JOBS THROUGH CUTTING WORK TIME FRANCE
France's electricity and gas utilities will introduce a 35-hour week under a new
agreement with unions in the sector. At the same time, the utilities have committed themselves
to take on an extra 20,000 young workers over the next three years. (Since about 15,000 of
the French utilities 142,000 employees are due to retire during the next three years, the new
agreement means a net gain of around 5,000 jobs.)
The strong emphasis in the agreement on shorter hours is due to the bargaining policies of
the local unions, who have been calling for employers to reduce work times while
simultaneously boosting employment.
Even more cuts in working hours are on the cards, as the new agreement also provides
for voluntary moves to a 32-hour, four-day week. It is up to each work unit to decide whether
they want this and, if so, how they will put it into practice.
Those who opt for the 32-hour week will receive 97% of full pay (with 99% for the
lower-wage workers). The new measures are to be financed partly from union's resources,
partly through state schemes and partly through restraint in wage increases.
The local union FCE-CFDT is arguing strongly in favour of the 32-hour option: "This
is because the employment effects are greater. It is an opportunity for everyone to organise
their work on the basis of a four-day week. A 32-hour week is also the best route to an
innovative work organisation that reconciles individual aspirations with the requirements of public
service, in the context of the opening up to competition ..."
Source International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM) statement
"French Power And Gas Deal Boosts Jobs Through Work Time Cuts"
VOICES: ON CRITICISMS OF WORK AND INCOME NZ
" The new organisation is in chaos. While the new signs might be up and the desks are
kept clear ... staff morale is low, computer integration is limited, processing of student
allowances is in chaos and successful programmes such as local employment co-ordinators and the
Community Employment Group are being restructured out of existence.
" The student allowance crisis is no accident. It is symptomatic of the approach WINZ
has taken to all of its `customers'. There appears to be time and money for mock wedding
breakfasts for management, road shows and corporate videos but insufficient planning and
attention to detail to ensure that quality service is delivered.
" The dismantling of the previous system of direct processing of student allowances by
tertiary institutions, and the consequent massive loss of institutional knowledge, has clearly
contributed to the current crisis.
" The WINZ project managers, their chief executive and the Minister should all be held
to account for the current shambles. They had full knowledge of the likely work-load
before taking over student allowances but clearly ignored the advice they were given ..."
-- Rod Donald, Green Party Co-leader
" Work and Income NZ touches the lives of over 900,000 New Zealanders. We do so
through the dedicated and skilled application of over 4,500 staff who work tirelessly to deliver a
top line service. For Mr Donald to suggest otherwise is simply an indication that he is not in
touch with what is really happening at a grass roots level ...
" WINZ has achieved what no other social service organisation had been able to do before
an integrated approach to customer management which addressed the entire cycle of
benefit assessment, benefit payment, training and employment.
" Mr Donald's speculations verge on being irresponsible and will cause a great deal of
anguish within the department.
" I stand by what I know Work and Income NZ is achieving for New Zealand and I stand
by my staff who are making these achievements possible ..."
-- Christine Rankin, WINZ Chief Executive
" Some of the Opposition spin-doctoring on Work and Income NZ is just self-serving
puffery, and clearly part of a deliberate strategy to undermine WINZ and its one stop shop structure.
" I take valid criticism of WINZ seriously, and in recent weeks have required the
department to urgently address performance in relation to student allowances, and procedures
" However WINZ does its job very well overall. It is the country's newest and biggest
department. It has over 4,500 staff, spends over $10 billion in taxpayers' money per year, and
over $600 million in wages and programmes.
" Despite its petty criticism, Labour has publicly admitted the one stop shop is the way to
go, and it certainly is. WINZ will save the taxpayer around $15 million a year because it is
more efficient than its preceding three separate services. Naturally, it costs money to set up the
"Yet, despite this, Opposition MPs grandstand on every piece of trivia they can get, or
invent, about WINZ to advance their own cause. They waste both staff time and tens of thousands
of dollars of public money asking ridiculous Parliamentary Questions on everyday spending
such as carpets, desks, name badges, training sessions and management meetings which are
standard for any large organisation ..."
-- Peter McCardle, Associate Work and Income Minister
" It is sad to see the Associate Minister of Work and Income spinning so wildly out of
control in the face of valid criticism of the performance and focus of Work and Income New Zealand.
" It is the Opposition's duty to question the questionable. We can hardly be blamed when
the department he is responsible for provides so much ammunition ..."
--Steve Maharey, Labour social welfare spokesperson
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