Timesizing® Associates - Homepage

Timesizing News, January, 2016 +Feb.1
[Commentary] ©2016 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Harvard Sq PO Box 117, Cambridge MA 02238 USA 617-623-8080

1/31-2/01/2016 – 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. Lay-off and short time working – An employers guide, 2/01 Peninsula Business Services via peninsulagrouplimited.com
    MANCHESTER, U.K. - When clients are in the situation where they do not have as much work as normal for employees to do, or for some reason there is no work to be performed, you may hear a Peninsula Advice Consultant discussing ‘lay off’ and ‘short time working’. These are two methods of managing employees when there is a temporary shortage of work.
    Lay-Off [this should be a last resort since it weakens consumer spending]: Lay-off is where employers are temporarily unable to provide any work, for various reasons, to an employee for an entire 24 hour period. It is a phrase that is colloquially used to mean someone has been made redundant. However, in legal terms, that is not correct.
    Short-Time Working [Brit. for 'worksharing': Short-time working occurs when employees are provided with work but this is less work than normal working hours, for example, they still work on all their normal working days, but for fewer hours.
    Contractual right
    Implementing lay off or short time working allows employers to maintain their employees’ employment but not have employees hanging around at work doing nothing. It can also reduce wage bills. Ultimately, what is happening is employees’ working hours are reduced, or completely removed for a temporary period.
    Ideally, the contract of employment will contain the right to implement lay off and short time on reduced pay. However, if it does not, it can still be achieved where both parties expressly agree to it, or where it is an implied term in the contract. An implied term of lay off and short time is not often and advice should be taken in this regard.
    Employees who have at least 1 month’s service when placed on a full day’s lay off will be entitled to Statutory Guarantee Pay (SGP). SGP is currently paid for a maximum of 5 workless days in any rolling 3 month period, at a rate of £26 per day for each day (the rate of SGP is reviewed each year). If an employee only works 3 days a week, their maximum entitlement is 3 workless days in the 3 month rolling period. If a normal day’s pay is less than the current rate of SGP, the employee will receive their normal day’s pay as SGP.
    Employees on short time working should be paid according to the hours they actually work.
    Without the contractual or implied right to pay periods of lay off or short time at SGP or reduced pay as the case may be, employers who place employees on lay off or short time will need to maintain full payment for the entire period.
    Redundancy Pay
    Employees who have been on lay off or short time work meaning that their pay is less than 50% of their usual pay for a certain amount of time may make a claim for statutory redundancy pay where they have a minimum 2 years’ service.
    This can be a complicated process involving strict time limits so advice must be taken promptly. Where this happens, the employee’s employment is terminated and they will no longer work for you.
    For more information, please call our advice service on 0800 028 2420.

  2. Town, fire union to return to negotiations - Work week, retirement benefits at issue, by Michele Dargan, 1/31 (1/24 late pickup) PalmBeachDailyNews.com
    PALM BEACH, Fla., USA - Buoyed by recent town discussions about improving pensions for public safety workers, firefighters have decided to head back to the bargaining table with town officials in hopes they can agree on a contract.
    On Aug. 28, both town and union officials declared an impasse in years-long contract negotiations citing two issues: the length of the work week and retirement benefits.
    But union officials now have withdrawn their declaration of impasse, and a related hearing scheduled for this week has been canceled, said attorney Mark Floyd, who represents Local 2928 of the International Association of Fire Fighters.
    That’s because firefighters want to work with town officials to improve retirement benefits for public safety employees, Floyd wrote in a prepared statement. They hope they can agree on a contract that returns retirement benefits and working hours to a level that stems recent turnover and attracts high-quality candidates who plan “to make the town their career destination.”
    “We believe that would benefit all involved, including the town, the firefighters, and the citizens of and visitors to the island,” he wrote.
    Attorney Jeffrey Mandel, the town’s labor attorney, confirmed the decision. No date has been set for negotiations, he said.
    “Mark and I have negotiated a lot of places, and we both realize the parties are better off reaching an amicable solution rather than have something imposed,” Mandel said.“We’ll explore anything and everything to come to an agreement that both sides can live with.”
    These contract negotiations began in October 2013; in December 2014, representatives for both sides agreed, in principal, on a contract. But in February, firefighters soundly rejected that contract with a 20-0 vote.
    History of tensions
    The last time the two sides went through negotiations, in June 2010, the town declared an impasse. After a special magistrate listened to both sides, the Town Council rejected the magistrate’s recommendations and, in April 2011, imposed a contract with severe cuts to pensions and benefits. The cuts took effect May 1, 2012.
    Dissatisfaction with those cuts has led to an exodus of public safety employees.
    One reason many firefighters left for other departments was losing unpaid days off called Kelly Days. Scheduled every seventh shift, Kelly Days reduce the work week from 56 hours to 48 hours. They are common in fire departments in South Florida and nationwide.
    And eliminating those days increased firefighters’ workload by 416 hours a year with no increase in pay, Floyd said during negotiations
    Union representatives and other pension experts have said that since the cuts, Palm Beach offers the worst pension and benefits package in the state.
    Prior to the pension reform, representatives for the firefighters’ and police unions told council members that Palm Beach would become a training ground for public safety workers. Rookies would accept jobs, get training and leave for other more attractive departments, they said.
    The prediction has come true.
    Fifty-six firefighter-paramedics have left the town since 2012, the year the cuts were enacted, Public Safety Director Kirk Blouin told the town’s Finance and Taxation Committee in November. More than 60 percent of all town public safety employees have less than three years of experience and “that’s a problem,” he said.
    In most cases, employees are leaving for jobs with other departments in South Florida, where the benefits are competitive, Blouin said.
    On Jan. 12, the Town Council approved $56,100 to study the cost of pension benefit changes being considered for police officers and firefighters.
    Departments in turmoil
    The pension cuts spurred unrest in the police and fire departments. The immediate aftermath resulted in firings, resignations, lawsuits, demotions and reprimands.
    Legal settlements and feesrelated to disgruntled public safety employees have cost the town — and its insurance carrier — nearly $2.3 million since 2011.
    In 2012, 24 public safety employees — including 10 firefighters — left the town. More public safety employees left the town that year than in the previous three years’ combined. In 2013, 17 firefighters left and in 2014, 11 left.
    In 2015, 22 public safety workers — including 12 firefighters — resigned or retired, according to the town’s human resources department. Seven of the firefighters and six of the police officers spent three years or less working for the town.
    Rank-and-file firefighters are the only town employees represented by a union. Fire supervisors voted to remove their unit from the union in November 2012. Police officers and sergeants opted out of their union in September 2012.

1/30/2016 – 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. Nucor Has Raised Its Dividend For 43 Consecutive Years, by Ted "Dividend Sleuth" Leach, SeekingAlpha.com
    Disclosure: I am/we are long NUE, JNJ, PG, MMM, MRK, CMI, MSFT, WMT, GPC, IBM, CMP, PEP, WEC, SO, EMR, HCP, PH, UNP, T, EPD, O, DOV, ADM, TXN, NNN, WPC, MAIN, STAG, HASI, EVA, PEGI. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.
    CHARLOTTE, N.C., USA - Summary
    • Nucor is near the low end of its price range for the last five years and the high end of its historic yield.
    • The company has a relatively low percentage of debt and a S&P credit rating of A-.
    • Nucor management has weathered the 2008-09 recession, the slow recovery, the current down cycle and industrial recession, and competition from subsidized imported steel.
    Nucor (NYSE:NUE) is the largest steel maker in North America and it recycles scrap steel. The company is non-unionized. Employees participate in a profit-sharing plan. Nucor is in a cyclical industry that has been hurt by subsidized imported steel. Inexpensive natural gas in the U.S. has improved Nucor's competitive advantage. The company has raised its dividend for 43 consecutive years, although recent increases have been small. As a manufacturer of steel, Nucor operates in the materials sector.
    Let's look at Nucor through a 20-point checklist (introduced here), just as we did with Archer Daniels Midland (NYSE:ADM).
    F.A.S.T. Graphs ($9.95 per month) is the first stop. [graph:]
    1. The S&P credit rating for NUE is A-, indicated in the lower part of the right sidebar. This credit rating is one notch above my minimum desired rating of BBB+.
    2. The price of NUE appears to be undervalued relative to its cash flow. The black line on this graph shows stock price in relation to the cash flow per share (the dark green area). FAST Graphs can be adjusted to show either earnings per share or cash flow per share. When the current price is compared to EPS (not shown here), the price line is in the light green area, which is not as favorable.
    3. NUE debt as a percentage of capital is 35%, as indicated just below the credit rating. I prefer debt to be 50% or less, so 35% is an attractive, conservative figure.
    4. NUE price/earnings ratio is 17.2. I used the "Normalized Basic Earnings" option for FAST Graphs. One of the nice features about FAST Graphs is that you can use several earnings models. This is how Nucor appears on FAST Graphs using their various metrics:
    • Adjusted (Operating) Earnings: P/E is 22.9
    • Normalized Basic Tax-Adjusted Earnings: P/E is 11.0
    • Normalized Basic Earnings: P/E is 17.2
    • Basic Earnings: P/E is 16.1
    • Diluted Earnings: P/E is 17.4
    • Cash Flow: P/CF is 6.5
    5. NUE cash flow per share for 2015 was $5.56. It is estimated to be $4.54 in 2016. The current annual dividend is $1.50 per share, so the dividend is well-covered by cash flow.
    BetterInvesting.org ($59 per year) is the next stop. [table:]
    6. NUE earnings for the four quarters through September, 2015 (shown above) were $1.97. On January 28, 2016 Nucor reported fourth quarter earnings of $.46 (compared with $.66 per share in Q4 2014, above). This would give NUE a trailing four quarters EPS of $1.77. Here is an excerpt from the company news release regarding 2015 earnings:
    "CHARLOTTE, N.C., Jan. 28, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Nucor Corporation announced today fourth quarter of 2015 adjusted consolidated net earnings of $144.7 million, or $0.46 per diluted share. Adjusted fourth quarter of 2015 consolidated net earnings of $0.46 per diluted share was above our quantitative guidance of $0.15-$0.20 per diluted share due to a larger than forecasted LIFO credit and better than forecasted performance in our steel mills segment. This adjusted net earnings excludes a $153.0 million ($0.48 per diluted share) impairment charge related to our Duferdofin Nucor S.r.l. joint venture and an $84.1 million ($0.17 per diluted share) impairment charge on assets which are primarily engineering and equipment related to the current blast furnace project that we concluded in the fourth quarter of 2015 will not be utilized in the future at our St. James Parish, Louisiana site. Including these two impairment charges, Nucor's consolidated net loss for the fourth quarter is $62.0 million, or $0.19 per diluted share. This compares with consolidated net earnings of $227.1 million, or $0.71 per diluted share, for the third quarter of 2015 and consolidated net earnings of $210.4 million, or $0.65 per diluted share, in the fourth quarter of 2014. Nucor reported consolidated net earnings of $357.7 million, or $1.11 per diluted share, for the full year 2015, which compares with consolidated net earnings of $713.9 million, or $2.22 per diluted share, for the full year 2014."
    7. The current NUE yield, except for 2011, is near the high end of its range. The high yield in 2011 was 4.9%. The high yield in 2012 was 4.3%. At a January 28, 2016 closing price of $36.64, Nucor's yield was 4.1%.
    8. Nucor has 320.8 million common shares outstanding. The current market value of those shares as of January 28 was $11.819 billion. This compares with a market cap of $12.6 billion for Genuine Parts (NYSE:GPC), or $12.9 billion for Parker-Hannifin (NYSE:PH).
    9. The 5-year average P/E ratio for NUE was 24.1. This the average of the average high P/E and average low P/E for the past five years. This differs from the average P/E of 39.6 shown above because I have dropped 2010 and added 2015, as calculated here:
    The average high P/E for 2011-2015 was 27.9. I arrived at this figure by dropping the outlier year of 2010 and adding the 2015 figure of 28.6. (To get the 2015 high P/E, I divided the 52-week high price of $50.70 by the 2015 earnings figure of $1.77.)
    The average low P/E for 2011-2015 was 20.2. I arrived at this figure by dropping 2010 and adding the 2015 figure of 19.2. (To get the 2015 low P/E, I divided the 52-week low price of $33.90 by the 2015 earnings figure of $1.77.)
    The current P/E of 20.7 is about 10% below the 5-year average P/E. (I calculated the current P/E by dividing the $36.64 price by the 2015 earnings per share of $1.77.)
    10. In the past five years, the NUE payout ratio has ranged from 59.2% in 2011 to 96.4% in 2013. The 2015 dividend was $1.49. This is 84.2% of the 2015 earnings of $1.77.
    11. NUE long-term debt as a percentage of capital is 36.0%. This compares with the 35% debt/cap percentage shown on FAST Graphs.
    12. The NUE stock price may be in a cyclical low range. The above Company Research sheet from BetterInvesting.org shows the NUE price range from 2010-2014. A glance at the upper right side of the page shows the 52-week price range, which encompasses most of 2015. Of most interest to me is the low prices for each of the past six years (ranging from about $29.80 in 2011 to about $46.40 in 2014). The current price of $36.64 is in the lower part of the price range for the past six years.
    My next stop is David Fish's "CCC" Lists. [URL:]
    13. NUE has raised its dividend for 43 consecutive years. This is found in column D of David's spreadsheet. Nucor has maintained this "streak" in spite of the cyclical nature of the steel industry and in spite of intense competition from imported steel, particularly from China.
    14. The 5-year dividend growth rate for NUE is 0.7%. This figure is in red on David's spreadsheet because it reflects Nucor's very small dividend increases. Here are the rates of dividend growth, as shown on David's spreadsheet columns AL through AO:
    • 1-year: 0.7%
    • 3-year: 0.7%
    • 5-year: 0.7%
    • 10-year: 17.4%.
    Many times in recent years, this is where I stop my study and move on to another stock. Nucor may not meet your criteria for a dividend growth stock. The anemic dividend growth of the past five years is troublesome. However, the dividend has increased an average of 17.4% over the past ten years. That number merits further scrutiny. Take a look at columns AQ-BH on David's spreadsheet for the dividend history from 1999-2015:
    2015 1.49, 2014 1.48, 2013 1.47, 2012 1.46, 2011 1.45, 2010 1.44, 2009 1.41, 2008 1.31, 2007 .63, 2006 .40, 2005 .30, 2004 .235, 2003 .20, 2002 .19, 2001 .17, 2000 .15, 1999 .13
    This table reflects dividend increases in the 12% to 15% range in the early years, increasing to over 27% in 2005, 33% in 2006, 57% in 2007, and peaking at 108% in 2008. Since then, reflecting the current economic cycle, dividend increases slowed dramatically, from 7.6% in 2009, to 0.67% in 2016. The current indicated rate of $1.50 continues the trend of one-cent annual increases since 2011.
    It is important for dividend investors to understand Nucor's dividend policy. The small dividend increases since 2010 reflect increases in NUE's base dividend. The large increases in previous years include the base dividend and supplemental dividends that were declared. This is the company's way of maintaining a steady dividend (the base) and enabling shareholders to benefit from the "good years" in this cyclical business. Here is a dividend statement from the company's K-10 report filed on February 26, 2009:
    "Nucor has increased its base cash dividend every year since it began paying dividends in 1973. In 2008, in addition to increasing the base dividend, the board of directors approved a supplemental dividend in each of the first three quarters based on Nucor's strong performance. Nucor paid dividends of $2.17 per share in 2008 compared with $2.43 per share in 2007. In December 2008, the board of directors increased the base quarterly dividend by 9% to $0.35 per share and suspended the supplemental dividend. The base quarterly dividend has more than tripled since the end of 2007. In February 2009, the board of directors declared Nucor's 144th consecutive quarterly cash dividend of $0.35 per share payable on May 12, 2009 to stockholders of record on March 31, 2009."
    15. The Chowder Rule number for NUE is shown as 4.4 on David's spreadsheet (column CD). This number is in red because it is extremely low, reflecting the 0.7% five-year dividend growth rate. Seeking Alpha contributor Chowder requires at least a 12 for an initial purchase.
    16. Estimated earnings per share growth for NUE is 10.3%, according to column AE on David's spreadsheet.
    This is where I turn to finviz.com. (graph and table:)
    Finviz confirms the estimated EPS growth for the next five years to be 10.25%. In my "checklist" article about ADM, we had some good conversation about the futility of making five year estimates. With a cyclical stock like Nucor, I find it helpful to think in terms of peak and trough earnings. The strong dividend increases through 2008 (mentioned above) have been severely tempered by the Great Recession and the slow growth of the present economic cycle.
    17. The book value per share for NUE is $24.03. The price/book value ratio is 1.52.
    18. The Nucor website provides helpful information about the company, including this summary statement:
    "Nucor and affiliates are manufacturers of steel products, with operating facilities primarily in the U.S. and Canada. Products produced include: carbon and alloy steel -- in bars, beams, sheet and plate; steel piling; steel joists and joist girders; steel deck; fabricated concrete reinforcing steel; cold finished steel; steel fasteners; metal building systems; steel grating; and wire and wire mesh. Nucor, through The David J. Joseph Company, also brokers ferrous and nonferrous metals, pig iron and HBI/DRI; supplies ferro-alloys; and processes ferrous and nonferrous scrap. Nucor is North America's largest recycler."
    Here's a snapshot of the company's various divisions:
    • Nucor Corporation and division Laurel Steel operate bar and cold finish mills and manufacture welded wire mesh and cold-drawn wire, as well as beams, joists and plates.
    • Harris Steel makes grating products through Fisher & Ludlow, makes rebar through Harris Rebar and distributes rebar and remesh through Harris Supply Solutions.
    • David J. Joseph Company recycles scrap metal through a brokerage team, over 60 recycling facilities and a fleet of railcars.
    • Skyline Steel produces steel sheet piling, pipe, wall systems, geostrucrtural solutions, connectors and structural sections used in ports, piers and harbors, underground parking garages, water and sewer lines, bridges, storm protection, tie rods, etc.
    19. A transcript of the Q4 2015 earnings conference call is available through Seeking Alpha.
    20. You can listen to a webcast replay of the Q4 2015 earnings conference call that was held on Thursday, January 28.
    From either the audio webcast or the transcript of the January 28, 2016 conference call, CEO John Ferriola provided a helpful response to a question from Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Timna Tanners about the company's intended use of cash:
    "We always have three approaches to our capital allocation... the first one is to invest in the profitable growth of our company. .... there are many opportunities to continue to invest in the profitable sustainable growth of our company both internally, organic and externally through M&A activity. ... That will always be our first objective.
    "The second objective in capital allocation is to make sure we return our shareholders valuable capital to them in an appropriate way. We look at the dividend as being a very appropriate way to do that. We think it's a good dividend, a well-balanced dividend. We look to maintain a prudent payout ratio between the supplemental (dividend) and our base (dividend) and we look forward to the days like we had in 2005 and 2006 when we have such good cash flow coming in that we can increase the supplemental dividend and return more of the capital to our shareholders....
    "And our third objective ... when we can't beat either of the (first) two is to look at stock as a potential buyback. ... there's a lot of questions about the cash and our cash position today ... we generated a lot of cash in 2015 ... the second highest that we've had … since 2008 ... we have a lot of cash on hand ....
    "If we don't see opportunities out there that return the kind of capital, return on invested capital that we're looking for, then we'll do the prudent thing and return it to our shareholders or buy stock. We saw during the past month stock a good opportunity and we bought some stock."

    Several recent Seeking Alpha articles have highlighted Nucor, including WYCO Researcher's January 27 article that focused on their recycling of scrap steel, Nucor Is A Politically Correct Green Investment; and Simply Safe Dividends' January 25 article, Nucor Is A Dividend Aristocrat Offering A 4.2% Yield.
    I have been interested in Nucor since the mid-1980s, when I heard a company presentation at an investor's fair.
    I owned shares of Nucor once before, beginning in November, 2011, with an initial purchase at $38.25. The yield at that time was 3.79%. I held NUE until October 31, 2012, closing the position at $40.58. My memory of that sale is vague, but on the same day I bought shares of WP Carey (NYSE:WPC), NuStar Energy (NYSE:NS), and Roundy's (NYSE:RNDY). WPC at $48.90 was a good investment. As for NS and RNDY, let's just say that was before I began to focus on a company's credit rating.
    On January 27, Nucor traded in a range of $35.57 to $36.63. For the previous two weeks, it traded in a range of $33.90 (the 52-week low) to $36.85. I placed a limit order to make an initial purchase at $35.10. The order filled the next day, January 28. The price range for that day was $34.90 to $37.00. At the purchase price of $35.10, with an annual dividend of $1.50, the yield was 4.27%.
    This initial position in Nucor comprises 1.3% of the market value of my retirement income portfolio and it will contribute 1.2% of the portfolio's income.
    I made this purchase in spite of Nucor's low dividend growth rate since 2010, and in spite of its low Chowder Rule number. Here are the positives that motivated my purchase:
    • Valuation: The company appears to be attractively priced, with a yield at 4.27% at the time of purchase.
    • Quality: The S&P credit rating is A-.
    • Low Debt: Debt is about 36% of capitalization.
    • Essential Industry: NUE is the largest steel producer in North America.
    • Management: The company has made sound acquisitions, built excellent plants near natural gas sources, incentivized workers through profit-sharing, and grown dividends (albeit slowly since 2009) for 43 consecutive years.
    • Key Takeaway: What I learned from this study that I had previously overlooked is revealed in point 14 of the above checklist. I'm willing to look past the most recent five lean years to remember the excellent dividend growth Nucor provided from 1999-2008. I believe the most recent years have been a time for the company to stabilize and expand, providing a strong basis for potential growth in earnings and dividends. And, until that growth occurs, the current price provides a good yield while we wait, reinforced by the company's long commitment to raising the dividend.
    This article is part of the journal of my effort to design a retirement income portfolio. It is not intended as a recommendation to buy or sell any security. I offer this as part of Seeking Alpha's ongoing community conversation about stocks to study and how to design a portfolio. Please do your own due diligence.
    15,788 people have NUE in their portfolio
    [Another headline today -]
    Nucor mulls acquisitions after strong cash flow, AMM.com
    [No-o-o, don't do it! Lincoln Electric hurt itself badly by adventuring in Venezuela. Got extra cash? Reinvest 1/3 of it in your local communities via your employees' pay, 1/3 in plant and equipment, and 1/3 in dividends.]

  2. Change in working hours, TheHindu.com
    BANGALORE (BENGALURU), Karnataka State, India - The working hours of all KarnatakaOne centres (in Belagavi, Ballari, Davangere, Kalaburagi, Hubballi, Dhardwad, Mangaluru, Mysuru, Shivamogga and Tumakuru) have been changed from January 1.
    The changed timings are:
    • first shift from 8 a.m. to 1.30 p.m...
      [yielding a workday of 5.5 hours and a workweek of 7x5.5= 38.5 hours at most (if 7-day, not 6 or 5) ]
    • second shift from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
      [yielding a workday of 5 hours and a workweek of 7x5= 35 hours at most (if 7-day, not 6 or 5) - this is pretty advanced for India!]

1/29/2016 – 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. Portugal's public sector stage strike demanding end of austerity, [start of] 35-hour work week, LawyerHerald. com
    LISBON, Portugal - The General Confederation of the Portuguese Workers, an umbrella organization representing 600,000 government workers in Portugal, staged a 24-hour strike Friday to end [the current 40-hour workweek] quick. Meanwhile the Federação Nacional dos Sindicatos dos Trabalhadores em Funções Públicas e Sociais (FNSTFPS), which is the union for the public sector workers, refused to cancel their strike demanding 35-hour workweek[-restoration immediately].
    CNBC reported that the new Socialist government has already approved [July restoration of] the 35-hour workweek for civil servants. The current ["emergency-measure only"] workweek is 40 hours. The Common Front demanded that the change must be implemented sooner. The government is working on restoring the pay for the civil servants and bringing back the four public holidays. There are also moves to increase the lowest pensions and cut tax for low-income earners.
    The government believes that these measures will boost consumption which will help improve growth for the nation.

    [And it will, and it will increase the momentum of monetary circulation and markets and marketable productivity which is required for stable investment. Wake up, "investors" - the policies you're pushing are harmful to yourselves! Remember what Mother used to say when you came in crying about that bully - "The bigger they are, the harder they fall." But now you're playing his role.]
    Meanwhile, Reuters wrote that the minority Socialist government, which has been in power for only two months, is getting increasing pressure from its far-left allies. The present government needs the Communist and Left Bloc to approve the bills. Recently in November these three parties ousted the former center-right administration, which is austerity-minded.
    According to Daily Mail UK, there are analysts [transmitting the shortsighted will of the bankers?] who predict that this new government might not last long if the far-left parties pressure them on passing more "radical" policies [our quotes on this manipulative spin] and ramp up spending. Meanwhile, the new government is more concerned in moderating budget consolidation and lessening austerity measures. The government has not yet reported the budget bill for 2016.
    "Public sector workers will go on strike on Jan. 29 because nothing has changed to motivate us to suspend it. Our central demand is immediate reinstatement of 35 hours," said union leader Ana Avoila.
    There will be a meeting on Thursday with the finance minister to tackle this issue. Meanwhile, the political uncertainty and the social problems that are plaguing Portugal could fend away [disincentivize] investors, which is a very bad thing after the debt crisis the nation recently suffered.
    [Not really - the nation doesn't need to offer its jugular to international "investors" when the policies these guys keep pushing on everyone involve completely dysfunctional (ie: unlimited and unstable and unsustainable) hypercoagulation of the money supply for themselves and completely unnecessary lowering of living standards for everyone else. Greater consumer spending and monetary momentum is very much in "investors'" self-interest, but they are too insecure and hide-bound to "get" it, and they still can't seem to connect the dots between employees and consumer-spenders and stronger markets and more marketable productivity and more stable investments. Will boredom with the current broken record get through to them? "If they're so smart, why ARE they rich?!" Increasingly, the answer is, they haven't noticed the corelation between full employment and good investments (as during WW1 & WW2 wartime prosperity), nor any way to have full employment without runaway inflation.]

  2. How the On-Demand Economy Is Reshaping the 40-hour Work Week, BusinessWire.com (press release)
    MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., USA--The 40-hour work week may be alive and well, but it looks nothing like it did a generation ago – at least not if you’re part of the growing ranks of people dipping a toe in the on-demand economy.
    [all purely playful and optional of course.]
    A new study from Intuit Inc., “Dispatches from the New Economy: The On-Demand Workforce,” shows that on-demand economy workers average 40.4 hours per week, but rely on three different sources of income to make up their entire paycheck. The typical work week includes a mixture of: on-demand work (34 percent), a traditional full or part-time job (30 percent), contracting and consulting (19 percent), and running a business (14 percent).
    The new data comes from a study from Intuit Inc. (Nasdaq: INTU) and Emergent Research that examined people working via eleven on-demand economy and online talent marketplace companies. Study participants included: Deliv, Field Nation, Fiverr, HourlyNerd, MBO Partners, OnForce, Uber, Upwork (formerly Elance-oDesk), Visually, Wonolo, and Work Market.
    “The on-demand economy is reshaping the way people earn a living, take control of their careers [nevermind "key challenges focus on finding enough predictable work" below] and support their families. From drivers, to designers, to management consultants – people have more opportunities than ever [nevermind "key challenges focus on finding enough predictable work" below] to supplement existing income streams or to take the leap into being their own boss,” said Alex Chriss, vice president and general manager of Self-Employed Solutions at Intuit. “But we must also recognize the shadows that have emerged. The benefits infrastructure of a generation ago was not built to accommodate the reality of work today. At Intuit, we’re committed to building new solutions that deliver certainty and stability for self-employed people who are stitching together different income streams.”
    On-demand Work Supplements Existing Income
    The study shows that the on-demand economy is playing a unique role in the labor market by providing people with flexible opportunities to augment their existing work:
    • 63 percent of on-demand workers indicate that “the primary reason I work in the on-demand economy is to supplement my income.”
    • Other primary reasons for working in the on-demand economy include:
      • “Creating and controlling my schedule” (46 percent)
      • “A desire for greater work/life flexibility” (35 percent)
      • “Being my own boss” (32 percent)
    • Only 11 percent reported turning to on-demand work “because of an inability to find a job.”
      [Well not many people in this situation are secure enough to let down the Happy Successful mask for a God-knows-where-it's-going survey.]
    High Satisfaction With On-demand Work
    [Not that many dare to be honest.]
    The study found that most people working in the on-demand economy are satisfied [ri-i-ight and btw, we've got a bridge to sell ya], while key challenges focus on finding enough predictable work. 91 percent of people working on-demand jobs report that they like controlling decisions about where, when and how they work.
    [except "key challenges focus on finding enough predictable work."] 70 percent of on-demand workers are satisfied with their work arrangement. On-demand workers are concerned with finding steady income, and cited the following challenges: Getting enough work (57 percent) Not enough predictable income (50 percent) Getting paid the amount I feel I deserve (41 percent) Lack of job security (22 percent) On-demand Workforce Demographics People working in the on-demand economy are well represented across Millennial, Gen X and Baby Boomer generations. The vast majority are well educated, and men outnumber women. Gender: Male: 66 percent Female: 34 percent Age: Millennials (18-34): 39 percent Gen X (35-51): 36 percent Baby Boomers (52-68): 24 percent Seniors (69+): 1 percent Education: Less than high school: 1 percent High school/GED: 12 percent Some college or 2-year degree: 36 percent 4-year college degree: 31 percent Graduate or professional degree: 20 percent Ethnicity: White: 64 percent African American: 12 percent Hispanic: 10 percent Asian/Pacific Islander/Indian sub-continent: 7 percent Other: 7 percent Intuit’s QuickBooks Self-Employed Feb. 1 is the deadline for businesses to send 1099-MISC forms to self-employed people. For many people working in the on-demand economy, this represents the first time they are confronted with a new set of tax obligations. Intuit’s QuickBooks Self-Employed product provides tax relief by helping on-demand workers manage business and personal finances, handle taxes throughout the year and meet compliance requirements. The QuickBooks Self-Employed Tax Bundle allows self-employed users to file faster by exporting their Schedule C to TurboTax Online. QuickBooks Self-Employed users find an average of $3,809 in potential tax savings per year. Intuit offers the product directly to on-demand entrepreneurs through partnerships with many of the leading on-demand economy marketplaces. Long-term Growth of Self-Employment Intuit research from 2015 showed that an estimated 7.6 million Americans will be regularly working as providers in the on-demand economy by 2020, more than doubling the current total of 3.2 million. The rise of the on-demand economy is part of a broader long-term growth trend in the contingent workforce, which has grown from 17 percent of the U.S. workforce 25 years ago, to 36 percent today, and is expected to reach 43 percent by 2020. Study Methodology A total of 4,622 workers who find work opportunities via the platforms provided by the participating partner companies completed an online survey between September 11 and October 1. The results were weighted to reflect the proportion of workers in each of the following segments: Drivers/Delivery, Online Talent Marketplaces and Field Service/Onsite Talent. The weights were developed using earlier survey work that sized the on-demand economy. The largest weighted share of on-demand worker respondents from any single company is 16 percent, with most partner companies providing less than 10 percent of the respondents. Please find study highlights here.
    About Intuit Inc.
    Intuit Inc. creates business and financial management solutions that simplify the business of life for small businesses, consumers and accounting professionals.
    Its flagship products and services include QuickBooks® and TurboTax®, which make it easier to manage small businesses and tax preparation and filing. Mint.com provides a fresh, easy and intelligent way for people to manage their money, while ProSeries® and Lacerte® are Intuit's leading tax preparation offerings for professional accountants.
    Founded in 1983, Intuit had revenue of $4.2 billion in its fiscal year 2015. The company has approximately 7,700 employees with major offices in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, India and other locations. More information can be found at www.intuit.com. Intuit and the Intuit logo, among others, are registered trademarks and/or registered service marks of Intuit Inc. in the United States and other countries.
    About Emergent Research
    Emergent Research is a research and consulting firm focused on identifying, analyzing and forecasting the key demographic, social, technology and economic trends and shifts impacting business and society. Emergent Research partners, Steve King and Carolyn Ockels, are co-authors of the Intuit 2020 Report and the Intuit Future of Small Business Report Series.
    Contacts at Intuit Inc.
    Steve Sharpe, 650-224-2362 stephen_sharpe@intuit.com
    or Access Communications
    Jen Garcia, 415-844-6244 jgarcia@accesspr.com

1/28/2016 – 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. Atlantic County to furlough workers up to 10 days, by Michelle Brunetti-Post, PressOfAtlanticCity.com
    ATLANTIC CITY, N.J., USA - There may be an unpaid furlough of up to 10 days for employees of Atlantic County in 2016, to avoid layoffs while stabilizing the county tax rate.
    The move will prevent the loss of 20 of 1,500 county jobs, and save between $1.5 million and $2 million, said County Executive Dennis Levinson.

    [Furloughs, not layoffs - timesizing, not downsizing!]
    Much depends on what the equalized value of Atlantic City is this year, and how a new casino payment-in-lieu of taxes (PILOT) plan unfolds.
    Atlantic City is behind schedule in submitting its tax books to the county because of a software system change, said County Tax Administrator Marge Schott.
    She said the state Division of Taxation still won’t give guidance on how the PILOT should be handled until the legislation passes. She has questions on which blocks and lots qualify as casino properties, how the city’s overall ratable base will be calculated and tax bills figured for non-casino property owners, and on other issues.
    Levinson said the county tax rate could go down 1.7 cents or up 1.3 cents, depending on where Atlantic City’s equalized value, which is currently estimated at $7.4 billion but is not final. The tax rate on the operating budget is 44 cents per $100 valuation, and the total tax rate including public health, library and open space taxes is about 48.25 cents.
    If the numbers are better than anticipated, the furlough could be reduced to fewer days, he said.
    Levinson is asking for cooperation from the 24-hour operations like the Prosecutor’s Office, the Sheriff’s Department, Meadowview Nursing Home and the county jail, but cannot order them to participate in the furlough.
    The last mandatory furloughs for Atlantic County workers were in 2009-2010, he said. At the time about 30 percent of the 24-hour workers participated. The same level of participation would result in a savings of about $1.5 million; while total participation of those workers would increase it to $2 million, he said.
    Levinson said the county had planned to use furloughs to control costs in 2016 even before finding out recently that it must pay back about $7.3 million in tax refunds this year, after successful tax appeals. It had anticipated having to pay back about $5.5 million this year.
    That means the county’s $201 million operating budget must increase by $7.3 million — or 3.6 percent — to cover refunds alone.
    Levinson said pension costs are also increasing about $2.6 million this year, up to between $11 million and $12 million annually.
    “We have never missed a pension payment, unlike the State of New Jersey,” said Levinson.
    He said the county has made annual tax refund payments every year for the last several years, as the county's ratable base has fallen from about $58 billion to $36.6 billion. So far they total about $50 million since 2008.
    The state also increased the amount the county must pay toward treatment for the mentally ill in institutions from 10 percent to 15 percent of costs. That increases the county budget another $750,000 to $800,000, Levinson said.
    So just for increased costs for tax refunds, pensions and care in mental institutions, the county budget must increase about $11 million this year — or about 5.5 percent.
    The furlough days are all Fridays or Mondays or preceding major holidays, to at least give workers a three-day weekend or longer holiday time off. The dates are: March 28; May 9; June 13, July 1; July 25; Sept 2, Oct. 7, Oct. 17, Mov. 25, and Dec. 23.
    The county is now pursuing permission from Civil Service for those dates.
    At a meeting of the Atlantic County tax board Thursday morning, Schott and Assistant Tax Administrator Keith Szendrey said eight of the furlough days are in the middle of busy tax appeal time.
    They are asking the county to allow their four employees to work March 28, days before the April 1 deadline for filing tax appeals for most municipalities, and take a different furlough day. If a large number of tax appeals are filed, they may have to change other furlough days to later in the year or seek other ways of getting the work done, they said, since they have to meet state-imposed deadlines for handling the cases.
    Levinson will give his preliminary budget address at the next Atlantic County freeholder meeting Feb. 2 and the budget will be introduced Feb. 23, with a planned public hearing and adoption date of March 15.
    Contact: 609-272-7219   MPost@pressofac.com   @MichelleBPost

  2. Iceland Have Has A Pirate Political Party And We're Very Jealous, TheDebrief.co.uk
    The Debrief: The Pirate Party have has 3 MPs in Iceland, their policies include a 35 hour working week and more relaxed drug laws.
    LONDON, U.K. - Iceland’s Pirate Party have has taken a big lead in polls ahead of the country’s upcoming 2017 election. Yes, you read that right, Pirate Party.
    Iceland is, geographically speaking, one of the most astounding places on earth. There are volcanoes, geothermal lakes, geothermal beaches, glaciers, geezers and waterfalls so big that you can’t hear yourself think when you stand next to them because the sound of the water cascading down lava rock before crashing into itself at the bottom is so loud.
    In terms of society and politics, however, the country is equally interesting. Following the global financial crash of 2008 Iceland was particularly badly hit.
    Iceland's Pirate Party members
    Last year the Pirate Party – a small, radical and forward thinking political group went from being a marginal activism-based group with 3 MPs out of the country’s 63 in 2013’s election to being the front-runner in the country’s polls ahead of the next one. They are now polling at 37.8 %, according to the most recent figures, which means that they are coming in ahead of the two main parties which currently make up the country’s coalition government: Independence and Progressive which, together, gained just 30%..
    Among the Pirates’ policy proposals are a 35-hour working week, more relaxed drug regulations laws, a rethink of copyright law and less censorship, for instance they do not believe that porn should be blocked.
    Birgitta Jónsdóttir
    The party doesn’t have an official spokesperson but one of their MPs, former Wikileaks volunteer and freedom of information activist, Birgitta Jónsdóttir, does much of their public speaking. She told the Reykjavik Grapevine, 'I definitely approach this job from the perspective of the hacker. I don’t want to learn what isn’t possible, because as soon as I know about limitations, I start to respect them. It’s better to pretend you don’t know the limitations, so you can break them.'
    Ásta Guðrún Helgadóttir
    Ásta Guðrún Helgadóttir is also a member of the pirates; she is the party’s youngest MP at 25 years old. Speaking to the Reykjavik Grapevine she explained that ‘Iceland is an unusual place, politically speaking.’
    She said, ‘There’s a void in Icelandic politics when it comes to liberal parties. In Denmark and Sweden, there are many liberal parties, so there is less space for a Pirate Party. They have parties that are consistently liberal, and have been since the ‘60s. There’s a reason Denmark was the first country to legalise porn in 1969. In Iceland there’s a lot of social conservatism, even though people want to be libertarians as far as the market, etcetera. What the Pirates are trying to do is more of social liberalism.'
    The Pirate Party embody embodies ideas which are increasingly being found around the world – people want to have their say, to change the status quo and are sick of the same old faces when it comes to their politicians.
    Whether or not support in the opinion polls will translate into votes remains to be seen but, as things stand, it’s possible that in 2017 Iceland could well be run by Pirates.

  3. Item: The 35-hour workweek is dying via the right, editorial, Liberation.fr
    [Not if the French have their usual gumption, and here's some of it now. Note that Google Translate did the basics, PH3 polished, and Gilles Pilon of Gatineau-secteur-Aylmer put a number of finishing touches on this bundle of colloquialisms -]
    PARIS, France - The "transgressive" spirit of this government surely knows no bounds. After, among other things, the massive drop in labor costs, the simplification of the benchmarks, the facilitation of layoffs, the easing of the labor code or the further capping of arbitrated indemnities, the executive is applying itself to undermine a bit more - at least on paper - the last great social reform of the left: the 35-hour workweek. A response to a major concern of employers' world, whose requirements now serve as a roadmap to the majority? Not even. In this race to the ever more "liberal," incarnate in an ever more "transgressive" version, logic dictates that the next obstacle on the route be the legal duration of work itself.
    Officially, this is only a matter of "unlocking" the 35-hour workweek, to get closer to the "reality of business," by letting loose the "players on the ground." Arguments repeatedly rehashed by the previous majority, and seeming to flow from more solid good sense.
    And yet... Nevermind the total - now agreed by almost everyone - of the number of jobs generated by this reform, being some 300,000. Nevermind the complex undoing, especially in a period of economic stagnation, which would not fail to provoke job losses. Nevermind either this so-called demand from business leaders, which in fact it isn't, being simply a Pavlovian reflex by representative ownership.
    But it's difficult, on the other hand - it would even be an insult to our leaders - to go about as if the concerned government members didn't know the status of the actual legislation. As if a business leader could not already make employees work 48 hours per week. Could not fix the overtime quota with the unions at the enterprise level. Could not exceed it without permission of the labor inspectorate. Could not lower to 10% the increase in overtime hours instead of 25%, with the agreement of employee representatives. Could not bring down this increase to nothing by setting up an annualization of worktime.
    Oh no, one has to go even further... To tailor to the industries as needed and make explicit the possibility of lowering this increase to 10% - or less - with a relevant majority of only 30% of the unions in the company, ready to finalize, if necessary, through a referendum of employees. In brief, punch a hole in legislation that's already swiss cheese. And too bad if one has extolled the virtues of social dialogue. And too bad if one will put employees and unions askew. The whole thing for a net result of zero. The government believes all this? Then it's no longer driven by pragmatism with some borrowing of liberal ideas here and there, but driven by conviction - conviction from the opposite camp.
    [Woah, what an indictment of today's pathetic "socialist" party in France which is thoroughly betraying its base and the French public, even more than Democrats in the US in their recent "moves to the center"!] Alors c’est qu’il n’agit plus par pragmatisme, quitte à picorer çà ou là des idées libérales, mais par conviction. Celle du camp d’en face. [Quitte à compléter par un référendum. Ready to finalize, if necessary, through a referendum. Quitte à picorer. Willing to do/leave it to some foraging.???]

1/27/2016 – 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. Nucor Is A Politically Correct Green Investment, SeekingAlpha.com
    [AND Nucor accordions its workweek, not its workforce, so its skillset stays intact and it doesn't damage its local consumer base by downsizing its local employment 'basement.' Like Lincoln Electric, this makes it one of the most advanced, flexible, adaptive and survivable corporate structures in the world. It's on our Good Investments list.]
    Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.
    CHARLOTTE, N.C., USA - Summary
    • The domestic steel industry may already have hit bottom and be about to improve because of new U.S. enforcement actions against foreign steel companies.
    • Earnings to be released on Jan 28th.
    • Nucor deserves a "green" P/E premium because it uses mostly recycled steel to make new products.
    • Over-capacity in the steel industry using electric arc furnaces could be a problem.
    Nucor Corp. (NYSE: NUE) and the entire U.S. steel industry have been hurt the last two years by anti-competitive practices from foreign steel producers. Because of weakening world-wide economic growth and artificially low domestic prices, NUE is expected to report weak year-end results on Jan. 28th. Investors may want to consider buying NUE for long-term growth and dividend income by taking advantage of the current low price.
    Anti-competitive pricing from foreign steel companies, potential domestic over-capacity by steel companies using electric arc furnaces, and limited growth in scrap steel are influencing investor's long-term valuation of NUE. While these concerns are justified, the outlook is not as negative as reflected in the current price of the stock.
    When many investors think of steel companies they remember driving near Gary, IN years ago and not being able to see nor breathe because of the burning thermal coal and iron ore. Nucor is different. It uses mostly scrap metal to make new metal products. It does not burn coal, but uses electric arc furnaces to melt scrap into new products. As more metal in the U.S. is recycled, the scrap steel industry and NUCOR have had impressive growth over the last half-century, subject to the economic cycles. Their growth has come from building new mini mills around the country and buying other steel companies. They also have increased financial leverage.
    Pricing is critical to this commodity business (there is no "designer brand" of rebar). So when competition engages in unfair anti-competitive pricing, NUE profits and sales suffer. Over the last few years many foreign steel manufactures have engaged in dumping low-priced steel products into the U.S. As can be seen from the tables below, these foreign companies have had an explosive growth in U.S. market.
    This is from the Enforcement Division of the Department of Commerce
    This is from a different study in the Enforcement Division
    [= two tables on http://seekingalpha.com/article/3838096-nucor-politically-correct-green-investment?page=2 ]
    Some of this growth in imports is also due to a very strong U.S. dollar making imported steel cheaper, but the Enforcement Division of the U.S. Department of Commerce has been investigating individual foreign steel companies to determine if they have been engaging in illegal pricing of steel products- especially corrosive-resistant steel. On Dec. 22, the Department of Commerce announced results for part of their investigation that resulted in tariffs being imposed on individual companies-Yieh Phui (China) 255.80% down to just 3.11% for Marcegaglia (Italy).
    While this enforcement action was focused just on corrosive-resistant steel, it indicates to foreign steel companies that the U.S. will take action the future if they engage in anti-competitive pricing for other steel products.
    This chart by the U.S. Department of Commerce
    seems to indicate that total steel imports are falling late in 2015, but is it do to economic reasons or the new enforcement investigations by the department?
    It will be interesting to see how much of an impact these enforcement actions will have on other imported steel products besides just the corrosive-resistant steel. It may take a few more months before these actions will impact prices for specific steel products.
    Nucor has had strong growth over the last few decades as can be seen from the table below.
    Local and state laws requiring recycling of metal and banning certain products from public dumps have created an increasing supply of scrap metal, which enabled Nucor's growth.
    There is uncertainty about Nucor completing their planned $3.4 billion complex in Louisiana due to weak domestic demand. In mid-December NUE announced that they were halting production at their St. James mill, but then in early January NUE announced that the mill would re-open. Going forward increasing production at existing mills and increasing capacity utilization could be more profitable than building new mini mills. U.S. Steel Corp. (NYSE: X) last December also postponed their plans to build new 1.6 million ton electric arc furnace in Alabama because of weak domestic demand.
    This map shows forecasts for finished steel for 2016 by region and for a 0.7% increase world-wide. While this does not show forecasts for other types of steel, it is an indication of a slightly better demand in 2016 for steel.
    Part of Nucor's problem is that they are limited in their ability to grow by the availability of scrap metal. Currently 70% of domestic steel production is recycled. At some point, recycling will reach a peak and steel companies, such as NUE, could start bidding up the price of scrap hurting profit margins.
    This chart indicates the impact of regulations banning appliances being dumped into landfills
    that were passed a number of years ago in most states. Eventually the recycling hit a peak and has leveled off.
    In order to try to expand profit margins NUE has been focusing on the cost side. A few years ago it joined up with Encana Corp (NYSE: ECA) to drill for natural gas that would used to supply their direct reduced iron -DRI-mini mills. With natural gas prices dropping, those plans have been put hold, but they could be restarted if NG prices increase. Most of Nucor's production, however, comes from electric arc furnaces that use electricity.
    [Diagram http://seekingalpha.com/article/3838096-nucor-politically-correct-green-investment?page=2
    With all these negatives and with a December negative guidance from management for the 4th quarter of $0.15-.20 earnings per diluted share, why buy the stock? Government regulations. The Clean Power Act and other laws could limit future steel production from the old-fashion blast furnaces. Mandates from state and local government that steel used must contain a certain percentage amount of recycled steel are being enacted. Stricter enforcement of recycling laws for consumers and businesses could produce additional scrap metal. Finally, a "green" premium for Nucor's P/E. Many government funds and endowments are selling "politically incorrect" stocks and buying "green". NUE is considered to be "green"-it uses almost completely recycled steel to make products.

  2. Monessen furloughs 5 amid budget mess, by Christopher Buckley, HeraldStandard.com
    MONESSON, Pa., USA - In a momentary lull in city council’s meeting Monday night, shortly before the controller’s report, Mayor Lou Mavrakis turned to the audience and exclaimed, “We need money.”
    [But God forbid you'd have the guts to raise taxes and get what you "need." This is what happens when a whole nation wants a free lunch. The 99% want free services and much more damaging, the richest 1% want more free money to store than their neighbor in the next gated estate.]
    That fact became apparent as council voted to furlough five employees and only pay more than $181,000 in general fund bills “as funds become available.”
    The furloughed included a street department employee, one full-time and one part-time administrative employee and two meter maids.
    “Hopefully, as the real estate taxes come in, we’ll be able to reinstate these people,” said Councilwoman Lucille D’Alfonso.
    D’Alfonso estimated that as taxes come in, the furloughs could be rescinded by late February or early March.
    [Better furloughs than firings, timesizing than downsizing.]
    Councilman Ron Chiaravalle, who began his term last month, claimed the city used up most of its $500,000 tax anticipation note to pay 2015 outstanding debts. Tax anticipation notes are routinely used by municipalities to meet budget obligations until tax revenues are received.
    Councilman John Nestor asked that council hold work sessions “so we can find a panacea to this problem.”
    D’Alfonso agreed.
    “We’re at a point where we’re going to have to make some difficult decisions,” D’Alfonso said. “We’ve been throwing around concerns. Now it’s time to take some action.”
    Councilman Ron Chiaravalle made a motion to reopen the 2016 budget. Just he and Mavrakis agreed to do so.
    Solicitor Krisha DiMascio suggested that in lieu of reopening the budget, council could make line item movements within the budget.
    D’Alfonso suggested rather than reopen the budget, council agree to form a budget committee including also City Controller Wayne Vlasic and City Clerk Holly Minnio. She said much of the budget was formed based on suggestions from the city’s auditors.
    In his annual state of the city address, Mavrakis placed blame for the budget mess on council, specifically targeting D’Alfonso.
    He blamed D’Alfonso for nearly $13.6 million in debt that will be repaid over 28 years.
    He said the previous administration paid $1 million for a mandated holding tank; used $250,000 in CDBG funds on the amphitheater rather than on road improvements; used $1 million diverted from a bond for blight removal instead for “pet projects,” and purchased a $50,000 clock for the downtown.
    He said the current council balked at his plans to sell Eastgate 8 and 11 and the former city building. He said the city pays $106,0000 annual to operate the library and has lost $250,000 annually on the current city hall.
    “This council has found fault with everyone of my ideas, but have no ideas or plans better than what I have proposed,” Mavrakis said in his address.
    “They also do not want to talk about the past. The past is the reason we do not have a future.
    “We are now at the end of ‘Let’s wait until tomorrow.’ Unless city council tries to work with me instead of against me, our future is going into Act 47. I plead with council to reconsider my ideas and try to save our city.”
    After his address, Mavrakis got into a shouting match with Councilwoman Patty Bukowski who claimed the mayor was trying to push several tenants out of the city building.
    “You’re a liar,” Mavrakas exclaimed.
    “Don’t call me a liar,” Bukowski rebuked. “I’m not a liar.”
    “The hell you’re not,” the mayor fired back.
    D’Alfonso attempted to blame some of the budget woes on the police contract, but Mavrakis — who negotiated the deal — said concessions by the police in benefits actually saved the city money.

1/26/2016 – 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. WRAP Adds Working Hours to Compliance Criteria, by Lyndsay McGregor, (1/25 late pickup) SourcingJournalOnline.com
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - The jig is up.
    The non-profit organization Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) is revising its approach to social compliance certification in an effort to tackle the long-standing issue of working hours.

    According to WRAP, current social compliance programs place a maximum—usually, whatever limit is prescribed by local law—on the number of hours that employees can work in a given week. But this has proved to be a difficult component to audit, as many factories doctor their records to reflect whatever number they are being assessed against.
    “The resulting set of multiple books is a standing joke in the industry and has the further deleterious effect of casting doubt on any assessment of whether workers are being paid properly, since wage calculations are almost always going to be based on the number of hours worked,” Avedis Seferian, president and CEO at WRAP, said in a statement.
    To that end, the organization has revised its “12 Production Principles” and introduced criteria that allow factories that meet certain conditions to qualify for a standard, one-year certification, even if they are not yet fully compliant with whatever limit is set by local lawmakers.
    As of January 1, 2016, the conditions are as follows:
    • Factories need to be fully transparent about their working hours
    • They need to ensure those hours are all being worked voluntarily, in conditions that protect worker safety and health

    • All employees need to be compensated fully in accordance with WRAP’s “Principle on Compensation and Benefits”
    • Factories need to show progress, from one audit to the next, toward meeting the working hour requirements in local law
    [Accountable transparency and really voluntary overtime are square one in temporary worksharing and permanent Timesizing, but there are really no guarantees until there's an employer-perceived labor shortage to discipline management.]
    In order to satisfy the final condition, factory management will be required to implement a “Working Hours Action Plan” to establish reduction targets to be achieved over the course of their certification cycle.
    “The goal is to facilitate actual progress by identifying root causes of excessive working hours and addressing them, instead of merely masking the problem through double books,” Seferian continued. “WRAP envisions this being a very factory-specific process and intends to work with each of them on a case-by-case basis."

  2. What The Fight Against Overwork Overlooks: Workaholism has long been cast as a choice borne out of passion - For legions of workers, it's anything but, by Miya Tokumitsu, (1/25 late pickup) FastCompany.com
    PHILADELPHIA?, USA - In Britain, one of the country’s prominent physicians, Dr. John Ashton, president of the U.K. Faculty of Public Health, recently called for the country to establish a four-day workweek, citing concerns about the adverse health effects of overwork, such as high blood pressure, sleep problems, and increased rates of infection due to stress.
    Taking a page from the labor movement’s old playbook, Ashton also framed a four-day workweek as a means to reduce unemployment. He emphasized that "maldistribution of work," in which large numbers of workers are overworked while many remain unemployed, leads to stress-related health problems among both groups.
    "The greater a household’s income, the more hours per night its members are likely to sleep."
    Americans are also at least starting to consider the benefits of reduced working hours. But one thing that the pushback against the culture of [workaholism] in today’s knowledge economy tends to obscure is that it is, after all, a culture—something that can be opted out of—and not, as overwork is for many.., a nonnegotiable reality.
    [That is, a mandate, an imperative, a do-it-or-else (cuz we can quickly replace you). But it's not so easy to opt out of a corporate culture as Miya implies, not only because it blends into the larger culture and becomes subject to the Whorf-Sapir Hypothesis that your language limits the ideas you can even get in the first place, but also because in a mounting labor surplus you just don't have alternative job options.]
    The Unfair Contest Over Who Can Sleep Less
    Recently, Al Jazeera America profiled a Portland tech startup with a four-day workweek. The founders affirmed that their workers took few sick days and were highly productive.
    Even several major investment banks have begun requiring that their young analysts, for whom 100-hour workweeks are routine, take one day off per week to rest. Even Marissa Mayer, she of the legendary 130-hour workweek, has extended parental leave at Yahoo! since taking the helm (but then declined to fully utilize it herself).
    One dimension that these examples share has to do with class. Workers at the tech startup, Yahoo!, and Wall Street banks are all largely college-educated, professional workers enjoying benefits like employee-sponsored retirement plans and health coverage. It's certainly true that professional workers, particularly in tech and finance, put in long hours; it's part of the culture of those sectors, a point of pride as much as an acknowledged detriment to health and human relationships.
    But as much as those workers humblebrag or talk about working 80 hours a week or more—heroically ignoring their bodies’ cries for sleep—taken as a whole, one class of workers sleeps even less.
    As Olga Khazan reports for The Atlantic, in the United States, about half of the people in households netting $30,000 per year or less sleep six or fewer hours every night, while only about a third of those in households netting $75,000 or more get the same paltry amount. In fact, the Gallup numbers Khazan cites reveal that the greater a household’s income, the more hours per night its members are likely to sleep.
    Despite the popular trope of passionate professionals laboring deep into the night, these figures show that once households achieve a baseline level of material comfort, they manage to rest rather than wear themselves down even further with extra work.
    That's because salaried workers in the knowledge economy tend to earn enough to meet basic needs from a single job. By contrast, low- and minimum-wage jobs pay so little that workers often must string together two or more of these jobs to make ends meet.
    Khazan chronicles the day of a man in his thirties who works two jobs at John F. Kennedy International Airport. He wakes before dawn to catch a 5 a.m. bus from his apartment in Queens to get to his 7 a.m. shift as an airport wheelchair attendant. He works until 3 p.m., then has a half-hour break before he begins his next job, corralling luggage carts. His second shift ends at 10 p.m., after which he has another long bus ride home, catches a few hours of sleep, and begins again. His two jobs net him about $500 per week.
    Contrary to the experiences of workers whose passion drives them to work into their sleeping hours, it turns out that the workers who sleep the least are those who literally cannot afford a full night’s rest, time to nurture relationships, or an hour to pursue other interests.
    As Khazan puts it, "Though we often praise white-collar ‘superwomen’ who ‘never sleep’ and juggle legendary careers with busy families, it’s actually people with the least money who get the least amount of sleep."
    Two Shifts, No Choices
    Behind every superworker who garners breathless praise for single-handedly, unsleepingly having built something are the much less mentioned service workers who got up even earlier so that they could pour the white-collar heroes' coffee at Starbucks at 6 a.m. or clean out airplane cabins for their 7 a.m. flights. True, these crack-of-dawn shifts typically end at mid-afternoon—just in time for another shift at another job.
    "Overwork itself has long been cast as a choice—and a positive one, borne out of love, at that." (blowout quote)
    The point, though, isn't just to rethink whom our culture decides to praise and how. It's that overwork itself has long been cast as a choice—and a positive one, borne out of love, at that. But the truth is that for so many, there is no choice.
    Meeting basic needs like securing food and shelter requires abandoning significant elements of personal care, such as sleep and fostering human relationships. Even though employers have long known that ensuring that workers rest and that paying them enough so they can nurture their whole lives (or at least not harm their productivity), our habit of valuing activity purely for its own sake obscures this truth.
    Some must always wake up early or stay up late so that others may work or relax. Modern work cultures furnish us with plenty of ideological lenses that let us choose to see this in a positive light. One of them in particular—the adage to "do what you love"—allows us to valorize elite workers, those who can overwork, and largely ignore those who must overwork.
    Hopefully, we'll be able to look forward to a future when the romance of overwork is seen for the absurdity it is—and where there’s enough sleep to go around.
    This article is adapted from Do What You Love: And Other Lies About Success and Happiness (c) 2015 by Miya Tokumitsu. It is reprinted by permission of Regan Arts.

1/24-25/2016 – 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. President calls for strengthening work-sharing programs, 1/25 W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research via upjohn.org
    KALAMAZOO, Mich., USA - President Obama proposes:
    ...that Unemployment Insurance [UI] programs help “prevent layoffs before they happen,” as part of a package of reforms to overhaul the nation’s UI system. Specifically, the President proposes strengthening work-sharing (also called short-time compensation) programs, which are an alternative to layoffs and are now available in 28 states.
    Under work sharing, employers experiencing a temporary decline in business reduce employees’ weekly work hours and affected employees receive partial UI benefits. Work-sharing programs help employers hold onto valued employees and avoid mass layoffs, which “can lead to long-term unemployment and hardship for working families and their communities.”
    Research: http://research.upjohn.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1198&context=up_workingpapers
    ...by Institute economist Susan Houseman and Katharine Abraham (University of Maryland) suggests that had a more comprehensive, stronger system of work-sharing programs been available in state UI programs, it could have substantially mitigated unemployment during the Great Recession—saving up to one million jobs. Building upon federal legislation passed in 2012, they recommend:
    ...a series of detailed reforms that would expand and strengthen this option in state UI programs and improve the effectiveness of work-sharing in future recessions.

  2. Hidalgo: Working on Sunday, the 35-hour workweek, "debates of the last century," 1/24 Boursorama,com
    [Translated by Google Translate, polished by Phil Hyde.]
    PARIS, France - On Sunday in the "Grand Jury RTL-LCI-Le Figaro," the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo (Partie Socialiste) criticized the willingness of Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron to drag the 35-hour workweek back into question [to get more flexibility for employers], viewing it, like working on Sunday, as a "20th-century debate" that ignores the "21st-century challenges."
    "Here again a debate from the 20th century that's just been dragged back into discussion. The real question today is how to preserve our social model, because if our cities have no social cohesion, resilience, or innovation, foreign investors aren't going to come then either," said the elected Socialist official, invited to respond to M. Macron's proposal in Davos to squelch the 35-hour workweek.
    "No way will we make people work more for less pay! [=wishful thinking?] These are last century's debates," she insisted, stressing that [France's] labor laws already offer "enormous flexibility."
    "We are in the process of miring ourselves in debates which, seen from Davos, can maybe satisfy some big investors who categorize major countries according to their degree of deregulation - the more deregulated you are and the less social protection you have, the better you are," she railed.
    For the mayor of Paris, topics of today are "the question of new technologies and the digital economy."
    [No mention of their work savings and how to absorb them without downsizing?]
    "The challenges of the 21st century are much more involving for mayors," said she also stressed, chagrined at not having been invited to Davos by the French government [instead of the Forum itself].
    "I went to Davos. On one side I see an England that's going to defend English interests, and who is it that's standing on the prow with David Cameron? It's the Mayor of London, it's Boris Johnson! But I had to be invited directly by the World Economic Forum summit organizer to come and talk about the energy of Paris. We are too Jacobean a country, too topdown when we don't place confidence in other levels of government," she blasted.
    Asked about working on Sunday, which is struggling to get established in Paris after the vote on the Macron law, Ms. Hidalgo even esteemed "the question of working on Sunday as a bit of a 20th-century topic."

1/23/2016 – 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. Volunteering for Layoffs & Shared Work, posted by Shawnee Love, (1/22 late pickup) LoveHR.com
    KELOWNA, B.C., Canada - Last week, I spoke about the soft but long-term costs of layoffs. I warned to use them as a last resort. Literally, when it's the only option left or you will not survive. Even then, before going to all the work of planning a layoff, have you considered asking your team for other solutions?
    On multiple occasions, I have seen businesses go to their employees to tell them about the challenges of the organization, and the employees have stepped up with solutions. Two great solutions for avoiding layoffs are:
    • seeking volunteers for layoff, and
    • reducing hours for everyone so those who were to be laid off keep their jobs.
    Both approaches get the employees involved and are better options than a management-driven layoff campaign.
    Those who volunteer to be laid off may be nearing or past their planned retirement age but were hanging on for a variety of personal reasons which typically have nothing to do with needing the money. They may also be people who have an interest in going back to school, starting a business, taking time off to travel, or simply done with the job and don’t need it as much as others. You save time planning layoffs and the pain of telling someone who just secured a mortgage that his/her job is done. Employees feel happy for those who choose to move on and rest easy because their own positions are secured.
    Reducing hours and sharing workload brings individuals together to help out the group. What’s amazing at these times is that you can see productivity go up because people want to help each other and the company get back to full steam again. You can also see morale go up and the team become stronger, because they know they are doing something good for each other and the company. Adversity can bring people together.
    No one hopes to encounter tough times in their business. But if you do, it is better to come out the other side stronger.
    [Well said! I love Shawnee Love! I wonder if she knows Tom Walker in E.Vancouver?]

  2. Clerk of Courts employees could face furlough days, by Jay Meisel, HighlandsToday.com
    SEBRING, Fla., USA — Seventy-eight employees at the Highlands County Clerk of Court’s Office could face having to take as many as 12 furlough days between now and October if the state Legislature doesn’t make up a 5 percent revenue shortfall, Clerk of Court Robert Germaine said Friday.
    The cut is being imposed by the Clerk of Court Operation Corporation, which disperses the funds, because of a reduction in revenues generated by court fines and filing fees. All clerk of courts offices in Florida are facing the same percentage cut.
    With the budget having been reduced for the past several years, Germaine said, the possible 5 percent budget reduction would cost the clerk’s office $84,255 and leave little choice but force layoffs, furlough days or reducing hours for positions.

    [Better furloughs than layoffs, and better hours reductions than furloughs, but poll employees! In any case, Timesizing not downsizing!]
    The approved court budget for the clerk’s office has dropped from $2.4 million in 2007-2008 to $1.68 million in 2016.
    Germaine said he wants to avoid layoffs because of the impact in services that would have on the public.“My job is to take care of the public,” Germaine said.
    Germaine said his office is unique from other county-funded offices because he has two budgets. One comes from the Highlands County Commission.
    “They’ve always been very good in funding the office,” he said of the county commission.
    Germaine said his office provides various services to the county, including doing information technology, which save the county money, pays bills, invest money, and handle audits, payrolls and records.
    The other part of his budget comes completely from court revenues, including fines and fees.
    Germaine said he only gets to keep part of that budget because the remainder goes back to various state trust funds that support different programs. If the 5 percent cut is approved, more money would go back to the state.
    The problem, he said, is that revenues have decreased over the years. Civil court filing fees are down because of fewer lawsuits and foreclosures, Germaine said.
    Revenues from citations are down because apparently fewer people are receiving them, Germaine said. Traffic tickets have been reduced significantly from a few years ago, he said.
    “Hopefully, the reason for that is that everyone is stopping speeding,” he said.
    Germaine said that better driving and fewer people suing each other is good for society, but not so for his revenue collection.
    At the same time, Germaine said, the state keeps giving additional mandatory duties to the clerk’s office.
    Continually, Germaine said, the clerk’s office is mandated to produce different reports and carry out an increasing number of duties but receive no additional monies to do that. On one side of it, the effort is being made to make court information more accessible, including placing more information online.
    But before documents can be placed online, information exempt from public disclosure must be redacted, he said.
    Even though a computer software program does that, an employee has to actually look at each document to ensure all the necessary reductions are completed, Germaine said.
    At this point, Germaine said, if the revenue remains the same, he won’t have to require furlough days.
    Between now and when the Florida Legislature decides on the funding, Germaine said, he’ll be looking for ways to cut spending and reduce the furlough days. He said it’s likely all clerk’s office employees, including those funded by the county, will receive the furlough days if the cuts become reality.
    Germaine said he has not filled five positions during the last several years. If another position becomes vacant the saving from not filling that could allow him to reduce furlough days.
    jmeisel@highlandstoday.com   (863) 386-5834

1/22/2016 – 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. 'Sharing' can be difference between retention, unemploymen[t], by Sarah Reed, The Marshall Democrat-News via marshallnews.com
    MARSHALL, Mo., USA - Businesses facing a reduction in production or that have cyclical labor needs -- requiring a higher number of employees during the summer than winter, for example -- have an option other than laying off employees.
    An alternative to cutting the workforce, the Shared Work Unemployment Compensation Program allows a company to retain all of its employees while workers essentially receive unemployment wages for specific days they are cut from production.
    During the Marshall Chamber of Commerce Quarterly Breakfast held Thursday, Jan. 21, Shared Work Outreach representative Delores Rose explained the program. She indicated it is beneficial for both the employee and employer.
    "It's a way of helping the employees, because once they run out of that 13 weeks -- or $4,160 -- once they run out of that, they're done (with unemployment benefits) for the year," she said. "They get nothing. So your employees have absolutely nothing to live on, not even just $320 a week if they run out of unemployment."
    Instead of a broad layoff, a company participating in the Shared Work Program is drawing from the same pool of funding an employee would draw from in the unemployment fund.
    For example, if a business has five employees, rather than laying off one employee during a reduction period, it could retain the same number of workers in a 32-hour week. This cuts production by 20 percent but reduces hours from 40 to 32 per week. Workers then receive wages for their new four-day work week, as well as funding from the Shared Work Program for the fifth day they lost during the reduction period.
    "As far as (a company's) unemployment account, it's going to get charged against their account the same way and same amount as it would a regular layoff," Rose said. "So if I'm laying off one person a week, $320 is hitting my account each week. Or if I've got five people, and they're each getting $64 a day and I lay them each off for a day during the week, that's still $320 for the week. So it's still hitting my account the same way."
    Any employer -- whether public or private -- that pays into the unemployment tax fund is eligible for the program, as long as taxes are paid and all unemployment reports have been filed. A minimum of three employees must also be willing to sign up for the program for the business to be eligible.
    "We have companies that are just three employees, so it's not just for big companies," Rose explained. "About 50 percent of the employers in the state who participate in the program are manufacturers, but it's not limited to them. We have veterinarians. We have health care centers. We have airports. You name the business, we've got them as a shared-work employer."
    More than 40 people attended Thursday morning's Chamber meeting. Executive Director Jill Murray said there was feedback after the presentation.
    "Delores Rose, from the Missouri Department of Labor, did a great job explaining the Shared Work Program and did get several inquiries from attendees who may consider utilizing this program," she stated. "The chamber is always looking for informative speakers that will benefit the members."
    The Department of Labor's program is optional for both the employer and employee. However, eligibility for the company also depends on the reduction affecting at least 10 percent of employees. That can be 10 percent of the entire company, of a unit or specific department, or even 10 percent of a line in a factory.
    Rose said she would recommend the Shared Work Program for employers who already have an experience rating, who have been paying into unemployment on a regular basis. New employers or those without experience ratings are encouraged to look at their tax rate prior to participating.
    "The state of Missouri has one of the most flexible plans in the country, in that we don't tell an employer that they have to call us every week or every two weeks" to request being put back on the plan if it wasn't used, she said. "As business needs change, we allow them just to do it without signing up again, without telling us (they have) to reactivate again."
    According to Rose, many employees are receptive to the plan because it not only allows them to retain their jobs, but also gives them extra family time.
    "It's a much more positive program," she said.
    The Marshall Chamber of Commerce has more than 175 members listed in its business directory.
    It's located at 214 N. Lafayette Ave.

    Way to go, Missouri! You can be a beacon of economic growth in the midst of other states' doldrums by worksharing via your Shared Work program and keeping people employed (& spending locally!) by trimming working hours for everyone instead of cutting jobs for a few, & a few more, & a few more... And worksharing dot info is the temporary halfway step to permanent Timesizing (TS). Worksharing waits for recovery from outside. TS creates recovery from inside and leaves nothing to chance, right up the Show-Me State's alley! TS starts by incentivizing conversion of chronic overtime (OT) into jobs +training whenever needed, and if that DOESN'T do enough to provide full employment & maximum local spending, you repeatedly adjust the workweek downward to provide more convertible OT until it DOES give you full employment, nothing left to chance! Convertingovertimeintojobs dot org has the deets. Quit the victims' club, Missouri, and while the rest of the states flail, lead the nation in robust local markets and a loooongterm sustainable state economy. Then the Show Me state will really be Showing Them!

  2. More retrenched, shorter work weeks in 2015 due to slowing economy: NTUC, by Olivia Quay, ChannelNewsAsia.com
    The National Trades Union Congress predicts that in the first quarter of 2016, 234 workers could be retrenched in unionised companies, up 31 per cent from the same period last year. SINGAPORE - In the midst of a slowing economy, retrenchment figures in the unionised sector increased in 2015, said the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) on Friday (Jan 22).
    At a media conference, NTUC said that a total of 2,512 workers from 45 unionised companies were displaced from theirs jobs last year, a 11.8 percent increase from 2,246 workers in 2014.
    The key reasons for retrenching workers that businesses cited were company restructuring, poor business and closure of operations, or the discontinuation of production lines.
    NTUC predicted that in the first quarter of 2016, 234 workers could be retrenched in unionised companies, up 31 per cent from the same period last year.
    This will be mostly from the manufacturing sector, according to NTUC.
    The union also said that more companies have also cut down the number of hours worked by employees.
    [Better companies should do that first and "retrenchment" = downsizing only later and only if absolutely necessary, because they're not going to get growth=UPsizing=mountainbuilding by DOWNsizing and digging trenches!]
    In 2015, 2,098 workers from nine companies went on shorter work weeks, 59 per cent more than the 1,323 workers from five companies in 2014. NTUC said the move is seen as a short-term measure to reduce costs in the wake of low business volume.
    Labour market to remain tight
    At the media conference, the Labour Movement said it expects the labour market to remain tight in 2016. This is as more businesses will be impacted by related cyclical or structural challenges than before, and weaker sectors - such as marine engineering, speciality chemicals and printing - bear the brunt of these challenges.
    According to NTUC Assistant Secretary-General Cham Hui Fong, the slowing growth of the economy and the tightening of the labour market are major concerns for NTUC, and it foresees that businesses and workers will continue to be affected by these factors.
    "It is important to ensure that our workers are taken care of and are given fair opportunities to be trained and re-trained to remain relevant and adaptable," he said.
    Workplace benefits in collective agreements improving
    Based on 900 active collective agreements (CAs), the Labour Movement said it continues to see a healthy proportion of unionised companies implementing good workplace benefits in 2015.
    For instance, 6 per cent of CAs provided additional paternity leave on top of the one week Government-paid paternity leave, compared to none in 2014.
    A total of 320 CAs also stipulated provisions for training or examination leave, offering an average of five days of leave a year to support workers on self-development courses that are relevant to their work and approved by the company, NTUC said.
    - CNA/mz

1/21/2016 – 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. Tube strike 2016: Staff offered £500, and four day work week in bid to avert strikes over Night Tube, by Dick Murray, Evening Standard via standard.co.uk
    LONDON, England - Tube [=subway] staff have been offered a four-year pay deal, lump sum payments of £500 each and the prospect of a 36-hour four-day week to call off strikes starting next week and get the Night Tube up and running.
    The three main unions — Aslef, RMT and TSSA — all held crisis meetings today.
    Aslef and the TSSA said good progress had been made in talks and agreed to suspend the 24-hours walkouts.
    The RMT union said it will make a decision on Monday.
    London Underground [LU] would not confirm the offer but the Standard understands it consists of:
    • 2015 — one per cent pay rise backdated to last April plus £500 consolidated on all salaries, giving an average two per cent pay rise.
    • 2016 and 2017 — RPI or one per cent, whichever is the greater.
    • 2018 — RPI plus 0.25 per cent or one per cent, whichever is greater.
    • An extra one-off £500 payment, non-consolidated, to all staff who deliver Night Tube at its launch.
    • Station staff also to receive a one-off £500 non-consolidated payment upon implementation of the Fit for the Future stations programme, which includes major changes and the axing of ticket offices.
    There will be further discussions on the implementation of a 36-hour four-day week initially involving “trials” on the Jubilee line.
    [So London's moving ahead with the most basic and measurable kind of freedom = job-secure Free Time, without which the other freedoms are either meaningless or inaccessible.]
    Aslef’s organiser for London Underground, Finn Brennan, said the union had dragged Tube bosses “kicking and screaming into the 21st century with an agreement to deliver modern, flexible working practices for our members and an above-inflation pay rise”.
    LU’s chief operating officer Steve Griffiths said talks at the conciliation service Acas had been “productive” and a written offer confirming the details had been sent to the unions.
    The strikes would have brought the entire Tube network to a standstill.
    Unions warned that the walkouts have only been “suspended” and would be reinstated if future talks fail.
    It will still be some time, however, before the Night Tube is up and running and there is no new start date.
    Thousands of Tube staff had planned to take part in three 24-hour walkouts from the evenings of Tuesday, January 26, Monday, February 15, and Wednesday, February 17.
    Station staff also planned a week of unspecified industrial action from Sunday, February 7. Night Tube was to have started on September 12 last year but deal could not be reached on pay and working conditions.
    When it does start, 24-hour trains will operate on Fridays and Saturdays along the entire Jubilee and Victoria lines.
    On the Central line they will run be- tween Ealing Broadway and Loughton/Hainault; on the Northern the entire route except the Mill Hill East and Bank branches; on the Piccadilly between Cockfosters and Heathrow Terminal 5.
    LU is hiring hundreds of part-time staff, including drivers, both to run the Night Tube and break the stranglehold of the unions.

  2. Turkey issues new Friday prayer directive, by Tulay Cetingulec, Turkey Pulse via Al-Monitor.com
    ISTANBUL, Turkey - As Turkey grapples with terrorism and myriad social and economic problems, an unexpected controversy has moved on to the country’s crowded agenda. A Jan. 6 directive issued by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu allows public employees to take time off for Friday prayers: “In line with freedom of religious faith, guaranteed by the constitution and related laws, employees of public institutions and establishments who so desire will be given time off for Friday prayer if its time overlaps with working hours without causing a loss in working hours.”
    [This has gotta be one of the most nettled-yet cut-hour attempts.]
    A government directive allowing public employees to take time off from work for Friday prayers has sparked questions about the future of Turkey’s secular system.
    Twitter users were quick to react. Some saw the circular as an affront to the secular system. “Bye bye secularism, bye bye republic, hello Afghanistan!” one user wrote. Another remarked, “Today schools and teachers off for Friday prayer, tomorrow students and soon Friday a full holiday.” Some saw the directive as an attempt by the government to distract from other controversies and problems. “This time they must be trying to distract attention from the Hitler issue and the price hikes,” wrote one person. Others saw the move as putting pressure on less religious employees. “There was already permission for Friday prayer, especially in public offices. Now, those who don’t go will be fingered. Let them not go now if they dare,” one man commented.
    Omer Faruk Eminagaoglu, a prominent lawyer petitioned the Council of State, Turkey’s top administrative court, to quash the directive. He argued that the authority to determine working hours belonged not to the prime minister but to the Cabinet. “The purpose here is to flout the secular legal system under the pretext of freedom of faith. Rearranging daily working hours during Ramadan will be brought up next,” asserted Eminagaoglu.
    In remarks to Al-Monitor, Eminagaoglu said he was in favor of freedom of religions, but argued that the circular had effectively suspended the unalterable constitutional provision on the Turkish republic’s secular character. He recalled that a similar effort had been turned back in the past by a court ruling later backed by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
    “In 1997, the Cabinet issued a decision adjusting working hours during Ramadan to the fast-breaking hours. The arrangement was annulled by the Council of State, and the Constitutional Court deemed it an act contravening the secular system. Objections were then brought before the ECHR, but the ECHR found no irregularity in the (annulment) ruling,” explained Eminagaoglu.
    “Not long ago, (female) attorneys were allowed to attend court hearings wearing headscarves. Now, judges have come to wear the headscarf, too. Tomorrow, working hours during Ramadan will be adjusted to the fast-breaking [=break-fasting] hours despite legal rulings to the contrary. A political and judicial transformation is under way. The latest directive could lead to the blacklisting of those who do not go to prayers,” Eminagaoglu further asserted.
    The issue of time off for Friday prayers was first raised in July during collective bargaining talks between the Labor Ministry and trade unions representing public employees. Memur-Sen, a trade union close to the government, put the demand in its collective contract proposal as a last-minute addition. Eminagaoglu said Memur-Sen’s move illustrates how the agendas of trade unions in Turkey have changed over the past several decades.
    “In 1975, the Turk-Is trade union, which was close to the center right, had filed a lawsuit against the adjustment of working hours to fast-breaking [=break-fasting] hours during Ramadan, and the arrangement was abolished. Also, a move by the State Highway Directorate to rearrange working hours according to Friday prayer hours was annulled on the ground that it contravened the principle of secularism. Back in those days, the advocates of labor rights respected the constitution and the supremacy of law. Today, it’s just the opposite,” Eminagaoglu explained.
    The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), which has secularism enshrined in its emblem as one of the arrows symbolizing the party’s six main principles, has remained silent about the circular, earning it a good deal of criticism.
    According to Eminagaoglu, CHP Chairman Kemal Kilicdaroglu should be expelled from the party for failing to observe the CHP statute calling for the protection of the secular system. Thus far, the party’s only reaction has come from Deputy Chairman Veli Agbaba, who called the circular a smokescreen intended to distract public attention from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s U-turn on relations with Israel.
    “There was already not a problem regarding the Friday prayer. Public employees were able to go to Friday prayers without any obstruction at all,” Agbaba pointed out. “The president has suddenly said that we need Israel. How did this need arise? Why do you need Israel? We believe they did this maneuver (the circular) only to cover up this issue and manipulate the religious feelings of impoverished, devout and decent people.”
    The CHP’s silence might perhaps be explained by its recent efforts to convince conservative Turks that the party — the legacy of Turkey’s secular founding father, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk — is not an adversary of Islam. In a television program earlier this month, senior CHP member Engin Altay remarked, “The (CHP’s) image as a godless party was in part nourished by us ourselves.”
    As the public debated what had prompted the circular, given that public employees were already able to attend Friday prayers, the Education Ministry moved within a week to adopt it for schools. In an instruction to education directorates across the country, the ministry ordered “all public and private schooling institutions” to “facilitate things for administrators, teachers and other staff with regard to permissions for Friday prayers” and to adjust class schedules accordingly.
    Mehmet Nuri Yilmaz, former head of the Religious Affairs Directorate, remains perplexed about the motive behind the circular. In remarks to Al-Monitor, he said, “We were already adjusting the Friday prayer to (noon break) hours convenient for public employees. For instance, if the Friday call to prayer was supposed to be at 11 a.m. or 11:30 a.m., we would send a circular to have it shifted to 12 a[p].m. During summer, it would be 1 p.m. So, there was no problem. Public employees were able to catch up. The Religious Affairs Directorate is maintaining the same practice at present.”
    So what prompted the circular? Yilmaz proffered, “The purpose perhaps was to have the working hours of schools rearranged according to the Friday prayer.” That might explain why the Education Ministry was so quick to act.
    Translated by Sibel Utku Bila

1/20/2016 – 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. Turning into robots, doing multiple jobs in a day, by Rusnizam Mahat, MalaysiaKini.com
    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Several developed nations have started reducing the length of the working day from the standard eight hours, which has been practiced for decades. Sweden, for example, was last year reported as approving the six-hour working day.
    The decision was based on research that found a shorter working day to result in happier workers, less staff quitting and higher profits, of up to 25 percent.
    But Sweden is an outlier.
    In most countries, especially developing nations, longer worker hours are the norm.
    In Malaysia, the working day officially lasts eight hours, while overtime sometimes means a working day of 10 or up to 12 hours.
    But even in Malaysia there has long been a movement for the shorter working day. The Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC), for example, raised the issue 15 years ago.
    In a press statement last October, MTUC president Mohd Khalid Atan once again raised the issue and called on the government and employers to back the proposal.
    According to Khalid, working hours should be brought down from 48 hours week to 40 hours, for the sake of the health of the workers.

    Sadly, the proposal is not gaining traction among public and private employers. In fact, we have a deputy minister even proposing that Malaysians take on second or third jobs to make ends meet.
    Imagine. If one job takes up eight to 10 hours of your day, how many hours would you spend working if you have two or three jobs?
    Social issues
    Most urban parents spend more time at work than with their families, leaving home early in the morning for work and returning at night.
    This does not include commuting time. Not only are they tired from a long day at work, these workers have to endure the stress of going through horrendous traffic jams.
    When they arrive home, their children are already asleep, or about to go to bed. If they are especially unlucky, they may not even see their children awake for several days.
    It was not like this before. Quality time with the family and children is limited. There is only the weekend for family time.
    And, heartbreakingly, children feel neglected by their parents who seem to prioritise work over them. This leads to other social issues, which we know now are on the rise.
    With long working hours and unsatisfactory quality of life, it is no surprise that workers in Malaysia are living with mounting stress.
    Perhaps this is the reason that a country like The Netherlands is considered among the happiest in the world. There, working hours are flexible and less burdensome.
    According to The Economist, 26.8 percent of Dutch men and 76.6 percent of Dutch women spend less than 36 hours a week at work – an average of five hours a day.
    Lower productivity?
    Some may argue that cutting working hours will reduce company productivity, but this is irrelevant and certainly up for debate.
    In fact, several studies have found shorter working days lead to higher productivity. It’s not surprising, given that workers are more comfortable and happier.
    Stress levels are also lower when workers have more time to spend on recreational activities, including with their families. A healthy worker is a productive worker.
    It also means lower medical costs from unhealthy and sedentary lifestyles.
    The government can decide if the research done is enough to introduce a six-hour working day, but current situations suggest that this might not happen soon.
    Malaysia aims to be a developed nation by 2020, and as a developed nation, one would hope that its high-income citizens would be working a lot less. And yet, here we are, four years to that goal, but being told to work even more.
    When we were children, we once dreamed of a time when robots took over human tasks and people could spend their time on leisure.
    We dreamt wrongly.
    Maybe one day, it is we who will become robots, working on more than one job a day.

  2. Health Department to close 9 clinics, cut hours at others, by Jeff Amy, Associated Press via WLBT & WDBD via MSnewsnow.com
    JACKSON, Miss., USA - Citing declining patient volumes and a need to save money, Mississippi's state Health Department is closing clinics in nine counties and reducing clinic hours to two or three days a week in many others.
    [More hourscuts, less closures - more Timesizing, less downsizing!]
    The changes start Feb. 1, state Health Officer Dr. Mary Currier announced in a statement Wednesday. She says the number of patients treated in clinics has "seriously declined" because patients now have options to see other providers under Medicaid and the federal health care overhaul.
    The Health Department will cut 64 employees and stop offering maternity care.
    It wasn't immediately clear how much money the changes would save. The Health Department has been running a deficit this budget year.
    Currier says the department wants to refocus efforts on preventing and managing chronic diseases such as diabetes.

1/19/2016 – 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. President's expanded jobless benefits plan likely to get little N.C. support, by Richard Craver, Winston-Salem Journal via Greensboro News & Record via greensboro.com
    WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., USA - For the second time in a week, President Barack Obama has made a national policy recommendation with significant implications for North Carolina.
    The proposal, requiring every state to provide 26 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits, is expected to fall on inattentive, if not deaf, ears with Gov. Pat McCrory and Republican legislative leaders, as has Obama’s request for expanding Medicaid coverage to as many as 500,000 North Carolinians.
    Obama’s goal is making up to a year’s worth of unemployment insurance benefits available during high unemployment, such as the Great Recession that began in mid-2008 and lingered into 2013.
    “If a hardworking American loses her job, regardless of what state she lives in, we should make sure she can get unemployment insurance and some help to retrain for her next job,” Obama said in his Saturday radio address.
    “Under my plan, experienced workers who now make less than $50,000 could replace half of their lost wages — up to $10,000 over two years.”
    Although Obama wasn’t talking directly to N.C. elected leaders, he may as well have been.
    Just eight states provide fewer than 26 weeks to new unemployment insurance claimants, with Florida at the bottom with a maximum of 12 weeks. North Carolina is currently at 13, followed by Georgia at 14, Kansas at 16, Michigan, Missouri and South Carolina at 20 and Arkansas at 25.
    Those eight states would be able to access federal grants to expand benefits.
    Drastic unemployment insurance benefit cuts were made by the Republican-led N.C. legislature in 2013 that also included reducing the maximum weekly benefit from $530 to $350.
    The number of benefit weeks is based on a sliding scale that goes up and down with the state’s unemployment rate.
    McCrory, legislative leaders and some right-leaning analysts say the approach has put state unemployment benefits more in line with neighboring states. They also say the reduction has made individuals more willing to take available jobs — including at lower wages and below their skill levels — as their benefits run out.
    The state finished paying off in May — ahead of schedule — a $2.8 billion debt to the U.S. Labor and Treasury departments. The state borrowed the money to pay extended state unemployment benefits from 2008 to 2011. About $2.5 billion of the debt payback occurred under McCrory’s administration.
    In November, the N.C. Commerce Department reached a $1 billion surplus in the state’s unemployment insurance benefits fund.
    The debt was created in part when a Democratic-controlled General Assembly approved a series of unemployment insurance tax cuts in the 1990s when the state’s jobless rate was well below 5 percent. The last time the rainy day fund was at $1 billion was May 2001.
    The tax rate was not increased for years even as North Carolina and the nation experienced two recessions because it was feared that doing so could deter employers from hiring.
    Work sharing option
    President Barack Obama also proposes work-sharing programs to help companies avoid job cuts and layoffs.
    Work sharing, also known as short-time compensation, offers employers the option to reduce employees' hours for up to a year instead of implementing layoffs or job cuts when business is slow or they are feeling a financial pinch.
    Another plus is that employees' full health benefits remain untouched.
    Such legislation is in place in 24 states.

    [I believe that's 28 states = 56%.]
    A work-sharing bill was introduced in the N.C. legislature in 2013 and 2015 by Sen. Fletcher Hartsell Jr., R-Cabarrus.
    To qualify, employers would certify with N.C. Division of Employment Security officials that the plan is being used only to avert a specific number of layoffs or job cuts.
    Neither bill was discussed in committee.
    rcraver@wsjournal.com   (336) 727-7376   @rcraverWSJ

  2. Best boss ever? Work for this firm and you get long holidays, short hours and an amazing benefits package, by Adam Boult, Telegraph.co.uk
    CHICAGO, Illin., USA - Do you feel appreciated at work? This software company is bending over backwards to make sure its workers have a good quality of life
    While most workers in the Britain are entitled to more than five weeks paid holiday a year, over in the US employers are far less generous.
    After a year's service, an average worker in the States will be entitled to just 10 days paid annual leave, rising to 14 days after 5 years, and 19 days after 20 years.
    [To my knowledge, there's actually no legislation to this effect as yet.]
    Little wonder, then, that the boss US tech firm Basecamp has been attracting a huge amount of attention since making public his company's generous benefits package.
    • The best job perks at UK startups
    In a blogpost on Medium, CEO Jason Fried said: "Everyone’s looking to know what everyone else is doing - as are we - so I figured I might as well post our current benefit list publicly."
    The post states that Basecamp, a software firm based in Chicago, offers three weeks of paid holiday, plus "a few extra personal days to use at your discretion, and a few national holidays every year." Fairly measly by European standards - but then, that's not the whole story. Workers also get:
    4-day Summer Work Weeks: "May 1 through August 31, we work a Monday-Thursday 8-hour day work week, aka 'summer hours', for a total of 32-hour weeks.

    One-Month Sabbatical Every Three Years: "Every three years, employees are eligible to take a one-month-long sabbatical."
    Paid Parental Leave: "When you welcome a new baby, Basecamp encourages you to take up to 16 weeks maternity leave and up to 6 weeks paternity leave, at 100% paid salary. Single fathers, or primary care givers, can also take up to 16 weeks."
    • The latest job perk? They’ll freeze your eggs for you
    [Uh, let's not slide into stupidity here...]
    Basecamp also lays on all-expenses-paid trips for staff to take during their paid holidays, with a selection of around 12 destinations available to pick from an annual 'book'.
    Fried adds: "While this isn’t a formal benefit, we encourage 40-hour work weeks. I only make this point since our industry is perverted and often asks people for regular 60+ hour weeks + regular pushes on weekends ... We strongly encourage a maximum of 40-hours a week, and 8-hours of sleep a night."
    The tech industry is notorious for its long working hours, and some large firms offer a number of on-site perks in an effort to ensure staff spend as much time at work as possible. Fried disagrees with this approach: "I think the industry is kind of perverted. We're an industry that likes to burn people out and not have respect for people's lives outside of work. You don't need to build a crazy company. You can treat people fairly and do well."
    Other benefits listed at Basecamp include:
    Top 5% salaries : "We monitor industry salaries annually and make sure we’re paying in the top 5%, based on skills and experience, for every position at the company."
    $100/month Fitness Allowance: "Basecamp will pay up to $100/month for your gym membership, yoga studio membership, or whatever activity you do to stay in shape"
    $100/month Massage Allowance: "Every month, you can expense up to $100 towards a massage. Stay loose."
    Work Wherever You Want: "Work from anywhere in the world. Move cities, keep your job."

1/17-18/2016 – 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 declares 'economic' state of emergency, but 35-hour work week stays, by Angela Charlton, 1/18 The Associated Press via National Post via business.financialpost.com
    PARIS, France — French President François Hollande pledged Monday to redefine France’s business model and declared what he called “a state of economic and social emergency,” unveiling a 2-billion-euro ($2.2 billion) plan to revive hiring and catch up with a fast-moving world economy.
    [And where, exactly, would we find a "fast-moving world economy" today? (except maybe downward)]
    The measures he proposed, however, are relatively modest, and he said they would not “put into question” the 35-hour workweek.
    [And nevermind that without incentivizing conversion of chronic overtime into jobs, and training whenever needed, the 35-hour workweek is already put into question - by keeping it ineffectual.]
    With his country under a state of emergency since extremist attacks in November, Hollande did not seek to assume any new emergency powers over the economy.
    In an annual speech to business leaders, Hollande laid out plans for training half a million jobless workers, greater use of apprenticeships, and aid for companies that hire young workers.
    [Training and placement are no substitutes for demand. And the best handle we have on market demand is chronic overtime. Hello-oh...ready to connect the dots yet?]
    Hollande’s Socialist government has struggled to boost long-stagnant French growth or reduce chronic unemployment, which has been around 10 per cent for years. His chances of winning a potential second term may hinge on whether jobs pick up before next year’s presidential vote.
    Hollande stressed the urgency of updating France’s labour-friendly business model in an increasingly border-free, online economy. The measures included a loosening of France’s rigid working time rules, and a bonus of 2,000 euros to small businesses that hire young people.
    He stressed the need to integrate youth from France’s troubled suburbs, including minorities who face job discrimination, into the global economy. High unemployment in France’s North African and African communities is seen as one of the factors driving some youths to violent extremism or the drug trade.
    Some measures will be included in draft economic reform laws the government is presenting to parliament in the coming weeks.

  2. Wharfies strike would have a multimillion-dollar impact, says port operator Patrick, by Alicia Wood, 1/18 DailyTelegraph.com.au
    PORT BOTANY, N.S.W., Australia - Australia’s largest port operator Patrick [Corp.] has warned that yesterday’s 24-hour strike by maritime workers — the first since 1998 — would have a “multimillion-dollar impact”.
    Patrick human resources director Alexandra Badenoch said the Maritime Union of Australia had downed tools at four of the country’s largest ports over a pay dispute.
    She said the union wanted workers to be paid for 35 hours a week while working for only 32 hours.

    [Good to see unions performing their vital function of cutting hours in response to technology and keeping everyone employed instead of cutting jobs and shoppers and markets and MARKETABLE productivity and sustainable investment. Strange to see some Aussie commenters speaking against ordinary employees doing better - whatever happened to Aussie mate-ism? But we get the same phenomenon of people speaking against their own self-interest here in the USA. The failure of unions here to keep focused on their power issue, shorter hours, has allowed a buildup of a huge surplus of mutually underbidding jobseekers, so naturally general wages and spending have been flat or sinking ever since the babyboomers grew up and entered the job market around 1970. A percentage of the national income that had been spread, by market forces in response to an employer-perceived shortage, out to the millions of ordinary employee-shoppers and their dependents now goes funneling up to the topmost tiny percentage of the population, where it essentially just sits in storage creating the dread Black Hole economy. They spend a smaller percentage of their megamongo bucks than any other (lower) bracket; several studies have shown that they donate a smaller percentage of it than any lower bracket including the lowest, even though the amounts are eye-popping; and they wind up coagulating so much of the money supply and weakening so many of the non-financial markets that they have insufficient marketable productivity in which to sustainably store their huge holdings. Historical 'solutions' were war and plague to periodically cut the labor surplus, create jobseeker shortage, and spread the national income and wealth by market forces. But now drones are preventing wars' historic function of labor-employment balancing, and modern medicine ditto ditto for plagues'. Maybe we'll just have to do it the intelligent way for a change, and claim the promise of new technology = to make life easier for everyone.]
    “The direct impact to Patrick is a multimillion-dollar impact for the day’s stoppage,” Ms Badenoch said.
    “The disruptions have been out at Port Botany, they have just put on the table pretty extreme claims ... looking at reducing the working week to 32 hours but being paid at a 35 hour rate, (and) reintroducing significant penalty rates.”
    Ms Badenoch said the company could not accept the ­demands of the union, as “the total potential Labor cost would increase by 53 per cent”.
    “It would be completely irresponsible for management to entertain these claims, we have a responsibility to our employees and to consumers,” Ms Badenoch said.
    The MUA stopped work at Port Botany yesterday and at Patrick’s terminals in Fremantle, Melbourne and Brisbane.
    Ms Badenoch said the strike would impact on the delivery of consumer goods, and would further impact shipping lines.

1/16/2016 – 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. Georgia town to continue 4-day work week for some employees, The Associated Press via WSB-TV2 Atlanta via wsbtv.com
    GRANTVILLE, Ga., USA — A Georgia town has decided to continue its experiment of having four-day work weeks for some employees.
    City Manager Al Grieshaber proposed the four-day work week primarily because Grantville offers few benefits and the retirement plan no longer exists, The Newnan Times-Herald reported (http://bit.ly/1RQ1MPx).
    City Hall and public works offices are now open Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and closed on Fridays.
    [So presumably this is still an unreduced Frozen Forty-hour week for employees, four 10-hour days, but hopefully this will start a slide to four 8-hour days for the same money.]
    The senior center and police department have kept the same hours, the newspaper reported.
    The city council recently voted to extend the experiment for another 90 days.
    The city manager is recommending that the four-day week be made permanent. He said he hasn't had any complaints about the new work week.
    "I don't see where we spent any extra money and every job was accomplished that was asked by a city employee," Grieshaber said. "We've worked as a team. We haven't had a residence resident miss something because of the four-day work week."
    However, Mayor Doug Jewell said he has heard complaints from people who are not happy with it. And city council member Ruby Hines spoke out against the four-day week at a recent council meeting.
    "I really believe a city should operate five days a week," Hines said. "I think we should be here for the city and the employees. Maybe we should look at benefits that can benefit them at retirement."
    Council member Willie Kee proposed that the city hold another public hearing about the issue. Jewell suggested that a questionnaire regarding the work week be sent in each utility bill for those who are unable to attend the meeting.
    Grantville is about 45 miles southwest of Atlanta.

  2. Courts turn down bid to block union walkouts, by Jonathan Bell, RoyalGazette.com
    HAMILTON, Bermuda - A move by the Bermuda Government to block unions from staging walkouts has been turned down by the courts.
    However, the mass walkout in January last year over the explosive issue of continued furlough days in the public sector has been branded “unlawful” by Ian Kawaley, the Chief Justice.
    Dr Justice Kawaley refused to grant a permanent injunction against walkouts, one year on from the mass demonstrations sparked by a standoff over furloughs.
    A letter from Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, called for a swift decision by unions on the issue and kept it as a cost-saving measure, sparking widespread marches and days of occupation by unionised staff of the grounds of the Cabinet Office.
    With yesterday's ruling, the Chief Justice effectively cast blame on both sides, noting that the evidence suggested both had “failed to fully appreciate their respective most compelling concerns as the 2014/15 Budget approached”.
    Dr Justice Kawaley found that the minister's letter had been “provocative”, while a statement from the Bermuda Trade Union Congress [BTUC] described it as “one of the most explosive pieces of correspondence in the history of industrial relations in Bermuda”. While the Government's demand was received as an insult to the Island's labour movement, the Chief Justice wrote: “It is difficult to avoid the suspicion that the unions were, to some extent at least, secretly delighted to seize on the January 23, 2015, letter as the perfect tool to motivate public officers to display a massive show of impromptu support.
    “It was, in once sense, a belated Christmas gift from the Government, which was supplemented by the only marginally less provocative 'no-show' at the January 27, 2015 resumed negotiations.”
    He added: “The 'Occupy Cabinet Office' campaign proudly described in the Bermuda Public Services Union pamphlet was doubtless a morally justified triumph in labour terms as regards the narrow issue in question.
    “I am, however, bound to find that it was not a lawful response to a provocative letter which merely threatened future, not imminent, wrongful conduct on the Government's part.”
    Dr Justice Kawaley also ruled that employers, including the Government, should respect unions and deal with them in good faith, in a “non-provocative manner”.
    “Against this background, the January 23, 2015, letter was, on any detached and objective view, a wholly surprising and disproportionately confrontational communication,” he wrote.
    He further acknowledged that the BTUC's position must have proved “very frustrating” for a minister charged with reducing costs while saving jobs.
    “Having advanced proposals designed to reform the public service and make substantial cuts while protecting workers through creating alternative private employment, he was not only met by a union response which..opposed.\.both..these essential structural changes,” he said. “The comparatively minor furlough day measure, itself designed to save jobs, was itself under attack.”

    [Surprisingly, unions can be awfully stupid and suicidal in opposing timesizing instead of downsizing, and employers can be surprisingly extended in their self-interest.]
    The Chief Justice found that both sides were at cross purposes, which ultimately led to the dispute.
    While both parties were aware of the urgency, that awareness never translated into a “meaningful meeting of the minds”.
    Dr Justice Kawaley concluded that a “generalised risk of future irregular strike action” remained, and that the Government still had the potential to provoke union walkouts.
    “There is no credible evidence before this court that the respondents will, without the sort of extreme provocation which occurred on January 23 and January 27, 2015, abandon a consensual negotiation process in favour of unlawful strike action,” he said.
    “In my judgment it is impossible to imagine circumstances in which unlawful industrial action could properly be said to be imminent in the requisite legal sense when there is no current or pending dispute which it is clear the parties cannot resolve through negotiations or other forms of consensual dispute resolution.”
    The BTUC had vigorously pursued alternatives to furlough days, while the Government had “halfheartedly” collaborated.
    “The furlough day battle may have been won, but the war against a public debt crisis which could, if not addressed, ultimately transfer control of the country's finances to its lenders, remained to be fought,” the Chief Justice said, and suggested that the Island work on developing “21st-century labour relations”.
    “Because of the unusually strong public interest in the parties to the present litigation making an effective and sustainable fresh start to delicate and difficult negotiations which undoubtable lie ahead, my strong provisional view is that each side should bear its own costs.”
    In response, Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, said: “The Government agrees that this represents an opportunity to create better relationships with the unions and looks forward to engaging with them to build on previous collaborative efforts in order to deal effectively with our public debt crisis through prudent fiscal measures and sustainable public sector finances.

1/15/2016 – 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. Shared Work - How to Apply for a Plan, ExaminerUnion.com
    AUSTIN, Tex., USA - Complete and submit TWC’s Plan Application and Employee Participant List or by mail or fax. Your plan must include the names and Social Security numbers of all participating employees.
    Texas Workforce Commission [TWC]
    UI Support Services
    101 E 15th St, Rm 354
    Austin, TX 78778
    TWC approves or denies a plan within 30 days of receipt. The effective date of the plan is the date TWC approves it. To simplify time-keeping procedures, request an effective date for your plan that coincides with your payroll date. After TWC approval, the shared work plan is effective for one year (12 full calendar months).
    After Submitting a Plan
    When TWC approves a Plan, we mail you a Notice of Plan Status, for verification, and forms and instructions on how to file claims for your employees.
    If TWC denies a Plan, we notify you in writing.

  2. 4-day workweek, anyone? 5 popular employee perks from New Orleans 'Top Workplaces', by Greg LaRose, The Times-Picayune via New Orleans LouisianA dot com via NOLA.com
    AccuTrans was voted one of the best workplaces in the Greater New Orleans area. For over twenty years, AccuTrans has worked along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and it's adjoining rivers as Tankermen and Quality Assurance Technicians. (photo caption)
    NEW ORLEANS, La., USA - To keep the troops happy, New Orleans employers are getting creative with their perks.
    Companies that earned recognition as the inaugural NOLA.com..Times-Picayune "Top Workplaces" shared how they keep their respective staffs happy on the job, going beyond competitive pay and basic benefits. Work-life balance is a recurring theme among the highest-ranked companies, with employers willing to offer more schedule flexibility to staff as long as they reach their objectives.
    Flexible schedules
    At Eagan Insurance Agency, the company's "Flex Friday" schedule allows its team members to enjoy the day off every other week. Eustis Insurance and Benefits gives employees the option of taking every other Monday or Friday off.
    LAMMICO starts each weekend early by closing its office at 1 p.m. Friday.

    [All three of these companies yield an average workweek of four&ahalf 8-hour days or 36 hours a week. But the first two achieve that with a four-day workweek every two weeks.]
    Healthy results
    Wellness programs are in the best interest of most employers that bear a portion, if not all, of their employees' health insurance costs. Mele Printing takes it a step further with what it calls Wellness Bucks. Employees earn the credit for taking part in the healthy living program, and they can use it to pay for everything from gym memberships to their children's sports registration fees.
    Fun times
    The mental health of employees is also a priority among Top Workplaces honorees. Many offer personal counseling program in addition to less formal events to let workers blow off some steam and build camaraderie.
    AccuTrans encourages employees to take part in its annual Halloween costume party. It also hosts a family outing at Laser Tag. Volunteers at Touro Infirmary coordinate a number of hospital-wide events throughout the year, including a barbecue each spring.
    Grow and prosper
    Time off and company parties are only part of the benefits package at companies that have earned the Top Workplaces distinction. A strong emphasis is placed on access to continuing education and promotions.
    1st Lake Properties provides extensive training to its employees, helping them advance to managerial roles within the company.
    Beyond benefits
    Common among the honorees is a continuous goal to received feedback from employees on not just how they're being treated but how they feel about the direction of the company. The Top Workplaces survey of participating companies found that more important than pay and benefits to employees was that they believed in their company's mission and leadership...

1/14/2016 – 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. Shared Work Program Helping More Than 700 Washington Businesses, by Chad Pearson, State of Washington Employment Security Dept. via KitsapScore.org
    OLYMPIA, Wash., USA - Washington businesses big and small continue to avoid layoffs using the Employment Security Department’s Shared Work Program.
    Even as Washington’s unemployment rate has dropped to nearly five percent, more than 700 businesses in the state continue to use the program. That’s because Shared Work can be helpful not only during a recession or uneven economic times, but also when a supplier’s delivery is delayed or a road construction project has disturbed traffic outside their business.
    Washington’s program is so effective at preventing layoffs, the U.S. Department of Labor recently promoted it as a model for other states, encouraging them to set up their own programs.
    [Way ta go, Washington State! You are the 'poster child' of American Timesizing.org instead of downsizing.biz - no way are we going to get Growth = UPsizing by DOWNsizing! Next step is to move toward incentivizing the conversion of chronic overtime into OT-targeted training and hiring = convertingOvertimeIntoJobs.org to restore Full Employment and maximum local consumer spending and money supply circulation and MARKETABLE productivity and investment stability, so you stop waiting for recovery to come in from elsewhere and start generating it yourself - and if that doesn't do the trick at current state workweek level(s), just repeatedly adjust the workweek downward until it does, à la trimmingtheworkweek.org - meanwhile, keep up the good work!]
    What makes Shared Work so successful? It allows employers to reduce the hours of their permanent employees from a flexible 10 to 50 percent, and those employees then receive a corresponding portion of unemployment benefits. Employers lower payroll costs and keep their skilled workers when hours are short; and employees earn more than if completely laid off and can return to regular hours when business picks up.
    The 2015 survey of participating businesses showed positive reviews from both employees and employers. In fact, 98 percent of the employers surveyed said they would recommend Shared Work to other businesses going through similar situations.
    Find more information and a video about Shared Work on Employment Security’s website at www.esd.wa.gov/shared-work.

  2. UGT calls the City of Almansa to apply “immediately” working hours of 35 hours for their workers, (1/13 late pickup) news.NewsDirectory2.com
    ALMANSA, Spain - UGT [Unión General de Trabajadores, General Union of Workers] has forwarded a proposal to the City of Almansa government to apply in an “immediate” way new rules on working time of 35 hours for the affected workforce of the municipality.
    In a press release, this union recalled that based on new regulations, published and in force since December 2015, staff officers of the Administration of the Regional Government of Castile-La Mancha have a weekly schedule of 35 hours.
    From the union branch of UGT in the city of Almansa, it was requested that the effective worktime be 35 hours per week and an average annual calculation be applied at a total of fifteen hundred and fifty-four (1554) hours maximum annually.

1/13/2016 – 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. Switzerland extends short-time work programme amid strong franc, Reuters.com
    ZURICH, Switzerland - Switzerland is expanding a programme aimed at giving companies more flexibility to manage lean economic times by temporarily reducing workers' hours and pay, saying the move will give them more room to navigate the continued strong Swiss franc.
    Starting on Feb. 1, companies will be able to pay their employees under so-called short-time work rules for a maximum of 18 months, up from the current 12-month period, the government said on Wednesday in a statement. Workers get compensation for part of the shortfall.
    The change is valid through July 21, 2017, it said.
    (Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Michael Shields)

  2. Evraz may idle Siberian steelworkers, cut hours as a rout in prices deepens, by Yuliya Fedorinova, Bloomberg via Mineweb.com
    NOVOKUZNETSK, Siberia, Russia - Evraz, Russia’s second-largest steelmaker, is considering suspending operational workers and cutting hours for administrative staff and management at its largest Siberian unit as a rout in prices deepens.
    The company and a labour union agreed to take the measures at the Evraz ZSMK division if the steel industry further worsens, Evraz’s press service said by e-mail. It didn’t elaborate on whether it may take similar measure at other units.
    The country’s largest mills had in early 2015 been the most profitable in about seven years thanks to a slumping ruble, as they pay wages and other production costs in the currency while earning dollars or euros for exported material. Support from the ruble’s rout has weakened because steel prices extended declines to the lowest in more than a decade as China’s slowing economy fueled record exports of the commodity.
    “I can’t remember the last time when Russian steelmakers were sending personnel to part time jobs or were idling capacities,” Kirill Chuyko, chief of equity research at BCS Financial Group, said by phone. “This wasn’t the case even in 2008 and 2009 crisis.”
    Ruble Aid?
    While a further decline in the ruble would be beneficial, the support won’t be as significant as it was a year ago, Chuyko said. Evraz mostly producers long steel deep in Siberia and its exports are less competitive than products sold by companies like Novolipetsk Steel and Severstal, which are located closer to borders, he said.
    NLMK, Russia’s largest steelmaker by output, said in October that it expects little or no growth in global demand in 2016 and that some producers will probably cut supply.
    NLMK’s and Severstal’s exports are more profitable and they mostly produce a more expensive flat steel, Chuyko said. Both companies started mini mills in 2013 to produce long steel, competing with Evraz’s products. The construction industry, the main consumer of that type, is contracting, he said.
    Severstal’s main site in Cherepovets is working close to full capacity and the company doesn’t plan worker cuts or shortening the working week, spokeswoman Anastasia Mishanina said. Novolipetsk’s press service declined to comment.
    The Vedomosti newspaper earlier reported that Evraz may reduce worker hours.
    [Better hours reductions than job reductions, Timesizing than downsizing!]

1/12/2016 – 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. Great Slave Helicopters reduces N.W.T. employees' work hours - President blames mining and oil and gas sector slowdown, by Guy Quennevillle, CBC News via cbc.ca
    YELLOWKNIFE, N.W.T., Canada - Great Slave Helicopters has reduced the work hours of 23 of its 56 employees in the Northwest Territories in response to the continued slowdown of the mining and oil and gas sectors.
    "We expected a decrease in [flight volumes] in 2015 but it was much more than we had expected," said Chris Bassett, the president of Great Slave Helicopters.
    The employees whose hours have been reduced — maintenance engineers and apprentices — mostly work at the company's base in Yellowknife. They're now working three days a week, instead of five.
    [Better reduction in hours than jobs, Timesizing than downsizing.]
    "It's absolutely the last lever we pull. We have made numerous cost cuts over the last several months," said Bassett.

    Those cuts include selling off planes, cutting 16 support and management positions in Yellowknife, Calgary and Kelowna, and laying off some pilots. Support and management positions have also been transferred out of Yellowknife to Calgary.
    A 'deeper' cut than usual
    Great Slave Helicopters generates 90 per cent of its revenue during the busy summer season, and typically lays people off during the quieter winter months, said Bassett.
    "But this cut was deeper than a typical year. It had to be," he said.
    "I look at the price of Brent oil every day and this morning it was trading under $32 a barrel from its all-time high a few years ago of $111 [a barrel]."
    While Bassett called the reduced-hours move a "temporary" one, he said he doesn't expect the mining and oil and gas sectors to recover by this summer.
    Employees were notified of the change last week.
    "We're very aware of...how expensive it is to live there," said Bassett. "And we had, to be honest with you, quite a bit of trouble finding people for certain positions in Yellowknife, which is part of the reason we moved some of those support positions to Calgary where it's far less expensive to live."
    Great Slave Helicopters is owned by Discovery Air.
    The corporation's latest quarterly report, released last month, said revenue was up by two per cent from one year before, but went on to say the North's "volatile operations" require "rigorous cost-saving initiatives in an effort to improve cash flow and profitability."

  2. Civil servants demand return of 35-hour week, ThePortugalNews.com
    LISBON, Portugal - The National Federation of State Employees is to hold strike action at the end of the month should members have to wait until July before returning to a 35-hour week.
    The Federation has handed in a petition signed by over 40,000 persons calling for the [immediate??] replacement of the 40 hour week introduced [recently? on an emergency basis?]
    in accordance with troika period stipulations. [huh?]
    Authorities have already confirmed its imminent demise.
    [Which? the petition or the 40-hour week?]
    Currently, legislative proposals submitted by the Left Block and Green Parties would see the schedule come into effect within five working days of the legislation being published, whilst a Communist Party proposal provides for a 30 day period of implementation.
    In turn, the Socialist Party proposal provides for a 35-hour work week to come into effect in the second half of this year.
    [First, why in the world is Portugal RAISING the workweek in the age of robotics?! That just concentrates more of the natural market-demanded employment on fewer potential consumer-spenders and induces economic downturn. Second, if you want Portugal to lead the world in sustainable prosperity, you need two blindingly obvious design features: #1. incentivize converting chronic overtime into training & jobs and if that doesn't deliver full employment and its desirable "byproducts" (= maximization of domestic consumer spending & monetary circulation & MARKETABLE productivity & stable investments), then #2. start trimming the workweek until it does! This is not rocket science and it's high time employers started looking two moves ahead in chess and stopped trying to get Growth = UPsizing by DOWNsizing. Also, how about connecting the dots between your employers and your customers' customers?! Cut your workforce and you cut your markets = "Suicide, everyone else first."]

1/10-11/2016 – 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. Will Turkey Adopt Islamic Work Week? by Michael Rubin, 1/10 CommentaryMagazine.com
    ISTANBUL, Turkey - When Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) first took power in 2002, they did so against the backdrop of a banking and financial crisis. In one day, the Turkish currency had lost 35 percent of its value, taking a bite out of almost every Turk’s bank account and purchasing power. Recep Tayyip Erdogan was wise: He focused his party’s efforts on popular measures to stabilize and repair the economy, rather than pursue some of the Islamist social agenda that his detractors feared. To a large degree, he succeeded. In the five years before the AKP assumed power, Turkey’s currency devalued from around 200,000 lira to just over 1.7 million lira against the dollar while in the first two years of AKP government, the Turkish currency actually strengthened to 1.5 million lira to the dollar. Whereas today Erdogan has launched a jihad against cigarettes, back in the day Turkish radio broadcast stories about Erdogan’s efforts to lower cigarette taxes.
    As Erdogan has consolidated support over the years, tightening his grasp on financial boards, schools and universities, the security forces, judiciary, the media, and even the military, he has shifted his attention increasingly to changing permanently Turkish culture and society. “We will raise a religious generation,” he told parliament in 2012. The next year, the political party that enables his rubber stamp dictatorship severely restricted and, in some places, banned alcohol.
    Erdogan, from whom Obama said he takes advice about his daughters, has also argued that women should stay at home and have at least three children.
    Now, the Turkish government is setting the stage for a shift away from the Monday to Friday workweek common in Europe, the Americas, and Asia in deference to Islamic mores that favor a Saturday to Wednesday workweek.
    [Thus making inconvenient Turkish membership in the European Union and reducing Turkey's interest in joining?]
    From Hürriyet Daily News:
    A legal arrangement allowing for public servants to attend Friday prayers without interrupting their office hours has gone into force, as a related circular by the Turkish Prime Ministry was published in the Official Gazette on Jan. 8… “As a requirement of freedom of worship, which is secured by the constitution and related regulations, in the case of the Friday prayer hour coinciding with working hours, permission is given to servants at public institutions and organizations who demand it,” said the circular signed by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
    As the Hürriyet article notes, the move is the tip of an iceberg. Erdogan has worked diligently to alter the character of the civil service. He has privileged graduates of Imam Hatip schools, Turkey’s madrasas, and introduced interviews into civil service placement based previously on exam scores in order to give an additional boost to those who prioritize religion in their daily life. Whereas more religious Turks complained they were once discriminated against unless they appeared secular, now more secular Turks must embrace a patina of religion if they wish to keep their jobs, win promotion and, in some cases, stay out of prison. As a result, allowing state employees to leave their offices for Friday prayers is equivalent to shutting down all government services during Friday prayers: Either employees will be seen at the mosque, or Erdogan’s commissars will label them disloyal.
    And if government effectively will close for a few hours mid-day in the name of religious freedom, then it won’t be long before government simply remains closed on Friday and the work week shifts. Turkey might still pay lip service to Europe, but it is now further from Europe than it has been at any time in decades. Europe should not self-flagellate, however, for that was Erdogan’s unspoken goal all along.

  2. Ex-NMP says Singaporeans are demanding – Want more pay, better benefits and shorter working hours, 1/11 (1/07 late pickup) TheIndependent.sg (blog)
    SINGAPORE - On New Year’s day, Channel NewsAsia had a panel discussion titled Singapore Review 2015, in which one of the discussants, a polytechnic student, asked the panel a question on work-life balance.
    “In moving forward in 2016, with skills future we are going to have a much more skilful workforce. Are we ready to adopt a work-life balance with actually shorter working hours, in changing the employment act with shorter working hours; and actually achieve more family time and family bonding. At the end of the day, long working hours is not equal to higher productivity.”
    Former NMP Chia Yong Yong replied to that question with another question and asked the discussant what he would like to achieve with work-life balance. She [Yong Yong] said:
    “I want to ask what you would like to achieve with work-life balance, as opposed to perhaps retaining your job [threat?!], as opposed to the competition that you are getting from people from other countries [short-term employer-benefiting race to the bottom?!]. And probably even from your cohort who may be willing to work harder than you [only if continued fostering of anxious surplus of jobseekers]. If we want shorter hours, what are we willing to trade that in for? [duh, full employment, plus more of the most basic freedom, job-secure Free Time, plus enough domestic consumer spenders to free us from dependence on exports?!]
    "As a lawyer, I have spoken with many clients who have actually talked about attitude of Singaporean workers – that they want shorter hours but they want more pay [which is what the USA & other economies actually got 1840-1940 as they cut the 80-hour workweek in half!], and they expect better benefits [& why not with much higher productivity via computerization?! in fact, without more pay & shorter hours, there's insufficient spending power & shopping time to absorb the technology-giantized productivity of today's workforce!]. And they are not necessarily as good as other foreign workers, foreign employees [ever heard of tariffs?]. So, there is that tension. So, what is it that we want [duh, life?!], and if [that] we are willing to give up some of? [working hours & export dependency] – yes.”
    Watch: At #SingaporeReview2015, a poly student asked a panel of politicians, academics and lawyers about shorter working hours
    Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Wednesday, 6 January 2016
    The discussant’s question and the response by Ms Chia has gotten mixed reviews.
    “I guess SG [Singapore] is like a well-oiled machine. Constantly working and anyone hoping for “work life balance” will simply be taken over by those who dont need work life balance and foreigners. And balance. And foreigners and those with no kids and singles will benefit from this.” - Raizal Md Rased
    “The blunt point – obviously from an employer’s point of view – is that longer working hours is equating to keeping your job or even getting employment – as the world does not owe SG a living. However, some of us do believe SG’s survivability does not depend on longer working hours which will equate to a non-existent family life – which will create social issues in the long term – like increasing trend of divorce, low birth rate, problem kids etc. The concept of work-life balance proposed by some parts of the government, is the correct long term approach and will only work if it is backed by the law across the whole of Singapore.” - Andrew Tan
    “Working less hours doesn’t mean not working harder [but smarter]. If Sweden can do it why can’t we?” - David Butler
    “We can achieve work-life balance if we stop “wasting” time at work and just focus on the tasks which are given. When I first started out, I used to do 50-60 hours per week but now, I do 35-40 hours per week. At the end of the day, it’s all about perspective [and priorities] and what you want out of life. Making excuses is not going to help – I think.” - Siti Arbaiya
    “Lady in red [Yong Yong], well said. No one owes us a living.” - Liwei Kwok
    One commenter’s views in particular resonated with a good number of people. Ong Ruo Yan said:
    “Speaking up for the student and hardworking Singaporeans here.
    "I think the student raised a valid point. Our system is by no means horrible, but there is still a lot of stress even after hours. Ever had that dread of missing an email from your boss at 8pm (or later) and you’ve missed the “golden hour” of replying? I’m inclined to think that’s what the student was referring to. Stress even after clocking out. You’re essentially not spared from work with all the push emails and what not (which can be exciting, but that’s not the point).
    "A lot of comments are about our lack of productivity during working hours by surfing personal websites. You guys make it sound like only Singaporeans are doing it. I can’t speak for the other countries, but in the UK people here surf Facebook and look at adverts as well. Doesn’t mean we don’t deliver. And not all do this “break-taking”, SG and UK included.
    "There is no easy solution for this issue, since i think this boils down to cultural mindset (the Western side seems to understand the need for family time better than the Asians) and possible societal attitude (prone to criticising locals…but that’s Asian culture too).
    "Just a last point: I think it’s commendable to speak up at such a public event. Why are the people here thinking he’s lazy for asking this question, and not think he has the foresight? He can’t possibly just ask about his prospects of entering Uni [university?] can he. Lets not bash anyone and speak constructively.”
    Singaporean workers reportedly work the longest hours in the world.
    ["Reportedly" from a Singapore source because a number of other economies are making the same claim.]

1/09/2016 – 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. Reduced working time in Sweden, by Shiina Akihiro, Shiina's Asymmetric World via shiinaworld.blogspot.com
    [A recap of the Swedish shorter-hours story and comments with just a splash of charming Japanese word selection and not-so-charming workaholism, competitiveness and insecurity -]
    TOKYO[?], Japan - In Sweden, a six-hour working day policy is to be introduced. Some companies including Toyota centers in Gothenburg, have already adopted this change. It made the staffs happier, and brought lowered turnover rate, according to the media.
    In this article, "Sweden introduces six-hour work day,"
    it is not sure whether six-hour working is going to be obligated by the law. But many employers seem to have recognized the advantage of shorter work time. In addition, shorter work time will lead to the spread of shared work, which can contribute to reducing the unemployment rate.
    This attempt is not an innovation. Kellogg introduced the reduced and shifted working time previously. Unfortunately, it was not so successfully done.
    [On the contrary, it was very successful and lasted in some divisions of the Kellogg Co. until 1986. See Ben Hunnicutt's book, Kellogg's Six-Hour Day. The problem was short-sightedness and narrow self-interest on the part of the labor union members, who though cut to 30 hours work and pay in the early 1930s with all jobs secured and back to 40 hours pay for just 30 hours work by 1935 because of increased productivity, began agitating for 40 hours' work for 50 hours' pay WITH job security in the middle of the Great Depression. Between then and 1986, Kellogg's went back, division by division, to 40 hours, with W.K. Kellogg shaking his head at the unions' stupidity until his death.]
    In my feeling, eight-hour work is tough in some jobs. Concentration cannot be maintained for a long time. Some people feel tired after long-hour work, even if just after taking a short break. Being busy for a long time gets rid of creative sense.
    However, there are some points to be considered regarding this issue. First, it is difficult for some skilled works [ie: jobs] to be shared with other people. Medical doctors, lawyers, accountants, and school teachers are licensed jobs. Thus, alternative workers are hardly [to be] found. Furthermore, if your physician in charge disappears at 15 o’clock during a conversation with you and another one come[s] up as night shift, you will be annoyed, aren’t [won't] you? In Sweden, six-hour work has been introduced in some hospitals, actually. I wonder how they can keep the quality of the work with decreased expert staffs.
    [Why are we assuming that four 6-hour shifts mean a decrease in expert staff from say, three 8-hour shifts? What about the higher quality of work due to more rest and focus?]
    Second, as a result of shorter work, service responsiveness will be sacrificed, more or less.
    [On the contrary, better rested staff will be more responsive, not less.]
    Customers should be patient when they cannot get the contact with a service provider at twilight [ie: shift change?].
    [This is just a management issue with several solutions, such as shift overlap and portable briefings of incoming shifts.]
    I think many Japanese cannot accept this inconvenience because Japanese customers are the most demanding of the world.
    [You'd have a lot of company in making this unscientific claim.]
    Third, it is unrealistic to reduce the work time in some jobs.
    [This claim was heard every step of the way in reducing the workweek from over 80 hours in 1840 to 40 hours in 1940. Every profession in a labor surplus is anxious to portray itself as special and indispensable, especially medicos, who are deep into the hero, ifnot martyr, game.] Creators, consultants, and stock traders take no rest regardless of the time.
    [Ah yes, the implicit myth that "I am really really needed!" goes hand in hand with the myth that "I am super(wo)man - unlike ordinary (inferior, less needed) mortals, I need no rest, or at least I "take no rest" and I deserve damn good compensation therefor!"]
    If there is a need, or business chance, they are willing to work.
    [Ah yes, if there is a need, especially from someone with money, or a business chance, especially via people with money, I am willing to sacrifice myself."]
    It means that other workers in the similar sector will lose the opportunity to gain profit if they do not ["]commit["] overwork. It is difficult to regulate the excessive working legally.
    [Nevermind that we DID it for over 100 years when we haphazardly cut the workweek in half, from over 80 hours in 1840 to 40 in 1940.] As a result, the situation will never change.
    [Nevermind that it already has prior to 1940 and we have ove 100 years of experience with how to do this, at least in the North America and Europe, and by coincidence(?), the very places that many Asians, Africans and South Americans want to move to.]
    In conclusion, reduced work time policy will be effective for a better quality of life of the employees, and partially improve the productivity. But this efficacy will be limited to some [certain] kind[s] of jobs.
    [Maybe to "jobs" that are so popular or have so much job satisfaction that those who enjoy them are willing to share them by reinvesting overtime pay over whatever the local, provincial or national workweek has come down-to that month to restore or maintain full employment and maximum consumer spending - because in the age of robotization it is a system requirement that diminishing market-demanded human employment be spread as widely as possible, simply because 10,000 people with $10,000 apiece will spend it a lot faster and generate a lot more stabilizing circulation momentum than 1 person with $100,000,000. Yet we are allowing money to funnel into storage and out of circulation to the tiny population of super-rich like there's no tomorrow - or like we want no tomorrow.]

  2. Sigh, People Are Still Getting Keynes' Grandchildren And The 15 Hour Work Week Wrong, by Tim Worstall, Forbes.com
    [With this condescending title, it would be surprising if this rahthah superior writer didn't get some things wrong himself.]
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - This is one of those little misunderstandings which pops up every now and again. Keynes predicted "way back when" that in a little bit from now we’d all only have 15 hour ["full time"] workweeks. So, where are they then? Why aren’t we all working near 15 hours a week?
    [Because we've had disempowering labor surplus since the babyboomers entered the job market around 1970 and ordinary employees have been gradually losing pay and benefits while mind-boggling percentages have been funneling to the tiny richest brackets. The diminishing number of employees lucky enough to still hold full-time jobs find themselves working 50-60 hours a week, often with no overtime premium and sometimes with no overtime pay at all, but with "full time" benefits. And the increasing number of people working "near 15 hours a week" find themselves with low pay and no benefits at all.]
    Sometimes it’s the various hippies out there wondering why we’re not all chilling out as promised, sometimes it’s rather more sensible people who still haven’t quite grasped the point that was being made. Nor how to translate it into the modern day. This week it happens to be Ben Friedman, an economist at Harvard, who isn’t getting it right.
    Because the truth is that the 15 hour work week is here.
    [The well-paid 15-hour full-time workweek that Keynes meant? No it isn't.]
    We all live it each and every week.
    [What planet does this alien live on?]
    And no, it’s not, as the hippies [=Wall St. occupiers?] say, that we’re not doing it quite right [yes it is], nor is it as Friedman says that it’s all because of inequality [yes it is]. Or, at least [hedging alert!], it’s not the inequality of today that causes the confusion:
    [No confusion has been mentioned - only an alleged mistake on "people's" part. And Friedman says that inequality causes the absence of Keynes' 15-hour full-time workweek, not the confusion that Worstall has just introduced with no introduction.]
    rather, it was the inequality of Keynes’ day.
    [Unlikely. Can Worstall make a convincing case?]
    Keynes being of a time and class when the work in the household was done by servants.
    [Only for the upper and upper middle classes, whom we are not justified in referring to without qualification as "people" and therefore cannot equate to the "people" in the title. So far he is not making his case.]
    He simply never did climb the ladder to clear the gutters, was never found changing the oil on the car to keep it on the road, his wife never did any but the lightest of cooking and most certainly never cleaned anything.
    And that’s where the leisure is these days.
    ["That's" referring to what, exactly? All he's done is mention four unpaid household chores, which have nothing to do with the absence of a radical reduction in the concept of full-time workweek. And speaking of unintroduced confusion, Worstall has now introduced "leisure" with no introduction. So he is not yet making his case, just compounding the unintroduced confusion with more unintroduced terms.]
    We all do have vastly more leisure, as Keynes predicted we would.
    [We all certainly do not. Has Worstall never heard of the soccer mom who runs between part-time jobs and driving her kids to extracurricular events? Has Worstall never heard of the increasing number of people who can't afford a car and can't afford to live near their poorly paid McJob so they spend increasing hours on public transportation? Perhaps Worstall is confusing genuine job-secure leisure with the position of insecure part-timers who would like to work more hours but can't find anything, or even with that of the anxious unemployed or on-welfare or homeless or incarcerated or...worst of all, "self-employed" with no clients.]
    It’s just that the work we’ve stopped doing is the household labour, not the market labour.
    [Oh please, unpaid household chores are irrelevant to Keynes' remark about a 15-hour PAID full-time workweek. Worstall is wasting our time with word games.]
    And absolutely anyone at all even thinking about commenting upon labour hours really does have to be thinking about total labour hours, not just market ones.
    [No they do not. The only working hours that are relevant to making a livelihood are the ones that are remunerated, compensated, PAID = what Worstall is calling "market hours." What you do in your own living space is up to you and no one is forcing you to do household chores and many people don't bother - with deteriorating living conditions but that's their own business. Worstall is projecting his own household business onto "absolutely anyone" and this is patently false and arrogant. I myself made a similar but more valid assertion when I was 17 in an English-class essay where I asserted, somewhat tongue in cheek, that "Chivalry is not dead. It is simply now mass-produced by Bendix, Norge, Westinghouse, Hotpoint and Maytag. In other words, it is supplied by modern appliances.]
    Quite apart from anything else, anyone reading Keynes’ paper really should wonder about where all those charladies have gone.
    [How dare Worstall refer to housespouses as "charladies," as if some hotel is paying them for housekeeping chores they do or do not perform in the privacy of their own homes and that are their own private affair, and none of his business or any economist's business, and certainly of no relevance to Keynes' prediction of a standard full-time workweek of 15 hours arriving in the time of his grandchildren. Worstall is painting himself as a confusion-spreading privacy-invader.]
    The paper is written up in The Atlantic:
    "How will we all keep busy when we only have to work 15 hours a week?
    [That is none of any economist's business, except as it affects the leisure industries such as Hilton Hotels.]
    That was the question that worried the economist John Maynard Keynes when he wrote his short essay 'Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren' in 1930. Over the next century, he predicted, the economy would become so productive that people would barely need to work at all.
    [And it has, but shorter hours do not happen by themselves. The workweek got sporadically cut in half between 1840 and 1940 but it was a fight every step of the way. And it was aided by empowering labor shortage, not only from the massive kill-off of the Mexican, Civil, Spanish, and First-World Wars but from more primitive medicine and higher civiliann rates of mortality.]
    For a while, it looked like Keynes was right: In 1930 the average workweek was 47 hours. By 1970 it had fallen to slightly less than 39.
    [More to the point, by 1940 the standard full-time workweek in the USA was 40 hours, above which employers were disincentivized toward "asking" existing employees by having to pay time and a half in hopes that they would hire more employees and indirectly increase consumer spending, currency circulation, marketable production, and stable investment. In the event, so many benefits were added to full-time employment that the disincentive diminished and vanished.]
    But then something changed. Instead of continuing to decline, the duration of the workweek stayed put; it’s hovered just below 40 hours for nearly five decades.
    [Make that 7½ decades as of 2015.]
    So what happened? Why are people working just as much today as in 1970?"

    [Well the average manufacturing workweek has fallen and is currently hovering around 33 hours a week, but the standard workweek above which the overtime premium must be paid has remained the same. Why? Because labor has not been empowered by a market-harnessing shortage of...themselves, as it always was the kill-off of war or plague until the Second World War, and worse, the babyboomers grew up and entered the job market around 1970 and basically restored the disempowering labor surplus of the Great Depression.]
    The answer being that people aren’t working just as much as in 1970.
    [What about those who still have full-time jobs and are routinely working longer than 40hrs/wk?]
    It’s just a false fact. As the Boston Fed pointed out a decade ago (and I wrote about a decade ago):
    "In this paper, we use five decades of time-use surveys to document trends in the allocation of time. We document that a dramatic increase in leisure time [definition?] lies behind the relatively stable number of market hours worked (per working-age adult) between 1965 and 2003.
    ["Lies behind" has a connotation of "causes," and no argument is ever offered as to how leisure in any form but forced job loss can do anything but merely "go along with" a stable number of working hours as a kind of silhouette.]
    Specifically, we document that leisure for men increased by 6-8 hours per week (driven by a decline in market work hours) and for women by 4-8 hours per week (driven by a decline in home production work hours).
    ["Home production" is a strained category that involves unpaid "work" hours and is therefore not comparable to a decline in "market work hours. The "leisure" figure for women is invalid. There should be only one leisure figure regardless of gender. The Fed should keep its nose out of people's private affairs and stick to declines in market work hours for women as well as for men. Otherwise, they are generating outdated gender-biassed data, for example, assuming that "home production" (itself involving a market term "production" forcing itself into the non-market area of the home) relates only to women and not to men, and that market work hours relate only to men and not to women. That Worstall would build any further theorizing on this obsolete gender bias evinces superficial and outdated thinking. And henceforth, all mentions of "leisure" in this Fed article are confused, biassed and invalid and we insert quotes around every occurrence of "leisure" to mark this invalidity.]
    This increase in 'leisure' corresponds to roughly an additional 5 to 10 weeks of vacation [another market term bearing no relevance to unpaid housespouses] per year, assuming a 40-hour work week. We also find that 'leisure' increased during the last 40 years for a number of sub-samples of the population, with less-educated adults experiencing the largest increases. Lastly, we document a growing 'inequality' [their quotes] in 'leisure' that is the mirror image of the growing inequality of wages and expenditures, making welfare calculation based solely on the latter series incomplete."

    [Neither leisure nor inequality in leisure is any of the government's or the economist's business or the Fed's business and must be approached entirely through statistics on paid working hours.]
    We do in fact know, because Joe Stiglitz and Amartya Sen (at least one of whom is a very good economist and both are Nobel Laureates) have told us so,
    [is Worstall really this naive and gullible?]
    that in considering working hours we must in fact consider both household and market working hours.
    [Invalid and invalidating. Stiglitz and Sen are merely currying favor with a misguided group of housespouses who want somebody to pay them for doing chores within their own households and either have no partner or have insufficient courage to negotiatie something satisfactory with their partner. But this is a completely private and market-unrelated area. A household is not a hotel. Are we to start capitalizing children's chores?] Because the important number is of the residual, 'leisure' [our quotes] hours.
    [No it isn't. And this whole line of argument involving leisure is irrelevant to Keynes' original prediction which involved only paid working hours, here referred to as market hours.]
    If we extend this back to 1930, when Keynes was writing, the running of a household was a 60-hour-a-week job for one person.
    [Irrelevant unless neglected (as in poorer households) or done by a stranger for money and not a family member as a household chore.]
    The male of the household (yes, it would have been [not necessarily even then, after the increased hiring of women in World War I and the high male job losses of the 1920s and early Depression]) would also be chipping in 15-25 hours or so of time as well, on top of his market working hours [and irrelevant statistically to his market working hours]. Today, running a household [how large?], well, you can take your pick really, but things like cooking, cleaning, washing and so on take perhaps 15-20 hours for a household [size?] these days [not in households that still hire-in help or go out to eat]. And that’s where the increased "leisure" [irrelevant to the market and thus to the economy], thus the reduction in working hours, comes from ["come from"?? - this statement is valid only if changes in leisure CAUSE changes in working hours, and not the more likely and usual reverse]. But Friedman says:
    "A third possibility proves more convincing [not difficult after two unconvincing possibilities]: American inequality means that the gains of increasing productivity are not widely shared. In other words, most Americans are too poor to work less. Unlike the other two explanations Friedman considers [uh is this still what Friedman says and ifso, why is he talking about himself in the 3d person, and ifnot, why haven't the italics stopped after the previous sentence?], this one fits chronologically: Inequality declined in America during the post-war period (along with the duration of the workweek) [because of the employee-empowering shortage of labor due to the establishment of a standard 44-hour workweek in 1938, its 2-hour/year reduction the next two years, and the kill-off of World War II], but since the early 1970s it’s risen dramatically" [because the babyboomers entered the job market around 1970 and replaced the disempowering labor surplus of the Depression].
    "This can be seen in the median worker’s income over this time period, complete with a shift in 1973 that fits in precisely with when the workweek stopped shrinking. According to Friedman, “Between 1947 and 1973, the average hourly wage for nonsupervisory workers in private industries other than agriculture (restated in 2013 dollars) nearly doubled, from $12.27 to $21.23—an average growth rate of 2.1 percent per annum. But by 2013 the average hourly wage was only $20.13—a 5 percent fall from the 1973 level.” For most people, then, the magic [ie: benefit] of increasing productivity stopped working around 1973, and they had to keep working just as much in order to maintain their standard of living."
    Compare that with what the Fed says: the increase in leisure is greater for the lower paid [with the Fed's sloppiness, they're probably counting anxious unemployment as "leisure"]. They have benefited more from the automation of the household than everyone else has done.
    [Here we go again. Another well-off person trying to tell the poor that they're not so poor after all.]
    Quite the opposite of Friedman’s supposition in his paper:
    "Keynes’s 'Grandchildren' essay famously predicted both a rapid increase in productivity and a sharp shrinkage of the workweek – to 15 h – over the century from 1930. Keynes was right (so far) about output per capita, but wrong about the workweek. The key reason is that he failed to allow for changing distribution. With widening inequality, median income (and therefore the income of most families) has risen, and is now rising, much more slowly than he anticipated. The failure of the workweek to shrink as he predicted follows. Other factors, including habit formation, socially induced consumption preferences, and network effects are part of the story too. Combining the analysis of Keynes, Meade and Galbraith suggests a way forward for economic policy under the prevailing circumstances."
    No, I’m sorry, that’s just wrong.
    [No it's just right. And you should be sorry for your inequality rationalizing.]
    The reduction in the work week has been greater for poorer people.
    [No, unemployment has been greater for poorer people, and this talking head can't seem to distinguish it from job-secure leisure.]
    Because they have proportionately more leisure today than their counterparts 90 years ago, this simply must be true.
    [He's arguing for what leisure must be from working-hour statistics, and then turning around and arguing for what the workweek must be from his trumped-up unemployment&leisure confusing "statistics" = a patently circular argument.]
    The error is in taking “working time” to mean market working hours.
    [No it isn't, because if "work" isn't paid, it's no good for livelihood and is not real "work" but sloppy wording.]
    That’s not correct, working time is household production hours plus market working hours.
    Leisure is the residual and that’s what we should be measuring and observing.
    [Not at all. We should leave leisure alone. It is private and we need to tell busybodies like Worstall to keep his big nose out of it.]
    All of which means that we have to do absolutely damn all [ie: nothing] about this.
    [What a convenient conclusion for the dysfunctional status quo, where we funnel more and more money into storage among a tiny population of the superwealthy and worsen the black hole economy.]
    Because that 15 hour working week predicted is already here:
    [sure it is, for increasing numbers of downsized and marginalized employees if you count anxious underemployment as job-secure leisure.]
    and it’s just in household working hours [can't make a living cleaning your own house!], not market ones.
    [Utter tripe!]
    And seriously, really, blaming this all on increasing inequality when it is the poor gaining the leisure is just ridiculous.
    [What a monstrous conclusion from a would-be thinker whose quality of reasoning we can gather by inserting an "of" into his name: Worst{of}all.]

1/08/2016 – 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. Nucor to restart Louisiana DRI plant - Steelmaker says it will resume operations at the alternative iron plant by the end of January 2016, RecyclingToday.com
    CHARLOTTE, N.C., USA - Nucor Corporation has announced that its direct reduced iron (DRI) plant in Louisiana will resume operations by the end of January 2016.
    The Charlotte, North Carolina-based steelmaker temporarily suspended production at the plant at the end of 2015 for planned maintenance and indicated it may suspend production beyond that based on market conditions. However, the company says “changes in the raw materials market led to the decision to restart plant operations.”

    [Nucor Steel and Lincoln Electric are the poster firms of job-saving worktime-sacrificing policies for selfish purposes such as preservation of corporate skills-set, and corporate culture and morale, and local consumer spending and services.., independently of government worksaving programs - such strategies offer an alternative to the corporate madness of downsizing to get growth aka UPsizing. "Saint Peter" Schumpeter's paradox of creative destruction may have worked in the postwar period when war-wrought labor shortage was raising wages and spending, but once the babyboomers grew up and entered the job markets around 1970, the destruction started to outpace the creation - and has ever since.]
    Nucor manufactures steel and steel products at several electric arc furnace (EAF) mills. The company says its “raw materials strategy is built on flexibility, with the company constantly evaluating the market for the lowest cost raw material inputs at the quality levels our customers need.”
    Through its Cincinnati-based subsidiary The David J. Joseph Company, Nucor processes and brokers ferrous and nonferrous metals, pig iron, HBI (hot briquetted iron) and DRI. Nucor’s DRI manufacturing plant in St. James Parish, Louisiana, was constructed from 2011 to 2013 and commissioned in December 2013.
    [The original press release -]
    Nucor Steel Louisiana DRI Plant to Resume Operations by the End of the Month, (1/06 late pickup), Nucor Corp. via PRNewswire.com
    CHARLOTTE, N.C., USA -- Nucor Corporation (NYSE: NUE) announced today that its direct reduced iron (DRI) plant in Louisiana will resume operations by the end of January. The plant temporarily suspended production at the end of last year for planned maintenance and the company decided not to resume production at that time based on market conditions. Nucor's raw materials strategy is built on flexibility, with the company constantly evaluating the market for the lowest cost raw material inputs at the quality levels our customers need. Changes in the raw materials market led to the decision to restart plant operations.
    Nucor and its affiliates are manufacturers of steel products, with operating facilities primarily in the U.S. and Canada. Products produced include: carbon and alloy steel -- in bars, beams, sheet and plate; steel piling; steel joists and joist girders; steel deck; fabricated concrete reinforcing steel; cold finished steel; steel fasteners; metal building systems; steel grating; and wire and wire mesh. Nucor, through The David J. Joseph Company, also brokers ferrous and nonferrous metals, pig iron and HBI/DRI; supplies ferro-alloys; and processes ferrous and nonferrous scrap. Nucor is North America's largest recycler.
    Certain statements contained in this news release are "forward-looking statements" that involve risks and uncertainties. The words "believe," "expect," "project," "will," "should," "could" and similar expressions are intended to identify those forward-looking statements. Factors that might cause the Company's actual results to differ materially from those anticipated in forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to: (1) competitive pressure on sales and pricing, including competition from imports and substitute materials; (2) the sensitivity of the results of our operations to prevailing steel prices and the changes in the supply and cost of raw materials, including scrap steel; (3) market demand for steel products; and (4) energy costs and availability. These and other factors are discussed in Nucor's regulatory filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including those in Nucor's fiscal 2014 Annual Report on Form 10-K, Item 1A. Risk Factors. The forward-looking statements contained in this news release speak only as of this date, and Nucor does not assume any obligation to update them.

  2. The Anglo-Saxon Hide, Adam Smith, Karl Marx and the 35 Hour [Shorter] Work Week, by Bruce Webb, AngryBearBlog,com
    [Lots of valuable info, but tossed off without even proofing - we've tried to make sense of it.]
    DETROIT, Mich., USA - Too wide a scope for a blog post? You betcha. But this was going to be the core of my PhD Dissertation back when I was in such a program and had delusions of adequacy. So those who wonder “WTF does any of this have to do with labor hours?” well, bear with me. Or scroll away. Because much tedium and obscurity is found under the fold. A pure dose of ‘tl/dr’ [too long / didn't read] which doesn’t even get to either Smith or Marx. Yet.
    In 1086 and twenty years after his crowning as King of England in 1066 ('and All That'), William the Conqueror directed that inquiries be made and recorded on what today would be a combination population and economic census which [whose] results were recorded in a couple of books now known collectively as [the] Domesday [Book]. And whether you see Domesday as being some sort of national agricultural rent book or as a tax assessment [or as code for armageddon], it is clear from beginning to end and top to bottom that the fundamental unit of assessment was the ‘hide’.
    [Hence, my name...Phil Hyde in a spelling less confusable with the verb compounded into 'hideout' but more confusable with Robert Louis Stevenson's lamentable tragedy of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, though 'Jeckyll' looks more monstrous on the page (my bi-assed view).]
    Now what is the exact definition and origin of the ‘hide’. Well huge parts of early medieval British economic historiography revolve around that [definition question] but by 1086 it was clear that the working definition was the amount of land that in midland England could be plowed by a standard heavy plow drawn by an eight oxen team in a year under a three field system. Now I will be happy to discuss any of those terms in comments but what it amounts to is 120 acres of arable ‘cornfield’ (corn in England meaning ‘grain’).
    [Saw the figure 132 acres somewhere.]
    Now the definition of ‘acre’ is a little more firm than that of 'hide.' The standard acre is 43,560 square feet, or in terms more familiar to you all, ‘one chain (four rods) by 1 furlong. Ha,ha! I jest.
    [Unwise to jest at a point so unfamiliar to most, whose eyes are now glazed over and skimming.]
    A rod is nominally 16.5' making a chain 66'. While a furlong is either 600 or 660' with the latter give us a standard 43,560[-foot] acres (66 x 660). Now a ‘furlong’ is in origin a ‘furough long’ and is the nominal length that an 8-ox team can pull a plow in a single go [ie: without a brief rest?]. Now you will have to trust me on this one, but it turns out that in normal conditions a plow team could plow an acre a day in furlong long pulls. And over the course of a year could keep 120 total acres in cultivation which is why this area was also called variously a ‘carucate’ (from ‘caruca’ Latin for 'heavy plow'), or ‘ploughland’ whose derivation should be pretty damn obvious. So this sets up a schematic but more-realistic-than-not identification of ‘hide,’ ‘carucate,’ ‘ploughland,’ and ‘area plowable by eight oxen in the course of a year’.
    Now while the equation of ‘hide’ and ‘land plowable by an 8-ox team’ is clear enough in Domesday, even more clear is that in early Medieval England no actual cultivator of the ground could expect to own a full team or the land to plow it. Instead you had landlords who ‘owned’ multiple hides, often grouped in fives (600 acres) and peasants of varying economic, legal and social status who ‘held’ specific fractions of hides, [which] for the more prosperous [was] a ‘virgate’ or ‘oxgang’ or 30 acres or 1/4th of a hide, or a ‘semi-virgate’ or ‘bovate’ or 15 acres or 1/8th of a hide.
    [This is the most information I've ever seen about the origin of my name!]
    Now here is where arithmetic and labor economy comes in. You can plow 120 acres in a year with an 8 ox team. Yet this ‘ploughland’ or ‘carucate’ was split between typical 4 holders of ‘oxgangs’ (which comes from a word meaning ‘two oxen in a yoke) or 8 holders of ‘bovates’ (from Latin bos, bovis =‘ox') [meaning 'one ox in a yoke' as appears from next sentence]. And those names indicate that in order to make up the plough-team, each holder of a ‘bovate’ was obligated to supply one ox and each holder of an ‘oxgang’ [was obligated to supply] two oxen, to match their proportional holding of the ploughland.
    Now all of this has been well-known for decades now and relatively uncontroversial, but the question that has never really been addressed in the literature as it was when I left the Berkeley PhD program, is, what does this imply for labor time? Because it turns out that the standard labor requirement to run an 8-ox plough team is two people, a man to ‘man’ the plow and an ‘oxboy’ to guide the team. Which has the result that on any given day of plowing, the land of four to eight English peasants can be done by a single man and boy, which assuming a rotation of labor means that your typical peasant only needed to work his land one day a week during the heaviest work weeks in a year. Leaving him five full work days to fulfill all his other obligations including, often enough, plow work for his landlord. But even at that, the landlord needed only a single ploughman a day for each 120 acres of demesne land and normally, though not always, supplied the physical plows and oxen on his own account.
    What is more, though many people have the idea that medieval plowmen worked from dawn to dusk (often derived from the literary work ‘Piers Plowman’), in real life, plowing knocked off at noon. Not because of any idea about medieval labor law but because the oxen needed half a day to browse and be watered so as to be able to be yoked up the next morning.
    So my provocative question is, how exploitative of labor time can a medieval economy firmly rooted on cultivation of grain really be if the most labor-intensive part of that labor required the work or of only one of four or eight participants for one half of the day on their own plots?
    [But this question admittedly omits the less labor-intensive part of the peasant's work.]
    Did landlords actually have enough land under their direct control to keep the other three or seven peasants fully occupied in plowing duties? That would suggest a ratio of landlord to tenant holdings of somewhere of [between] 3 or 7 to 1. And exactly nothing in the records supports that. Instead landlords were more likely to take their slice in in kind and cash rents than in direct labor.
    Now of course [on the one hand,] plowing isn’t everything. On the other hand [to pursue our argument that the 1000AD workweek was actually rather short by recent standards], there were only 120 typical plowing days in a year. Which were half days. Which begins to raise the question of what the actual work week of your standard serf/peasant in the Year of Our Lord 1000 given an agricultural system whose basic units were ploughlands and ploughteams whose operations only required a fraction of the standard [workweek that] household members supported [ie: put in/worked?]. Or to jump forward 700[-800] years or so, was the 60-80 hour week in a[n] early 19th-century factory or mine really [actually] an advance [=lengthening] over the [actually much shorter] workweek in William the Conqueror’s days [and not just a continuation of the same long workweek, as everyone seems to assume]?

1/07/2016 – 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. Crow Tribe announces employee furloughs, by Clair Johnson cjohnson@billingsgazette.com, BillingsGazette.com
    BILLINGS, Mont., USA - The Crow Tribe will be furloughing some employees because of a revenue shortage from coal sales, Chairman Darrin Old Coyote said Friday.
    The furloughs are expected to affect about 25 percent, or an estimated 100 employees, of the 400 employees funded through the tribe’s general fund budget, Old Coyote said.

    The chairman also responded on Friday to reports that the tribe had been notified in early 2014 by its former accountant of serious financial problems and that it had misappropriated $2.5 million in federal money intended for a transit building that never got built.
    The actual number of furloughs will be determined on Monday after cabinet and department heads review their programs and budgets and make recommendations, Old Coyote said in an interview.
    Some employees may have their hours trimmed, but essential services like law enforcement and water treatment will remain the same, Old Coyote said.
    General fund programs, including land services, the historic preservation office and social services, are likely to have budgets cut and staffers furloughed, he continued.
    Furloughed employees will be called back when the general fund recovers, he said. Furloughed employees also will be able to receive unemployment.
    [So here's a kind of worksharing in the Crow Nation.]
    The chairman announced the furloughs on Thursday during a New Year Welcome Back Employee Party held at the tribe’s multi-purpose building at Crow Agency. The tribe also posted the information on its Facebook page.
    “I think people understood,” Old Coyote said.
    Many of the employees’ relatives work at the coal mine and also have been furloughed, he said.
    The tribe, which has about 13,000 enrolled members, is the biggest employer on the reservation. The tribe employs a total of about 900 people, including those with state and federal funding, and had a high of about 1,100 employees with summer seasonal jobs, Old Coyote said.
    The tribe’s general fund budget is largely dependent on revenue from the sale of its coal to Westmoreland Coal Co., which mines coal on the reservation south of Hardin, he said. Westmoreland has had a reduction in coal sales, which affects tribal revenues, he added.
    “It’s kind of a trickle-down effect to the tribe,” he added.
    Old Coyote blamed the furloughs on President Barack Obama, saying reduced revenues are being caused by “Obama’s ‘War on Coal.’”
    Obama, he said, is trying to cut the usage of fossil fuels, including coal. “Our bread and butter is coal. A war on coal is a war on Crow families,” he said.
    Old Coyote, who was named this week to Montana Gov. Steve Bullock’s Interim Clean Power Plan Advisory Council to help the state address new federal regulations to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, said he’s spoken with the president about working on new technology for using coal but that it “kind of fell on deaf ears.”
    Projected coal revenues for the general fund are significantly less than initially budgeted, forcing the tribe to have to cut about $2 million, Old Coyote said.
    February’s coal revenue was budgeted at $2.9 million but is expected to be about $1.6 million, he said. No revenue is expected for March. And May’s projected revenue of about $3 million also is expected to be reduced to about half the amount, he said.
    “The federal and state dollars, they’re going to be just fine,” Old Coyote said.
    The tribe also is expecting revenues from other sources, but that money will not come in time to prevent furloughs, he continued.
    Some of that revenue will come with the approval of a renewal of pipeline right of way agreement that expired in 2010 and from a coal tax credit, the chairman said.
    Old Coyote also responded to reports of financial problems prior to the recent reduction in coal revenues.
    The tribe, he said, is working with the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs [BIA] to resolve the misappropriation of $2.5 million the tribe received in 2012 to construct a transit building.
    An investigation by the Department of Interior’s Office of Inspector General [OIG] found that the tribe misappropriated money that the BIA’s Transportation Branch provided for a transit building on the reservation.
    In a semi-annual report to Congress in October, the OIG said its investigation confirmed information that the tribe reallocated $2,564,045 from the Highway Planning and Construction Program to its general fund.
    OIG officials met with the acting BIA regional director in July to advise him of its findings. After the meeting, the BIA billed the tribe to recover the misappropriated money, the report said.
    The tribe appealed the collection in September to the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals in Washington, D.C.
    Old Coyote said the tribe appealed to stop the collection process and has been negotiating with the BIA. The tribe does not want to repay the money, he said. Rather, the tribe wants to construct the building with money it expects to receive as its share from a $940 million nationwide settlement reached last September with tribes and the federal government.
    The settlement is expected to resolve a 25-year dispute related to contract support costs for tribal agencies. The settlement addresses claims that the United States contracted with tribes to run programs but did not pay the full amounts required by law, the Department of Justice said in an earlier news release.
    The Crow Tribe’s share of the settlement is about $3 million, Old Coyote said.
    The chairman said he didn’t know where the transit building money went and that it was awarded to the tribe shortly before he took office in December 2012.
    “That was reallocated before I even got in,” he said.
    The BIA is working on a response to requests from The Gazette for information about the transit building misappropriation.
    Old Coyote also said the tribe has not had ongoing financial problems and that it has been paying down liabilities from the previous administration and past debts.
    He pointed to a 2013 coal lease agreement with Cloud Peak Energy, which owns the Spring Creek Mine near the reservation, in which the company paid $3.75 million to the tribe in the short term, with a potential $10 million to follow.
    And, Old Coyote said, a 20-year extension in 2013 of the Westmoreland lease means millions of dollars to the tribe.

  2. Men Working In Female-Dominated Industries Care More About Friendships And Working Hours Than Salary, Promotions: Study, MedicalDaily.com
    NOTTINGHAM, Notts., England - Men are not only getting away with a higher salary in job fields dominated by women, but they also have lower stress levels. A recent study presented at the British Psychological Society's Division of Occupational Psychology annual conference in Nottingham, UK, suggests men who work in female-dominated industries care more about social aspects of their career, like friendships and flexible working hours, than they do financial rewards.
    "It is often assumed that men value careers with regular opportunities for promotion; however our study demonstrates that this isn't always the case," Dr. Kazia Solowiej, from the University of Worcester, said in a statement. "Men who work in typically female-dominated occupations value success in ways that went beyond salary and promotion." Solowiej and her colleagues interviewed a total of 34 men, which included 15 primary school teachers and 19 university administrators.
    Questions centered on men's career history, as well as their experience with success and support they received from the organization they worked for. Responses revealed the definition of success among men in female-dominated industries differed from men in male-dominated industries.
    Instead of focusing on pay and promotion, as men in male-dominated industries did, men in female-dominated industries were more fixated on building friendships with colleagues, plus flexible working hours that would enable them to spend more time to spend with their family or on social commitments. However, these men did value recognition of success from their colleagues and often felt pressured to apply for promotion opportunities.
    "Organizations need to understand that some of their male employees may not be motivated purely by promotional opportunities," Solowiej added. "Therefore it is important that gender stereotypical assumptions about success are challenged so we can understand what is important to individuals within different occupational contexts."
    While men working in female-dominated industries have a seemingly stress-free environment, women working in male-dominated industries not only face a variety of obstacles, but they also have higher levels of stress. Some of the challenges faced by women in sex-segregated fields include performance pressures, sexual harassment, a hard time moving up in their company, coworkers doubting their competence, and low levels of support from coworkers. These stressors often lead dysregulation in their stress response, upping their risk for chronic diseases and mortality.
    Source: Steele C, Francis-Smythe J, Ross C, Solowiej K. British Psychological Society's Division of Occupational Psychology Annual Conference. 2016.
    Justin Caba is a reporter for Medical Daily focusing on nutrition, fitness, and all things athletic.

1/06/2016 – 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. How Toyota Gothenburg moved to a 30-hour workweek and boosted profits and customer satisfaction, by Alexander Kjerulf, The Chief Happiness Officer Blog via positivesharing.com
    GOTHENBURG, Sweden - Could a 30-hour workweek work?
    It not only could, for the mechanics at Toyota Center in Gothenburg Sweden it has worked incredibly well for over 10 years, leading to happier employees, happier customers and higher growth and profits.

    In this short 13-minute speech,
    CEO Martin Banck of Toyota Center Gothenburg explains why they made the transition from a 40-hour workweek to 30 and what the results have been.
    One outcome: Their mechanics now get more work done in 30 hours a week, than other mechanics do in 40. Not only is productivity higher (which you would certainly expect), their actual total output is higher!
    In fact, several workplaces in Sweden are now trying it out, including hospitals and nursing homes.
    I fully realize that many people are going to dismiss this out of hand. They are stuck in the cult of overwork
    and totally committed to the idea that working more hours always means getting more work done, even though the research shows that permanent overwork leads to poor health and low performance.
    It seems counter-intuitive that you could work fewer hours and get more done, but here’s another example:
    One executive, Doug Strain, the vice chairman of ESI, a computer company in Portland Oregon, saw the link between reduced hours for some and more jobs for others. At a 1990 focus group for CEOs and managers, he volunteered the following story:
    When demand for a product is down, normally a company fires some people and makes the rest work twice as hard. So we put it to a vote of everyone in the plant. We asked them what they wanted to do: layoffs for some workers or thirty-two-hour workweeks for everyone. They thought about it and decided they’d rather hold the team together. So we went down to a thirty-two-hour-a-week schedule for everyone furing a down time. We took everybody’s hours and salary down – executives too.
    But Strain discovered two surprises.
    First, productivity did not decline. I swear to God we get as much out of them at thirty-two hours as we did at forty. So it’s not a bad business decision. But second, when economic conditions improved, we offered them one hundred percent time again. No one wanted to go back!
    Never in our wildest dreams would our managers have designed a four-day week. But it’s endured at the insistence of our employees.

    We need to fundamentally change how we think about time in the workplace and Toyota Gothenburg is a great example to learn from.

  2. Steel: public ownership needed as private buyers threaten pay and pensions, by Matt Dobson, Socialist Party of Scotland via socialistparty.org.uk
    EDINBURGH, Scotland - According to press reports, the SNP Scottish government will provide a £195,000 short term subsidy package in early 2016, to threatened Lanarkshire Tata steel plants in Motherwell and Clydebridge.
    This will pay short time working (65% pay) to those who remain employed at the two plants, but only a minority of jobs will be saved
    - around 75 staff in Lanarkshire already lost their jobs before Christmas.
    [Every job saved is a consumer-spender and his/her dependent-spenders saved. Every job lost brings you closer to USA's situation of making a more and more hole-riddled case that this is an economic recovery. At any rate, this is the first hint we've seen that the Scots part of the U.K. has a short-time working programme, alias worksharing, although this article may only be talking about a special case based on some unique attention by the Scottish government.]
    The SNP government continues to orientate its taskforce towards finding a private buyer rather than using the option of nationalisation.
    This is despite not being able to find a buyer during the period of consultation since Tata Steel announced the closure of the plants in October.
    Head of the taskforce, SNP minister Fergus Ewing, has stated: "It is critical for any new commercial operator intending on restarting production at Motherwell and Clydebridge to be able to get the mothballed plants quickly up and running again after a period of inactivity."
    While the immediate threat of redundancy has been removed for some Tata staff, it will not be lost on the workforce and wider community that the SNP government is presiding over job losses and a significant pay cut for the remaining workforce.
    All this in the hope a private buyer will be found - instead of securing all the jobs and maintaining terms and conditions of the workforce and the plants as an industrial asset, through taking the plants under public ownership.
    It appears Tata may have found a buyer, US firm Greybull Capital, for the long product division at Scunthorpe.
    However, this will mean the majority of the threatened 1,200 redundancies will still take place even if the sale is completed. Also it seems Greybull is not willing to buy the Lanarkshire plants despite the efforts of Fergus Ewing.
    Socialist Party Scotland has consistently warned from the beginning of the steel crisis that there was a risk of private buyers immediately threatening the hard won terms and conditions of the workforce.
    This has happened already with the unions accepting short time working and news that Greybull wants immediate "reform" - the scrapping of the final-salary pension scheme and to introduce changes to overtime pay and bonuses at Scunthorpe - as a condition of buying the plant.
    In May 2015, Tata were forced to back down from these very measures by an overwhelming vote for industrial action by the workforce.
    The steel trade unions must fight every attempt to undermine these terms and conditions, but Paul McBean, the chairman of the works multi-union committe on 5 January said: "By law Greybull will have to offer us a new pension scheme. But we cannot expect thm to contribute to the British Steel Pension Scheme as Tata Steel have done." This resignation to losing the pension scheme is unacceptable.
    They would be in a lot stronger position to avoid these attacks if they had taken a fighting approach from the start, mobilising the workforce and the wider community for a mass campaign for nationalisation.
    Trade unions at all Tata plants, and in the steel industry beyond, should convene an emergency meeting of shop stewards to organise a mass campaign drawing in support from communities for nationalisation.
    The trade unions cannot rely on taskforces involving the bosses who have mismanaged the industry, to protect their interests.
    A discussion needs to take place among shop stewards and steel workers about tactics, including occupations and industrial action to force the issue of nationalisation and a fightback to protect terms and conditions.

1/05/2016 – 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. Less Work, More Leisure, by Dean Baker of CEPR, Symposium 16 for '16 via DemocracyJournal.org (article-finder credit to Tom Walker of Vancouver)
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - The next Administration should make reducing work time a major focus. In addition to mandated paid sick days and paid family leave—proposals that have received some welcome attention thus far on the presidential campaign trail—policymakers should go much further and enact measures aimed at shortening workweeks and work years. Reducing our workweek and work years will lead to a whole host of benefits, including reduced stress and higher levels of employment.
    The United States has become an outlier among wealthy countries in having had little reduction in the length of the average work year since 1980. According to the OECD, between 1980 and 2013, the number of hours in an average work year fell by 7.6 percent in Belgium, by 19.1 percent in France, and by 6.5 percent in Canada. By comparison, it declined by just 1.4 percent in the United States. The average worker puts in 26 percent more hours a year in the United States than do workers in the Netherlands and 31 percent more hours than workers in Germany, a difference of more than 400 hours a year.
    This gap is partly due to the fact that every other wealthy country requires employers to give workers paid family leave and paid sick days. But an even more important factor in this gap is vacation time. Other wealthy countries now mandate four to six weeks a year of paid vacation. Our government, of course, does not mandate any. As a result, 23 percent of American workers have no paid vacation. Moreover, some European countries have also taken steps to shorten the workweek, most notably France, with its 35-hour workweek. Here in the United States, workers must put in 40 hours to be entitled to any overtime premium, and many salaried workers can be forced to work even longer hours with no premium.
    The lengths of the workweek and work year are not just the result of the natural mechanisms of the market. The government has had a big thumb on the scale pushing in the direction of longer work hours by promoting employer-based benefits, notably health care and pensions, as an alternative to providing such benefits through the government. These benefits amount to large overhead costs for businesses that are incurred on a per-worker basis. As a result, it is often cheaper for an employer to pay a worker already on staff an overtime premium than it is to incur the costs of paying for a new worker’s health care and pension.
    A more active government push to reduce work time will help counteract trends that have been hurting workers for decades. In general, higher productivity has led to higher wages and more leisure. This is the pattern in the rest of the world and was the pattern in the United States through much of the last century. But the last four decades have seen a widening gap between productivity and worker pay and also little expansion of leisure time. Pushing for shorter work time means workers can get some of the benefits of productivity growth in the form of more leisure time.
    Reducing the workweek can also have another benefit: It will bring us to full employment faster. The economic collapse in 2008 and the weakness of the subsequent recovery have led many economists to recognize that persistent demand shortfalls—or “secular stagnation”—could be a real problem. As a logical matter, it is not difficult to overcome a shortfall in demand; governments just have to spend money. However, the politics around increased government spending and deficits have been extremely difficult, and that path seems closed to us.
    In this context, policies that seek to reduce supply by getting workers to put in fewer hours may be the most promising path to full employment. At the start of the recession in 2008, Germany quite explicitly promoted a “short work” policy, encouraging employers to cut hours rather than lay off workers. As a result, the country’s unemployment rate actually fell during the recession, dropping from 7.2 percent at the end of 2008 to 6.5 percent at the end of 2010.
    Critics may say that the government should not be telling employers how long people should work. But that ignores all the government policies that pushed in the direction of longer hours. This idea is really just an effort to level out the incentive structure. Others argue that workers can’t afford to work fewer hours. That is undoubtedly true in many cases, but nothing will prevent workers from seeking additional hours of employment, though admittedly some may find it difficult to make up for lost pay. Still, missing a few hours is better than being unemployed.
    The best path to ensure that workers can secure a share of the gains in economic growth is a full-employment economy, like the one we saw in the late 1990s. Shortening work time is not just good, family-friendly policy—it might be the quickest path to full employment.

  2. Bromsgrove woman launches recruitment agency for people who want more flexible working hours, by Helen Clarke, BromsgroveAdvertiser.co.uk
    BROMSGROVE, Worcs., England - Bromsgrove businesswoman has launched a new recruitment agency aimed at people looking for part-time or flexible work.
    Sarah Moore, whose company is called Flexible Minds, says finding a new role with part-time hours or an element of flexibility can be challenging and frustrating, often available only for lower-level positions.
    But she added: "My vision is a future where quality part-time or flexible jobs are commonplace and accessible at all levels of the career ladder.
    "If you need to work part-time this doesn't mean you are any less talented or committed to your job but the recruitment market hasn't traditionally catered for the part-time worker.
    "We need to move away from attributing success at work with the length of time at work."
    Her business, based at her home in Marlbrook, specialises in finding part-time work and flexible opportunities in Worcestershire and the West Midlands.
    And she said the "good news" was that things were changing, with the Office of National Statistics reporting that the part-time recruitment market in the West Midlands experienced a three per cent growth during 2014-15, compared to just over one per cent in full-time work.
    [So even in "the old country," shorter hours are happening anyway but not the best way.]
    That led to 20,000 more part-time workers in the West Midlands.
    Mrs Moore, aged 37, a business psychologist and former chief executive for the relationship counselling charity Relate in Worcestershire, has more than 10 years' experience as a senior manager and business leader responsible for staff recruitment, business development and financial management.
    She also has experience of working as a recruitment consultant and team leader, recruiting into private and public sector organisations across the West Midlands.
    More information is available at flexibleminds.co.uk, by emailing info@flexibleminds.co.uk.

1/03-04/2016 – 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. Falkirk Council workers to be balloted over cut hours plan, by Stuart Barber s.barber@falkirkherald.co.uk, 1/04 FalkirkHerald.co.uk
    FALKIRK, Scotland - The move to reduce their [weekly] hours from 37 to 36 will save £1.5 million a year.
    [That will give the easy option of a workweek of four 9-hour days, which could save additional funding on utilities etc. The U.S. State of Utah saved money with four 10-hour days a couple of years ago.]
    Details of the plan were put to the full council when it met to consider its 2016-17 budget options ahead of the Scottish Government’s local government funding settlement.
    Negotiations with the unions started in February to try and agree new terms and conditions which will deliver the saving without the need for compulsory redundancies.
    The unions are looking for a number of assurances from the council in return for an agreement on the changes.
    Subject to the successful conclusion of these discussions, the unions intend to consult then ballot their members on the proposals.
    The timescale has still to be confirmed, but a successful ballot will see the deal back before councillors for final consideration ahead of its budget meeting on February 17.
    Council leader Craig Martin said: “We have worked closely with the trade unions to produce a package of measures that will save the council over £1.5 million in staffing costs.
    “In return we have agreed that subject to there being no significant further adverse changes to the revenue budget over the period of the current budget strategy, the council council responds to the agreements that the unions wish to seek by having no compulsory redundancies, reinstating these savings if budgets improve and seeking no other staff savings before the next council elections in 2017."

  2. Restaurants, hotel change work hours amid delay in CW approval, by Emmanuel T. Erediano emmanuel@mvariety.com, 1/03 (1/04 over dateline) Marianas Variety via mvariety.com
    [I get all mixed up between Saipan and Taipei, Taiwan and Thailand...]
    SAIPAN, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) - Many restaurants and at least one hotel have to change their working hours while waiting for the approval of CW [CNMI-only transitional Worker] petitions for their guest workers that were submitted on time to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Variety was told.
    These establishments include Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell and Mariana Resort & Spa. The CW permits for their key employees expired on Dec. 31, 2015.
    Truong’s Vietnamese Restaurant was closed at 2 p.m. Sunday. Variety was told it has employees whose CW permits expired on Friday and with pending CW renewals.
    Over the weekend, KFC and Taco Bell changed their hours of operation. From the usual 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. [14-hour day], the restaurants were open only from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., and then from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. [5½-hour day].
    [Another unusual reason for hourcuts.]
    Variety was told that 10 KFC and Taco Bell employees had yet to get their new CW permits.
    The operations at Mariana Resort & Spa are normal, according to Chef William Retardo, but some of their employees have to cover for others whose CW permits expired on Friday.
    Those who work from 5:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. had to report for work again from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
    The Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands earlier asked for the assistance of U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Sablan regarding the delay in the issuance of CW permits.
    Sablan last week said that USCIS told him that 800 CW applications would be processed.
    Other employers are wondering what is causing the delay in the renewals and why USCIS won’t say anything about it.

1/02/2016 – 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. Driver shortage ups food prices in Chennai, by Rachel Chitra, TNN via TimesOfIndia.IndiaTimes.com
    CHENNAI, India - Lower diesel prices may have made long-distance transport of perishables cheaper this year but the private cab boom and consequent shortage of truck drivers has caused intra-city transport costs [to] soar for wholesalers and retailers in Chennai and Bangaluru.
    The wholesalers and retailers pass on the increased costs — on almost every commodity — to customers like you, good reader.
    Ola, Uber, Fastrack, NTL and other private operators in the two cities are luring truck and minivan drivers with lucrative incentives — leading not just to a shortage of drivers but also a spike in salaries — a trend that has given Delhi and Mumbai a miss because of a surplus migrant population.
    [Hmm, what's that we were hearing about migrants not depressing salaries?]
    Drivers who transport perishables within Chennai and Bengaluru are now demanding higher salaries because of the comparatively lucrative option of driving a cab and the flexible working hours they enjoy.
    "We paid our drivers earlier anywhere between Rs 8,000 and Rs 10,000 per month. Now we have to pay them Rs 12,000 per month if we are to have any hope of retaining them," Soundarajan said.
    Then there are the odd working hours.
    "All wholesale markets operate from midnight till dawn," Koyambedu Wholesale Traders Association advisor V R Soundarajan said. "We need to clear our stocks and supply goods to nearly 120 localities in the city. Our drivers start work at 11pm and wind up at 8am."
    [A nine-hour day? For how many days a week?]
    Drivers feel that they have more flexibility and better working hours with Ola and Uber. "We can just go offline once we achieve our incentive target for the day," Chennai Ola cab driver R Manikandan said.
    Another factor contributing to the roaring taxi business in Chennai is that it is the Detroit of the south and has a booming second-hand car market.
    "There are various types of vehicles, from Toyotas to Marutis, worth Rs 7 lakh to Rs 8 lakh that banks seize because of bad loans. These cars are available for as little as Rs 2 lakh," Soundarajan said. "I know so many drivers at Koyambedu market who have left to drive taxis, including a man from Theni who worked with me for nearly 15 years."
    Bangaluru also faces a labour crunch because of the private cab industry.
    "We have difficulties with drivers plying routes within the city," Bangaluru Wholesale Food Grains & Pulses Merchants' Association president Ramesh Chandra Lahoti said.
    Salaries for truck drivers and other heavy-vehicle operators who ply on national inter-state, intra-state routes are more or else [less] constant across the country.
    "Drivers who operate a vehicles with a capacity of 1.5 tonnes earn Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,200 a day," Bangaluru-based logistics firm LogicServe co-founder Anuj Thakur said. "Truckers who handle vehicles with a capacity of 2.5 tonnes and more earn upwards of Rs 1,400 a day."
    "One of our biggest problems now is getting drivers who have passed Class 10, so we are forced to look for boys in surrounding villages," said N Kumar, transport fleet operator to the wholesale food market in Yeshwanthpur, Bangaluru. "We train them for a few weeks so they can at least pass the RTO driving licence test."
    Delhi and Mumbai don't face this problem.
    "We have lots of immigrant workers and drivers' salaries have remained constant," Gaffar Market Traders' Association general secretary Satinder Singh said. "They earn between Rs 7,000 and Rs 9,000 on average. I don't think private cabs have in anyway affected distribution of wholesale produce in Delhi."
    There is also the question of being able to communicate in English, Mumbai minivan operator Amit Gulati said. "We have observed that, by and large, drivers in Mumbai can't really make the switch to using smartphones or downloading and using apps."

  2. Martin Vargic creates maps displaying world nations’ working hours and sexual companions, WestfieldTimes.com
    Westfield, London, U.K. - That really is going to the trends of the earth [cf. ends of the earth]! Incredible set of maps reveals global breakdown of statistics on everything from beer prices, the working week and number of sexual partners.
    A talented young man has compiled a series of quirky maps showing data from across the world – from military conflicts and beer prices to the causes of death.
    Martin Vargic’s fascinating maps show the world’s vital statistics all compiled in his new book, ‘.
    The 17-year-old graphic designer from Slovakia, who plans to start a career in business next year, said he puts the maps together in his spare time.
    Martin said all the maps are created in Photoshop and he uses data from a number of sources including the World Health Organization and the World Life Expectancy site.
    Martin said: ‘All the maps are produced in Photoshop from a template I made a few years ago, the vast majority of all the work is devoted to research, though.
    ‘I have been making maps for a several years now; three of the featured minimaps (leading death cause, satisfaction with life and sex partners) have been made for my book, Vargic’s Miscellany of Curious Maps, the rest was drawn independently.
    ‘Except graphic design, I also create apps for android and ios on the side. I will reach 18 next year, and then I plan to start a career in business.’
    Martin’s maps include global statistics from the standard length of the working week to life satisfaction and the price of apples.
    Writing on his website [HalcyonMaps.com], Martin added: ‘I started making maps about two and half years ago, and it has quickly become my free-time hobby.
    ‘Until recent days, I was never significantly noticed.
    ‘It was my hobby, and it still is my hobby, though I am planning to start selling prints of my maps on Amazon quite soon.’
    The teenager worked on smaller projects until March 2013 including commissions of fantasy map drawings before he set his sights on creating his first major project -a massive scale political map of the world.
    Users of his maps can compare their vital statistics, lifestyles and weekly shopping to their counterparts across the world – while looking to see which stereotypes are really true.
    How promiscuous is your country? According to the map, people in Britain have had between eight to ten sexual partners in their lifetime, while in Ireland people appear to have slept with more than 12 people. In Asia, people say they have slept with less than six people.
    The teenager has even compared the price of apples around the world – this graph shows how widely the prices differ, from no data in parts of Africa to apples costing more than seven dollars in some parts of the world
    Morbid statistics: This globe illustrates causes of death across the world, according to Martin’s research. The globe shows cardiovascular disease is the biggest killer across many nations, including Australia, parts of Europe, and America, while stroke is a leading cause of death in large parts of Asia.
    What will a Saturday night at the movies cost you? A date at the movies will be an expensive night out in Australia, where it could cost more than £13. Despite some cinema chains seeing rocketing prices, the UK comes in at a modest six-ten pound for the average cinema ticket price.
    Are you happy with your life? This graphic shows how people feel about their lives across the world. While Ireland and Australia are among the happiest nations, parts of Russia and Africa show a ‘very low’ satisfaction with life. In the UK, the happiness levels came in at ‘high’ – but the graph differs widely across the globe.
    The right to vote: One of the clearest maps shows an obvious discrepancy in the legal voting age across the globe. Across much of the world, the voting age is set at 18. It varies only slightly in places including Brazil and much of South America – where it is 16 years of age.
    Where is the cheapest country to get a round in? Martin’s map here show the price of beer across the world, with an average price of more than three pounds, or five dollars, in countries including Australia. ...
    How many hours a week do you work? According to this map, in Russia people work an average of 40 hours while in Australia, the UK and Ireland it’s less than 40 hours. Hard working nations working more than 48 hours a week include several parts of Africa, western parts of South America and Mexico.
    Using various sources, Martin has compiled data showing military conflicts from 1909 to the present day, showing in his map where wars have taken place. This image shows high levels of ongoing conflict across Russia and many parts of Africa, with relatively little conflict in countries including Australia and parts of Europe.

1/01/2016 – 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. Why Saudis refuse to work in the private sector, (1/02 early pickup) SaudiGazette.com.sa
    JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia - Recently, Okaz daily [Arabic newspaper located, like the Saudi Gazette, in Jeddah] published a report about the Ministry of Labor’s efforts to allow workers in the private sector to enjoy two days off each week just like public sector workers. The report called for increasing work hours in the private sector to nine hours (per day; 7-2=5, 5x9 =45hr/workweek) so that workers could take two days off [instead of current one day off with 48hr/workweek (6x8)]. It also mentioned the weekly work hours in some countries. Industrial countries, which are the richest, have fewer working hours.
    In the United States, the working week is 35 hours, in France 28 and Sweden 27. The working week in developing countries like Chile, some African countries and Mexico is 50 hours. In the Kingdom [of Saudi Arabia], it is 48 hours. This means that production and development is not related to work hours but to other factors that have been overlooked by developing countries. If we look at the private sector in our country, we will see that most companies refuse to give workers two days off and reduce weekly work hours. Companies want workers to work more hours than those employed in the public sector while the salaries are lower than the salaries of public sector workers.
    Moreover, the private sector pays salaries based on the Gregorian calendar which is 13 days shorter than the Hijri calendar. This means that the worker in the private sector works for free for a month every three years, compared to public sector employees who get paid at the end of each Hijri month. What is worse is that private sector employees do not have job security and may get laid off or fired.
    That is why most of our young men and women work temporarily in the private sector because they have no other choice and leave it when they find a good opportunity in the public sector. The private sector should not blame our young men and women when they leave. Look at the employees who work in the banking, oil and industrial sectors run by the state. They never leave their jobs until retirement. Please do not blame our young men and women.

  2. Labour unions in Hong Kong must participate in formulating law on standard working hours - Walking out of meetings or threatening a boycott will only result in workers’ voices not being heard, editorial, (1/02 over dateline) South China Morning Post via scmp.com
    Some less-skilled workers in certain sectors are being forced to work long hours. (photo caption)
    HONG KONG, HKSAR, China - If mandating standard working hours by law is as simple as clocking off after eight hours on the job, there would be no need for labour and employer representatives to spend months on thrashing out the details.
    [(A) There is no such need! and (B) If it's not that simple, employer reps who are bringing up all the complexities only have to look at hours legislation in EVERY OTHER DEVELOPED ECONOMY, take their pick, and COPY IT word for word, instead of pretending they're special and different and have to reinvent the wheel.]
    Regrettably, the labour side snubbed a meeting [two meetings, more power to 'em!] of the Committee on Standard Working Hours recently. This may be followed by a total withdrawal from the panel and a boycott of the upcoming consultation. The prospects of a consensus look increasingly remote.
    Instead of an across-the-board approach, the committee earlier opted for a less sweeping alternative by allowing bosses to spell out staff working hours in employment contracts.
    [Which in no way can be defined as STANDARD working hours.]
    While still an improvement on the status quo, it falls short of the labour side’s demand for all-encompassing legislation.
    [No, just for STANDARD working hours as in the committee's increasingly phony-looking mandate.]
    The unionists must be deeply dissatisfied to take such action.
    [They are. It's obvious to anyone anywhere in the world who's been reading the news about this ongoing charade for months.]
    But they are little more than political gestures.
    [So's the whole mandate of this committee, apparently. And so's this precious posturing editorial.]
    If the intention is to discredit the consultation and its outcome, a boycott will surely serve the purpose.
    [That is preciselyl the intention. After two years, it's time for SOMEBODY to call a spade a spade!]
    Without their input, whatever proposals are put forward will be seen as incomplete.
    [They are after two years of employer rep inability to share power and drag their citystate into the 20th century anyway!]
    But it has to be asked whether such an approach is in the best interest of workers.
    [Honesty is in the best interest of employees.]
    Not only is it unconducive to fostering consensus, it does nothing to enhance protection for workers.
    [Nothing in the employer-dominated committee's proposals does anything to enhance protection for workers anyway, and rubberstamping it with puppet-employees' OK to give it the veneer of consensus would be a sick joke.]
    Hong Kong’s economic success owes much to cordial labour relations, which are underpinned by the long-standing tradition for employer and worker representatives to sort out issues of mutual concerns under government mediation.
    [Oh yeah? Well insofar as there was an employee-disempowering labour surplus in Hong Kong, the cordiality of labour relations in Hong Kong has been a mirage all along. But insofar as employees took a sliver of hope from the takeover of the "People's" Republic, they may have slipped and got a little more honest with self-absorbed employers on this one.]
    The tripartite dialogue model has served the city well. The Committee on Standard Working Hours was established with the same principle.
    ["There's many a slip 'twixt cup and lip." = ancient British expression.]
    It provides the forum for the parties concerned to iron out their differences and to ensure that any final proposal is not tilted towards either side.
    [Has this editorial writer been reading SCMP's own news reports the last two years??? Somebody disturb his nap!]
    The far-reaching impact of the proposed law and the wide range of complex issues involved make full consensus difficult.
    [Only full consensus with spoiled employers and employer reps who want every precious little concern accommodated and any possibility of wrinkles arising from employee power steamrollered.]
    But the deadline for the committee to wrap up its work by March is fast approaching. The labour side can choose to wash its hands of the matter, or it can stay on to shape the outcome.
    [If it hasn't been able to shape the outcome in the last two years, there's no way it will be able to shape it in the next three months.]
    The way forward is obvious.
    [Yes, pass the tilted "consensus" of your own pathetically self-absorbed bipartite dialogue, if you can even get to that, and let Hong Kong sink deeper into the officially denied recession that is getting harder and harder to hide throughout the developed economies with growing inequality, until your private clubs and gated communities can no longer protect you from the instabilities you are courting. Alternative? Leap ahead and lead the world by dissolving your hardening Black Hole economy with Timesizing - which, fully implemented, is more market-oriented than any current economy because it balances the playing field between employees and employers (by engineering full employment even though constantly boringly perceived by employers as "labour shortage") and utilizes market signals that are studiously ignored today = the market incidence of overtime work as a signal of skill bottlenecks, to be responded-to smoothly and automatically and creatively without employer whining and wheezing.]

Click here for spontaneous cases of primitive timesizing in -
June 2-30/2015
May/2015 +Jun.1
December 2-31/2014
November/2014 +Dec.1
September 2-30/2014
August/2014 +Sep.1
July 2-31, 2013
June/2013 +Jul.1
April 2-30/2013
March/2013 +Apr.1
August 2-31/2011
July/2011 + 8/01
March 2-31/2011
February 2-28/2011 +3/01
January 2-31 +2/01/2011
December/2010 + 1/1/11
10/31+ November/2010
October 1-30/2010
July 2-31/2010
June 2-30/2010 +Jul.1
May 2-31/2010 +Jun.1
April 2-30/2010 +May 1
March 3-31/2010 +Apr.1
February 2-28/2010 +Mar.1-2
January/2010 +Feb.1
Nov.27-30 (& Dec.)/2004
Oct.27-31/2004 + Nov.1
(July 31+) Aug.1-10/2004
July 20-30/2004
July 17-19/2004
July 13-16/2004
July 1-12/2004
June 16-30/2004
June 1-15/2004
May 15-31/2004
May 1-14/2004
Feb.21-29/2004 + Mar.1
Jan.31 + Feb.1-10/2004
1998 and previous years.

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

Questions, comments, feedback? Phone 617-623-8080 (Boston, Mass., USA) or email us.

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