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Timesizing News, May 2015 +Jun.1
[Commentary] ©2015 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Harvard Sq PO Box 117, Cambridge MA 02238 USA 617-623-8080

5/31-6/01/2015 – 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. Working mothers struggle to cope with exam time stress, 6/01 ArabNews.com
    JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia - Women employed in the private sector are finding it increasingly challenging to balance their work obligations and responsibilities toward their children during their examinations, especially for those who are in the final stages of their studies.
    Mothers who work eight hours or more per day are especially struggling to find time to oversee their children’s studies, particularly if they manage their households and cannot afford additional help.
    A number of women working in the private sector have called on the Ministry of Labor to reduce daily working hours during the end-of-year examination period in order to allow them more time to look after their children and help them with their studies.
    Others say they have resorted to requesting annual leave in order to be by their children and support them during this stressful time.
    Maryam Al-Suwad said nurses suffer tremendously during this time of year as they are often required to work up to 10 hours per day.
    “Some private hospitals do not consider the needs of their employees during this period, and I was forced to request my annual leave during the exam period, in turn depriving me of enjoying the leave I deserve at another time.”
    “Sometimes, my request is denied, and I am forced to miss days without pay in order to be there for my kids.”
    Nabeela Hilal called on the Ministry of Labor to reduce working hours and facilitate leave entitlements, as well as establish nurseries for children and newborns at women’s work sites.
    Maryam Al-Hameed, a government clinic employee, agreed, noting that long working hours prevent her from being able to monitor and help her children during their exams, especially as she often works from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is also responsible for taking care of household chores.
    Social worker Kausar Ismail warned mothers about becoming a source of stress to their children by focusing excessively on exams, noting that this may be counterproductive to their success.
    She advised mothers not to provide their children with caffeinated and stimulating beverages to keep them awake longer hours, as lack of sleep can cause major concentration problems in children and lead to failure. She also encouraged women to organize their time as much as possible and appeal to neighbors or relatives during this time for support.
    Ismail also warned mothers about putting too much pressure on their children during their exams, and to provide an appropriate and calm environment with enough lighting and ventilation in order to reduce fatigue and help them study and focus.

  2. 3-month midday break from June 15, continues during Ramadan - Employers are obliged to provide cold drinking water, salt, lemon, fresh salads and other necessities to workers, 6/01 (early pickup on 5/31) Emirates 24/7 News via emirates247.com
    ABU DHABI, UAE - The Ministry of Labour on Sunday announced the decision to introduce the midday break for UAE labourers, prohibiting them from working under direct sunlight between 12:30pm and 3:00pm for three months, from 15th June till 15th September.
    Saqr Ghobash, Minister of Labour, stated that the working hours during the period, divided into two -- morning and night shifts -- can have an 8 hour span,

    [but may tend to have less, considering the overall 11-hour span that results? Hey if workweeks can be adjusted for religious holidays, why not for rising levels of worksaving technology as transmitted through unemployment rates, or better, comprehensive dependency rates that include all adults dependent on the public purse.]
    and in case the labourers were asked to work more, then they must be compensated for overtime as per the laws. The ruling also [re]quires employers to post a clear schedule of the daily working hours during the midday break period, apart from providing shelter to the labourers during rest hours.
    Maher Al Obed, Assistant Undersecretary for the Inspectional Affairs at the Ministry, in a conference held to make the announcement, stated that "the ruling, which has been running (during such hot days) for 11 continuous years, was launched to promote health and safety precautions while on duty, in accordance with international standards."
    "This is considered one of the most prominent and important preventive measures to protect workers from the risk of working under direct sunlight in extreme high temperatures," he said.
    He pointed out that the ministry has formed 18 squads to monitor compliance across the nation during the midday break period, and will also distribute awareness leaflets to both employers and labourers to promote awareness.
    "We seek to launch over 60,000 inspectional visits, and 20,000 visits aimed only at spreading the message. These will start on Monday (June 1st) across the country and thousands of flyers in 10 different languages will be distributed," he said.
    The midday break, Al Obed pointed out, is part of many other initiatives undertaken by several government and private institutions in partnership with the Ministry of Labour, and mentioned in particular free medical examinations for workers and offering them guidance to protect them against dangers in general.
    "Initiatives are also undertaken by many members of the community who distribute cold water and refreshments to the labourers on duty, thus embodying the values of compassion and solidarity in the UAE society."
    Referring to punitive part, Al Obed said violators will be fined AED5,000 per worker found working during the break, and up to Dh50,000 if the issue involved a number of workers. "The company’s profile will be forwarded by the inspections department to the Minister’s office where the minister might consider temporarily stopping the entity plus reducing its classification level," he said.
    Last year’s statistics have shown compliance with the midday break rule across the nation reaching 95.5 per cent, Al Obed said, adding that the numbers clearly underscore that most companies respect the decision and abide with the UAE labour laws.
    "The ministry will take note of any observations made by the public if they found labourers working during the period. They can report through the toll-free number 800665 or by filing a report using the free MOL smartphones app," he said.
    It was mentioned that the minister took note of some exceptional cases that require continuation of work during this midday period due to technical reasons, but specified that even in such cases, employers are obliged to provide cold drinking water, safety tools and materials, salt, lemon, fresh salads and all necessities that have been approved for use by health authorities in the country.
    Employers are also required to provide first aid kits in the workplace and means of appropriate cooling systems and umbrellas to protect from direct sunlight.
    Works excluded from working hours ban include work on mix asphalt poured concretes if it is impossible to implement or supplement the necessary work in one day or doing work to prevent expected danger or reparation or damage or malfunction or loss and also emergency work, including cutting lines, water supply, sewerage, electricity and cutting off traffic or blocking public roads in addition to cut gas pipelines or petroleum flow.
    "During Ramadan, our teams will still go around and inspect working sites during the midday break, as the timings during the Holy Month will stay the same and will not be changed," he added.
    Employers are also required to provide first aid kits in the workplace and means of appropriate cooling systems and protecting umbrellas from direct sunlight.
    Works excluded from banned working hours include work on mix asphalt poured concretes if it is impossible to implement or supplemented the necessary work in one day or doing work to prevent expected danger or reparation or damage or malfunction or loss and also emergency work, including cutting lines, water supply, sewerage, electricity and cut off traffic or blocking public roads in addition to cut gas pipelines or petroleum.
    "During Ramadan our teams will still go around and inspect those working site during the midday break, as the timings during the holy month will stay the same and will not be changed," he added.

5/30/2015 – 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. KCK schools lays off workers as part of budget cuts, by Jonathan Carter & DeAnn Smith, KCTV 5 News Kansas City via kctv5.com
    KANSAS CITY, Kans. [KCK], USA - As the Kansas Legislature continues to struggle to come up with a tax plan, some area school districts are slashing their budgets due to state cuts.
    The KCK School District is laying off workers, implementing furloughs and cutting all school and department budgets by 10 percent. Other cuts are also being made.
    Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican who was re-elected in November, maintains the education fund cuts were necessary to keep the state solvent.
    [Brownback has triggered the biggest world experiment on the Laffer Law = cut taxes and you'll actually get more tax revenues, and what did we find out? Laffer was a laugh, now turned into a tragedy in Kansas.]
    Many educators and some parents say that students are the victims.
    "Our legislators have still not made decisions to balance the state budget," KCK Superintendent Cynthia Lane said. "We know that schools are 52 percent of our state budget. So if they don't prioritize education as the number one thing that should be funded I'm fearful of what's next for our public schools."
    Lane and other district officials said they are facing tough choices that will create "real pain."
    KCK is looking at cutting more than $6 million in next year's budget including spending $350,000 less on textbooks. All year-round employees will have to take four furlough days.
    [Better furloughs than firings, timesizing than downsizing!]
    The chief of human resources officer position was eliminated along with 30 assessment manager positions, whose duties included looking for ways to use test results to drive academic improvement.
    "We have cut more than $50 million in the past seven years and there is no longer any fat left to be cut," Lane said. "We are forced to make cuts to things that really matter to our work."
    "The state is failing its constitutional obligation to provide a suitable education for all students," Lane said. "The decisions being made in Topeka will impact the lives of children in Kansas for generations to come. I pray that legislators will decide to do the right thing, and provide sufficient support for public schools across the state of Kansas."
    State Sen. David Haley, D-KCK, said the school district is correct to blame the Republican-led Legislature.
    "Elections have implications," Haley said. "We have a governor and we have a Legislature that could not care less about the quality of education."

  2. Health workers say ‘non’ as 35-hour week takes blame for France’s problems - Productivity is better [in France] than in Germany or Britain, and flexible arrangements are common, but still the working week is seen as the cause of France’s "problems" [our quotes], by Kim Willsher Paris, The Manchester Guardian via theguardian.com
    PARIS, France - Nurse Cécile Ngoue cannot stop and talk, she insists, or she will be late for her shift after attending a demonstration against reforms to working hours in French hospitals.
    French health service workers like 52-year-old Ngoue have taken to the streets in recent days to protest against changes to the 35-hour working week, viewed outside France as totemic of the country’s rigid employment laws.
    Ngoue, dressed in her uniform whites, stops all the same, and says: “We’re not lazy and we’re not opposing reform. We’re just asking for a little humanity in these changes. Everyone expects us to make sacrifices, but what about those higher up? We’re the wrong target, but the usual target. Like everyone else, we want time to rest and spend with our families. The problem isn’t the number of hours: it’s a lack of staff. We cannot work until we drop.”
    Nothing divides France like the 35-hour week, or to give its correct name, the loi Aubry, after Martine Aubry, the Socialist minister who pushed it through in 2000 when she was part of a centre-left government “cohabiting” – sharing power – with a centre-right president.
    [Uh no, it was voted-in in 1997 when unemployment reached 12.6% but implementation kept being put off till 2000 when it was applied to all "large" companies of over 20 employees and 2001 when it was applied to all small companies AND government(!), yield an 8.6% unemployment rate in spring before the US-led recession hit France. Four hours cut from the 1983-97 39-hour workweek, 4% cut from the unemployment rate, same 1% per hourcut result that the USA got 1938-40 when it established a 44-hour workweek and cut it two hours a year for two years, yielding the 40-hour workweek in 1940.]
    When the centre-right controlled France between 2002 and 2012, it moaned about and tinkered with the 35-hour law, but did not repeal it. Easings and adjustments – what the French call détricotage, or unravelling – now mean companies can negotiate, for example, for working time to be calculated not weekly but annually – at just over 1,600 hours a year.
    Les 35 heures has become the scapegoat for all the country’s economic woes. France’s neighbours regard the rule with a mix of scorn and envy, as evidence of supposed Gallic laziness. But that overlooks the fact that France’s hourly production figures are higher than Britain’s or Germany’s.

    [And France has climbed above Britain in GDP in recent years. So to UK PM David Cameron & his chorus of anglophony clowns - "People who live in glass houses...!"]
    As the law has been loosened, companies have taken a flexible approach to the 35-hour week, paying overtime at higher rates, say. As a result, the “actual” hours worked have crept up: by 2012, state researchers found, the average number of hours worked by full-time staff in France was 39.5.At some companies, such as EDF, which is 85% state-owned, staff have it written into their contracts that they can claim between 27 and 31 days on top of the 27 days’ paid annual leave. A deal signed by EDF with staff in 1999, as the 35-hour working week came into effect, allowed some staff to work a 32-hour week. In a report in 2013 the French state auditors noted that the average number of hours worked by staff at EDF was 1,570 hours a year, well below the 1,607 hours a year expected of a full-time post according to the Code du travail. EDF is trying to buy out this privilege in return for longer hours.
    President François Hollande and his socialist government, led by Manuel Valls, have repeated their commitment to les 35 heures.
    But is France to be congratulated for creating work-life balance for its citizens, or criticised because it cannot afford such a luxury at the height of a global economic crisis? The arguments rage – and les 35 heures remain.
    Nobody denies France’s labour market has problems: stubbornly high unemployment [so cut the workweek further! and quit assuming that chronic overtime is going to convert itself into training & jobs! - there's nothing permanent about any workweek however "short" as long as more worksaving technology in being introduced]; paltry growth; stifling and often incomprehensible set of employment laws (the latest edition reportedly runs to 3,689 pages); high social security charges; and complicated hire-and-fire rules that mean French employers prefer precarious short-term contracts over stable jobs.
    However, Eric Heyer, a director at the Observatoire français des conjonctures économiques thinktank, says it is unfair for critics to fixate on the 35-hour law: “It’s not just false, but ridiculous to blame the 35-hour week for all France’s economic woes. If you look at the macroeconomics, there was no sudden drop in production or the economy following the introduction of the 35-hour week, and at the time France’s economy held out rather well. It’s not so great now, but that’s not the fault of the loi Aubry.”
    The law was aimed at increasing employment: the thinking was that if weekly hours were reduced, companies would have to engage more staff. Economists still disagree on whether this actually happened.
    [But unemployment went from 12.6% in 1997 when it was voted in to 8.6% in 2001 when it was finally fully implemented and before the US-led recession hit France and sent unemployment back up to 10-point-something.]
    Heyer cites official figures showing the law created 350,000 new jobs. This is far short of the hoped-for 2m new jobs vaunted by its supporters, he says, “but it’s not nothing”.
    He added: “The 35-hour week was the subject of enormous negotiations at the time it was brought in. All those who negotiated and took part in the discussions benefited. It was a win-win situation for employers and employees. The employees saw their working time go down without a drop in pay, and companies introduced the principle of counting working time over a year.”
    The changes that brought health workers on to the streets last week, it is worth noting, do not involve requiring staff [to] put in more than 35 hours a week, but they would limit generous overtime payments (that mean the French health service now owes its staff €75m in unpaid hours), by introducing longer shifts, with more days off in between.
    “It was not initially anticipated that the 35-hour week would be applied to hospitals,” Heyer said. “Hospitals are a regulated sector and couldn’t create new jobs. Besides, the number of new nurses is limited by the numbers coming out of medical schools, which is also regulated. Hospitals needed 5,000 new workers and found there were only 3,200 – so there’s a shortage.”
    [So you cushion them in with transitional 35-hour and nurse-limit exemptions! What's the big deal?]
    Heyer said: “The problem is that when someone is asked to work more than 35 hours – and they have the right to say no – the 36th hour and those after are paid at almost 25% more. This has created a huge bill. Obviously it needs rethinking.”
    Even the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, never knowingly overly left-leaning, does not have a particular problem with the 35-hour week.
    [The 35-hour week is no private preserve of the left. The right-of-center UDF was cutting hours on a voluntary basis in 1995-96 in the Loi Robien. In the U.S., the Republicans championed shorter hours for their first 75 years. A whole series of smart CEOs have championed shorter hours. It's "neither left nor right but out in front"! Les 35 heures is NOT LEFT-leaning. If anything, it's right-leaning except when the right starts getting radical and stupid as today instead of its tradition of conservative and smart.]
    Nicola Brandt, an OECD senior economist, told the Observer: “The problem with France’s labour market is a combination of factors. There are relatively high non-wage costs, including social contributions, and a high minimum wage. There’s high unemployment among older workers and young ones.
    [The high non-wage costs are a key support for France's domestic consumer spending. The high minimum wage is a major cause of high unemployment among young would-be workers. The failure to designedly convert chronic overtime into OT-targeted training and hiring plus the failure to adjust les 35 heures LOWER are the causes of the high unemployment in general. This is sooo obvious to us mavericks, "hated autodidacts" (Kindleberger) and extraterrestrials. This is all so *obvious. Why can't "experts" SEE IT with all their praise for "thinking outside the box"?!]
    “We might argue about the methodology used to establish the benefits of a 35-hour week, but it didn’t make that much difference and it’s not the single biggest issue in the French employment market. In most cases, the employees and employers negotiate and adjust the law to suit their needs. If France went back to a 39- or 40-hour week, I’m not sure it would make much difference."
    [Sure it would, a bad difference - unemployment would quickly climb back up to 1997's pre-35heures 12.6% and more, wages and spending would sink, more of the national income would funnel to the richest tiny population and effectively go out of circulation, and France would have to "reinvent the wheel" and hopefully keep the workweek adjustable against unemployment this time and implement vigorous conversion of chronic overtime into hiring + training whenever needed instead of just assuming it'll happen automatically.]

5/29/2015 – 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. Granite City Steel will remain operating, by Jim Gallagher jgallagher@post-dispatch.com, St. Louis Post-Despatch via STLtoday.com
    GRANITE CITY, Illin., USA - The Metro East dodged a major economic blow Thursday with the news that U.S. Steel won’t shut its Granite City Works or lay off 2,000 workers.
    The Pittsburgh-based steel giant in March gave a 60-day warning that it planned to close the mill until the flagging demand for steel revived. In a surprise reversal, the company confirmed Thursday that only 80 jobs will go. The mill will continue to operate but at a lower production rate.
    U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, revealed the change of plans Thursday. He said U.S. Steel gave him no reason for its change of heart.
    Bost is pushing a measure in Congress that would make it easier and quicker for American steelmakers to win anti-dumping tariffs against foreign competitors — a key goal of U.S. Steel.
    U.S. Steel said the decision to keep the plant open was “based on market conditions.” Spokeswoman Sarah Casella said she couldn’t speculate about whether more cutbacks might be needed in the future. “For right now, this is where we’re at,” she said.
    Production will continue at one of two blast furnaces at the mill. The other was previously closed for the installation of a new caster.
    Most steel produced at the plant is shipped to a Texas mill where it is made into pipe for the oil and gas business. A sharp drop in oil prices beginning last year led to a steep decline in oil drilling and falling demand for pipe.
    The mill also makes steel for appliances and other uses.
    “I have not had any indication that demand for energy tubular products is picking back up,” said Andrew Lane, an analyst at Morningstar in Chicago. Nor has he seen a rise in demand for other products made with Granite City’s steel.
    Casella would not comment on the current trend in orders.
    U.S. Steel in March issued layoff warning notices to its 2,080 workers. That advance notice, required by law for mass layoffs, would have become effective this week. At the time, the company blamed rising steel imports for the closure decision.
    Lane noted that imported steel volume has declined for three months in a row, but remains “very high” by historical standards.
    The news was a relief to mill workers, but they’re not feeling secure. Many are already on layoff, said Paul Morris, a mill worker for 19 years. U.S. Steel had been cutting work hours even before the March announcement. “I’m keeping my fingers crossed. That’s all I can do,” he said.
    [No it isn't. He can do more - see next paragraph.]
    “We do have orders,” said Morris, who is getting overtime at his job in the shipping department. “I don’t like that when people are on layoff.”
    [Then maybe he should put his overtime where his mouth is and suggest his boss rehire a layoffee part-time to do the extra work he's monopolizing on overtime! Some workers are labor's own worst enemy.]
    U.S. Steel is installing a more efficient and capable caster at one of the plant’s blast furnaces. A caster shapes newly made steel, and workers hope it will prompt U.S. Steel to move more work to Granite City. The company has mills in Texas, Alabama, Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
    Granite City grew up around its steel mill.
    “It’s everything to this town,” said Wayne Bailey, who manages the bar at Eddie’s Bar and Grill. “There is no doubt. Without that mill, half of these places will close,” he said as he ate lunch at Petri’s Cafe in Granite City’s little downtown.
    If the mill closed, many of the customers at Eddie’s would stop coming. “I might be out of a job,” Bailey said.
    Local trucking firms and suppliers also depend on the Granite City Works.
    The Granite City mill was idled for six months beginning in December 2008. At that time, the city learned that 39 percent of its workforce lived in and near Granite City.
    Last week, U.S. Steel CEO Mario Longhi told Reuters he was close to filing several anti-dumping complaints with U.S. authorities. Such complaints generally allege that foreign steelmakers are selling steel in the U.S. at less than the cost of producing it.
    Bost and Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, hope to attach an amendment to a trade bill to make such cases easier to prove. American steelmakers would no longer have to prove they’ve been damaged, he said, only that the market had been flooded with unfairly priced steel.
    He said the amendment would also speed up the process. The last round of complaints took three years to resolve, he said, and American mills were at the point of closing when a decision was made.
    “It’s as if your house is on fire, and you can’t call the fire department until your house has burned down,” he said.
    Steel imports to the U.S. rose 38 percent in 2014 versus 2013.

  2. Hospital staff in Paris strike over working hours reform, AP via Canadian Press 24 via cp24.com
    Technicians and nurses demonstrate in Paris, France, Thursday May 28, 2015, outside the headquarters of Paris’ regional hospital authority... (photo caption)
    PARIS, France -- Thousands of doctors, nurses and other hospital personnel are demonstrating in central Paris to protest planned working-hours changes they say will result in more burnout and worse patient care.
    Technicians in white lab coats and nurses wearing green scrubs gathered in the street outside the headquarters of Paris' regional hospital authority, which oversees 95,000 employees and 38 hospitals. Banners with slogans like "Taking away our rights never made the economy grow" lined the roadway near the city's Renaissance-style city hall.
    The reform aims to save 20 million euros ($22 million) annually by renegotiating hospital staffs' working-hours agreements. Protester Sabrina Benmesbah, a cardiac nurse at Lariboisiere hospital, said the reform would result in less time off for staff and worse care for patients.

5/28/2015 – 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. Sonoma County Library Hours Cut Back 25% While Prison Spending Skyrockets, by Jonathan Greenberg, SonomaIndependent.org via Huff Post San Francisco via huffingtonpost.com
    SONOMA, Calif., USA - It has been a phenomenal year for Sonoma County's surging economy. Joblessness is below 5%, home values are soaring, and the County's treasury has been fattened by a record surplus of $13.5 million. Yet for the new fiscal year starting this July, the County's Board of Supervisors are refusing to spend just $1.2 million of this surplus to restore a 25% cutback in library hours initiated four years ago during the recession.
    [At least they cut hours, not jobs = timesizing not downsizing!]
    This cutback caused libraries to close Mondays for the first time in a century, leaving 100,000 seniors, teens, children and patrons locked out of this vital community resource.
    Meanwhile, during the same four-year period, despite a decline in crime, County spending on prisons and probation has increased by $28 million, up 23%.
    Sonoma County, known as "Wine Country," has a reputation as a politically progressive community that values education and public resources. Yet despite ever increasing usage, the County's 11 major libraries are now open only 40 hours per week, compared to 52 hours four years ago, and 70 hours in 1981 (when the County was far less prosperous and far more Republican).
    Sonoma County now spends just $34 per capita on libraries. That's just half of what Napa and Marin County spend, and barely one-quarter of the $124 per capita that San Francisco spends.
    More than 1,100 citizens, including many parents, grandparents and educators, have signed a SonomaIndependent.org petition urging Supervisors to take $1.2 million from a projected $6 million that is about to be added to a $32 million rainy day reserve fund, and use it to restore Monday openings. More than 120 eloquent expressions of support from the petition were published as a special Sonoma Independent feature this week. Yet to date, none of the five elected members of the Board of Supervisors (Suasan Gorin, Shirlee Zane, David Rabbitt, Efren Carrillo, and James Gore), each paid about $150,000 annually to oversee the County's $1.4 billion budget, has said that he or she will allocate any funds to restore cutback hours.
    County Supervisors and their staffers argue that there is no money available to restore library hours, and that this is not their responsibility because a dedicated parcel tax funds our libraries. But there is nothing to stop the Supervisors from adding funding for libraries for the next few years, until a revenue measure can provide more permanent funding. During the past few years, when dedicated funding has fallen short for other services, like road repair ($8 million extra annually), a sixth marijuana "eradication" officer for the sheriff's department, or hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional health program marketing for seniors, Sonoma County's Supervisors have allocated money from the general fund during budget season.
    During a recent interview with the Sonoma Independent, Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin, Chair of the Board, was asked whether any services provided by the County that served so many citizens (100,000 regular users) had been as severely reduced by the recession and then not restored during the past few years. She replied, "So many things have not been restored. Staffing levels...the appropriate amount of staff in construction, code enforcement, you name it and it's had a cutback."
    Gorin said, "I feel and share your passion for libraries. And yet I don't know how we're going to get there. We have a lot of needs. We need to make an ongoing commitment to roads. We need to fund some of the recommendations of the community enforcement task force. We need to make a commitment, I think, to boost wages to $15 per hour, or as far as we can get it. And there's a list there."
    Dr. Silvano Senn, a Sebastopol-based dentist and strong library supporter, believes that Supervisor Gorin is "just touting the party line. He observes that libraries have now become "our County's poor stepchild, whom they kick to the curb all the time." Senn believes that, "Libraries are so important to any vibrant, growing community. From the standpoint of youth and the aged, it's a place they can go and learn without any expenditure. To defund libraries is to defund the future. It's defunding people's minds, defunding the community that comes together to talk. To not bring them up to par at least is almost an inhumane act."
    Linda Haynes, of Santa Rosa, wrote on a Restore Library Hours petition that supervisors were mis-prioritizing her tax dollars. "Please stop throwing money at the un-winnable fight against marijuana growers and re-direct those funds toward the public library system."
    Haynes echoed a popular sentiment. As the Sonoma Independent's graph on the top of this page shows, during the four years since the Monday closures in 2011, the total Sonoma County budget, when adjusted for inflation of 5%, has increased by 16%. During this same period, inflation adjusted library spending decreased by 3%. Meanwhile, despite declining crime rates, inflation-adjusted spending on prisons and probation during the same period has increased 23% -- by $28 million annually. Just 5% of that increase alone would have funded Monday library openings.
    The result of the Monday and evening closures brought on by the largest funding crisis in the history of Sonoma county's libraries has been that this most vital public resource has locked its doors on tens of thousands of toddlers, teens, parents, seniors and patrons, who had relied on regular library service. Library visits, which, with free Internet service, DVD lending, and a free, safe space for all, had held steady until the cutbacks, plummeted.
    Fewer hours has translated into a 22% reduction in visits, meaning 600,000 fewer trips to the library each year. Cutback hours has created lines for computer usage, and reduced services for the more than 100,000 citizens who use the County libraries.
    "I have a simple request for the Board of Supervisors, one for which there is crying general need," says local historian Frank Baumgardner, author of Blood Will Tell: Divvying Up Early California. "Please allocate a moderate outlay of $1.2 million for the Sonoma County Public Library to come from the general fund. As the Library has had to cut its hours for four long years, it sorely needs this money to reopen its doors on Mondays."

  2. Kansas City, Kan. post office plans to cut hours, save money, by Terra Hall, KSHB 41 Kansas CIty via kshb.com
    KANSAS CITY, Kans., USA - More changes are coming to a metro post office. While the United States Postal Service says they're a necessity, customers say they're an inconvenience.
    Starting June 20, the Argentine post office in Kansas City, Kan. will operate three hours a day during the week.
    That's right, the post office will do business 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Monday through Friday. Need stamps on a Saturday? Well, you're out of luck -- the Argentine post office will be closed on weekends.

    [At least if they cut hours, they'll cut fewer jobs = more timesizing, less downsizing!]
    "It's going to be a little bit hard for us to make it in time before they close the doors," said Maria Oropeza, a Kansas City, Kan. resident who uses the Argentine post office. "I'm still old fashioned. I like to come to the post office to do my mailings. So it'll be a timing thing."
    The Argentine post office is one of thousands across the nation affected by these U.S. Postal Service changes. Rather than shuttering doors, the USPS says it's cutting routes and reducing hours to save money.
    Twana Barber with corporate communications for USPS said in a statement:
    "In May 2012, Post Plan was announced as a plan to realign retail window hours based on customer use in more than 13,000 Post Offices around the country. The Postal Service completed this plan in January.
    • 3,009 offices are now 6-hour offices
    • 4,900 offices are now 4-hour offices
    • 1,257 offices are now 2-hour offices
    "Many offices maintained their hours or increased them based on workload."
    Terra Hall can be reached at terra.hall@kshb.com .

5/27/2015 – 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. New strike at AP-HP: A [massive] movement to defend the 35-hour workweek, by A.Ch., (5/28 early pickup) AFP via 20minutes.fr
    PARIS, France - Less SWT [shorter worktime] for nurses, the proposed 35-hour workweek "reform" [our quotes] of the general manager of the Assistance publique-Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP = Public Assistance-Parisian Hospitals) Martin Hirsch, angered unions, which demanded "retraction, pure and simple." They called the hospital staff to a "massive" strike this Thursday in the Parisian hospitals, a week after the first strike action, in which 50% of the employees had participated according to the unions, 34% according to management. A rally will be held outside the headquarters of AP-HP starting at 11am.
    Negotiations on the proposed worktime reorganization of the 75,000 staff (excluding doctors) of the 38 AP-HP hospitals had initially been planned for this Thursday. "Certainly we will receive the unions Thursday" assured the AP-HP directorship on its side. If the general director "is not really hearing us, we have planned to go further and call upon his superiors. It is certainly Marisol Touraine [Minister of Social Affairs & Health] who is giving these directions to Mr. Hirsch," said Olivier Youinou (Health South Union).
    Decrease the accumulation of untaken SWT
    Due to lack of staff, time off not taken accumulates in time savings accounts, representing 74.7 million euros at the end of 2014, according to the directorship. A reduction in daily time slots [ie: off days?] would allow the SWT to diminish. But unions oppose their removal, in terms of suppressing exceptional days granted for family events or seniority, and an increased workload, when a number of employees are already making 35-hour overruns.
    For the boss of the AP-HP, a reorganization is needed to adapt to new management methods (notably with the development of ambulatory surgery), to improve working conditions [LOL] and preserve more than 4,000 jobs [the usual layoff threat]: a "reform" [ours] that would save 20 million euros, according to AP-HP. But unions, if they admit the idea of revisiting the basic organization of work at all, refuse whatever costs may associated with new reductions of resources.
    "We'll be breathing down his neck"
    On Tuesday, AP-HP emphasized that the dialogue was "not completely broken." "The ball is in the court of the unions" after the new directorship proposals notably offering guarantees on the level and quality of employment, with the "retention of personnel at the bedside of the sick," but also a new wave of contract worker tenure and better access to housing.
    [Hardly reassuring.]
    "This is not about housing or anything other than the withdrawal of his proposal. Martin Hirsch must respond to the anger that is growing. He opened a Pandora's box. He is becoming more and more isolated. If he needs a booster shot, he will get it this Thursday. One hopes that this will help him develop the necessary antibodies," says the Health South delegate. "We will be breathing down his neck. The federation of unions awaits his invitation if he claims to be ready to negotiate. That depends on him," he says.
    "All unions are in favor of a bracing mobilization. We want the withdrawal of the proposal and an escalation of the power struggle. We shall see at what point Mr. Hirsch wishes to cut to negotiation," reasserts Marianne Journiac of the CGT [Confédération générale du travail = General Confederation of Work]. In a statement of personal support, FO [Force Ouvrière = Worker Power] reaffirms that "he should know not to be stubborn." For his part, Martin Hirsch on Wednesday has assured the AFP [Agence France-Presse] that social debate was "more than ever" his favorite warhorse.

  2. Russian Officials Call for Women to Work Fewer Hours, (5/26 late pickup) TheMoscowTimes.com
    MOSCOW, Russia - Two high-ranking Russian officials have called for women to work shorter days than men on Fridays to allow them more time to put their domestic affairs in order, a news report said Tuesday.
    "It goes without saying that for women, a tough working schedule is difficult. A flexible schedule would therefore be absolute/ly appropriate," Vladimir Ryazansky, who heads the Federation Council Committee on Social Policy, told Russian News Service.
    [In the U.S. in the 1912 presidential campaign against Taft (Repub.) and Wilson (Dem.), Teddy Roosevelt's new Progressive "Bull Moose" Party championed a shorter (40-hr vs. then-standard 48 or 54) workweek in continuous-production industries and ... for women.]
    Ryazansky added in the report that his committee was ready to recommend cutting the working day for women on Fridays — an idea that was supported by Vladimir Slepak, who heads the advisory Committee on Social Policy, Labor Relations and Life Quality of Citizens of the Public Chamber, a state organization that oversees Russia's legislative bodies.
    "Today women — especially those with large families — need more time to provide a proper education and to address their domestic issues. All the more in times of crisis, with rising food prices etc," he was cited as saying by Russian News Service.

    "If we make such a decision [to reduce the working day for women on Fridays] … then many problems will be solved," he added, noting that he personally supported the idea and would be willing to appear before the Public Chamber with such an initiative.
    Slepak also said he would be willing to send the initiative for consideration by the upper and lower chambers of the Russian parliament — the State Duma and the Federation Council, respectively — because "Russian families need more support."
    "Let this [support] be extra time, but [time] that will be dedicated to the family, to children," he was cited as saying by Russian News Service.
    The initiative comes after lawmakers in the Kemerovo region and the Buryatia republic earlier this month introduced reduced working hours for female public sector workers on Fridays, the report said.

5/26/2015 – 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. EDF's 10-week holiday and the fight against France's 35-hour week - Francois Hollande's government is gradually moving away from one-size-fits-all socialism, by Rachel Savage [ergo 'savage capitalism'?), ManagementToday.co.uk
    [Worktime balancing is no special preserve of socialists. In fact, it has a long conservative-Republican history, because its single all-sufficient regulation allows dismantling of almost all other regulations and government programs, since most of them exist to hide or offset high unemployment, and worktime balancing is the intelligent substitute for all those too-little too-late makework and income-support programs, a category in which proliferating American jails and prisons may be placed.]
    TEDDINGTON, Lond., UK - Workers at EDF [Électricité de France], France’s state-owned energy company, get a 10-week holiday. You heard that right – around 30,000 white-collar employees across the pond get almost double the UK’s statutory paid leave. Jammy croissants.
    [Do we detect a glance of the green-eyed monster here? "Jalousieee, Nous avons trop de jalousieee..." to the tune of "Jea-lou-sy, Night&day you tor-ture me..."]
    But that cushy deal could be under threat, as debate swells in France about the strictures of the infamous 35-hour working week, introduced back in 1998.
    [But not fully implemented till Jan/2001 with the 4-hour cut in the French workweek (39 to 35 hours) matched by a 4% drop in unemployment (12.6% in 1997 when 35hrs voted in to 8.6% in 2001 before the US-led recession hit France). Morons the world over seem to think technological productivity's whole purpose is just to lay off more potential customers for the products because they regard 35 hours as so "infamous." You want infamous? The US Senate passed a THIRTY-hour workweek back in 1933 and if they'd gone with that sharework approach, they'd have solved the Depression faster than Hitler with his military makework and avoided their current Flailing Around In Tarpits. Better to be a productive Frog with a life and time to enjoy it than a British Toad messing about in boats, for example, busily enviously self-righteously rearranging the deckchairs on their latest vaunted Titanic. Note the US dropped the "strictures" on its banks and triggered the 2008 crisis. Canada did not drop the strictures on its banks and had no crisis.]
    EDF has given employees who work longer hours extra holiday in recompense since 1999, but is negotiating with unions to bring hours into line with the rest of the world, according to the FT.
    EDF staff work an average 39.5 hours a week and get an extra 23 days off a year, on top of their usual 27. The company is dangling a one-off payment of €10,000 (£7,100) in front of employees to persuade them to ditch that, while execs earning an average of €51,600 can also opt into a payrise of 4-6%.
    [Exchanging job-secure free time for money is a surefire trip to coagulated human worktime, floods of jobseekers, falling wages and markets, and nationwide recession. "The company" is being stupid and so are employees. Of the two historic goals of labor, higher pay and shorter hours, if you can just get one and it's higher pay, you wind up with neither because you're just tacking an artificially high price on a surplus commodity, YOU, but if you can only get one and it's shorter hours, you wind up with both because you're harnessing market forces to do what they do = raise the price of a scarce commodity, YOU. All the naive employees who take the one-off bait and ditch their time off are dooming themselves, all the rest of today's workforce, and all their descendents until they get smart again, fight management's economy-killing shortsightedness and retain their short worktime and not-in-surplus labor-supply situation.]
    ‘We are no longer in the same market as in 1999,’ EDF’s group strategy director Philippe Torrion wrote to employees earlier this month, according to the FT. ‘It is also a question of credibility. We cannot be out of step with the world.’
    [You're not. The whole world is being forced to shorter hours just to have jobs with earnings to provide the spending power to buy all the productivity! Just google 35-hours and see all the job openings in the UK and the US! And when did beingh out of step with the world ever matter to French exceptionalists? Philippe Torrion is a traitor to French exceptionalism. Fire him before he and his workaholism, obsolete in the age of robotics and A.I., trash the French economy!]
    The CFDT union is arguing staff should be compensated staff [sic] to the tune of €80,000 and it’s not clear yet where the final deal will end up. But it’s a sign of a changing debate in France, particularly as the state [betraying its base and its future, as in the US and the UK] is increasingly on the side of [short-sighted] employers. For example, the socialist government is trying to extend the working hours of around 75,000 staff in 38 hospitals with paying them extra, a move which prompted 5,000 to go on strike last week.
    [The Puritan work ethic poisons France, even the erstwhile representatives of labor!]
    But despite the fabled 35-hour week ["fabled"? = sarcastic Puritanism, now spewed by Brits who've lost sight of the basic freedom, free time!], French full-time workers actually work an average of 39.1 hrs/wk, according to Eurostat data, more than 6 other countries. They do get more holiday for that – the 1,661-hour French working year is the 2nd-lowest in the EU, ahead of the Finns on 1,648 hours.
    EU hours usually worked per week (full-time): Eurostat, bar graph
    http://www.managementtoday.co.uk/news/1348648/edfs-10-week-holiday-fight-against-frances-35-hour-week/   [scan down]
    [In the age of robotics and artificial intelligence, this is sort of an intelligence indicator, with smarter, freer economies on shorter hours at the left (Italy, Ireland, Sweden, Belgium...) and dumber, more slavish economies with longer hours on the right (...Slovenia, Poland, Austria, UK).]
    The UK tops the table on 42.1 hrs/wk [which didn't stop France from recently surpassing the UK in GDP], but the French actually have far higher productivity than we do – and some of the highest in Europe.
    [There's a damning admission. And note that shorter workweeks and longer vacations are the denominator of this statistic: the shorter your worktime, the higher your productivity. You Limeys are gitting yer butts kicked by them Frogsters and just driving down your own productivity with your ain't-got-a-life workaholism.]
    But with a long way for France to go to dig itself out of the economic doldrums [not really: just trim the workweek a little more and spread the work and spending power further], our cross-Channel cousins may well have to spare a few days of their precious leave.
    [Not really, if one of the stories in Mgmt Today has any merit = "It's productivity, stupid"! France has it all over you Morlock Brits in productivity, but only because your 'cross-Channel cousins' have a life and know how to enjoy it. And btw, how many surveys showing that productivity does not automatically drive up wages (and spending and markets) does it take for you utterly wet weeds to start talking about marketable productivity (and then to realize that markets are a weaker link than productivity, because productivity is meaningless if it ain't marketable. Ford, "Let's see you unionize these robots!" - Reuther, "Let's see you sell 'em cars." Perhaps you'd like to go back to the 9-hour workday with India, now you've started losing GDP rank? -]

  2. Cauvery Arts is ruthless: employees - Employees complain against recent memo that orders them to work 9.5 hours without break, by Prasad S Shyam, BangaloreMirror.com
    BANGALORE, India - The employees' union of the state government undertaking Cauvery Arts & Crafts has complained to the labour department and small scale industries minister Satish Jarkiholi about their new 'working hours'. Employees of the two handicrafts showrooms in Jayanagar run by the Karnataka State Handicrafts Development Corporation (KSHDC) are upset with a directive issued on May 21, which states that the two showrooms will function from 10.30 am to 8 pm without even a lunch break. KSHDC has two other showrooms, the oldest one on MG Road and the other in Majestic.
    The union has complained that it is a violation of labour laws, and lunch break for an employee should be specifically mentioned. It also says in the complaint that the maximum work hours should be nine.
    [9½-hour days amid a high-unemployment situation and weak domestic markets? With strategies like this, Indian employers deserve their rep as dismissable perpetuators of a pathetic economy.]
    President of the Cauvery Handicrafts Noukarara Kshemabhivruddhi Sangha, N P Amrutesh, said, "A manager may orally tell employees to take a break for lunch from such and such a time. But technically, you can be reprimanded and action initiated against you for not being in your duty location between 10.30 am and 8 pm. The order goes against all labour laws. It is also insensitive that such an order has been passed in May. The government should be a model employer."
    When a business establishment functions for more than eight hours, employees are required to work in shifts. In case of KSHDC, all its employees are expected to work in the single shift of 9.5 hours. The new working hours are to come into effect from June 1 for the around 25 employees of the two showrooms.
    The union says according to "the KSCE Act, the working hours for an employee are fixed at eight hours per day. In the case of KSHDC, without even assigning additional pay, the workers are asked to work an additional 90 minutes per day".
    What the law says
    As per the Karnataka Shops and Commercial Establishments Act
    *No employee in any establishment shall be required or allowed to work for more than nine hours on any day and forty-eight hours in any week.
    *Where an employee works in any establishment for more than nine hours on any day or for more than forty-eight hours in a week, they shall in respect of such overtime work be entitled to wages at twice the rate of normal wages.
    *The periods of work of any employee in any establishment each day shall be so fixed that no period shall exceed five hours and that no such personnel shall work for more than five hours before they have had an interval of rest of at least one hour.

5/24-25/2015 – 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. Data indicate trend toward shorter work week continues, by M. Ray Perryman, 5/24 Midland Reporter-Telegram via mrt.com
    MIDLAND, Tex., USA - Americans are working fewer hours than in the past and are less likely to hold multiple jobs [because fewer available?], but they still tend to work more hours per year than is the standard in other nations. Although economic conditions can exert an influence over a short period of time, the underlying patterns have been in place for decades. Some of the changes are associated with economic progress, with some positive and some negative implications.
    Major factors in reducing work time are productivity and the ability to produce more goods and services with fewer person-hours. The proliferation of machinery and technology has enabled the same work to be done in fewer hours, and capital investments and other innovations have replaced a portion of the labor in most industries. Some of these industries previously required very long hours (such as some types of agriculture) to produce what can now be accomplished with high-tech, GPS-linked tractors, aerial sprayers and genetically modified crops. Such changes have been going on since the Industrial Revolution, and are the inevitable result of economic advancement.
    During the first half of the 1900s, hours worked per week dropped dramatically, from about 60 to about 40. For the past several decades, the average hours worked per week (for all workers) has been below 40, with men tending to work somewhat more hours on average than women. In fact, women are about twice as likely to work part time as men (26.6 percent compared to 13.4 percent in 2010). As women have moved into the workforce in larger numbers, overall average workweeks have fallen. The most recent data (for April 2015) indicate an average workweek of 34.5 hours, with notable variation among industries (from 26.2 hours per week in leisure and hospitality to 44.3 hours per week in mining and logging).
    Other explanations are also playing a part in the long-term shift toward shorter workweeks. As a society, attitudes about many aspects of work are changing. Recently, I wrote about the fact that students are increasingly less likely to take traditional summer jobs, with a high percentage indicating they don’t want to (and don’t have to) work. The cost of leisure activities has fallen, and a greater number of people can afford to engage in everything from travel to enjoying a movie or TV show on a high-quality flatscreen in the living room. With a greater variety and attractiveness of leisure activities available, the desire to work additional hours is decreased.
    Another shift in the American workweek is a decline in the tendency to hold multiple jobs. According to a report recently released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 6.8 million people in the United States held more than one job in 2013. In 1994, when the total number of workers was 15.9 million lower, about 7.5 million people had more than one job. Despite growth in total jobs, the number of multiple jobholders has been falling. While some people have a perception that individuals with two or more jobs are at the bottom end of the earnings spectrum working frantically, that is certainly not always the case. Actually, the multiple-jobholding rate increases with education.
    There are short-term factors at work in both the number of hours worked and the tendency to take on multiple jobs. During a recession, average workweeks tend to drop as companies cut back production lines in response to slack demand. The business cycle also affects the proportion of people holding multiple jobs, with hard times bumping up the number of individuals making ends meet by putting together several jobs. The effects of the most recent recession can be seen on a graph of the percentage of the workforce holding multiple jobs, but the temporary bump is now gone and we are back on the longstanding trend line.
    The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) tracks average annual hours worked for member nations. The United States tends to fall toward the upper end of the range, with 1,788 annual hours actually worked per worker in 2013. Mexico is highest, with 2,237, followed by Greece and Chile, which also exceed 2,000. At the low end of the spectrum are the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and France, which all come in at less than 1,500. There are many potential explanations for this divergence including cultural norms, industrial concentrations, economic health, the quality of social assistance systems and more.
    It is important to note that it is difficult to measure hours worked precisely. People in salaried positions might be working more than a typical 40 hours; similarly, with technology and the Internet facilitating working from home or elsewhere, the line between “work” and “home” is blurred for many people. A trend toward shorter workweeks for the “right” reasons, such as no longer having to put in as many hours to accomplish the same result, is a good thing. Erosion in the number of hours worked for the “wrong” reasons, such as the millions of people now working part-time because they cannot find full-time jobs, is by contrast a bad thing. At this point in time, improvement in the economy will work to increase average workweeks, but over time, the downward trend is almost certain to continue.
    M. Ray Perryman is President and Chief Executive Officer of The Perryman Group (www.perrymangroup.com).

  2. From the archives: 40 years ago, 5/25/1975 BrechinAdvertiser.co.uk
    BRECHIN, Scotland - Denburn Works may go on to a three-day week as from next week because of a short order book.
    The factory is in the Sidlaw Industries group. Notification has been given to the Brechin work force that it may be necessary to go on to short-time working. Workers will be informed on the Wednesday about the situation for the following week.
    “It may start this month, but it is not absolutely certain,” said a company spokesman.
    The number of staff affected could be up to 150, and the situation will be reviewed form week to week. This it the first time that short time working has threatened Denburn Works for several years.
    Alan J Paterson, a former pupil of Brechin High School, who won the Geography Medal at the University of St. Andrews last year, has this year gained the Walker Trust Award of £100.
    He has also been accepted as a member of the Icelandic Expedition team, sponsored by the Royal Society and led by Dr G. Bolton of the University of East Anglia, which will spend six weeks in Iceland this summer. The team flies to Reykjavik on June 23. Alan will be based in Hofn in East Iceland and will be studying “Structural Morphology of push Moraines”.

5/23/2015 – 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. Our view: Few choices for Bisbee council, Sierra Vista Herald via svherald.com
    BISBEE, Ariz., USA - "Furlough."
    The mention of the word is likely to stir a dust-up in Bisbee these days. The City Council voted this week to adopt a budget for the coming fiscal year that will furlough 62 city employees for either 80 hours or 40 hours, depending on wages. Higher paid employees, $45,000 or more, will miss 10 days from their paycheck, while those who make less, will lose five days.

    Former Bisbee Council Member Ken Budge complained at Tuesday’s meeting that once again the city is asking the employees to take the budget hit.
    But what choices are there for Bisbee?
    Most of the city budget is paid to employees and their pensions. If spending has to be cut, the council had little choice but to point at wages to reach a savings of more than $112,000 in a $26.9 million budget.
    There isn’t an option of raising more money for Bisbee. The city adopted two referendums in 2014 to raise the bed tax and the sales tax. The “new” money from those increases are planned for local road improvements and tourism promotion. Though the additional revenue from the tax increases is desperately needed, the city now has the highest sales tax in Cochise County at 9.6 percent. Increasing the sales tax again would likely have a negative impact on Bisbee’s retail economy.
    The unfortunate choice of those managing city finances was whether to eliminate positions or furlough employees to reach the savings needed to balance the budget.
    The magic number of $112,000 represents less pay for 62 Bisbee employees, or the equivalent of eliminating at least two top city employees making $45,000 or more.
    Next year, the choice might be more difficult.
    Pension payments for city employees, police and firefighters will continue to chew up a sizable portion of the city’s budget and municipal revenues from sales tax, fees and property taxes aren’t expected to increase dramatically within the next year.
    Bisbee has started to get aggressive in its approach to municipal spending, seeking out intergovernmental agreements to eliminate duplication of services being the best example of that effort to be more efficient.
    But council members will likely face the same choice next year when the time comes to balance the budget for Fiscal Year 2017.
    As long as employees are a sizable portion of the city’s spending, it follows that cutting the budget through reducing positions or furloughs for the staff are just about the only option.

  2. Working to death in Japan: health warning over `no overtime` law, (5/24 over dateline) AFP via Zee News via ca-mg6.mail.yahoo.com
    [Overtime pay merely motivates employees to overwork. What's required for the sustainability of an economic system is vigorous conversion of chronic overtime into OT-targeted(&funded?) training and jobs. Without a good overtime design, it doesn't matter how low you set your workweek cap.]
    TOKYO, Japan - Japan`s push to take away overtime [pay] from high-paid workers has critics warning it will aggravate a problem synonymous with the country`s notoriously long working hours -- karoshi, or death from overwork.
    Teruyuki Yamashita knows the risks all too well. The now 53-year-old worked day and night in a senior sales job, made countless overseas business trips, and slept an average of just three hours a night.
    Six years ago, his frantic work pace took a near fatal turn after he collapsed from a subarachnoid haemorrhage, a type of brain bleeding, leading to three weeks in intensive care -- and the loss of his sight.
    "I told a nurse that it was dark -- I didn`t realise that I was blind," Yamashita said, recalling when he woke up in hospital.
    Hundreds of deaths related to overwork -- from strokes, heart attacks and suicide -- are reported every year in Japan, along with a host of serious health problems, sparking lawsuits and calls to tackle the problem.
    But, last month, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe`s cabinet approved a bill to exempt white-collar employees earning over 10.75 million yen ($88,000) a year, such as financial dealers and consultants, from work-hour rules.
    His ruling Liberal Democratic Party hopes to get parliamentary approval during the current session.
    Advocates, including Japan`s biggest business lobby Keidanren, say the changes would reward productive workers with pay based on merit -- rather than just working hours -- and give them more flexibility in terms of how long they spend at the office.
    If they get the job done quickly, they could leave early or come in later, they say.
    Backers also say the reforms would not force change on workers, but rather let them choose to enter such an agreement with their employers. Critics charge it would be tough for employees to refuse an offer of switching to the new model, and deride it as the "no overtime pay bill" that would force people to work longer with no extra pay beyond their agreed salary.
    That could increase the number of overwork-related deaths and health problems, said Koji Morioka, professor emeritus at Kwansei Gakuin University.
    "The government wants to create a system in which companies don`t have to pay for overtime -- it could accelerate deaths from overwork," he said.
    Morioka added that the bill seemed to run counter to the spirit of a law passed last summer aimed at preventing deaths from long working hours, which garnered wide support across party lines. Details of the bill are being worked out now.
    The new law, if passed, would initially affect just four percent of private-sector employees, or about 1.8 million people.
    But Keidanren already wants to expand the programme by lowering the pay threshold.
    "We need to think about relaxing the income requirement and applying it to a wider scope of workers," the business lobby`s chief said last month.
    While the popular image of Japanese salarymen toiling long hours for the company before taking the last train home is changing, many still spend far more hours in the office than counterparts in other modern economies.
    About 22.3 percent of Japanese employees work 50 hours or more each week on average, well above 12.7 percent in Britain, 11.3 percent in the United States, and 8.2 percent in France, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
    A Japanese government study found that 16 percent of full-time workers took no paid holidays in 2013, while others took just half their allotted vacation on average.
    In that year, the official tally was 196 deaths and suicides linked to excessive working hours -- but that is just the tip of the iceberg, said Ryukoku University professor Shigeru Waki.
    "There are a lot more people who died or became ill due to overwork, but it is very hard to prove," he said.With more employers not required to keep track of extra hours worked under the proposed bill, it will make it even tougher to know the extent of the problem, Waki said.
    The mother of a 27-year-old Tokyo man who killed himself in 2009 said his official work hours were much less than the actual extra hours spent at his printing company. She opposes the new bill.
    "I was in a state of shock when his company called to tell me he was dead," said the 68-year-old woman, who asked not to be identified.
    "My son will not come back, but I want to speak up for other younger people."
    For Yamashita, who was blinded by his condition, burning the candle at both ends to meet the demands of a high-pressure job was hardly worth the reward.
    "I didn`t even get to see my kids grow up because I was too busy -- I wish I could have lived a life for my family instead."

5/22/2015 – 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. Is the 40-hour workweek falling out of fashion? Some argue that the 40-hour workweek too often leads to overworked employees, which in turn is bad for productivity, by JJ Feinauer, Deserate Digital Media via NewsOK.com
    OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla., USA - In 1938, Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act as part of then president Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal. As a result, the 40-hour workweek (based on the eight-hour workday) became fully integrated, and legislated, as part of American corporate culture.
    CNN Money's Jeanne Sahadi argues that it may be time for change.
    The 40-hour workweek, according to Sahadi, may actually be stunting worker productivity. But not because it stops employees from working more, but because it leads to too many instances of overwork.
    According to Sahadi, the notion of a 40-hour workweek is, in general, a myth in the first place. Salaried employees, he argues while citing a Gallup poll from last year, typically work seven hours more than what's required of them each week, and they feel pressure to work above and beyond the legislated limits.
    This is bad for employees who suffer from additional stress, and for employers who often see productivity rates decrease as a result.
    "If decades of studies are to be believed, too many hours at work can make Jack a less productive, less creative and less healthy boy," Sahadi wrote, "to say nothing of an absent partner at home."
    But while Sahadi argues that reducing expected work hours could be good for full-time employees, there are those that argue full-time work in general is overrated.
    "Life is too short for a full-time job," Mohit Satyanand wrote in Quartz India last year. Satyanand cites influential systems theorist Buckminister Fuller, who projected that productivity would rise to such levels that "part-time" work [our quotes] would become a viable option [i.e., full-time] for all citizens of industrialized countries.
    Though he concedes that the modern world hasn't reached the destination that Fuller once imagined, Satyanand couldn't help but experiment with rejecting the life of a full-time laborer. "Material progress gives us the choice to trade our earning ability for more consumption, or more time. I had made mine, and found enormous joy in every day."
    Satyanand isn't alone in his ambitions. He also cites Mexican telecommunications mogul Carlos Slim Helú's statements that support a much shorter workweek in hopes of increasing leisure time.
    According to Helú, who also happens to be one of the richest men in the world, shortening the workweek to only three days, while increasing the amount of time people work per day, as well as the age at which they retire (he proposes well over 70 years of age) would help workers be more productive, while simultaneously increasing "quality of life."
    "With three workdays a week, we would have more time to relax; for quality of life," Helú reportedly said at a conference in 2014. "Having four days [off] would be very important to generate new entertainment activities and other ways of being occupied."

  2. Portadown library hours cuts, PortadownTimes.co.uk
    PORTADOWN, N.Ireland, UK - A proposal to reduce the opening hours at Portadown library, from 48 to 45 per week, has been officially approved by the Libraries NI Board.
    The library began operating the reduced hours last November due to budget cuts.

    [Better reduced hours than reduced jobs = timesizing than downsizing.]
    A further period of consultation with the public began this Monday and will continue until Saturday, June 13 to agree the most suitable opening hours’ pattern for each library in Northern Ireland.
    The resulting arrangement will be implemented in October.
    Meanwhile, Richhill library’s opening hours will remain the same at 18 and Tandragee’s at 25. Brownlow’s will be reduced from 40 to 35.
    Professor Bernard Cullen, chairperson of Libraries NI, said, “The board recognises that reducing opening hours reduces access to services and will impact on library users.
    “This decision has not been taken lightly and is a better option than closing libraries. We would like to acknowledge the DCAL Minister Carál Ní Chuilín’s decision to provide a measure of protection for Libraries NI in the draft budget to ensure there would be no library closures."

5/21/2015 – 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. Part-time library employees in Massena now to receive paid leave; employee hours cut, by Andy Gardner, NorthCountryNow.com
    MASSENA, N.Y., USA -- Part-time library employees now get paid leave, according to a new contract with Teamsters Local 687 the Town Council ratified on Wednesday. The union represents library workers.
    Part-timers also have to pay an extra $500 toward their health savings account. Town workers have a bank account into which they and the town deposit money to be used for health expenses only. In addition to that, they get two sick days annually.
    Town Supervisor Joe Gray said to cut costs, they slashed some part-timers’ hours because the Affordable Care Act defines full-time as 30 hours or more.
    “Unfortunately, we’ve had to cut hours of part-time people to below 30,” Gray said.

    He said some can sign waivers if they are covered elsewhere, such as another job or spouse.
    “We may restore hours for some people,” Gray said.
    The new deal also outlines raises for new hires annually through 2018.
    The library employs three people full-time and six part-time.

  2. German rail strike called off: operator, by Simon Morgan, AFP via Yahoo News via news.yahoo.com
    FRANKFURT, Germany - German railways operator Deutsche Bahn on Thursday announced an end to a drivers strike that had paralysed train travel in Europe's biggest economy, after the feuding sides agreed to mediation.
    But fresh trouble appeared to be brewing elsewhere, as the biggest rail union threatened industrial action if a pay deal was not reached soon.
    While Deutsche Bahn (DB) said it would probably take until Saturday for normal services to resume, "millions of rail passengers can breathe a sigh of relief".
    "The GdL (Gewerkschaft Deutscher Lokführer = Union of German Loco{motive}drivers) strike is over with immediate effect," it said in a statement, adding that the company and the union had agreed overnight to have a mediator appointed to settle their months-long dispute over wages, work hours and negotiating rights.
    DB said it was "pulling out all the stops" for services to return to normal as soon as possible.
    "This could take some time," said DB's head of personnel Ulrich Weber.
    "While regional and local trains can be expected to return to normal as early as Friday, the process will take longer in long-distance services because of the more complex planning needed for personnel and trains," Weber said.
    Long-distance services were expected to return to normal by Saturday.
    GdL, for its part, said it expected all of its members to have returned to work by 7:00 pm (1700 GMT) on Thursday.
    GdL said management had conceded to one of its key demands, namely that a deal would not be dependent on whatever agreements were reached with other unions.
    The GdL, which represents some 20,000 train drivers, is demanding a wage rise and shorter work hours as well as the right to represent other rail workers such as conductors and restaurant carriage staff.
    That demand is effectively a turf war with the larger railway union EVG, which has more than 200,000 members, and which is now involved in separate, less heated, wage negotiations with DB.
    - Gordian knot -
    "After nearly a year of this industrial dispute, we've managed to cut through the Gordian knot," said GdL chief Claus Weselsky.
    And the union promised there would be no more strikes until at least June 17 while the mediation was ongoing.
    But DB personnel chief Weber cautioned that the agreement to take the matter to mediation was "still not final breakthrough" in the dispute itself.
    Nevertheless, "we now have a real chance to reach an agreement," he added. "We are going into the mediation with no pre-conditions."
    The strike, the ninth stoppage in less than a year, had begun Tuesday and initially affected freight trains, but was extended to passenger services on Wednesday, forcing the cancellation of two thirds of long-distance passenger services.
    The industrial dispute centres on wages, work hours and negotiating rights between the small GdL union and the national rail operator.
    In early May the union staged a nearly week-long walkout, the longest in DB's history, which industry groups estimated cost Europe's top economy almost half a billion euros ($550 million).
    Nevertheless, while GdL and management have agreed to lower their weapons, new trouble appeared to be brewing with EVG, which is threatening walkouts of its own.
    Wage talks with EVG were scheduled to go into a 12th and decisive around later on Thursday.
    "We will have to strike if no deal is reached," EVG chief Alexander Kirchner told the regional daily Passauer Neue Presse.
    Kirchner insisted that EVG was anxious to reach a deal at the negotiating table.
    "But if that's not possible, we will take industrial action," he said, adding that management's offer of a 4.7-percent pay increase was "a long way off what would would be acceptable for us."
    Kirchner also hit out at the smaller drivers' union GdL for striking.
    "Only around 1,000 train drivers are striking, while more than 100,000 colleagues are keen to work," he said. "It is not acceptable if 1.5 percent of the workforce and their strike action prevent the others from getting more money."
    DB's Weber said he could not say whether an agreement with EVG could be reached.
    "But I hope very much that we will able to announce a good and successful day for DB tomorrow and that we can sort things out with EVG as well," Weber said.
    Deutsche Bahn transports around 5.5 million passengers and over 600,000 tonnes of cargo in Germany every day.

5/20/2015 – 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. German rail passengers face more chaos as drivers strike, AFP via BusinessInsider.com
    FRANKFURT, Germany - German rail operator Deutsche Bahn cancelled two thirds of long-distance passenger services Wednesday as train drivers began an open-ended walkout that will last at least one week.
    The strike, the ninth in a protracted dispute, had actually begun on Tuesday, initially affecting freight trains, but was extended to passenger services from 0000 GMT on Wednesday.
    It is the latest flareup in a battle over wages, work hours and negotiating rights between the small GdL union and national rail operator Deutsche Bahn (DB).
    In early May the union staged a nearly week-long walkout, the longest in DB's history, which industry groups estimated cost Europe's top economy almost half a billion euros ($550 million).
    The GdL, which represents some 20,000 train drivers, is demanding a wage rise and shorter work hours as well as the right to represent other rail workers such as conductors and restaurant carriage staff.
    That demand is effectively a turf war with the larger railway union EVG, which has more than 200,000 members, and which is now involved in separate, less heated, wage negotiations with DB.
    After weekend talks between the GdL and Deutsche Bahn again ended badly, the union on Monday announced the latest strike.
    GDL has not said how long the latest walkout will last, but said it will be longer than the six-day industrial action at the start of May.
    The union said it would give 48 hours' notice when the strike will end.
    Deutsche Bahn confirmed Wednesday that two thirds of long-distance services would be cancelled and an average one third of regional services, varying from region to region.
    In freight services, around two thirds would run, the company said.
    Eastern Germany was particularly hit. And fewer than half of regional trains in Berlin and in Hamburg were running.
    Deutsche Bahn said it would "do everything in its power" to ensure that as many services as possible could run at the weekend, which is the Christian Pentecost holiday.
    Deutsche Bahn transports around 5.5 million passengers and over 600,000 tonnes of cargo in Germany every day.

  2. Boyer Pool hours cut due to financial shortfall, by Peggy Senzarino peggy.senzarino@globegazette.com, GlobeGazette.com
    Clients at Opportunity Village in Clear Lake enjoyed weekly exercise sessions at the Village's Boyer Pool. The hours of operation at Boyer Pool have been cut to try and save money. The pool has been running a large deficit for several years. (photo caption)
    CLEAR LAKE, Iowa - A $150,000 shortfall in revenue has forced cuts in the hours of operation of Boyer Pool at Opportunity Village in Clear Lake.
    Revenue to operate the pool comes from membership dues, daily user fees, swimming lessons, occasional gifts and a small endowment. Those combined sources of revenue do not cover the cost of operating the indoor pool, according to a news release.
    Decreased use of the pool by the public is one cause for the financial challenges but not the only one, according to Village Executive Director Jeff Nichols.
    "The traffic is certainly part of it. But I think the bigger issue is as well that it really is not something that supports our mission as well as it maybe once did," Nichols said. "We have a very few number of people that we support that use it.
    "I think if you ask just about any entity that runs public pools practically anywhere, they're all going to say the same thing. Pools are very cost-intensive and you know any time we open for a day, even if we get two people in, there's 'x' amount of things we have to do and it has to be staffed."
    The new schedule will begin July 1, according to a press release. Group swimming lessons will no longer be offered at Boyer Pool.
    None of the Village staff received a pay increase last year due to the budget shortfalls.
    "We simply cannot shoulder the burden of the pool operations on the backs of our employees," said Cindy Richardson, pool manager. "We must remain committed to our mission of serving people with disabilities and compensate our staff fairly for their work. We have made all efforts to manage operational costs and now find it is necessary to shorten hours of operation."
    The pool will now be open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday and Tuesday and from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday. Saturday hours are 1 to 5 p.m.
    The pool can be utilized for private lessons during open swim hours. The therapy pool will be open during the same hours as the swimming pool with the exception of Saturday when it will not be open. Private rentals for pool parties can be arranged by calling the pool office at 641-355-1240.
    Nichols said the pool is not closing, despite rumors to the contrary.
    "We are just consolidating the hours of operation to make it more efficient," Nichols said.

5/19/2015 – 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. BNSF furloughs workers, by Matt Hudson, DailyInterLake.com
    WHITEFISH, Mont., USA - BNSF Railway Co. [Burlington Northern Santa Fe] confirmed Monday that the company is in the process of placing workers on furlough and reducing its hiring plans.
    [Burlington Northern (BN) and Santa Fe (SF) CEOs were the incompetents who merged their railroads into something way bigger than they could handle and triggered one of the biggest railjams in US history. No wonder they're losing "customers' volumes" -]
    “Customers’ volumes in the near term have come down somewhat from prior estimates,” BNSF spokesman Matthew Jones stated in an email. ”As a result, we are having to adjust our work force demand numbers down to match volume and the work required to move that volume.”
    The company also will reduce its hiring plans for “the next several months.”
    Jones wouldn’t specify the number of furloughs for Northwest Montana, but the move appears to be nationwide. In Nebraska, the same company statement was given to the Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal Star on April 30.
    But a large furlough could send shock waves through small communities such as Havre and Whitefish, two key points on the railroad’s northern route.
    Kevin Garland, executive director of the Whitefish Chamber of Commerce, said that the company employs as many as 375 people in town.
    It’s second only to Whitefish Mountain Resort in employment numbers.
    “It’s one of the larger employers in town,” Garland said.
    News of locally furloughed workers hadn’t come through the Whitefish Chamber as of Monday morning, Garland said.
    BNSF added 7,000 employees in 2014, BNSF Chief Executive Officer Carl Ice said in the company’s latest annual report. They made plans for a $6 billion capital investment program this year, according to the report.
    BNSF is calling the furloughs temporary but did not give a timeline. According to the statement, the company expects “to call the furloughed employees back as soon as business needs require.”

  2. 35-hour workweek: AP-HP, a strike predicted to be massive, by La rédaction d'Allodocteurs.fr, World News via wn.com via franceTVinfo.fr
    PARIS, France - Triggered by the Director General of the AP-HP, Martin Hirsch, the reorganization of worktime promises bloody cuts in the coffers of the public hospital network.
    "Rest assured, quality of care preserved," such will be the watchword on the day of action on May 21 decreed by all the representative trade unions (CGT, SUD, CFDT and FO), accompanied by the CFE-CGC, CFTC and UNSA. Invited to gather at 11 am outside the headquarters of the AP-HP in the 4th arrondissement of Paris, strikers will converge in groups from their respective hospitals. "May 21 is only one step in the battle," warns Rose May Rousseau, General Secretary of the Trade Union CGT of the AP-HP right off the bat, "the issue is national."
    "The staff cannot do more," she adds, "and under attack are social benefits that allow them to keep their heads above water." The 35-hour workweek "reform" project planned for the hospital greatly worries hospital workers who are already experiencing a shortage of staff or, since 2010, a wage freeze. The unions fear losing their stand-alone 35-hour workweek benefit, same with holidays, and that worktime would be unevenly distributed among staff and targeted services.
    Save on payroll
    The mobilization has received the support of the secretary general of the CFDT union, for whom the hospital "is on the verge of burnout." "We must doubtless reorganize work, it does require additional resources, but that is not best seen solely through the prism of the 35-hour workweek," adds Laurent Berger on RTL radio. For behind the announced reorg of worktime, it's in reality the specter of budget cuts, planned in the austerity pact, that looms over the public hospital. Three billion euros in savings are expected by 2017, of which 860 million uniquely from payroll.
    At AP-HP, 38 facilities and 75,000 staff (excluding doctors) are affected by this "reform," which could come into force on 1 January 2016.

5/17-18/2015 – 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. Consol Energy down to four-day workweeks, by Danielle Wente, Shale Plays Media via 5/18 Marcellus.com (press release)
    WASHINGTON & GREENE COUNTIES, Pa., USA - As a result of low coal prices, Consol Energy has dropped its workweeks from five days to four days.
    Consol employees and contractors that work in the Harvey, Bailey and Enlow Fork mines located in Washington and Greene counties in Pennsylvania are the only ones to be impacted by the shortened workweek. It isn’t exactly clear how many employees and contractors are receiving the four-day workweeks, but Consol currently employs an estimated 1,849 people in Pennsylvania. Consol’s spokesperson Kate O’Donovan explained the company’s decision to shrink its workweek:
    "There is no reduction in workforce. Because of the strength of this world-class complex we have the ability to throttle back activity until prices recover and position our Pennsylvania operations to capitalize when the markets turn."

    [Yes - workweek, not workforce, shrinkage! Timesizing, not downsizing!]
    As reported by the Pittsburgh Business Times, “In 2014, the three longwall mines, which lie under Washington and Greene counties, yielded 26.1 million tons of thermal coal, about 92 percent of capacity. O’Donovan said that in spite of the shift reduction, production is still expected to fall within its forecast of 24.9 million to 26.6 million tons in 2015. However, she said, production likely will fall toward the low end of the range.”
    Over the last decade, Consol has invested tens of millions of dollars in upgrades for its mines, most of it going towards the newest technology available.
    Other companies are also looking to cut back, including Alpha Natural Resources. Alpha owns two mines in Greene County, the Emerald mind and Cumberland mine. The company says it is looking at ways to cut back production and costs.
    [Comment from MrTimesizingCom: With regard to: "Consol’s spokesperson Kate O’Donovan explained the company’s decision to shrink its workweek: 'There is no reduction in workforce.' " - kudos to Consul Energy! Shrinking the workweek is far better than shrinking the workforce...and consumer spending and markets and everything else along with it = far better "timesizing" than downsizing! No way are we going to restore growth (alias UPsizing) by downsizing - but with timesizing and vigorous conversion of any chronic overtime that results into training & jobs, we can reverse any economic downturn.]

  2. 35 hours: Mismanagement in the Hospitals of Paris, by Nicolas Prissette, 5/17 Le Journal de Dimanche via leJDD.fr
    PARIS, France - Demystification: Hospitals of Paris's unions demonstrated Thursday against the proposed "reform" of the 35-hour workweek [our quotes]. What does the management propose to get its plan passed? What savings are expected? How important is reduced worktime (RWT) in Hospitals of Paris? Le Journal de Dimanche [The Sunday Journal] demystifies the "reform" [our quotes].
    How important is RWT?
    Currently, two-thirds of the employees of Hospitals of Paris (excluding doctors) work at least 38 hours per week. To make it down to 35 hours a week on average over the year, they have to take days off. They benefit from an agreement that allows those working 7½ hours daily, for example, to have 24 days holiday over and above the vacation days to which specific days may be added (for "motherhood," "decorated veteran"...).
    But [dis]organization and lack of backup staff prevent the ability to take all these days off. To make matters worse, not absenteeism for sickness represents not less than 20 days per year and per person on average, an elevated level.
    So, it often happens that employees are recalled from home to deal with staff shortages. They must report their accumulated RWT in time savings accounts. For 2015, the AP-HP estimates that every employee would not put aside less than 11 days, a "relatively important" level according to the report presented to the unions, whom the JDD consulted.
    On average, they hold in these accounts some 20 to 25 days. They can also demand for them financial settlement, which poses a significant risk to hospital finances: a potential bill of 100 million euros. Last year on average, employees used a single day of their accounts to go on leave and they requested payment of three days.
    How else?
    Currently, the work is done in three shifts, one in the morning, one in the afternoon and one at night. The AP-HP recommends creating a long day shift, which would cover a range of ten hours. This would allow the development of ambulatory surgery for the patient who needs a benign intervention between morning and an evening discharge without spending the night there, while being followed by the same nurses, orderlies, etc. This approach to simplification and savings is commended for length of good results over many years. Such an arrangement avoids the midday handover of functions.
    Another idea, complementary, is to reduce to 7½ the daily worktime of officials who perform depending on the case 7hrs 36mins or 7hrs 50mins (these hours involve about 50% of the staff). It's a simple way to limit entitlement to supplementary days off with the knowledge that no electronic badge system or "clocking" is counting actual worktime.
    Lunch breaks should also figure in the negotiation.
    What economies are expected?
    The government intends to contain the evolution of hospital spending by saving three billion euros over three years. The Health Minister Marisol Touraine has agreed not to downsize. So to curb the wage bill there remains the option of making the officials work more.
    For the Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, the savings to realize amounts to 20 to 25 million euros on a budget of 7 billion (of which 60% in payroll). Hirsch wants to halve the annual evolution of the payroll, more than 2%. By reducing the number of rights to RWT, AP-HP would deflate the package that threatens to explode.
    What does the leadership propose to get its plan passed?
    It would wish to use the savings, in time and manpower, to reinforce the support shifts. Thus, the officials that need a day off would be assured of being replaced and they would no longer have to renounce it and inflate their time accounts. Efforts would be made to find young people who want, more than their elders, to work 12-hour days. Executives would be equally required to contribute, in the interests of fairness.

5/16/2015 – 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. Government to unroll work hours initiative, JapanTimes.co.jp
    TOKYO, Japan - The government will implement a project this summer to bring forward work clocks by one to two hours to allow public servants to spend more time with families and friends in the early evening.
    The project, aimed at encouraging people to work more efficiently and curbing long work hours, will be implemented at central government ministries and agencies in July and August.

    On March 27, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told an informal conference with members of his Cabinet, “We will promote a national campaign to transform the summer lifestyle by starting to work early in the morning to take advantage of longer daylight hours, so we can spend time with our families in the late afternoon.”
    Following his instruction, the Cabinet Secretariat urged government ministries and agencies to ensure their personnel both arrive for work and depart one to two hours earlier than usual, and that all meetings end before late afternoon.
    The government is also considering a postponement of the deadline, usually set at the end of August, for ministries and agencies to submit budget requests for the coming fiscal year.
    The morning-oriented work style is widely used in Germany and Britain. According to a survey by Emiko Takeishi, a Hosei University professor who is well-versed in labor policy, 7 percent of all workers in Japan start work before 8 a.m. This figure stands at 47 percent in Germany and at 21 percent in Britain.
    The government believes that rectifying the practice of long work hours is an urgent challenge in its drive to raise labor productivity and achieve sustainable economic growth. Large private-sector companies including trading house Itochu Corp. have adopted morning-oriented work hours and seen results such as cuts in overtime.
    In the public sector, the initiative will be spearheaded in Kasumigaseki, a central Tokyo district that hosts a cluster of governmental offices.
    Takao Ochi, parliamentary vice minister of the Cabinet Office who is leading the campaign, said, “We hope the project will encourage many to think they can work this way not only in summer, but in other seasons as well.”
    However, the ongoing session of the Diet is expected to be extended beyond the scheduled June 24 adjournment and until early August to allow time to deliberate on a set of national security bills, one of the Abe government’s top priorities. As Abe has stated his aim of enacting the legislation by summer, ministry and agency personnel are seen remaining busy with matters related to the bills.
    Some in the government therefore have a pessimistic outlook for the work hours initiative. “It’s impossible to implement it in all government offices,” one official said.

  2. Taiwan labour laws: Two days off per week, maximum 40 working hours beginning 2016, The China Post/Asia News Network via news.AsiaOne.com
    TAIPEI, Taiwan - Beginning Jan. 1, 2016, the maximum allowable working hours will be cut to 40 per week with a mandatory two days off, officials of the Legislative Yuan said yesterday.
    An amendment to the Labor Standards Act was completed yesterday, cutting maximum working hours from the current 84 every two weeks to 40 hours per week and no more than eight hours each day. Furthermore, two days off every week has been made mandatory, effective from Jan. 1 next year. Employers who violate the regulations could be punished with fines of between NT$20,000 (S$868) and NT$300,000(S$13,000).

    Further to the amendment, an extra four years is added to the length of time employers should keep employees' attendance records documented, making it five years in total. Moreover, employers are not allowed to turn down employee requests for attendance record copies. Violations may lead to fines of between NT$90,000 and NT$450,000.
    According to the Taiwan Labor Front (TLF), a labour activist organisation, it is estimated that more than 3.4 million workers will benefit from the amendment. "This progress has long been awaited since the Labor Standards Act was last amended in 2000, adjusting maximum working hours to 84 hours," TLF representatives said yesterday. "However, this is only the first step in creating a reasonable working environment for the working class."
    Business Groups Worry about Industrial Outsourcing
    Chairman of the Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce (CNAIC) Lin Por-fong () yesterday said that he supports the amendment as working 40 hours per week is currently the internationally recognised figure; however, he added that overtime hours should be extended to 60 per month.
    The current Labor Standards Act restricts overtime work to 46 hours per month. It was proposed that the clause be amended to 54 hours per month, however, this was not discussed yesterday, legislators said.
    "If the maximum allowable overtime working hours remain the same, labour-intensive industries may have to move out, resulting in fewer job openings and salary deductions in the nation, which is not good news for local workers at all," Lin said yesterday.
    Lin Hui-ying, chairwoman of the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, (NASME) also said that smaller enterprises will not be able to handle high seasons or particular situations when clients request an urgent deadline if the clause remains the same. "The only way out for these enterprises will be to outsource labour work," she added.

5/15/2015 – 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. MUA Successful in Retaining Wharfie Penalty Rates, posted by Ashleigh Telford, mua.org.au
    SYDNEY, N.S.W., Australia - The Maritime Union of Australia [MUA] has had a huge win in the Fair Work Commission in retaining current penalty rates despite opposition by well-resourced stevedoring employers.
    Employers, particularly Qube and DP World, were also unsuccessful in their attempts to have the working week increased from 35 hours to 38.
    [Good news, but also good news that even what they wanted to increase it to was less than the Frozen Forty. Now MUA needs to get focused on decreasing it to 32! Controling the surplus of oneself via a decreasing workweek is labor's only real issue. Everything else flows from the employer-perceived shortage that results from shorter hours, and if the reverse happens, all is lost, even for employers who lose their most dependable markets (domestic).]
    MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said the ability to maintain current conditions in the current political and industrial climate was no small feat.
    [Paddy, get off your ass and CHANGE that climate by engineering a general employer-perceived labor shortage with workweek DECREASES! "The greatest defense is an offense." Labor has no long-term evolutionary function but to maintain or raise wages and spending by maintaining or tightening a "scarce" labor supply by decreasing the workweek as productivity jumps due to higher and higher technology.]
    “The employers launched a full assault on penalty rates, not only in Fair Work, but in submissions to the Productivity Commission and through comments in the media but they were unable to establish a coherent enough argument to convince the full bench,” Crumlin said.
    “The reason wharfies get decent penalty rates is because they’re expected a level of flexibility, even as a permanent employee, not comparable to any other industry and that was recognised by two out of the three Commissioners.”
    The union spent a prolonged time building a case for the four-yearly Stevedoring Industry Award review in the FWC that began in January.
    “We know the employers are keen to exploit the time Abbott is in Government in not just opposing our efforts to improve working conditions but to also get rid of hard earned gains such as the 35 hour working week, which was cemented in 1972,” Crumlin said.

  2. Cuts to Beaufort County library hours delayed, by Scott Thompson, BlufftonToday.com
    BLUFFTON, S.C., USA - The Beaufort County Library System’s Board of Trustees is hopeful a new director can help avoid the reduction in hours it has planned later this year.
    On Wednesday, the board voted to postpone implementation of the reduced hours for two months.
    [Just as long as we keep talking about hourscuts and not jobcuts and the postponed hours reduction doesn't get translated into some kind of staff reduction!]
    Newly-hired system director Ray McBride will spend the next 90 days assessing the current budget and the one for next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
    The hours will remain the same through at least Aug. 15, when the board will re-examine the budget and decide on future hours.
    The board also postponed a requirement that $300,000 be set aside in the budget for books and materials.
    The board announced April 27 it planned to scale back operations from 50 to 42 hours a week at the Bluffton, Hilton Head Island and Beaufort branches, and from 40 to 32 at the St. Helena Island and Lobeco branches, effective June 1.
    McBride started his new job May 4 and has worked with library systems in Florence, Greenville and Darlington counties. He was not involved in the discussions to cut hours.
    Now the change won’t happen until mid-August, if at all, the board decided at its Wednesday meeting.
    “I strongly support this,” board chairman Bernard Kole said. “I think this was a very careful and well thought-out decision. We have plenty of time to let Mr. McBride get a handle on the budget.”
    Just a year after it expanded operations from 40 to 50 hours a week at the Bluffton, Hilton Head and Beaufort branches, the board has been grappling with frequent staff turnover that has put a strain on customer service.
    The system has 18 full-time vacancies without the money to fill all of them, Kole has said.
    McBride said he hopes to reorganize the system’s budget to hire more staff and keep the libraries open longer.
    “The board was correct to make the decision in the best interests of the library system, according to the current budget,” McBride said. “I don’t believe the citizens of Beaufort County want reduced library hours, and I hope to show and convince the board that through additional staffing, it won’t be necessary.”
    McBride identified the Bluffton branch, which he said is understaffed, as a key concern with a busy summer approaching.
    “The summer is a peak time for libraries, and we’ve got a couple of vacancies there,” McBride said. “There’s a little bit of overburdening there, and I’m working to analyze the staffing as quickly as I can so we can hopefully fill existing vacancies and alleviate the problem.”
    County administrator Gary Kubic, who had been critical of the board’s decision to cut hours prior to McBride’s arrival and input, welcomed the vote.
    “I think the 90-day allowance is a good thing and should be given to (McBride) so he can format his vision for what the budget should look like,” Kubic said. “I’m impressed with his background, and I’m anxious to see what he comes up with.”
    McBride said he intends to run the library system “as a business.”
    “(Public libraries) have to be run effectively and efficiently; otherwise they won’t survive the realities of the county’s budget process,” he said. “I hope I can bring a fresh set of eyes to the challenges facing the system. We have a truly committed board, a dedicated County Council and committed friends and supporters.
    “I see absolutely no reason our library system can’t be the best in South Carolina."
    Scott Thompson may be reached at 843-815-0800, Ext. 13 or scott.thompson@blufftontoday.com

5/14/2015 – 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. Solar-Fabrik gets court nod for self administration, by Plamena Tisheva, SeeNews Renewables via renewables.seenews.com
    FREIBURG, Germany - German photovoltaic (PV) module maker Solar-Fabrik AG (ETR:SFX) said Wednesday its insolvency proceedings will continue under self administration after a revised decision of the local court in Freiburg.
    The new decision, effective immediately, comes after the court initially declined to permit self administration. It follows a rationale from both the creditors' committee and the self administration that this mode gives Solar-Fabrik a greater chance of finding investors, the company said.
    Solar-Fabrik filed for self-administered insolvency proceedings in February. It said then the move was prompted by the possibility of an insolvency situation occurring during the second quarter due to a liquidity shortage. The module maker has been hit by low market demand and the corresponding price pressure. In November 2014, it introduced short time work schedules because of the weak market.
    In April, the company warned it had discovered a fault in the junction box on some modules that could potentially lead to excess heat.
    Plamena Tisheva has been a UK-focused reporter for many years and that is her best renewable energy market.

  2. Public short-time work benefit regime extended, by Thouvenin Rechtsanwälte, Lexology.com (registration)
    ZÜRICH, Switzerland - In mid-January 2015 the Swiss Central Bank lifted its currency ceiling of Sfr1.20 per €1.The decision continues to negatively affect Switzerland's export and tourism industries. On January 27 2015, in order to mitigate the negative consequences of the strong Swiss franc, the Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) announced that the most recent strengthening of the Swiss franc against other major currencies (eg, the euro, US dollar and pound sterling) allows businesses to apply for public short-time work benefits.
    Currency fluctuations in general have thus far been considered as entrepreneurial risks which recur on a regular basis and can be foreseen, and are therefore calculated so that businesses bear the risks. In two cases in 2012 the Federal Supreme Court held that currency fluctuations of up to 10% per year were a foreseeable business risk and indicated that annual currency fluctuations of 20% and more would also qualify.
    In consideration of these court precedents, SECO announced that companies can agree with all or a number of their employees on a reduction of work time and the applicable compensation following the most recent currency fluctuations. Short-time work insurance will cover 80% of the difference.
    Companies and employers in Switzerland are advised to make their cases based not only on the currently strong Swiss franc, but also on other applicable reasons.
    For further information on this topic please contact Thomas Rihm at Thouvenin Rechtsanwälte by telephone (+41 44 421 45 45) or email (t.rihm@thouvenin.com). The Thouvenin Rechtsanwälte website can be accessed at www.thouvenin.com.
    This article was first published by the International Law Office, a premium online legal update service for major companies and law firms worldwide.

5/13/2015 – 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. Labour force working hours are 'too long': Taiwan minister, by Yuan-Ming Chiao, The China Post/Asia News Network via Asia One Business via business.asiaone.com
    TAIPEI, Taiwan - Labor Minister Chen Hsiung-wen rebuked Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen yesterday for her remarks saying that the nation's workforce had "too many days off."
    [Some "progressive" she is! and some advocate for women! With friends like her, employees don't need enemies. Shouldn't they call this the Workaholic Autocratic Regressive Party (WARP)?]
    Chen made the comments during a morning television interview yesterday, in which he stated that "we think that Taiwan's labour force's work hours are too long."
    According to the labour minister, Taiwan has the fourth highest annual average work hours in the world, with each worker toiling 2,124 hours per year (or approximately 265.5 eight-hour workdays).

    In comparison, Japanese workers average 1,700 hours per year, with Hong Kong and South Korean averages being closer to Taiwan's. Singapore leads the world with an annual average of 2,400 work hours.
    Amendments to existing work regulations are expected to pass as early as this Friday at the Legislative Yuan.
    The draft amendment proposes a maximum 40-hour workweek, revising the regulations that currently allow up to 84 hours every two weeks.
    To minimise the impact on employers, however, the amendment also increases the maximum number of overtime hours per month from 46 to 54.
    Tsai Visits Small-, Medium-sized Enterprise Group
    Meanwhile, Tsai continued her round-the-island "Light up Taiwan" campaign with a stop at the National Association of Small & Medium Enterprises.
    Before the meeting, Tsai insisted on clarifying her remarks on Monday "which caused some misunderstandings." Tsai, who already apologised on Facebook for her remarks, emphasised that she will continue to "protect labour" and work with employers to create win-win scenarios.
    When asked about the 90-minute closed-door meeting with the DPP chairwoman, the association's Chairwoman Lin Hui-ying revealed that workers' days off were not part of the discussion, and that she believed Tsai had already learned her lesson regarding the comments she made.
    Asked about whether she supported the draft law's passage that would reduce work hours, Lin said that while she was unopposed to the growing trend of a two-day weekend, she hoped for supporting policies.
    She surmised that for small- and medium-sized enterprises would have to incur higher costs to compensate employees for overtime.
    Under current labour law, employees must pay their workers an extra 33 per cent in wages for the first two hours of overtime work. Those increases amount to an extra 66 per cent once overtime has exceeded two hours per day.

  2. LCPS holds town hall to discuss budget cuts - Furloughs, transportation, 9 assistant principals on the table, by Damien Willis, Las Cruces Sun-News via lcsun-news.com
    LAS CRUCES, N.M., USA - Las Cruces Public Schools [LCPS] Superintendent Stan Rounds explained why the district is recommending multiple cuts in next year's operating budget during a town hall meeting Tuesday evening at the LCPS Administration Building Board Room.
    The operating budget is expected to be presented to the school board at its May 26 meeting.
    Rounds outlined a variety of proposed cuts to reach the required $7.6 million in savings, including a three-day, unpaid furlough of all LCPS employees; cuts to administrative positions; reduction of nine assistant principals; the closure of Mesilla Valley Alternative Middle School; and a reduction of transportation services, among other items.
    [Furloughs, not firings! Timesizing, not downsizing!]
    The operational portion of the budget is expected to be approximately $185.5 million. In recent years, the district has dipped into its cash reserves — largely due to overstaffing, according to school officials. However, those reserves are dangerously low, and Rounds said significant budget cuts are required to avoid bankruptcy.
    In the current fiscal year, the district used $5,035,000 of its cash balance, leaving only $3.2 million in the savings account as it enters fiscal year 2015-16, which begins on July 1. In the month of July alone, LCPS expenses are expected to be about $17 million. Any delay in receiving its state allocation could make it impossible for the district to pay its bills on time.
    Rounds said in addition to last year's decrease in the cash balance, the district was anticipating $2.6 million in increased costs next year — including increases in medical and liability insurance, and utilities. Rounds has said transportation is an expense that has eaten into the cash reserves in years past, as the state allocation hasn't been enough to meet the district's needs.
    Between salaries and benefits, employee compensation accounts for nearly 92 percent of the district's operational budget when the district is fully staffed. Rounds has said that figure should be closer to 84 percent. Earlier this year, most of the district's high school principals were told they need to trim some positions, in an effort to "right-size" their campuses. Those cuts are expected to save the district $2.4 million.
    At Tuesday's meeting, Rounds announced he is "confident that those levels can be reached without laying even one person off," indicating that those positions can be reduced through attrition, retirements, resignations and reassignments.
    A three-day furlough for all district employees, Rounds said, would save the district $2.1 million. The furlough days would come from professional development days, not from instructional days. Rather than withhold those furlough days from a single paycheck, Rounds said the reduction would be spread out across 24 pay periods. Food service employees would not be furloughed, because they only work on days when students are in school.
    Reductions in assistant principals in smaller schools could save $735,000, and reducing the number of educational assistants by 10 positions across the district would save $350,000.
    Another proposed measure is the shuttering of the Leading Edge Acceleration Program (LEAP), which operates out of Mesilla Valley Alternative Middle School, saving the district $350,000.
    In an effort to draw more experienced teachers out of retirement, the district has offered "Return to Work" benefits. For each employee, the district contributes 13.9 percent of his or her salary to the Educational Retirement Board. Since 2011, the district has also paid the employee's contribution, 10.7 percent to the ERB. By reducing that contribution for certain employees, the district can save an additional $200,000.
    The remainder of the savings will come through reductions in transportation, lunch monitors and administration. Rounds outlined 11 full-time positions and two part-time positions, totaling $778,280, that went unfilled this year. The district will save $412,197 through additional cuts and reorganization, totaling nearly $1.2 million in Central Office cuts in the coming year.
    "I want to point out that we are cutting Central Office by 38 percent, and teachers by 2.9 percent," said Rounds. "As a result, we will be able to provide less support, because we will have fewer people. We are working to retool the system, in order to spread those duties around."
    The proposed operational budget for next year is $185.5 million, down from $188.4 million this year. The bulk of the savings come from instruction ($1.4 million) and school administration ($1.1 million).
    Salaries and benefits make up 86.6 percent of next year's proposed operating budget.
    "I thought this was an excellent presentation," said school board member Ed Frank. "However, I'm really concerned about the three furlough days. That's going to be the thrust of my conversations with people during this week. I'd like to see if there's another way that we can recoup that $2.1 million."
    The school board is expected to vote on the budget at the May 26 meeting. If approved, it will be sent to the Public Education Department on May 29, and will take effect on July 1.
    Damien Willis can be reached at 575-541-5468, dawillis@lcsun-news.com or @damienwillis on Twitter.

  3. DABC contemplates furloughs to deal with budget cuts, by Ben Winslow, UtahGateway.com
    SALT LAKE CITY, Ut., USA — Utah’s liquor control authority is contemplating employee furloughs to deal with a $500,000 budget cut imposed by the legislature.
    A spokeswoman for the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control confirmed to FOX 13 that furloughs were discussed in a meeting between administrative and warehouse staff as ways to meet the budget shortfall.
    [Without firings?]
    Any potential furloughs would not involve liquor store employees, DABC spokeswoman Vickie Ashby said.
    “No decisions have been made,” Asbhy said in an email to FOX 13. “All options are being considered.”
    Most recently, the DABC pulled a security contract with off-duty police officers as a result of the budget cut.
    The DABC makes multi-million dollar, record-breaking profits year over year, but is not allowed to keep its proceeds. The money is turned over to the state’s general fund (and school lunch and public safety programs). The DABC’s budget is set by the Utah State Legislature.
    [So, clipping the wings of the goose that lays the golden eggs? Not too smart.]

5/12/2015 – 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. MoE to cut working hours for elementary school teachers from May 27 to June 17 - Ministry preps for final examinations for Science, Arts in secondary level: source, Arab Times via zawya.com
    KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait - The Ministry of Education intends to reduce working hours for elementary school teachers whose activities end with the release of results for all grades on May 27 but will be made to remain at work until June 17 when the resit exams for elementary schools will be held, reports Al-Jaridah daily. A source informed that this decision was taken at a time the ministry started preparing for final examinations for Science, Arts and Religious Education subjects in the secondary level.
    He said the situation is problematic for teachers who will be compelled to stay in their respective schools doing nothing throughout the abovementioned period, indicating this will increase power consumption during the summer season.
    He explained the ministry is gearing towards reducing the working period to two hours from May 27 to June 17 for the teaching and administrative staff in elementary schools. He explained the teachers will be idle because their work completely depend[s] on the presence of students. He added the idea was adopted from the method used by former Minister of Education Ahmad Al-Mulaifi who once reduced the duration of duty to two hours in a similar situation earlier.

  2. Nurses seek better pay, working hours, by Shahla Siddiqui, TNN via TimesOfIndia.indiatimes.com
    DEHRADUN, Uttarakhand State, India - It was not a usual day at Doon Hospital on Tuesday as staff nurses, otherwise donned in white, adorned colourful dresses to celebrate International Nurses Day. Even as the nursing staff struggles to meet staff shortage on a daily basis and claim to be underpaid, their spirits seemed undeterred in serving patients.
    "We are overworked and underpaid nightingales of the 21st Century," said a staff nurse not wishing to be named. This is evident from the working hours and the patient-nurse ratio in the government hospitals across the state.
    "The state should strictly adhere to the Indian Nurse Association's (INA), guidelines rather than following the Indian Public Health Standards to recruit nurses," she added.
    Currently, one nurse tends to eight patients. But as per INA, the ratio has to be three patients for one nurse. When nurses go on maternity or education leave, we don't get substitutes and are overloaded with work," said Anjana Bhoumik, president, Uttarakhand Nurse Service Association.
    At present, Doon Hospital has more than 150 full-time nurses.
    Meanwhile, the nursing staff was all praise for the central government scheme as per which, nurses have to undergo a six-month training and can be deputed in remote areas as individual practitioners.
    "Nurses already have first-hand experience of handling patients. They don't need [prolonged] training. There is shortage of doctors in our state and the health department can send nurses to hilly terrains where doctors do not want to be stationed," said LP Thapa, head matron of Doon Women Hospital.
    The nursing staff has also demanded enforcement of the Sixth Pay Commission as per which, the panel has mentioned that the pay grades of nurses should be at par with other paramedics.
    "In Uttarakhand, paramedics are paid more and the state government did not bother to consider the suggestions given by the pay commission. We have been demanding for our rights for long. It's not about the money but more about respect," said Bhoumik.

5/10-11/2015 – 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. The U.S. Workweek Is Getting Shorter - Companies seeking greater productivity may lead to more sustainable payroll growth [huh? - editor!], 5/11 Bloomberg.com
    [This article has evidently not been through an editing process. Michael Bloomberg has evidently joined the troop of slobs sacrificing quality for a few extra bucks.]
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - Productivity in the U.S. has been pretty abysmal of late. Data in the jobs report released last week show that trend may be about to turn.
    The Labor Department figures showed that the length of the average workweek for all employees in April was 34.5 hours. That was unchanged from March, when the workweek shrank for the first time in more than a year and employment grew the least since June 2012. From October through February, it [i.e., the workweek; error= "ambiguous antecedent"] had lingered at a more than six-year high at the same time hiring picked up.
    Graph: More Hours [contradicts headline!]
    The workweek lingered at a six-year high from October though [sic] February before falling
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-05-11/the-u-s-workweek-is-getting-shorter   (and scan down)

    Because productivity is a measure of how much stuff workers can churn out per hour, a stabilized, shorter workweek could be a sign that employers are trying to shore up their output stats, according to economists at JPMorgan Chase & Co.
    [So how does a one-month lack of change qualify as "a stabilized workweek"?]
    This suggests "that some improvement in supply-side performance may be coming," economists Bruce Kasman and David Hensley wrote in a May 8 note to clients.
    Neil Dutta, head of U.S. economics at Renaissance Macro Research LLC in New York, agrees. The figures showing the workweek didn't recoup all of its March losses add to evidence that "firms are trying to re-establish a bit more productivity," he said. "We'll see how the data unfolds in subsequent quarters."
    Of course, this also could be an indicator that demand for companies' goods and services is weakening, according to Omair Sharif, a rates sales strategist at Societe Generale in New York.
    [= much more likely.]
    Companies normally try to improve productivity through investment, such as better equipment, he said.
    "If they're cutting hours, then sure, productivity will rise if output is the same and you are able to squeeze more out of each worker," he said in an e-mail. "But cutting hours is more a sign of slackening demand, in my opinion."
    Productivity fell an annualized 1.9 percent in the first quarter from the prior three months after a 2.1 percent drop at the end of last year, marking the biggest back-to-back decline since 1993.
    Companies' attempts to boost their output efficiency don't always translate into immediate gains for workers.
    [In fact, many studies have shown that contrary to employer-spread "belief," there is no corelation between productivity aka output efficient and wages aka gains for workers.]
    It could result in more moderate employment increases, especially compared to the rapid pace of improvement in the second half of last year. The U.S. already has seen that happen to some extent, with payrolls climbing by 223,000 in April, compared to a six-month average of 254,500.
    [Still far short of number needed to keep up with population increase = ca. 300,000 or more.]
    Still, a slower pace of payrolls growth might not be a bad thing, said Kathy Bostjancic, a U.S. financial economist at Oxford Economics USA Inc. in New York.
    [Yes it might be and is a bad thing.]
    "A better mix of growth would be to see employment slow, but productivity growth pick up," she said. Job gains at a more sustainable, though strong, level should be expected in the future, she said.
    [This "expert" evidently sees no corelation between productivity and marketability (demand), or between marketability and employment level.]

  2. Much-needed probe into overwork, 5/10 The Japan Times via japantimes.co.jp
    TOKYO, Japan - An outline of the government’s efforts to prevent death from overwork — now being prepared by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry — calls for long-term research to track down the causal relationship between work conditions of corporate employees and their health problems, whose outcome is to be utilized in the measures to eradicate ways of work that impair the physical as well as mental health of workers. Collecting and analyzing cases of overwork that resulted in death or suicide should serve as a long-overdue step in the fight to eliminate such tragedies, but much more needs to be done.
    The ministry is working on the outline as required by a law enacted last year that made it the government’s obligation to promote efforts to prevent death from overwork. Based on a draft submitted by the ministry last month to a panel comprised of experts, representatives of employers and labor unions as well as families of victims, the government plans to compile the outline by this summer.
    The probe will cover not only workers in private-sector companies but government employees and self-employed people. The outcome of the research should be shared by all parties concerned, so that staff at municipal governments and businesses can offer relevant advice to prevent health impairment of workers.
    It’s been a long while since preventing karoshi — the Japanese term for death from overwork — has been billed as an urgent task for the Japanese society to address. Chronically long working hours remain a problem for many of the nation’s corporate workers. Without waiting for the outcome of the research, the national and local governments, employers and labor circles need to act quickly and work closely together to stop the ways of work that damage workers’ health.
    According to the health ministry, 133 people who died of brain and heart diseases in fiscal 2013 were recognized as victims of overwork under the labor accident insurance program. Roughly 80 percent of these people had clocked more than 80 hours of overtime a month on average — deemed the threshold where the risk of death from overwork rises — before they died.
    As many as 436 workers were recognized under the same program as sufferers of mental illnesses such as depression, including 63 who either committed or attempted suicide. The triggers of their mental problems included long work hours, their job assignments, harassment by and troubles with their superiors and colleagues, and young workers in their 20s and 30s reportedly account for a large proportion of such people.
    Experts say these alarming numbers represent just a tip of the iceberg, because they are officially recognized as victims only after they or their families apply for coverage under the labor accident insurance program. People who have settled their disputes with the employers or those who have given up making their case are not counted in the figures.
    The ministry’s probe should shed light on the practices that impair the workers’ health but may not appear on statistics. The research should look closely from multiple angles at the work conditions of, for example, the so-called nominal managers who are effectively not given discretion over their own work hours but are not entitled to overtime wages, people who work irregular shifts, workers who spend their private hours at home on their unfinished jobs — and how such practices impact their health.
    Along with the probe on the circumstances of people who die from overwork, the ministry’s draft calls for research into medical efforts to prevent such deaths, cuts to the hours worked by corporate employees, as well as efforts to encourage workers to take their paid holidays. It sets a target of reducing the proportion of workers who work 60 hours or more a week from 8.8 percent in 2013 to 5 percent or less in 2020 — although whether this target is ambitious enough is in question.
    The Labor Standards Law limits work hours to eight a day and 40 a week. Still, these limits can be extended under a labor-management accord at each company. Discussions to set a maximum limit on work hours — including overtime — remain pending. Criticism abounds that many companies fail to properly manage the work hours of their employees.
    The Abe administration is meanwhile seeking to introduce a new system in which certain types of high income workers would be excluded from the work-hour regulations and be paid for their work performance, instead of the hours they put in. The government says the proposed system —which individual workers would choose of their own accord based on an agreement between management and the company’s union — would contribute to efficiency and may enable workers to reduce their hours because they can leave once they’ve done with their job.
    But criticism persists that the system could exacerbate the problem of long work hours, and doubts remain if the mechanism in the system to prevent overwork is sufficient. Concern about the proposed system is shared by many of the people involved in the fight against death from overwork, including lawyers and families of the victims. The proposal, included in the amendment to labor laws that the administration hopes to enact during the current Diet session, needs to be carefully discussed from the viewpoint of protecting workers’ health.

5/09/2015 – 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. Troup County's top teacher uses creativity to help students succeed, WTVM9 ABC via wtvm.com
    TROUP COUNTY, Ga., USA - May 4 through 8 was Teacher's Appreciation Week around the country.
    Many teachers face difficulties in and outside the classroom that may have an impact on their job. Furlough Days and pay scales are some of the contributing factors that every school system faces.
    [And inarticulate reporters? With no editors?]
    Michelle Ashmore, Teacher of the Year in Troup County for 2016, said she goes above and beyond to make sure her students are getting the best education possible. What makes her so worthy of this title is her way of taking her teaching outside the classroom.
    "I like to do things incredibly out of the box, to try new ways of teaching and get kids to thinking in different ways," said Ashmore.
    She takes pride in making sure her students are top notch in her class. As a teacher of 12 years, there are some challenges with her job.
    "The perfect lesson plan is not necessarily how things happen, we have to take into consideration all 25-30 individual students' backgrounds and what's going on in their life," said Ashmore.
    Being a teacher takes heart, creativity and determination. While balancing those qualities, teachers also make adjustments in other areas.
    "There are new state mandated tests, new requirements and also a new evaluation system. So those all coming down from the state at one time really kind of put a strain on our teachers," said Yolanda Stephen, Director of PR for Troup County Schools.
    Teachers are also paid based on their education level in Troup County. The starting salary for a teacher with a Bachelor's degree is $34,742.00-thousand dollars. A teacher can make up to $50,000 yearly with a doctorate degree.
    "Our pay scale in Troup County is comparable to other county around the system. Here we are a close knit family and we like to provide options for our teachers. Now having those two furloughs days are [sic] something that we have currently but we're trying to scale back on," said Stephen.
    [Better to have furloughs than firings, fewer workdays than fewer jobs.]
    Despite those issues, the advanced placement Government and Economics teacher say it was a surreal experience to be honored by her community.
    "Incredibly humbling to be recognized by such an amazing faculty and staff," said Ashmore.
    Not only was Ashmore named Teacher of the Year for the county in March, but she was also named Teacher of the Year for Troup County High School in February.

  2. Union calls further Deutsche Post strikes as talks break down, by Harro ten Wolde, Reuters via euronews.com
    FRANKFURT, Germany – German trade union Verdi on Saturday called for further strikes next week at Deutsche Post after talks over a new wage agreement broke down.
    Deutsche Post rejected Verdi’s demand for a 5.5 percent wage increase for 140,000 workers in addition to its existing request for shorter working hours, as part of a dispute that already has led to several strikes.
    Verdi, which also wants working hours shortened to 36 per week from 38.5, said on Saturday in a statement it would soon give details of where workers will go on strike next week.

    Relations between the union and management have soured since Deutsche Post announced plans in January to create 10,000 new jobs at its parcel business by 2020, but said the new workers would have to accept lower wages than other group employees.
    Verdi has said such a move would breach an agreement limiting how much business Deutsche Post can outsource and said it would only accept it if the company shortened working hours.
    Edited by David Evans

5/08/2015 – 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. AAR Mobility Systems in Cadillac Plans to Temporarily Layoff About 100 Employees, by Cody Boyer, 9&10 News via 9an10news.com
    CADILLAC, Mich., USA - More than 100 employees of a leading manufacturing company will find themselves temporarily without a job next week.
    It's not the first time AAR Mobility Systems has laid off employees for a period of time.
    This time, a decrease in funding will force the plant to layoff workers for several weeks.
    More than 100 employees of the Cadillac plant were given three-week furloughs set to start Monday.
    The layoffs are temporary, but still are concerning to many who work there.

    [Hey, "temporary" is better than "permanent" - Timesizing, not downsizing!]
    Cody Boyer spoke with several employees who did not want to appear on camera who say the concern is very real.
    According to the AAR corporate office, just over one-third of the employees were given three-week furloughs.
    A consequence of a decrease in government funding.
    Come Monday, the workers will be out of a job.
    We talked to Michigan Works! to look into what you have to do if you are one of the employees laid off.
    They said they are ready to help anyone who was included in the list of furloughs.
    "If there are layoffs, the person that is laid off, the employee is required to file a claim with the unemployment agency and then they are required to come into a Michigan Works! office and register for work," says Katy Taylor, operations manager at Cadillac Michigan Works! "Michigan Works! is poised to help any manufacturer or any employer for that matter if there is a layoff."
    The corporate office says each worker is set to return to work on June 1.
    There are no plans to increase the duration of the layoffs at this time.

  2. Puerto Rico to furlough government employees two days a month without pay, Fox News Latino via latino.foxnews.com
    SAN JUAN, P.R., USA - Puerto Rico's public employees will be furloughed without pay for two days each month to reduce government spending, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, Luis Cruz Batista, announced Thursday.
    One work day every two weeks will be eliminated for all public employees, except for police officers, teachers and corrections officials, Cruz Batista said.
    The measure is expected to save the government $50 million.

    [Better furloughs than firings, because they slow the economy slower, but in government cases like this, better tax the rich than do furloughs, because taxing the rich doesn't slow the economy at all - quite the contrary, because it gets that huge knot of money loosened up and back in circulation.]
    This is the first of several measures the island's government is considering with an eye toward cutting the current budget by 15 percent, or $1.5 billion.
    Other measures that may be announced in the coming days as the government outlines its budget include reducing the funds allocated to the University of Puerto Rico, among other public entities, by 20 percent.
    Also, government contracts in certain sectors, especially in education, will be eliminated, subsidies of non-profit entities will be suspended and funds given to the island's 78 municipalities will be cut back.
    Last week the legislature rejected a tax reform plan that proponents say would have raised revenues by $1.5 billion.
    With an accumulated debt of $73 billion and having been in a recession for more than eight years, Puerto Rico does not have the ability to go to the financial markets for more loans. In addition, the government is having difficulties paying bondholders and may have to shut down in less than 90 days if it cannot somehow increase its available funds.

5/07/2015 – 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. Borough Hall To Cut Hours Again This Summer, by Saul Qersdyn, RoselleParkNews.org
    ROSELLE PARK, N.J., USA - For the second year in a row, Borough Hall [= city hall of a 'borough'?] will be open only 37½ hours, instead of its regular 40 hours, during the months of June, July, and August, with this year having the summer schedule start a month earlier than in 2014.
    It will be open late on Mondays and closed on Fridays.
    Starting June 1st and ending August 28th, Borough Hall will open a half hour later than it does the rest of the year. As with last year, the matter was not brought up for discussion or a vote during a Mayor & Council meeting before it was publicly announced on the Borough website. The summer hours are:
    Monday   8:30 a.m. - 7 p.m.
    Tuesday     8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
    Wednesday   8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
    Thursday   8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
    Friday   Closed
    When this was first initiated two years ago, the intent was to allow residents more access to Borough Hall before or after work during the summer months for their convenience.
    In 2013, Borough Hall was open from 7:30 a.m. till 7 p.m. on Tuesdays as well as Thursdays. The rest of the week it was open its regular hours – 8:30 a.m. till 4:30 p.m. – this had Borough Hall open for 47 hours.
    Last year, Borough Hall opened at 8 a.m. and closed at 5 in the afternoon with Thursday being its late night – till 7 p.m. Fridays had Borough offices closed. This was almost 10 hours less than the summer hours in 2013 and 2½ hours less than it is open the rest of the year. This year, the late night is being moved to Monday. These hours will apply to the Borough Clerk’s office, the Construction Department, and the Tax & Finance offices.
    The option of closing on Fridays during the summer was originally discussed in 2013 but back then, the governing body felt that doing so would be too much of an inconvenience for residents.
    There is no reported cost savings to the municipality to have a summer schedule since the workweek for employees will remain 37½ hours although employees will benefit by having three-day weekends for three months. No mention was made if Borough Hall would be open on July 2nd since July 3rd would already be a national holiday.

  2. Hospitals of Paris: Discussions on the 35-hour workweek fall short, by Leila Comarond [+Google Translate & (cleanup) Phil Hyde], World News via LesEchos.fr
    The Director General [DG] of the Assistance,Public/Hospitals of Paris [AP-HP] offers unions a chance to revise the 2002 Protocol on working time. The aim is to save 20 to 25 million euros per year through improved organization and avoid job cuts. (Photo caption)
    [Not one aim but two & in the wrong order.]
    PARIS, France - This Thursday the first meeting on current worktime arrangements was held at the AP-HP. It came up empty. The CFDT [union, "Confédération française démocratique du travail"] decided with the other unions to call for a day of action on May 21. Martin Hirsch [the DG] still believes in the possibility of an agreement.
    Wednesday, when Martin Hirsch..opened discussions on the overhaul of the 35 hour workweek in Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP), it lacked a union to call, the South-Health union having boycotted the first meetings and the CGT [union, "Confédération Générale du Travail"] and Force Ouvrière [union, "Workers' Force"] having walked out at the end of one hour. But the CFDT and smaller non-representative unions thus lacking signing authority stayed to the end. This Thursday, they even returned for a new meeting, the first in a series of five on the general status before the kickoff of actual negotiations, scheduled on the 28th of May according to the suggested timetable submitted by the General Directorate together with an orientation document framing the discussions last week. But the meeting was cut short. All the organizations of hospital officials decided to suspend their participation in discussions.
    A sensitive topic
    Moreover, the CFDT, which till then had remained behind, decided along with all the other unions to call for the day of action on the 21st of May. This date had been pegged a week before day for day by the CGT, South Health and Workers' Force on word of a very tall order: against "austerity." Too tall for the other unions of the AP-HP, and in particular for the centrist Laurent Berger who contests the use of this term, judging it excessive, and going far beyond the question of the 35 hour workweek in the Hospitals of Paris to cover any government policy and that of management. But the prospect of a challenge from the worktime reduction agreement signed in 2002 by the CFDT (with UNSA [Union nationale des syndicats autonomes] and the CGC [Confédération générale des cadres]), which have earned its activists on the ground almost physical confrontations with officials of other organizations, has angered the CFDT base. Martin Hirsch, who has so far shown great social skill, obviously had not measured how sensitive the topic was.
    Does this mean that the negotiation is stillborn? It is far too early to say. What is certain is that the first phase of discussions, intended to get the situation spread from here to the 20th of May, will not take place. The extent of the success of the inter-union day of action will be decisive for the follow-on. There is nothing to say today that they will not take place, although the CGT and Workers' Force (over 40% of AP-HP's agents between them and 32% for CGT alone) said Wednesday they refused to participate.
    Obtain financial wriggle room
    To review, it is clear that if there are negotiations, unions count heaviliy on their call for mobilization being massively heeded to permit them to speak from a position of strength... While the government wants to make an example of Hospitals of Paris, who knows if it could not also permit Martin Hirsch to obtain financial leeway refused him today. He announced to the trade unions that from the viewpoint of the National Goal of Health Insurance Spending (Ondam, [Objectif National de Dépenses d'Assurance Maladie]), the elimination of 4,000 jobs would be necessary in five years failing a revision in the organization of worktime.
    For now, the Director General of the AP-HP rejects any disaster scenario. "The discussion is having a hard time coming to grips," said he on France Info this Thursday at the end of the afternoon, but he only referred to a pause of ten days till the 21st of May. He returned to the necessity of reviewing the organization of worktime in order to avoid the suppression of jobs. "I hope to return in a few weeks head held high for everyone, t\he unions, the staff and me, because the public service will be running smoothly," he affirmed.

5/06/2015 – 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. Balinese workers are workaholics: BPS, by rms, TheJakartaPost.com
    BALI, Indonesia - The National Bureau of Statistics (BPS= Badan Pusat Statistic in Indonesian) has noted that Bali is the province with the highest working hours in the country, which shows the reality that Balinese workers are workaholic and [?]productive.
    [Survey after survey has shown that in the age of robotics and A.I., "hard work" and long hours have no corelation to productivity; in fact, often quite the opposite. See Juliet Schor's The Overworked American.]
    “Bali has the highest working hours. Workers in general work above the normal hours. They are hard workers,” head of the Bali BPS office Panusunan Siregar said in Denpasar on Wednesday.
    [Hard workers instead of smart workers? In the age of robotics and A.I.? That's nothing to boast about.]
    Panusunan said that based on a survey conducted by BPS in February, 76.9 percent, or 1.8 million, of 2.4 million workers in the province worked more than 35 hours per week, while only 15.54 percent, or 376,900, worked less than 35 hours .
    “Bali has the least number of workers working less than 35 hours per week, while Indonesia has the highest number of workers working less than 35 hours weekly,” he said as quoted by kompas.com.
    [Good for Indonesia! But...RIP to Bali's reputation as Paradise = from Bali high to Bali low!]

  2. Laboring Under China's Labor Laws, by Marlisse Silver Sweeney, Corporate Counsel via corpcounsel.com
    BEIJING, China - Employment law compliance is always a challenge, one that doesn’t get any easier when your company has workers in multinational jurisdictions. And that goes double when one of those jurisdictions is China.
    Dan Harris recently published a memo from a colleague on his China Law Blog, outlining some of the basics for good L&E compliance in the People’s Republic. Some of the top takeaways include:
    • Work the Workweek: China doesn’t allow arrangements of comp time in lieu of compensation. Instead, any time worked over the country’s 8-hour workday or 44-hour workweek must be compensated at 150 percent of the base salary. If the employee is working on a “rest day,” which in China is Saturday afternoon or Sunday, then he or she must be compensated at 200 percent of the base pay; that goes up to 300 percent for a national holiday.
      [Instead of motivating employees to monopolize scarce market-demanded employment with extra overtime pay, China should be vigorously converting chronic overtime into training and hiring (T&H), either by corporate or individual reinvestment of OT pay in OT-targeted T&H.]
    • When the Workweek Doesn’t Work: “Chinese labor law recognizes that for certain times of employment, a regular, 44-hour workweek, 8-hour day is simply not practical,” reads the memo. It goes on to state that it is possible to get permission from the local labor bureau to establish a flexible system for certain employees.
    • Vacation Time Isn’t Flexible: Under Chinese law, vacation with pay is mandatory. Employees with one to 10 years’ employment get five days; 10 to 20 years’ employment earns 10 days off; and logging more than 20 years gets 15 days. The law says vacation must be taken the year it is accrued and doesn’t roll over.

5/05/2015 – 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. German train drivers start five-day strike in wage dispute, AP via San Antonio Express News via news.yahoo.com
    Freight trains stand still at a train station in Hagen, western Germany, at the start of Germany's longest rail strike on Monday, May 4, 2015. German train drivers of the GDL union have begun a seven-day strike until next Sunday in a long ongoing dispute with the country's national railway operator Deutsche Bahn. GDL wants a 5 percent pay increase and shorter working hours. (photo caption)
    [shorter than 35 hours a week?]
    BERLIN, Germany — German train drivers started a five-day strike Tuesday, their longest walkout yet in an increasingly bitter dispute with the country's main railway operator.
    Passenger train drivers walked off the job at 2 a.m., joining freight train drivers who already started their strike Monday. The GDL union said the drivers won't return to the job until 9 a.m. Sunday.
    Railway operator Deutsche Bahn told the dpa news agency that traffic running on its backup schedule was "stable" but only about one-third of its long-distance trains and two-thirds of its regional trains were running. Some subway systems were also affected, including in Berlin and Hamburg.
    GDL wants a 5-percent pay increase and shorter hours but the central sticking point is its demand to negotiate for other staff, including conductors, who are traditionally represented by a larger rival union.
    Deutsche Bahn has said if GDL is to negotiate for others, it would have to accept the same pay deals agreed to with the other union. Meantime, Deutsche Bahn has offered a 4.7-percent increase in two phases and a one-off payment, and has suggested taking the dispute to arbitration.

  2. WorleyParsons axes 2,000 jobs and cuts hours in face of oil price slide, by Jenny Forsyth, City A.M. via cityam.com
    NORTH SYDNEY, Australia - WorleyParsons, Australia’s largest oil services business, yesterday announced it was cutting 2,000 jobs and reducing work [hours] due to falling commodity prices.
    The firm, which has operations throughout the UK and the rest of Europe, forecast second-half earnings will fall about 50 per cent from the first half of the year.
    The Sydney-based company said that the redundancies, the early cancellations of office leases and other costs associated with scaling back projects would cost $125m before tax.
    “The benefits of this will flow through to the 2016 financial year, and are estimated to deliver future annualised savings of AU$75-100m (£39-52m),” the company stated.
    WorleyParsons, which is focused on oil and gas sector construction projects, has blamed falling commodity prices for its drop in earnings and deterioration of its workload since February.
    Margins have also been hit in North America, where gas developments in Canada and the US were viewed as attractive last year.
    “WorleyParsons is taking further action to adjust its business to market conditions,” the company said.
    WorleyParsons shares fell around 10 per cent in Australia on the news.
    [And with deeper hourscuts, they could maintain employment and avoid these market-worsening jobcuts. Compare -]

  3. Washington State and Seattle set the nation’s highest minimum wage, by James H. (Mug) Shott, Bluefield Daily Telegraph [VA] via bdtonline.com
    SEATTLE, Wash., USA - Since 1998, Washington State has led the nation in both local and statewide minimum wage levels, which attracted the attention of Labor Secretary Tom Perez who praised the state for having “the highest minimum wage in the country for the last 15 years.” But the full picture is much less rosy than Secretary Perez would have us believe.
    In an article on Forbes.com the Freedom Foundation’s Maxfeld Nelson put things in perspective. “Although the state’s overall job growth has remained strong since adoption of the high minimum wage, growth in industries with a prevalence of low-wage workers has slowed,” he reports.
    Citing Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census Bureau data he writes that while Washington State’s share of the nation’s population increased by 5.7 percent from 1998 to 2014, and its share of total U.S. jobs increased by 6.3 percent, the state’s share of U.S. hotel and restaurant jobs, which could have been expected to rise commensurately, fell by 5.7 percent.
    Those industries are where thousands of people the higher minimum wage was supposed to help were once employed.
    In fact, while Washington’s teen unemployment rate had roughly paralleled national trends prior to the 1998 minimum wage hike, every year since then it has been substantially higher, and at one point reached 34 percent above the national rate.

    [With a lower workweek (and the higher employment that results), you can completely avoid two-edged minimum wage laws. Bottom-of-range money per job or "wage" is the province of the free market, set by individual agreement between employer and employee. Bottom-of-range money per person is the province of government. If Washington State graduated from its very active worksharing program of partial government controls on top-of-range worktime per person to a full-fledged version of such controls such as Timesizing, it would generally not need any of these toxic bottom-of-range wage controls that merely open up or widen a gap at the bottom of the wage ladder against new entrants and clobber small business. True, Timesizing's Phase 2 appears to be a worktime-per-job control, which should be the province of the free market, but it's actually just a convenient forward extension of Phase 3's top-of-range worktime per person control that levels the free market's playing field against market-selfdestructing, management-spoiling overconcentration and coagulation of skills and working hours. There is a natural bottom, zero.  Is government going to step in and ban unpaid internships? No, it is far better to ensure that these are non-abusive by guaranteeing there are more job openings per jobseeker than fewer job openings per jobseeker as now, by deconcentrating overwork per person, defined as gross working hours per person from which freely spendable earnings may be derived, as distinct from overline "working" hours per person which are so enjoyable or otherwise non-monetarily motivated that the individuals involved are willing to "give back" and reinvest all earnings from those overline hours in spreading the skills and worktime involved to other people.]
    Not content with the state’s $9.47 minimum wage, SeaTac, a small city that depends heavily on businesses benefitting from its airport, decided to raise its minimum to $15 an hour in a close vote in a 2013 election. “Although the narrow drafting of the ordinance and ongoing litigation have limited the law’s scope to a mere handful of businesses and employees,” Mr. Nelson writes, “it is still having consequences. A parking company has added a ‘living-wage surcharge’ to its rates. One hotel closed its restaurant and laid off 17 employees. Employees at another hotel reported losing an array of benefits, with one stating that the $15 minimum wage ‘sounds good, but it’s not good.”
    And now Seattle has hopped on board that bandwagon with a phased-in minimum wage, raising the minimum to $11 an hour April 1, and the rate hike will be fully implemented by 2025. Some businesses, however, are on a sped-up schedule, like Ritu Shah Burnham’s Z Pizza restaurant.
    Even though she has only 12 employees, her business is classified as part of a “large business franchise,” putting her on the fast track to raising the minimum. “I’ve let one person go since April 1, I’ve cut hours since April 1. I’ve taken them myself because I don’t pay myself,” she told a local TV station. “I’ve also raised my prices a little bit; there’s no other way to do it.”
    One of her employees was initially excited at the advertised benefits of getting a raise and having a better life. “If that’s the truth,” he told the TV outlet, “I don’t think that’s very apparent. People like me are finding themselves in a tougher situation than ever.” He will only get to enjoy the higher pay until August, when Ms. Burnham has determined she must close her business. “I have no idea where they’re going to find jobs, because if I’m cutting hours, I imagine everyone is across the board,” she said.
    Jake Spear, the director of 15 Now Seattle, a wage hike advocate group, was unmoved at the plight of these 12 employees. It’s just one restaurant, after all. “Restaurants open and close all the time, for various reasons,” he said.
    Back during the flower child era of the 1960s and 70s, the operative slogan was, “If it feels good, do it!” That slogan has more recently been co-opted by pandering politicians, labor union leaders, and others more interested in the immediate rewards of increased numbers of fawning, adoring voters and thankful union members than with the reality of lost jobs, higher consumer prices, and struggling businesses.
    The fallacy in the minimum wage debate is that so many people — liberal feel-gooders, people new to the workforce, people in the most basic jobs and/or with the lowest skill levels, along with pandering politicians and union bosses — don’t understand the significance of varying wage levels.
    It eludes them that wages must be earned, not merely given like a gift, and that higher wages require more training, knowledge, skill and experience from workers than lower wages do. There is more involved in earning a high wage than just getting hired and showing up for work. You have to contribute something positive to the business you are fortunate enough to work for, and the greater your contribution, the more you are able to earn.
    A mandated high minimum wage contributes to the entitlement mentality, where people expect to exist without having to contribute very much to their own well-being. This is not a positive development for a society that was built by generations of Americans who were hard working and self-reliant.
    Detroit and Baltimore are graphic examples of the failure of liberal policies, and now we see Washington State and Seattle heading down that same path.
    James H. “Smokey” Shott, a resident of Bluefield, Va., is a columnist for the Daily Telegraph.

5/03-04/2015 – 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. Hocking College Moves Funds To Pay Faculty, by Sarah Hawley, 5/03 (5/02 late pickup) Athens Messenger via WOUB.org
    NELSONVILLE, Oh., USA - In an effort to maintain a balanced budget for the current school year, the Hocking College Board of Trustees took $480,000 from funds which were to be placed into the college’s reserve in order to pay for the days the faculty will not be on furlough as had been planned in budget cuts last fall.
    [This story goes on to have the most eye-glazing debate about what's a furlough that, as Dave Barry says, you could not possibly make up!]
    When the budget cuts were announced last fall, furlough days were implemented for faculty, staff and administration throughout the college.
    A grievance was filed by the professional bargaining unit (Hocking College Education Association) regarding the furlough being placed specifically on the faculty which resulted in them losing pay.
    Trustee Mike Brooks asked, “Everyone else in the institution took a furlough and helped balance the initial budget, except the professional bargaining unit, correct?”
    President Betty Young stated only the faculty did not.
    “So we wouldn’t be in this position without the professional bargaining unit (only faculty members) challenging that request,” Brooks stated.
    After the meeting, Hocking College Education Association President Mark Yanko responded to the comments made by Brooks about the faculty.
    “It’s disingenuous to say we were the only group that didn’t take that (the furlough),” stated Yanko. “Everyone else at the college who took a furlough, covered their furlough with vacations, so the college was still writing the same paychecks to those individuals, unfortunately, they were taking vacation during times that they didn’t want to take it but they could cover their pay by taking those vacations. Faculty could not do that. Faculty saw pay, they saw a loss in their pay.”
    Yanko questioned whether the furlough placed on the faculty was in fact a furlough.
    “I think it was a working suspension because they never actually followed the rules of a furlough. There were never days that faculty actually didn’t report to work because of that. They just violated the contract by taking money away from the faculty and unfortunately we had to file a grievance to stop that action because it wasn’t correct,” Yanko said.
    Trustee Robert Troxel voted against the resolution to transfer the funds.
    Troxel questioned Chief Financial Officer Gina Fetty as to if that was the only location where money could be taken from.
    “At this late in the game, that magnitude of money, yes,” stated Fetty, indicating that the reserve was the only place to find the money to pay the faculty. The furlough amounts will be paid in May according to Fetty.
    Fetty estimated the college had approximately $800,000 in the reserve fund, but stated later that there was approximately $6 million in total assets. She noted that it was insufficient funds for the target of having 4.8 months of operating funds in reserve which would equal an estimated $16 million.
    Yanko said the union was willing to work with the college to help alleviate the problems, but that nothing seemed to work out.
    “Dr. Young came to us at the very beginning of this and she said that she needed something from us but she did not identify what she needed or how much she needed,” Yanko said. He added that the union did present some information, but it was not enough as they did not know exactly what they were trying to work toward.
    “So yes, they are going to have to pay that back because they have a contract with us. It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t work something out because we really wanted to work something out with them but they were not willing to do those pieces,” Yanko concluded.

  2. To boost low productivity, more Korean companies dedicating select hours to focused work, by Cho Kye-wan, 5/03 The Hankyoreh via english.hani.co.kr
    SEOUL, S.Korea - LG U+ introduced its “911 working system” in 2013. The system involves dedicated working hours between 9 and 11 each morning. LG Display has similar dedicated hours from 8:30 to 10 am and from 4 to 5:30 pm at its Paju and Kumi plants. During those hours, workers are encouraged to avoid smoking or other distractions and focus on collaboration and duties instead.
    Iquest, a software development company at Guro Digital Complex in Seoul, has a policy of discouraging meetings and chatting by its development divisions between 10 am and noon. At the Export-Import Bank of Korea, a “dedicated working hours” notification message goes up on the intranet for one hour at 10:30 am and another at 2:30 pm. It’s a signal to avoid distracting employees by calling meetings or issuing orders in all but emergency situations.

    [Maybe genuine workweek reduction will evolve based on these “dedicated working hours?]
    “We also avoid outside events during that period, and intranet messaging [for conversations] doesn’t operate,” the bank explained.
    More and more South Korean companies today are introducing dedicated working hour systems: setting aside peak-efficiency times during the daily working hours and discouraging indiscriminate meetings, reports, sudden orders, and approvals so that employees can concentrate on their work.
    “Morning is the best time for focusing and working efficiently, so any departmental meetings get put off until the afternoon as much as possible,” said U+.
    “There’s less working in the evenings now that people can concentrate,” the company added.
    A source with Iquest said employee complaints were a factor in the decision.
    “Before, people would say, ‘Every time I sit down to do some work, they tell me I need to come to a meeting,’” the source recalled.
    “There are fewer unnecessary meetings now, not just in the development divisions but in the other ones too,” the source added.
    Meetings are typically short and held after the workday is over.
    The “dedicated working hours” approach is just a temporary fix for South Korean corporations, which have yet to move beyond a strategy of growth that relies on massive infusions of capital and labor, with correspondingly low productivity.
    Total factor productivity (TFP) is an index that measures the efficiency resulting from focusing on work and on technological and organizational innovations.
    In a 2014 report by the Korea Productivity Center (KPC) that compares the total factor productivity of various countries according to their national accounts, the rate of increase of the South Korean economy’s TFP has remained sluggish, growing by 0.49% in 1991-1995, 0.23% in 1996-2000, 0.19% in 2001-2005, and 0.20% in 2006-2011.
    TFP’s contribution to economic growth (the increase of total output) has also been decreasing as well, from 5.25% in the 1990s to 3.85% in the 2000s. This contribution is less than half of the figure in the US (18.09% in 1990-2005) and in 10 countries of the European Union (9.64%).
    South Korean workers can’t be faulted for their diligence - they work more, and longer, than any other country in the world - but their productivity is low. This results from the prevalence of what is known as “diligent inefficiency.”
    But why is it taking South Korea so long to boost its productivity? Cho Min-sik, director of the Korea Investors Service, points to the bureaucracy of corporate organization, which is so bloated that it could make fresh makgeolli (Korean rice beer) turn into vinegar.
    “South Korean corporations managed to imitate and overtake leading foreign companies through their organizational power. Since the Asian financial crisis [of 1997-98], however, they have moved beyond an efficient degree of organization to a level of bureaucracy that is worse than government organizations,” Cho said.
    The argument is corroborated by the fact that big corporations have begun spinning off business divisions into subsidiaries as they become aware of the inefficient side of corporate bloat.
    “The rigidness of corporate organizations drags out the decision-making process of planning, deciding, and executing, causing workers to stay late simply because their boss is still at work. As workers waste more hours in this way, productivity decreases,” said Cha Seong-mi, an analyst at the Korea Productivity Center.
    Some analysts also think that bureaucratic bloat results in organizations directing too much of their resources at internal affairs rather than getting actual work done. One good example is the huge number of meetings and reports at Korean companies.
    “Reports and meetings are intended for higher-ups in the organization, and they are written and planned for their perusal. Even if a dedicated working hours system cuts meetings to a few minutes and reports to a single page, it’s common for companies to go back to their old practices,” said Kang Seung-hun, a senior analyst at LG Economic Research Institute. Kang described how off-the-record meetings and secret reports that are several pages long creep back into the system.
    “The only way to change this habit of viewing long working hours as a virtue is to clearly define the personal responsibilities and performance goals of individuals working in the office,” Kang said.
    Please direct questions or comments to (english@hani.co.kr)

  3. The Death of the 40-Hour Work Week, 5/04 WNEP 16 via wnep.com
    MOOSIC, Pa., USA — When you’re hired for a full-time job, the understanding is that you’ll put in at least a 40-hour workweek.
    The expectation — especially for salaried employees who don’t qualify for overtime — is that you’ll put in more to ensure your projects get done.
    Or because the boss needs something at the last minute.
    Or just because everyone at the office regularly works more than 8 hours a day, and you’re seen as kind of a slacker if you don’t.
    So how long do full-time U.S. employees really work every week?
    A Gallup survey last summer found that the average for full-time employees was actually 47 hours — or 46 if you isolate those workers with just one job. Either way, that’s almost the equivalent of an extra business day on top of the usual five-day workweek.
    Of the more than 1,200 adults surveyed, 21% said they worked 50 to 59 hours while 18% said they worked 60 or more. Another 11% estimated 41 to 49 hours.
    Meanwhile, more than half of the 7,500 people who took CNNMoney’s work-life balance quiz last week said they feel pressure to work more than eight hours a day and to work some weekends, too.
    So employers seem to be getting quite a bargain when it comes to all the additional hours of work.
    Or maybe not.
    If decades of studies are to be believed, too many hours at work can make Jack a less productive, less creative and less healthy boy — to say nothing of an absent partner at home.
    Of course, working two or three hours more a week won’t do anyone in and may even boost productivity.
    But when you regularly log lots of extra hours every week you risk getting into the land of diminishing returns.
    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cites studies that found “a pattern of deteriorating performance on psychophysiological tests as well as injuries while working long hours.”
    It also cited four studies that found “that the 9th to 12th hours of work were associated with feelings of decreased alertness and increased fatigue, lower cognitive function, [and] declines in vigilance on task measures.”
    Some employers actually get it.
    Ryan Sanders, co-founder of HR software maker BambooHR, has instituted what he calls an “anti-workaholic policy” for his 130-plus staffers.
    He insists that his employees not work more than a 40-hour workweek. (The majority of his staff is salaried and not eligible for overtime.)
    Sanders’ logic is simple: Burning out is bad for the employees, bad for their families and bad for his business.
    If he notices an employee logging 60 hours, he’ll first try to find out why, he said. Is her department short staffed? Is she doing things that once were essential but now are less so? Does she feel an unspoken pressure to work all the time?
    If the overwork persists, his conversation with the errant employee gets “sterner.” In one case, he had to talk to a staffer a few times because she kept wanting to do more.

    That compulsion to do more, of course, is easy to succumb to when there is a lot to do — whether you’re working for a startup, a company chasing market share or just a boss who decides a given project is critical and urgent.
    Even when that’s the case, though, that shouldn’t have to mean insane hours and artificial deadlines all the time in Sanders’ estimation.
    “You’re fooling yourself if you think you’ll get it all done,” Sanders said. “It becomes really crucial to prioritize.”
    Share your work-life balance horror story. What’s the worst example of your job (past or present) bleeding into your home life? Tell us your story and you could be featured in an upcoming story on CNNMoney.

5/02/2015 – 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. Union eyes $868 million pension fund boost, by Stephanie Chao, The China Post/Asia News Network via news.asiaone.com
    Thousands of people took to the streets in the capital Taipei to demand the government raise salaries, shorten work hours and ban temporary hiring in the annual May Day protest jointly organised by dozens of unions and rights groups. (photo caption)
    TAIPEI, Taiwan - The Taoyuan Professional Union (TYPU) rallied hundreds of protesters at the Legislative Yuan yesterday, demanding that the government meet their demands regarding fewer labour hours, mandatory weekends and an exclusive system to fund the labour pension budget.
    The activists said that they hope to see less labour hours and a NT$20 billion (S$868.4 million) yearly budget injection for the labour pension fund instituted by the end of the year.
    Chairman of the Taoyuan Professional Union Tseng Jung-hsiang said that in 2013, then-Premier Jiang Yi-huah and the Ministry of Labor had planned to move NT$20 billion to replenish the labour pension fund, which many fear will go bankrupt by 2027, to ensure financial stability over the next 30 years.
    Tseng accused the government of never following up on that promise, leading workers to fear that the labour pension fund might go bankrupt in the near future.
    Members of the younger generation of workers also expressed concern that they may not be able to receive labour pensions at all in 30 years' time.
    [Sounds familiar to Americans!]
    "The government cannot fail to fulfil its promises to the nation just because the previous premier and Cabinet resigned," Tseng said.
    Taiwan's labour workers remain in the "overworked" category, despite mandatory weekends already implemented for civil servants and public schoolteachers, Tseng said.
    He added that current laws mandating that employees' work hours should not exceed eight hours per day or 84 hours bi-weekly have already fallen behind mainland China's laws that mandate a 40-hour work week.
    Labor Day March Attracts Thousands of Protesters
    Labor workers from all parts of the nation, as well as and unions and labour groups, including the Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions, joined in the Labor Day March, which was led by TYPU on Ketagalan Boulevard.
    They demanded that the government "cut down working hours, ban overwork, increase wages and refuse using dispatches (temp workers)."
    Before the march, black-shirted protesters from labour groups threw smoke flares at the Presidential Office in an attempt to point out the ineffectiveness of the Ma government during the past seven years.
    Union groups headed to the Legislative Yuan to hurl paper guavas at the building, demonstrating that the workers are fed up with the legislators' "sugar-coated lies" and are refusing their "guava checks," meaning bad checks.
    More than 150 police officers were deployed to keep the peace.
    Health care workers, firefighters and members of the police force also joined in the Labor Day march, declaring that an employee carries the workload of several workers, claiming that insufficient manpower at their institutions is causing them to be seriously overworked.
    In remembrance of the TransAsia Airways' Penghu plane crash last year, airline employees also attended the march for the first time.
    The march was made up of five groups, including workers from industries such as media, electronics, health care and airlines alongside national freeway toll collectors, firefighters and police officers, signifying what the protesters claim is the perpetual low-quality working conditions in the labour workforce in Taiwan.

  2. Why ‘May’ Day? by Anil Rajimwale [a good old-time Marxist], MainstreamWeekly.net
    NEW DELHI, India - This year again, the world is celebrating the First of May as the May Day, a day of labour struggle, solidarity and festival. It would be interesting to learn why the month of May was chosen for the first all-American industrial strike in 1886, which led to the birth of May Day or the International Labour Day.
    The month of May has traditionally been a festive one in Western history. May was celebrated as ancient spring festival in the northern hemisphere. In ancient Rome, days in May were celebrated as festival days, some of them being called ‘Floralia’, in worship of the forces of Nature. In many of them, the common people, particularly the working people, gathered together and enjoyed. In England and some other countries of Europe, several kinds of festivities were traditionally held in this month, among them the setting up of the ‘Maypole’. In British villages, people used to bring trees from the forest and set them up in the centre, with coloured ribbons wound around. It was accompanied by singing and dancing. It was also supposed to be a kind of exercise of the people’s rights over the forest [where's he get THAT?]. This was also common in the US.
    Since the reform of the Catholic calendar, the First of May was designated as the day of ‘St Joseph the Worker’, the saint of the workers. Seeding in agricultural activities used to be complete by this time, and it was possible to give farm labourers a day off.
    Struggle for Shorter Work Day
    Since the beginnings of industrial capitalism, the struggle for the shortening of working hours had been a key feature of workers’ life.
    [implying it continued to this day? Uhuh. If it had, workweeks would be lower, wages would be higher, and economies would be sustainable.]
    The birth of industrial capitalism was marked by long and unlimited work hours, often stretching beyond 20 hours.
    [No, limited by the hours of daylight = 12 in summer, 8 in winter, until the arrival of gas lighting in the 1840s and the union-catalyzing attempts of mill owners to extend long summer hours throughout the year.]
    The history of industrialism is replete with examples where men, women and children worked for 16, 18, 20, even 22 to 24 hours in cases.
    [No it isn't. The U.S. generally got the 10-hour day by the Civil War, and the 40-hour week by 1940.]
    There were examples in English industry when workers, particularly children, just went to sleep at the machines in the midst of hard workday. Deaths due to harsh and long work were quite common. Frederic Engels in his famous work The Conditions of the Working Class in England and E.P. Thompson in his seminal work The Making of the English Working Class provide well-researched description and analyses of conditions of the working class. The British labour inspectors themselves, by no means supporters of the workers’ cause, describe the horrible and unimaginable conditions of industrial workers in their survey reports. Their reports are valuable source material for the study of the subject.
    [Why dwell on the 1830s when this is still a very much unfinished project?!]
    The first ever legislations on reduction of the work hour dealt with the work of children.
    [Specific examples?]
    Their work hour was sought to be reduced to around seven hours (!) through legislation [where? when?]. One can imagine the work conditions of the adults. It is a most fascinating and yet painful subject for study.
    [Is this in Engels and Thompson?]
    One of the most famous movements for shortening work hours took place in England in the first few decades of the 19th century. The movement is known as the Chartist movement after the ‘charter’ the workers presented to the authorities. The movement lasted mainly from 1838 to 1844, although it was in existence sometime before and after the dates.
    The movement advanced two main demands, which became the hallmarks of the workers’ movement all over the world: right to vote and reduction of the work hour to 10. At that time 10 hours was an advance. The two demands were political in nature, which showed the high level of the workers’ consciousness [huh?]. Voting right was obviously a political demand. The work hour demand was also political in the sense that it went beyond the economic framework and became a class demand in the face of the government and state policies as representative of the capitalist class.
    [Uh, of what relevance is whether whatever is a political or class demand? And why is there no "economic demand"?]
    Memorable struggles took place in the course of the Chartist movement.
    The work hours gradually came to be reduced basically because of three factors: 1) pressure of the workers’ movements, 2) growing cyclical capitalist-industrial crisis, a law discovered by Karl Marx, 3) competition between and among the industrial capitalists.
    [The relevance of 2) and 3) needs to be spelled out.]
    The Chartist movement deeply influenced the class consciousness [relevance?] of the international working class movement, and was a milestone. It underlined the great significance of the voting rights for the workers and of the struggle for the shortening of work hours as an effective weapon against the rising capitalist class, particularly the ever-concentrating big capital.
    [Drop the resistance-evoking military metaphor and switch to "shortening of workhours as a way to reduce management indiscipline, always a bigger problem in the long term than labor indiscipline, particularly as national money supplies overconcentrated and coagulated during prolonged periods of peace under conditions of mounting labor surplus and falling wages."]
    Working Class Movement in US
    There already existed an effective labourers’ movement in the US since the late 18th century.
    [Not really - see early chapters of Roediger & Foner's Our Own Time.]
    The working class movement in the US has a rich tradition of class struggle for its demands including for reduction of working hours.
    [Too bad they didn't vigorously focus on this empowering issue - we'd all be better off including the super-rich.]
    The American workers were closely related[?inspired] with the ideals of human rights as enshrined in the American Declaration of Independence of 1776. In fact, the workers left a deep impact upon the Declaration [huh?].
    As has been mentioned by this author on another occasion, the American Declaration of Independence was deeply influenced by the common working people, and was written by Thomas Jefferson in a worker’s hut [reference needed].
    The workers also took active part in the Civil War (1861-1866) in the US. The Civil War was in fact the first industrial war, in which various industrial means and methods and classes were in use[?in play]. As such[?], the working people took an active part in the struggle against slavery. Many industries and unions were destroyed and many others came into being after the War.
    [Huh? The Civil War was great for all industries and unions - like all wars before drones - because it created wage-raising labor shortage faster (and more wastefully) than hours reduction.]
    Among the most effective demands of the American workers was that for reduction of the working hour[?time per person]. After the Civil War, the American workers regrouped in new and more industrial conditions[?situations]. Their movement step by step came under the impact of the world movement and became its part[?part of it]. The Chartist movement of England deeply impacted it. With the coming on the stage of Marx, Engels and Marxism, the American workers’ movement gained clearer idea of its goals, aims and strategic objectives.
    [Not really, because Marx and Engels never realized that worktime reduction was the ink and paper of the list of labor goals and not just another item of the list, albeit high on the list, and that if repeatedly adjusted downward against un(der)employment, worktime reduction would be a much more direct and efficient way of achieving economic sustainability than nationalizing everything, which only works if there happen to be more skillful managers in the public sector than the private sector at the time of nationalization.]
    Effective movements took place in the 1830s to 1860s all over America to shorten the work hour.
    [More like ineffective movements, losing battles but winning the war...]
    Workers’ struggles, strikes, processions, mass meetings etc. took place all over the country to demand regularisation [not a word that occurs in the history] and reduction of the work hour. By that time the demand was to reduce the duration of work from 10 to eight hours.
    [Wrong again. The battle for the 8-hour day only started after the Civil War, which ended in 1865. See Roediger & Foner. (Now veering off to get this update done...) ]
    Often the movements were a kind of festival, with people and their families coming out in large numbers, all decked up in red ribbons, festoons and banners and red flags fluttering from all possible places, much before the events of May 1886. Red colour had become a banner of the US working class in the first half of the 19th century itself. So, its birth was in no way related to the events of May 1 (1886).
    The founding conference of the National Labour Union or NLU of the US was held on August 20, 1866 in Baltimore. It was led by William Sylvis of the Moulders’ Union. He was an inter-nationalist in outlook and was in contact with the International Workingmen’s Association or the First International. This union put in active efforts to agitate for an eight-hour workday. Its activities constituted an important source of the May Day struggle of 1886.
    On July 14, 1877 began the 45-day great strike of the American railroad workers in Martinsburg, West Virginia. They were later joined by other workers. It was in protest against the third cut in wages in a row. The post-civil war period saw an expansion in demand for construction and capital. The owners of private railroads, industrial owners, steel makers etc wanted to concentrate as much capital as possible to invest and to garner huge profits. The struggle spread all over the US and to other industries. The railroad (railway) and steel workers took part on a wide scale in Pennsylvania and elsewhere such as in Philadelphia, Missouri, Illinois etc. It was the first all-American working class industrial action, leaving a deep impression on history. It was brutally suppressed, and several workers were killed in cold blood and many others were sent to the gallows.
    The Federation of Organised Trades and Labour Unions (FOTLU) of the United States and Canada, known more popularly as the American Federation of Labour or the AFL, resolved in 1884 that eight hours would be the norm from 1886, and called for action on May 1, 1886 in its support. They got huge popular support, and later the workers’ organisation, called the Knight of Labour (K of L), and several other unions also joined the massive workers’ action all over the US.
    The decade of 1880-1890 was one of industrial expansion in the US. But in between, the years 1883 to 1885 were those of depression as a result of the cyclical crisis of capitalism, following the crisis of 1873. This was in accord with the theory of cyclical crisis developed by Karl Marx. It was precisely the assimilation of this theory that helped the working class to plan its united protest movement.
    The number of strikes grew in numbers and strength. Their number doubled in 1885 compared to 1884. The number of affected establishments grew rapidly during 1884 to 1886: while their number was only 2467 in 1885, it rose to more than 12,000 in 1886.
    It was this recessionary period of mid-1880s that prompted the decision to organise a nation-wide workers’ strike in 1886. It was a shift from the usual period of activities of the American workers in September. The idea was to treat the action not as some holiday or festivity but an effective political-economic class action to press for certain key demands. These economic, political and organisational considerations prompted choosing of the month of May for nation-wide action.
    Marxism versus Anarchism
    The middle of the 19th century in the US saw a serious transition in the form of workers’ struggles: from workers’ festivals to mass workers’ actions including political ones related to work-hours. The process was accelerated due to and after the Civil War of the 1860s. It should be realised that without the influence and guidance of the emerging Marxist thought, the May Day movement in the US would not have succeeded. Marxism, as worked out by Karl Marx and Frederic Engels, was an emerging force in the international working class movement. Often attempts are made to erase or sidetrack the contribution and decisive role Marxism in the working class struggle. It is being done even today by both the modern-day Anarchists and the bourgeois theoreticians and ideologists.
    The headquarters of the First International (International Workingmen’s Association) had to be shifted in 1872 from London to New York, where it functioned till 1876. This was done at the request of Marx himself, who wanted to save the organisation from further disruption by the Anarchists. Marx and his group were fighting severe theoretical and practical battles against them, in the course of which they succeeded in rolling Anarchism back. Marxism came to be accepted as the dominant ideology and theory of the working class and socialist movement in Europe and the US, that also attracted the cream of the intelligentsia.
    It was Marxism which provided the working class with a clear scientific concept of socialism, and of the class demands, aided by a historical materialist analysis of the capitalist mode of production. This proved to be the most potent theoretical weapon for the class of labourers and their organic intellectuals to fight the new class of concentrated capital. That is how the working class came to the forefront of history for the first time, guided by Marxism. Marx deduced the role of the working class by its place in production, which determined its revolutionary nature.
    Anarchism refused to understand and assimi-late the new scientific discoveries of Marxism, and stuck to the old utopian concepts of socialism, which were more of a subjectively imposed will and wish of a handful of conspiratorial leaders. They refused to accept any change or development, and thus to change their tactics and methods. The revolution they professed based itself entirely on the so-called armed struggle carried out secretly by groups of revolutionaries. In practice, this attitude destroyed considerable working class forces in self-destructing adventurist acts including in the US, and damaged the workers’ organisations. The Anarchists engaged in serious splitting activities in order to impose their wrong, unscientific concepts. They set up their own parallel International (the so-called ‘Anarchist International’).
    It was in these circumstances that Marx and Engels requested shifting of the headquarters of the First International to New York.
    Marx and Engels have severely criticised the utopian and sectarian concepts and actions of the Anarchists, in the course of which the two of them developed their scientific concepts, preparing firm grounds for the future of socialism.
    Anarchism in American Labour Movement: Role of First International
    The first fruit of the American Civil War (1861-66) was the struggle and partial implementation of the eight-hour working day. The First International, in its meeting in Geneva in September 1866, adopted the decision of the Baltimore Convention of the NLU of the US held in August, about two weeks previously. The International noted that the resolve of the Baltimore Convention had now become the resolve of the international working class movement.
    It was not easy, no cakewalk, for the American working class to reach the heights of May Day and win the struggle not only for an eight-hour day but also of democratic rights and the socialist concepts. Before the action of May 1, 1886, Anarchist consciousness was quite widespread and did much damage to the movement. It opposed the very concept of an organised trade union and labour movement. Their ideas had to be fought back before the all-US labour strike took place.
    The Anarchist newspapers in the US published provocative adventurist materials, inciting the workers to self-destructive armed actions. For example, just before May 1, 1886, the Anarchists gave a call for ‘Workers to Arms’, adding that ‘One pound of dynamite is better than a bushel of ballots’, etc. Thus they tried, unsuccessfully, to channelise the movement away from the struggle for democratic and voting rights.
    The Anarchists also tried to show the Marxist movements and organisations like the American Socialist Party in bad light and carried on a sustained disruptive campaign against them. Outstanding Marxists and mass labour leaders like Weydemeyer, Eugene Debs, William Sylvis and others meticulously and step by step built up the fighting organised capacities of the American working class. Sylvis was in corres-pondence with the First International, and helped the NLU to contact the International.
    Despite the misgivings of many Anarchists, a quarter million workers came out in Chicago in a peaceful show of workers’ might on May 1, 1886 for an eight-hour workday. They were accompanied by many millions throughout the US. Workers in 13,000 businesses across the US walked out of work. The whole action of strikes and processions was entirely peaceful. It showed the class maturity and mighty unity of the working class to fight for its demands in a peaceful yet effective manner.
    It was the mighty and united class unity of the international working class, educated and tempered by scientific Marxist theory, that helped spread the message of May Day the world over with the help of the Second (Socialist) International.

5/01/2015 – 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. Japan proposes revised laws to long working hours, CNTV.cn via news.xinhuanet.com
    BEIJING, China -- Long days in the office followed by long nights drinking with colleagues are as much a symbol of Japan. And despite efforts by both government and companies to change this image, tackling the deep ingrained work culture is proving harder than the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expected.
    Japan has long been known as a place where workers pound long hours, take few holidays and long nights of drinking with their colleagues.
    According to the labor ministry, average Japanese full-time employees put in average 173 hours of overtime in 2014.
    However, experts suspects the true number is far higher, as most employees under-report their overtime, typical of Japanese corporate structure.
    Japanese government and corporations are trying to change this trend.
    Promoting more productivity.
    Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s submitted a revised Labor Standards Law that would allow firms to exempt well-paid skilled workers from work-hour regulations, which would effectively do away with overtime pay.
    However, there are strong opposition to this bill as workers will simply be forced to put in longer hours without due compensation.
    Another Japanese corporate culture blamed for declined in birth rate and marital damages are the drinking sessions after work.
    Its a coined word between Japanese word for drink and English word 'communication'. A 30 year veteran office worker say it is necessary time spent.
    It is a tradition so strongly embedded in Japanese corporate culture, that there are even "How-to-attend" classes held for foreign national working in Japanese companies.These drinking sessions are not compulsory, nor it is an overtime. But most times you are obligated to attend.
    Initiative to reduce overtimes and work-drinks may have just started. But it seem it might take sometime yet to get Japanese businessmen home early.

  2. H4 work permits halted: Lawsuit filed by Save Jobs USA..against DHS H4 EAD rules, by The Indian Panorama (TIP) Press Bureau via theindianpanorama.com/us
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - The lawsuit, co-led by the Immigration Reform Law Institute, centers not on the H-1B “high-tech” employment visa, but on the related H-4 visa that applies to the spouses of H-1B holders. A Department of Homeland Security rule published in the Federal Registrar in February purports to allow H-4 holders the right to work in the country. According to DHS estimates, 179,600 of these work permits will be doled out in the first year alone, with 55,000 more going out in subsequent years. Also according to the rule, DHS has given itself the option of expanding the program to other groups in future. The lawsuit asserts basically what H-1B expert Norm Matloff said recently, that the new H-4 visa rule is yet another example of U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services “taking the law into their own hands.”
    The complaint against DHS revolves around two functions of the new visa rule. Besides creating a new category of competitors against American workers, the H-4 rule states: “A primary purpose of this rule is to help U.S. businesses retain the H-1B non-immigrants”.
    [This is a different kind of shorter-hours story. It involves shortening the number of excess labor hours available flooding in via immigration, or out via outsourcing.]
    In other words, the rule works to draw in potential H-1B workers from abroad (and who are used to far lower salaries and living standards) while providing work permits to brand-new competitors (their potentially high-skilled spouses) who will directly compete with people like Julie Gutierrez. According to the complaint, advertisements for H-4 visa holders are already popping up on engineering job boards online.
    Among the legal claims is that the authority to create work permits under the H-4 visa cannot be found in the Immigration and Nationality Act or elsewhere. But the plaintiffs say that even if a statutory basis could be found, DHS acted “arbitrarily and capriciously” when it concluded that the rule would have only “minimal labor market impacts.” As mentioned, DHS has admitted that the program will hand out nearly 200,000 work permits to new foreign job competitors in the first year, with a further 55,000 every year afterward. This alone shows that DHS’s “finding” that American workers won’t be affected was merely conjecture.
    Elsewhere, Save Jobs USA claims that the Department of Labor failed to certify that the new visa rule won’t “adversely affect wages and working conditions” of similarly employed American workers – that such certifications exist will probably surprise those workers in immigrant-heavy industries who have seen flat-line wages for decades. By contrast, many foreign-visa supporters believe that tech companies must interview Americans first before tapping the pool of H-1B workers; however, there is no such requirement in the law. One expert testified before Congress last month that “employers can easily hire an H-1B worker at wages far below what an American worker is paid.”
    The H-4 and H-1B programs, like most employment visas, confer benefits to other country’s citizens at the expense of American workers. It’s a corporate subsidy paid for by the middle class and everyone from Senator Sanders to Senator Inhofe now seems to agree. As the late Democratic senator Eugene McCarthy warned in 1992, right after the creation of the H-1B program, we cannot let America become “a colony of the world.” For the members of Save Jobs USA and other workers like them, this could give rise to a new Gadsden Flag. Any presidential candidate for 2016 who waves that banner will pull in a new and growing constituency that’s begging to be heard: the displaced American worker.

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