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Timesizing News, February 2-29, 2016
[Commentary] ©2016 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Harvard Sq PO Box 117, Cambridge MA 02238 USA 617-623-8080


2/28-29/2016 – 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. France's government forced to delay contested labor "reform" [our quotes], by Sylvie Corbet, 2/29 Associated Press via The News & Observer via newsobserver.com
    PARIS, France - France's government delayed plans to water down the country's 35-hour workweek on Monday after backlash among Socialists, the far left and unions who fear "reforming" the stringent labor code will diminish workers' rights — and not the unemployment rate.
    The highly unpopular Socialist President Francois Hollande has pledged to run for re-election next year only if France's persistent 10 percent unemployment rate drops. But Hollande's plans to streamline [or gut] the labor code, and provide ways for employers to organize alternative workweeks of up to 60 hours, has met fierce resistance from the left.

    [And from intelligent lifeforms everywhere, including longterm sustainability-oriented capitalists who remember when the 39-hour workweek was yielding 12.6% unemployment in 1997 and even the center right had been offering optional worksharing via the Robien Law. With "socialists" like Hollowhead Hollande & Henchman Moron Macron, who needs race-to-the-bottom capitalists? The only reason the 35-hour workweek doesn't work better is that it needs to go down further, to 32, 30, 28 hours or whatever it takes to produce enough overtime-to-jobs conversion to restore and maintain full employment.]
    French reality is already there. Even government statistics show French employees work an average of 39 hours weekly, labor code notwithstanding. But the 35-hour week imposed in 2000 by a Socialist majority is widely viewed as a legislative cornerstone of the left, and Hollande has failed to rally even his own Socialists to his side.
    The prime minister on Monday announced that the bill would be delayed from March 9 to March 24 to allow for more negotiations with leftist rebels, unions and employers' organizations.
    The proposed bill technically maintains the 35-hour workweek, but allows companies to organize alternative working times, up to a 48-hour workweek and 12 hours per day. In case of "exceptional circumstances," employees could work up to 60 hours a week. 
    One measure would allow employees to work more than 35 hours without being paid overtime for a specific period of time. In exchange, they would have more days off later on. This measure is aimed at allowing companies to adapt to business booms. Other measures would ease layoffs and relax rules on working remotely from home and at night.
    Companies with fewer than 50 staffers would be able to propose contracts based on the number of days worked per year instead of the 35-hour week. The system already existed but was highly restricted.
    Employees could also volunteer to give up days off in exchange for more money.
    "We have more than 3.5 million unemployed so I look to them. I want to convince the French," Prime Minister Manuel Valls told RTL radio last week. By Monday, he acknowledged that convincing might take a little more time.
    "We must clear up any misunderstanding. We must explain, respond to some false information about this text. So, let's take a few more days to engage in further discussion, to correct what is needed."
    Valls called on lawmakers to rise "above traditional divisions" in order to pass the bill.
    Pierre Gattaz, head of the main employers' lobby, supports the measure. "I think this bill is headed in the right direction and could truly unlock the labor market, and therefore, create jobs", he told Les Echos newspaper.
    All major employee unions oppose the bill and some have threatened strikes.
    The CGT union called for a strong response against "a historic roll back of the workers' rights."
    The last time the government tried a major economic reform — a law that made it easier for businesses to open on Sundays and at night — it had to invoke rarely used special powers to ram the bill through. Hollande's pro-business policy, a shift from his left-wing campaign in 2012, has caused multiple rebellions among Socialists.
    Party chief Jean-Christophe Cambadelis called for changes to the current plan, saying otherwise, he would "have difficulty voting" for the measure.

  2. Most overworked employees in manufacturing, security and truck driving: MOL, by Nine Hsieh, 2/28 ChinaPost.com.tw
    TAIPEI, Taiwan -- According to a Ministry of Labor (MOL) survey of diseases linked to overworked employees over the past six years, the manufacturing, security services and warehouse transportation industries reported the most cases, the United Evening News stated on Saturday.
    Due to long working hours and harsh environments, Taiwanese workers have been suffering from stress and overwork, which is also a common feature among the top three industry sectors reporting long working hours and health conditions linked to excessive work.
    Cerebrovascular and cardiovascular diseases, often occurring between ages 46 and 55, are commonly seen due to a culture of working overtime in Taiwan.
    Overwork was included as an occupational hazard in 2004, and the government largely relaxed the required standards for the diagnosis of overwork-related diseases in 2010, which has resulted in an increasing rate of cases diagnosed, the report stated.
    Based on Labor Ministry statistics, the government has received an average of more than 200 applications related to overwork diseases every year since 2011. While applications seeking compensation were reported to be less than 100 cases on average per year, it also reflected the relaxed standards.
    The proportion of illnesses diagnosed as a result of overwork out of all of the applications seeking compensation submitted to the Labor Ministry was 32 percent in both 2011 and 2012, 27 percent in 2013, 30 percent in 2014 and 36.5 percent between January and September in 2015, which was close to Japan's month-to-month figure at 35 percent, the report said.
    The types of overwork-related occupational afflictions were sickness and the development of wounds as well as disabling injuries and death, the report stated. According to official annual figures, the majority of payouts were for those cases categorized as "death due to overwork," followed by "debilitating injuries" and then general sickness.
    [Wouldn't this incentivize taxpayers in a truly intelligent species to cut the workweek?]
    Debilitating injuries caused by overwork held the highest overwork diagnosis application rate, according to the government.
    Moreover, male applicants, at 85 percent, represented a higher proportion than females, at only 15 percent, local media said, highlighting a gender gap.
    The statistics since 2011 have shown that the rate of the top sectors receiving compensation payments were manufacturing at 27.4 percent, security services at 17.4 percent, warehouse and transportation at 13.2 percent, and wholesale and retail at 12.8 percent and the rate of other sectors was less than 1 percent, reported local media.
    The MOL attributed the manufacturing industry's high number of cases to the large number of workers in the sector, which meant a higher ratio of occupational hazards.
    In terms of hazardous working environments, security guards and truck drivers are situated in more dangerous environments than those in the manufacturing industry, the Labor Ministry stated.
    However, the three industries' common feature is long working hours, which further proves that working for prolonged time periods is a critical factor in occupational hazards linked to overworking, said the MOL.


2/27/2016 – 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. 35 hours... On the reform of PAN, POT, etc., editorial, Tageblatt Letzebuerg via Tageblatt.lu
    [Translation by Bing, smoothing by PH3.]
    LUXEMBOURG - Only after a lost world war and a November revolution could the German trade unions fight the 48-hour week. In 1918, 48 hours was worked in industry across six days; before that, a worker came in up to loosely 60 to 70 hours. Whoever became old enough, and they were the fewest, were allowed to go into retirement at 70.
    In the sixties of the last century, the 40-hour week established itself almost throughout Europe; Saturdays and Sundays the workers had the possibility of devoting to their family, their hobbies and personal needs; despite all concerns about this, productivity did not sink. On the contrary, rested and satisfied employees do more and better work, cause and suffer fewer accidents, contribute more to the development of their enterprises.
    [And today it's no longer a matter of Nice Things for Employees. If we want to maintain, let alone restore, high levels of consumer spending, we simply have to get more spending money to more people and quit sending it all into storage with the top 62 billionaires who already have as much as the "bottom" HALF of the entire world. And unless we want to continue expanding our already massive underclass of taxpayer-dependents, that means packaging up the technology-diminished market-demanded employment into more person-sized jobs, however short a workweek that may take and however vigorously we may need to convert overtime into training&jobs.]
    Successful new companies, say in the IT sector, have understood this. They make use not only of the creativity of rested and motivated staff, but see outstanding working conditions with corresponding wages as a likely way not to have to lose their best people to the competition. But back to European companies and business associations. During the seventies and eighties in almost all countries, they won the fight against the salaritariat in re: 35-hour workweek.
    Among the large European nations, the French stood practically alone with the 35-aiming 36-hour workweek. The economy did not thereupon collapse: Renault, Peugeot and Citroën kept building vehicles that were sold with more or less profit depending on the economic situation; much the same befell their German neighbors with 38- or 39-hour/week worktime. The demand for a 35-hour week - a "must" during the numerous May Day speeches in the past century - is hardly to be heard at all any more today. Among the Luxembourg trade unions, only the FNCTTFEL (Federation nationale des cheminots, travailleurs du transport, fonctionnaires et employes du Luxembourg) National Federation is actually sticking to its still aggressively advocated demand for 35 hours with full pay adjustment. The OGBL (Onofhengege Gewerkschafts-Bond Letzebuerg = a union?) has shot up to a sixth week of vacation in the context of its social package (a response to the government's austerity plan); also an acceptable option in the context of the worktime reduction they want, if also in the first place only for those pay adjustments that they have not yet won in their collective contracts.
    In the upcoming reform of the PAN law ('Plan d'Action National" in aid of employment and of the POT ("Plan d'Organization du Travail"), unions and management again face off in the next weeks. The State says the employment minister will probably have to decide where the trail is leading. It is still questionable whether the UEL [Union of Employers of Luxembourg?] will accept worktime reductions in return for desired flexibility. Clearly the demands of trade unions are by far not as deep-reaching as 50 years ago (see above). The happy goal of competitiveness - which the UEL needs to keep in mind - also involves satisfied employees.
    [Not while employers have employees over the barrel with no job options to switch to, and those won't be available till hours are shorter and overtime-to-jobs conversion is in high gear. Of course, there won't be any real economic recovery till then either.]
    [Here's the original so you can repeat the numerous debates I went through to make sense of this baby -]
    35 Stunden ...
    EDITORIAL
    Zur Reform von PAN, POT usw.
    25
    Erst nach einem verlorenen Weltkrieg und einer November-Revolution konnten die deutschen Gewerkschaften die 48-Stunden-Woche erkämpfen. 1918 wurde in der Industrie an sechs Tagen 48 Stunden gearbeitet, noch früher kam ein Arbeiter locker auf 60 bis 70 Stunden. Wer alt genug wurde – und das waren die wenigsten –, durfte dann mit 70 in Rente gehen.
    In den Sechzigern des letzten Jahrhunderts setzte sich quasi überall in Europa die 40-Stunden-Woche durch; samstags und sonntags hatten die Arbeiter die Möglichkeit, sich ihrer Familie, ihren Hobbys und eigenen Bedürfnissen zu widmen; allen Bedenken zum Trotz sank die Produktivität hierdurch nicht. Im Gegenteil: Ausgeruhte und zufriedene Mitarbeiter leisten mehr und bessere Arbeit, verursachen und erleiden weniger Unfälle, tragen mehr zur Entwicklung ihrer Betriebe bei. Neue erfolgreiche Unternehmen etwa in der Informatik-Branche haben dies verstanden. Sie nutzen nicht nur die Kreativität ausgeruhter und motivierter Mitarbeiter, sondern sehen hervorragende Arbeitsbedingungen mit entsprechenden Löhnen als probates Mittel, um die besten Köpfe nicht der Konkurrenz überlassen zu müssen. Doch zurück zu europäischen Unternehmen und Unternehmerverbänden. Sie gewannen während der siebziger und achtziger Jahre in fast allen Ländern den Kampf gegen das Salariat in Sachen 35-Stunden-Woche.
    Unter den großen europäischen Staaten standen die Franzosen praktisch allein mit der 35- bzw. 36-Stunden-Woche. Die Wirtschaft brach daraufhin nicht zusammen: Renault, Peugeot und Citroën bauten weiter Fahrzeuge, die je nach Konjunkturlage mit mehr oder weniger Profit verkauft wurden, ähnlich wie dies beim deutschen Nachbarn mit 38 oder 39 Stunden Wochenarbeitszeit geschah. Die Forderung nach der 35-Stunden-Woche – ein „must“ während der zahlreichen 1.-Mai-Reden im vergangenen Jahrhundert – ist heute kaum mehr zu hören. Unter den Luxemburger Gewerkschaften bleibt eigentlich nur der FNCTTFEL-Landesverband bei seiner immer noch offensiv verteidigten Forderung nach 35 Stunden mit vollem Lohnausgleich. Der OGBL hat sich im Rahmen seines Sozialpaketes (Antwort auf den Sparplan der Regierung) auf eine sechste Urlaubswoche eingeschossen; auch eine gangbare Alternative im Rahmen der verlangten Arbeitszeitverkürzung, wenn auch in erster Linie nur für diejenigen Lohnabhängigen, die diese noch nicht kollektivvertraglich erkämpft haben.
    Bei der anstehenden Reform des PAN-Gesetzes („Plan d’action national en faveur de l’emploi“) und des POT („Plan d’organisation du travail“) stehen sich in diesen Wochen wieder Gewerkschaften und Patronat gegenüber. Der Staat sprich der Beschäftigungsminister wird wohl entscheiden müssen, wo die Reise hingeht. Ob die UEL als Gegenleistung zur verlangten Flexibilität Arbeitszeitverkürzungen in Kauf nimmt, ist immer noch fraglich. Dabei sind die Forderungen der Gewerkschaften bei weitem nicht so tiefgreifend wie vor 50 Jahren (siehe oben). Die gern angeführte Kompetitivität – und das sollte die UEL bedenken – hat auch mit zufriedenen Mitarbeitern zu tun.

  2. WIU cuts 100 jobs, implements furlough for others, and freezes hiring, by Shellie Nelson, (2/26 late pickup) WQAD Quad Cities 8 via wqad.com
    MACOMB, Illin., USA - Western Illinois University will cut 100 jobs, implement a hiring freeze, reduce office hours and reduce staff contracts to make $20 million in cuts.
    [Compare Eastern Illinois University below 2/11/2016 #2!]
    The university confirmed in late 2015 that staff cuts and other reductions were coming; they blamed the Illinois state budget impasse and “probable reductions to state appropriated funding for higher education” for the cuts in a statement February 26, 2016.
    At least 50 employees took advantage of a retirement incentive offered in 2015. WIU also increased tuition for the current school year.
    WIU will cut $20 million over the next two fiscal years, the February announcement said. Additional cuts will include reducing 12-month administrative staff contracts to 10 or 11 months, closing or combining some offices, reducing 100 faculty and staff positions, and reducing the office hours for some offices.
    [The more workmonth reductions, the less workforce & consumerbase reductions - Timesizing, not downsizing!]
    Officials at the WIU campus in Moline had no indication of whether anyone on that campus would be part of the newly-announced cuts.
    WIU is also under a hiring freeze, effective immediately.
    “Without a state budget and additional reductions across divisions, payroll obligations will be difficult to meet for July and August,” the WIU statement said. So, they will limit spending to essential needs and implement mandatory furloughs for all non-negotiated personnel beginning April 1, 2016.
    WIU President Jack Thomas said staff cuts were also necessary to “protect our ability” to implement contractual salary increases for workers covered by collective bargaining units.
    “We must brace for the difficult times ahead. We must protect the cash resources of the university in order to continue to provide services to our students and prepare for Fall 2016,” Thomas said. “Without these reductions, we risk jeopardizing the entire enterprise.”
    Thomas said WIU officials hoped the budget stalemate would end soon.
    “Our hope is our governmental leaders will end this unprecedented impasse and recognize that our public universities need our state funds to operate and continue to support our students,” Thomas said.


2/26/2016 – 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. Cutting Hours to Avoid Obamacare Challenged Under ERISA, by Cozen O'Connor, JD Supra (press release) via jdsupra.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, opponents have said that the law will actually hurt employees in two ways. First, companies on the cusp of hiring a 50th full-time employee may hold off in fear of triggering the burden of the employer mandate to provide coverage or else face penalties. Second, employees with variable hours may find themselves limited to 30 hours, the threshold for “full time” status under the ACA that triggers the mandate and penalty provisions. Some employers actively publicized their intention to cut the hours of part-time workers because the expense of providing coverage was too expensive. Until now, there has been an academic debate as to whether employers have the right to cut expenses and manage healthcare costs, or whether such actions would run afoul of Section 510 of ERISA, which makes it unlawful to “discharge, fine suspend, expel, discipline, or discriminate against a participant or beneficiary for exercising any right to which he is entitled under the provisions of a benefit plan.”
    That debate is no longer an academic one, as a class action has been filed against Dave and Busters alleging that the curtailment of working hours constituted discrimination “for the purpose of interfering with the attainment” of healthcare coverage.

    [One of the great unintended consequences of Obamacare has been the trimming of many people's workweeks to less than 30 hours AND the possible extra hiring therefrom. But it was unaccompanied by any deliberate incentivization to clinch any such hiring, and has several other objections as pointed out in this article.]
    My firm’s full client alert on this case can be found here.
    This case is an important one as the New York court found that the plaintiffs stated a claim and denied the employer’s motion to dismiss. That means the case will proceed with discover and potentially a trial. The case will no doubt encourage other plaintiff’s lawyers to take up this theory around the country, especially against companies who have openly stated that their reasons for cutting employee hours are related to the ACA. One takeaway from this suit is that employers should exercise extreme caution in openly making political statements opposing the ACA or suggesting that employee hours will be cut to avoid triggering healthcare coverage. Supervisors should be trained to stay away from this topic, as anything they say “can and will be used against them.” Notably, in the Dave and Busters case, the plaintiffs allege that management told employees during meetings that the ACA would cost the company two million dollars, and it was cutting hours to reduce those costs.
    In sum, it is still very much an open question as to how the courts will resolve the conflict between an employer’s right to manage its business (including healthcare costs) and the protections of Section 510. For example, a strong argument can and will be made that Section 510 does not protect part-time workers who have not yet obtained healthcare (as opposed to cutting hours of an employee who already has coverage), and the company has a right to manage its business and to plan how many covered employees it can afford. This is still a gray area of the law; and employers should remain cautious and conservative when it comes to making public statements to employees or the media.

  2. Truth Squad: Sanders ad earns a foul for exaggerations on work hours and the ultra-rich, The Center for Michigan | Bridge Magazine via MLive.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Who: Bernie for America
    What: 30-second TV ad, "Works for Us"; and 60-second ad, "Real Change"
    The Call: Foul
    Launched on Feb. 19 in markets across Michigan, the two ads – largely positive in tone – push the populist economic message of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. The themes are by now trademarks of his insurgent Democratic campaign, as he challenges a political and economic system Sanders says is rigged in favor of the extremely affluent. Among his prescriptions: higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations, free public college tuition for all and – though not stated in these ads – universal health care. Coming a week after the March 1 Super Tuesday showdown and other Democratic caucuses and primaries in the days leading to March 8, Michigan's primary could be a key battleground for Sanders as he strives to prove his message can resonate in his battle against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in states with a diverse electorate.
    Relevant text of the ads:
    "While our people work longer hours for lower wages, almost all new income goes to the top 1 percent...My plan will make Wall Street banks and the ultra-rich pay their fair share of taxes...He's (Sanders) supporting veterans...He's fighting for...tuition-free public colleges."
    Statements under review:
    "While our people work longer hours for lower wages, almost all new income goes to the top 1 percent."
    The message is at the heart of Sanders' campaign, but both claims in the above statement are without strong backing. As first noted by Politifact, the highly regarded research arm of the Tampa Bay Times, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the average weekly work hours of nonsupervisory and production workers has actually gone down since the 1960s,
    [- shorter hours are happening anyway but not the best way -]
    while Gallup surveys indicate the hours worked by fulltime employees has remained essentially flat between 2001 and 2014. The Brookings Institute did find an increase in working hours among women in the middle 10 percent of families since the great recession, even as wages stayed flat.
    Sanders's statement that "almost all" new income has gone to the wealthiest 1 percent of wage earners is likewise an exaggeration. Though the senator is correct in noting the increased concentration of wealth among the very affluent.
    In 2013, the Pew Research Center released a study of wealth inequality dating back to 1917. Built on analysis of IRS tax data by Emmanuel Saez, an economics professor at the University of California-Berkeley, it found the income disparity in 2007 between the top 1 percent and bottom 90 percent had reached levels not seen since 1928. Saez estimated the top 1 percent in 2012 accounted for nearly 23 percent of pretax income, compared with less than 50 percent for the bottom 90 percent. By comparison, the top 1 percent share of income in 1944 was 11.3 percent, while the bottom 90 percent received nearly 68 percent, levels that remained relatively constant for the following three decades.
    A 2015 study by PEW concluded the U.S. middle class has been steadily losing ground over the past decades, finding that 49 percent of aggregate income went to upper-income households in 2014, up from 29 percent in 1970. The portion going to middle-income households, meanwhile, fell from 62 percent in 1970 to 43 percent in 2014.
    So there is little question the wealthiest of Americans have benefitted disproportionately compared with average wage-earners. But that's not what Sanders's Michigan ad claims; it insists that one-percenters have captured "almost all" new income, again relying on economist Saez of Berkeley. It's true that in January 2015, Saez released a paper indicating that the top 1 percent had taken in 91 percent of income gains in the first three years of recovery from the recession, which is close enough to support the "almost all" statement.
    But Saez updated his data in June of last year, lowering the estimated gains of the most affluent to "only" 58 percent, a change that even Sanders acknowledged in September on the Senate floor. This updated estimate shows it's still good to be rich, but that estimate does not come close to equating to "almost all" income gains.
    And it begs the question: Why does Sanders gild the lily in his Michigan ad, when data supports his central argument that the ultra-rich are disproportionately benefitting in the nation's economic recovery?
    "My plan will make...the ultra rich pay their fair share of taxes."
    This tax shift is aimed at paying for Sanders's most ambitious proposal – a government-run system of universal health care. Among other proposals, Sanders wants to raise the top tax rates – now at 33 percent, 35 percent and 39.6 percent for households earning more than $250,000 – to 37 percent, 43 percent, 48 percent and 52 percent, the latter for those making more than $10 million. Sanders would also impose an additional 10 percent surtax on billionaires and repeal capital gains tax rates for couples making more than $250,000. Sanders pays for his healthcare plan in part by imposing a 2.2 percent "health care premium" tax, as well as a 6.2 percent payroll tax paid for by employers. And while middle-class taxpayers pay higher taxes under this plan, the Sanders campaign maintains those costs will be more than made up by savings in health care premiums.
    But analysis by PolitiFact concluded the Sanders plan would need to cut costs by 42 percent to 47 percent for the math to work – savings deemed unrealistic by more than one economic analyst. Analysis by the Tax Foundation, a conservative independent tax policy research organization, concluded that Sanders' plan would lower after-tax income by 10.5 percent for all taxpayers and by 17.9 percent for the wealthiest Americans. Recently, Sanders's campaign has also come under assault by a few progressive economists for promising gains from his economic plan that, these progressives say, "cannot be supported by the economic evidence."
    Left unassessed, and unassessable, is whether Sanders's plan for more heavily taxing the super rich would amount to this group paying its "fair" share. What constitutes the wealthy's "fair share" is at the heart of the divergent economic worldviews of progressives and conservatives, and cannot be decided by Truth Squad.
    "...supporting veterans."
    Sanders' campaign website states: "?Sen. Sanders believes that just as planes and tanks and guns are a cost of war, so is taking care of the men and women who we sent off to fight the war." It omits his role as chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs when reports emerged in late in 2013 that dozens of veterans died waiting for medical care in VA hospitals. One veterans official said Sanders "did not live up to his responsibilities" as chairman, while another said that Sanders was slow to hold hearings holding the VA accountable. "The House needed a partner in the Senate to help flesh out the problems at the VA, and unfortunately Bernie Sanders was not that partner," said Dan Caldwell, vice president for political and legislative action for Concerned Veterans of America. To be sure, Sanders helped pass a $16 billion measure approved by the Senate in July 2014 aimed at improving veterans access to medical care. But Paul Rieckhoff, founder and CEO of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said Sanders had for considerable time ignored the appeals of organizations like his to dig into the issue. "For far too long he was apologizing for the VA. He was refusing to acknowledge the severity. He was positioning it as a smaller issue than it was while veterans were dying waiting for care," Rieckhoff stated. In May 2014, Sanders said in an interview: "Did the delays in care of these people on the secret waiting list actually cause these deaths? We don't know."
    "He's fighting for...tuition-free public colleges."
    It's no surprise this proposal is especially well received among younger voters, many of whom are saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in college debt. This burden stems from rapidly escalating tuition rates, the causes of which are hotly debated. According to the State Higher Education Executive Officers, students paid $64 billion for tuition in 2014, compared with $21.5 billion in 2000. Sanders would pay for this plan – at an estimated cost of $75 billion a year – by imposing fees on stock trades and bonds and derivative transactions. But Sanders also expects states to pick up one third of the cost of the $75 billion plan, which could be an unrealistic assumption. And without that funding, the plan could fall apart. For example, 17 states have thus far rejected expansion of Medicaid, even though its cost is 100 percent funded by the federal government in its initial years, 90 percent after that. In order to fund free tuition, states would presumably have to cut somewhere else. "There's not a lot of extra money to spend on other programs," said Brian Sigritz, state fiscal studies director for the National Association of State Budget Officers.
    Overall impression:
    Sanders points to an issue that is receiving national attention: The growing wealth and income gap in America. He is tapping into economic frustrations of workers as well as the young over stagnant wages and rising college debt. As his plans for free-tuition college and universal health care receive a closer look during the campaign, critics are raising important questions about how these plans will be funded and whether their fundamental financial assumptions are sound.
    But the question of whether his economic plans hold up under rigorous analysis is for another day, most likely when Sanders and Clinton hold their debate in Flint two days before the Michigan primary. In these ads, Sanders is not vouching for the numbers in his tax plans. Rather, he is merely highlighting what he says he will do if he becomes president; namely, impose higher taxes on the wealthy and offer free tuition for students at public colleges. He is unquestionably fighting for both.
    As for his support for veterans, the term "support" is so vague as to be almost meaningless, and thus difficult for Truth Squad to assess. What presidential candidate doesn't support the troops, in some respect?
    Where Sanders runs afoul of Truth Squad are his claims that people are working longer hours, and that the super rich are gobbling up "almost all" income gains. The weight of available evidence shows lack of support for both remarks. These are unforced errors, which could have been easily remedied with tweaks to the language that could more solidly support Sanders's larger messages on income inequality and an economy that hasn't been kind to the middle class. He did not make them.
    The call: Foul.


2/25/2016 – 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. Aiken County Schools are Cutting Hours for Some Teachers, News Channel ABC6 via WJBF.com
    AIKEN COUNTY, S.C., USA - The Aiken County Public School District is getting some big changes.
    A statement released today says they are reviewing resources to provide the best use of public funds.
    One of the ways they plan to do this is reducing hours for some teachers in the district.
    Agriculture teachers in the Aiken Public School District will have their hours cut from 240 days a year to 225. That’s a loss of three weeks pay, but the BOE feels this better aligns their contracts with what most teachers in the district have.
    This decrease in hours, though, has some people worried that Aiken County won’t be attracting the best teachers.

    [Better hourscuts than jobcuts, Timesizing than downsizing!]
    South Carolina is consistently recognized as an agricultural dreamland for the rest of the nation. This is a state that brings in $3 billion annually through its crops and livestock.
    “The production of the next generation of farmers is going to be critical to our survival and it must happen. We must have a next generation of farmers,” local farmer, Doug Busbee said.
    Local farmer Doug Busbee would argue that an agriculture teacher plays the most important role in the Aiken County school system.
    “We’re concerned about the reductions that may be made and the loss to our community because our vocational ag teachers are servants of our community,” Busbee explained.
    Since the County has decided to cut the hours for Agriculture teachers, subsequently cutting the paycheck, Busbee says this could lead to a loss of good teachers.
    “These vocational ag teachers are deep rooted in our community they’re intertwined in every person’s life,” Busbee said.
    Haley Williamson is a college freshman now, but she remembers how her high school ag teacher supported her class, even on school breaks.
    “For one of our state competitions he spent his whole spring break just to teach us more as a team and that says a lot about a teacher giving up their vacation time to help work with you,” Williamson explained.
    She says she’s worried this decrease will ultimately result in a lack of education in agriculture.
    “Obviously you have to love your job to be a teacher, because you already don’t make enough, but a good teacher should be appreciated. Not all teachers are willing to give the time like agriculture education teachers,” Williamson said.
    The Aiken County School Board declined to comment on this, but their release says they are “making every effort to address well documented concerns, to strengthen current assignments of staff and provide additional support to teachers and to schools.”

  2. Apple Supplier In China’s Poor Labor Practices Clash With US Tech Giant’s Promises To Lift Supply Chain Standards: Report, By Cole Stangler, (2/23 late pickup) International Business Times via ibtimes.com
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - Apple says it is committed to improving working conditions across its global supply chain. But in at least one of its major suppliers in China, the U.S. company is failing to keep its word — and breaking Chinese employment laws in the process, according to an investigative report provided to International Business Times by a labor watchdog.
    The California-based tech giant says it limits global suppliers to a 60-hour work week. However, most of the 70,000 employees at Pegatron Corp.’s Shanghai assembly plant — one of the makers of the iPhone — regularly toil in excess of that time limit, the investigation found. Overseen by the New York-based nonprofit China Labor Watch, the report relied on more than 1,200 pay stubs collected by workers.
    Seventy-one percent of the pay stubs collected last October showed average work weeks that exceeded Apple’s self-imposed 60-hour limit, according to the report. China Labor Watch also said the factory violates China’s overtime regulations: Chinese law caps the number of maximum overtime hours to 36 per month, but just 1 percent of Pegatron workers’ monthly overtime hours fell below that limit. The pay stubs themselves do not account for mandatory 15-minute breaks before and after shifts, the report also found.
    The investigation also calculated average wages at the factory: about $1.82 an hour, it said. That’s at least 2,500 times less than Apple CEO Tim Cook’s $10.3 million compensation last year, researchers calculated.
    Kevin Slaten, program coordinator at China Labor Watch, said the findings cast doubt on Apple’s commitment to monitor its supply chain. Last year, the company said 92 percent of its suppliers complied with its 60-hour weekly limit. Slaten said the findings at Pegatron suggest either bad oversight or tacit approval of the factory’s practices.
    “This isn’t a marginal supplier,” Slaten said. “This is a major, core-product Apple supplier now.”
    The Taiwanese-based Pegatron produces about a quarter of iPhones worldwide, according to Nomura. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
    Slaten also said the findings raise broader questions about the company’s business model. As the most profitable company in history, Apple could easily afford to improve pay and conditions for workers in its supply chain, he added.
    This isn’t the first time Apple suppliers in China have come under fire over alleged poor labor conditions: Several years ago, the company faced intense criticism after a string of suicides by employees at Foxconn, another iPhone supplier. In December 2014, a BBC investigation of Pegatron factories in Shanghai documented widespread abuses. Last February, China Labor Watch released a similar report about Pegatron, highlighting low pay and extensive use of overtime.
    China does not allow workers to form unions that are independent of the state-controlled labor federation.
    [So much for the Workers' Paradise.]


2/24/2016 – 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. When saving jobs can no longer ensure welfare, by Nicholas Koh, TodayOnline.com
    SINGAPORE - Governments traditionally adopt two types of labour policies to alleviate recession pains. The first focuses on maintaining a minimum standard of living through entitlement programmes, and the second focuses on maintaining employment through lowered wages [uh, lowering wages does NOT alleviate recession pains or maintain living standards, Nicholas - your second type is invalid].
    [And a third type (or second if we disqualify his bogus second type) focuses on maintaining employment and wages, or actually raising both, by converting chronic overtime into training&jobs, and then lowering worktime to create more convertible overtime, which lowers unemployment, and raises labor "shortage" and wages. In other words, spreading the unrobotized employment around by shortening the workweek and converting overtime into jobs which results in fewer anxious jobseekers, a situation that employers perceive as a labor "shortage" because they have to stop lowering wages to prevent employees, now with lots of job options, from changing jobs.]
    However, with more traditional occupations being disrupted by rapid technological change, the choices governments face in the future will no longer be clearly delineated into one of the two policy options [but channeled into the third]. Instead, it will have to take the middle road, by providing more social assistance programmes while continuing to focus on job retention.
    [Or, it will have to switch from social assistance programmes and simply referee the conversion of chronic overtime into training & hiring and the lowering of the workweek sufficiently to provide enough convertible overtime for full employment - and the resulting maximum domestic consumer spending (and minimum taxes, now denecessitated by lowered unemployment, welfare, disability, homelessness, prison...). This is not rocket science. Is it really so difficult to follow?]
    In the United States, maintaining a minimum standard of living through entitlement programmes is the government’s chief economic priority during downturns [and now it's slowly and massively failing]. At the trough of [lowest point in] the Great Recession in early 2009, this priority was demonstrated when the US Congress extended unemployment insurance from 26 weeks to an average of 99 weeks [didn't do much for the millions whose homes were foreclosed upon]. Although [even the sanitized] unemployment rate remained high — peaking at 10 per cent in October 2009 — greater unemployment benefits helped [some] Americans through.
    Contrast this with Germany.
    [which has excelled at a halfway step to the third type of recession-alleviating policy -]
    In the same year the US extended its unemployment [UE] benefits, Germany passed [used] a highly successful recession labour policy known as [US: "worksharing" or] Kurzarbeit — translated [literally as "short work" or in Britain] as “short-time working” — where firms were incentivised to reduce labour usage by reducing working hours, instead of reducing jobs.
    [Waaait just one little minute here. Nicholas Koh has got it backwards again. Firms did not have to be incentivised to reduce labour usage. Recession's falling demand did that for free and that's where the whole challenge started. What firms had to be incentivised to do in response to recession's falling demand was to avoid reducing employment, ie: jobs, which would drop demand further and start a downward spiral, as in the U.S. And I believe Germany passed Kurz-arbeit decades before 2008-09 but never used it as much before. And btw, in the US, UE benefits have also been extended for decades during every recession, sometimes only on a state-by-state basis.]
    Up to 67 per cent of employee wages were paid by the German government to keep labour costs down.
    [No, labour "costs" were going down anyway thanks to falling corporate revenues due to falling demand. The government chipped in to keep down employees' recession pain. And wasn't the 67% not 67% of full wages but just 67% of the gap between full wages and wages prorated according to worktime reduction?!]
    Germany’s gross domestic product contracted by 4 per cent in 2009, but its [unsanitized] unemployment rate remained stable at an average of 7.64 per cent throughout the year.
    Singapore, like Germany, has tended towards the second approach. At the height of the 1985 recession, two decades before Kurzarbeit, the Government accepted the National Wage Council’s recommendation of a wage restraint. The wage restraint lowered overhead costs, prevented lay-offs and maintained stable unemployment throughout the slowdown.
    In the 2009 Budget, the Government announced the Jobs Credit Scheme — a temporary one-year scheme aimed at encouraging businesses to preserve jobs at a time of great economic uncertainty. Businesses received cash grants based on the Central Provident Fund contributions they made for their existing employees. That year, Singapore’s resident unemployment rate increased only marginally to 4.3 per cent (from 3.2 per cent in 2008), and quickly fell back to 3.1 per cent in 2010.
    The examples of Germany and Singapore suggest the second approach of maintaining employment to ensure welfare is better than outright welfare provision. Jobs offered a steady income for citizens to afford basic needs, while on-the-job training raised productivity.
    In contrast, maintaining a minimum standard of benefits in tough times, as with the case of the US, contributed to a growing budget deficit and did little to staunch unemployment.
    The approach of maintaining employment, however, rests on the assumption that ensuring employment will in turn ensure welfare. But this assumption may no longer be true as technological advancement accelerates. Protecting jobs is increasingly becoming more difficult. Even when saved, jobs do not always guarantee a minimum standard of living.
    The World Economic Forum published a report in January on the future of jobs and skills. The report claimed that “current trends could lead to a total loss of 7.1 million jobs — two thirds of which are concentrated in routine white-collar office functions, such as Office and Administrative roles.”
    All over the world, such routine mid-skilled jobs that can be substituted by technology have increasingly become automated. Some have already been swept away into obsolescence. The extinction of the switchboard operator that we see in period films is an example of what is to come.
    Cutting wages or reducing working hours in a recession will not save these kinds of jobs in a technologically disrupted labour market. Robots are, in the long run, still cheaper than human labour, with smaller margins of error and requiring no rest or sleep.
    Even if some of these routine mid-skilled workers were able to retain their jobs, their wages may not be sufficient to guarantee them a minimum standard of living. With less labour demanded than before, real wage growth is likely to fall.
    From June 2014 to June last year, median monthly income for a full-time employed Singaporean resident rose by 4.75 per cent. However, most of the gains were enjoyed by the highly skilled, namely, working proprietors and professionals whose productivity was augmented by technology. Those in routine mid-skilled vocations, on the other hand, saw little improvement in their income.
    Therefore, Singapore’s traditional approach of maintaining employment is not sufficient. Saving jobs by controlling wages may only worsen the welfare of the mid-skilled, by further suppressing their already low wages.
    For that reason, a middle path, a combination of both policy approaches — providing basic welfare and social assistance while ensuring access to and creation of jobs — is necessary.
    The Government has put in place several schemes that focus on creating good jobs, and ensuring good workers. The SkillsFuture programme, launched last year, offers Singaporeans an initial S$500 to help them pick up new skills that can give them an edge in the changing workplace. The aim is to push more workers up the ladder to technologically complementary jobs and industries.
    But the ladder is steep and upgrading takes time. And even with time, not every Singaporean will graduate to higher-skilled work. The challenge, therefore, is to help more mid- and low-skilled workers remain competitive, but at the same time earn wages that can give them and their families a minimum standard of living.
    One way the Government can do so is to expand the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) beyond the cleaning, landscape and security industries. The PWM has proved to be efficacious in raising the incomes of the lowest skilled. Its initiation in April 2014 is potentially why the lowest-skilled segment of the workforce profited from 10.10 per cent in median monthly income growth last year. The same could be done for the medium skilled.
    The economic volatility of the past few months suggests the bear case is now the base case, and the facts indicate that saving jobs can no longer ensure welfare. It may be time to rethink the distributional properties of our economy.
    About the author: Nicholas Koh is majoring in economics and political science at the National University of Singapore. This piece first appeared in IPS Commons.

  2. Palace and air ambulance bosses defend Prince William, by Gemma Strong, (2/23 late pickup) HelloMagazine.com
    LONDON, England - Royal aides and the East Anglian Air Ambulance have defended Prince William after he was criticised for only attending two royal engagements this year, in addition to his part time job as a helicopter pilot.
    The Duke of Cambridge has come under scrutiny for what some have regarded as his reluctance to take on more official duties. William averages 80 hours per month – or 20 hours per week – as a pilot, taking part in a four days on, four days off rota, which averages 8.5 hours per shift.
    [A 20-hour workweek is just what Arthur Dahlberg recommended for everyone in 1932 (Jobs, Machines and Capitalism) to get enough employed consumers to end the Great Depression. And now that Prince HAS it, "what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander." In other words, if it's good enough for Prince William, it's good enough for everyone!]
    Palace sources claimed that Civil Aviation Authority rules on rest periods mean that William is banned from doing any sort of work on some of his rest days, including carrying out royal engagements.
    But the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said the Duke's staff were "confused". "It's true that you can only work a certain number of hours in a given period, but to suggest that pilots can't do anything else on some rest days is totally unenforceable," a spokesperson confirmed.
    "When they are having rest days, their time is their own, and they can do what they want, including carrying out royal duties. We check pilots' shift patterns and the Duke is fully complying with CAA rules within the rota he is working, so his days off are his own."
    A palace source responded by telling HELLO!: "Over the course of the year, the monthly average would be 80 hours on shift. His royal and charitable duties are on top of that.
    "There are engagements and tours and meeting and all sorts, and his team works with the Air Ambulance Service to fit it into his diary. This is no different to what he's been doing since he started flying. It's ultimately a very skilled and rewarding job - he's flying doctors around to help save people's lives."
    A Kensington Palace spokesperson added: "The Duke is incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to carry out his skilled work with the East Anglian Air Ambulance. It is a great opportunity to connect directly with the community and he considers it very rewarding to be part of a team that provides such a valuable, and often life-saving, public service."
    East Anglian Air Ambulance had its annual meeting on Saturday, when a spokesman for the charity said the prince was "very much part of the team", and was doing "a very important job".


2/23/2016 – 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. Central Maine school district considers furloughs to pay for budget shortfall, WLBC12.com
    NEWPORT, Maine, USA -- Employees of a central Maine School District may be asked to take up to ten furlough days over the next few months to help balance the budget.
    Regional School Unit 19 [RSU 19] includes Newport and seven other towns. The district has a nearly $700,000 deficit because it’s revenues were seriously overestimated.
    Interim Superintendent Ray Freve is proposing a plan to make up the shortfall by having 10 furlough days before the end of the fiscal year. Freve says each furlough day would save the district around $74,000.

    [Furloughs, not firings - Timesizing, not downsizing!]
    RSU 19 has been plagued with budget problems. Three years ago the former superintendent asked residents to borrow millions to balance the budget.
    The current superintendent, Freve was brought into balance the budget in mid-December of 2015. Freve has said he is trying to pay for shortfalls without turning to taxpayers.
    The RSU 19 Budget Committee meets Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. to take up the budget proposal. There will be a period for public comment.

  2. BNSF creates retirement incentive to reduce furloughed workers, by Kaylee Merchak, KFDA via KTRE 9 ABC via ktre.com
    [Here's a kinky merge of furlough into retirement - what a way to get a "temporary" worktime cut!]
    AMARILLO, Tex., USA - Approximately 140 BNSF Railway workers in the Amarillo area have been placed on furlough, and the company is hoping an incentive program may help them return to work.
    Amarillo is a major operation port for the company. About 80 trains travel in and out of Amarillo daily, and it takes a lot of man power to make those shipments possible.
    To bring workers back to their jobs the company is offering a voluntary retirement and resignation incentive to train, yard, and engine employees with 10 or more years experience. The company's hope is to buyout these employees and reduce the number of furloughed workers.
    "What we want to do is reduce the number of employees in or on the furlough status," said Joseph Faust, Director of Public Affairs for BNSF Railway. "We certainly hope that volumes will improve and that the employees who are on that furlough status will be called back to work."
    More than 4,800 cutbacks have occurred throughout the company because freight volumes are lower than expected.
    "When the traffic volumes are lower than expected we have to adjust the number of employees to meet the needs to move to the trains safely and efficiently in that area," Faust said.
    Chairman at the local Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen union feel these job losses will affect the workers and our local economy.
    Train, yard, and engine workers make between $75,000 to $100,000 a year, and when they are not making money they are not spending as much. The chairman said BNSF has done an incentive like this before but it was not successful because they were only seeking conductors.
    However, the chairman has high hopes for the offer this time around.
    The company expects to see employees taking their voluntary retirements beginning next month.


2/21-22/2016 – 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. Government updates its advice on working hours, 2/22 FleetNews.co.uk
    LONDON, U.K. - The Government has updated its advice on contracts of employment and working hours as employers get to grips with a travel-to-work verdict.
    The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that employees without a fixed or habitual office – so-called peripatetic workers – should include the time spent travelling between their homes and the premises of their first and last jobs as part of their working hours last year.
    Government advice on calculating working hours has now been updated to explain what a working week includes.
    It says job-related training, time spent travelling as part of your job, working lunches, time spent working abroad, paid overtime, any unpaid overtime you’re asked to do, time spent on call at the workplace, any time that is treated as ‘working time’ under a contract and travel between home and work at the start and end of the working day (if you don’t have a fixed place of work) should all count as work.
    However, a working week does not include: time spent on call away from the workplace; breaks when no work is done; travelling outside of normal working hours, unpaid overtime that’s volunteered for, such as staying late to finish something off, paid or unpaid holiday and travel to and from work if you have a fixed place of work.
    The TUC [Trades Union Congress] said the judgement could have implications for many of the 951,000 employees who use home as a base.
    But it will have the biggest impact on some 250,000 workers, including 37,000 skilled tradesmen, 13,000 professional drivers who take their vehicles home and 12,000 mobile carers.
    The ECJ ruling relates to the Working Time Directive.
    It gives workers the right to a minimum 28 days of paid holidays each year, a 20-minute rest break after six hours of work, rest of at least 11 hours in any 24 hours, 24 hours off after seven days of work, and provides for a right to work no more than 48 hours per week over a cycle.
    It also restricts excessive night work.
    [Vacation time is good, but long workweek is employment-clotting and obsolete in an age of robotics, and surprisingly backward relative to Northern Europe (except for backward UK).]
    However, TUC policy officer Paul Sellers said: “To ensure changes comply, it is important to remember that individual opt-outs from the 48-hour week do not provide complete protection against this judgement, as it also affects the rest break entitlements in the directive. In addition, the 48-hour limit opt-out cannot be used by night workers.”
    Employers impacted by the judgement include the likes of The AA, British Gas and RAC, while many local authorities could also be affected.
    Paul Grafton, southern regional organiser at the GMB union, which represents many AA patrols, said: “We have discussed the issue and the patrols I have spoken to across the country are happy with the current position.”
    Meanwhile, an RAC spokesman said the issue remained “under consideration”.
    He added: “We are currently agreeing with our recognised trade union [Unite] the principles of how this will work within the RAC for colleagues, the aim being to have an agreement in place later this year, possibly Q2.”
    Neither The AA nor British Gas would comment, but it is understood that unions have been working through their agreements to make sure that employers are complying.
    In some cases that work is still going on as it is being considered as part of the annual pay negotiating round.
    However, the process has not been about trying to negotiate higher pay – rather, it has been about ensuring that working patterns are consistent with minimum standards of health and safety.
    Grafton said that there were concerns that some organisations across the public and private sectors may have negotiated service delivery contracts that “could come back to bite them”.
    Grafton said: “If an employee’s last job is 60 or 90 minutes away from their base it could have a huge impact on contracts and costs.”

  2. Civil servants to be able to work 3.5 days a week, by Chung Hyun-chae, 2/21 KoreaTimes.co.kr
    SEOUL, South Korea - Civil servants will be able to work for only 3.5 days a week if they choose to do so, as part of a government scheme to expand a flexible work system for government workers.
    The Ministry of Personnel Management announced Sunday that it will implement the guidelines for public servants Monday in order to reduce their work hours and encourage them to go on longer vacations.
    The ministry will expand the existing flexible work system for civil servants by allowing them to schedule their own weekly work hours.
    For example, public officials can work 12 hours a day, for three days, and work four hours on one of the remaining two days [sounds great but-] as long as they meet the basic weekly requirement of 40 hours.
    [At least SK civil servants are down to 40 hours a week, but if SK wants less unemployment and more consumer spending, they'll need to convert chronic overtime into training & jobs and then trim the workweek as much as it takes to create as enough convertible overtime to provide full employment.]
    Previously, civil servants were required to work eight hours a day, with some flexibility in starting and quitting time.
    In order to reduce overtime hours, the ministry has expanded the discretionary working hour system which was given a trial run at 13 state agencies in 2015.
    Under this system, each department set the overtime amount every month with each department head responsible for checking if these targets were attained.
    As a result, average monthly overtime dropped from 27.1 hours in 2014 to 25.1 hours in 2015, a 7.4 percent decrease.
    The ministry said it will expand the system to let individual officials set the amount of overtime hours after a meeting with the department head. They will also be able to plan their own time off.
    The ministry set the goal of reducing annual work hours per civil servant from 2,200 in 2015 to 2,100 in 2016, to 2,000 in 2017 and to 1,900 in 2018.
    [S.Korea's good at gradualism. Between 2004 and 2011 they had a job&spending-creating step-by-step workweek reduction for the private sector to jump down from 44 to 40 hours a week, in seven steps by company size, from large to small. It's just that they don't yet deliberately convert chronic overtime into training and hiring, or face the fact that as long as worksaving technology keeps getting introduced, there's no permanent "low" level of the workweek - it has to keep adjusting downward to maintain full employment and maximum consumer spending, and if it gets too short to manage, alternate weeks.]
    Some civil servants pointed out that the guidelines are out of touch with reality, and that the scheme does not reflect the unique situation each ministry faces.
    [The uniqueness aka indispensability argument was also offered every step of the way down from the 80-hour workweek. It's one of the "charming" features of job insecurity due to high unemployment and low job options, that drives everyone to present themselves as unique, irreplaceable, indispensable. Bottom line? Pathetic! In a flutter of pink slips, all you "unique" heads are gonna roll same as everyone else, as resumé-flooded CEOs' skills get ever more simple and stupid.]


2/20/2016 – 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. Richer countries have more leisure time, with one big exception, By Christopher Ingraham, WashingtonPost.com
    These beach chairs are empty because you are at work. (photo caption)
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - The American work ethic can basically be boiled down to one well-worn phrase: "Work hard, play hard." But new research from a pair of Stanford University economists suggests we are failing, miserably, at the latter half of that maxim.
    Take a look at the chart below. It's a plot of hours worked per capita versus GDP, and one country really stands out.
    More money, less work - with one big exception [chart title] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/02/19/richer-countries-have-more-leisure-time-with-one-big-exception/   [and scan down]
    As countries get wealthier, their annual hours worked per capita tend to decrease, at least in the sample examined here by economists Charles Jones and Peter Klenow. They measure GDP in fractions of U.S. GDP, because they're most interested in how other countries stack up to the United States in terms of economic well-being. For instance, Russia's GDP per capita is less than half of that in the United States, so it lands halfway down the chart's X axis.
    The relationship between GDP and working hours harkens back to economist John Maynard Keynes' famous prediction that his grandchildren would be working 15-hour work weeks -- thanks, in part, to increased productivity from new machines and technology.
    Since you're probably reading this story at your office or on your commute, you're well aware that things didn't exactly work out this way. We didn't trade our productivity gains for more time, we traded them instead for more stuff.
    But the extent of that trade-off -- time versus stuff -- hasn't been the same in all countries, as the chart above illustrates. "Average annual hours worked per capita in the U.S. are 877 versus only 535 in France: the average person in France works less than two-thirds as much as the average person in the U.S.," Jones and Klenow write. You see similar numbers in Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom.
    For a long time we've used our stuff to justify our workaholism. "Sure, the French may have day care and five-week vacations and 35-hour work weeks," we've argued. "But we've got flat-screen TVs, $5 footlongs and big cars." Or, in strictly economic terms: "France's per capita GDP is only 67 percent of ours. Who's living the good life now?"
    But in their new research, forthcoming in the American Economic Review, Jones and Klenow attempt to devise a "a summary statistic for the economic well-being" that goes beyond GDP. Economists have proposed alternative measures incorporating everything from "greenness" to "gross national happiness."
    The Stanford economists make the latest contribution to the genre with their measure that "combines data on consumption, leisure, inequality, and mortality." They find that when you throw these other qualities into the mix, the economic well-being gap between the United States and other wealthy countries shrinks -- but it doesn't disappear completely.
    "Living standards in Western Europe are much closer to those in the United States than it would appear from GDP per capita," Jones and Klenow conclude. "Longer lives with more leisure time and more equal consumption in Western Europe largely offset their lower average consumption vis a vis the United States."
    So, even when you factor in our ridiculously long work weeks, the things we miss out on when we work long hours, and the myriad ways that overwork is killing us, the United States is still No. 1! Which is irksome, I'm sure, to the millions of French workers who spend literally the entire month of August at the beach.
    Christopher Ingraham writes about politics, drug policy and all things data. He previously worked at the Brookings Institution and the Pew Research Center.

  2. Give private sector workers two days off a week, by Rashid Al-Fawzan, SaudiGazette.com.sa
    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - One of the obstacles that hinders the employment of Saudi men and women is the unlimited work hours in the private sector. There is no limit to the number of hours you can work. What can stop a business or a company from working seven days a week or making employees work longer? Nothing can stop them. Some work even on Saturdays and some shops open their doors on Fridays and Saturdays, a time when nobody should be working.
    [Except people who take their "weekend" during others' weekdays? Or people whose religion requires them to simplify life by having exactly the same routine everyday of the week (and possibly also of the year, regardless of lockstep nation-specific holydays)? Oh for the Good Old Days before the discovery of the Seven Wanderers dba "planets"= the Moon, Tiu (Mercury), Woden (Mars), Thor (Jupiter), Friyya (Venus), Saturn, and the Sun. Thank God we didn't discover the little one (Ceres) between Mars and Jupiter until 1801, or the next one after Saturn (Uranus) until 1781, or stop regarding the Sun and Moon as "planets" until Newton? (1687), by which time we had all become thoroughly resigned to this odd number and habituated to a seven-day worship week.]
    We need to set work hours for businesses and malls and have two days off for companies. More importantly, businesses should, based on the nature of their activities, close their doors one day a week.
    [Note the shift in focus from employees to employers ("businesses" or "companies"), as if there's always and only a one-to-one correspondence between employee hours and business opening hours and no such thing as shifts or part-time. This is a common, oversimplifying omission on the part of people of many different polities who project their own culture onto everyone even within their own polity, despite the presence of much greater diversity, as presented in Saudi Arabia for example by foreign workers, some (or many?) of whom have been brought in specifically to work the days or hours that are ruled out by Saudi culture.]
    For example, restaurants, pharmacies and entertainment places should work throughout the week. We need to cut down on the use of electricity, reduce traffic jams and give workers two days off a week. Private sector workers need to take two days off. It has become an inevitable thing.
    How can we create a healthy work environment in the private sector if there is no equilibrium? Unfortunately, some shops open their doors 14 hours a day and exhaust their employees.
    [Has Saudi Arabia not yet discovered shifts? In other words, it doesn't matter how long your business is open, you have as many shifts of employees as it takes to give them as much as possible of that most basic human freesom, job-secure Free Time (this is different from unemployment: free time is leisure; unemployment or joblessness is idleness). For example, want to keep your shop open for 14 hours a day? No problem! Have two shifts of employees working 7 hours each, or 7.5 if they need a half-hour overlap in your business to transition smoothly, outgoing shift briefing incoming shift, as at hospitals. Looks like the Saudis are relearning the hard way what the rest of the world went through in the 19th Century: before gas and later, electric lighting, we all worked by the sun, 12 hours a day in summer and 8 hours a day in winter, and somewhere in between in spring and fall. That meant 12x7= 84-hour summer workweeks for irreligious businesses that worked 7 days a week, 12x6= 72-hour summer workweeks for religious businesses that took Sunday (Christian) or Saturday (Jewish) off, or 12x5= 60-hour summer workweeks for Jewish businesses that took Saturday off for synagogue and Sunday off because all their Christian clients were at church - a practice that combined with shorter winter workweeks and got extended to everyone year-round by 1940 in the form of an 8x5= 40-hour workweek. The 8-hour "day" was actually an 8-hour "shift" which meant two shifts a day if your business was open 16 hours a day, or three shifts a day if you were open 24 hours a day. If you wanted to be open 24/7, you could add two 20-hour shifts to cover Sat-Sun which would provide two shifts of non-weekday, weekend-only employees with 40-hour all-on-two-days "workweeks," or any more complicated split, plus-or- minus provision for a little overlap with weekday shifts wherever needed. Jumping to the whole workweek, without worrying about the weekday-vs-weekend/religious arrangements: to have 24/7 business-opening hours you need to work with 168 hours a week = seven 24-hour days. Let's look at the possible splits assuming a population whose religion requires an absolutely identical schedule every day of the week. Their options are: two shifts with 84-hour workweeks, three shifts with 56-hour workweeks, four shifts with 42-hour workweeks, five shifts with 33.6-hour (33-hour-&-36-minute) workweeks, six shifts with 28-hour workweeks, seven shifts with 24-hour workweeks, eight shifts with 21-hour workweeks, nine shifts with 18&2/3-hour workweeks or ten shifts with 16.8-hour workweeks, etc. This is the "magic of shifts."]
    I am not talking about restaurants but certain shops. I believe a Saudi who works every day of the week and more than eight hours a day does it because he has no other choice. If we had a law specifying the limit of work hours and gave workers two days off a week, the situation would be different. Such a law must set penalties and be strictly enforced.
    Only then will we see Saudi men and women who are serious about work and who want to work. Such a law would conserve energy and stop all forms of waste. We need to create a social equilibrium.
    It is never too late. We should seize the opportunity today and make a law that sets the official working hours in the private sector. Our work environment should be balanced and attractive to Saudi men and women.


2/19/2016 – 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. Fears for up to 60 jobs at Cameron plant in Longford - The company is said to be seeking up to 60 redundancies and also a possible reduction in working hours, 2/18 late pickup) News Talk 106-108 fm via newstalk.com
    LONGFORD, Ireland - There [are] fears for up to 60 jobs at the Cameron plant in Longford Town [as distinct from Longford County].
    All 270 staff at the company were called into a meeting this afternoon, and were told the company is seeking up to 60 redundancies and also a possible reduction in working hours, Shannonside News reports.
    Cameron designs and manufactures solutions for the global oil and gas industry.
    The company's Longford plant is among 250 worldwide.
    It is believed some jobs losses had been expected due to the downturn in the oil industry.
    Fianna Fáil candidate for Longford/Westmeath Connie Gerety-Quinn said, "this terrible news is a major blow to Longford town... This is devastating news not only for the workers, but also to their families and the wider Longford community.
    "Unions and management should engage positively to try and minimise job losses,
    [- no better way than reducing working hours instead of working people = Timesizing not downsizing! -]
    and to ensure the workers are given a fair and decent redundancy package. Training and upskilling should be provided immediately to the people who lost their jobs," she added.

  2. Opening hours cuts "on cards" [=are in the cards/future, are ahead] for Shropshire Council's archives, (2/20 early pickup) ShropshireStar.com
    Ongoing cuts to Shropshire Council’s budget mean “major adjustments” must be made to the county’s archive service with a reduction of opening hours.
    SHREWSBURY, Shrops., U.K. - Consultation will open next week into plans to change staffing and functions at the archive centre in Shrewsbury, with a cap on opening hours to just 15 a week.
    The service – which currently operates between 18 and 22 hours a week [posted or random?] – now only sees about 5,000 visitors each year and bosses are looking at ways it can reduce the service to save money.

    [Downward spiral alert by bosses looking too vigorously for excuses to cut cut cut. Service? Stewardship? What's that?!]
    A statement from Shropshire Council said: “Budget reductions, part of the overall spending pressures on Shropshire Council, require a major adjustment in staffing and functions at Shropshire Archives.
    “Inevitably this means a reduction in the service’s opening hours.
    [Why "inevitably"? Too chicken to raise taxes or initiate/raise an access fee?]
    “Following the reduction [from what level?] in opening hours in April 2014, the service has seen a reduction in visitors to about 5,000 per year.
    [How many were there before? So bizarre beholding these geniuses who think they can reduce opening hours without reducing clients. Then there are the ones who complain about fewer clients when they haven't been keeping their posted opening hours.]
    “In April 2015, as a result of customer feedback, access to the search room where original documents can be consulted was extended on Wednesdays to 4pm and this has been well supported.
    “Since then demand has continued for access to original documents in the search room and the library-style service offered from 2pm to 4pm on Thursdays and Fridays has not been so well used.
    “Demand on Saturdays is variable and does not seem to support the current frequency of opening.”
    The statement added: “The proposed changes to opening hours will allow for a full service during the opening periods covering both the reading room and the search room, though documents would need to be ordered in advance at certain times, for example on Saturdays.”
    The service is currently closed on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays. It opens from 10am to 4pm on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and from 10am to 2pm every other Saturday.
    [ And Sundays when the Moon is full and you're holding your tongue the right way? This is all too ridiculously complex. And there's more -]
    From 2pm to 4pm on Thursdays and Fridays the centre operates a library service only.
    But the council wants to limit it to 15 hours a week.
    [Why not just shutdown the whole thing? This council appears too cheap or chicken to merit a history.]
    It said: “This reduction in opening hours will ensure that the service can continue with other essential behind-the-scenes cataloguing and conservation work which supports public access to archives.
    “An inquiry service will continue to be maintained during public opening times, and opportunities for volunteers will also continue to be provided from Tuesdays to Thursdays.
    “Group visits, school sessions and adult education courses will continue to be programmed for Mondays and Tuesdays in response to levels of demand.”
    Shropshire Council is due to open consultation into the plans on Tuesday and this will close on March 28.
    A final decision will then be made in April with new opening hours starting in May.
    The first of the three proposed options would retain a once-a-month Saturday opening and one longer day but a reduction in opening on Thursdays and Fridays.
    The second would see one long day, no Saturday openings and longer days on Thursdays and Fridays.
    And the final option would see three shorter days, no Saturday openings – but opening hours would be easier to understand and remember.
    The council is also inviting people to come up with a fourth alternative but it must have a maximum of 15 opening hours per week.
    PUBLISHED: February 19, 2016 07:59 LAST UPDATED: February 19, 2016 13:31 Opening hours cuts on cards for Shropshire Council's archives Ongoing cuts to Shropshire Council’s budget mean “major adjustments” must be made to the county’s archive service with a reduction of opening hours. Shrewsbury Shirehall logo stock 0 Comments Tweet Consultation will open next week into plans to change staffing and functions at the archive centre in Shrewsbury, with a cap on opening hours to just 15 a week. The service – which currently operates between 18 and 22 hours a week – now only sees about 5,000 visitors each year and bosses are looking at ways it can reduce the service to save money. A statement from Shropshire Council said: “Budget reductions, part of the overall spending pressures on Shropshire Council, require a major adjustment in staffing and functions at Shropshire Archives. “Inevitably this means a reduction in the service’s opening hours. “Following the reduction in opening hours in April 2014 the service has seen a reduction in visitors to about 5,000 per year. “In April 2015, as a result of customer feedback, access to the search room where original documents can be consulted was extended on Wednesdays to 4pm and this has been well supported. “Since then demand has continued for access to original documents in the search room and the library-style service offered from 2pm to 4pm on Thursdays and Fridays has not been so well used. “Demand on Saturdays is variable and does not seem to support the current frequency of opening.” What do you think? Share your thoughts... Log in and start commenting The statement added: “The proposed changes to opening hours will allow for a full service during the opening periods covering both the reading room and the search room, though documents would need to be ordered in advance at certain times, for example on Saturdays.” The service is currently closed on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays. It opens from 10am to 4pm on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and from 10am to 2pm every other Saturday. From 2pm to 4pm on Thursdays and Fridays the centre operates a library service only. But the council wants to limit it to 15 hours a week. It said: “This reduction in opening hours will ensure that the service can continue with other essential behind-the-scenes cataloguing and conservation work which supports public access to archives. “An inquiry service will continue to be maintained during public opening times, and opportunities for volunteers will also continue to be provided from Tuesdays to Thursdays.
    “Group visits, school sessions and adult education courses will continue to be programmed for Mondays and Tuesdays in response to levels of demand.”
    Shropshire Council is due to open consultation into the plans on Tuesday and this will close on March 28.
    A final decision will then be made in April with new opening hours starting in May.
    The first of the three proposed options would retain a once-a-month Saturday opening and one longer day but a reduction in opening on Thursdays and Fridays.
    The second would see one long day, no Saturday openings and longer days on Thursdays and Fridays.
    And the final option would see three shorter days, no Saturday openings – but opening hours would be easier to understand and remember.
    The council is also inviting people to come up with a fourth alternative but it must have a maximum of 15 opening hours per week.
    To see the consultation, visit www.shropshire.gov.uk/get-involved/


2/18/2016 – 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. Central Frontenac Council OKs compressed summer work week for staff, by Craig Bakay, (2/17 late pickup) Frontenac Gazette via KingstonRegion.com
    SHARBOT LAKE, Ont., Canada — A trial run experimenting with a compressed work week for Central Frontenac staff turned out to be so popular that they asked to make the move permanent, Clerk Cathy MacMunn told Council at its regular meeting last week in Sharbot Lake. And Council agreed.
    Starting last August, the Township embarked on a program whereby staff members could work more hours per day in order to have Fridays off. The program ran until December.
    The details of the program vary from department to department with road crews tending to work a four day week (extended hours each of the four days) and inside workers averaging an extra 45 minutes per day to have every other Friday off.

    “(But) the program is not mandatory and we try to be flexible,” MacMunn said. “And we try to ensure that senior staff is available should issues arise on days where we may have fewer staff.
    “We always make sure there is someone there.”
    The new program is expected to be in place from March to November with regular work week hours during the winter months. A work week at Central Frontenac Township is 35 hours.
    [Let's see: four times a 7.75-hour day plus five times a 7.75-hour day, divided by two, gives us a workweek of 31+38.75= 69.75 hours in two weeks, or an average workweek of 34.875 hours. Well, 0.125 of an hour (7½ minutes) is not a big reduction from the current 35-hour workweek but little adjustments add up and we're already starting from only a 35-hour workweek here anyway, and not 37½ or 40.]
    Council was generally supportive noting the morale benefits such schemes can provide.
    “Service to the public is paramount,” said Coun. Brent Cameron. “But I work in an office with flexible hours and I can tell you it’s a good morale booster.”
    “If this becomes an issue for the public, can this be brought back to Council?” said Dep. Mayor Bill MacDonald.
    “Anything we do can come back,” said Mayor Frances Smith. “But I’m often in the office on Fridays during the summer and it’s pretty quiet around there so I think this can work well.”

  2. Tavaglione critical of Sheriff’s Department’s cooperation with consultants, IdyllwildTownCrier.com
    IDYLLWILD, Calif., USA - During the Feb. 9 Riverside County Board of Supervisor’s meeting, Supv. John Tavaglione (2nd District) chastised County Sheriff Stan Sniff.
    According to the supervisor, he believes the Sheriff’s Department has not been diligently cooperating with the consultants, who have been hired to evaluate the efficiencies of the county’s public safety programs.
    During his opening comments, Tavaglione praised the 16-point plan Supv. Marion Ashley (5th District) submitted for review at the previous board meeting. However, Tavaglione was concerned about county employees’ reaction to the possibility of furloughs and four-day work weeks.
    “There was some angst among employees because of talking about furloughs and closing on Fridays,” he said.
    “This is just an item to be looked at. Just because it’s on the list doesn’t mean it will happen.”
    But he made it clear that jettisoning these options would depend upon the savings KPMG, the consultant hired to evaluate the county’s public safety budgets, finds.
    “We know there will be potential savings that will be achieved from that and will allow us not to have to implement items [like jobcuts?] in the 16-point plan,” he stated.

    But then he added that during his discussions with the consultants he was hearing that the information they needed from the Sheriff’s Department was surprisingly slow in arrival.
    Since the report is expected by the end of March, Tavaglione then said, “It [had] better stop, because if the sheriff thinks this board is going to approve anything, it is not going to happen unless we get information on when the efficiencies will be achieved.
    “I don’t want this sheriff to leave a legacy his predecessors have,” Tavaglione continued, referring to his vote to support Sniff’s appointment after his predecessor, Bob Doyle, resigned in 2007. Doyle had accepted a state appointment with the Board of Parole Hearings.
    “I hope the sheriff will play by the rules and make sure we get the information we need,” Tavaglioine added as he finished his comments.
    [But then, when you're spending godknowshowmuch on outside consultants to put additional data-retrieval tasks and research burdens on already burdened employees for the purpose of cutting their income... "Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers." Luke 11:46, Matt.23:4. But bottom line: better furloughs than firings, better workweek cuts than workforce cuts, better Timesizing than downsizing!]
    “Since October 2015, when the review began, Sheriff’s Department staff began meeting and working with KPMG, and have since released thousands of pages of the requested documents for their review. In addition, department staff have arranged numerous ride-a-longs, visits and interviews with employees at the various bureaus ...” Sheriff Sniff replied later in the week. “There are some requests - received both in written and verbal form - however, that require clarification so the appropriate information can be retrieved and prepared for release to KPMG. Likewise, there are other requests for information that require staff research and preparation prior to release. These factors may cause unforeseen delays, but these delays are reasonable and understandable given the breadth and scope of the audit and aggressive time line.” Sniff said he remains committed to cooperation with the review.


2/17/2016 – 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. Disney World painters laid off amid other reports of cost controls, by Sandar Pedicini, (2/15 late pickup) OrlandoSentinel.com
    ORLANDO, Fla., USA - About 100 painters have been let go at Walt Disney World, according to a representative of the union that represents them.
    The layoffs Tuesday came at the same time as reports that Disney World managers have become stricter about some workers' hours and that certain attractions' schedules are being tinkered with to control costs. Last week, the Walt Disney Co. reported record quarterly earnings that included a surge in domestic theme park attendance but also weakness at ESPN. Disney's overseas resorts have also underperformed and its Shanghai resort is opening later than originally expected this year.
    Disney said hours traditionally fluctuate and that the company is not responding to concerns about ESPN or a delayed Shanghai opening.
    "We are adding new attractions and entertainment offerings this year in addition to significant expansions opening next year and beyond," Disney said in an emailed statement. "As our business continues to grow, we regularly make adjustments in our operations to ensure we are able to deliver great Guest and Cast experiences in the most efficient way possible."
    The painters laid off this week were employed by Buena Vista Construction Co., an arm of the Walt Disney Co. They get benefits through their union and aren't considered Disney "cast members."
    Buena Vista regularly sheds employees around Christmastime, said Steve Hall, a government affairs representative with the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, but "this would be a little different in that it seems out of sync." Hall said he's heard between 100 and 140 painters were let go.
    Disney said the company noticed Buena Vista's numbers were above average levels and made reductions based on project schedules.
    Meanwhile at other parts of the resort, there have been other reports of restricting hours.
    A few character meet-and-greets have had slightly shortened hours, said Donna-Lynne Dalton, a business agent with the Teamsters, which represents performers. Many people had worked a lot of overtime during recent busy periods, she said, and management is "hoping that with adjusting the staffing levels and some of these venue adjustments, so to speak, it will even things out a little bit better."

    [The more hourcuts, the less jobcuts - so more Timesizing, less downsizing!]
    Disney pointed out it has added other character meet-and-greets, such as one announced Tuesday at Hollywood Studios featuring Olaf, Mickey and Minnie.
    The blog WDW News Today reported Tuesday that curbside greeters are being cut at resorts, and all front-desk and concierge cast members will only be offered up to 32 hours a week. When asked about that, Disney said it has been testing some new processes that have resulted in adjusted schedules that will probably be changed further.
    Any cuts would likely have to be subtle, given that the theme parks are attracting visitors in droves and are heading into the busy spring break period, said Bob Boyd, an analyst with Pacific Asset management. Regarding overseas parks' troubles or ESPN's, analysts have "seen historically all parts of the company expected to do 'their share' to improve results," he said in an email.
    Some EPCOT attractions are closing earlier than the rest of the park, and Disney World's website shows the Main Street Electrical Parade will only run once a night during March, typically one of the Magic Kingdom's busiest times.
    The timing is a little surprising, said Duncan Dickson, a former Disney executive. "Right now it's not a normal thing to do," he said, "but they're looking at things they can cut that won't affect the guest experience."
    spedicini@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5240

  2. France 'Right To Disconnect' Law? Labor Minister To Propose Allowing Employees To Ignore Emails, by Julia Glum @superjulia, Phones After Work, International Business Times via ibtimes.com
    PARIS, France - What do you do when an email or call comes in after work hours? Do you answer — because it's your responsibility — or ignore — because you're off the clock? A French lawmaker wants to make that decision a little easier for the country's workforce.
    Myriam El Khomri, the minister of labor recently appointed by President François Hollande, has been preparing a proposal that would legally clarify [that] people are allowed to disconnect when they're not working, The Local reported Monday. The law could decrease chances of burnout by letting employees take true breaks from their jobs, Bruno Mettling, the director general of cell phone company Orange, told Europe 1 last year.
    ["Love your neighbor" according to Jesus, "but don't take down the fence" according to Carl Sandburg, because "Good fences make good neighbors" according to Robert Frost. And is any boundary more important than that between business and pleasure, work and play, on-duty and off-? It is the key to human progress in our lifetimes. But having a micromanaging law to do it will not work during a gross and growing labor surplus. Outrageous as it sounds, only the creation of a labor shortage in the eyes of employers can generate the general respect for employees that is required for a truly effective boundary between on-duty and off-.]

    "Digital is an opportunity to transform and improve work life. But like any major change, there are risks ... one of the biggest risks is the balance of personal and working life as related to this constant connectivity," Mettling said in French. "No employee should [be] criticized for not having been here after work hours."
    The idea of the right to disconnect came up after the government received a report Jan. 25 detailing certain principles the labor ministry should adopt to protect the people from burning out, according to RTL [Radio Télévision Luxembourg]. But it's been a hot topic in 35-hour workweek France for more than a year. In 2014, a labor union signed an agreement enabling certain contract employees to switch off their devices after long shifts.
    Not everyone agrees with the concept. Stress researcher Yves Lasfargue told Changer le travail he thought the restrictions on after-work communications should be implemented in each company individually.
    [which is code for caving-in to management's overwhelming power in a general labor surplus = high unemployment.]
    "No coercive regulation could apply because what is applicable in one business is not applicable in another," Lasfargue said in French. "The needs of employees are different and the concept of individual comfort has become very important. For some, comfort is also able to read emails on Sunday evening to prepare for Monday morning."
    [That's another reason for doing this with a stable minimum of macromanagement instead of a burgeoning maximum of stifling micromanagement, by means of OT-to-jobs conversion & as much workweek reduction as required for full employment & maximum consumer spending.]

    The Local reported that El Khomri would debut her law "in the coming weeks."

    OT-to-jobs conversion & as much


2/16/2016 – 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. French labour relations take a turn for the better - EDF’s deal on working hours may give others confidence to negotiate, (2/15 predate or late googleup) ft.com
    PARIS, France - The 35-hour week is far from being the biggest obstacle to hiring in France’s dysfunctional labour market,
    [as if the U.S. labor market is any less dysfunctional with its unenforced 40-hour workweek, employer and employee incentives for concentrating diminishing unrobotized employment on fewer potential consumer-spenders via overtime, and minimum-wage disincentivization for hiring the unskilled...]
    but its symbolic importance is undeniable.
    [no, it's eminently deniable as a disincentive to hiring - but it will restore its function of being the biggest positive incentive to hiring if it is accompanied by incentives for converting chronic overtime into training and hiring, and it it is lowered further as much as it takes to achieve full employment.]
    Business leaders are adamant that the law on working hours reinforces crass Anglo-Saxon stereotypes of France abroad, making it harder for them to fight “le French-bashing”.
    [Since when do the stylish French give a good goddamn about what Anglo-Saxons think and their hobby of "French-bashing," which testifies only to their envy and suppressed admiration. SInce when? Since the French got unstrategic and split their votes against LePen in the 2002? runoff between LePen, Chirac and Jospin, and since Jospin demonstrated Yeats' "the best lack all conviction" by withdrawing to his farm, and since the French accepted an alien overly Anglo-impressed&intimidated Magyar family into their bosom, whose name resonates with 'sarcophagus' in more ways than one.]
    At home, however, any move to scrap the 35-hour week ignites a political firestorm.
    [- unless it involves its 'death by a thousand cuts.']
    The agreement set to be reached this week by the state-owned utility EDF [ Électricité de France] — whose staff have long enjoyed some of the most generous terms and conditions of any French workers — therefore represents a breakthrough.
    The changes may appear modest. EDF’s white-collar staff will be able to cede some of their astonishing 10-week holiday allowance in return for a pay rise;
    [and a rise in French chômage (unemployment)]
    but the deal is optional, reversible and will not apply to blue-collar employees. Its real significance, however, lies in the precedent it sets for employers and unions to agree [on] substantive reforms at company level.
    This is important, because it is becoming clear that employers cannot look to the government to solve their problems.
    [Yes they can. But not for arbitrary job&spending creation as they do now, or evermore cheap foreign labor which just depresses general wages and domestic spending. They can look to the government instead to referee the private sector's own maximization France's domestic consumer base by maximizing French employment in the same direction Jospin started 1997-2001 = overtime-to-jobs conversion and downward workweek adjustment (which cannot just stop forever at the 35-hour or any other arbitrary level, however "low," in the age of robotics and A.I.!). The "Lump of Labor Fallacy!" charge is total technology ignorance and denial.]
    A radical shake-up of the labour market would be desirable
    [- a radical anything is undesirable - the hugest changes happen gradually without notice and without eliciting nullifying over-reactions, as supported by myopic-employer-supported Sarkozy's diehard attempt to kill the 35-hour workweek via "death by a thousand cuts"]
    — and consistent with president François Hollande’s rhetorical declaration of an “economic state of emergency”
    [Hollande has turned out to be a purely rhetorical progressive and a hell-landing letdown for the whole land - Mr. Melodrama with no beef]
    — but it is not realistic at this point in the political cycle. Tearing up the 35-hour week, which even Nicolas Sarkozy failed to do, would be divisive for the Socialist party, at a time when its [the party's] priority is rebuilding bridges with disaffected factions on the left of the party.
    [and a time when every other advanced economy is cutting their workweek - see story 2/13/2016 #2 below]
    Instead, the government has confirmed that it will not scrap the requirement to pay overtime rates on any work done above the 35-hour limit.
    [A 10% overtime premium is a joke anyway.]
    It has also made it clear that labour market reforms to be unveiled next month will not touch the minimum wage or the inflexible contracts that discourage permanent hiring. Yet again, incremental reforms will be the order of the day. What the government may attempt, however, is a shake-up of labour relations, aiming to foster a culture of negotiation and facilitate agreements at company level.
    In the long run, this could be even more important than rewriting legislation. In reality, the 35-hour week is less strictly observed than its symbolisms would suggest. Working hours are not far below the EU average. The law is not an absolute limit; it simply sets a point at which employees can start to claim overtime of at least 10 per cent [ohnooo Mr.Bill!]. Employers are free to negotiate working hours, overtime rates and any extra holiday allowances with unions and with their own employees.
    [In a labor surplus=employment shortage, there's no such thing as employer negotiation with employees, only employer dictats to employees, "My way or the highway!".]
    The problem is that labour relations in France are so poisonous that they rarely do.
    [Guess they don't have too many far-sighted employers like Edward Filene (search on 'filene') or Aaron Feuerstein (search on 'feuer').]
    Employers often default to a much higher 25 per cent rate of pay for extra hours, because they fear they will be hauled through the courts if they attempt to bargain it down. Even when a deal is reached at company level, it is sometimes overruled by unions at regional level. Daimler struggled to agree an extension of the 35-hour working week at a factory in Lorraine, even though most of the employees themselves had backed it.
    EDF is not the first major French employer to find a way through this minefield; but it is one of the most prominent. Its agreement could give executives and unions elsewhere the confidence to negotiate.
    It will also be a useful test of employees’ preferences. French politicians on the left claim the 35-hour week protects workers; those on the right claim people should have the freedom to earn more if they choose.
    [Earning more without overworking is a freedom that people always have, but it involves upgrading your skills and making more money within a finite workweek determined nonarbitrarily by the un(der)employment rate (or underconsumption rate) and not by employees' more-show-than-real "choice" to earn more at the expense of their most fundamental freedom, job-secure Free Time. And again, working longer hours is more often due to an employer "volunteering" you rather than a free choice on your part in the context of a labor surplus.]
    It will be interesting to see how EDF’s desk workers respond when given a choice.

  2. Needs must - Four week lay-off [furlough] was not a breach entitling employee to resign, by Hogan Lovells, Lexology.com
    [Changing "lay-off" to "furlough" in accordance with American usage where layoffs have no definite upfront end & are therefore effectively permanent, and furloughs have a definite upfront end & are therefore temporary - ed.]
    LONDON, U.K. - The rules on statutory redundancy payments recognise furloughs and short time working as alternatives to [permanent] redundancy [= US: 'layoff'] by providing (in short) that employees are entitled to claim a statutory redundancy payment [= unemployment benefits] if they have been furloughed or kept on short-time working for at least four consecutive weeks. The employer can defend the employee's claim for a redundancy payment if it ['it' being the employer] reasonably expects that work will restart within four weeks.
    However, an employer can only lay off [or furlough] an employee, or put them on short time working, in the first place if it [=employer] has a contractual right to do so. If the right is open ended, can the employee argue that the period of furlough has to be limited to what is reasonable? If so, and a reasonable period of furlough is exceeded, the employee would be able to resign and claim that they had been unfairly dismissed. This might be more attractive [for the employee?] than claiming a statutory redundancy payment under the statutory scheme.
    To date, the use of furloughs has largely been confined to the manufacturing sector, but Craig v Linfield & Son involved a design & technology company which, following a drop-off in work, exercised its contractual right to lay off staff for an indefinite period. The issue was whether the [actual] length of the lay-off – just over four weeks [in the event] – amounted to a breach of contract entitling an employee to resign and claim constructive dismissal.
    [What a lot of faith it requires to use phrases like "constructive dismissal" or "creative destruction," and any strategy or policy that requires that much faith (="the substance of things unseen") is more akin to a hoodwink than a best practice in good faith.]
    There were conflicting EAT cases [Employment Rights Act, UK's counterpart to US' Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)] on this in the 1980s. A Dakri & Co Ltd v Tiffen decided that any contractual furlough should be limited to a "reasonable period"; Kenneth MacRae & Co Ltd v Dawson three years later disagreed [specifying "3 yrs later" is useless unless you give a specific date upfront!], the EAT pointing out that an employee who thought that they had been furloughed for too long could follow the statutory procedure for claiming a redundancy payment.
    [This sounds like a deceptive employee-calming disempowerment by employers similar to Macdonald's labeling every employee "management" to make them "exempt from" (ie: unentitled to) overtime pay.]
    Following the later decision, the Tribunal held that as no term could be implied as to the reasonableness of the length of furlough, there was therefore no breach of contract/potential constructive dismissal.
    [So employees are supposed to starve indefinitely - this is what happens when employees and their unions lose control of their own supply and demand and let their supply transform into a disempowering and wage(&spending)- depressing oversupply aka labor surplus - which takes down the whole economy including employers and the consumer base languishes.]
    And even if a term like this could be implied [I'd vote for 4-weeks max!], the employer had not exceeded a reasonable period on the facts.
    [But the employee did not know this and was given no upfront assurances by the employer, so... another "Suicide, Everyone Else First" by shortsighted and growth-braking UK employers.]
    The EAT dismissed the appeal. The statutory scheme balanced [ha] the rights of employers and employees in circumstances where both were adversely affected by a short-term [def'n?] downturn in business. It provided for a four-week period, during which there was no entitlement to claim a redundancy payment. If an employee could make a claim for constructive dismissal after four and a half weeks, this would negate the purpose of the statutory scheme.
    [which is to impoverish employees and further slam UK growth?]
    In any event, even if there was an implied term that a furlough would be no longer than was reasonable, there would have to be very good reasons for finding that a period matching the statutory four weeks did not meet this.
    There was no evidence here that the employer had behaved in a way that might breach its trust and confidence duty.
    [These are a couple of words that slide unnoticed "to the center" = employers' understanding, employees be damned.]
    This was a genuine furlough – there was no question of the employer trying to replace the workforce with cheaper labour or manipulating the rules for its own economic benefit.
    [No, just a question of the greater-reserves&credit employer unconsultatively dumping No Income Indefinitely on its less-reserves&credit employees, as if they were robots that could just be turned off and then turned back on when and if needed.]
    The proprietor of the business had kept in touch with employees, reassuring them that no one was sacked or being made redundant and that when orders started flowing he would let them know.
    [How comforting - not. An indefinite "furlough" is tantamount to a permanent layoff and implies no constraints whatsoever on employees so treated. But only an employer-perceived labor shortage - and plenty of management discipline by a jump in an employee response to abuse of jobchange - will restore this level of consideration to employees.]
    Hogan Lovells - Elizabeth Slattery and Ed Bowyer.


2/14-15/2016 – 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. Russia's major car manufacturer switches to shortened work week, 2/15 Tass.ru
    Russia's largest carmaker group Avtovaz was at risk of putting on hold operational activities due to large losses and difficulties associated with the repayment of debt
    SAMARA, Russia - Russia's largest passenger car manufacturer Avtovaz announced transition to a four-day work week for six months, the company said Monday.
    [So, four 8?-hour days = 32-hour workweek? Wouldn't this make Avtovaz a "good Samaratan"? - because a shortened workweek is definitely better than a shorn-forlorn workforce and consumer base = better Timesizing than downsizing!]
    It was first reported about Avtovaz possible[y] switching to a four-day working week after a meeting of the Board of Directors of the company on November 30, 2015. "The Board of Directors focused on the main areas of improvement and its adaptation to the current market conditions," the company’s press service said.
    It was reported earlier, Russia's largest carmaker group Avtovaz was at risk of putting on hold operational activities due to large losses and difficulties associated with the repayment of debt. The auditor - Ernst&Young - said that the losses of Avtovaz amounted to 73.85 bln rubles ($932.5 mln) in 2015 (increasing 2.9-fold), as well as short-term liabilities at the end of the year exceeded the current assets by 67.78 bln rubles ($855.2 mln), which caused the auditor to doubt the ability of Avtovaz to continue its operational activity.
    Avtovaz said it breached covenants on more than 43 bln rubles ($542.63 mln) of loans as of December 31 and received waivers from lenders including Rosbank, Garanti Bank Moscow and Societe Generale. The company also noted risks and said it needed shareholder support.
    At the end of the year, long-term liabilities of the group amounted to 48.9 bln rubles ($617.1 mln), which is 67% more that in 2014.

  2. New legal right for shop workers to refuse longer work hours on Sundays, by Tim Ross, 2/14 London Daily Telegraph via telegraph.co.uk
    LONDON, England - Shop workers will be given a new legal right to refuse to work longer hours on Sundays, under sweeping "reforms" [our quotes] to trading laws.
    [Sounds like good news, right? Let's take half a minute to enjoy that impression .......... .......... ..........
    However, in practice, workers' rights diminish in a gross and growing labor surplus. Especially legislated rights count less and less as The Market responds to the fact that employees get closer and closer to "common as dirt, cheap as dirt."]
    Ministers want larger stores to be able to open for longer on Sundays and are changing legislation to give councils the power to extend trading hours in their local areas.
    But religious groups, Conservative MPs and corner shop keepers have warned that the reforms will further erode the weekend time workers have to spend with their families.
    The Telegraph can disclose that ministers have now drawn up a new five-point “package of protections” to guarantee that no worker will be forced against their will to work longer hours on Sundays.
    [Labor surplus? Workers' "will" weighs less and less. This is all just wishful thinking until the playing field of power between labor and management is leveled - which effectively means that today's spoiled employers must perceive a "shortage" of labor even just to maintain current wage (and consumer spending) levels.]
    Employers will also be forced to tell their staff about the new rights, and will face new penalties for failing to do so. The plan is intended to head of a damaging rebellion from traditionalist Tories and to buy the support of the Scottish National Party, who could hold the deciding votes in the Commons.
    [This simply requires employers to get sneakier about firing high-maintenance or demanding or "uncooperative" employees, and sneakier they will get, as long as it's sooo easy to replace employees with hundreds of lower-wage higher-obedience alternatives.]
    It comes after the CofE [Church of England] said that relaxing Sunday trading laws would “damage family and community life” and urged the government to “think again”. The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Rev [Right Reverend] Alan Smith, said extending opening hours on Sundays would “exacerbate” [=worsen] the decline in time that people spend together.
    The government wants to change the law to allow larger shops to open for longer than the current maximum of six hours. But ministers are facing a rebellion from more than 20 Tory MPs, as well as opposition from Labour politicians and trade unions.
    The government was forced to shelve the plan last year in the face of wide opposition. Now the reforms have been brought back in the Enterprise Bill, currently passing through parliament.
    More than 20 Tory MPs oppose the reforms, alongside Labour, while the SNP is expected to hold the balance of power over the Bill. The SNP has said that it supports longer Sunday trading hours but has raised concerned about protections of workers.
    Brandon Lewis, the local government minister, said the package of protections would give “millions” of shop workers a new legal right to say “no thanks” to their bosses’ request to work longer hours.
    In an article for The Telegraph website, he said: “Where local leaders do choose to allow longer opening hours on a Sunday, they won’t be doing so at the expense of shop workers.
    “We will protect workers who don’t want to work on Sundays by strengthening the powers available for people to say ‘no thanks’.”
    The new protections are contained in amendments to the Enterprise Bill.
    Under existing laws, workers who are asked to work on a Sunday but don’t want to, whether to spend time with family, or for religious reasons, have to give their employers three months’ notice. Mr Lewis said this would now be reduced to just one month.
    “Even more than that, we will introduce a new rule so that those who currently work on a Sunday and are asked to work longer hours will have a legal right to turn them down,” he said.
    “We’ll also be requiring employers to make sure staff are aware of their rights when it comes to Sunday working, and those that don’t comply will face new penalties.”
    The new legal right to refuse to work longer hours will apply to all shop workers, including those in small convenience stores.
    In addition to the right to refuse, workers in large shops will have to give less notice to their employers if they want to opt out of Sunday working altogether. The notice period will fall from three months to one month.
    Employers will also be required by law to provide “written notice” to shop workers about these new rights alongside information on where their staff can find advice about their rights.
    Where the employer fails to notify shop workers of their rights, the notice period for those wishing to opt out of Sunday working will fall from one month to just seven days for large shops and from three months to one month for small stores.
    In Employment Tribunal cases, in which an employer is found to have failed to notify a shop worker of their opt-out rights, the tribunal will be able to award the worker up to four weeks’ pay in compensation.
    [Ye gad, there's another article herein appended, but it's relevant, so...]
    Sunday trading laws were established when the world was a different place, by Housing & Planning Minister Brandon Lewis, 2/14 London Daily Telegraph via telegraph.co.uk
    LONDON, England - Our Sunday trading laws were established more than two decades ago, when the world was a very different place.
    Then the internet was in its infancy and the idea of shopping online was something that most of us would have considered the stuff of science fiction.
    Today, online retailers account for 11 per cent of sales overall, and considerably more than that in traditionally busy periods like the run-up to Christmas. As a result, our high street shops are under growing pressure from competitors on the internet.
    It is clear that that there is a growing appetite for shopping on a Sunday. There is evidence that transactions for Sunday shopping are actually growing faster than those for Saturday – and with people able to shop around the clock online, many retailers want to be able to compete by opening for longer at the weekend.
    As the law stands, larger stores can’t open for more than six hours. This government doesn’t want to impose change – indeed, we’ve set about a devolution revolution, handing powers away from Whitehall to local leaders who know what’s best for their communities and economies.
    So earlier this year the government launched a public consultation on Sunday trading. The vast majority of responses were in favour of the idea of devolving responsibility for Sunday trading law to councils and local leaders. In fact, more than 150 council or group leaders have come out in support of the move.
    Business leaders, too, have backed the idea. I want this reform to be part of our efforts to build a truly national recovery, with our great towns and cities able to determine their own futures.
    Those that believe longer Sunday opening hours are right for their area, and can bring their communities with them, will be able to change the law, while those that don’t will have the right to keep things as they are.
    Local leaders will be able to target relaxation of existing rules on particular areas – empowering a high street which is struggling over an out-of-town retail park, for instance – or allow longer opening hours for set periods, such as the summer months when they want to attract more tourists.
    As MPs prepare to consider our proposals this week, I want to make one thing clear: where local leaders do choose to allow longer opening hours on a Sunday, they won’t be doing so at the expense of shop workers.
    We will protect workers who don’t want to work on Sundays by strengthening the powers available for people to say ‘no thanks’.
    Previously, employees who are asked to work on a Sunday but don’t want to, whether to spend time with family, on religious grounds or for any other reason, have had to give employers three months’ notice. We will change the law to bring that down to just a month.
    [A MONTH'S NOTICE just to refuse a weekend-hours increase?! Omygod, this is much more backward than I imagined! British labor rights are really in the toilet. So it goes as long as humans continue to make an unwanted, devalued and powerless surplus of themselves.]
    Even more than that, we will introduce a new rule so that those who currently work on a Sunday and are asked to work longer hours will have a legal right to turn them down.
    We’ll also be requiring employers to make sure staff are aware of their rights when it comes to Sunday working, and those that don’t comply will face new penalties.
    Taken together, I believe this is a balanced [ha!] package that will empower local communities, allowing them to boost their economies, but also offers millions of retail workers new rights and protections.
    We know that cities, towns and high streets are changing and the most successful are adapting to the needs of the 21st century consumer. Many people want places where they can not only shop, but also spend their leisure time, access services and enjoy a vibrant and exciting evening economy.
    It’s right that local leaders will decide what works best for their areas, but also that no-one who doesn’t want to work on a Sunday can be forced to do so.
    Our change in the law will give choice to communities, choice to employees and choice to shoppers who want to support local businesses.
    [The only "choice" employees have in a labor surplus is obedience or joblessness.]


2/13/2016 – 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. Human Rights Office Supports Shorter Work Week, by Paul Fontaine @pauldfontaine, (2/12 late pickup) Reykjavík Grapevine via grapevine.is
    REYKJAVÍK, Iceland - The Icelandic Human Rights Centre (IHRC) is in favour of shortening the full-time work day from eight hours to seven, joining the increasing numbers who support the idea.
    RÚV [RíkisÚtVarpið = Icelandic National Broadcasting Service] reports that a bill is currently before parliament that, if passed, would change the definition of “full time” work from 40 hours per week to 35. The IHRC has come out in favour of the legislation.
    The IHRC points out that increased working hours do not necessarily mean increased productivity. On the contrary, a shortened work week is what actually increases production and increases the quality of life for workers.
    While the bill is from the opposition, the idea of a shorter work week has been gaining considerable traction in Iceland. The City of Reykjavík began experimenting with a 35-hour-week at some of its workplaces, and about 40% of Icelanders support the idea.
    The bill points out that other countries which have shorter full time work weeks, such as Denmark, Spain, Belgium, Holland and Norway, actually experience higher levels of productivity.
    At the same time, Iceland ranked poorly in a recent OECD report on the balance between work and rest, with Iceland coming out in 27th place out of 36 countries.
    A recent Swedish initiative to shorten the full time work day to six hours has been going well, with some Icelanders calling for the idea to be taken up here. In addition, gender studies expert Thomas Brorsen Smidt has proposed to shorten it even further, to four hours.

  2. Walker administration and union reach tentative 3-year deal with furloughs, no raises, by Nathaniel Herz, (2/12 late pickup) Alaska Dispatch News via adn.com
    JUNEAU, Alsk., USA — The administration of Alaska Gov. Bill Walker and the leadership of the state’s largest public employee union have reached a tentative pact on a three-year contract with no raises and two days of furloughs a year — in effect, a wage cut.
    [An income cut, yes - a wage cut, no - because employees don't have to work those two days. And let's face it, better furloughs than firings, timesizing not downsizing!]
    Top lawmakers were notified this week of the deal between the negotiating teams for the Walker administration and the union, the general government unit of the Alaska State Employees Association. The proposal, which comes with the state’s massive budget crisis as a backdrop, must still be approved by the full membership of the union and the Legislature.
    The union had 8,800 members as of June, but Jim Duncan, the executive director, said it lost about 300 members over the last year due to retirements and layoffs. Total annual pay for all members is about $440 million, and the furloughs should save the state about $9 million over the length of the three-year contract, which would take effect in July.
    Over the contract’s lifetime, state payments to the union’s health care plan would average the same as the current contribution of $1,389 a month per member — though that number will dip for the first year before rising over the following two years.
    “Our team believes that in this climate it was the best we could do,” Duncan said in a phone interview Friday, adding that some of the financial provisions in the contract amounted to concessions. But he added that state employees “could never give enough” to close the state’s $3.8 billion budget deficit — a position that’s consistent with the Walker administration’s, and one that’s supported by state financial experts. Walker says new taxes and using earnings from the Alaska Permanent Fund are also necessary.
    State administration commissioner Sheldon Fisher, whose department negotiated the deal, called it “fair to both sides.”
    “There’s things we would have liked to have gotten and didn’t, and I think that’s the same on their side as well,” he said in a phone interview Friday. He added that holding employee pay flat amounted to a “meaningful win” for the state.
    Union members are set to vote on the contract in early April, Duncan said. Lawmakers will also have to approve it, though several legislative leaders said Friday that they were still unfamiliar with the terms.
    Informed of its general financial provisions Friday morning, Senate President Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage, said they sounded “very reasonable.”
    Contact Nathaniel Herz at NHerz@alaskadispatch.com or on Twitter


2/12/2016 – 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. How many are having hours cut due to National Living Wage? by Michelle Hurst, (2/10 late pickup) GrimsbyTelegraph.co.uk
    GRIMSBY, Lincs.-Hum., Eng.-U.K. - April 1, 2016, is a long-awaited day for low-paid workers.
    For every adult aged over 25 will be entitled to the new National Living Wage of £7.20 per hour.
    [The "living wage" campaigns in the English-speaking economies are simply a testimony to the failure of the minimum-wage approach: too arbitrary, too rigid, and too hurdle-creating for new entrants to the job market, because a minimum wage opens up a gap, a discontinuity at the bottom of the wage ladder. The minimum wage approach is the deceptive shortcut which should rather be done by creating an employer-perceived shortage of labor, which harnesses market forces in maintaining or raising wages flexibly and continuously from zero on up. Wartime shortage of labor maintained and raised wages and consumer spending and produced wartime prosperity. Engineering that shortage without war by workweek reduction and regulation of population variables (imports, immigrants, births...) does it in the right order: hourscuts and unemployment absorption first, pay maintenance and raises second. Wrong order (fiat pay raise first) and you get hourscuts without the unemployment absorption that maintains and raises pay by gradual-flexible-diverse market forces.]
    That's an extra 50p per hour in your pocket (though not the £8.25 that Living Wage Foundation say it should be).
    But every adult is celebrating and counting down the days.
    If only ...
    For it seems that many employers – large and small – are accommodating the rise in wage bills but cutting hours.
    In October, those on the National Minimum Wage were celebrating a 3 per cent rise to £6.70.
    And they were told that they were lucky to get such a rise, as inflation was just 0.3 per cent.
    Try telling that to the local authorities who are upping council tax bills, such as North East Lincolnshire's proposed 3.9 per cent rise.
    That's not in line with inflation. Or the 1.99 per cent for the Humberside Police precept. Or the 1.9 per cent for the Humberside Fire And Rescue Service precept.
    Their hands have been forced by cuts from Central Government, of course, but that matters not a jot to those who are trying to juggle their bills each month.
    Except that, in April, those over 25 will be made to feel thankful that they are getting an extra 50p per hour.
    That's a whopping 7.5 per cent increase.
    But, of course, it is all relative. A small increase on a small hourly rate is a small rise. On a 30-hour week that's just £15 extra.
    And, yet, it has a bigger effect.
    Those currently working that 30-hour week on the £6.70 National Minimum Wage earn £10,452 a year – below the £10,600 threshold to start paying tax.
    From April 1, those working a 30-hour week on the £7.20 National Living Wage [NLW] earn £11,232 a year – above the £10,800 personal allowance, and therefore making them liable for tax. The 20 per cent tax rate will be payable on the £432 difference, which is £86 to pay in tax over the year.
    Good for the Government that. Bringing more people into the tax bracket.
    And, yet, for many workers they will not receive a penny more following the introduction of the NLW.
    Why? Because they are getting their hours cut.

    [The solution has to be done in order (worktime reduction before income reform) and at the right extreme (cutting too much rather than boosting too little). And of course, the method of cutting too much has to be minimally stifling by designing incentives to get overage converted into jobs; for example, to get chronic overtime converted into overtime-targeted training and hiring.]
    I've heard of two examples this week of people in the Grimsby area.
    One works in a school. All those affected by the increase are having their hours cut by 2.5 hours a week to accommodate the pay rise.
    So, they will be taking home exactly the same.
    Another works in a shop where all staff have been told they will have to cut their hours by 2 hours a week to accommodate the introduction of the National Living Wage.
    It's the same principle.
    They are people I know.
    How many others are also having their hours cut from April 1, so they are not actually gaining anything?
    And, yet, we are celebrating the introduction of the NLW. Government research tells us we are. More than 70 per cent of workers will feel more positive after the introduction of the National Living Wage, according to a Government survey, and 59 per cent said they would feel more motivated to work as a result of the increase.
    No doubt staff at major chains who work unsociable hours, on Sundays, bank holidays and at night, will also feel motivated as they are having their rate cut to accommodate the NLW.
    B&Q will increase its pay per hour from £6.70 to £7.66 – more than the NLW.
    But it will cut Sunday and bank holiday pay rates to accommodate it.
    Wilko is considering cutting Sunday, holiday and overtime bonuses for staff to accommodate the rise.Tesco is raising wages to £7.62 an hour from July for established staff and £7.24 for new staff, but is cutting double time for Sunday and bank holiday shifts to time-and-a-half.
    Morrisons is also paying more than the NLW – but at the expense of any extra pay for Sundays and paid breaks. Those are the ones we know about. How many more will be hit? For small employers, in particular, the wage bill is the biggest cost, so trying to fund this sudden 7.5 per cent increase in the wage bill is going to be a struggle.
    The problem has been the National Minimum Wage falling so far behind that it's needed such a hike to catch up. The rise to £6.70 an hour in October was the largest real-terms rise for seven years. Of course, if you're under 25, there's bad news and good news.
    You will not get the National Living Wage. You will continue to get £6.70, 18 to 20-year-olds £5.30 an hour, 16 and 17-year-olds £3.87 and apprentices £3.30 an hour.
    The good[?] news is I reckon many more employers will actively seek out younger workers from now on in order to get enough staff to do the job on as low a wage bill as possible.

  2. Dave & Buster's Can't Shake Claims It Illegally Cut Hours, by Jo-el J. Meyer, (2/11 late pickup) Bloomberg News Agency via bna.com
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA — Dave & Buster's Inc. lost its attempt to have a federal court dismiss a proposed class action that alleges the company intentionally reduced its workforce's hours to prevent employees from being eligible for health benefits.
    [How is this illegal? There are thousands of companies doing it. And for at least some of them, it is vital for their survival.]
    The case is the first Employee Retirement Income Security Act lawsuit that alleges an employer, in response to the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act, intentionally interfered with workers' benefits by cutting their hours to make them part time.
    [And why would an employer response to the unintended side effects of the Affordable Care Act be litigatable under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act whose relevance, if any, has not yet been described in this article?]
    In an order issued Feb. 9, Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York denied Dave & Buster's motion to dismiss. He said there was enough evidence early in the case to support workers' claims that the company acted with an “unlawful purpose” when it reduced the hours of hundreds of employees, thereby making them ineligible for health benefits.
    The proposed class action was brought by Dave & Buster's employee Maria De Lourdes Parra Marin, who worked at the company's Times Square store as a full-time employee until 2013. Marin alleged that the company reduced her hours—and the hours of hundreds of other employees—to make them part-time workers ineligible for company-provided health-care benefits. Marin alleged that the decision to do so was driven by one factor: the ACA's employer mandate.
    The mandate requires larger employers to provide employees with affordable health insurance that meet minimum-value standards or potentially face penalties.
    The lawsuit alleges that by reducing workers' hours to make them ineligible for health-care benefits, Dave & Buster's violated ERISA Section 510. That provision prohibits employers from interfering with employees' receipt of ERISA-governed benefits such as health insurance.
    In its motion to dismiss, Dave & Buster's argued that to establish a Section 510 claim, an employee must show more than a lost opportunity to accrue benefits. Dave & Buster's argued that under ERISA, an employee has no entitlement to future benefits and that it couldn't violate Section 510 by making its workers ineligible for future benefits.
    The court rejected this argument, saying Marin had alleged that Dave & Buster's actions affected both current benefits and the ability to attain future benefits. “Plaintiff has sufficiently pled that the employer acted with an ‘unlawful purpose' when taking an adverse action against her,” the court said.
    Marin was represented by Abbey Spanier, Conover Law Offices and Frumkin & Hunter. Dave & Buster's was represented by Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.
    To contact the reporter on this story: Jo-el J. Meyer in Washington at jmeyer@bna.com
    To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phil Kushin at pkushin@bna.com


2/11/2016 – 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. Protesters get in the new year mood with street rallies, by Flora Chung, TheStandard.com.hk
    HONG KONG, China - The third day of the Lunar New Year or chikou when people easily get into quarrels lived up to expectations yesterday with several protests calling for standard working hours, universal retirement protection, more public housing, tax reform and an end to white-elephant projects.
    In one protest, by the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, about 20 demonstrators marched from the HSBC main building in Central to Government House to send new year wishes to Chief Executive Leung Chun- ying in person, said union secretary Wong Yu-loy.
    The union urged Leung to fulfill his election promises, which included standard working hours. The union wants that set at 44 hours a week, with staff required to work overtime to be paid at 1.5 times their regular hourly rate.

    Other demands included cancellation of the MPF offset mechanism, universal retirement protection and a halt to importing foreign workers.
    To commemorate the Year of the Monkey, one union member dressed up as the Monkey King from the Chinese classical novel Journey to the West, hitting a poster depicting Leung as the Bull Demon King, a big enemy of the Monkey King, with a golden rod.
    The union said Leung makes a perfect Bull Demon King in the sense that he is "as stubborn as a bull" and cares only about business interests.
    In a march from Admiralty Centre to the Central Government Offices, led by the Neighbourhood and Worker's Service Centre, protesters held banners and chanted slogans condemning the government for disregarding public opinion and creating conflict in society.
    Its representative and district council member Ivan Wong Yun-tat said the center hopes the government can finalize policies that consider the lower class in the 2016 policy address and budget.
    It suggested the government increase the provision of residential care services and public housing for rent in the short term, and reform the tax system in the long term.
    Separately, around 20 supporters of the League of Social Democrats marched to Government House to protest against "white elephant" projects. They said the violence in Mong Kok was a result of a tyrannical government and that problems can only be solved when Leung steps down.

  2. Hundreds impacted as EIU forced to make drastic cuts, by Jessica Kunz jkunz@wcia.com & Aaron Eades aeades@wcia.com, IllinoisHomepage.net
    CHARLESTON, Illin., USA - The university [Eastern Illinois U.] is struggling to stay afloat without state funding. It's waiting on $50 million. Supporters held a huge rally just days ago. They're pleading for an appropriations bill.
    EIU grad Lisa Hugg has a lot of love for her alma mater.
    "It was just an overall community feel to it. Just a great small school."
    So much love, she made a career of it, working 13 years as a secretary in the housing and dining department. That is, until this week when she was told she would have to meet human resources.
    "A lot of things were going through my mind. I mean, a bunch of things, my future, just general heartbreak."
    The state owes Eastern about $50 million. President David Glassman has been trying to cut back for months, laying off some workers before the school year started and suspending non-essential projects.
    [More days off, less layoffs! More Timesizing, less downsizing!]
    "There wasn't really anything I could do. I mean, I'm stuck in this position and so is the university really."
    198 layoffs, including Hugg's, will be made permanent if the state doesn't pass a budget by March 12. That's just about 30 days away.
    "I love this university. I'd love to see it thrive again. I mean, I would love to see it thrive again and be what it used to be."
    Hugg says she and her co-workers don't have a lot of hope it will happen.
    "I was able to control my emotions, but it was really heartbreaking. It still is."
    "They're all in shock. It's really widespread. None of us can believe it."
    She says what's happening at Eastern could serve as a warning to other universities as she starts a life change she never expected she'd face.
    "I'm hoping that I won't have as much trouble finding a job as I'm afraid I will and the same for others. I mean, I hope that everyone is able to get through this however they have to."
    Workers who aren't being laid off will be forced to take one furlough day a week starting March 1 and going through at least June. President Glassman says it will save the school some cash.
    Students are also taking a hit because of the money troubles. Workers providing services to students who need special testing accommodations say, starting Monday, their services will no longer be provided. There's not enough staff and no money to hire anyone else. About 90-students used the service last semester.


2/10/2016 – 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. P&Z recommends keeping four-day work week, by Pam Wright pwright3@centralkynews.com, The Advocate Messenger via Central Kentucky News via centralkynews.com
    Paula Bary, director of Danville-Boyle County Planning and Zoning [P&Z], and budget committee members (from left) Terry Manon, Clayton Denny and Marion White decided to submit a Fiscal Year 2016-17 budget reflecting a four-day work week, despite ongoing discussions that the office should expand hours. (photo caption)
    DANVILLE, Kntky., USA - Despite some pressure from the city, county and EDP to expand office hours, a budget committee of the Danville-Boyle County Planning and Zoning Commission decided Monday to recommend presenting a Fiscal Year 2016-17 budget based on a four-day workweek.
    Paula Bary, P&Z executive director, provided the committee with a budget reflecting a five-day-per-week work schedule on Monday, which would add an additional $30,000 to the budget. However, committee member Terry Manon was not convinced of the need to increase the work week to five days and his fellow members, Clayton Denny and Marion White, concurred.
    Ongoing discussions over the past months have focused on whether to keep P&Z offices closed on Fridays — as they have been for the past several years — or to return to to a five-day workweek.
    In light of financial constraints and a stagnant construction market during the 2009 recession, the previous P&Z chairman, Gary Chidester, recommended the city reduce the three-person P&Z staff by one. At the time, the staff agreed to reduce the workweek to 30 hours per week rather than eliminate a position.
    In January 2010, hours were further reduced to 25 hours per week. They were set at the current level of 32 hours per week in July 2012.

    [Reduce workweek, yes - reduce staff, no = Timesizing, not downsizing!]
    Jody Lassiter, president and CEO of the Danville-Boyle Economic Development Partnership; Mayor Mike Perros; and others have been vocal in their belief that a closed office on Friday is not “business-friendly.” They have been pushing for a return to a longer work week.
    Despite lengthy discussions, the P&Z Commission never felt compelled to change from the current four-day setup.
    Manon said because there have been few customer complaints about the office being closed, he sees no real reason to have the office open five days a week and voiced his concern that they would not be “a good steward of the taxpayer dollars” if they opened an extra day per week without being sure of the need.
    “I’d like to see how many complaints there really were, (rather) than someone telling the mayor, ‘Hey, Paula needs to be open (five days)’ or Jody saying we’re missing all this commercial influx into town because we’re open one less day. I’d like to get a feel of whether we’re missing that much money not being open five days,” said Denny.
    Bary said the answer to that would be a “clear no.”
    “If the city and they county want it open five days, then they’re going to have to put money into it, that’s what it amounts to,” said Denny.
    “As a business recommendation, I’d say we’re not hearing anything from customers telling us we need to be open five days,” agreed Manon. “It’s about the impact of revenue of four days versus five, and the revenue is going to be the same. And we’re not hearing any complaints from customers that would warrant asking the city and county for more money at this point.”
    The committee ultimately recommended submitting a four-day budget.
    “We’ll submit the four-day budget, saying if you want us to go to five days, here’s what it’s going to cost you,” said Denny.
    Over the past several months, Bary and Jennie Hollon, the recently appointed administrative assistant, have been working on Fridays to finish the Comprehensive Plan. A third staff member, compliance administrator Daniel Steinhauer, was recently hired.

  2. Venezuela Stores Cut Work Hours By Half to Save Power, LatinOne.com
    CARACAS, Venezuela - In order to adapt to the country's drought brought about by El Nino, store owners in Venezuela are forced to cut their operating hours by half in order to save power. Shops all across Caracas will be reducing their store operating hours to just four hours a day in order to address the Venezuelan government's orders to regulate power.
    El Nino has caused severe problems all across South America, which includes water shortage in the northern parts of Venezuela. Last year, the Venezuelan government launched a communication campaign in order to inform Venezuelans of the effects of El Nino and how it would affect the urban and agricultural sectors of the country.
    Venezuela's state energy corporation Corpoelec has asked all store owners and residents in Venezuela to have energy cuts twice per day. The first is between the hours of 1pm and 3pm and the second is between 7pm and 9pm. The Venezuelan government has also asked resident homeowners to cut water usage and keep a ready supply of water at hand, according to The [Toronto] Globe and Mail.
    BBC reports that El Nino has brought about a severe drought within the country which has already affected Venezuela's 18 hydro-electric dams. While the Venezuelan government hopes that this will greatly help solve the country's energy crisis, many businessmen fear that this will severely affect jobs in the country.
    The retail association of Venezuela, CAVECECO, has proposed another energy saving scheme that would be more feasible to business owners, proposing that stores and businesses open later in the day, like 12 noon and close at 7pm, which would save the country at least five hours of energy a day.
    Many business owners and their employees have raised their concerns on the impracticality of the government's proposal, saying that suggesting to cut the power at 1pm would impact their business. For most business owners, mid afternoon is where business is at its peak. Many restaurant owners complain that peak hours are mostly around noon. CAVECECO also said that having businesses open and close twice daily would be impractical and unfeasible.
    The retail association added that the Venezuelan government should conduct a feasibility study before going through with the plans. CAVECECO also warned the Venezuelan government that proposing something so impractical could severely affect key operating sectors in the country, including the banking industry, supermarkets, pharmacies and even restaurants.
    While CAVECECO has already sent its alternative proposal, they said that they have yet to hear a reply from the government.


2/09/2016 – 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. Obama’s New Budget Expands Work-Sharing, by Dean Baker?, Center for Economic Policy & Research (CEPR) via publicnow.org WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Today President Obama released his 2017 Budget, the final one of his presidency. Among many initiatives to strengthen the economic security of workers and retirees is one that CEPR's been leading on for years: work-sharing (a.k.a. short-time compensation). The President's proposal provides 1.8 billion dollars over ten years to expand work-sharing programs.
    Since the depths of the Great Recession, CEPR's Dean Baker has been promoting the concept of work-sharing, which prevents job losses by incentivizing employers to reduce workers' hours, rather laying them off entirely. The workers, in turn, are partially compensated for those hours with pro-rated unemployment benefits.
    Work-sharing has proven to be one of the few areas of bipartisan consensus that we've seen over the past few years. For example, Dean has regularly partnered with conservative economist Kevin Hassett of AEI [American Enterprise Institute] in advocating this idea. A dozen states have passed work-sharing since 2009, mostly with bipartisan majorities, to bring the total number with work-sharing programs up to 28 states plus the District of Columbia. In 2012, a bipartisan vote in Congress passed the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, and it included temporary funding to support states' work-sharing programs, which has since expired.
    CEPR's occasional analyses of work-sharing have shown that participation rates peaked during the recession and have dropped along with the unemployment rate, which is how the program is intended to work.
    Meanwhile, in Germany, which has one of the most robust work-sharing programs in the world, the unemployment rate was back below pre-recession levels by mid-2010, and it has continued dropping. In contrast, the United States is now just reaching the unemployment rates that we saw pre-recession.
    Some might think, with unemployment below five percent [our quotes: this index counts almost nothing], that this is not the right time for the President to bring attention to and support for work-sharing in his new budget. That couldn't be farther from the truth: Like a rainy day fund, now is exactly the right time to shore up programs that will help prevent mass layoffs in the future. Work-sharing is one of the most effective tools we have to do just that.

  2. SNAP Food Stamps require 20 hour work week, by Sarah Finch, PublicRadioEast.org
    Big changes are coming to the food stamp program in North Carolina. On July 1st, a select group of recipients will have to meet work or classroom requirements in order to keep their grocery benefits. Sarah Finch has more on these new SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] program regulations and how local communities are preparing to combat potential hunger pains.
    RALEIGH, N.C., USA - Knowing where their next meal is coming from could be a problem for some food stamp recipients in North Carolina. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, provides low-income families with money to purchase groceries, but it’s changing who qualifies for these benefits.
    According to the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina, which serves 34 counties from Raleigh to the coast, there are over 650 thousand people [folks, that's 650,000 in just one of the 50 united states] in the region who live in food-insecure households. North Carolina Budget & Tax Center policy analyst Tazra Mitchell says SNAP benefits are crucial to these impoverished individuals.
    “And we’re talking about a population who’s average income is only about 2,200 dollars a year. They are extremely poor and live without much of a safety net.”
    A recent North Carolina law is reestablishing rules that apply to any SNAP recipient ages 18 to 49, who are not disabled and don’t have kids. In order to continue receiving food stamps, this poverty-stricken group will be required to complete a 20 hour mandatory work week. In eastern North Carolina these changes affect approximately 36 thousand people.
    [So David Cameron, Sarkozy and other neanderthals who deride the 35-hour workweek, just STUFF IT! Here's one of the United States that is transitioning from spoonfeeding micromanagement of the cascading casualties of mounting systemic labor-surplus to macromanaging by refocusing on JOBS (and letting the poor get their own food and housing! - they're NOT CHILDREN!). And they can't come anywhere NEAR even 35 hours a week because of the hostile job market YOUR robotics-obsoleted policies have created!]
    “A majority of the counties in the state have more people looking for work than jobs are available. Anybody who’s able to work should work. That’s not our concern. Our concern is that there isn’t enough opportunity and no matter how hard they look their food aid is gone.”
    Under the reinstated guidelines, recipients will have three months to find a job, volunteer somewhere, or enter a work-training program. The changes also stipulate that people could lose benefits even if they are trying to find work or are working fewer than 20 hours a week.
    North Carolina used to have this requirement but as the recession hit in 2008, the federal government dropped the work and volunteer terms. Now that the economy is bouncing back, state officials have decided to reestablish the stipulations in 23 North Carolina counties. In the other 77 counties showing a somewhat slower economic recovery, SNAP rules will be restored starting July 1st.
    People who lose food stamp benefits will probably turn to food banks, which expect more demand for emergency food supplies because of the change. Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina Public Relations and Marketing Specialist Jennifer Caslin says they work with about 882 partner agencies like food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters.
    “We have been communicating with them that this change is coming. And we have been doing our best as always to bring in more donated food. But our system has been stretched for quite some time.”
    In Beaufort County, the Eagles Wings Food Pantry is the largest food pantry in the area, serving over 500 families a month. As they feel more restrictions being imposed on the SNAP food stamps, Eagles Wings Food Pantry Executive Director Ann-Marie Montague says there could be some positives, such as improving the communication between clients and non-profit organizations.
    “It gives them an opportunity to be part of the solution. Because several of our clients are probably not going to go back to school. We were hoping that we would have an increase in community service volunteers from the clients that we serve.”
    Now, Social Services Departments are shuffling their staff around to help with the upcoming influx of validating food stamp recipient paperwork. Agencies in each county of the state are also moving fast to make sure recipients know about the changes and have opportunities to meet them, and some are even creating their own volunteer programs and job-skills training.
    Many of the more rural areas in eastern North Carolina don’t have those privileges. Jones County Social Services Department Economics Services Supervisor Amanda Howard says it definitely puts a strain on the smaller counties, limited in resources.
    “We don’t have a lot of industry. We don’t have places that have volunteering options. So it does make it a little more strained. And especially for the clients because transportation is an issue. To go from Jones County to New Bern, you know that’s 20 miles.”
    Howard says there are an estimated 150 households in Jones County affected by the legislation changes. Jones County receives about $250 thousand dollars in SNAP money each month, or about $3 million dollars a year. That works out to an average $110 dollars worth of food per person every month. Director of Jones County Department of Social Services Wes Stewart says despite the challenges of being a rural county, they are partnering with Lenoir Community College to help get folks job ready.
    “So it’s just not a blanket, on this date you’re going to lose your benefits. There are options and they need to be explored. And we want to help folks do that.”
    To learn more about the SNAP requirements and changes, visit:
    http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/able-bodied-adults-without-dependents-abawds
    To contact your local Department of Social Services, visit:
    http://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/dss/local-county-social-services-offices


2/07-08/2016 – 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. Locomotive pilots demand humane working hours, 2/07 TNN via TimesOfIndia.indiatimes.com
    [In Canada we call them locomotive engineers. Shortening it to 'loco' is not a good idea for us here in the context of railroad accidents considering we borrowed the word for 'crazy' from Spanish centuries ago...'loco.' Hopefully India is far enough away from Spanish to avoid this problem. Another unfortunate association further down is shortening "Hours of Employment Regulation" to "HoER." At least it isn't "hOer." For us, HER would be a much more problem-free abbreviation.]
    BENGALURU, India - Govindarajan, the loco-pilot whose presence of mind saved hundreds of passengers of Kanyakumari-Bengaluru Express that derailed on Friday, says, "I have not done anything great. It is my responsibility to save my passengers."
    Is he being just humble or is he afraid of being framed? L Mony, president of All India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA) pointed out that all committees set up to investigate railway accidents have pointed at human failure on 80% of the cases.
    Govindarajan was being counselled and treated for trauma at the railway hospital in Bengaluru on Saturday. He refused to open up to STOI [Sunday Times of India?] and share his anxiety when the coaches were tilting. By applying the brakes slowly on hearing the rumbling of a coach tilting, he saved other coaches from derailing with maximum impact. He will return to Erode after the investigations are over and [re]join work if it is found that it was not his fault. Although South Western Railway [SWR] officials have already said the rails cracked due to improper maintenance, the loco pilot community at large feels threatened because they have been often blamed for accidents.
    Ahead of the railway budget, they have sought reducing their work stress and revising the Hours of Employment Regulation (HoER) for better work.
    According to rules, loco pilots have a 3-hour shift. If they are in the headquarters, they get a 16-hour break, or an 8-hour break if they are outstation. They don't have weekly off. Instead they are eligible or a 30-hour rest every month, which, they say, they don't get now due to shortage of staff. They want their shift to be reduced to 10 hours from the present 13.

    Mony said, "Locomotive cabins still do not have toilets or AC [air conditioning] and the noise in the cabin itself can tire you out if you are in it for about four hours."
    Top Comment: Improvement to Locomotive pilots is essential to make them healthy and in good spirit. Truth Sach

  2. The government will consider reducing the working week from 45 to 35 hours, 2/08 (2/07 late pickup) News Israel today via en.israel-today.ru
    Tel Aviv, Israel - The legislative Commission of the government will review Sunday, February 7, the bill [sponsored by?] Deputy Dov Hanin[a] (United Arab list) on the reduction of the working week from 45 to 35 hours.
    According to Hanina, research shows that the working week the Israelis are constantly extended, while the salary remains the same. Because of this, the Israelis are paying less attention to family, friends, leisure, culture, sport and recreation.
    In addition, according to Hanina, such a step will lead to a significant reduction in the unemployment rate in the country.

  3. Nucor Knows How China Could Save Money and Cut Pollution - Nucor does things a little differently than most steel mills, and China could learn a thing or two, by Reuben Gregg Brewer, 2/07 (2/05 late pickup) Motley Fool via fool.com
    CHARLOTTE, N.C., USA - Nucor (NYSE:NUE) is one of the largest and most diversified steelmakers in the United States. It's turned a profit in all but one year of its existence.
    [And Nucor is one of the foremost timesizing companies in the world, which shrinks and expands its workweek instead of its workforce with corporate revenue.]
    That's a key reason why China should be following Nucor's lead and distance itself from the model used by money losers like AK Steel (NYSE:AKS), which has been bleeding red ink since 2009.
    Under the hood
    One of the many things to like about Nucor is that it's one of the largest recyclers in the U.S. market through its David J. Joseph subsidiary. This business does things like collecting old cars, stripping them of usable parts. and shredding them so the metal can be used to make more steel. That scrap is a key ingredient in Nucor's electric arc mills.
    This doesn't sound too exciting, but it's a big deal. Electric arc mills are cheaper to run and scrap is (usually) less expensive to use then iron ore. This is the basic model that Nucor's business is built on. It's hard to argue with the results, particularly now during a time of deep distress in the steel industry.
    For example, AK Steel uses older blast furnace technology (powered by coal) and the iron ore that producers like Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE:CLF) digs out of the ground. The mill has lost money each year since the deep 2007 to 2009 recession ended. Nucor lost money in 2009, but has been profitable since -- even though the steel industry has been mired in a downturn since the recession.
    Looking at the issue from a different way, Nucor has historically had higher operating margins than AK Steel. Although the difference may not seem huge on an absolute basis, on a percentage basis the discrepancy is a pretty big deal. And it's made a massive impact on the bottom line. To be fair, Nucor doesn't elusively use scrap steel in its mills--no large steel company could. So the competitive benefits it enjoys are really from a combination of factors (including variable labor costs), but using scrap and more modern electric arc furnace technology are a key piece of the puzzle.
    NUE Operating Margin (TTM) Chart
    NUE Operating Margin (TTM) data by YCharts.
    http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2016/02/06/nucor-knows-how-china-could-save-money-and-cut-pol.aspx:
    What's this have to do with China?
    China is the world's largest steel producer by a wide margin. The vast majority of its mills use blast furnaces, belching carbon from burning coal and eating up iron ore. That's the AK Steel way of doing things and it helps keep miners like BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP) and Vale (NYSE:VALE), which serve the Chinese market, in business. What if it changed that up and did things the Nucor way?
    According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, using scrap steel, which is the heart of the electric arc process, uses as much as 60% less energy than blast furnace technology (no wonder Nucor has wider margins than AK Steel). But that energy reduction has another positive in it because it means less coal is being burned. And using scrap means reducing the need to mine for iron ore while at the same time cleaning up the things, like cars and appliances, that society has tossed on the garbage heap.
    Images [bargraph]: China needs to get on Nucor's scrap metal band wagon. Source: US EIA.
    http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2016/02/06/nucor-knows-how-china-could-save-money-and-cut-pol.aspx
    A wholesale switch in China would be close to impossible, of course, which is good news for suppliers like BHP and Vale. Those two are already struggling with oversupply issues in coal and iron ore. And you need to produce steel from both iron ore and from scrap, anyway. But China is doing too much of one and not enough of the other. Look at the chart above, and you can see how badly imbalanced China's production profile is compared to the U.S. market.
    On some level, that's based on the fact that there simply wasn't enough scrap around in China to bother with (it imports scrap, as it were). But it's worth noting that the United States didn't get on the scrap and electric arc furnace bandwagon in a material way until the 1970s, when there was enough scrap that it was price competitive to use. China, however, has climbed the socioeconomic ladder very quickly and, at this point, produces more than three times as much scrap as it did in 2010. Which suggests now may be the time for the country to start following Nucor's lead.
    The upshot
    As an investor, your takeaway from this should be that Nucor is doing right now what China needs to increasingly do in the future: recycling scrap metal using environmentally friendly (or at least more friendly) electric arc technology. Such a shift would mark a material improvement in the Chinese steel industry. But, perhaps more important, Nucor has remained in the black through a particularly deep industry downturn because it already knows these things. ...
    Reuben Brewer owns shares of Nucor. The Motley Fool owns shares of Cliffs Natural Resources and Companhia Vale Ads. The Motley Fool recommends Nucor. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


2/06/2016 – 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. Furloughs delayed by Des Moines City Council, but chickens are promoted, by Jack Mayne, WaterlandBlog.com
    DES MOINES, Iowa, USA - The Des Moines City Council was expected to discuss furloughing city staff this year to save nearly $286,000 and moved the issue to the Council meeting of Feb. 11, but the Council did hear a proposal to allow chickens to be raised by residents.
    The postponement came when Councilmember Rob Back said he wasn’t able to vote on the issue and used Councilmember privilege to remove the issue from the Council’s consent agenda.
    The Council also on Thursday night (Feb. 4) got a routine update on Sound Transit’s proposed work on the Kent-Des Moines and Highline College station.
    Budget balancing furloughs
    The idea came about after the city’s attempt to levy a utility tax on water and sewer districts stirred up a controversy during last fall and winter’s biennial budget discussions. But the postponement of the tax led to need to cut the budget to match income.
    The city agenda said City Manager Tony Piasecki and Human Resources Manager Maureen Murphy have “met several times with committee members from the non-represented employee groups to give staff the opportunity to have a voice in determining how furloughs would be applied. While no consensus was reached with the non-represented employee committees, it is still necessary to implement mandatory furlough days in order for the city to meet its budget constraints.”
    The city said “alternatives to furloughs include further reductions in force by way of layoffs or additional cuts in services and programs.

    [Better furlough days and keep your jobs than layoffs and additional cuts in services and probgrams = Timesizing not downsizing.]
    The city said it had set a target cost reduction in 2016 personnel compensation for the general fund of $284,720 and several employees switching to the high deductible medical plan met that target.
    “The rest of the 2016 savings will come from the furlough program,” the Council agenda document said.
    That will apparently be discussed at the Feb. 11 meeting.
    Fresh chickens and eggs
    Resident Tom Sneath told the Des Moines Council Thursday night (Feb. 4) that he was asking the Council to make chickens legal in the city. In a letter to the Waterland Blog last week, Sneath said he was representing the a group called the Top Secret Chicken Society of Des Moines and outlined the their proposal.
    “Our goal is to bring backyard chicken ordinances in line with all of the bordering cities,” Sneath wrote.
    He told the Council and said in his letter to the Waterland ‘Blog that his group was “interested in providing fresh, natural, eggs for our families,” and said many in the city are already raising the chickens illegally.
    “The word out there is ‘don’t ask don’t tell.’ As long as you care for your birds and don’t keep roosters or become a nuisance, the city really doesn’t have time to bother you.”
    Sneath said he realized while chickens are “not on the big list of what’s wrong in this city, many chicken keepers want to come out of the shadows.”
    The Waterland Blog asked City Manager Tony Piasecki what the regulations are currently.
    “For most of our single-family residential zones, our code says the minimum lot size for chickens is 22,000 square feet,” he said in an email. “You can have up to 10 chickens and an additional 5 chickens for each 11,000 square feet of property over the minimum 22,000.
    “The code does not specify that roosters are not allowed,” Piasecki said.
    After Sneath outlined their proposal, resident Cheryl Johnson broke a “fresh egg” and showed it to the staff and Council, saying it was much fresher than any egg bought in a store, which she said were 30 days to six month old.
    No furlough for Marina
    Todd Powell of the Marina Association said the marina has its own funds and is self supporting and should have no effect on the city’s general fund and furloughs of the staff would cut staff availability beyond what is necessary to get needed work done. He also suggested that with employment opportunities growing, city and marina staff could seek other opportunities and their loss could harm the city and marina.
    “Whatever benefit we would possibly get f rom a furlough could be erased completely by having to go through a period of rehiring and retraining and bringing a new staff member to speed if we lost one of the great staff we have now,” Powell said.
    Resident Bill Linscott said the Council should look at how the furloughs are allocated, noting also that the marina’s funds are separate. He noted the budget issue is in the general fund and that is where changes should be made.
    Linscott said he saw nothing in the material about the furlough about how costs can be cut and how morale of the staff can be retained and improved.
    Keep Woodmont safe
    Erica Schindler said she is a resident of the Woodmont area, a parent and a medical professional, told of her father seeing two homeless men talking about going to the nearby library.
    “How are we going to make sure this is a safe place to live and grow as a community ¬– I’m concerned about that.”
    The proposed scaled-down community would have food service and some medical supplied and “will draw the homeless to our community.”
    She asked the Council for “what our next step should be, we’re kind of stuck right now.”

  2. Long Hours: Those 12-Hour Days Are Killing You Without Helping Your Business, by John Rampton, Entrepreneur.com
    SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., USA - I work a lot. I really enjoy what I'm doing, so I work insane hours. But something I don't always correlate in my mind: Is this 12+ hours a day working really effective.
    We all realize when starting a new venture you're more or less expected to work insane amount[s of] hours beyond normal expectations. Some believe it’s a badge of honor that can determine the fate of your business. Take Elon Musk. He’s proudly exclaimed:
    “Work like hell. I mean you just have to put in 80 to 100 hour weeks every week. [This] improves the odds of success. If other people are putting in 40 hour work weeks and you’re putting in 100 hour work weeks, then even if you’re doing the same thing, you know that….you will achieve in four months what it takes them a year to achieve.”
    [Not necessarily. A good idea is worth zillions of hours of hard work.]
    Musk isn’t just sitting at his desk the entire time -- he does a lot of traveling -- but still, that’s not good advice for every entrepreneur out there. Research back to the 19th Century has discovered that businesses that have embraced the 40-hour work week were more productive and profitable. For many individuals, working more than eight hours per day can be damaging to a person’s health. Studies have also found “that doing more than 11 hours of work a day raised heart disease risks by 67 percent.”
    Despite these findings, we insist on putting in lengthy workdays because we’re passionate about our businesses, have deadlines to meet or it’s just the corporate culture nowadays. I'm guilty of this, as are many of you reading this. The problem with this mentality, is that working more than 12 hours a day is actually killing your business.
    Creates health problems.
    Working excessively long days is harmful for your health. Numerous productivity studies have found that overworking leads to sleep deprivation, depression, impaired memory, drinking problems and health concerns including diabetes and heart disease.
    This can impact your business because you and your employees become more likely to call in sick or have a high employee turnover - which can harm the bottom line since paid sick days have cost employers $160 billion annually on top of the increasing cost of health insurance. Other studies have found that these health concerns cost businesses $300 billion thanks to lowered productivity, absenteeism, and actual health-care costs.
    Decreases productivity and innovation.
    Longer workdays won’t make your business more productive. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development actually found that while workers in Greece averaged 42 hours at work every week in 2014 (2,042 hours annually), employees in Germany not only clocked in 1,371 total hours in a year, or around a 28 hours per week, they were also 70 percent more productive. Even more interesting is a study showing that, managers couldn’t tell the difference between the employees who had worked 80 hours per week and those who pretended to.
    Besides decreasing production, working too much can decrease creativity and innovation.
    NPR has a great example to illustrate this point from author Jonah Lehrer:
    “If you're an engineer working on a problem and you're stumped by your technical problem, chugging caffeine at your desk and chaining yourself to your computer, you're going to be really frustrated. You're going to waste lots of time. You may look productive, but you're actually wasting time.”
    Leading becomes more challenging.
    In Ron Friedman's article “Working Too Hard Makes Leading More Difficult,” Friedman states, “It is surprisingly hard to recognize the damage working excessive hours inflicts both on leaders and their teams.” Friedman's research led him to conclude that overworked leaders make poor decisions and impaired judgments, as well as have difficulty keeping their emotions in check.
    Even more detrimental is the fact that the entire leadership team and organization will follow suit and take on these ineffective traits as well.
    Profit, revenue and customer satisfaction won’t improve.
    According to Delta Emerson, president of global shared services for the tax services firm Ryan, "Since we implemented flexible workweeks in 2008, all the metrics a CEO cares about have gone in the right direction.”
    Emerson adds that the company has reduced turnover and doubled revenue and profits, as well as reaching all-time client satisfaction scores.
    Not cost effective.
    Working 12 hours a day isn’t cost effective for your business. For starters, you’re using more electricity and office supplies by being in the office so much but the real cost is what happens to your employees. Instead of pressuring your team to work 12 or more hours per day, implement a flexible schedule. Not only will you save money on electricity, supplies and probably office food, you’ll cut costs because everyone will be more productive, you’ll have a lower turnover rate, you’ll attract a wider talent pool, decrease sick days and help your business grow faster.


2/05/2016 – 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. Iran's Parliament set to approve shorter work week for women, (2/04 late pickup) Payvand Iran News via payvand.com
    TEHRAN, Iran (née Persia) - Iraj Abdi, a spokesman for Iranian Parliament's Social Commission, says new regulations will soon be approved to let [certain] women work reduced hours under certain conditions.
    [Shades of 1912 in the U.S. when Teddy Roosevelt wanted a reduced workweek (of 40 hours) in continuous-production industries and for women.]
    Abdi told IRNA on Wednesday February 3 that the regulations have been worked over and cleared of all inconsistencies and will probably be passed by MPs before the end of the ninth Parliament in May.
    Parliamentary elections are slated for February 26, and in the tenth Parliament will take over in May.
    The new regulations, according to Abdi, will allow women with children under six, women with disabled children and single mothers to work eight hours less at their full-time jobs without a reduction in pay and benefits.
    The bill was first proposed 10 years ago, but budget restrictions have consistently prevented its implementation.
    [Not clear why this would impact the (government?) budget, but maybe the new regs lean on taxpayers instead of private-sector employers to maintain "full-time" pay despite 8 hours (per week?) less work - and/or, as colleague Kate suggests, maybe government itself is the biggest employer.]
    It has been reworked, however, and certain changes, such as reducing the age limit of the child from seven to six, have finally met with Parliament's approval.
    Iran's Supreme Leader has reversed his former call for population control and is now calling for policies that encourage childbearing. This has led to many changes in government incentives to mothers and parents.
    [In an age of global overpopulation and multiplying human pressures on the biosphere, and in a country where much of the population follows a religion, Islam, that has been so traumatized by overpopulation in its history that it bundles women up as if they're going outdoors in a snowstorm, for fear of spurring male desire and...overpopulation?? Wouldn't it be easier and much more effective to just relax the bundle-up-women mandate? (And let a man date a woman without government interference? Recall the memorable 1967 words of PM Pierre "Fuddle-duddle" Trudeau of Canada, father of today's PM Justin "This Just In!" Trudeau: "The state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation" {"L'État n'a pas d'affaires dans les chambres à coucher de la nation"} ). But then again, "the world is not so much different geographic zones as different social-evolutionary TIME zones." And Iran, despite its new name (old: Persia), is still in the Geographic-Historic Age of territorialism, imperialism, and...you guessed it...religion (etym: re-legere = rereading). Its penetration into the Political, Economic and Ecological Ages is all constrained by its religion, largely because of the meddling USA's oppressive interference in the 1950s via do-gooder Kermit Roosevelt's CIA deposition of democratically elected Moussadegh = sacrificing democracy and sovereignty for fear of ______ (insert current bogeyman: socialism? communism? islamist? freedomfighter oops "terrorist"? someone we don't control but have a yen to vacuum money from?). We flout Star Trek's Prime Directive = Do Not Interfere - to our long-term cost and risk. Our late-stage empire being ruined, as usual throughout history, by the value-coagulation of its own stupid top¢er. But Timesizing offers a fundamental and sustainable escape, or Fr: évasion, = rewriting the script and not just switching roles.]
    Source: Radio Zamaneh

  2. Fenstermaker lays off 10 in Lafayette, cuts hours for some workers, KATC ABC 3 via katc.com
    LAFAYETTE, La., USA - Lafayette-based engineering and surveying firm Fenstermaker is laying off 10 people locally and reducing hours for some employees in response to the oil and gas downtown.
    [More hours reductions, less layoffs! Timesizing, not downsizing!]
    Sherie Burton, Fenstermaker's director of business communications, said Fenstermakers executives hope the workforce reduction is temporary until the oil and gas industry turns around.
    "Part of our business is oil and gas, and a lot of people are being affected right now," Burton said.
    Fenstermaker is based in Lafayette, but has offices in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Shreveport and Houston.
    The price of oil has dropped to just below $31 a barrel as of Friday afternoon, the lowest it's been in 13 years.


2/04/2016 – 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. Economic Insight: Redistribution of work hours should be on policy agenda, by Andrew Jackson, Toronto Globe, B2 (finder's credit to Gail Stewart of Ottawa)
    OTTAWA, Canada - More than 20 years ago, back in 1994, the federal government released the report of the Advisory Group on Working Time and Distribution of Work.
    (Disclosure: I served as the labour adviser.) The central message of the report has been pretty much ignored by governments ever since, even though it is more relevant today in a slowgrowth world where good jobs are hard to find.
    The advisory group, appointed by then minister of human resources development Lloyd Axworthy and chaired by business economist Arthur Donner, was asked to consider how redistribution of working time from those working long hours to those who are unemployed and underemployed might enhance the quality of life of workers on both sides of the hours divide.
    In principle, access to good jobs could be expanded through a reduction in the hours of work in such jobs, while those working fewer hours would gain more time for balancing work and family, for leisure and for education.
    The advisory group placed a major emphasis on voluntary changes and on flexible options, but also called for a right to refuse overtime after 40 hours in the week, and, controversially, for a limit of 100 hours a year on paid and unpaid overtime worked by any individual.
    Today, the job market is even more sharply polarized between those who are unemployed or underemployed (such as the one in four part-time workers who want more hours) and those who are employed in mainly full-time and permanent jobs who often work very long hours. Data from Statistics Canada's Labour Force Survey tell us that in any given week, one in five workers (21 per cent) worked overtime (defined as hours in excess of normally scheduled hours) for an average of 8.2 hours, or more than one extra day per normal workweek.
    Unpaid overtime, mainly worked by salaried professionals, not least in public services, affects 11 per cent of all employees. Paid overtime, mainly worked by hourly paid bluecollar workers in industries such as construction, transportation, manufacturing and resources, affects 9 per cent of all workers.
    These numbers have increased a bit since the late 1990s.
    Theoretically, redistribution of working time could all but wipe out both unemployment and involuntary part-time employment, assuming a perfect overlap of skills and needed experience between those working long hours and those working no hours or less-than-desired hours.
    While this is unrealistic, redistribution of working time could still put a significant dent in the unemployment rate.
    Canada does have one modest program to redistribute working time. Work sharing through the Employment Insurance [EI] program allows an employer and a group of employees to voluntarily avoid layoffs by shifting to a shorter workweek, such as three or four days, with the employees receiving EI benefits for the regular time of one or two days not worked. Effectively, workers accept a modest reduction in pay, cushioned by EI benefits, to avoid or minimize layoffs, and employers are able to retain the work force they will need when conditions improve.
    In the Great Recession of 2009-10, EI [employment insurance] work sharing was funded and actively promoted by the federal government by relaxing the eligibility rules and by allowing benefits to last for almost one year. At the peak in 2009, there were 165,000 participants.
    A similar program in Germany operated successfully over the same period on a much larger scale.
    More use of work sharing today could help cushion the impact of the slump in resource prices on jobs in the hard-hit mineral and energy industries. Even today, many workers in the Alberta oil and gas industry regularly work long hours. There is growing interest in using work sharing to avoid layoffs, and, even more creatively, government, employers and unions might develop programs to use temporarily reduced working hours for training in order to upgrade workers skills that will be needed in the next upturn.
    The new federal government should also consider the many proposals that have been made over the years to amend the labour code so as to limit very long hours of work and to provide employees with more flexible working time options.
    Redistribution of working time is not a panacea for our polarized job market. But it is a policy tool that addresses some immediate employment needs and could have a meaningful impact on the quality of life of workers.
    Andrew Jackson is an adjunct research professor in the Institute of Political Economy at Carleton University in Ottawa and senior policy adviser to the Broadbent Institute.

  2. Nucor sees clear road to becoming a major auto industry supplier, by John Downey, (2/2 late pickup) Charlotte Business Journal via bizjournals.com
    CHARLOTTE, N.C., USA - Nucor Corp. has opened an office in Detroit as part of a push in which the company hopes increase its sales to the auto industry by 40% to 50% over the next two years.
    CEO John Ferriola told analysts last week that Charlotte-based Nucor (NYSE:NUE) saw its sales to the automotive industry rise by 1.4 million tons of steel products — an increase of 20% over 2014.
    Nucor CEO John Ferriola says the automotive market is “probably where we feel that we have the greatest opportunity” to expand sales over the next few years. (photo caption)
    And he says that Nucor is well into the admittedly long approval process for getting its steel products approved for use by major automotive manufacturers.
    “We fully expect to be able to get up to 2 million tons over the next couple of years, and that’s going to be in both sheet products and in our (special bar quality products),” he said. “Let’s be honest. The automotive industry is taking a look at the entire steel industry today and they look at Nucor and our balance sheet, and they see a long-term sustainable supplier.”
    [Nucor is one of our top Timesizing-not-downsizing companies because it telescopes its workweek instead of its workforce when times are tough.]
    Paying off
    The steel industry has been in a substantial downturn since 2009. Nucor still posted fourth-quarter and full-year earnings last week that were something of a mixed bag. But it has one of the strongest balance sheets in the industry.
    Nucor has long had increased sales to automakers in its sights, but it has had to overcome technical challenges and quality issues. And it had to work against the industry preference for dealing with companies who produced steel in blast furnaces as opposed to the electric arc furnace process that Nucor uses to produce steel from scrap and scrap substitutes.
    However, it seems clear Nucor’s long efforts are paying off.
    In September, American Metals Marke t reported Nucor had launched an eight-person sales and technical staff to coordinate sales and research for the auto industry. Ferriola says the group moved into its Detroit office in November.
    “We had over 200 customers come by and talk to us and the one thing that we heard consistently was ... there is a major concern about the sustainability of some of our competitors in this industry, and they’re anxious to do more business with Nucor as a result of that,” Ferriola said.

  3. Lach's Lounge shut for week, hours cut for 2 months after fatal shooting, by Dick Lindsay, BerkshireEagle.com
    [Here's another in our occasional series, "Unusual reasons for cutting hours."]
    PITTSFIELD, Mass., USA — The city has shuttered a downtown bar for seven days and curtailed its hours for two months in the wake of a patron being shot to death after leaving the establishment two weeks ago.
    By a 4-0 vote, with Chairman Carmen Massimiano absent, the Licensing Board on Wednesday afternoon slapped Lach's Lounge at 129 Fenn St. with a weeklong suspension, effective immediately. The bar can reopen on Feb. 10 only if security cameras have been installed.
    The board also ordered that the bar close at midnight for 60 days [instead of 1:30am?]
    and pulled its entertainment license for the same period.
    The penalty followed an hourlong show-cause hearing requested by the Pittsfield Police Department, which determined several people left the bar drunk on Jan. 23. Police had responded to the area of Lach's Lounge after receiving a 911 call around 1:30 a.m. of an "unresponsive male" in the nearby city parking lot.
    The man, later identified as James Dominguez of Springfield, had been shot to death after being inside the bar, according to Lt. Michael Grady.
    Since the homicide is the subject of an ongoing investigation, Grady couldn't provide details that led up to the shooting. He emphasized Wednesday's hearing was a result of officers finding several intoxicated people who had been in Lach's Lounge — not because of the shooting.
    "Based on interviews of people who were in the bar, there was excess service of alcohol at the bar," Grady told the board. "At least one person was so drunk; he was unable to walk and talk."
    Bar co-owner Arthur Beattie Jr. disputed Grady's claim police knew they were questioning bar patrons.
    "They only saw people outside on the street; they didn't go into the bar ... I was told," he said. "There are not people being overserved in [our] bar."
    Neither Beattie nor his partner were on site at that night, relying on what their staff told them — and that irritated the board.
    Two months early, Dana Doyle promised to seek hour reductions if bar ownership returned for another show-cause hearing. On Nov. 30, the board put the liquor license holders on notice for a lack of cooperation for the Oct. 31 shooting of a city man on nearby Lincoln Street. Apparently, the weapon used had been in the bar prior to the shooting.
    The owners weren't on the premises the night of the Halloween shooting.
    "When there are incidents back to back ... it's not acceptable," said board member Diane Pero.
    "It's clear to me ... you're not taking this seriously and that has to change," said Thomas Campoli.
    The required changes include finally installing the security cameras promised at the Nov. 30 hearing; better or additional training for bar staff, and one or both of the owners being on site, especially late weekend nights when trouble seems to occur.
    "After 11 o'clock, the [clientele] changes there," said board member Richard Stockwell, a patron at Lach's Lounge who left the bar three hours before Dominguez was found in the parking lot.
    Pero was skeptical the owners would follow through with the board's conditions.
    "Frankly, I don't think you have the credibility to carry them out," she said.
    Lach's Lounge recent track record has also soured at least two neighboring businesses. Representatives from Cantarella School of Dance and MyCom Federal Credit Union said they were troubled to see the active crime scene later that morning of Jan. 23. School officials said many parents were ready to pull their children from the dance studio.
    Mayor Linda M. Tyer, via a prepared statement, weighed in on Lach's Lounge, just a stone's throw from City Hall, noting a liquor license is a privilege that comes with responsibilities.
    "The public is counting on us to ensure their safety. Now is the time for us to deliver a strong message that the city of Pittsfield does not tolerate illegal activities that take place in licensed establishments," read Roberta McCulloch-Dews, the mayor's director of administrative services.
    [That only leaves one question - How do you pronounce Lach's?]
    Contact Dick Lindsay at 413 496-6233   rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com   @BE_DLindsay


2/03/2016 – 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. Rehab Systems, Coyote Design announce shortened work weeks, (2/2 late pickup) Healio Orthopedics&Prosthetics News via healio.com
    BOISE, Ida., USA - Rehab Systems and its sister company Coyote Design, both located in Boise, Idaho, are changing their hours. Rehab Systems provides patient care, and Coyote Design offers manufacturing and fabrication.
    To provide later appointment hours, Rehab Systems will be open Monday through Thursday until 5:30 p.m. and Friday until 4 p.m. To supplement [sic= typo for:] compensate for extra time worked during the week, staff members will have every other Friday off work, resulting in 75 hours worked for each 2-week pay period [instead of 80 = avg. 37.5-hr workweek]. Rehab Systems will continue to provide on-call service with employees working on call once per month. Coyote Design will be open 4 days each week and will be closed on Fridays. Changes in hours will not affect employee pay, according to a company press release.
    “While this is a hit in terms of workable hours, we feel that with extra time off for family, friends, hobbies and enjoying the great area we live in, our staff will more than make up for those hours in enthusiasm, engagement and general happiness, all of which leads to better customer service and performance,” Matt Perkins, president and chief executive officer of Rehab Systems and Coyote Design, said in the release. “We feel this move will actually create more productivity, and long term success of both companies. I have already seen a higher level of teamwork and efforts toward efficiency with these moves.”

    Reference: www.rehabsystems.ws

  2. Saudi council rejects government proposal on work hours, by By Habib Toumi, GulfNews.com
    MANAMA, Saudi Arabia - Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council has rejected attempts to amend the labour law and successfully upheld its own decision for a two-day weekend and [only] 40 hours of work weekly for the private sector.
    The Shura insisted that employees and workers in the private sector should work a maximum of eight hours a day or 40 hours a week.
    The load is reduced for Muslims during the fasting month of Ramadan to seven hours a day or 35 hours a week.
    The Shura was reacting to a proposal by the government to amend Article 98 of the Labour Law to allow employers to make their employees work for nine hours a day, or 45 hours a week.
    [Kudos to the Shura Council for staying firmly in the 20th century instead of going back to the 19th century on workhours as the government, evidently dominated by short-sighted employers whose heads have yet to get anywhere near the age of robotics, has been trying to impose. If only the "Standard Working Week Committee" of Hong Kong was this advanced, but they can't even get to the level of a standard workweek, let alone a 40-hour one. We note that a supposedly backward theocracy (SA) is currently more advanced than a supposedly advanced atheist meritocracy (HK).]
    The government said that the workload of Muslims should be reduced to seven hours a day or 35 hours a week during Ramadan, Saudi news site Sabq reported.
    In October, the Labour ministry said it would conduct a study to determine the possibility of having a two-day weekend and a 40-hour work week for the private sector.
    The study is to consider the advantages and disadvantages of the move as well as the views of the business community and the effect on Saudi job-seekers who are almost invariably attracted by the more generous conditions, including fewer hours and lesser load and pressure, of the public sector.
    The powerful business community had mostly resisted the move, arguing it would affect the economy.
    During the heated Shura Council debate on Tuesday, Council Member Fahd Bin Jumaa pushed for having the working hours at 40 hours per week and called for increasing the minimum wage to SR6,000.
    Shura Member Hatem Al Marzouqi called for having shorter hours, arguing that the long hours have pushed a high number of Saudis to avoid jobs in the private sector.
    Khalifa Al Dossari said that women in the private sector should not work more than six hours a day.
    Fayez Al Shahri, another member, said that the private sector should assume its responsibilities and reduce the working load for employees and workers.
    However, Shura Member Abdullah Al Saadoon said that lowering the weekly load would put new burdens on Saudi citizens.
    “With fewer working hours, several expatriates will take up other jobs during the weekend, and this means they will remit more money,” he said.
    Shura Member Khalid Al Saud said that lowering the hours would result in more problems in the short term and would not help the national economy.
    He argued that the reduction of the number of hours should be done gradually and should concur with offering new incentives to attract Saudis to the jobs in the private sector.
    Around nine million of Saudi Arabia’s total population of 27 million are foreigners, mainly Asians working in the booming construction and in services in the private sector.


2/02/2016 – 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. Sia Is More Productive With Her Four-Hour Work Week, Even Though She Says She Lacks Talent, by Edward VKanty, The Inquisitr.com
    ADELAIDE, S.Ausi., Australia - Sia wants to experience as much as she can in her lifetime, so the Australian pop sensation is determined to keep her working time down to four hours a week. Even as she reveals that recipe for a good life, something many of us can only dream about, she also confesses that she doubts her own talents. Sia doesn’t feel that she lacks all talent, but she also feels that she’s not quite the super talented phenomenon that many believe her to be. Instead, she just feels that her high level of productivity makes her seem far more talented.
    Sia Says The Key To A Happy Life Is To Work As Few Hours As Possible
    The This is Acting performer says she places strict limits on the amount of time she will allow herself to be locked away in the studio, recording new songs or writing music. She says she doesn’t want to spend grueling hours hard at work, when the time could be better spent having fun and enjoying time with friends or family.
    “My modus operandi is a four-hour work week. I’m trying to work out strategies for getting the most out of my life, so that I can spend time with my friends, my dogs and my husband,” Sia said in an interview with Britain’s The Observer Music magazine.
    Sia writes songs for some of the biggest pop stars of today, like Rihanna, Beyonce, Adele, Britney Spears, and Katy Perry, and while she respects them for their hard work and dedication to their careers, she has no desire to be like them.
    “(A schedule like Beyonce’s) would make me suicidal…
    Thinking that for two years I just have to get on this mouse-wheel and go round the world talking about myself, and singing the same songs. I respect the women I write for, because they work hard in a way I could never do.”
    Sia Freely Admits She’s Not The Most Talented Songwriter
    While Sia does pursue a singing career of her own in addition to the songwriting services she provides to stars like Rihanna, she says her success has more to do with hard work than talent. She says that out of 10 songs, one of them will be a hit, so it’s really just a law of averages for her.
    “One out of 10 songs is a hit. So where a lot of people will spend three weeks on a song, I will write 10 in three weeks. Maybe the song that they sculpt is going to be just as successful as just one of the 10 that I wrote.”
    This may be the key to success in any creative profession. While there are some incredibly talented forces out there, it’s the dedication to produce that really affects their success in life. Whether she realizes it or not, Sia may be a driving force in her own right, succeeding through raw determination. The singer and songwriter has become so aware of the intricacies of her career that she can recognize a hit versus a purely creative piece just by looking at them. It was this talent that recently had her questioning Rihanna’s choices in music, when the pop star showed interest in buying new songs.
    ”She chose four that she is interested in and I was surprised at her choices because she did not choose the obvious hits,” Sia said. “What she seems to be attracted to at the moment is less commercial.”
    Sia’s wide range of songwriting endeavors can be sampled in This is Acting, which essentially is a compilation of songs rejected by the other pop stars for whom she writes. As such, nearly every genre is explored on the 12 track album, ranging from the reckless and wild sounds of “Cheap Thrills” and “Reaper” to the expected ballads that are expected of every album.
    [Another version -]
    Singer Sia's miniscule work week, NZherald.co.nz
    Singer-songwriter Sia crams all her work into four hours a week. (Photo caption)
    AUCKLAND, No.Is., N.Z. - Sia only works four hours a week because she is determined to "get the most out of life".
    The Chandelier singer refuses to spend long days in the studio writing and recording songs, and places strict limits on her working hours so she can spend more time having fun.
    "My modus operandi is a four-hour work week. I'm trying to work out strategies for getting the most out of my life, so that I can spend time with my friends, my dogs and my husband," she tells Britain's The Observer music magazine.
    Sia, who has written for singers including Rihanna, Beyonce, Adele, Britney Spears, and Katy Perry, admits she has no plan to put in as many hours as other pop stars, adding, "(A schedule like Beyonce's) would make me suicidal..."
    Thinking that for two years I just have to get on this mouse-wheel and go round the world talking about myself, and singing the same songs. I respect the women I write for, because they work hard in a way I could never do."
    Sia just released her seventh studio album, This Is Acting, which holds 12 songs originally intended for, and rejected by, A-list artists, including Beyonce, Adele and Rihanna.

  2. State's IOU of $200000 means rape crisis center cuts hours, staff pay share, Champaign/Urbana News-Gazette via news-gazette.com
    URBANA, Illin., USA — Owed about $200,000 by the state of Illinois, a rape crisis center in Urbana has cut its staff hours and salaries.
    And the Rape Advocacy Counseling & Education Services [RACES] says that without state funding it will have to close by mid-April. RACES, located in Urbana's Lincoln Square, is among the social service agencies that are not being funded because of the ongoing budget dispute between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic legislators. In 2015, RACES said it served more than 37,408 individuals, ages 3 through adult.
    Beginning Monday, the agency cut its staff hours and salaries by 20 percent.
    [Better hours cuts than staff cuts, Timesizing not downsizing! If Illinois had a state worksharing program, this would be easier! See story 10/20/2009 #1.]
    Hours are now 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. RACES will be closed on Fridays. Its hotline and medical advocates will continue to be available 24 hours a day, however.
    The cuts will limit the availability of counselors, legal advocates, and community educators who provide valuable services to survivors of sexual assault, the agency said.
    "We've exhausted what resources we have and we're not getting any state funds," said Mary Evans, executive director of the organization. "We're trying to do more private fundraising but at this point it looks like we'll have to close our doors by mid-April."
    RACES hopes to implement a new sustainable funding model, she said.
    Plans include a benefit concert at Exile on Main Street, 100 N. Chestnut St., C, from noon to 4 p.m. on Feb. 20. This event will serve as the official launch of the RACES Save Our Services crowdfunding campaign. Donations can be made at http://www.cu-races.org/make-donations.




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January/2012
December/2011
November/2011
October/2011
September/2011
August 2-31/2011
July/2011 + 8/01
June/2011
May/2011
April/2011
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
September/2010
August/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
December/2009
November/2009
October/2009
September/2009
August/2009
July/2009
June/2009
May/2009
April/2009
March/2009
Jan-Feb/2009
2005-2008
Nov.27-30 (& Dec.)/2004
Nov.23-26/2004
Nov.16-22/2004
Nov.9-15/2004
Nov.2-8/2004
Oct.27-31/2004 + Nov.1
Oct.22-27/2004
Oct.16-21/2004
Oct.12-15/2004
Oct.6-11/2004
Oct.1-5/2004
Sept.25-30/2004
Sept.21-24/2004
Sept.11-20/2004
Sept.7-10/2004
Sept.4-6/2004
Sept.1-3/2004
Aug.27-31/2004
Aug.21-26/2004
Aug.11-20/2004
(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
Apr.16-30/2004
Apr.1-15/2004
Mar.23-31/2004
Mar.11-22/2004
Mar.2-10/2004
Feb.21-29/2004 + Mar.1
Feb.11-20/2004
Jan.31 + Feb.1-10/2004
Jan.21-30/2004
Jan.10-20/2004
Jan.1-9/2004
2003
2002
2001
Y2000
1999
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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