the work efficiency of employees rather than increasing work hours, Saudi Gazette reported.
    Majority of working Saudis are employed by the government, often on hefty salaries but analysts have suggested the expectation of a government job has cultivated an environment of low productivity and high complacency.
    The kingdom has been attempting to encourage more nationals into the private sector, including imposing a Saudisation quota, but lower wages and greater productivity expectations have made it unattractive to many.
    [Another version -]
    Shoura against increasing work hours of govt staff, Zawya Thompson Reuters via zawya.com
    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- The Shoura Council on Tuesday rejected a proposal to increase work hours at government offices by one hour.
    The majority of members voted against the proposal to amend the Civil Service Law by adding one article to it, according to Yahya Al-Samaan, assistant president of the Council.
    The session was chaired by President Sheikh Abdullah Al-Asheikh, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
    The Council turned down the proposal, presented by members Muhammad Al-Naji and Ata Al-Subaiti, after listening to a report presented by the committee for administration and human resources as well as opinions of members.
    Taking part in the deliberations, some members argued that an increase in work hour also necessitates an increase in the number of staffers at some government institutions like schools.
    They also called for a hike in the salary of employees if work hour is increased.
    Some members stressed the need to improve the work efficiency of employees rather than increasing work hours.
    [A third version -]
    Raise productivity, not work hours in govt offices: Shoura, by Md. Rasooldeen & Sharif M. Taha, ArabNews.com
    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - TShe Shoura Council rejected a proposal to extend the work schedule in the public sector establishments by one hour.
    Shoura members declined the proposal at the 24th session of the council, after listening to a report submitted by the Committee on Administration, Human Resources on the proposed amendment.
    The house felt that the extension of working hours will raise the costs of maintenance and energy consumption in government buildings as well as traffic jam in major cities.
    The members called for increased productivity of employees instead of increasing working hours. While commenting on the proposed amendment, a member wondered why the committee supported it if it lacked a thorough study.
    The Shoura has meanwhile approved a draft study on amendments on Article 13 of the Civil Service system, which will allow a government employee to engage in business or partner with others to set up companies.
    Shoura Council Assistant Speaker Dr. Yahya bin Abdullah Al-Samaan said the approval of the amendments followed deliberations on a report made by the Committee on Administration, Human Resources.
    The amendments are reportedly meant to curb cover-up business (tasattur) and improve the living conditions of government employees by helping them find other sources of income.
    Calling on the Board of Grievances to approve the principles of judiciary, the council discussed a report of the Committee on Islamic, Judiciary Affairs. The discussion came in light after the annual report of the Board of Grievances tabled for the year 1434-1435, which was read out by the Committee Vice Chairman Dr. Faleh Al-Sughier.
    The council members also called on the Board of Grievances to give data and statistics on the number of the cases made against or for the government agencies and asked the board to prepare performance reports.
    Later, the council approved the national strategy for housing recommended by the Committee on Haj, Housing and Services.
    The committee recommended the provision of housing units to the people with special needs, widows, orphans, and divorcees. The committee also recommended updating the national strategy every five years to cope with the new developments.
    Commenting on the report, a member said the strategy should focus on decreasing housing costs in a way that should not exceed 20 percent of the citizen’s income.
    Another member said nearly 80 percent of the Saudi families cannot bear the costs of housing units that exceed 200 square meters and called on provisions for smaller housing units to suit with the larger portion of population.
    [A fourth version -]
    Saudi Shura rejects extension of working hours - Members say extra hours will not boost productivity, by Bureau Chief Habib Toumi, GulfNews.com
    MANAMA, Saudi Arabia - Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council has rejected a proposal to extend the daily working hours in the public sector by one hour.
    Only 10 members of the advisory council voted in favour of the proposal reportedly meant to boost productivity, while 99 opposed it.
    “The main problem in the public sector is not the insufficiency of the working hours, but rather the lack of discipline and commitments during the formal working hours as attested by monitoring agencies and public administration studies,” members said, local daily Al Madina reported on Wednesday.
    An extension of the working hours will require an increase in the number of employees in some government agencies, including public education schools, they said.
    “Do we really believe that extending the working hours by one hour will boost productivity? Are there studies that have reached such a conclusion or are we here talking about impressions, wishful thinking or simple theories?” Shura Member Mishal Al Salmi commented.
    One member said that the claim that the proposal would help narrow the gap between the private and public sectors was “unacceptable.”
    “It is simply not fair to compare between the two sectors because the differences are quite big,” the member who was not named by the daily, said.
    “The salary of the private sector employee is determined based on the profits of the company and the input of the staff, whereas the salary in the public sector is fixed by regulations,” the member said.
    The proposal, submitted by Council Members Mohammad Al Naji and Ata Al Subaiti, said that public employees should be working eight hours a day, instead of seven, in order to boost productivity and bolster contributions to the nation’s development.
    The extra hours would also reduce the differences between the public and private sectors since Saudi jobseekers tend to look for government jobs with fewer working hours and longer holidays.
    Saudi authorities have been motivating their young citizens to seek opportunities in the private sector.


3/24/2015 – 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. Clinton: US Should Consider German Model for Saving Jobs, by David Francis, (3/23 late pickup) The Gable via ForeignPolicy.com (blog)
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - When times are tough in Germany, Berlin staves off unemployment by paying for private jobs with government subsidies. Hillary Rodham Clinton, a presumed Democratic 2016 presidential candidate, suggested Monday that a similar program could work in the United States.
    Speaking about job creation at the Center for American Progress in Washington, Clinton said the United States should look to comparable foreign economies for examples of how to create and keep jobs. She said Berlin’s model for dealing with job retention during downturns is one Washington should explore.
    “The other thing that Germany does is, instead of an unemployment system, they have a wage subsidy system so you don’t let people go in the first place,” Clinton said.
    She was referring to Germany’s “Kurzarbeit,” or short-work, policy, one that Germans are enthusiastically proud of. It allows companies to reduce workers’ hours with the government picking up the tab for the lost time.
    [This is huge.   If worksharing makes it into the mainstream debate via the next presidential election, human progress will finally get out of first gear.]
    Of course, getting such a wholesale change to how the United States deals with job losses during economic downswings would require Congress to act, no sure thing given current partisanship. And U.S. officials have run into trouble in the past by suggesting European solutions to America’s problems.
    Moreover, Germany’s policies would be difficult to replicate in the United States, said American Enterprise Institute scholar Desmond Lachman. The German workforce is highly unionized, he said, making it easier for workers to get concessions from the central government when times are tough.
    Lachman also said the German policy does little to create new jobs, and widens the gap between top earners and those at the bottom who don’t get salary increases when Berlin steps in with subsidies. During her speech, Clinton said job creation and lessening income inequality were priorities.
    “Then what you’re doing is basically just sharing the work,” Lachman told Foreign Policy. You’re not creating jobs, you’re just keeping unemployment down … while increasing the number of people at the bottom.”
    During the Great Recession, the German labor market proved especially resilient. In 2010, when the United States and the rest of the world were losing jobs, Germany actually added them because companies there took advantage of the government program.
    According to a survey for the Munich-based research group Ifo Institute, in the first quarter of 2010 — the depths of the European sovereign debt crisis — 39 percent of German manufacturers were using Kurzarbeit, allowing them to hold onto skilled labor at a time when many firms around the globe were shedding jobs.
    Many on the right and left, including President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton, have mentioned the Kurzarbeit concept as something the United States should consider. And evidence from Germany, Europe’s strongest economy, shows that it stops companies from cutting jobs.
    Clinton said she was willing to try. “Maybe we’ll start not too far from here, in a beautiful domed building,” she said to laughter and applause.

  2. Work hours call to offshore staff - Offshore workers are being urged to opt back into regulations aimed at limiting the working week to 48 hours, (3/23 late pickup) Business Reporter via business-reporter.co.uk
    LONDON, UK - The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union said any potential job losses could be minimised if staff were covered by the Working Time Directive [of 48 hrs max].
    [Here's the UK presenting an example of a foreign economy showing how to keep jobs, in line with Hillary's new policy recommendation above.]
    Union members are to be balloted on industrial action over issues including shifts, sick pay and jobs amid the slump in oil prices.
    RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT is urging offshore members to opt back in to the provisions of the Working Time Directive as that move will seriously hamper efforts by the employers to impose shift patterns which would wreck the work-life balance of staff who already spend prolonged periods away from home.
    “The attack on jobs and working conditions in Britain’s offshore industry is as sharp now as it was at the bottom of the oil price slump and RMT believes that companies are exploiting the situation to launch an unprecedented assault on the workforce and the imposition of the new shift patters is central to that.
    “The preparations for ballots are in hand and RMT will work with sister unions in the coming months to stave off this attempt to hammer down on the workforce across the offshore industry."


3/22-23/2015 – 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. Jobs, jobs, jobs: Putting Ontario to Work - Working Well? 3/23 The Agenda via theagenda.tvo.org.com (finder's credit to Colin of Ottawa)
    TORONTO, Ont., Canada - Many of us are constantly 'on,' connected at all times to our office, co-workers and workplace responsibilities. What does this mean for our health and emotional well-being? The Agenda explores three approaches to the modern-day hankering for more time.
    1. Nicholas Carr: Our Automated Lives
      Automation is making our lives easier - from the self-driving car andvacuuming robots to wearable computers and algorithms that sculpt our online experience - but is it making them better? Nicholas Carr, author of "The Glass Cage: Automation and Us," argues our growing dependence on computers and technology can leave us disengaged and discontented. He discusses the human costs of increased automation and how we can use technology to expand, as opposed to narrow, the human experience.
    2. Brigid Schulte: Overworked, Overwhelmed
      Economist John Maynard Keynes predicted in 1930 that within a century we would be working 15 hours per week. We were all to become aristocrats, idling about, awash in leisure time.
      [This "aristocrats, idling about" stuff is total nonsense. Keynes' actual paragraph from his 1930 Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren is the following: "For many ages to come the old Adam (Gen.3:19, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread...") will be so strong in us that everybody will need to do some work if he is to be contented. We shall do more things for ourselves than is usual with the rich to-day (PH: definitely not aristocratic!), only too glad to have small duties and tasks and routines. But beyond this, we shall endeavour to spread the bread thin on the butter - to make what work there is still to be done to be as widely shared as possible. Three-hour shifts or a 15-hour week may put off the problem for a great while. For three hours a day is quite enough to satisfy the old Adam in most of us!"]
      This obviously hasn't happened [yet - 15 years left till 2030 and workspreading has become a system requirement for funding enough consumption to market all the robotic output]. In fact, as author Brigid Schulte argues, we are overworked, overwhelmed, and awash in "contaminated time." She discusses her book, "Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time," and details how we can piece together the tattered shreds of our leisure time. http://castroller.com/podcasts/TheAgendaVideo/4360577?start=0
    3. Meditation: Making Work Meaningful
      Google offers emotional intelligence courses for its employees. General Mills has a meditation room in every building on its corporate campus. Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs and BlackRockare teaching meditation on the job. Has the world of management discovered the human soul? The Agenda examines attempts to re-establish work-life balance in certain industries.
    The Agenda with Steve Paikin is TVO's flagship current affairs program - devoted to exploring the social, political, cultural and economic issues that are changing our world, at home and abroad. The Agenda airs weeknights at 8:00 PM EST on TVO [Television Ontario] - Canada's largest educational broadcaster.
    [And speaking of overwhelmed (by totally unnecessary work in the age of work-gobbling robotics) -]

  2. Why Hong Kong's stressed workers need shorter working hours -.. Society suffers if the potentially high health costs of long working hours are continually ignored by employers, by Alice Wu, 3/22 (3/23 over dateline) South China Morning Post (subscription)
    HONG KONG, HKSAR, China - If anyone is still wondering why Hongkongers are an unhappy lot, look no further than the proposed new working hours laws. The idea that employment contracts are required to spell out how many hours employees need to work, what happens if they work overtime, and their meal and rest times, is as far as the Standard Working Hours Committee has come after two years. That pretty much sums up the sad state for what researchers of a 2014 survey coined "Generation O" - "overworked, overstressed and the overwhelmed" people of Hong Kong.
    The committee is still a long way from setting up standard working hours. It remains something to be taken up by each employee with his/her employer. The true "significance" of the committee's work lies in the 674 days between its first and latest meeting last week. In that time, while they were arriving at this employment contract obligation - and in the words of its chairman, agreeing "that we should walk in the direction of legislation in our working hours policy" - every person in the 23 per cent of our working population who toil for 51½ hours or more per week has clocked up at least 4,958 hours.
    It's disappointing, perhaps, but not surprising. When the first meeting was held in May 2013, the government-appointed committee members were at odds over just about everything except the bi-monthly meeting schedule and the need for public consultation. The committee, with its many competing interests, was set up to look at how standard working hours would affect our economy, health and quality of life.
    And since its birth, many have framed the debate on our competitiveness, labour market and the monetary costs for employers. There was even the suggestion that it would only bring more women into the workforce and, hence, exacerbate the divorce rate, affect mobility prospects for younger workers, and intergenerational income inequality.
    Study after study has pointed to the increased risks of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, fatigue, stress, depression, musculoskeletal disorders, chronic infection and diabetes, among other things, by working consistently long hours.
    We don't need to study Hongkongers' cortisol levels to know people here are stressed out. So, is it too much to ask committee members to consider all these effects while they bicker? And if we must focus on the issue solely from an economic perspective, surely members should consider the health costs caused by overwork among a big proportion of the 3.1 million-strong workforce.
    It is not acceptable to cite as a reason against setting limits the economic argument that with greater financial incentives, people would work more anyway, rather than choose more free time. It still boils down to requiring the labour force to compromise their health.
    It's no wonder Hongkongers have been found to be the least positive in Asia about their physical and mental health and the least motivated to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The journey of pursuit belongs to the individual, but that also requires enough time in the day outside work for that pursuit.
    Alice Wu is a political consultant and a former associate director of the Asia Pacific Media Network at UCLA. This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as Clock's ticking.


3/21/2015 – 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. Furlough Fridays Finally Ending Soon In Yuba City, Posted by cgilbert, (3/20 late pickup) 1600 KUBA via kubaradio.com
    YUBA CITY, Calif., USA - After about six years, Furlough Fridays in Yuba City will end at the start of the new fiscal year on July 1st. That would mean City Hall being open five days a week again and the elimination of 10-percent pay cuts.
    [Furloughs instead of firings six years ago, and an intact skillset and minimally weakened local economy today.]
    Furloughs already been eliminated for firefighters, after a new contract was imposed on them in January, following an impasse in year-long negotiations.
    Mayor John Dukes says new agreements have been reached with most major employee groups. But he says impasse may also be declared for the Miscellaneous Employee group, which includes Public Works, the Utilities Department, Parks and Recreation, and City Hall staff.
    As part of the new contract ending furloughs, employee groups must agree to contribute more to their pension and health plans.

  2. FF [Republican Party]: Swift action needed on junior doctors' working hours, BreakingNews.ie
    DUBLIN, Ireland - Fianna Fáil [FF] are calling for the Health Minister to act quickly to ensure that junior doctors have safe working hours.
    During the week, Ireland was found in a legal opinion to be in breach of the EU's Working Time Directive on working hours for Junior Doctors.
    It was not a final ruling, but the opinion is likely to be upheld by the court.
    The Directive requires that non-consultant hospital doctors work no more than 48 hours a week on average, receive breaks of 30 minutes every six hours, and receive 11 hours of rest in every 24 hours.
    Currently in Ireland, rosters for some junior doctors in a hospital can still include a 32-hour shift. It is also not uncommon for them to be on a 24-hour shift.

    Fianna Fáil's Health spokesman Billy Kelleher said having doctors work such long hours as they currently do puts patients at risk.
    "When you have doctors working excessive hours on a continual basis, it could compromise the health of the patient, and of the doctor as well," he said.
    "We can't have a situation where we have doctors who are on call for excessive hours providing health care to people when their own well-being is at risk as well."


3/20/2015 – 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. Philly Fed says manufacturing grew modestly in March, by Beth Fitzgerald, (3/19 late pickup) NJbiz.com
    PHILADELPHIA, Pa., USA - Manufacturing activity increased at a modest pace in March, according to the monthly Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, which includes southern New Jersey.
    The survey's indicators of future activity showed mixed results, but continue to point to growth for the manufacturing sector over the next six months.
    Senior Economic Analyst Michael Trebing said during a conference call with reporters that “Expectations for the next six months remain overall optimistic, but the indexes are not at levels of optimism as high as we saw for most of last year.”
    Asked about their 2015 capital spending plans, 43 percent of manufacturers said they expect total capital spending to increase over the next 12 months, while 28 percent expect it to decrease.
    Firms said spending on software, noncomputer equipment, and computers and related hardware will continue to grow, but at a moderate pace compared with last year. The manufacturers forecast that spending for physical structures and energy-saving investments will fall compared with last year.
    The need to replace capital goods, including information technology equipment, and expected sales growth were cited as the most important factors driving increased capital spending.
    The survey found the percentage of firms reporting an increase in employees in March (17 percent) narrowly exceeded the percentage reporting a decrease (14 percent). Firms also reported reductions in the workweek in March: The percentage of firms reporting a shorter workweek (24 percent) was greater than the percentage reporting a longer workweek (13 percent).
    [So shorter hours are happening anyway, let's quit fighting them and go with the flow. This after all is the promise of technology, which downsizing only turns into a curse.]
    Beth Fitzgerald reports on health care, small business and higher education. She joined NJBIZ in 2008 after a 34-year career at the Star-Ledger and has been reporting on business in New Jersey since 1978. Her email is beth@njbiz.com and she is @bethfitzgerald8 on Twitter.

  2. American Samoa government faces cut in working hours, Radio New Zealand via radionz.co.nz
    PAGO PAGO, American Samoa - The American Samoa governor is considering a cut in the working hours of government employees because of a lack of money.
    Governor Lolo Moliga says the government is experiencing a financial downturn due to a number of factors.
    Among them, he says, are the politics in Washington which has led to a delay in the release of federal funds.
    Lolo says such cuts would be the last and worst scenario and would apply from May.
    He has pointed out that a reduction in hours is not a new thing, it has happened with every other administration.
    [Better hourscuts than jobcuts = timesizing not downsizing = (KJ) more time to enjoy that beautiful Samoan weather.]


3/19/2015 – 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. April Lunch: The Shared Work Program - April 8, 2015 lunch speaker: Chad Pearson, Shared-Work Marketing Manager at Washington’s Employment Security Department., Newcastle Chamber of Commerce via newcastle-chamber.org
    “We invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in our employees’ training and couldn’t afford to lose them. Shared Work helped us avoid that." – Sterling Ramberg, co-owner of The Gear Works (blowout quote)
    NEWCASTLE, Wash., USA - Join the Chamber for lunch at Tapatio Mexican Grill on Wednesday, April 8, 2015 to learn more about the Employment Security Department’s Shared Work Program. Buy lunch tickets here. Member payment ($20) https://www.usaepay.com/interface/epayform/1Odql0FG0ouUhLzGCML1mf4s4wO3G2te/sale?&UMamount=20.00&UMinvoice=201303&%20UMdescription=Member%20Lunch%20Payment
    or Non-Member payment ($25)
    https://www.usaepay.com/interface/epayform/1Odql0FG0ouUhLzGCML1mf4s4wO3G2te/sale?&UMamount=25.00&UMinvoice=201304&%20UMdescription=NonMember%20Lunch%20Payment
    If you are facing a temporary decline in business, the Shared Work program offers you an alternative to laying off workers.
    Did you know that you can reduce the work hours of your permanent employees, and the workers can collect partial unemployment benefits to replace a portion of their lost wages? This translates into immediate payroll savings and prevents the loss of your skilled employees.
    The business climate is improving and unemployment is down in Washington. Yet, participation in the program is up 31 percent over last year because employers like you are learning about it.
    Benefits of the Shared Work Program
    • Under the program, businesses can reduce the hours of permanent employees, who can then collect partial unemployment benefits to replace a portion of their lost wages. This translates into immediate payroll savings and prevents the loss of skilled employees.
    • The federal government will cover more than 92 percent of Shared Work benefits through June 2015. That means you can participate virtually for free and there will be practically no effect on your unemployment insurance tax rate.
    The flexibility of the program also makes it attractive. Your business can enroll some or all of your employees. You use it only when needed, and you can vary each employee’s reduction anywhere from 10 to 50 percent per week.
    Recent surveys show that Shared Work helps keep skilled workers, reduces payroll costs and improves employee morale. Employers who have used the program consistently recommend it to others.
    Participation requirements
    For businesses
    • Must be legally registered in Washington for at least six months prior to applying for the program.
    • Must be current on unemployment taxes or be current on a payment contract.
    • You must have a minimum of two permanent employees enrolled in the Shared Work plan.
    • Must be in compliance with IRS, state, county and municipal laws, rules and ordinances.
    • May reduce work hours of participating employees by at least 10 percent, but no more than 50 percent. (A 40-hour employee can be reduced by at least 4 hours, but not more than 20 hours.)
    For employees of the business who are enrolled in the program
    • Hired permanent and paid hourly (corporate officers are not eligible).
    • Eligible for regular unemployment benefits.
    • Able and available to work all hours offered by the Shared Work employer.
    Restrictions
    • Not designed to support seasonal businesses during the off season.
    • May not be used for corporate officers.
    To learn more, watch the Shared Work Video visit www.esd.wa.gov/shared-workor call 800-752-2500.

  2. Ireland in breach of EU directive on working hours for junior doctors, European court finds - The Advocate General's legal opinion is likely to be upheld by the court, Newstalk 106-108 fm via newstalk.com
    DUBLIN, Ireland - The European finding that Ireland is in breach of a directive on the working hours of junior doctors is being described as a 'wake up call' for the Government.
    In a legal opinion published by the European Court of Justice, the Advocate General found that by excluding the training hours for non-consultant hospital doctors from "working time", Ireland was in breach of the directive.
    It is not a final ruling but the opinion is likely to be upheld by the court.
    A European Union directive means junior doctors they should not work more than 48 hours a week.
    The Irish Medical Organistation [sic - never seen this beauty of a typo before!] [=IMO] estimates that 33% of junior doctors routinely work in excess of the 48 hour legal limit.

    The European Commission has taken a case against Ireland to the European Court of Justice on the issue. The ruling will not be known until late June.
    It has been reported that if we are found to be in breach of the directive, Ireland could be fined more €100m.
    Speaking to Newstalk Lunchtime, Eric Young from the IMO says this directive needs to be implemented urgently in the interest of doctors and their patients [because, for example, there still are some hospitals where doctors are working 22-hour shifts - click on audio file at end of article]:
    http://www.newstalk.com/Ireland-in-breach-of-EU-directive-on-working-hours-for-junior-doctors-European-court-finds


3/18/2015 – 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. Court reporter furloughs start in Lake County amid state budget crunch, by Jim Newton, Lake County News-Sun via (3/16 late pickup) ChicagoTribune.com
    LAKE COUNTY, Illin., USA - A staggered furlough program for court reporters in Lake County Circuit Court is scheduled to begin Tuesday, as local officials start implementing measures to address a state budget shortfall that remains unresolved.
    Chief Judge John Phillips said Monday he is reluctantly starting the furlough program as he works to mitigate both the "human toll" and operational problems the budget crisis will cause the 19th Judicial Circuit.
    Money for court reporters will basically run out March 31, unless the governor and state lawmakers agree to a fix. Several other state services and programs are also in the same situation.
    Phillips said the furloughs are an attempt to stave off layoffs and stretch remaining funding as far as it will go before the start of the new fiscal year in July, if it comes to that.
    Under the furlough plan, Phillips said half of the local court's 21 court reporters will work three days on and two days off for one week, while the other half works two days on and three off. The schedule will alternate back and forth, week to week
    .
    [Furloughs, not firings! Tempoffs, not permoffs! Sitoffs, not layoffs! Timesizing, not downsizing!]
    Chief judges across the state are supposed to submit a plan to address the court reporter funding shortfall to the Illinois Supreme Court by this Friday.
    Even with the furloughs, which Phillips acknowledged will be a major hardship for the reporters, the chief judge said the felony courts will not be able to run at full steam.
    "With only half of the court reporters, we will not be able to cover all of the felony courtrooms," Phillips said. "It's going to affect trials, pleas, the jail — it's like dominoes."
    Other counties are also implementing furlough programs and some have announced plans for layoffs to begin April 1, Phillips said.
    Gov. Bruce Rauner appeared to offer some hope that the court reporter crisis could be avoided through negotiations with state legislative leaders in his budget address last month.
    "Court reporters will start missing payroll next month, threatening to grind our justice system to a halt," Rauner said in his address. "Let's keep our courtrooms open."
    But Phillips said Monday he has heard nothing in the way of good news from state officials. He said he is calling local legislators, but added that the key to a deal seems to hinge on the state's top leadership.
    "It's fluid," Phillips said of the situation.
    State Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, said she and two other lawmakers are scheduled to meet with Rauner Wednesday morning, and that she plans to bring up the budget and the court reporter issue at that meeting.
    "At this point, we're still waiting to hear if the governor is going to be willing to compromise on any of this," Bush said. She urged court reporters and other court employees to call the governor's office and "let them know the impact this is having on court reporters and the impact it is having on the courts."
    Phillips and Tammy Bumgarner, director of the state's Court Reporting Service division, said the problem initially stemmed from last year's budget, when the legislature changed the funding mechanism for court reporters.
    Previously, funding for the state's court reporters came exclusively from the state's General Revenue Fund. Last year, the funding was split between that fund and the Personal Property Tax Replacement Fund.
    Phillips said restrictions tied to the Personal Property Tax Replacement Fund have created a roughly $17 million shortfall for the benefits and salaries of court reporters, who did not receive a raise under the new budget.
    Phillips said the problem was an "unintentional consequence" discovered last year that was expected to be addressed during the legislator's fall veto session, but was not.
    Court reporters are mandated by law to be present during felony cases and child custody cases, and are made available when possible for civil cases.
    JRNewton@tribpub.com   Twitter @jimnewton5

  2. Mixed reviews for work hours, by Kenneth Lau, TheStandard.com.hk
    HONG KONG, HKSAR, China - Working hours should be regulated through legislation, but without a rigid framework, the Standard Working Hours Committee proposed.
    The consensus was reached and announced yesterday after two years, 29 meetings and 40 rounds of public consultation.

    [Two years wasted?]
    Chairman Leong Che-hung said legislation is necessary to protect employees, but he opposes an indiscriminate standard of working hours imposed on all industries.
    [How about a discriminate ceiling on working hours, discriminately controlled by the unemployment rate, at which chronic overtime must be converted into OT-targeted hiring (and training whenever needed)?]
    Leong said employers and employees need to sign a contract clearly stating working conditions because, he explained, a lot of employment contracts don't clearly spell out details, such as overtime pay.
    "It's a first step toward legislation ... in the future, we will write [details] down in black and white," Leong said.
    "The arrangement will be applicable to every industry. The difference will only be in their working hours."
    Asked if an employer will bear criminal liability if he violates the terms, Leong said it will be up to the government.
    Committee member Stanley Lau Chin-ho further explained that working hours, meal breaks and overtime arrangements will all be listed in the contract, but details are yet to be confirmed.
    Both the Confederation of Trade Unions and Federation of Trade Unions criticized the committee's proposals.
    CTU lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan said "standard working hours" is misleading and would fail to improve employees' working conditions.
    "That will only equate to `contract working hours.' In the future, if the employer wants you to work for 12 hours, then the contract will list out 12 hours ... it will only clearly spell out how an employee can be exploited," Lee said. "If the contract does not list out the terms of overtime pay, the boss will even be much safer."
    FTU's Chan Yuen-han said the arrangement will cheat workers.
    "A regulation from the government to regulate all employees working 44 hours per week ... based on this assumption for deciding [the policy], that's what we are talking about," Chan said.
    "It's bull****, it's cheating Hongkongers."
    But in rebuttal, Lau, who was also chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, denied the arrangements would lead to employees being exploited.
    He said it's difficult for bosses to exploit their workers these days because every company needs talents for their development.
    FTU chairman Stanley Ng Chau-pei, who was also a member of the Standard Working Hours Committee, hoped employees can be patient in allowing employers to implement changes step by step.


3/17/2015 – 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. Short-time working: sickness and holiday, 95/03/2009 very late pickup) HRzone.com
    CLIFTON, Bristol, U.K. - We are considering short-time working for 3 months. I know that during the period of short-time working holiday and company sick pay continue to accrue on a full-time basis but am not sure how to apply it correctly and may be overcomplicating the matter!
    For some departments, the short-time will be reduced hours over the same number of days (e.g. 6 hours/day over 5 days rather than the usual 7.5 hours/day over 5 days).
    a) For these people, if they take holiday on one of these reduced days, do they get paid at their full daily rate?
    b) For these people, if they are sick, do they get paid at the short-time daily rate or their full time daily rate (we give them 7 fully paid sick days per year).
    For some other departments it will be 7.5 hours/day over 4 days rather than the normal 5 days. a)I assume these staff can use holiday for the "workless day" and get paid at their normal daily rate. b) If one of these staff is sick for a full week, do they get company sick pay for the 5th "workless day"?
    Many thanks
    Kind regards
    Harriet Workman

    Comment, by Andrew Southwell
    In the first instance, you would only be obliged to pay holiday / sickness in accordance with the hours being worked at the time.
    Secondly, assuming you have an expressed or implied right to lay-off without pay in accordance with statute; employees cannot use annual leave and thus be paid in full for a workless day. They are laid off and would only be due guarantee pay for the first 5 days of any such period.
    However, in respect of sickness absence, SSP would be payable at a minimum in accordance with the usual qualifying requirements. Company sick pay would also be payable as this is a contractual element and arguably separate to the right to lay-off without pay.

  2. Survey finds scant change in employer-sponsored health plan enrollments, by Diane Stafford, Kansas City Star via kansascity.com
    The Obamacare mandate requiring covered employers to offer plans to employees who normally worked at least 30 hours a week caused little change in the percentage or raw number of enrolled employees, according to the survey. (photo caption)
    KANSAS CITY, Mo., USA - The Obamacare mandate requiring covered employers to offer plans to employees who normally worked at least 30 hours a week caused little change in the percentage or raw number of enrolled employees, according to the survey.
    A Mercer survey of employers released Tuesday found that 2015 coverage requirements under the Affordable Care Act had “very little impact” on enrollment in employer-sponsored health insurance plans.
    The Obamacare mandate requiring covered employers to offer plans to employees who normally worked at least 30 hours a week caused little change in the percentage or raw number of enrolled employees, according to the survey.
    “Employers that had to offer coverage to more employees were braced for a bump in enrollment this year,” said Tracy Watts, a Mercer partner and health reform practice leader. “While some did see increases, for the most part it seems the newly eligible either had coverage through a parent’s or spouse’s plan or through Medicaid — or are continuing to go bare.”
    The survey, buttressed by accounts from employees around the country, also indicated that some workers saw their work hours reduced to stay below the 30-hour requirement or that new workers were hired for part-time hours that didn’t require coverage.
    The review of nearly 600 employers found a 1.6 percent increase in the number of employees enrolled in employer-sponsored health plans, but that largely was because of a 2.2 percent increase in employment and not because of the health care law.
    The Mercer report, “Health Care Reform Five Years In,” said the average percentage of all employees — both those eligible and those ineligible for coverage — was basically unchanged at 74 percent.
    Among the surveyed employers, “the average percentage of employees who were eligible for coverage rose one percentage point, from 87 percent to 88 percent, but the average percentage of eligible employees who enrolled dropped a point, from 84 percent to 83 percent,” the report said.
    Focusing on the food and lodging business, a sector most affected by the 30-hour rule, the survey found that the average percentage of employees eligible for coverage rose to 60 percent from 57 percent, but the percentage enrolled grew only one percentage point to 34 percent.
    Mercer found that 81 percent of the employers surveyed were in compliance with the coverage mandate before 2015. Two percent of the respondents said they cut staff to avoid covering more employees.
    Looking forward, the survey found 3 percent of the employers saying they were likely to stop sponsoring health insurance plans within five years.
    To reach Diane Stafford, call 816-234-4359 or send email to stafford@kcstar.com. Read more from Diane at kansascity.com/workplace. Twitter: @kcstarstafford.


3/15-16/2015 – 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. Compensatory time issue stirs political fireworks in Cheektowaga, by Joseph Popiolkowski, @JoePops44, 3/16 BuffaloNews.com
    CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y., USA - Consideration of a resolution dealing with timekeeping for Town of Cheektowaga employees erupted into some brief, politically tinged fireworks Monday night at the Town Board’s regular meeting.
    The resolution sought to clarify the town’s policy on compensatory time for nonunion, salaried employees such as department heads and other supervisors. Supervisor Mary F. Holtz, backed by Town Attorney Kevin G. Schenk, said comp time for those employees is not allowed, except in the Police Department.
    “We haven’t had compensatory time in the town policy since the early to mid-1990s,” Schenk said.
    The new wording in the personnel policy states, “Employees covered by this policy are not entitled to accrue compensatory time. Employees working additional hours outside the standard workweek [40?] have the ability to work a flexible schedule within the same workweek.”
    [So what if it's a particularly pressured week? Tough on ya? You just gave charity to your employer? "Charity for the rich"?]
    The resolution used as an example an employee who may have an assignment or a meeting that extends for two hours beyond the normal workday. The employee has the ability to shorten another workday during the same week by two work hours.
    [Again, what if the extra-long meeting is on Friday? Too bad for you? You just give charity to your employer? "Charity for the rich"?]
    But Councilwoman Diane M. Benczkowski showed a time sheet that she said is used in the Highway Department that includes “compensatory” as an option.
    “Those are time sheets from years ago,” Holtz said.
    The resolution was aimed specifically at the Highway Department and comp time apparently granted to its deputy superintendent, Benczkowski said after the meeting.
    Allegations of misappropriation have been swirling around the department and its superintendent, Mark D. Wegner, and are now being investigated by the state attorney general.
    Wegner said after the meeting that he was just following a long-standing “past practice” in the department by offering comp time while Benczkowski accused the board majority of conducting a “witch hunt” against Wegner and his deputy, Michael J. Lumadue.
    Wegner is also the town Democratic chairman after ousting Frank C. Max Jr. last fall in committee elections. Political warfare has since been waged between factions of the town Democratic Party and it seemed to boil over Monday night in Council Chambers. “It specifically states, as you can see, that they do not receive compensatory time,” Holtz said of the town policy in response to Benczkowski.
    “That’s a lie,” Wegner said from the audience. He then contended that Holtz told his former deputy he could not get overtime but would be eligible for compensatory time.
    “I never told him that,” Holtz said.
    “Yes, you did,” Wegner shot back.
    Wegner then told Schenk he would be receiving a letter this week from Wegner’s attorney informing him of Wegner’s intention to sue the town for $20 million.
    At that point, Councilman James P. Rogowski objected and said the public is allowed to comment on resolutions only at the beginning and end of meetings.
    “During the meeting no questions can be asked about resolution items,” he said.
    “This is not the time to discuss litigation and Mark’s life,” Holtz said. “I think we need to take a vote on this resolution.”
    The Council voted, 3-1, in favor of the resolution, with Benczkowski casting the no vote, but needed a unanimous vote to pass. Two Council members were excused from Monday’s meeting
    “It’s going to cost the town more money by hiring somebody at time-and-a-half to do the work that should have been done by an exempt,” she said after the vote.

  2. Time to set the Clock Right by Reviewing Labour Laws, by Raavi Birbal, 3/15 NewIndianExpress.com
    DELHI, India - Work timings is one of the most integral aspects of a nation’s economy which also impacts our daily lives. But our laws regarding the same are age old and need review. The two basic Acts governing work timings are the Shops and Establishments Act of various states, and Factories Act, apart from government rules.
    The Shops and Establishments Act ropes within its ambit a wide variety of employees—from managers, executives, administrators, finance, HR, etc. to lower categories. The timings prescribed by the Acts are generally eight to nine hours a day, that is about 48 hours a week uniformly for all categories of employees. Beyond this, overtime up to limited hours can be done, subject to payment which is double the wages for each extra hour. Though the said provisions are applicable to managers and other high-level employees too, even if they have fat pay packages, many companies in actual seldom follow the rules for such category of employees. Instead, some companies make their own rules such as giving compensatory off or giving extra payment in the name of incentives, while some companies only provide dinner allowance, transportation, etc.
    There is an urgent need to bring laws in line with today’s work requirements. In many states, establishments such as that of doctors, lawyers, banks, certain news agencies, IT companies, etc. are exempted from all or some of the provisions in the Act. In a couple of states, women are now allowed to work late nights, subject to providing facilities, and there is also an increase in closing hours of the shops and establishments. In states like Karnataka, the managerial-level staff is excluded from the provisions. Such exemptions need to be extended to various other categories of employees and states too, considering the changing economy, salaries, perks, aspects of work from home, five days working, etc.
    Apart from the need to amend the laws in light of the current requirements, there is also a need to bring uniformity in provisions of different states. At least companies having branches in different states should be permitted to have uniform provisions, especially relating to work timings, leaves, etc.
    The working hours of lower staff, who are paid minimum wages, as well as of those engaged in manufacturing process in factories and construction do not require much change. The hours prescribed are quite justified looking at the work and salary. Rather, considering the continuous and sometimes even hazardous nature of work in certain jobs, it is important that the implementation authorities keep a regular check on the fact that employees are not made to slog beyond the prescribed hours.
    While the working hours for certain categories must be increased, there is also an urgent need to define and follow working hours for certain jobs. The most essential one being junior doctors, especially resident doctors, apprentice doctors and interns in government hospitals. According to reports, these categories are many a time made to work at a stretch for about two-three days together, with limited breaks.
    Another category that needs review is the regular employees, especially in government departments, vis-à-vis the contractual and temporary employees. Though the law applies uniformly to all and none can be made to work beyond the prescribed hours, the reality is different. While the permanent and regular employees seldom work beyond prescribed hours, despite the fact that they get benefits of pay commission, perks, privileges, etc., the other mentioned categories work for about 12-16 hours off the record, that too on minimum wages. This too needs thorough check by the implementation agencies.
    A review of laws related to timings is essential and can help companies battle complex statutory liabilities as well as bring balance in life for many category of employees. raavibirbal@gmail.com
    ["Work timings" is key to very long-term economic sustainability in the age of robotics and a kneejerk CEO reaction of downsizing. At the moment on a worldwide basis, worksaving techonology is flexibly INcreasing while work timings are not flexibly DEcreasing. So with kneejerk downsizing, human employees are becoming redundant. Oversupply means lower wages (and consumer spending). So by default, the national income funnels upward to the financial sector and the topmost brackets, who spend the smallest percentages of their humungous incomes. So why "slow recovery"? Cuz we're converting unlimited amounts of fast-circulating spending power into slow-circulating investing power. Future economies will not leave employment maintenance to chance, as we do, and risk downsizing the workforce and consumer base and everything else. They'll automatically convert chronic overtime into training and jobs, and they'll automatically adjust the workweek downward as much as it takes to get enough convertible overtime for full employment and maximum consumer spending, monetary circulation, multiplier effect, marketable productivity, and stable investment. Key management skill of the future? Suturing shorter shifts.]


3/14/2015 – 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. Prince George's budget plan includes tax hike, layoffs and furloughs - Proposal would help pay for education reform, by Jamie Anfenson-Comeau janfenson-comeau@gazette.net, (3/13 late pickup) Maryland Community News Online via Gazette.net
    UPPER MARLBORO, Prince George's County, Mryld., USA - Facing rising costs and flat revenues, Prince George’s County is preparing to lay off over 100 employees and furlough 6,000 others, while asking county residents to tighten their belts in the form of increased property taxes to help pay for education reforms officials say are needed to move the school system forward.
    “The proposed FY 2016 budget includes the financial resources necessary to support higher educational achievement,” County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) said in a letter outlining his objectives in the $3.6 billion budget. “The outcome of this investment will be a county school system that will be most noted for rapidly improving its schools by implementing high quality educational programs and rigor for all students.”
    Baker presented his budget to the Prince George’s County Council on Friday afternoon. The council must pass an approved budget by June 1.
    The school board approved a $1.93 billion budget Feb. 26, challenging county government to meet their request for program expansions and improvements school system CEO Kevin Maxwell said are necessary to improve the system, including expansion of pre-kindergarten, arts education, digital literacy and peer teacher review.
    To fund the $135.7 million increase over last year’s school budget, Baker’s chief budget officer Thomas Himler said the county is turning to a bill passed by the General Assembly, Chapter 6 of the 2012 Laws of Maryland. Chapter 6 allows counties to raise property taxes higher than the caps set in their charter, so long as those funds are used only for education.
    To compensate for flat revenues and increasing costs of doing business, Baker is proposing layoffs for 110 county employees.
    “We haven’t identified what those 110 positions are yet, that’s part of the next few months’ process,” Himler said.
    In addition, all county employees paid through the General Fund — over 6,000 employees — will be required to take five days of furloughs, Himler said.
    [Over how long? A year? Maybe if they furloughed 7000 employees they wouldn't "need" the 110 layoffs? Furloughs are better than firings, 'timesizing' than downsizing! Timesizing instead of downsizing is like insurance with premiums payable in worktime. And btw, isn't it just "robbing Peter to pay Paul" when you weaken children's future, the job market, in order to "move the school system forward"? - just a question...]
    Himler said the layoffs and furloughs are expected to save the county $15 million.
    “With revenues not coming in and us having higher expenditures, year after year, this budget was tough, and there were some tough decisions,” said Baker spokesman Scott Peterson.
    The budget does include a $48 million increase for public safety, including 100 new police recruits and 35 new officers in the fire department.
    Baker’s budget raises the county’s real property tax rate from $.96 to $1.11 per $100 of assessed value, and raises the personal property tax rate from $2.40 to $2.78 per $100 of assessed value. The rate increases are expected to generate $115.7 million, according to the budget proposal.
    Himler said the county will provide a tax credit for residents whose household income is below $60,000.
    “For a lot of folks who meet the criteria, there won’t be much of a tax increase at all, because of this additional supplemental program,” Himler said.
    The budget also raises the existing telecommunications tax, a tax paid by everyone with a landline or a Prince George’s County area cell phone, from 8 percent to 12 percent. The tax increase is expected to generate another $12.2 million, which by state law, must go to the school system.
    “What [Baker] charged Dr. Maxwell to do was to come up with a plan to move the school system up significantly. He thinks that second worst is not good enough,” Himler said, referring to the school system’s test ranking compared to the rest of Maryland. “Our children deserve better, our community deserves better, so Dr. Maxwell has laid out a plan to get us in the top 10 in the state of Maryland by 2020.”
    Peterson said Baker and Maxwell will both be holding public forums to make their case for the property tax increases to residents.
    “It’s a very big conversation in the county that we are going to have over the next month,” Peterson said.

  2. Court reporters may face furloughs, by Mary Schenk, News-Gazette.com
    URBANA, Champaign County, Illin., USA - The men and women tasked with keeping verbatim records of certain court proceedings are the latest in a string of state employees and contractors to have their livelihoods threatened.
    [Temporary furloughs do not threaten livelihoods, just current level of living standard. Permanent firings threaten livelihoods. Let's drop the inflammatory overdramatizing rhetoric and keep a calm and clear discussion.]
    "The line item for court reporters runs out April 15," said Tom Difanis, the presiding judge for Champaign County. "We had hoped it would be fixed."
    On Friday, his boss, Sixth Circuit Chief Judge Dan Flannell of Sullivan, shared the news with all the judges in the six counties of the circuit that furloughs of court reporters would be necessary beginning April 1 and continuing for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends June 30, or until the Legislature can find the money to pay the reporters.
    [Better to have temporary furloughs than permanent firings, timesizing instead of possibly self-fueling downsizing!]
    "A 50 percent cut is the absolute least amount I'm considering now," Flannell said Friday, adding he has to submit the specifics of the work reductions to the Supreme Court on March 20.
    [Then how about just a 50% hourscut until the Legislature moves its butt?! Hourscuts are less disruptive as furloughs, and furloughs are less traumatic than firings.]
    Flannell said he will seek input from the reporters' supervisors and the presiding judges in each of the counties but the final decision on who goes and for how long will be his.
    "These are hard decisions. I'm going to take responsibility for it ultimately. My inclination is to make it across-the-board — everybody does the same," he said, adding he doesn't want to do anything to damage the good working relationships between the judges and their staffs.
    "Right now it's fluid," he said of the situation.
    Rep. Chad Hays, R-Catlin, suggested the funding shortfall for court reporters, prison employees and daycare providers could be solved by this time next week.
    "I think it's possible you will see a vote on this measure by the end of next week," said Hays, an assistant Republican leader, on Friday. "You can't let the child care system shut down. You can't let the court system shut down."
    To say the court system would shut down is a bit of a stretch, but the lack of reporters would certainly slow the wheels of justice considerably.
    State law mandates verbatim records prepared by human reporters of almost all felony proceedings and child custody, mental health, juvenile and parentage cases. Four of the six counties in the Sixth Circuit have digital recording systems. Douglas and Moultrie counties do not.
    "Where court reporters are not absolutely required by statute, we'll use the recordation system, but we won't have anyone in the room monitoring (for glitches)," Difanis said of Champaign County. "We'll turn the system on at 8 a.m. and turn it off at 5."
    The furloughs would affect 23 employees circuit-wide.
    Champaign County has seven court reporters and two specialists who monitor the digital recordings in a room not accessible to the public. Macon County has 10 reporters. And each of the four smaller counties — DeWitt, Douglas, Moultrie and Piatt — has one full-time reporter paid by the state and a second reporter who works two days a week who is paid by their county.
    Flannell said the "good news" in his "very preliminary plan" is that the part-time county-paid reporters would be asked to do more, with the counties pitching in extra funds to pay them, so he could spread out the state-paid reporters to help in the courthouses in Urbana and Decatur, which have far more business than the other four.
    "Where necessary, we're being encouraged by the Supreme Court to bundle cases together into one physical courtroom. As in every crisis, you get some definition of things you don't normally look at. We'll take a re-look of that which we're required to do. Some of this is done just for the efficiency of the court but if we're short-handed, we will do only what is absolutely required by the Constitution or state statute," Flannell said.
    Although court reporters and judges have been on notice of the dwindling state funds for months, it wasn't until this week that the reality of furloughs set in.
    Many are concerned that if they are forced to take off more than 30 days, their health insurance coverage could be in jeopardy. Still others said the furloughs would essentially bring to a halt the preparation of transcripts for appeals.
    For "regular" appeals, reporters have about two to three weeks to prepare transcripts, depending on how long the original court proceedings lasted. That amount of time is shortened to seven business days for "expedited" appeals.
    Hays said some people are blaming this year's $1.6 billion budget shortfall on Gov. Bruce Rauner.
    "But he's not the one who passed a budget last year that was out of balance. The Speaker of the House and the Senate president's fingerprints are all over this," said Hays, who added he did not believe that a tax increase would be among the fixes.
    The fix would probably involve "sweeping" special funds into the General Revenue Fund to carry the state through the end of the fiscal year.
    "I think everybody is aware of the urgency of the current situation. Some of the feedback I got (Thursday) left me more optimistic than I would have been at any point before that that this could get done in the very near term, the very near term being next week," Hays said.


3/13/2015 – 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. What Counts as Being on the Clock? by Dan Kalish, PayScale Career News (blog) via payscale.com
    SEATTLE, Wash.State, USA - Most people have heard of the 40-hour work week. While some European nations have shorter work weeks for employees, in many American jobs employees expect (and are entitled) to be paid overtime at a rate of one and a half times their regular hourly pay rate for every hour they work over 40 in a given work week. The Fair Labor Standards Act exempts some types of employees, like lawyers, from these requirements, but most lower-wage jobs are covered. For employees who start their tasks the minute they walk into an office and who are able to go home the minute their shift is over, figuring out what counts as "hours worked" is fairly simple. But for some folks in some kinds of job, it’s not that easy. So the question becomes, what counts as work time?
    Standing in a Security Line
    The United States Supreme Court addressed this issue just last year in a case called Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk. In that case an employer required its employees, who were warehouse workers, to undergo an "anti-theft security screening" each and every day when they left work at the warehouse. These employees were the ones who retrieved the company's inventory and packaged it for shipment. They each spent roughly 25 minutes in line each day.
    The warehouse workers argued that the chunk of their day that they spent standing in that security line should count as work time, and that they should be paid for it accordingly, including overtime if standing in the line forced them to go over 40 hours a week. After all, these workers were not standing in the line for fun, or for their health. It was something that they were required to do in order to do their job. So it makes sense that they should be paid for their time, right? The Supreme Court did not agree, and held that the warehouse workers did not have a right to be compensated for their [employer-controled] time.
    [There you have it, world. Slavery re-established in America. By the richboy Supreme Court no less. Follow America - to your doom. The only thing that fixes this is drawing back from our deep-structure policy of labor surplus alias employment shortage which micro-benefits employers by putting them in a position to cut what were popularly called after 1970 labor "costs" including wages and, overlooked by them, associated consumer spending, but macro-harms them with correspondingly weakening markets, leading ultimately to the crude "solutions" of war and/or plague to decimate the labor supply and restore a rough (but temporary) balance with recently relieved (and soon to return) employment shortage. Today, however, humanity has the option of breaking this cruel seesaw, this vicious cycle, and automating a balance of labor and employment by "timesizing" instead of ...-inventions-downsizing-laborsurplus-paycuts-marketcuts-war/plague-laborshortage-payraises-inventions-downsizing-laborsurplus-... Note that "inventions" and "laborsurplus" were only the big terms in this ghastly series for the last 200 years. Before that, it was "births" and "foodshortage" and the whole giant torture-wheel generally went round slower, as described by Malthus in 1798, and inducing Carlyle, by stages (in the mere Malthusian-backstoried 1839, and in Irish-famine-augmented 1849) to rename "the Social Science" as "the Dismal Science."]
    [Alternative version -]
    [Commenting on your concluding sentence: "The Supreme Court...held that the warehouse workers did not have a right to be compensated for their [employer-controled] time."
    I think this kind of plutocratic injustice is a function of the pervasive, officially denied, gross and growing labor surplus cum employment shortage in the U.S. and much of the world, based on tidal waves of worksaving technology and a kneejerk employer response of indefinite 40-hour workweek rigidification enabled by progressive waves of workforce, wage and spending-power downsizing, and a resulting funneling of the money supply into a grotesquely huge black hole of investing power crushed into the ownership of a tiny population in the topmost brackets. The result is a diagonally downward spiral in the velocity of monetary circulation, simplistically called economic slowdown, because though the amounts circulating in the financial sector and the volume of trades sound over-awingly large, they are homogenously sized, infrequent and few-people-involving, relative to the warp speed, size diversity and population numbers involved in the monetary circulation within the other sectors (non-financial business, consumer base and employment basement). This overpopulation relative to livelihood has always been rebalanced historically by war &/or plague, but an intelligent alternative evolved enough to be used in 1938,39,40 by the U.S. in the overtime section of the FLSA when it established a 44hr wkwk and cut it 2hrs/yr to the since-frozen 40hr wkwk in 1940, achieving a 1% cut in unemployment for each hourcut (19.0% 17.2% 14.6%), same result as France got in going from 39 to 35 hrs 1997-2001 before the US-led recession hit (12.6% 8.6%). Walter Reuther dubbed this "flexible adjustment of the workweek against unemployment" in 1964 but thus far, conversion of chronic overtime into OT-targeted jobs has always been naively assumed instead of vigorously incentivated, and new lower levels of the workweek have always been refrozen, on the tacit but naive assumption of One Step to Permanent Perfection. This has allowed critics to dismiss it with the multiply flawed sophistry originally known as the Lump of Labor Theory but now hardened into the more dismissive Lump of Labor Fallacy. But with so much going wrong with our lack of common interest today, and our computer software so far outpacing our economic 'software,' and our growing under- and un-employment and job desperation, surely it is time to bring our Supreme Court of Justice back to real justice by engineering a balance of labor and employment = "full employment"...and maximum markets... and real recovery... by pushing further along the lines Reuther named, plus vigorous OT-to-training&hiring conversion.]
    So Why Don't Employees Get Paid for Their Time?
    The United States Congress is to blame for these warehouse employees being forced to stand in line by their employer without pay. When the Fair Labor Standards Act first became law, employees in a wide variety of fields filed lawsuits over similar practices in their own industries, and they won. Courts ordered businesses to pay workers for their time. A whopping 1,500 lawsuits lead to employees being paid almost $6 billion in back pay and liquidated damages for their time before and after their official "shifts" that they had been forced to give away to their employers. Congress determined that these employers being forced to pay their employees constituted an "emergency" and in response it passed the "Portal-to-Portal Act."
    What did the Portal-to-Portal Act Do?
    The Portal-to-Portal Act stripped employees of the right to be paid for two types of time dedicated to their employers. The first has to do with travel to work. That makes sense, in a way. After all, if one makes the choice to live further from work than his or her co-workers, that does not necessarily mean he or she deserved to be paid more. But the other type of time covered by the Portal-to-Portal Act is more troubling. It includes "activities which are preliminary to or postliminary" to the principal activity of one's job. The Court interprets that to mean that only job duties that are integral and indispensable parts of your regular job activities are covered by the FLSA. So essentially, even though this employer forced its employees to go through the security screenings, since the job it hired them to do consisted of warehouse work, not going through security screenings, the employees are not legally entitled to pay for the security screenings that happen outside their regular shifts.
    Tell Us What You Think
    Do you know someone who has to dedicate hours to their job but does not get paid for those hours? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment [http://www.payscale.com/career-news/2015/03/what-counts-as-being-on-the-clock-] or join the discussion on Twitter [https://twitter.com/payscale].

  2. Epoxyn furloughs 120 employees during restructuring - Shutdown of plant to span 60 days, BaxterBulletin.com
    MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark., USA - Epoxyn Products ceased operations and furloughed 120 employees for 60 days [two months] at its Mountain Home facility on Thursday, according to plant manager Pete Greco. The personnel move, Greco said, is due to a restructuring by parent corporation Hamilton Scientific.
    [Better furloughs than firings, timesizing than downsizing.]
    Greco told The Bulletin that the plant will reopen in 60 days and possibly increase its workforce to 140 employees.
    The Bulletin is awaiting a return call from Hamilton Scientific headquarters in De Pere, Wis., for comment.
    Epoxyn, located at 500 E. 16th St., makes durable resin work surfaces for an array of applications most commonly found in medical, industrial and teaching laboratories.
    In December 2013, then-Gov. Mike Beebe signed a Community Block Development Grant worth $500,000 to help Epoxyn expand its operations.
    [Forced charity from taxpayers to a private corporation with no cap on executive pay and no accountability for job creation or local spending? Job desperation has made us stupid.]


3/12/2015 – 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. Why Your Calendar Starts With Sunday, by Melissa, TodayIFoundOut.com via Gizmodo Australia via gizmodo.com.au
    SYDNEY, Australia - As with so many things passed down to us from antiquity, religion is the reason the calendar week starts (for many of us) on Sunday.
    The first day of the week (for most), Sunday has been set aside as the “day of the sun” since ancient Egyptian times in honour of the sun-god, beginning with Ra. The Egyptians passed their idea of a 7-day week onto the Romans, who also started their week with the Sun’s day, dies solis. When translated into early German, the first day was called sunnon-dagaz, which made its way into Middle English as sone(n)day.
    For some in the Christian tradition, the first day of the week is named in accordance with the creation tale in the first book of the Bible, Genesis, where one of the first things God did was say “let there be light, and there was light.”
    Not every culture has Sunday as its first day, and notable exceptions are found in the Slavic languages, where Sunday is the last day of the week and is not named in honour of the sun. For example, in Hungary Sunday is called Vasárnap and means “market day,” and in Old Russian, where Sunday was sometimes called “free day.”
    Monday, as you may expect, was named after the moon. In Latin, it was known as dies lunae (day of the moon), and this made its way into Old English as mon(an)dæg and the monday in Middle English. It is said that in early pagan traditions, Monday was dedicated to the goddess of the moon, although in some Christian traditions, assigning the moon to the second day also follows the story of Genesis, where in between the first and second days, darkness was separated from light and “evening came.”
    Note that Monday is the first day of the week in the Slavic languages, and in the Chinese calendar, Monday is xingqiyi, “day one of the week.”
    Tuesday has always been dedicated to a war god, and in ancient Greek, it was known as hemera Areos(day of Ares), modified only slightly by the Roman dies Martis (day of Mars), and later in Old EnglishTiwesdæg, in honour of a Norse god of war and law, Tiwaz or Tiw.
    Early on, Wednesday was dedicated to the messenger of the gods, and for the Greeks, it was known ashemera Hermu (day of Hermes), then to the Romans as dies Mercurii (day of Mercury). When it was adopted by the Anglo-Saxons, as Mercury’s areas of expertise overlapped with his, they dedicated the day to Odin, Woden in Old English (calling the day wodnesdæg).
    Jupiter was awarded the fifth day, dies Jovis, by the Romans, and it was assigned to Thor by the Norse, where it was originally called thorsdgr, later modified by Old English into thurresdæg, and then into Middle English’s thur(e)sday.
    For many the best day of the week, Friday was, fittingly, assigned to Aphrodite and Venus (in Latin dies Veneris). In Old Norse and English, Venus was associated with Frigg, a goddess of knowledge and wisdom. By Old English, the day’s name had been modified into frigedæg (Frigg’s day) and by Middle English, to fridai. (Notably, TGIF, for Thank God It’s Friday, dates back to 1946.)
    The last day of the week for many, Saturday historically was dedicated to Saturn (Cronus to the Greeks), Jupiter’s father and a god associated with dissolution, renewal, generation, agriculture and wealth. In Latin, the day was originally called dies Saturni, which was transformed into sæter(nes)dæg in Old English andsaterday in Middle English.
    Notably, for some religions, Saturday, not Sunday, is celebrated as the weekly day of rest, known as the Shabbat in Judaism and Sabbath for Seventh Day Adventists.
    Bonus Facts:
    • Except for the seventh day, Shabbat, the days of the week in the Jewish calendar don’t have names and are simply referred to as 1st day, 2nd day, etc.
    • The first known mention of the word “week-end” was seen in an 1879 edition of Notes and Queries, and it described being off of work from Saturday afternoon through Monday morning.
    • The first 5-day workweek (where workers had all of Saturday off) in an American factory was instituted in a New England mill in 1908 in order to accommodate the religious practice of its Jewish workforce. By having a shorter workweek, factories were able to hire more workers, and during the Great Depression, the 5-day workweek is credited with lessening unemployment.
    • Surprisingly to many business owners, shortening the work week and work hours of employees also actually increased productivity per worker in many industries. (See: Why the Work Day is Traditionally Eight Hours Long) Loosely backing this century old observation up, a 2008 study in the American Journal of Epidemiology determined that people who worked more than 55 hours a week performed worse on mental tests than those who worked only 40 hours a week.
    • A few companies have experimented with a four-day, 32-hour workweek and have found that the shorter week encourages focus and results in more efficient performance. Public health officials are also in favour of a shorter workweek, as they believe it would result in improvements in mental health and morale.
    Melissa writes for the wildly popular interesting fact website TodayIFoundOut.com.

  2. Study: Adjusted Work Hours Could Cure 'Social Jetlag', by Jessica Berman, Voice of America via voanews.com
    MUNICH, Germany - People who walk around in a seemingly inexplicable fog of grogginess may suffer from “social jet lag,” and the solution could be an adjustment in their work schedules.
    That's what a team of researchers at Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich, Germany, are reporting in a study of workers at ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe.

    [Would an adjustment in work schedule to solve social jetlag include a shortening of work schedules? After all, Germany is the economy that breezed through the last downturn with low unemployment and high domestic consumer spending enabled by their version of worksharing called Kurz-arbeit (KA). KA helped, and still helps, companies cut hours and keep everyone employed, instead of cutting jobs&markets. And based on their experience, 10 more US states now have worksharing programs, bringing the total (28) to over 50%.]
    Researchers coined the term to describe that foggy feeling — that sense of being out of it — which affects many people.
    The problem, says biologist Till Roenneberg, who led the research, is that many people are working on schedules that don’t match their body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, called the circadian rhythm.
    “... Meaning your body clock would give you the optimal window for sleeping — let’s say between midnight and eight o’clock [in the morning] or even later — but your social schedules would like you to fall asleep at ten o’clock and get up at six o’clock with the work times, for example," he said. "That discrepancy is very much like a jet lag situation.”
    [Maybe this could be called economic or occupational jetlag?]
    With jet lag, people feel extremely tired when they travel from one time zone to another, ending up in a place where the sleep-wake cycle is different from what their bodies are used to.
    In the Roenneberg-led study, factory workers [all at ThyssenKrupp?] were assigned early or late shifts to match their natural sleep tendencies. So-called “night owls” were never forced to get up early for work, while "early risers" were not made to work late.
    [Definitely sounds like a single shorter work schedule would take care of both.]
    Roenneberg says the adapted schedules improved the workers’ sense of well-being.
    “They sleep up to almost an hour longer on work days and therefore much shorter on their free days," he said. "Normally, people have to catch up on their sleep loss on their work-free days. And we have shortened sleep on work-free days and lengthened sleep on work days.”
    In other words, with the extra hour of sleep, workers reported feeling more rested as well as finding slight improvements in their general wellbeing.
    However, the study also found that night owls did not report the same level of benefit, suggesting that nighttime shift work is hard on everyone.
    Roenneberg says employees who wake more refreshed are more productive.
    “We still have to convince the employers that this is of financial benefits for them; and of course the workers, too, that it is health benefits for them," he said. "And so this just the beginning and that’s why we went into a large industry [what industry? what town?] to do this experiment to show that it works.”
    Roenneberg’s team now plans to investigate a suspected link between “social jetlag” and health problems, including obesity, in experiments with mice.
    Their latest study was published in the journal Current Biology.


3/11/2015 – 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. Ukip: 'Cap working hours for teachers', started by RVaughan1, TES News via news.tes.co.uk
    LONDON, U.K. - They may be among the political parties teachers are least likely to vote for come the general election, but Ukip [UK Independence Party] has backed what would be a hugely popular policy among the workforce – capping teachers’ working hours.
    The anti-European Union party [with more reps than any other UK party in the European parliament!] made the endorsement in the latest issue of Leadership Focus, the NAHT headteachers' union's magazine, which posed questions to each of the main parties, including the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens.
    Ukip’s education spokesperson and deputy leader Paul Nuttall was asked in the article which of the NAHT’s manifesto pledges he felt had the most traction.
    “There are many that appeal to us: an independent complaints procedure for Ofsted is overdue, capping the number of hours teachers should work during term-time (although in our view, that would be a function of reducing paperwork) and giving parents the opportunity to demand a place at a special school where appropriate,” Mr Nuttall said.
    And in line with many of the other parties, Mr Nuttall gave his backing to plans for a College of Teaching.
    “While the balance needs to be more in-school training than university, a specialist College of Teaching might help to improve standards of those coming in to the profession and also assist with professional development,” he added.
    When asked what would be his party’s main priorities for education in the first six months of office, Mr Nuttall responded with another popular policy among teachers – cutting back Ofsted.
    “In terms of areas where visible progress could be made within six months, streamlining the school inspection process to ensure that short, frequent inspections are focused more on what is going on in the classroom than on the paperwork,” he said.
    Elsewhere, Mr Nuttall hinted towards his party’s policy of reintroducing selection by academic ability by stating that Ukip wanted “more children from working-class backgrounds (who have the academic ability to do so) to be able to access the top universities”.

  2. LD launches exhibition on Employment Ordinance, Minimum Wage Ordinance, working hours hours issues, friendly employment practices for mature persons and family, 7thSpace Interactive (press release) via 7thspace.com
    HONG KONG, HKSAR, China - Members of the public are invited to visit an exhibition on the Employment Ordinance, the Minimum Wage Ordinance, working hours issues, friendly employment practices for mature persons and family organised by the Labour Department, to be held in Chai Wan on March 14 and 15.
    The exhibition will feature the main provisions of the Employment Ordinance and the Minimum Wage Ordinance, friendly employment practices for mature persons and family as well as the rights and benefits of foreign domestic helpers.

    [Oops, working hours have suddenly disappeared from the list. Months of meetings, nothing to report. Poor Hong Kong employers have not yet realized that shorter hours is a flexible free-market way to raise low wages without creating a gap at the bottom of the wage ladder against new entrants to the job market. In addition, shorter hours with vigorous conversion of chronic overtime into OT-targeted hiring is an easy intuitive way to optimize your domestic human-capital resources, with maximum reliance on and development of human versatility, and maximum development of domestic consumer-spending potential and domestic markets in general. Hong Kong and Singapore and a few other citystates' business owners must be getting a little tired of their degree of dependence on unpredictable export markets?]
    In addition, as part of the education and promotion activities of the Standard Working Hours Committee, background information on working hours issues will also be displayed. Related publications and souvenirs will be distributed and a short video on family-friendly employment practices will be shown.
    The exhibition will be held at sales venue B, 1/F, Hing Wah Plaza, 11 Wan Tsui Road, Chai Wan, Hong Kong from 11am to 6pm on March 14 and 15. Admission is free.


3/10/2015 – 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. A case for clamping down on long work hours - New study cautions that productivity plummets after 50 hours of work, by Claudine Kapel, Canadian HR Reporter (blog) via hrreporter.com
    TORONTO, Ont., Canada - Many of us understand – at least on an intuitive level – that working exceptionally long hours can lead to lower productivity or more errors.
    Yet studies abound that suggest growing work demands – along with technology that facilitates constant contact with the workplace [– and above all, disempowering and pay-freezing labor surplus] – have made longer hours the new normal for many people.
    Some suggest the root cause lies with organizational leaders, who have lowered costs through restructurings that have yielded fewer jobs with bigger workloads [bingo!]. And some recognize and reward employees for putting in the long hours – potentially fueling the practice of “face time” even when additional hours aren’t required.
    On the flip side, some suggest employees themselves share culpability for their lack of work/life balance.
    [This would be "blaming the victim," except employee unions were never smart enough to focus 90% on their power issue: laborsurplus-checking workhour reduction.]
    Inefficiency on the job can translate into more overtime pay or “lieu” time. Alternatively, some may toil away in hopes of it paying off through either enhanced job security or opportunities for advancement.
    A new research paper from Stanford University is the latest sound bite reminding us that long hours aren’t really the value driver they’re touted to be.
    The study, entitled The Productivity of Working Hours, by economics professor John Pencavel, suggests employee productivity falls sharply after 50 hours of work in a week. And employees are producing almost nothing between 55 and 70 hours of work.
    What’s interesting about Pencavel’s paper is that its central focus is a review of much earlier research conducted by the British Health of Munition Workers Committee during the First World War. As part of its work, the Committee commissioned studies within munitions factories to better understand the links between work hours and work performance.
    Pencavel notes that employers should not be “indifferent to the work hours of each employee” because of the “diminishing productivity associated with an individual working long hours.”
    The British research found that for employees working less than 49 hours per week, variations in work outputs were proportional to variations in hours. At 49 hours or more, however, productivity declined as the hours increased, until the 63-hour mark when productivity ceased.
    Pencavel notes the “output at 70 hours differs little from output at 56 hours” – which essentially means there’s little or nothing of value produced after 55 hours of work in a week.
    The findings are likely telling us something we already know. But they represent yet another voice in the wilderness, asking us to contemplate why we continue to enable such long hours of work.
    Pencavel notes that employers who want to optimize profit should care about the length of working hours. “Employees at work for a long time may experience fatigue or stress that not only reduces his or her productivity but also increases the probability of errors, accidents, and sickness that impose costs on the employer.”
    Although the research findings seem obvious, the emerging recommendation may seem to counter convention wisdom: “Unlike the case of fixed employment costs, these concerns over work stress incline the firm not to extend the work hours of employees, but to curtail them.”
    Notes Pencavel: “This is certainly not a new argument, but it seems to have been neglected in contemporary models of labor markets. It implies that restrictions on working hours – those imposed by statute or those induced by setting penalty rates of pay for hours worked beyond a threshold or those embodied in collective bargaining agreements – may be viewed not as damaging restraints on management, but as an enlightened form of improving workplace efficiency and welfare.”
    The research findings suggest to truly optimize productivity, organizations need to ask some broad – and potentially challenging – questions:
    • What departments, roles or individuals are consistently clocking long hours? Why?
    • Do patterns in work hours point to potential shortfalls in how a particular area is staffed?
    • Are there systemic issues with how work is planned or executed, such as cross-functional bottlenecks, which may be contributing to ongoing or regular problems for a particular department or unit?
    • Would the introduction of better training or technology yield efficiency gains that could help reduce the need for such extensive work hours?
    • Are there cultural norms or values within the organization that may be driving employees to work long hours?
    The amount of time employees spend on the job has long been the subject of attention and debate. But if organizations are to achieve optimal – and sustainable – productivity and performance, they must start by asking why employees are working long hours in the first place.

  2. Sharp rise in Swiss firms using shorter work hours, swissinfo.ch
    ZURICH, Switzerland - The number of Swiss firms reducing employees’ hours to compensate for the current exchange rate fluctuations has risen sharply since January, the government has confirmed. Cantons Zurich and Bern are the most affected.
    In December 2014, 215 firms resorted to short-time work [called worksharing in USA] – in which people work fewer hours while the state tops up their pay. In January 2015 this figure rose to 365 and then 568 in February.
    The government has supported short-time work in response to the extraordinary appreciation of the Swiss franc after the Swiss National Bank (SNB) decided to axe the CHF1.20 exchange rate cap against the euro on January 15. The Swiss franc is currently at CHF1.07 with the euro. The government believes short-time work will help preserve jobs in Switzerland.
    The number of employees forced to reduce their hours has gone from 2,200 in December 2014 to 9,100 in February, the economics ministry confirmed.
    The most-affected cantons are Zurich and Bern, followed by Jura, St Gallen and Ticino. The cost of state compensation is not known.
    Supporters of short-time working say it allows companies to retain workers they might find hard to re-recruit later. Employees whose hours are reduced should be eligible for [partial] unemployment compensation.
    Unemployment insurance law provides for workers to be covered when the short-time work is economy-related and likely to be only temporary. However, unemployment insurance does not cover short-time work caused by normal business risks.
    Most business groups and unions are pleased with this initiative. However, the main Trade Union Federation [TUF] has dismissed the decision as “plaster policy” – as in trying to heal a big wound with a little bandage. The federation called on the SNB to bring the franc-euro exchange rate back to a sensible level. [Or if that proves 'tuf' at this point, short-time work is indeed a "plaster policy," a temporary bandaid, but there's a permanent upgrade that doesn't assume magic economic recovery. It switches from the unemployment compensation fund to a sustainable funding strategy such as a combination of a confiscatory tax on corporate advantage from chronic overtime, a complete exemption for converting chronic overtime into OT-targeted hiring (& training whenever needed), and as much regular downward adjustment of the workweek as it takes to provide the convertible overtime needed to achieve and maintain full employment and maximum domestic consumer spending, marketable productivity and solid investment.]
    Meanwhile, the official unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.5% in February, compared to the previous month. The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) said on Tuesday that the number of people registered at regional job offices fell by 1,025 to 149,921 last month from January.


3/08-09/2015 – 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. 40% Of Icelanders Want A Shorter Work Week, by Paul Fontaine @pauldfontaine, 3/09 Reykjavík Grapevine via grapevine.is
    REYKJAVIK, Iceland - New research shows that 40% of Icelanders support the idea of working fewer hours for the same pay. At the same time, most Icelanders [the other 60%?] feel that they can already balance work and family life well enough.
    RÚV reports that Ragnheiður Eyjólfsdóttir, project manager of Miðstöð símenntunar á Suðurnesjum (MSS), presented results of the research MSS conducted at a conference on balancing work and family life hosted by the Centre for Gender Equality, the Equality Council of the Ministry of Welfare, and several labour unions.
    “My research sought to assess how workers in the Icelandic labour market are doing when it comes to balancing work and home life,” she told attendees. “Most said they were balancing the two well, but other questions regarding conflict and stress in the workplace showed that 40% supported shortening the working hours in a week. There were also 24% who said they could see themselves refusing to work overtime, and 22% who want to reduce their work percentage.”
    Ragnheiður believes this could mean, as other research has shown, that Icelanders work too much, saying, “We work longer hours but are less productive than workers in neighbouring countries.”
    The assertion is back up by OECD research cited in a bill submitted to parliament which proposes shortening the full time work week from 40 hours to 35 – an idea which already has even seen support from some representatives of management. 
    The bill points out that other countries which have shorter full time work weeks, such as Denmark, Spain, Belgium, Holland and Norway, actually experience higher levels of productivity. At the same time, Iceland ranked poorly in a recent OECD report on the balance between work and rest, with Iceland coming out in 27th place out of 36 countries. The bill also cites a recent Swedish initiative to shorten the full time work day to six hours, which has by most accounts been going well.
    Reykjavík is already experimenting with a shorter full time work week at select locations.

  2. Ireland may face €100m fine over junior doctors' working hours, 3/08 BreakingNews.ie
    DUBLIN, Ireland - Ireland could be facing fines of €100m over the working hours of junior doctors.
    An EU directive means they should not work more than 48 hours a week, but representative body the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) said many still work in excess of 70 hours.
    Some junior doctors work more than 100 hours in a week.

    The EC took a case against Ireland to the European Court of Justice last week on the issue. The ruling will be known in late June.
    The Sunday Times reports that if we are found to be in breach of the directive, Ireland could be fined more than €100m.
    It's understood representatives of the HSE and Department of Health will meet EU officials on Wednesday to outline the latest plan to bring down the working hours.

  3. Too many people are overworked or underworked - For a better work-life balance we need to start thinking about a 36-hour week, 3/09 TheAge.com.au
    MELBOURNE, Vic., Australia - Today's Labour Day holiday owes much to the stonemasons at Melbourne University, who in 1856 walked off the job demanding an 8 hour working day. In fact, two world wars and almost 100 years had to pass before the 40-hour week became law. Fast forward a few tumultuous decades and the promise at the start of the 1980s was a 38-hour week, building on the victories of the past and ultimately enshrining the legal standard that still prevails today.
    But while the law tells one picture, reality has started to show another. In the three decades since the 1980s, the average hours actually worked by full-time employees slightly increased to 39.7. Worse, before the global financial crisis at the end of the 2000s hit, the real full-time working week had in fact been over 40 hours for 16 years straight.
    Dig a bit deeper into working life after the GFC and the stresses become clearer. Detailed surveys of work/life balance persistently tell us that people aren't working the hours they want. Growing responsibilities to care for others, from kids and grandkids to parents and partners, are also starting to take their toll. About a quarter of women working full-time aren't satisfied with their work/life balance and almost 2 out of every 3 full-time working women experience chronic time pressure. As work continues to interfere with life, the "boon of increased leisure" that the industrial court foresaw in 1947 isn't being realised.
    But something else is happening too. More people are working part-time than before. And many of these people want to work more hours. In fact, people working part-time want on average to work 4.2 hours more each week, while full-time workers want to work 5.9 hours less. We're overworking some and underworking others, with consequent impact on people's lives and happiness.
    We are doing a very bad job at matching the hours people want to work with the hours they actually work. So if we were to down tools now and march like the stonemasons, what would we ask for? First, it's time to revisit the campaign for a shorter working week. A national legal "standard" of a 38-hour week clearly isn't enough by itself, especially as the reach of national regulation recedes in the name of flexibility and enterprise bargaining. If 38 hours in law delivers 40 hours in practice, perhaps it's time for a national conversation about a 36-hour week. Not only would this be closer to what full-time workers want, it could free up labour hours that could be taken up by the part-time workers desperate to work more.
    Secondly, better work/life balance will only come if "flexibility" is a two-way street. People need more control over their working hours and arrangements. A legal right to flexible working hours and arrangements, subject to the operational needs of the employer, would be a start. At the moment, the only legal right you have is to ask for different working hours, but if the employer says no, you've got nowhere to go. Australia should follow other countries and give the industrial umpire the power to settle work/life disputes in a binding manner, weighing up the legitimate needs of both sides, especially when the employee has caring responsibilities.
    And third, we should consider giving people a legal right to be "paid" for productivity increases in the form of fewer hours in lieu of more money.
    [Employers aren't going to consider giving anything unless pressured by market forces responding to a perceived labor shortage = more jobs than applicants, engineered by vigorous conversion of chronic overtime into training&hiring and enough convertible overtime via workweek reduction to provide full employment and maximum consumer spending.]
    For some people, they'd rather keep their existing pay and forgo the next enterprise agreement pay boost and instead have a bit more time with family, study, caring or relaxing. In some enterprises this might not be feasible, but in many places it clearly is, as task-based work supersedes time-based labour.
    Of course, this requires a national discussion with employers and the community and a serious conversation about what kinds of work and workplaces could accommodate better work/life balance. But as the Intergenerational Report calls for more women to enter the workforce to boost productivity, it ignores the already intense pressures of juggling caring and life with work and money, threatening to make the problem worse. And with one in seven young people out of work and unemployment rising across the board, it is the perfect time to ask how we create sustainable jobs and spread work around better. If we don't do our own bit of contemporary stonemasonry, too many people will continue to be overworked, too many underworked and too many not working at all.
    Adam Bandt is the federal fember for Melbourne and deputy leader of the Australian Greens. He is also the employment and workplace relations spokesman for the Greens.
    29 Comments so far
    Commenter sensible
    Date and time March 09, 2015, 7:49AM
    This is so right, I am a secondary teacher, I worked for 6 years as a temporary, all responsibility with none of the rights of permanent employment. Now I work as a museum educator and am under employed as a casual i have been there 5 years and obviously my position could be more hours but they choose to have many casuals given little work. It suits government interests to say they are cutting public service pay, but it comes at cost to people like me. At the end of the day the work has to be done, but our conditions are awful.
    Commenter !?!
    Date and time March 09, 2015, 11:28AM
    What about finding a full-time position then? I have been working casual for 8 years too but I enjoyed the flexibility. Now I prefer to have regular hours and I said good bye to my casual jobs working now full-time. And please don't tell me that there are no positions available. There is plenty of work out there, you just need to know how you can sell yourself to a possible employer.
    [If there is really "plenty of work out there," employ
    ers just need to know how they can sell themselves to a possible employee. This was the situation during and after World War II, at least in Canada and USA. It amounts to a labor shortage, at least in the eyes of employers, because they have to maintain or raise wages to get and retain good help - because there are lots of alternative job options for employees to walk to if they don't. And with higher wages goes more consumer spending and stronger domestic markets and stronger marketable productivity and solider investment. It's been called "wartime prosperity," though before modern medicine there was also such a thing as "plaguetime prosperity." As Dahlberg points out, capitalism always and only runs well under an employer-perceived labor shortage like this. Of course, everyone else perceives a labor-employment balance, but for both sides, employers and employees, there is general prosperity. And if this labor "shortage" is maintained by regularly adjusting the workweek downward (in CanUSA, the workweek was cut in half but haphazardly from 1840 to 1940), work-life balance regularly increases; less work, more life/freedom - which "coincidentally" is the whole promise and purpose of higher and higher levels of worksaving technology. But when CEOs respond to technology by downsizing instead of what could be called timesizing, it all goes in the opposite direction.]
    Commenter A country gal
    Date and time March 09, 2015, 8:13AM
    Interesting article Adam, but you miss the elephants, rampant migration levels and 457's etc.
    [The Timesizing Program handles this problem in Phase 5. We treat immigration along with imports and births as "population variables." And offshore outsourcing is also related. Timesizing is the only economic-upgrade plan that integrates population variables, which are extremely controversial flashpoint issues and generally avoided - but then, astonishingly, Timesizing and its followup upgrades may well be the only very long-term economic-upgrade plan on the Internet.]
    The casualisation [and redundantizing/surplusing] of the workforce is rapidly occurring due to visa holders and newcomers who are prepared to work with less protections and conditions. So yes whilst far too many are underemployed and others working ridiculous hours, those elephants are mitigating factors that can't be ignored.
    Commenter One to beam up Scotty.
    Date and time March 09, 2015, 12:09PM
    I totally agree with your thoughts on 457/458 working visas. Another problem with the workforce (and there are many problems at present) is the attitudes of contract/salaried workers. They see themselves as "professionals". They are really only mercenaries. They work through employment agencies moving between private and government positions on 6 and 12 month contracts in what is effectively a "closed shop" employment culture. You have to know people to become established and once established the employment agencies look after them to continue getting a slice of their salary. They fix very little while they are in a position and leave behind in most cases a mess for the next person on a short term contract. They hate unions because they are seen as a threat to their mercenary, job hopping, contractual lifestyle. They are willing to work weekends without extra pay and put in 60 to 70 hours a week without overtime to meet deadlines, effectively keeping others out of employment. When they see colleagues being shown the door due to cutbacks they keep their heads down, say nothing and take up the extra work their former colleague once did and call their employment agency to find them another position as quickly as possible Then they expect because they do all this that every worker in Australia should do the same as them. And a lot of us would do the same as them, if we ALL got the same ridiculous high salaries that they get. If I were on $120k to $180k per year I wouldn't care about staying late or working for free on weekends either. However if I am getting minimum wage to do a manually intensive or dangerous job, my enthusiasm for free labour dwindles.
    [Stop attacking other employees and focus on the real enemy: a pretechnological concept of "full time" workweek that is largely frozen = rigidly regulated and set in concrete, and completely uncoordinated with the incessant waves of worksaving technologies that are generally responded-to by downsizing, and with virtually unregulated waves of immigration, outsourcing, and births (though with births there's a 20-year delay before the job market impact).]
    Commenter Al
    Location Sydney Date and time March 09, 2015, 1:13PM
    457 visas are being used for skilled, semi - skilled and even unskilled foreign guestworkers. One of the local restaurants in my suburb are bringing in kitchen hands and restaurant waiters on 457 visas, the 457 visa system should be scrapped or numbers reduced until employment for locals starts to rise in this country.
    [Amen! These visas are regularly abused and their justification questionable in the first place. They are simply another short-term perk, long-term suicide for employers spoiled by floods of resumes and unpressured & unwilling to do any training whatsoever. As a significant nail in the coffin of economic sustainability let alone prosperity, these visas should indeed be scrapped.]

    Commenter Humanist
    Location Parkdale Date and time March 09, 2015, 9:39AM
    I think in the not-for-profit sector it needs to be considered that the casualisation of the workforce is occurring in a climate of funding uncertainty. It is much easier to have people employed casually or on contracts because if funding is dropped or cut, you can cut staff easier without having to pay redundancies or give adequate notice. We need our political parties to come together in a bipartisan spirit to commit to a vision of what kind of community we want, commit to resourcing that appropriately to allow the human services sector to deliver services in a stable environment with skilled, well trained permanent staff.
    Commenter Steve G
    Location Melbourne Date and time March 09, 2015, 9:41AM
    The other elephant in the room is employers and governments are not interested in what employees want.
    [- unless employees are in short supply with lots of job options to switch to if they don't get what they want - this was the situation during and after WW2, ergo "wartime prosperity"...]
    The main focus of employers, as demonstrated by their various 'unions' [or 'associations' in CanUSA], is to increase profits and increase the already ridiculous remuneration paid to CEOs [thus converting more of the money supply from fast-circulating spending power into slow-circulating investing power and eventually triggering recession]. Work life balance and the need for meaningful well-paid work isn't part of the 'increased profits' equation except as something to be resisted.
    [but when there's a labor shortage. as during no-drone world wars or no-medicine plagues or on the intelligent side, workweek reduction (as 1938-40 in USA), "resistance is futile" because employees have job options and that puts them in the driver's seat]
    Commenter Biffityboo
    Date and time March 09, 2015, 9:47AM
    You can be 'underemployed' and still work horrendous hours.
    [No one said you couldn't. This is all part of the abuse that employees get when they allow themselves to be distracted from their power issue, the issue that keeps them from becoming a powerless surplus commodity = matching worksaving technology with workweek reduction instead of workforce reduction.]
    My daughter has casual work in both hospitality and retail. She often works double shifts and doesn't get paid any loading for that or for public holidays. Not surprisingly, every now and then she crashes - gets sick and can't work for a few days. Of course she gets no pay during this time. The casualisation of our workforce takes its toll on our youth.
    Commenter Ian
    Location Footscray Date and time March 09, 2015, 10:08AM
    Mr. Bandt's 'two-way street' idea is a wonderful one, if it can be enshrined in law. Unfortunately fairness and a better lifestyle is bound to be kept off the agenda because it must necessarily be dismissed as anti-productive, anti-capitalistic guff.
    [UNLESS there's an employee-empowering labor shortage enforced by automatic downward adjustment of the workweek against unemployment!]
    That would be a shame too, because we could expect this to result in actual productivity gains.
    [Productivity gains in the age of automation, robotisation and artificial intelligence are so huge and so common that they've become invisible to almost everyone, including "Footscray."]
    I note in comments above that '457 workers' are copping the blame for the casualised workforce, rather than the weakened regulatory framework that Mr. Bandt wants tightened.
    [Employer-controlled population policies, designed to cut wages, are a big factor in casualising and marginalising the workforce, and that includes imports, immigrants, and outsourcings.]
    It's a shame that many Australians remain unaware of the possibilities that would lead to real improvement in the lives of most of us.
    [Hey, you want an overall long-term plan - by a "mate" from Canada? Check out Timesizing!]
    Commenter A country gal
    Date and time March 09, 2015, 12:03PM
    Yes, I mentioned 457's and they are part of the problem. Whilst unscrupulous employers can easily take advantage of workers who are both non-unionised and unaware of their rights, the task to tighten "weakened regulatory framework" will remain even more difficult. This is precisely what the current Govt wants, an erosion of said framework, less pay and relaxed OH&S. Recent cases highlighting the abuses of 417's report shocking conditions and pay, illegal abuse of the system [that applicants must accept in order] to be sponsored. One such case in Tassie [Tasmania] had workers on a $1 per HR. Some cases had all board and lodgings provided with NO Pay in order to obtain sponsorship. Any wonder our young are so challenged in finding work, let alone a 36 HR week. Absolutely endorse what reforms Adam is recommending but we can't dismiss other mitigating factors. In the forty years of my working career both as self employed, employer and employee - only in one position did I receive Holiday or Sick Pay. Just wait for Abbott's November "Review".
    [referring to ??]

    Commenter BennyF
    Location Date and time March 09, 2015, 10:20AM
    Anyone who works a full time job these days is "expected " to work 10 hours a week free. There is your 38 hours that is 40 in reality. Small business owners are the worst, They don't want to employ anyone. They exploit the youing, put them on for a few weeks to "try them out," don't pay them then replace them. Small bismesses love employing people on contract. No tax, no workers comp.
    Commenter !?!
    Location Date and time March 09, 2015, 11:22AM
    You see the problem is that people here in Australia come to work and keep themselves busy chit chatting about all sort of things instead doing their work. A working week goes a bit like this:
    Monday topic: How was your weekend?
    Tuesday topic: OMG I am sooo busy
    Wednesday topic: OMG I am sooooooooooo busy
    Thursday topic: What's on for the weekend?
    Friday: Can't wait until 5pm.
    Work efficiency is extremely low in this country.
    Commenter Arte et Marte
    Location Date and time March 09, 2015, 1:00PM
    That may well be your experience, certainly hasn't been mine over my almost thirty years of paint[??] employment (full time job as an emergency responder, part time job as a Defence reservist). The only time for chit chat is returning from a call, but is interrupted by trying to do paperwork on the run. Ditto my significant other (Nurse Manager in the public hospital sector). Ever been asked to do a night shift at 30 minutes' notice, or had your 8 hours shift turn into 13 hours? Among my family and friends in diverse employment areas it's little different. So what makes you think that what you describe is typical?
    Commenter 6mins
    Location Date and time March 09, 2015, 1:00PM
    As opposed to being efficient and making comments on smh outside of lunchbreak times...? I'm sorry but are you a robot? Most employers look for employees with great social skills as opposed to introverts, do you then expect these people to sit in their cubicles all day hammering work without any human interaction? That's the sort of torture you would find in solitary confinement. I work in a field where every 6 mins is recorded including toilet breaks. Trust me you don't want to go down that route to maintain "efficiency".
    Commenter Tom
    Location Date and time March 09, 2015, 1:08PM
    That might be where you work but apart from the first in the morning quick natter it is heads down and bums up for most people.

    Commenter Life is sweet.
    Location Date and time March 09, 2015, 11:34AM
    Working at the University. 35 hours/week. 17% super [??]. Good pay. Just wait until we all get sacked and get a nice redundancy package because there won't be any students anymore due to $100k degrees.
    Commenter Mic
    Location Date and time March 09, 2015, 11:44AM
    And there's the fact that people have to work themselves to death to afford any kind of housing. Unless of course you bought one before the price surge or inherited one.
    Commenter Small Business Owner
    Location Date and time March 09, 2015, 11:45AM
    Let me get this straight. In an era of rising unemployment, you want to lower the hours that people work (presumably without any effect on pay) which is in effect giving them a 5% pay rise, so that others can work the extra hours. Sure that will work really well.
    [It did in USA when the workweek was cut in half from over 80 to 40 hours between 1840 and 1940. Unemployment is only rising because CEOs are responding to automation-robotics-AI by downsizing the workforce-consumerbase instead of maintaining the workforce-consumerbase by just downsizing the workweek. But the group that understandably has the toughest time seeing the big picture is ... small business owners.]
    Forget the CEO salaries of large corporates (which are obscene), small business is the engine of employment in this country. This would send a lot of them to the wall, meaning even fewer jobs for people.
    [Shorter hours can be phased in to cushion small business owners. South Korea cut from 44 to 40 hours a week between 2004 and 2011 in seven phases by company size, starting with companies of over 1000 employees and then going down something like 600, 300, 200, 100, 50, 25. This allows more people to begin jobs and start spending so that smaller businesses have a bigger market to sustain them when their turn comes.]
    Don't believe me, look at France the bastion of the 35 hour work week. Unemployment currently sits at over 10%. That's what would happen if something like this went ahead.
    [No, it wouldn't. The only reasons France's unemployment is still high are that Sarkozy attacked the 35 Hours via overtime unenforcement, and that France made the usual mistake of thinking that workweek reduction should stop at 35, even though the introduction of worksaving technology and the staff-downsizing response to it never stops. France's unemployment went from 12.6% to 8.6% between 1997 when the 35 Hours plan was decided upon and 2001 before the US-led recession hit France - note the 1%-less unemployment per 1hour-less workweek = same result as the US got 1938,39,40 with workweeks of 44,42,40 and unemployment of 19.0%, 17.2, 14.6.]
    Of course everyone wants to work less, but that is a lifestyle choice that shouldn't be paid for by employers.
    [Working less is not a lifestyle choice in an age of automation, robotics, AI and a kneejerk CEO response of downsizing on the assumption that the consumer base is infinite and can take absorb any losses. Working less and spreading the vanishing human employment is a system requirement. And if employers don't pay for it one way, they'll pay for it another way with higher taxes or, vanishing markets.]
    Commenter MrWorkLifeBalance
    Location Melbourne Date and time March 09, 2015, 11:52AM
    The other issue (which seems to avoid the discussion most of the time) is men's work/life balance. Men still bare the brunt of long hours, with little recourse to work reduced hours. The usual excuses from employers (doesn't your wife look after the kids? Normally this is something the mother would request, etc) preclude men from striving for the work/life balance. And those without children? You want to reduce work hours and you don't even have kids? What are you going to do with all your time? Do you have a reason or excuse to request less hours? It seems perfectly reasonable for a mother to try to reduce hours for work/life balance, but it is still taboo for a man to make the same request. In my office ALL the males work full time + do the 24/7 support while a number of females work reduced hours. When overtime is required, it is 95% male staff staying back to finish projects because that is just how it is. Our latest EBA [=enterprise bargaining agreement?] resulted in a wage CUT for a subset of staff (all happened to be males) so that is a furphy [=rubbish?].
    Commenter Nice if you can afford it......
    Location Colac Date and time March 09, 2015, 11:54AM
    Sounds typical of the idealistic socialist nonsense the Greens are renowned for.
    [That's funny. Here in the USA every single plank of the 1928 Socialist Party platform is now totally taken-for-granted law and business as usual. Same probably true Down Under. Not that it's that idealistic because socialism is any-many regulations and ideal would be a single all-sufficient control (SASC), so well designed and centrally positioned that it could safely replace all or most of the others, and most government bureaucracy. Any self-respecting economic designer is therefore on the SASCwatch (lol). Since 75-80% of all 'modern' governments exists just to make up for un- and under-employment - with makework, UI, welfare, disability benefits, homeless shelters, police, prisons, and morgues - our best candidate for SASC is Timesizing, a one-two punch of training&jobs converted out of overtime and full employment made out of increasing convertible overtime by decreasing the workweek.]
    That's what comes from the knowledge you'll never form Government in your own right and actually have to experience the outcome of consequence-free policy.
    [If "Nice if you can afford it" lasts 50 more years, or even 25, s/he will see quite a change. Or look now at Green power in Germany and the way they breezed through the last downturn with their piecemeal version of workweek reduction along the lines of short-time working ('Kurzarbeit' in German).]
    Workers in this country are overpaid, have a sense of entitlement and have too many holidays. The sea of cheap Asian labor which surrounds us, combined with this idealistic attitude, will see the stocks of this country continue to fall to the point where this idealistic nonsense will continue to underwrite the loss of a lifestyle this country is famous for. Good luck with your version of nirvana Adam.
    [Can't tell if "Nice if you can afford it" is being cynical, insulatedly wealthy, or just stupid.]
    Commenter Baz
    Location Date and time March 09, 2015, 1:16PM
    All workers are overpaid in this country - lawyers, accountants, real estate agents are other assorted paper shufflers that dont produce or create anything.
    [Ditto for Baz - "all workers" are not paper shufflers and what's your concept, funnel even more of the money supply to the super-wealthy who spend the smallest percentage of it - convert more fast-circulating spending power into slow-circulating investing power and deepen the officially denied recession even further?]

    Commenter Jeff
    Location Somewhere else Date and time March 09, 2015, 12:04PM
    I am reminded of this quote from R. Buckminster ["Bucky"] Fuller:
    [I (Phil Hyde) knew Mr. Fuller as 'Bucky' from following him around New England in the 70s and reading all his books except his big new math one.]
    “We should do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living.
    [This was Bucky's one and only bad idea. Not only does every human have to earn a living (and job designers will enable the handicapped, as they've done for Stephen Hawking), but every living species in nature has to make a living - unless it's what biologists call a parasite, or what economists call a dependent. Bucky's senior moment here would breed dependency supposedly financed by one-in-10,000 technological breakthroughs, nevermind the incentive problems, the entitlement problems, the detachment problems... overall, a problem of unsustainability.]
    It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living.
    [Hooboy.]
    We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian Darwinian theory he must justify his right to exist.
    [No, he must support himself rather than parasitizing others.]
    So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors.
    [No, we have ridiculous multiply nested makework because we don't have the sense to downsize the workweek instead of the workforce in response to wave after wave of worksharing technology.]
    The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.”
    [Unfortunately, school has become yet another makework campaign, especially post-secondary education.]
    Humankind needs to evolve away from the modernday slavery that is "work".
    [Let's cut through the rhetoric here. Slavery is unpaid work. Sometimes low-paid work is called "wage slavery" but it is not specious or false. Every surviving society has it in some form so it is adaptible and sustainable. And humankind doesn't need to evolve away from it but certainly does need to evolve away from any fixed per-person amount of it; that is, away from any fixed workweek when we're constantly introducing more worksaving technology. And the most advanced economies of the present are the ones, as in Europe, that are moving fastest toward regular automatic adjustment of the workweek against underemployment and vigorous conversion of chronic overtime into training and hiring.] ...
    Commenter MJO
    Location Date and time March 09, 2015, 12:13PM
    Good article Adam. I agree absolutely . I have been full-time now for 20 years and am desperate for part time work in my industry. There are limited spots available and everyone wants them as they are burnt out by the long hours full-time demands of them. Ultimately employees leave and this puts more pressure on the ones left behind and there is even less access to part time. The pressure on parents to work full-time and manage is really difficult. If you don't do it, you don't have a job. Morale becomes very low, sick leave very high. Employers should embrace the idea of flexible work to get the most out of their people.
    Commenter Michelle
    Location Portsea Date and time March 09, 2015, 12:35PM
    Gee, why complicate a simple issue? What we need is a Greens/Labor government to legislate the right of employees to show up for work when they want, work as many/few hours they want and, most importantly, have a remuneration package that enables them to maintain a semi-luxurious lifestyle. How can employers afford such employees? Who cares, let them work it out!!
    [=Another total casualty to sarcastic cynicism.]
    Commenter 21st. Century
    Location Melbourne Date and time March 09, 2015, 1:00PM
    We all need to remember - in almost all industries, Australia is competing with the rest of the world. You can work smart not harder, but at the end of the day it's the cost/benefit to the customer that wins.
    [Would that that were true, but the decision-making topmost 0.01% are sooo self-insulating and -isolating that there are increasing numbers of market failures, things customers want that get sacrificed to "efficiency" = more profits to be funneled to the topmost brackets. Do consumers want franken foods? Do they want undisclosed ingredients? Don't they want inexpensive flipup sunglasses and not just clipons? Don't they still want LePage's Mucilage? Don't they still want Dennison's really peelable stamp hinges? Don't they still want steam locomotives, which were getting so efficient and ecological in the 1950s as to "eat their own smoke" - but GM bought all their parts plants and shut them down. Don't they want public transportation? But GM shut down LA's and most other cities' in CanUSA - somehow Toronto's trams survived so Boston and other cities are always getting Toronto's handmedowns.]
    I often feel we Australians miss that point. That the entitlement sociality [uh, you mean entitlement mentality?] has a hold of us. Customer purchase is the greatest equaliser and right now Australia doesn't have much to sell.
    [So what? Exports are a small percentage of most economies, including Australia's - but they have the squeakiest wheels = noisiest lobbyists and get far more attention than they deserve. In the US, domestic consumption is 70% of the economy but trade gets 70% of the media. Result? The once-great USA is making great strides...in a race to the bottom.]
    Commenter !?!
    Location Date and time March 09, 2015, 1:27PM "Australia is competing with the rest of the world" In what exactly?
    [Good question! Our answer = in a race to the bottom.]
    Can't see how Australia can compete with anyone in the world with any product or service.
    [And it doesn't matter because by now Australia easily has a large enough population to prosper on its own domestic consumer base and employment basement. But not, of course, if it continues following the suicidal USA's frozen 1940 workweek regardless of technology and funneling unlimitedly large percentages of its money supply to unlimitedly small percentages of its population and thereby converting fast-circulating spending power into slow-circulating investing power.]
    Well, probably [can compete in] education with UK or US but ask any international student coming to study here. It's always second or third choice.
    [But some of our brightest gained inspiration from Australia, like Bob Lajeunesse for instance. And no one can compete with you in 'mate-ism', Waltzing Matilda, funny words like furphy and billabong (OK maybe Newfies do have a few funny words too), and abos and dream worlds and walkabouts and koalas and kangas and platypi and cuckoobirds (Iknow Iknow) and greatbarrierreefs and alicesprings and stromatolites and anzacs and slouch hats and vandiamonds (Iknow) and..and..and]

    Commenter What about the additional costs
    Location Melbourne Date and time March 09, 2015, 1:00PM
    You have to question why the Govt loads so many additional charges onto employers who hire full time. Like payroll tax for instance.
    [Exactly. The faster the major government financing burden goes back on wartime levels of steeply graduated income tax the better. And corporate taxes should as much as possible be converted back to fees for actual government services provided.]
    Commenter RB67
    Location Melbourne Date and time March 09, 2015, 1:21PM
    How about a 20 hour work week?
    [=exactly what Arthur Dahlberg recommended in his 1932 book, "Jobs, Machines and Capitalism," based on which the US Senate passed a 30-hour workweek in 1933 by a huge majority.]
    The 40 hour week is a relic of the 19th century [actually Oct.24,1940 in the USA] when work was a lot more time and labour intensive. Technology has eliminated much of the menial, labour intensive jobs that were common just a few decades ago. It is no longer possible for everyone to have a 40 hour per week job.
    [True, especially now that mechanization has eaten agricultural jobs, automation has eaten manufacturing jobs, robotization is eating low-paid service jobs and now artificial intelligence is eating high-paid service jobs.]
    Many are already living this reality: the over-50s who can't find any kind of work at all [17% unemployment in this age cohort already in the 1990s in the US!], the young unemployed, the 20- and 30-somethings who are working in casual jobs, or moving from contract to contract with weeks or months of unemployment in between. As the article mentions, there is a severe problem with the distribution of work - if you look at the average hours worked per month per person (all adults in Australia), it is only a bit over 80 hours a month. The only reason people are still working 40-50 hour weeks is because business [empowered by a labor surplus] wants to squeeze all that they can out of the most talented and idealistic workers, while they are happy to leave the workers they don't want on the unemployment scrap heap (the ones that are too old, or who don't fit the corporate mould). And of course many workers feel compelled to work the longer hours because of crippling mortgages, the skyhigh cost of living, and fear of being discarded and ending up on the scrap heap. The country would be much better off with more people in the workforce, working less hours a week, and with a lower cost of living so that people could afford to have a life. This in turn would mean a much lower welfare bill and less taxes going to pay people on benefits.
    [Amen!]


3/07/2015 – 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. Commissioners approve furlough days for county employees, by Joe Warren jwarren@countrymedia.net, (3/06 late pickup) North Coast & Cannon Beach Citizen via northcoastcitizen.com
    [See also previous Tillamook story on 2/28/2015 #1.]
    TILLAMOOK, Ore., USA - The Tillamook County Commissioners voted unanimously Friday, Feb. 28, to implement four furlough days during the next couple of months to address general fund budget shortfalls.
    This action may have saved some jobs, because when the shortfall was initially realized, the commissioners were looking at layoffs and job cuts.

    [Furloughs not firings, hourscuts not jobcuts, timesizing not downsizing!]
    After State Forest timber sales did not come in as expected, county officials are estimating to be short $1.2 million dollars in the general fund for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends June 30.
    The furlough process required consultation with the AFSME Union as required in the union contract with county officials. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed to reflect this consultation. In addition, it required a board order giving specific direction to general fund employees regarding the furlough days.
    “We essentially had only two options before us.” Commissioner Mark Labhart said in a written statement, “layoff of dedicated county employees or furlough (salary reduction) days.”
    The county general fund supports departments such as the sheriff’s office, jail, justice court, juvenile department, district attorney’s office and emergency management.
    “The AFSME Union voted with a resounding majority to take furlough days versus laying off less senior employees,” Labhart said. “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.”
    In addition, the Board Order also directs that all general fund supported elected officials, department heads, managers and other non-represented employees be subject to the furloughs implemented by the order and as permitted by law.
    “This sends a clear message that management is also willing to share in the salary reductions (furloughs) as the union employees are,” Labhart added.
    The decision was also a difficult one for Commissioner Bill Baertlein.
    “We had a tough choice to make this morning, just as the AFSME Union made a tough choice last night,” he said in a written statement. “ 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 is very disruptive to the laid off employees and the county departments where they work,” Baertlein continued.
    “In addition, it does not afford us the opportunity to fully vet all the possible options in a logical order.”
    Baertlein also noted that this budget shortfall to the general fund will directly affect the families of the county employees.
    “It very well could end up that we end up regretting some of our decisions,” Baertlein said. “ The furlough days means that we all take a cut in pay in order to preserve the jobs for our probationary employees, this is huge thing to ask of our employees who have families to support, mortgages to pay and food to buy.
    Baertlein said that this is only the beginning, that there may be more tough choices ahead for the commissioners.
    “As County Commissioners we are tasked with making some very tough choices,” he said. “The trend lines of our revenue sources are rising at less than 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.”
    The furlough days will be March 13, April 10, May 8 and June 12, 2015.

  2. Divorce Can Mean a Trip Down the Economic Ladder for Women - Divorced Stay-at-Home Mom Seeks to Re-enter Workforce, NBCNews.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Divorce can be a one-way ticket down the road to financial instability for many women, especially for those who are middle class or low-income.
    It can mean a loss of work hours, more time (and expense) devoted to childcare and a cold slap in the face when it comes to finding a job or finishing an education.
    [But if we resumed our nationwide 1938,1939,1940 workweek cuts (44,42,40 hrs), then a shorter level of "full time" employment and benefits would be available to the nation's burgeoning number of single parents.]
    While working-class women tend to be hit harder, not having a job, money or credit of their own is a challenge that can affect women of all socioeconomic brackets, said Bruce McClary, spokesman at the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. "In a lot of situations you have that career interrupted... It can be very messy in that situation because they have to start right from scratch."
    This was the situation Michelle Bornemann found herself in when she and her husband began divorce proceedings more than four years ago. The Long Island, New York resident, who has two children, had worked for a title insurance company before they were born but has been largely out of the work force since.
    "I have nothing to show for a resume," she said. "The place I worked for 18 years ago is long gone."
    Now, Bornemann earns $12.50 an hour as a special-ed teacher's aide. "I'm paying the bills week by week because I don't have extra money in the account," she said. Her hours fluctuate depending on when school is in session, with holidays and snow days putting a dent in her earnings.
    Money she can't afford on home repairs is adding up. "I'm not able to fix anything in the house or update anything," she said. "There's a leak coming through the ceiling in one of the bathrooms [and] there's a sinkhole in the yard that fell through." Bornemann had to declare bankruptcy, which means she can't even get credit cards to serve as a buffer when her income falls.
    "There are big losses in income across the income distribution for both higher- and lower-income women," said Laura Tach, an assistant professor of policy analysis and management at Cornell University. Mothers who have custody of children can see 30 to 40 percent of their income vanish, and their earnings are often unstable, since childcare or other caregiving demands can pull them out of the work force.
    "Also, just having a single income doesn't help buffer some of those financial shocks," Tach pointed out. "It's much more difficult to balance that out."
    Paid time off
    A 2012 Urban Institute study found that only 43 percent of employed, working-class parents in a focus group got paid time off — including sick time — from their employer, 60 percent worked nonstandard hours and nearly a quarter had to work nights. For a newly single mother trying to reestablish herself in today's labor market, these barriers can be challenging.
    Even for women higher up the socioeconomic spectrum, reentering the labor force can take months. "I really do like the idea of the whole stay-at-home-mom experience but as far as practicality, I have been advocating for women to keep their foot in there in some way, shape or form," said Lisa Sotir, a Miami resident and mother of one who struggled to find work in her former field after she and her husband separated in 2010.
    "I had done a little bit of part-time marketing work for a nonprofit for a couple of years, but I for all intents and purposes had left the workforce," she said.
    "I probably would have kept some things in my own name as a safety net," Sotir said. Instead, she had to depend financially on her estranged husband for nearly a year until she could find a job. "Tensions are high — money is a hot topic in a divorce anyway," she said.
    "One of the top reasons for disagreements within a relationship is the subject of household finances," said McClary said. Money can be a hot button during divorce because of women's employment challenges, and maintaining two households — two rent or mortgage payments, two electric bills, and so on — costs more.
    "Divorces are expensive," said Stephanie Coontz, director of research at the Council on Contemporary Families. "[For] both women and men, divorce can cause big decreases in income, and it takes a while to recover."
    Some struggle for years to rejoin the middle class. For Lara Brooks, her 2010 divorce meant going from working as a teacher's aide while she finished earning her bachelor's degree to juggling two fast-food jobs and ultimately losing her home to foreclosure.
    Mountain of defaulted debt
    The Mississippi resident was seven months away from earning her degree in social sciences, but now she worries that with a mountain of defaulted student loan debt, she'll never be able to finish her education.
    Education is one of the sharpest dividing lines when it comes to divorce, and can be another strike against women trying to rebuild their lives. According to University of Michigan economics and public policy professor Justin Wolfers, 17 percent of couples without college degrees divorced within seven years of marriage, compared to 11 percent of couples with college degrees.
    Studies consistently have shown higher unemployment for people without college degrees. That means women without degrees — already more prone to divorce — have a harder time finding work after the fact.
    "I have an associates degree and 7 months shy of my bachelor's but it means nothing without work history," Cox said in an online conversation. Her youngest son is five, and the only one of her five children who still lives at home with her. She said she hopes that once he starts kindergarten next year, she'll be able to pick up her job search.
    "Making your career as a stay-at-home mom will get you nowhere if your husband decides he is done," she said.
    Martha C. White is an NBC News contributor. She started in this role in 2010. White writes about business, finance and the economy. Her work has appeared in Time.com, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Slate.com and Fast Company. She lives in upstate New York.


3/06/2015 – 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. Norco businesses are cutting hours, may be forced to layoff employees if strike lingers, by Anna Thibodeaux, St. Charles Herald Guide via heraldguide.com
    ST. CHARLES PARISH, La., USA - A steady stream of workers trickled in the deli counter of Gre’aud’s Fine Foods for a plate lunch buffet, but the line has gotten much shorter since more than 500 United Steelworker union workers at the Norco Manufacturing Complex went on strike nearly two weeks ago.
    The grocery store, nestled among the numerous businesses lining Apple Street, is in downtown Norco, a town with a history so intertwined with the petrochemical industry that its own name is an acronym for the New Orleans Refining Co. (NORCO). The community’s name, formerly known as Sellers after a wealthy family there, changed in 1911 when the land was purchased by Royal Dutch/Shell Oil and the name became Norco sometime around 1926.
    A maze of silver and white plant pipelines woven into the community itself is testimony to the area’s symbiotic relationship with industry petrochemical giants like Motiva, Shell and Valero in the River Region.
    But since the strike, Gre’aud’s daily buffet Motiva-Shell crowd of an estimated 100 workers is gone, said store Manager Stanley Burkhardt. Other workers are still coming there, but the thinner crowd shows the walkout has hurt lunch business.
    Just up the road, Motiva-Shell union workers are picketing at the Shell plant entrance, the first nationwide oil refinery strike in more than 30 years.
    In Louisiana, Brent Petit, local United Steelworkers 750 president, said the strike officially started at 11:30 p.m. Feb. 21. Nationwide, union talks began with Shell Oil Co. in January, but failed to reach a compromise as the strike spread over 12 oil refineries. Petit said union workers at the Norco and Convent plants had overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike late last year.
    Of Norco Manufacturing Complex’s 1,175 employees, 548 of them are union workers. Statewide, about 800 union workers joined the strike nationally that United Steelworker representatives say is about inadequate staffing, worker fatigue and safety issues, which the industry has denied. Shell and union workers were expected to return to the negotiating table by March 4, according to news reports.
    “Word on the street is it’ll be a four-month strike and that won’t be good,” Burkhardt said. Since the strike is being negotiated somewhere else, he added, there’s no choice but to go with the flow.
    At neighboring Lovecchio’s Deli, also on Apple Street, Sondra Keegan said the strike has cost her customers. “Most of my business is all the workers from the plants and I don’t see any of them today,” Keegan said. “We’re used to running at top speed over here for lunch.”
    This is a big difference from the 50 to 100 workers who typically come to her deli in a day, and it’s already required they cut hours. If the strike lingers, Keegan’s husband, Mike, said they might have to let employees go.
    [No sense making things real bad upfront. Letting employees go is a last resort. Cutting hours is less traumatic. Cut hours, not jobs = timesizing, not downsizing!]
    Workers are also complaining about lower hours and fewer tips at El Gato Negro, a Mexican restaurant and bar in Destrehan, according to Manager Jose Almendares. Bar business is also down.
    “We used to have 1,000 to 1,500 lunches and now it’s around 500,” Almendares said of getting a lot of Motiva worker business. “We’re filling four to five tables now tops.”
    If the strike lingers, he’s equally concerned about the possibility of having to cut the hours of his 10 employees. “It’s upsetting on both parts where the employees get the benefits they deserve and the employees are demanding by force by not going to work.” Almendares observed about the strike. “There’s always two sides to the story."

  2. Ford Romania Cuts Working Hours in Romania Due to Slow B-Max Demand, by Mihnea Radu, autoevolution.com
    CRAIOVA, Romania - Even though the Fiesta and Focus are very successful, Ford may still have too many of the wrong kind of cars, which are not in demand. A good example of this is the B-Max, the company's smallest MPV that entered production at their Romanian factory in 2012 after a relatively long delay.
    Because the B-Max is roughly the same size and cost as small crossovers like the Renault Captur, demand has never met the anticipated levels. As such, Ford has had to reduce output at the factory in Craiova that they bought from the Romanian government in 2008 (it used to belong to Daewoo).
    In November 2014, the company announced that for economic reasons, 680 work positions in Craiova would have to be cut. Over 590 employees entered a voluntary restructuring program, which left Ford with 170 positions still needing to be cleared. But rather than simply firing people, an agreement has been reached with the units under which working hours would be reduced.
    ["Simply" firing people? Not so! Firing instead of trimming hours sets in motion a complex ripple of deterioration that boomerangs back in terms of even weaker markets. But no reason to cry-ovah this, lol.]
    A statement released to the press today suggests the move will optimize the production schedule at Ford Craiova while they search for the opportunity to locally assembly a second Ford model.
    In 2007, Ford paid 57 million suros to the Romanian government for a 72.4% stake in "Automobile Craiova". Soon after that, the European Commission opened an official investigation regarding an allegedly illegal state aid offered to the American company, worth 27.5 million euros.
    According to the latest figures, the factory has the capacity to make 350,000 cars per year. However, only 30,600 were produced in 2012. Besides the B-Max and the Transit Connect van, the same facility makes the 1-liter EcoBoost engine and the newer 1.5-liter 4-cylinder EcoBoost which went into the Mondeo and Focus facelift.


3/05/2015 – 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. Tucson ranked as one of the laziest [and smartest] cities in the US, [and just to prove that:] reported by Kristi Tedesco & written by Anthony Victor Reyes [because the reporter can't write & the writer can't report?], KVOA Tucson News via kvoa.com
    TUCSON, Ariz., USA - A recent survey rates Tucson as one of the laziest cities in the United States.
    The survey by the personal finance social network, WalletHub, was conducted to recognize the hardest working cities around the nation.
    [= hardest and stupidest considering our unprecedented worksaving technology and structural unemployment. The 18th-century thinkers in WalletHub evidently never heard of "Work Smart, Not Hard."]
    They ranked 116 of the most populated cities based on seven key metrics, including average work week hours, commute time, labor force participation rate, workers with multiple jobs, volunteer hours per resident, lack of sleep and leisure time spent on an average day.
    Tucson was ranked no. 111 with 36.4 average work week hours and a 70.43 percent labor force participation rate. The Old Pueblo was tied with San Bernardino, Calif. in the ranking.
    The hardest [and stupidest] working city rated in this survey was Anchorage, Alaska, with 40.7 average work week hours and a 79.21 percent labor force participation rate.
    The laziest [and smartest] city rated in this survey was Burlington, Vt., with 33.1 average work week hours and a 70.76 percent labor force participation rate.
    Tucson was rated as the laziest working city out of seven Arizona's most populated cities. Gilbert was ranked the hardest working Arizona city, coming in at no. 12.
    Phoenix was rated no. 52 with 38.7 average work week hours and a 72.23 percent labor force participation rate.
    Scottsdale was rated no. 17. Chandler was rated no. 22. Glendale was rated no. 65. Mesa was rated no. 80.
    The website conducted this survey in honor of Employee Appreciation Day on Friday, March 6.
    To view the complete results of the survey, visit [ http://wallethub.com/edu/hardest-working-cities-in-america/10424/ ]

  2. Turkish women still can't break the glass ceiling - Although 30 percent of the labor force is female, low wages and inability to grow in the workplace daunts women, worldbulletin.net
    ISTANBUL, Turkey - Women have made great strides into Turkey's workforce over the past 50 years, but relatively few work, and only a few break the glass ceiling.
    Women, who constitute almost exactly half of Turkey's population, make up only 30 percent of labor force participation, according to a report from the Turkish Statistical Institute on Thursday.
    And there are very few women in top management, only 12.2 percent according to the most recent statistics from the Geneva-based International Labour Office. Turkey is ranked 45 out of 48 nations studied in ILO research for the percentage of women in high-level corporate positions -- below Thailand and above Ukraine.
    "The perception on women must change. Woman should be seen first as individuals rather than first as ‘ideal mother’ and ‘wife.’ Our country must change its mentality, starting with gender equality training," Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions head Ergun Atalay told The Anadolu Agency.
    With the employment rate at 45.9 percent in Turkey, for men it stood at 65.2 percent and for women at 27.1 percent, the TurkStat report said. Compared with European countries, the rate is well below that of Sweden at 72.5 percent and even lower than that of Greece at 39.9 percent.
    In Turkey, the proportion of female senior managers is 9.4 percent in the public area. The proportion of female judges was 36.9 percent. The proportion of females in total academic staff was 28.7 percent in the 2013-2014 academic year. The proportion of female police officers has not shown a difference over the years, and the proportion was 5.5% in 2014, TurkStat said.
    Education is a great challenge
    Lack of education is one of the greatest challenges to women in the workplace, experts said.
    "The main reason for the small number of women working is the low level of women’s education," said Mujdat Kececi, president of the Chamber of Industry in Denizli, which is a growing industrial city in the southwestern part of Turkey and where the female labor force participation rate is one of the highest in the country.
    "The higher the level of education, the more likely women are to work," he said.
    The illiterate female population is five times larger than the illiterate male population, according to TurkStat.
    While the proportion of high school and equivalent graduates in the 25-and-over cohort is 18.2 percent, this proportion is 22.2 percent for males and 14.4 percent for females. The proportion of total higher education graduates is 12.9 percent of the entire population, but this proportion is 15.1 percent for men and 10.7 percent for women.
    Low wages, rigid structures
    Guven Sak, director at the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey, says the low level of women’s wages keeps them out of the workplace.
    "If the wage rate is low, women have less incentive to leave domestic chores to outside help. Hiring some help for household chores and childcare is almost impossible at lower wages. Add to that Turkey’s haphazard social support system, and all women are left with is taking care of the household," Sak said.
    This issue is particularly aggravated in the countryside.
    "The culture or belief that women do not work is very common in the countryside. If you add less women-friendly environments at workplaces, the rate will remain low," Kececi added.
    Another difficulty that many women must overcome is the rigidity of working hours.
    Atalay pointed out that "allowing women to work with flexible working hours would solve this problem. With flexible working hours, women can work to contribute to the family budget as well as do their child care and household chores."

    [Flexible and shorter? Back in 1912 in a context of 54-hour workweeks in the U.S., Teddy Roosevelt's Progressive "Bull Moose" Party stood for a shorter workweek for women. At that point, Theodore ("Don't Call Me Teddy!"] was talking about a 40-hour workweek]
    Society must work towards changing negative perceptions about women Atalay said.
    But some perceptions about the role of women are changing. According to the results of Demographic and Health Survey 2013, 75.2 percent of females agreed with the statement of “men should also do the housework like cooking, washing, ironing, and cleaning," Seventy-five percent of women agreed with the statement, "women should be more involved in politics."


3/04/2015 – 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. Blaine County May Drop 4 Day Work Week, KMVT-TV / KSVT-TV via News Radio 1310 KLIX via newsradio1310.com
    HAILEY, Idaho, USA – It was standing room only at the Blaine County Commissioner’s meeting. Many members of the local real estate community, title companies, banks, construction industry and concerned citizens came out to voice their opinions against the county’s four day work week.
    This April marks the five year anniversary for Blaine County’s experiment to have many of their county offices closed on Fridays. At the time of the policy’s inception, county commissioners thought shutting down on Fridays would be a good way to reduce the county’s carbon footprint.
    After five years of having offices like the DMV and Recorder’s office closed every single Friday, they’re facing some public outcry. Opponents say this is not only inconvenient, it’s also bad business. Public comments argued that having the Recorder’s office closed on Fridays effects their clients tremendously, by not being able to finalize important business transactions, when the rest of the country is still in business.
    The Blaine County Commissioners were receptive to the urgency expressed by the community members. They hope to have the necessary information and data available to make a policy decision soon, possibly as soon as April.

  2. Apache Junction school board approves school closure, four-day work week, by Wendy Mille, Independent Newsmedia USA via arizona.newszap.com
    Eddee Lopez, at microphone, asked members of the Apache Junction Unified School District [AJUSD] Governing Board to vote down a four-day work week. The Apache Junction High School senior said the shortened school week would be a hardship for busy students such as himself who are studying for Advance Placement testing and are involved in numerous extracurricular activities. Recording the meeting were members of the local broadcast news media. At right, Brenda Farris, principal of Four Peaks Elementary School in Apache Junction, assists members of the public who made comments at the March 3 meeting. (photo caption)
    APACHE JUNCTION, Ariz., USA - The Apache Junction Unified School District Governing Board has approved the closure of Superstition Mountain Elementary School and the adoption of a four-day work week as part of an effort to resolve a $2.7 million budget shortfall for the 2015-16 school year.
    At their March 4 meeting held at the Apache Junction High School Performing Arts Center, 2525 S. Ironwood Drive, board members voted 4-1 to not close Peralta Trail Elementary School, 10965 E. Peralta Road in Gold Canyon, the second of two schools considered for closure, and to close Superstition Mountain, 2805 S. Ironwood Drive in Apache Junction.
    Board members also voted 4-1 in favor of the four-day work week, citing the shortened work week as a benefit with which to retain teaching staff.
    “What’s best for the kids is good teachers,” board member Danielle Reynolds said prior to the vote.
    Board member Dena Kimble opposed the shortened week, saying she truly believed a four-day week would not work.
    “The longer days are not good for the kids; it’s harder to focus,” she said prior to the vote.
    [How much longer?]
    Board member Mike Weaver said his research on the subject shows student achievement is not impacted by the four-day work week.
    Board members unanimously approved a Monday-Thursday work week.
    AJUSD Superintendent Dr. Chad Wilson told the audience of about 200 parents, teachers, students and staff members that if the board decided to close one of the schools, no teachers would be laid off and most programs would remain intact.
    The board voted 4-1 to not close Peralta Trail Elementary School, 10965 E. Peralta Road in Gold Canyon, the second of two schools considered for closure. Board member Reynolds voted to close Peralta Trail and keep Superstition Mountain open. The board then voted to close Superstition Mountain.
    Ms. Kimble said having the district’s elementary schools spread out to Gold Canyon and moving Superstition Mountain students to the remaining schools in Apache Junction would be better for students.
    Board member Wendy Moore said she knew there was no solution to resolving the budget issue that would satisfy everyone; however, she felt she had done her due diligence and was doing the best for the people who elected her.
    Prior to the vote, Apache Junction High School senior Eddee Lopez asked the board to forego the shortened work week, saying it would be a hardship for busy students such as himself who not only are studying for Advance Placement testing but are also involved in a number of extracurricular activities. He is active in speech/debate, marching band, drama club and the winter drumline, among other activities.
    “I can’t say I’m happy with the decision but I’m not surprised,” he said in an interview after the vote.
    The actions taken at the meeting will help the board save about 85 percent of the $2.7 million budget shortfall, Dr. Wilson said in an interview after the meeting.
    “The real work will begin tomorrow,” AJUSD Public Information Officer Dana Hawman said shortly before the start of the meeting. “Until now, we’ve just been packing for the trip."


3/03/2015 – 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. Businesses Balk at Obamacare Definition of Full-Time Work - Some say defining full-time work as 30 hours per week limits worker flexibility and hurts the service industry, by Bailey Williams, U.S. News & World Report via usnews.com
    [With all businesses and industries (except weapons manufacturers) complaining about weak markets, isn't it time to quit worrying so much about hurting industry and worry more about hurting markets by stinting your employees?]
    A couple signs up for Obamacare in Miami, in February. Restaurant groups say the law's requirement that employees who work 30 hours a week be covered will discourage companies from hiring. Aymara Marchante and Wiktor Garcia sit with Maria Elena Santa Coloma, an insurance advisor with UniVista Insurance company, as they sign up for the Affordable Care Act, on Feb. 5, 2015 in Miami, Fla. (photo caption)
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - The controversy over what counts as a full-time job under the Affordable Care Act continues, especially for those in the service industry.
    Lawmakers and several service industry associations are contesting the provision in President Barack Obama’s signature health care law known as the employer mandate, saying it is harmful for American workers. The mandate defines a full-time employee as a person who works on average 30 hours weekly, and requires that business with 50 or more full-time employees provide health insurance to at least 95 percent of those workers and their dependents up to age 26, or pay a fee.
    “Lots of people who are working part-time now want to have full-time jobs, and that’s made more difficult by this provision of the health care law that discourages employers from hiring or keeping full-time employees,” said Jack Mozloom, spokesman for the National Federation of Independent Business.
    The NFIB, some restaurant associations and certain community colleges support legislation in the House and Senate that aims to change the definition of a full-time employee to one working an average of 40 hours a week. Without such an alteration to the ACA, Republican-led lawmakers claim, there could be a devastating economic impact.
    “The inevitable result is going to be fewer full-time employees, and I really don’t see how the other side can argue with that logic unless they completely misunderstand business,” Mozloom said.
    Restaurant owners are also particularly concerned.
    Thousands of jobs are at stake with the continuation of the provision, Sam Toia, CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association, said in a statement.
    “Because of the Affordable Care Act’s arbitrary 30-hour-per-week definition of a full-time employee, restaurants are being forced to restructure their workforce by reducing their employees’ hours,” he said.
    [But shorter hours means hiring more people, which means more people with earnings to spend, which means more monetary circulation and more engagement of the multiplier effect, which means less weakening of markets.]
    “Employees are losing the mobility and flexibility in their schedules they normally would enjoy when working at a restaurant.
    [Exactly HOW is a shorter workweek losing mobility and flexibility - quite the contrary!]
    Opportunities are decreasing for young and inexperienced workers to gain entry-level employment and advance into a fulfilling career in the restaurant and hospitality industry.”
    [That is ridiculous. With restaurants hiring 25% more people to cover 25% shorter workweeks for current employees, opportunities are INCREASING for young and inexperienced workers to gain entry-level employment and advance. Sam Toia is a self-destructive short-sighted thinker who doesn't know what's good for his own industry or the economy as a whole or "for young and inexperienced workers." And come to think of it, Obamacare's inclusion of any employees working 30 hours or more includes ONLY companies of 50 employees or more, which includes very few restaurants! So we shouldn't be looking at the restaurant industry or listening to their nitwit ubermanagement at all.]
    Karen Bremer, executive director of the Georgia Restaurant Association, said when she worked her way through college, having flexible hours allowed her to work less when she needed time to study for finals and work more during the holidays when others wanted time off. Less flexibility would mean workers had fewer opportunities to learn certain “soft skills.”
    [Well, a greater availability of shorter-workweek jobs would make for more flexibility, not less. Obamacare does not incentivate rigid 30-hour workweeks. It incentivates flexibly LESS THAN 30-hour workweeks.]
    “We’re the industry that teaches America how to come to work on time, how to smile, how to work on a team with other people, to follow orders, and to make change and to provide customer service. We do a great service to the United States in terms...of teaching those soft skills,” Bremer said.
    [And very few of you are in Obamacare-affected companies of 50 employees or more, so maybe you should just siddown and shaddap. You're, what, 80% unaffected by this? You are irrelevant to this debate.]
    But Gary Burtless, an economist who researches the labor market policy at the Brookings Institution, said changing the employer mandate would hurt workers, not help them.
    By raising the amount of hours classifying a full-time employee to 40 hours a week, employers are incentivized to cut workers hours to avoid providing health insurance, he said. Since those who work 40 hours per week represent a larger part of the workforce, the proposed alterations would do more harm than good,
    he explained.
    “The whole rationale for this is so completely flipped on its head economically,” he said. “They basically want to exempt most, a huge share of employment in the United States, from mandatory coverage under the Affordable Care Act”.
    The restaurant industry isn’t the only one struggling with the mandate. Some community colleges, like Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana, worry that the provision will make it difficult to find faculty members.
    “We are challenged to find credentialed faculty in certain areas and if we are limited in the hours we can provide such faculty, it only makes that challenge more difficult and could put us in a position where we cannot (offer) many courses in some of the disciplines,” Ivy Tech spokesman Jeff Fanter said in an email.
    Julie Garcia, director of human services at Northern Virginia Community College, said the provision has not plagued her college. But she understands how it could impact smaller schools.
    Costs for personnel, the largest part of colleges’ workforce, rise every year, Garcia said. Managing this is difficult, especially for a small team juggling other things, she said.
    The 30-hour provision has resulted in a smaller number of “classified part-time” employees, who work between 30 and 40 hours at NOVA, Garcia said.
    [Uh, exactly what what function does this linguistic stretch perform?]
    The Save American Workers Act of 2015 passed the House in January without Republican dissension. It is currently in the Senate Finance Committee. The Forty Hours is Full Time Act, however, is still stalled in a Senate committee.
    Obama has vowed to veto any legislation aiming to change the definition of a full-time employee.
    “We can’t put the security of families at risk by taking away their health insurance,” the president said.“And if a bill comes to my desk that tries to do any of these things, I will veto it."
    [So he's good at doing the stuff that he can talk warm&fuzzy about for "families," but that good stuff is reversed by talking warm&fuzzy about "families" of illegal entrants. The only thing that disciplines management (which is always and only worrying about "the discipline of labor") is labor shortage, as in the relative "supply and demand" interplay that controls market forces. Thus management is always and only worrying about its own "crises" - and to ease them, constantly making little adjustments and accommodations in its own favor to thre relative disadvantage of its employees and consumers = its own markets, and this gets worse and worse and eventually reaches crisis proportions when many many many businesses are hurt (by this "act of God" which they themselves built) - the crisis continues until a larger, usually external Crisis arises, historically in terms of War or Plague. Modern medicine has disturbed these realignments of labor oversupply and employment undersupply by clobbering epidemics. And fear of nuclear armageddon has restricted the realignment functioning of War. Ergo we must find an intelligent way of keeping labor and employment in balance, such as...the Timesizing Program.]

  2. Changes ahead for local library opening hours, Ulster Star via LisburnToday.co.uk
    LISBURN, N.Ireland, UK - Public consultation is under way on proposals that would cut Lisburn City Library’s weekly opening hours from 57 to 54.
    However, under the same proposals, Libraries NI hopes to increase the opening hours at outlying libraries, including Moira and Finaghy.
    The changes to the opening hours are being proposed in response to the Draft Budget for 2015-2016, which has called for savings to be made.
    Opening hours at Moira Library could increase from 18 to 35 hours a week and Finaghy Library could increase to 50 hours a week.
    Meanwhile, the hours at Colin Glen and Crumlin Libraries are likely to remain unchanged at 40 hours and 18 hours respectively.
    Public consultation on the proposed revised opening hours began on February 18 and will continue until April 17.
    The Consultation Report suggests public libraries across Northern Ireland continue to be categorised into bands based on level of use.
    The proposal is that libraries in Band One would open for 54 hours per week; those in Band Two would open for 50 hours per week; those in Band Three would open for 45 hours per week; those in Band Four would open for 40 hours per week; those in Band Five would open for 35 hours per week; those in Band Six would open for 28 hours per week; those in Band Seven would open for 25 hours per week; and libraries in Band Eight would be open for 18 hours per week.
    [There's a palette of possible workweeks if ever there was one! It'd be nice to know the breakdown in each case: f.ex., do 54,50,45,40,35,28,25,18 = 6x9hr days, 5x10, 5x9, 5x8, 5x7, 4x7, 5x5 and 3x6 respectively?]
    Irene Knox, Chief Executive of Libraries NI, said: “Reducing opening hours is very difficult for our customers and our staff and the Board of Libraries NI deeply regrets having to take this course of action.
    “We will consult openly with people during this process and we are inviting people to engage with us regarding the policy and proposals.
    “In all of our actions we want to be fair to customers, to libraries and to our staff.”


3/02/2015 – 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. Work Sharing: How to Make Canada (A Bit) More Recession Proof, by Zach Lewsen, The Public Policy & Governance Review via PPGreview.ca
    TORONTO, Ont., Canada - At the onset of the 2008 recession, Canadian employment trends took a turn for the worse. In particular, the manufacturing sector — linked to the contagious financial downturn south of the border — saw thousands of layoffs. At least one crisis-exposed company, however, dodged the trend: Standen’s Ltd, a 475-person steel parts firm based in Calgary, Alberta, proudly stated on its website that “not a single member of the Standen’s team has been laid off during this global recession.”
    So, what was the trick to Standen’s success? The company allowed staff to pool unemployment risks through a “work sharing” agreement — a policy instrument that more Canadians should explore.
    Work sharing helps companies facing a temporary external shock (often times, a recession) to avoid layoffs by allowing staff members to collectively reduce their work week, instead of mandating a few to lose their jobs entirely. To apply for work sharing in Canada, an employer must obtain consent from all participating staff members and any union representing them, and then enter into a contract with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). Under that contract, an employer can shave up to three business days off a staff member’s work week with the understanding that ESDC will pay employment insurance (EI) to that worker for the days they are not on the job. EI benefits are capped at 55 per cent of original earnings and are paid out for a maximum of 38 weeks.
    The federal government first introduced work sharing policies as a series of pilot projects in the late 1970s. A few years later, in response to high unemployment rates in the early 1980s, then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau introduced a nation-wide program that employers could sign on to.
    [Yay, Trudeau! Canada's most stylish PM since Laurier.]
    This initiative is still in effect today. This type of program is also used in many European countries, and even in a few American states.
    [Actually over half the states, Zach, 28 so far.]
    Work sharing programs help workers to avoid unemployment, as well as the anxieties and family income pressures associated with it. Companies also benefit by avoiding retraining and rehiring costs that are often incurred when full production resumes. This benefit may still ring true in the most recent recession: Standen’s Ltd has claimed that “our competitors that laid off people are going to be struggling when things get busy whereas we’re going to have a much more experienced and skilled work force.”
    So, just how well has this system performed? During the 2009-2010 fiscal year, use of the federal government’s work sharing program reached an all-time high: approximately 127,880 employees received work sharing benefits — of which 95 per cent later returned to a normal work week. While this would seem to indicate that Canada’s system has been effective, our work sharing usage has been relatively low (and our unemployment rate relatively high) compared to the country where work sharing is most prevalent: Germany.
    In 2009, Germany’s work sharing plan, known as Kurzarbeit, insured over 1.5 million people — more than ten times the number of insured workers in Canada. A 2010 OECD report concluded that Kurzarbeit saved Germany 200,000 jobs and helped the country to sustain record employment levels during a global recession. With the help of this and other policies, Germany reduced its unemployment rate to 5.9 per cent by 2011, while Canada’s stood at 7.4 per cent. For many, Germany’s staggering success in this post-recession era indicates that Canada should expand and promote its work sharing system.
    Unlike in Germany, however, work sharing in Canada has not been universally embraced by the private sector. When the federal government was first considering a national work sharing program in the early 1980s, the Canadian Manufacturers’ Association President stated that “trying to bribe industry to keep people employed, when they can’t be employed effectively, is not useful to anyone in the long run.” Yet work sharing benefits are restricted to companies that the government deems likely to bounce back. In order to receive work sharing payments, companies must prove they are taking steps — like reaching out to new markets or exploring new technologies — to ensure that a temporary setback does not become a permanent one. This requirement seems to ensure employee retention: as mentioned earlier, 95 per cent of employees receiving work sharing benefits in Canada in 2009-10 returned to full employment when the benefit payment period ended.
    Despite its apparent effectiveness, work sharing is no panacea for recessionary unemployment. A recession can often spark permanent job loss for individuals whose skills are no longer in demand, or who are in a declining industry or an economically depressed region. To fix this, governments should craft a cocktail of job retraining, social security payments, and economic development incentives.
    However, work sharing is a key piece of the employment puzzle countries are typically faced with during a recession. If the financial instability of the last 20 years — observed in the 1997 currency crisis in Asia, the 2001 Dot Com Bubble, and the 2008 US Housing Crash — is any indicator, further recessions can be expected in the future. Yet the recent success of the German labour market and Standen’s Ltd should serve to remind policymakers that we can effectively tackle certain recessionary risks when we bear them collectively.
    History often remembers a time period based on its place in the financial boom and bust cycle — contrast the “Roaring 20s” with the “Dirty 30s”, for example. By further embracing work sharing programs, companies will be better prepared for any future recessions in a manner that shares both risk and solidarity with their employees. At the height of the most recent recession, Standen’s Ltd asserted their employees are “not going to look over their shoulder and worry about whether they’re going to have a job tomorrow.” If Canadians expand our use of work sharing, we can at least begin to define the boundaries of a future recession — instead of letting it define us.
    Zachary Lewsen is a 2016 Master of Public Policy candidate at the University of Toronto and an Editorial Assistant with the Public Policy and Governance Review. He previously completed an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science at McGill University, and has since interned for the NATO Council of Canada. A keen observer of provincial and municipal politics, Zach hopes to explore a career in urban, immigration, or economic policy.

  2. Offer flexi-work hours to retain women in the workforce, by Yuen Meikeng, AsiaOne via business.asiaone.com
    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - The Women, Family and Community Development Ministry is walking the talk to retain women in the workforce by offering flexible hours for its officers beginning this month.
    Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim said the ministry hoped to blaze the trail for other ministries to implement similar policies in order to encourage more women to stay in their jobs.
    The policy, which was effective on Sunday, is also extended to male officers.
    "We are offering our staff three options of flexible work arrangements - working from home, flexible working hours and a modified compressed work week system.
    "We are currently taking applications from our officers now. This initial and trial phase will be implemented for three months," she told reporters after launching the Career Comeback Programme and grant by the ministry and TalentCorp here yesterday.
    She said if the flexible work arrangements were to be a success, it would be recommended to other ministries and the private sector.
    On the ministry's three options, she said those who chose to work from home would perform their duties within office hours.
    "The second option is to enable officers to come to work and then leave based on their choice of time but they must maintain the number of required work hours a day.
    "The third option is the modified compressed work week system which will allow officers to replace work hours on another day if they have to leave work early," Rohani said, stressing that there would be no compromise on work productivity.
    [Wait a minute here! Replacing workhours on another day is not a compressed workweek. It's comp (compensatory) time. A compressed workweek has fewer hours than a regular workweek but you're trying to get the same amount of stuff done = "no compromise on work productivity" but also, a shorter workweek.]
    It was reported that the Government had targeted to have 55 per cent of women in the workforce by this year. As of 2013, the percentage of women in the labour force stood at 52.4 per cent, one of the lowest among ASEAN countries.
    During the event, Rohani laun­­ched the RM10million (S$3.7 million) Career Come­back Grant, approved under the Budget 2015, which aims to encourage companies to employ women who have taken career breaks to increase female participation in the work place.


3/01/2015 – 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 calms economic waves, by Derek Thomas, (2/28 late pickup) Indianapolis Business Journal via ibj.com
    INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., USA - The best way to stimulate the economy is by keeping workers on the job through work sharing. The return is greater than infrastructure investments or tax cuts, according to Moody’s Analytics.
    A work sharing program—available in 28 states—is a voluntary and cost-equivalent alternative to traditional unemployment insurance 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 unemployment insurance benefits—typically equal to half of lost wages.
    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 insurance (an outdated system that actually encourages layoffs), particularly for a state such as Indiana that relies so heavily on manufacturing exports, which “exposes the state to economic downturns” (Fitch’s Ratings).
    This vulnerability 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. Given these enormous losses, providing flexibility for businesses and families to better weather these slumps should be of the highest priority.
    While it’s a relatively small dent, our analysis shows that if work sharing had been available during the Great Recession, approximately 2,000 to 10,000 mid- to high-wage jobs—mostly in manufacturing—could have been saved from 2007 through 2010.
    Because work sharing is a win-win-win [for employers-employees-taxpayers], it’s harder to find a program with wider bipartisan support from economists, governors and state legislators. In Indiana, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, the Indiana AFL-CIO, employers such as Subaru Indiana and lawmakers from both political parties (federal and state) all support work sharing.
    It’s easy to see why.
    The employer reduces costs of recruitment, hiring and training workers once normal business resumes. It also affords employers greater control over unemployment insurance 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 Gov. 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 Gov. 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 [=taxpayers] wins by avoiding the secondary job losses—and the accompanying revenue losses—that inevitably result from layoffs.
    [Plus taxpayers win by incurring a lighter drain on the unemployment insurance fund (and associated taxes) from a lot of people cutting only a couple of hours each compared to cutting even just a few complete full-time 40-hour jobs, with a few of those jobs possibly never replaced and some of those layoffees never rehired and forced onto welfare or disability, or beyond that, into homelessness or prison - all involving serious money from, or debt onto, taxpayers.]
    During the Great Recession, Hoosier families saw some of the greatest increases in poverty (still rising) and child poverty, and some of the largest declines in household income (still declining), in the nation. How we fare during the next recession depends on thoughtful policies 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 a senior policy analyst at Indiana Institute for Working Families and author of “Work Sharing: A Win-Win-Win Strategy to Avoid Job Loss.” Send comments on this column to ibjedit@ibj.com.
    [Comments sent -]
    Subject: Thanks to Derek Thomas for "Work sharing calms economic waves" article
    To: ibjedit@ibj.com 3/02/2015
    Bonjour M. Thomas -
    Merci for your worksharing article. We'll be featuring it in our weekend update tomorrow in the HopeDuJour section near the top of our homepage at Timesizing.com
    We comment on the sentence: "Finally, the state wins by avoiding the secondary job losses—and the accompanying revenue losses—that inevitably result from layoffs." to the effect that "Taxpayers win by incurring a lighter drain on the unemployment insurance fund (and associated taxes) from a lot of people cutting only a couple of hours each compared to cutting even just a few complete full-time 40-hour jobs, with a few of those jobs possibly never replaced and some of those layoffees never rehired and forced onto welfare or disability, or beyond that, into homelessness or prison - all involving serious money from, or debt onto, taxpayers."
    We'll also comment on: "Since World War II, economic expansions have lasted an average of 58 months—the last three have lasted 95 months." We think there may be a "coincidental" loosening of the definition of 'expansion' or tightening of the definition of 'recession' to explain these last three oddly lengthy 'expansions' - something about much more easily satisfying the definition of 'employed' in the mid-1990s by accepting even 1-2 hours of employment a week as 'employed' on the same level as full time.
    It would be interesting to crunch the figures and see if today's definition(s) would parse the Great Depression of 1929-1941 into two No Problem! recessions with a two-year recovery 1936-37, when their-defined unemployment jumped down from their 20.1% down to their 16.9% and then 14.3, but then jumped back up to their 19.0% in 1938. (This was improved by the first national workweek of 44 hours in late 1938, being cut 2hrs/yr for 2 years to 40 in late 1940 before the massive military makework of World War II started revving up in spring 1941 with Lend Lease.)
    And your last sentence: "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." leaves things kinda hanging.
    You say "we are..without a plan to protect jobs." Well, we at Timesizing.com\2ts.htm do have a plan, but it involves a reperception of reality. Your phrasing, "when the next, inevitable, recession hits" implies the comforting perception of a business cycle, a sine wave of things getting worse and better and worse and better, no big deal. We visualize not a cyclical but a 'secular' situation, like a diagonally downward spiral (or more realistically, a complex uncoordinated horde of thousands of simultaneous ones) with each up arc spun as "Recovery!" But actually, by depressing wages with a labor-surplus-deepening kneejerk downsizing response to worksaving technology, we are unsteadily but cumulatively funneling an unlimitedly large percentage of the money supply onto an unlimitedly small percentage of the population who can't possibly spend it (=converting fast-circulating spending power into slow-circulating investing power). In short, we are unsteadily but cumulatively worsening the economy. Third world, here we come.
    Worksharing is an effective but temporary bandaid measure that assumes and depends on a real recovery acoming (and we have a lot of state and foreign worksharing website and news-article links available on timesizing.com/2wksharg.htm). As such, worksharing is a halfway step toward a permanent plan that does not assume or depend on recovery - we call it Timesizing(R) and have registered it to make sure it's always available for use as an intuitively understandable alternative to downsizing.
    Again, thanks for your focus on this mainline of human progress during our lifetimes, for your focus on the deep structure of the economy while everyone else is calling for (deep) 'structural change' with no idea what it is. (And btw, you misspelled Kevin's name - it's Hassett with 2 t's.)
    Keep up the good work! Phil Hyde
    economic design & debugging
    Timesizing.org
    'Trimming the workweek, not the workforce ... & all else along with it.'
    Cambridge/Somerville & Ottawa/Gatineau
    Give us a call if you'd care to discuss any of this: 617-620-6851.

  2. Reykjavík Experiments With Shorter Work Week, Reykjavík Grapevine via grapevine.is
    REYKJAVIK, Iceland - The city of Reykjavík will be making a tentative experiment with a shorter full-time work week for some of their employees.
    As *announced on the city’s website, 25 employees of the Árbær and Grafarholt Social Services centres and 40 employees of Child Protective Services will have their full-time work week reduced from 40 hours to 35 without a reduction in pay. The experiment is to start March 2 and last a year.
    “These workplaces were chosen because they are, more often than not, under a great deal of pressure,” the announcement reads in part. “We believed it appropriate to examine what effects a shorter work week would have on the health, well-being, work environment and service [of the employees].”
    During the course of the experiment, employees will be regularly assessed on their general well-being, while the level of service provided will also be measured. The city points out that public employees in Iceland “work longer work weeks than elsewhere in the European Union. Research shows that longer working hours reduce both productivity and work satisfaction.”
    This assertion is backed up by *OECD data, which shows that Icelanders work seven more hours per week than the Dutch; six more hours per week than the Norwegians, Danes and Germans; and five more hours per week than the French. Furthermore, Iceland has lower productivity than Denmark, Spain, Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Norway – all of which have shorter work weeks.
    Last October, the Pirate Party submitted a bill which proposed shortening the full-time work week from 40 hours to 35. The bill, which has yet to pass, was met with strong opposition from representatives of management.




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