Archive for the ‘pay’ Category

Mitt Romney Says: Let Detroit Go Bankrupt

November 19, 2008

IF General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed.

Without that bailout, Detroit will need to drastically restructure itself. With it, the automakers will stay the course — the suicidal course of declining market shares, insurmountable labor and retiree burdens, technology atrophy, product inferiority and never-ending job losses. Detroit needs a turnaround, not a check.

Published by The New York Times
November 19, 2008

I love cars, American cars. I was born in Detroit, the son of an auto chief executive. In 1954, my dad, George Romney, was tapped to run American Motors when its president suddenly died. The company itself was on life support — banks were threatening to deal it a death blow. The stock collapsed. I watched Dad work to turn the company around — and years later at business school, they were still talking about it. From the lessons of that turnaround, and from my own experiences, I have several prescriptions for Detroit’s automakers.

First, their huge disadvantage in costs relative to foreign brands must be eliminated. That means new labor agreements to align pay and benefits to match those of workers at competitors like BMW, Honda, Nissan and Toyota. Furthermore, retiree benefits must be reduced so that the total burden per auto for domestic makers is not higher than that of foreign producers.

That extra burden is estimated to be more than $2,000 per car. Think what that means: Ford, for example, needs to cut $2,000 worth of features and quality out of its Taurus to compete with Toyota’s Avalon. Of course the Avalon feels like a better product — it has $2,000 more put into it. Considering this disadvantage, Detroit has done a remarkable job of designing and engineering its cars. But if this cost penalty persists, any bailout will only delay the inevitable.

Second, management as is must go. New faces should be recruited from unrelated industries — from companies widely respected for excellence in marketing, innovation, creativity and labor relations.

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Somali Pirates, After Grabbing Biggest Prize, Negotiate for Loot

November 18, 2008

Vela International Marine Ltd, a Dubai-based marine company which operates the Saudi-owned Sirius Star, said it was working to secure the release of the supertanker and her crew.

A spokesman for the company said all 25 crew were believed to be safe.

The Saudi-owned vessel was hijacked on Saturday, 450 nautical miles south east of Mombasa.

The large oil tanker is owned by Saudi oil company Aramco but was sailing under a Liberian flag.

The Telegraph (UK)

Earlier, a spokesman for the Foreign Office had confirmed that two of those on board are British but could not give any details of their role on the ship.

US Navy spokesman Lieutenant Nate Christensen, of the 5th Fleet, said: “We don’t know the condition of the crew on board or the nature of the pirates’ demands. In cases like this what we typically see is a demand for money from the ship owners but we haven’t had that yet.

This undated picture made at an unknown location shows the Sirius ... 
This undated picture made at an unknown location shows the Sirius Star tanker conducting a trial run in South Korea. Somali pirates have hijacked the Saudi-owned oil tanker the Sirius Star off the Kenyan coast, the U.S. Navy said Monday, Nov. 17, 2008. The tanker owned by Saudi oil company Aramco, is 330 meters (1,080 feet), about the length of an aircraft carrier, making it one of the largest ships to sail the seas. It can carry about 2 million barrels of oil. Lt. Nathan Christensen, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, said the Sirius Star was carrying crude at the time of Saturday’s hijacking, but he did know how much.(AP Photo/ Newsis via Daewoo shipping yards and commissioned )

“We don’t know exactly where they are taking it but we know the town of Eyl is a pirate stronghold.”

Eyl is in the northern Puntland region of Somalia and has become notorious for pirate activity over the past months. Dozens of ships are thought to be being held captive there.

The supertanker is the largest ship to fall victim to pirates, the US Navy said. It is 1,080ft (330m) long and can carry about 2 million barrels of oil.

The hijack, which was the first successful attack so far out at sea, raises fears that international patrols nearer the coast and in the Gulf of Aden will not be enough to protect vital trade routes as pirate gangs become ever more audacious.

The Sirius Star was carrying a cargo of crude oil and had 25 crew members on board when it was attacked.

Somali Pirates Capture Biggest Prize Ever: “Supertanker” Loaded With Oil

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Vietnam: 20,000 Vietnamese Workers Go On Strike At Nike Contract Factory

April 1, 2008
HANOI, VIETNAM: More than 20,000 Vietnamese workers have walked off the job at a Taiwanese-owned plant that makes shoes for Nike Inc., demanding higher pay to keep pace with skyrocketing prices, officials said Tuesday (1 Apr).

The workers at Ching Luh plant, in southern Long An province, went on strike Monday (31 Mar). They want a 20% bump to their US$59 average monthly salaries along with better lunches at the company cafeteria, said Nguyen Van Thua, an official with the province’s trade union.The plant has been making sneakers since 2002 and employs about 21,000 workers, most of them young rural women. The company is paying the workers 14% more than minimum wage, but soaring inflation is eroding their earnings, Thua said.”The company has followed the Vietnamese laws in paying their workers, but given the fact that consumer prices are soaring day by day, the workers have had troubles with their daily expenses,” Thua said.

Nike factory workers in Vietnam

Nike is one of the biggest private
employers in Vietnam

Nike officials did not immediately respond to questions about the strike.

Ching Luh plant is one of 10 factories that contract with Nike to produce sneakers in Vietnam.

Consumer prices in Vietnam are 19% higher than they were a year ago, according to government figures. Hanoi responded in January by increasing the minimum wage foreign-owned companies are required to pay by roughly 13%.

As inflation has picked up in recent years, strikes have become more common, with workers demanding higher pay and better working conditions. (AP)

From the BBC

More than 20,000 workers at a factory in Vietnam that makes shoes for Nike have gone on strike demanding higher pay to cope with rising inflation.

The average monthly salary at the Taiwanese-owned plant is about $59 (£30), 14% more than the minimum wage.

The workers, who produce about 12% of the 75 million pairs of shoes made for Nike in Vietnam a year, want a 20% pay rise and better canteen lunches.

Strikes in Vietnam are becoming more common as living costs have surged.

Last November, workers at a South-Korean-owned Nike factory in Vietnam walked out in a similar pay dispute.

Nike spokesman Chris Helzer said: “We recognize the impact that rising inflation has had on the people of Vietnam, and hope the situation will be resolved quickly and amicably.”

Inflation currently stands at about 9.2% after rising 10% last year.

The strike affects the Ching Luh plant in the southern part of the country. It is one of 10 factories in Vietnam that produces footwear for US athletics giant Nike.

Inflation figures pressure China to act: Commerce

March 12, 2008

BEIJING (Reuters) – China‘s high January and February readings for inflation have increased the pressure on the government to take action to counter price rises, Commerce Minister Chen Deming said on Wednesday.

A Communist Party delegate (L) poses for a photograph in front ...
A Communist Party delegate (L) poses for a photograph in front of the Great Hall of the People with a member of an ethnic minority group wearing traditional dress as they arrive for the National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square March 10, 2008. China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress, continues to sit in the Great Hall of the People, and is due to finish on March 18.

Annual consumer inflation jumped to 8.7 percent in February after hitting 7.1 percent in January, the worst in more than 11 years.

Chen told reporters that consumer inflation would stabilize at a high level over the next few months and then ease in the second half, as the impact of recent snowstorms subsided and because of a higher base of comparison from the second half of 2007.

The government still hoped it could hit its target of keeping consumer inflation to within last year’s pace of 4.8 percent, said Chen, who was speaking at a news conference held on the sidelines of the session of parliament.

Chen said an important….

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Oil Prices and Your Budget: Crude Awakening

January 4, 2008

By Oliver North
January 4, 2008

WASHINGTON — The frozen water pipe this morning was a rude awakening. I managed to thaw the pipe without bursting it, thus saving the cost of a plumber. However, a few hours later, I opened our bill for home heating oil. At $2.70 per gallon, it was a blunt reminder that, with petroleum at $100 a barrel, the future cost of keeping fuel in our furnace — and gasoline in our cars — will make the plumber’s price pale in comparison.

According to the “experts,” those of us who drive to work will be paying $4 per gallon for motor fuel soon, and we all will be paying more for electricity, consumer products, air travel and to heat our homes. Happy New Year.

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U.S. Economy: Storm Warning

November 21, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
November 21, 2007

We see definite storm warnings ahead for the U.S. economy. Nobody wants to say the “R” word (HUSH: recession) or the “I” word (inflation), but there are at least five major interrelated factors at play that negatively impact the real or perceived strength of the U.S. economy in the near term.

Gas prices: They are going up and this impacts everyone. Filling the tank for commuting, job hunting or hauling sheet rock; it doesn’t matter the reason; is costing us all more with no end in sight. And everything you buy and touch from the groceries to the new microwave take part of their journey by truck. World-wide demand is up with China showing an unquenchable thirst for oil. Any chance that OPEC will increase production to bring down the price? If you were an Emir, would you?

Loss of value in the dollar: This is no time to hold dollars. During the last week of October, the dollar hit long-term lows against the euro, the British pound and the Canadian dollar. Fears that overseas investors and countries, especially China which holds over a trillion dollars in foreign exchange reserves, could sell or convert their dollar holdings have depressed the dollar.

Suddenly the euro is hot.

Even Supermodel Gisele Bündchen, the 27 year old Brazilian bombshell who made $30 million last year, decided apparently that she’d rather be paid in euros from now on.

Ms. Bündchen appears to be the “girlfriend” of New England Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady. Now if HE elects to be paid in euros, I am moving to Canada. Or maybe Brazil if my wife lets me!

Housing, credit and construction: Slower economic growth, largely driven by a lingering housing slump and a related credit squeeze; is already putting thousands of workers out of work. We expect fewer new home starts for the foreseeable future. The trickle down impact of this? Lost jobs in all the building trades from the carpenter to the master electrician. Fewer new refrigerator sales. Fewer new sofas sold. Sobbing realtors. Just as the cost of oil impacts the cost of your groceries and microwave, so too is a slowdown in new home starts likely put many home decorators, carpet stores and furniture outlets on the skids.

Inflation in China: China’s consumer prices shot up 6.5% in October vs. a year earlier. August levels were at a ten year high. Food prices in China are skyrocketing. This is putting pressure on employers to pay more. Higher worker pay will drive up the prices of China’s notoriously inexpensive goods. Inflation in China will mean increased cost for those low cost Chinese goodies you buy. What goodies do we mean? Just about every product you shop for in the Target, WalMart, Sears and elsewhere. We’re talking about higher prices for clothing, toys, steel and other products China exports. If China’s exports get pricier, that would feed into U.S. inflation through a hike in the cost of imported goods.

For the U.S. and other countries, China’s inflation bears watching. That’s because China has played a big role in easing global inflation by manufacturing low-cost goods.

American jobs: We sometimes wonder if the American job scene of 1960 was better or worse than the job outlook today. Fewer highly paid union jobs with full benefits and medical coverage exist today. Ask any automotive worker. The service industry is burgeoning: but these jobs are low paying. The average clerk at Sears gets paid $8-$10 an hour. Building security personnel, without a firearm, earn about $10 an hour. In a 40 hour week, these folks earn about $400, with little or no benefits and no medical coverage. Cleaners, sweepers and the like may earn less. And, in an insidious use of legal procedure, many employers only let employees work for 38 hours per week. By stopping the employee short of a 40 hour week, the employer has no legal requirement to pay any benefits. So we expect pressure will build to raise worker pay and increase benefits, especially medical care.

Loss of U.S. influence and prestige: The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have meant a diminished stature for the U.S. worldwide. This has emboldened China, Russia, North Korea and others. Currently, President General Musharraf seems in defiance of the U.S. Even Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez is emboldened by this factor, real or imagined, and has declared his own war of defiance against the U.S.

The Washington Post’s columnist Anne Applebaum wrote in “Collateral Damage,” on November 20, 2007, “the collateral damage inflicted by the war on America’s relationships with the rest of the world is a lot deeper and broader than most Americans have realized. It isn’t just that the Iraq war invigorated the anti-Americanism that has always been latent pretty much everywhere. What’s worse is the fact that — however it all comes out in the end, however successful Iraqi democracy is a decade from now — our conduct of the war has disillusioned our natural friends and supporters and thrown a lasting shadow over our military and political competence. However it all comes out, the price we’ve paid is too high.”

And the price in prestige and respect impacts the cost of the dollar.

While we always think the glass is half full; and we fully ascribe to Abraham Lincoln’s optimism just before the first officially decreed Thanksgiving in 1863, we do believe that there are some dark clouds building on the horizon for the U.S. economy.

Oil prices rise to new record in Asia