Perry Work Report for the Week of February 11, 2008
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Plant Closing in the Auto Parts Industry: Martinrea International, one of Canada's three largest auto parts makers, announced plans to shut a plant in Kitchener, Ontario in 2009, eliminating 1,200 jobs. A high Canadian dollar, increasing transportation costs, and higher wage and benefits costs than at other plants in Canada, the United States, and Mexico, are among the reasons for the planned closure.
Links: “ Ontario 's auto parts bleeding continues,” Greg Keenan, Globe and Mail, February 12, 2008;Martinrea Threatens Closure of Kitchener Frame, Putting 800 Out of Work, February 11, 2008, CAW News.
Know Your Medicare Rights: The Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions are sponsoring a campaign called, Know Your Medicare Rights: Saying ‘no' to illegal fees and profiteering from health care. The campaign is in response to payments by patients for medical services that should be paid by the government according to the Canada Health Act.
Merger and Acquisition Trends in Canada: A Conference Board of Canada report has found that corporate Canada is not being “hollowed out” by foreign acquisitions of Canadian companies. Instead, Canadian companies have been more actively acquiring foreign companies over the last 15 years. The report also predicts that merger activity in Canada will slow down because of the high Canadian dollar and the weaker U.S. economy.
Link: Trends in Foreign Direct Investment and Mergers and Acquisitions: International and Canadian Performance and Implications, by Kip Beckman and Louis Theriault, Conference Board of Canada, February 2008, (36 pages, PDF)
Women and Minorities on Fortune 100 Boards: According to a report released by the Alliance for Board Diversity, white men still hold a disproportionate share of board director seats. The study showed small gains in the share of board seats held by minority women between 2004 and 2006. The Alliance is made up of three members, Catalyst, The Executive Leadership Council, and the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility. They have joined together to promote the business case for inclusion of women and minorities on corporate boards.
Employer Medical Costs Expected to Increase: A recent poll by Watson Wyatt found that globally, employers are expecting a significant increase in medical costs over the next five years. Increases are attributed to increases in use, more expensive medical technology and an aging population. A chart provides medical cost percentage increases for 2006 and 2007 with projected increases for 2008 for seventeen countries, including Canada.
Link: “Medical Cost Increase to Accelerate Worldwide Over Next Five Years, Watson Wyatt Poll Finds,” February 6, 2008, Watson Wyatt.
Ontario's Family Day: A poll conducted by Harris/Decima found that 61 per cent of Ontarians will have Family Day off, the new statutory holiday on February 18th, but 13 per cent of this group plan to work at least one hour that day. Julian Barling, a professor of organizational behavior and psychology at Queen's University, School of Business, has expressed concern about the value of this day off: “Time off from work is at best, a very brief respite from the stress and, for many people, the drudgery of work. Instead of one new day off, a better approach would be for organizations to ensure that employees have more interesting work, and better bosses.”
Bored Employees: According to a survey in Industry Week, bored employees are a bigger problem that overworked employees because, “bored employees have an even greater negative impact on an organization, lowering morale and productivity, and draining resources.”
Link: “Bored Employees Are More Disgruntled than Overworked Ones”, by Adrienne Selko, Industry Week, February 7, 2008, (2 pages, PDF)
Single Boomers and Retirement: A survey of single men and women between the ages of 40 and 60, by Investors Group of Manitoba, found that 28 per cent of this group are planning to work after they reach 65 years of age. Women were less prepared for retirement than single men, with 62 per cent of women needing to work longer because of income and health-benefit needs as opposed to 45 per cent of men.
Link: Single boomers like freedom, but have retirement worries, February 4, 2008, Investors Group.
Canadian Investment in Information Communications Technology (ICT): A report released by the Centre for the Study of Living Standards finds Canada 's ICT investment per worker to have improved steadily since 2000, when compared to that of the United States. However the level of investment is considered too low, particularly as ICT is a key driver of productivity growth.
Link: “The Canada-US ICT Investment Gap: An Update”, by Andrew Sharpe and Jean-François Arsenault, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, February 8, 2008 (49 pages, PDF).
Canada's Income Security System: A paper from the Caledon Institute focuses on the gap in social insurance coverage for Canadians whose earnings are interrupted because of illness or disability. The paper examines current sickness and disability benefits available under the Employment Insurance program and the Canada Pension Plan and suggests a stronger link between these two programs.
Links: Canadians Need a Medium-Term Sickness/Disability Income Benefit, by Michael J. Prince, Caledon Institute, January 2008 (36 pages, PDF)
Flexibility and Security in the European Labour Market: A report released by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions looks at the impact of greater flexibility in the European labour market. It explores whether the trend has contributed to a better work-life balance for workers and reveals the long-term effects of working in non-standard contracts on individuals' careers, incomes and employment security.
Link : Flexibility and Security Over the Life Course, by Ruud Muffels, et al., European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, February 8, 2008 (59 pages, PDF)