Timesizing® Associates - Homepage
Timesizing News, Nov.21-30, 2003 + Dec.1
[Commentary] ©2003 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 622, Porter Sq, Cambridge MA 02140 USA 617-623-8080
11/29-12/01/2003 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 11/28-30 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #1 is from the 11/29 NYT & BG hardcopies - #6 is presumably in the 11/30 Sunday NYT hardcopy which Phil doesn't get but Alan did find the article in Google), and excerpts & comments are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
11/28/2003 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 11/27 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts & comments are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
- 11/29 At AFL-CIO, cutbacks mean unpaid time off, AP via NYT, A11.
Workers for the AFL-CIO are taking 2 days of unpaid leave to avoid layoffs because of a budget shortfall, even as the organization tries to mobilize its largest political campaign. Called "solidarity days," the time off was agreed to this summer in contract negotiations between managers and the union representing about 200 workers....
[Compare also re AFL-CIO this weekend -]
11/29 Unions pushing to protect OT pay, by Diane Lewis, Boston Globe, C1.
The nation's largest union federation plans to launch a weeklong campaign to retain overtime pay for professional and other highly skilled workers in the face of the US Labor Dept's promise to shrink eligibility for higher-wage earners.
AFL-CIO's president John Sweeney is expected to begin the effort Monday, when the labor federation's members will sponsor a letter-writing campaign to congressional leaders to protest the government's proposed changes in overtime rules....
- 11/28 More details on CAW work-sharing, Thunder Bay Post (Ont., Canada) via Tb News Source.
[Compare story on 11/28 below.]
More details are coming to light concerning the agreement ratified Thursday by Bombardier employees in Thunder Bay. It is a work-sharing arrangement involving the Canadian Autoworkers Union, Bombardier management, and Human Resources Development Canada [gov't]. 350 employees will work Monday to Thursday at their regular wages, then get paid [employment-insurance] E-I benefits from the government on Fridays.
[Compare Fred Best's 1988 book, "Reducing Workweeks to Prevent Layoffs - The economic and social impacts of unemployment-insurance supported work sharing."]
Local CAW members will not have to meet the normal qualifications to apply for E-I. Pugh estimates workers will end up receiving about forty dollars less per week. He says that is a small sacrifice, considering the alternative was unemployment.
[Jeeves: "Very true, sir."]
The agreement will take effect January 5th. It's hoped the affected employees will be back to their regular hours and pay by late spring.
300 other Bombardier workers are not included in the agreement and are still facing lay-offs until additional contracts are received.
- 11/29 France's short week may not be working - Salve for unemployment is dividing haves, have-nots, by Rebecca Goldsmith, Newark [NJ] Star-Ledger.
[The present generation in France aren't the first ones in history to have gone through turbulence in taking a bold step ahead in fundamental human progress - their parents and grandparents and greatgrandparents went through it again and again as the workweek came down from the 80-84 hour levels of the early 1800s. "Oh it's not working!" How many morons whined exactly like that during the battles for the TEN-HOUR DAY 150 years ago?! Get a grip!]
IVRY, France -...The shorter week may be too entrenched to eliminate.
[Would the French be stupid enough to go back to a longer week just because they've got some design glitches? There are problems with every big solution, but they are the RIGHT problems, as opposed to, for example, dealing with all the problems of longer workweeks, or e.g. non-universal private-sector healthcare, like the chaotic US "system" which are the WRONG problems because their solution doesn't matter - once you've solved them you've still got the same old big PROBLEM instead of a big new SOLUTION.]
Almost instantly, it became an "acquis social" - an entitlement to French society. "At first it was like utopia and euphoric. There was this idea that we could share the work," Syfuss-Arnaud..\..a reporter for the monthly business magazine L'Expansion...said. "It was something that was very French and quickly became part of our culture."
[So now it must be even more French, n'est-ce pas? Beautiful! Run with it!]
The law has been a boon for do-it-yourself home repair suppliers and businesses that thrive on leisure time, like the French-based sporting goods chain Decathlon. Christophe Pournin, manager of a busy Decathlon store in Paris, said he thought the 35-hour law had become a permanent fixture of the labor market. "Knowing the French, it's here to stay," he said. "They will never be able to take it away again."
[Knowing that, you'd think this reporter would invest her time in tracking down design fixes for the problems with this big solution, instead of wasting her time yapping about going back to the big problem of longer hours, more concentrated employment and more and costlier unemployment. Let's hear more from these types of businesspeople. All we ever hear in English is from the complaining minority who want to sell to other people's employees.]
..\..One recent Friday afternoon, Fernand Lopez, a manager at a private mail-distribution facility, wasn't at work. He was at the local shopping mall, helping a co-worker cart some bulky packages home. At one time, Lopez worked a full schedule each week. He got standard pay for 39 hours and overtime whenever he could. Now, French law restricts him from working more than 35 hours and bars him from earning overtime.
[This is as it should be. No one should be working overtime while the unemployment rate is above political acceptability, as set by regular public referendum.]
The rules sentenced him to a life of deprivation, he said.
[He sentences himself - unless he quits whining and upgrades his skills. Under the Timesizing style of worksharing, there would be plenty of on-the-job training opportunities popping up all over the economy for such people to take advantage of, and France does reinvest quite a bit in training via a 1.5% payroll tax with an exemption for "doing it yourself." The ecological age replaces the economic age's value on seniority (stay in same job and get more) with a central value on versatility (diversify your skills and get more).]
"I'm 35 years old, and I still live at my mom's place because I can't afford to get my own place. Try to live at 1,000 francs (about $180 a week) when you know all the bills are going to pile up," Lopez said.
[Bills piling up when you're living at home?? What bills?! Let Momma's boy upgrade his skills if he wants more spending power.]
As Americans work longer hours and their country's economic growth shoots up to near-record levels,
[a widely spread myth that the American media have painstakingly repeated over and over - the only thing that's goosed US "growth" lately is their continuing huge spending on prisons and wars]
the French are worried they may not be able to compete globally.
[Zee Fransh air allways wel-comm to zhoin us in zee ress to zee bah-tomm.]
Some say the shortened French workweek is to blame.
[But then, "some" blame it for everything.]
During 2000, the Socialists then in power enacted a policy designed to decrease France's characteristically high unemployment by forcing everyone to work fewer hours.
[Oh those nasty UNslavedrivers!]
The policy limited the regular hours employees can work each week to 35 and capped paid overtime, requiring employers to give time off to workers who exceed the limit.
[Gee, just like our US comp time law a few years back.]
While proponents credit the law for creating as many as 450,000 jobs, economic analysts say the benefits have been debatable.
[Yep, they're the ones most eager to get everyone in the Race to the Bottom - including themselves, - 'misery loves company.']
Unemployment initially sank [it declined 1% for every hour cut, from 12.6% in 1997 to 8.6% in 2001 - that's not just "initially"], but the improvement coincided with France's dot-com boom [US unemployment only declined 2% during that period]. When the bust began, unemployment rose again.
[But slower than anywhere else in Europe except subsidized Ireland.]
During September, France's jobless rate climbed to 9.7%, its highest level since April 2000.
[That's a lot better than the 12.6% France had without the shorter workweek in 1997.]
Lately, opponents are blaming the workweek restrictions [for] everything from the country's large public deficit to thousands of heat-related deaths during the summer. Some critics say the short week creates a culture of people so focused on vacation they are unable to concentrate on work.
[Easy solution - shorten vacations from 5-6 weeks to 3-4 weeks a year and cut the workweek to 32 hours to compensate.]
"The future of France is not to be a huge leisure park," Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said in a televised interview last month, adding that his country needed to "rehabilitate work."
[One word. WHY?]
Time and money
Though France has gotten the most attention for its short week, it has company in Europe. Since the 1940s, Europeans have expanded their annual time off by about one week, said Lawrence Jeffrey Johnson, chief economist of employment trends for the International Labour Organization, a branch of the United Nations.
In the United States, a 40-hour workweek is standard and the government doesn't regulate vacation time. "The U.S. labor market is much more flexible that way,
[- only if "that way" is backward toward longer and longer worktime - the US labor market is in such surplus and labor so powerless that there is little or no downward flexibility in worktime, except at a huge cost in wages and benefits]
to allow people to work out individual accommodations in how they want to organize their lives," said Paul Swaim, an economist specializing in labor market issues for the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
[sure sure, the economists' myth that this is a free choice for employees in a job market where they have equal voice with employers - what a betrayal of their 'objectivity'.]
But working more doesn't mean employees are more productive, Johnson said. In fact, the French and Belgians are more productive per hour than Americans, he said. "It's not necessarily that people (in the United States) work harder, but Americans may be working more," Johnson said.
["May be"? Juliet Schor established that 12 years ago in "The Overworked American." Wake up, Johnson.]
The difference between Europe and the United States may come down to incentives. Working longer in Europe doesn't bring the same economic rewards. "In part, the Europeans want to work less because when they do work more they pay very high tax rates, making it less worthwhile," Swaim said.
[But "coincidentally," they get very high levels of public services in return for those "very high tax rates" - for example, one of the best healthcare systems in the world and all French citizens are covered. Americans pay more for private healthcare, 40m of them aren't covered, the paperwork is monstrous, the delays are lengthening according to the 12/08/2003 NYT front page, and their low taxes are buying them the biggest prison-industrial complex in the world where over two million Americans are currently warehoused plus their guards, and the biggest national debt and deficit in their history. Not to mention going around invading nations at peace and creating socio-economic quagmires. Sound good to you? "C'mon down!"]
In France, the short workweek has been a financial disaster for many unskilled laborers and recent immigrants.
[As it should be. No country with high unemployment should be introducing immigrants, and every country with unskilled workers should be introducing on-the-job training.]
"One of the drawbacks of the 35-hour week is it's a good case of a one-size-fits-all philosophy - forcing everyone to make the same trade off between free time and income," Swaim said.
[There are lots of 'one-size-fits-all' cases in human life - language, calendar and clock, writing, manners, mathematics & science, programing & ecology, traffic lights and stop signs, universal suffrage (one adult, one vote) - a common range-per-week of worktime per person from which each person may derive unaccountable personal spending power is only the latest in a long line of Sharing Variables. You can have a tantrum about why your native Albanian language isn't the lingua franca, but if you want to have power and influence you are FORCED OPPRESSIVELY TO SUBMIT your lovely diverse free-will language of publication to the language that is the most widely SHARED, and that is, English. In theology, this kind of forced-unique phenomenon is called the Scandal of Particularity. Like it or lump it. It is necessary for human progress, because ALL human progress is progress in the technology of becoming more available and accessible to one another on an increasingly gentle and diverse basis - in other words, in the technology of sharing. See our Football of Time.]
While the law cut off hourly workers from earning overtime pay, it allowed educated professionals to continue to earn weeks of extra vacation time each year for no additional work.
[But education is a lot more available and accessible in France.]
White-collar workers received two to six weeks' extra vacation time, adding up to as much as nine or 10 weeks a year. "There are two Frances," said Syfuss-Arnaud...who recently co-authored an report on the economic and social shortcomings of the law. Syfuss-Arnaud, for instance, can take long weekends with her young sons at her parents' house in the south of France. "For people like us, it's a very nice system," Syfuss-Arnaud said. But "for the workers in the factories, and the cashiers in the shopping malls, it's horrible."
[Fear not - those are the jobs getting automated fastest.]
[When are we PUHLEEZ going to hear from the majority who LOVE it?]
Low-skill workers aren't the only ones dissatisfied. Some large companies doing business in France say the restrictions make them less flexible and less globally competitive. A survey last year of top American executives doing business in France found half thought the law had negative effects on business;
[except it gives them little intangibles like more markets due to more hires and less taxes due to less unemployment and crime.]
less than 10% said the effects were positive, according to the survey, conducted by the American Chamber of Commerce in France.
[Poor babies lost CONTROL over 4 more hours of their fellow citizens' weekly lives! Long hours are like rape. It's all about control.]
The vast majority questioned whether the law had created any jobs at all....
[They're the jackasses that are supposed to be doing the hiring - but like American CEOs, they want somebody else to provide the employment that provides their markets. They want a free lunch - but at least in France they're not getting as huge a free lunch as American and British CEOs paywise.]
During a Friday afternoon, the "Big Sky" mall here, a blue-collar gritty suburb on the outskirts of Paris, includes many disenfranchised workers who feel the short workweek favors the privileged at their expense. Mamadou Diaby...cleans floors at the Finance Ministry. He used to send about $800 home to his six children and extended family in Mali every month. Now, he is lucky if he sends any money once every three months, he said. "I used to make good money," he said, "and my life was impeccable."
[Hey Mamadou, c'mon down to the USA and see how much you make cleaning floors. We imagine you mean you made most of it on overtime. Isn't that nice. You hog the scarce worktime in another country, depress wages by increasing their unemployment, and then complain that you can't send more of their money out of the country. With floor cleaners like you, who needs dumb parasites, the kind that kill their hosts? And the unspoken idea here that a nation should set up its working conditions to convenience immigrants, regardless of the sacrifice of free time for its children and its future, is a very questionable one in the first place.]
Following a shopping trip to Carrefours, the French answer to Wal-Mart, Sylvain M'Boussa [oops, another immigrant? - WHEN DO WE GET TO HEAR FROM THE MAJORITY OF NATIVE FRENCH???] was leaving the mall recently with his wife and small children in tow. M'Boussa, who works as a dispatcher for a messenger service, said the short work week is great for his family life, but disastrous for his wallet.
[Oh this guy belongs in the USA - another humanoid who thinks his wallet is more important than his family.]
"I can't save money.
[For what? You've got good healthcare and pension benefits!]
"...I'm thinking of leaving France" to seek better opportunities in Canada or elsewhere, he said.
[Oh no, don't come over and flood Canada worse than it's already flooding itself with virtually open imports and immigration and birth policy.]
"There, maybe you wouldn't get good health-care or pension benefits, but at least for those who want to succeed, there are real opportunities. Here, you're just blocked."
[Ah the longing for the wild west, where a few men can be men and everyone else can be confined to reservations. Don't believe the myths until you talk with some of our citizens of color. France is one of the most color-blind places on Earth. North America isn't. Remember "Further fields are greener"? Why not stay where you are or where you came from and FIX IT.]
- 11/28 Only 2.4% of SMEs adopt five-day workweek, by Seo Jee-yeon, The Korea Times.
KOREA - Few small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are considering an early adoption of a five-day workweek. According to a survey of 1,132 SMEs conducted by the Small Business Corporation, only 2.4% have adopted the shortened working week.
The government's phased implementation plan for the 40-hour workweek begins next year and extends to all workplaces by 2011.
The survey found that only 18.8% of respondents are reviewing adopting the shorter workweek earlier than scheduled, with the remainder sticking to the government's plan. Currently about 34.9% run a 44-hour workweek, while 31.2% allow employees to take off every other Saturday, a dominant transition model toward a five-day workweek.
[i.e., alternating 40 & 48 hour workweeks?]
When asked about reasons for adopting of the system early, 33.5% said they introduced a 40-hour workweek to prevent losing employees, while 25.9% said the cut in working hours was needed for their business.
[Sounds good after hearing from French bellyachers. Why "needed"?]
About 19.8% of the small firms said they followed a change at their parent or partner firms.
Small businesses have expressed concern over expected wage hikes with the cut in working hours, claiming that labor costs will rise by 20% under a 40-hour workweek.
[A 9% cut in worktime makes a 20% increase in labor costs? They're getting hysterical.]
About 36% said they will link wage adjustments to productivity. One in five said they will cut the annual wage-increase rate, while 9.1% said they will cut wages for the decreased working hours.
[And then they won't get the additional markets that the additional hiring would otherwise provide.]
- 11/28 Workers 'want gradual retirement', by Alan Jones, PA News via The Scotsman [UK].
A third of women aged over 50 plan to stay in work after the retirement age of 60, according to new research published today.
A survey of 2,800 people for the Government showed that almost one in three men and women aged over 50 wanted to retire gradually by reducing their working hours before they retired. Self employed workers found it easier to retire gradually, the survey found.
Pensions minister Malcolm Wicks, said: “This report confirms that many of those nearing, or at, state pension age do not necessarily want to stop working completely, but instead want to choose how and when they stop working. “We must respond to this demand and help people to be able to make choices that ensure they can enjoy their retirement the way they want. “We have long passed the point where the fact that you are collecting your state pension means you are unable to work and these findings will help us to develop policies that meet the flexibility and choices that workers want today. “There is no reason why people who want to continue working cannot do so.”
- 11/30 The productivity paradox, by Stephen Roach, NYT.
Despite the economy's stunning 8.2% surge in the third quarter, the staying power of this economic recovery remains a matter of debate. But there is one aspect of the economy on which agreement is nearly unanimous: America's miraculous productivity. In the third quarter, productivity grew by 8.1% in the nonfarm business sector — a figure likely to be revised upwards — and it has grown at an average rate of 5.4% in the last two years.
[Steve, Steve, Steve - that's not "productivity" which is output per unit time. That's just gross domestic product or output alias GDP growth - in other words, production, not productivity. Let's tighten up the language here!]
This surge is not simply a byproduct of the business cycle, even accounting for the usual uptick in [GDP!] after a recession. In the first two years of the six most recent recoveries, [GDP] gains averaged only 3.5%. The favored explanation is that improved [GDP] is yet another benefit of the so-called New Economy. American business has reinvented itself. Manufacturing and services companies have figured out how to get more from less. By using information technologies, they can squeeze ever increasing value out of the average worker.
It's a great story, and if correct, it could lead to a new and lasting prosperity in the United States.
[No it couldn't, unless we implement automatic workspreading, because right now the kneejerk reaction to increased technological efficiency of all kinds is downsizing, which not only downsizes workforce but also consumer base, and weaker markets, weaker economy. Any appearance of prosperity will be temporary, not "lasting."]
But it may be wide of the mark.
[At this point he suddenly starts talking about real productivity - which is not what the simpler GDP attempts to measure.]
First of all, productivity measurement is more art than science — especially in America's vast services sector, which employs fully 80% of the nation's private work force, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Productivity is calculated as the ratio of output per unit of work time. How do we measure value added in the amorphous services sector?
Very poorly, is the answer. The numerator of the productivity equation, output, is hopelessly vague for services. For many years, government statisticians have used worker compensation to approximate output in many service industries, which makes little or no intuitive sense. The denominator of the productivity equation — units of work time — is even more spurious. Government data on work schedules are woefully out of touch with reality — especially in America's largest occupational group, the professional and managerial segments, which together account for 35% of the total work force.
For example, in financial services, the Labor Department tells us that the average workweek has been unchanged, at 35.5 hours, since 1988. That's patently absurd. Courtesy of a profusion of portable information appliances (laptops, cell phones, personal digital assistants, etc.), along with near ubiquitous connectivity (hard-wired and now increasingly wireless), most information workers can [the famed '24/7']. The official data don't come close to capturing this cultural shift.... The official productivity numbers are, in effect, mistaking work time for leisure time..\..
As a result, we are woefully underestimating the time actually spent on the job. It follows, therefore, that we are...guilty of overestimating white-collar productivity.
Productivity is not about working longer. It's about getting more value from each unit of work time....
This is not a sustainable outcome — for the American worker or the American economy. To the extent productivity miracles are driven more by perspiration than by inspiration, there are limits to gains in efficiency based on sheer physical effort.
The same is true for corporate America, where increased productivity is now showing up on the bottom line in the form of increased profits. When better earnings stem from cost cutting (and the jobless recovery [which] that engenders), there are limits to future improvements in productivity. Strategies that rely primarily on cost cutting will lead eventually to "hollow" companies — businesses that have been stripped bare of once-valuable labor. That's hardly the way to sustained prosperity.
[Steve, ya gonna mention economies that have been stripped bare of once-valuable consumers??]
Many economists say that strong productivity growth goes hand in hand with a jobless recovery. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the 1960's, both productivity and employment surged at an annual rate of close to 3%. In the latter half of the 1990's, accelerating productivity also coincided with rapid job creation.
In fact, there is no precedent for sustained productivity enhancement through downsizing. That would result in an increasingly barren economy that will ultimately lose market share in an ever-expanding world.
[Phew, Steve - go to the top of the class. You are the first contemporary mainstream analyst or economist that we've heard say this. Thank you! The world is indebted to you for this Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious that the mainstream pundits have been at such pains to obscure.]
That underscores another aspect of America's recent productivity miracle: the growing use of overseas labor. While this may increase the profits of American business — help-desk employees or customer-service representatives in India earn a fraction of what their counterparts in the United States do — the American worker does not directly share the benefits. The result is a clash between the owners of capital and the providers of labor — a clash that has resulted in heightened trade frictions and growing protectionist risks. There's nothing sustainable about this plan for productivity enhancement, either.
[Hear, hear. But you're still not drawing out the glaring implications for consumption.]
In the end, America's productivity revival may be nothing more than a transition from one way of doing business to another — a change in operating systems, as it were.
[Oh c'mon, Steve. This is not just a change in operating systems. This is a problem with the substitution of a downsizing for a timesizing response to mechanization and automation that was present in the first depression of the Industrial Revolution in 1819, and was commented on by Sismondi in his Nouveaux Principes. CEOs introduce technology on the promise of making life easier for everyone - which would require timesizing - and then they betray that promise by substituting downsizing. It's the biggest bait&switch in history. It's bad for everyone including their markets - and them. And it's only had temporary interruptions by either via the Gospel of Consumption, or via those all-consuming rituals we call Wars, or via the disease formerly known as Consumption alias TB alias the flu epidemic after World War I which infected 20-40% of the world and killed 675,000 Americans including 43.000 troops and up to 40m worldwide ("Flu researchers partially re-create killer strain of 1918," 2/03/2004 WSJ, B1) - and it's fellow plagues today: AIDS, SARS, e-bola, hanta, madcow, bird flu - and all the stuff in between plus the hunger and starvation that makes them all more virulent.]
Aided by the stock market bubble and the Y2K frenzy, corporate America led the world in spending on new information technology and telecommunications in the latter half of the 1990's. This resulted in an increase of the portion of gross domestic product [GDP] that went to capital spending. With the share of capital going up, it follows that the share of labor went down. Thus national output was produced with less labor in relative terms — resulting in a windfall of higher productivity. Once the migration from the old technology to the new starts to peak, this transitional productivity dividend can then be expected to wane.
No one wants to see that. For all their wishful thinking, believers in the productivity miracle are right about one critical point: productivity is the key to prosperity.
[No it isn't Steve. That's still one-sided economics. Supply-side. No better than demand-side in isolation. Ain't it time we designed a guaranteed BALANCE, Steve? Balance-'side' economics - how's that sound? And the way the timesizing approach handles that is by making the intensity of work-spreading (work&wage&spending) vary inversely and automatically (albeit gradually) with un(der)employment. In other words, as long as un(der)employment is too high or rising, the workweek is gradually adjusting downwards - to spread the vanishing work across all potential consumers instead of losing more and more of them, as our economy is doing, to welfare, disability, homelessness, prison - and to depart for a moment from the dramatic, to forced early retirement, forced attempted postponed retirement, forced single and multiple part-time without benefits, and forced self-'employment' (also without benefits) - regardless of clients or lack thereof. (Will someone who knows Steve please tell him about this critique, which is even more open-eyedly bearish than he?!)]
Have we finally found the key? It's doubtful. Productivity growth is sustainable when driven by creativity, risk-taking, innovation and, yes, new technology.
[But not when driven by any or all of those alone, Steve - they MUST also be accompanied by timesizing to save our consumer markets, because the affluent don't spend the astronomical extra they get, short-term, as we "cut costs" including consumer-employees.]
It is fleeting when it is driven simply by downsizing and longer hours. With cost cutting still the credo and workers starting to reach physical limits, America's so-called productivity renaissance may be over before Americans even have a chance to enjoy it.
[There's no "may be" about it, Steve, and there's no 'enjoyment' anywhere in the picture, nor freedom. The most basic and fundamental freedom is one that FDR didn't even mention among his famed Four Freedoms (of speech & religion, from want & fear) - because it provides the opening for them, the space - and we are talking, of course, about the freedom he so regretably curtailed when he blocked the Thirty Hour Work Week Bill in 1933 - namely, free time.]
- 11/30 Kellogg in overtime fight - Union seeks end to 'mandatory' extra hours of work, by Jenny Rode, The Battle Creek [MI] Enquirer.
[Here is a disgraceful story about Kellogg Cereals. The behavior of present-day management would make W.K. Kellogg vomit. Because it was he who first introduced the 30-hour workweek in a large American business in December, 1930 - to create jobs for 800 heads-of-household in his headquarters town of Battle Creek, Michigan, in the depths of the early Depression. His worktime pioneering in America, based on Lord [Lever Bros.] Leverhulme's 1919 book, The Six-Hour Day and Other Industrial Questions, laid the practical foundation for the 30-hour workweek bill that passed the U.S. Senate on April 6, 1933, and is fully described in Ben Hunnicutt's 1996 book, "Kellogg's Six-Hour Day."]
Bruce Warren is an 18-year employee at the Kellogg Company plant. He is unhappy with the prospect of forced daily overtime, on top of weekend work. It's simply a matter of time. Overtime, that is.
Kellogg Co. and the union representing its factory workers are working through a dispute over whether the company can force employees to work beyond their daily eight-hour shifts when production schedules demand it.
While it hasn't occurred regularly, representatives of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Local 3-G are concerned that it could become an acceptable way for the company to deal with production demands, said Dave Phillips, union president. "It has only happened a couple of times, but it is an area of anxiety and contention," Phillips said. "The (company) has shown restraint ... but they could utilize it more and more and at some point it becomes a supplemental scheduling tool."
"Forced" or "mandatory" overtime, as opposed to voluntary overtime, means that if an employee is asked to work overtime and refuses, he or she is insubordinate and can be disciplined.
[There should be no such thing as mandatory overtime outside extreme one-off emergencies. Real managers use neither chronic nor mandatory overtime.]
Union representatives believe that because mandatory daily overtime was not a negotiated issue in the contract representing Kellogg's 475 factory workers, the company shouldn't be doing it, Phillips said. Kellogg disagrees.
In a statement from corporate spokeswoman Chris Ervin, Kellogg said using mandatory overtime is not a violation of the current collective bargaining agreement and that Kellogg continues to be willing to work with the union to resolve the issue. The company declined to comment further.
Voluntary daily overtime, and protocol for offering workers overtime, is addressed in the current contract, Phillips said, as are weekend shifts, which also figure into the matter.
When workers are hired, they are told that the factory is a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week operation and that production often runs on weekends. Workers understand that they could be asked to work weekends and not get time off later to make up for it. That means employees can find themselves working for weeks at a time without a day off.
[And here we are right back to the "dark Satanic mills" of Dickens' time.]
The law offers no help to employees when it comes to working what they might consider too many hours in a day or too many days in a row. If workers are older than 18 years of age, there is no law requiring companies to limit the number of hours worked, except in certain professions such as airline pilots and truck drivers, said Satish Deshpande, a management professor at Western Michigan University. "There is a general trend toward more forced overtime simply because the only
other option is to hire more people," Deshpande said.
Time-and-a-half payment for overtime came into place in U.S. corporations in the 1930s to encourage companies to hire more workers rather than have employees work overtime. These days, though, hiring a full-time worker and providing benefits is more expensive than paying workers time-and-a-half, Deshpande said. And if a company invests the time and money to train workers, the investment is lost if there isn't enough work for them to do. "The safest way is to have people work overtime ... and make sure you have the business in place before hiring people," Deshpande said.
Hiring more people is not what Kellogg wants to do, believes one employee, 54-year-old Bruce Warren of East Leroy. "The company's grasping at straws any way they can not to hire people," said Warren, a line operator. Being required to work some weekend shifts is enough, Warren said. The prospect of forced daily overtime, on top of weekend work, doesn't sit well with him.
He has worked at Kellogg since 1985 and is grateful for his job, which he said provides good wages and benefits. When he was hired, he understood that he would have to work weekend shifts and agreed to it. But extending his daily eight-hour shift is going too far, he said, and not just because it would put a strain on his personal life. "I'm obligated seven days a week now - that's enough," Warren said. "My efficiency drops after eight (hours) and safety is an issue. I'm running high-speed machinery here. ... When I come in to work, I'm rested and ready to work eight hours. If you ask me to work another eight, I'm not mentally or physically prepared to do that."
Three other Kellogg cereal plants in the United States, where workers also are represented by the BCTGM union, have mandatory daily overtime addressed in their agreements. In Battle Creek, though, "it's not been negotiated," Phillips said.
According to the complaint the union filed in July with the National Labor Relations Board, the Battle Creek plant for decades has not forced daily overtime on workers. The complaint also accuses the company of failing to bargain in good faith over the issue.
Phillips said forced daily overtime would not be necessary if the company staffed the factory properly and employed "casual" employees as negotiated in the contract. "They are allowed 120 casual workers, and they can train these people and put them wherever they want," Phillips said, "but they don't have nearly that many." Phillips estimated that currently there are between 50 and 60 casual employees, who have no benefits and lower wages compared with full-time, permanent workers.
To deal with the forced overtime issue, the union first filed a grievance within the company. But when daily overtime was forced on some workers, the union filed the NLRB complaint.
The issue will be arbitrated by an outside third party that both the union and the company agree to work with, Phillips said. The NLRB won't examine the issue until it has gone through arbitration, and only if the charging party is unhappy with the arbitrator's decision. Phillips said he expects the arbitration to take place early next year.
Meanwhile, since Kellogg's South Plant in Battle Creek closed in 1999 and the local work force was cut in half, seven-day work weeks have become all too common, Phillips said. "We have gone from using weekend work to supplement high demand to where seven-day scheduling is the norm," he said. "Overtime was once a premium. Now it's a burden, not for everybody, but for some."
Some workers like the overtime because it pays better. Overtime wages are paid at time-and-a-half, and hourly wages are doubled for Sundays and holidays.
But working just one weekend shift means working 12 days in a row, making it difficult for employees to manage their personal lives, Phillips said. He also is concerned about the company's ability to hire future qualified workers if a majority of the work force regularly works too many days in a row. "We will give credit where credit is due," Phillips said. "We have a good benefits and wage package, but many people pay the price by having no control over their personal lives." Phillips declined to comment on salary ranges for factory workers.
Seven-day work weeks are difficult on Kellogg's aging employee base at the factory, said Mike Riffey, who was hired by Kellogg in 1973, when there were more than 3,000 factory workers at Kellogg facilities in Battle Creek. "Just the physical part of it becomes difficult," said Riffey, 51, a second-shift machine operator who has worked as long as a month without a day off. "A large percentage of us are in their 50s and have spent 30 years or more here. We're not digging ditches or breaking rocks, but it's labor intensive and requires you to be able to move on your feet and move heavy materials. After a while, it becomes taxing."
Riffey said he appreciates his job, which pays $23.50 an hour. He understands that the company needs to meet production demands and run the business as it sees fit. But he also believes it's not fair if workers have no recourse for continual overtime requests. "There is a thing called quality of life," he said. "And when workers get older, it's about more than doing the job. It's about taking care of other responsibilities, like our families. We have to be able to strike a balance.
"This is just another indication of how things are working against the elderly work force," he said. "We are trying to strike that happy medium, to recognize that they need to make decisions to make the company viable but not run roughshod over employees. We need to address situations as they come up. We're all in this together ... but the cooperation part is becoming harder and harder and I hate to see it."
- 11/29 Tories rebuild overtime rules, by Amy Smith, Halifax Herald [Canada].
The Hamm government has rejigged its controversial new overtime rules, increasing the number of hours some employees must work in a week before receiving time and a half of their regular wage.
Labour Minister Kerry Morash said the change will mean construction workers, as well as road builders and snow removal and sawmill workers, will be eligible for the new, higher overtime rate after 55 hours, rather than the 48 hours set down in amendments to the Labour Standards Code made during the fall siting of the legislature.
Mr. Morash said those industries will be able to average their hours over two weeks to allow them to deal with difficult weather conditions. "When we brought in the changes (to labour standards), there were unintentional and unintended impacts that affected a number of employers and employees," Mr. Morash told a news conference at Province House. "Once we started to look into this, we realized we had to do something."
The minister said the changes will give flexibility to these industries. Construction firms, in particular, had complained the changes hurt business since they had already bid on work under the old rules, which allowed them to pay workers 1½ times minimum wage for overtime. Mr. Morash said he's also heard complaints that some construction workers who rely on working extra hours were being cut off once they reached 48.
[Nobody should get into relying on overtime, whatever level it starts at - that is the basic design goal of all overtime legislation, some of which succeeds and some of which fails. Our entry? A high corporate tax on overtime with a complete exemption for overtime-targeted training and/or hiring.]
"We certainly didn't intend to have this kind of confusion in the construction industry or any other industry," the minister said.
Friday's announcement also restores exemptions from paying overtime to professionals such as doctors and lawyers, managers, logging and forestry workers, apprentices, transport workers, fish and agricultural processors, and shipbuilding and ship repair workers. The changes are effective Dec. 12.
NDP labour critic Frank Corbett accused the government of caving in to interest groups. He said he would have preferred a phase-in period for sectors such as the construction industry, giving them time to adjust to paying overtime after 48 or 50 hours a week. Still he said the bill, which was passed last month, is mostly intact. It provides overtime pay for most workers after 48 hours at 1 1/2 times their usual hourly wage. It also included three weeks' vacation after eight years, time for family leave and an annual independent review of the minimum wage. "By and large, men and women covered by labour standards are still better off today than they were previous to Oct. 30," Mr. Corbett said. He said the current Labour Standards Code is 30 years old and due for a complete overhaul.
Liberal labour critic Manning MacDonald, who welcomed Friday's changes, said the Tories should have taken the Liberals' advice and done more consultation with Nova Scotians. "The government has proved it's either completely incompetent or doesn't care about these issues," Mr. MacDonald said.
Mr. Morash said the province will review how permitting work up to 55 hours a week on straight time works across the country, and a report on the averaging provision will be conducted by department staff and presented to the minister by June 30, 2004.
Paul Pettipas, CEO of the Nova Scotia Home Builders' Association, said a lot of employees in his industry lost wages in the weeks the new legislation has been in place. "We know that there was friction on the job site that shouldn't have been there because there was arguments of 'I want to work' and 'No, you can't,'" Mr. Pettipas said after the news conference.
John Flemming, vice-president of the Nova Scotia Roadbuilders Association, said the change to the length of the work week doesn't go far enough. He said workers in that industry often put in between 60 and 65 hours a week. "That's just due to the seasonal nature of our business."
11/27/2003 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 11/26 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #1 is from the 11/27 NYT hardcopy), and excerpts & comments are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
- Bombardier looks to modify work schedule, Thunder Bay Post [Ont, Canada] via Tb News Source.
Results of a vote by workers at Thunder Bay's Bombardier plant are expected this evening, on a deal that would see them enter into a new work sharing agreement.
The members of the Canadian Auto Workers meet at the C-L-E Coliseum this afternoon to hear details of a proposal that would see them move to a modified work schedule. Under the scheme, staff would work four days a week and receive employment insurance benefits for a fifth day.
C-A-W representative Paul Pugh says the company brought forward the proposal as a way to prevent layoffs. The plant is currently completing a Via Rail contract that will be finished in January. An extension of the contract to refurbish more Via cars is pending - but no agreement has been reached yet. And another contract to do work for the Montreal Transit Authority has been delayed for two months, because of problems associated with the supply of parts.
Pugh says the union is urging workers to accept the deal. But if they don't, 300-to-350 workers will be off the job at the end of January.
[Assuming these union members are smart enough to stick together and do timesizing rather than downsizing, they're saving, say, 325 jobs.]
11/26/2003 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 11/25 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts & comments are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
- Is the U.S. a success, or a work in progress? [ie: a failure?], letter to editor by ...Mary L. Carson of Aliquippa PA, NYT, A30.
In "Refuting the cynics" (column, 11/25 #5 below), David Brooks says Americans on average work 350 more hours per year than Europeans. He doesn't mention that most of that is forced overtime and little to do with the wishes of the American worker. The 40-hour workweek has gone the way of the dodo.
How many companies limit vacation to one week a year for the first five years and discourage absenteeism even when sick day are provided? Those of us who complain are told to look elsewhere for a paycheck.
[Such are the 'externalized' costs of a massive, cumulating (ie: 'secular', not cyclical), officially (politicians) and professionally (economists) ignored or denied labor surplus, and the only solution that doesn't involve government-sponsored emigration or job creation, usually too little too late, or Parson Malthus' "positive" checks such as war, famine and plague, is timesizing = sharing and spreading the vanishing market-demanded employment.]
We work sick, we don't see our families, we're tired and worn down. I fail to see how weariness can be mistaken for vitality.
[Touché! David Brooks' cheerleading is carefully blindered.]
- EU Task Force Plan to Create 15 Million Jobs, The Scotsman [UK].
EUROPE - An EU panel, headed by former Dutch prime minister Wim Kok, today outlined labour reforms to energise Europe’s weak economy and create 15 million new jobs by 2010 by investing in more flexible, mobile workers. We are losing ground compared to the United States,” said Kok, chairman of the European Employment Task Force.
His report called for more training, more child care and flexi time for workers but ruled out extending work hours or shortening holidays to spur productivity.
[Lengthening human worktime in the pre-industrial era might spur production (though not in the age of automation and robotics) but it couldn't possibly spur productivity, which is a per-hour variable.]
“In Europe we want to be economically strong and powerful and competitive, but at the same time we want to protect our social values,” Kok said in Brussels.
His panel endorsed the European Commission’s goals to employ more older people, women and minorities, bolster vocational training and shrink gender pay gaps.
The EU’s average unemployment rate stands at 8.1% and at 15% in the 10 nations that will join the bloc next May.
“Jobs, jobs, jobs,” said Kok, a one-time trade union leader. “Europe definitely needs more people in work, working more productively.”
[His phrasing here, that Europe needs more people in work rather than Europe needs more work for people, implies only one strategy = work sharing to spread the not-just-limited-but-shrinking employment across more people.]
More than six million unemployed women in the EU nations would take up work if Europe supported more family-friendly policies, his panel’s report said.
It recommended the EU set a goal to employ half of eligible older workers – 60% of whom now lack jobs – to help resolve the “demographic time bomb” of Europe’s shrinking work force. “We should realise the ageing of society is not a problem of the future, it’s already taking place now,” Kok said. The need to improve job training is acute in Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece, said the report. “Europe should not lose sight of the wider long-term challenges it is facing,” Kok said.
“Globalization and economic transformation require a more rapid response to change. Our objective should be to shape the future instead of being shaped by it.”
- 48-hour week may be reality for licensees, The Publican [UK].
UK - Licensees could be forced to implement the 48-hour working week if the European Commission (EC) gets its way.
The Commission is expected to slam Britain’s opt-out of the working time directive in a report due out next month.
Britain is the only member state that allows workers to opt out of the European legislation – which limits working hours to 48 a week. The EC is expected to claim British employers are abusing the opt-out clause.
This could be disastrous for pub managers, many of whom voluntarily work more than 48 hours. According to The Publican Market Report 2003 the average weekly hours of a licensee is 75. Although self-employed licensees will not have to meet the requirements, pub managers and other staff will.
If the clause is dropped by the UK following pressure from Europe, licensees and pub companies may have to employ extra staff to cover long hours. Barstaff paid an hourly rate could suffer financially, while salaried managers could be forced to job share.
Tony Payne, of the Federation of Licensed Victuallers’ Associations, said: “Europe is not taking into consideration that a lot of people on low pay want to work extra hours. “Self-employed licensees put in a lot of extra time and this directive could put pressure on many managed estates. It could also affect tourism during seasonal periods. I hope the government takes a sensible attitude.”
But Trades Union Congress general secretary Brendan Barber said: “The UK is the only EU country that allows everyone at work to sign away their working time rights. There is wide evidence that there is no free choice for the majority of long hours workers.”
Europe shelves same rights plan
It is understood that Europe’s plans to give part-time and agency staff the same pay and conditions as permanent staff has stalled permanently. The EC wanted workers who were employed for six weeks or more to receive the same rights as permanent staff. But Britain and other opposing countries wanted employees to receive the same rights when they have been in their job for a year.
The trade had feared that the regulation would make it more expensive to employ temps for holiday and seasonal cover. A poll on thepublican.com at the end of 2002 found that almost three-quarters of licensees would be put off employing temporary staff if the ruling was passed.
- Firm gets work-life balance right, by Richard Parr, Norfolk Eastern Daily Press [UK].
UK - The reality of achieving an effective work life balance is nothing new for one Norfolk firm – it is built into its day-to-day ethos.
Allowing employees to be flexible in their working hours to take account of young families, illness at home or even looking for a new car has paid off for Listawood, manufacturers of mouse mats and promotional material.
The company, based on the Tattersett Business Park, near Fakenham, has been recognised as the country's first business to meet the new Standard for Work Life Balance.
Yesterday, Investors in People UK chief executive Ruth Spellman visited the company's extensive plant to present managing director Arthur Allen and his wife, Irene, with the award. Ms Spellman said the company had developed an impressive work life balance, which had become embedded in its philosophy. "Yours is a company which doesn't really need a badge to show your approach because it's part of your culture, it's part of what you do," she told staff representatives at the presentation. The staff are proof of the success of the policy.
Susan Graham, who works in the finishing department, values the flexible approach as she sometimes needs time with her husband, who has a heart condition.
The flexibility offered by Listawood also suits Mary Cormack, of Great Massingham. When her children were younger, she worked hours that fitted in with collecting them from school and could work a night-shift during the school holidays.
Dene Elfleet and his wife, Anna, both work for the company and the flexible hours mean they can have time off if their three school-age children are unwell. "I was even allowed to take some time off to look for another car and made the time up later," he said.
Jo Rourke, staff personnel clerk, said the work life balance was a two-way thing. "If we have a rush job at 5pm, people will stop and finish it because they know that, if they need an hour off for an appointment, they can take it. We have one staff member who builds up hours so she can take her horse to the farrier," said Miss Rourke.
Company founder Arthur Allen, who has won a string of top awards since he started the firm 18 years ago, said he was thrilled to win the Work Life Balance Award. "This flexible system is firmly built into our ethos and we know it works. If you look after the staff, they will look after the customers. It has contributed to us winning numerous awards and we are proud of that success," he said.
- Long working hours could be hurting the workplace, by Jeanie Croasmun, CNN Money & MSNBC via Ergonomics Today.
USA - Recent reports from industries as varied as health care and manufacturing indicate that what workers and the workplace need right now is a little time away from the job.
Costly errors, high turnover rates, and workplace health and safety are all at stake with today’s longer working hours, indicate the experts. And the long term effect of the extended workday or week ultimately takes its toll on the workplace itself. “Rather than hiring people back as the economy improves and demand picks up, employers are relying on fewer people to put in more time to get the job done,” said Alex Kerin, Ph.D., in a press statement from Circadian Technologies. The company that specializes in 24/7 operations recently released a report that shows the impact of longer days on the workforce and how overtime can effect an extended-hours operation. Circadian’s report indicated that even as little as a 10% increase in overtime could mean a 2.4% decrease in productivity, and performance could drop by 25% when white collar workers logged 60-hour-plus workweeks. “At many organizations with extended hours operations, some employees are at or beyond the point at which long hours will negatively impact productivity, health and safety,” said Kerin. “More output is achieved, but the number of hours worked per employee also increases, resulting in a lower output per hour,” he said.
Earlier this month, a panel of the Institute of Medicine called for better working conditions and shorter workdays for U.S. nurses. Their reasoning was that current work situations were resulting in medication errors, wasted time and overall crabby demeanors as well as the potential for high turnover rates in the industry. In a 1998 report, the Institute of Medicine found that medical errors cost up to $29 billion each year, in addition to potential lives lost. The Institute’s current recommendations are to limit nurses’ shifts to 12-hours and the overall workweek for nurses to 60 hours.
Even in other work environments, workers who are forced into overtime to compensate for economy-induced layoffs are starting to grumble. A survey by the Society of Human Resource Professionals found that eight out of 10 workers intend to look for new jobs as soon as the economy starts to improve. That, said consultant Gerald Ledford, senior vice president at Sibson Consulting in an interview with MSNBC, could result in a tab of $100,000 just to replace a middle manager.
Aside from an increased turnover rate and overall job dissatisfaction, working long hours has also been linked to other workplace ills, including a higher risk of injury, a higher rate of inaccuracies and errors, and even work-related stress. For workplaces that may not be able to beef up their staffs, however, certain ergonomics improvements to the workplace can benefit both worker and employer by making the work itself easier, and ultimately faster, to accomplish.
- Overtime rules move forward as foes regroup, by Kevin Diaz, Minneapolis Star Tribune.
WASHINGTON - Congressional efforts to block a Bush administration overhaul of overtime pay rules collapsed Wednesday as the Senate adjourned for Thanksgiving without taking any action.
Critics of the new overtime rules, who say they could cost millions of workers overtime benefits, dropped their opposition amid pressure to pass 11th-hour spending bills. Minnesota Democratic and labor leaders say the new Labor Department rules, which could still take another year to put in place, could deny pay protection for 200,000 workers in the state. "What a Christmas present that will be for America," said Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn., calling the new work rules "anti-worker, anti-family and bad economic policy."
Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., has supported the Bush initiative, saying the current rules are outdated, inequitable, and reflect "practices of 50 years ago."
The rules make it easier to exempt highly-paid professionals from overtime pay, but administration officials say that they guarantee overtime pay for workers making less than $22,100 a year. That would make 1.3 million more workers eligible. The current salary threshold is $8,060.
The Labor Department estimates that 640,000 workers nationwide may lose overtime pay under the proposed rules, mostly white-collar workers earning more than $65,000 a year.
Labor unions contend that more than 8 million workers could lose their right to overtime pay. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney called it "unconscionable" for Congress to leave town without blocking rules that "would jeopardize the 40-hour work week."
Supporters say blue-collar workers are largely unaffected. Rather, they say, the changes clarify antiquated and confusing rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which have led to rafts of lawsuits.
Michael Eastman, director of labor law policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said changes in labor costs could be a wash under the proposed rules. But employers have pushed for the changes as part of a broader legal reform agenda. "That's the big issue for us," Eastman said.
Eastman said that litigation seeking overtime pay has been brought on behalf of corporate vice presidents, human resources directors, lawyers, and even one of Tom Brokaw's top television news producers.
For organized labor, the issue has become a call for action, even though the new rules have no effect on workers covered by union contracts. "It's knocking at our door," said Minnesota AFL-CIO President Ray Waldron. "It's like the minimum wage. It does affect us. It affects everyone." About 10% of the nation's private sector workforce belongs to labor unions, according to the most recent estimates.
Backers of the Bush plan suggest that organized labor has its own narrow interests at heart, rather than those of workers generally. "Lawmakers should worry less about organized labor's knee-jerk opposition to the Bush administration's proposal and more about the vast majority of workers who would benefit," said Gregg Cavanagh, a Maple Grove attorney who represents management in labor matters.
In the past two months, both the House and the Senate have voted to block the proposed overtime regulations, although the House vote was nonbinding. But earlier this week, a provision to withhold funding for the Labor Department to carry out the rules was dropped from a $284 billion multi-agency spending bill.
Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., a lead sponsor of the Senate provision blocking the workplace changes, gave up the effort in order to save about $4 billion in spending programs that were threatened by the impasse.
Labor Department officials say the rules have yet to be finalized, a process that is expected to stretch into next year.
That could give Congress another chance to take on the rules when it returns in January, a chance some members would like to take.
- Heigh-ho!, Lebanon [PA] Daily News.
PENNSYLVANIA - Americans work a lot. Work ethic, especially here in the Lebanon Valley with its Pennsylvania-German roots, has always been highly prized and lauded.
There is a movement that suggests that Americans are working way too hard, and it uses Europe as its comparative model. On Oct. 24, "Take Back Your Time Day" was held across the nation. It was a grass-roots series of educational events with the theory that an "epidemic of overwork, over-scheduling and time famine now threatens our health, our families and relationships, our communities and our environment," according to a CNN/Money online article.
The U.N. International Labor Organization has found that the average American works 1,815 hours per year. Another survey, by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, found the average working American spends 1,976 hours a year on the job. The U.N. numbers show Norwegians spend 1,342 hours a year on the job; the French, 1,545; Canadians, 1,778. There are a couple countries that top our own work output: Japan at 1,848 hours a year, and South Korea at 2,447 hours annually.
The watershed of the overwork movement came in 1993 with the publication of Boston College economist Juliet Schor's, "The Overworked American." In it, she argued that the U.S. "is the world's standout workaholic nation."
Compare France and the U.S.:
The Employment Policy Foundation, a Washington think tank, has a different spin. It suggests Americans are feeling more overworked because of longer commutes and greater prevalence of dual-earner households.
- In France, national law guarantees workers 11 public holidays, a minimum of five weeks paid vacation and a 35-hour work week.
- Americans have 10 public holidays, though businesses don't recognize all of them. There are no mandatory vacation rules, and it's a 40-hour work week, technically (but only just technically.)
Most of us work because we have to. Many of us like to. However, we don't care much for the "working vacation" concept that seems to be encroaching on our leisure time. Taking cell-phone/fax-laptop/coffee maker doo-dads with us on our weekends at the shore is a bit much. But when it's time to work, it's time to work.
[Amen to that!]
It's certainly no coincidence that Japan and U.S., two of the hardest-working [developed!] nations on the planet, have the world's most powerful economies.
[It certainly is a coincidence - #1, almost all the undeveloped nations work harder (longer hours) than Japan and US, and #2, a coincidence of large population and advanced technology. Japan and the U.S. are simply the two most populous developed economies. In fact, the five most populous developed economies are US (285.9m), Japan (127.3m), Germany (82.0m) and UK/France (tied at 59.5m) and guess what their ranking is by GDP (= "economic power"): US ($10065B), Japan ($4141), Germany ($1846), UK ($1424), France ($1310). It has nothing to do with long hours, and everything to do with implementation of automation and robotics, in which Japan (and most European economies) are actually ahead of US.]
American work ethic is what made the country
[No, halving the workweek from 80 to 40 between 1776 and 1940 to avoid an impoverishing labor surplus and thereby multiplying wages is what made the country]
and what drives it still
[No, unless you mean "drives it down into the Third World."
Recall that "Whether you work by the piece or the day,
Decreasing the hours increases the pay." - because you avoid flooding the job market with surplus labor hours.]
Our view, however, may be in the minority:
A survey that accompanied the CNN/Money article found 85% of more than 7,500 respondents believed Americans work too much. 5% believed we didn't do enough - those are the real workaholics.
But even some in Europe look askance at European work ethic. In a recent interview with the Washington Times' Arnaud de Borchgrave, Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus said Europeans are living in a "dream world" of welfare and long vacations and have yet to realize "they are not moving toward some sort of nirvana."...
[Klaus apparently hasn't toured a modern robotized car factory or heard the Ford-Reuther Paradox: Ford, "Let's see you unionized these robots!" Reuther, "Let's see you sell them cars." There are still millions of people with their brains stuck in the sand of pre-technological values. It is no longer an option to work hard, not smart. Keep on that waveband and you're Third World. But then Czech Republic is 'tween the worlds' anyway.]
- New truck driver rest-time rules set to roll out - Trucking executives here warn pending regulations will have spillover effects, by Megan Cooley, Spokane Journal of Business.
SPOKANE, Wash. - Mike Mitchell, of Mercer Trucking Co., says shippers will face higher freight rates if drivers aren't able to get their trucks loaded and unloaded promptly.
As trucking companies approach Jan. 4, the date on which they must begin complying with new federal rules related to driver rest time, some here are unsure of exactly how the changes will affect their bottom lines. They do say, however, that the trucking industry won’t be the only one impacted.
The so-called hours-of-service rules, which aim to make America’s highways safer, require longer rest periods for drivers between work shifts, but also let them stay behind the wheel an hour more per day than allowed now. Some trucking executives here say the biggest change for drivers will be a rule that indirectly cuts into the amount of time allowed for loading and unloading cargo. They say that move could force nontrucking sectors to bear the brunt of the new rules.
“Trucking has been pretty poor for three years now,” says Mike Mitchell, operations manager for Spokane-based Mercer Trucking Co. “There’s really nothing left we can absorb. So, yes, (the additional costs are) going to have to be passed on.”
Dale Peterson, chief operating officer of Spokane-based Trans-System Inc., says that company is expecting a 5%-to-6% increase in its overall costs due to the new rules.
Charlie Parfrey, who together with his wife, Donna, owns Spokane-based Parfrey Enterprises Inc., which does business as Parfrey Trucking Brokerage, is projecting a 10% jump in costs.
All three executives say they expect their companies to pass on those increases to others in the shipping chain. “The shippers are going to have to add forklift drivers and other workers to get the trucks loaded more quickly,” Mitchell says. “If they don’t help us out in that way, they’re going to see larger-than-expected freight rate increases in 2004.”
Parfrey, who also is on the board of directors of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, a national trade group, says some trucking companies have increased their rates in anticipation of the rules. Some per-mile fees recently have hiked by 5 cents to 15 cents, or 4% to 12%, he says.
The new rules
The new mandates, announced last spring by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), will apply to what are called property-carrying drivers, not to passenger-carrying drivers. They include the following rules:
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety objects to that high number of hours. The FMCSA
stopped short of mandating that trucks be equipped with electronic devices to monitor compliance with hours-of-service rules, a requirement that had been proposed during the eight-year process of writing the new rules. The agency currently is investigating the reliability of such devices and the benefits of requiring them, it says. The agency claims that the new rules—the first major changes to the regulations in almost 65 years—are science-based and will lead to fewer fatigue-related vehicle accidents. It projects the changes will save up to 75 lives and prevent about 1,300 crashes a year. In 2002, there were about 4,900 truck-related traffic fatalities, it says.
- Drivers will be required to take at least 10 consecutive hours off before starting a new work shift. They will be allowed to split those 10 hours in two if they rest in a sleeping berth in the truck as long as those rest periods last two hours or longer. Currently, drivers only have to take eight hours off between shifts.
- Drivers won’t be allowed to get behind the wheel after 14 consecutive hours of work, whether that work involves driving, loading or unloading a truck, or some combination of such tasks. Drivers, however, will be allowed to do nondriving work activities after a 14-hour shift. The current rule states that truckers can drive up to 16 hours per 24-hour period, but after 10 driving hours or 15 total working hours, they must take eight hours off.
- Within a 14-hour shift, only up to 11 hours of driving will be allowed. That means if it takes more than three hours for a shipper to load or unload a truck, a trucker’s driving time will be reduced. Peterson says, “Our hope is to train our customer base that we need to have our drivers in and out quickly. Let them do all that they need to do and still drive an 11-hour shift.”
- Once a trucker begins a 14-hour shift, the clock won’t stop ticking until those hours are up, and rest breaks during shifts won’t be required. Currently, drivers can stop and start their 10-hour driving stretches or 15-hour total work stretches for lunch, fuel, and other breaks. Soon, such rests will eat away at truckers’ 14 hours of allotted on-duty time.
Will more truckers be cruising down the interstate with a sandwich in one hand and a can of soda in the other, to avoid wasting driving time on breaks? “Now that stopping and eating will be counted on the clock, that’s something we’re going to have to manage and deal with,” Peterson says.
- Drivers will only be allowed 60 on-duty hours in any seven consecutive days and 70 hours in any eight consecutive days. They will be able to restart their work “week,” though, after taking 34 consecutive hours off. Current rules allow the same 60 hours in seven days and 70 hours in eight days, but there’s no provision on when drivers can restart a workweek. With the new restart provision, truckers could work things out by changing their sleep schedules so they could drive up to 77 hours in a seven-day period.
Peterson, of Trans-System, says it’s hard to predict whether the new rules will make drivers feel better rested. “If you talk to a group of drivers, it’d probably be hard for them to believe that a federal mandate would cause them to have better rest,” he says, chuckling.
Parfrey says the new rules will force drivers’ schedules and the movement of freight to change “dramatically.” The rigidity of the rules will cause problems for drivers, the trucking industry, and the flow of products in general, he contends. “If everyone runs legal under this system, you’re going to have produce stopped for a ‘weekend’ of 34 hours in the middle of nowhere,” says Parfrey. “You’re going to have someone stopped in the middle of Timbuktu with no bathrooms, no restrooms, nothing.” He says he expects that weigh stations will become jammed with drivers whose 14 hours have expired, but who can’t legally leave to find a hotel or restaurant to spend their off-duty hours.
At Trans-System, drivers generally are asked to log 500 miles of travel a day now, Peterson says. A typical assignment is for drivers to transport a truckload across the country, unload it, and return within two or three weeks, he says. “It’s typical for us to load in Spokane and not unload until we’re in Philadelphia” or some other cross-country city, Peterson says. “I don’t think that schedule will change much.”
Peterson expects the new rules to affect short-haul trucking companies, which spend more time loading and unloading cargo than long-haul carriers. The FMCSA has built into the rules an exception for short-haul truckers, though, allowing them one 16-hour work shift during any seven-consecutive-day period. Without those extra two hours per week for short-haul truckers, the industry would have needed to hire at least 48,000 new drivers, it estimates.
Mitchell, of Mercer, which does business in the Northwest and Western Canada, says, “That’s where the shippers are going to play a big part in this. If they change the way they do business, and load and unload promptly, it will help keep the rates down.” Mitchell says it commonly takes an hour to load or unload a flatbed truck, but drivers often must wait their turn in a line of four or five trucks. Some trucking companies are considering or have begun charging waiting fees, either by the minute or the hour, he says. Mercer hasn’t decided yet whether it will begin charging such fees, Mitchell says.
Peterson says it’s the end users who ultimately will pay if the new rules mean higher costs for trucking companies. “Nationwide, there’s some theory that because of the loss of production time, it might take another 84,000 drivers and trucks to handle the same amount of freight Jan. 4 that it took to handle Jan. 3. The freight’s still going to move,” Peterson says, adding that the bigger impact will be on trucking companies’ clients “and ultimately on the consumer.”
Parfrey says he’s heard similar projections about the need for more drivers—and equipment. “This will impact the shipper, the (receiver), the broker, the trucking company, or the owner/operator, and it will impact the consumer, because if trucking companies and brokers have to increase rates to their customers, they’re going to pass that on to the consumer,” Parfrey says.
Insurance industry blasts rules
Meanwhile, at least one automobile-insurance group says the rules don’t go far enough to ensure road safety.
In a June issue of a publication it produces called “Status Report,” the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety blasted the new hours-of-service rules for not requiring electronic monitoring devices in trucks.
Peterson says drivers will record the hours they work in logbooks, as they do now, and be subject to checkpoints along the highway. Trucking companies also face random audits by the U.S. Department of Transportation, he says. “Long term it would be difficult” for drivers to falsify their driving records, he says.
Parfrey says he believes members of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association will comply with the new rules and “run legal,” but he says, “I think more people are going to try to find ways to falsify them. They will have no choice.”
The Institute argues that the restart provision in the new rules will allow drivers to squeeze five driving shifts into every four days to maximize driving time. “There’s no scientific evidence that 34 hours off will be enough to recover from many long work days in a row. Nor is there evidence that lengthening the off-duty period will make it safer to drive 11 hours at a stretch,” Anne McCartt, senior researcher for the Institute, writes. “The agency claims the new rules are going to improve safety, but in fact they’re likely to have the opposite effect. They’re likely to worsen the hazards.”
Trans-System is “OK” with the new rules, Peterson says. “It’s going to make us manage our operation just a little bit different,” he says. “I think the jury’s out” on whether the rules will make highways safer and on their effect on the trucking industry. Peterson points out that the date the rules go into effect is still more than a month away, and he says some things could change between now and then.
“They say it’s final the way it is, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there weren’t some eleventh-hour changes to it,
especially something that has to do with the deal about stopping to eat. You can’t take a half-hour break to eat? I don’t know if that’s fair, and I think there are a lot of people who think that’s not fair. There’s some heavy lobbying going on still.”
11/25/2003 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 11/24 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #5 is from the 11/25 NYT hardcopy), and excerpts & comments are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
- Balancing act, by Marie Turbill, Middlesbrough Evening Gazette.
UK - Working full-time Billingham dad Derek MacDonald might never have had the opportunity to pick his kids up from school. Thanks to a new policy at work he now knows that during the early years of his children's lives, he will get to share in those special moments. Derek and wife, Wendy, both work in the Health and Safety Department of Stockton Borough Council. The local authority is one of many employers who aim to bring Work-Life Balance into the workplace.
It is an initiative which gives employees more choice and control over their working hours. This allows them to work around other commitments. And enjoy their children's growing up years. Now the Government is encouraging more employers to introduce the scheme.
Derek...is one employee already making the most of the new work-life balance. "My wife, Wendy, has just given birth to our second child," he says. "When she returns to full-time employment we will both take advantage of the flexible arrangements." He explains that Wendy will reduce her hours and on those days when she has to be in work full-time, he will alter his own hours to collect the children. "It will work out tremendously well to mutual benefit," he says.
The couple's first son Alisdair is four years old and has just started school, young Ross is just five and a half months.
"The provision was made available to those with children under the age of six," explains Derek. "It is great for us. It will make a huge difference to our quality of life."
It is not only the employees that reap the benefits but employers too. The aim of the initiative is to inspire a happy workforce. And with work fitting around other commitments, loyalty and productivity are improved too.
The Government initially launched the Work-Life Balance initiative as a five-year campaign in 2000.
Now a new charity, Working Families, is being launched to provide support and advice for families and employers. The creation of the new charity follows the merger of two leading charities that campaign for work-life balance, Parents At Work and New Ways to Work. Derek's employer, Stockton Borough Council, was swift to adopt the Work-Life Balance policies.
Personnel officer Fiona Attewill says: "Our employees are our greatest asset. "We have had a number of 'work-life balance' policies for a number of years though probably not called that. "The reason why is that we want to recruit the best staff and retain the best staff. This helps us do that." She explains if people feel they are being valued and know that if they have any issue they will be supported then they will work harder.
Fiona says Stockton Borough Council has a range of policies available to staff. "Sometimes they may need help with a temporary issue such as a sick parent or something like that, sometimes they need a more permanent arrangement." She explains each request is assessed individually. "If we can accommodate it we will," she says. "This means that employees will feel less pressured and hopefully work better."
Cleveland Police are also among the employers that have adopted Work-Life Balance policies. Acting Inspector Beverley Gill benefits from the options available. When she returned to work after extended maternity leave she was allowed to make some changes. "There are about 17 different policies available for workers," she says. "You can take career breaks, go part-time, arrange your hours around your partner's shifts, childcare or other family commitments. There are also travel opportunities and education. "It makes an enormous difference to people's attitude. We work long shifts and it is nice to know that these options are there."
Beverley, of Ingleby Barwick, asked to have her own work time cut by just two hours. She says: "It doesn't sound much but it has made a significant difference to me. "It means I can finish a bit early on nightshift. I can get home and get enough sleep to get up the next day and look after my little boy without farming him off to a childminder."
Police Constable Mark Jenkinson was able to take advantage of the career break option. He was able to spend a year travelling round the world with his wife, Claire, secure in the knowledge that his job would still be there when he got back. Mark and his wife jetted off to India, Singapore, Australia, Fiji, Hong Kong and Vietnam. He says the experience changed him for the better. "Before I used to rush about a lot now I am more relaxed. I still work very hard but I don't get stressed any more. "It has given us the chance to think more clearly."
Mark, 35, of Stockton, believes the experience enhanced his career prospects too. "Although I was full of enthusiasm before, now I am refreshed and more focused."
- Corporate culture still insists that work and family don't mix, by Louise Watson,
AUSTRALIA - Part-time workers find Australian business less than understanding of their needs.
A few years ago, a senior female academic - and a mother of grown-up children - was interviewing me for a job. The interview was going really well until I said that I wanted to work only four days a week. "What?" she interjected sharply, "...for family?" "Oh, no," I lied. It was because I wanted to write a book. Visibly relieved, she enthused about how important it was to write a book and how she could fully understand my need to devote one day a week to it. She gave me the job and I spent every Friday at home with my children.
If a woman wants to work part-time and have a career - as opposed to just a "job" - she has to learn how to disguise it. Working parents who try to balance their work and family lives face entrenched discrimination. Very few employers provide genuine career paths for part-time workers - either male or female. Part-timers are relegated to the "mummy-track" or the "daddy-track" where they are stuck in low-status jobs and denied opportunities for promotion.
Corporate culture assumes that part-timers are not interested in building careers because they want to spend time with their families - for some reason, these two goals are seen as mutually exclusive. I know many talented professionals - both mothers and fathers - who have been told by their bosses that when they are ready to kick-start their careers and work full-time, they will be supported in every possible way.
The widespread discrimination against part-time workers has received little attention in public policy circles or in the media - in spite of its impact on most working parents. In researching her latest book, Anne Summers was dismayed to find a working woman who equated becoming pregnant with signing her own death warrant.
Although the issue is of greater concern to women than men at the moment, that will change as more men become involved in child-rearing. One such man - James Woodford - recently observed that many young couples were trying out new ways of sharing the work of parenthood while "waiting for government and employer policies to catch up".
The 40-hour week may have been an enlightened concept 100 years ago, but it works against family life in the 21st century. The sole male breadwinner is almost an extinct species yet it remains the model on which our system is based. A full-time job is still the ideal held up to women and men who want a rewarding career - regardless of their family responsibilities. But as most young parents soon discover, holding down two full-time jobs and rearing young children has a devastating impact on their quality of life.
Once I got serious about having a family of one, two and then three children, it was only a matter of time before something had to give. At the end of a typical day, I would race from work at 5.45pm to pick up the baby from creche while their father collected two tired kids from after-school care. We would get them home, dump them in front of the TV and throw together an instant meal of pasta and sauce. With military precision, we would eat dinner, bathe them and read to them, watching the clock the whole time.
Sometimes, as I tucked my daughter up in bed, she would whisper in a trembling voice, "I had a bad day at school, Mummy." But in our first chance for intimacy all day, my mind would already be elsewhere, running through all the chores to be done before I could fall into bed.
When my kids were little, I deluded myself that their emotional needs would diminish as they grew up. They didn't - if anything, they became more complicated. As kids get older and more independent, they become more resistant to living in a home run like a boot camp. Some working mothers try to save time by braiding their children's hair before they go to bed, or making them sleep in their clothes. But the finest morning departure schedule can be derailed by a hunt for clean socks or the death of a goldfish.
Kids' emotional needs have an urgency that overwhelms any neatly planned working week. When I tried to work full-time, it was obvious that I was doing neither of my jobs - mother or worker - very well. But giving up full-time work is a high-risk option if you want to hang on to a career. The prejudice against part-timers is so strong that many parents end up becoming self-employed. Others - like me - change careers so we can work in a field where the hours are flexible and your time is largely your own. Nevertheless I still harbour nagging concerns that I won't be able to hold on to my career. Promotions are out of the question until I return to full-time work. And every time I turn down a new work opportunity I wonder if it's the last offer I'll ever get.
The irony is that since I became part-time, the quality of my work has improved. Because I'm no longer stressed out and under intense pressure, I have a lot more energy for the work I do. But I'm still reluctant to tell people how much less of a full-time job I actually have. Experience has taught me that most people believe a serious career woman would never consider working part-time.
Now, I must get back to writing that book.
- Proper Debate on Holidays Legislation Needed, press release by New Zealand Business Roundtable via scoop.co.nz.
NEW ZEALAND - The New Zealand Business Roundtable came out today in support of the National Party and ACT New Zealand position that the four weeks' holiday provision in the Holidays Bill should have been the subject of a proper select committee process.
"Coming after the shabby way in which the Supreme Court Bill was steamrolled through the House, the holidays legislation is a travesty of proper lawmaking", Roger Kerr, NZBR executive director said today. "The government had said it would not legislate for an extra weeks' leave in this parliamentary term. All the select committee considered was a members bill providing for four weeks' leave proposed by Progressive Coalition member Matt Robson. This was never subject to extensive debate. Now the government has incorporated the four weeks' leave provisions into the Holidays Bill which it proposes to pass, with effect from 2007. Opposition parties are right to regard this as misleading and deceptive conduct.
"It is also a fraud on workers and the community, as the costs of this political bribe will fall mainly on them. Parliament can't improve employment conditions by writing laws; only productivity improvements can do that. And workers have different preferences about their share of the gains from future productivity growth. One national company found that its Christchurch staff would generally prefer more holidays but its Auckland staff would prefer more money. Firms and workers should be able to negotiate freely on such matters; the government shouldn't be making this choice for them.
"The Bill also reflects the short-termism of politics, in that it further undermines the credibility of the government's commitment to getting New Zealand back into the top half of the OECD income ladder. Within half a generation, New Zealand will be supporting an aging population with a declining workforce. In Europe , governments are reacting to the same problem by trying to cut holidays and raise retiring ages. A majority (61%) of French people are reported as thinking that the 35-hour week was a mistake.
[Misleading - somebody cobbled together a 'random sample' of whom 38% or so checked "don't like it" or some such, and 23% checked "want it postponed," whatever that means.]
"With measures like this, the government knows its credibility on growth is in tatters", Mr Kerr said. "Grow the economy: have more holidays" does not compute. It is now talking about setting up an advisory group on productivity to paper over the cracks. Instead, it should draw back from ramming the Holidays Bill through before Christmas, and instead promote an open public debate and proper select committee consideration of what is now its most important provision," Mr Kerr said.
11/22-24/2003 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 11/21-23 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #3 is from the 11/24 WSJ hardcopy), and excerpts & comments are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
- Desire to trade pressure for peace grows [= Downshifting], by Anna Fifield, Financial Times.
The quest for a better work-life balance might be more successful than estimated. A study published yesterday found a quarter of people had "downshifted" their jobs over the past decade.
Exemplified by the high-profile resignations of Martha Lane Fox, chief executive of lastminute.com until last week, and Alan Milburn, the former health secretary, a "downshifter" is someone who has changed to a lower-paying job, reduced their work hours or quit work to study or stay at home.
Clive Hamilton, executive director of the Australia Institute, a Canberra-based think-tank and a visiting scholar at Cambridge University, found 25% of those surveyed had downshifted in the past decade, and a quarter of those had done so in the past year. Even more remarkably, they had taken an average pay cut of 40%.
"I think it reflects the intensification of work and life pressures, and greater pressures to earn more and consume more and get into debt," Mr Hamilton said. "This is a reaction to the over-consumption that has become so dominant in British life. More and more people are saying they want to buy back more time."
In a survey of 1,071 people aged 30-59 selected at random, carried out by the British Market Research Bureau,
Mr Hamilton said: "The survey results immediately dispel the widespread myth that downshifting means selling up in the city and shifting to the countryside to live a life closer to nature. While the rural idyll is the route chosen by a few downshifters, the phenomenon is predominantly a suburban one with the downshifter more likely to be found next door rather than in Cornwall [alias 'nature' in UK]."
- 270 [25%] said they had made a long-term decision to change their life in a way that involved earning less.
- To provide a more representative picture the study excluded people who had also started their own business, refused a promotion or taken time off after having a baby. The proportion would rise to 30% if they were included.
- Women were slightly more likely to downshift than men - 27% compared with 23%.
- 33% said a desire to spend more time with their families was their motivation,
- while nearly 20% were searching for more control and personal fulfilment.
It also apparently dispelled the myth that downshifting is the prerogative of middle-aged, wealthier people who can afford to take the risk. "It is apparent that downshifters are spread fairly evenly across the social grades," Mr Hamilton said, although there was a slightly higher proportion among top earners.
While the survey's findings seem extraordinary, Mr Hamilton said they were in line with the 23% found to have downshifted in a similar study he carried out in Australia last year. However, it is much higher than a similar survey published by Datamonitor, the market analyst, last month, which found that the number of downshifters had risen from 1.7m in 1997 to 2.6m last year.
- New deal to cut truckers' hours - ACC Distribution has 18 depots all over the UK, BBC News.
UK - A deal has been struck which will see more than 1,000 lorry drivers get a pay rise - and spend fewer hours on the road.
Drivers with north-east of England-based ACC Distribution are to get an 18.5% pay rise over two-and-a-half years, coupled with a huge reduction in working hours. The deal follows new European legislation, due to be introduced in 2005, which will
limit the time drivers can spend behind the wheel. The Road Transport Working Time Directive, means truckers cannot spend more than 48 hours at a stretch on the road.
Management at Chester-le-Street-based ACC and trade unions claim the groundbreaking deal will become a benchmark for the UK road transport industry. The company, which employs 4,500 people and is part of The Co-operative Group, says it is spending "a considerable sum" on the new deal with members of the TGWU and Usdaw trade unions. But spokesman Chris Metcalf said big savings would come from reduced turnover of staff and lower recruitment costs.
ACC transports goods to Co-operative stores all over the UK. It has 18 depots in areas like Tyne & Wear, County Durham, Derbyshire, Yorkshire, Strathclyde, West Midlands, Lanarkshire, Nottinghamshire, Peterborough and Northern Ireland.
Drivers will reduce their current 55-hour working week to 52 in 2004. This will drop to 48 in 2005. In return they will work a new system of fixed shifts.
Usdaw national officer Sharon Ainsworth said: "The company has shown incredible foresight and should be congratulated. "This agreement is the first of its kind and is incredibly proactive. It will bring significant benefits and improved working conditions for our members. "The Road Transport Working Time Directive will revolutionise the distribution sector. This deal should become a blueprint for future negotiations with companies required to change working practices in order to come in line with the legal requirements." Mr Metcalf added: "This is a landmark agreement, which we feel will be the model for Britain's road transport industry. "This is all about protecting our workforce and fitting in with modern working conditions and family life."
- Why working for no pay costs so much -
Britons have the longest working hours in Europe - whether because of demanding deadlines or a love of their work, - But for anyone on a salary, the extra hours spent at the office are generally unpaid - Ever wondered what you should be earning? - Jenny Rees finds out, by Jenny Rees, The Western Mail, icWales.
UK - Workers in Wales will do nearly m??? of unpaid overtime this year. That's the equivalent of an additional 86 ??? a year on average and around seven-and-a-half hours a week. And if you've ever questioned just how much free labour you are giving your employers, you can now work it out with an on-line calculator. The TUC [Trades Union Congress] has launched the service as part of the "It's About Time" campaign against long hours in Britain.
It is a culture that has developed to the point that we now "compete" and boast about who works the most hours in a week. And it is the person who arrives first and leaves last that gains respect or brownie points from management, and not the worker who leaves at the stroke of 5pm after completing their tasks for the day in the time given.
TUC General Secretary, Brendan Barber said, "Britons work the longest hours in Europe, and these figures show that much of it is unpaid overtime. "We're not saying we should turn into a nation of clock-watchers, or that no one should put in extra work when there's an emergency or rush of orders, but many people are clearly putting in the equivalent of an extra day every week. Our calculator gives everyone the chance to see how they compare with the average. "There's much to learn from these figures. Is it any wonder that top jobs are still dominated by men, when managers have to do an extra day's unpaid work each week? When employers quote dubious figures about the costs of what they call red tape, and everyone else calls basic rights at work, do they remember their staff put in billions of pounds of unpaid extra work each year?
"Given that workers in much of the rest of Europe work fewer hours yet produce and earn more, are there not hard questions to ask about the quality of UK management? "Most of all, we need better managed workplaces and cultural change so that people can get their jobs done in the time available, and are rewarded for working smartly, not putting in long hours."
Professionals on average work an extra 9.6 hours per week and each miss out on 36 in unpaid overtime. The UK average, per person, is 34, with a total of more than n ??? unpaid overtime every year.
The TUC is also calling for workers in Wales to tell their long-hours stories on the website *worksmart.org.uk or by calling 0870 8 500 500.
- Congressional committee refuses to protect overtime, Workday Minnesota.
WASHINGTON - Congressional leaders ignored votes in both the House and Senate and instead cleared the way Nov. 21 for President George W. Bush to strip overtime pay from 8 million workers who now receive it.
A conference committee deleted an amendment from a massive appropriations bill that had blocked Bush from changing rules governing overtime eligibility. Because of the committee action, workers who make as little as $425 a week could lose time-and-one-half pay when they work more than 40 hours.
Unless the full House and Senate again vote to protect overtime, the Labor Department could put the new rules into effect as early as December. The rules guarantee overtime eligibility for low-wage workers, but make it easier for employers to reclassify any worker who makes at least $425 a week as supervisory, professional or administrative in order to deny them overtime pay. The Senate had inserted language blocking Bush's overtime plan on Sept. 10, and the House instructed its negotiators to go along on Oct. 2. However, conference committee members ignored those votes and caved in to the president before Congress adjourned for Thanksgiving. Bush has threatened to veto the entire appropriations bill if it blocks his overtime changes.
- [and not surprisingly -]
Refuting the cynics, op ed by David Brooks, NYT, A29.
...Around the middle of the 1980s, the US and Europe started to diverge. The American work ethic shifted, [exactly as Arthur Dahlberg predicted it would under technology>layoffs>insecurity instead of technology>timesizing in his 1932 "Jobs, Machines and Capitalism"] so that the average [full-time employed?] American now works 350 hours a year - 9 or 10 weeks - longer than the average European....
[David Brooks doesn't do much of a job refuting the "cynics" in this op ed, mostly because the more you say about Europe the smarter it looks and the dumber we look, plus the critics he refers to aren't "cynics" at all - they're just a lot of people whose eyes aren't blinded by "my country, right or wrong" jingoism and slavish respect for the presidency, however incompetent the incumbent. Brooks puts a lot of faith in the assumption that young people are automatically ambitious and energetic, rather than depressed and enervated - a strange piece of reverse agism.]
11/21/2003 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 11/20 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #4 is from the 11/21 NYT hardcopy), and excerpts & comments are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
- 11/21 Longer work week, waste of time, News24 [South Africa] via www.finance24.co.za.
GERMANY - The idea that a longer working week leads to greater productivity is a fallacy - the extra hours are simply a waste of time, a German study says.
The Institute for Work and Technology (IAT) in Gelsenkirchen said on Friday its examination of working hours and productivity of the 15 European Union countries indicated that a shorter working week was actually an incentive for greater productivity. "Shorter working time is a productivity whip for companies whereas longer working only leads to a waste of time," said Steffen Lehndorf, the IAT's expert on working hours. The IAT said the facts did not support claims that a longer working week would increase Germany's industrial competitiveness.
Countries such as France already had shorter working weeks but were more productive than Germany, the institute said. France, with a working week of under 38 hours, had a productivity level of 117.9 points based on a EU average of 100, while Germany with an average working week close to 40 hours was at 106.8. Meanwhile Britons, working an average 43 hours a week, were much less productive at 85.5, the IAT said.
- 11/23 Britain's long working hours culture - Workers will put in more than billion of unpaid overtime this year, confirming that Britons work the longest hours in Europe, according to a new report today, by Sherna Noah, PA News via The Scotsman [UK].
BRITAIN - Campaigners say that Britain has the longest working hours in Europe. European law designates a maximum 48-hour week but employees [-ees? or -ers!] in Britain are able to opt out of the law.
Research in the past has shown that on average, people in the UK work 43.6 hours a week, compared with 38.4 hours a week in Belgium, the European country with the shortest average working week.
[This does not square with our data, according to which Belgium works 37 hours a week while Denmark, France and west Germany work less.]
The TUC said around five million people work an average seven hours 24 minutes without pay every week, worth 00 euros a year in extra pay.
[And work without pay is slavery. Don't we flatter ourselves that we abolished that centuries ago?]
According to official statistics, 1.5 million managers were working unpaid overtime, the union centre said.
Professional staff average nine hours 36 minutes a week extra of unpaid work, worth 00 euros a year.
[How did we let ourselves get roped into a definition of "professional" that includes slavery? Consultants avoid this by being completely time-accountable and making their employers the same - on the basis of "billable time."]
150,000 craft workers were averaging an extra six hours a week, worth 00 euros. 70,000 plant and machine operatives were doing an additional five hours 36 minutes of unpaid work worth 00 euros a year.
The TUC launched an online calculator which will show people how many hours they should work and how much they were missing out on if they put in unpaid overtime.
In France the Government has set about dismantling the 35-hour week, which is being blamed for some of France's economic ills.
- 11/24 Eyes on the road, pointer blurb (to wsj.com), WSJ, front page.
USA - States are giving greater attention to the dangers of driving while drowsy, and some hope to wake drivers up with stiffer penalties for offenders, Joe White says.
[Note added pressure for shorter hours for truckers, and related feedback in reference to recent slight tightening of trucking-specific safety rules -]
11/24 New trucking rules won't improve safety, letter to editor by Mike Nichols of Edgerton WI, WSJ, A15.
Daniel Machalaba's Nov.12 article "The costs of trucking seen rising under new safety rules" implies that existing hours-of-service rules don't require drivers to log time spent on the loading dock as time "on-duty."
Federal rules have always required drivers to do so. But drivers have been conditioned or forced into falsifying their logs, especially when it comes to time spent loading or unloading. In practice, a driver rarely has the opportunity to rest while at a shipper or receiver. The new rules will do little if anything to change the behavior of shippers, receivers and trucking companies [- it's an] attitude [problem -] and their treatment of drivers. If nothing else, Wal-Mart's opposition to the proposed changes should confirm that point.
[Well, the fuzzily-made point about attitude anyway.]
Also, the changes won't improve safety one iota. Only a betterment of working conditions and pay will yield the desired improvements.
[Another argument for universally shorter workweeks with overtime-to-OJT conversion to sweeten the job market with great alternatives for truckers, generate trucker turnover and employer discipline, and whip employers into bettering working conditions and pay.]
Today's trucking industry is largely comprised of unqualified rookies or disgruntled veterans, neither of which is conducive to safety.
[And both of which could use some timesizing-generated job options.]
- Working on Overtime,
editorial, Washington Post.
DC - Majorities in both houses of Congress oppose a Bush administration plan that would eliminate the right to overtime pay for what could turn out to be millions of white-collar workers. Both chambers have voted in favor of blocking the new overtime rules from taking effect.
But congressional leaders are doing their best not to heed their members' wishes: They've said they don't plan to include the overtime provision in the omnibus 2004 spending bill that they're racing to finish in time for Thanksgiving.
The lawmakers may be thankful to get out of town - and to enjoy a break that will stretch through the new year - but workers in their districts may not be quite so appreciative. The Labor Department rules would give employers too much power to avoid [huh? probably should read "so much power they could avoid"] paying overtime to workers who are deemed to hold executive, administrative and professional positions. The new rules would particularly affect workers who earn between $22,100 and $65,000. Now such workers are entitled to an hour-and-a-half's pay for every extra hour worked beyond the standard 40-hour workweek. But if they are found to be exempt from overtime protections under the new, looser rules proposed by the Bush administration, they could be required to work more than 40 hours without receiving an additional penny in their paychecks. It's not that they wouldn't be entitled to the ordinary time-and-a-half pay - it's that they wouldn't have to be paid anything extra at all for doing extra work.
The overtime rules need updating - but not in this mean-spirited way. "A tremendous number of people are going to lose overtime pay. That is a bad thing to do with the economy in its current condition," said Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), who is part of the conference committee hammering out the omnibus measure and who has threatened to derail it unless the overtime rules are blocked. Mr. Specter has proposed an intriguing compromise: having a commission look at the overtime rules and report back to Congress, which would then have an up-or-down vote. But any such provision must make clear that the Labor Dept. can't simply jam through its changes in the meantime.
- Frito-Lay, union dispute work schedule, by Jonathan Nelson,
The Columbian [Washington State].
VANCOUVER (probably Wash., not B.C.) - Stalled labor negotiations threaten to halt production of snack foods at Frito-Lay Inc.'s Vancouver plant as union workers oppose proposed changes in their work hours.
Members of the Bakery Confectionery & Tobacco Workers Grain Millers Union Local 364 rejected the company's latest contract proposal in a 179-90 vote Saturday. Cameron Taylor, business agent for the Portland-based local, told the 327 Frito-Lay members that such a vote could lead to a strike....
Taylor said the impediment to a new contract is Frito-Lay's desire for alternate workweeks, with one running between Sunday and Thursday and a second beginning Tuesday and ending Saturday.
[Huh? This isn't alternate workweeks but staggered workweeks, one shifted forward, one shifted backward, to cover the two weekend days. Alternate or alternating workweeks would be one week on, one week off. (And any of these arrangements would be alternative workweeks.)]
The majority of employees work a traditional Monday-through-Friday week. Taylor said Frito-Lay wants the change to meet production demands, but the union sees it as an effort to avoid paying overtime. Taylor said the company incurs quite a bit of overtime during peak manufacturing periods in the summer and during the football season....
The union represents about half of Frito-Lay's 600-person work force. The company is among the top 10 largest private employers in Clark County. The plant on Fruit Valley Road in west Vancouver produces some of the company's most popular foods, including Fritos, Cheetos, Doritos, Tostitos and Ruffles and Lay's potato chips. The products are delivered throughout the Northwest market.
Taylor said there is no date set for negotiators to resume talks. "We're hoping to get back to the table," he said. "We definitely don't want to strike."
- Democrat Mike Layne enters race for U.S. Senate - Barrow resident to face former Gov. Knowles in the Democratic primary, by Timothy Inklebarger, Juneau Empire.
ALASKA - A new Democratic contender for the U.S. Senate has entered the race, and he says that although he doesn't have millions in campaign contributions, he can win through grassroots campaigning.
Mike Layne...of Barrow, said he wants to shorten the work week to 32 hours, increase the national minimum wage to $10 and provide free health insurance to all Americans. He will face former governor Tony Knowles in the Democratic primary. Layne has lived in Barrow since May 2000....
His campaign Web site, *MikeLayne.com, says:
"I'm sick and tired of politics as usual," Layne said. "Politics seems to be made up of wealthy people, and people influenced by special interests." Layne, a grant administrator for the North Slope Borough, has never run for public office. While living in Barrow, he has worked as a youth counselor for the state Office of Children's Services and also managed the North Slope Borough Tobacco Prevention and Control program. ...Layne served in the U.S. Navy from 1987 to 1990. In 1995, he was awarded a bachelor's degree
from St. John's College in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
- He opposes the U.S. Patriot Act and any laws that give government the power to infringe on civil liberties.
- He will work to establish a government-financed national health insurance system.
- He supports expanding student loan forgiveness programs to include all four-year undergraduate degree programs for people who pursue careers as teachers, nurses and in public-care positions in underserved areas..\..
- Eastern Germany is able to prevent industrial flight to Third World, by Mark Landler, NYT, C1 & C2.
[Only temporarily. Only tariffs can do it permanently.]
...Wages in Saxony, while higher than in Eastern Europe, are 15% lower than in western Germany. And labor unions hold less sway...- made clear by the inability of the large and militant union, IG Metall, to force a reduction in the workweek...to 35 hours from 38....
[They had the ability, but not the will - after winning the shorter workweek for a few steelworkers they caved in on a lot of engineering workers.]
73 American companies now have operations in Saxony, employing more than 10,000 people....
[How lovely. What makes them American? The fact the CEO has a mansion in a gated community here?]
- President urged to sign bill against child labor,
Philippines Daily News via INQ7.net.
PHILIPPINES - An alliance of 20 nongovernmental organizations, employers' and workers' groups, and government units Wednesday asked President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to sign an anti-child-labor bill, formally known as "An Act Providing for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor and Affording Stronger Protection for the Working Child."...
Those considered as the worst forms of child labor are slavery, prostitution, pyrotechnics manufacturing, and enterprises engaged in the production or trafficking of dangerous drugs and other substances prohibited under existing laws, and all other work hazardous to children's health, safety, and morals. The alliance said the entertainment industry lobbied against some provisions of the bill, particularly those on the prohibition of night work and the limitation on the number of working hours of child workers. They said various studies indicated that more than 20 hours per week of work negatively affected children's education..\..
The alliance, quoting statistics from the 2001 National Statistics Office Survey on Working Children, said there were four million Filipino child workers and many were subjected to the worst forms of labor. "Of the four million working children in the Philippines, around 30% or 1.25 million are not attending school," it said. "The same survey indicates that almost six out of ten working children in the Philippines are exposed to hazardous environment."
Uma Sarkar of ILO-International Program for the Elimination of Child Labor said child labor "perpetuates poverty and stunts economic development. We've also learned that there is a crucial connection between education and economic development, that's why we want increased access to quality basic education, with focus on the most vulnerable children."...
The bill proposes to penalize violators with a fine of not less than 100,000 pesos but not more than one million pesos, and/or imprisonment of not less than 12 years and one day but not more than 20 years. It also proposes free access to legal, medical, and psychosocial services for the working children.
Indonesia, Mexico, Peru, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines participated in the workshop. The Bishops-Businessmen Conference, the Visayan Forum Foundation, Christian Action for Relief and Empowerment, Federation of Free Workers, and the departments of labor and employment, social welfare and development, and interior and local government also form part of the alliance. The workshop is an offshoot of the joint ministerial statement of the 21 members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation in 2000, Sarkar said..\..
In a press conference organized by the International Labor Organization, the multi-sector alliance said the proposed law had been ratified by Congress and only needed the President's signature for its enactment. "If you believe this country is for our children, allow us to see you reaffirm your belief now," the alliance said, addressing the President....
Click here for spontaneous cases of primitive timesizing in -
1998 and previous years.
For more details, see our laypersons' guide Timesizing, Not Downsizing, 'flung' into print as a campaign piece during the 1998 race for Joe Kennedy's empty Congressional seat. The handbook is available online from *Amazon.com.Top |
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