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

9/30/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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. France's Sarkozy: each firm should decide for itself on 35-hour week, by Ingrid Melander, (9/29 late pickup) Reuters.com
    PARIS, France - Every French business should be allowed to decide for itself if it wants to keep or scrap the 35-hour work week, conservative opposition leader Nicolas Sarkozy said in an interview published on Tuesday.
    The decision should be made in each firm through negotiations between employers and unions, or, if they fail [to agree? or to relengthen the workweek in this age of robots?], by a vote among staff, the former president told Les Echos financial daily.
    The French economy "is asphyxiated by all the measures taken since 2012", said Sarkozy [oh yeah? not when France currently has higher productivity than Germany!], who wants his party to pick him again as their candidate for 2017 [Gott forbitt!], advocating labor "reforms" [LOL = our quotes] that would go further than those he made when president from 2007 to 2012.
    Before losing an election to Socialist Francois Hollande three years ago, he took steps such as reducing taxes on pay for overtime work to circumvent the 35-hour week.
    "I think the French are more ready now to understand what's at stake, because they are so anxious about the economic dead-end France is in," he told Les Echos.

    [What economic dead-end? We repeat, France currently has higher productivity than Germany.]
    Sarkozy however did not go as far as his former prime minister Francois Fillon, who is viewed as more economically liberal and wants to scrap the 35-hour work week altogether.
    [That makes Fillon more "conservative" and backward, not more liberal. "Dinosaurkozy" is a little Energizer Bunny robopath making continued attacks on France's most important exceptionalism: leading the world in the lowest nationwide workweek and the most nationwide freedom, job-secure Free Time, nevermind its higher productivity than Germany.]
    Outspoken Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron has come under fire from within the ruling Socialist Party for suggesting the 35-hour week, introduced by a Socialist government in 2000, was a mistake.
    [No, freezing it at 35 instead of further reducing it was the mistake, and a further omission was assuming that it was OK to just leave the conversion of chronic overtime into jobs up to market forces instead of deliberately implementing it.]
    A CSA [stands for??] opinion poll showed earlier this month that 71 percent of French are in favor of letting each company and its staff decide on how many hours they work.
    Prime Minister Manuel Valls said earlier this month he wanted to simplify the country's over-complex labor laws, but would not scrap the 35-hour week.
    Studies show that many French people work more than 35 hours despite the law.
    (Reporting by Ingrid Melander; editing by Andrew Roche)

  2. Maldives govt cuts down official working hours, haveeru.com.mv
    MALÉ, Maldives - President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom on Wednesday decided to change the official working hours from 8:00 a.m to 2:00 p.m.
    The decision was made at today’s Cabinet meeting, on the recommendation of Cabinet members, following extensive deliberations on changing the official Government working hour, president's office said.
    "The President made this decision in order to provide the opportunity for Government employees to spend quality time with their families, to work in the private sector apart from the Government, and to facilitate youth to be more involved in sports activities, further education and technical professions," the office said.
    Current official working hours for government employees are from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m, with a one hour break from 12:00 p.m to 1:00 p.m.
    However, the new working hours would include a 30 minute break as per the labour law.

    It is however not yet clear when the new working hours will come into effect.

9/29/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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. Mifa wants to expand, but puts staff on short-time work, by Markus Huber, (9/28 late pickup) newsblog.ispo.com
    BERLIN?, Germany - Heinrich von Nathusius, the new owner of large German bicycle manufacturer Mifa since the beginning of this year, is facing fresh problems with the company. From Oct. 1 until the end of 2015, the entrepreneur intends to put 350 of the altogether 550 workers on short-time work. During this period, they will work only 30 percent and will spend 30 percent more time on training.
    Von Nathusius told the Mitteldeutsche Zeitung that, following the acquisition, some 50-60,000 bikes were found which still need to be sold, but which are in an unexpectedly bad shape. The sales will have an impact on the company’s financial performance.
    For the rump financial year from January through September, Mifa expects to have sold nearly 400,000 bicycles – sales of some €60 million. This is not considered sufficient for a turnaround.
    By the start of next year, von Nathusius wants to see production running as normal and expects sales of about €104 million for 2015-16. Despite its current difficulties, Mifa is set to move to a new production plant, scheduled to open in mid-2016. Investment in the new facility is said to be around €17 million.

  2. Half of PM’s seven-day GP access pilots have cut opening hours, by Sofia Lind, PulseToday.co.uk
    LONDON, UK - The Prime Minister’s flagship scheme to extend GP [general practitioner? general patient?] access appears to be rapidly running out of steam, with almost half of pilots [pilot projects?] reducing opening hours and local GP leaders citing lack of demand.
    A year after the Prime Minister pledged that all patients would have access to a seven-day GP service – from 8am to 8pm - by 2020, a Pulse investigation has revealed that, of the 18 pilots that were given funding in April 2014 to offer seven-day access, eight in total have now either cut weekend or evening hours, or stopped providing the service altogether.
    The initial funding for the scheme, worth £50m, runs out this month and NHS [National Health Service] England and the CCGs involved in the pilots are remaining tight-lipped about whether the schemes will continue. But Pulse has learned seven-day access schemes across the country have been cut:
    • In Devon, the Devon Doctors Group running part of the pilot in south-west England told Pulse that its four 9am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday appointment sites were ‘no longer in operation’.
    • NHS Slough CCG said that its Challenge Fund pilot has reduced weekend access to four hours on Saturday and Sunday, having originally offered 9am to 5pm on both days.
    • In Derbyshire, there are still two seven-day hubs, but they have cut hours from four hours to two hours on weekdays, and 12 hours a day to just three hours at weekends. The CCG told Pulse funding for the reduced service will continue until March, after which seven-day access will be provided through its ‘vanguard’ GP partnership.
    • A number of practices in north-west London have cut hours for their seven-day access pilot being run across five CCGs. A spokesperson for the CCGs said the CCGs as a whole are providing seven-day access to ’many more patients’ since the start of the pilot.
    This is in addition to four other schemes that reported doing so earlier in the year due to the pilots proving ‘unpopular with patients’, meaning almost half of all pilots have scaled back their ambitions before the pilots end.
    Local LMC leaders say the reason for the cuts is little appetite for seven-day services among patients. A spokesperson from Londonwide LMCs told Pulse: ‘The CCGs have found that weekend opening is not as popular as first thought, so weekend hours covered have been modified.’
    Dr John Ashcroft, executive officer at Derbyshire LMC, says his local pilots have taken money away from existing services and bemused patients. He says: ‘It may tick the seven-day access box for managers and the Department of Health, but has made little difference to patients – except confusing them with initiatives that are not joined up.’
    An NHS England spokesperson said: ‘A national evaluation of the programme will be published with more information on each of the pilot.

9/27-28/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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. Ukrainian factory Yuzhmash - Trolleybuses instead of missiles, by Bernhard Clasen, 7/27 taz.de
    The once-largest Soviet defense plant is facing bankruptcy despite the war. If it wants to survive, it must set its sights on civilian products.
    DNIPROPETROVSK, Ukraine - "Even today, Americans who visit us get goose bumps when they hear what factory I work in," Evgeny Derkach says proudly. Derkach is an engineer in the missile factory Yuzhmash and honorary spokesperson for the trade union "Labor Shield" in the eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipropetrovsk.
    Yuzhmash, founded in 1944 immediately after the withdrawal of German troops, should actually have produced cars after completion. But with the beginning of the Cold War Stalin overruled his plans. In 1951 he let the entire factory retool - and specialize in the construction of intercontinental ballistic missiles.
    For decades Yuzhmash remained the center of military missile technology - with all the consequences. Dnipropetrovsk was declared a closed city. From then on, visits were possible only with special permission. Yuzhmash received the code name "Factory 586." At peak times, 60,000 workers were employed here.
    Together with the design facility Yushnoye in Dnipropetrovsk, Yuzhmash produced mid- and long-range missiles until the end of the Soviet Union. From Dnipropetrovsk originated the SS-7 and SS-18 ICBMs, which could reach any point in the United States. "Like sausages from the automat" the missiles would thenceforth be produced, joked Kremlin leader Nikita Khrushchev in 1958 during his visit to Dnipropetrovsk. Yuzhmash had become a dreaded brand.
    "If today somewhere in the world a space rocket launches, then there's always a piece of my hometown in it too," a taxi driver at the main station of Dnipropetrovsk had boasted. But the once so proud plant stands close to bankruptcy. "Already for over three months, I'm getting no pay. And just as for me, so it goes for all my colleagues," complains union spokesman Yevgeny Derkach. Derkach advises colleagues who are threatened by short-time work or dismissal.
    It's also going badly for the union
    His union is not rich. All employees are working only for the supposed honor of it; the narrow office on Station Street is truly no prestige address: From the walls plaster crumbles off, on the ceiling waterstains testify to frequent pipebursts, in the three-story office building there are repeated energy blackouts.
    The highly qualified engineer receives nearly 200 euros a month - if he gets it at all. "March was a beautiful month," Derkach said ironically. "Because I got seven months wages at once - retroactively." For the first half of the year, 70 percent of the workforce have been on unpaid leave. Currently there is some work again. "But short-time work starting October was announced for us again. We would then keep working only one day a week," said Derkach.
    The economic situation at the former defense giant is catastrophic. Current debt of over 10 million euros and unpaid water bills bring employees of the plant to despair. "I advise no one to go to the toilet at Yuzhmash," says Valentina, an employee. Because unpaid bills shut off the water frequently. "Who would have thought years ago that this plant could ever go broke?" asks the woman.
    Leonid Kuchma too had not let himself dream such a thing. In 1986 the engineer was appointed General Director. He managed the plant through the vicissitudes of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Then he went into politics and in 1994 was president of the Ukraine. He who as president was deeply involved in corruption and crime could not hold back the decline of his plant.
    [Did this corrupt criminal even bother to attempt that?]
    Where once 600,000 people worked, today only 6,000 are still employed.
    Planning for rescue operations
    Nonetheless, the employees have not completely given up hope. There are efforts to save Yuzhmash. In February, as union activist Derkach reports, a meeting was held in Kiev to frame plans for recovery. Together employers, employees and government have worked out a five-point plan. They agreed among other things on higher government subsidies, an increase in government defense contracts and on a merger with the sister company Yushnoye. Only the last point, admits Derkach, seems doable.
    The union "Labor Shield" supports the merger with the design facility Yushnoye; where 4,000 employees work. They, in contrast to Yuzhmash, are in the black. But on one question there is disagreement with the government and management, explains Derkach. They want to transform the new firm into a state-owned stock corporation. "They tried to make the stock corporation palatable to us," said Derkach. Supposedly it would be easier for them to obtain bank credit. "For the stakeholders, so they told is, nothing would change, eventually though the state would own 100 percent of the shares."
    Disagreement with the power side
    But the unionists do not trust the deal. "I know the model," said Derkach. "Once we're a stock corporation, we can get loans. And as security, we offer our ownership of the corporation. And when we can't repay the loans, the ownershp of the company goes over to the ownership of the bank," he says.
    The economic problems have a reason. Till now, Yuzhmash was getting 80 percent of its orders from Russia. Since the war in eastern Ukraine, that is over. Kiev has broken with Moscow. If Yuzhmash wants to survive, the plant has to look for other customers.
    Besides satellites and rocket parts for the space industry, for a long time Yuzhmash has produced wind turbines, streetcars, buses, trolleybuses and tractors. The largest customer is currently the Brazilian space industry. The space rocket Cyclone 4 is largely produced in Dnipropetrovsk. This year the first launch will take place in Brazil: a glimmer of hope.
    But Yuzhmash factory leadership under the General Director Sergei Vójt is not very communicative. A TAZ interview request on factory perspectives was decided in the negative due to "scheduling difficulties."
    Trade ban with Russia
    By far more talkative, however, is Oxana, who works in the administration of Yuzhmash. You ask yourself again and again, why Yuzhmash stands close to bankruptcy, she scolds. Oxana knows that the construction facility Juschnoe, which in essence produces the same stuff, is by contrast in the black. Quite simply, she follows up, without waiting for an answer: In Yuzhmash you're stuck with the ban on trade with Russia.
    With the construction facility, however, they are quite inventive in circumventing this ban. Metal, which they had previously received from Russia, now comes from Cyprus. The sender is an offshore company. Ultimately even at Yuzhmash, they are always less willing to observe the sanctions against Russia.
    "It's already almost remarkable these days how frequently my bosses repeatedly travel to Moscow," says Oxana. The fear that in this secrets would also be divulged, was however unfounded. The Russians have always known everything they needed to know, and in the nineties they passed along knowhow to China and the USA to the highest bidder and under the table.
    If Yuzhmash wants to survive, it must offer more civilian products. Not everyone is enthusiastic about it. "In the past, in Soviet Union times, we built tractors to conceal the construction of rockets. Today we build tractors, because we still get hardly any orders for missiles," says engineer Mikhail. Very much knowhow would be lost perish if we built only tractors and windmills. Resignedly the missile technician proceeds: "One day things may have gone so far for us that we can only produce pans and cooking pots."
    Thus far it has not gone that far. In early September it was announced that Yuzhmash has again fished a new job ashore. The plant will build ten trolleybuses for Dnipropetrovsk.

  2. Business Daily: Increasing number of Korean firms grant flexible work hours, by Lee Ju-young, 9/28 (9/29 over dateline) Arirang News via arirang.co.kr
    SEOUL, S.Korea - Researcher Lee Jung-in says balancing work and family time has become much easier ever since her workplace the state-run Korea Institute of Energy Research granted flexible work hours to employees.
    "It's a lot of help since I'm able to go to work after taking more time in the morning to send my children off to kindergarten."

    Currently, more than half of the total staff members at this institute come to work between seven to ten in the morning and leave anywhere between four to ten at night.
    Many have welcomed the change implemented since April this year saying the policy has come in handy during personal emergencies and planning for vacations.
    "It's a lot of help when it comes to raising my kids, and since I can set my own schedule, I think I can focus better at work."
    It's not just at public entities. Korea's conglomerates like Samsung, LG and Hyundai have also allowed employees to take on more flexibillity in their work hours with an aim to promote more efficiency in the office and foster creativity.
    Experts say this kind of flexibility can increase leisure time which can eventually boost domestic consumption.
    And while the concept of flexible working hours is not as prevalent in Korea compared to other developed nations, an increasing number of people are hoping for more freedom at the workplace.

9/26/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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. Grantville holds public hearing on four-day work week, by Kandice Bell, Newnan Times-Herald
    GRANTVILLE, Ga., USA - Grantville City Council held a public hearing on Thursday regarding a proposed four-day work week for employees.
    It’s primarily because Grantville offers few benefits and the retirement plan no longer exists, said City Manager Al Grieshaber.
    “When I first started here, the first thing I heard was to get audits done, get the 2016 fiscal budget passed, and get better benefits for our employees,” Grieshaber said. “We recently lost two police officers due to health insurance costs for spouses and dependents.”
    Grieshaber said he was faced with the challenge of improving employee benefits without spending a lot of money while reaching goals and making the workplace more progressive.
    “We want the workplace and benefits to be family friendly and well-rounded,” said Grieshaber. “We want employees to want to work for Grantville.”
    Grieshaber also said that he had taken a survey from four Florida cities that offered a four-day workweek: Archer, Gainesville, High Springs, and Sanford. He said service was not diminished because of the Friday closure, adding it would also be the case for Grantville.
    Grieshaber received input from a few city employees and from former mayor Eddie Phillips. Phillips recommended the city try it and if it doesn’t work to go back to the original work week. Grieshaber said he does not have any cost savings analysis because the city has never participated in a four-day work week.
    “If we try this and it does not work, we can always reconsider,” Grieshaber said. “We don’t know because we have never tried.”
    Resident Rolf Docterman spoke in favor of the four-day work week, with certain conditions.
    “We’ve never tried it so we really don’t know,” said Docterman. “I would like to know it’s an experiment and with enough negative comments, we will revert back.”
    City employee Diane Middleton also spoke in favor of the four-day work week.
    “I have been here the longest, which is five years,” said Middleton. “My productivity won’t change. Friday is actually our slowest day. When some people come to pay on Friday, they ask us to hold the check until Monday.
    We’re not taking any services and we’ll be a leader for a new model. We need the 90-day test to have data to decide if it works or not.”
    Middleton also said that the proposal could stop employee turnover since retirement and other benefits can’t be provided.
    Resident Selma Coty spoke in opposition to the proposal on behalf of herself and the Grantville Coalition. Coty said this was her first time hearing about the benefits side of the proposal.
    “A lot of cities have tried this and abandoned it because it didn’t produce the expected savings,” said Coty. “By going to a four-day work week, we’re saying that the job is about hours and not meeting goals and objectives, which are to serve the city and citizens.”
    Resident Jim Sells said that Friday is the busiest day of the week for business.
    “The busiest day is Friday because it’s payday,” said Sells. “Employees are paid to provide services to citizens. If people don’t pay their utility bill, they could suffer a long, cold, weekend. I have no doubt the employees will love it, but I hope the city council votes to put this to bed.”
    The proposed four-day work week is set to start on Oct. 5 for 90 days. City hall and public works would be closed on Fridays and open Monday-Thursday from 7 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.
    The senior citizens center and the police department would keep the same hours. Council is set to vote Monday on the issue.

  2. Kicking and Screaming 'Til They Get Their Way, by Stephanie Dolan, NUVO Newsweekly via nuvo.net
    INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., USA - A little over two years ago, my partner – an Army veteran – had reached the end of his unemployment benefits. He had been laid off more than a year, and – even though he holds multiple degrees – was only repeatedly told that he was overqualified. This uber-frustrating hardship was magnified because it was happening at the tail end of one of the most prolific endowments of George W. Bush's presidency: the Great Recession that had produced a ridiculously high unemployment rate.
    This problem was a fiscal stink that hung in the air well into Obama's tenure. It was only truly clearly visible once Bush and his posse had vacated the premises and the White House had been fog-bombed to get rid of all the right-sided stupid still clinging to the walls. That "stupid" clung on so strongly that it was easy for snub-nosed conservatives to blame the problem on Obama.
    Then, the boyfriend received a job offer. But it was 500 miles away.
    He went to work. I stayed here with the house and the dog missing him terribly.
    And what happened two months later? The 2013 government shutdown. Around 800,000 "non-essential" federal and state employees were furloughed for nearly two weeks while Republicans, whining incessantly about their displeasure with the Affordable Care Act, took a shot at holding the country hostage in an attempt to get what they wanted.
    Today we still have Obamacare, and there are hundreds of thousands of employees who lost a half a month's pay because our country's most auspicious [capricious] lawmakers were throwing a tantrum.
    Indiana's own 3rd District Rep. Marlin Stutzman of Howe, IN was also in office at the time of the 2013 shutdown, and he was one of the 32 Republicans with whom leveler heads had to negotiate.
    Stutzman, at the time, was quoted as saying, "We aren't going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don't know what that even is."
    Stutzman contributed to the shutdown, but he didn't know what he needed to get out of it in order to vote to end a mandatory unpaid furlough for nearly a million people.

    There are rather significant rumblings that another government shutdown may be imminent. This was personally confirmed for me when the boyfriend told me that his superiors had begun discussing plans for what to do in case a furlough goes into effect October 1.
    Why this time?
    Republicans are now refusing to pass any budget that includes funding to Planned Parenthood. Government funds are never used to pay for abortions unless it is a specific case of abuse, rape or incest. The right just wants to defund a woman's right to utilize an organization that is all about women's rights.
    I encourage all of you to do a Google search on Stutzman. Because you'll see a headline entitled "Marlin Stutzman = Big Time Dumb Ass".
    Those are Democratic Underground's words, not mine.
    But we all know that everything we read on the interwebz is infallible.

9/25/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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. Nervous French Socialists Take on Free-Market Cheerleader Macron, by Helene Fouquet, (9/24 late pickup) Bloomberg.com
    • Economy Minister Seeks End to Jobs-For-Life in Government
    • Hollande's Socialist Party Faces Rout in Regional Elections
    PARIS, France - Faced with a looming defeat in regional elections, France’s Socialists are turning on one of their own.
    That’s what Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron is finding out as he casually drops suggestions on how to kick-start French growth after three years of stagnation. Having orchestrated tax cuts for business, kept more stores open on Sundays and helped make labor laws more flexible, the former Rothschild banker last month suggested dropping France’s 35-hour work-week law and now wants to end the job-for-life guarantee given to French civil servants.
    Such ideas appeal to business leaders and even the wider public. To many in President Francois Hollande’s Socialist Party, Macron is waving a red-flag to a bull. Their thinking -- not unlike the backers of British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn-- is that their movement should be tacking left, not right, to win more votes.
    “He’s arrogant,” Martine Aubry, the Mayor of Lille and former minister who wrote the 35-hour workweek into law said. Macron is “ignorant of what people face day-to-day,” she said, adding that she is “fed up” with him.
    Some Socialist lawmakers even want Macron fired before French voters elect new regional assemblies in December. Hollande’s party is set to lose the majority control of France’s regions it currently holds.
    Le Pen
    The vote to elect 13 regional assemblies will be held in two rounds on Dec. 6 and 13, the last major trip to the polls for the French before the next presidential election a year-and-a-half later.
    Le Pen, leader of the anti-immigrant National Front and candidate in the northern region that includes Calais and Lille, may win power there, according to a Sept. 17 Ifop poll. Her niece stands a chance of winning the South Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region, which has been in the hands of the Socialists for 18 years, a separate poll show.
    Macron is “the future scapegoat for the massive beating the Socialist Party is going to take in December” Le Pen said in an interview on RMC radio on Thursday.
    Popular Minister
    Outside the Socialist Party, the view of Macron is different.
    About two-thirds of French people support the minister’s call to align work contracts between the public and private sectors and and dropping the job-for-life perk, according to separate polls by Opinion Way and Elabe.
    Macron is also the second-most popular politician in the country behind Bordeaux mayor Alain Juppe, according to a CSA poll for Les Echos. His approval rating jumped five points in August to 44 percent, according to the poll.
    Hollande, who hired Macron as his economic aide before upgrading him to minister last year, is keeping a careful distance ahead of the elections. Asked about criticisms from Aubry and others at a press conference in Brussels, he said simply, “silence is golden.”
    Macron himself dismissed his opponents, saying people would be ready to keep the Socialists in power if the economy was strong.
    “I think when people have pudding and jobs they vote for you,” he said in London Thursday. “For me, the next election depends on the ability to deliver, to get results and to have good news to deliver.”

  2. Finally, official recognition that CGSC is broken, bust and in the ditch, by Nicholas Murray, Best Defense via ForeignPolicy.com (blog)
    FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kans., USA - After much criticism both externally and internally about the overburdening class schedule, the leadership at the Army’s Command and General Staff College called for meetings to discuss the possibility of immediately cutting hours from the Common Core of classes — that is, these are the main classes required for JPME Phase I certification.
    The reason provided for this seeming change of heart by the college’s administration, was the overburdening of students by a ridiculous schedule that has meant that many of them already are burned out.
    This is partly the result of far too much training in what purports to be graduate level education, and this is something that has made the situation worse.
    Training is useful. It prepares students for the known. But the task of CGSC is education, which prepares students for the unknown through the development of improved critical and creative thinking. So important is this idea that the Army University White Paper of 2015 points out that “education is the most reliable strategic investment that the Army can make in the face of an uncertain future.” It also states that “preparing leaders for the complex world of tomorrow demands change today.” Well, there has been change but it is not clear it matches the intentions of the White Paper. The number of hours has again started to creep up (classes have been moved around, renamed, or reconfigured, but not removed). That this has been an ongoing issue for several years, at least, seems to have bypassed the college’s permanent administration: but that is another issue.
    Now, finally, there appears to be a willingness to accept the criticisms of CGSC’s own internal Campaign Plan 2014.
    Or is there? The reaction to the problem seems to be an attempt not to fix what is clearly broken, but rather to tweak the current schedule so that the students complain less. Of course, my assessment might be wrong, and the school might not cut hours– which could have a possible knock on effect JPME Phase I accreditation. But, is any of this really what we want from something called “Army University”? Surely, the university concept is a good one if CGSC is to match its Mission Statement that it “will always strive to be an educational center of excellence.” Thus this latest agonizing about overburdened students, which essentially occurs every year, would seem to indicate that CGSC still has not figured out how to match its own rhetoric and move towards becoming an educational center of excellence, let alone actually be one. As such, the Army University concept is a long way from fruition. Of course, that does not mean it cannot happen. The concept is a good one, and it behooves CGSC’s permanent leadership to make some meaningful change to embrace it. After all, their actions will speak far louder than their (or my) words.
    Dr. Nicholas Murray is an associate professor in the Department of Strategy and Policy U.S. Naval War College. Previously he taught for five years at the US Army Command and Staff College. For his work there, he received the Department of the Army Commander’s Award for Civilian Service, the Army’s Superior Civilian Service Award, and he was named Educator of the Year for History in 2013. He has written on professional military education and on the evolution of warfare up to 1918. His views are his own, and they do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Navy, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

9/24/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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 World employees suffer 'hardship' after hours cut, union says, by Eileen Goodwin, Otago Daily Times via odt.co.nz
    DUNEDIN, New Zealand - Some staff at New World Centre City in Dunedin are suffering ''hardship'' after their hours were cut with no consultation, First Union organiser Shirley Walthew says.
    A recent change in rostering practice had severely affected some workers.
    Before the change, they had reasonably consistent hours with only small weekly variations, and a consultative approach, she said.
    ''Reducing somebody's full time hours (30 hours or more) to part time hours is creating hardship. They budget around the hours they have had.''
    [At least they're starting from a definition of full time that starts at 30 instead of 40. Now if they could convert that minimum to a maximum and get a wage-boosting surplus of job openings instead a wage-dropping surplus of job seekers...]
    Many of the affected staff were ''permanent part timers'' who used to enjoy steady shifts.
    Ms Walthew said she was trying to organise a meeting to resolve the problem, but the management was asking for details about individual staff complaints before agreeing to meet.
    It affected the store's 20 union members and also the non union members.
    Workers had been told change was necessary to ''better meet the customers' needs'', but it was unclear what that meant, Ms Walthew said.
    She said it was becoming more difficult for students to get time off for exams, a claim disputed by the store yesterday. New World Centre City owner Craig Nieper said the supermarket had never declined a student's request for time off to sit an exam.
    ''There was one request recently where a student requested four days of leave, none of which included time to sit an exam.
    ''The student was only rostered to work one day a week, so this request was equivalent to a month of holiday.
    ''Due to business needs and the fact she did not have any outstanding leave owing, this request was declined,'' Mr Nieper said in a statement.
    The company was willing to have a meeting with the union, but wanted more information about what would be discussed. He said changes in order delivery times meant staffing levels had to be ''amended''.
    ''We have done this in a manner that ensures all staff retain their positions and the appropriate processes are being followed as this process is completed.''
    Asked how checkout operators were affected by delivery times, a spokeswoman said their hours had always been adjusted according to customer demand.
    Without detail about which staff members were complaining it was difficult to comment further, the spokeswoman said.

  2. Issues arise over working hours between contractors for Hawkesbury Railway Bridge construction, by history columnist Tom Richmond, DailyTelegaph.co.au
    Construction of the new Hawkesbury River Freeway Bridge — a key section of the F3 Freeway (now called the M1). It was completed in 1973. Taken from DMR documentary about construction of the bridge from mid 1970s. (photo 1 caption)
    View of the original Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge, which opened on May 1, 1889. (photo 2 caption)
    Hawkesbury Rail Bridge today. (photo 3 caption)
    BROOKLYN, N.S.W., Australia - Last week we heard of the ill feeling that existed during the construction of the first Hawkesbury railway bridge.
    Australians of all backgrounds were determined to avoid the industrial slavery that had impacted heavily on their British ancestors.
    When the bridge construction began, two American subcontractors, Ryland and Morse and Anderson and Barr, insisted on their Australian employees working a 10-hour day.
    The eight-hour day had been generally accepted in the Australian colonies and in October, 1887, the men approached the Americans to reduce the working day.
    The employers refused and the men working for both contractors went on strike.

    They were supported by workers for the railway construction contractor, as the unions flexed their muscles.
    After 10 days, Anderson and Barr reached a compromise with their employees, but Ryland and Morse insisted that American companies could impose American working conditions.
    The American company recruited non-union labour from Sydney to take the jobs of those who were on strike.
    A local vessel, the Marramarra, owned and operated by Captain Peter Melvey, picked up the new employees, who were regarded by the unionists as “scab labour” and brought them around to Brooklyn by sea.
    The vessel landed at the Long Island Wharf, but unionist workers boarded it and persuaded the new employees not to take the jobs.
    Ryland and Morse then instructed Melvey to land the replacements at Dangar Island, where the Americans had their headquarters.
    Melvey, however, was under pressure from the workers, who threatened to boycott his services themselves if he did not land the replacement workers at Long Island. Feelings became more strained when workers pelted the Marramarra with stones and “invaded” Dangar Island in a group of about 80 to shout abuse from shore.
    In order to provide protection for the American employers, some policemen were sent to Dangar Island, under the command of Sub-Inspector Latimer.
    The workers expressed resentment at the police presence, but it did serve to maintain the peace.
    Interviewed by a newspaper reporter, Mr Ryland said, “Now this is an American contract; the work was planned in America, Americans have got the contract, and I reckon we are going to do it in our own way, and we are not going to give in.”
    By early November, however, a little common sense had been applied by both sides. An agreement was reached between the strikers and their employers and the men returned to work.
    They appeared willing to accept the extra hours, provided that they were regarded as overtime.
    This dispute was possibly the most significant union action in Australia prior to 1890.
    It should be recognised as being of national significance, along with Sir Henry Parkes’ speech in 1889 at the opening of the bridge and the writing of the constitution in 1891 on the waters of Broken Bay.

9/23/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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. Govt unveils after-class course details, by Dumrongkiat Mala, BangkokPost.com
    BANGKOK, Thailand - Education Minister Dapong Ratanasuwan unveiled the curricula of new electives to be held during the school day after the government cut academic class hours.
    Gen Dapong said on Tuesday he told the cabinet meeting that academic class hours will be cut from 30-35 hours a week to 22 hours a week for elementary schools and from 35 hours to 27 hours for secondary schools.
    [- presumably cutting teachers' hours accordingly? What's the motivation behind this, budget constraints?]
    Under a pilot scheme to introduce elective courses, activities will be divided into three categories: encouraging learning capability, cultivating attributes and good values, and enhancing working and living skills, he said.
    Each category contains 13 activities such as communication and thinking development, vocational training, use of technology and upholding the values of the nation, religion and the monarchy, he said.
    Gen Dapong said the plan would not affect the state's obligations to provide academic instruction to be assessed under the Ordinary National Education Test (O-Net).
    At the end of the academic year students in Grade 6, Grade 9 and Grade 12 are required to be assessed for academic proficiency under O-Net. He said the elective courses, likely to be held in the afternoons, would help develop children's learning skills.
    Gen Dapong said currently around 2,948 schools nationwide are ready to launch the extra curricular classes. Teachers will attend workshops on the new courses organised by the Office of the Basic Education Commission. An outside body would then assess the project to make sure it was meeting its goals.
    The general said if the pilot project succeeds, the extra classes would be introduced at all schools nationwide in the next academic year.
    "In my view, a good education system has to comprise three aspects which are analysis, forging a positive attitude and boosting learning skills," he said, adding the electives should help achieve that goal.

  2. New young London doctors 'packing up to work abroad' due to planned changes to working hours - Medical students in the city fear they may have to work abroad due to new contracts, by James Bullen, London Evening Standard via standard.co.uk
    Exodus: New doctors are 'planning to leave the UK' (photo caption)
    LONDON, UK - London's next generation of young doctors fear they could be forced to work abroad after government proposals for new contracts which they claim mean longer hours for reduced pay.
    The Department of Health (DoH) wants to reclassify contracts for new intakes from August 2016 to include changes to doctors' pay structure and working hours.
    At the moment doctors are paid a standard rate between 7am and 7pm Monday to Friday but under the new contract, overtime rates would be scrapped from 7am to 10pm on every day apart from Sunday.
    The DoH said the contract changes will provide a higher rate of basic pay with a significant salary increase but medics say their take home pay will be less because of an increase in tax, national insurance and pension contributions.
    Anger over the issue has prompted more than 55,000 to sign a petition calling for strikes.
    In London, training doctors told the Standard they are considering packing up to work abroad while others are looking to leave the profession because it has become unaffordable.
    Hannah Barham-Brown, 28, a final year medical student at St George's University of London said: "A lot of people are discussing whether they want to work in the UK.
    "In Scotland and Wales the new contracts will not be imposed so I expect we will see a massive surge of applications for places in those countries in August.
    "People have given up well paid jobs to study medicene [editor!] but now they are looking at other options. It has become unafforable to be a doctor.

    [More spunky resistance to attempts to cut budgets and relengthen workweeks now that the wealthy are doing all they can to shift their participation in government from taxes to political campaign contributions.]
    "There are people struggling here at the moment so the government needs to wake up and address this situation."

9/22/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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. Here's how one New Yorker ditched his workaholic life for a two-day week — and didn't go broke, New York Daily News via nydailynews.com
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - Every burnt out New Yorker has dreamed of ditching the day job, working just a couple of days a week and spending his or her time body-surfing at Rockaway Beach or lounging in Washington Square Park.
    One guy — albeit a privileged guy — actually did it.
    Meet freelance writer and conservation expert William Powers. He bailed on his hectic round-the-clock work life to see if he could enjoy his life a lot more, working less and smarter, and still survive in pricey Manhattan.
    Here’s how it worked:
    Shortly after marrying in 2013, Bill and his wife Melissa downsized to a tiny, 350-square-foot studio in Greenwich Village from their 1,900-square-foot townhouse in Queens.
    They also ditched 80% of their possessions, including most of Melissa’s art works and a huge number of appliances, clothes and personal mementos.
    Bill then called it quits on his five days a week gig and budgeted just 20 hours a week for work [actually 2½ days/week for most people]. Melissa stayed in her job, but Bill vowed to contribute 60% of what he had been earning, making up for the shortfall by by living more cheaply.
    It’s a radical idea. American full-timers work an average of nearly 47 hours a week — and 60% work more than 40 hours, according to Gallup.

    Powers is certainly not the first to advocate for a shorter work week.
    Writer Tim Ferriss brought the idea into the spotlight in 2007, when he penned the book, “The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich,” which suggests ways to farm out chores and work smarter in order to live a freer and more enjoyable life.
    And Mexican telecom billionaire Carlos Slim has long been advocating for a global three-day work week as a way of completely restructuring the workplace.
    "You should have more time for you during all of your life — not when you're 65 and retired," Slim said last year.
    But, for most cash-strapped New Yorkers, reducing their work schedule is little more than a pipe dream.
    Powers is well aware that, in a city where rent growth far outpaces wage growth, this lifestyle won’t work for everyone. For one, it’s geared entirely towards the self-employed, who don’t have to answer to a boss and can adjust their incomes based on what types of work they take on.
    “Some people might think this whole thing sounds elitist,” he said, admitting that his savings and his wife’s earnings made his experience easier than it would be for others. “I’m not suggesting that people should go out and quit their jobs. All I am saying is that it’s possible to make small changes. When you’re on your death bed, you won’t wish you’d spent more time working.”
    The upsides of the plan, documented in Powers’ new book, “New Slow City: Living Simply in the World's Fastest City,” were obvious.
    Instead of reluctantly powering up and getting to work on a Monday morning, he hit the snooze button and then the beach, where he started body surfing.
    “While everyone sat crammed together on these buses coming into Manhattan, I was on an empty bus going the other way,” Powers told the Daily News. “It was liberating.”
    Floating on the crest of the waves, Powers soon felt the stress of his career and pressure of keeping up with the frenzied pace of New York life fade away.
    “There was a short period of detox where I missed the 24/7 buzz of connectedness,” he said. “ A lot of our self esteem comes from working and we're appreciated for the work we do rather than who we are. I’d been constantly on my phone and on my laptop but I soon realized there was this whole world I hadn’t been seeing because I’d been going so fast.”
    On his free days, Power spent hours sitting in the park, where he listened to and made friends with local musicians and grew close with his neighbors; he’d sit for hours at restaurants in order to get the maximum enjoyment from the dining experience; he volunteered at an urban farming project on a rooftop in Brooklyn; and he’d find quiet spots in museums in which he could while the hours away.
    In order to finance his new lifestyle, Bill looked to the old 80/20 principle, a long-held theory that 80% of your output comes from 20% of your efforts.
    Instead of spending all day long at his computer working on any number of assignments, he instead selected freelance projects that would yield the most financial reward and prioritized them above everything else. Knowing that he would find ways to procrastinate and fill his days if he allowed himself too much time to work, Bill established strict limits.
    “I would set myself the shortest possible deadline,” he said. “I would write something in a few hours that it might have taken me days to write before.”
    Overall, Powers’ income dropped by just 30% in total, despite the massive drop off in the number of hours he was working. With his earnings and Melissa’s, paired with a cutback in expenses and a dip into their savings, they were able to comfortably make their mid $2,000 a month rent.
    So, how did the experiment pan out?
    Powers said the newlyweds soon settled into life in very close quarters and began to love their minuscule love nest.
    “At first, it was like we were in a mosh pit, slamming into each other all the time,” he said. “But we adapted quickly. Eventually, it was like we were living in a house boat, sailing through New York. We started living more in the city. The park became our garden, the different cafes became our kitchen.”
    Once his sanity was truly restored, Powers gradually started to feel like he wanted to take on more work.
    “It wasn’t that I needed the money,” he said. “But because I was feeling so much more energized, I saw all these opportunities. Naturally, I started taking on more work but I capped it at 32 hours a week. That was the sweet spot where I felt the most productive.”
    Sidebar: Making less work work
    Here are Powers’ top four tips for savoring life and living slowly in the Big Apple.
    1. Find urban sanctuaries
    “We spent more and more time in natural and reflective places right in Manhattan, like Central Park’s ramble and the quiet tip of Pier 45 on the Hudson. Take a book. Watch how your pulse slows as you relive that childhood experience of a good, long read.”
    2. Live at the third story
    “I discovered I only need half my attention on the street level. As the rest of my focus rises up, I notice green leaves fluttering and white butterflies. An off-turquoise sky. Ciao stress!”
    3. Tech-dieting
    “Dial down your gadgets! We took Sundays and some long weekends with no gadgets at all. This helped the quality of our relationship because we had more time focused on each other.”
    4. Silent meals
    “Even in Manhattan restaurants, we’d sometimes eat in silence. It helped us to deeply savor the food, scents, soundscape and visual beauty of the restaurant.”

  2. Firefighters union planning 'listening tour' in Providence, AP via Providence Times-Union via timesunion.com
    PROVIDENCE, R.I., USA — Providence's firefighters union is planning a "listening tour" of weekly public meetings to discuss its dispute with the city over work schedules.
    Firefighters Local 799 president Paul Doughty tells The Providence Journal (http://bit.ly/1iKBUau ) no times or places for the sessions have been set. But the plan is to see if any groups want to host one.
    The union and the city have been at odds since Aug. 2 when Mayor Jorge Elorza changed the department's workweek system from a four-platoon, eight-day workweek system to a three-platoon, six-day system.
    [Kind of an unusual workweek reduction, if the same daily hours are maintained. But wouldn't we be increasing platoons if the new workweek is really shorter?]
    A judge ruled that the changes in firefighters' work hours are subject to bargaining and possible arbitration. If the union wins the arbitration, then the award would be retroactive to Aug. 2, which could cause a significant financial loss to the city.
    Information from: The Providence Journal, http://www.providencejournal.com

9/20-21/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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 envy of organized labor, by John Malley, 9/20 New York Daily News via nydailynews.com
    CORAM, Long Island, N.Y., USA - "Voicer" [our quotes] Kenneth Kucinskas makes like the furloughs are a bad thing.
    In fact, they are what makes Local 3 the envy of organized labor.
    The furloughs are there for when there is a shortage of work, a way to ensure everybody gets at least some work so all members will continue to have benefits and to be able to feed their families.
    By the way, I was never a Local 3 member, though I am a union carpenter.

  2. Not thinking straight, 9/21 (9/20 late pickup) PacificaInExile.org
    BERKELEY, Calif., USA – Global Village host Derek Rath was the latest long-time staffer to blast KPFK and Pacifica management, saying in a September 8th email that “you are either not thinking straight or you are trying to bring down the station”. Rath’s whole email in which he describes management and the boards as “out of sync with reality” can be read here.
    Margy Wilkinson-appointed general manager Leslie Radford incited a huge rumor mill on September 17th, when she snapped at staffers relaying a call from a donor upset about not receiving a premium that “the whole thing may be closing down”. This was followed the next morning by a chirpy email proposing two fund drives, a short no-premiums drive this upcoming week, followed by a longer one beginning October 5th. The confusing information is taking a toll on staff, as well as listener-supporters trying as best they can to figure out what is going on. Local board treasurer Michael Novick decried the “alarmist statements that turn into viral rumors” and said “staff, programmers and the local station board should be apprised in a professional manner of current situations”.
    The LA atmosphere wasn’t helped by reports that at least one managerial employee, iPD Alan Minsky, had been restored to full-time pay. Minsky appears to be misquoting the FCC’s Main Studio Rule, which does in fact require one full-time employee to be maintained at a licensed noncommercial radio outlet, but describes that employee as “non-managerial” which is usually interpreted as a technical employee or in radio parlance, a chief engineer. The main studio rules clearly permit a part-time general manager/PD combo as long as hours are staggered, but in the general chaos the restoration to full-time for Minsky seems to have gone through, despite the fondness of the Siegel/Brazon ruling faction for “chop from the top” manifestos.
    Radio MagOnline contains a brief “what you need to know” about the rule here:
    “Each main studio must be staffed with at least two full-time employees. One of the two employees must be managerial. The managerial employee must be based at the main studio and spend at least part of each day there. Alternatively, a station may employ two or more part-time managerial employees whose combined hours provide a full-time managerial presence at the main studio. The non-managerial or staff employee may be shared with another employer if the employee is present full-time at the main studio and has adequate time to handle his or her tasks for the station”.
    Another of the strange phenomena in effect this week was the phantom of Uprising, which disappeared from KPFK’s air on Wednesday with replacement hosts on Thursday and Friday, but time-warped on KPFA where the fund drive in process aired reruns. Listeners donated fairly heavily to ghost Uprising, apparently trying to be supportive of whatever the heck was going on. On the same day, KPFK announced Uprising would be hosted by other people three times a week and then KPFA announced Uprising would be hosted by Kolhatkar 5 days a week. Kolhatkar later provided a post on her blog indicating Radford, apparently with no supervision from Pacifica, told Free Speech TV to broadcast the multi-host version of Uprising to fulfill the contract between Pacifica and FSTV. Free Speech TV declined and withdrew from the contract. Pacifica collected $62,999 from 500+ donors on Indiegogo last year to install a TV production studio in LA for Uprising TV, but managed to keep the TV show in production for only 10 months. Kolhatkar begged Pacifica interim ED Margy Wilkinson not to raid the Indiegogo funds last year and use them for general operating expenses, but that was to no avail as the restricted bank account was emptied in the fall of 2014.
    The current situation presents the prospect the network will simultaneously air at 8:00am two completely different shows called Uprising in California, with KPFA making money for itself from Kolhatkar’s labor troubles, instead of generating new local programming which the Berkeley station has largely failed to do. The Northern CA broadcasts will exacerbate listener migration away from KPFK with easy online access to Kolhatkar’s “banned broadcasts”. It is likely to accelerate the meltdown former IED Margy Wilkinson is facilitating after appointing the unqualified Radford to break KPFK financially and help convey KPFA’s broadcast license to her own private nonprofit.
    Radford finally issued a general manager’s report to the LA local board late Saturday. It can be found here. The report mostly confirms what has already leaked out, with a few new wrinkles. The wrinkles include information that the LA station hasn’t been able to receive incoming phone calls for several days, the temporary bookkeeper who fled after a week has still not been replaced with the current temp committed for only three days, and Radford’s failure to differentiate between external accounts payables (which are around $200,000) and money owed within the network to other divisions (which is around $350,000) when describing the station’s level of debt. KPFK has not yet been offered the three-year installment payback plan for network services that PNB treasurer Brian Edwards-Tiekert advocated for when his own station fell $250,000+ internally in debt.
    The major blockbuster in the report was Radford borrowing $12,000 from an undisclosed source, apparently without the knowledge or sign-off of the national board. This is followed up with the bizarre statement that Radford intends to “borrow more” if the LA local station board will “waive a conflict of interest”. The LA general manager doesn’t understand the only body that can engage in the legal process of waiving a conflict of interest to engage in a financial transaction with an interested party is the 501c3’s actual board of directors.
    Pacifica’s board elections are now promised to go forward on October 15th, after Pacifica failed to make a $25,000 postage deposit and refused to mail the ballots on August 31st. The October 15th promise was made by now-resigned ED John Proffitt. It remains to be seen if board chair/IED Lydia Brazon will keep it. Brazon is believed not to be eager to move ahead with elections. Brazon’s LA local board majority and the national board majority itself, is predicated on unelected runners-up who inherited seats after the actual winners moved on after quorum fails and missed elections. 10 of 24 current local board members in LA were never elected to their seats and the current majority is different than the one that was victorious in the last completed election. For good measure, Brazon also scooted off the national board the only rep from the faction opposed to her own, so all four of the LA national board seats belong to the faction that lost the last election.
    The legal letter briefly referred to during the last national board meeting was from LA firm Mandel and Manpearl and indicated a lawsuit might be forthcoming if the election does not proceed. If the election actually goes forward, this publication will send out an election edition with endorsements in all 5 signal areas.
    KPFK’s layoffs to date, have targeted staff members who declared candidacies for the local board with two out of three staff layoffs hitting candidates so far. A third, Jose Benavides, told at least one co-worker his paid employment had been terminated, and a fourth IT director Jonathan Alexander, had exit paperwork with his name on it visible on the general manager’s desk. Of the staff candidates not reliably allied with Radford’s Siegel/Brazon faction, at least half will have had their employment terminated by Radford. The local board evaluates the general manager and recommends termination or retention.
    The California Employment Development Department rejected Pacifica’s application for the State Worksharing Plan, a partial unemployment benefits program that KPFK staff cut involuntarily to half-time, were told they could access. The stated reasons for the rejection were that GM Radford’s application was a xerox that did not contain John Proffitt’s original signature, and the failure of the SAG-AFTRA collective bargaining unit to sign off on the worksharing as required by law.
    [These are some down&dirty details about Calif. state worksharing in action.]
    SAG-AFTRA took Pacifica to arbitration over the work reductions on August 27th. The union has stated there is and was no agreement in place regarding the cuts. Pacifica filing a worksharing application with no union concurrence is a unionbusting tactic designed to punish employees financially for their union’s advocacy in hopes of weakening support for the collective bargaining unit.
    It’s also possible KPFA’s previous tangled engagement with the worksharing program is creating problems for the KPFK application. After KPFA made layoffs in 2010, a worksharing plan was introduced at the Berkeley station, nominally to “save” news reporter John Hamilton’s job after PNB treasurer Brian Edwards-Tiekert bumped him out of it on seniority grounds. The worksharing program was not station-wide as is proposed at KPFK, it benefited only four employees in KPFA’s news department, news anchors Aileen Alfandary and Mark Mericle (a CWA vice-president), Hamilton, and PNB treasurer Edwards-Tiekert. The program was cloaked by the Siegel/Brazon faction (called Save KPFA in Berkeley) which issued duplicitous public statements(at a “labor” rally, no less) that coworkers had donated their hours in an act of solidarity. But in fact they were collecting partial unemployment benefits from the State of California. Unbeknowst to most, the partial unemployment benefits for the trio continued for more than four years, with the compensation outlasting Hamilton, the employee whose layoff was supposed to be prevented. The by-then fraudulent benefit collection came to light when an organization that had hired Edwards-Tiekert for a short-term job was startled to receive unemployment paperwork from the EDD. The worksharing plan was discontinued shortly afterwards.
    The EDD denial had additional negative consequences for KPFK staff, after manager Radford sent the entire 10-page EDD denial package containing 21 employee’s social security numbers out on an insecure all-staff email list that includes hundreds of station volunteers. Staff were appalled and not particularly mollified by GM Radford’s apology which included an offer of “an hour’s pay if they wanted to change their social security numbers”. This is not the first time KPFK’s staff has had their private social security numbers laid bare. In 2013, controller Efren Llarinas sent an entire payroll package from Paychex by unencrypted email to board member Lydia Brazon without authorization. Then-ED Summer Reese terminated his employment as result of the data breach, but as with his former boss Raul Salvador, the Siegel/Brazon faction had Llarinas rehired after they snatched control of the board.
    KPFK’s IT director, Jonathan Alexander, who appears to be targeted for termination by Radford, stated that his personal social security number had been released by Pacifica without his authorization *four* times during the duration of his employment. He added he had attended a PNB meeting to address the board of directors and tell them to stop breaking the law, and that in his opinion, this was employee intimidation and a union busting tactic being used by Brazon and other members of the Siegel/Brazon faction.
    (The editor of this publication notes that only the first three pages of the EDD denial package paperwork is available via the Pacifica in Exile website).
    11 days prior to the end of the fiscal year, Pacifica still has no budgets with the national finance committee having passed exactly 0 of 7 budgetary documents on to the national board for review. Some partial documents have materialized, mostly from KPFK and KPFA. For the Berkeley station, the budget draft is mostly notable for failing to account for the annual depreciation allowance and for the privatization of the station’s annual crafts fair (now two of them). They have been outsourced to the private event planning business of the coordinator, who will keep all the booth rental fees and provide KPFA with only door receipts, which are not projected to exceed the employee’s annual salary and benefit package. The arrangement eliminates the fundraising aspect of the crafts fairs – as any profit upside from raising booth rental fees would accrue to the outside business, not to KPFA.
    Seven weeks after paying off the balance due to the auditor, nothing much has materialized. Pacifica owes another $14,000 to the auditing firm for tax form preparation. The lack of a timely audit report (again) has placed Pacifica in state default, torpedoed Corporation for Public Broadcasting funding and per KPFA’s last local board meeting, knocked out a $30,000 grant after the funder declined due to the network being out of compliance. ...

9/19/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. A government shutdown: What federal employees need to know about their pay and benefits, WashingtonPost.com/blogs
    Congress must pass a budget before Sept. 30, or it faces partially shutting down the government for the second time in two years. Here's how we got to another potential shutdown. (photo caption)
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - With a potential government funding lapse drawing close, some financial planning now will help federal employees be ready if the money stops Oct. 1.
    The good news for some is that the money won’t stop. For the most part, this involves those working for agencies that are “exempt” from a shutdown because they don’t get their funding through the congressional appropriations process.
    The largest of these is the U.S. Postal Service, which operates on income from postage and the items it sells. Other agencies, or parts of them, also have funding not subject to annual appropriations — for example, through fees they charge for their services, or from trust funds or multi-year budgets.
    Exempt employees stay on the job. As Office of Personnel Management guidance puts it, “Employees performing those functions will generally continue to be governed by the normal pay, leave, and other civil service rules.”
    For employees whose salaries are paid from appropriations, there is another distinction—“excepted” vs. “non-excepted.”
    Excepted employees are those whose jobs involve the safety of human life, the protection of property, or certain other types of work designated by their agencies as necessary to continue. These are not necessarily the same as “emergency” employees who are expected to continue coming to work when agencies close for other reasons, such as for severe weather.
    Each agency decides how and when it notifies employees about whether or not they are excepted.
    Excepted employees are to continue reporting for work as normal during a shutdown, although for the meantime they will not be paid for that time. Because agencies are incurring “obligations to pay for services performed . . . those employees will be paid after Congress passes and the President signs a new appropriation or continuing resolution,” says the OPM guidance.
    When a shutdown starts, non-excepted employees are to perform what the guidance calls “minimal activities as necessary to execute an orderly suspension of agency operations related to non-excepted activities.” That typically is to last about a half-day, and then furloughed employees are to leave the workplace. They are not to work while on furlough, even on a volunteer basis.
    In the most recent shutdown, in 2013, this winnowing-out process resulted in only about 850,000 of the 2.1 million non-postal employees being put on furlough.
    Whether furloughed employees later will be paid for that time is up to Congress and the White House. The precedent is that they are later paid, and legislation already has been offered in the Senate to guarantee it if a shutdown happens again. (There was a separate set of unpaid furloughs in some agencies in the spring and summer of 2013 related to “sequestration” budget caps; those employees were not later paid for that time.)
    [About the only good thing you can say about yet another looming furlough by this irresponsible Congress is that furloughs are better than firings, timesizings than downsizings.]
    When the “excepted” employees, and potentially also the “non-excepted” employees, would get paid for the shutdown time depends on several factors. Since almost all employees are paid on a two-week cycle — which varies according to the payroll provider an agency uses — it’s possible that a shutdown would start and end within that period and there would be no practical impact on the next pay distribution. However, a longer shutdown could span several cycles.
    In any event, all employees would be paid for work they performed up to the shutdown. Says the OPM guidance, “Although the payroll for the last pay period before the lapse will be processed potentially during a period of furlough, the minimum number of payroll staff necessary for this process will be excepted from furlough for the minimum time required to issue the checks, including checks for the last pay period before the lapse.”
    Those who are furloughed could not substitute annual leave or other forms of paid time off for that unpaid time, and previously scheduled leave would be canceled. They could take other jobs but only those allowable under government ethics rules restricting outside income.
    Further, they could apply for unemployment benefits, but states typically impose a waiting period of a week or more before benefits can begin. And if they are later paid for the furlough time, they would have to return any unemployment payments they received.
    Employees on unpaid status may not borrow from their Thrift Savings Plan accounts. They could apply for a loan up to the shutdown, but they still would have to make the scheduled payments afterward — as would those who took one previously — or else face a tax penalty. A “financial hardship” withdrawal, which can be taken either in paid or unpaid status, might be another option but those have strict qualifying rules and also incur tax penalties.
    Health insurance coverage continues during unpaid time. The enrollee share of the premiums accumulates and is withheld from salary once the employee returns to pay status.
    For those enrolled in the long-term care or vision-dental insurance programs and who pay through payroll withholdings, premiums would accumulate for several unpaid pay periods. After that, they would be billed directly.
    Life insurance coverage continues without cost to the employee for an unpaid period up to a year.

  2. UK: Junior doctors call for strike action over extended working hours, by Fiona Keating, Yahoo News UK via uk.news.yahoo.com
    LONDON, U.K. - Thousands of trainee medics are threatening strike action over new contract plans. The Royal College of Physicians has warned that patient safety could be in danger if there are changes to junior doctors' already lengthy working hours.
    [Some spunky resistance to patient-threatening longer working hours among junior doctors in UK.]
    Health secretary Jeremy Hunt is being lobbied over a new contract for junior doctors which would be imposed from April 2016 as part of the Department of Health's drive for seven-day services. The proposals include reclassifying a junior doctor's normal working week to include Saturdays and run up to 10pm each night, bar Sunday.
    Over 30,000 people have signed a petition calling on the British Medical Association to ballot for strike action. Jane Dacre, the president of the Royal College of Physicians, wrote to members: "I have been speaking to my fellow royal college presidents, and we have agreed to send a joint letter to the secretary of state for health to express our significant concerns."
    The pay rate of junior doctors could be cut by up to 30% as weekends and evenings would count as a standard rate, said a Times report.
    Junior doctors' 'anger'
    The new contract could affect up to 55,000 doctors, according to the BMA. Dr Kitty Mohan, co-chair of the BMA's Junior Doctors Committee, told The Independent that juniors felt "palpable anger and frustration" over the new contract plans, which would see them lose their out-of-hours pay for working Saturdays and weekday evenings.
    Dr Mohan said a meeting of the Junior Doctors Committee next week would take into account widespread support for industrial action. "The terms of what we were being asked to discuss were not acceptable," she said.
    "We were being asked to tinker around the edges of a contract that is already being imposed on us. We will do everything we possibly can in order to resist imposition. That includes every single tool that we have. As a trade union that is up to and including industrial action. That isn't something anyone takes lightly."
    If doctors vote for industrial action, this could bring about the first medical strike since 2012, when around 8% of doctors took part in a 24-hour walkout over pensions.
    A Department of Health spokesman said: "We are disappointed that the BMA Junior Doctors Committee has let down its members and decided against re-entering negotiations, especially in light of the consultants' agreement to negotiate. There is independent support for an updated contract that puts patients first, increases basic pay and rewards those who work across all clinical specialities."

9/18/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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. Sweden tests the six hours work day, with impressive results, by Alexandru Micu, zmescience.com
    STOCKHOLM, Sweden - A group of elderly-care nurses working at the Swedish Svartedalens elderly home participated in the first controlled trial of shorter work hours the country held for a decade now. In February, they switched from an eight-hours to a six-hour working day for the same wage, in an effort to improve productivity and quality of life.
    Just as reducing the work day from 12-11 hours to 8 allowed the workers much needed rest and personal time once, Sweden experiments with reducing the day to 6 hours work, to improve productivity and quality of life.
    “I used to be exhausted all the time, I would come home from work and pass out on the sofa,” says Lise-Lotte Pettersson, 41, an assistant nurse at Svartedalens care home in Gothenburg. “But not now. I am much more alert: I have much more energy for my work, and also for family life.”
    Despite the fact that an extra 14 members of staff were hired to cope with the shorter hours and new shift patterns, the Svartedalens experiment’s results are so promising that others, all over Sweden, are joining in. At Gothenburg’s Sahlgrenska University hospital, orthopaedic surgery has moved to a six-hour work day, as have the staff of two hospital departments in Umeå. Even small businesses tried the model and report that a shorter day increases productivity and reduce staff turnover. Ann-Charlotte Dahlbom Larsson, head of elderly care at the home, says staff wellbeing is better and the standard of care is even higher.
    “Since the 1990s we have had more work and fewer people – we can’t do it any more,” she says. “There is a lot of illness and depression among staff in the care sector because of exhaustion – the lack of balance between work and life is not good for anyone.”
    Pettersson, one of 82 nurses at Svartedalens, agrees. She looks after the elderly of the home there, some of whom have dementia, and her work demands constant vigilance and creativity. This can get very tiring, very fast, and the six-hour workday allows her to maintain a higher standard of care throughout her shift.
    “You cannot allow elderly people to become stressed, otherwise it turns into a bad day for everyone,” she says.
    After a century in which working hours were gradually reduced, holidays increased and retirement reached earlier, there has been an increase in hours worked for the first time in history, says Roland Paulsen, a researcher in business administration at the University of Lund. People are working harder and longer, he says – but this is not necessarily for the best.
    “For a long time politicians have been competing to say we must create more jobs with longer hours – work has become an end in itself,” he says. “But productivity has doubled since the 1970s, so technically we even have the potential for a four-hour working day. It is a question of how these productivity gains are distributed. It did not used to be utopian to cut working hours – we have done this before.”
    At Toyota service centres in Gothenburg, working hours have been shorter for more than a decade. Employees moved to a six-hour day 13 years ago and have never looked back. Customers were unhappy with long waiting times, while staff were stressed and making mistakes, according to Martin Banck, the managing director, whose idea it was to cut the time worked by his mechanics. From a 7am to 4pm working day the service centre switched to two six-hour shifts with full pay, one starting at 6am and the other at noon, with fewer and shorter breaks. There are 36 mechanics on the scheme.
    “Staff feel better, there is low turnover and it is easier to recruit new people,” Banck says.
    They have a shorter travel time to work, there is more efficient use of the machines and lower capital costs – everyone is happy.”
    “Profits have risen by 25%,” he adds.
    Martin Geborg, 27, a mechanic, started at Toyota eight years ago and has stayed there because of the six-hour day.
    “My friends are envious,” he says.
    He enjoys the fact that there is no traffic on the roads when he is heading to and from work. Sandra Andersson, 25, has been with the company since 2008.
    “It is wonderful to finish at 12,” she says. “Before I started a family I could go to the beach after work – now I can spend the afternoon with my baby.”
    For Maria Bråth, owner of internet startup Brath, the six-hour working day the company introduced when it was formed three years ago gives it a competitive advantage because it attracts better staff and keeps them.
    “They are the most valuable thing we have,” she says.
    An offer of more pay elsewhere would not make up for the shorter hours they have at Brath. The company, which has 22 staff in offices in Stockholm and Örnsköldsvik, produces as much, if not more, than its competitors do in eight-hour days, she says.
    “It has a lot to do with the fact that we are very creative – we couldn’t keep it up for eight hours.”
    For Linus Feldt, owner of Stockholm app developer Filimundus, the six-hour working day schedule his business began a year ago is about motivation and focus, rather than staff simply cramming in the same amount of work they used to do in eight hours.
    “Today I believe that time is more valuable than money,” Feldt says. “And it is a strong motivational factor to be able to go home two hours earlier. You still want to do a good job and be productive during six hours, so I think you focus more and are more efficient.”
    Throughout the 1990s the country toyed with several experiments of the six-hour day for a full wage. In Kiruna, a mining town in the far north, home care for the elderly moved to a six-hour day in 1989 so to better correlate the working lives of female carers with those of their husbands in the mines. Stockholm city council conducted a major trial of a six-hour day in care centres for children, older people and those with disabilities from 1996 to 1998.
    But when power passed from left to right in Kiruna in 2005, the reform was reversed and staff went back to eight hours. Similarly, with a change of administration in Stockholm the trial came to an end.
    “It was a political decision to end it, they said it was too expensive,” says Prof Birgitta Olsson of Lund University, who was involved in research to evaluate the Stockholm experiment. “But it was a good investment in improved wellbeing for the community. More people were in jobs, they were in better health and enjoyed better working conditions.”
    Measuring the cost of such schemes is complicated, Olsson says – it is hard to distinguish whether savings on sick leave, for example, are down to shorter working hours or other factors. Moreover, with more people in work, unemployment benefit payments are cut, but the savings accrue to the state, not the municipality that bears the cost of hiring more staff.
    Svartedalens is attempting to avoid shortcomings by keeping the changes tightly focused and monitored. Only assistant nurses are involved, and the city’s human resources management system is generating high-quality data, according to Bengt Lorentzon, a consultant on the scheme. Another care home is being used as a “control”, so Svartedalens can be compared with a workplace that has stuck to an eight-hour day.
    “It is very important to get evidence,” Lorentzon says. “All the previous experiments were focused on the nurses’ health and sick leave, not the quality of service.” It is too early to put figures on the results, but nurses at Svartedalens have more energy, are less stressed and have more time for the residents, who themselves are more comfortable and relaxed, Lorentzon says.
    Despite the positive signs, the experiment is likely to end next year – the centre-left coalition on Gothenburg council has lost its majority, and the Conservatives and Liberals are firmly opposed to reduced working hours. The trial is costing about 8m Swedish krona (£630,000) a year, according to the Liberal party.
    “It’s like living in a world where it is raining money from the sky,” according to one Conservative councillor.
    Daniel Bernmar, leader of the Left party group on Gothenburg city council, which pushed for the trial at Svartedalens, admits a six-hour day costs more money, but insists it is a matter of quality of life for public sector workers and for residents in elderly care.
    “Not everything is about making things cheaper and more efficient, but about making them better,” he says. “Under the Conservative-led coalition government in Sweden from 2005 to 2014 we spoke only about working more, and more efficiently – but now we want to discuss how to survive a long working life so we don’t destroy our bodies by the time we are 60.”

  2. Sarkozy wants to eliminate the 35-hour workweek, DernieresActus.fr
    PARIS, France - Republican President Nicolas Sarkozy wants to go back on the 35-hour workweek. In an interview granted to The Parisian-Today readers in France, the former head of state says they must be suppressed. "As for suppressing the 35-hour workweek, yes, it must be done. And I will in the coming weeks make proposals on this issue," he said. He envisages especially reducing executives' amount of shorter worktime, just as has been done in federal civil service.
    "The overtime hours that I established have benefited 9.6 million people, those who work all the time," he explained, recalling his slogan "Work more to earn more." He deplores that François Hollande, the President of the Republic, decided to suppress them because they were too expensive.
    [It is too simple to just suppress them. Overtime represents a market indication of skill bottlenecks throughout the economy that must be smoothly and automatically broken open. This can be done by converting chronic overtime into OT-targeted training and jobs. Then if that doesn't restore full employment and maximum markets, you adjust the workweek downward from wherever it is. It is not good enough to just freeze it again at any lower level, whether 35, 32, 30 or whatever, when you're constantly introducing worksaving technology and responding to it by downsizing.]
    "This is wrong," he says, "it's by working that we create growth." "Without the overtime hours that create flexibility," the 35-hour workweek law "puts us in a situation of a dramatic drop in competitiveness."
    [Sarkozy definitely has his head stuck in the pretechnology world of the Puritan work ethic. Somebody nudge him awake.]

    Nicolas Sarkozy also believes that the second issue is the reopening of pensions.
    [Might as well kill them at the same time?]

9/17/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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 Risk of Working Part-time Involuntarily, by Daniel Borowczyk-Martins & Etienne Lalé, EconoMonitor.com (blog)
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - Abstract
    This column presents findings indicating that, though longstanding, involuntary part-time work is an important phenomenon that remains largely overlooked. In the U.S. labor market, the number of workers who experience involuntary part-time work is large, and increases dramatically in recessions. Since no public insurance hedges workers against this risk, its impact on workers’ welfare can be substantial.
    Unemployment is arguably the number one concern in the labor market during economic downturns. When a recession hits, a large number of workers quickly become unemployed, but it takes long for them to return to employment. The implications on workers’ welfare are well-understood. In recent work we argue that another labor market risk deserves greater attention, namely the risk of working part-time involuntarily.
    The first reason for this is simply that the probability of becoming a part-time worker during a recession is very high.1 In Borowczyk-Martins and Lalé (2014) we show that this is a salient feature of cyclical adjustment in the labor market. For instance, during the Great Recession, the part-time employment share – the fraction of part-time jobs in overall employment – increased around 3 percentage points from peak to trough in the United States, and more than five years after the financial crisis it remains at historically high levels. The second reason is that, contrary to unemployment, most U.S. workers cannot rely on a public insurance mechanism to hedge them against the risk of working part-time involuntarily.2
    The Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies individuals as involuntary part-time workers for two reasons: if they cannot find a full-time job or face slack demand conditions in their job. The notion that workers face constraints in their choice of working hours establishes a useful parallel to the definition of unemployment (according to which, workers actively search for work but lack opportunities to do so), as well as more straightforward interpretation of the empirical patterns. In Borowczyk-Martins and Lalé (2015) we make a systematic comparison between the risks of involuntary part-time work and unemployment. We first document patterns in the data, and then use a model to quantify the effects of involuntary part-time risk on workers’ welfare. We tabulate large and persistent negative effects on workers’ consumption from a spell of involuntary part-time work.
    From a policy standpoint, our findings draw attention to the relevance of short-time work as an insurance mechanism. Academic and policy discussions so far have mainly highlighted its potential to save jobs; the most well-known example is the Kurzarbeit used in the German labor market during the Great Recession, but many more examples exist and are analyzed by Boeri and Bruecker (2011). Our analysis suggests there are also potentially large effects on individual consumption from using these schemes. Further, short-time work programs are likely to be particularly relevant in recessions followed by jobless recoveries (such as the latest one), since they can operate as a buffer against negative shocks to aggregate consumption.
    What the data show
    Figure 1. Involuntary part-time work and unemployment during and after the Great Recession...
    [scan down]
    As Figure 1 highlights, the Great Recession led not only to an increase in the number of unemployed, but also in the number of involuntary part-time workers (either those who cannot find a full-time job or those facing slack demand conditions). What is more surprising, more than five years after the end of the Great Recession, unemployment is close to its pre-crisis level, but the number of involuntary part-time workers remains persistently high.
    One way to see how these patterns affect labor market trajectories is to track the evolution of the probability that a worker in some form of voluntary employment moves to involuntary part-time work.
    Figure 2. Monthly probability (%) to move from voluntary employment to involuntarily part-time work and unemployment, by education levels. http://www.economonitor.com/blog/2015/09/the-risk-of-working-part-time-involuntarily/ [scan way down]
    The set of plots in Figure 2 display the behavior of those probabilities for workers in different educational categories. In all four plots, the probability to move to involuntary part-time work (blue solid line) increases dramatically at the onset of the crisis, and more so compared to the same probability to move to unemployment (green dashed line). In other words, the risk of involuntary part-time affects all employed workers irrespective of their characteristics (in this case, educational attainment), and its cyclical response during the Great Recession was stronger than that of unemployment risk.
    What our model predicts
    To characterize the effects of involuntary part-time employment, we consider the problem of an individual whose welfare depends on consumption and leisure, and who seeks to smooth out shocks to earnings that occur via changes in labor market status (unemployed, part-time or full-time employed). The individual cannot borrow money. The characteristics of part-time and full-time jobs in the model are consistent with features of the U.S. labor market. Working part-time or full-time impacts directly earnings, working hours, job mobility and, critically, the availability of public insurance. In the event of reallocation to unemployment the worker can collect unemployment benefits, but not in the case of involuntary part-time work. Though purposefully simple, the model captures what we see as the main effects of part-time work from the worker’s point of view.
    Using the model, we simulate and quantify the impact on workers’ welfare and other labor outcomes of an exogenous relocation from full-time to part-time work. Our main findings can be summarized as follows:
    1. In the calibrated model, the worker always prefers to work full-time over part-time hours. In that sense, part-time employment is indeed involuntary.
    2. When a full-time worker is relocated to part-time employment the loss in income is short-lived, since the worker returns to full-time work quickly. However, the associated fall in consumption is more persistent (lasting in excess of two years). The estimated short-term consumption losses are of the order of 6 to 8%, in the same ballpark as those implied by a spell of unemployment documented in a famous study by Gruber (1997).
    3. If the risk of involuntary part-time work depicted in Figure 2 were to become a permanent feature of the economy, and if labor market institutions remain unchanged, U.S. workers would experience a welfare loss amounting to 1.5 to 2% of their lifetime consumption.
    Summary and concluding remarks
    We find that:
    • Like unemployment, the risk of working part-time involuntarily is high and increases dramatically in recessions;
    • Considering the behavioral and institutional features of the U.S. labor market, the welfare losses imposed on workers by a spell of involuntary part-time work are large and persistent;
    • A variant of the short-time compensation schemes common in Continental European countries has the potential to help U.S. workers cope with labor market fluctuations better.
    Abraham, Katharine G, and Susan N Houseman. 2014. “Short-time compensation as a tool to mitigate job loss? Evidence on the US experience during the recent recession.” Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, 53(4): 543–567.
    Boeri, Tito, and Herbert Bruecker. 2011. “Short-time work benefits revisited: Some lessons from the Great Recession.” Economic Policy, 26(68): 697–765.
    Borowczyk-Martins, Daniel, and Etienne Lalé. 2014. “Employment adjustment and part-time jobs:The US and the UK in the Great Recession.” Sciences Po Discussion paper 2014–17.
    Martins, Daniel, and Etienne Lalé. 2015. “How bad is involuntary part-time work?”University of Bristol, Discussion paper No. 15/664.
    Gruber, Jonathan. 1997. “The consumption smoothing benefits of unemployment insurance.” The American Economic Review, 87(1): 192–205.
    1 While in this column we discuss results based on an analysis of the U.S. labor market, in Borowczyk-Martins and Lalé (2015) we show that aggregate labor market data from the OECD indicates that involuntary part-time work is similarly high and strongly countercyclical in a large number of advanced economies.
    2 In the majority of U.S. states there are no public schemes that compensate employed workers for reductions in working hours, and workers who voluntarily quit to unemployment are not eligible to unemployment benefits (see e.g. Abraham and Houseman, 2014).
    Daniel Borowczyk-Martins - Address: Sciences Po Department of Economics, 28 rue des Saints-Pères, 75005 Paris, France – Phone: +33(0)1 45 49 59 25 – Email: danielbm@gmail.com
    Etienne Lalé - Address: Department of Economics, University of Bristol, 8 Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1TN, United Kingdom – Phone: +44(0)117 331 7912 – E-mail: etienne.lale@bristol.ac.uk

  2. Who really works 35 hours? by Samuel Lawrence, LeMonde.fr via DernieresActus.fr
    PARIS, France - Will France one day cease debating the 35-hour workweek?
    [Only when the media stop talking about a majority as if it's smaller than a minority -]
    A new poll published in Liberation shows a country divided on the issue of worktime, a small majority (52%) wishing to stay at 35 hours while 40% declare themselves ready to renounce it
    [And thereby dump their once-trumpeted "French exceptionalism"? - which has focused on this for 20 years and which some seem ready to kiss off in favor of becoming boring copies of everyone else? So is France losing its élan? its verve? its nerve? The one place where it so indisputably led the world that anglo economists and pols just have to keep whacking and whacking it?]
    1. Measuring worktime, a challenge
    [This article gives us a (sour) taste of how these professional number crunchers secure their useless jobs by slicing, dicing and generally obfuscating, and disagreeing and generally completely losing sight of the goal = converting chronic OT into t&h and restoring full employment and maximum consumer BASE spending regardless of arbitrary workweek from which freely spendable earnings may be derived without mandatory reinvestment in work spreading.]
    39.6 hours?
    Since the Aubry laws, French should theoretically perform 35 hours of work per week for full-time, against 39 previously.
    Graph 1: Evolution of employee work time since 1945
    http://www.lemonde.fr/les-decodeurs/article/2015/09/17/qui-travaille-vraiment-35-heures_4761281_4355770.html#meter_toaster (scan down)
    But how to count worktime? The question is complex.
    The most classical calculation starts from the grand totals of hours worked per year, modified by the number of workers affected, which conveniently allows us to account for leaves and illnesses.
    And according to this, the French actually work more, on average: 39.6 hours for full-timers and in round figures, S39 hours for employees only. Which places France at the bottom of the European picture, above the Netherlands, Italy or Denmark, but far below the UK record for the workweek length with their 42.4 hours.
    Graph 2: Workweek length in Europe in 2014, according to Eurostat, in selected countries for a full-time employee
    http://www.lemonde.fr/les-decodeurs/article/2015/09/17/qui-travaille-vraiment-35-heures_4761281_4355770.html#meter_toaster (scan way down)
    But in reality, this figure is very approximate. In effect it is very complex to collect precise data other than by survey-type inquiries. Should we for example discount down the time of absent employees, which obviously drops the average?
    37.3 hours?
    It's moreover for that reason that the Organisation for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD) doesn't provide the same figure as the French and European statistics. For the OECD, the French (full-time employees and self-employed) work an average of 37.3 hours, which places them...above the Germans, contrary to the Eurostat classification.
    Graph 3: Workweek hours according to the OECD, in selected European countries for full-time employees and self-employed
    http://www.lemonde.fr/les-decodeurs/article/2015/09/17/qui-travaille-vraiment-35-heures_4761281_4355770.html#meter_toaster (scan way way down)
    The matter is more complex to the extent that this figure has a strong symbolic dimension. Its calculation has given rise to several controversies between institutes.
    And things are further complicated if one goes into the details: we are talking here about full-time employees. But part-timers or self-employed workers should also be accounted for. These bring up many points that make any international comparison delicate, creating a paradox despite the figure being one of those that come up most often in the debate.
    The reduction of worktime has therefore imposed a decrease in the number of hours worked per year, which, incidentally, is a continuation of declines observed in the western world since the 1950s.
    Graph 4: The decrease in worktime worldwide in yearly hours, 1950-2010: France, US, Japan & 6-nation average in Europe excluding France; Source: INSEE following Groningen Growth Development Center
    Since 2000, the number of hours worked per year has stabilized at a lower level than before. But the number of hours worked per week, that, has remained stable globally, as shown by a second inquiry.
    2. More vacation, but also workdays as long as in the 1990s
    Legal worktime is not real worktime: it counts not what each employee experiences but a more or less precise aggregate. And rare are those who are content with [a gratuitous supposition on the part of the author; better said= rare are those who are able to keep to] 35 hours a week without ever working overtime.
    In this regard, the methodology that determines the direction of carrying out the research, of the studies and of the statistics of the Ministry of Employment (DARES) [French or EU?] on "individual" and "habitual" worktime is interesting: by means of individual interviews, it involves asking each person to indicate how much time they have worked in a "normal" uneventful week (with no illness, for example).
    It therefore includes all the usual hours worked, including regular [ie: chronic] overtime. It differs from the collective workweek notably by vacation days or days of reduced worktime scheduled for such and such an employee.
    So this measure [or index] corresponds to the "workday" of an individual and does not take account of vacations. And it is rather stable since 1990: at that time, employees reported 39.6 hours a week; in 2013 they are at 39.2 hours. It's the self-employed who see their worktime reduced the most, passing from 54.6 hours to 51.7 hours.
    Graph 5: Full-time workweek by individual employee and self-employed: DARES data on an "havbitual" (uneventful) week, measured by individuals apart from households
    http://www.lemonde.fr/les-decodeurs/article/2015/09/17/qui-travaille-vraiment-35-heures_4761281_4355770.html#meter_toaster (scan way way way down)
    3. Figures varying by category, but over 35 hours/week
    If we break down this individual workweek figure according to socioprofessional category, we observe the same thing: be they executives, employees, laborers or middle management, no category is really at 35 hours a week.
    Thus, according to DARES, an executive works on average 44.1 hours per week, against 38.3 hours for an employee and 38[.0?] hours for a laborer.
    Graph 6: Habitual workweek length by employee category - Drawn from the INSEE employment inquiry by DARES: Individual questionnaires to employees, giving the actual length of a "normal" uneventful workweek
    http://www.lemonde.fr/les-decodeurs/article/2015/09/17/qui-travaille-vraiment-35-heures_4761281_4355770.html#meter_toaster (scan way way way way down)
    In practice, therefore, employees have considerably more holidays today than in the 1990s, but their work rhythm while working, that, has not changed for thirty years, and is generally closer to 39 hours than 35.

9/16/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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 left in the 35-hour trap, by Jean Peyrelevade, LesEshos.fr via World News via wn.com
    [And that ends his mentions of "trap." If he's referring to the allegation that 35 hours is outdated and backward, he should note that shorter hours are happening anyway, willy nilly, for example, all the companies in the US cutting even below 30 to avoid Obamacare premiums. More accurate would be to refer to the 40-hour or 40-hour-plus trap as an outdated dead-end in the age of robotics.]
    PARIS, France - The issue of worktime is emblematic of the deep fissures on the left. It draws, in dots, the outlines of a future split in the SP [Socialist Party]. With the archaic on one side, the modern on the other.
    Emmanuel Macron is not rightwing - he's modern. The Socialist Party is not leftwing - it's archaic. These are the lessons of the recent controversy that pitted the former [modern?] against the latter [archaic?] à propos worktime.
    The subject, it seems, is taboo. Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, first secretary of the SP, and Claude Bartolone, president of the National Assembly, have judged it thus: merging the proposals of the young minister into a useless provocation. How a democratic party, one of whose essential functions is to enliven public debate, can decide that. above all, we should not speak of this or that important topic?
    [The problem is that it's all bankers and ex-bankers and executives painting this themselves as everyman who want to reopen this fundamental advance of the party = not at all the voice of the majority or democratic. As for the recent cooked survey of 1003 people who are supposed to represent the majority, that's a joke. And this article is yet another by a rich banker, who hasn't learned that he and the richest 0.001% are the ones holding France back by coagulating more and more of the money supply in their own few hands and relatively speaking, taking it out of circulation.]
    The reason for it is simple. The question of the length of the workweek is emblematic of the profound fissures in the left. It draws, in dots, the future outlines of a split in the SP, plausible after an eventual defeat in the presidential elections of 2017. It's understandable that we should [ie: they want us to], on that, keep silent.
    On one hand, some assumed reformers take the most important government posts, favored by SP supporters but doubtless a minority among what remains of militants. In the middle, an important mass of slightly old-fashioned Keynesians: in their eyes, demand is more important in an economy than supply. So the duty of the state is to support it, even by public spending, rather than by directly aiding the production system to increase its competitiveness [which would cut wages and spending and demand even more - ergo even more unmarketable - productivity.]. Finally slingers[??] represent a strong minority of the party, in the order of 25-30%. They consider that the primary function of the left is to press for the redistribution of wealth produced, to be done without further delay, in favor of labor and to the detriment of capital. Any gesture granted in favor of businesses is a give-away to owners, and thus to capital, and thus to the Class Enemy.
    To accommodate this disparate group, you have to search out the great ancestors: "The battle of the reduction in worktime is an historic battle. Emmanuel Macron has insulted Jaurès, Léon Blum, François Mitterrand, Lionel Jospin and Martine Aubry," said Yann Galut, Socialist MP from Cher. Great Satan! What crimes Emmanuel Macron has committed with one sole proposal!
    [Well he insofar as he is going backwards not forwards in progress and completely misunderstood the non-optional linkage between worksaving technology and shorter worktime, explained by Edward Filene at the beginning of his 1932 "Successful Living in this Machine Age," this genius is committing suicide, everyone else first - the usual stupidity of cosetted plutocrats.]
    Let us leave Jean Jaurès and Blum out of the debate.
    [Oh of course. The money-fixated prefer to forget about history whenever it suits their latest short and narrow push to funnel even higher percentages of the money supply into the overwrought decorativeness of their own bulgy market-shrinking pockets.]
    The economic and social situation in France of a century ago had nothing to do with that of today.
    [Oh sure. Glass-Steagall too was sooo old-fashioned and outdated. Nevermind it only took 9 years for the buildup of conflict of interest to create the 2008 crisis after the great separation of banking, brokerage and insurance was repealed. "Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it" and our ignorant plutocrats are stuck on a broken record of recreating the Great Depression.]
    The reference to François Mitterrand is more interesting. In 1982, this chap effectively imposed on his prime minister Pierre Mauroy, who was opposed to it, the reduction of the legal workweek from 40 to 39 hours without loss of pay. Doubtless the change was modest enough to be absorbed, helping devaluation by the productive apparatus [huh?]. But Pierre Mauroy, of whom I know nothing of his ever being considered a social liberal, was convinced that it was a bad signal to business and had pleaded that the sharing of work be accompanied by a sharing of income.
    [In other words, that the workweek be reduced with a proportionate reduction in pay - which would have also have worked with a slight diminution of market demand. Or possibly that the workweek be reduced with a proportionately half-reduction in pay, which would probably have been the least controversial hedge and also would have been fine: of maximum longterm advantage to both employees and employers and of minimum shortterm disadvantage to hardpressed minorities of either.]
    He was disavowed by the President of the Republic in full Cabinet. The worm, sine then, was in the fruit.
    Lionel Jospin transformed the experiment. Certainly, say his apologists, the reduction of worktime is a secular movement (not cyclical, which no one doubts) which it's necessary to continue. And this fundamental reform, conforming to the interests of workers, has not prevented the economic policy of the time from being a success, as much in terms of growth as in reduction of unemployment. These claims deserve to be qualified.
    Certainly, from 1998 to 2002, the growth of the French economy was greater than half a point per year than that of the euro zone (2.9% against 2.3). But at the same time, the public deficit widened by half a point of GDP, to 3.1%, while that of the euro zone remained stable at 2.2%. Finally, this strong growth was accompanied by a continued deterioration in our competitiveness since, over the five-year period considered, imports have, in average annual value, progressed faster than exports: 7% against 5.8%.
    [This is ALL good, because export independence is good, and since GDP grew anyway, dependence is shifting to where it should be, domestic consumption. And yet this birdbrain is still complaining.]
    Moreover, to unite the forces actually already disconnected, along came the measure that cemented the "pluralized left." Besides the utter failure registered on the political level [oh yeah? by whom?!], the consequences for the French economy were disastrous.
    [So cutting unemployment 1% for every hourcut from the workweek is a disaster?]
    At the same moment as we entered the euro and therefore lost the fine-tuning capabilities offered by the exchange rate, we imposed on our overall economy an instant employment surcharge of 11.5% by quadrupling, from 39 to 35 hours, François Mitterrand's bad idea.
    [What the heck is he talking about! Whence the quadrupling? Whence the 11.5%?]
    In brief, it's not just the idea of shorter worktime which in itself is to be condemned. It's the fact of imposing it by law, in the same identical manner, and forced it on all the companies in France, whatever their size, sector, or finances. It's inflicting legislation, in a centralized way, on pay levels and their evolution [this part does have much merit!], which Nicolas Sarkozy has continued to do during his five years. It's to deny the value of company agreements and social dialogue, the real one, which would cover the important points of the employment contract. This is being archaic, when Emmanuel Macron is simply a man of good sense. Let us salute him, inasmuch as it's such a rare commodity!
    Jean Peyrelevade is Chairman of the bank Degroof France.

  2. Shared work CT - Avoid layoffs, CTcontractors.org
    HARTFORD, Conn., USA - As the prime construction season starts to wind down, many contractors may be considering laying off employees to reduced expenses.
    This of course is never a happy option for anyone. Employers may loose staff permanently and the reverse [lose job options] holds for the unemployed worker.
    Well, there is another option. I recently received a mailing from the Connecticut Department of Labor and a program they have called Shared Work.
    In short, the program allows employers to reduce staff hours, while allowing them to collect some unemployment.
    The program also reduced[s] the unemployment tax impact on the employers.
    This seems like a positive solution for getting through the lean months while retaining staff that a company has invested time and resources into training and learning the company culture.
    For more details...visit SharedWorkCT.com

9/15/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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. 13 [sic: actually only 10] Indian Companies That Let Employees Dictate Their Own Work Hours, (9/14 late pickup) IndiaTimes.com
    NEW DELHI, India - 1. No parking? Work from home at Phillips
    Electronics firm Philips, lets employees who drive to work and don't get parking, go back and work from home. The logic: logging in from home is quicker than finding parking. Employees can choose to reach between 8 am and 1 pm. "When we are aware of road diversions and blocks and advisories about traffic disruptions, employees have the freedom to work from home and head out once the traffic restrictions have eased," a Philips spokesperson said.
    2. Traffic dictates office hours at the Future Group
    When Mumbai-based retailer Future Group consolidated its offices in Vikhroli, 'traffic dynamics' dictated work hours. Future Group allows people to come in between 8.30 am and 10.30 am and leave after eight hours of working. Future Group chief people officer Kaustubh Sonalkar said: "We changed work hours to flexi timings and that gave people lot of relief from traffic."
    3. SAP Labs: Come and leave when you want
    Bengaluru's SAP Labs doesn't monitor entry and exit timings — employees decide when to get to work and leave. SAP allows employees to work from home once a week, a frequency that can be increased by their reporting managers. "It's about output and not how many hours the employees spend on work," a spokesperson for SAP Labs said.
    4. PricewaterhouseCoopers India has an employee friendly location
    When PricewaterhouseCoopers India decided to open its third office in Mumbai, it chose the city's western suburb of Goregaon. In the National Capital region, the global consultancy firm is identifying a location at Noida. "At the end of the day, we want our employees to maintain a work-life balance. Otherwise, it will impact their productivity," PwC India human capital leader Jagjit Singh said.
    5. Coca Cola: flexi work hours
    The local units of Coca-Cola and Sapient have introduced flexi work hours that help employees avoid rush-hour traffic. "We start 30 minutes early at 8:30 am and close by 5:15 pm in order to beat the peak traffic hours," said Sameer Wadhawan, Vice President for Human Resources & Services at Coca-Cola.
    6. KPMG India: work from anywhere
    KPMG India has an agile working policy, which allows people to "work from anywhere" — be it a client location or home, provided that the role can be executed virtually and that productivity, performance and timelines are not hampered, said Shalini Pillay, head of people, performance and culture.
    7. Microsoft offers buses and cabs
    In Hyderabad, Microsoft has a fleet of buses for point-to-point pick up and drop of employees within the campus and cabs for home pick up and drop after office hours.
    8. Infosys: buses, cycles and cabs
    Elsewhere in the country, Infosys is promoting options such as buses, cabs and cycles for its more than 1.79 lakh employees. In Pune, Infosys has launched a campaign, "Ab Bus Karo," to encourage employees to take company buses to its development centre. In Bengaluru, the tech major is encouraging employees to cycle to office.
    9. AmEx South Asia: Pushing for a car-free Tuesday
    "We are asking all our employees to make maximum use of the increased public transport facility on car-free Tuesdays. The reduction in the number of cars will also help reduce pollution," said Sanjay Rishi, president of AmEx South Asia, which has offices on Golf Course Road and Cyber City.
    10. Other Gurgaon firms: carpooling and flexi-timings
    Bacardi, Ericsson, Samsung and Amway, which are headquartered in Gurgaon, have introduced flexi timings. "Traffic in Gurgaon is a big challenge," said Bacardi managing director Vijay Subramaniam. "We have had to resort to means such as three work timing slots in a day, encouraging working from home and car pooling to drive around this issue... We encourage members to use the metro, too."

  2. Hollande plans labour law reform as he cements shift to centre - French president gives go-ahead for bill to simplify rules, by Anne-Sylvaine Chassany, ft.com
    French President François Hollande has given the green light for a "reform" bill [our quotes] to be drafted by the end of the year (photo caption)
    PARIS, France - Could François Hollande become the French leader who fixed France’s dysfunctional labour market? The chances are not as slim as one might think.
    The Socialist president has given the go-ahead for a bill to be drafted by the end of the year to simplify the country’s labour rules and encourage company-level talks between employers and unions on pay, working hours and conditions.
    It is expected to be Mr Hollande’s last big piece of legislation before the presidential elections in May 2017, coming right in time to muffle criticism of a lack of progress in tackling France’s 10 per cent unemployment. The bill would also complete the president’s move to the political centre after other pro-business initiatives.
    To appear impartial — and test the waters on a sensitive subject for the left — the government asked a former employment ministry veteran, Jean-Denis Combrexelle, and a group of experts to make recommendations. They came up with a few game-changing suggestions.
    Mr Combrexelle proposes rewriting and thinning out France’s 3,000-page long labour code, which has grown so thick and complex that it petrifies employers. It is a project that would take four years.
    For the shorter term, he lists ways to encourage companies to negotiate with their employees’ representatives on a wider range of issues, including the sacrosanct 35-hour week threshold, after which employers must pay overtime.
    It says a lot about France’s Jacobin tradition and its nationwide pay structures that collective bargaining — negotiations between employers and unions at a regional or company level — is seen as a liberalising measure.
    Mr Combrexelle calls for a cultural revolution: “Because we’re a centralised country, we tend to think that collective bargaining is a form of disorder, that the right rule is the state’s rule,” he says. “We need to accept that regimes can be different for employees in companies operating in the same field.”
    Jean-Hervé Lorenzi, economist at French think-tank Le Cercle des économistes, says: “In essence, the idea is ‘we’re not going to change the law but we’ll give you ways to circumvent it.’ It is smart and could be very significant.”
    An increased focus on collective bargaining would bring the French model closer to the German and UK ones. The idea is not new: Nicolas Sarkozy’s centre-right government introduced limited measures in the same vein on the eve of the global financial crisis. But for fear of legal disputes, lack of practice or lack of trust, companies often choose to apply the law rather than engage in talks with unions.
    The report addresses this issue. “There’s an effort to change the mindset in France, which has built its sovereignty through the law, as opposed to Anglo-Saxon countries, where the ‘contract’ prevails,” says Alain Trannoy, an economist at the EHESS university in Marseille.
    Some say the overhaul is not radical enough. Mr Hollande indicates that the 35-hour week will stay untouched — as well as the minimum wage and employment contract itself.
    [They should be further reducing the workweek enough create enough of a scarcity of labor for market forces to do the job of a minimum-wage law - and then abolish the minimum-wage law.]
    Laurent Bigorgne, head of centre-right think-tank Institut Montaigne, says it is a missed opportunity because “the majority of the French back a softening of the 35-hour week.”
    [i.e., lengthening? no they don't]
    After the economy minister Emmanuel Macron suggested last month that the 35-hour week had been a bad measure, his approval ratings soared. He is now the second-most popular politician behind Alain Juppé, the former centre-right prime minister.
    But Mr Hollande’s strategy is politically astute. He has no parliamentary majority. Two years before the presidential elections, he cannot afford to split his own party.
    Besides, economists point out, the 35-hour week is not as big an obstacle to hiring as the high cost of labour — an issue that the French president has tried to tackle with €41bn worth of tax breaks for companies over three years. Companies are already allowed to negotiate the rate at which overtime is paid. The problem is few do.
    The Combrexelle reforms are also gathering political consensus. They were welcomed by the mainstream opposition parties, employers and the more moderate trade unions.
    “There’s momentum for a bold reform,” Mr Bigorgne says. “Drafting the actual bill will be difficult but we have enough time for a bipartisan debate before the next presidential elections spoils it.”

9/13-14/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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. Congressman proposes 4-day work week to help ease Metro Manila traffic woes, 9/13 Coconuts Manila via manila.coconuts.co
    QUEZON CITY, Philippines - Among the suggestions to work around Metro Manila's horrendous traffic is Quezon City 2nd District Rep. Winston “Winnie” Castelo's proposal to reduce the work week to four days while extending daily hours to 10.
    "Castelo pushed for the enactment of House Bill, 1378, or the proposed 10-hour, four-day, or 10/4, work week schedule," reports InterAksyon.com.

    [Then hopefully it's easier to slide from 10-hour days to 9 and 8 and get down to 36 and 32 hour workweeks. This is pretty fast pickup on that "1997 suggestion" we only covered yesterday! (see 9/12 #2 below).]
    Castelo had authored and filed the original bill on “Four-Day Work Week Act” in 2011 and refiled the same bill in 2013 as House Bill 1378.
    Castelo — who is the chair of the House committee on Metro Manila development — was quoted as saying, "It should not be strictly implemented for the private sector. But it should also be made clear that its adoption for private enterprises should be understood as a way to save on workers from experiencing those severe traffic gridlocks in the metropolis."
    The report noted: "Castelo's proposed 10/4 work week formula does not change the traditional 40 hours of work every week. It will still be 40 hours a week, but the work schedule will run from Monday to Thursday instead of until Friday. Public and private sector employees will put in two additional hours of work daily.

  2. ABWU wants Barbuda Council's three-day workweek put on hold, 9/14 AntiguaObserver.com
    BARBUDA, B.W.I. - The Antigua & Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU) is calling for a stay on the Barbuda Council’s decision to institute a three-day workweek for the nearly 600 employees on the sister isle.
    General Secretary, David Massiah said the council acted prematurely before discussing its financial challenges with the workers’ bargaining agent.

    [Maybe there wasn't time. At any rate, better workweek reduction than workforce reduction, timesizing than downsizing!]
    “I think that I want to engage the Antigua & Barbuda Labour Department by asking the council to put a stay on that decision,” Massiah said. “We would hope that discussion will take place to understand the sort of reorganising, reshuffling or restructuring, I would say the council moved more than quickly or waited too long before they engaged the official bargaining agent.”
    The general secretary said his deputy, Chester Hughes, reached out to the council two weeks ago to get a clearer understanding of the issues plaguing the council in meeting its obligations to pay salaries and wages, only to have an employee fax him a letter that he had been copied on, but had never received.
    “We are yet to get official notification,” Massiah told OBSERVER media. “The council would have missed a step in contacting the bargaining agent.”
    The general secretary said the union is usually given at least two months’ notice when an employer is considering restructuring an organisation.

9/12/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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. Budget Battle In Bayou La Batre, by Ashley Knight, News 5 WKRG.com
    BAYOU LA BATRE, Ala., USA - It would seem the new mantra of the city of Bayou La Batre is “spending cuts, furloughs and tax increases”. With only about $500 to their name, the city has had to make some drastic cutbacks.
    “But that doesn’t mean the city is completely broke, there’s about $200,000 in encumbered money that you can’t touch, there’s certain equipment funds, various things like that,” says Mayor Annette Johnson.
    Cutbacks include one furlough day a month for city employees that will save $80,000 a year, police doing without city-issued cell phones, and the fire department selling a ladder truck. The city is also raising taxes. Adding three cents to the tobacco tax and a franchise tax to the utility board which will trickle down to customers.
    [But no mention of layoffs so... better furloughs than firings, timesizings than downsizings!]
    “We have not done that before, this is the first time that that’s been asked of the citizens. That’s about $3 per $100 of a water bill,” says Johnson.
    The idea has generated mixed feelings.
    “We don’t have anything to do with the budgeting and shrinking of what they have in the general accounts, so why should we have to suffer because they’re losing money and don’t know how to budget their own money,” says Mikelia Mcalpine.
    “Well if it’s put to good use, it wouldn’t hurt,” says Edward Hardesty.
    The city used the last of the BP settlement money to cover the last $96,000 payroll. Johnson says they’ve seen this coming since January.
    “We felt that we had skewed numbers from the numbers we were given on the accounts and our auditors now are running the 2014 audit and we’ll get a better picture after that, but we’ve been living above our means for quite a few months,” says Johnson.
    She says with the cooperation she’s seen from city departments, there will be a light at the end of the financial tunnel.

  2. A '1997' suggestion to ease Metro traffic, by Romulo B. Macalintal, Inquirer.net
    LAS PIÑAS CITY, Philippines — Let’s accepts it [sic]: The traffic problem in Metro Manila, at present, is terrible. It is deadly and could be fatal—contrary to Transportation Secretary Emilio Joseph Abaya’s view—though no one seems to care. No solution has been offered by the concerned agencies of the government because while there has been an increase in the volume of vehicles there has been no increase in the roads to travel.
    Thus, I reiterate my suggestion for a “four-day workweek” or three days off per week. I have been suggesting this since 1997. Under this scheme, there will be fours days of work per week on a staggered or alternate basis in the different cities of Metro Manila.
    For instance, there will be no work in Quezon City, Las Piñas City and Pasay City on Mondays; in Manila, Taguig City and Caloocan City on Tuesdays; in Mandaluyong City, Muntinlupa City and Parañaque City on Wednesdays; in San Juan City, Pasig City and Makati City on Thursdays; and in Malabon City, Navotas City, Valenzuela City and Pateros on Fridays. The combination of the cities or areas in this alternating arrangement of “one workday-off per week” will depend on the number of population or traffic condition therein as may be determined and recommended by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.
    A good example of the effect of a staggered one workday-off per week is when Manila and San Juan City celebrate Manila Day and the Feast of St. John the Baptist, respectively, every June 24 where light traffic would be experienced because of the holidays in these two big cities.
    The staggered system of giving one workday-off per week will certainly ease the traffic situation in Metro Manila considering the substantial number of private vehicles that will not be used during this one workday-off which will ultimately result in gas and fuel savings. This will also result in additional daily trips for taxi, bus and jeepney drivers, thereby increasing their daily income. Employees will save a lot from the weekly additional day-off in terms of transportation expenses, food and clothing.
    To compensate for the eight-hour loss from the one workday-off or four-day workweek, the working hours of the offices or companies may be adjusted accordingly to comply with the requirement of 40 hours of work per week. This means they may work from 7 a.m. to 12 noon in the first half of the day, and from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the latter part, for four days, which adds up also to 40 hours a week. At any rate, it is very common that most employees stay late in the office even after office hours or come to work very early in the morning to avoid the traffic in going to and from their respective offices. A little sacrifice from all concerned people and offices is not too much to ask at this time when everybody is called upon to cooperate for the greater welfare of the public.
    Educational institutions may also be encouraged to support this proposal by making appropriate adjustments to the class schedules of their students and faculty members. This may not, however, cover government agencies at the “frontline” of public service like those involved in health and social welfare.

9/11/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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. Club cuts hours and introduces admission charge to help it stay open, ScunthorpeTelegraph.co.uk
    SCUNTHORPE, N.Lincs., England - A special meeting of members of a Scunthorpe club has voted in some cost-cutting measures to help keep the business afloat.
    Trading hours at Scunthorpe’s oldest workingmen’s club, the Ashby Constitutional, have been reduced from Monday to Thursday from noon to 4pm to 11pm. Weekend hours will remain the same.
    [And what were they before?]
    Cons secretary Eddie Buckley said none of the seven bar staff would lose their jobs.

    [Hourscuts not jobcuts! time 'losses,' not job losses!]
    [Hourscuts not jobcuts! time 'losses,' not job losses!]
    Members also agreed to help reduce the club’s £14,400 a year bill on live entertainment by introducing a £1 admission charge on Saturday nights.

  2. France's great 35-hour workaround, TeabeLeht.com
    Our RTT is for us to breathe', protesters in Paris carry signs referring to RTT (days off) - [photo caption]
    [The photo shows a guy holding up a big amateur-painted sign saying, "Les RTT c'est pour souffler," standing for "Les Reductions du Temp de Travail c'est pour souffler," meaning literally, "The reductions of time of work it's for to breathe," or more smoothly, "Shorter worktime gives us breathing space."]
    TALINN, Estonia - The socialist government [of France] wants to reform [or deform?] the labor market without offending anyone.
    French President François Hollande is embarking on a highly anticipated [by whom?] reform of his country’s labor code, but he won’t be going anywhere near the elephant in the room: the 35-hour work week.
    The socialist president [with socialists like this, who needs capitalists? Jospin was much better], who has just two years left in his term, is under pressure to prove to the European Commission — and to Germany — that Paris is serious about "reforming" its economy, notably the moribund labor market.
    [Then quit playing around and start designedly converting chronic overtime (OT) into OT-targeted training and hiring, and if you haven't enough convertible OT for full employment and maximum consumer spending, cut the workweek further.]
    Last month he dispatched Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron to Berlin to try to convince a room full of German notables that change was really afoot across the Rhine.
    But while Hollande has flagged a new reform by mid-2016, he and Prime Minister Manuel Valls have already signaled that its scope would be limited, with no impact on the 35-hour work week. Instead, they hope to work around the law by expanding the role of collective bargaining in French firms, which is currently limited, allowing employers greater latitude to negotiate working conditions in-house with staff representatives.
    “Our principle is to bring more flexibility, but not less protection,” Valls told journalists this week as he unveiled his law.
    Many politicians, including former President Nicolas Sarkozy, argue that the 35-hour work week, which was introduced by a socialist government in 2000, is no longer a serious problem for the French economy.
    Because the law has been extensively amended over the years to allow different categories of workers to work beyond 35 hours, they say a reform to change the legal reference — which remains one of Europe’s shortest working weeks — would only cause anxiety among the working class and bring hundreds of thousands of them into the streets.
    That seems to be the thinking among Hollande’s allies, despite a poll this week showing that more than 70 percent of the French are actually in favor of scrapping the 35-hour week. They would rather avoid touching the legal reference than risk a head-on clash with trade unions such as the hardline CGT, whose chief Philippe Martinez said this week that he was “resolutely against” any change to the labor code.
    Valls publicly rebuked Macron last week for suggesting that it might be time for the Left to rethink its attitude toward work.
    But, as early deliberations over the law show, it will be difficult to enact a meaningful reform without taking on the 35-hour law, or its corollary — the rock-solid, long term job contract known as the CDI — due to the enormous legal and symbolic weight that both still carry.
    Valls has already ruled out two audacious reform recommendations made by a panel of labor experts because they would have entailed changes to the 35-hour law, or the CDI contract.
    The first called for changing the threshold at which overtime pay kicks in to, say, 40 hours per week, as is currently the case in most European countries. The second was a so-called “unique contract” that would have ironed out the differences between insider workers, who enjoy stable, long-term employment on ironclad contracts, and outsiders who bounce from one short-term gig to another.
    Both were thrown out, perhaps because enforcing them might have angered left-wing voters two years away from a presidential election.
    “It’s a shame that the prime minister rejected this proposal, as he did any change to the contour of the CDI [job contract], showing a form of conservatism,” the CGPME business lobby, which represents small and medium-sized firms, said in a statement.
    MEDEF, the main business lobby, was also wary.
    “It’s important the reform allows companies, workers and leaders to discuss anything, including the duration of work in every firm,” MEDEF chief Pierre Gattaz told a press conference, according to the Agence France-Presse news agency.
    To avoid messing with the sacred cows, Valls wants to work around them by letting companies opt out of some national work regulations.
    In theory, such a change would bring the statist French labor system — in which firms small and large alike are subject to thousands of regulations set at the national level — closer into line with the German or Scandinavian labor tradition, in which great latitude is given to collective bargaining.
    “The idea is to significantly increase the role of collective bargaining in companies, but also at the branch level,” said Henri Rouilleault, a labor consultant who helped to draft the report, which will be presented to cabinet Wednesday. “It’s also to significantly simplify the labor code, which at the moment is far is too difficult to understand.”
    But some of the conditions laid down by Hollande suggest that even if a reform passes muster in parliament — which is far from guaranteed given opposition from far-left socialist deputies — collective bargaining in France will not be as potent as it is in Germany.
    Hollande has said that any labor agreement which opts out of a national regulation will have to be approved by a simple majority of worker representatives. That’s more than what is currently required under previous opt-out laws passed by Sarkozy, which require employers to get agreement from just 30 percent of the staff.
    Furthermore, Hollande’s advisers have told French media that most collective bargaining would happen not within individual firms, but at the level of professional branches: big groupings of companies often dominated by huge, state-backed firms.
    Despite taking maximum precautions, the government is likely to face tough opposition to its reform in parliament from left-wing socialist, and trade unions in the street. Its last attempt to liberalize certain isolated sectors of the economy, led by Macron, forced the government to bypass opposition in parliament by using a special decree.
    Even then, the only aspect of the bill that directly concerned the labor market — a plan to limit the amount of damages that can be awarded to workers in case of wrongful dismissal — was struck down by the Constitutional Court.
    This time, no matter what is in the law, the government may not be able to avoid street protests. The CGT has already planned a day of demonstrations on Oct. 8.

9/10/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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. Edmonton youth centre cuts hours, staff to save money, by Rachel Ward, EdmontonJournal.com
    EDMONTON, Alta., Canada - An Edmonton organization that serves homeless youth has been forced to cut hours and staff after what its director says is its worst year yet for fundraisng.
    [More hourcuts, less jobcuts - more timesizing, less downsizing!]
    “I’ve been with the organization 16 years and this is the toughest that I’ve seen it,” said Deb Cautley, executive director of Youth Empowerment and Support Services.
    Two-thirds of its funding comes from donations and grants, which vary from year to year, Cautley said. The group is behind its fundraising goal and barely made the last payroll, she said. With the economic downturn, she suspects donors have less to give.
    “It’s not just financial. We just had to go out — first time ever — and do a sock drive. Usually, those are donated,” Cautley said.
    Wednesday at the Armoury Resource Centre (ARC), operated by YESS [Youth Empowerment & Support Services], young people sketched in the kitchen before lunch. That may be their last meal that day, as the centre has stopped serving supper and closes early to save money.
    Last year, the organization closed the day program at ARC, which offers services such addictions support, showers and free laundry, for six months after going about $400,000 in debt the year before. ARC served 343 people that year.
    Overall, YESS served 445 young people last year, and about 500 the year before.
    The organization also cut back staff supervision at Nexus, the organization’s youth shelter on Whyte Avenue, but not enough to eliminate any of the 24 beds, Cautley said.
    Michael Bernard, 21, is often forced to go without dinner ["supper" above].
    But he’s most worried about whether the shelter will offer fewer beds.
    Since younger homeless teens are given priority, older youth won’t have a place to stay, he said.
    “It’s almost impossible to think that,” Bernard said.
    When Bernard can’t get into the shelter, he sleeps in a tent in Edmonton’s river valley. He said he has a sore back and knees, depression and PTSD from deploying to Afghanistan with the army reserve at 18.
    This Friday evening, supporter Angela Contardi is running a fundraiser for YESS called “A Night of Illusion” at the ATB Financial Arts Barns.
    That will help, Cautley said, but the group needs a long-term solution or it may consider closing permanently.
    “If you can’t have your staff, you can’t help the kids,” Cautley said. “If you don’t have the money, you can’t have your staff.”
    Rachel Ward   rward@edmontonjournal.com   twitter.com/wardrachel

  2. Bayit Yehudi proposes long weekend bill - The legislation calls for making up for lost work hours from Sundays during the rest of the week, Jerusalem Post Israel News via jpost.com
    TEL AVIV, Israel - Bayit Yehudi faction chairman Yinon Magal became the latest MK [Member of Knesset? = MP] to propose legislation that would make Sundays part of a long weekend when he submitted a bill on Wednesday.
    [So presumably the current workweek in Israel is Sunday to Thursday, which if 9-5:30 with 1/2hour for lunch is 40 hours.]
    Interior Minister Silvan Shalom (Likud) has been the political patron of shortening the work week for several years. Economy Minister Arye Deri (Shas) recently joined the idea’s proponents, who include Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) and Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky.
    “A country that sanctifies the Sabbath [i.e., closes businesses from 6pm Friday to 6pm Saturday] must provide another day off in which its citizens can feel that their freedom is not being limited,” Magal wrote in the bill.

    Magal said it was the right time to submit the bill, due to the current controversy over whether professional soccer games should be played on Shabbat. Making Sunday a day off would provide a day when all citizens could enjoy sporting events and other leisure activities, regardless of their level of religious observance, he said.
    The legislation calls for making up for lost work hours from Sundays during the rest of the week. An additional half hour would be added to work days Monday through Thursday, and Fridays would become half days of work.
    [So if the current workweek in Israel is Sun-Thurs 9-5:30 with 1/2hour for lunch, the current total is 5x8= 40 hours. And if the proposed workweek is Mon-Thurs 9-6 with 1/2hour for lunch, the proposed total is 4x8½+4= 38 hours. So there's a real reduction of 2 hours a week, unlike the mere rearrangement of the 5x8=40 hr/wkwk into The Four-Day Workweek of 4x10= still 40 hrs.]
    Magal said the bill would enable Israel to fit itself into the modern international working week while maintaining the amount of work hours that are standard around the world.
    A source close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who would be involved in approving and implementing such a decision said there were many advantages and disadvantages to changing the status quo on the issue, and that he looked forward to seeing the recommendations of the governmental committee that has been examining the subject.

9/09/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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. Budget restraints force library to cut hours, TheSheridanPress.com
    SHERIDAN, Wyo., USA — The board that manages the local library system has decided to alter the hours of operation for the Sheridan County Fulmer Public Library due to budget restraints.
    Beginning this week, the Fulmer Library will no longer be open on Sundays.

    With the recent library budget reductions for fiscal year 2015-16, the board trustees were able to reduce spending in the administration, maintenance, programming and books and materials budget line items. At the same time, additional revenue streams were identified through the generosity of the Friends of the Library, Library Foundation and the Fulmer Trust. However, those adjustments were not enough and it became necessary to examine expenses related to staffing and hours of operation. The end result was to recommend closing the Fulmer Library on Sundays throughout the year.
    The new hours for the Fulmer Library will be Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. This decision does not currently affect any hours of operation at the branch libraries.
    According to library officials, the decision was not an easy one for the board to make and “we apologize in advance for the negative impact this decision will have to the weekend routines for those visiting the library.”

  2. When It Comes to Work Hours, Less Is More, PayScale Career News (blog) via payscale.com
    CHICAGO, Illin., USA - A few weeks ago, The New York Times put Amazon's work culture under the microscope . While many employees, both current and past, have chimed in since the article came out, we're now finding time to turn the focus to our own work lives. Should we all strive to be as driven as Amazonians who love their 60-plus hour work weeks? Should we all keep the cube lights on into the wee hours to show how much we "care"? The answer, despite our best efforts to die at our desks, may be "Nope."
    Just Because We Can (Doesn't Mean We Should)
    Some of the issues of this workplace dilemma come from the little helpful innovations that supposedly make us more productive. Email (vs. paper memos or letters), virtual meetings (vs. a brick-and-mortar workplace), and cellphones (vs. landlines) all help us cram as much work into our day as we can. On your way to a conference? You can work from the plane! Stuck in traffic? Get a little emailing in! On vacation? Bring that laptop and stay on top of your projects!
    But, of course, these conveniences are terrible, too. We deserve downtime and we need breaks; plus, we have people who'd like to see our faces not in a screen every hour of every day. Being away from work (and not working) is healthy. It's human.
    Setting Expectations
    There aren't many workplaces that have adopted the motto "Work Smarter, Not Longer," though there probably should be. It seems everywhere still expects the average cube worker to punch in and punch out just like they're working 40 hours at the cracker factory. But since we have all these great technologies that are supposed to make our workday easier, shouldn't we work fewer hours in the day?
    The New Yorker recently brought up that way back in 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted Americans would someday become so efficient as to warrant a three-hour workday. Could you even imagine a 15-hour work week? Even vacation-happy European workplaces don't go that low. So instead of being more productive and heading out after a few hours to, I don't know, engage in the world outside the workplace, we're given more work and more work and told we're being "more productive" because we're producing more and more … work for ourselves. See the problem?
    The False Economy of Hours Worked
    "Look busy, the boss is watching" isn't a new concept. Breaking rocks or sitting at a keyboard, you still feel the need to look like you're earning your wages. But when you produce thoughts and ideas, how can you quantify the work you're doing?
    For creatives like graphic designers and copywriters, there's often "downtime" spent thinking before the ideas really start flowing. It's not the same scale for someone, say, manning a hotel desk, but we're all still clocking in and clocking out (so to speak) every day. If you're at work even longer, say a 10- or 12-hour work day, are you really producing so much more work, or are you just looking like you're more dedicated and productive than your co-workers?
    The bottom line is that you should only be working more if it leads to better results for you and your employer.
    [No, work more only if you want to help induce or deepen economic recession. In the robotics age, it is a system requirement that everyone work less - unless they're really enjoying it and willing to do it for free - in the sense of reinvesting overtime pay into spreading their presumably bottlenecked skills (as defined by the demand for the OVERtime). When the people who still have jobs work longer hours while technology is making leaps in worksavings, more and more other people are marginalized or completely disemployed. Who cares, says Chainsaw Dunlap and Jeff Bezos. Well, other business leaders, according to an article in 9/10/15's Boston Globe, "Business leaders concerned by income gap - 45% said rising poverty levels could hurt their businesses." What they don't realize is, rising poverty levels are already keeping their businesses miles below where they would be if we decoagulated the huge black hole of money in the tiny richest population where it has defaulted due to rising resume surplus, and use it to fund more potential consumers. We could do that by just giving it away, which some people suggest under the label "guaranteed minimum income," but that just further splits the population into overworkers and parasites. Or we could do it by artificial job creation (the "defense" industry seems to be the easiest sell) and dreaming up more and more makework, but that's running into all kinds of ecological constraints such as fresh water shortages. Far better to do it by engineering a labor shortage in the eyes of employers, to maintain and raise wages and spending, and the easiest and surest way to do that is just convert chronic overtime into training and hiring and regularly trim the workweek as much as it takes to get enough convertible OT to provide full employment (and maximum markets!).]
    Depending on your corporate culture, that might mean putting in some face-time when you'd otherwise be better off at home, but resist the urge to make yourself a martyr [or further depress the economy!]. Document your accomplishments, keep the lines of communication open to your boss and co-workers, and go home as soon as you're able.

9/08/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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. Labor Day Special Report: 40-Hour Work Weeks, Weekends and Minimum Wage, by Eryc Eyl, HuffingtonPost.com
    [40 hours good, weekends good, minimum wage bad - should have been done with a more general and flexible approach via even shorter-than-40 hours.]
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - Today is Labor Day in my home country, the United States of America, and in honor of that, I thought it might be fun to take a quick look at some important milestones in labor history. Yes, I know my idea of fun might be a little bizarre, but before we dig into our BBQ and beers, let's reflect for just a couple minutes on how we got here. It's been quite a roller coaster.
    • 1800 -- Most men, women and children in the U.S. work 14-hour days and 6-day weeks.
    • 1840 -- President Martin Van Buren issues an executive order to limit the work day for laborers and mechanics to 10 hours.
    • 1882 -- The first U.S. Labor Day celebration occurs in New York City on September 5.
    • 1884 -- The Central Labor Union selects the first Monday in September as Labor Day.
    • 1887 -- On February 1, Oregon becomes the first state to officially adopt Labor Day, followed later that year by Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.
    • 1894 -- The U.S. Congress passes legislation on June 28 making the first Monday in September a legal holiday.
    • 1918 -- The U.S. Supreme Court finds unconstitutional legislation banning child labor.
      [sic - is this phrased correctly??]
    • 1919 -- The International Labor Union proposes global work day limits of 8-9 hours.
    • 1922 -- The Fort Motor Company reduces the work week from 6 days to 5.
    • 1923 -- The U.S. Supreme Court overturns a Washington, D.C. law setting minimum wages for women.
    • 1926 -- The Ford Motor Company adopts a 40-hour work week on May 1.
    • 1933 -- The National Industrial Recovery Act sets the work week at 35-40 hours, the minimum wage to $12-15 a week, and restricts employment of children younger than 16.
    • 1935 -- The U.S. Supreme Court overturns most of the worker protections of the National Industrial Recovery Act.
    • 1936 -- The Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act passes on June 30, requiring government contractors to adopt an 8-hour work day, a 40-hour work week, and to pay a minimum wage set by Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins. The act also prohibited employing boys under 16 and girls under 18. to employ only those over 16 years of age if they were boys or 18 years of age if they were girls, and to pay a "prevailing minimum wage" to be determined by the Secretary of Labor.
    • 1938 -- President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Fair Labor Standards Act into law, banning child labor, setting a 25-cents-an-hour minimum wage and requiring employers to provide overtime pay when the work week exceeds 44 hours. It's important to note, however, that the FLSA does not set a maximum number of hours for a work week (this exists in most developed countries outside the U.S.) and does not require employers to pay for sick time, vacation days or even federal holidays like Labor Day.
    Fast-forward through World War II, the Korean War, the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War and the rest of the 20th century to reach the present day.
    • 2011 -- Workers in the U.S. work an average of 7.6 hours per day. Workers between 25 and 54 with children worked an average of 8.8 hours per day.
    • 2013 -- On April 9, the euphemistically named Working Families Flexibility Act is introduced, amending FLSA to allow employers to replace overtime pay with compensatory time (what most of us call "comp time") at the rate of 1.5 hours for every hour of overtime.
    • June 2, 2014 -- The Seattle city council unanimously approved a citywide minimum wage of $15 per hour. As with many worthwhile experiments with new ways of working, this one has some benefits and some downsides. Time will tell if this was the right decision for Seattle as a whole, but the move has certainly been a boon to many low-wage workers [and a curse to many workers laid off from already struggling businesses.]
    • April 13, 2015 -- Inspired by happiness research by Nobel Prize-winning behavioral economist Daniel Kahnemann, Dan Price, CEO of Seattle-based Gravity Payments, announced that his company would pay none of its workers less than 50,000 per year by the end of 2015 and 70,000 per year by the end of 2017 (that works out to $24.04 and $33.65 per hour, assuming a standard 2,080-hour work year). Boy, did this one get an undue amount of attention (my article about it on LinkedIn has been viewed almost 34,000 times, and has 367 likes and 135 comments as of today)! This is a very limited experiment in a company of just over 120 employees, and it, too, has seen ups and downs, but it's too early to tell whether the overall impact on the community will be positive or negative.
    It's mind-boggling to realize that some of the workplace conditions we take for granted -- weekends, 40-hour work weeks, minimum wage, the absence of child labor -- are less than 100 years old. And we might not know the impacts of some of the recent developments and changes for another 100 years.
    What do you think of how far we've come? What does this all mean for work-life balance and corporate survival in today's workplace? And what about organized labor? It's been such an important part of developments over the centuries, but does it still have a place in the modern world of work? I'd love to hear your thoughts and reactions in the comments.

  2. 50-Hour Workweeks? How to Cut Back on the 'New Normal', by Nicole Fallon Taylor, BusinessNewsDaily.com
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - Years ago, working exactly 40 hours per week — 9 to 5, Monday through Friday — was the standard for most office employees. Today, this schedule is still fairly common, but workers are often logging far more than their expected 8 hours a day.
    According to a survey of U.S. "knowledge workers"— those who primarily handle or use information in an office setting, rather than working with their hands — by Web conferencing software PGi, 87 percent of employees work more than 40 hours per week, with nearly one-quarter of all respondents putting in more than 50 hours per week. But these workers are not necessarily staying late in the office: About 80 percent of survey respondents said they bring work home with them one or more days per week, including 15 percent whose work-related activities bleed into their weekends.
    The study also found that lunch breaks have taken a hit in employees' efforts to get more done during the workday. Fifty-eight percent of workers told PGi that they don't eat lunch away from their desk during the typical workday. However, skipping lunch breaks actually does more harm than good because taking regular breaks boosts productivity and prevents fatigue and burnout, experts say.
    The always-on, constantly connected environment in which today's workers live has shaped this trend of longer hours and blurred lines between work and personal time. But just because employees can work 24/7 doesn't mean they want to: More than 70 percent of survey respondents admitted they were unhappy with how many hours they're working and wish they had more time for personal activities such as exercising, spending time with family and friends, pursuing hobbies and running errands.
    Overworked employees also said they would appreciate in-office perks to relieve stress, with gym memberships (32.6 percent), relaxation rooms (25.9 percent) and lunchtime yoga sessions (16.3 percent) topping the list.
    To combat their diminishing personal time, employees are finding little ways to be more efficient in the office and cut down on the work they need to take home. Survey respondents said the following tricks increase their productivity:
    • To-do lists
    • Bringing lunch to work
    • Drinking coffee
    • Avoiding meetings
    • Not using social media
    • Taking breaks
    • Telecommuting
    • Not multitasking
    Ultimately, though, it's up to employers to let their workers know it's OK to disconnect. However, not all employers are doing so: 64 percent of HR professionals expect employees to be reachable outside of office hours, according to a recent CareerArc/WorkplaceTrends.com survey. In another Business News Daily article, CareerArc CEO Robin Richard advised employers to really listen to staff members about what workplace flexibility means to them, and to encourage personal activities outside the office to promote a healthy work-life balance.
    PGi surveyed more than 500 U.S.-based professionals about their workweeks. For full results, visit PGi's blog post: http://blog.pgi.com/2015/09/slideshare-takeback60-the-demise-of-the-work-week/

9/06-07/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Work-Life Balance and Productivity, by James M. Smith, 9/06 TheMarketMogul.com
    LONDON, U.K. - Retail giant Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos have come under scrutiny yet again over the treatment of their workers. Former and current employees have disclosed the overly pressurising and sometimes demoralising environment, as they are pushed to fulfil the company’s innovative dreams. Bezos admits that there is little room for a ‘work-life balance’ within the company. The result? The second-highest employee turnover of the big American companies, with a median tenure of just 1 year.
    Over the years this has created problems for Amazon, as they watched much of their skilled labour move to employee-friendly competitors: Apple, Google and Facebook. Arguably these harsh conditions were necessary for Amazon to ruthlessly engulf the retail market like it has done over the last two decades. However, this insight poses questions about culture and work ethic: What constitutes as the perfect work-life balance? And how is productivity affected?
    A case of four countries
    The US, UK, Germany and France are all highly developed economies with access to similar physical and human capital. Cultural disparities however mean that approach to working life vary widely. Of the four, Americans work the longest [ie: have the most disempowered workforce and the most job insecurity], and are very productive [ie: have the most "lights-out manufacturing"]; a culture that Amazon was quick to embrace. The Germans work the least amount of hours, but GDP per worker is identical to that of the UK. French workers exhibit a similar level of productivity to [but higher than] their German counterparts.
    Table 1   Hrs Worked   GDP/hr worked   GDP/worker
    US   1790   64.1   114,739
    [US GDP per capita would tell a disastrous story now that the Land of the Free beats all in prison population, not to mention homelessness and welfare cases.]
    UK 1654   48.5   80,219
    France 1479     59.5   88,000
    Germany 1393   58.3   81,212
    All figures are provided by the OECD, and are PPP adjusted.
    In the 1980’s, the US was set fairly in the middle of the rich countries in terms of working hours. However, as other countries have cut back their hours, through legislation and/or changing attitudes, America has become a world-leader of the working week. The average American working week is 47 hours long, with only 8% of employees reporting to be working less than the considered “normal” 40-hour week. There is also a workplace culture of answering calls, emails and going to the office outside of working hours; synonymous with the expected duties of an Amazon employee. This contributes to their [ie: American employees' in general] productivity and high GDP per worker, and thus gains in living standards [for the diminishing percentage who still have a full-time job].
    [And long-hours productivity does not contribute as much as lights-out manufacturing = completely automated factories whose output IS counted in the GDP, while mounting prison, welfare and homeless populations are NOT counted in the "per worker."]
    A European perspective
    The European labour market has adapted as real incomes have increased. The Working Time Directive, introduced in 2003, prohibits any employee’s working week to exceed 48 hours and also includes other employee protection, including minimum holiday time. Calls for changes in legislation seemed purely for non-economic reasons; employee health and well being was on the agenda. However what really made this possible was rising real incomes, accompanied by an approach to the working life that placed more value on leisure, rather than consumption, in comparison to the Americans.
    First taking Germany as an example, average real GDP per capita post-reunification was $35, 256, compared to $43, 243 in 2012. This was a 23% rise. There was similar growth experienced in France between 1991 – 2012, increasing by 22%. However in the US, incomes soared from $47, 907 to $68, 374; an increase of 43%.
    Increasing real incomes allowed many European workers to ease off on the working week and allow greater allocation of time towards holidays and weekends. This is a contributing factor as to why, although European incomes have increased, they have not experienced the same growth rate as US incomes.
    [This must be and increase over a strangely limited population of Americans, because real wages in the US have been sinking and one wonders how this squares with this statement about a growth rate for US incomes.]
    Diminishing Marginal Utility of Wealth
    [*Graph [scan way down] shows utility shooting up with regular increments of money from zero but slowing steadily toward flatlining with further increments.]
    Explanation can be illustrated by a simple diminishing marginal utility of income curve. A work-life balance is regarded as highly important to Europeans, and countries have seen average working hours falling as a result. There is an attitude in the air that does not quite speak the same levels of fondness for wealth as it does in the US. Yet workers are still found to be productive; credited to a very direct and goal-orientated work ethic inside of office hours. There are also strong parental protection policies, especially regarding maternity leave. This has helped to bridge the gap of gender equality in terms of employment and salaries.
    Perception of work and life indeed varies greatly either side of the Atlantic; either way the Americans and Europeans embrace their ideas of wealth and leisure. The UK however finds itself quite literally stuck in the middle.
    The British problem
    A quick glance at Table 1 above reveals the worrying reality of an unproductive workforce. Granted that due to generally higher living costs, purchasing power adjustment would have left an underestimated productivity. But this does not take away from the fact that the British work closer to an American working week, yet reap the financial rewards similar to that on the continent. There is an influence from either side; a taste for American wealth yet a European attitude towards leisure. Office culture in Britain blurs the lines between work and leisure, with a non-direct approach to communication and personal life perhaps hindering the productive day.
    Other economic indicators must also be acknowledged, such as unemployment and labour intensity of sectors. Currently no real unemployment disparities exist between the UK, US and Germany; 5.4%, 5.5% and 4.7% respectively. Although it lies at 10.5% in France, where historically unemployment has been high. Labour intensity decreases productivity as well, but with sectors such as agriculture, hospitality and manufacturing contributing as the most labour intensive sectors, the UK productivity problem cannot be down to this.
    Looking ahead in to the future, the British labour market should make a choice. The British view on work-life balance seems to indicate that the workforce will benefit from shorter working hours and an adaptation to office culture; especially as real incomes will continue to increase. In other words, the UK could learn from the German approach if it wants to improve.
    The perfect work-life balance is very much a subjective view, however The [sic] US and Western Europe provide an insight into how economies can still enjoy high productivity with very different approaches to the working life.
    [And this last paragraph can still enjoy some proof-reading.]

  2. Pike County Library cutting hours, by Peter Becker, 9/07 The News Eagle via neagle.com
    PIKE COUNTY, Pa., USA - Fans of the Pike County Public Library have been blessed in the past year to be able to visit their local library seven days a week. Although attendance is up by as much as 25 percent, funding has not seen a similar change, requiring a cut back in their hours.
    Starting Tuesday, September 8th, the library branches on East Harford Street, Milford Borough and on Log Tavern Road (100 Bond Court), Dingman Township, will no longer be open on Sundays. On addition, Monday hours at the Dingman branch have been eliminated, although their Saturday hours have been increased by an hour.
    Hours on Wednesday and Thursday at Milford were reduced by an hour, and the Tuesday hours at Dingman are a little shorter,
    Rose Chiocchi, Executive Director, said.
    [Hourscuts, not jobcuts = timesizing not downsizing!]
    Specifically, the new hours will be:
    Milford Branch:
    Monday & Tuesday: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
    Wednesday & Thursday: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
    Friday & Saturday: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
    Sunday: Closed
    Dingman Township Branch:
    Monday: Closed
    Tuesday-Thursday: 2 p.m.- 7 p.m.
    Friday: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
    Saturday: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
    Sunday: Closed
    She stated that the reduced schedule will not affect programming since most special programs occur on Saturdays. No one is being laid off either, although she said unfortunately some hours were cut as a result.
    When the long-awaited, new Milford branch opened to the public in October 2013, it came with a very special gift. An anonymous donor had provided funds to ensure that both branch stayed open seven days a week.
    Chiocchi said the library had never been opened every day, before. She said the daily schedule was very well received, but the special funding has run out.
    Over 60,000 people a year visit the Pike County Public Library. This is about a 25 percent increase over what they had before the new Milford branch was opened.
    She said that they continue to add free services to the public on a regular basis. In order to keep the high quality programming and services, the hours had to be reduced to save money. Expenses are also up. The new library carries a mortgage.
    Chiocchi stated, “We are sorry for any inconvenience that this may cause and we ask for your understanding.”
    She reminded that the library catalpa is available online at any time, by visiting www.PCPL.org. From the website patrons can renew items, place items on hold, pay fines and have access to the electronic databases including Learning Express, OneClick Digital, Zinio, Mango, and NYTimes.com. Pike County is also partnering with Wayne County Library Alliance which has greatly expanded the collection and provide better access to patrons,
    State funding was cut drastically in recent years. The Pike County Public Library board is waiting to learn what the state budget will bring. Chiocchi made note that the Library does not receive any tax dollars. They do receive an annual contribution from the Pike County Commissioners, although this has not gone up.
    Much of what they do relies on volunteers, and Chiocchi said that new volunteers are always welcome. They have a Friends of the Pike County Public Library group which provides an invaluable service, she said.
    A 50/50 raffle is currently underway. The Library’s major fundraiser is a fall dinner dance. This year the dance has a Great Gatsby theme and is scheduled for November 7.
    Public donations are welcome to help ensure fewer cuts in the future. There are donation jars in both branches, and the Library’s book sale room is a big help.
    Contributions may be made via PayPal on the Library website, www.PCPL.org or send a check made payable to the Pike County Public Library, 119 E. Harford St., Milford, PA 18337.
    The Milford branch may be contacted at 570-296-8211; the Dingman branch at 570-686-7045. Chiocchi may be contacted by email at director@pcpl.org.

9/05/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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. French workers see need for longer week: Econ Min, by Julia Chatterley & Arjun Kharpal,CNBC.com
    PARIS, France - French workers recognize the need to work more hours as the government looks to "reform" [our quotes] a 35-hour working week law, France's economy minister told CNBC on Saturday, adding that the country's economy is "back".
    Former investment banker [redlight] Emmanuel Macron has been pushing for measures that give firms more flexibility to increase working hours.
    The country's 35-hour working week was introduced by the Socialist government in 2000 and has been a source of criticism from both the international community and corporate world.
    Macron said "reforming" the law was key to helping a recovery in the French economy, the second biggest in the euro area after Germany.
    [When puritans like Macron talk reform, they're just expressing their nagging fear that somebody somewhere is having a good time - in this case, a lot of their fellow citizens working less for more money based on technology that's doing more of the work.]
    "The perspective today, is not to kill the legislation about the 35 hours. The issue is to provide much more flexibility at the corporate level," Macron told CNBC in an interview at the Ambrosetti forum in Italy.
    [In other words, we won't kill it directly - just by a thousand cuts. "Flexibility" as in more facetime control for a few nervous and shortsighted investment bankers, the chief architects of recession (via moneysupply coagualtion) the world over.]
    "So what we need is more flexibility on the ground, more flexibility at the corporate level...in order to be precisely much more adapted to the inflows and outflows of the current economy."
    [Flexibility at the corporate level means more unleveling of the playing field in favor of employers = lower wages, lower consumer spending, lower marketable productivity, lower investment stability.]
    Plans to "reform" the 35-hour working week law has put Macron and the Socialist government on a collision course with trade unions. But the economy minister said that the public backs the reform and recognizes the need to work longer hours.
    [Based on a slanted survey of less than 0.0016% of France's 66,000,000 people.]
    "A poll yesterday...highlighted the fact that a large majority of people are completely aware of the fact that we need to increase working hours and are supportive of such a reform," Macron said.
    'We are back' [France was 'back' in 2001 with 8.6% unemployment thanks to the 35-hour law and prior to the US-led recession hitting France & knocking it back up to 10 point something. Ever since, puritan-era transplants like Sarkozy and Macron have been weakening the 35 hours instead of moving it further down to get more domestic consumption and fine-tunability.]
    France is still struggling with high unemployment, which is at around 10 percent, and gross domestic product (GDP) growth that slowed in the second quarter of the year.
    [So they need more domestic consumption = activation of more consumer-spenders = more conversion of chronic overtime into training&hiring + SHORTER hours than 35 if OT conversion fails to restore full employment and maximum markets.]

    The government has passed a number of "reforms" to get the country back on track and Macron said that it would take a "few months" [their quotes] to get results. Responding to a question about why France's economy has underperformed Germany's, Macron said the gap between the two countries has closed.
    "It has changed. It is no more the case," Macron told CNBC.
    "You are perfectly right, if you look at the last decade we lost a lot of market share in comparison with Germany. Why? Because we didn't deliver in terms of competitiveness.
    [But you did deliver and are delivering in terms of productivity, where yours is higher than theirs. So why are you focusing on the "glass half empty" instead of "half full"? This guy's an idiot and Hollande is worse for appointing him.]
    We had a constant increase of wages [AND domestic consumer spending!] without increase in productivity [but your productivity was already high and this would have solidified its marketability!], and we increased divergences between our two economies, so now we are on the recovery phase."
    ["For he himself hath said it."]
    "We are proactive, we are reforming, we are back," he said.
    ["Methinks the lady doth protest too much."]
    Efforts to "reform" the labour market by President Francois Hollande and his government have also met with some opposition from within the Socialist party, with Macron saying the "aggressive recovery policy" [their quotes] has created divisions.
    "And I do believe...it creates a lot of trouble especially in the Socialist party because we are changing the ideology, we are changing and modernizing [or rather, backwardizing] this party and it's going through these reforms," he said.
    [That is not your place in a democracy! You are not arbitrary manipulators of the public will but mere housekeepers thereof - by nationwide referendums à la Suisse & not tinyslanty polls like bigdumb USA. So siddown & shaddap, Macron the Minus Sign!]
    Refugee crisis
    A refugee crisis in Europe was also on the minds of politicians and diplomats at Ambrosetti as countries clashed on how to deal with the situation.
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Hollande are pushing for quotas around how many refugees each European Union (EU) member state should accept. But the United Nation's high commissioner for refugees slammed the EU's "piecemeal" approach to the crisis, in a statement on Friday.
    [What's the alternative? A total blank check to intake any and all dissatisfied people around the globe? The UN high commish is in lala land.]
    Macron praised Merkel and Hollande's push and said there was a need to educate [=brainwash] the public on the reasons behind the influx of migrants into Europe, adding that integrating migrants into society will be crucial.
    "These people didn't chose to leave their country, they were just killed in their country," Macron said.
    "I think first pedagogy is key. Second, we need as well a better political and diplomatic organization...We need the proper answer from a political point of view in order to address this refugee issue, which means a good organization to hold them. Third, we have to integrate them progressively, that's the economic challenge because for sure they will be here for a long time."

  2. The road to recovery: furloughs, layoffs and job numbers that shade the truth, by Jana Kasperkevic, (9/04 late pickup) TheGuardian.com
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - The unemployment rate fell to a seven-and-a-half-year low in August. While the number of new jobs created was less than expected, overall the month-to-month numbers have been positive, allowing the Obama administration to tout economic recovery and the Fed to prepare for a potential interest rate hike later this year.
    Yet, the monthly numbers do not tell the entire story.
    As certain industries have been adding jobs [which tends] to keep the unemployment rate steady, others industries like oil and gas have been slashing them by hundreds and thousands. Some workers have been let go with a promise of a job weeks or months down the road. Not fired, just furloughed – but no paycheck feels the same, no matter what you call it. Other workers, in retail and local government, have also been furloughed, with hours shaved from their weekly and monthly schedules.
    The low unemployment rate provides little comfort to these workers.
    Irene Coleman worked at her last job, as an HR generalist, for about three months before she was furloughed on 9 July. “They didn’t give us any notice,” Coleman said. “I did go on unemployment briefly but they called me back two weeks later.”
    This week, however, was Coleman’s last week with the company. “I just gave notice and will begin a new job next week,” said the 61-year-old from Panorama City, California.
    Initially, when the two-week long furlough started, Coleman had no plan to look for a new job. “But I had a feeling this company is just too unstable; therefore, I sought other employment,” she said.
    Blue Bell personnel Freddie Hugo, Rickey Seilheimer and Charlie Franke stock freezers with Blue Bell products. In May, Blue Bell announced that personnel such as these three men would be placed on a partially paid furlough. (Photo caption)
    Coleman is not the only one to be called back to work from a weeks-long furlough. Mid-May of this year, Blue Bell ice cream company announced that 1,400 of its employees were going to be placed on a partially paid furlough.
    “They were paid a substantial portion of their pay, with the expectation that they would return to work when needed,” a company spokesperson told the Guardian. “At this time, we’ve brought back approximately 360 furloughed workers. We will continue to bring back more workers in phases as production and distribution expands.”
    One of those workers was Sean Cooper, who told his local CBS station that he was grateful because he could have been laid off. While he was furloughed, Blue Bell paid him for 30 hours’ work each week, which while helpful was less than he was used to.
    [Better furloughs than firings, timesizings than downsizings.]
    To make ends meet in the meantime, he found a part-time job at a local resale shop.
    “[The part-time job] has allowed me to get back to living a normal life,” he said. “It pays the bills. It helps me and my family to survive.”
    Blue Bell hoped to bring back more workers in the coming week, but has no specific dates as of yet.
    “We are happy to be bringing back more and more furloughed employees, and look forward to the day that all of our furloughed employees are back working at Blue Bell,” the spokesperson told the Guardian.
    Blue Bell is not the only firm whose employees have been looking for new jobs this summer, either temporary or permanent.
    Brenham, Texas – where Blue Bell closed one of its factories and laid off 250 workers, in addition to the 300 it had furloughed – saw 160 people laid off by agricultural equipment manufacturer Valmont Industries, 64 by machining manufacturer MIC Group, and 47 by Stanpac, which handled Blue Bell’s packaging.
    Texas also has seen jobs disappear in the oil and gas sector, a trend across the entire country. Over the past year, the number of unemployed workers in mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction more than doubled, reaching 79,000 in July. That’s up from 34,000 last July. During that same period, the unemployment rate in the sector climber to 8.1%, up from 3% a year ago.
    According to Swift, which tracks layoffs in oil and gas industry, 176,162 jobs were lost globally in the field this year. Continental Resources, an Oklahoma oil company that track layoffs, found the US has cut at least 91,000 jobs in the energy industry since last summer.
    Jamie Dandar, chapter president of Oilfield Helping Hands’ Rocky Mountain chapter, which covers Colorado, Wyoming and Utah, said they have seen an uptick in oil field families in need of assistance, having encountered a financial crisis through no fault of their own, said Dandar.
    “Every one of our board members was affected by layoffs,” she said.
    “The last downturn we had was in 2008. It’s cyclical. I know some of the people who have been in the business for a long time, they have gone through this before. It’s the nature of a commodity, prices of which fluctuate. It will go down for a while and then it will invariably come up. Nobody really has the crystal ball to say when that will happen. But we know that it will.”
    The increase in layoffs have come at the time when crude oil prices in US have hit their lowest point since 2009.
    Slowdown in the energy sector has affected other sectors as well – such as railroads and freight train operators. In July, Union Pacific railroad CEO Lance Fritz said 1,200 workers had been furloughed and that the number was expected to grow as the company entered into third quarter.
    “The slowdown in coal right now is being driven by a couple of things,” he told Bloomberg. “First is we came into this year with a pretty big inventories at the utility plants. Natural gas prices are clearly driving more of electricity production than natural gas and the weather was not all that good in the second quarter for coal burn.”
    Not even a month later, Union Pacific announced that in the coming months the company would have to eliminate several hundred management jobs.
    Long-term furloughs, which can last months and during which workers go without pay, “are a more like a layoff”, according to Elise Gould, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute.
    “Furloughs would then have an impact on local economy that layoffs would have on a local economy – it’s no different,” she said. “People lost their income, therefore they don’t have money to spend.”
    Those who actively look for other jobs while furloughed might be counted as unemployed, but Gould said they could also be counted as simply out of the labor force for that period.
    Traditionally, when people think about furloughs, they think of employees’ schedules being cut by “a day here or there”, she explained.
    “In that case, if it’s a day here or there – ‘Oh, we don’t have enough work for you today, come back tomorrow’ or ‘Don’t come back tomorrow, come back the next day’ – that’s different from layoffs. It’s not for a long period of time.”
    Such furloughs will go into effect in Jackson, Mississippi, in October and are scheduled to last for two years. City workers will be furloughed the last Friday of each month and docked eight hours’ pay from their checks.
    “We are facing one of the toughest budget seasons our city has experienced but the furlough will prevent layoffs and major reductions in city services,” Jackson mayor Tony Yarber said in a statement.
    According to Gould, furloughs are similar to what is known in the retail industry as just-in-time employment. For example, Walmart, which earlier this year increased pay for half a million of its workers, has recently reduced hours for a number of its employees.
    In retail, “it’s not called a furlough. It’s just called scheduling – putting less people on the schedule,” explained Gould. “For people, who don’t get their schedule till the same day or just a couple days before, employers implicitly schedule them for fewer hours or schedule them more in Christmas time.”
    The people for whom furloughs mean working a day less a week or a month – like the city employees in Jackson or a store cashier whose hours have been reduced –are counted as employed, explained Gould. As such, these type of furloughs do not affect the unemployment rate.
    “They are counted as employed in both of the major government surveys: the payroll survey, because they would have been on payroll for that period even if it was for less hours, fewer days; and the household survey. Did you work in this period? Yes, but you didn’t work as much as you should’ve. You might show up in hours, but you are not going to show up in unemployed [numbers].”
    If a furlough or schedule adjustment doesn’t show up on the unemployment report, did it happen?

9/04/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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. Full-Time Work Is Harder to Find, by Justin Fox, BloombergView.com
    [So shorter-hour workweeks are happening anyway but not the best way.]
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - Since the jobs recovery began in 2010, the percentage of U.S. workers putting in fewer than 35 hours a week has been dropping, driven mainly by a decrease in the number of people who are working part-time but want full-time employment.
    That always happens in a recovery. I’m curious about the long-run trend, though. As I’ve been saying a lot lately, there isn’t any good time-series data that tracks the growth (or lack of growth) of the freelance or gig economy through the decades. But many estimates of the size of this contingent or alternative workforce include part-timers, on the reasoning that part-time work also implies less commitment on the part of employer and employee than a traditional full-time job. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics does have monthly data on part-time work going back to 1955.
    Here’s what it looks like, up through today’s employment report:
    *History of Part-Time Work [scan down for graph]
    There was a secular rise in the 1950s through 1970s in the percentage of those working part time for noneconomic reasons, a rise that coincided with big increases in the percentage of women in the labor force. Since the late 1970s, this has gone more or less flat. The abrupt upward shift in 1994 was a result of a change in the survey question asked to differentiate noneconomic reasons for working part-time from economic ones. Here’s the extended explanation from the BLS and the Census Bureau, which is worth reading because it helps make the distinction between the two categories clearer:
    Persons who work part time (fewer than 35 hours a week) do so either voluntarily (that is, because of personal constraints or preferences) or involuntarily (that is, because of business-related reasons such as slack work or the lack of full-time opportunities). Because respondents typically are not familiar with this distinction, the question asking why those working part time were doing so was reworded to provide examples of the two types of reasons.
    As a result of the change in the question, more than a million people suddenly moved from the involuntary (economic reasons) category to the voluntary (noneconomic reasons) one. That means the pre-1994 percentages aren’t entirely comparable with the ones that followed.
    With voluntary part-time work it’s easy enough to just look at the chart and conclude that the trend was pretty flat before the shift and pretty flat after. The movements in involuntary part-time work have a big cyclical component, though. In a recession, the share of involuntary part-timers rises. In a recovery, it declines. This makes it harder to see the trend, especially with the added complication of the 1994 survey change.
    So I adjusted the data on involuntary part-time work (that is, part-time work for economic reasons), using the brute-force method of simply reducing the pre-1994 percentages by 1.1 percentage points -- the size of the shift in January 1994. Here’s the result:
    *Involuntary Part-Time Work [scan way down for graph]
    With the adjustment, one can see that the percentage of involuntary part-timers in the last recession was the highest on record. And despite the decline since 2010, the current percentages are quite high by historical standards. The long-run trend is clearly upward.* That may change if this recovery keeps going and going, and the percentage of involuntary part-timers keeps dropping. But for now, no, you’re not imagining it if you think it’s harder to get a full-time job than it used to be.†
    * Two economists [Rob Valletta and Catherine van der List] at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, using much more sophisticated but harder to explain statistical techniques, came to a *similar conclusion in June.
    † You’re also not imagining it if you think I’ve addressed this before and come to a slightly different conclusion; I didn’t notice the 1994 survey change last time.
    This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.
    To contact the author of this story: Justin Fox at justinfox@bloomberg.net. Justin Fox is a columnist writing about business. Prior to joining Bloomberg View, he was the editorial director of the Harvard Business Review. He is the author of “The Myth of the Rational Market.” Fox has also worked at Time, Fortune, American Banker, the Birmingham News and the Advance-Register of Tulare, California, where he was the farm editor.
    To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Greiff at jgreiff@bloomberg.net

  2. The French say they are ready to renounce the 35-hour workweek, by Damien Durand, lefigaro.fr (via DernieresActus.fr)
    [Which French? Last article said it was popular with the general public.]
    PARIS, France - According to a poll carried out for the daily Les Echos, supporters of both right and left would accept a modification in the legal duration of work.
    The workweek has decidedly been called into question. A few days after an assassinating phrase from the Minister of Economy, Emmanuel Macron, when at the summer university of MEDEF, critics accumulated against the 35-hour week. In two days, two think tanks, albeit diametrically opposed - Mountain Institute (Liberal) and Terra Nova (close to Social Democratic leanings) have issued reports calling for more flexibility in the organization of work, and even to generalize a purely internal organization for companies in weekly schedule. Latest dart to date, a survey released this Friday shows that the French themselves are willing to work more.
    [And just how to you get to survey "the French themselves"?]
    Decried from right to left
    The CSA study done for Les Echos, Radio Classique and - once again - the Mountain Institute, reveals that 71% of the French pronounce themselves favorable to whatever companies can "freely fix worktime at, by agreement with their employees." Clearly, nearly three quarters of those polled (1,003 respondents surveyed in early September) envisage renouncing the 35-hour workweek.
    [1,000 out of a population of 65,000,000 is not impressively representative, especially when there's so much unbalanced and short-sighted employer bias abroad, and if it is representative, the French are gonna be sooorry! Bunch up employment again, sit back and watch your domestic consumption, relative societal harmony and economic stability decline. And quiet resistance to worksaving technology, not to mention employee featherbedding and sabotage, increase. And say goodbye to currently high levels of French productivity. Longer hours in the age of robotization is just plain stupid and system-deteriorating.]
    The cruellest cut for the partisans of the worktime reduction issuing from the "Aubry Laws" of 1998 and 2000 is that this calling into question is expressed whatever the political color of those surveyed. If rightwing sympathizers unsurprisingly support support, by 83%, the possibility of a relaxation of worktime, the measure collects the assent of 69% of socialist sympathizers.
    [Sounds like a large part of this was the careful and misleading wording of the survey itself.]
    By a hair (49%), the idea even misses collecting the majority among people declaring themselves close to the Left Front. The same goes if the results are analyzed according to socioprofessional category of surveyed persons.   72% of employees and 73% of middle management are in favor of reraising the question. Only executives are a little more reluctant [oh sure, the guys who commissioned these slanted surveys: trick everyone else into being Bad Cop and you can be Good Cop], this category who ultimately benefited from the legislation thanks to the shorter worktime (SWT) brought in by the Aubry laws.   58% of them nevertheless declare themselves for a liberalization of working hours.
    [Doesn't that sound like reducing it further? Does to me! Thus French opinion-forcers still strain to destroy France's leadership with the shortest official nationwide workweek in the world, even as the rest of the world is quietly forced to copy it one way or another, the Germans with Kurzarbeit, the Americans ducking Obamacare premiums, the Japanese to involve more women in the workforce... As we've said so oft before, not even Europe knows what it's doing right and myopic businessmen and unimaginative economists, unable to think their way beyond the good ol' Puritan work ethic, determine to coagulate market-demanded employment, increase marginalized workers and general dependence and desperation, and generally reverse living standards and quality of life. 1-2-3 organized cheer.]
    Does the 35-hour workweek risk being challenged in the short term?
    [The short answer: no.]
    The question is more complex than the survey results suggest. In effect, the different governments that have succeeded one another have created several legal mechanisms that permit exemptions from the 35 hours. By divisional agreement, companies can now put in place an annualized organization of work (notably to avoid paying overtime in busy periods), move the framework away from the workday unit, or again sign agreements on "selected worktime"... Problem: these different options were never deemed successful in the field. Notably due to the cost of overtime hours, increased by 25%, and the necessity of passing complex agreements with the unions to be able to put exempting mechanisms in place.
    [Another version -]
    Most French people favour more flexible work week - poll, Reuters via DailyMail.co.uk
    PARIS, France - Seventy-one percent of French people want companies to be able to set employee working hours, according to an opinion poll, a move that would dilute the 35-hour working week laws over which the ruling Socialist party is split.
    Pro-business Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron laid bare that rift last month as members of the party reacted angrily to what appeared to be his criticism of the legislation during their annual summer conference.
    Introduced by a previous Socialist government in 2000 in a bid to redistribute work and create jobs, the 35-hour limit is fiercely protected by the French left despite pressure from big business to relax it.
    The issue has become a rallying point for discontent over the pro-business direction Hollande has taken, and is set to be in the spotlight again in coming weeks with a government-commissioned report on labour law due to be published.
    According to a CSA survey of 1,003 people published for Les Echos newspaper 71 percent of people back the move with 69 percent of Socialist supporters also in favour of the changes.
    The government has been pushing through measures to encourage small firms to hire by making labour rules more flexible and cutting costs in an effort to tackle unemployment which is stuck above 10 percent.
    (Reporting By John Irish; Editing by Andrew Callus and Hugh Lawson)

9/03/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. A Healthier Workforce: EMS chief proposes to reduce medic work week, AustinChronicle.com
    AUSTIN, Tex., USA - The sky began to fall before the third weekend in June. That Friday, June 19, word got out from city management that Travis County Medical Director Dr. Paul Hinchey would soon resign from his position. The resignation (he's headed to the private sector) – effective Sept. 2 – marked the first significant culture and policy shift since two suicides and a third fatigue-related death changed the state of Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services [ATCEMS ] from "troubled" to "life-threatening." Paramedics contacted by the Chronicle throughout the spring and summer months spoke of Hinchey's heavy-handed management methods and insistence on deploying an ambulance staffing model that they said compromised quality of patient care (not to mention the medics' morale and energy) to fix a city staffing issue.
    That same week, City Council member and Public Safety Committee Chair Don Zimmerman ruffled ATCEMS' administrative feathers a little more when he amended the following Monday's PSC meeting agenda to include a discussion about a possible merger with the Fire Department. The proposition – a longstanding idea that's been intermittently proposed since ATCEMS' inception in the Seventies – was strictly preliminary, and received an unequivocal "we're not considering it" from Asst. City Manager Rey Arellano during early 2015-16 budget discussions. However, Zimmerman's insistence on broaching the issue did help reignite questions concerning whether or not ATCEMS is doing the best job managing resources, and whether or not department Chief Ernie Rodriguez and his executive staff are capable of managing a team of roughly 400 medics, commanders, and captains.
    The state of ATCEMS's field staff – an overworked crew that, in addition to managing the stress that comes with responding to life-or-death emergencies all day, must work mandatory overtime shifts to augment their 48-hour work weeks and are often called in for additional last-minute overtime shifts to keep ambulances operating at capacity – has come back into question over the past month as City Council tries to sort out next year's budget. Rodriguez and his executive staff have been asked not just what they need, but how they plan to use their resources for the betterment of their workers. The chief was pressed multiple times during the Aug. 12 budget hearing before Council, most notably by Mayor Steve Adler. Then, Rodriguez chalked morale issues up to a changing Austin landscape; one that's seen its population increase 29% since 2005.
    "That increase has resulted in a 50 percent increase in the number of EMS incidents that we're experiencing in our community," he said. "And that's increased our transport by 61 percent."
    Indeed, city metrics show that ATCEMS eclipsed the 10,000-incident figure for the first month ever this July. Tack that onto a city that's now hosting a seemingly impossible amount of special events (remember, UT football's coming up, along with Formula One and a string of races and festivals), and you're creating a serious strain on resources. Rodriguez's proposed budget for FY 2016 includes funding for 12 new sworn positions and an ambulance, both of which will be used to address a service gap near Loop 360.
    At the top of the chief's wish list, however, though not part of city management's proposed budget, is a reduction in medic work weeks. Standard schedules currently call for field staff to work 48 hours a week. ATCEMS transitioned from 56 hours per week in 2006, then shifted its communications staff from 48 to 42 in 2011, and reduced field commander schedules down to 42 hours in 2014-15. Rodriguez would like to cut field staff to 42 hours as well, starting with captains this year, adding 15 FTEs [=full-time employees?] to the pool at a cost of $1.3 million, and then follow up with 52 new medics next year – 2016-17 – for an additional $5 million. The proposal, he says, would "reduce contact time" for medics and "produce a healthier workforce." More time off the clock means more time on the mend.
    [YES! It's crazy to have chronic overtime dba long workweeks side-by-side with high unemployment. Add FTEs (full-time employees at shorter "full time") and new medics and everything!]
    (The plan is currently under consideration as part of the 2015-16 Concept Menu, after a proposal from CM Delia Garza.   Zimmerman, ever the heel, suggested cutting APD's budget to account for a shift at ATCEMS.)
    Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services Employee Association President Tony Marquardt doesn't see eye-to-eye with Rodriguez's optimism. In fact, he believes a shift in scheduling will bring no immediate change to the workforce's many troubles. He points to a chronic issue of medic departures (at least 34 separations in each of the past four fiscal years) and wonders how a budget that lets ATCEMS hire new medics (as well as a fourth chaplain) will help a field staff that's constantly losing workers. A 42-hour work week is only a 42-hour work week if the department is staffed with enough medics to allow its field staff to work that short of a schedule (without mandating that they perform overtime). "We'll do the same amount of work we've always done," said Marquardt. "The challenge is going to be year two. There's no guarantee, even if Council moves forward on the two-year plan, that we won't face these challenges again."
    Medics were forced to compensate for 33 acknowledged vacancies in April, as well an additional 30 positions currently being occupied by cadets in training who weren't yet permitted to work an ambulance. Whether those cadets ever materialize into long-serving medics remains to be seen, but at the rate cadets are graduating, it's likely that they'll be used to patch new vacancies created by separating medics, rather than newly created positions.
    "It's astounding what they're doing," said Marquardt of ATCEMS leadership. "They seem to be resigned to the idea that they're always going to be reacting to a short-staffed situation .... It's really disappointing to be in this mode where unmet needs are ambulances, stations, and medics. If we're going to have an unmet needs conversation, that should be about whether we need a chaplain or not, or whether or not we should do a fatigue study to determine whether we're tired."
    One paramedic who asked he not be named took the perspective even further. "You're chasing your tail," he summarized. "You're treading water, if that. And the other assumption is that of the 42 (new FTEs) you hired, you're going to keep 42 of them. None of them will wash out? If that becomes the case, either (a) you've found the golden well where perfect employees are located, or (b) you've lowered your standard.
    "They're not addressing the real problem: the workload. If you look holistically at the things that we respond to, a lot of times it's cases in which there's no confirmed patient. For collisions, we send one ambulance and two fire trucks [before it's clear that an ambulance is needed]. They need someone to come in and redefine what they're supposed to do. When you have all that sorted out, you can say, 'Okay, why do we have a retention problem?' Until you fix that, the problems aren't going to go away."
    Marquardt suggested at the most recent PSC meeting, Aug. 24, that the change in medical direction may help alleviate some problems. He's long pointed to separation figures to show the number jumping significantly when Hinchey came in, and he remains optimistic that new blood in the medical director's office may help keep medics around. But getting them to see things in a different light may prove difficult, as it's often hard to believe in change when you're overworked and under-slept.
    Editor's note: An earlier version of this story contained the sentences, "Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services Employee Association President Tony Marquardt doesn't see eye-to-eye with Rodriguez's optimism. In fact, he believes a shift in scheduling will in actuality bring no change whatsoever." After Marquardt contacted the writer and posted a comment (see below) explaining that the second sentence was not an accurate reflection of his opinion, it was changed to read, "In fact, he believes a shift in scheduling will bring no immediate change to the workforce's many troubles."

  2. Shortening long working hours vital for women's active participation in society, The Yomiuri Shimbun via The-Japan-News.com
    ["Society," or workforce?]
    TOKYO, Japan - With the workforce shrinking, it is increasingly important to improve the working environment for women to enable them to fulfill their potential.
    “The final curtain has been drawn on the era in which people ask why we promote the dynamic engagement of women in society. Now is the time for us to discuss how to bring it into reality,” said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at an international symposium held last week.
    By a majority vote supported by parties including the Liberal Democratic Party, the Democratic Party of Japan and Komeito, a new bill was recently enacted to promote the active engagement of women in society. We hope this law will help accelerate efforts in this regard by both the public and private sectors.
    The new law makes it obligatory for companies with a workforce of at least 301 people to draw up and publicize action programs to promote women, including numerical targets. Companies with 300 or fewer employees are only urged to make efforts to compile action programs.
    What the numerical targets apply to and their specific levels are to be decided by the companies themselves, depending on the situation of each company. Envisaged numerical targets include the number of women hired and the percentage of managerial positions held by women. There are no penalties for failing to reach the targets.
    The hiring of women and their promotion to executive posts vary by industry and by company. It is realistic for the government to let companies decide these targets on their own, instead of establishing unified standards.
    By also establishing a system for the government to recognize companies that excel in meeting their targets, the new law will encourage companies to tackle these tasks proactively. It is important for each company to decide on effective targets and plans.
    Diversity benefits companies
    The government aims to have 30 percent of leadership positions held by women by 2020. The present figure in Japanese companies is 11 percent, far below U.S. and European companies where the number ranges from 30 to 40 percent.
    Utilizing diverse human resources should enhance companies’ creativity and improve their competitiveness. Some companies have already started publicizing their numerical targets and expanding on-the-job training for women.
    Both the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors have passed an additional resolution to the new law that calls for companies to adjust the wage gap between men and women, and implement measures to improve the treatment of non-regular workers.
    A majority of working women are low-wage, non-regular employees, such as part-timers. Improving the treatment of these female workers is essential in making the new law function effectively. The government must push forward a concrete study of this issue.
    Regarding the promotion of women’s active participation in society, Abe also pointed out that “Our greatest barrier is a working culture that endorses male-centered long working hours.”
    Calling on women also to be actively engaged in work, while leaving most of the household chores and child rearing to them, would only generate resentment among women. It is urgent to review how people work, correcting the long working hours and encouraging men to participate more in household chores and child rearing.
    Companies also need to shift to employment management and personnel evaluations that are based on the premise of supporting employees’ work-life balance.
    There must also be reform of the tax and social insurance system, which presently make it more advantageous for women to be dependent on their spouses than to work outside the home.

9/02/2015 – 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. Grantville to switch to four-day work week, by Kandice Bell, Times-Herald.com
    GRANTVILLE, Ga., USA - The Grantville City Council will keep the senior citizen center open five days a week even though city employees are moving to a four-day work week.
    The four-day work week will begin on Oct. 5 for a 90-day trial. The new office hours will be from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m
    [So, four 10-hour days (with half an hour off for lunch). But maybe people will get the idea of four 9-hour days or four 8-hour days? So the city will hire more potential consumer-spenders dba customers for local businesses?]
    Several residents brought the issue up during Monday’s council meeting. One resident asked to see a report on cost savings, which Councilmember Ruby Hines thought was a good idea.
    “I’ve had calls and concerns about the four-day work week,” said Hines. “I would like to see the city stay at five days. Cost-saving data development would really open all of our eyes.”
    City manager Al Grieshaber Jr. said citizens have to be notified at least 30 days prior to the proposed four-day week.
    “We sent a notice 30 days prior to the trial,” said Grieshaber. “We wanted to make sure they were widely distributed and everyone knew about it. We can schedule a public meeting for citizens to come and ask questions.”
    The council also motioned to approve a resolution setting electric rates. Grieshaber said that rates would not increase.
    “We want to be transparent about our utility rates,” said Grieshaber. “ This would be a public document on record that doesn’t increase rates in any way. The standard rate would be set by resolution so that everyone knows what the rates are.” The residential summer rates - May through October - is nine cents per kWh for the first 650 kWh with a base charge of $8.50. The non-summer rates – November through April – are the same.
    In other news, the city: * tabled the speed hump ordinance in residential neighborhoods until further studies could be conducted. * approved the recommendations of the Streets & Public Works to be added to the 2015-2016 budget. * decided to abide with the state department of revenue procedure when dealing with unclaimed utility refunds. * thanked the Grantville Police Department for its service to the community.

  2. From Germany, A Call To Save The Eight-Hour Work Day, Worldcrunch.com
    Conventional business wisdom now calls for employee "flexibility." But too often that leads to work and rest becoming so intermingled that a hard-earned freedom gets lost.
    MUNICH, Germany – The way Germans work has slowly been changing over the last few years. Traditionally, employees have had to be in the office during very specific working hours, keeping on and off-the-job time quite distinct.
    But with advances in information technology that connect people to their offices, some employees sought to work from home more often to spend more time with their children.
    But at the same time, it has become an integral part of modern workplace demands that the employee is available outside normal office working hours. Thus it becomes part of his/her remit now to finish that presentation while sitting in the living room in the evening, to respond to a boss' email, or be available to clients via mobile phone during the weekend.
    Sometimes it will be the employer that demands these extra working hours from the employee; other times it is the employee who starts out asking to work from home. But ultimately, this particular mix of employer-demanded and self-imposed extra working hours can lead to a whole new kind of strain on the employee.
    Germany's Employer’s Association is going one step further now. They want to abolish the eight-hour working day, which has long been used as a benchmark as to how long an employee can be expected to work. Business leaders insist that they do not want staff to work any longer than eight hours a day, but rather create more flexibility in view of changing lifestyles and growing global competition.
    Blurring lines
    But the question remains as to what that will mean for employees in Germany, where the boundaries between work and rest are becoming increasingly blurred. Some 16 % of Germans complain about the fact that their gainful employment is increasingly leading to an overlapping of work and time spent with family.
    Long and constantly shifting working hours are regarded as being the main cause of psychological strain in the workplace. More work and more flexibility obviously leave their mark.
    But employers are in the right when they object to their employees’ concerns of increased working hours. On average, Germans actually work fewer hours now than they did in the past. Entire sectors of the economy, such as the automotive industry, have been heavily regulated by trade unions to protect employees, so that no one works longer than the collective wage agreement states and that no one will have to deal with work-related emails on their smartphone after leaving the workplace.
    But the threat of blurring the boundaries between work and rest is most in evidence where trade unions have very little influence. This is the case where employees with few qualifications work for a company without a collective wage agreement and do not have any power to negotiate better contracts. The same applies to workers in the so-called 'knowledge economy' who people the desks in many an office. The share of men who regularly work more than nine hours a day has doubled in the last 20 years.
    The legally regulated eight-hour working day is a very powerful symbol. The labor movement demanded its introduction, which eventually began to spread early last century. The government should not get rid of this important standard, but defend it to prevent an insidious spread of work-related stress.
    It would be in the interest of the employee if collective wage agreements were to limit the amount of time that an employee can work, and specifically address how availability after hours via computer and smartphones should be handled. Where such protections are not granted, the government should step in to officially regulate such issues. The digital age has turned working life upside down, creating new dangers for employees that require new means for protecting them.

9/01/2015 – 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. Wal-Mart cuts hours for some employees at some stores - Moves in U.S. come as the world’s largest retailer faces lower profitability, by Sarah Nassauer, WSJ, B3 & wsj.com.
    BENTONVILLE, Ark., USA - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is cutting employee hours at some stores, in an effort to reduce costs as the world’s largest retailer addresses declining profitability.
    [Better hourscuts than jobcuts, timesizing than downsizing!]
    In recent weeks, Wal-Mart executives have told store managers at some of its 4,600 U.S. stores to more closely follow predetermined staffing plans that are based on a store’s sales projections, said Kory Lundberg, a spokesman for the Bentonville, Ark., retailer. That means reducing worker hours at stores that have been “scheduling significantly above what has been allocated,” Mr. Lundberg said.

    The push to save on staffing comes as Wal-Mart is pouring money into making stores more-efficient, pleasant places to shop. Wal-Mart increased the companywide minimum wage to $9 an hour in April and plans to boost pay to $10 an hour for many employees by February.
    The company has also increased store staffing at peak hours so shoppers move quickly through checkout lines and see stocked shelves, said executives during the company’s quarterly earnings call earlier in August. Those efforts contributed to a 15% drop in second-quarter net income compared with a year earlier, executives said.
    The store managers being told to cut back have been exceeding those already expanded employee hours, Mr. Lundberg said. “It’s about watching expenses,” said Mr. Lundberg, as well as making sure stores don’t waste funds that could be put into lowering prices for shoppers, he said.
    In the latest quarter, Wal-Mart also lowered its profit target for the rest of the year despite gains in sales and shopper traffic. Shares of the retailer are down 25% so far this year.
    The reduction to worker hours was first reported by Bloomberg News.
    After its quarterly results, Wal-Mart Chief Executive Doug McMillon has promised to keep costs in check. “For the back half of the year, we will manage these items closely with a continued commitment to efficiency, cutting costs where appropriate,” Mr. McMillon said during the company’s second-quarter conference call.
    Wal-Mart’s efforts to manage store investments come as other retailers are also spending on wage increases and working to keep shelves stocked. Dollar General Corp. plans to raise wages in about a third of its more than 12,000 stores, in part to improve so-called in-stock levels. Target Corp. has also increased its companywide minimum wage and is focused on keeping shelves stocked consistently.
    Greg Foran, Wal-Mart’s head of U.S. stores, has been driving the retailer’s store managers to improve their stores by October to take advantage of the holiday shopping season. During the recent earnings call, Mr. Foran laid out a long list of store initiatives, including reducing on-hand inventory, stocking shelves more quickly, working to reduce theft and raising wages. Some store managers have overscheduled to meet Mr. Foran’s goals, according to a person familiar with the efforts.
    Write to Sarah Nassauer at sarah.nassauer@wsj.com

  2. Daimler agrees to cut hours at Brazil plants to avoid layoffs, by EFE, Fox News Latino via latino.foxnews.com
    SAN BERNARDO DO CAMPO, Brazil - German automaker Daimler AG said it would reduce work hours at its plant in Sao Bernardo, Brazil, as it did at factories in Germany in 2009, to avoid job cuts.
    The 1,500 planned layoffs announced last week at the plant in Brazil's Sao Paulo state are being rescinded, the automaker said.
    Hours at the Sao Bernardo do Campo plant, which makes industrial vehicles, will be slashed by 20 percent due to weak truck sales in Brazil, Daimler said.
    The government will compensate workers for half [10%] of the lost wages, which amount to a 20 percent pay cut.

    [So, government-supported worksharing in Brazil via a German company that's used to worksharing à la Kurzarbeit.]
    Workers also gave up the cost of living adjustment for 2016 previously agreed to with the company.
    The deal takes effect on Tuesday and runs until May 2016, preventing the job cuts that Daimler had announced.
    Truck sales plunged 44 percent in Brazil during the first half of the year, with Daimler's truck division posting a similar drop.
    German truckmaker MAN, a unit of Volkswagen, posted a loss of 46 million euros ($51.8 million) in the first half, down from a profit of 92 million euros ($103.7 million) in the same period in 2014, due to the recession in Brazil.
    MAN's orders fell 50 percent in Latin America in the January-June period to 593 million euros ($668.8 million) due to Brazil's economic woes.

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