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Daily Archives: April 28th, 2009

Geesche Jacobsen Crime Editor
April 27, 2009

POLICE officers are being asked to sacrifice some sick leave entitlements to help make $101 million in savings the Government says is needed to fund a 12 per cent pay rise over the next three years.

The Government’s wage offer targets officers on sick leave, uniform officers on shiftwork, and detectives’ allowances among measures to fund the proposed pay rise, which is above the public sector ceiling for rises.

The push to cut sick leave benefits follows a highly critical Auditor-General’s report last year which found that on any day 9 per cent of officers could not carry out policing duties because of health issues and that officers who joined before 1988 took 43 per cent of all sick leave even though they made up only 4.2 per cent of the force.

The Police Association secretary, Peter Remfrey, said yesterday he was disappointed the Government’s offer had focused on cost savings rather than productivity improvements.

He said officers would lose in allowances what they gained in pay rises above the State Government’s 2.5 per cent annual limit.

“Some people could be worse off, especially those who regularly have to work unsociable hours like many of our young police. There’s nothing in the document that benefits the community.”

The Government wants to reduce the wages of those injured on the job once they have been off work for six months.

Mr Remfrey said some officers sustained complex physical and psychological injuries but could ultimately return to work.

But the Police Commissioner, Andrew Scipione, said the proposal was designed to get injured officers back to work more quickly.

The Government’s proposal offers a 10.5 per cent wage rise over three years in return for $77 million in savings. The offer could be increased to 12 per cent, with cabinet approval, if police found an extra $24 million in savings in the third year.

According to the NSW Government’s wages policy, all pay rises over 2.5 per cent a year need to be funded by savings from existing budgets.

Among the proposed savings for police, shift allowances would be based on the officer’s pay, rather than be paid equally to all independent of their rank.

An allowance for voluntary transfer to remote areas would also be scrapped.

Detectives stand to lose their plain-clothes allowance and face changes to the travelling allowance. The proposal also seeks to reduce the number of police Local Area Commands from 80 to 70.

Stephen Lunn, Social affairs writer
April 27, 2009
Article from: The Australian

AUSTRALIA should consider laws to force companies to publish “gender pay audits” to show who pays women less than men and by how much, sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick has declared.

As Britain moves today to introduce legislation that will expose gender pay inequality by requiring private companies with more than 250 employees to publish figures showing how much more men are paid than women, Ms Broderick said the idea warranted a look here.

“We have had this problem of pay inequity between men and women in Australia for 100 years, so what we are doing now is not working,” she said.

“Most would agree with the basic principle that men and women should be paid equally for work of equal or comparable value. And … most people think it’s happening, but it isn’t.

“For full-time workers, women earn 83 cents for every dollar earned by a man,” she said.

For part-time and casual workers, where there was a higher proportion of women than men, the ratio was 66c to the dollar.

Ms Broderick said the British laws would apply to private companies with more than 250 employees and public sector organisations with more than 150, but an Australian law could apply to companies with 100 or more employees.

The House of Representatives is conducting a public inquiry into pay equity.

Ms Broderick said another plank to the British laws, the banning of secrecy clauses in employment contracts that prevent employees from comparing salaries, had merit.

“It’s very difficult for an individual woman to put their hand up and say they’re not being paid the same as a man,” she said.

“For that reason, we’ve only had a small number of pay equity cases.

“These types of laws would shift the onus onto the company to show their remuneration of men and women was fair.”

Ms Broderick, who will address the National Press Club on Wednesday, said the current global financial crisis should not be used to slow reform in the area of gender pay equity.

“In fact the financial crisis provides an opportunity to reinvent work and care,” she said.

“Men and women are becoming more flexible in their work arrangements, and this may of itself bring about the result of narrowing the gender pay gap.”,25197,25390429-5013404,00.html

28 April 2009 8:06am

“New entrant” airlines investing heavily in employee development and resisting the urge to “slash and burn” their workforce during economic slumps are outperforming the industry giants, says a new book on the flight trade.

Airlines with the highest labour costs have some of the lowest total costs, say Monash University’s Professor Greg Bamber and North American business academics Jody Hoffer Gittell, Thomas Kochan and Andrew von Nordenflycht in Up in the Air: How Airlines Can Improve Performance by Engaging Their Employees (Cornell University Press ISBN 9780801447471).

They seek to cut expenditure through “underlying process improvements” and building employee commitment rather than “adopting a narrower focus” on reducing staff numbers.

Employee morale within the airline industry is at a next-to-all-time low, the authors say. In 2007, a survey revealed that only 25 per cent of pilots and flight attendants believed that morale in the industry was high, compared to more than 60 per cent just seven years before.

Regular lay-offs over that period have led to increasing cynicism among employees regarding airline management, the authors say. (Just two weeks ago Qantas announced plans to shed 1,750 fulltime-equivalent positions.)

Low morale often results in poor quality service – alienating many customers – and a spike in flight cancellations as disgruntled employees begin “working to rule” (contributing the bare minimum) and declining overtime assignments.

“Labour cost reductions may have been a necessary condition for survival at some airlines,” the authors say, “but they are far from sufficient for fostering a return to sustained profitability.

“[They] can even be counter-productive when they are carried out in a way that allows total costs to grow and service quality to decline. When service quality declines, costs can rise even further due to the costs of service recovery.”

Case Study
Southwest Airlines entered the US market in 1971, and – in what the authors describe as an “unusual feat” in the deregulated industry – has been profitable every year (but its first) since.

Southwest’s initial competitive strategy was based on the rapid turnaround of aircraft between flights, which required “high levels of coordination” across all elements of the business.

According to the authors, the airline is characterised by “frequent, timely problem-solving communication between functions” attributable to HR practices focussing on “building shared goals, shared knowledge and mutual respect”.

Southwest’s strategies include:
a hiring process that seeks to identify candidates “with an awareness of other people and a respect for their work”, as well as a willingness to go above and beyond their specialisation;

a training process that builds on this foundation. Employees receive on-the-job training by a coordinator who explains not only the tasks to be performed but how these tasks impact other functions;

job descriptions that outline specialist tasks but encourage flexibility, with broader language such as, “whatever else is needed to ensure a successful operation”;

a high supervisor-to-employee ratio, enabling leaders to actively engage in coaching, respond to feedback and relieve workloads at peak times;

performance management that focuses on problem solving rather than the assignment of blame. Southwest also uses conflict resolution to build a shared understanding of work processes across different functions;

a work/family balance policy aimed at encouraging workers to have fun – because if they are “there is a good chance they are doing well” – and to take time off to “renew themselves” and maintain their family and community commitments;

trade union partnerships. Southwest is the most highly unionised airline in the US, but has one of the lowest conflict levels in the industry, and has only suffered one strike in its history; and
job security. The airline has avoided lay-offs during downturns, the post-9/11 crisis and in the face of customer-service automation.

According to Southwest co-founder and former CEO, Herb Kelleher, “nothing kills your culture like lay-offs”.

“Nobody has ever been furloughed at Southwest,” he says. “It’s been a huge strength of ours… Not furloughing people breeds loyalty. It breeds a sense of security. It breeds trust.”
In Australia

According to the authors of Up in the Air, Virgin Blue Australia has for the most part followed the Southwest model.

It seeks to achieve cost savings primarily through efficient work practices rather than reducing pay and benefits or by sacking the workers it has “invested its resources” in, they say.

It looks for candidates with “flair”, aims at developing a happy, motivated and committed workforce and encourages flexibility.

Virgin Blue experienced growth rates of up to 200 per cent in its first five years (after it entered the market in 2000), and maintains “unit” costs that are approximately 35 per cent lower than Qantas’s.

Its operational reliability and on-time performance are also consistently higher than that of Qantas, the authors say.

April 28, 2009 09:30pm

HUGE job losses in health, the closure of some TAFE sites and increased class sizes are looming because of the state’s critical financial position.

Senior public service sources say up to 400 jobs are set to go as part of a major savings review in the Health Department – and that does not include country areas.

Sources also say up to 127 full-time equivalent jobs will go in Further Education while up to 30 will go in the Courts Administration Authority.

Warnings of the cuts are contained in two internal memos seen by The Advertiser and evidence given to a parliamentary committee.

Health Department chief executive Tony Sherbon has written to staff saying Ernst & Young has been commissioned to undertake a core business review of the department which will take four weeks.

He says while frontline health services will be protected, the intention is to reduce the size of the overall workforce but with “no forced redundancies”.

No numbers are given but senior public sector sources said they had been briefed about 400 full-time equivalent positions likely to go.

The state is facing a huge $1.5 billion black hole in the Budget and Treasurer Kevin Foley has warned the axe will fall on the Government’s expenditure.

The Courts Administration Authority says it has a range of savings planned which will affect “a significant number of employees”.

These include merging some services in the Fines Call Centre, specialists courts such as the Drug Court and also reducing staff in the Coroner’s Court.

Registry offices in Kadina, Coober Pedy, Ceduna and Naracoorte will be open only when the local court is sitting.

Further Education Department chief executive Ray Garrand has told Parliament’s Budget and Finance Committee that 95 jobs will go in 2009-10, and 16 each in 2010-11 and 2011-12. He says that equates to savings of about $9.7 million.,22606,25395862-2682,00.html

Boost your confidence and results by power dressing

28 April 2009 6:14am

The way you package yourself won’t by itself get you more business, but clients will pick up on your improved confidence, says image consultant Elena Reed.

Right now it’s all about “dressing like you mean business”, she says. “To succeed in recruitment, like in any other industry, you’ve got to keep current, positive and stay on top of your game. You can choose to dismiss the wardrobe trends as shallow and unimportant, but it might be worthwhile to take note and just make a few little adjustments. After all, you don’t want to undermine your professional expertise by opting for a dated and unprofessional visual image.”

Reed, of Evolutzia, points out: “Whether you like it or not people do judge a book by its cover and we will be judged even when the stock market is falling and business is slow.”

Besides, she says. “there’s enough stress, anxiety and tension around, why wear ‘sombre’ clothes?”

The fashion world’s response to the economic doom and gloom has been to introduce more colour – vibrant and bold hues – and a return to “power dressing”, she says. This has taken the form of fitted jackets in bold fuschia and hot pink (on women) and fiery red ties on men.

Reed says you can embrace some of the newer trends with minimum effort and very little cost. She advises:

Don’t shy away from colour. “Black flatters very few people.”

Strong hues will make you appear more confident than pastels.

The five top colours of the season are “tomato red, berry orchid, rich purple, teal blue and midnight ink.”

If colour is a stretch for you, update your neutral outfits with a little ‘splash’ like a tie or a piece of tasteful jewellery.

The “sloppy” look is dated. Power-dressing is about attention to detail, and first-class grooming is very “in”.

Opt for quality over quantity. “One good shirt is better than five mediocre ones.”

Invest in a perfect fit or make alterations to existing pieces in your wardrobe.

Ladies: “If you’ve got a waist, define it with a belt. If you’ve got hips, balance them with shoulder pads. If you are top heavy, avoid necklines that come close to the base of your neck.”

Gentlemen: “Shapeless jackets and baggy pants will ruin your credibility before you even have a chance you open your mouth.”
“When the economy is tough, people want to see optimism,” Reed says. “Make an effort to be a source of inspiration for your clients, candidates, fellow team members, family and self. Dare to be different!”

Chris Zappone
April 28, 2009 – 9:26AM

Jobs at Holden’s Elizabeth factory are safe for now after parent company General Motors said overnight it would scrap the Pontiac brand as it staves off bankruptcy.

Holden said GM’s decision had “direct implications” for the Australian carmaker, which produced 36,500 Pontiacs for export in 2008, out of a total of 119,000 cars built.

The local company said it was “disappointed” with the decision, however, “we don’t envisage there will be any job losses at Elizabeth as a result of this decision.”

Earlier this month, Holden switched from two shifts to one in order to lower its production level to meet the reduced global demand.

Sources close to the company said paring back its shifts when the global demand fell at the end of last year helped Holden avoid announcing more lay-offs from GM’s decision overnight.

However, a slump in demand in world markets may ultimately cost it more jobs in Australia.

”Job cuts are inevitable if you look at global sales figures,” said ANZ economist Julie Toth.

Global car sales have dropped by double digits since the acceleration of the global financial crisis last year. Also, consumers in developed markets such as the US and Australia have shifted demand toward smaller, more economical vehicles, a segment where GM and Holden are historically underrepresented.

”It’s not just about changing models now, it’s that people have just stopped buying cars,” Ms Toth.

Locally, the total number of new cars, four-wheel-drives and trucks sold in Australia in the year to March plummeted 22.6%, seasonally adjusted, according the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the biggest fall since 1991.–for-now-20090428-akzx.html

Anne Davies, Washington
April 28, 2009 – 6:50AM

Holden Australia has been dealt a blow with parent General Motors confirming that it will scrap the Pontiac brand including the Pontiac G8 which is built in the Elizabeth plant near Adelaide.

Sold as the VE Commodore in Australia, Holden arm had planned to export 30,000 of the high performance cars to the US.

The move, part of sweeping cuts contained in GM’s second viability plan, will mean the loss of nearly $1 billion in exports for Holden, which had invested $77 million to gear up for the shipments.

The cuts are the latest bid by GM to avoid bankruptcy as the car maker struggles to cope with a drop of almost half in its US sales, and other markets retreat. It has already received $US15.4 billion ($21.4 billion) in loans from the US Government.

GM’s plan, the result of pressure from the Obama Administration to further trim GM’s operations, will mean another 7000 to 8,000 jobs to go on top of the 23,000 already announced.

GM also plans to close 43% of its dealerships by 2010 and shutter another 13 of its existing 47 plants which will have a big impact across American towns .

The plan also involves converting lenders’ interests into equity, which could result in the US Government owning as much as 50% of the company and the United Auto Workers union holding 39%.

The bond holders have been offered 22 cents in the dollar to convert their GM debt into equity, but it is uncertain whether they will accept the offer. If not, bankruptcy is still an option and a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission outlined plans for this eventuality.

Speaking to reporters, GM chief executive, Fritz Henderson expressed sadness in the demise of the 90-year old Pontiac brand by no later than 2010.

”This is a brand which has a considerable heritage in our company, and this is an intensely personal decision in many ways,” he said.

There had been talk that Holden’s G8/VE Commodore may be sold as a stand-alone Pontiac performance model at other GM dealerships to keep the division’s name alive but that idea did not survive the latest round of pruning.

April 27, 2009 07:00pm

SOUTH Australian workers are remaining optimistic about their job security and two-thirds of people are happy with their employment.

The results of the 2009 CareerOne reader survey show a promising level of positive thinking despite the economic downturn.

Of the 1000-plus respondents, just over one-quarter were very or quite worried about losing their job in the present economic climate, with those most unconcerned falling in the 25 to 34 age group.

Workers in the 35 to 44 age bracket were the most worried about job losses, with 11 per cent responding that they were “very worried” about the effects of the global financial crisis.

In terms of job satisfaction, an overwhelming 64 per cent of respondents were happy with their job, with only one in five reporting that they were not happy with their employment.

Those discontented with their jobs came from the 45-plus age group, while the happiest workers were aged 25 to 34.

The survey results indicate happiness comes from a strong level of work/life balance, reduced work travel stresses and the majority having the scope to seek out new challenges in present roles.

The No 1 workplace stress was unrealistic expectations about workload, followed by issues caused by management.

JR’s Surf & Ski at Westfield Marion workers Bethany Allison and Nick Day have no such worries.

Both young retail assistants report they are happy and secure in their job.

Ms Allison, 21, of North Brighton, says her work environment adds to her satisfaction.

“The people I work with make it really fun. My boss is really nice, it’s close to home and you don’t have to worry about not getting good hours,” Ms Allison said.

Similarly, Mr Day, 21, who has worked at the retail outlet for three years says he’s “definitely not” worried about losing his job.,22606,25394760-2682,00.html