Japanese workers _ restructuring cf Korea

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        A shorter
                                                                                  April 2002          No 19
                                                                         France:35 hour week attacked as EU
                                                                         looks to US model economy ……. 1
                                                                         The ‘end of history’ & the real world

        work week
                                                                         economy       ……………………              2
                                                                         Overworked doctors fight
                                                                         corporatised healthcare ………         3
                                                                         NSW construction industry unions

                                                                         aim for extra RDOs    ………..      3
                                                                         On jobs and fighting for a shorter
                                                                         work week …………………..                3
                                                                         A shorter work week can be good for

sustainable work
                                                                         business ……………………..               4
                                                                         Classical economy: unemployment,
                                                                         overpopulation & despotism of

in a sustainable
                                                                         capital …………………………               4
                                                                         ALP is hauled over the coals of its
                                                                         constituencies ………….….              5
                                                                         Long hours break wharfies’ necks 5

               economy                                                   UK union wins a cap on hours …. 5
                                                                         Kill or die for the dole ………….
                                                                         What’s the aim of SWW News? …. 6

* Shorter work week now with no loss of pay!                             Shorter work week, sustainable
*Unite employed & unemployed workers!Create full employment!             economies & living standards ….. 7
* Set a 6 hour working day as a global standard by 2010!                 SWW Network – statement of aims 7
* Turn to a sustainable, cooperative world enviro-socio-economy!         Global cities, regions& world wide
* Emancipate labour! Re-order our work-life-time!                        campaigns around work time …… 8
* For a world based on justice & equity, not war & exploitation!         Israel/Palestine: peace can only
                                                                         come through a supreme council of
 Build a world wide campaign for shorter work hours                      workers …………………………… 8
   Shorter Work Week Network:

             France: 35 hour week attacked
            as EU looks to US model economy
In France many workers enjoy & support a 35              providing the government‟s opponents a chance
hour week. Since it was introduced in 2000 to            to campaign against a 35 hour week. The French
firms of more than 20 employees unemployment             employers association, Medef, has named reform
has fallen & thousands of jobs created that              or abolition of the 35 hour week its top priority, to
would probably have not otherwise happened.              get France globally competitive (‟Angry French
People are enjoying increased leisure time & as a        bosses come out fighting‟ AFR 21.2.02).
rule, learning to use the accompanying flexibility
to better arrange work & leisure over the work           Some sectors have always opposed a shorter
year. Some shift between men & women has                 work week – not least the trucking industry,
occurred in work and home responsibilities.              largely owner-operators and small to medium
                                                         firms, and small business generally - because
The second stage – extending a 35 hour week to
                                                         they are price „takers‟ & more easily squeezed by
workers in firms of less than 20 people is now
                                                         higher costs, as well more likely to feel burdened
underway. It is happening as France‟s political
                                                         by, thus evade taxes & regulations. This could be
cycle winds up to the next period of elections,
                                                         exposed in negotiating work hours. (cont‟d page 2)

The actual course of gradually implementing a                   www.thetimes. 15.3.02; „Schroder can no longer
shorter work week across the workforce has also                 count on unions support‟ 19.3.02;
                                                                „Italians go on strike over labor law reforms‟
allowed its opponents to exploit it. The French        14.3.02).
socialists adopted a 35 hour week in their platform
only after pressure from the Greens, Reds and                   This course of action can only deliver a pyrrhic
unemployed, over the opposition of employers.                   victory to such governments, as Norway shows,
Jospin‟s concession to employers was to write                   where the Democratic Socialists‟ „liberal‟ agenda
enhanced „flexibility‟ into the legislation, with the           lost them government last October as their base
35 hour week implemented through enterprise                     of support shifted, and workers‟ votes flowed into
deals (where only 10% of the workforce is union-                the Socialist Left Party.
ized) and giving employers tax sweeteners to                    More dangerously, the run down socialist states of
offset costs onto the public. The shorter working               eastern Europe are being reordered as thatcherite
week is also only a part of a program of economic               type markets. Raging unemployment, dismantling
„modernisation‟ that includes privatization &                   of the old economies, their takeover by gangsters
contracting out of publicly provided services.                  & transnationals, often under IMF direction, are
Workers in the rapidly privatizing public sector are            allowing vicious anti-worker laws & practices to
caught in a situation where there is no funding for             prevail (see „Network‟ No19, Mar 2002,
extra employees – so many are doing extra                       Western European capital hopes that with a
unpaid work despite a formal shortening of hours                cheap labour zone integrated into its economic
(„Shorter working week is given the thumbs down‟ SMH            orbit it can blackmail the west European labour
?.3.02). In the private sector many workers find the            movement & ultimately undermine a century‟s
fine print leaves them with less pay than before,               gains, to strengthen European imperial interests
as they work periods of long hours with no                      as they contend with those of US, Asia etc.
overtime followed by periods of below normal                    France‟s universal 35 hour week legislation will
weekly pay on less than 35 hours („The new French               come to be regarded as either labour‟s high point
35 hour week – an example of deregulation‟ D Gluckstein).
                                                                in extracting gains out of the global economy, or
The labour movement needs to ensure a centre-
                                                                as just another step in extending labour‟s rights &
left government addresses these anomalies.
                                                                conditions till we are able to emancipate ourselves
There are also general left/progressive critiques               as a world class – the only one with the ability, if
of the 35 hour week: it is seen as either not going             we have the vision, to abolish capital‟s despotism
far enough, or as only being a bait to intensify                over the planet.
exploitation. There are elements of truth in these
                                                                But we need to promote & protect gains made by
critiques – for instance the north European left/
                                                                the working class in France, throughout Europe &
union movement claims we need a 6 hour day to
                                                                elsewhere, as well as recognize the costs of these
get a substantial qualitative improvement in how
                                                                gains & their shortcomings. Extending gains is the
we work & organise our lives (SWW News Nos 15,16)
                                                                best way to protect them - so they become global
However, the first critique over-estimates the                  standards, and using them as a base to promote
forces marshalled to win the reform in France in                further gains. To do this effectively we need to
2000, compared with what would be needed to                     inspire workers to think gains are possible, & align
win more, under better bargaining conditions. The               our campaigns from local to global level. Calls for
second claim mixes intrinsic & extraneous factors               a 6 hour work day world standard in the first
linking work hours & intensification of work. Short-            decades of the 21C is in this spirit! Subscribe to a
er hours allow more intensive, concentrated work,               world campaign!
while technologically driven productivity enhance-              The “end of history” and the real world economy
ment intensifies work, so requires reduced work                 Ed Herman ( 16.3.2)
hours – not only to share work, but to reduce wear              Herman claims the collapse of the soviet union & the
& tear on labour. Yet, on top of this the capitalist            triumph of capitalism has not created a peaceful,
urge for profit drives it to both intensify work &              democratic order – i) termination of a socialist threat
extend work hours as far as possible. The                       meant labour no longer needed accommodating with
respective organized strengths of capital & labour              social welfare concessions (the „welfare state‟) and
                                                                there could be a return to a purer capitalism;
decide the extent to which it gets away with this.
                                                                ii) corporate globalisation & greater capital mobility
The European Union, or its economic controllers                 makes for a global “reserve army of labour”, that
are generally looking to ‘reform’ the European                  weakens labour‟s bargaining ability and political
economy along U.S. lines („Europe‟s architects of               position; iii) without soviet „containment‟ the US is
reform have designs on US blueprint‟ AFR 18.3.02), so it        freer to use force in serving its transnationals.
can compete better against other economic                       Because ongoing globalization increases inequality
powers in the global market. „3 ‟ way Social                    & poverty, protests & insurgencies will continue to
Democrats like Blair (UK) & Schroeder (Germany)                 arise. The „Washington Axis‟ (oil industry, military-
are working with the likes of Berlusconi (Italy) to             industrial complex, other transnationals & the Christ-
„unfetter‟ European capital. They want organized                ian Right underpinning the Bush regime) must wage
labour sufficiently direction-less & exposed                    „war on the poor‟ in waging its „war on terrorism‟ as
politically to carry this out, even if it costs them            the poor are driven to resist & resistance treated as
their trade union base & workers‟ support. (see                 terrorism. The „poor‟ are largely the global workforce
„TUC chief rebukes Blair over links with the Right‟

     Overworked doctors fight corporatised healthcare
Doctors are asking for legislation to enforce safer              based industry. Wholesale changes to the sector
hours for junior doctors. A recent Australian                    make it harder for both staff and patients.
Medical Association survey shows more than
                                                                 Severe under-staffing and excessive overtime led
three-quarters of interns work more than 64 hours
                                                                 nurses to launch a „What is a Nurse Worth‟
a week. Nearly a third worked more than 86 hours
                                                                 campaign that culminated in a statewide strike in
a week and some up to 106 hours in a week!
                                                                 NSW last October. A breakthrough on hours with
The AMA Safe Hours Project set a national code                   St Vincent‟s, one of the largest private hospitals,
of practice for hours of work, rostering & shift work            may spread (
in 1999. However, hospitals have not adopted the
                                                                 The Australian Services Union is also campaign-
code. “We are now looking at the possibility of
                                                                 ing to protect the rights of medical centre staff.
enforcement” says AMA president Phelps, “to
                                                                 ASU members report reduced pay rates, forced
date I can‟t tell you one single hospital that has
                                                                 redundancies, introduction of workplace agree-
implemented those changes”. Phelps also points
                                                                 ments, removal of penalty payments for weekend
to inadequacies in determining the number of
                                                                 work & overtime & a change for the worse in
doctors that need to be trained & where they are
                                                                 management culture as health service delivery is
needed, as well the onerous way interns are
                                                                 corporatised (
rostered as cause of the problem („AMA push to
ease load on fatigued new doctors‟. SMH 3.2.01).                 The Multilateral Agreement on Trade in Services
The overwork of junior doctors is a longstanding                 helps this trend. It directs governments to get out
problem in Australia and internationally. Europe is              of providing infrastructure & services & leave it to
gradually addressing the problem through the EU                  multinational corporations. Throwing services to
Directive on Safe hours. Among other things, it                  the „market‟ inevitably leads to loss of workers‟
prevents imposing double shifts on employees, as                 rights & conditions as capital starts to compete for
is common in Australia (see „work-               rates of return & applies „normal practice‟ – exten-
place‟ for info on safe hours campaign & corporatisation).       ding & intensifying exploitation of labour time.
Young doctors‟ overwork is part of the general                   It points to how the fight for workers conditions,
„turning of the screw‟ on workers as public funded               notably over hours and security is inextricably tied
health care is starved of funds and creeping                     to the struggle to defend & extend public
corporatisation turns health care into a profit                  ownership      and      control     of     industry.

     NSW construction industry unions aim for extra RDOs
         Break through CFMEU! Go BTG!                            discuss the claim, win workers‟ support and
Workers in the construction industry can work                    educate all rank & file to prepare for the fight.
long, excessive hours. Working 6 days a week is                     On jobs & fighting for a shorter work week
common in recent years despite a 19 day month                    „The importance of shorter hours are the safety
industry standard set in 1981.                                   issues, improvement of quality of life, more time for
In NSW the construction industry unions – the                    leisure, more time for your family... but job creation is
CFMEU, PGU, ETU, AWU, AMWU & TWU – are                           probably the most important thing we see as a branch
aiming to win extra paid rostered days off in 2002,              of our union… creating jobs for apprentices & for our
to give industry workers more paid leisure time.                 workers over 45 who are left on the scrap heap in
                                                                 this industry. We have an obligation to them & that
At least 1000 Enterprise Bargaining Agreements                   obligation can only be filled if we start to create jobs.
in the NSW industry expire later this year, opening              We‟re not going to create jobs if we‟re working 78 or
up possibilities for effective campaigns. The NSW                even 56 hours a week. One worker‟s overtime is
Labor Council endorses the campaign and it helps                 another workers job & that consciousness is some-
advance the ACTU‟s call for „Fairer Work Hours‟.                 thing we‟re trying to address…„We said „Let‟s start
                                                                 educating our members over this 3 years of our
Victorian construction workers broke through to a
                                                                 agreement, so come 2000, shorter hours must be on
36 hour week in 2000, by using pattern bargaining
                                                                 the agenda in the construction industry in this state.
to win more rostered days off throughout the year.               We must win it then‟ …„So people were starting to
Strategic groups of employers oppose the unions                  create an expectation. Workers were saying, “Will
taking up an industry wide campaign, especially                  this be a 36 hour a week job site?”….„We as a union
for shorter hours. Howard‟s gangsters will, as                   saw no reason to introduce shorter working hours
usual, sool on the dogs. They are already attack-                without putting limits on overtime‟...„It‟s a myth to say
ing construction industry workers with yet another               shorter hours do not create jobs. It absolutely
royal commission into the industry that targets the              creates jobs. There can be no backing away from
unions (see                 the fact that it does‟…‟the key issue of unions (is)
                                                                 having an industry strategy....building our delegates‟
The CFMEU has surveyed its members to work                       networks, giving them ownership of the issue &
out courses of action they most support. It is                   telling them “our time will come”‟. D Mighell, ETU, at
holding job meetings throughout the year to                      „SWW forum, ACTU Congress, W‟gong 28.06.00

            A shorter work week can be good for business
Employers rarely support shorter hours. Since                         This points to potential „win-win‟ situations for
1848, when UK employers bitterly opposed the 10                       labour & capital. Productive costs can be met
Hour Bill, responding by trying to reduce wages all                   more cost effectively through more rational
round, little has changed. Even where chronic un-                     organization of civil infrastructue, eg universal
employment - an entrenched imbalance between                          education, health, housing, urban services etc
demand & supply for labour – obviously harms an                       paid from public revenue rather than supplied via
economy employers oppose shorter hours, or                            a private market. In other words shorter hours &
concede it only where it pre-empts more drastic                       social democracy create a better educated, heal-
concessions. They then seek to subvert & under-                       thier workforce at lower cost, giving a competit-
mine its operation, as currently seen with the loss                   ive advantage to the users of that labour force.
of the 38 hour week in Australia, 35 hour week                        Yet competition between employers means each
deals in France, or 40 hour week talks in Korea.                      will try to get more use out of labour time than the
Yet, the progressive reduction of work hours has                      going rate, to extract a competitive advantage,
served as an economic & social stabilizer over a                      even if, as a class, they proclaim the benefit of a
long time. It lets labour share the wealth arising                    „level playing field‟ so individual firms are not
from the manifold enhancement of its productive                       „unfairly‟ disadvantaged against competition. But
powers. It retards capital‟s tendency to create an                    only workers can get global standards, because
ever growing pool of labor surplus to productive                      „big‟ business will always try to keep or develop
requirements, so reduces the disparity a market                       differentiated labour markets to keep labour as a
economy generates between its power to produce                        whole in a weaker bargaining position.
& capacity to consume. It balances the economy.                       Capitalism itself is the greatest danger to many in
As labour‟s productivity is enhanced, it becomes                      business, whether as owners, managers or work-
possible to further reduce the length of the work-                    ers, because it is a wasteful, brutalizing, crisis
ing day. This can create an innovative dynamic:                       generating economic mode. Recent US extension
employers see new technology or productivity as                       of unemployment benefits, its imposing of tariffs
a chance to improve or retain profit, or counter its                  on steel, setting of trade quotas etc are harbingers
propensity to fall. They try to get more out of                       not of future economic prosperity, but of economic
labour with productivity increases than they lose in                  stress, antagonism & contraction. In light of this
work time concessions. In turn, work hour conces-                     the purpose of widespread increases in police
sions stimulate a drive for new technologies.                         powers & military/weapons expenditure is to block
                                                                      the massive global redistribution of work & wealth
There is also a point beyond which extraction of
                                                                      we need to turn towards a sustainable pathway.
surplus becomes counter productive for capital!
Labour is a cost from the point of view of the firm,                  To „add value‟ enterprises must move to exploiting
but labour not only produces society‟s goods &                        factors other than the productivity of labour. This
services, but must ultimately consume them.                           preoccupation has proven counter productive &
Production is completed in consumption, other-                        unsustainable. Concepts such as „resource prod-
wise it is a glut or externality – waste or pollution.                uctivity‟ and „zero emission‟ productive systems
The higher labour‟s rate of exploitation, the more                    need to be developed to optimize productivity, not
quickly its underconsumption becomes critical &                       only at the level of the enterprise, but at the scale
throws the economy into reverse. This is the flaw                     of productive complexes & habitats up to whole
in „classical‟ capitalism that keynesianism and                       economies. Only through such modes will labour
counter cyclical policies try to address.                             create more free time, while ensuring prosperity.
        The classic economy: unemployment, overpopulation & the despotism of capital
„Capitalistic accumulation itself .. constantly produces ..        how it comes to pass that .. as they work more, as they
a surplus population, an increase always moving more               produce more wealth for others & as the productive
rapidly than the means of employment. The overwork                 power of their labour increases, so in the same
of the employed part of the working class swells the               measure even their function as a means of the self
ranks of the reserve, while the latter by its competition ..       expansion of capital becomes increasingly precarious
forces the former to submit to overwork & to subjugation           for them; as soon as they discover that the degree of
under the diktat of capital. Taking them as a whole, the           intensity of the competition among themselves depends
general movements of wages are exclusively regulated               wholly upon the pressure of surplus population; as soon
by the expansion & contraction of the industrial reserve           as by trade unions etc they try to organise a regular
army & these correspond to the periodic changes of the             cooperation between employed & unemployed in order
industrial cycle. ..       „Relative surplus population is         to destroy or weaken the ruinous effects of this natural
therefore the pivot upon which the law of demand &                 law of capitalistic production on their class - so soon as
supply for labour works. It confines the field of action of        capital & its sycophant, political economy, cry out at the
this law within the limits absolutely convenient to the            infringement of the “eternal” and so to say “sacred” law
activity of exploitation & to the domination of capital. It        of supply & demand. Every combination of the employ-
completes the despotism of capital.                                ed & unemployed disturbs the “harmonious” action of
„ As soon as, therefore, labourers learn the secret –              this law. (K Marx, Capital, Vol. I, 25:3).

ALP is hauled over the coals                                  Labour cutbacks have forced straddle operators to
                                                              work day after day twisted sideways in cramped,
   of its constituencies                                      poorly designed cabins, with only one break every
After its November 2001 win the Liberal-National
                                                              The MUA has laid criminal charges against
government vowed to „haul the Australian Labor
                                                              Patricks on behalf of six of the seriously injured
Party over the coals of its constituency till it is
                                                              members. Working hours & conditions are start-
dismembered‟. Abbot & Howard regularly call out
                                                              ing to force themselves back onto the agenda!
the ALP to support suppressive labour laws, to
show it is „independent‟ of trade unions!                     UK union wins a cap on hours
By March Victorian ALP Premier Bracks panicked                United Kingdom workers have the longest hours
& attacked union „extremists‟ - mainly those who              in Europe. European Union law caps the hours
took a 36 hour week in 2000! A sizable minority               allowed to be worked in a week at 48 hours, but in
of trade unionists now consider the ALP hold on               the UK this law has been interpreted in a way that
trade union leadership as the greatest drawback               undermines it.
to a more progressive unionism & a broader vision
for social democracy                                          Under UK law an employee can „choose‟ not to
                                                              take the legal minimum of breaks and holidays,
On the other hand ALP leftists accuse non-ALP                 and „volunteer‟ to work extra hours, with no
left parties that call on unions to disaffiliate from         obligation on the employer to record the extra
the ALP of „right opportunism‟, as it‟d destroy the           time. Employers could also exclude night shift
trade union based party that already exists, when             over-time hours from the count of normal hours.
it should & can be reformed (see Bob Gould paper).            This has let employers „lean‟ on employees.
Yet, loss of members & influence in the labour                Amicus-MSF – the union of manufacturing,
movement, union disaffiliation & shifts to parties to         science, finance workers - took the UK govern-
the left is the price labor/social democratic parties         ment to the European Commission on the charge
world wide are starting to pay for persisting with            it had unlawfully and inadequately implemented
liberal economic & industrial policies for most of            the EU directive in UK. This followed Department
the last two decades, often with their left‟s assent.         of Trade & Industry refusal to review its implement
Labour needs socialist policies and a vision for a            -ation of the law 3 years ago (see ).
future that is global, green & based on working
people‟s advancement & emancipation. It must be               The Commission has now ruled that the UK
internationalist & anti-imperialist, or it is kidding         government is breaking the law on the issue: that
itself. Full employment – & reduction of work                 employers are obliged to ensure workers‟ hours
hours & an enlarged public/community sector &                 and conditions are legal. It has till the end of May
control of industry must be at the core of a left             to adjust its laws or further proceedings will start
program for government that unites labour &                   against it. General Secretary of Amicus, Roger
provides the means to redirect economic growth.               Lyons calls the decision an historic victory, that
                                                              cuts excessive working time considerably, slashes
It is up to present ALP members to prove the ALP              stress and brings UK workers closer to the level of
is able to reform itself, despite increasingly advan-         hours already enjoyed in the rest of Europe.
ced signs of disintegration & irrelevance. It can no
longer be taken for granted that opponents of the             Employers are furious of course. They object to
prevailing order & the seekers of a positive vision           „interference from Brussels‟, claim an obligation to
for the future will automatically gather round an             record work hours is a „bureaucratic nightmare‟ &
ALP political, industrial & community pole &                  accuse unions of „being totally uninterested in
deliver it power, or government, in its own right, &          flexibility and choice. They only want to control &
with it having no accountability to the broadest              nanny how people work‟. Workers can always rely
labour constituency!.                                         on employers to protect them from union interfer-
                                                              ence & defend their right to work unlimited hours!

Long hours break wharfies’ necks                              The ACTU is currently advocating, not a 48 hour a
                                                              week limit to work, but a 48 hour flexi-week that
The MUA‟s victory against the vicious assaults                allows periods of 60 or more hours work a week!
Patricks & Reith/Howard conspired to in 1998 was              It needs to look at the EU provisions more closely
at a cost. New work practices after the lockout               in determining what are fair hours of work & the
included 12 hour shifts, loss of a 35 hour week &             sorts of provisions that can guarantee them (see
disciplinary casualisation via a 24 hour x 365 day            „Fairer work hours: ACTU puts a strong case for a weak
a year roster system, as Patricks downsized the               claim‟ SWW News No18).
workforce as its first step in driving up productivity.
                                                               SHORTER WORK WEEK NETWORK
Wharfies have literally copped it in the neck!                                 MEETS NEXT:
Working long hours on the straddle cranes at Port                                     th
                                                                  WEDNESDAY 19 JUNE 2002, 5.30 pm
Botany has led to a plague of neck, shoulder &
                                                                CFMEU BDG, 12 RAILWAY PDE LIDCOMBE
back industries, with dozens in physiotherapy.
                                                              Contact: Ph: 9758 4497

      ‘Kill or die for the dole’                                barbarism. Humanity, whose great majority must
                                                                work to live, have as their first & greatest need the
Australia‟s labour market slumped in the year to                right to work; and a just society must be able to
April 2002. Full time jobs collapsed, average work              fairly share the work it needs done. At the heart
hours fell to an all time low, underemployment                  of this is the matter of work hours!
rose dramatically („Slump in full time work‟ AFR 4.42).         Those out of work immediately need the number
                                                                of hours in a full time work week drastically
The real jobless rate is double the official rate
                                                                reduced, and to unite with those in work to push
when the underemployed, discouraged and
                                                                for shorter hours as the centerpiece of a serious
unavailable jobseekers are counted („”Underutilised”
                                                                full employment policy.
lift jobless rate to 12pc‟ AFR ..4.2). The labour market
is „sluggish‟ as redundancies continue, voluntary                What’s the aim of Shorter Work Week News?
turnover slows, competition for jobs heats up, and              Asks Ken of Gerringong: ‘what are you aiming for
those without jobs are out of work longer (AFR                  in these publications. They’re almost encyclopedic
18.2.02). Job ads, a leading indicator of how the               .. maybe useful to the ‘already committed’ but
labour market is moving, dived in March („Job ads               shouldn’t we always be aiming for among our 19
drop 9pc in biggest fall for year‟ AFR 9.4.02).                 million people – addressing to them, trying to
                                                                connect to them, no matter how limited their
Part of this is driven by market demands for 15pc               conceptions of the ‘big scene’ may be?
post-tax returns on capital, causing managers to                ‘You’re so sloganistic: ‘worker support’, ‘internatio-
sacrifice long-run viability for short term profits, by         nalistic’. What does this mean to the ordinary wage-
stripping staff down to a minimum („Good share                  pleb – over-worked, or getting the bullet?’
price, bad management‟ SLong AFR 10.4.02).
                                                                Ken – our aim is a worldwide campaign for shorter
The privatized Job Network, operating in a totally              work hours, because it is a key demand for labour‟s
government created & controlled „market‟ breeds                 emancipation, and labour itself is a world wide class,
corruption, with jobseekers getting jobs (hoarded               in a global, capitalist economy. Humanity‟s future is
by the agencies) only if they are „worth enough‟ in             either barbarism, or if we can overthrow the present
terms of government reward for placing them                     set-up, socialism – which will be a cooperative world
(„Best client for the job‟ N‟castle Herald 21.2.02).            economy and a society with people, not profits at its
A corporatised Australia Post is converting full-               centre. This is the only „pathway to sustainability‟.
time jobs to part-time jobs run by contractors so it            We do need to talk with people in our own country -
can pay government a dividend from cost cutting.                & in our communities & workplaces. We must
Conversion to part-time work at lower wage rates                advocate, publicise & support workers‟ advances in
also employs more people (for fewer hours in                    the matter of hours and conditions & oppose moves
total) so lets the government boast about reducing              by state or employer to reverse them. We must do
the unemployment rate into the bargain („Loss                   whatever we can in our own work & life situations.
outweighs profit‟ J Corbett NH 25.7.02).                        But ultimately, we need the global workforce to act
                                                                consciously as a class against capital as its global
„Unequal wages growth widens the income gap‟                    exploiter & opposing class if we‟re to make „despotic
(AFR 19.4.02) and, while „the rich are richer and               inroads‟ into its prerogatives & undermine the basis
living in Sydney‟ (SMH 14.2.02), the jobless rate in            of its global power. At the core of capital‟s power is
some regions tops 10pc (AFR 25.1.02). Despite a                 its self-creating knack of taking from labour the value
period of unparalleled growth & job „creation‟, the             of its time beyond that which labour needs paying for
rate of imprisonment is greatly outstripping rate of            to recreate itself. Employers as a class are able to
population growth. Most people locked away are                  control labour by determining the length and intensity
young adult men between 20 and 35. Almost 6%                    of the day employees must work for a wage.
of all aboriginal men between ages 25 to 29 are in              From this capital ultimately derives its ability (&
jail at any time, a rate 15 times higher than for               drive) to create & exploit a global labour market, that
non-indigenous men („More put behind bars, longer‟              it divides & compartmentalizes – by work place,
SMH 27.3.02).                                                   industry, gender, age, race, religion, country, pay &
The Howard government not only presides over                    conditions & by whether we are in or out of work. Ie
                                                                able to live by selling our labour time to buy back
such a society but actively meddles at all stages
                                                                what we, the global workforce, create in the first
to achieve such results. It is now toying with an
ultimate, yet predictable solution for the
unemployed – to make them work for the army                     We have the power to restructure our work, life and
while on the dole! This is conscription by stealth!             time in a way that liberates us and frees us from
The alternative is to serve in „Community Action                wage slavery & corporate flunkeydom! Humanity,
Groups‟, acting as „strike forces in the aftermath of           collectively, can manage our creative powers & the
floods, storms and bushfires‟ („Jobless for the military‟       structures our labour has built over time. We can
                                                                reorder our world so it sustains future generations, in
AFR 25.3.02)! Maybe the military equivalent is
                                                                a way worthy of our human nature. But we must
clearing mines for the Aussie army as it trudges
                                                                realise this possibility & be inspired to take on this
godforsaken fields around the planet nominated                  task. SWW News helps promote this world wide
by the US as theatres of its War against terrorism!             struggle around work time by providing information &
There is no vision of an enlightened, sustaining or             analysis for activists & thinkers, & by showing how
sustainable future for humanity in this drift into              this issue relates to the workers‟ general cause.

    Shorter work week, sustainable                                    SHORTER WORK WEEK NETWORK –
      economy & living standards                                           STATEMENT OF AIMS

A fortress mentality exists & grows in the West –
                                                                  The Shorter Work Week Network is established to:-
among the societies benefiting most from exploiting             * advocate a world wide campaign for shorter working
humanity and the planet‟s resources. It worsens as                hours
capital is „unfettered‟ and disparities in wealth &             * to mobilize this campaign by creating & supporting
power grow, generating massive transmigration from                Shorter Work Week Action Committees
rural to urban areas in the 3rd world & from the 3rd to         * communicate matters relating to the ongoing
the 1st world – in economic terms, as labour uses its             struggle over working hours & the structuring of our
mobility to seek a higher price.
                                                                  work, life & time.
Behind the fortress mentality is the idea (stated by
NSW Premier Carr) that „it is impossible to lift living         The Shorter Work Week Network is committed to
standards of all the world‟s population to anything             progressively reducing work hours without loss of pay:
like that of the West‟. To solve it the 3rd world must          to create full employment, to unite employed &
drastically curtail its population. The doors of a              unemployed workers, to emancipate labour & to start
fortress Australia (or US or Europe) must be locked             the 21st century in a civilised way.
to preserve a quality of life for those within its walls.       Subscribers to the SWW Network help determine its
A more humane attitude, but still accepting these               activity through annual election of a network action
premises, argues for a redistribution of resources (&           committee and participation in its planning, review and
even work hours), but assumes this must lead to a               implementation processes.
loss of living standards in the West – we‟ll have more
free time but will be poorer. It can lead to calls for          SWWACS are autonomous groups of activists,
employed workers to share their work & wages with               individual or representative of organizations, who
the unemployed, so the share of social wealth                   subscribe to the SWW Network’s objectives and work
allocated to labour is shared more equally. It often            together to bring about progressive and general
degenerates into accusations that „greedy workers‟              reductions in work hours, so all who need to work can
cause unemployment by working too hard and too                  do so.
                                                                A shorter work week with flexibility for the worker and
This totally misses the point of what creates                   without loss of pay:-
overwork along side of unemployment and what
determines wage levels (see p4 this issue). What                 * creates new work opportunities
creates the possibility of shorter work hours is not             * gives more leisure time to full time workers
the noble gesture to share scarcity, but the ongoing             *allows us to fully exercise civic responsibility
enhancement of humanity‟s productive powers, that                * increases wages (hourly rates) for part-time
creates the potential for plenty, even as it uses less             workers
energy & resources to do so! It is specifically                  * ensures productivity leads to more free,
capitalism, not industrialisation or computerisation,             re-creative time, not more unemployment
that uses this productivity to increase exploitation             * gives labour an incentive to improve practice
and disparities of wealth & power.                               * gives capital an incentive to innovate
For instance, education is necessary to participate in           * puts people not profits at the centre of economics
an „information age economy‟, whose key feature is
                                                                The Shorter Work Week Network encourages you to
an intensified use of factors of production.
Education also directly correlates with women‟s
                                                                participate in or to help establish SWWACs in your
control of their bodies & fertility. It is a key to both        industry, locality or organisation to the extent you can.
limiting population and modernising economies.                  You can support the work of the Network directly by
                                                                taking out an annual supporter’s subscription ($10 or
Yet 125m children are working instead of being at               $50 for an organization)
school and there are 970m illiterate adults in
developing countries. To provide universal primary              I wish to become a subscriber to the Shorter
level education for all would cost $8b a year, or 4             Work Week Network
days global military expenditure!                               Name ………………………………Donation $ ……
This example shows a fairer redistribution of wealth            Organisation ……………………………………..……
on this planet does not need to lead to a loss of
                                                                Address ……………………………………………….
living standards for a substantial minority of the
world workforce. In this case it would enhance                  Tel: …………………..              Fax: …………………….
quality and security of life considerably for all!              Email: …………………………………………………
What we need is to challenge the present power                     Or pay to CBA Account No 06 2258 10114111
relationships and the way the global economy is                            Shorter Work Week Network
directed. A just and sustainable global economy can                       PO Box 291 Belmore NSW 2192
only come about by the world‟s workers recognising
our common interest and working together to                          Shorter Work Week News: editor W Sonter
emancipate ourselves. A world wide campaign for                         Contact: Tel - (02) 9758 4497; email -
shorter work hours is a key element of this.                   

Global cities, regions & world wide campaigns around work time
Competition turns into its opposite (hence anti-                    much of the world, as the churches did through
monopoly laws to „protect‟ competition). In the                     Jubilee 2000, which the anti-globalisation
same way the contending imperialisms of the last                    movement took up. In its most advanced form it
                                                                                      st                       rd
150 years are now reduced to one global military                    calls on a broad 1 world alliance to help 3 world
superpower which, in its absolute arrogance,                        workers fight oppression (eg, the Nike campaign).
proclaims a policy of „total spectrum dominance‟ –                  Labour activists in the world economy‟s
of earth, space & communication (information).                      „manufacturing belt‟ also argue for their strategic
Imperialism – monopoly capitalism – has develop-                    role as the „weak link‟ in the imperialist chain, that
ed gargantuan powers, transforming the world as                     can overturn the capitalist order (cf „Korean workers..‟
it organizes itself into a global market system.                    SWW News No17).       As first formulated by the
                                                                    Bolsheviks, the ultimate success of a revolution in
While one state militarily dominates the world, the                 a „weak link‟ country depends on its triggering
global economy arranges itself more as a hierar-                    revolution in the most advanced economies.
chy of centres & their hinterlands. Any regionalism
is based primarily on „centralisation of power,                     All 3 perspectives have a role in overturning the
decentralization of production‟. A global cities                    hegemony of global capital, but to succeed they
„meta-geography‟ has emerged that maps global                       ultimately need workers in the „heartlands‟ of
connexions and reveals the hierarchy through                        global capital to link up to make „despotic inroads‟
which capital exercises its global hegemony.                        into its prerogatives. The workers of the advanced
Unremarkably, it shows a global political economy                   economies will be the key to sweeping away the
dominated by the principal cities of Europe, USA                    old order, or at least enforcing „co-determination‟
& Asia (Japan) (                  (see German trade union site –

Some argue a „progressive‟ nationalism or region-                   This is why north European calls for the world
alism counterbalances a global imperialism. They                    labour movement to take up a 6 hour working day
argue in effect that a sustainable world economy                    as an inspiring goal in the 21C, like the 8 hour day
can evolve out of a regional entrepreneurialism                     was in the 20 century, is a significant call. It
that can effectively compete in the world market.                   helps visualize a future where people are at the
This adapts to the global market, assuming                          centre of the economy. It keeps the European
conflicts between labour & capital & local & global                 labour movement on the front foot against a right
forces can be resolved by a „win-win‟ liberalism.                   offensive. If it can inspire, & build bridges to the
                                                                    US labour movement, around core conditions of
Others argue for a „3 worldism‟ – a „popular front‟                 work hours & rights, as well as reach out to the
of interests that eg argues for the rich & powerful                 „weak link‟ economies, it can be a powerful tool for
nations to forgive the debt they have imposed on                    mobilizing the global workforce.
Israel/Palestine: peace can only come through a              supreme council of Israeli & Palestinian workers
The escalating violence between the Israeli state and its     stagnates & government revenue is absorbed in military
Palestinian bantustan oppresses all workers in the            expenditure. Employers keep the workforce divided –
name of nation & religion. Working people, their              between Jews of different origin & between Jew & Arab;
families & the associations they create to advance their      many „old‟ industries face closure and industrial conflict
interests – must assert the demand for a secular,             is gradually increasing. Typically, Israel‟s capitalist class
modernizing, multicultural social democracy if peace is       has deflected attention from a growing social crisis by
to come to Israelis and Palestinians.                         fanning national, racial & religious hatred. It
An arrogant Zionism backed by the US juggernaut & a           exacerbates this by destroying Palestine‟s social &
desperate Palestine‟s response to oppression                  economic infrastructure – water supplies, power
perceived as a national-religious terror, disempowers         generation, trees, housing, schools etc – to provoke an
workers as a class. Palestinian and Israeli workers work      inevitably violent reaction & uses this to drive workers
in an inextricably intertwined economy and labour             into their respective camps.
market. They have more in common with each other as              Workers must respond proudly as a force for the future
workers than they do with those promoting the camps of           & wrest control from the instigators of crisis! Israeli &
nationality, religion and racist hatred..                        Palestinian trade union councils should heed
Why do the reactionary, racist Israeli right in particular       international calls to act in solidarity & demand the
stoke the fires of war? Because they have always                 killing stop! They must call on the Israeli military to end
feared a united Israeli-Palestinian workforce that seeks         its aggression & withdraw from Palestine; to back this
social democracy. Jewish clerical-fascists over many             with a general strike if necessary. A „Supreme Council
years have incited their muslim equivalents against the          of Workers to Resolve the Crisis‟ needs to convene &
secular & once-socialist PLO for that very reason. This          take measures to re-deploy public revenue from military
also suits imperial, particularly US interests. Inciting         to civil priorities - for all residents & citizens of Israel/
feudalists against „communism‟ is a long standing tactic         Palestine. It should immediately take steps to create
in the Middle East & elsewhere in the world.                     fullest possible employment, ie unite workers through
                                                                 work! Central to this is to share work through shorter
In Israel/Palestine unemployment is 10% among Israeli            work hours! ThIs also gives people time & resources to
workers and rising; among Palestinian workers, many              rebuild their communities, restore services & regenerate
working in Israel, 30% and rising. The economy                   social capital (see: Israel/Palestine).