Category Archives: Labor

Do robotic insurance agents get commissions?


Or are banksters [for insurance is, after all, banking on your own mortality] putting the premium on profit in an aging Japan?

From the Yomiuri Shimbun:

A major life insurance company will deploy humanoid robots nationwide this autumn, using them to wait on customers at its offices and sending them out on sales calls.

Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co. has announced plans to deploy 100 Pepper robots, made by SoftBank Group Corp., at its 80 branches in October. Pepper will explain insurance products and services, and accompany sales people on their rounds.

This will give Meiji Yasuda the highest number of humanoid robots deployed in the financial industry.

Pepper will explain comparatively simple, reasonably priced insurance products in customer service areas at branch offices. The robots also will attend to visitors at insurance seminars held by the company, and accompany Meiji Yasuda salespeople on visits to other companies to promote insurance products.

How long before we start to see robotic peddlers on our own doorsteps?

And what does such a development imply?

What other sales jobs can be filled without having to do with those messy humans? No unions, no health insurance, no retirement benefits, and programmed to do exactly what you want them to do.

Kinda like the Trump Republican base.

Paramilitaries assault striking Mexican teachers


A tweet from an activist on the scene captured the paramilitary in action.

A tweet from an activist on the scene captured the paramilitary in action.

The Mexican government’s battle against striking teachers from the Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación [CNTE] heated up again Wednesday when armed thugs from state-backed paramilitaries joined in a police action against one of the roadblocks that have become the most powerful weapon of the action against neoliberal education “reforms.”

The assault came in the state of Chiapoas, and fatalities have been reported.

Meanwhile, strikers in another state, Michoacan, have taken the blockade action to the rails.

From teleSUR English:

Mexican State and municipal police accompanied by paramilitaries and hooded individuals with guns forcefully evacuated the only camp that civil society and teachers of the National Coordinator of Education Workers, CNTE, held in the state of Chiapas, Wednesday.

In a statement the CNTE said that 10 trucks loaded with a group of masked men came to the camp at highway San Cristóbal-Tuxtla Gutiérrez in Chiapas where about a hundred protesters were gathering before dispersing them with force. The CNTE was on high alert and reinstated its blockade soon after, according to student activist Omar Garcia.

There were reports that between one and two teachers were killed in the clashes and that two were detained. Videos circulating on social media website showed the masked men took part in cracking down on the protesting teachers, apparently with police permission. The news comes about a month after the Nochixtlan massacre claimed 12 lives in the state of Oaxaca.

Leaders of the CNTE have been protesting over the past few months against the neoliberal education reforms implemented in 2013 by President Enrique Peña Nieto

Railroads blockaded in Michoacan 

Elsewhere, striking teachers have extended their blockades to railroads, reports Fox News Latino:

Hundreds of striking teachers and their supporters effectively shut down the freight rail network in the western Mexican state of Michoacan on Wednesday.

Members of the militant CNTE union launched the protest around 8:30 a.m., blocking tracks with boulders, tree-trunks and even vehicles.

The blockades prevented the transport of thousands of freight containers from the Pacific port of Lazaro Cardenas, rail operator Kansas City Southern de Mexico said.

The state government urged the teachers to end the blockades and did not rule out the use of riot police to clear the rail lines by force.

Most of Michoacan’s 19,500 primary schools have been shut down since May 16 due to the CNTE strike, which is also having a major impact in several other states, including Oaxaca and Chiapas, where teachers and their allies have blocked highways.

Quantifying climate change economic impacts


No one doubts [well, except for lots of Republicans] that climate change is upon us, and that it will cause a great many changes to the planet we inhabit.

While we’re all acquainted that things are set to get hotter and drier for most of us, and that seas are rising, those are just some of the broader impacts.

But we many be less aware that profound economic changes lie ahead, and they’ll be very costly indeed.

New research tries to set a price tag on some of them.

From the Thomson Reuters Foundation:

Rising temperatures caused by climate change may cost the world economy over $2 trillion in lost productivity by 2030 as hot weather makes it unbearable to work in some parts of the world, according to U.N. research published on Tuesday.

It showed that in Southeast Asia alone, up to 20 percent of annual work hours may already be lost in jobs with exposure to extreme heat with the figures set to double by 2050 as the effects of climate change deepen.

Across the globe, 43 countries will see a fall in their gross domestic product (GDP) due to reduced productivity, the majority of them in Asia including Indonesia, Malaysia, China, India and Bangladesh, researcher Tord Kjellstrom said.

Indonesia and Thailand could see their GDP reduced by 6 percent in 2030, while in China GDP could be reduced by 0.8 percent and in India by 3.2 percent.

Resisting the Greek capitulation to the banksters


Greek’s have seen austerity at its worst, inflicted by the joint powers of the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.

The austerians are acting in the interest of the banks of Germany and France, lending institutions that bankrolled arms deals that profited the military/industrial complexes of the lender nations.

While Greek official corruption was clearly involved in some of the deals, the bribe payments came from German companies eager for profits from the sale of weapon systems, warships, and other materiel necessary for the new Cold War.

A succession of Greek governments signed off on massive cuts in public salaries and pensions, restrictions on the national public health system, and the sell-off of ports, railroads, islands, and other public assets.

Finally, the Greek people said “Enough!,” and in and in January 2015, they voted in a new government headed by a previously marginal party, a coalition of the Left named Syriza [previously], swept to power on a platform calling for an end of the payments.

With party leader Alexis Tsipras becoming chancellor, Syriza seemed on track to mount the first real resistance to the ave of austerity programs imposed on nations of Ireland and Southern Europe in the wake of the crash caused by the institutional corruption of Wall Street and the City of London.

Seven months after taking power, Syriza called a referendum on the issue of whether or not Greece should accept the latest austerity mandates from the Troika. When the votes were tallied, 61 percent of the Greek electorate declared no to further austerity.

Two months later the leaders of the anti-austerity movement were gone, and Tsipras was ready to surrender once again.

In this interview with The Real News Network, one of those leaders talks about those critical events, and the launch of a new party to continue the resistance to the money lord of the North:

Odious Debt and the Betrayal of the Popular Will in Greece

From the transcript:

DIMITRI LASCARIS, TRNN: This is Dimitri Lascaris reporting from Lesbos, Greece, for The Real News.

This week, The Real News is in Lesbos to cover the Crossing Borders Conference on the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean.

This afternoon we’re joined by Zoe Konstantopoulou. Zoe Konstantopoulou is the former speaker of the Greek Parliament. She was elected to that position in February of last year with a record number of votes from her fellow MPs, including, surprisingly, the support of the right-wing New Democracy Party. But her tenure as speaker of the Greek Parliament was short-lived. Her position was vacated in October of last year after the SYRIZA government decided to implement an austerity program that was even more severe than [the one that] over 60 percent of the population of Greece had rejected in a referendum in July of last year.

>snip<

LASCARIS: Now, last year, after the referendum in which over 60 percent of the Greek population effectively voted to reject an austerity program that was even less severe than what was ultimately implemented, the prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, called a snap election and there was a rebellion of the left wing of the SYRIZA party, and they formed another party called Popular Unity, which I understand you supported in the election that was held in September.

KONSTANTOPOULOU: I cooperated as an independent candidate with Popular Unity.

There’s more, after the jump. . . Continue reading

Income inequality linked to unwed parents


The American conservative is a creature who demands marriage before babies, but new research reveals the economic policies espoused by Republicans [and, it must be added, neoliberal democrats] are almost precisely crafted to encourage women to have children without benefit of clergy.

From Johns Hopkins University:

Rising income inequality, and the resulting scarcity of certain types of jobs, is a key reason a growing number of young Americans are having babies before getting married.

A study led by Johns Hopkins University sociologist Andrew J. Cherlin is the first to trace how the income gap, a large-scale societal trend, is affecting individual people’s personal choices about starting a family. The greater the income inequality in an area, the less likely young men and women are to marry before having a first child, concluded the study, which will be published online July 14 and will appear in the August issue of the American Sociological Review.

“Does income inequality affect a young adult’s decision about getting married and starting a family?” asked Cherlin, the Benjamin H. Griswold III Professor of Public Policy in the Krieger School of Arts and Science. “We think the answer is yes for those who don’t graduate from college. Places with higher income inequality have fewer good jobs for those young adults. They don’t foresee ever having the kinds of well-paying careers that could support a marriage and a family. But they are unwilling to forgo having children. So with good jobs in limited supply and successful marriage looking unlikely, young women and men without college degrees may go ahead and have a child without marrying first.”

Cherlin and his fellow authors found that areas with high levels of income inequality have a shortage of jobs available in the middle of the job market. These are jobs available to those without college degrees that pay wages that would keep a family out of poverty — like office clerks, factory workers, and security guards.

Without access to this sort of work, young men can’t make an adequate living. They don’t see themselves as good marriage material, and their partners agree. Couples like this might live together and have a child, but they are reluctant to make the long-term commitment to marriage, according to Cherlin.

There’s more, after the jump. . . Continue reading

Mexican gov’t agrees to alter education reforms


There’s only one catch.

The government is in talks with a teachers union, but it’s not the one currently on strike in much of Mexico’s South.

The ongoing action against the neoliberal “reforms” imposed by the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto is the Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación, or CNTE.

The CNTE represents teacher primarily in Southern Mexico and is fiercely independent of the government, unlike the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación, or SNTE, which is considered a house union.

The story form teleSUR English:

Mexican Minister of Education Aurelio Nuño Mayer said Wednesday that he will revise the education reform that has been at the center of intense CNTE-led protests, but that he will only consult the rival SNTE union.

Nuño Mayer has drawn intense criticism for refusing to negotiate with the CNTE teachers, who have been leading months-long blockades across the country that were subject to intense police repression. The teachers, mostly based in rural southern states, argue that the neoliberal reforms put poorer and Indigenous students at a disadvantage. They have demanded meetings with the Education Ministry, but Nuño Mayer has insisted that they accept the reforms before coming to the table.

The SNTE union, which is largely aligned with President Enrique Peña Nieto’s government, did meet with Nuño Mayer.

“Last week, I welcomed the proposals brought to me by SNTE, 11 propositions that brought us to various negotiating tables, intense, that would allow us to come to an important agreement regarding the education reform,” he said.

“We have agreed, and the SEP (Ministry of Public Education) has decided, to revise and improve the evaluation of teachers, to make it more appropriate and much more useful.”

The main purpose of the revisions will be to improve implementation of evaluations and make them more context-specific, focusing on its application, the platform for publishing findings, cleaning up databases, accreditation of evaluators, and communication between the school and the teacher. Nuño Mayer said he will also expand the curriculum and raise the teacher’s salary by 3.5 percent.

Support for Mexico’s striking teachers expands


Mexico's administrative divisions [states], via Wikipedia.

Mexico’s administrative divisions [states], via Wikipedia.

Teachers striking against neoliberal educational reforms mandated by the government of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto is spreading across the southern half of the country.

Though the strike was initially concentrated in the state of Oaxaca, where teachers have met with violent and sometimes lethal repression, the spark they ignited has grown into a regional blaze.

The latest from teleSUR English:

A highway blockade in support of Mexico’s striking teachers is increasingly gaining popular support in the capital of the southern state of Chiapas, La Jornada reported on Wednesday.

The protest in the city of Tuxtla Gutierrez is being organized as a popular assembly and has remained active for 15 days, gathering up to 3,500 demonstrators in support of the radical CNTE teachers union.

Teachers and parents from impoverished neighborhoods, medical students, indigenous associations and grassroots movements have also joined the blockade as part of nationwide protests against President Enrique Peña Nieto’s neoliberal education reform.

Popular support of the teachers cause in Mexico has been concentrated in the southern states of Oaxaca, Guerrero, Tabasco and Chiapas, a region historically subject to violence and poverty but also rich in social struggle.

Meanwhile CNTE leaders are holding negotiating talks over the controversial reform with the government at the Interior Ministry headquarters in Mexico City this Wednesday.

So what’s it all about?

It’s the usual thing starring the usual suspects: Standardized testing created by corporateers working in league with the national government to suppress organized labor and am impose an educational system designed to turn our obedient workers rather than independent-minded citizens.

From Spring Hill College history Historian A. S. Dillingham, writing in Jacobin:

The education reform is better understood as an attack on labor. Much like the discourse of recent education reform movements in the United States, the Mexican reformers invoke notions of “accountability” and “quality” instruction.

But the reform itself contains numerous measures aimed at undermining the power of teachers’ unions including measures that weaken the union’s control of the hiring process at normal schools (which they historically controlled), eliminate teachers’ ability to pass down a position to their children, make it easier to fire teachers who miss work, and limit the number of union positions paid by the state.

These measures are all directly aimed at undermining the union’s power, but the central point of contention has been the evaluation of teachers through state-administered standardized tests.