Interview: Trading Places
Safety: Snow Job
Politics: In the Vanguard
Unions: Gentle Giant Goes For Gold
Bad Boss: 'Porker' Chases Blue Ribbon
International: Cruising For A Bruising
History: Under the Influence
Economics: Working Capital
Review: Fahrenheit 9/11
Poetry: Bad Intelligence Rap
Satire: Osama Bin Manchu
The Locker Room
Tom Goes Asexual
Road Rage At Work
Democracy In Action
Cruising For A Bruising
In Germany and France in the space of two weeks about half a dozen high profile workplaces have collapsed to the demand for a longer working week - in the face of threats to shift jobs to Eastern Europe.
Flexibility has become the catch-cry of European politicians from the Left and the Right.
Only the Brits seem to be going the other way - with an election in the offing Blair gave in last weekend at a party policy conference to union demands to introduce tough new workplace laws providing workers with more protections.
He has even ticked off an agreement with the unions to implement a long promised law which would bring to an end the creation of a two-tier pay system in the civil service as work is contracted out to the private sector.
The German Social Democrats are trying to assuage their union base by announcing they are introducing new laws to control CEO pay, and that they will not give in to Employer and Opposition demands to introduce US-style hire and fire laws.
But it is the big German companies who are leading the charge to force their workers to into longer workweeks - on the altar of productivity.
Big brand-names like Daimler, Siemens, Bosch are threatening to shutdown plants and shift them down the road to the Czech Republic, Slovakia or some other East European country.
Even the powerful IG Metall, led by the recently elected Jurgen Peters, who came in with the reputation of being a tough street smart, has had to accept the bosses demands - though Peters has sworn to take revenge when the opportunity comes.
His angry members rallied outside Daimler with posters declaring: "It's War."
The right-wing French Government has come behind the French bosses and is now maneuvering to abolish the laws guaranteeing a 35-hour week.
The Government's junior Budget Minister, Dominique Bussereau, slammed Siemens in Germany for using "blackmail" to force their workers to accept longer hours.
He vowed French officials would never accept such blackmail.
He told local media that it was unacceptable for management to use threats to force the workforce to accept longer hours.
Siemens had said if the workers and their unions did not comply then the company would switch operations to a site in Easter Europe where labour costs were lower.
But hours later French car components workers, employed by the German-owned Bosch, also voted up an agreement to work longer hours to save their jobs.
The French unions went further than calling this "blackmail" they accused the company of "terrorism".
These unions are arguing that there is a bosses conspiracy to break the one of the Left's proudest achievements the 35-hour work laws.
The unions claim to have information that several companies have secretly drawn up plans to follow the Bosch example.
The French pollies, despite the Budget Minister's comments, meekly accepted this blackmail.
The top French politicians, tut-tut ting about the Bosch deal, have all started hinting they are prepared to abolish the laws which control working hours.
This week President Chirac, PM Raffarin and Economic Minister Sarkozy have all been quoted in the media talking about the need to create new jobs, the need for flexibility and the forces of globalisation, which demand an end to the 35-hour week law.
The French conservatives have always hated the previous Socialist government's 35-hour week law - it has been an icon of all they hate in the Left.
Now the employers of Europe have finally given them the excuse to wipe out the law.
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