the hours

Posted: June 5, 2012 in This is the Voice of Lefty Reason

A new report last week that compared working hours across the world.  How many hours do you work in a week?  Or rather, how many hours are you present at your place of employment?  Germany, which has the highest productivity in Europe is near the bottom of the hours worked league.  This means that the fabled German efficiency is alive and well.  German workers are present less but get more done.  In Britain we are still tied in to the “attendance” method of thinking; clocking on and off with no real link to effort or output unless you are paid per unit of work on piece rate.  Attendance based payment systems also opens up the overtime conundrum; financially it is better to work slower and then be offered overtime premium payment to catch up.  Modern life seems to demand longer and longer hours often by both partners in a marriage; the housewife/husband is an endangered species with school holidays being a minefield of swopped shifts and one-in-one-out arrangements.  Of course in times of recession employees run scared from saying no and are at the mercy of employers who know full well they hold the upper hand as the stock of unemployed rises and rises.  We seem to be regressing; we were told that twenty first century living would be characterised by massive amounts of leisure time; work would be minimal and we could make all we needed without slaving for seventy plus hours a week.  Still, could be worse, we could be South Korean.  That country tops the chart with fourteen hour days the norm and non-compulsory, but expected attendance on Saturdays.

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