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TUC fortnightly Changing Times
GET A LIFE! NEWS Dec 2001 - May 2002

Boring us to death
People who spend more of their working lives in jobs where they have few opportunities to decide what work to do and how to go about doing it tend to die earlier than employees given more decision-making opportunities, according to new research.
Risks 55, 25 May 2002

Overwork deaths reach record levels
Japan's health ministry has announced that there were 143 cases of karoshi - death from overwork - last year, the highest level since it officially recognised the problem in 1987. A new standard stresses the strong link between karoshi and overtime of more than 100 hours in the final month, and with overtime of more than 80 hours per month for two to six months before death.
Risks 55, 25 May 2002
See: Reuters Health

Excessive hours crash driver jailed
A German lorry driver who caused the deaths of four people, including a father and his two children, has been jailed for five years. Egon Boerner had ignored regulations governing driving hours for lorry drivers and been driving excessively over a 43-hour period before the crash on 24 August last year.
BBC News Online, 25 May 2002

Unions research HSE prescription for hospital stress control
The HSE has issued its prescription for the control of stress in UK health services. A research report, jointly funded by health union UNISON and the Royal College of Nursing, focuses on ways to detect and manage stress, and follows a studies showing stress is a top cause of ill-health and sick leave in the health service.
Risks 55, 25 May 2002

Bosses face union stress "MOT" in Euroweek
The TUC is urging unions to conduct stress MOTs of their members' workplaces during European safety week, 14-20 October. Union workplace safety reps will be using risk assessment and TUC checklists in their continuing battle to reduce work-related stress.
Risks 55, 25 May 2002

Post Office pays out for stress
The Court of Appeal has confirmed that the Post Office must pay a substantial five-figure sum in compensation to a Communication Workers Union member who suffered years of stress-related illness caused by an ever-increasing workload.
Risks 54, 18 May 2002

Excessive hours crash driver jailed
A German lorry driver who caused the deaths of four people, including a father and his two children, has been jailed for five years. Chelmsford Crown Court was told that Egon Boerner had ignored regulations governing driving hours for lorry drivers and been driving excessively over a 43-hour period before the crash on 24 August last year.
BBC News Online, 18 May 2002

Worked till they drop: Few protections for China's new labourers
On the night she died, Li Chunmei had been on her feet for nearly 16 hours, running back and forth inside the Bainan Toy Factory, carrying toy parts from machine to machine. What happened to her last November in this industrial town in southeastern Guangdong province is described by family, friends and co-workers as an example of what China's more daring newspapers call guolaosi. The phrase means "over-work death," and usually applies to young workers who suddenly collapse and die after working exceedingly long hours, day after day.
Washington Post, 13 May 2002

New Zealand
Coroner - stress was factor in worker's suicide
Work stress was the principal factor behind the suicide of a depressed bank worker, a coroner has concluded. He said ANZ Bank's procedures for setting and monitoring performance targets added to the worker's anxiety and mental illness in the month leading up to his death.
Risks 53, 11 May 2002

Teachers' 45-hour week plan
Teachers should be working an average 45-hour week, says a report commissioned by the government. But this should remain a "target" rather than a fixed limit on hours, says the teachers' pay body for England and Wales. "The principles put forward offer a significant advance," said Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers. At present, teachers work an average of 52 hours a week, and the report says that this needs to be reduced to improve the "work-life balance".
BBC News Online, 8 May 2002

Stress concern for teachers
Proper counselling services for stressed teachers in Scotland could save more than 1m in sick pay each year, it has been claimed. Teacher Support Scotland (TSS) says teachers' workloads are rising and adds that stress plays a major part in absenteeism, and it is the fourth most common reason teachers are off sick.
BBC News Online, 7 May 2002

Working moms work long, irregular hours: survey
American working mothers are more likely to work long hours than women without children, according to a survey released by the US union confederation AFL-CIO. The majority of American working women--63%--are on the job 40 hours a week or more; 30% work 20 to 39 hours, and only 7% work fewer than 20 hours a week, according to the survey.
Reuters Health, 7 May 2002

More time out means more output
Britain's workers need more breaks. TUC general secretary John Monks said: "UK workers have the shortest holidays and the lowest productivity in Northern Europe. So offering more holidays makes sense for employers too because well-rested workers are more productive."
Risks 52, 4 May 2002

UK has least bank holidays in Europe - TUC wants three more a year
Britain's workers get the lowest number of bank holidays and the least statutory annual leave in Europe, according to the TUC, which is calling for an extra three bank holiday a year. TUC general secretary John Monks said: "UK workers have the shortest holidays and the lowest productivity in Northern Europe. So offering more holidays makes sense for employers too because well-rested workers are more productive. British workers need proper time off work as much as their European colleagues but once again they are at the bottom of the EU pile."
TUC news release, 3 May 2002

Balancing work and family
As the number of women in the workforce increases, so do concerns about juggling work and family life. F.J. Dy-Hammer, head of the ILO's conditions of work branch, told an April 12 meeting of the National Policy Association's Committee on New American Realities that work-family policies "are integrated into a variety of policy measures" in the EU, including directives on part-time work and parental leave.
ILO news release, 30 April 2002

EU orders UK to change work time law after union complaint
The European Union (EU) has upheld a complaint from UK union Amicus over the UK government's unlawful and inadequate implementation of the working time directive and has issued Infringement Proceedings giving the government two months to comply. Roger Lyons, Amicus general secretary said: "British workers work the longest hours in Europe, this decision will cut excessive working time considerably, will slash stress and will bring us closer to the level playing field on working hours already enjoyed throughout the rest of Europe."
Amicus news release 1, 29 April 2002
CBI: Industry responseRisks 52Amicus news release 2

Glide time over - report
The myth of flexible, family-friendly working hours in New Zealand's public service has been exploded in a new report. It says many respondents complained about heavy workloads and had trouble juggling their family and working lives. "They indicated some general `fatigue' and the risk that the goodwill underpinning working longer hours to meet performance expectations might be running out," the survey report says.
More, 29 April 2002

Fewer babies for long hours career women
Professional women working in long-hour careers are up to four times less likely to have children than their same-age colleagues in more family-friendly professions, according to national survey in Australia.
ACTU news release, 22 April 2002

Pressure of work
Two models of capitalism, Anglo-Saxon and European, are on offer - and we've made the wrong choice. Britain's 20-year love affair with US managerialism hasn't worked. It has failed to improve British productivity, which lags way behind European competitors. It may even have proved counterproductive, resulting in a bitter, unhappy workforce.
The Guardian, 22 April 2002
Risks 49The Work Foundation

Low skills and long hours to be tackled in partnership
The TUC says it is to "work in partnership with government to tackle long hours and low skills to boost best practice by employers." TUC general secretary John Monks, and Minister of State for Employment Relations, Alan Johnson MP, have backed workplace learning and work-life balance partnership projects.

TUC news release, 15 April 2002

24/7 culture poses health risks
The 24-hour, round-the-clock culture could lead to widespread health problems, experts have warned. Sleep deprivation can lead to difficulties in regulating blood sugar levels, delegates heard. Shift workers have started to complain about heart and stomach problems.
BBC News Online, 15 April 2002
Risks 50

Teachers united on workload
Improvements to teachers' contracts and more support staff to tackle excessive workload are called for in a joint resolution agreed by teaching unions ATL, NASUWT and NUT.
Risks 49, 13 April 2002

Healthcare worker shortages pose safety risk
Health care worker shortages are leading to safety risks to patients and staff, a survey for AFT Healthcare has shown. Candice Owley, who chairs AFT Healthcare, the healthcare division of the American Federation of Teachers, said: "The quality of patient care is suffering tremendously because of unreasonably high workloads, poor staffing levels and job stress." AFT Healthcare will be developing and recommending safe staffing ratios.

Reuters Health, 11 April 2002

British workers "losing out"
British people work long hours, pay high taxes but have a lower standard of living than workers in other European countries, according to a new survey.
BBC News Online, 10 April 2002

Detention centre workers logging extreme overtime
Workers at Connecticut's juvenile detention centers are logging extreme amounts of overtime, according to a state auditor's report."The staff is exhausted and it's very likely that the children are in jeopardy. It certainly raises safety issues," said state Child Advocate Jeanne Milstein., 4 April 2002
Full report in pdf format

Work stress is heart breaking, says HSE
Poor work design and organisation is causing heart disease, officially backed research has concluded. The research, published by the HSE, found high job demands, low job control and 'effort-reward imbalance' were related to an increased incidence of coronary heart disease.
Risks 48, 6 April 2002
HSE news release

Teachers vote for action to press workload claims
Thousands of schools in England and Wales face the threat of a four-day week after the National Union of Teachers voted for industrial action. Teachers also reserved the right to veto government initiatives, as well as threatening a 35-hour week if their workload was not cut.
The Times, 2 April 2002

Union demands 35-hour week for train drivers
Legislation is urgently needed to limit the hours worked by train drivers, according to their union Aslef. General secretary Mick Rix said: "This is a major safety issue, since a tired driver can suffer from lapses of concentration. We have recently had a case of a driver passing a signal at danger outside a London terminus and the incident being attributed by the panel of inquiry to 'length of duty worked'."
Ananova, 26 March 2002

Nurses say "no" to forced overtime
Lawmakers in Washington state, USA are considering legislation to give nurses the right to say no to mandatory overtime.
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 5 March 2002

Dog-tired - Long hours "leave beagles buggered"
Australian quarantine workers are being forced to work such unreasonable hours that their sniffer dogs are showing the signs of over-work and fatigue. Alison Rahill, and organiser with the public service union CPSU, says many handlers are concerned about the new rosters, not just for themselves but also their canine comrades.
Workers' Online, 22 February 2002
Sunday Telegraph

Michelin appeals shift-work ruling
Michelin is appealing a workers' compensation ruling that said one of its workers in Nova Scotia suffered severely from shift work. A tribunal said Richard Ross experienced enough sleep disruption while working different shifts to constitute a personal injury. It said he suffers from a disorder called shift-work maladaption syndrome.
Globe and Mail, 22 February 2002

Unions push to stop bosses "forcing" overtime
Australian employees were gripped by a culture of overtime in which they were pressured to work excessive hours with risks to their safety and general well-being, a test case on working hours has heard. Witnesses for the ACTU told how workers were effectively "coerced" into unreasonably long hours to make ends meet, keep their jobs or advance their careers.
Sydney Morning Herald, 11 February 2002

Compensation precedent on shift work
A workers' compensational board tribunal in Nova Scotia has ruled that switching between day and night shifts caused a 34-year-old Michelin tire plant worker to experience enough sleep disruption, exhaustion and inability to work to constitute personal injury.
CUPE News, 9 February 2002
Risks 40

Overwork is "a national disgrace" says TUC
More people are working in excess of 48-hours-a-week than were 10 years ago, says TUC. A new TUC report, About time: a new agenda for shaping working life says the UK tops the European long hours league, and is the only country that allows staff to opt out of the 48 hour limit, introduced across the European Union as a health and safety measure.
Risks 40, 9 February 2002

"Absolutely nothing" time is good for workers
Unions have welcomed the New Zealand 'absolutely nothing' day promoted by the Mental Health Foundation on 1 February. Council of Trade Unions president Ross Wilson said: "Workers' lives are increasingly 'used up' by work demands, leaving nothing for a quality of life outside work." He added: "The concept of doing absolutely nothing for 15 minutes would leave workers refreshed and relaxed and could only have a good impact on their work." NZCTU is to launch a 'Get A Life' campaign this year focused on getting back a quality of life.
Risks 39, 2 February 2002

Get A Life!
The New Zealand union confederation NZCTU is to launch a campaign for union members and their families and communities about the impact of work on the rest of our lives. The Get A Life! campaign is about acheiving changes in laws and in collective agreements to allow workers to Get A Life!
NZCTU what's new, December 2001

Lights out for long hours
As far as Tom McMakin is concerned, even one extra hour worked beyond a 40-hour workweek means employees - and the quality of their labor - begin to wilt.
CS Monitor, 17 December 2001