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Timesizing News, January 16-31, 2003
[Commentary] ©2003 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 622, Porter Sq, Cambridge MA 02140 USA 617-623-8080


1/31/2003  timesizing consciousness in the news, aka glimmers of strategic hope -

1/30/2003  timesizing consciousness in the news, aka flickerings of strategic hope - 1/29/2003  timesizing consciousness in the news, aka flickerings of strategic hope -
  1. [buried at the back of the Wall Street Journal and given an irrelevant headline -]
    Poll gives workers morale boost, by Jane Kim, WSJ, D2.
    NEW YORK - Attention, employers: Make sure your employees feel valued.
    [Hahaha. Ever notice how the Wall Street Journal avoids talking about employees and their concerns? In their world, it's all about CEOs and "investors." But here, briefly, the veil slipped.]
    Otherwise, they could bolt for other jobs as soon as the economy starts to improve.
    [No risk of that.]
    A study finds that a growing number of employees are dissatisfied with their jobs. Their feelings, however, have less to do with distrust of corporations than they do with being overworked, underappreciated [cut the crap - how about just under PAID?! - pay is what their CEOs seem to fixate on] and anxious about the future.
    More than 40% of employees said they had strong negative feelings about their jobs; of that group, nearly 1/3 is actively looking for other jobs....
    Many discontented workers...are frustrated by the amount of work they have to pick up when their co-workers get laid off; at the same time, they are worried about their jobs and whether they are saving enough for retirement.
    [Haha. In a disintegrating socioeconomy, it doesn't matter - there is no meaningful principle of sharing such as timesizing and so there's NO security.]
    ..\..Employees are "disengaged passionately," said Steve Gang, of Gang & Gang Inc., a Salem MA consulting firm that worked with Towers Perrin, a NY HR consulting firm, on the study in September.
    [Cut the crap, Steve. This isn't a wine-tasting.]
    The study attempted to quantify employees' emotional attachment to their work.
    ...Of the 43% of the sample [how big was sample???] who strongly disliked their work experience, 25%...planned to remain while 28% are looking to leave..\.. Of the [33%] who felt "highly positive" about their jobs, 61%...plan to stay with their current employer; only 6%...were looking to leave....
    [How about that. Even 6% of the highly positive plan to bail.]
    ...Companies can improve the environment [with] performance-based compensation or develop flexible-hours programs.
    [hopefully meaning trimming hours for all instead of jobs for a few ... and a few more ... and a few more ... and....]

  2. Focus: Rengo drops anti-LDP stance to seek employment measures, Kyodo 01/28/03 19:49 EST via AOLNews.
    TOKYO...- The Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo) entered the political spotlight for the first time in many years when its chairman attended the annual national convention of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), long considered a taboo. "I came here to appeal for a policy shift to safeguard employment," Kiyoshi Sasamori, chairman of Japan's largest labor union, told the gathering held in Tokyo on Jan. 16. With unemployment hovering at record highs, Sasamori urged PM Junichiro Koizumi, who doubles as president of the LDP, to shift the government's economic policy to employment measures....
    Rengo was inaugurated in 1989 [whoa, the Year of the Great Slide!]. Rengo's first chairman, Akira Yamagishi, took an "anti-LDP" stance.... In contrast, Sasamori, who was installed as chairman of Rengo at its regular convention in Oct 2001,.. was reportedly more concerned about the deteriorating employment situation and young people's increasing indifference to labor union movements.
    [That may be, as in the U.S., because unions have failed to perform their one meaningful function of keeping the workweek coming down as technology levels go up so that the economy maintains a balance of production and consumption without desperate reliance on exports, investment bubbles, and tax-intensive public works alias pork and patronage.]
    Later, Sasamori travelled across the country and exchanged views with local small business operators. In the meantime, he restarted long-suspended policy consultations with the LDP and is promoting consultations among the government, labor and management with Koizumi over work sharing.
    [Good move the last couple of years - at last! But is he making Herbert Hoover's mistake? = not focused enough -]
    However, with unemployment staying at record highs and management publicly demanding pay cuts, it remains to be seen which direction the nation's largest labor union group chooses.
    [Just tell 'em they can have their paycuts but only in conjunction with hours cuts. That will keep the situation from getting any worse, and with some positive practical experience with hours cuts, they can start implementing proactive hours cuts that will cut unemployment, create an employer-perceived labor shortage, restore pay by market forces thus centrifuging the spending power of the nation out of the black hole in the top income brackets, re-employ the record number of unemployed and reactivate the spending power of the nation for the kind of solid boom they had in the 1980s when they had full employment via lifetime employment rather than the more flexible worksharing/ timesizing approach.]

  3. [the current persistence of overlong working hours in Japan is evidenced not only by our article below on overtime (12/27/2002), but by this excerpt on the position of Japanese women in the workplace -]
    Selected summaries of articles from Japanese magazines -4-, Kyodo 01/28/03 22:49 EST via AOLNews.
    ...Society
    ...Noriko Sakakibara, a journalist for the Yomiuri Shimbun, writes in "Japanese Society Is a Child-Rearing Desert" that although a fair number of young people would like to have children or expand their families, these natural desires are being suppressed by external circumstances - the social and economic environment. Sakakibara, a successful Japanese female journalist in a world in which the chances for women are several times lower than for men, faced a frightful dilemma as she passed the age of 30. She worried that if she got much older she might be unable to bear children, but she also feared having to revert to much less challenging work if she had children.
    Her pregnancy make her take the plunge into motherhood, but it also showed her the hard reality of jobs with long working hours, in which for a woman to have children amounts, in a sense, to a betrayal of her workplace.
    Sakakibara questions how Japanese society today relies entirely on the self-sacrifice of women of childbearing age to accomplish the important task of nurturing the bearers of its future. Society as a whole should promptly set about greening the "child-rearing desert," viewing the falling birthrate as a phenomenon separate from the graying of society - as do France and Scandinavian countries....
    [and France, despite recent weakening of overtime rules, has, at 35 hours, the shortest statutory workweek in the world, and Scandinavia has some very long annual vacation time. We admit, we can't get too worked up over the unsustainability of falling birthrates at a time when world population is heading for 7 billion and our current global problem is still very much the unsustainability of population explosion, not collapse.]

1/28/2003  timesizing consciousness in the news, aka glimmers of strategic hope -
  1. Cuisine Solutions announces second quarter fiscal year 2003 results, PRNewswire-FirstCall 01/27/2003 17:50 EST via AOLNews.
    [This pathetic outfit manages to criticize France's 35-hour workweek even though it's profiting from it!]
    ALEXANDRIA, Va...- Cuisine Solutions announced a net loss of $847,000...compared to a net loss of $1,477,000 a year ago....
    France
    The total fiscal year 2003 Q2 sales in US dollars were $2,539,000 versus previous year sales of $2,279,000, an increase of $260,000 or 11.4%....
    [OK, what's wrong with that? They must be mad about their overall loss cuz their attitude is, "We'll find something!"]
    The increases in US sales dollars were primarily driven by foreign exchange rate fluctuations along with a real increase in Euro sales driven by higher sales to the foodservice sector. Foodservice operators are forced to deal with the 35-hour workweek constraint and have discovered that the Cuisine Solutions product line offers a solution to the limited availability and higher cost of labor created as a result of the mandated workhour rules....
    ["Forced constraint," "mandated."  So they're kvetching all the way to the bank.  Imagine the sales they'd have - and how much they'd be sniping - if the rest of the WORLD went to 35 hours!]

  2. [and here's a little scam companies run to appear more productive -]
    IT telecommuting: Companies realize cost savings through IT telework programs, Business Wire 01/27/2003 11:02 Eastern via AOLNews.
    CHAPEL HILL, NC...- Employees report improved productivity, lower overhead costs and fewer absences as a result of IT telecommuting according to a survey conducted by research and consulting firm Best Practices [ha!] LLC.... Top findings from the IT telecommuting benchmarking [oh spare us the jargon!] survey include:...
1/25/2003  timesizing consciousness in the news, aka flickerings of strategic hope - 1/24/2003  timesizing consciousness in the news, aka flickerings of strategic hope - nothing current, so we dip into the barrel of late arrivals - 1/23/2003  primitive timesizing in the news, aka flickerings of strategic hope -
  1. Holsten brewery plans cuts as beer sales go flat, Reuters 01/22/03 12:11 ET via AOLNews.
    BERLIN...- Leading German brewer Holsten Brauerei AG said on Wednesday it planned to cut working hours at some of its plants in response to falling sales after the government introduced deposits on cans and bottles [which] since the beginning of the year pushed up the price of a bottle of beer by up to 50 cents. Holsten said sales of its canned and bottled beer had dropped 20% in the first 12 days of this year compared with a year ago, although it noted an increase in sales of beer in glass bottles that can be recycled. The company said it was therefore considering introducing shorter working hours for around 600 of its 2,643 workforce from next month for an initial 6 months while it monitors the market....
    [So is the glass half-empty or half-full? How much did glass-bottled beer increase? Was there a kind of bottle whose sales decreased? What kind of bottle is there besides glass? How much do they need to cut working hours? If overall sales dropped 20% but glass-bottled beer increased 15%, maybe they just need to cut hours by 10%. Unfortunately the article answers none of these questions and instead gets fixated on the recycling complications. At least they're talking about cutting hours instead of jobs, timesizing not downsizing.]

  2. Venezuelans wait in a long line, photo caption, AP 1/22/03 via AOLNews.
    ...to enter a bank in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2003, in the second month of a nationwide work stoppage by the government's opposition. Banks have shortened their work hours to three hours a day during the strike.

1/22/2003  timesizing consciousness in the news, aka flickerings of strategic hope - 1/21/2003  timesizing consciousness in the news, aka flickerings of strategic hope - 1/18-20/2003  timesizing consciousness in the news, aka flickerings of strategic hope -
  1. 1/20 Panel urges better conditions for non-regular workers, Kyodo 01/19/03 05:45 EST via AOLNews.
    TOKYO...- The government should draw up a guideline on improving working conditions for non-regular workers to the same level as regular employees, an advisory panel to the labor ministry urged in a draft report made available to Kyodo News on Sunday. The report, to be officially submitted to the labor policy council of the Health, Labor & Welfare Ministry on Thursday, said the number of contract workers who operate in core roles is increasing and it is difficult to give reasonable explanations for the differences [between their working conditions and those of regular employees, conditions] including reduced healthcare and other benefits.
    To correct such differences, the report proposed the guideline include a system for equal pay for equal work, regardless of employment status, saying equal treatment should be given to workers with the same job, same conditions for job transfers or the same amount of overtime work.... The report also proposed creation of full-time jobs with shorter working hours, saying with this, people could have a third option [presumably besides regular and contract jobs]....
    [The good news is that they're proposing a redefinition of full-time. The bad news is that it's in the context of job creation aka government makework and evidently there's still the 'option' of unredefined full-time. In other words, some people can still have more than their share of vanishing work, which puts them solidly into G.K. Chesterton's Pan-Utopian Trap.]

  2. 1/18 Lebanon says tweaked budget ups deficit $36.5 mln, Reuters 01/17/03 02:38 ET via AOLNews.
    BEIRUT...- Lebanon's cabinet said late on Thursday that the loss of taxes struck from a tight 2003 budget aimed at helping right shaky public finances would boost the deficit 55B Lebanese pounds ($36.4.8m). Parliament's finance committee struck down taxes on pensions and civil servants' benefits and proposed a longer work week over the last two weeks, measures which will cost 75B pounds of revenue....
    [One step forward and two steps backward.]
    In a statement, the cabinet said it would try to offset it with a 5% tax on interest on bank deposits, generating 100B pounds....
    [They'll get more than taxes in response to a longer workweek - they'll also get more unemployment and crime.]

1/17/2003  timesizing consciousness in the news, aka flickerings of strategic hope -
  1. Black conservatives: Jesse Jackson oversimplifies history, US Newswire 01/16 17:58 via AOLNews.
    ...In a speech at a fundraising event for his Rainbow/PUSH Coalition's "Wall Street Project" in New York City, Jackson said the shipping industry created the Wall Street financial district and the shipping industry prospered in early America because of slave trading. During his remarks, Jackson said, "People didn't come here looking for religious freedom [some Puritans and Quakers certainly did - ed.]; people came looking for 100 free acres [possibly true in the 1850s], the right to kill an Indian [any evidence??] and free labor [evidence??].
    Jackson's comments insult early Americans and oversimplify history. ...Jackson characterizes the intent of non-black immigrants to America as coming specifically to exploit...black people..\..kill...Native Americans. This is simply not true. Indentured servitude, long workdays and six-day workweeks in poor working environments were common for people of all races in early America....
    [True. Sounds like Jesse got a bit carried away.]

  2. Portugal approves controversial labour law changes, Reuters 01/16/03 14:00 ET via AOLNews.
    LISBON...- Portugal's parliament on Thursday approved changes to labour laws designed to boost productivity but which have drawn widespread protests and strikes by unions. PM Jose Manuel Durao Barroso's centre-right coalition majority voted in favor of the bill...with opposition parties against. The new Labour Code and its almost 700 articles will introduce more flexible working hours [ie: longer?], make it easier to move businesses [eg: to China?] and crack down on widespread absenteeism [huh?].
    [Reuters uses this sentence again four months from now (5/27/2003 #3).]
    It also alters rules for night work and for short-term contracts....
    [Sounds like Portugal is copying France's weakening of workweek controls.]
    The government...concern[ed] that Portugal could lose jobs to lower-cost and better educated workforces in central and eastern Europe..\..says the changes are needed to boost Portugal's productivity, currently about 60% of the EU average, in time to make the economy more competitive when new countries join the bloc in 2004....
    [Welcome to the race to the bottom. One might think the solution might be to implement better education and training, such as overtime-to-training conversion, but no, this government just wants to weaken workweek controls, despite the recent example of longer workweeks tied to lower productivity in Switzerland (see yesterday's story). What they'll wind up doing is weakening their domestic consumer base further, as France is doing.]
1/16/2003  timesizing consciousness in the news, aka flickerings of strategic hope -
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