The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'work'
Australians work some of the longest hours in the developed world, mostly through unpaid overtime. Now, a progressive group calling itself The Australia Institute has designated today to be Go Home On Time Day, urging employees to leave the office exactly at leaving time:
Each year, Australians work more than 2 billion hours of unpaid overtime.
Around half of all employees work more hours than they are paid for. On average, a typical employee works 49 minutes of unpaid overtime per day. For full-time workers, the average daily amount of unpaid work is 70 minutes, which equates to 33 eight-hour days per year, or six and a half standard working weeks. Put another way, this is the equivalent of 'donating' more than your annual leave entitlement back to your employer.
As rising oil prices bite, people are talking about moving to a 4-day work week to reduce fuel consumption. The idea has been tried in Utah, but as befits a conservative Mormon state in the US whose emblem is the beehive, it didn't result in an extra day of leisure time, but rather four 10-hour workdays. Nonetheless, the results have been promising, and the experiment has proven popular, with 82% of participants preferring to stick with it:
"If employees are on the road 20 percent less, and office buildings are only powered four days a week," Langmaid says, "the energy savings and congestion savings would be enormous." Plus, the hour shift for the Monday through Thursday workers means fewer commuters during the traditional rush hours, speeding travel for all. It also means less time spent idling in traffic and therefore less spewing of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. The 9-to-5 crowd also gets the benefit of extended hours at the DMV and other state agencies that adopt the four-day schedule.
Good news for British traditionalists today; the EU has abandoned its effort to make Britain go metric. Britain had been given an exemption from the requirement to standardise on metric measurements in 1995, though this was due to expire this year, with miles and pints to be banished from view. Though, with a fierce display of tutting, the Daily Mail-reading little-Englanders gave Johnny Foreigner what for, and he fled with his tail between his legs, leaving Britain to its ancient systems of measurement in perpetuity.
Those aghast at the surrender of modernity to tradition for its own sake, though, need not despair; the law still requires metric measurements to be displayed alongside the traditional ones, and the traditional measurements are defined in terms of the metric ones (a pint, for example, is legally set at 568ml; cursory inspection of a pint glass at any pub will demonstrate this).
Another British tradition, however, was not so lucky; the EU has voted to abolish Britain's right to opt out of the EU's maximum working-hour limits. The Tories, employer groups and the New Labour nomenklatura are, of course, outraged (though the Labour rank and file are, by all accounts, quite pleased), predicting a collapse of productivity and the surrender of the Calvinist work ethic that made Britain great. However, given that the maximum EU working limits prescribe a 48-hour week, averaged over some nine weeks, this doesn't hold water, unless one is running a Dickensian sweatshop.
Finally, the pound's value has recently plummeted, to the point where a pound is rapidly approaching one euro. Which has caused some commentators to suggest that maybe Britain joining the euro is not such a bad idea. Which may be the case; certainly, the traditionalist argument for retaining the pound doesn't hold much water, given that the modern decimal pound is a dollar/euro-style decimal currency which replaced the ancient pound in 1971; the difference between it and, say, the Australian dollar (another currency hewn from pounds, shillings and pence at about the same time) is that Britain decided to name its new currency after the old one. Britain joining the euro would make things easier for those travelling to/from or trading with continental Europe (or, indeed, Ireland). The question which has most bearing on the pros and cons of the euro is whether Britain's monetary policy being fixed to the Eurozone would help or harm the British economy; this is a question I'm not qualified to answer.
Under John Howard's industrial-relations reforms, workers will be able to cash in 2 weeks of paid leave. Which is how the Tories put it; the unions are warning that employers could insist on employees waiving two weeks of leave; the Howard government has refused to prevent this from happening, claiming that Australian workers need to become more globally competitive. Given that Australians already work longer hours than many other countries (including Europe, the USA and Japan), this argument seems spurious.
High-value employees will, of course, be able to benefit from the increased flexibility and insist on the full four weeks (or even more; some companies, for example, give workers an option to do the opposite of this deal, and take extra unpaid leave); meanwhile, deskilled and interchangeable employees will probably get a US-style 10 days' leave a year. Then again, given that a lot of such employees work casual jobs, and don't get leave entitlements, one could argue that not much will change.
No word on whether leave loading or long-service leave (an artefact of a time when many of Australia's workers were European immigrants who desired to visit families abroad) will survive the reforms, though I wouldn't bet on it.
Australia's Prime Minister John Howard has ruled out a return to the 40-hour work week as part of the Tories' industrial-relations reforms. Which could mean (a) that Australia gets to keep its socialistically inefficient 38-hour week (Oh, the lost productivity!), or possibly that working hours will be deregulated, as they are in the UK (where employment contracts routinely include clauses waiving the EU's 48-hour work week limit).
Could the future of employment be job dumping, where prospective employers put jobs up for auction and employ the lowest bidder, harnessing the same market dynamics that give us cheap Wal-Mart clothes?
A businesswoman in the UK has been banned for asking for "hard-working" staff in a job ad, as doing so would discriminate against the lazy.
In the US, workers get on average 10 days of vacation time a year. Americans are not actually legally entitled to vacations, and the leave they take is given to them by their employers out of the goodness of their hearts; many jobs start off with 5 days of leave per year, and some employees negotiate unpaid leave or to do work whilst on their vacation. Of course, since there is no legal entitlement to vacation time, when times are tough, workers take less vacation time as not to be seen as dispensible. But the industrious American workforce has adapted to this admirably, for example learning to take a few long weekends a year instead of a long holiday.
In contrast, workers in China get 15 legally mandated days off per year, sararimen in Japan get 10 (and take 17.5 on average), and countries like Australia and the UK give their employees 20 days off. And the communist wine-drinkin' surrender monkeys of Europe have even more. I wonder how long until there is a push by the WTO or IMF or someone to abolish these mandates by international "free trade" treaty, by defining them as "expropriation" (i.e., requiring multinational corporations to give workers paid leave is equivalent to nationalising their assets, and thus not on), and to harmonise all of McWorld on the US model?
True Porn Clerk Stories; a study in polymorphous perversity from a woman who works in a video library with a porn section.
I don't think he was as angry at the notion that he might have to clean up his own mess so much as he was furious that he'd been caught making it. Sometimes new customers don't see the security cameras right away, and they sure as hell don't expect the Voice of God mike. When you're scrutinizing the charming cover art of White Trash Whore the last thing you want is to be chastized by a booming voice from above.
The challenge of creating really good shuffle is endlessly entertaining, and appreciated by all clerks, no matter what our musical tastes. For a while Casey and I were really into Bollywood soundtracks, and, really, anything that would make the customers look up at the speakers in an attempt to figure out what the hell we were playing. Casey eventually got his hands on some Mongolian throat-singing, which was a delight. Roy Orbison, the Trainspotting soundtrack, Soul Couging, and any good New Wave collection used to be a favorite blend of mine, though Casey came up with the most elegantly simple mix: Belle & Sebastian and GWAR.
Pinkness and horror: In today's globalised, just-in-time marketplace, many IT workers are coerced into working 50-to-60-hour weeks. This is done by scheduling meetings early and late in the day (often required to teleconference with the head office), and when employees are "downsized", the work is spread around other employees. This is helped along by a high unemployment rate, and fear that if one doesn't put in 60 hours for the team, the next guy on the dole queue would be more than happy to oblige.
"A classic comment is 'you're not a team player' which means that team players work long hours and then go to the pub or the workplace social, extending the work hours even more. The twentysomething, university-educated, sports-car-driving, inner-city, one-bedroom-apartment-dwelling manager has very little understanding of why a family person spends an hour getting home, has to pick up the kids or the shopping before 6pm, and not work 60 hours a week. There's a chasm between the ones who understand and the ones who don't - the ones with a life outside work and ones without."
One consequence of this, and such employees' lack of time for a life outside of work is the rise in the popularity of online dating, now no longer confined to geeks and the socially awkward:
"Almost 20 per cent of those professionals using RSVP are IT workers," Mulcahy says. "They're used to the Internet for time-saving services and convenience, so it's natural they turn to online dating for spicing up their love life."