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Timesizing News, September 21-24, 2004
[Commentary] ©2004 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 622, Porter Sq, Cambridge MA 02140 USA 617-623-8080


9/24/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 9/23 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except Australian & Far East stories which are 9/24), and with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Goodbye, Pension. Goodbye, Health Insurance - Goodbye, vacations - Welfare capitalism is dying - We're going to miss it, by Daniel Gross, Slate
    [Not really. If welfare capitalism dies out while "efficient," "competitive" and "productive" capitalism under current definitions lives, soon consumer markets die and so does what remains of capitalism. Clever CEOs and economists eventually realize that the 100% "efficient" workforce - by their definition, meaning just them alone in the corporation, pulling the whole profit as salary and bonus - results in zero markets.]
    For some employees near the end of their careers, the golden years may be looking a little more like lead. Both United and US Airways are making noises about terminating their pension plans. Lucent recently said it would slash retiree health benefits yet again. The inability or refusal of companies to live up to promises and commitments made to workers seems to be largely a cyclical phenomenon, a symptom of temporarily sick industries (airlines) or of a company plagued by poor bets and bad management (Lucent). But it is also a sign of the troubling collapse of welfare capitalism.
    Welfare capitalism is a term used by historians [like Ben Hunnicutt in "Work Without End"] and economists to define the distinctive style of capitalism that emerged in the 20th century. Until the turn of the 20th century, fringe benefits, insurance, retirement plans, and health benefits - the perks we have come to define as essential to employment - simply didn't exist. Employers had compensated employees solely with wages.
    But that changed with the onset of industrial capitalism. In Europe, governments responded to industrialism by developing state-run systems of unemployment insurance, health care, and pensions. But - in yet another example for American exceptionalism - the private sector took the lead in the United States. After the age of the robber barons and various bitter strikes, forward-looking companies began to take action on their own. They were influenced by a range of factors: noblesse oblige, paternalism, and the emerging fields of industrial psychology and human resource management.
    Henry Ford led the way. In January 1914, Ford Motor Co. instituted the $5 day. Over the next several years, Ford took steps to ensure that its employees remained healthy, loyal, and above all, efficient. It opened an infirmary and established the "Sociological Department" to both keep tabs on and look after the welfare of its workers. In 1922, Ford cut the work week from six days to five.
    In the roaring 1920s, when other highly profitable companies began to emulate Ford, welfare capitalism began in earnest. Companies built cafeterias and health clinics, sponsored baseball and bowling leagues, and granted days off for the opening of deer season. Corning Glass Works began providing health insurance in 1923. The same year, U.S. Steel slashed its workday from 12 hours to eight. In 1927, International Harvester began offering two-week paid vacations. All this was all done without government mandates and largely without the influence of unions.
    Welfare capitalism proved a phenomenal success - socially, economically, and politically. America's industrial complex was ultimately unionized, but with relatively little upheaval. Even with the rise of the welfare state in the '30s, corporations continued to assume responsibility for the well-being of their employees. It was part of a grand bargain between labor, capital, and government that allowed for remarkable growth, innovation, and rising standards of living for decades. It also served as a bulwark against socialism. By endowing labor with dignity, welfare capitalists made industrial work a ticket to the middle class.
    But just as the New Deal Coalition started to fray in the 1960s, so too did welfare capitalism. American businesses - and workers - increasingly began to face competition from all over. They began to have difficulty competing with companies from countries where more robust welfare states bore the burden of providing pensions and health insurance (like Germany and Japan). They began to have difficulty competing with low-wage competitors in countries where welfare capitalism had yet to take hold, like Mexico, China, and India. And they began to face competition from newer domestic companies that never bought into the ideas of welfare capitalism.
    In the 1920s, competitive pressures led companies to become more paternalistic to unskilled workers. But now, the pressure is all in the other direction. With each passing year, more and more retailers have to compete with Wal-Mart, and more and more manufacturers have to compete with China. Even enlightened employers like Starbucks can't ever hope to offer the sort of programs that International Harvester and Ford did back in the 1920s. And so welfare capitalism is slipping away. Health care insurance has increasingly become decoupled from work. According to this Kaiser Family Foundation study, 61% of workers are covered by employers' health insurance, down from 65% in 2001. And pension plans, which guaranteed a retirement income to employees, are being replaced by 401(Ks), which offer no such certainties.
    Most free marketeers would argue that this is simply the price of progress. Now that we're competing in global markets, welfare capitalism as practiced in the mid-20th century is simply untenable. And companies that aren't burdened with expensive benefit programs can be more agile and thus more profitable. But it isn't just the workers of Lucent and US Airways who are going to pay for the long goodbye of welfare capitalism. We all will.
    When companies decide they no longer want to - or can't - meet the promises they made to employees, they push them wherever possible onto the federal government. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. has been remarkably busy taking over the pensions of bankrupt textile, steel, and other manufacturers. The PBGC closed last year in its worst shape ever, with an $11.2 billion deficit, and will doubtless require a large taxpayer bailout. The establishment of the new drug program entitlement for Medicare will similarly relieve many older companies of meeting the obligations they made - and impose massive costs on the rest of us. And as companies providing health care become the minority, the Fords and General Motors of the world may increasingly agitate for a larger federal role in health insurance.
    The more welfare capitalism declines, the more the federal government will have to fill the gap, and the more America will look like Europe.
    Daniel Gross (www.danielgross.net) writes Slate's "Moneybox" column. You can e-mail him at moneybox@slate.com

  2. Some state parks in danger of closing because of budget cuts
    AP via Access North Georgia, GA
    JULIETTE, Ga. - Jarrell Plantation has survived Civil War raids, typhoid fever epidemics and the boll weevil.
    But can it survive the budget cuts of Gov. Sonny Perdue?
    This 1847 plantation in Jones County was once home to 900 acres of cotton fields. Now it's a quiet, out-of-the-way state park where visitors can learn to pick cotton and okra or make cane syrup.
    The plantation is one of 63 state parks, historic sites and golf courses in danger of being closed because of state budget cuts.
    The Georgia Department of Natural Resources, which operates the parks, has said it may have to close some of them if the agency has to cut any more from its budget.
    The state Legislature ultimately decides how much money state agencies get, but the governor sets the guidelines for what state agencies should expect. For next fiscal year, Perdue has warned agencies that they may have to cut another 3%, after at least three years of belt-tightening.
    "We can't achieve that amount without closing parks," said Becky Kelley, director of the agency's division of parks, recreation and historic sites.
    The agency hasn't said which parks and historic sites would be closed first, though almost all of them lose money.
    Jarrell Plantation gets only 11,000 or so visitors a year, and that makes it one of the more popular historic sites. Many weekdays vistors who wander in get a one-on-one tour with a guide who can demonstrate how to pull water from a well or cook on a wood stove.
    The plantation lost $134,006 in fiscal year 2003, the most recent year for which figures are available.
    Parks officials insist the sites aren't intended to make money and should be kept open.
    "So much would be lost if this place had to close," said Brenda Banks, interpretive program specialist at Jarrell Plantation. "Where else can you come and see exactly how they lived on a middle Georgia plantation?"
    Banks shows visitors the hard life on a 19th-century plantation. Visitors are shocked to find that very few plantations were the julep-sippin' manses shown on "Gone With The Wind." This plantation, more typical of the era, consists of a tiny wood-hewn home that housed more than a dozen people. Jarrell family members grew their own food, salted their own meats and cooked their own syrup in huge iron pots.
    "It would be a real shame if these historic sites had to close," Banks said.
    Parks supporters also argue that the sites are a boon to local economies. At the Whistlestop Cafe in Juliette, waitresses said Jarrell Plantation visitors make up a good chunk of business.
    "We'd be real down if it wasn't for Jarrell Plantation," said Kristen Murray, who serves up the cafe's famous fried green tomatoes to tour groups coming from the historic site. "That's where all our groups come from."
    In Toccoa, home to state's least-visited park or historic site, Traveler's Rest Historic Home, chamber of commerce president Cynthia Brown calls the home an invaluable contributor to the community.
    "It is part of that engine that brings people to a community," Brown said. "It teaches community pride and respect for our history."
    If state parks and historic sites are so popular with the public and businesses, why would the state consider shuttering them? Some lawmakers say that popularity itself is the reason.
    It is a time-honored practice at the Capitol for state agencies to propose cutting their most visible programs when budget cuts are proposed. The thinking is that state lawmakers will fight to save an agency if they think the cuts will be noticed back home.
    One long-serving budget writer, Rep. Gerald Greene, said he doubts any parks will close.
    "You always put the things that are most popular out on the chopping block. That gets people talking and gets legislators real, real nervous," said Greene, a Democrat from Cuthbert.
    Greene's southwest Georgia district includes a state park that lost more money last year than any other. George Bagby State Park lost $503,973 in 2003, despite attracting almost 200,000 visitors.
    Kelley insists the park closures are no empty threat. They've already cut every non-essential expense, she said.
    "We're looking at all options," she said. "All of our parks and historic sites are precious trasures to the state."
    Kelley said every attempt would be made to cut hours, not a whole park, and that even if parks were closed to the public they would be preserved by state workers.
    "We are not in the business of selling off our history," she said.

  3. Unions oppose EU work week proposal
    UPI via MENAFN, Middle East
    BRUSSELS - European trade unionists are raising objections to a proposal by the European Commission to loosen regulations on maximum working hours in member countries.
    The present "working time directive" limits most employees who work shifts to an average workweek of 48 hours including overtime. To make the law more flexible, the commission is proposing to allow employers to measure the average workweek over a period of 12 months, instead of the current four-month reference period. An employee could therefore have a heavy workload some months and work shorter hours at another time.
    But the Brussels-based European Trade Union Confederation, which represents 77 trades unions is not happy with the concept, the International Herald Tribune said Thursday.
    "We regard this as coming down on the side of employers," John Monks, the head of the group told the newspaper.
    "The thing that the Europeans have got in common is a sense that there should be some balance between work and the rest of their lives."
    Eight countries are lobbying for the move, five of them Eastern European countries who just joined May 1. The group said tight limits hurts competitiveness with wealthier western nations.

  4. Q&A: What's the working time directive?
    Guardian Unlimited
    by Susan Smillie
    What's the working time directive? The European commission set up the working time directive in 1993 to work alongside member states' employment law and health and safety. It is primarily about safeguarding workers' rights. It sets maximum time limits that should be worked and specifies break times, as well as legislating specifically for night time working. So what are the rights? And it's been around since 1993?
    It wasn't adopted in Britain (and reluctantly at that) until 1998, following the loss of a court battle in 1996. The Conservative government had argued that working time was not a health and safety provision under the EU treaties and should not be subject to regulation at EU level. Interestingly, Labour supported the directive in opposition, saying it would help restore a fair balance between the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees. It has been rather less enthusiastic about it since being in power.
    Does it apply to all workers?
    The initial legislation allowed some temporary exemptions where employers in certain sectors argued that they needed time to comply with the law so at first it failed to provide protection for some workers. These included people working in transport, those involved in activities at sea, and doctors in training. It has since been extended by a complex piece of legislation called The Horizontal Amending Directive, which was applied to UK law in 2003, to include most of these workers, giving them some or all of the rights, except junior doctors, who were only included from August 1, 2004.
    What's the opt-out all about?
    The opt-out allows member states to put in place measures allowing individuals to agree not to be subject to the 48 hour working limit. In other words, they can work for longer if they want to. Britain was the only country at the time to take this action after the Conservatives negotiated back in 1993. Other countries have since put some measures in place for specific areas of work, but Britain has made the most widespread use of it. The individual opt-out came with conditions: employees must formally agree to waive their right to work a maximum of 48-hours a week, a refusal to do so must not entail negative consequences and a record of hours worked by those that do opt out must be kept. This opt-out has been the cause of no small amount of controversy, as it is suspected to have been widely abused, and is currently being reviewed.
    So who enforces the regulations if we've opted out?
    In the UK, enforcement of the regulations is divided between agencies: employment tribunals (although the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) will initially attempt to resolve disputes) on issues of rest periods and breaks and paid annual leave; the Health and Safety Executive and local authorities on issues of working time limits. That said, there are a lot of claims, from the European commission and British unions, that the regulations are continually flouted by employers and are not enforced at all by law, although the government and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) say there is no widespread evidence to back these claims up.
    Who's arguing with who over the working time directive?
    The European commission wants to review Britain's opt-out right. The CBI is interested in protecting business and labour market flexibility, so it argues to retain it, and the government supports the CBI's view. The unions, and many British workers, insist that Britain should comply with the EU regulations and scrap the opt-out. If that's not enough of a fight, other countries, such as Sweden, want to see Britain's special deal abolished.
    And what are the arguments?
    The European commission has claimed that the opt-out clause leaves the door wide open to abuse by employers. In a report, it found that there were no records of hours worked over 48, which goes against regulations of the opt-out, and that British firms routinely made workers sign away their right to a 48-hour week at the same time as signing an employment contract, giving the intimidating impression that any job offer they received depended upon them giving up these rights. Which is why the commission has now proposed to tighten the rules governing the opt-out so that workers can't be asked to waive the working time limit at the same time as signing employment contracts or during a probation period, and that any such agreement would need to be given in writing, and would be valid for a maximum of one year after which it would have to be renewed. There is also a proposal to give unions a veto on the opt-out, which is being fought bitterly by the CBI. The government argues that the individual's right to choice on the opt-out should not be scrapped, pointing out that more than a million people would lose out on paid overtime if they had to stop working extra hours. It claims that getting rid of the opt-out would lead to higher costs for business, and ultimately lead to job cuts, and vitally, it believes there would be a hugely negative impact on British industry. Tony Blair has written to urge the commission to allow Britain to keep the opt-out, saying that the UK's state-run health service and free-market economy depends on a flexible labour market. The CBI claims that removing an individual's right to opt out of the European working time directive would have a "significant or severely" negative impact on industry, with 40% of firms saying it would damage their business. The director general, Digby Jones claims that keeping the opt-out is a test of the government's commitment to "labour market flexibility" and he has written to all 25 commission members urging them to scrap the proposed unions veto over the opt-out. Union officials say that having the opt-out leads to widespread abuse, including, at worst, law breaking and at best, confusion among businesses. The unions claim that it is far too easy for employers to pressure staff to work more than 48 hours a week. TUC general secretary, Brendan Barber, has said British businesses are "obsessed" with the need to make their staff work long hours, and complains of a culture that sees many workers being bullied into staying late, or harbouring the impression that leaving on time is letting the team down. The unions also make the point that better management and "smart working" are far more effective tools in producing results than long working hours, for both businesses and employees, since long working hours cause bad health, stress, and consequently do not get the best out of workers.
    What happens now?
    There's a bit of a compromise under way. The European commission's new proposals allow the individual opt-out from the 48 hour week to remain, but be subject to stricter conditions. Member states will be able to extend the reference period for calculating the 48-hour maximum working week from four months to a year, which is a concession to employers. On call time for firemen and doctors will not be counted as working time. The problem with this is that, as with all compromises, it has left everyone wanting more.

  5. Ooh Là Là!
    Mises.org
    by Sean Corrigan [a major ostrich, head stuck in the sands of pre-automation economics]
    Currently, the French établissment [that's établissement] is enjoying the spectacle of a power struggle between President Jacques Chirac and his hyperactive former protégé, Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy as a spat has broken out over the latter's ill-concealed desire to secure his place in the Palais d'Elysees, once M. Chirac's incumbency ends.
    For his part, M. Chirac, like all Grands Vieilles,
    [this birdbrain doesn't even know French - it's got to be either Grands Viels (grand old men) or Grandes Vielles (grand old ladies), depending on how much he's trying to slam Chirac]
    would like to feel he can lay down the sceptre of office, secure in the knowledge that an anointed successor will carry on his legacy and thus underline his place in history. Sarkozy, though, is refusing to play the role Chirac would like to assign him.
    Thus, like the head of a family épicerie who is being treated with disrespect by the pushy new son-in-law, Chirac has taken an understandable umbrage at the younger man's display of naked and intemperate ambition.
    [Hey, at least this guy is attacking 'sarcotic' Sarkozy.]
    But Sarkozy himself is worthy of more than a moment's consideration, for here we have, not just a typical French dirigiste, but a veritable economic Napoleon - a man of whom it could be said, as did the Corsican ogre of himself, that while he may lose many battles, he will surely never lose a minute.
    Indeed, such is the scale of his activism that a scan of the European business press hardly fails to throw up some new initiative, or some new pronouncement emanating from the imposing arches of his headquarters on the Rue de Bercy.
    "Sarkozy has fixed himself a rule," commented the left-wing daily Libération sarcastically of his earlier and rather Draconian period as Minister for the Interior: "go somewhere or say something at least once a day so that no 24-hour period goes past without him getting talked about."
    For example, earlier this year, he proposed extra "help" be provided for French exporters, one form of which was a scheme to cancel Algerian sovereign debts in exchange for the awarding of new contracts to suitable French firms - when what he should have been doing, of course, was to lower barriers to Algerian imports with whose proceeds the debt could be paid down.
    At this very same moment, however, M. Sarkozy was offering tax breaks on consumer credit (Non! C'est vrai!) in order to stimulate domestic consumption - something which, at least as a first-round effect, surely could be foreseen as being antagonistic to a drive for increased exports?
    Next, he called in the powerful life insurance industry and browbeat its members into making extra investments in small to medium size firms (though the 0.6% asset allocation increase and the EUR6 billion projected rise over three years hardly amounted to a revolution, French or otherwise).
    Furthermore, he proposed - laudably enough, in this instance - to cut taxes on dividends, hoping to discourage the archetypally mistrusting Gaul from putting all his savings in the bas de laine - the woollen sock, stuffed with cash and kept hidden under the bed - or into today's less certain equivalent, in bonds or bank deposits.
    At the same time, however, he acceded to a rise in minimum wages (only partly to be offset by a cut in payroll taxes), while he also increased corporate turnover taxes (admittedly by a fraction of a percent) in order to help fund the enormous deficit racked up by France's similarly legendary populace of hypochondriacs as they overuse - in economically predictable terms - what the individual mistakes for the free good of his vaunted public health service!
    The upshot of this, of, course, is that what he gave with la main à droit he took away again with l'une à gauche. But if this gavotte has left you confused so far, brace yourself, for we have hardly begun the dance!
    For example, our Empereur economique recently cheered foreign observers when he threw his powerful advocacy behind moves to change the ludicrously-backward 35-hour maximum working week schedule
    [oh quick, let's go 'seriously-forward' to the 80-hour workweek of the 1840s - or how about 'forward' to the 168-hour workweek of slavery!!]
    imposed by the previous Socialist administration as a "job-sharing" measure (in truth, an un-, or at least under-, employment sharing one).
    [It ain't unemployment-sharing if you can support yourself on it - it's financially secure free time based on automation-enabled worksharing, but then, despite their freedom rhetoric, the pettyfoggers of the Mises organization seem to know nothing about the most basic freedom of all, free time.]
    But what must have disconcerted them equally was that he next lambasted the German Bosch corporation for its act of "blackmail" when it threatened to move a Rhineland auto component factory to the Czech republic if the workforce did not agree to work longer hours for the same wages, in order to reduce its costs of production to levels commensurate with those attainable in Eastern Europe.
    Still interfering, Sarkozy then modified his initial position somewhat by declaring that the 35-hour ceiling should, indeed, be lifted, but that overtime payments in such cases must be mandatory - for, naturellement, such matters clearly should not be left to the private economic agents involved to negotiate among themselves!
    Yet, alongside this, our hero argued in favor of offering tax incentives to those French firms who were to repatriate any previously outsourced work and jobs - presumably unaware that this would then disadvantage those firms too patriotic (or too inflexible) to have maximized their own return on capital both by fleeing his pettifogging jurisdiction and through a recourse to the benefits of the international division of labor!
    Moreover, this subsidy - which, bluntly, is what it is - is being promoted at the same time as Sarkozy fumes at the "fiscal dumping" practised by those Eastern European nations which have not yet fully strangled their capital-poor countries by raising low, or even nonexistent, post-Soviet corporation taxes up to stultifying EU welfare state levels!
    As you will have realized by now, consistency is clearly not one of our man's cardinal virtues, but for a truly tangled tale of false economic logic compounded by overt political opportunism, consider the vexed matter of his policy on prices.
    Earlier this year, Sarkozy - having tried to get the Banque de France to sell its gold hoard to finance his tinkering - made a great deal of noise in berating the European Central Bank for its "fixation" with its mandate to keep the rise in the continent-wide index of consumer prices to under 2% per annum, saying the target should be made "more flexible" - political cant for "more purposefully inflationary."
    However, having campaigned unavailingly for higher prices in the spring, Sarkozy was then seized by the brainwave that what was needed to stimulate consumer spending was, in fact, lower prices and so his next coup de theâtre was to summon another conseil de guerre in which he thrashed out an agreement between French retailers, such as the giant Carrefour supermarket concern, and their suppliers to share the burden of a 2% price reduction across a broad range of their goods.
    "This is an agreement which should give confidence to consumers and this is an agreement that should support the return of growth in our country," the Finance Minister grandly told the press at the time.
    Toutefois, il ne pleut jamais, sauf à torrents, comme on dit en français.
    Alas! This little scheme, it transpired, was all too successful, for the big concerns have long chafed under the market-impeding lois Galland et Raffarin, the first of which - in an implicit piece of Marxism - bans retailers from selling "below cost" and the second of which places limits on the expansion plans of the big boys, in order to protect the smaller, less efficient shopkeeper at the expense of the public at large.
    So, what happened was that Carrefour and peers promptly attempted to widen the gap in the legal fence which Sarkozy had thus opened up, with one of them - Leclerc - having had the temerity to announce across the board reductions of 2% (we're not exactly talking slash and burn here, as you can see!) - to be applicable even in cases where the suppliers had not themselves first reduced the prices of those goods to the retailer.
    Quel horreur!
    This shocking departure from Sarkozy's little scheme then prompted Benoît Mangenot, managing director of France's Association of Food Producers, to rage that: "What was agreed was an average reduction in prices of 2%" - i.e., the deal gave the retailer no authority to cut prices on certain premium value brands which the makers were trying to exclude from the pact - "and Leclerc has now promised to stick to that."
    "It's not up to the retailers to set our prices," fumed Mangenot used, but "Consumer sovereignty, be hanged!" was clearly the message intended to be sent by this mouthpiece for a dismal, state-supported, producers' cartel. If you listened closely, you could just hear the despairing wailing of the restless shade of that great French libertarian, Frédéric Bastiat.
    But, more delightfully, this outbreak of dissent among the various Guild Socialists has left Sarkozy in something of a muddle, to the point that he has since been moaning to reporters that barely half of his precious agreed cuts have been enacted - that the path was "only half travelled," as an official put it - while he has simultaneously issued a ministerial edict to the effect that "no reduction in price can be carried out if suppliers don't change the price at which they sell to retailers."
    This ukase further warned that ". . . the competition, consumer and anti-fraud officials have been mandated by the minister to ensure the law against selling at a loss is applied.''
    One might be forgiven for thinking this was all something from the pen of Georges Feydeau himself, but there was yet one more element, perhaps more Theatre of the Absurd than bedroom farce, to consider.
    Namely, this was that, even before this latest brouhaha blew up, Sarkozy had further muddied the waters by telling the very same supermarkets he had inveigled to charge their customers less for certain items now to pay more to the hard put-upon suppliers of tomatoes, peaches, and nectarines! (The press made no mention of the fate of the patient cultivators of grapefruits and courgettes, etc., but there was loudly-expressed ire from the excluded producers of - what else? - garlic!)
    Ironically, the dirigiste finance minister was constrained in this action by means of his own instruments of control: the retailers politely demurred by telling him that though they would "take particular note of the request. . . It isn't possible for competitors to sign agreements for minimum price, whether it be on a regional or a national basis . . ." - and their grounds for this refusal? Their fear of breaking one of Sarkozy's department's own laws!
    To this point, we have been having a little innocent fun at the expense of any Anglophone's favourite bêtes noires, the French.
    But, more fundamentally, what we have been seeking to highlight is that once a government minister of any stripe - and we should all be painfully aware that our own nations harbor all too many Sarkozy's for complacency - imagines that he can employ state power to redesign the economic structure of society, the free market inevitably suffers, along with a host of other liberties.
    For what Sarkozy and his confrères habitually arrogate to themselves is the right to impose their goals and their wisdom in place of those of all the individuals cursed to be under their sway in some way.
    It is the Sarkozy's of this world whose conceit is that they should order what can and can't be sold and at what price; that they alone should decide under what terms employers may offer and employees may accept work; that they are justified in weighting the split of the proceeds of that generalized legal theft known as "taxation" among this month's or the other's favored special interest groups; that it is given to them to use coercive means to disrupt the free expression of the preferences of individual savers, workers, consumers, and entrepreneurs, everywhere at large in the polity.
    In doing this, be assured that none of these men will ever achieve one iota of good, nor will they advance - rather than retard - the course of human material progress even one miserable centimeter; though they can reckon, no doubt, on advancing their own careers and status, as they strut about the international stage, bragging of the laws they have enacted, of the edicts they have issued, and of the "difference" they have therefore made.
    But, if a Sun King, or a Robespierre could bring about no identifiable or lasting increase in the commonwealth of the proud people under their rule, what do we really think can be done by such a pale shadow of absolutism, by such a petty, latter-day tyrant, as a Sarkozy, or a Blair, or a Bush-Kerry - or by any of a thousand other vainglorious elective monarchs who fill the council chambers of the world with their empty babble?
    Little enough, indeed and, so, to reflect this insight, let us conclude by rehearsing the true French motto of freedom.
    Not the pernicious "Liberté, Égalité et Fraternité," but the more profound and wholly benign "Laissez-faire, laissez-passez."
    Sean Corrigan is the Investment Strategist at Sage Capital Zuerich AG (www.sagecapital.com), a Swiss-based organization dedicated to the cause of capital preservation and is co-adviser to the Bermuda-based Edelweiss Fund. See his Mises.org Articles Archive, or send him mail (corrigan@sagecapital.com).

  6. Staff at universities strike
    The Age, Australia
    By David Rood
    Lectures were cancelled and picket lines were set up at RMIT and Victoria University yesterday as academic and general staff walked off in protest at stalled enterprise bargaining negotiations. The union representing staff at Victoria University accused the university of withholding $5 million in additional revenue from international students designated for teaching and facilities. Victoria University staff are pushing for a 14% wage rise spread over two years, a $1000 increase to base wage levels for full-time and casual staff and improved working conditions. The university has offered a 15% pay increase and one-off $1000 bonus payment. The president of the National Tertiary Education Union's Victoria University branch, Justin Bare, said the university's offer was conditional on the deregulation of staff teaching loads and Victoria University had the capacity to tackle staff working conditions and pay. "By withholding funds from improving staff working conditions and staff pay and improving student services, the university undermines its own capacity to provide quality education," he said. But university vice-chancellor Elizabeth Harman said claims of money being withheld were "complete nonsense". She said the university's pay offer recognised the achievement of staff. "The offer is now more generous than agreements already accepted by the NTEU, for example, the Swinburne package of 15% and a $500 contingent payment." Mr Bare said that despite surpluses, teaching was suffering as the university did not have enough full-time staff. Victoria University's own documents revealed that 43% of the university's academic staff were casuals, he said. An independent review of the university's academic policies and practices, released last December, warned that "the use of sessional staff - could lead to serious loss of reputation". Professor Harman said all of the review's recommendations were being implemented. RMIT has offered staff a 15% wage increase by 2006, with 26 weeks paid maternity leave. But the university's NTEU branch said staff wanted a more generous wage deal, as well as regulations on workloads, as part of the offer. A recent union survey of overtime worked by staff at RMIT found that, on average, staff were working 27% more hours than they were paid to work. Last week, Monash University staff struck for 24 hours. The University of Melbourne recently reached agreement with its staff for a salary rise of up to 18.5%.

  7. Are you a workaholic?
    Indianapolis Star via AZ Central.com, AZ
    If you find yourself answering "yes" to many of these questions, Workaholics Anonymous suggests you consider talking to a counselor. Tips for getting it all done:

  8. A season lost at what cost? - Oilers stand to lose upwards of $13 million
    Edmonton Journal, Canada
    EDMONTON, Alta. - Is a lost NHL season really worth $13 million to the Edmonton Oilers? That's the figure Oiler executives have tossed around in the face of the current NHL lockout. The team's cost of business has obviously decreased dramatically, given that there are no player salaries to pay, but should the NHL lockout last a full season, the Oilers say they still stand to lose a bundle....
    Because the Oilers have taken over the American Hockey League team, the front office, which was to revert to a four-day work week during the lockout is now a five-day-a-week operation. If, by the end of November, the team is drawing 12,000-plus customers, there will be a minimal number of layoffs with most of the staff continuing to work on Road Runner business. "If it's under 10,000, unfortunately, that won't be enough to keep all of our people here and we will have to look at downsizing our business," said Oilers president Patrick LaForge....

  9. IBM Reaches Partial Pension Settlement, but Suit Far from Over
    iSeries Network, United States
    by Cheryl Ross
    IBM has settled at least part of its dispute with employees stemming from changes it made to its pension plan five years ago. A partial settlement reached last week affects only those employees who'd been with IBM for less than five years when the changes to the pension plan were made and thus weren't fully vested in the plan. "It's only a very small part of the overall settlement," says Ralph Montefusco, organizer for the IBM employees union Alliance@IBM and a former IBMer in the Microelectronics Division. "The majority of the settlement, which is the actual pension conversion and the age discrimination that was involved in that, still has to be ruled on. We won the lawsuit, but the judge still has to announce what the penalty will be, in other words, what IBM will have to pay." Alliance@IBM is expecting that ruling at any time now. "As I understand it," Montefusco says, "IBM has asked the judge to hold off on that ruling because they are making an attempt to settle. ... I honestly don't know if giving away a partial settlement piece and then saying you're trying to reach a settlement - I don't know if that is nothing more than an attempt to delay the judge's ruling, or if it's actually a sincere attempt to settle things. You can't help but be suspicious - not just of IBM, but of the process itself." IBM says it's in negotiations to settle some of the additional claims in the suit, but it's appealing a judge's ruling saying that its switch to a cash-balance pension plan is a form of age discrimination that must be rectified. The changes to the pension plan came during the reign of previous CEO Lou Gerstner, whose hard-boiled devotion to the bottom dollar made him the darling of Wall Street - but also led to numerous layoffs and benefits cuts for employees. Have things improved much under the kinder, gentler leadership of new CEO Sam Palmisano? "Sam Palmisano has been more cordial at stockholder meetings and probably pays a little more attention to the PR part of the job." Montefusco says. "But when you look at the actual policies, benefits are being cut, hours are being added to without additional pay, people are under a lot of stress, offshoring is happening left and right, short-term financial decisions are what drive the entire corporation. I honestly don't see any change under Sam."
9/23/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 9/22 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #1 which is from 9/23 hardcopy, and Australian & Far East stories which are 9/23), and with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Europe stocks glow amid gloom - Despite economic clouds, strategists see upside in equities, by Michael Sesit, WSJ, C16.
    Amid the [unwarranted but fashionable] pessimism surrounding many aspects of Europe's economic future, some analysts see an unlikely bright spot: European stock markets....
    [All things are relative, and though the super-activated and efficient European consumer bases are under attack from those who would lengthen workweeks, concentrate work and wages, raise job insecurity and consumer unconfidence, and clobber those rich consumer bases, the sledgehammer process has still not gone so far as to puncture many home-based companies - and their stocks.]

  2. Sollisch: Eating a meal that is for real (with apologies to Dr. Seuss),
    by Jim Sollisch, SPECIAL TO THE LOS ANGELES TIMES via Austin American-Statesman, TX.
    I like yogurt.
    I like to eat it in a bowl.
    I like to eat it with a roll.
    I will eat it for a snack.
    I will eat it on my back.
    I will not, however, eat yogurt from a tube. That's right. Yogurt is now available in a squeeze tube.... Apparently eating at a place other than a table is big doings in America, the land of the free and the home of the harried. Consider this fact: Americans eat 19% of their meals in their cars, according to research from John Nihoff, a professor at the Culinary Institute of America.... ...According to Consumer Reports, some models of minivans now come with 12 cup holders....
    I like juice.
    I like to drink it in a glass.
    I like to drink it with a lass.
    I will drink it with a fox.
    I will not drink it from a box.
    ...72% of your fellow Americans admit to eating portable convenience foods at home. The list includes...includes, believe it or not, various items on a stick. Like hot dogs and scrambled eggs.
    I like scrambled eggs.
    I will eat them cooked with cheese.
    I will eat them when I please.
    I will not eat them on a stick.
    I will not eat a single lick.
    The idea is that the less time we spend preparing food, the more time we save. As if there's a time savings bank or online account into which we can deposit our stolen minutes. Defrost PB&J [peanutbutter & jelly] instead of preparing PB&J - deposit 1.5 minutes. But even if we could really save time, what are we saving it for? Unfortunately, so we can work more. The Bureau of Labor Statistics [BLS] reports that 75% of full-time workers work more than 40 hours a week. Today, the American worker spends 163 more hours a year on the job than he or she did in 1969 - the equivalent of one work month.
    I take a different approach. Instead of eating faster so I can save more time for work, I take shortcuts at work so I have more time to prepare food. At our house, we still use bowls instead of tubes. We drink juice out of glasses, not boxes, and at the risk of appearing hopelessly out of date, we use antique utensils such as forks and spoons. We have five teenagers, and we expect them to sit down to an old-fashioned family dinner every night. I believe in the family dinner. You could say I am obsessed with the family dinner....
    I like the family dinner.
    I like to eat it every night.
    I like to swallow every bite.
    I will not eat it on a stick.
    I think that that is really sick.
    Sollisch is creative director at a Cleveland advertising agency.

  3. What's holding America back? Labor [ie: almost all adult Americans] gets no love from Bush
    by Michelle Chen
    Dissident Voice, CA (www.dissidentvoice.org)
    Recently, America's workers went back to work after a weekend of celebrating their contribution to society. Upon returning to their cubicles, counters, stalls and stations, these millions might have felt a bit strange, like things have changed. No wonder. Thanks to subtle tweaks in national labor laws - part of Bush's plan for economic growth - Americans now indeed find their jobs growing: that is, working more hours and getting nothing in return.
    For the rest of the workforce who don't have jobs, it just got a little tougher to find one, and the weeks of scanning job boards and biting nails just got a little more frustrating.
    But whatever your work situation, rest assured that your president has taken great pains to rearrange your future, because, as he boasted in his convention speech, "I believe in the energy and innovative spirit of America's workers, entrepreneurs, farmers, and ranchers ... our economy is growing again, and creating jobs, and nothing will hold us back."
    So if you felt a little funny when you got back to work after Labor Day - well, that's the feeling of a new era of prosperity.
    The 8 million jobless, of course, are probably having trouble envisioning prosperity on the unemployment line. And all that "spirit" likely eludes 534,000 "discouraged" workers ["workforce dropouts"] nationwide, who have decided that things just can't get any better and stopped even trying to look for work. The official unemployment rate, already hovering at an alarming 5.4%, jumps to 5.8% when you factor in workforce dropouts - a rate that has grown by nearly 40% since Bush took office.
    [And if you factor in 2m welfare families - let's say each one with only one unemployed adult - you get 8m+0.534m+2m= 10.534m = 7.1% unemployment.
    And if you factor in 5.7m Americans on disability, many of who could participate in a shorter-hours job market, you get 10.534m+5.7m= 16.234m= 11.0% unemployment.
    And if you factor in 930,000 youth homeless, let's conservatively project 2m total homeless Americans, you get 16.234m+2m= 18.234m= 12.3% unemployment.
    And if you factor in 2.2m, or let's be more conservative and exact, 2.166m prison and jail inmates in America, most there because they found it easier to make a dishonest living in America than an honest one, you get 18.234m+2.166m= 20.400m= 13.8% = above where France was when they decided in 1997 to vote in a 4-hour cut in their already 39-hour workweek.
    Note that "Old Europe" has very much lower figures for all these add-ons because they have more generous and longer-term unemployment benefits, so most of their non-self-supporting problem is in their unemployment rates.
    And that 13.7% real American unemployment rate is without factoring in the 30,000 Americans each year who commit suicide, or the millions forced into early retirement, or the millions forced into self-'employment' regardless of clients, or the millions forced into single or multiple part-time without benefits because they can't find full-time with benefits, or the hard-to-estimate numbers in the "Kramer lifestyle" called in Britain the "chav scum movement" - who are neither going to school nor working - many still living at home.]
    "Discouraged" is an interesting choice of phrasing. What would those half a million Americans say in response to Bush's faith in workers' "energy and innovative spirit"? If nothing will hold us back, why are the discouraged - whose ranks grew by 31,000 this past year - and countless others, having so much trouble getting inspired by Bush's economy?
    If the answer is a simple lack of motivation, that doesn't bode very well for America's youth, as 18,000 of this year's newly discouraged are between the ages of 16 and 24. Maybe alumni of our failing, resource-starved public schools lack the skills to compete in the global marketplace; the unemployment rate is 50% higher for workers without a high school diploma. Bush's plans to slash employment and training programs by $200 million next year won't do much to brighten the prospects of low-skill laborers, either.
    Maybe people are miffed that the 40-hour grind these days just isn't what it used to be. By reclassifying workers as overtime-exempt "professionals," about 6 million people will lose overtime pay - part of a plan to make employees cost their bosses less, sugar-coated by Bush as a reform of "outdated" labor laws. For the single mom working a double shift at Walmart, this is one promotion with no perks.
    If you're Black or Hispanic, you might have trouble psyching yourself up about a workforce that pays you a median income of about 22% and 45% less, respectively, than that of a white male. Then there are those 2.1 million workers being "held back" by the fact that they still can't make above minimum wage. And those who should be the nation's most secure workers, union members, must be less than thrilled to have their collective power gutted by Bush's opposition to workplace organizing rights.
    In a way, the dismal outlook for working Americans is the status quo Bush has proudly maintained throughout his term.
    [Ah no, it's the status quo Bush has proudly deteriorated much further.]
    According to the Census Bureau, working people's piece of the proverbial pie has dwindled to crumbs in recent years, with the top fifth of income-earners wolfing down half the nation's wealth, leaving the lowest fifth scrounging for 3.5%.
    Yet every reason for workers to be discouraged about our economy somehow fuels the Bush Administration's perverse optimism. Bush would like to call last month's pathetic 0.1% decrease in unemployment "recovery." But since last year, sluggish job growth has consistently fallen short of his claims; his projection of 1.8 million new jobs in 2003 was about 90% wide.
    One area where the president can brag about boosting employment is in another hemisphere, in developing nations like China, where millions work for virtually nothing, and companies are free of all those pesky labor regulations inflating the cost of labor in the US. It's easy to see why 2.9 million US jobs have disappeared since Bush took office. As if corporations needed more incentive to outsource jobs, Bush's proposed 2005 budget dishes out added tax bonuses for multinationals that move jobs overseas. In Bushland, this is known as "taking the side of working families."
    But such delusions of grandeur go hand in hand with rise of empire; the same knack for self-deception emboldens Bush to call raining bullets and exploding sewage pipes in Najaf "liberation." A glaring irony of the Administration's labor policies is that troops who did the dirty work in Iraq will return to find themselves at the receiving end of this twisted version of economic revitalization. Veterans whose employers decide that military service is equal to four years of "specialized" training get upgraded to "professional" status and lose their overtime pay as well - a great way to welcome back survivors of the political and economic catastrophe Bush calls the rebuilding of Iraq.
    There's a warped logic to the Bush camp's cheeriness. If the election were held today, after all, Bush would most likely win, and that's reason enough for him to be optimistic. Maybe this proves the majority of Americans share Bush's reality-defying hope. But something tells me that Bush's mind-boggling de facto support has more in common with the thousands of Americans who have been labeled "discouraged" and subsequently wiped off the unemployment charts. After four years of watching their government erode the economy and undermine civil rights, watching the American Dream get distorted into a foil for imperialism, watching jobs get shipped overseas and caskets shipped home - maybe citizens are resigning themselves to the idea that this is simply what their country has become. Americans must encourage themselves to challenge the current regime - not just through the electoral process, but through direct action to prevent the next set of leaders, whoever they are, from continuing the cycle of deceit and manipulation. Or else we can only watch as we begin another four years of discouragement. There will be nothing holding them back.
    Michelle Chen is a freelance writer who recently returned from China, where she spent a year on a Fulbright research fellowship. Her writing has appeared in the South China Morning Post, Clamor, ZNet, IntheFray.com, Asia Times and other publications.

  4. Put safety first with truckers' rules
    Atlanta Journal Constitution, GA
    Crashes involving big trucks killed 232 people in Georgia in 2003 and accounted for more than 14% of the state's highway fatalities. An ill-advised campaign by the U.S. Transportation Department to allow truckers to drive longer hours raises the risk of increasing the carnage. The department, represented by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, contradicted itself in arriving at the proposed rules. It acknowledged that the longer the hours that truckers put in on the road, the greater the risk. But the safety agency said it's OK for truck drivers to stay behind the wheel 11 hours at a time, instead of the 10 under the old regulations. Two more hours of off-duty time would be required, the agency said. But the way the new rules are written, drivers could put in more hours over a week - not just over a day - than has been permitted. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has been rebuffed already by the federal appeals court in Washington. The court put the agency's new, longer-hours rules on hold in July after finding the changes "arbitrary and capricious" and the justifications "dubious." Yet the agency isn't giving up. It's back in court, seeking permission to put the new rules into effect while it determines its next move. It argues the industry has already adopted the new rules and to revert to the prior regulations would be disruptive. The American Trucking Associations, which complained about the cost of new regulations in terms of additional drivers that would be needed, is all for continuing the rules on an interim basis. To go back to the old way of doing things would add additional costs, the association argues. The Teamsters, meanwhile, continue to oppose the new rules on safety grounds. Safety is what the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is supposed to be about. It is charged with cutting down on accidents, injuries and deaths that involve the big trucks that jam I-285 and other interstates. The agency claims its new rules would do just that by reducing the number of crashes caused by tired truck drivers. The appeals court didn't buy the argument. The 40-year-old rules for truckers may be due for some changes. But the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is letting trucking industry economics get in the way of common sense.

  5. Grandparental productivity
    Steve Hemmingsen
    KELOLAND, SD
    [Even in South Dakota, they're onto Bush's "productivity" scam -]
    I know of at least three people who are driving or flying great distances at great expense to "baby-sit their grandchildren." With fuel prices what they are this doesn't seem very practical since the parents could wave a few ten dollar bills at the front door and have every teenager in the neighborhood lining up for the job, if their tattoos, piercings and attire aren't over the top, whatever that standard is today. It's cheaper than airfare or mileage. I suspect this "babysitting" is really just an alibi to go visit the grandchildren, and maybe even the children themselves. But why do we suddenly need an excuse to do this?
    Maybe it's all that Washington harping about productivity, which usually means more days and more hours at work for less pay. But do we have to give the illusion of being productive all the time? Can't we just visit our grandchildren, or in my case, my new grand puppy? Why do we need alibis and excuses?
    Well, we don't.
    Here's a certificate to flash like a passport for the next time somebody questions why you are just visiting the grandkids instead of earning yourkeep and enhancing the economy with them.
    I (your name here) being of somewhat sound mind and a true, family-oriented American of Norwegian (or other guilt-ridden, work-driven nationality here), have been given permission by the ever-cynical, but usually right, Steve Hemmingsen, to visit my grandchildren whenever I feel like it, wherever I feel like it, with no obligation to convince myself or anyone else that I have to baby-sit them to raise the productivity of the nation.
    If you think otherwise, contact shemmingsen@keloland.com or the guardians of family life in Washington if they aren't away babysitting their grandchildren...in the national interest.

  6. Employers could be forced to pay for non-work-related health problems
    PersonnelToday.com, UK
    [Here's a nice can of worms somebody cracked open to help motivate UK employers to quit whining and line up with employers throughout the rest of Europe.]
    Proposals in the Government's consultation on the Working Time Directive could leave employers bearing the burden of non-work-related health problems, according to a legal expert. The consultation paper, Working Time, Widening the Debate, suggests that employees working long hours be offered a health assessment. The initial assessment is normally a form asking about any health issues. If this identifies problems, the worker may need a medical examination, which would have to be paid for by the employer. Richard Isham, head of employment at law firm Wedlake Bell, said: "There is a huge grey area over whether any health problems identified are, in fact, a consequence of the hours worked, or the job at all. "It would be almost impossible to determine whether the cause of, say, stress or depression stemmed from an individual's working patterns or from their personal life. Staff who complain of being stressed or depressed may not necessarily have a recognised medical condition. However, the employer would have no choice but to send them off to see a doctor or occupational health professional. "Managers and HR departments, who are not medically trained, will have to work out what questions to ask to ensure that they get the right information without unnecessarily infringing on the individual's privacy, and whether the responses merit a medical assessment. Clearly, all this is likely to increase the financial and administrative burden, particularly for smaller businesses, and that's just the start." Wedlake Bell said employers would also have to ensure that all relevant personal information was stored confidentially to comply with Data Protection laws, would probably have to review health assessments periodically, and, where necessary, make adjustments to the individual's working practices. For example, changes may have to be made to ensure that shiftworkers work a reduced-hours timetable, or that the responsibilities of salaried staff, such as managers, are reduced. However, Isham said, "Such measures in themselves may not be conducive to a worker's well-being, if they feel their finances or career will suffer." According to Isham, although workers should suffer no detriment by refusing to work long hours, they only get unfair dismissal rights after 12 months' continuous service. "Although health assessments could help to protect employers in the event of a claim, they are unlikely to provide complete protection," he said. The Government's consultation admits that: "Research has not been able to show a clear, unequivocal causal link between the length of time people work each week and ill health."
    By Quentin Reade

  7. Business hits out over 48 hour week proposals
    The Scotsman, UK
    by NICK BEVENS
    BUSINESS groups reacted angrily yesterday to European Commission proposals to make it harder for member states to opt out of its 48-hour maximum working week. The European Union wants to tighten loopholes in its "Working Time Directive" in order to limit the time UK employees spend at work. The changes would mean that employees would only be able to work more than 48 hours a week if employers and unions reached a collective agreement. The directive has been rigidly enforced in France, where employees must not work more than 35 hours a week. This means French employees each year now work on average 180 hours less than UK workers. Under the current agreement, the UK has been able to opt out. The government has vowed to fight the plans. And business leaders yesterday argued strongly that the proposals will increase bureaucracy, while unions said the proposed changes did not go far enough. The EU has insisted that the measures would strengthen a worker’s right to choose, as well as reinforce their ability to negotiate with employers. But Digby Jones, the director general of the CBI, said it should be up to individuals, not trade unions, to decide what hours they worked. "If somebody wants to work longer hours to a limit, whatever it may be, it should be their choice," he said. "For a trade union in Britain to have the right to tell an individual how many hours they work is, frankly, harking back to another age." The TUC estimates that nearly four million UK employees - about 15 per cent of the total workforce - regularly work more than 48 hours a week. Brendan Barber, the TUC’s general secretary, said: "People at work will get some slight extra protection against bosses who try to force them to opt out of a 48-hour working week, but these limited reforms show that the commission has failed to grasp the scale of the UK’s long-hours culture. We are working just about the longest hours in Europe and yet our productivity performance is dismal." The Forum of Private Business added that the proposals, if implemented, would impose "severe constraints" and new costs on small firms already overloaded with regulation. "Small businesses are vehemently opposed to these fatally-flawed proposals," said chief executive Nick Goulding. Bill Anderson, the FPB’s Scottish campaigns manager, added that the directive makes even less sense in rural Scotland where distances and remoteness make employment flexibility even more important. "Businesses in the Highlands or in the south-west of Scotland have to be more flexible to compete with businesses in the urban centres of Europe. The same goes for tourist businesses. "A tourist arriving at a hotel later than planned doesn’t want to be told ‘sorry, I can’t serve you a sandwich as I’ve worked 48 hours and I’m not allowed to be hospitable after that’."
    [They sure do - so they can avoid incompetently managed hotels in the future. Any hotel that still has anywhere close to six-day, 48-hour workweeks in the 21st century ought to be run out of business.]

  8. Britain targetted in reform of EU working time law
    EUbusiness, UK
    The European Commission unveiled proposals Wednesday to reform EU laws on working hours, aiming notably to cut abuse by Britain of rules which cap the working week at 48 hours. But socialist Euro-deputies immediately condemned the plans, and threatened legal action over opt-outs from limits to working time. And in Britain, which has long trumpetted the deregulation of its labour market in contrast to its continental partners, the Conferation of British Industry (CBI) vowed to fight "tooth and nail" against the proposals. "It is good that the Commission is allowing the opt-out to remain, but it is quite wrong to give a trade union a veto over what should be an individual decision," said CBI Deputy Director-General John Cridland. The proposals by the Commission, the EU's executive arm, would allow individual workers to opt out of the 48-hour week limit, but would impose stricter conditions to prevent abuse by employers. The Commission, which published its plans after consulting governments, employers and unions across Europe, said the new rules would balance protecting workers' rights "while responding to the needs of the modern European economy. "This proposal will address shortcomings in the present system, demonstrated in the course of its application," said Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner Stavros Dimas, presenting the plans in Brussels. The reform is aimed at restricting exceptions to the general maximum working week of 48 hours, due to abuses by Britain where at least 16% of employees work longer hours, according to EU data. The reform proposed to the EU's 25 member states and European Parliament would allow the 48-hour work week to be surpassed only in the case of a collective agreement being negotiated between employees and employers. The 1993 Working Time Directive currently in place only provides for individual agreements. As a concession to employers, the calculation of average hours worked weekly will be made over 12 months instead of the four months currently. The reform should also address the problem of medical staff on call, which the European Court of Justice believes should be counted as working hours. "It is a balanced package of measures that protect the health and safety of workers whilst introducing greater flexibility and preserving competitiveness," said the EU employment commissioner. But Socialists in the European Parliament claimed a revision of the working time directive breaches EU Treaty rules requiring Brussels to improve employment and social rights while safeguarding improvements already made. "The Commission proposal will put ever more pressure on workers to sign away their rights to protection under the working time directive," said Stephen Hughes of the Socialist group in the EU assembly. "The law is supposed to limit working time to an average of less than 48 hours a week but EU-wide availability of an opt-out would render that meaningless," he added. And the CBI's Cridland added: "This is an attempt to broker a compromise that has completely backfired. The proposals show a clear misunderstanding of the UK's industrial relations culture, which serves this country well."

  9. Time running out for UK's unlimited working hours - Limit on working hours not far away
    Duncan Lumsden, Evening Standard via This is London, UK
    A compulsory limit to Britain's working hours will move a step closer today, as the European Union clamps down on the UK's option to exclude itself from legislation capping the week at 48 hours. Britain's bosses and Brussels officials are poised for a face-off over the issue, as UK business fears that onerous new time limits and union involvement will take their toll on the country's economy. The new rules, which are due to be unveiled today, will give workers' unions the power to negotiate working time opt-outs for their own sectors. UK business fears a Continental, pre-Thatcher model of industry being foisted upon the British economy. 'It's imposing an industrial relations culture on the UK, where we've traditionally done things in a different way - and in a way that has been effective,' said one British industry insider. A spokesman for the CBI elaborated: 'It should be up to the individual to decide if he or she wants to work long hours. It's as simple as that.' Unions say British workers put in far more hours than their European peers, with 4m of us working more than 48 hours a week.

  10. [Or ... maybe time's not running out for UK's unlimited working hours -]
    EU backs off 48-hour work week limit UPI via Washington Times, DC
    BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Union in Brussels Wednesday backed off from an attempt to strengthen the law limiting the working week. The EU said it is allowing the United Kingdom to retain its exemption, and British employers will still be allowed to ask workers to put in more than the EU limit of 48 hours a week, but additional restrictions will be implemented under proposed changes to the law. Companies will also be allowed to average out working week hours over 12 months. Until now they have had to calculate working hours over a four-month period. The EU had been expected to strengthen labor laws in favor of wage earners, in particular to demand that employers wanting staff to work additional hours first obtain trade union approval. The EU was also expected to set a ceiling on the number of hours worked a week.

  11. [And a similar story -]
    EU 'opens the door' to a longer workday - Commission relaxes the rules governing hours on the job
    Thomas Fuller/IHT International Herald Tribune?
    [This basically waters down the value of the EC and the EU for European growth via stronger domestic consumer markets, and therefore, for European growth, period, since exports aren't going to save anybody in unregulated competition with economies like China and India with 19th-century living standards and working conditions.]
    BRUSSELS - The European Commission proposed on Wednesday to water down the rules that govern maximum working hours for employees, bowing to pressure from business and from Eastern European members of the EU seeking to catch up with their richer western neighbors. . "The commission have opened the door to longer working hours," John Monks, the head of the European Trade Union Confederation, said in an interview. "We regard this as coming down on the side of employers." Monks's Brussels-based group represents 77 labor unions. . Five of the eight countries that pushed the commission to relax the restrictions were new European Union members afraid that too-tight limits on working hour would hurt competitiveness, and with it, their chances to catch up with their richer western neighbors. . Pooling their combined clout with that of traditional free-market advocates like Britain, they were able to sway the commission, giving a glimpse of how the decision-making process in Brussels may be changing after the group's enlargement to 25 members. . The commission also said some decisions on working time limits should be taken by national governments, a significant move toward devolution of power away from Brussels. The new rules would amend a law that was introduced in 1993 to assuage union concerns that the arrival of the single market would erode workers' rights. Stavros Dimas, the commissioner responsible for employment issues, said the new rules would continue to protect the health and safety of workers. "At the same time, we have to preserve the competitiveness of companies and not create undue burdens and problems for industry," he said. . The working time directive, as it is known, limits most employees who work on a shift to an average workweek of 48 hours including overtime. This is among the most restrictive working time laws in the world. The United States, by comparison, has no federal limit on working time. Europe's law does not apply to managers or "other persons with autonomous decision-taking powers." To make the law more flexible, the commission would allow employers to measure the average workweek over a period of 12 months, instead of the current four-month reference period. . This means an employee could have a very heavy workload some months and work shorter hours at another time. The commission also proposed that time spent on call should not be considered work time, a decision that could have the biggest impact on doctors. "If somebody is on call but he is resting or sleeping or not actually performing the work for which he is on call, this is not considered working time," Dimas said. . The commission's proposal, if adopted by the European Parliament and member states, would supersede a decision by the European Court of Justice, which ruled last year that hours spent by doctors on call should be considered working time. But the commission also said national law would take precedence in deciding whether on-call time was working time. And it said EU countries should preserve a worker's right to waive the overall working time law. Unions had lobbied to abolish this opt-out, saying that it defeated the purpose of the law. . Britain, Cyprus and Malta are the only countries in the Union that allow all of their workers to waive the law if they choose. Other countries allow the opt-out for specific sectors like hotels or hospitals. . To ensure that workers are not forced into opting out, the proposal would ban employees from signing the waiver on the same day they sign their employment contract or during their probation period. . Both of these stipulations are not currently included in the law. . But Monks of the European Trade Union Confederation said these new rules would not reduce the pressure on employees to sign the waiver. He said he feared that Europeans would be forced to work more. "The thing that the Europeans have got in common is a sense that there should be some balance between work and the rest of their lives," Monks said. "It's work, work, work with the inevitable consequences for relationships, for family, for wider responsibilities, and so on," he said. . Some business associations also criticized the commission's proposal, but for the opposite reason - they said it did not go far enough to loosen working time rules. . Philippe de Buck, secretary general of Unice, the umbrella association of European employer groups, said the proposal "is unnecessarily complicated and includes bureaucratic provisions for record-keeping." . John Cridland, the deputy director general of the Confederation of British Industry, said it was "an attempt to broker a compromise that has completely backfired." . "This sends a terrible signal to all those who still hope the EU might deliver on long-promised economic reforms," he said, according to Reuters. The commission's proposal would make the opt-out agreement renewable every year. Previously it was valid for the full term of employment. The commission also added a clause saying that no employee can work more than 65 hours a week under the opt-out. Previously there was no limit if an employee had signed a waiver. If adopted, the proposal would affect employees differently across the European Union. . Some countries, like France, with its 35-hour workweek and limits on overtime, have more restrictive laws on working time than the European laws require.

  12. America, values, relationships and contradictions
    by Michael Berglin (evidently a naturalized American immigrant from Russia now living in Ohio), Pravda, Russia
    [Hey, kids, it's good ol' Pravda, our ol' whipping horse! Is Izvestia still going too? What an irony that that the deceptions and dirty-laundry of our media are now being published in Pravda! Apparently we have switched roles with the old USSR. Now our leaders have become so self-righteous and surrounded by yes-men, we've become the Evil Empire.]
    Take a friend, for example. We see this friend cheating other people, doing things that just are not right. This friend is quick to lie, and when confronted, his story always changes. He reacts in hostile terms to any criticism or suggestions that you might have. He is also very quick to tell us he is our friend and he would never be deceptive with us, which is deceptive.
    Or the professional liar - he says one thing and does another. He compounds a lie with more lies. When he is confronted, he tells even more lies. He also wants you to believe that he always tells us the truth and he would never to anything to hurt us, which is a lie.
    How do we handle these situations? We start putting distance between him and us. Suddenly we are too busy to make plans with him, etc. We might let the relationship die a slow death. Or we could confront the person straight on and tell him of our growing displeasure over compromised values, and the relationship is terminated.
    We must live according to our values and principles - we owe that to ourselves.
    What do we do if the arrogant, unashamed, crass culprit is our own country? What to do when you see your own country cheat its own people, flagrantly dishonest in its dealings with other countries and people, and making half-hearted attempts to cover the festering, corrupted soul within?
    What to do when your country wrongfully attaches your name as one of the legions who endorse these bewildering and repulsive actions? Do you face the gut-wrenching wrath of a newly combative and consuming entity, called "America," which now labels you as an enemy if you disagree with it? Do you sit in silence and say nothing?
    Do you wrongfully believe that your voice or your vote is your way of being heard regardless of the fact you've been lied to and lied to?
    My vote in this election will not matter, no matter who I vote for, be it Kerry, Nader or Bush. I already know my vote has already been tallied on the side of Bush without my consent. All of Ohio's votes have been promised to Bush and that can't be done without illegal actions on the part of the election committee in this state or gracious thanks from the promisee. There is nothing I can do about that either. Why should I waste my time if the person I would not vote for, is already predecidedly reelected and November is nothing more than a falseface facade?
    Another instance - 89% of America who responded to polls said: "Keep assault weapons off the streets and keep the ban". Did our voice matter? I can't even get Senator Norm Coleman to answer five simple questions about the matter. Obviously the great majority of Americans and me have absolutely no say in what happens anymore. Not even in our own lives.
    What then does the world make of all of this? Simple answer to a complex question - the world sees an aggressive, belligerent nation dedicated to war, the art of war, and the weapons of war. Be you military or civilian, you must make a public prostration before Mars, the god of war.
    We see an election fraught with compromise, double dealing and graft. We see a man who will stoop to ever lower levels to insure that he will be "the man who is king" - of the world.
    The world sees a country that is so tainted that the current administration has had to do everything possible to create a false call to conduct a protracted war of liberation - when it's really a war of expansionism for which all the reasons are falsehoods. When the other nations spoke and said "No War", this country flipped them the finger and started filling bodybags while selfrighteously demanding the rest of the world "stand down because we are going in."
    The other nations see a country demanding that the world abide by the UN and the Geneva Convention, while we so arrogantly defy both. We sit in our ivory towers demanding country after country be laid low and handed over to us, much as Isaac was laid on the altar of sacrifice [Gen.22]. At least God took a moment to save Isaac...
    The world sees a Secretary of State who calls the White House troika "F**** Crazies" [reference??], meanwhile sits in the UN with teeth and talons bared, and with a clenched white-knuckled fist, all but says: "We will bury you" - as Krushchev said to America in the early 60s.
    The world sees a country led by a man who has been convicted [or rather, accused] of war crimes, steamrolling "America" over the dead and the living in self-delusion with what he believes he hears - echoing in the clogged gears of the windmills of his mind - from God.
    The world sees a nuclear nation that will tolerate no middle ground, no compromise, with the larger community of man. To mold a world in our image with all of our faults and to be like God from our own inflated and self-deluded perspective, to "take paradise and put up a parking lot" is our apparent goal.
    The world sees a country led by a man who demands that his own young people do what he himself used stealth, manipulation, and corruption to slither around and avoid.
    There are people in this country who have blinded themselves and refuse to see through the transparent veil. They speak in relative words, in so many accolades, that this country is the greatest in the world - then stutter when asked, in relationship to what. Then like a slogan-shouting Texas politician, they then recite from rote, one Third-World country after another. This is what they have been programmed to say from the tender age of 5. They have all these wonderful little comparisons about countries they know nothing of - only what they were told to believe. Many years ago, I was 5, and I believed everything I was told. But age and the study of history has a way of crumbling longstanding beliefs.
    As for those who feel blithely and ignorantly happy in utterly fulfilled their lives in Terra Americana, I am happy for them. I too would like to be oblivious to reality. I too would like to sincerely believe that my vote, my opinion, mattered. I do so want to live in the America I was told about when I was 5.
    But tearing away the carefully sewn velvet covering of the beast has long since broken into a million shards those yesteryears of lovely idealizations. Even that all-American hero, Roy Rogers, turned out to be nothing more than a fictional TV show.
    The Americans have this nice saying, "If you don't love America, then leave." To them, I reply: "I pay my taxes; I've served this country - 12 years' worth. I've paid my dues and earned my right to live here." Now I don't like what my new country is doing. I refuse to listen to the shrill choir of propaganda. Or read the words of increasingly whitewashed versions of history meant to deflect young minds away from what this country has really done.
    I see too much squandered potential for America to be the country it thinks it is - potential that will never come to be....
    America is now being judged by her deeds, for its words are no longer trusted in the world....
9/22/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 9/21 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #1,2,20,21,22 which are from 9/22 hardcopy, and Australian & Far East stories which are 9/22), and with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. In busy Madrid, there's no time now for a midday nap - Spaniards still stay up late, so, without a siesta, they nod off everywhere, by Carlta Vitzhum, WSJ, front page.
    [And when they stop staying up late, cafes and night spots will suffer.]
    MADRID - ...This metropolis of 5.5m is full of sleepy people. Since the death of [dictator] Francisco Franco in 1975, Spain's economy has taken off. Prosperity, globalization and EU membership have forced[?] many urban Spaniards to adopt the work habits - at least the short lunch breaks - of Northern Europeans. A real-estate boom has spawned vast suburbs, making it impossible for many workers to go home in the middle of the day.
    One casualty of these changes is the siesta, the traditional after-lunch nap that has long been a central part of Spanish life..\.. Back at the office in the late afternoon \after\ a long nap, [Spaniards] would feel refreshed and be ready to work through the evening....
    But people here haven't given up another tradition: staying up late. Most restaurants don't fill up until after 10 pm. Primetime TV runs past midnight, and clubs don't start hopping until the wee hours. [But] the morning rush hour peaks at around 7:30 am....
    Some Madrilenos cope by napping wherever they can.... Others take refuge in beauty parlors that cater to the sleep-deprived. Silvia Escribano, owner of a shop called Beauty Boulevard, lets clients catch some Zs in one of the back rooms after a haircut or a back rub. "It's painful to see them try to stay awake," she says.
    ...When [investment-relations consultant Alejandra Moore] can't keep her head off her computer keyboard, she dashes off to Beauty Blvd. for a rubdown and 40 winks. "But most of the time I just drag," she says.
    The siesta has been around since the Romans conquered the Iberian Peninsula in 206 BC. The word comes from Latin sixta, meaning the 6th hour after daybreak, when Iberians fell into a deep slumber after a big meal and a bit too much wine. The practice eventually spread from the...aristocracy where it began, to farmers and the rest of the populace. ...Pelagio Rodriguez, a 62-year-old vegetable vendor in a Madrid market...has fond memories of his childhood on the family farm in Castile in the 1940s. Back then, he would wake up early in the morning and go to work in the fields. After a big lunch [ie: dinner at noon, not at eve], he and his brothers and sisters would sleep through the afternoon heat. Later, they would return to the fields in the coolness of the everning..\..
    Once again, the siesta has become a luxury that's out of reach for most Spaniards, says Amando de Miguel, a Madrid sociologist. And because of the enduring late nights, only 15% of adult Spaniards sleep 8 or more hours a night, according to a poll by the *Fundacion Independiente, a Madrid thinktank that is leading a campaign to shorten Spain's workday....
    Spain's new socialist government included an overhaul of working hours in its election campaign earlier this year..\.. Juan Jose Guemes, minister of employment and women's affairs in Madrid's regional government, wants everybody in the city to adopt a 9-to-5 workday.... But a spokesman for the labor ministry says it has no immediate plans to implement the idea....

  2. Dutch government seeks austerity in budget, Dow Jones via WSJ, A17.
    AMSTERDAM - Hoping to spur an economic recovery by 2006, the Dutch government unveiled a budget for 2005 that cuts deeply into the welfare system.
    [How stupid is it to try for economic recovery by cutting consumption?]
    The government said it would try to minimize the pain for low-wage earners as it revamps healthcare, pre-pension and unemployment-benefit plans that have been in place for a decade.
    [And then the usual B.S. about "we're FORCED to join the Race to the Bottom" -]
    ...The budget's message is clear: Tough measures are needed to lower labor costs and boost competitiveness in Europe.
    [That is just plain nonsense. The only measures that are needed are more worksharing and more activation of the immense spending power that is anesthetized in the top income and wealth brackets. Timesizing is the most gradual and market-oriented technique for doing this.]
    The Dutch economy is going through its deepest downturn since the early 1980s. Growth has been virtually nonexistent for 3 consecutive years, unemployment is surging, and the government's fiscal problems are steadily worsening. The economy contracted 0.9% in 2003 and shrank 0.2% in the 2nd quarter of this year.
    The government has cut a total of E10.9B ($13.4B) since last year and has vowed not to breach EU budget rules [limiting deficits to 3%] after its 2003 deficit hit 3.2% of GDP. For next year, the government says it will trim an additional E4.2B.
    In drafting the budget, Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm ignored calls to stimulate the economy by increasing spending or lowering taxes, opting instead for the sort of fiscal sobriety likely to please the EU and the European Central Bank.
    [Too bad all three of these routes are inefficient or perverse.]
    The new budget details plans to ease work regulations and dismissal packages and gradually reduce the corporate income tax to 30% in 2007 from the current 34.5%....
    [Ergo, more concentration and deactivation of spending power, not less. Brilliant - not.]
    Only 20% of the total workforce in the Netherlands has a 40-hour workweek, while slightly more than 40% works part time. Even those firmly opposed to the government proposals agree that some kind of change is needed.
    [Yeah, but in the Age of Automation, why are so many specimens of a self-described "intelligent species" going in exactly the 180-degree wrong direction? It seems that human masochism is currently trumping human intelligence - and ability to see the obvious. Netherlands could be the most advanced economy in the Robotics Era, depending on how high their workaholics pull the average workweek there, which in the Netherlands' unique situation of beefing up part-time with full-time benefits, would be significant.]

  3. Le Monde to cut 100 jobs to stem deficit
    International Herald Tribune, France
    Meg Bortin
    [The French themselves still don't get it. Le Monde should be trimming 13.5% of its workweek for everyone instead of trimming 13.5% of its jobs (100/740) and adding to the downsizing of the consumer base and the overall economy which is responsible for its declining market in the first place.]
    PARIS - Le Monde, France's most prestigious newspaper, is planning deep cuts in its editorial and administrative staff in an effort to rein in a growing deficit, the newspaper said Tuesday.
    Under a restructuring plan outlined to the staff earlier this month by Le Monde's chief executive, Jean-Marie Colombani, and reported in editions Tuesday, Le Monde would cut 100 of about 740 positions.
    The cuts, which aim to save E8 million a year, or $9.7 million, would trim the news staff to 300, with the loss of 30 to 40 positions.
    After a standing-room-only meeting of staff members with union representatives Tuesday to discuss the cuts, which are being proposed as a "voluntary departure" plan, journalists said that management had not yet informed the staff of the terms of the job reductions.
    "What the unions want is to negotiate the conditions of the staff cuts and to participate with management in planning for the future," a journalist said on condition that he not be identified.
    Like many major European and American newspapers, Le Monde has seen its revenue slide through a fall-off in advertising and paid circulation since the start of the economic downturn that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States.
    Fabrice Nora, the paper's managing director, said in an interview by telephone on Tuesday that Le Monde, with paid circulation of 390,000 as of June, had suffered in part due to the rise of the Internet.
    "Our circulation is down, but not our audience," he said, adding that 400,000 to 500,000 people a day were logging on to Le Monde's Web site.
    According to union representatives, losses at the paper this year are expected to reach E20 million, not counting the cost of the restructuring.
    Nora declined to comment on that figure.
    The paper lost E23 million last year, after losses of E16 million in 2002 and E14 million in 2001, Le Monde said in its report Tuesday.
    Noting the worldwide decrease in newspaper advertising in recent years, Nora said Le Monde's ad revenue had dropped 40% since 2000, with most of the losses in classifieds.
    The plan to cut editorial and administrative staff follows on the heels of similar cuts at Le Monde's production facility, where Colombani and the unions agreed during the summer to cut 92 of the shop's 350 positions.
    A senior journalist at the paper said that management had been overgenerous four years ago in negotiations over the introduction of the 35-hour work week in France, "and now we're paying for it."
    That agreement, used as a model for the rest of the French press, included 11 weeks of paid vacation a year for journalists.
    Despite its current troubles, Le Monde remains the newspaper of record for France and much of the French-speaking world, with a worldwide network of correspondents and influential coverage of French politics, business and the arts.

  4. EU Commission to propose tightening legislation on working time
    EUbusiness, UK
    The European Commission is to propose on Wednesday a reform of the bloc's legislation on working hours following the failure of member countries to agree on changes, an EU source said.
    The reform will aim to restrict exceptions to the general maximum working week of 48 hours, due to abuses by Britain where at least 16% of employees work longer hours, according to EU data.
    The reform should also address the problem of medical staff on call, which the European Court of Justice believes should be counted as working hours.
    The reform to be proposed to the 25 member countries and European Parliament will propose allowing the 48-hour work week to be surpassed only in the case of a collective agreement being negotiated between employees and employers.
    The 1993 Working Time Directive currently in place only provides for individual agreements.
    As a concession to employers, the calculation of average hours worked weekly will be made over 12 months instead of the four months currently, said the source.

  5. EU working time directive
    [source?]
    Working time is one of the most important areas of employment where the EU has intervened through legislation to improve employment conditions. The 1993 Working Time Directive (WTD) on aspects of the organisation of working time was a breakthrough which changed employment law and set a maximum 48-hour working week.
    What is in the WTD?
    The original working time directive (93/104/EC) covered all sectors of activity except transport, activities at sea and the activities of doctors who are training. The WTD does not apply if other EU law contains more specific provision in a particular field or if national laws contain provisions which are more favourable to workers.
    The main provisions stated in the WTD were to ensure that workers enjoyed: Normal hours of work for night workers must not exceed an average of eight hours in any 24-hour period. Workers shall be entitled to a free health check-up before being employed on night work and at regular intervals thereafter. Anyone suffering from health problems connected with night work must be transferred, wherever possible, to day work.
    Extension of Working Time Directive
    The issue remains highly topical and a recent proposed change increased the scope to include some previously excluded professions (doctors in training, transport workers, activities at sea). On 3rd April 2000, the conciliation committee of MEPs and the Council of Ministers reached agreement on extending the WTD to cover some 5 million EU workers from those activities.
    The situation in the UK
    Under the terms of the WTD, EU member states had until 23rd November 1996 to implement the legislation but the UK's opt-out of the social charter meant its working time regulations did not come into force until on 1st October 1998. The UK's regulations implemented the EU WTD and parts of the young workers' directive which related to the working time of workers who are above the minimum school leaving age but are under 18.
    In the UK, enforcement of these regulations is divided between agencies:

  6. New row looming over working hours
    Independent, UK
    By Stephen Castle in Brussels
    Controversial moves to curb the use of the opt-out from the 48-hour week will today spark a fierce row, amid claims that the new efforts to end the culture of long working hours will add to costs and destroy jobs.
    The plan, to be discussed by the European Commission, would mean that, where collective bargaining agreements covering terms and conditions exist, firms would have to negotiate with their staff on the opt-out via unions. Currently businesses can deal directly with their staff.
    The proposal would also prevent employers from asking workers to sign the opt-out with their initial contract of employment, giving them a "cooling off" period. And it is expected to allow for the possibility of assessing whether people are working more than 48 hours per week over a period of up to 12 months.
    Meanwhile the European Commission also expects to put forward a new definition of "on call time" to deal with the working arrangements of junior hospital doctors among others.
    Today's proposal falls short of recommending an abolition of the opt-out demanded by the Trades Union Congress. However the Government is likely to fight the clause on collective bargaining.
    The final wording of the proposal will be crucial because it remained unclear last night how much the proposal would extend the unions' negotiating power in practice.
    The Confederation of British Industry said curbing the opt-out was "unacceptable".
    [Then get out of the EU - you're a Third World sweatshop 'economy'.]
    But the general secretary of the TUC, Brendan Barber, told the commission: "UK workers are going to be left exposed to dangerous long hours working by these weak reforms."
    A spokesman for the British government emphasised that "the right of individual choice" was crucial on working hours.
    ["Individual choice" for employees amid the job insecurity of a labor-surplus economy is pure employer smoke&mirrors.]

  7. [More on the 'new row' -]
    Weak working time rules have had almost no effect in UK
    Online REcruitment, UK
    Ahead of today’s (Wednesday) meeting of the European Commission, the TUC [Trades Union Congress (=UK's AFL-CIO) ] has published new research showing that weak working time rules and the UK opt-out from the 48-hour limit on the average working week have made little difference to the UK’s long hours culture, and has accused the government of spinning statistics to exaggerate a slight fall in long hours working. The TUC says it will take 45 years at the current rate of progress before long hours working falls to the EU average.
    TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber has written to the EU Commission ahead of their consideration of proposals to reform European working time rules to ask the Commission to defer a decision on their proposals to allow more discussion with union and employer representatives.
    [This is the most important area of EU economic alignment. It's more important than the way-premature single currency which has lost EU fine-tuning, and together with the Third-World pay and working standards of the east European economies that they have rushed to include, and the primitive concepts of globalization, competitiveness and productivity being followed by corporate chiefs, are sinking the whole EU down to Third-World income gaps, social standards and quality of life. Worktime alignment is the right first challenge. The timing is right. The only question is, in view of what Brendan Barber writes below, why does he want more delay?]
    Brendan Barber writes:
    "UK workers are going to be left exposed to dangerous long hours working by these weak reforms to our weak working time protections. Nearly four million UK employees are regularly working over 48 hours a week. The UK has more long hours workers than any other European country and although the number has fallen slightly at the current rate of reduction we will not reach the European average for 45 years.
    "Working long hours is bad for health and bad for business. We urge the Commission to abandon their current proposals to enable further consultation with unions and employers as neither are content with what is on the table."
    [Brendan clearly doesn't "get" that things inch forward by a series of weak and then less weak reforms. They seldom leap forward with first-cut strong reforms. How ironic that he's asking for a delay instead of supporting the current weak reforms and jumping into the campaign for the next round of less-weak reforms. "Lord, what fools these mortals be!"]
    Current Commission proposal on Working Time Directive review
    The Commission are likely to consider a proposal that would maintain the individual employee opt-out of the 48 hour week in the UK but allow unions, or other staff representative bodies, to agree collective opt-outs.
    As well as collective workforce agreements Individuals will still be able to opt out of the 48 hour week. But opted-out workers would not be able to work more than 65 hours in any one week and would have to renew the opt-out every 12 months. Employers would not be able to ask employees to sign an opt-out before they start work (i.e., when they sign their contract) or during probation periods.
    Employees who had not signed the opt-out would be allowed to work an average of 48 hours a week over 12 months, instead of the current four month period.
    If the Commission agrees a position this will be proposed to the EU Council of Ministers and European Parliament.
    UK long hours culture
    Contrary to reports the September ONS labour market statistics do not show the demise of the long hours culture in the UK.
    A reported reduction in the actual hours of work per week for full-time employees from 37.4 to 37.1 (year to June 2004) represents the numbers of hours the sample worked in one particular week. As the working time limits are applied to an average the more accurate measure is of average usual hours worked a week.
    The figures also showed a very small reduction in the number of employees working more than 45 hours a week most likely due to employees working 45 - 48 hours moving to the 42 - 45 bracket. The TUC’s main concern are those the working time rules were made to protect - the 3.75 million UK employees regularly working over 48 hours a week. The numbers of these have fallen by only 7% since 1998 and at that rate it would take 45 years to reach the EU average when we could expect the UK to have around 1.25 million long hours workers (mostly managers and professionals exempt from the working week limits).
    The opt-out was supposed to phase in the 48 hour week but in fact it has left millions of employees exposed to long hours working. TUC research shows that only one in three people with jobs know that the law protects them against working more than 48 hours a week and nearly two out of three people who say they work regularly more than 48 hours a week say they have not been asked to opt out of the working time regulations. One in four who have signed an opt-out say they were given no choice about signing away their rights.

    Full letter from Brendan Barber, TUC General Secretary to EU Commissioner Stavros Dimas
    Dear Mr Dimas:
    Re: Review of the Working Time Directive 93/104/EC
    I am writing to express the TUC’s grave concerns to the European Commission about the proposals to modify the Working Time Directive, which are due to be considered on 22 September.
    My understanding is that the Commission is likely to propose that the opt-out from the 48-hour average weekly limit on working time should be retained, albeit with some amendments.
    My view is that the proposals are far too weak to have a real impact on the UK’s long hours culture. In particular, it is difficult to envisage how a worker who is not a member of a trade union will be able to enforce their working time rights. The TUC’s own polling has found that one third of those who have signed the opt-out say that they had no choice about the matter, whilst the Government’s own statistics show that 68% of those who work more than 48 hours per week want to work fewer hours.
    [This proves that employer rhetoric about needing to "allow" employees the "right" to work longer hours is less of an issue that needing to allow employees the power to work shorter hours.]
    It is absolutely right that the European Commission should set EU-wide minimum health and safety standards like the Working Time Directive. The health and safety basis of the directive is a robust one, having been tested in the ECJ by the UK’s previous Conservative Government. However, it is an established principle of European law that the route to flexibility in applying minimum standards is through collective bargaining. The rationale is that only organised workers have a sufficiently powerful voice to bargain with employers in a meaningful way. In most cases, unorganised individual workers have the unpalatable choice of simply doing what they are told or quitting.
    It follows that the development of Social Europe implies an entrenched role for a collective voice for workers. The Commission’s draft proposal to review the Working Time directive is likely to have the opposite effect in the UK, because the establishment of two separate routes to the opt-out would create a new incentive for employers not to bargain with trade unions. In many ways, we regard this proposal as the worst of the four options in the Commission’s consultation paper.
    This detrimental effect on trade unions would be further reinforced by the proposal to allow member states to extend the reference period for calculating the 48-hour week from four to twelve months, thus removing the union role in accessing this flexibility.
    The truth is that the general directive already allows employers great flexibility. Trade unions are ready to deal with these issues in an intelligent way and are currently signing productivity deals that bargain away excessive hours whilst delivering benefits to employers and workers alike.
    Yet most long hours employers will not take any action to protect workers unless the law is changed. Six years after the UK Working time Regulations took effect there are still 3.75 million employees in the UK regularly working more than 48 hours per week. The figure has declined by a mere 7% since 1998. At this rate of progress many workers will have to wait a lifetime before they are protected from excessive hours.
    The opt-out provisions were intended to be a temporary measure to help the UK to reach compliance. In practice, the opt-out has meant that the minority of employers who use long working hours have seen no need to make any changes.
    The Commission’s draft proposals have been criticised by trade unions and employers alike. For instance, the Confederation of British Industry has said the proposals are completely unacceptable. There is now a real danger that the review of the Working Time Directive will end up making life more difficult for both parties. In my view, there would now be a great deal of merit in consulting the social partners on the proposals' being put to the Commission on Wednesday to try to tease out a more acceptable way forward, and I would urge you to postpone a Commission decision on the issue until those discussions have taken place.
    Brendan Barber, TUC General Secretary

  8. ACS applauds coalition's ICT policy
    ZDNet.com.au, Australia
    By Staff writers, ZDNet Australia
    The Australian Computer Society (ACS) has lauded the government's ICT policy, released this week by ICT Minister Helen Coonan. ACS president, Edward Mandla, said the coalition's policy builds on a range of initiatives the government has in place, and takes up some key issues the ACS has raised with the minister. The ACS has called for continued focus and funding on the production and development of commercially viable ICT enterprises. "The federal coalition government has recognised the interconnection inherent in information and communications technology and has developed a number of new proposals to allow the ICT industry to maximise opportunities both globally and domestically," he said. Mandla added that he welcomes the minister's undertaking to work with the ACS and the industry to "encourage enhanced professionalism in the sector, including the affordability and availability of professional indemnity insurance". Mandla also praised the minister for raising the issue about the low number of women in ICT. "It's pleasing that the Minister has asked where "are the women in ICT?" This is a question the ACS has asked for some time, and one of the key reasons we've been calling for schools to train our children in ICT literacy. The ACS has already begun to explore this issue with interested parties and is calling for a summit to allow a range of views to be aired and further work to be commissioned," he said. The ACS also commended the government for raising the teleworking task force in their policy document. Mandla said the ACS has been working to develop a Work/Life policy in an attempt to "shed industry stigma of long hours and dark towers". "This is one of the major reasons women don't return to our industry. The findings of the group, to be released in the coming weeks, will show that teleworking is important, but not the key driver in solving our industry's issues," he said. Mandla said they were pleased with the initiatives in the areas of "angel investments" or finding funding for start-up ventures with satisfactory conditions. The ACS is preparing to launch an industry policy task force that will look at angel investing and "focus on the importance of involving our grey haired leaders in developing companies". Mandla is particularly pleased with onshoring as the offshoring counter measure that Coonan mentioned in the government's ICT policy. "It's particularly encouraging that the Minister has picked up on onshoring as an important counter measure. This goes hand-in-hand with government purchasing. Our organisations are forced to export prematurely due to a lack of support from Australian government and corporate accounts. We need legislative change as much as we need cultural change in government purchasing and we are pleased that the Federal Government will address this," he said. Mandla also expressed his support on the initiatives for improving "accessibility" to government ICT contracts in relation to the GITC contract framework especially for small to medium businesses "who don't feel able to bid for these contracts". "Successive governments have long associated ICT production with factories. We believe the Minister's policy statement is the first time ICT production has referenced the provision of IP services - which are our ICT future in this country. We applaud this, and suggest that IP services need to be a major focus of future R&D funding," he said.

  9. New Global Study Reveals Managers are Working More, Less Able to Separate Work/Home Life - Pendaflex Survey of 2,600 Managers' Work Habits Uncovers Notable Findings in Today's Global Work Place
    PRNewswire via Yahoo News (press release)
    STAMFORD, Conn. - Pendaflex, a leading global office supplies brand, today announced the results of a global study on the work habits of managers around the world. Overall, the survey found that managers are working more than they did five years ago. Also, with more home offices and increased telecommuting, the boundaries between work and personal time are blurring. As a result, these individuals are working longer hours in the office, but are still taking work home at night and on weekends. The study also identified a number of ways in which work habits and satisfaction levels vary significantly by geography. The countries included in the survey were the UK, France, USA, Germany and Australia. Pendaflex's parent company, Esselte, conducted a similar work habits study in 2000, and some of the results below are contrasted against those findings.
    Modern Workplace Shares Commonalities Across the Globe
    The global spread of technology and increased reliance on telecommuting has affected managers around the world in many of the same ways. This can be seen in the following areas, where workers from different regions reported highly similar responses: Geographic Origins Yield Key Differences
    Despite the similarities identified above, there were a number of categories where a wide variation was evident among managers in different countries. Notable findings included the following: Addressing findings of the study, Magnus Nicolin, president and chiefexecutive officer of Pendaflex's parent, Esselte, commented, "The competitiveness of the global marketplace has managers around the world facing many of the same challenges: long hours, working from home and a heavy dependence on technology. This combination is leaving many managers unhappy with their work/life balance and yearning to be more organized." He concluded, "Esselte is committed to meeting the organizational needs of our customers everywhere, and we will use this study to continue developing innovative office products that help managers achieve a better work/life balance. Pendaflex's organizational solutions and Dymo label makers can help the harried executive or over-stressed Administrative Assistant simplify their lives more effectively and efficiently."
    About Esselte
    Esselte, headquartered in Stamford, Conn., USA, is the leading global office supplies manufacturer with annual sales of approximately USD 1.2 billion, subsidiaries in 28 countries and 5,900 employees worldwide. The company develops innovative solutions that simplify the modern home and workplace. Esselte sells more than 30,000 different office products in over 120 countries; its principal brands include DYMO, Esselte, Leitz, Pendaflex and Xyron. Esselte was founded in 1913 as SLT (Sveriges Litografiska Tryckerier) after the union of 13 Swedish graphics related companies. More information about Esselte can be found by visiting http://www.esselte.com
    CONTACT: Chris Curran, +1 203 355-9022, ccurran@esselte.com

  10. Strains Felt By Guard Unit on Eve Of War Duty
    Collective Bellaciao, France
    By Thomas E. Ricks
    FORT DIX, N.J. - The 635 soldiers of a battalion of the South Carolina National Guard scheduled to depart Sunday for a year or more in Iraq have spent their off-duty hours under a disciplinary lockdown in their barracks for the past two weeks. The trouble began Labor Day weekend, when 13 members of the 1st Battalion of the 178th Field Artillery Regiment went AWOL, mainly to see their families again before shipping out. Then there was an ugly confrontation between members of the battalion's Alpha and Charlie batteries - the term artillery units use instead of "companies" - that threatened to turn into a brawl involving three dozen soldiers, and required the base police to intervene. That prompted a barracks inspection that uncovered alcohol, resulting in the lockdown that kept soldiers in their rooms except for drills, barred even from stepping outside for a smoke, a restriction that continued with some exceptions until Sunday's scheduled deployment. The battalion's rough-and-tumble experience at a base just off the New Jersey Turnpike reflects many of the biggest challenges, strains and stresses confronting the Guard and Reserve soldiers increasingly relied on to fight a war 7,000 miles away. This Guard unit was put on an accelerated training schedule - giving the soldiers about 36 hours of leave over the past two months - because the Army needs to get fresh troops to Iraq, and there are not enough active-duty or "regular" troops to go around. Preparation has been especially intense because the Army is short-handed on military police units, so these artillerymen are being quickly re-trained to provide desperately needed security for convoys. And to fully man the unit, scores of soldiers were pulled in from different Guard outfits, some voluntarily, some on orders. As members of the unit looked toward their tour, some said they were angry, or reluctant to go, or both. Many more are bone-tired. Overall, some of them fear, the unit lacks strong cohesion - the glue that holds units together in combat. "Our morale isn't high enough for us to be away for 18 months," said Pfc. Joshua Garman...who, in civilian life, works in a National Guard recruiting office. "I think a lot of guys will break down in Iraq." Asked if he is happy that he volunteered for the deployment, Garman said, "Negative. No time off? I definitely would not have volunteered." A series of high-level decisions at the Pentagon has come together to make life tough for soldiers and commanders in this battalion and others. The decisions include the Bush administration's reluctance to sharply increase the size of the U.S. Army. Instead, the Pentagon is relying on the National Guard and Reserves, which provide 40% of the 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. Also, the top brass has concluded that more military police are needed as security deteriorates and the violent insurgency flares in ways that were not predicted by Pentagon planners. These soldiers will be based in northern Kuwait and will escort supply convoys into Iraq. That is some of the toughest duty on this mission, with every trip through the hot desert bringing the possibility of being hit by roadside bombs, rocket-propelled grenades and sniper fire. The drilling to prepare this artillery unit for that new role has been intense. Except for a brief spell during Labor Day weekend, soldiers have been confined to post and prevented from wearing civilian clothes when off duty. The lockdown was loosened to allow soldiers out of the barracks in off hours to go to the PX, the gym and a few other places, if they sign out and move in groups. "There's a federal prison at Fort Dix, and a lot of us feel the people in there have more rights than we do," said Spec. Michael Chapman...a construction worker from near Greenville, S.C. Some complaints heard during interviews with the soldiers here last week centered on long hours and the disciplinary measures - both of which the battalion commander, Lt. Col. Van McCarty, said were necessary to get the unit into shape before combat. Sgt. Kelvin Richardson, 38, a machinist from Summerville, S.C., volunteered for this mission but says he now wishes he had not and has misgivings about the unit's readiness. Richardson is a veteran of the 1991 Persian Gulf War, in which he served with the 1st Cavalry Division, an active-duty "regular" unit. This battalion "doesn't come close" to that division, he said. "Active-duty, they take care of the soldiers." Pfc. Kevin Archbald, 20, a construction worker from Fort Mill, S.C., who was transferred from another South Carolina Guard unit, also worries about his cobbled-together outfit's cohesion. "My last unit, we had a lot of people who knew each other. We were pretty close." He said he does not feel that in the 178th. Here, he said, "I think there's just a lot of frustration." The daily headlines of surging violence in Iraq - where U.S. forces crossed the 1,000-killed threshold last month - were also part of the stress heard in soldiers' comments. "I think before we deploy we should be allowed to go home and see our families for five days, because some of us might not come back," said Spec. Wendell McLeod...a steelworker from Cheraw, S.C. "Morale is pretty low. . . . It's leading to fights and stuff. That's really all I got to say." McCarty, the commander, disagrees with those assessments. Overall, he said, the unit's morale is not poor. "The soldiers all have their issues to deal with, and some have dealt with it better than others," he said in an interview in his temporary office. The problem, he said, is that he has to play the hand dealt him - of assembling a new unit and getting it to work together while following a training schedule that has kept them going from dawn to long after dark, seven days a week, since mid-July. "We are not here for annual training and then go home" - that is, the typical schedule for National Guard units in the past - said McCarty, assistant deputy director of law enforcement for the South Carolina Dept. of Natural Resources in civilian life. "We are here to prepare to go into a combat zone." Some military leaders like to say that the best quality of life is having one - a view to which McCarty appears to subscribe. "It is not my objective to win a popularity contest with my soldiers," he said. "My objective is to take them out and back home safely to their families." As for the barracks lockdown, he said, "I am not going to apologize. . . . I did what I felt was necessary." In the past, McCarty noted, members of Guard units usually had years of service together. That has enabled Guard units to compensate somewhat, using unit cohesion - that is, mutual understanding and trust - to make up for having less training time together than do active-duty units. But that was not the case with this battalion. "We didn't have that degree of stabilization to start with," he said. He also contends that his case is hardly unusual nowadays. "Other units have similar problems," he said. "Ours just make more headlines." The disciplinary measures were covered by some soldiers' hometown newspapers, perhaps because it is one of the largest mobilizations of the South Carolina Guard since Sept. 11, 2001. Sgt. Maj. Clarence Gamble, who as the top noncommissioned officer for the battalion keeps a close eye on morale and discipline, said he does not see any big problems. "I get out and see troops every day," he said. "From my talking to the troops, morale is good right now." Indeed, some members of the unit agree with this view. "Overall, morale's good," said Sgt. John Mahaffey. "But of course you're going to have some who, no matter if you gave them their food on a gold platter, they'd still . . . whine." A car salesman from Spartanburg, S.C., Mahaffey...said he volunteered to go to Iraq and is glad he did. "I'm looking forward to it," he said. The unit is essentially ready to go, he said. "If you wait till everything's perfect, you'll never get anything accomplished." Gamble defended the lockdown that followed the fighting. "I think that what we did at the time was something that we needed to do to make sure that we had command and control of the battalion," he said. He added, "I don't think it was a detriment to morale, because it was short-lived." He also says that unit cohesion is developing. "We knew it was going to take some time to develop the chemistry. And it's working." As for volunteers who say they now regret it, "I think when our deployment is over, people will have different opinions." Gamble, who...is a 33-year veteran of the Guard, said he is not worried about putting an already stressed unit into the cauldron of Iraq duty. "I haven't ever been deployed before, myself," he said. But, he concluded, "I feel like this unit will handle this well. Once we get in-country and get into missions, I think the stress will level off."
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A31689-2004Sep18.html
    by : Thomas E. Ricks

  11. Discipline problems handled, Guard says - Georgetown artillery unit was put under lockdown
    The State, SC
    By CHUCK CRUMBO
    Discipline problems within a S.C. National Guard unit readying for deployment to Iraq were a first for Palmetto State units, a spokesman said Monday. "There have been some problems, and we openly admit that," said Lt. Col. Pete Brooks, referring to the Georgetown-headquartered 1st Battalion, 178th Field Artillery. "Those problems have been looked into and have been handled. "However, we feel that some of those (problems) were escalated beyond what they were actually were." A Washington Post article in Sunday's editions of The State reported military police had to break up a confrontation between soldiers in the Georgetown-based unit. The unit also was put under a lockdown after alcoholic beverages were found in its Fort Dix, N.J., barracks. The article also quoted some soldiers as saying morale was low, training inadequate and the unit lacked the cohesiveness needed to fight effectively. The 635 soldiers in the artillery unit shipped out Sunday for Kuwait. They did not take their self-propelled howitzers. Instead, they will serve as military police in southern Iraq, protecting military convoys. Including the artillery unit, about 1,800 members of the National Guard and Army Reserve from South Carolina are in Iraq and Kuwait. Another 250 Guard members from an aviation unit are preparing to leave for Iraq. Soldiers in the Georgetown-based artillery unit spent two weeks in disciplinary lockdown in their barracks after a Labor Day argument. The argument, over a picnic area, involved about a dozen soldiers, Brooks said. The Post said the incident threatened to turn into a brawl between the unit's Alpha and Charlie batteries - more than 100 soldiers - and the fort's MPs had to intervene. Although MPs were called, there were no arrests, Brooks said. Also, he added, the incident never escalated to the point that dozens of soldiers were involved. The incident prompted a barracks inspection that uncovered a couple of bottles of alcoholic beverages, according to reports. Commanders then imposed a lockdown, restricting the troops to their barracks except fordrills. Fort Dix prohibits alcohol in soldiers' barracks, Brooks said. About 60 soldiers also faced disciplinary measures for returning late from a 36-hour leave to visit their families. In each case, the unit's commanders and senior non-commissioned officers dealt with the problems, said Army spokeswoman Maj. Elizabeth Robbins. S.C. National Guard leaders, including Maj. Gen. Stanhope Spears, the state's adjutant general, have traveled to Fort Dix. And, for the most part, morale of the unit has been good, commanders said. However, long hours of training and extended separations from their loved ones can heighten soldiers' stress and erode morale, officials said. "They are not new issues as far as training and deploying," Robbins said. "Many units have gone through compressed training and done fine. "This is really a microcosm." Brooks said the artillery unit has "made great strides in coming together," adding its soldiers and leaders have pulled together. The unit was formed in February and is on its first deployment, Brooks said. "Every deployment has its stresses for soldiers whether it be their family, be their employment or be the unknown. The stresses are no greater for this unit or any other unit."
    Reach Crumbo at (803) 771-8503 or ccrumbo@thestate.com.

  12. Slave labour along the Massacre River
    Collective Bellaciao, France
    By Maurice Lemoine
    The Massacre River in northern Hispaniola divides the Dominican Republic and Haiti. It is crossed by a crumbling bridge, with Ouanaminthe, Haiti, on one side and Dajabón, Dominican Republic, on the other. In 2002 Jean-Bertrand Aristide's government announced the creation of a free trade zone in Ouanaminthe. The proposal was fiercely resisted by local landowners, tenant farmers and agricultural labourers, who were promised compensation but have received none. But resistance was impossible: the tractors that tore up the crops were accompanied by armed guards, leaving the farmers helpless, homeless victims. The Dominican investor was clothing subcontractor Grupo M, the largest employer in the Dominican Republic, with 12,000 workers in its factories and a reputation for treating them brutally and ignoring union rights and regulations. The World Bank's International Finance Corporation, possibly unaware of the malpractice, provided a loan of $20m for Grupo M to set up in Ouanaminthe. We may presume that Aristide was better informed about Grupo M's nature: on 8 April 2003, when he came to lay the foundation stone with the Dominican president, Hippólito Mejía, he did so in secret. Haitians only heard about it the day after, in the Dominican press. In August 2003 Grupo M opened two facilities in the new free trade zone, employing around 1,000 workers. The Codevi factory produces Levis 505s and 555s jeans while the MD factory makes T-shirts, all exported via the Dominican Republic. Grupo M's Haitian employees were made to work at high speed for long hours in terrible conditions and paid a pittance. They soon protested: on 13 October 2003 the Codevi Workers Union (Sokowa in Creole) was created in Ouanaminthe and affiliated to Batay Ouvriyé, Haiti's worker support organisation. On 2 March 2004, with the country in a power vacuum following Aristide's departure, Grupo M fired 34 union members, with militiamen from northern Haiti's "rebel army" on hand to crush resistance. On 13 April, after tough negotiations attended by representatives from the World Bank, Levi-Strauss & Co, and a tripartite commission from the new Haitian government, Grupo M agreed to reinstate the 34 workers. But, as Yannick Etienne of Batay Ouvriyé explains: "They forgot that there was also an agreement to let the union negotiate a new factory-wide contract." A new contract was urgently needed. Codevi employees were being made to work from Monday to Saturday, often doing 55 hours instead of the official 48, with no overtime money. "You can't ask questions,"says Etienne. "If you do, they put your name down so they can fire you." Recalcitrants were called into the back room: "You're locked in there for hours, guarded by armed thugs. They put the air conditioning on full blast to make it uncomfortable." Female workers are given a mysterious injected "vaccination" every two months and many have complained of irregular and unnaturally long periods; there has been an abnormally high rate of unexplained miscarriages among Codevi workers. Sokowa continued to campaign for a new contract and on 7 June staged a half-hour work stoppage. On 8 June 40 heavily armed soldiers from the Dominican Republic arrived (on Haitian territory) to beat the workers. A 24-hour strike followed and Grupo M bosses closed the factory, illegally locking out its employees; 370 were laid off 48 hours later when the plant reopened. Since then the workload has increased further. Workers were expected to produce 1,000 pairs of jeans a day. They are now required to turn out 1,300 for 1,300 gourdes ($37) a week. "No one can meet these targets," says Etienne, "and you only get 432 gourdes ($12) if you don't manage it." While Dominican soldiers, now in plain clothes, continue to enforce order, Grupo M's chief executive officer, Fernando Capellán, has threatened to relocate. "We don't believe the factories will close," says Etienne, "but the threat is a clear signal that this is war." Batay Ouvriyé has fought tough battles before - it rose up in 1995 against the Walt Disney Corporation's Haitian subcontractors and the Association of Haitian Industrialists (ADHI). Capellán, a Dominican, is a member of the ADHI. Etienne is suspicious: "I think the Dominican and Haitian bosses want to work together to get rid of our young union and remove all workers' rights to ensure maximum exploitation."
    http://mondediplo.com/2004/09/10ouanaminthe
    by : Maurice Lemoine

  13. Axiom helps give credit to housing association tenants
    ic Wales, UK
    Sion Barry, The Western Mail
    VALLEYS electronics venture Axiom is giving its support to an innovative housing association community job sharing initiative. The scheme, developed by Cardiff-based Taff Housing, rewards tenants for offering their time to share their skills or provide a service within their local community. Known as the Taff Time Banks Project, participants receive time credits (one hour > one credit) for their input which they can then exchange for various services ranging from computing, shopping and gardening to budgeting and pet care. In addition, participants will be able to accumulate up to 40 hours in credit for any of the desktop computers donated by Axiom Manufacturing Services. Tim Atkinson, project and funding manager for the association said, "We wanted to persuade our tenants to share their skills - formal of informal - with the rest of the community. "By collaborating with Axiom, we are able to extend our rewards programme. Young and old get to do something they enjoy with their spare time in return for help when they need it and each and everyone stand a chance to own their own computer." Tina Dunstan, head of human resources at Axiom said, "Programmes of this nature play a vital part in ensuring that everyone gets a chance at success. "Now not only do people of all ages and abilities have an opportunity to get involved, but every skill whether it's sewing, gardening, accounting or information technology, it is recognised and assigned a value which can then be exchanged for another service or skill." To date more than 100 people have joined the programme and are undertaking projects from vegetable growing to cooking and logo design. Taff Housing is also looking to collaborate with other housing associations to extend the programme over the next few month.

  14. New strategy used in state road fund bid
    Massillon Independent, OH
    By R.J. VILLELLA (Robert.Villella@IndeOnline.com)
    Massillon and Perry Township officials haven't given up hope they'll get state funding for a road project along their shared border. The street, called 27th Street Northeast in Massillon and Jackson Avenue inPerry Township, is one of the busier north-south connections in Western Stark County. Almost 10,000 vehicles use the artery each day. But it has been in bad shape for years and the road base is failing. All the city and township have been able to afford is a yearly patch job. Even that effort was cut this year by Massillon in its struggles to balance its budget. For the last two years, Massillon and Perry have joined forces to seek state funds but came up just shy in a point-driven system. A third try is in the works. Massillon City Council approved the joint agreement at its Monday night meeting and Perry approved the same measure earlier this month. But those involved with the project don't hold high hopes for the effort, in light of Massillon's tight budget and the no vote on the $5 license plate fee. Both will leave the city without many operating funds to work with. "I don't know if council understood the project was contingent on the license plate tax to move forward," said Elaine Campbell, Perry Township administrator. "Steve made that clear to me." "That's my ward (3) and I don't want the residents to get too excited and then not have the money to do the project," said Councilwoman Katherine Catazaro-Perry. She was one of the five council members who voted against the $5 license plate sales tax. The others were Tim Bryan, Ron Mang, Tom Weber, Chuck Maier. Catazaro-Perry said she promised the people of her ward she would not vote for a fee hike when she was campaigning. She also points out the increase will bring in only $140,000 a year and Massillon's share of the street project is $260,000. The proposed $2.6 million project will widen the street to three lanes, almost from Hankins Street Northeast nearly to Lincoln Way East. It also would be resurfaced; some of the hills would be cut down; and curbs and drainage would be added. Perry and Massillon will each pick up 10% and the state 80% of the project. But this year, City Engineer Steve Hamit said he's trying a different approach to the application. He has submitted a schedule for when the plans will be completed if the project is close to getting funds. That can mean as many as five extra points. His timeline calls for work to begin in December, with the design and drawings finished by July. Two things could interfere with Hamit's plan. One problem is if the movie theater project for the former Agathon field moves ahead. His staff might be tied up with that work, Hamit said. Another problem could be if cash runs short in the city and more layoffs or cutbacks are needed. Hamit already is on a 36-hour work week as are many city employees because of budget's red ink. In either case, Perry Township might be able to step into the fray and help out, Campbell said. Additional talks between the trustees and council would have to take place, she said, but Perry might be in a better position to be able to pay for an outside engineering firm for the design work. That's Massillon's call, Campbell said, if they don't think they can do it. Campbell said she is convinced the design work or plans have to be completed before the project will win state funding. But she said the township and the county is committed to improving the 12th Street corridor as an alternative to Lincoln Way. Currently, projects are under way to improve the 12th Street intersections at Genoa Avenue, Woodlawn Avenue and Perry Drive. "The key," Campbell said, "is communication between the trustees and the (city) administration."

  15. Sown for Kingdom Growth
    saWorship.com, TX
    by Chuck Wooten
    "There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 3:1) I read a recent interview where the subject being interviewed lamented about allowing the demands of ministry overtake him to the point where he'd lost focus of the things in life that truly matter most - namely his family. Can any of us relate with that? Sure. I know I can. There have been times in my own life and career that I've become so immersed in accomplishing what I'd purposed to do that the really important things were not-so-subtly moved to the proverbial "back-burner." I recall with a certain amount of personal pain, the times where I had agreed to travel to places my job needed me at the expense of working on Scouting projects or missing milestone events in my son's life, all for the sake of "getting it done." Now, my son in a grown man and I can never get back the opportunities of his youth. My guess is many of us have unwittingly found ourselves in that boat at some time, or other. What I personally found is that it's a very difficult boat to get out of. It seems that there's always "one more thing to do" that causes that boat to drift further from the shore of "what matters most." Even when we recognize that we're losing control, we paddle harder but the shoreline continues to grow smaller on the horizon. How do we regain control of our time so we can get everything done we need to in our ministries and still fulfill our family and personal needs and desires? To begin, ask yourself a few pointed questions. When you answer them, apply them to each area of your life: spiritual and ethical, family and home, financial and career, mental and educational, physical and health, and social and cultural. Here are the questions to consider:
    1. What am I passionate about in this area of my life?
    2. What keeps me awake at night (what concerns me most)?
    3. What potential excites me in this area of my life?
    4. Three years from now, what will I look back on and say, "Making that change in 2004 was the biggest thing to improve my life"?
    The answers should prompt you to plan where you want to steer your life - beginning right now. Early in 2003, I read in a business journal, a survey of American CEOs and what their biggest concerns were, or what kept them awake at night. The surprising number one response was that they spent too much time working and not enough time at home with their families or on pleasurable activities. They wanted a work-week closer to 40 hours than 80. From what I know of working in ministries, I'd venture to guess that if you were to take the same survey, you'd answer similarly to the CEOs. Too much time spent Pastoring and not enough time at home. How many of us get up in the morning and say to ourselves, "If I could only spend more time at the office?" No! What we all want is more time to do the things that matter most to us, right? [Here's a clue -]
    Most of us are aware of the 80/20 Pareto Principle. This operates in most areas of our life and can help you and your ministry become a high-achieving, operationally excellent...outfit! The principle simply put, declares that 80% of the results you produce stem from 20% of the activities you spend time on. I call the 20% your high payoff activities. These are the activities that "put food on the table," if you will.... Chuck Wooten can be reached at cwooten1@satx.rr.com or by calling 210-685-0345. Visit Chuck Wooten's web site for more information at www.saworship.com/soe/

  16. Business and labour face-off on minimum wage
    CBC Saskatchewan, Canada
    REGINA, Sask. - Groups representing business and labour both say they want to put more money into the pockets of the lowest paid workers, but they disagree sharply on how to do that. They'll each be making arguments to the province's minimum wage board this fall, when the board reviews Saskatchewan's minimum wage of $6.65 an hour. Organized labour has teamed with student and anti-poverty groups. They want the minimum wage raised by $1.50, saying that's what it would take for a full-time minimum wage earner to reach the poverty line. The president of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, Larry Hubich, admits the change would increase costs for small businesses, but he says it would also increase consumer spending, which helps those businesses. "People who earn minimum wage don't spend their money on cruises in the Caribbean, or trips to Hawaii, or winters in Phoenix. They spend their money in Saskatchewan." Hubich disputes the claim by small business groups that a higher minimum wage causes job losses and reduced hours. Marilyn Braun-Pollon of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business says employers are having a tough time because of a sluggish farm economy. She says any increase would make things worse. "We're saying and we're recommending to the board that there be no increase at this point in the minimum wage at this time given the many challenges that business owners are facing." Braun-Pollon wants the board to consider a lower minimum wage for workers being trained in new jobs. She says it could also recommend an increase in personal income tax exemptions for low wage earners.

  17. Arizona firms absent from 'Working Mother's' best companies list
    Phoenix Business Journal, AZ
    Working Mother magazine Tuesday released its 19th annual list of the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers. No Arizona-based companies made the list, but plenty of companies with ties to the state did. They include: Accenture, Allstate, American Express, Bank of America, Intel Corp., Microsoft, Target, USAA, Verizon Wireless and Wells Fargo. "Work/life benefits at the 100 Best Companies have evolved beyond working mothers' essential needs - like maternity leave and phase-back for new moms - and now include programs that read almost like a spa brochure," said Susan Lapinski, Working Mother editor-in-chief. At Genentech, for example, workers can go to an exercise boot camp or on-site Weight Watchers meeting. At AFLAC, workers can take an aerobics class. In August, USAA opened its sixth company-sponsored child care center in Phoenix, bringing the number of employee kids it looks after to more than 800. For more: www.workingmother.com.

  18. Bayer Again Honored as a Top Company for Working Mothers; Second Year on Working Mother Magazine's Top 100 List
    Business Wire (press release), CA
    PITTSBURGH - Bayer Corporation has been recognized by Working Mother magazine as one of 100 best companies across the nation for working mothers. This year marks the second time Bayer has appeared on the annual list. "We are honored and extremely pleased to be recognized by Working Mother for our commitment to helping employees balance their work and personal lives," said Attila Molnar, Bayer's president and CEO. "Our selection for the second time confirms that Bayer has made great strides in recognizing women in the workplace, and that we continually work to expand WorkLife programs to meet all of our employees' needs." Private and public U.S. companies of any size and in any industry completed a comprehensive application to be considered for the list. With the help of industrial research firm eXpert Survey Systems, reviewers validated applications and scored them on more than 500 points of information, including the number of work/life programs offered, the employee usage of such programs and the representation of women throughout the company. Bayer was honored for its policies, benefits and programs available to employees, access to career growth opportunities and the increasing number of women leaders at the company. Molnar identified job sharing, child care, telecommuting and flexible schedules and a comprehensive Employee Assistance Program as some of the work/life opportunities within Bayer that attract women - with or without children - to the company. Bayer employs 1,800 at its headquarters in Pittsburgh, and another 21,000 at some 50 manufacturing and sales facilities throughout the U.S. The Working Mother recognition is one of several from national or local organizations that Bayer has received, including the prestigious Catalyst Award for leadership in establishing innovative programs to prepare women and people of color with the critical skills necessary to advance to senior positions. The complete list of the "100 Best Companies for Working Mothers" appears in the October issue of Working Mother - currently on newsstands and available on the magazine's web site, www.workingmother.com.
    For more information about the "100 Best Companies for Working Mothers" list, contact Meryl Weinsaft, director of Public Relations, Working Mother Media, at 212-351-6456.
    For more information about Bayer Corporation's WorkLife programs, contact Diana Kamyk, manager of Diversity and WorkLife Practices, Bayer Corporation, at 412-777-2430, or visit Bayer's web site at www.bayerUS.com....

  19. Big Four All Named "Best Companies for Working Mothers"
    SmartPros Accounting
    By: SmartPros Editorial Staff
    All Big Four accounting firms made Working Mother magazine's 19th annual list of "100 Best Companies for Working Mothers," released Tuesday. Deloitte & Touche, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers all received high marks for their work/life programs, flexible scheduling, and child-care programs, particularly those programs available during busy times of the year. PricewaterhouseCoopers graced this year's top 10 along with Bristol-Meyers, Discovery Communications, Eli Lilly and Company, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, JPMorgan Chase, Prudential, S.C. Johnson & Son, and Wachovia. "It's an enormous responsibility to care for a family and succeed at a job, and we're thrilled to see the serious commitment of smart companies to help their employees," said Carol Evans, CEO of Working Mother Media which publishes Working Mother....
    KPMG
    KPMG received high marks for it's broad, family-friendly approach, including adoption and in vitro benefits, private lactation rooms for nursing mothers and flexible scheduling. Notably, more than 40% of KPMG employees take advantage of flexible working arrangements such as job sharing and compressed workweeks. Working Mother even noted KPMG's benefits for working dads who receive two weeks of paid parental leave; participation in the program is up from 30% participation last year to 70% this year. New moms who have worked at the firm for at least a year get 26 weeks of job-guaranteed leave, with two weeks fully paid and eight weeks at two thirds of their regular salary....
    To be named to the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers list, companies complete a comprehensive application, including questions about a company's culture, employee population and policies on work/life and women's advancement. With the help of industrial research firm eXpert Survey Systems, applications are validated and scored on more than 500 points of information, including the number of work/life programs offered, the employee usage of such programs and the representation of women throughout the company. This year, Working Mother gave particular weight to three issues: flexible scheduling, time off for new parents and child-care options.
    Visit the Working Mother Web site for more information on the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers list, or pick up the October issue at newsstands.

  20. US Air proposes wringing more out of its pilots, by Susan Carey, WSJ, A2.
    ...The nation's 7th-largest carrier, which filed for [bankruptcy] last week for the 2nd time in 2 years, asked the pilots union in its latest proposal for pay reductions of 19.5%. US Airways also sought cuts in contributions to the pilots retirement plan, increased monthly flight hours, and a host of changes to boost productivity....

  21. An MBA on the side - With full-time applications falling, business schools are wondering: Are part-time students the face of the future? - 'The balance is clearly tipping' away from full-time MBA programs, says [dean Albert Niemi of Southern Methodist B-School], by Ronald Alsop, WSJ, R10.
    ..."We have to be sensitive to the fact that some people spent $60,000 for tuition and didn't get as good a job as they had given up to come to business school," says Robert Dolan, dean of UMich's Ross School of Business.
    ..\..So Yun Maryn...decided against a full-time Bschool program because she became increasingly disturbed by "horror stories" of MBA graduates struggling to find jobs while burdened with student-loan payments. "...I wanted the best of both worlds: keeping my steady job and pursuing a high-caliber MBA education."
    ...So many.\.people this fall share Ms. Maryn's reservations and are either postponing Bschool or keeping their day jobs while attending classes at night or on weekends...that many top-ranked schools saw full-time applications fall 20-35% this year. ...Part-time applications say smaller declines, or even increased. ...Executive MBA applications [defn?] rose at most schools....

  22. China's workers demand perks, better salaries, by Kathy Chen & Peter Wonacott, WSJ, A19.
    China's office workers may not know who Dilbert is, but many are feeling the pain of the popular US cartoon character who works long hours for a soulless corporation. And they are slowly starting to fight back. Labor frictions, once confined to factories and money-losing state enterprises, are now seeping into the offices of multinationals [MNCs] in China.
    In July, a group of senior auditors at PricewaterhouseCoopers' Beijing office complained to partners about what they described as paltry pay and long hours. The firm had a recent rash of resignations in its auditing division. One former auditor who recently quit said senior auditors often worked on weekends and until 2 am during the week, but weren't paid overtime, as junior auditors were.
    PricewaterhouseCoopers settled the displute by agreeing to implement a similar overtime pay system for its 1,100 senior auditors and to issue annual bonuses early. "We hadn't done the best job communicating with staff, which happens when we're so busy," says Dave McCann, partner in charge of HR for greater China.
    [Or when you're so mismanaged, and enjoying the self-importance of bogus busy urgency.]
    As business booms, foreign companies in China are pressuring local employees to be more productive even as budgets - and salaries - remain tight.
    [Or rather "even as they keep budgets and salaries tight." Notice how these "innocents" always make the bad stuff they impose on other people sound like an unavoidable Act of God.]
    The trend coincides [or rather "clashes"] with fundamental changes in China's white-collar workforce: No longer satisfied with just a job at a brand-name foreign firm, many Chinese professionals aspire to more leisure time and a middle-class lifestyle as they gain greater awareness of their legal rights under labor laws [though] China doesn't permit independent trade unions.
    [How ironic. Another demonstration of the similarity of extreme opposites.]
    The total number of labor disputes at MNCs, private Chinese companies and state-run companies is rising across China. Last year, Chinese arbitration authorities heard about 226,000 cases involving more than 800,000 employees, up 23% and 31%, respectively, from 2002....
    At the Shanghai office of Woori Financial Group, South Korea's 3d-largest lender, Chinese employees earlier this year walked out for 3 hours, leaving angry customers lined up outside the bank. Their complaint: The bank asked Chinese staff to work overtime for weeks and rejected their petition seeking a salary increase, more vacation time and an independent union..\.. ...It's [now] much easier to file a complaint. Now they can file by email \instead of going\ to the labor supervision office in person...and several newspapers publish labor dispute telephone hotlines.
    MNC jobs in China usually are still much cushier than working for a state-run company. [MNC] jobs generally pay more, with monthly salaries equivalent to $400 for receptionists and $3,500 for engineers, for example.... Foreign firms also offer more opportunities to work outside China.
    Meanwhile, many of the former perks offered by state-run companies - heavily subsidized healthcare, job security, short work hours - are fast disappearing as these companies come under pressure to become more competitive..\.. Wages at state-run enterprises usually range from $50 a month to $200, [but] some are now starting to pay more competitive salaries....
    [Healthcare, job security and short work hours sounds pretty competitive to us.]
9/21/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 9/20 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except Australian & Far East stories which are 9/21), and with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Dutch strike in 2 cities as government plans cuts,
    AP via International Herald Tribune, France.
    THE HAGUE, Netherlands - Strikes by tens of thousands of civil servants, harbor workers and public transport employees paralyzed two Dutch cities Monday, a day before the government was to present a budget that has been denounced by trade unions as an assault on workers' rights. Trams and buses stopped running in Rotterdam and The Hague as firefighters, dock hands, health care workers and teachers stopped work to oppose spending cuts under the right-wing government of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende. The government presents its 2005 budget on Tuesday, but its plans to scale back pension programs, national health care coverage and social benefits have already been announced.
    Among the plans most contested by workers is a proposal to do away with government-supported early retirement programs and introduce a longer work week. "It goes beyond those measures to what kind of society we want to live in," Jet Bussemaker, a member of Parliament for the leading opposition Labor Party said. "You can't just chip away at the social system without offering alternatives. The cabinet has turned its back on society. They won't listen to other opinions, so we hope they will listen to the public," she told the Dutch broadcaster Radio 1.
    Public transport was brought to a standstill in The Hague, the seat of government. In Rotterdam, Europe's largest port, thousands of dock workers held a 24-hour strike in the container terminal.
    "This damages the image of the harbor and has a direct impact on a business which is already struggling," said Tie Schellekens, a spokesman for the Port of Rotterdam. "It's a political game that is being played at the expense of the port. They should go protest in The Hague."
    The trade union leader Lodewijk de Waal promised to keep up pressure on the government as it reviews its budget plans.... Opponents of the strike argued that the trade unions and opposition parties were taking advantage of the government [at a vulnerable time (as if the strike opponents don't!) ] to win support at a time when tough financial measures are needed to restart the economy..\..
    [You can't restart an economy by clobbering your consumer base.]
    Monday's protest was the first of about six scheduled in coming weeks by trade unions representing hundreds of thousands of workers....

  2. Power up, power down - Whether its DJing [diskjockeying] or mind reading, media takes its leisure time seriously - How the industry recharges its batteries - Have we got the work/life balance right or is it impossible to truly let go of the office?
    by Andy Fry, Media week, UK
    U.K. - This feature is about power time....
    A recent survey from vocational-training body City & Guilds [C&G] found that - Now all that might seem plausible for aircon salesmen or accountants. But C&G surely cannot be talking about the intoxicating world of media?
    You better believe it. The survey indicates that media types are some of the most restless....
    The question is: why so glum? Farming might look fun on a sunny day - but milking cows is less of a thrill at 5am in a blizzard.... Often, the desire for change is rooted in a lack of work/life balance - and that is certainly the case for many media workers, who have to contend with long hours, intense deadlines and financial targets that recede as fast as the crock of gold at the end of the rainbow. In short, many of us have let work take over our lives. If you ask someone how they are, the stock answer nowadays is along the lines of "oh, busy, busy" rather than "I'm well, thanks."
    ...For some, the reality is that long working hours leave you with neither the time or energy to pursue a balanced life..\.. Jo Thurman, deputy MD at recruitment consultancy Flexecutive... cites a fear of career death: "When firms are looking to control costs, the last thing anyone is likely to do is ask for a more flexible working pattern."...
    It is possible, however, to find life-changing, perspective-altering experiences which do not necessarily impose too heavily on work.... So far, we have not mentioned the family. But for parents, the balance to be struck is between the office and offspring. In a recent Media week profile, Alison Wright, managing director of Manning Gottlieb OMD, described an ultra-efficient lifestyle that allows her to balance executive duties with having a young child. "As a rule, if I'm at work, I'm working, which I suppose is how I can leave on time two or three days a week. But that does mean that you lose a bit of the sociability of work...."
    Th[ere] appears to be...a broader trend of execs accommodating interruptions - even when they are officially off duty. According to a survey from the Institute of Management, today's managers in the UK take more holiday [US: vacation] and spend more time abroad. But they are still available. The survey says 48% are in touch with their offices once a week while on holiday and one in five take a laptop.
    Does this demonstrate a lack of work/life balance? Not necessarily. Around a third (34%) cite peace of mind as a motive. "For some, keeping in touch while on holiday may simply be a reflection of their interest in their work, or that they feel more relaxed knowing they can be contacted in an emergency," says IoM director general Mary Chapman.
    All this talk about [hobbies like] carp fishing and standup comed[y] is fine, you might say, but what has it got to do with running a business? Well, says Thurman: "research shows a wide range of benefits, such as increased productivity, improved recruitment and retention, lower rates of absenteeism, reduced overheads, improved customer experience and a more motivated and satisfied workforce."
    The trouble is that the right culture needs to cascade down through companies [from the executives]. Unless bosses buy into work/life balance and put in place systems to implement it, the workforce will not have the courage to address it.
    The kind of things firms could introduce (and it should be noted that some have) are flexitime, compressed work weeks, job shares, more home working and term-time working. There is also merit in individual development plans and appraisals which allow companies to review work-life balance on a regular basis. Coaching, mentoring and an open-door approach to problems all help create the right conditions, says Thurman.
    Of course, a lot of the real impetus for change in employment policy is driven by attempts to help women juggle work and kids, rather than men whose surfing is suffering.
    So how does media fare? Well there are not many women at the top. And the fact there are so few old-timers in the industry suggests either that they have made a stack of cash or quit in dismay/ill-health. While the latter is more likely, Alison Wright, in her interview with Media week, painted a slightly more positive picture: "If, in the future, I ever wanted to work four days a week, I'm sure I could have a grown-up conversation with Nick Manning [OMD Group chief executive] about it. "But a lot of companies are recognising the importance of letting their staff have a life." And, with the average media employee changing jobs every two years, it's about time employers contributed to the balancing act....

  3. State Cuts Youth Shelter Funding,
    by Tracy Lee Vreeland, KIMT NewsChannel 3 via KIMT, IA.
    Kids come to Francis Lauer Youth Shelter to take a break. Their parents may be abusive. They may be a threat to themselves. Or they may be waiting to go into a group home. "All children that come into the shelter, it's really about protection," Director Jean McAleer tells KIMT NewsChannel 3. But state budget cuts are making a big impact on the service. "The legislature is going to have to learn that there are certain needs in the community that you fund and shelter care is one of them," Senator Amanda Ragan says. The shelter was forced to let four employees go, reduce hours and cut pay. "The kids still have the same ratio of clients to staff. None of that has changed. We're maintaining that level, so it's at the other end we're struggling," McAleer explains. The state cut about $100,000 and another $100,000 was cut from the county and other sources. They haven't turned any kids away. But if they did, it would impact the community. Ragan says, "You're looking at what other service is going to provide that kind of immediate care. The cost of hospitals, law enforcement." And those places don't provide the kind of time off from the problem. Senator Ragan is going to push for more shelter money from the legislature. "If we lost one child across the state, it would be unconscionable," she says. But the lack of funding is closing the door on kids.

  4. Working out a city's hours - Who puts in the longest hours in the Capital and where do they live?
    by Adrian Mather, The Scotsman, UK
    EDINBURGH, Scotland - The Capital has become a city of professional workaholics, with more than a tenth of the population working a 49-hour week or longer. The proportion of people choosing to work longer than the maximum 48 hours per week set down by the EU's Working Time Directive has risen steadily in recent years. In some areas of Edinburgh, more than a fifth of residents in employment work a ten-hour day or longer, according to the latest figures available. And Edinburgh has one of the highest percentages of people in Scotland working longer hours. Only Aberdeen has a higher figure, with around 15% working for more than 49 hours, compared to Edinburgh's 12.6%. The figures show almost half the city's population work in the professional sector, with 14.9% of the workforce employed as managers and senior officials, and more than 30% professionals or technical staff. Cramond, Murrayfield, Dean and Fairmilehead have the highest number of managers and senior officials, at more than 20% of the workforce. New Town, South Morningside and North Morningside/Grange have the highest number of professionals - more than 30%. These areas also have the highest number of people feeling obliged to put in long hours. Although the average figure for people working more than 49 hours across the city is 12%, in the New Town it is 22.2% - the highest in the city - and in Dean it is 19.6% - the second highest - meaning around a fifth of residents are working above the proposed EU limit. However, areas such as Firrhill and Craigmillar, which have the highest proportion of workers in personal services - such as cleaners, handymen and nannies - or Gyle and Corstorphine - which have a high number of secretarial workers - are among the areas with the lowest percentage of people working more than 49 hour stretches in a week - in Firrhill just 9.6% do and in Craigmillar the figure is just 8.7%. In the areas with a high percentage of skilled tradesmen - such as Gilmerton and Kirkliston - the figures, from the 2001 Census, the latest available, show the numbers working 49-plus hours are around the city average - 12.1% in Gilmerton, 13.8% in Kirkliston. The European Commission plans to restrict - or abolish - the opt-out letting UK workers choose to work more than 48 hours. It could be that in future employers will have to negotiate extra hours with unions rather than workers.
    Graham Bell, Edinburgh's Chamber of Commerce spokesman, says:
    "All evidence shows that people in the UK work the longest hours in Europe. Historically, people found themselves having to work overtime and there are plenty of managers who work more hours than their contract. Also, people who run their own businesses work long hours as it is extremely difficult to make a start-up company successful without putting in at least a 40-hour week. However, a lot of hours are spent out of the office, getting out and selling their business and services to people. Many people are involved in early morning bus clubs or meetings after work - they aren't necessarily sitting in offices, slogging away in front of a computer. Edinburgh is a service sector environment, with higher levels ofmanagement than screwdriver-type jobs. That means a lot more deskwork and a lot more paperwork . . . I think it is getting more like that as time goes on. Fewer and fewer people are taking a full lunch hour. Everyone you talk to in business is being asked to do more."
    'Self-employment' [our quotes] in Edinburgh shot up from 6% of the workforce in 1981 to more than 10% in 2001. Current estimates put the number of self-employed people in the Capital at around 23,000. John Park, of the Scottish Trade Union Congress, says that although European guidelines have been introduced to limit the number of working hours to 48 per week, there are still a number of people who are choosing to do overtime. "Although companies are usually compliant with a 48-hour week maximum, there are a lot of people who are deciding to opt out and work overtime. The directive also doesn't apply to managers or senior officials, who often have to work for more than 50 hours a week in the office or at home. Edinburgh is seeing a lot of people start their own businesses. During the early years of self-employment they have to work for even longer to make ends meet." Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh and Lothian executive director Neil Francis adds: "Many start-ups face the same issues to do with getting their business off the ground whatever size they are, and they devote all their waking hours to the business in the early days." Mark Ramage...who manages his own business, AB Car Valeting, in Leith, says:
    "Until you build up clientele, you've got to put in that extra mile. I don't know many people who are starting up and get a lot of help from the Government. Nobody is there to tell you how to work. There should be something to help small businesses find their feet. It's not exciting. I'm just trying to earn a living. "You try to keep hold of your social life but it is hard because your business just comes first. When you aren't working you're thinking about work. It does seem to be 24-7 most of the time."

  5. Stressed workers have nightmares
    ic Scotland.co.uk, UK
    Family and social life is being severely hit by the UK's long-hours culture, with many workers too tired to have a drink with friends, go to the gym or play with their children, according to a new report today. A survey of 500 office staff showed that one in five could not even stay awake in the evening to watch TV or read a book, while one in eight had been too shattered to eat dinner. Stress and long working hours were the main reasons for the high level of fatigue, according to the research for recruitment group Pertemps. Almost half of those polled said they regularly dreamt about work, including "anxiety dreams" such as arguing with the boss or walking through their office with no clothes on. Janet McGlaughlin, a director of Pertemps, said: "Our research is worrying as it shows that job pressures are impacted on many people's work-life balance. "Longer hours are partly to blame, but stress was by far the most common cause identified - with dreaming about work being an obvious symptom."

  6. Council puts building official on hot seat
    Providence Journal, RI
    WARWICK, R.I. - After hearing complaints that the city Building Dept. is slow to issue permits and act on minimum-housing complaints, Council President Joseph Solomon last night proposed increasing the department employees' 35-hour work week to 40 hours, "more in line with the private sector." Solomon said the change would "increase productivity" and should be considered for all city employees....
    [Inaccurate. Lengthening hours does not increase productivity, which is hourly. It only increases production, or output, per employee, and it doesn't even increase that if employees stop prioritizing so carefully or are resentful of the increase in hours.]
    The council president made the statements at the end of a question-and-answer session with John Pagliaro, director of the Building Dept., who had appeared before the council at the request of Councilwoman Helen Taylor. Some council members criticized the department, saying employees are often rude to residents who come in for permits. But others said employees had been helpful in their experience, and that they favored hiring more employees to cut down on delays in service during the busiest months in the construction season.
    Because the department is a revenue producer, taking in $300,000 more a year than it costs to run itself, Councilman Carlo Pisaturo said he favored hiring additional employees, "even to a break-even point." The department has 11 full-time employees and one part-timer. Pagliaro said he had asked for 12 full-time positions in his most recent budget but the request did not make it through the City Council budget process. Pisaturo said his constituents in Ward 5 often complain about how long it takes to get plans reviewed and obtain a building permit. "We're talking months, and by the time they finally get a permit the contractor's gone," Pisaturo said....

  7. The economy: Financial markets forecast and analysis
    FXstreet.com, Spain
    The New York branch of the Federal Reserve reported that its Empire Manufacturing Survey rose from 13.2 in August (a very weak number) to 28.3 in September. Still, less than half the respondents to this survey reported that business conditions had improved. The Labor Dept. reported that the CPI rose an anemic 0.1% in August. For the two month period of July and August, prices did not rise. Of course this measurement stick obviously does not include tuition and health insurance - two huge family outlays. The CPI excluding food and energy was the same, up 0.1%. The point here is the government doesn't have to raise pension and social security benefits as much with this sort of number. Retail Sales fell 0.3% in August according to the Commerce Dept.. Most of the damage was in autos. August's Industrial Production figure was essentially flat, up a mere 0.1%, and Capacity Utilization remained weak at 77.3%. And as you would expect with a brewing slowdown, Inventories rose 0.9% in July after June's figure was revised up by the Commerce Dept. to 1.1%....
    CNNMoney (www.cnnmoney.com) reported Thursday that a Senate Committee voted Wednesday to "roll back the Bush administration's controversial new overtime regulations, which critics say would have deprived an estimated 6 million workers of overtime pay." Republicans controlled that committee. Let's face it, eliminating or curtailing overtime pay is nothing more than a productivity[-per-payroll-dollar] scheme. It would encourage employers to cut jobs and overwork surviving staff. The precious productivity-per-payroll numbers quoted so often as the great success of the 21st Century American Economy would skyrocket without overtime pay.
    [If this is the basis - and we don't think it is, we think it's output per worker, which is almost as bogus - then why isn't outasight executive 'compensation' bringing it down? Executive compensation would have to be excluded to pretty up the figures.]
    Is there a more family unfriendly law on the books? Either you lose your job, or give up your family and work 70 hour weeks. Think about this. His own party had to stop Dubya. He may not realize it, but this Senate action may have saved Dubya's job....
    Speaking of jobs, Jobless Claims were reported to be at 333,000, up 16,000 for the week ended September 11th, according to the Labor Dept.
    [Whoopeedoo.]
    And the sum of all the above is that according to the University of Michigan, U.S. Consumer Sentiment fell to 95.8 in September.
    [No job, no money, no spending, no purchasing, no consumption, no consumer confidence.]

( Here's the current search pattern used by our backup, Ken Ellis - he's experimenting with four search runs because of erratic one-run behavior:
"work sharing", OR overwork, OR overworking, OR "work-sharing", OR "job-sharing", OR "job sharing", OR "work week", OR workweeks, OR "work-week", OR "work-weeks", OR "working week", OR "working weeks", OR "work-time", OR "worktime", OR "decreases hours", OR "shorter schedule"
"cut hours", OR "cutting hours", OR "reduce hours", OR "reduced hours", OR "reduces hours", OR "reducing hours", OR "hours reduction", OR "40 hour", OR "40 hours", OR "forty hour", OR "forty hours"
"free time", OR "long hours", OR "extra hours", OR "long work", OR "long days", OR "long workdays", OR "long workday", OR "decrease hours", OR "decreased hours", OR "decreasing hours", OR "schedule reduction", OR Nucor, OR "Lincoln Electric"
overtime -sports -coach -coaches -coaching -football -soccer -baseball -olympics [on hold] )



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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.

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