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Timesizing News, March 21-31, 2002
[Commentary] ©2002 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 622, Porter Sq, Cambridge MA 02140 USA 617-623-8080
3/31-4/01/2002 primitive Timesizing in the weekend news -
3/30/2002 primitive Timesizing in the news - no news today so we brought you an item that came in late re South Korean labor minister wanting to introduce shorter workweek ASAP (as soon as possible) titled, "Interview - 'Korea Inc' needs flexible unions to survive," now back in its proper date order, 3/08/2002 #6.
- 4/01 Major German union pushes for strike, by David McHugh, AP-NY-03-31-02 1346EST via AOLNews.
FRANKFURT, Germany - With six weeks of vacation a year, a 35-hour workweek and fat Christmas bonuses, life is not exactly a proletarian struggle for members of Germany's powerful IG Metall labor union.... IG Metall...represents workers in critical industries such as automaking and electronics..\..
[So it looks like Germany has a 35-hour workweek on the level of union membership but not on the nationwide statutory level like France. And of course, neither is doing what's really needed, namely not just another rigid and arbitrary workweek but a flexible workweek that gradually reduces as much as it takes to squeeze out the vanishing available employment on everyone who needs it and revive domestic markets by eliminating unemployment.]
...This year's mood in contract talks for the big industries is the most militant in years [despite] chronically high unemployment and a recession.... The 2.7m-strong union - sometimes called the world's most powerful - plans limited walkouts across the country starting this week to signal to industry that its threat of the first major strike for higher pay since 1995 is real....
[German labor appears just as stupid as American labor. Focused on the issue that gets you nothing in the long run - higher pay - instead of the issue that gets you everything - shorter hours - because it reduces and controls the cheapening surplus of...you - the labor force. Short-sighted employers just love it when labor stays focused on higher pay because they know there's always going to be a huge labor surplus to keep market forces on their, the employers', side in any negotiations.]
- 4/01 Young people feel a chill in Japan's hiring season - Japan's young people may never reach their parents' standard of living, by James Brooke, NYT, A3.
[Gee, just like a lot of America's young people!]
TOKYO...- With Japan's economic engine stuck in neutral for over a decade, the recession's invisible victims are young people starting out in a radically changed job market.... Hiring freezes are freezing out a generation.... A decade ago, four job openings awaited each Japanese high school graduate looking for work.... There is now barely one..\..despite \the\ plummet[ing of] the number of high school graduates seeking work...by two thirds, or 400,000 people.... Frequently, college graduates are taking jobs that once went to high school graduates..\.. Said Haruo Shimada, an economics professor who is also a social policy adviser to the government..\.."Young people are paying the price for the recession."...
[No, they're paying the price of Japanese no-limits workaholism in the context of the most robotized economy in the world. Luckily the lightbulb has begun to go on and the Japanese have started to wake up to sharing the vanishing work -]
This year, for the first time since organized labor in Japan started a traditional "spring offensive" for wage increases, Rengo, the main labor union federation, is not asking for raises. Instead, in an effort to preserve jobs, it is asking companies to adopt European-style work-sharing programs..\..
Officially, Japan's unemployment rate is 5.3%. But Richard Katz, an American economist, argues that the real rate would be 8.5% if government statisticians counted discouraged workers, who are not currently looking for work, and part-time workers who lose their jobs....
[And when an American economist talks like that, with America's bogus "low" rate, you know Japan's in deep kimshee.]
"Unemployment is at least double the official figures," said Kiyoshi Sasamori, president of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, known as Rengo..\..
[= the Beetles of the Japanese economy, a la Ringo Star?]
Official statistics show that young men have the nation's highest unemployment rate, 10.7%.... Crime, generally a reflection of societal alienation of young males, has jumped by about 60% since 1996, hitting 2.7m incidents in Japan last year.
[Not to mention the high-frequency of supuku that decks our work-related suicide pages.]
Increasingly, youth gangs are using force to redistribute money between the generations.
[Oh, there's a solution for you! Teenage Robin Hoods. Well, Phil Hyde's paternal grannie was from Nottingham and his maternal grampa was a socialist mayor in New Zealand.]
Earlier this month in Saitama, a northern suburb, the police arrested 12 teenage youths suspected in 19 robberies of middle-age businessmen, usually drunk salarymen on their way home..\..
[But converting overtime into training and jobs, and cutting the workweek, is a much smarter approach than crime or suicide, and Japan is just beginning to "get it" -]
...The generational wealth chasm seems fated to grow. Two-thirds of the nation's savings are in the hands of people over age 60..\..
[Probably the same in the U.S.]
Government officials are trying to react before generational resentments rise. In one hard-hit city, Akita, the city government has cut employee overtime to finance a $500,000 job program for highschool graduates....
[Actually, 12 "hard-hit cities" are doing this, not just one, according to the story we picked up on 3/07/2002 #1, including Shiga and Hyogo prefectures which were already doing it then, and 10 others that were planning to do it soon, including Kyoto, Aomori, Akita, Shizuoka, Tottori and Ehime. Here's hoping Koizumi doesn't make the same mistake as Herbert Hoover and fail to recognize the strategic centrality of this powerful concept - and the speed with which he needs to move on it.]
- 3/31 Angry teachers heckle Morris, Reuters 13:15 03-30-02 via AOLNews.
U.K...- Teachers heckled and jeered Education Secretary Estelle Morris on Saturday...at the annual National Union of Teachers conference in Bournemouth..\..when she warned them against threatening to strike.... Teachers are threatening to walk out over cost-of-living allowances in [London]..\.. Schools [there] have already been hit by a one-day strike last month over pay....
The three main teacher unions are likely to hold ballots in the autumn on whether to impose the
35-hour week unilaterally across England and Wales.
3/29/2002 primitive Timesizing in the news -
3/28/2002 primitive Timesizing in the news - no news today so we brought you an item that came in late, "Minnesota Nurses Association Members hail legislative ban on mandatory overtime," now back in its proper date, 3/20/2002 #5.
- Gov't, labor, management reach accord on [work]-sharing, Kyodo News via AP-NY-03-29-02 via AOLNews.
[This reporter seems to regard job-sharing (splitting up a 40-hour "full-time job") and work-sharing (changing the 40-hour definition of "full-time") as synonymous. We correct all his/er slips.]
The government, labor and management announced an agreement Friday to pave the way for introducing work-sharing to cope with Japan's deteriorating employment situation. The agreement reflects a shift in the government's stance on work-sharing toward greater involvement in labor-management negotiations.
Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Chikara Sakaguchi, Pres. Kiyoshi Sasamori of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo), and Hiroshi Okuda, chairman of the Japan Federation of Employers Assocs. (Nikkeiren) announced the agreement.
The accord defines [work]-sharing as reduction of work hours aimed at maintaining and creating employment. The agreement then classifies work-sharing into two types -
[These were exactly the two purposes of the rightwing Robien Law in France in 1996-97, which offered seven-year taxbreaks to firms willing to cut hours to either create jobs or avoid layoffs.]
- a diversified employment scheme, such as working shorter daily hours or on alternat[e] days....
[in other words, timesizing to spread the immediately available work and create more jobs and a bigger workforce and consumer base]
The labor ministry, Rengo and Nikkeiren agreed to promptly improve conditions for introducing the diversified employment scheme, such as clarifying job responsibilities and the meaning of hourly wages as well as achieving fair treatment of affected workers. The government will consider expanding the application of employee pension insurance and reforming the medical insurance system in compliance with the scheme, the agreement says..\..
[Here the Japanese government is moving to offset the biases in the current system toward long hours, for example, the limitation of health insurance to "full time" employees where "full time" is rigidly defined as 40 hours a week or more. Juliet Schor mentions this type of benefits rigidity in her book, The Overworked American, on pp. 66 ff.]
- an emergency job security scheme to prevent unemployment....
[in other words, timesizing to prevent layoffs]
The emergency job security scheme will cope with unemployment that is expected to be created in the coming few years through banks' stepped-up disposal of bad loans, the accord says. Regular work hours and wages may be cut under the scheme, subject to labor-management agreement, with the aim of maintaining and improving productivity.
[Again, the pointless fixation, borrowed from clueless American economists, on productivity regardless of markets and saleability. The general assumption here seems to be either that markets are completely independent of consumers or that consumers are completely independent of employment and wages. So we can continously squeeze down employment and wages without affecting consumers and markets. This type of disconnected thinking is responsible for Japan's 10-year-plus depression and for the USA's increasing economic and social dysfunctionality.]
The government will consider financial support for the emergency scheme.
[Too bad the goverment doesn't have available for this purpose some of the billions it wasted on makework over the last 10-12 years!]
- United Steel Workers of America (USWA) Health Care Workers Council (HCWC) applauds new Minnesota law restricting mandatory overtime work for nurses; Says coalition seeking similar national law, PRNewswire 03/28/2002 16:19 EST via AOLNews.
PITTSBURGH...- USWA HCWC responded to Minnesota's new law restricting the amount of mandatory overtime [OT] work required for healthcare professionals by applauding the measure, and urging similar national legislation to assure top notch medical care for patients.
[Wasn't the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 supposed to have done this for all workers? "Mandatory overtime" was supposed to be an oxymoron. Boy, are we employers pathetic. Couldn't hold ourselves back and depress quality of life and our own markets better if we were doing it on purpose.]
The USWA HCWC joined with the Minnesota Nurses Assoc. and other coalition partners in lobbying for this limit to mandatory overtime for Registered Nurses (RNs) and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) in hospitals, culminating in the Governor of Minnesota signing the new law this week.
The new state law stipulates that except in the case of public emergencies, hospitals are "prohibited from taking action against a nurse solely on the grounds that the nurse failed to accept an assignment of additional consecutive hours at the facility in excess of a normal work period, if the nurse declines to work additional hours because doing so may, in the nurse's judgement, jeopardize patient safety." USWA HCWC Coordinator Jon Youngdahl said, "Passage of the Minnesota law against overworking nurses is a major victory for all healthcare workers. Our political leaders need to get busying and pass national legislation like this. It is clearly in the interest of the general public that they receive adequate, professional care in their times of medical need."
The USWA HCWC recently sent a delegation of nurses to Washington, DC, to lobby for a federal law restricting mandatory overtime for healthcare professionals. The USWA HCWC represents more than 20,000 workers in the healthcare industry, and is assisting workers at numerous facilities to organize a union and gain a voice in their working conditions.
Contact: Jon Youngdahl, USWA HCWC, 612-810-8788
Howard Scott, USWA Organizing Dept., 412-562-2529
3/27/2002 primitive Timesizing in the news -
3/26/2002 primitive Timesizing in the news -
- Gov't to offer financial aid on work-sharing deal, Kyodo News via AP-NY-03-25-02 via AOLNews.
TOKYO, March 26 - The government has decided to include financial aid in an agreement on work-sharing programs to be issued shortly with umbrella groups of labor unions and employers' associations, government officials said Monday.
[Two of the three occurrences of the term in this article (the first and last) actually say working-sharing rather than work-sharing. Guess the Japanese have as much trouble with English as we have with their lingo. Maybe we should start searching on that mistake for more articles?]
The aid will include grants to facilitate work-sharing programs by companies and expansion of current job-adjustment subsidies to such programs, the officials said....
Health, Welfare and Labor Minister Chikara Sakaguchi; Kiyoshi Sasamori, president of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo); and Hiroshi Okuda, chairman of the Japan Federation of Employers' Assocs. (Nikkeiren) will announce the agreement on Friday after final consultation over the government's financial support. The three parties have been working to set a framework for promoting work-sharing programs, with Rengo strongly calling for government fiscal commitments.
[Work-sharing systems, if well-designed like Timesizing, don't give government handouts, but the thinking is, the Japanese government has spent trillions on ineffectual makework campaigns over the last 10 years, they can spend a few yen on something that has a future; in fact, is the future - sharework, not makework, and certainly not charity.]
- Advanced Glassfiber Yarns LLC [AGY] announces year end 2001 earnings, AP-NY-03-25-02 via AOLNews.
AIKEN, S.C...- AGY announced [yester]day that...net sales for the year ended Dec. 31, 2001 decreased $72m, or 25.9% to $206.3m as compared to $278.3m for the year ended Dec. 31, 2000.... The benefit of price increases implemented earlier during 2001 have been more than offset by a 29% decline in volumes sold during the year. This decrease in demand reflects a global economic downturn and inventory corrections, whicih were particularly severe in the electronics and industrial markets....
In response to these market conditions, the Company [based in Aiken, S.C.] reduced production schedules and focused on operating cost reductions and working capital management. Since May 2001, the Company has reduced its production workforce through furloughs by 36% as compared to Jan. 2001. In Dec. 2001, the Company temporarily shutdown the Huntingdon and South Hill facilities to mirror the production curtailment by the Company's key weaving customers. In addition..., in the fourth quarter the Company reduced the number of salaried positions in order to cut costs in future periods....
[So, another case study in primitive timesizing in the form of furloughs and temporary plant shutdowns to avoid additional layoffs.]
3/24/2002 primitive Timesizing in the weekend news -
- Governor Ventura signs ban on mandatory overtime; Minnesota Nurses Association applauds tri-partisan effort, PRNewswire 03/25/2002 18:16 EST via AOLNews.
St. PAUL, Minn...- [Minnesota] Gov. Jesse Ventura signed into law today landmark legislation to limit the use of mandatory overtime when a Registered Nurse considers herself/himself too tired to perform safe patient care. The Mandatory Overtime Prevention Act (SF 2463/HF 2993) makes it illegal for healthcare employees in acute care settings to take action against a nurse for refusing to work overtime. The bill makes it clear that the nurse exercises her/his own judgement as to whether s/he can safely provide care to patients....
[See, Jesse isn't such a putz after all! 'Smarter than he looks.']
Nurses in Minnesota and across the nation have been rising up in protest against the practice of forcing nurses to work overtime in order to compensate for short staffing. As the nursing shortage deepens, nurses have been reporting increased incidences of retaliation against nurses who refuse to work additional overtime hours. Retaliation includes discipline, threats of discharge, actual discharge of duty and reporting nurses to their licensing board for patient abandonment.
The use of mandatory overtime is addressed in many bargaining unit contracts where the Minnesota Nurses Association represents nurses. Minnesota was the first state in the nation to include such language in union contracts for nurses, having implemented it in 1987. This state law covers nurses who do not enjoy union representation and in other facilities where contract language does not address the issue. Long term care facilities are exempt from this particular measure, because current administrative statute includes language about mandatory overtime.
The effect of forced overtime on patient care is documented in the literature. Research shows that sleep loss influences several aspects of performance, leading to slowed reaction time, delayed responses, failure to respond when appropriate, false responses, slowed thinking, diminished memory and others. In fact, 1997 research by Dawson and Reid at the University of Australia showed that work performance is more likely to be impaired by moderate fatigue than by alcohol consumption. Their research shows that significant safety risks are posed by workers staying awake for long periods.
"Federal regulations have used transportation law to place limits on the amount of time that can be worked in aviation and trucking. Nursing has as much of an impact on public health and safety as these professions," said Koenig.
The Mandatory Overtime Prevention Act passed the Minnesota Senate 63-0 and by 130-1 in the House and Governor Ventura signed the bill without hesitation. Senate authors included Senators Ellen Anderson (D, St. Paul); Julie Sabo (D, Mpls.); Roger Moe (D, Erskine); Doug Johnson (D, Tower). Authors in the House for House File 2993 include Representatives Larry Howes (R, Walker); Dan McElroy (R, Burnsville); Bob Gunther (R, Fairmont); Loren Jennings (D, Harris) and Mary Ellen Otremba (D, Long Prairie).
With more than 15,500 members, MNA is the leading organization for Registered Nurses in the Midwest and is among the oldest and largest representatives of RNs for collective bargaining in the nation.
3/23/2002 primitive Timesizing in the news -
- Japanese morning newspaper headlines, Kyodo News via AP-NY-03-22-02 1753EST via AOLNews.
TOKYO, March 23 - Saturday morning newspaper headlines:
- Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy to make tax reform top priority in stimulating economy (Nihon Keizai)....
[It'll help if it untaxes centrifugation of spending power (e.g., by removing sales taxes and taxes on the poor). It'll hinder if it untaxes concentration of spending power (e.g., by removing taxes on those who have far more than they can spend).]
- Gov't, Nikkeiren, Rengo draft agreement to emphasize work-sharing system for full-time employees (Nihon Keizai)
[Translation: that's government, employers & employees drafting this agreement. Here's hoping Kyodo &/or AP carries a release on the details.]
[Followup - they didn't.]
- Guidelines set for work-sharing system (Asahi)....
[This probably refers to the above draft agreement.]
- Japan, China reach broad agreement on currency-swap accord, to sign Thursday (Mainichi)....
3/22/2002 primitive Timesizing in the news - 2 humorous items for TGIF -
- Pennsylvania Auditor General Casey warns policymakers of crisis in long-term care staffing - Offers several recommendations to improve recruitment and retention of nurses' aides, PRNewswire 03/22/2002 14:55 EST via AOLNews.
ERIE, Pa...- Thousands of nurses and nurses' aides are being driven from the profession by deplorable pay, mandatory overtime, unsafe patient-staff ratios, inadequate training and a lack of career advancement opportunities, according to Auditor General Robert Casey Jr. At a Democratic Party Committee Hearing [yester]day in Erie, Casey said that without prompt state action, the quality of care provided to older Pennsylvanians in long-term care facilities will be compromised....
Between two-thirds and three-quarters of the nursing homes in Penn. reported some level of staffing shortages in 2000, with roughly 85% experiencing staff vacancies. To improve the quality of long-term care in Pennsylvania, Casey recommends:
- raising the level of professionalism by increasing wages and benefits for registered nurses, LPNs, nurses' aides and other frontline workers who provide direct care...
- eliminating mandatory overtime and the staff shortages that have prompted it...
- targeting federal and state job training funds to training frontline staff....
3/21/2002 primitive Timesizing in the news -
- Striptease girl, dog vie for French presidency, by Rebecca Harrison, Reuters 06:38 03-21-02 via AOLNews.
...Some 50 candidates, ranging from the wacky to the deadly earnest, hope to make their mark in the first round of voting to pick France's president on April 21.... Some [voters] will look no further than striptease artist Cindy Lee and her Party of Pleasure's ticket of "a sexier France."... She is unlikely even to secure the 500 signatures of elected politicians needed to qualify for the first round.... A tiny dog named "Saucisse," French for sausage, might also fall at the first hurdle, having survived an earlier career as bait in pitbull fights....
[Sounds like good preparation for politics.]
Olivier Besancenot, a...postman who delivers letters to the residents of one of Paris's poshest suburbs, advocates a four-day working week and legalisation of cannabis.... No fewer than four ecologists will be sparring for the green vote....
- Sanderson Farms settles wage suit, AP-NY-03-21-02 1633EST.
WASHINGTON - A Mississippi-based poultry producer has agreed to pay more than $450,000 in back wages and interest to more to more than 500 workers to settle a Labor Dept. lawsuit.... The agency's Wage and Hour Division, which enforces federal minimum wage and overtime laws, sued the company over violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act regarding use of chicken catchers. Those workers go into a chicken house, chase after the birds and grab them so the birds can be slaughtered.\..
The Labor Dept. announced the agreement on Thursday with Sanderson Farms Inc., based in Laurel, Miss. The company has processing plants in Mississippi and Texas.... The company will pay back wages to workers at five company plants that use chicken catchers.
[This is probably about back overtime wages but it's possible it's only about back minimum wages.]
The Mississippi plants are in Laurel, Hazelhurst, McComb and Collins. A Bryan, Tex. plant also is involved.
The settlement is similar to agreements in two other chicken catcher cases involving Perdue Farms Inc. and Continental Grain Co. in which the agency secured compliance agreements....
- LDP calls for gov't subsidies for firms with work-sharing, Kyodo News via AP-NY-03-19-02 2208EST via AOLNews.
TOKYO...- The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) released a set of employment-boosting proposals Wednesday, including a call for government subsidies to companies that have introduced work-sharing schemes to maintain job numbers.... The report said work-sharing has yet to become popular in Japan because its adoption does not lead to a cut in fixed costs at companies, such as commuting and housing allowances..\..
[Japanese employees get commuting and housing allowances??? Why the earmarking? Why the micromanagement by employers? Do they get cigarette and beer allowances too? Just cut the workweek, convert overtime into on-the-job training, engage market forces in raising pay and let higher pay levels take care of nit-picking details like housing and commuting. This is like American employees whining for childcare and insurance and all the other details on their petty laundry list instead of just lunging for the jugular, cutting the flabby 62-year-frozen pre-technological workweek that stifles their pay raises and their ability to purchase anywhere close to their robotics-amplified output.]
LDP General Council Chairman Mitsuo Horiuchi, who is leading a group fo LDP lawmakers studying labor issues, released the proposals at a news conference.... The government needs to deal with a growing number of young unemployed people.... The government should...swiftly conduct a survey on young people who have remained jobless after finishing school, and include the results in a database so it can better help job seekers, the report said.
With regard to people who have lost jobs, the government should lower the maximum amount of per-day employment insurance benefits to encourage them to find new work, it said.
[Well that's the usual stupid approach - apply pressure to the weak and already-pressured. How about lowering the maximum amount of per-day employment per person economywide to encourage employers to find new employees? Employers are not young and inexperienced and they're not poor and weak. Discipline the ones who need discipline to take care of the social problems their own shortsightedness is creating, not the ones who are already disciplined by poverty, joblessness, and inexperience.]
Japan's jobless rate eased 0.2% in January from a record high of 5.5% in December, but government officials said the rate remains high and the employment situation is still severe.
[At the least the Japanese don't try to spin that kind of employment as "still low" - the way many Americans do - let alone try to foster it at that level (the NAIRU= non accelerating inflation rate of unemployment), the way our US central bank used to do on the kamekazi theory that the only way to control runaway inflation was by fostering job insecurity. Lord, future economists are going to shake their heads at our economic stupidity of the last two generations!]
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