Workplace stress and suicide in europe

The financial crisis will touch all of us especially older workers with one
eye on retirement.

However while a LABOUR government is making very few noises about this big
adjustment in labour (in other words permanently less positions). France is
at least sounding concerned about its citizens..
Reading a title like the one below sounds alien in US & UK largely because
anglo governments tend to be dismissive of people in difficulties.
Certainly in this crisis most people losing their jobs are not lazy or bad
workers.. In fact people that should be downsized like traders arranging
for CDOs or derivatives are not & these people have cost our generation our

Overall it would help a lot if the richest 1% of each country made many
more sacrifices as a patriotic duty to deal with a huge spate of private

Anyway have a read & see what you think.

Labour minister urges companies to prevent staff stress

French Labour Minister Xavier Darcos (photo) asked firms with more than
1,000 employees to lead talks with unions on reducing workplace stress. At
former state-owned monopoly France Telecom, 24 employees have committed
suicide in 18 months.
By News Wires (text)

REUTERS - French companies must prevent stress in the workplace to stem a
wave of suicides, Labour Minister Xavier Darcos said on Friday.
At France Telecom, Europe's third-biggest telecoms firm and a former
state-owned monopoly, 24 employees have committed suicide since the start
of 2008, and others have attempted to kill themselves. An employee of car
maker Renault committed suicide on Wednesday.
"We have long underestimated psychological risks, as it is easier to spot
someone falling into a blast furnace than someone who is suffering," Darcos
told a council on work conditions. "And yet (psychological risks) are real,
as the situation ... at France Telecom has shown in a particularly tragic
Darcos urged 2,500 French firms with more than 1,000 employees to conclude
talks with unions on reducing stress, which labour leaders say is the
reason for the spate of suicides, by Feb. 1 next year.

France Telecom has already begun negotiations which are based on a 2008
agreement with unions.
The government, which is France Telecom's biggest shareholder with 27
percent stake, has been closely involved in trying to manage the fallout
from the suicides.
Unions blame restructuring and work pressure at France Telecom for the wave
of suicides, saying that some staff are being left behind in the firm's
transformation from a staid government agency to a private company with
profit targets and intense competition.
Darcos also called on small and medium-sized companies to put together
measures to provide information on psychological risks and spot problems
with support from workplace health services.
He also called on regional heads of firms in the process of restructuring
to take into account the psychological risks of the transition.
A dedicated advisory body will be created to advise firms and monitor those
which are slow to act.
A report will be made public on a dedicated website, France will put forward a second plan on
workplace health by the end of this year.

and ever relevant video oldie but goodie :)

Eating Ecoli in the US

There are some shocking facts about food safety in this article. Regulated europe seems to eat much better than the US..

From farm to fork
Oct 9th 2009
Bar codes that let shoppers trace their food back to the field

DESPITE its preoccupation with hygiene, America's dirty secret is that it is one of the most dangerous places in the developed world to eat. Every year 76m Americans become ill because they have consumed contaminated food—a staggering 26,000 cases per 100,000 population. In Britain, where people consume far fewer hamburgers, generally eat out less often and buy nowhere near as many ready-meals, there are 3,400 cases of food poisoning per 100,000 population annually. France is safer still, with only 1,200 annual instances per 100,000 people.
Most cases of food poisoning are mild, with victims recovering in a day or two. Sometimes, however, foodborne illnesses kill or cause permanent health problems. In the United States around 5,000 people die and a further 325,000 wind up in hospital each year as a result of food poisoning. The annual cost to the country, in medical treatment and lost productivity, is more than $35 billion.

The wave of food scares that has swept America over the past few years has caused a crisis in the country's $1 trillion food industry. One of the most notorious outbreaks, caused by the virulent Escherichia coli O157:H7 bacterium, happened in 1993. Four children died, dozens of people went to hospital with kidney failure and hundreds more became seriously ill after eating undercooked hamburgers from the Jack-in-the-Box chain of restaurants. Since then, the regulations governing the sale of ground beef have been tightened considerably.
The deadliest foods to be found on the stalls in street markets and the shelves of supermarkets, though, are not meat or poultry but leafy vegetables and fruit. That is because unlike ground beef, which is cooked at a temperatures which destroy bugs, fruit and leafy vegetables tend to be eaten raw. The outbreak of O157 in 2006, which killed five people and made a further 205 ill, was tied to raw spinach. Meanwhile, America's largest epidemic of foodborne disease in over a decade—last year's Salmonella infection that claimed two lives, hospitalised 250 people and affected more than 1,300 others—was traced back through the supply chain initially to tomatoes and then to jalapeño peppers. Now there are doubts whether either was really to blame.
Tracking down the source of a foodborne infection is notoriously difficult. The vast majority of incidents are transitory in nature—a leaky toilet, a wandering animal, a momentary lapse of hygiene in the field or factory. '

The rest of the article ends up being an advertorial for
RFID tags & their vendors.

Conclusion don't eat in the US.

The EU economic crisis in 2009 2010 2011. A european perspective

The only good thing i can think of about the horrible economic crisis is
that in extraordinary times hypocrisy is tougher to sustain.

Having lived in the UK for 14 years, I was amazed at how far the
governments since Thatcher went to please business. One had the constant
feeling that big business owned the government.

The defence they used for their policies was like this:

Be good to business so they flourish and/or relocate here from other
countries. Which means good economy & strong UK.

However in practice it worked like this:
UK government sucking up to the rich, including autocrats in arab countries
but only if they have money.

Among the businesses that came to London, too many where fraudulent or at
the edge, many engaged in unethical practices. On most occasions the UK
sold their citizenship to any sleazeball with money..

The UK's unethical stance created a horrible competition downwards in
standards. Other EU countries had to relax rules to stay competitive.

Too much of the UK's prosperity is tied to immoral practices like
laundering money. It was also trying to force other EU countries to lower
taxes on business like this -a sort of policy imperialism-.

Much of this anything goes atmosphere gave birth to the horrible crisis.
Because unsupervised the bankers took crazy risks looking at their personal
interest, hoping that the bonuses will be so large they can retire and
will not be there if the bets went wrong. Many were right!

Now responsible governments after putting things right & indebting us all
to do so want to insure this doesn't happen again. Except the US & the UK
policy is still in thrall to the rich & the bankers.

Now read on:

'Their comments came as Sweden added its voice to growing demands for
regulation of bankers' bonuses and called a meeting of European leaders to
forge consensus ahead of a G20 summit in Pittsburgh.
Fredrik Reinfeldt, Sweden's prime minister, whose country holds the
revolving EU presidency, urged European leaders to agree co-ordinated
measures to prevent a return to "business as usual" in the financial
sector. "We've seen a tendency to go back to the same kind of bonus system
we saw before the financial crisis," he said.
The finance ministers of Sweden, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg
and the Netherlands wrote to the Financial Times to call for a ban on
bonuses guaranteed for more than a year and regulations to make sure
payouts mirrored bank performance over time.
Signs that the bonus culture was returning to the financial sector was "a
punch in the face of all the people who are quickly becoming unemployed",
they said.
Mr Reinfeldt said bonuses would be high on the agenda when leaders of the
27 EU countries met in Brussels on September 17 to co-ordinate the bloc's
position before the G20 summit later in the month.
The Swedish prime minister was optimistic that the EU would present a
united front in Pittsburgh, despite signs of tension over a number of
issues. France and Germany have led calls for restrictions on bonuses while
the UK has been more cautious, amid fears that an EU crackdown could hurt
London's financial services industry.

forecasts for the region and Slovakia

Comment on EBRD forecasts for the region and Slovakia in the Financial Times:

"The countries with fixed exchange rates, including Latvia, face difficulties because they must adjust their real exchange rates through domestic wages and prices. States that started the crisis in good shape and are internationally competitive, such as Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia, could see GDP growth of 2-5 per cent next year. But Hungary, with a difficult fiscal position, is forecast to remain in recession"

Meanwhile in the ever-confident anglo-sphere (again from the FT)

"After the shock came the arguments. No one expected the Office for National Statistics to say the economy shrank by 0.4 per cent in the third quarter; the survey data and early official data had been too strong.

Few were therefore minded on Friday to modify their entrenched positions about the UK economy, the policies needed to revive it or whether the figures contained any useful information. Stuck in the middle of these clashes, of course, was the ONS.

Its preliminary data on gross domestic product are an attempt to provide an early snapshot of economic performance. The downside is that its coverage is limited, with this first estimate based on only 40 per cent of the total hard data on output and nothing on spending or incomes.

George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, said: "This is deeply disappointing news. Britain is now in the deepest and longest recession in its modern history. Britain's economy is still shrinking a full six months after France and Germany started growing."

Meanwhile, economists agreed that the GDP figures made it more likely that the Bank of England would extend its efforts to create money and pump it into the economy in November by expanding the £175bn programme of asset purchases known as quantitative easing.

Yet the most vociferous arguments took place in the City, where analysts clashed over the importance of the figures.

Danny Gabay of Fathom Financial Consulting insisted the appropriate reaction was far greater caution about predicting recovery.

"The UK has some formidable headwinds, not least of which is the over-burdened consumer which is having to cope with a broken banking system, rising unemployment, and falling income growth," he said.

This view was described as "baloney" at Goldman Sachs, which put greater weight on more optimistic recent surveys of companies. Analysing the accuracy of the past decade's preliminary GDP figures, Kevin Daly, Goldman Sachs economist, concluded that they contained "no statistically useful information about growth" because they were so heavily revised, often years after the event.

What annoys the UK & Vaclav Klaus in the Lisbon treaty

Britain is becoming politically extremelb right-wing. At a time when the most sober analysts & economics laureates we have seem to blame the financial crisis on excesses perpetrated by the disciples of Ronald Reagan & Maggie such as Blair, Brown, & Cameron. The electorate seems to believe that more of the same policies will improve things..

For example Britain has secured an exemption, or thinks it has, from the charter of fundamental rights. The charter is given legal force by Lisbon. It is full of things like the right to strike and a "right of access to preventive health care".

So lets get this right. Having the right to access preventive healthcare is controversial? The labour party disagrees with the right to strike?
What kind of labour party is it?

It sounds to me that Britain does not have genuine political choice which invalidates its democracy.

Titanic project for a mini Las Vegas in Bratislava

A huge €1.5 billion, five-year project bringing a US casino to Bratislava has been announced.

Metropolis, Europe's number one entertainment, commercial and conference centre is to be built at the borders of Bratislava on gross buildable area of over 1.2-million square metres.

(the project will be built within Slovak territory).

How does Metropolis change the face of Bratislava?
  • volume of investment:
  • €1.5 billion. EUR
  • start of construction: end of 2010,
  • construction work: 3 to 5 years;
  • Area: 1.2 million square meters,
  • estimated number of tourists: 5 million per year,
  • estimated tax return:600 million euros,
  • impact on GDP of the country: 5 percent
  • number of long-term jobs: almost 9000
    3-5 year construction related jobs: almost 20000.
At the intersection of the D2 and D4 highways that lead to Vienna, Budapest and Prague. There are four international airports within 220 kilometers with 40 million passengers yearly, not to mention the tourists passing by on the railways and highways.

"This project will be the new destination of the region, dramatically increasing Slovakia's tourism spend and number of visitors," the developer TriGranit said in a statement on Tuesday.

Metropolis as currently planned is a multifunctional development where one will find retail, leisure, Aqua Park, golf, hotels, casinos, cultural and congress facilities.

Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. - one of the operators planned for the complex – is the largest gaming entertainment company in the world. Harrah’s operates 54 casinos, hotels, convention and conference centers and golf courses on four different continents, just to mention the world famous Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada, or the Emerald Casino Resort in South Africa.

Construction works are scheduled to start at the end of 2010 and be completed in five years giving a boost to local construction activity.

The project has several planned phases: in the first one the shopping centre, the aqua park and the leisure centre with Adventure Park, three hotels and a US style casino with related amenities. The estimated completion date for the first phase is 2012.

Later phases will comprise of the conference facilities, golf courses, further casinos, hotels etc.

The 29 million people in the 220-kilometer catchment area represent the main target group for Metropolis.

The EUR 1.5 bn investment will create more than 10,000 new job opportunities in its construction phase, which will last almost five years. The facility is to generate some EUR 600 million in taxes for Slovakia annually. A total of five to six million tourists are expected to roam Metropolis every year, Simon Bayley, TriGranit's development director, told a press conference in Bratislava.

Bayley said the project is jointly financed by TriGranit and Harrah, but he did not wish to go into details, MTI reported.

The developer first Slovak development was realized in Slovakia in 2000. After several successful Hungarian projects the Polus Center, Bratislava was the company's first foreign development. With this project TriGranit was a pioneer, because this was the Slovak capital's first American style commercial and entertainment centre. It was followed by the opening of Millennium Towers I, and II office towers - in 2001 and 2003 - what again fulfilled already the existing market demands. These were Bratislava?s first "A" class office buildings.

Harrah's (Las Vegas Casino operator) Managing Director of Development, Andrew Tottenham, said at a press conference in the Slovakian capital of Bratislava that the Metropolis could be followed by other projects in Europe but not on the same scale, according to Reuters. This is going to be their flagship in Europe.

Sramko Central banker of Slovakia

I am a major fan of Ivan Sramko (photo on the right -Robert Fico Slovak PM is on the left-). He is the central bank governor of Slovakia and exactly the right kind of mature and serious banker with a distinctly old-fashioned banking pedigree that oozes a sustainability and soberness largely missing in the western and particularly Angloamerican institutions and boardrooms.

Sramko is the architect of the euro adoption plan and took very effective measures to filter out speculation in the Slovak banking market. So much so that when neighbouring countries became overly vulnerable on currency volatility and speculation, Bratislava was and is an island of tranquility during the crisis.

I believe it is people like this that form the mass of the best prime ministers Slovakia will never have, or maybe the political class in Slovakia will come to recognise his contributions... who knows... For now he should be a shoo-in for another term at the ECB (where he is widely liked) and at the Slovak National Bank.

5 year term expired (Reuters)

Slovakia's current central bank governor Ivan Sramko, who is also a European Central Bank governing board member, is among the government's top candidates to be the bank's chief in the upcoming period, daily Sme reported on Saturday.

The governor of the National Bank of Slovakia (NBS) is formally appointed by the President for a five-year term on behalf of the government, whose proposal also needs to be approved by the parliament. The new term will start at the beginning of January.

A parliamentary committee proposed a legal change on Thursday that would allow current central bank chief Sramko serve another term. Under current legislation, Sramko would have to stand down by the end of December when his term runs out .

A report on Sme's website cited sources close to the Prime Minister Robert Fico as saying Sramko, central bank Vice-Governor Viliam Ostrozlik and bank board member Jozef Makuch were the top candidates:

Ivan Sramko's background

Mr Ivan Sramko was born on 3 September 1957 in Bratislava.

In 1980 he graduated from the University of Economics in Bratislava, Faculty of Management. Between 1981 and 1990 he worked as Head of financial units in several corporations.

From 1990 to 1991 Mr Sramko was Deputy Director of VUB - ING, a.s. (advisory banking company).

In 1991 - 1992 he was appointed Head of the Task Force of the VUB Bank establishing the joint venture of VUB - Credit Lyonnais.

Between 1992 and 1998 he held the position of General Manager of Istrobanka, a.s. (subsidiary of Bank für Arbeit und Wirtschaft AG, Vienna, the then-subsidiary of Slovenska poistovna, a.s., Bratislava), and was Deputy Chairman and later Chairman of its Board of Directors.

From 1998 Mr Sramko was a member of the management of Tatra banka, a.s. (subsidiary of Raiffeisen International Bank-Holding AG, Vienna, the then-subsidiary of Raiffeisen Bank, Vienna), and from 2000 to 2002 a member of its Board of Directors.

From 11 January 2002 to 31 December 2004 Mr Sramko served as a Deputy Governor of the National Bank of Slovakia. He was appointed Governor of the NBS effective from 1 January 2005.

Mr Sramko is a Member of the Governing Council of the European Central Bank, a Governor in the International Monetary Fund and an Alternate Governor in the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Since 1998 he has been a member of the Board of the Slovak-Austrian Chamber of Commerce and since 2003 a Chairman of the Managing Board of the University of Economics in Bratislava.

He is fluent in English and German.

He is married and has three children.

On how one should start their career/life

American central banker on what he would recommend young people do to start their career and educate themselves.

George Soros on the importance of truth and propaganda techniques in american media

George Soros on the importance of truth and propaganda techniques in american media


Spiked magazine wrote:

'The depoliticisation of unemployment can be glimpsed in various events of the past week. At the Lindsey oil refinery in North Lincolnshire – from where Tim Black reports for spiked today – there is currently an admirable, principled strike in defence of 647 workers who were sacked. Other construction workers around the country have walked out, too, in solidarity with the sacked workers. Yet this protest stands out because it is so unusual today. The Sky News reporter at Lindsey scoffed: 'They looked like they had walked out of the 1980s…' But he had a point. Serious industrial action is so increasingly rare that it does look to many people like an archaic oddity.
Indeed, such is the lack of political agitation over job cuts that, even as the recession increases its grip over people's living standards, the leaders of big business can openly boast about workers' compliance with wage cuts and hours cuts. '

Although this is a seductive argument, I think change is afoot.

here are my thoughts:

First of all job cuts just started, so its early days.

The most likely explanation is that the middle & lower class has been fooled in thinking that they are about to join the rich because they have 5000 euros in shares. Most people want to strike it rich & they will work hard and defend the interests of the rich because they think that somehow taxation of the rich will affect them.

Television has become remarkably effective at keeping people zombified.
So do short contracts & easy fire/hire laws etc

It is remarkable that people do not organise to protect their interests, but globalisation is providing a useful excuse for low quality work contracts for most people.

We need to organise to avoid this creeping feudalisation of the labour market..